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Updated: 5 min 56 sec ago
A Michigan traffic safety law that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by persons who possess any presence of THC in their blood, regardless of whether or not they are behaviorally impaired by the substance, may not be strictly applied to state-qualified medical cannabis patients. So decided the Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday in the case People v Koon.
In a unanimous opinion, the Court determined that legal protections extended to state-qualified patients under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, enacted by voters in 2008, supersede the state’s zero tolerance, internal possession law. As a result, the Court determined that state prosecutors must establish that authorized patients charged under the statute are actually impaired by their cannabis use in order to gain a DUI criminal conviction.
According to the syllabus of the Opinion:
“The MMMA [Michigan Medical Marihuana Act] does not define what it means to be ‘under the influence,’ but the phrase clearly contemplates something more than having any amount of marijuana in one’s system and requires some effect on the person. Thus, the MMMA’s protections extend to a registered patient who internally possesses marijuana while operating a vehicle unless the patient is under the influence of marijuana. The immunity from prosecution provided under the MMMA to a registered patient who drives with indications of marijuana in his or her system but is not otherwise under the influence of marijuana inescapably conflicts with MCL 257.625(8) [the state's zero tolerance per se DUI law], which prohibits a person from driving with any amount of marijuana in her or system.”
The state’s zero tolerance per se drug law remains applicable to non-patients. Under such laws, motorists are guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation if they engage in the act of driving while detectable levels of certain controlled substances or, in some cases, their inert metabolites (byproducts) are present in the defendants’ blood or urine. Proof of actual impairment is not a requirement for a conviction under the law.
To date, ten states — Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin — have enacted legislation imposing zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites. (State-authorized medical cannabis patients in Arizona and Rhode Island are exempt from prosecution under these per se statutes unless the state can provide additional evidence of psychomotor impairment.)
Five additional states impose non-zero-tolerant per se thresholds for cannabinoids in blood: Montana (5ng/ml — law takes effect on October 1, 2013), Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml). Most recently, Colorado lawmakers approved legislation stating that the presence of THC/blood levels above 5ng/ml “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.” State-qualified patients in Colorado, Montana, and Nevada are not provided legal exemptions from these statutes, although legislation is presently pending in Nevada to do so.
Such caution is similarly expressed by the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, which acknowledges: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”
A 2013 review of per se drugged driving laws and their impact on road safety found “no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.”
Join NORML and our friends at the Marijuana Majority in our efforts to build support for marijuana law reform at the local level by contacting your mayor and urging their support for rational marijuana policies.
Mayors are on the front lines of the war on cannabis and can see the devastation it is causing at the local level. It is time our local politicans take a stand and say enough is enough, it is time to stop wasting precious law enforcement resources, stop allowing the revenue from marijuana sales to flow into the hands of criminal elements, and stop enforcing a prohibition on a plant that is safer than tobacco and alcohol. Please take a moment of your time today to click the link below and encourage your mayor to join the majority of Americans who want to see marijuana legalized.
We are at a pivotal moment.
Support for legalization is the highest it’s ever been and it’s still growing.
Now, Washington and Colorado have taken the first step toward ending prohibition for good.
But the feds still have reefer madness and are threatening to stand in the way of these states.
Thankfully, mayors across our nation are taking action.
They see the harm of these laws first-hand, and they are calling for change.
Is your mayor one of them?
Want to see what politicians, celebrities, academics, and more have already spoken out against marijuana prohibition? Click here to check out Marijuana Majority’s webpage.
Brain imaging research published this month in the journal Molecular Psychiatry provides physiological evidence as to why cannabis may mitigate certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. Yet, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.
Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine and the New York University Langone Medical Center, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.
Researchers speculated that an increase in the body’s production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects’ natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, “[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”
They concluded: “The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD.”
Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because US federal officials have blocked investigators’ efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.
PTSD is also seldom identified as a qualifying condition in states that allow for the physician authorized use of cannabis therapy. (To date, only New Mexico explicitly cites PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment, although a handful of other states, like California, allow doctors the discretion to legally recommend marijuana for post-trauma subjects.) In Oregon, lawmakers in the House are considering Senate-approved legislation, SB 281, that would allow PTSD patients to legally consume cannabis under the state’s nearly 15-year-old medical marijuana program.
Residents of Maine may get the opportunity to vote on ending their state’s marijuana prohibition this fall, if lawmakers approve of an amended version of LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana in the coming weeks.
LD 1229 was introduced earlier in the session by Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) and 35 co-sponsors. Despite the unprecedented legislative support, the measure faced a challenging work session last week, which initially looked as if it would scuttle the bill entirely.
Fortunately for supporters of ending prohibition, the fight continues on despite the negative recommendation out of committee. Representative Russell and the bill’s supporters intend to take the fight for legalization to the House floor in the coming weeks and they need our help. Thanks to amendments offered by Senators Plummer and Wilson, LD 1229 was revised to contain only a simple referenda component. If the amended bill is approved, it would place the question of whether or not to legalize marijuana on the ballot in Maine this fall. It will be a straight up or down vote on marijuana legalization, regulatory authority will fall to the legislature if the people of Maine vote in favor of this measure.
If you live in Maine, it is more imperative than ever that you reach out to your elected officials and urge them to support LD 1229. Regardless of their opinion on marijuana legalization itself, they should support this legislation which would allow the people of Maine to voice their opinion on this incredibly important issue. Tell your state politicians to “Let the People Decide” and to support LD 1229. Click here to quickly and easily do so.
Whether you live in Maine or not, we encourage you to sign this petition being circulated by the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Russell, and help us send a resounding message to lawmakers in Maine that it is time to let the people vote on this issue.
NORML will keep you updated as this legislation moves forward.
Together, we can legalize marijuana in Maine in 2013.
Marijuana law reform is gaining some serious momentum in New York as we approach the end of this year’s legislative session.
Recent polling data released by Siena Research Institute revealed that 82% of New Yorkers support the medical use of marijuana. Fortunately for New York lawmakers, they can take action to address this issue that’s supported by an overwhelming majority of their constituents. Medical marijuana legislation is currently pending in both Houses of the New York Legislature and these measures have been gaining substantial political support. This legislation is expected to be debated by elected officials in the coming weeks. If you live in New York, click here to quickly and easily contact your state politicians and urge them to support this important legislation.
In addition to medical marijuana, it seems that full legalization will also soon be debated. State Senator Liz Krueger announced her intentions to introduce legislation that would legalize the recreational use and limited cultivation of marijuana. The measure would also allow for the commercial sale of marijuana at retail outlets regulated by the New York State Alcohol Authority.
“It is my intention as a New York State senator to soon introduce a law that would actually decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New York,” stated Sen. Krueger.
NORML will update you when this legislation is introduced.
This afternoon, the Illinois State Senate voted 35 to 21 in favor of House Bill 1, which would establish a medical marijuana pilot program in the state. The measure had previously been approved by the House of Representatives and moves to the Governor Pat Quinn’s desk for his signature. While Governor Quinn hasn’t taken a firm stance on HB 1, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon has been open in regards to her support for this legislation.
You can read the full text of the measure here.
NORML will keep you updated as this story develops.
Reason-Rupe has just released new polling data that revealed only a minuscule percentage of Americans believe that marijuana use and possession should result in jail time. When asked which approach they thought the government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana, only 6% responded that they should be sent to jail. 35% of respondents said that these individuals shouldn’t be punished at all, 32% responded they should pay a fine, and 20% said they should have to attended substance abuse courses.
The survey also found that 52% of Americans favor federal legislation that would prevent the federal government from prosecuting people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana in the states that have legalized it. Recently, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” which would do exactly that. You can click here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this measure.
Full results of this poll are available here.
Schools that institute student drug testing programs are likely to experience a rise in students’ consumption of ‘hard’ drugs, according to observational trial data published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research analyzed the impact of student drug testing programs in some 250,000 high-school and middle-school students over a 14 year period. Investigators reported that random drug testing programs of the student body and programs specifically targeting student athletes were associated with “moderately lower marijuana use,” but cautioned that drug testing programs overall were “associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.”
An estimated 14 percent of middle school students and 28 per cent of US high school students are now subject to some form of drug testing.
Urinalysis, the most common form of student drug testing, screens for the presence of inert drug metabolites (breakdown products), not the actual parent drug. Because marijuana’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC, is fat soluble, it may be present in urine for days, weeks, or in some cases even months after past use. By contrast, most other illicit drug metabolites are water soluble and will exit the body within a matter of hours. Authors of the study speculated that students subjected to drug screens were switching from cannabis to other illicit drugs which possessed shorter detection times.
“Random SDT (student drug testing) among the general high school student population, as well as middle and high school subgroups targeted for testing, was associated with moderately lower marijuana use; however, most forms of testing were associated with moderately higher use of other illicit drugs, particularly in high school,” the authors concluded. “These findings raise the question of whether SDT is worth this apparent tradeoff.”
Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author affirmed, “It is clear that drug testing is not providing the solution for substance-use prevention that its advocates claim.”
Previous assessments of student drug testing programs have reported that those subjected to such programs are no less likely to report consuming illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol than their peers.
The abstract of the study, “Middle and High School Drug Testing and Student Illicit Drug Use: A National Study 1998–2011,” is available online here.
Subjects who regularly consume cannabis possess favorable indices related to diabetic control as compared to occasional consumers or non-users, according to trial data published today online in the American Journal of Medicine.
Here is a summary of the study from the website diabetes.co.uk:
A new study has revealed that smoking cannabis may help protect against type 2 diabetes after researchers in the US found that regular users of the drug have better blood sugar control.
Murray Mittleman, of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, analysed data on almost 5,000 patients who were quizzed about their use of recreational drugs as part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2005 and 2010.
They found that 2,103 had never use cannabis, 975 had used the drug in the past but were not current users, and 579 (over 10%) had inhaled or ingested it in the past month.
Tests showed that current users had 16% lower fasting insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance than those who had never used cannabis. Non-users also had larger waistlines and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol – both of which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
The same benefits were seen among participants who had used the drug in the past but the associations were not as strong, indicating that the effects of cannabis use on insulin levels and insulin sensitivity wear off over time.
“Previous epidemiologic studies have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus in marijuana users compared to people who have never used marijuana, suggesting a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes, but ours is the first to investigate the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance,” said lead investigator Mittleman.
Commenting on the study, American Journal of Medicine Editor-in-Chief Joseph S. Alpert, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, wrote in an accompanying commentary: “These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions.” He added: “We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes, and frailty of the elderly. I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.”
Diabetes mellitus is a group of autoimmune diseases characterized by defects in insulin secretion resulting in hyperglycemia (an abnormally high concentration of glucose in the blood). There are two primary types of diabetes. Individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes) are incapable of producing pancreatic insulin and must rely on insulin medication for survival. Individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (also known as adult onset diabetes) produce inadequate amounts of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a less serious condition that typically is controlled by diet. Over time, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, hardening of the arteries and death. The disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer.
Observational trial data published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal previously reported that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than do those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.) Investigators concluded, “Our analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM (Diabetes Mellitus) and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.”
Although subjects who consume marijuana on average have higher average caloric intake levels than non-users, the plant’s use has been associated with lower body-mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity.
Abstracts of today’s study, “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults,” are online here. NORML has additional information and citations regarding cannabis and diabetes in our Library here.
Recent nationwide polls have shown that a majority of all Americans support marijuana legalization. Survey data released this week by Behavior Research Center shows even stronger support at the state level in Arizona.
Behavior Research Center asked respondents whether or not they favored or opposed legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, 56% responded they favored the idea and only 37% were opposed. Marijuana legalization had support from all age groups, across all counties and with both Democrats and Independents.
Commenting on the results, Behavior Research Center stated: “It is perhaps ironic that as support for same-sex marriage and defelonization of marijuana have long been albatrosses which conservative candidates could hang around the necks of some of their moderate or liberal challengers, it now appears that hard opposition to gay marriage and perhaps even to marijuana liberalization could become issues moderates and liberals can use against their conservative opponents.”
You can view the full results of the poll here.
Inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 21 subjects with Crohn’s disease who were nonresponsive to conventional treatments.
Eleven participants smoked standardized cannabis cigarettes containing 23 percent THC and 0.5 percent CBD (cannabidiol) twice daily over a period of eight weeks. The other ten subjects smoked placebo cigarettes containing no active cannabinoids.
Investigators reported, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.” (The CDIA is a research tool used to quantify the symptoms of Crohn’s disease patients.) Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).
Researchers also reported that “no significant side effects” were associated with cannabis inhalation. Subjects in the study group reported improvements in appetite and sleep compared to those in the placebo group. Cannabis inhalation was also associated with “significantly less pain” among the participants.
The study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the consumption of cannabis for the treatment of Crohn’s.
Israeli researchers had previously published observational trial data reporting that Crohn’s patients require fewer disease-related surgeries following their use of cannabis.
According to survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, some one-half of Crohn’s disease patients acknowledge having used cannabis to mitigate their disease symptoms.
Study: No Association Between The Cumulative Consumption Of Cannabis Smoke And The Risk Of Lung Cancer
In a recent presentation given at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, investigators from the university of California, Los Angeles provided the latest data reaffirming that cannabis consumption is not associated with an elevated risk of lung cancer. Below is a summary of the findings from The Oncology Report:
The study included data from six case-control studies conducted from 1999 to 2012 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, with a subject pool of 2,159 lung cancer cases and 2,985 controls. All of the studies were part of the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO), an international group of lung cancer researchers with the aim of sharing comparable data from ongoing and recently completed lung cancer studies from different geographical areas and ethnicities.
Dr. Zhang of the University of California, Los Angeles, performed two analyses. One compared all lung cancer cases and all controls, regardless of concurrent or past tobacco use. Then, to reduce confounding by tobacco, she restricted the analysis to those who had never smoked tobacco.
… When compared with cannabis smokers who also used tobacco, habitual pot smokers had no significant increase in cancer risk. In an analysis of marijuana smokers that excluded tobacco smokers, there were no significant differences in any of the comparisons, including habitual vs. nonhabitual use; number of joints smoked per day; duration of up to 20 years or duration of more than 20 years.
The abstract of the presentation, which concludes “Our pooled results showed no significant association between the intensity, duration, or cumulative consumption of cannabis smoke and the risk of lung cancer overall or in never smokers,” is available online here.
Colorado Lawmakers Approve First-In-The-Nation Regulations Governing Retail Marijuana Production And Sales
Colorado lawmakers made history Wednesday by approving first-in-the nation regulations governing the retail production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 and older.
The Huffington Post has the story here:
On the final day of the legislative session, Colorado lawmakers finally passed two historic bills to implement recreational marijuana legalization in the state — making Colorado the first state in the U.S. to take such steps toward the legal sale, regulation and tax of marijuana for recreational use.
House Bill 1317, which proposes the regulatory framework for legal marijuana, passed the Senate on a 29-6 vote and passed the House on a 37-28 vote, on Wednesday.
House Bill 1318, which proposes the tax rates which will fund the regulatory framework for legal marijuana sales and will ultimately need Colorado voter approval, passed the Senate 25-10 and passed the House 37-28, Wednesday.
Both the regulatory framework bill and the tax bill head to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk and appear poised to become law.
The two measures do not impact the state’s existing medical marijuana laws, nor do they interfere with existing legal protections legalizing the personal possession (up to one ounce) and cultivation (up to six plants) for non-commercial purposes.
Further details about the newly approved regulatory bills is available here.
Lawmakers’ proposed tax scheme on the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis must be approved by a majority of state voters before being implemented. Proposed taxes do not apply to those engaged in the personal cultivation or not-for-profit transfers of cannabis.
Lawmakers’ proposals come six months after 55 percent of state voters approved Amendment 64, which legalizes the adults possession and cultivation of limited quantities of marijuana, and tasked the state with establishing regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis to the public.
Members of the Senate this week approved legislation to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties. On Tuesday, Senators voted 24 to 6 in favor of a House measure that amends penalties for the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. House members had previously signed off on a slightly different version of the bill in April.
House members must sign off on the Senate’s changes to the bill. It will then go to Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has publicly expressed support for liberalizing the state’s marijuana possession penalties.
If signed into law, the measure will take effect on July 1, 2013.
Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.
Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.
Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)
Longtime Florida activist Cathy Jordan, a 63-year-old woman who consumes cannabis to mitigate symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), a debilitating condition that she has lived with since 1986, today filed a suit against Sheriff Brad Steube of Manatee County, FL.
Ms. Jordan alleges wrongful conduct on the part of the sheriff’s department when, on February 15, 2013, they raided her home and confiscated 23 medical cannabis plants, which were being cultivated for her by Cathy’s husband Robert Jordan. The Jordans were both cooperative when the sheriff’s department arrived at their home, and they acknowledged they were growing medical marijuana for Cathy’s medical use. The police raid of the Jordan’s home came just days after lawmakers introduced legislation, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, which sought to authorize the physician-supervised use of cannabis for those diagnosed with serious debilitating conditions. (Florida lawmakers failed to hold hearings or vote on the measure.)
After the Manatee County State Attorney’s office reviewed the facts of the case, they issued a memorandum on April 2, 2013 declining to prosecute either Cathy or her husband. The Manatee County State’s Attorney’s office found that they could not likely overcome a medical marijuana necessity defense, which would be raised by the defendant should a prosecution be initiated. However, the sheriff’s department has refused to return any of the cannabis that they confiscated from Ms. Jordan during the February 15 raid.
With this lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment finding that they have a legal right to cultivate and possess medical marijuana under Florida law; an injunction barring the sheriff’s department from making further seizures of medical marijuana from Cathy and Robert Jordan; and an injunction barring the initiation of criminal charges against either of the plaintiffs for their continued cultivation and possession of medical marijuana.
The lawsuit has been filed by Norm Kent of Fort Lauderdale, Chair of the NORML Board of Directors. NORML intends to file a friend of the court brief in the case once the defendants are served.
Kent stated: “This suit embodies NORML’S commitment to patients who have a medical need for marijuana, while simultaneously showing how the responsible use of cannabis by adults should not be restricted by law enforcement authorities. We intend to prevail in this suit so that seriously ill patients like Cathy no longer have to fear arrest or state interference for simply using their medicine.”
Added NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup: “Cathy Jordan is a courageous woman who has been fighting for many years to legalize the medical use of marijuana for herself and other seriously ill patients. We are proud to stand with Cathy and Robert Jordan to challenge he senseless arrest of patients who use marijuana medically.”
Florida is not among the 18 US states that presently exempt qualified patients from arrest for engaging in physician-authorized cannabis therapy.
The administration of synthetic cannabinoid agonists limits HIV infection in macrophages (white blood cells that aid in the body’s immune response), according to preclinical data published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. Macrophages are one of the first type of cells infected by the HIV virus when it enters the body.
Investigators at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia assessed the impact of three commercially available synthetic THC agonists on HIV-infected macrophage cells. Following administration, researchers sampled the cells periodically to measure the activity of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT), which is essential for HIV replication. By day 7, investigators reported that the administration of all three compounds was associated with a significant decreased in HIV replication.
Stated a Temple University Health System press release: “The results suggest that selective CB2 (cannabinoid 2 receptor) agonists could potentially be used in tandem with existing antiretroviral drugs, opening the door to the generation of new drug therapies for HIV/AIDS. The data also support the idea that the human immune system could be leveraged to fight HIV infection.”
Patients living with HIV/AIDS frequently report consuming cannabis to counter symptoms of anxiety, appetite loss, chronic pain, and nausea, and one study has reported that patients who use cannabis therapeutically are 3.3 times more likely to adhere to their antiretroviral therapy regimens than non-cannabis users. In preclinical models, the long-term administration of delta-9-THC has recently been associated with decreased mortality and ameliorated disease progression in monkeys. In clinical models, cannabis inhalation is associated with decreased neuropathy and increased levels of appetite hormones in the blood of subjects with HIV infection.
The abstract of the study, “Attenuation of HIV-1 replication in macrophages by cannabinoid receptor 2 agonists,” appears online here.
The California Supreme Court ruled today that municipalities possess the legal authority to prohibit the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries.
The unanimous ruling upheld a 4th District Court of Appeals opinion (City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health and Wellness Center, Inc.) which held that local zoning measures banning the establishment of brick-and-mortar facilities that engage in the distribution of cannabis to state-authorized persons are not preempted by state law. Other lower courts had ruled against such local bans, arguing that cities can’t use zoning laws to bar activity legal under state law.
It is estimated that some 200 California cities presently impose moratoriums on medicinal cannabis facilities. At least 50 municipalities have enacted local regulations licensing dispensaries.
Opined the Court:
“We have consistently maintained that the CUA (the California Compassionate Use Act aka Proposition 215) and the MMP (the Medical Marijuana program Act) are but incremental steps toward freer access to medical marijuana, and the scope of these statutes is limited and circumscribed. They merely declare that the conduct they describe cannot lead to arrest or conviction, or be abated as a nuisance, as violations of enumerated provisions of the Health and Safety Code. Nothing in the CUA or the MMP expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”
Although language included in Proposition 215 explicitly called for the state government “to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana,” to date, lawmakers have failed to enact any specific statewide regulations regarding the retail production and distribution of cannabis to those patients authorized to consume it.
Commenting on the ruling, California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer said, “The court essentially affirmed the status quo. Local governments may choose to allow or limit dispensaries as they please. The unfortunate result of this decision is to leave many needy patients without legal access to medical marijuana in their communities, thereby promoting illegal black market suppliers. It is time for the state and federal governments to step up to the plate and fulfill the mandate of Prop 215 to implement a system of ‘safe and affordable’ access for all patients in medical need.”
Legislation is presently pending in both the California Assembly (AB 473) and Senate (SB 439) to impose statewide regulations governing the dispensing of marijuana produced for medical purposes.
Full text of the California Supreme Court’s opinion is available online here.
Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced a measure that would put marijuana legalization on the ballot before state voters. House Joint Resolution 6 would place a question on the Ohio ballot asking voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. Under this proposal marijuana would be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” stated Representative Hagan.
To be placed on the ballot, HJR 6 would need to receive a three-fifths vote from the legislature. The full text of the measure is available online here.
If you live in Ohio, please take a moment to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this historic legislation! It is time to let the people of Ohio decide for themselves whether or not it is time to legalize marijuana.
LD 1229, which aims to make Maine the third state to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, has been scheduled for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety this Friday at 10am. The measure was introduced with the support of primary sponsor Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) and 35 co-sponsors.
NORML has been working closely with Rep. Russell in support of this historic legislation and we are hearing that the outpouring of grassroots support is having an impact. Elected officials in Maine are giving serious consideration to supporting this bill, many have already come over to our side. If this momentum keeps up, Maine stands an excellent chance of becoming the third state to legalize marijuana, but Mainers need to take action and urge their elected officials to stand behind this legislation.
If you live in Maine, please consider attending the hearing in person. You can find the event details and RSVP by clicking here. Make sure you also click here to use NORML’s Take Action Center to contact your elected officials via email and urge them to support LD 1229.
If you don’t live in Maine, you can still help get the word out. Share the above links on your Facebook/Twitter/etc and encourage your friends and family in Maine to take action to legalize marijuana.
UPDATED: Click here to tune in live! The press conference starts at 9:20am EST and the hearing at 10:00am EST.
Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.MAINE: CLICK HERE TO WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND HERE TO RSVP FOR THE HEARING!
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