Senate Elizabeth Warren Asks CDC to Consider Cannabis for Dealing with Painkiller Epidemic

cdc

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking them to consider and study the positive role cannabis could have in dealing with the nation’s painkiller epidemic.

In the letter addressed to CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, Warren asks for more oversight of physicians that are so readily prescribing large amounts of opioid painkillers, and to get serious about allowing those with chronic pain to explorie alternative treatment options, such as cannabis.

Warren also asks the CDC to study the “effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal,” in addition to exploring “the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths.”

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Federal Bill Introduced to Reinstate College Financial Aid to Students With Drug Convictions

financial aid

Photo: www.unthsc.edu

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers are pushing to repeal a Higher Education Act provision that prohibits students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid for college. The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success (SUCCESS) Act, introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), would eliminate the drug conviction question on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“Blocking access to education simply doesn’t reduce drug problems. Education and job opportunities are among our best tools to fight the individual and community-level impacts of drug misuse, so student advocates, civil rights leaders and higher education officials have been pushing to repeal this senseless penalty for almost two decades,” says Betty Aldworth, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), whose hundreds of chapters on college campuses have been working to overturn the aid elimination penalty since the organization’s founding in 1998. “The drug war as a whole is an abysmal failure that causes so many harms to so many communities, and removing college financial aid from the battlefield is a good start. But many more fundamental changes to our nation’s drug policies are still going to be needed even if this bill is enacted.”

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Vermont: Second Senate Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

vermontWith a 6 to 1 vote, the Vermont Senate Committee on Finance passed a bill today that would legalize recreational cannabis for everyone 21 and older. The bill was given approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee exactly two weeks ago. It now goes to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, where its passage will set it up for a full Senate vote.

If passed into law, Senate Bill 241 would allow those 21 and older to legally possess and use up to an ounce of cannabis. The proposal would authorize a system of cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail outlets, where people can purchase the plant.

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Vermont Police Dogs No Longer Being Trained to Detect Smell of Cannabis

k92Police dogs in Vermont are no longer being trained to detect the smell of cannabis, according to Robert Ryan, the state’s top K9 training coordinator. The change was made in preparation of the state legalizing recreational cannabis in the near future.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee gave approval to a bill that would legalize cannabis for everyone 21 and older, and less than a month after Governor Peter Schumlin announced that his support for legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes.

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Washington State Senate Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp

Industrial-HempLegislation to legalize the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Washington has been given approval by the state’s Senate Committee on Agriculture and Water & Rural Economic Development, and has been sent to the floor of the Senate by the Rules Committee.

Under the proposed law – Senate Bill 6206 – the Washington State Department of Agriculture would oversee licensing and regulations for the hemp industry, with those wanting to cultivate the plant required to receive a license from the Department. The bill would also direct Washington State University to study the “feasibility and desirability” of industrial hemp in the state.

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New Mexico Senate Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

New MexicoA proposal to legalize recreational cannabis for everyone 21 and older has been passed by the New Mexico’s Senate Rules Committee. The vote on Senate Joint Resolution 5 was 6 to 4.

Although the committee was initially locked in a 5 to 5 vote that was along party lines, with Democrats in support, Republican Senator Ted Barela later changed his vote to pass the bill out of committee. It now moves towards a full Senate vote.

If passed by the state’s Senate, the bill introduced by Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-12-Bernalillo) would then move to the House of Representatives. Its approve in the House would place it on the November general election ballot, giving New Mexico voters final say.

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Legislation to Legalize Medical Cannabis Introduced in Australia, Will Become Law

The Turnbull Government today will introduce landmark legislation providing the “missing piece” for Australian patientsaustralia and their doctors to access a safe, legal and reliable supply of medicinal cannabis products for the management of painful and chronic conditions, according to a press release from the Australian Department of Health.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley today announced the amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes through one single national licensing scheme – an Australian first. Given that the opposition party has announced their support for the measure, it is guaranteed to become law.

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Roughly $1 Billion in Legal Cannabis Sold in Colorado in 2015, Over $135 Million in Taxes and Fees Garnered

state-flag-coloradoThere was roughly $1 billion in legal cannabis sold in Colorado in 2015, by far breaking the record set in the previous year (which was $894 million). This is according to new data released by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

According to the data, there was exactly $996,184.788 in legal cannabis sold in 2015, which includes both medical and recreational sales. These brought in over $135 million in new taxes and fees for the state, with $35 million of that money going directly into school construction projects.

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Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary

new hampshire primaryPresidential candidate Bernie Sanders has won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, beating rival Hillary Clinton by double digits (60% to 38%), according to the Associated Press. The win comes a week after Sanders narrowly lost to Clinton in Iowa (49.6% to 49.8%), and just days after new polling found the two to be tied nationally.

The next Democratic primary is in Nevada on February 20th, followed by South Carolina on February 27th. This will be followed by “Super Tuesday” on March 1st, which will see nearly a dozen states – including Vermont, Georgia and Massachusetts – voting on the same day.

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South Dakota’s Full House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Hemp

legalize hempWith a 57 to 11 vote, South Dakota’s full House of Representatives has given approval to legislation that would explicitly legalize the cultivation, production and distribution of industrial hemp.

House Bill 1054, which is sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 40 state legislators, now heads to the state’s Senate for consideration, where its passage will send it to Governor Dennis Daugaard. Before being up for a full Senate vote, however, it will need to get through its assigned Senate committee, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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Legislation to Legalize Cannabis being Filed in Rhode Island’s House and Senate this Week

cannabisbudLegislation to legalize recreational cannabis will be filed this week in the Rhode Island Legislature according to State Representative Scott Slater (D-Providence), who will file the bill in the House of Representatives, and Senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), who will introduce the Senate version of the bill.

The proposals would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for those 21 and older, while also allowing for the personal cultivation of small amounts of cannabis. The state-licensed  and taxed distribution of cannabis through cannabis retail outlets would also be legalized. These outlets would be supplied by by licensed cultivation centers.

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Woody Harrelson and Tetris Producer Henk Rogers Apply for Dispensary Licenses in Hawaii

woody harrelsonActor Woody Harrelson (Cheers, Zombieland) is one of 66 applicants attempting to receive a license from the Hawaii Department of Health to legally operate medical cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries in the state. Henk Rogers, famous for distributing the video game Tetris as founder of The Tetris Company, is also one of the applicants.

In Hawaii, thanks to a law passed last year, medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation centers are legal, with eight licenses to be distributed by the state. Each license will allow for the opening of two cultivation centers and two dispensaries, equaling 16 each across the state (six in Oahu, four on Hawaii Island, four on Maui and two on Kauai).

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Sanders and Clinton in Statistical Tie in New National Poll, Sanders Best Chance Against Republicans

Photo: USA Today.

Photo: USA Today.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a statistical tie nationwide according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. The poll is huge news for Sanders and his supporters, as the same poll had him trailing 30% to Clinton’s 61% the last time it was conducted in December. The poll was released just days after Clinton and Sanders finished in a near tie in the Iowa caucus, with Clinton winning narrowly (49.9% to 49.6%).

According to the poll, 44% of Democratic primary voters support Clinton, with 42% in support of Sanders. With the margin of error at +/- 4.5%, meaning it could swing either way, the two are in a statistical tie. 14% of voters are currently undecided, indicating that the nomination is entirely up in the air at the moment.

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Utah Senate Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis, Including Dispensaries

medcannabisIn 2014 Utah lawmakers passed legislation legalizing the medical use of CBD (cannabidiol) oil, but only for those with seizure disorders. Now, the state’s Senate Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee has voted 4 to 1 to pass a much more expansive bill that would legalize the whole cannabis plant for medical use.

Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Senator Mark Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), would allow those with certain qualifying conditions – such as cancer, PTSD and chronic pain – to possess and use medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. The measure would establish a system of licensed cultivation centers and dispensaries, providing patients a means of safe access to their medicine.

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Over 240,000 Signatures Collected on Michigan Initiative to Legalize Cannabis

michiganAdvocates in Michigan have collected over 240,000 signatures on an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis, close to the 252,000 needed to place the measure on this November’s general election ballot.

The MILegalize Board of Directors announced Tuesday that despite being less than 12,000 signatures from the 252,000 signature requirement, the group is calling on volunteers to help them collect 50,000 more signatures by March 15th, the state’s deadline, in order to account for invalid signatures.

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