MJ News for 11/21/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/20...playgrounds/KW1IqH3Uu3ZsCKdsHjusKP/story.html





US attorney asked to block local marijuana clinics near schools




US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is weighing whether to use federal law to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, including those proposed for Boston and Brookline, if they open within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, or public housing.

Under federal law, the 15 dispensaries and additional cultivation sites provisionally approved in Massachusetts could face prosecution and asset forfeiture if they open too close to a school — even if the locations would be allowed under local and state regulations. A Globe review found that at least six of the dispensaries would be within 1,000 feet of schools or playgrounds.

A critic of the Brookline dispensary has appealed to the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts to intervene, saying it is vital to separate dispensaries from children.

“It raises important questions, and we’re going to have to take them into consideration,” Ortiz’s spokeswoman, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, said. “We are looking into it. We need to assess it and have some internal discussions, and we will have a decision soon.”

The scrutiny by federal prosecutors is the latest wrinkle in a protracted and controversial state licensing process for dispensaries. It comes as the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries face inspections and local zoning approvals.

As 23 states and the District of Columbia moved to legalize medical marijuana, tensions flared between federal and state officials. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which calls for increased penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of all schools, including colleges; playgrounds; or public housing.

Last year, the Justice Department advised federal prosecutors that enforcement should generally be left to local authorities in states where marijuana has been legalized in some form. But the Justice Department cautioned that preventing marijuana from getting into the hands of children remains a federal priority.

Robert Mikos, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University, said most states have taken the Justice Department advisory to heart and incorporated the 1,000-foot setback into their licensing process.

“In most states, it’s a nonissue because part of the licensing agreement is that you don’t operate near a school,” Mikos said. “Most states have figured one way to quell the concerns is to make sure that these dispensaries don’t open near schools.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health set significantly less stringent guidelines. After voters in 2012 legalized medical use of marijuana, state health regulators crafted rules that prevented dispensaries from opening within 500 feet of schools, day-care centers, or facilities where children frequently congregate.

But cities and towns can adopt even more lenient rules.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Health declined to comment Thursday.

In a Nov. 7 letter to Ortiz, Elizabeth Childs, a Brookline psychiatrist and former state mental health commissioner, complained that New England Treatment Access’s proposed dispensary at 160 Washington St., in Brookline, sits within 1,000 feet of two schools, three playgrounds, and a public housing development.

“The state regulations are really problematic,” Childs said. “This is a really important step to make sure you separate vulnerable populations from a risky product.”

She urged Ortiz to take action, noting that other prosecutors across the country have sent letters to dispensaries and landlords warning they faced federal action if they located within 1,000 feet of schools. Last year, Washington state revised zoning rules for dispensaries selling marijuana for recreational use after the US attorney in Seattle warned of possible federal prosecution.

Arnon Vered, executive director of New England Treatment Access, sent a letter to Brookline’s zoning bylaw committee in August 2013 saying the company was aware of the US law and would not locate within 1,000 feet of a school.

“Our recommendation is that the buffer zone should be 1,000 feet,” Vered wrote then. “The federal law enforcement community has made it very clear that it will exercise its discretion to enforce federal law regarding cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana — even medical marijuana — within 1,000 feet of schools.”

On Thursday, Terence Burke, a spokesman for New England Treatment Access, said the company shifted its position after Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memo on Aug. 29, 2013, advising federal prosecutors that enforcement would generally be left to local authorities where marijuana had been legalized. But that memo said preventing drug distribution to minors remained a priority of the federal government.

“This is a very new industry and over time we became more confident that the 500-foot buffer zone would be in compliance with the new federal guidelines outlined in the second Cole memo and moved ahead with our current location,” Burke said.

Patriot Care Corp., which won conditional approval for a marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk St. in Boston, and two others in Greenfield and Lowell, appears to have dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools in Boston and Greenfield, according to the Globe review. Dennis Kunian, a spokesman for Patriot Care, said that while the company has not had contact with federal authorities, “we would cooperate fully if we did.”
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/21/veterans-medical-marijuana_n_6193932.html





Veterans May Gain Easier Access To Medical Marijuana




A bill introduced in Congress would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.

The Veterans Equal Access Act. Introduced Thursday by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) with 10 bipartisan cosponsors, would lift a ban on VA doctors giving opinions or recommendations about medical marijuana to veterans who live in states where medical marijuana is permitted.

“Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside,” Blumenauer said. “Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran’s family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It’s shameful.”

Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD and depression, according to a 2012 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some scientists have suggested that marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. In a recent study, patients who smoked cannabis saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.

"A clinical trial needs to be done to see what proportion and what kind of PTSD patients benefit, with either cannabis or the main active ingredients of cannabis," said Dr. George Greer, who was involved in the study.

This year, federal health officials signed off on a study that would have examined the effects of five potencies of smoked or vaporized cannabis on 50 veterans suffering from PTSD. The study's future still remains unclear because the federal government's sole provider of medical-grade cannabis didn't have the proper strains for the research to begin. Then the study's lead scientist was fired from the University of Arizona, where the research would have taken place.

Currently, 23 states allow the medical use of marijuana. Ten of those states, as well as Guam which legalized medical marijuana this month, allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for PTSD-related symptoms. The plant remains illegal under federal law for all uses.
 

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http://www.livescience.com/48848-chronic-marijuana-brain-changes.html




Marijuana Use Linked to Changes in the Brain




Using marijuana daily for four years or longer may be related to certain changes in the brain, according to new research.

In the study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brains of 48 adults who were chronic marijuana users, meaning they used the drug at least three times a day. Researchers also looked at 62 people who didn't use marijuana.

The investigators found that the people who had been smoking marijuana daily for at least four years had a smaller volume of gray matter in a region called the orbitofrontal cortex, which is commonly associated with addiction.

These users also showed greater connectivity between different parts of the brain, compared with nonusers. (Connectivity is a measure of how well information travels between different parts of the brain.)

"We found that there … not only is a change in structure, but there also tends to be a change reflected in the connectivity," said study author Francesca Filbey, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

The lost brain volume could explain the increased connectivity found in marijuana users' brains, Filbey told Live Science. The brain's connectivity may increase "to compensate for the loss in grey matter volume in that region," she said.

But it also possible that these differences in connectivity and the size of the brain region were present in the people in the study before they started using marijuana, she noted.

"All we can say is that we do see these" differences in people who use marijuana, Filbey said.

Still, there is reason to think marijuana did cause the differences. "We also saw that the younger you are when you start using marijuana regularly, the greater the changes in the brain," she said. Interestingly, the increased connectivity was not seen in the people who had been using marijuana for six to 10 years, she noted.

The differences in the brains of the marijuana users may have something to do with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. THC affects cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are involved in regulating appetite, memory and mood, and the orbitofrontal cortex has many of those cannabinoid receptors, Filbey said.

"If someone smokes marijuana, this area is bound to be affected by it," she said.

The researchers suspect that the changes in the brain occur to adapt to the THC in a person's system, she said.

It is difficult to say what consequences these changes may have for users, Filbey said, as it likely depends on the individual. However, previous research has found that the orbitofrontal cortex is very involved in the addiction process and in how people respond to marijuana, Findley said.

"In our other studies, we did find that those who had worse problems with marijuana [addiction] had a greater response in that area," as the area was very hypersensitive to marijuana use, she said.

The study was published Nov. 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 

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http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/11/19/3497605_recreational-medical-marijuana.html?rh=1





(Washington State) Recreational, medical marijuana businesses at odds over law





After investing months of work and tens of thousands of dollars in their Tacoma business, Tyler Severy and his partners last spring won a state license to grow, process and package marijuana — seemingly something akin to a golden ticket.

But Severy says Torch NW, formerly Commencement Bay Production and Processing, is limping from payday to payday because it’s sitting on bud that stores can’t sell.

He blames the competition.

Hundreds of shops around the state — an estimated 250 to 350 in King County alone — sell marijuana intended for medicinal use. They vastly outnumber the more than 60 state-licensed stores that have opened so far, including about five in most-populous King County.

Existing in a gray area of state law, medical operations do not need to obtain the licenses or pay the high taxes required by the 2012 ballot measure that legalized pot for recreational use. They face few rules and even less enforcement of what local rules do exist.

Many sell marijuana for half of what the licensed stores charge, or even less.

“If you could just go down to the bootleg store and buy your gin and vodka at half the price … Costco would be up in arms over it. And that’s what we need to be,” Severy said.

The Legislature is gearing up to tackle medical marijuana again this winter, a year after failing to reach agreement on a merger of the recreational and medical industries. This time, though, the players have changed. There are now dozens of licensed growers and retailers in the recreational pot business, all worried about their bottom lines.

They are far from unanimous. Some also run medical operations. Many are part of lobbying groups that represent both sides of the divide. But expect them to be vocal in lawmakers’ deliberations.

“As we make this shift to recreational, my God, medical’s exploding,” Severy said. “If they can’t bring medical in check ... they can just write this whole marijuana thing off.”

But if implementation of Initiative 502 is fodder for those who want to rein in medical marijuana, it’s also grist for its defenders, who should again be out in force during the legislative session.

Merging a thriving medical system with a recreational system struggling to get up and running is the wrong approach, said Patrick Seifert, whose Rainier Xpress has sold medical marijuana in downtown Olympia for three years.

“Right now they can’t even handle getting the product to people who just want to smoke weed, so you can’t tell me they can handle the medical,” Seifert said.

Seifert wants to be licensed as a medical shop. He wouldn’t mind paying fees, he said. But he is nonetheless “terrified” by early talk out of the Legislature. Medical marijuana is “under attack,” he said.

Medical patients and sellers bristle at efforts to create a registry of patients and to lump them in with recreational buyers. Their lobbying, along with disputes over whether medical patients should get tax breaks and whether cities and counties should get a share of marijuana revenue, scuttled a deal in the 2014 session.

Those dynamics will again be hurdles to a law next session, when a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall will make lawmakers resistant to giving up any of the more than $100 million a year expected from pot sales.

One way the path could be smoother: For the first time, amending I-502 will require a simple majority of lawmakers, not the supermajorities required in the first two years of an initiative’s existence.

Taking point on the do-over attempt is La Center Republican Sen. Ann Rivers.

She’s floating an evolving proposal that would create standalone medical stores licensed and overseen by the state liquor board, which does the same for recreational stores. Patients registered with the state could shop at those stores.

Seifert is worried that if the two systems are merged, existing recreational sellers will have first crack at obtaining a medical license and existing medical sellers like him will be left out. He would have to close and his patients would have to hope that a licensed medical shop opens, he said.

But Rivers said her proposal, even more so than last year’s failed legislation, has a heavy emphasis on making sure there’s adequate supply for patients of safe, lab-tested marijuana. Medical professionals would be on hand to counsel patients about their medical needs, Rivers said, something that’s not allowed at recreational stores.

“I’m calling it the Cannabis Patient Protection Act,” Rivers said. “We really try to look at what the needs of the patients are and we’re trying to meet those in a regulatory environment that’s never existed before for medical cannabis.”

Some medical-marijuana interests may prefer an alternative that Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Seattle Democrat, has in the works. Kohl-Welles is keeping mum about the details for now but said she’s “going in a different direction this year” with an approach that “will involve no need for a medical authorization, or database or registry, at all.”

Local governments are eagerly awaiting action by the Legislature.

Olympia officials say the city has spent dozens of hours enforcing its moratorium on new medical outlets, shutting down one new store and stopping others from opening their doors. The city grandfathered in 13 stores, leaving Thurston County with one of the state’s densest concentrations of medical marijuana access points compared to population.

City Manager Steve Hall said enforcing the moratorium “takes time from the police department and our code enforcement” and legislative action on medical marijuana would help.

Some local governments may not wait for lawmakers. Courts have upheld the right of the city of Kent to ban medical-marijuana shops in a case that is awaiting review from the state Supreme Court and could shape future enforcement.

Seattle warned medical operations last month they must shut down by the summer of 2015 or 2016, depending on the Legislature’s action. But Mayor Ed Murray, a former state lawmaker, also has called for taking as-yet unspecified local action to remove patients and businesses from legal limbo.

This week, the Pierce County Council — which has a de facto ban on recreational marijuana businesses — voted to “terminate the operation of collective gardens and unlicensed marijuana dispensaries” next July 1, unless the Legislature changes their status.

Tacoma city officials also are exploring their options for dealing with the estimated 56 medical marijuana shops in the city. .

City Councilman Ryan Mello said that proliferation is unfair to the handful of stores that are paying taxes and following the law. Another councilman, Robert Thoms, said the city should notify medical establishments that the city will regulate them, closing some, if the state doesn’t act.

“I don’t know if we can wait for the Legislature,” Mello said. “We’ve been waiting for the Legislature to do a lot of things and there hasn’t been a lot of action.”

Dan Smith, owner of Tacoma Custom Jewelers and president of the 6th Avenue Business District, points out that the city does not enforce existing marijuana laws, which put limits on marijuana that most medical shops and some of their customers skirt.

Smith said customers who emerge from medical shops sometimes brazenly light up a joint on the street or pass off their purchase to someone else in an apparent drug deal. Tacoma voters have mandated that police consider marijuana their lowest priority.

A one-mile stretch of 6th Avenue is home to at least three medical shops as well as one recreational store and a second expected to be licensed and open in two weeks.

That’s too many for Mary Johnson, who with her husband Tomowns a store, Northwest Costume, in the same neighborhood.

“If you get too many of one thing, it’s not a good thing,” she said. “If we had too many costume shops, it wouldn’t be a good thing.
 

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http://www.fastcompany.com/3038663/how-we-push-small-businesses-out-of-the-legal-marijuana-market





REGULATION IS SQUEEZING OUT POTREPRENEURS, CLEARING THE ROAD FOR BIG CANNABIS




For Julie Dooley, marijuana is a business and a cause.

A 46-year-old mother of three, Dooley is the cofounder and president of Julie’s Baked Goods, a purveyor of cannabis-infused snacks. She has celiac disease and wanted to create gluten-free products that would relieve her pain without damaging her intestine. Dooley’s Denver company released its first product, granola mixed with cranberries and almonds, in 2010 and now sells about 6,000 units a month, employing 11 people.

Even in Colorado, where medical and recreational marijuana are both legal, the cannabis business involves its share of hassles. Initially, Dooley’s license cost $1,250 and required a 25-page application. Renewing it, she said, cost more than twice that and required investing about $25,000 in the company’s kitchen, including a security system with 24-hour video surveillance. She wouldn’t have a business today if her husband weren’t a manufacturing specialist, she says.

As hard as she’s worked, Dooley’s experience has been relatively easy for a medical marijuana business in this country. Marijuana remains illegal federally, which leaves every state which allows the product to figure out its own regulations. Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, and its regulations help ensure that cannabis companies have to pay close attention to the regulatory landscape to ensure they’re in step with the law. “I know every city councilman,” Dooley said. “I don’t want to.”

Colorado has plenty of small potrepreneurs like Dooley. Marijuana advocates talk up the value of their businesses to create jobs, pay taxes and help the sick. But at last week’s National Marijuana Business Conference in Las Vegas, the future of pot looked much less like an archipelago of mission-driven small enterprises than an emerging mega industry to be dominated by large companies.

Big Cannabis is coming. Increasingly, state regulations for legal marijuana are tilted toward outfits with deep pockets. Venture capitalists are looking for the brands that can ramp up and be everywhere overnight. (Just this week Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm, and the family of reggae legend Bob Marley announced that they will release Marley Natural, a cannabis brand inspired by the singer.) And people who are working to start small businesses—who often believe cannabis as a social or medical good—wonder if the gold rush is going to pass them by.

The day before Las Vegas marijuana convention began, a firm called The ArcView Group held a more exclusive event in a hotel ballroom a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip. The company connects its more than 300 member investors with promising cannabis-related startups. In less than two years, CEO Troy Dayton said ArcView has facilitated investments of at least $17 million in 34 companies. ArcView members include professionals working for Wall Street banks and large venture capital firms, he said, though they often attend in an independent capacity.

The day of panel discussions and company pitches began with a welcome from Dayton, who was buoyed by votes legalizing recreational cannabis in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. “Before we get into figuring out how much money we can make,” he acknowledged the “people sitting in prison right now for this plant.”

One attendee was Andrea Goldman, a senior executive at a major financial firm which she declined to name. She is also part of a cannabis investing vehicle called the Budding Enterprise Fund. The firm has yet to make any investments, but she expects that cannabis startups could eventually be acquired by “big pharma, big ag, big tobacco, because they’re going to be interested.”

For Dooley, regulation is a constant burden and a threat to her small business. But for the larger businesses working in a gray market like cannabis, regulation can be beneficial: it legitimizes their work in the eyes of the public and keeps out small competitors.

Nevada’s High-Roller Game

Early this month Nevada, which has legalized medical marijuana, issued preliminary business licenses to growing operations, factories (businesses like Dooley’s), dispensaries and testing facilities. Industry leaders compared the closely watched process to obtaining a Nevada gaming license. It required applicants, among much else, to demonstrate liquidity of at least $250,000 per license—that’s $500,000 if an applicant wanted a factory and dispensary—not including startup costs.

Kurt Barrick, CEO of a consultancy with the wonderful name VonDank, assisted clients with Nevada applications: One particularly complex multiple-license entry reached 962 pages, he remembered. The Nevada application asks for, among much else, extensive technical and financial information. One businessperson who participated in five successful applications said the process cost $1.4 million—not including the liquidity requirements—bringing in legal, accounting and lobbying services.

The application process is so fraught that in August, The Las Vegas Sun reported that Jay Brown, one of the most influential lawyers in the state, would charge his clients who successfully obtained licenses 9 percent of the business’s net revenue for the first 10 years.

Leslie Bocskor, founding chairman of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association, calls the process “merit based.”

“Nevada has a history of setting up regulatory frameworks for industries that were once viewed as taboo,” he says. Bocskor, a dapper former investment banker with a long door-knocker beard and the bushy eyebrows of a Victorian magician, is raising a $25 million fund to invest in cannabis companies. While some investors who are interested in the space stick with auxiliary services, to avoid breaking federal law, he says his Electrum Fund will back companies that “touch the plant.” (In general, companies face less regulation and less risk the further they are from the plant, which can makes those spaces more attractive to small business people.)

Bocskor said the restrictions are designed to help keep out “bad actors” and ensure that the industry will not embarrass the state. He predicts that the state will become a Silicon Valley of cannabis where researchers develop ultra-refined strains of pot and exploit the plant’s medical potential. One hydroponics CEO estimated that the Las Vegas market alone could be worth up to $1.5 billion annually.

I asked Bocskor if the cannabis industry would also expect the same tax breaks that he said gaming and mining already receive in the state. “Once it’s big enough it will be asking for all the same accommodations,” he said. “But that’s seven or ten years out.” He added that marijuana’s illegal status nationally would give the state more leverage to tax cannabis.

Other states have also created rules that restrict entry into the cannabis industry. This year Connecticut issued four growing licenses that required each qualifier to put $2 million in escrow. A press release announcing the licenses said Connecticut is the “first state medical marijuana program based squarely on the pharmaceutical/medical model.”

A frequent argument for tough restrictions boils down to ‘We can’t allow just anyone to start a pharmaceutical company in their garage.’ Cannabis activists counter that medical marijuana is immensely beneficial and has been used safely (if illegally) by millions of people. As experts debate, the results for entrepreneurs are clearer: Where legal marijuana is treated as something that should only come out of a pharmaceutical company, small storefront businesses won’t have much of a chance.

“The Cannabis Capital of The World”

Nevada is a small state by population, but it’s been making big bets lately. “Las Vegas is going to be the cannabis capital of the world,” Bocskor said.

It’s a familiar refrain for Nevada, a state with economy that’s highly dependent on tourism today, but wants to build the drone capital of the country and the batteries for an anticipated wave of Tesla buyers in the coming years.

When it comes to pot, the thesis is that legal cannabis in Nevada will become one of the signature experiences for Vegas tourists. It’s no stretch to grasp that getting stoned could enhance a night at a celebrity chef restaurant or Cirque du Soleil. (The impact on slot machine revenue is dispiriting to contemplate.)

Nevada law allows recognized medical marijuana consumers from other states to buy it in Nevada, the most permissive “reciprocity” component of any state. Nevada voters will decide on full legalization in 2016 if state lawmakers don’t allow it first.

The combination of customer access and Las Vegas exposure could be a huge advantage for brands like Marley Natural with national aspirations. Pot growers have honed their craft to the point that powerful pot is well on its way to becoming a commodity. If Vegas can establish itself as the place where many tourists take their first legal hit with a reputable brand, it could establish itself as the marijuana industry town.

It’s a billion-dollar business opportunity, but some activists and small businesspeople see where the industry is going as a raw deal for them and a missed opportunity for a country with a steadily declining rate of entrepreneurship. “Big business and big government are doing this under the guise that they have to control all this,” said Jane West, who started Edible Events, a cannabis event planning company in Denver. “It’s all about big money now.”
 

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http://rt.com/news/207663-australia-nsw-medical-marijuana/





(Australia) People pot power: Aussie state gives go-ahead to medicinal cannabis trial




An Australian state will conduct clinical trial of medical marijuana after thousands supported a pro-pot campaign. New South Wales may grow the plant on its own and include child patients into the scheme, the state premier told a cannabis conference.

The pledge by Mike Baird promises that the concrete terms of the trial would be formalized before year’s end. The move however drew criticism from the Greens, who said the trial may take years, which would unnecessary delay legal alleviation of pain for terminally ill patients. The Greens had submitted their own bill to legalize medical marijuana earlier this year.

Baird made the announcement of the forthcoming trial in the regional city of Tamworth at the Inaugural Australian Medicinal Cannabis Symposium, a two-day gathering of doctors, policymakers, users of marijuana and media that kicked off on Friday morning.

The premier’s office would not provide details on the scope of the future trial, but according to the Sydney Morning Herald the state government has endorsed the inclusion of children with pediatric epilepsy, an option once thought to be off the table.

The trial is meant to explore options on how marijuana for medical use would be produced, distributed and controlled, Baird said.

“There are concerns around the issues of supply and distribution and these will be covered in the trial,” the NSW premier said. “I hope the trial will bring some clarity to this area and enhance our understanding of the medical use of cannabis.”

Baird added that the state may grow the crop on its own.

"I'm absolutely open to us doing that," he said. "If that's what we need to do – either through contract or us doing it ourselves – to hold these clinical trials, that's exactly what we'll do."

The trial is meant to pave the way for decriminalization of medical marijuana in NSW, according to Australian media. Doing this was a recommendation of a state parliamentary enquiry into the issue last year.

The symposium welcomed the progress the state made towards legalizing medical marijuana, but it also drew criticism from the Greens, who said Baird and his conservative Liberal Party were not moving fast enough.

"Years will pass by before there is any progress towards a solution," said Greens MP John Kaye, who put his own bill on legalizing medical marijuana before state parliament, ahead of the symposium.

He added that "without a drug company to sponsor it, there is little likelihood of any useful outcome."

As a stopgap measure, Baird said the state would amend NSW police guidelines to plainly state the current policy not to charge terminally ill adults and their carers caught possessing cannabis.

The Tamworth event is a venue for sending a message to people like Daniel Haslam, 24, who has become the face of NSW pro-cannabis campaign. Haslam has a terminal bowel cancer and was forced to procure marijuana illegally on the black market to treat his symptoms. A campaign to change the state legislation launched by his mother Lucy Haslam collected more than 195,000 signatures.


The Haslam family had some bad episodes in their campaigning, like the blunder by Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who told Daniel on stage not to smoke cannabis because it would “give him cancer.” But now they enjoy a firm support among legislators and the state government.

“I was struck by the courage and determination of the Haslam family when I met with them and have enormous sympathy for the battle Dan faces every day,” Baird said. “What we want to do is improve his quality of life and for people like him, and I hope this reform does just that.”

Australian federal legislation criminalizes cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes, but some individual states allow limited growth and possession of pot as medicine. NSW is on track to join them.

“If a conservative area like ours can do it, then surely the rest of the country can,” Lucy Haslam said.
 

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