Brain imaging research published this month in the journal Molecular Psychiatry provides physiological evidence as to why cannabis may mitigate certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. Yet, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.
Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine and the New York University Langone Medical Center, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.
Researchers speculated that an increase in the body’s production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects’ natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, “[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”
They concluded: “The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD.”
Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because US federal officials have blocked investigators’ efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.
PTSD is also seldom identified as a qualifying condition in states that allow for the physician authorized use of cannabis therapy. (To date, only New Mexico explicitly cites PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment, although a handful of other states, like California, allow doctors the discretion to legally recommend marijuana for post-trauma subjects.) In Oregon, lawmakers in the House are considering Senate-approved legislation, SB 281, that would allow PTSD patients to legally consume cannabis under the state’s nearly 15-year-old medical marijuana program.
Residents of Maine may get the opportunity to vote on ending their state’s marijuana prohibition this fall, if lawmakers approve of an amended version of LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana in the coming weeks.
LD 1229 was introduced earlier in the session by Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) and 35 co-sponsors. Despite the unprecedented legislative support, the measure faced a challenging work session last week, which initially looked as if it would scuttle the bill entirely.
Fortunately for supporters of ending prohibition, the fight continues on despite the negative recommendation out of committee. Representative Russell and the bill’s supporters intend to take the fight for legalization to the House floor in the coming weeks and they need our help. Thanks to amendments offered by Senators Plummer and Wilson, LD 1229 was revised to contain only a simple referenda component. If the amended bill is approved, it would place the question of whether or not to legalize marijuana on the ballot in Maine this fall. It will be a straight up or down vote on marijuana legalization, regulatory authority will fall to the legislature if the people of Maine vote in favor of this measure.
If you live in Maine, it is more imperative than ever that you reach out to your elected officials and urge them to support LD 1229. Regardless of their opinion on marijuana legalization itself, they should support this legislation which would allow the people of Maine to voice their opinion on this incredibly important issue. Tell your state politicians to “Let the People Decide” and to support LD 1229. Click here to quickly and easily do so.
Whether you live in Maine or not, we encourage you to sign this petition being circulated by the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Russell, and help us send a resounding message to lawmakers in Maine that it is time to let the people vote on this issue.
NORML will keep you updated as this legislation moves forward.
Together, we can legalize marijuana in Maine in 2013.
Colorado Lawmakers Approve First-In-The-Nation Regulations Governing Retail Marijuana Production And SalesMay 9, 2013
Colorado lawmakers made history Wednesday by approving first-in-the nation regulations governing the retail production and sale of cannabis to those age 21 and older.
The Huffington Post has the story here:
On the final day of the legislative session, Colorado lawmakers finally passed two historic bills to implement recreational marijuana legalization in the state — making Colorado the first state in the U.S. to take such steps toward the legal sale, regulation and tax of marijuana for recreational use.
House Bill 1317, which proposes the regulatory framework for legal marijuana, passed the Senate on a 29-6 vote and passed the House on a 37-28 vote, on Wednesday.
House Bill 1318, which proposes the tax rates which will fund the regulatory framework for legal marijuana sales and will ultimately need Colorado voter approval, passed the Senate 25-10 and passed the House 37-28, Wednesday.
Both the regulatory framework bill and the tax bill head to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk and appear poised to become law.
The two measures do not impact the state’s existing medical marijuana laws, nor do they interfere with existing legal protections legalizing the personal possession (up to one ounce) and cultivation (up to six plants) for non-commercial purposes.
Further details about the newly approved regulatory bills is available here.
Lawmakers’ proposed tax scheme on the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis must be approved by a majority of state voters before being implemented. Proposed taxes do not apply to those engaged in the personal cultivation or not-for-profit transfers of cannabis.
Lawmakers’ proposals come six months after 55 percent of state voters approved Amendment 64, which legalizes the adults possession and cultivation of limited quantities of marijuana, and tasked the state with establishing regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis to the public.
Members of the Senate this week approved legislation to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties. On Tuesday, Senators voted 24 to 6 in favor of a House measure that amends penalties for the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. House members had previously signed off on a slightly different version of the bill in April.
House members must sign off on the Senate’s changes to the bill. It will then go to Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has publicly expressed support for liberalizing the state’s marijuana possession penalties.
If signed into law, the measure will take effect on July 1, 2013.
Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.
Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.
Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)
The California Supreme Court ruled today that municipalities possess the legal authority to prohibit the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries.
The unanimous ruling upheld a 4th District Court of Appeals opinion (City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health and Wellness Center, Inc.) which held that local zoning measures banning the establishment of brick-and-mortar facilities that engage in the distribution of cannabis to state-authorized persons are not preempted by state law. Other lower courts had ruled against such local bans, arguing that cities can’t use zoning laws to bar activity legal under state law.
It is estimated that some 200 California cities presently impose moratoriums on medicinal cannabis facilities. At least 50 municipalities have enacted local regulations licensing dispensaries.
Opined the Court:
“We have consistently maintained that the CUA (the California Compassionate Use Act aka Proposition 215) and the MMP (the Medical Marijuana program Act) are but incremental steps toward freer access to medical marijuana, and the scope of these statutes is limited and circumscribed. They merely declare that the conduct they describe cannot lead to arrest or conviction, or be abated as a nuisance, as violations of enumerated provisions of the Health and Safety Code. Nothing in the CUA or the MMP expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”
Although language included in Proposition 215 explicitly called for the state government “to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana,” to date, lawmakers have failed to enact any specific statewide regulations regarding the retail production and distribution of cannabis to those patients authorized to consume it.
Commenting on the ruling, California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer said, “The court essentially affirmed the status quo. Local governments may choose to allow or limit dispensaries as they please. The unfortunate result of this decision is to leave many needy patients without legal access to medical marijuana in their communities, thereby promoting illegal black market suppliers. It is time for the state and federal governments to step up to the plate and fulfill the mandate of Prop 215 to implement a system of ‘safe and affordable’ access for all patients in medical need.”
Legislation is presently pending in both the California Assembly (AB 473) and Senate (SB 439) to impose statewide regulations governing the dispensing of marijuana produced for medical purposes.
Full text of the California Supreme Court’s opinion is available online here.