Michigan Official Rejects Allowing Medical Cannabis for Autism, Despite Panel Recommendation

zimmer2015In July, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel, a panel that consists of all but one licensed physician, voted 4 to 2 to recommend adding autism as a condition that qualifies an individual to become a legal medical cannabis patient. Despite this recommendation, Mike Zimmer, Director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (who was appointed by Governor Rick Synder), has rejected the recommendation, and refused to allow autism to become a qualifying condition (Zimmer has final say on the matter).

In his decision – which he outlined in a four-page paper titled Final Determination of Department – Zimmer stated that “While the record is replete with sincere and well-articulated testimony on the potential benefits of medical marihuana to autism patients and, in particular, parents of autistic children, several troubling concerns remain”. He notes that those with non-severe forms of autism would have been able to use the medicine. This, of course, shouldn’t be a problem if physicians believe it can help those who have the condition and decide to recommend it, especially considering that children with autism would have been required to receive the approval from two separate physicians and their parents before being able to use any cannabis-based medicines.

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Government Report: Drug Crimes Made Up Largest Share of Federal Criminal Cases in 2014

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Click picture to enlarge.

A new report released by the United State Sentencing Commission, titled Overview of Federal Criminal Cases Fiscal Year 2014, shows that the largest share of federal criminal cases are drug-related, with over a quarter of those cases related to cannabis.

According to the report, 31.7% of all federal criminal cases in 2014 were drug-related, twelve times the number of cases involving child pornography. The second most common category is immigration, which accounts for 29.3% of all federal criminal cases. Next in line is firearms and fraud, both accounting for around 10%, followed by “non-fraud white collar” crimes at 3.7%, child pornography charges at 2.5%, and larceny charges at 1.9%. The remaining 10.4% fall into the “other” category.

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Florida Initiative to Legalize Recreational Cannabis Receives Approval from State

floridaAn initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Florida, put forth by the group Regulate Florida, has received approval from the state, giving advocates the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures in an attempt to place it on next year’s ballot.

The initiative – titled the Florida Cannabis Act – would make it so that “possessing, using, displaying, purchasing, or transporting one ounce or less of cannabis” is entirely legal for those 21 and older.

The personal cultivation of up to six cannabis plants would also be allowed, and state-licensed retail outlets would be authorized to distribute the plant.

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New Study Examines Cannabis Prices Throughout the United States

budA new study conducted at the University of Georgia paints a clear picture of how cannabis prices vary throughout the United States.

For the study, researcher Mingshu Wang used the website Price of Weed, examining nearly 300,000 entries of cannabis prices through the contiguous United States. He found that cannabis prices were cheapest in Oregon, with an average-priced ounce going for $190, well below the national average of $284. The state with the highest average cannabis prices was North Dakota, at $361 an ounce.

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Only 13% of Voters in Iowa, 15% in New Hampshire, Support Feds Interfering with State Cannabis Laws

nuggetA new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, and commissioned by Marijuana Majority, has found that a vast majority of registered voters in Iowa and New Hampshire – the first two states to vote in next year’s presidential primary election – support allowing states to decide their own cannabis policies without federal interference.

According to the poll, 71% of Iowa voters – including 64% of Republicans – are in favor of states deciding their own cannabis laws without fear of federal intrusion. Just 13% are in support of the federal government enforcing federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

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Cannabis May Protect Neurons and Improve Motor Recovery During an Ischemic Stroke, Finds Study

cannabisohyeahA new study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, and published online by the U.S. National Institute of Health, has found that cannabis may protect neurons and greatly improve motor recovery during an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is caused by damage to the brain due to an interruption of its blood supply.

“Brain ischemia produces neuronal cell death and the recruitment of pro-inflammatory cells”, states the study’s abstract. “In turn, the search for neuroprotection against this type of insult has rendered results involving a beneficial role of endocannabinoid receptor agonists in the Central Nervous System.”

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Washington D.C. Attorney General Expresses Support for Legalizing All Drugs

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Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, in a Friday interview on the Washington Journal, expressed support for putting an end to the war on drugs by legalizing illegal substances, not just cannabis.

During a segment on synthetic cannabinoids, a caller stated that drug prohibition is a civil liberties issue, and “when people want to consume substances that alter their state of consciousness they should be allowed to. Now, if you didn’t have such a crackdown on drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin, there wouldn’t even be a market for synthetic drugs.”

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Black Lives Matter Activists Endorse Decriminalizing Cannabis Possession

blackBlack Lives Matter activists have endorsed an end to one of the most racially biased policies in the American legal system; cannabis prohibition.

The group calling for the decriminalization of cannabis is part of their new Campaign ZERO. In addition to calling on Congress to pass legislation that would “end federal marijuana prohibition or end DEA enforcement of this prohibition”, they’re specifically calling for the passage of the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 (House Bill 1940) – sponsored by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) – which would amend the U.S. Controlled Substances Act so that penalties related to cannabis wouldn’t apply in states that have legalized the plant.

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Cannabidiol Protects Against Cocaine-Induced Seizures, Says National Institute of Health Study

cbdCannabidiol (CBD), a major non-psychotomimetic constituent of the cannabis plant, protects against cocaine-induced seizures, according to a study published by the U.S. National Institute of Health, and published in print by the journal Neurotoxicology.

“[Cannabidiol] has therapeutic potential for certain psychiatric and neurological disorders”, states the study’s researchers. “Studies in laboratory animals and limited human trials indicate that CBD has anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties. Its effects against cocaine neurotoxicity, however, have remained unclear.”

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Wisconsin Indian Tribe Votes 677 to 499 to Legalize Cannabis

Menominee-SPECMembers of the Menominee Indian tribe, located in Wisconsin, voted 677 to 499 earlier this week to legalize recreational cannabis. Members also voted to legalize medical cannabis, 899 to 275.

“This is new ground,” says Gary Besaw, Menominee chairman. “We have to start looking at developing best practices and draft ordinances to maximize the benefits we believe are possible and minimize the consequences we believe also are possible.”

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Lawmakers in Düsseldorf, Germany Approve Cannabis Legalization Pilot Program

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Düsseldorf, Germany.

Lawmakers in Düsseldorf, the 7th most populous city in Germany, have agreed to move forward with a plan to establish a recreational cannabis pilot program, which will allow cannabis to be grown and distributed to adults. Berlin, Germany’s largest city, is planning a similar program.

The move is being pushed by a coalition between the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party. On Wednesday the plan to establish a regulated cannabis market within the city as part of a pilot program was approved in the North Rhine-Westpahlian capital.

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California NAACP Files Initiative to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

californiaAn initiative to legalize the recreational use, cultivation and distribution of cannabis has been filed in California by the state’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The initiative would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for those 21 and older, while allowing them to cultivate up to 25 square feet of cannabis at a private residence. Cannabis retail outlets would also be authorized, allowing anyone 21 and older to purchase the plant.

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Missouri: Jeff Mizanskey’s Going Home on September 1st

jeffJeff Mizanskey, a 61-year old Missouri man who’s been serving life in prison without parole for cannabis, will be set free on September 1st after more than 20 years in prison.

Jeff, who was arrested in 1993 on his third non-violent cannabis-related charge, had his sentence commuted by Governor Jay Nixon in May. This gave him the ability to have a parole hearing, which he did on August 6th. Although officials expected the decision to take weeks, it took only four days for the parole board to decide to grant Mizanskey parole. According to Dan Viets, Mizanskey’s attorney, he’ll be officially set free on September 1st, 21 years after initially being imprisoned.

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Texas Ending Ban on Food Stamps for Drug Felons Starting September 1st

groceryBeginning September 1st, Texas will no longer follow a federal law that prohibits those convicted of a drug-related felony from receiving food assistant.

With Texas opting out of the federal ban on drug felons obtaining food stamps – which was passed in 1996 as part of a federal welfare reform bill – only Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming maintain the ban.

Many states opted out of the ban immediately, with others deciding to opt out in the years following its passage.

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Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Announces Legislation to Abolish For-Profit Prisons

Bernie Sanders speaking at the University of Nevada.

Bernie Sanders speaking at the University of Nevada.

Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday that he’ll be filing federal legislation next month to abolish the nation’s for-profit prison system, prohibiting for-profit prisons from operating within the United States.

“When congress reconvenes in September, I will be offering legislation, I will be introducing legislation, which takes corporations out of profiteering from running jails”, Sanders said at a rally on the University of Nevada’s campus which drew an estimated crowd of 5,000.

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