MJ News for 02/28/14

in Marijuana in the News Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:15 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


(MD) Bipartisan group of lawmakers vows workable medical marijuana program this year

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers vowed Friday to pass legislation this year to create a workable medical marijuana program — 34 years after the idea was first proposed in the Maryland General Assembly.

Dels. Cheryl D. Glenn and Dan K. Morhaim, sponsors of two bills that would replace legislation passed last year that is widely regarded as a failure, said they would meld their two versions into a single measure.

"We're going to get a bill passed this year," said Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat. She said Maryland should join 20 other states that give suffering patients access to the federally prohibited drug.

Last year the legislature passed, and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed, a watered-down version of a medical marijuana that restricts its distribution to academic medical centers. Since then none of the state's medical centers has stepped forward to operate such a program, preventing Marylanders with serious medical conditions from getting access to the drug.

Some pain experts have told a legislative work group that marijuana is safe and effective in relieving symptoms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, the side-effects of cancer treatment and other conditions.

The Glenn and Morhaim bills would allow any physician with a bona fide treatment relationship with a patient who has a serious condition that might be eased by marijuana to write a prescription for the drug.

Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat and the Assembly's only physician, said such a system would be safe.

"Physicians prescribe drugs that are more dangerous than medical marijuana every single day," he said at a news conference before House hearings on the bills opened.

Morhaim noted the first bill seeking to allow the use of marijuana to treat medical conditions was introduced in 1980 by Del. Wade Kach, who is still in the House and who attended the news conference.

"This is the year to get this passed so people will get relief from suffering," said Kach, a Baltimore County Republican who is retiring from the House after this term.

Paige Figi of Colorado Springs said her 7-year-old daughter found relief from a severe form of epilepsy by using Charlotte's Web, a cannabis derivative designed for use in children but illegal under Maryland and federal law.

Figi said her daughter went from having 2,000 potentially lethal seizures a month to two or three.

"We saw results immediately," she said during Friday's news conference

Figi said Charlotte's Web does not make patients high and is delivered by a pill that melts under the tongue rather than by smoking it.

Cheryl Meyer of Baltimore said she wishes her son Gavin had access to cannabis before he died of epilepsy complications last November at 2 years and 5 months.

She said her son's pediatrician believed medical marijuana might have helped but could not write a prescription under Maryland law.

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 02/28/14

in Marijuana in the News Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:19 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Marijuana triggered deaths of two men, study says

BERLIN -- Marijuana likely triggered fatal complications that led to the deaths of two men with underlying health conditions, according to a German study.

The findings, published online this month in Forensic Science International, are noteworthy because cannabis isn't normally associated with acute health problems, let alone death.

"To our knowledge, these are the first cases of suspected fatal cannabis intoxications where full post-mortem investigations (...) were carried out," wrote the researchers.

The researchers, based at Duesseldorf and Frankfurt's university hospitals, said these were isolated cases but suggested people who might have serious heart problems should be made aware of the risk of cannabis use.

The cases involved two outwardly healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after smoking cannabis.

Autopsies showed that the younger man had a serious undetected heart problem and the older one had a history of alcohol, amphetamine and cocaine abuse.

These underlying conditions, combined with cannabis's known effect of increasing a user's heart rate or blood pressure when lying down, may have caused the men's hearts to lose their rhythm.

Dr. Benno Hartung, one of the study's authors, said the cases were among 15 deaths the scientists reviewed between 2011 and 2012. In 13 of them, other factors likely were to blame.

"We assume that these are very rare, isolated cases," Hartung said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, noting that it was hard to draw any wider conclusion about the number of deaths that might be caused by cannabis use.

Still, the researchers concluded that while cannabis isn't particularly toxic and its effects are short lived, people who are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases should avoid the drug.

Dr. David Nutt, who is chairman of Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and wasn't involved in the study, said the researchers had presented an "exceptionally complete collection of evidence in support of their theory that, unusually, cannabis was the trigger for these two tragedies."

"People with vulnerable hearts should be informed of this risk with cannabis," he said.

Nutt said an additional strain to the heart from strenuous activities can have similarly fatal consequences in people with underlying heart conditions.

By comparison, alcohol and tobacco use are accepted as the reason for a large share of premature deaths worldwide each year.

In recent years, marijuana has been associated with more medical "benefits" than risks.

Marijuana has been increasingly gaining acceptance in the medical community, with 20 states and the District of Columbia having laws on the books to prescribe the drug for patients.

But despite this increased support for medical marijuana, experts often point out there is little scientific evidence of medical benefits associated with the drug despite all the conditions people are taking it for, and more research is needed.

Marijuana may also contain contaminants, molds and mildews since the drugs are often untested, creating other health concerns.

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 02/28/14

in Marijuana in the News Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:21 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Mass. Patients Seek Relief At Medical Marijuana Clinics

While state regulators sort out who will get licenses to run medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts, many patients — probably thousands — are already using medical marijuana here.

To find out how they’re getting it and which doctors are recommending it, WBUR visited both a clinic and marijuana provider. Here’s our report from a newly opened clinic.

BURLINGTON, Mass. — At the front desk of Integr8 Massachusetts in Burlington, office manager Elizabeth Stockbridge answers a steady stream of calls from patients seeking relief — from pain, nausea, seizures and all sorts of other medical conditions.

“How long have you had the migraines and the headaches? Are those documented?” Stockbridge asks a prospective patient.

People coming to Integr8 are asked to provide medical records. But many of them have been self-treating their medical conditions with marijuana for years. And because most hospital groups are steering clear of medical marijuana right now, patients are coming here. And they’re not seeking help just for physical ailments.

Twenty-eight-year-old Danielle Page, of Marblehead, says she came to Integr8 for mental health reasons. But she’s not new to psychiatric treatment — or marijuana.

“I’ve been using marijuana since I was 13 years old — that’s on and off,” Page says.

She realized long ago that marijuana helped ease her anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder, she says, and she never wanted to have to take pills every day. During her $200, 45-minute initial appointment and after a review of her medical records, she received a doctor’s recommendation, or certification, for medical cannabis.

“I feel vindicated that, like, something that I’ve been doing for a very long time, I finally feel vindicated that I’m right,” Page explains.

Dr. Thor Agustsson, medical director of Integr8 Massachusetts, says many patients come to him because they’ve “failed” a lot of pharmaceutical treatments. Agustsson is an osteopathic physician trained in psychiatry. He opened the clinic in October and has since recommended medical cannabis for hundreds of patients. About half of the facility’s clients are treated for psychiatric conditions.

“I think it is better long term to be on cannabis than it is [to be on] a lot of benzodiazepines,” Agustsson says. “A lot of antipsychotics, a lot of mood stabilizers are a lot more harmful to the body on a whole.”

Psychiatric illnesses are not on the approved list of conditions Massachusetts doctors can treat with medical marijuana. But Agustsson says the law gives doctors discretion in determining what qualifies as a “debilitating condition.”

“I ask them everything I would normally ask them in a psychiatric evaluation and then apply the appropriate treatment — if it’s cannabis, if it’s pharmaceutical medicines, if it’s herbs or vitamins,” Agustsson explains.

He acknowledges he has to walk a fine line between determining who wants to get high and who really needs marijuana as a medical treatment.

But some mental health patients don’t have medical documentation because they may not have been comfortable reaching out for medical treatment before. In that case, Agustsson says he relies on his training in psychiatry. Sometimes he recommends cannabis and prescription psychiatric medicines simultaneously.

Joey Rottman is the other osteopath at Integr8. He specializes in treating chronic pain.

“We do a full history, we do a full physical examination, including an osteopathic examination of their spine and other possible trigger points,” Rottman says. “And we have to have medical records that show six months of care.”

The Massachusetts Medical Society recently released a statement expressing concern about these clinics, calling them ”certification centers” for patients seeking marijuana. The society says the clinics appear to “sidestep” the Department of Public Health regulation requiring an “ongoing physician-patient relationship.” But Agustsson says he does establish a relationship with each patient, which includes follow-ups every six months or sooner.

Asked how often Integr8 denies a patient a recommendation for medical marijuana, Agustsson says it has happened, but he can’t say how many times.

But once a patient gets a recommendation for medical marijuana, where do they get the drug? Doctors are not responsible for where a patient obtains marijuana.

Susanne Greelish, of Watertown, gets hers from friends or dealers – instead of growing it herself or getting it from a caregiver, as state regulations require.

“I don’t have time to grow it myself right now, and I would like to, because I’d like to be able to get a real nice blend,” Greelish says. “But as soon as the dispensaries open, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Greelish, who is 55 years old, uses pot to treat chronic pain. Before it was legal, she used it to ease severe nausea from chemotherapy. Now, so she doesn’t have to take prescription drugs, she says, she smokes a small amount of marijuana three to four times a week.

“I usually do just, like, two puffs, and it really helps me, and I can loosen up and kind of stretch and, you know, breathe a little bit,” Greelish explains. “It’s really good for connecting my mind and body together, so I can kind of focus where the pain is.”

Page says she smokes before – but not during — her workday, to alleviate her anxiety. She works with kids in a residential mental health program. She insists that it would be debilitating if she took prescription drugs.

“I would be on the floor,” Page says. “I mean, I wouldn’t even be able to drive or function at work, where I can wake up, smoke in the morning, go to work, and know that I’m safe, the kids I’m working with are safe, and the people around me are safe, and, you know, I’m fine.”

Page now gets her marijuana from a caregiver. That’s someone who can supply marijuana for a certified patient. Tomorrow we’ll have more on why there’s a shortage of caregivers in Massachusetts and why some of them are blatantly violating state regulations.

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 02/28/14

in Marijuana in the News Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:26 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Vida Cannabis (Canada) to Purchase 315,000 Sq. Ft. Building

STELLARTON - The Clairtone building has turned a new leaf. A marijuana leaf that is.

Vida Cannabis's wholly owned Canadian subsidiary Vida Cannabis (Canada)has signed a purchase and sale agreement to produce medicinal and recreational marijuana at the building.

Vida Cannabis identified the facility as the perfect structure to house a large-scale medical marijuana production plant. Vida further determined the plant's location in Stellarton is ideal, with the modern infrastructure in place to run such a facility efficiently.

The deal is scheduled to close on or before Apr. 15 for a total purchase price of $500,000. At full production, a labour force of 200-300 may be needed.

Under the terms of the Agreement, Vida Canada will be granted by the Town of Stellarton a 50-year irrevocable license to produce medical marijuana at the facility, subject to Vida Canada obtaining a commercial license from Health Canada. Such local approval is a condition necessary to making a successful application to Health Canada.

Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe welcomed Vida Cannabis.

"We are delighted to see the old Clairtone factory be put back into production, albeit in an industry I never could have imagined even five years ago. As things change we, too, must adapt," he said. "Health Canada has established policies and procedures that ensure the legal production of medical marijuana is secure. We welcome Vida Cannabis to bring much needed employment opportunities back to the Town of Stellarton and support their efforts."

Vida calls the building itself is a virtual fortress, stating the 315,000-square-foot facility is contained entirely under one large, 7-acre steel roof erected on windowless 18-foot-high concrete walls supported by an engineered concrete floor that is in nearly perfect condition.

As the interior of the facility is structured like an aircraft hangar, it is literally wide open with no restrictive points to developing a customized medical marijuana plant that optimizes the building’s entire square footage.

Set 400 meters back from a transport highway, the 12-acre property has a single access point making security remarkably efficient for such a large building, which is already surrounded by a 3-meter high fence with barbed wire top. In keeping with Health Canada requirements for licensing of medical marihuana production facilities, intrusion detection systems, round-the-clock surveillance and other minor security-related alterations will be implemented by Vida.

Vida Cannabis CEO J. Gregory Wilson noted he is extremely pleased with the total package that accompanies this remarkable facility.

"The people of the Town of Stellarton are at the top of that list. The local support for our Canadian medicinal marijuana operations has been virtually 100%. When operating at full capacity we anticipate labour needs of 200-300 employees," he said. "We look forward to bringing quality employment opportunities to the area and will hire and train people from the region whenever possible.”

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 Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:27 pm | Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 02/28/14

in Marijuana in the News Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:30 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


The NFL Should Combat Concussions with Cannabis

Preeminent Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon smoked pot with Carl Sagan (a lot), which prompted him to write two books about cannabis, Marihuana Reconsidered (1971) and Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine (1993). Dr. Grinspoon asked us to consider running an open letter he'd written to the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger S. Goodell, imploring him to actively support research into using cannabis to treat long term head trauma, and we felt his thoughts are worth sharing.

As both a medical doctor and one of millions of fans who enjoy professional football as a spectator sport, I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the growing specter that many of the athletes I cheer from the sidelines will one day pay the steep price of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) due to concussions and other repetitive brain injuries incurred in the course of their profession.

Already the NFL has offered former players $765 million to settle a lawsuit charging your organization with knowingly concealing a link between traumatic brain injury and pro football, an agreement later struck down by a judge who feared that sizable payout could actually prove far too small to adequately cover all current and future cases of CTE. So it's not hard to imagine the NFL's liability eventually growing to well more than a billion dollars, a staggering figure that nonetheless pales in comparison to the human toll paid in terms of pain, suffering, and untimely death among former players.

To your credit, you recently showed a willingness to explore all possible means of alleviating the frequency and severity of CTE cases in the NFL, including the controversial idea that compounds found in marijuana could play a vital role in protecting player's brains. Asked about that very possibility, you said: “I'm not a medical expert, [but] we will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that."

Given the severity of the problem, however, I think you, and the NFL, must go beyond simply following the medicine, and help lead the way by directly funding research to determine if cannabis—including preparations with no psychoactive effects, such as those with a high-cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratio—can indeed provide significant protection against the damage of repetitive concussions.

Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data. But unfortunately, the extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis's ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment, and despite the great promise many now see in cannabinopathic medicine, it's hard to imagine who else has both the motive and the means to provide such funding.

Typically, a new medicine reaches the market because a pharmaceutical company pays for research to establish both its efficacy and safety. But it's highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will get involved in studying cannabis as a treatment for CTE, because the plant (and its natural components) can't be patented, and would therefore likely fail to provide an adequate return on investment even if developed into a successful treatment.

The only other potential source of funding is the US government, which remains inexcusably resistant to any clinical study designed to examine marijuana's potential benefits.

Fortunately, the NFL's pockets are plenty deep enough to launch a serious, intensive research program designed to determine whether or not some combination of cannabinoids is effective in preventing the consequences of concussions. This would not only be a great public service, it's in the league's own financial self-interest. Especially since so few other promising options exist for alleviating the problem.

Attempts to improve protective equipment can only go so far without seriously diminishing the skills and capacities of the player. The helmet as currently designed is excellent at protecting the skull, but not its contents—the brain. And given the limitations imposed by physics, anatomy and neurophysiology, I question how much more any helmet design can do to limit the frequency or severity of concussions. I also see little potential in further rules changes to adequately address this issue, without altering the game so severely that it no longer resembles football as we know it.

Which means we must explore the potential for internal protection of the brain. This research will not be quick or inexpensive, but it must happen. In the meantime, I implore you to immediately stop subjecting players to drug tests for marijuana, so they no longer face severe penalties for choosing a potentially life-saving medicine that can be used legally in twenty states.


Lester Grinspoon M.D.

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry

Harvard Medical School

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 Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:36 pm | Scroll up

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