MJ News for 06/13/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-jamaica-marijuana-20140612,0,4531229.story




Jamaica to decriminalize personal marijuana possession


The Jamaican government has decided to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, joining the trickle of countries moving to soften laws on the drug known on the Caribbean island as "ganja."

Minister of Justice Mark Golding made the announcement at an afternoon news conference on Thursday saying that Jamaica's Dangerous Drugs Act would be formally amended this summer.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller made the decision on June 2, he said.

"Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja. These relate to possession of small quantities of ganja for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medical-medicinal purposes," he said.

"Approval has been given also to a proposal for the decriminalization of the use of ganja for religious purposes," he said.

Uruguay recently became the latest country to legalize marijuana use, joining several countries in Europe as well as the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington.

Possession of small quantities of the drug would become a non-arrestable, ticketable infraction in Jamaica resulting in a fine, Golding said.

"Too many of our young people have ended up with criminal convictions after being caught with a 'spliff,' something that has affected their ability to do things like get jobs and get visas to travel overseas," Golding said.

He added that the government would propose a bill in the Jamaican Parliament soon that will expunge the criminal records of people convicted for possession of small amounts of the drug, which is grown widely across Jamaica.

The change means that a person cannot be arrested if he has in his possession up to 57 grams (2 ounces) of ganja in a public space.

Anyone ticketed will be given 30 days to pay the fine, failure of which will result in it becoming a minor offense, resulting in the offender doing court-ordered community service.

According to Golding, possession of ganja for religious or therapeutic purposes as prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, or for scientific research by an accredited institution, will also be decriminalized.
 

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http://online.wsj.com/articles/medical-marijuana-bill-advances-in-new-york-1402621958




Medical Marijuana Bill Advances in New York


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised doubts on Thursday about whether he would sign into law a medical marijuana bill advancing through the state Legislature.

The bill, known as the Compassionate Care Act, was transferred out of the Senate Finance Committee over the previous objections of its chairman. That puts it within striking distance of a vote on the Senate floor, with the Legislature due to break for the year next Thursday.

The bill, which the Assembly passed earlier this year, would have New York joining its neighbors, New Jersey and Connecticut, in legalizing medical marijuana. It would create a growth and distribution system for the drug and allow health-care practitioners to prescribe it for cancer and other serious conditions.

n January, Mr. Cuomo introduced a more limited pilot program that doesn't require legislative approval. On Thursday at an unrelated event in upstate Peekskill, the Democratic governor said he was concerned the Legislature's effort could backfire.

"This sets up an entire system for marijuana growing, production, distribution, sales, and if you're not careful and the system isn't done well, this could actually turn into a major negative," Mr. Cuomo said, calling marijuana a gateway drug for other illegal substances.

"We want to make it work," he said. "But we also recognize the downside, which is if you don't put in the correct system, you could have a serious problem on your hands."

The medical marijuana issue is coming to the fore during an election year when lawmakers and Mr. Cuomo had been focusing instead on a series of anti-heroin measures, among a handful of issues expected to be in focus before lawmakers leave Albany.

The broader legalization effort gained steam after the governor's idea to make pot available to the very ill was criticized by some advocates as too limited.

The governor envisions a distribution system confined to 20 hospitals statewide, a program that is dependent on federal approval, since without it hospitals could jeopardize their federal funding. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, even as states move to legalize it.

Advocates saw Mr. Cuomo's idea as a step forward but have thrown their support behind the Senate bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island. She said she could address the governor's concerns.

"I don't disagree with anything he said, which is why we put a considerable amount of hours into the drafting of this to make sure any of those things don't happen," said Ms. Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with Senate Republicans.

Marijuana as distributed under her bill, Ms. Savino pledged, "will be immune to diversion into the black market."

The co-leaders of the Senate, Democratic Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein and Republican Sen. Dean Skelos, must both agree to bring the bill for a vote. Mr. Skelos hasn't publicly committed to doing so. But Ms. Savino said a discussion "at the leadership level" allowed the bill to move to the Rules Committee, the powerful panel where Senate leaders decide what gets a floor vote. Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican who had vowed to not let the bill move forward, didn't return calls for comment.

If the bill moves through the Senate, it would become one of the few pieces of major legislation to reach the governor's desk without his direct involvement. Mr. Cuomo has said he would sign the bill if it "makes sense."

Ms. Savino said she met with the governor's staff on Thursday and had "no major disagreements."

Asked when she expected an agreement with the governor's office to be finalized, which would result in a floor vote, Ms. Savino replied: "It's like tomato sauce, you know? When it's done, you just know."
 

7greeneyes

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/local...481ffc-f256-11e3-bf76-447a5df6411f_story.html




D.C. Council speeds toward law that would let medical marijuana be used for many ailments


D.C. Council members pressed forward with plans to broadly expand access to medical marijuana in the nation’s capital Thursday, drawing praise from residents suffering from an array of conditions that they say should qualify them for legal use of the plant.

Under legislation that all 13 council members have pledged to support, the bill would strike from D.C. law a narrow list of four conditions — including AIDS and spasms — that qualify residents to apply for the legal purchase of marijuana. New guidelines would leave it up to D.C. doctors to decide whether a patient might benefit from marijuana.

The push to loosen the city’s medical marijuana program follows the council’s decision in March to eliminate all criminal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use, replacing a potential one-year jail term with a fine of $25. (Smoking it in public could still draw a jail term of 60 days, similar to the penalty for public consumption of alcohol).

On paper, the proposed guidelines for writing recommendations for marijuana would make the city’s program among the most liberal nationwide. But several restrictions — including licensing each plant used for legal cultivation — would keep the program far more regulated than in states including California.

The District’s medical marijuana program launched slowly last year after being tied up by Congress for nearly a decade. But with bipartisan support on Capitol Hill now for looser medical marijuana laws, council members said they were confident that a broader law would pass muster with congressional overseers. Congress also shows no sign of stopping the District law to decriminalize marijuana. Without an act of Congress and the president, that should take effect next month.

To expedite passage of the legislation, the council’s Health Committee and its Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a joint hearing Thursday and moved toward a full council vote that could come before a summer recess in July.

Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), chairman of the Health Committee, said that with just 400 patients in the District, or a few dozen a month, approved for the use of medical marijuana so far, the city’s year-old program has yet to become the benefit to the District’s 645,000 residents that lawmakers envisioned.

The committee also heard testimony on a companion bill by council member David Grosso (I-At Large) that would allow the city’s three current dispensaries, as well as those allowed to open in the future, to increase cultivation from a maximum of less than 100 plants to 500 each.

Grosso said the increased production would be key to creating enough marijuana so it could be manufactured into pills and liquids, which, among other uses, are the methods of ingestion preferred for children with debilitating epilepsy.

“If you push one button over here, you’re going to have an effect over there: We need to consider all of these issues together at once,” Grosso said.

The city’s health director, Joxel Garcia, said he supported giving doctors more flexibility and added that the Health Department had begun allowing patients to apply online for permission to purchase medical marijuana to help more benefit.

But he urged the council to move cautiously, both in ramping up production and raising expectations that marijuana can be a cure-all.

“The problem is, people come in thinking it is a panacea, and when it fails, they are angered,” Garcia said. He said the drug should be thought of as experimental because it lacks any FDA guidance for effective uses.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said he did not think it was Garcia’s role or expertise to decide how many plants each cultivator should grow. Wells said supply and demand would dictate production.

Thursday’s debate took place as proponents of a measure to legalize possession of marijuana, including home cultivation, continued to gather signatures to place a measure on the District ballot Nov. 4. According to a recent Post poll, District residents support legalizing the drug for personal use by a margin of 2 to 1.
 

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http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2014/06/marijuana_legalization_peter_l.html




Marijuana legalization: Peter Lewis' family leads in $250,000 donation to Oregon initiative campaign


A political action committee formed by family members of the late billionaire insurance executive Peter Lewis has given $250,000 to a marijuana legalization initiative that backers are seeking to qualify for the November ballot in Oregon.

Lewis, who died last year, had turned Progressive into one of the country's largest auto insurers and was a major donor to marijuana legalization and medical marijuana campaigns around the country.

Lewis had given $96,000 to the Oregon initiative, sponsored by New Approach Oregon, before his death in November and there was speculation that his demise would seriously undercut the legalization effort in Oregon. However, the latest contribution shows that his family is willing to provide additional support.

"It's clear that his family is doing this to honor his legacy," said Graham Boyd, a longtime adviser to Peter Lewis who is also heading the new committee, which is called New Approach PAC.

Contributors to the new committee include Lewis' two sons, Jonathan and Adam, his brother Dan Lewis and his ex-wife, Toby Lewis, Boyd said. Other contributors to the new committee include New York fragrance company heir Henry van Ameringen, family planning philanthropist Phil Harvey and Cari Tuna, the wife of one of Facebook's co-founders. Also contributing is David Bronner, the CEO of a California soap company that is a major donor to the Oregon initiative that would require labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Liz Kaufman, who is managing the Oregon initiative campaign, said her group has also received another $150,000 from New York-based Drug Policy Action, which had earlier given $200,000.

Drug Policy Action, which has received major support from billionaire George Soros, was a major backer of Washington's successful legalization initiative in 2012. Lewis contributed just over $2 million to that campaign.

Boyd declined to say how much New Approach PAC has raised, saying it would be disclosed in a June 20 federal filing. He said the group will be supporting a variety of efforts relating to marijuana but said he wouldn't predict if there will be further contributions to the Oregon measure.

New Approach Oregon, which has raised more than $900,000 since starting last year, is in the midst of gathering the 87,213 signatures needed by July 3 to qualify for the November ballot. Another group is also collecting signatures for two other proposals to legalize marijuana.
 

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http://www.denverpost.com/marijuana...ng-spend-9-million-medical-marijuana-research




Colorado preparing to spend $9 million on medical marijuana research


More than a decade after voters here first said marijuana could be medicine, Colorado is preparing to embark on the largest state-funded effort to study the medical benefits of cannabis.

Under a bill signed this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state health department will give out about $9 million in grantsin the next five years to researchers for marijuana studies. Most importantly, the research is expected to include clinical trials on the kinds of marijuana products actually being used in Colorado — something that federally funded studies on marijuana have lacked.

"Our intent is to be rigorous scientifically, but to also act with some expediency because these are products that a large percentage of our population is using today," said Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer of the health department. "We want to make sure that what's happening out there in everyday practice isn't harming people."

Nearly 20 years after California became the first state in the U.S. to pass a medical marijuana law, the research on marijuana's health effects is still largely polarized.

Several studies — matching the anecdotal experiences of medical marijuana patients — have found cannabis or its isolated components can be effective in managing pain, tremors, nausea, inflammation and other conditions.

Other studies, though, have taken a dimmer view of marijuana, summed up by a new National Institute on Drug Abuse review, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that concludes marijuana is bad for brain development and can lead to addiction. Although the review says marijuana may have therapeutic potential, it finds the evidence less than convincing.

"Some physicians continue to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes despite limited evidence of a benefit," the review states. "This practice raises particular concerns with regard to long-term use by vulnerable populations."

Complicating the analyses further is that many studies use cannabis grown by a government-contracted lab — not the kind of sophisticated, and often more potent, products developed by the medical marijuana industry across the country.

California attempted to solve this riddle last decade by becoming the first state to fund medical marijuana research. More than 12 years and $8.7 million later, the state's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research published studies finding that smoked marijuana could relieve pain at certain doses, that vaporized marijuana was safer on the lungs, that medical marijuana patients with multiple sclerosis reported reduced spasticity and other findings.

Colorado is now attempting to build on that research. The money for the grant program will come from registration fees paid by medical marijuana patients.

Wolk said the health department is assembling the oversight committee that will review grant applications. He hopes to begin accepting applications in the second half of 2014, with funding for studies going out in early 2015. He expects the state will be able to fund 10 to 15 studies.

Wolk said research on the medical conditions approved for marijuana use in Colorado would take priority. But he said the state also would consider funding other types of studies — even local clinical trials on pharmaceutical drugs derived from marijuana.

"We're trying to turn over all the stones on this," he said.

Dr. Christian Thurstone, an adolescent addiction medicine specialist at the University of Colorado, said he hopes to apply for a grant to study whether a nonpsychoactive marijuana compound called CBD can help treat people addicted to cocaine, opiates or even pot. Earlier studies have suggested it could.

Thurstone, who has often expressed concerns about marijuana legalization, said it is important for the state to fund research on cannabis, in part because the federal government is falling behind. Since 2003, the amount of money the National Institutes of Health has given out in grants for all research has remained basically unchanged, when adjusted for inflation.

"We have to look at other ways to keep our research infrastructure going," Thurstone said.
 

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http://www.boston.com/health/2014/0...juana-sites/au1dAamRZKXxMxEzDtNBKI/story.html




Vermont Governor: Protect Medical Marijuana Sites


MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says he supports an effort in Congress to block the federal government from cracking down on state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries.

Vermont Public Radio reports that dispensaries in the states that allow the use of medical marijuana have been under the threat of being closed down by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency because they are in violation of federal drug laws.

Shumlin says he supports a move by a coalition of the most liberal and the most conservative members of the U.S. House to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with state sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries.

Shumlin says he thinks the congressional effort ‘‘adds more voices to the common sense approach to marijuana policy.’
 

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