MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:50 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Obama urged to reclassify “less dangerous” marijuana

In a recent interview, President Obama downplayed the hazard posed by marijuana, declaring the drug no more dangerous than alcohol and contrasting it with the graver risk presented by “harder drugs” like cocaine and methamphetamine.
And in a letter sent Wednesday, 18 Democratic members of Congress agreed, urging the president to put his money where his mouth is and direct the attorney general to reclassify the drug under federal law to reflect its lower risk factor.

“You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous ‘in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.’ This is true,” explained the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. “Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense.”

The lawmakers bemoaned the “lives and resources” that are “wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws.” They also noted that Schedule I drugs have no recognized medical use, a stipulation that disregards “both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana.”

Moreover, they added, the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug means marijuana businesses in states where the drug is legal “cannot deduct business expenses from their taxes or take tax credits” under the federal tax code.

For those reasons and others, Blumenauer and his colleagues urged the president to instruct Attorney General Eric Holder “to delist or classify Marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II.”

The lawmakers’ request notwithstanding, it’s not clear that the Justice Department is willing to intervene in drug policy by reclassifying marijuana. At a congressional hearing last week, Michael Botticelli, the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that despite the president’s recent public statements, the “Department of Justice’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”

The administration has been “consistent in its opposition to attempts to legalize marijuana and other drugs,” Botticelli told the House Oversight Committee’s Government Operations subcommittee.
But despite the inertia of the federal bureaucracy, it’s clear that attitudes and statutes concerning marijuana are in a remarkable state of flux, changing more rapidly than government regulators may be prepared to handle.

In a CBS News poll released last month, 51 percent of Americans said marijuana should be legalized for recreational use, while 44 percent disagreed. That result, which tracked closely with other recent polls on the question, marked the first time a CBS News survey reflected majority support for legalization.

And in a watershed moment that seems to have catalyzed the national conversation about marijuana policy, Colorado and Washington state legalized pot for recreational use in 2012 election referenda. Since then, a handful of states have indicated they may follow suit.

Last Tuesday, the Washington, D.C. city council lent its preliminary approval to a bill that would decriminalize marijuana in the district, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of the drug to a $25 citation. To be enacted, the proposal must be passed once more by the council and approved by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Congress would then have 30 days to block the measure by passing a resolution “disapproving” of it – a process that could throw into stark relief the disconnect between federal and municipal laws on marijuana use, if lawmakers choose to dive into the contentious debate.

While Congress has generally deferred to the D.C. government in recent years, there is a history of federal attempts to stymie the district’s marijuana laws – in 1998, the D.C. council approved medical marijuana use, but it was another decade before Congress allowed that decision to move forward.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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RE: MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:52 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


We Need Proof on Marijuana

MANY people have heard the story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl from Colorado with severe epilepsy. After her parents began giving her a marijuana strain rich in cannabidiol (CBD), the major nonpsychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Charlotte reportedly went from having hundreds of seizures per week to only two or three per month. Previously, her illness, Dravet Syndrome, was a daily torture despite multiple high doses of powerful anti-seizure drugs.

As news of Charlotte’s story moved from the Internet to a CNN story by Dr. Sanjay Gupta to Facebook pages, some families of children with similar disorders moved to Colorado, which recently legalized marijuana, to reap what they believe are the benefits of the drug.

Dozens of other anecdotes of miraculous responses to marijuana treatments in children with severe epilepsy are rife on Facebook and other social media, and these reports have aroused outsize hopes and urgent demands. Based on such reports, patients and parents are finding official and backdoor ways to give marijuana to their children.

But scientific studies have yet to bear out the hopes of these desperate families. The truth is we lack evidence not only for the efficacy of marijuana, but also for its safety. This concern is especially relevant in children, for whom there is good evidence that marijuana use can increase the risk of serious psychiatric disorders and long-term cognitive problems.

The recent wave of state legislatures considering and often approving medical marijuana raises significant concerns. By allowing marijuana therapy for patients with diseases such as difficult-to-control epilepsy, are state legislatures endorsing the medical benefits and safety of a broad range of marijuana species and strains before they have been carefully tested and vetted? Marijuana contains around 80 cannabinoids (THC is the major psychoactive cannabinoid, largely responsible for the high) and more than 400 other compounds. The chemical composition of two genetically identical plants can vary based on growing conditions, soil content, parasites and many other factors.

While the language of the legislation may be cautious, there is an implied endorsement of medical benefit for marijuana when a legislature passes a bill and a governor signs it into law, and the tremendous gaps in our knowledge are not effectively conveyed to the public.

Where is the data showing that marijuana is effective for epilepsy? Although parents may report improvements in their children, it is important to remember that the placebo response is powerful, and the placebo response is greater in pediatric than adult studies.

Before more children are exposed to potential risks, before more desperate families uproot themselves and spend their life savings on unproven miracle marijuana cures, we need objective data from randomized placebo-controlled trials.

Based on studies showing that CBD can prevent seizures in animals and safety data from patients treated with a drug containing CBD and THC in Europe for multiple sclerosis spasms, we and other academic epilepsy centers are planning a controlled trial with pure CBD. As an initial step, we have approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement to treat children with CBD derived from marijuana plants in order to understand its safety and tolerability and potential drug interactions. This information will help us plan the placebo-controlled trials that we hope will begin in 2014 and will be completed within two years. There is no reason such studies cannot be done with other products derived from marijuana, such as the oil with high CBD and low THC sold in Colorado that was used by Charlotte Figi.

Paradoxically, however, as state governments increasingly make “medical” marijuana available to parents to give to their children, the federal government continues to label the nonpsychoactive CBD — as well as THC — as Schedule 1 drugs. Such drugs are said to have “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” This designation hamstrings doctors from performing controlled studies. While it is possible to study Schedule 1 drugs in a controlled laboratory setting, it is extremely difficult to study these substances in patients. For our study, we keep the CBD in a 1,200-pound safe in a locked room, in a building with an alarm system.

To foster research, we need to change compounds derived from marijuana from Schedule 1 to a less restrictive category. It is troubling that while few barriers exist for parents to give their children marijuana in Colorado, there are significant federal roadblocks preventing doctors from studying it in a rigorous scientific manner.

When patients have not been able to get successful medical treatment, and they live in a state where the law allows medical marijuana for children — we are not suggesting they smoke the drug — compassionate use is reasonable.

But for the long-term health of Charlotte and other patients like her, we urgently need valid data.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Last edited Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:53 am | Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:57 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Conservative Oklahoma grandfather changed his mind on marijuana, here’s why

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two very distinct groups spent much of the day trying to convince legislators that Oklahoma’s marijuana laws just don’t work.

One group rallied to show their support for regulation and sale of the drug in the Sooner State.

The other group was part of a Senate hearing at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Leaders were attempting to evaluate the science behind using oil extracted from the plant to treat illnesses, such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Marty Piel was one of those who spoke at the hearing.

Piel said, “A year ago, I might not have been a supporter. I’m a conservative in a conservative state and I might not have believed, but I do now.”

In his emotional testimony, Piel talked about his granddaughter Zoey.

The young girl suffers from a rare disorder that causes her to have seizures.

Piel said, “She had seizures and the doctors just said she would grow out of it.”

However, she didn’t.

By the age of four, Zoey was taking 24 prescription medications.

Piel said, “You look at this baby and think she could die. She could die right now and no one can tell me why or how to save her.”

Within the last few months, Zoey’s family has taken her to Colorado.

Once there, she received her first dose of cannabis oil.

She was given less than a teaspoon full of the oil and within 15 minutes, she stopped seizing.

Piel said, “In the first eight days after that, she said 20 new words and wrote her name for the first time.”

Stories like Zoey’s were told to lawmakers Wednesday during the hearing.

The goal was not to vote, but to educate them on the difference between recreational marijuana and cannabis oil, which is used for medicinal purposes.

Piel says a year ago, he would never have imagined supporting something like this.

After seeing Zoey’s progress, he’s now a believer.

Piel said, “As a parent or grandparent, it brings tears to your eyes to know something might actually save that little life.”

Those who were part of the hearing were actually not in favor of the rally, which was also taking place at the capitol.

They hope lawmakers can see the difference in the two issues.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:59 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Insurance brokers reach out to Marijuana Inc.

As political and cultural momentum builds for legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, it's created a so-called “green rush” of people trying to cash in on the surge in cannabis-related businesses.

That surge is also creating new opportunities and challenges for a segment of insurance companies -- firms that are now offering policies to marijuana growers, manufacturers and dispensaries in the states where cannabis is legal.

Of course, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But last August the Justice Department announced it would not challenge state marijuana laws, and just last month Attorney General Eric Holder said legal marijuana business should have access to the banking system, if only out of consideration for public safety.

Nonetheless, it's hard for a cannabis business to get coverage from one of the big insurance companies.
Greenpoint Insurance Advisors, a Colorado-based company that provides business insurance not only to medical marijuana stores, dispensaries and growers, but also to ancillary companies, says in a statement on its website that "The standard insurance carriers such as State Farm, Farmers, Travelers, etc… don’t typically provide coverage for this unique industry."

These insurers are also trying to advise those looking to profit indirectly from the cannabis boom, such as owners of buildings and structures who rent to marijuana businesses.

“All too often landlords will lease space to a cultivator, dispensary or infused product manufacturer and then at renewal time their policy is cancelled,” warns Cannasure, another insurer that serves the marijuana industry. “We have the ability to insure your property and avoid the cancellation process.”

And despite the challenges, some insurers say their cannabis-related ventures is picking up. Mike Aberle, with GP Insurance Brokers in Rancho Cordova, Calif., said his company has been receiving up to 25 applications daily for marijuana-related policies.

“We offer coverages outside the norm,” he said. “We offer crop coverage. We cover your living plants.”
GP Insurance Brokers also sells everything from general liability to theft insurance to marijuana businesses across the country, with the average premium for a cannabis business owner coming in at around $700 annually.

“We also have several states that are getting ready to pass [marijuana laws],” he noted, “so we’re already accepting their applications so we can start the process.”

That coverage, however, is only for businesses, and does not extend to people who grow marijuana at home.

There's even coverage in the event local law enforcement raids a marijuana business.

“If a state agency or lesser came in and that person was found innocent in the end, we pay,” he said, “because it wasn’t an illegal action.”

But all bets are off, Alberle notes, if the feds decide to raid a cannabis establishment.

“When you talk about federal, you can’t cover federal because it’s illegal,” he said. “We’d all go to jail for insuring an illegal operation.”

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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RE: MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:01 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Limits on marijuana advertising land Colorado in court

Two publications have sued Colorado in federal court over restrictions that prohibit the state's legalized recreational marijuana industry from advertising on television, radio, online or in most print publications.

High Times magazine, which caters to marijuana enthusiasts, and Westword, a Colorado alternative weekly newspaper, said in a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Denver that the rules were "unjustifiably burdensome" and violate free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

"Government restrictions on commercial speech that concerns lawful activity and is not misleading violate the First Amendment," the complaint said.

Under Colorado law, recreational marijuana shops cannot advertise on television and radio, over the Internet, or in print publications unless they can establish that no more than 30 percent of the targeted audience is under the age of 21.

The ban also extends to advertising on billboards or other outdoor venues, and any campaign that targets people outside Colorado. The advertising limits do not apply to Colorado's medical marijuana industry, which has been in place since 2001.

A spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said its lawyers were reviewing the complaint.

Voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized the possession and use of small amounts recreational marijuana by adults age 21 or older in 2012, even as marijuana remains an illegal narcotic under federal law.

Colorado opened its retail pot shops in January, and Washington is slated to follow suit later this year.

The lawsuit, which names as defendants Governor John Hickenlooper and the head of a state department that oversees the marijuana industry, says that Colorado residents voted to approve recreational marijuana and regulate it like alcohol, and that no such advertising bans apply to that industry.

By contrast, U.S. federal law does place restrictions on how tobacco can be packaged and advertised, requiring a large health warning to be displayed on tobacco packaging. Billboards advertising cigarettes are also banned in most states, as are ads targeting young people.

Last year, a federal judge struck down a provision of Colorado's recreational pot law that would have required cannabis-themed publications to be placed behind the counter in stores, much like pornography.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/13/2014

in Marijuana in the News Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:05 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Italy court overturns law equating cannabis with heroin

Italy's constitutional court has overturned a law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating and possessing cannabis, declaring it "illegitimate".

Prison rights group Antigone say the law has caused prison overcrowding, with 40% of all inmates serving sentences for drug crimes.

It could affect some 10,000 people who may be released from jail as a result.

The law went into effect in 2006 under the conservative government led by the then-Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Italian jails are considered to be the most crowded in the European Union.

According to official data, cited by Reuters news agency, around 62,000 detainees are held in cells built for fewer than 48,000.

In January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that overcrowding in Italy's jails violates the basic rights of inmates. The Italian authorities were fined 100,000 euros ($135,700, £81,934) and ordered to solve the overcrowding issue within a year.

Lengthier sentences

Under the stricter drugs law, lighter drugs such as cannabis and hashish were classified as equal, in legal terms, to Class A drugs cocaine and heroin.

This increased the sentences for the cultivation, sale and trafficking of cannabis from 2-6 years to 6-20 years.

Following the court's ruling, the previous drug law giving reduced sentences automatically takes effect.

Neither law made it a criminal offence to consume cannabis but both criminalised its possession.

The ruling by the constitutional court has split parties "left and right", Italy's Ansa news agency reports.

"The ruling puts the final word on one of the most absurd laws that parliament has ever passed in recent years," said Alessia Morani, an MP with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

But other MPs, such as Maurizio Gasparri, said the ruling was "a big mistake that risks promoting dealing and consuming drugs," Ansa reported.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up

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