U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Protect Medical Marijuana States

This morning the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to include an amendment in a larger spending bill that prohibits the federal government from interfering with state-level medical cannabis laws.

The amendment, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (R-VT), was included in the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The amendment explicitly prevents the government from using federal funds to interfere with states that have legalized medical cannabis.

“This success of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment acknowledges, yet again, that the federal government should not interfere with state medical cannabis programs,” says Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. “The passage of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment also shows that Senate support exists for the central elements of the CARERS Act. The CARERS Act would make the protections in Leahy medical cannabis amendment permanent and create a much needed framework for research and federal and state cooperation.”

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Former NFL Player Sues Department of Justice to Decriminalize Marijuana

A group of plaintiffs including former NFL defensive end Marvin Washington have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, asking them to decriminalize marijuana.

Marvin Washington (#97) when he was playing for the New York Jets).

The lawsuit was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Washington, who was a defensive end for the New York Jets, San Fransisco 49ers and Denver Broncos from 1989 to 1999, is joined by four other plaintiffs. They include Alexis Bortell, an 11-year-old whose family moved from Texas to Colorado so that she could receive medical cannabis as treatment for her epilepsy; Jagger Cotte, a 6-year-old from Georgia who uses medical cannabis to treat Leigh’s Disease; Jose Belen, a military veteran who uses marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder; and the Cannabis Cultural Association.

“The record makes clear that the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] doesn’t make any rational sense, and the Federal Government knows it,” says Michael Hiller, who is serving as the plaintiffs’ lead counsel for the case. “If the Federal Government doesn’t believe in the rationality of its own statute, it’s unconstitutional to enforce it.”

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Hemp Bill Signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law legislation that aims to boost hemp production in the state.

According to the Associated Press, Governor Cuomo announced $10 million in state funds to boost industrial hemp research and development. The bill signed by Cuomo formally adds hemp to the state’s list of agricultural commodities and creates a hemp advisory panel.

According to Governor Cuomo, hemp holds great potential for New York’s agricultural and biotechnology industries. A state program launched last year allows farmers to partner with universities to grow and research hemp.

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Cannabinoids May Help Recovery of Spinal Cord Injuries, Finds New Study

Cannabinoids may help people recover from a spinal cord injury, according to a new study.

The study is being published in the journal Brain Research, and has been e-published ahead of print by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

“The endocannabinoid system, including its receptors (CB1 and CB2), act as neuroprotective and immunomodulatory modulators in SCI [spinal cord injury]”, states the study’s abstract. “WIN55212-2, an agonist for CB1 and CB2 receptors, has been demonstrated with anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects in multiple neurological diseases.” Therefore, the present study “aimed to investigate whether WIN55212-2 could promote functional recovery after traumatic SCI via inhibition of the GAPDH/Siah1 signaling.”

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Medical Cannabis Legalized in Poland

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has signed into law a bill that legalizes medical cannabis.

The legislation was approved by the Sejm (Poland’s legislative body) with 440 out of 460 members voting in favor, and was signed by President Duda on Friday. The new law allows medical marijuana to be prescribed by physicians, and sold in pharmacies. Qualifying conditions that allow for the medical use of cannabis includes chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

The law allows cannabis to be imported from other countries in order to be sold by Poland pharmacies. Pharmacies will be authorized to sell dried cannabis, cannabis extracts and tinctures. A Polish Institute of Cannabis has been formed in order to educate the public, physicians and pharmacies on the details of the new law.

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Study: Forced Closure of Marijuana Dispensaries Increases Crime

According to a new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics, the forced closure of marijuana dispensaries leads to an increase in crime.

For the study, researchers at the University of Southern California examined the impact of dispensary closures on crime rates in Los Angeles. Crime data was analyzed in the days before and after the city ordered hundreds of dispensaries to be closed.

“Contrary to popular wisdom, we find an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open”, states the study’s abstract. “The increase is specific to the type of crime most plausibly deterred by bystanders, and is correlated with neighborhood walkability.”

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Study: Cannabinoids Reduce Frequency of Migraines

By Paul Armentano, NORML

The prolonged daily administration of cannabinoids is associated with a reduction in migraine headache frequency, according to clinical trial data presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology.

Italian researchers compared the efficacy of oral cannabinoid treatments versus amitriptyline – an anti-depressant commonly prescribed for migraines – in 79 chronic migraine patients over a period of three months. Subjects treated daily with a 200mg dose of a combination of THC and CBD achieved a 40 percent reduction in migraine frequency – a result that was similar to the efficacy of amitriptyline therapy.

Subjects also reported that cannabinoid therapy significantly reduced acute migraine pain, but only when taken at doses above 100mg. Oral cannabinoid treatment was less effective among patients suffering from cluster headaches.

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Legal Marijuana Sales Now Underway in Uruguay Pharmacies

Legal marijuana sales are underway in Uruguay, the first country to officially legalize the plant for retail sale.

As of today (June 19) in Uruguay, marijuana is being sold in pharmacies throughout the country. As part of the country’s marijuana laws, those 18 and older are authorized to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana for personal use. In order to combat the black-market, cannabis is being sold tax-free at roughly $1.50 a gram, exponentially cheaper than the price of marijuana in the eight U.S. states that have legalized the plant (where prices range from $10 to $18 a gram).

As part of the new law, first approved in 2013, marijuana clubs where up to 45 members can collectively produce up to 99 plants are also allowed. In addition, anyone 18 and older is authorized to grow up to six cannabis plants at a private residence, for personal use. Regulation for the new industry are overseen by the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

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Colorado has Garnered Over Half a Billion Dollars in New Revenue Since Start of Marijuana Legalization

Colorado has garnered over half a billion dollars in marijuana-related revenue since legal sales began in 2014, according to a new analysis of state data released Wednesday by Denver-based VS Strategies.

The report — which can be found by clicking here — details the sources of the revenue and provides a snapshot of how it is being distributed.

“Legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adult use has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for Colorado,” says Mason Tvert of VS Strategies (Tvert previously worked for the Marijuana Policy Project). “Marijuana tax money has been used to improve a wide range of programs and services. It is funding everything from school construction to substance abuse treatment to fighting homelessness. While it might not fix every school or help every person who needs it, it is having a significant and positive impact on our community.”

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New Hampshire Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana and Hash

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill into law Tuesday that decriminalizes the possession of marijuana and hash.

The new law – which decriminalizes the possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana, and ip to five grams of hash – officially goes into effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.

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