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MJ News for 05/29/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/261027301.html




Some medical marijuana backers back out of Minnesota program


Cassie Traun, a 24-year-old IT worker from St. Paul, went to the Capitol about a dozen times in April and May to lobby for medical marijuana.

She sat before committees of lawmakers, and even confessed to buying and using the drug illegally because she’s convinced it effectively treats her Crohn’s disease.

This week Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign a bill legalizing marijuana for about 5,000 Minnesotans, including sufferers of Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease.

But Minnesota’s new law will not allow patients to possess or smoke marijuana in its plant form. For that reason, Traun and some of the medical users who fought hardest for the laws passage, have decided they won’t participate in the new state program.

“They’re asking me to remain a criminal if I want to continue the treatment plan that I like, and that my doctor approves of,” Traun said.

Her plan for now is to keep buying marijuana from a black market dealer.

Under Minnesota’s new law, eligible patients will be able to use marijuana only in oil or liquid forms. Some patients like Traun worry that marijuana-based oils are more potent and likely to intoxicate than are the plant’s leaves and buds — a concern backed up by experts.

By denying patients access to plants, and prohibiting smoking of the drug, Minnesota will be unique as it becomes the 22nd U.S. state to legalize marijuana as a treatment for some afflictions. While the wider medical community remains split over the benefits of medical marijuana, several prominent doctors who have made the medicinal qualities of the cannabis plant a focus of their work are skeptical about the details of Minnesota’s program.

State program ‘different’

“All the other medical cannabis programs in the country are going to be watching what happens in Minnesota very carefully, because it’s so different and unique,” said Dr. Steven Jenison, a physician who was the first medical director of New Mexico’s seven-year-old program and later chaired its medical advisory board. “There are aspects that are intriguing, but also aspects that a lot of us consider to be a bit mystifying.”

Cannabis-based liquids are common for treating children with severe epileptic seizures; certain compounds of the plant are mixed with olive oil and administered orally. Parents of some of those children were among the most visible lobbyists for Minnesota’s law.

But adult patients with conditions including Crohn’s and other diseases also lobbied hard for the bill. Many wanted access to the medicinal qualities of the whole plant. When the active ingredient is extracted and condensed, it becomes a substance known on the black market as “hash oil.” That oil can then be loaded into a vaporizer, where it is heated to a point short of combustion, then inhaled.

“A lot of patients dose the plant in minimal amounts. They’re not trying to get high, they’re trying to achieve symptom control,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist who has been conducting research at the University of Arizona into marijuana’s possible benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers. “Why would they subject themselves to something far more toxic, something much more likely to make them intoxicated?”

Oil issues

Sisley said that anecdotal reports from users of the oil have found “reports of altered mental states, feeling emotionally blunted, zombielike.” Lack of formal research has also meant little reliable information on what constitutes a safe, effective dose.

Traun was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was 16. The disease causes inflammation of the intestinal lining, which frequently leads to abdominal pain, bouts of nausea, severe diarrhea, weight loss and malnutrition.

For several years after diagnosis, Traun tried a series of pharmaceuticals that included steroids, a drug called Imuran used to help prevent transplant patients from rejecting new kidneys, and finally Remicade, an antibody partly produced from mouse DNA. None delivered long-lasting benefits and some had brutal side effects.

During her freshman year in college, Traun’s symptoms worsened. For several months, she couldn’t keep food down and survived on a liquid diet. She lost 30 pounds.

“That’s when I tried cannabis,” Traun said. “I actually started as a recreational user, but I quickly found that after I used it I was actually able to eat a little bit. A few months later I was in remission, and that’s how it’s been for five years now.”

Traun said blood tests since showed year-over-year lessening of her intestinal inflammation, although she still suffers occasional nausea. She used to smoke marijuana, but more recently switched to a vaporizer. Traun said she also keeps a supply of hash oil on hand because it helps allay particularly severe instances of nausea, but she doesn’t want to have to use it regularly.

“People say marijuana treats the symptoms but not the disease,” Traun said. “But I believe it’s treating my disease itself. I believe I have to vaporize daily to stay in remission.”

Traun is not the only person who lobbied for the medical marijuana law and is eligible to join but leaning against it. Under the law, patients who enroll in a registry administered by the Department of Health will have their usage and outcomes monitored in what’s being described as “observational research.” The goal is to get patients access to the drug starting July 1, 2015.

Access at a price

But there’s one big catch for those who already partake.

Patients who enroll in the program face greater legal jeopardy if they supplement with illegal plant marijuana.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor, but participants in the new program caught with the plant form can be jailed for up to 90 days, fined $1,000 and expelled from the program.

“I think I’m going to have to stick with my current arrangement,” said Patrick McClellan, a 47-year-old Bloomington resident who treats severe pain from muscular dystrophy by vaporizing plant marijuana that he buys illegally.

He was a fixture at the Capitol while lawmakers debated medical marijuana earlier this year, and was among a group of advocates who met privately with Dayton in March.

“If I were to get into this program, and I get the oil and it’s way too powerful and then I decide to go back to leaf, I could be prosecuted,” McClellan said.

When McClellan feels symptoms starting, he puts a small amount of leaf marijuana in his vaporizer and takes one or two light puffs.

He’s worried if he were forced to vaporize oil, “I would get stoned out of my mind. Patients don’t want to be high. We just want to treat our symptoms.”

Kendra Miller, a 26-year-old registered nurse and Crohn’s sufferer from St. Louis Park, also lobbied at the Capitol multiple times.

She said that if the new law offered access to plant marijuana, she’d probably surrender her nurse’s license and enroll. Miller does not believe the state would allow her to keep her nurse’s license and be in the program.

“I don’t believe this plan has enough of a likelihood of working, that doing that would be worth it for me,” she said.

According to the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbies for legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, the other 21 states with medical marijuana laws all allow patients to possess and smoke plant material. Fifteen of those states allow patients to grow their own plants.

Strict controls

Minnesota will feature one of the tightest distribution systems nationwide, allowing only two manufacturers and eight dispensaries statewide. Arizona, which approved medical marijuana by voter initiative in 2010, had 71 dispensaries by late 2013. The Illinois General Assembly last summer passed a law authorizing 60 dispensaries. Nevada’s Legislature approved up to 66 dispensaries last year and New Mexico has 23 distribution sites.

Minnesota will also allow fewer eligible conditions than most other states: Cancer with certain symptoms; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Tourette’s syndrome; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease); seizure-inducing epilepsy; severe and persistent muscle spasms including those brought on by multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy; Crohn’s disease, and terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than a year or which causes severe pain, nausea, severe vomiting or wasting.

Advocates had pushed for a more expansive Minnesota law that would have permitted plant marijuana, a wider distribution system and more eligible conditions. But Dayton insisted on a bill that was not opposed by law enforcement and the medical community. Law enforcement in particular opposed legal plant possession and smoking.

Sisley, the marijuana researcher at the University of Arizona, said she hopes Minnesota’s program works. She said she would advise state health officials, as they build the program, to involve top researchers from around the country.

Miller said that while she doesn’t intend to enroll initially, she will be watching closely as Minnesota’s program rolls out.

“I do want there to be a workable law here,” Miller said. “I think it’s a matter of waiting and watching to see if people who do enroll will get access and find relief.”
 

7greeneyes

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http://time.com/135851/seattle-weed-fairy-gives-out-free-marijuana/




‘Weed Fairy’ Hands Out Free Marijuana Around Seattle


A magical creature known as the “Weed Fairy” made her way to Seattle this past weekend to flit around and give away free marijuana to “keep spirits high.”

This illustrious weed fairy — who we’d also dare call a goddess of ganj — is really a 23-year-old woman named Yeni Sleidi. She visits various cities to post flyers with nuggets of pot taped to them:

Originally from California, the Weed Fairy is only in Seattle for a few weeks, she told local Fox affiliate KCPQ. She has done the same thing in New York a few months back, and positive feedback encouraged her to keep it going. Naturally, though, some people are skeptical.

“I think people are a little worried, because this is something new, and suspicious,” Sleidi said. “But it’s real weed and it’s not dangerous. It will get you high.”

Since weed is legal in Washington and not New York, this time around Sleidi didn’t have to worry as much about keeping anonymous. Over the weekend, she managed to give away around 40 nuggets.

Originally from California, the Weed Fairy is only in Seattle for a few weeks, she told local Fox affiliate KCPQ. She has done the same thing in New York a few months back, and positive feedback encouraged her to keep it going. Naturally, though, some people are skeptical.

“I think people are a little worried, because this is something new, and suspicious,” Sleidi said. “But it’s real weed and it’s not dangerous. It will get you high.”

Since weed is legal in Washington and not New York, this time around Sleidi didn’t have to worry as much about keeping anonymous. Over the weekend, she managed to give away around 40 nuggets.

Now, if only if a Popchips Fairy would start doing the same thing. Make it happen, somebody.
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/05/28/medical-marijuana-amendment-house-vote





House Nears Vote On Ending Feds' Medical Marijuana Crackdown


President Barack Obama said in December 2012 his administration had “bigger fish to fry” than legal recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington. But some members of his Department of Justice have continued to wage war on medical marijuana in states that allow it.

That would end if a bipartisan amendment to a spending bill is adopted by the House of Representatives and ultimately becomes law.

Six Republicans and six Democrats, led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., are seeking to ban the Department of Justice – which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors – from using funds to go after medical marijuana in places where it's allowed by state law.

Floor debate on the spending bill begins Wednesday evening. The amendment may come up for a vote late Wednesday or on Thursday.

A similar amendment was defeated by a vote of 262-165 in 2007.

But reformers sense momentum. In the closest medical marijuana vote to-date, 195 members of the House – including 22 Republicans – voted April 30 to allow doctors at the Veterans Health Administration to discuss marijuana as medicine with patients without institutional penalties. That effort was defeated, with 222 members voting against the proposal.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., said following that vote some members changed their minds and some supporters were absent.

Demonstrating the shifting inclinations of Congress, one of the 222 “no” votes, Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., introduced a bill to remove barriers to doctors prescribing marijuana. He told U.S. News he believes pot should be available at pharmacies and covered by health insurance, but said he was concerned about inviting VA doctors to break the law.

National polls show overwhelming support for legal medical marijuana. CBS News gauged support at 86 percent in January and Fox News found 85 percent support in February 2013.

“I think the tables are turning, I’m trying to be optimistic that Congress can act consistently with the popular support for this issue,” says Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the grass-roots medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

ASA estimated in a report it released last year that the cost of federal enforcement against medical marijuana was more than $100 million in 2012, part of a three-year spike in the cost of investigating, prosecuting and incarcerating people who comply with state laws. The group estimated Obama’s Justice Department had thus far spent nearly $300 million combating medical marijuana, compared to less than $200 million spent during the entire George W. Bush administration.

“We welcome any clarification or correction that the Justice Department would like to make to our numbers,” Hermes says.

In one of the most high-profile recent prosecutions, the so-called Kettle Falls 5 – a family of four, plus a friend – are facing long federal prison sentences, including mandatory minimums. The five have medical conditions that qualify them to use marijuana under Washington state law, and admittedly tended a pot garden in a rural area.

The eldest of the five defendants, 70-year-old Larry Harvey, joined Farr and Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., near the U.S. Capitol on May 7 for a news conference. He cheerfully told reporters about how his wife cooked marijuana cookies, which he ate to alleviate severe knee pain.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in August federal prosecutors should begin avoiding charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. But the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington and others are not bound by that guidance.

ASA is asking supporters to contact their member of Congress ahead of the amendment vote.

“We’re close, we’re definitely within striking distance,” says Mike Liszewski, ASA’s government affairs director. “There’s a growing number of members who have constituencies that are directly affected.”

Twenty-one states (soon 22) and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, beginning with California in the late 1990s. Others states have dated laws allowing doctors to write prescriptions for marijuana that have not taken effect, or have recently legalized more limited cannabis-derived treatments.

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value. Obama has resisted calls to administratively reschedule the drug – which he has the power to do – and legislative attempts have thus far stagnated. Doctors cannot prescribe Schedule I drugs, so states that allow marijuana for medical use instead allow doctors to “recommend” it to qualifying patients.

Rohrabacher’s amendment lists 28 states and D.C. by name as exempted from federal enforcement against medical marijuana laws. His 11 co-sponsors are Farr, Broun and Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Jared Polis, D-Colo., Steve Stockman, R-Texas, Dina Tius, D-Nev., and Don Young, R-Alaska.
 

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http://www.boston.com/health/2014/0...na-registry/6ShIpmDVWhecJPvrM9jsUJ/story.html




Public Hearing Set on New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Registry


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s health department is holding a public hearing on its proposed rules for part of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Thursday’s hearing at the Department of Health and Human Services will focus on the patient registry portion of the program.

Advocates say they will urge regulators to move more swiftly to implement the program, which will provide seriously ill patients with legal access to medical marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project wants the state to begin issuing identification cards to patients as quickly as possible.

The state law passed last year will allow seriously ill patients diagnosed with cancer, Crohn’s disease and other conditions to have up to 2 ounces of marijuana obtained from dispensaries.
 

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http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/05/29/gov-dayton-signs-medical-marijuana-bill-into-law/




(Minnesota) Gov. Dayton Signs MMJ Bill Into Law


ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota has joined the ranks of states where marijuana is a legal medicine.

Dayton on Thursday signed legislation that sets up a restrictive medical marijuana program. It has tight controls over qualifying conditions and the form its available in. People won’t be able to smoke it legally or access it in leaf form.

“I thank everyone who worked together to craft and pass this legislation,” Dayton said. “I pray it will bring to the victims of ravaging illnesses the relief they are hoping for.”

The compromise bill upset some medical marijuana advocates, who say many people who need relief won’t get it. But legislative backers say it is a positive first step that satisfied concerns of law enforcement and doctor groups.

The law sets up a task force to assess the impact of medical cannabis.
If all goes as planned, the drug will be available in pill and oil form in mid-2015.
 

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http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/premier-m...r-medicinal-cannabis-bill-20140529-396lb.html




(Australia) Premier Mike Baird will consider medicinal cannabis bill


Premier Mike Baird has left open the possibility he may support a private member's bill to decriminalise the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, promising that the government would give it "careful consideration".

The Nationals MP for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, has told the Northern Daily Leader he will draft a bill that would allow the terminally ill to use cannabis.

The move follows publicity around the case of one of Mr Anderson's constituents, 24-year-old Dan Haslam, who has been using cannabis to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy to treat his terminal cancer.

Mr Anderson told the newspaper that he met with Mr Baird on Wednesday night to inform him of his proposal.

“The Premier was sympathetic and agreed the time has come to address this issue and he supported my bid to work up a private member's bill," Mr Anderson said.

“However, he joined with me in expressing grave concerns about the supply and the prescription of cannabis and the challenge in addressing those issues".

On Thursday, Mr Baird said: "I support the efforts of any Liberals and Nationals member who wishes to prepare a bill for consideration by the government."

“We will give careful consideration to Mr Anderson's bill, and I have nothing but sympathy for the Haslam family as they struggle with their son's illness," he said.

However, a spokesman for Mr Baird said the matter would not be the subject of a conscience vote for Liberal MPs, as is often the case for social issues. This means the bill would require the support of the government to pass the lower house.

Greens MP John Kaye said he welcomed the Premier's support and that he was willing to delay his own proposed bill to give Mr Anderson time to develop his legislation.

"Mr Anderson has indicated that the Premier is now showing some sympathy for the plight of patients with terminal illness and their carers," he said.

"Although we are not there yet, it is a big step forward from where we were a month ago."

Last year, an upper house inquiry chaired by Nationals MP Sarah Mitchell recommended that a "complete defence" against arrest and prosecution be introduced for the "authorised medical use of cannabis by patients with terminal illness and those who have moved from HIV infection to AIDS".

But the recommendation was rejected by Health Minister Jillian Skinner in the government's response.
 

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http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/baby-rare-form-epilepsy-could-3622205#ixzz337efDpaK




(UK) Baby with rare form of epilepsy could be cured using CANNABIS


The alternative treatment is not yet available in the UK but Oliver's parents Rik Osborn and Danielle Coils, 28, are hoping fundraising efforts will help bring it here.

Rik, 29, said: "Hopefully it could be a step forward.

"I've read about a little girl out there, similar to Oliver, who it has been used on.

"It is a strange route to take, but at the end of the day, when you're up against the wall, when surgery is not an option, it's got to be something to consider."

The treatment, named Charlotte's Web after a little girl it helped treat in the States, sees a drop of liquid put under the affected person's tongue in order to reduce seizures.

Rik, of Peterlee, Co Durham, added: "People say that 'if it's not legalised why would you give it to children?'

"But when other medication isn't working, it's something we've got to go for.

"At the end of the day you want what's best for your child and for them to be with you for as long as possible.

"Little things like that give you hope."

To help raise money for the alternative treatment, Rik is taking part in a three day 140-mile Coast 2 Coast bike ride with family and friends hoping it will help research to take off.

They hope to raise money for Epilepsy Action charity when the ride starts on June 6th.

To sponsor the group visit www.justgiving.com/Oliver-osborn
 

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