Articles Posted in Medical Marijuana in California

A resident physician at Stanford Hospital, Dr. Nathaniel Morris specializes in mental health. In a recent editorial in Scientific American about the difference between the way health care providers view marijuana and the way the federal government regulates it, Morris expresses disbelief at the decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I narcotic. doctor7

A Schedule I drug is one that is considered so dangerous, it has no medically-accepted purpose. It’s in the same category as bath salts and heroin. Says Morris, “I can’t make much sense of this.”

Daily, he speaks with his mental health patients about substance abuse. In his training and experience, he has learned there are some abuses that are extremely concerning, and others much less so. The very first substance he inquires about in evaluations? Alcohol. It’s effects are seen daily by emergency room doctors after drinkers crash their cars, fall into an alcohol-induced coma or inhale their own vomit. Alcohol leads to some 1.2 million emergency room visits annually, and excess alcohol consumption accounts for nearly 90,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It causes significant problems for fetuses when their mothers drink. Then there is cocaine, also a concern for pregnant women, and also the source of heart attacks and kidney failure. Methamphetamine causes rapid heart palpitations, violent agitation and hyperthermia. Opioids – including heroin and morphine – often kill patients with sudden respiratory failure. The effects are worse when the drug is used intravenously.

But marijuana? Morris says it’s an “afterthought.”  Continue reading

While Americans all over the country are increasingly changing their attitudes about legalization of marijuana and are now willing to support the initiative, the National Football League (NFL) clearly seems trapped in the ways of the past/ The league has just suspended Martavis Bryant, the Pittsburgh Steeler’s young star, for one full year due to two missed drug tests.

football-1199159.jpgBryant was suspended during the 2015 football season by the NFL when he tested positive for marijuana. It should be noted that one technically doesn’t test positive for marijuana (or even THC) in most cases, but tests positive for a metabolite of THC. While this may seem like a minor technical distinction, it actually has a major impact on the fairness of arresting people for driving with this chemical in their system.
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Parents of children with epilepsy or other serious seizure disorders have started turning toward medical marijuana as a legitimate treatment option, according to recent news article from Fox News. Having a child with a seizure disorder can be one of the scariest things imaginable. The parents have to watch their young children suffer through seizures, which could cause permanent damage, with nothing they can do to stop it.

pills-out-of-bottle-1394618-m.jpgThe conventional treatment for seizure disorders in adults and children is administering powerful benzodiazepines like Klonapin, Valium, or even Xanax on a regular basis to prevent seizures.

These medications are highly addictive, cause extreme drowsiness, and can damage the liver. Patients can also develop a tolerance fairly easily, so they are having to take higher and higher dosages on a regular basis. This is the accepted treatment, and, as strange as it sounds, there is very little controversy over the treatment, because these medications come from large drug makers.
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It’s no secret that actor Woody Harrelson has been a long-time supporter of legalizing medical cannabis and recreational marijuana. Harrelson, along with some of his friends, like Willie Nelson, have been featured in magazines like High Times for decades supporting the legalization movement, and this began at time when very few Americans would be willing to vote for legalization, unlike today where it is supported by the majority of voters.

lawandorder.jpgAccording to a recent news article from Fox News, Harrelson is one of 66 people and corporations who have applied for a medical marijuana dispensary permit in Hawaii. Technically, it his company, Simple Organic Living, that applied for the permit.
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Philip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Parliament, Virginia Slims and Basics, is now reportedly jumping into the medical marijuana industry. smoke1.jpg

According to Reuters, the company is investing $20 million in an Israeli start-up that is working to create a vaporiser of raw plants that will allow users to set the correct dosage for medicinal use.

At first glance, it seems an odd partnership. The company initiating development is a medical technology company, while Philip Morris is associated with products that cause a wide range of serious and deadly health risks for people across the globe. But as part of the deal, Israeli news media reported Philip Morris had promised to reduce the health risks associated with smoking/ inhaling these vapors.

The technology works by reducing plant matter into tiny granules that can be inhaled in certain pre-set doses. The company says the device is already in development, and researchers are looking for ways to expand use to other types of plants.

There is more to suggest that Israel may soon be the world’s next major marijuana market – and that big tobacco will soon be a major player in the industry.
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A recently-introduced bill would impose a 15 percent tax on the sales of medical marijuana, which would in turn be funneled into state enforcement initiatives, rehabilitation programs and park services. paying.jpg

The proposed Marijuana Value Tax Act could result in the state raking in some $100 million in new revenue. The measure was introduced after the passage of historic regulations last year that mandated the state issue local licensing for marijuana operations under the umbrella of the newly-formed Bureau of Medical Marijuana regulations.

Officials have said this kind of regulatory framework is “long overdue” in California. We were the first state in the country to pass reforms that allowed critically ill patients to receive marijuana. Since then, dozens have followed our lead, and a handful have taken it a step farther, approving measures that grant legal access to the drug for recreational purposes. But the problem for California was that our lawmakers had no model to spin off. There was no precedent to show us what would work and what wouldn’t. We were a test for many other states, and several who followed us have done it better in terms of state regulation. Our laws are a patchwork of local rules, which has exposed patients, doctors, growers and dispensaries to a host of legal woes from state, local and federal authorities.
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Medical marijuana remains classified as Schedule I substance under federal law. This designation is supposed to apply only to substances which do not have any accepted medical uses. This is clearly the wrong designation for marijuana, as cannabis has been proved time and again to have significant health benefits for patients, with minimal side effects. health-1549627.jpg
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Recreational marijuana legalization is expected to be on the ballot in California in 2016 and is expected to be approved by voters. While most agree marijuana legalization is likely, the big lingering question relates to exactly what ballot initiative will move forward and what framework will be established for legalization. ballot-box-1519379.jpg

Now, however, it looks like this question may be answered according to AlerNet. The California Control, Tax, and Regulate Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) has big money behind it and has been endorsed by many board members of ReformCA.
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Research into the benefits of cannabis is essential to provide new treatment alternatives to patients. In particular, it is imperative for scientists to have the ability to research cannabidiol (CBD), which is the most abundant cannabinoid with non-psychoactive properties that is found within the cannabis plant. Past studies have shown tremendous benefits from CBD, particularly in children and adults suffering from epilepsy and seizure disorders. With broad opportunity to conduct clinical trials and other scientific testing, even more health benefits of CBD may be discovered. lab-work-1575839.jpg

Unfortunately, the federal laws classifying cannabis as a Schedule I substance result in severe restrictions on the ability to conduct research. Fortunately, steps are being taken in the right direction. The Drug Enforcement Agency has recently eased some of the myriad regulatory requirements which the Controlled Substances Act imposes on research of CBD and other cannabis derivatives. While many more changes need to occur to federal drug laws, cutting some of the red tape should allow for much more effective research into the many health advantages of marijuana which are already beginning to come to light.
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Public attitudes towards marijuana have shifted in favor of legalization, with Gallup reporting 58 precent support making cannabis use legal. This is the highest percentage of people in favor of legalizing marijuana measured to date. Unfortunately, even as more people support making cannabis use legal, the federal government and many states still impose criminal penalties on people who grow, sell, and use cannabis products. supreme-court-1-1224507.jpg

Just because a prosecutor presses charges, however, does not mean that a defendant is going to end up facing harsh penalties. Just recently, an article from La Presse reported on a case in which a defendant in Quebec ended up being fined just $1.30 for breaking local drug laws.
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