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Medical Marijuana

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2018

    Medical cannabis access programs are associated with year-over-year declines in fatal workplace accidents, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

    Investigators with Montana State University, Colorado State University, and American University in Washington, DC assessed the relationship between the enactment of medical cannabis laws and workplace accidents between the years 1992 to 2015.

    Researchers reported: “Legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a 19.5 percent reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities among workers aged 25-44. … The association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities among workers aged 25-44 grew stronger over time. Five years after coming into effect, MMLs [medical marijuana laws] were associated with a 33.7 percent reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities. Medical marijuana laws that listed pain as a qualifying condition or allowed collective cultivation were associated with larger reductions in fatalities among workers aged 25-44 than those that did not.”

    Authors described the association as “robust,” suggesting that “it cannot be explained by slowly evolving, but difficult-to-measure factors at the state level such as attitudes or health behaviors.”

    They concluded: “The current study is the first to explore the effects of medical marijuana laws on workplace fatalities. Our results suggest that legalizing medical marijuana leads to a reduction in workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44. This reduction may be the result of workers substituting marijuana in place of alcohol and other substances that can impair cognitive function and motor skills.”

    Separate studies evaluating the relationship between medical cannabis access and employment have reported that legalization is associated with lower rates of workplace absenteeism and with increased participation rates among older employees. Other studies have documented lower rates of both alcohol sales and opioid consumption following the enactment of marijuana legalization.

    An abstract of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and workplace fatalities in the United States,” appears here. The NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana legalization and impact on the workplace,” is online here.

  • by Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML August 3, 2018

    Dear Friends,

    I am pleased to be able to tell you that this morning, Thursday, August 2, the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office certified that the New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative will appear on the November 6 ballot this year! New Approach Missouri is closely allied with Missouri NORML and the active Missouri NORML Chapters around the state whose members were instrumental in gathering the signatures which were submitted in early May and have just been certified sufficient to place this measure before the voters.

    In fact, the Missouri Secretary of State certified that three medical marijuana initiatives will appear on the ballot this November, an unprecedented event in the marijuana law reform movement and possibly in the history of our state, and possibly the nation!

    Having three initiatives on the same ballot dealing with the same issue complicates the situation considerably. The Missouri Constitution specifies that if conflicting initiative measures appear on the same ballot, the one which receives the most votes will prevail. It is likely that all three of these measures will have the support of a majority of the voters. Two are constitutional amendments and the third is a statutory initiative.

    Most observers believe that either of the constitutional amendments would prevail over the statutory initiative even if it got more votes, which seems very unlikely.

    The other constitutional initiative is funded by a single individual, a wealthy personal injury lawyer from Springfield, Missouri. His campaign has a single contributor. It would establish the highest tax on medical marijuana in the nation and use that tax money to establish a new medical research facility which the filer of the petition, attorney Brad Bradshaw, would personally run. His initiative specifies that the filer of his initiative will choose the Board of Directors and that the Chief Executive of that research agency must be someone who is both a physician and a lawyer, which Bradshaw is! If the press exposes the blatant vested interest he has in this measure, we think the public will reject it.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Viets

  • by NORML August 2, 2018

    The Oklahoma Board of Health reversed course this week and revoked their previous set of proposed rules that went against the intent of SQ 788, which voters approved in the June special election. The measure, which legalized medical marijuana in the state, was approved with support from 57% of voters.

    After SQ 788’s passage, the board initially attempted to meddle with its implementation, passing rules that would have banned or severely restricted key components of the ballot question – including a ban on the retail sale of herbal cannabis, a requirement that dictated that dispensaries hire state-licensed pharmacists, and an arbitrary limit on the THC content of medical cannabis products. These former proposed rules have all been reversed.

    “The actions taken by an unelected group of health officials in Oklahoma were egregiously undemocratic. We are heartened to see them now reverse course, but they should have never attempted to meddle with a voter approved measure in the first place. It is our hope that state officials take heed at the nearly unanimous backlash they faced due to these actions and move to swiftly enact SQ 788 in the patient-centric manner the ballot language called for,” commented NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.

    This reversal comes shortly after the state’s Attorney General warned health officials that they “acted in excess of their statutory authority” when they amended State Question 788. These new rules now go to Governor Fallin’s desk, she has 45 days to approve or reject them.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2018

    Licensed dispensaries in Pennsylvania are anticipated to begin providing herbal cannabis this week to registered patients.

    Nearly half of all Pennsylvania dispensaries will begin selling medical marijuana in plant form on Aug. 1, with others following suit by Aug. 8, according to a Department of Health news release.

    As initially enacted by lawmakers, state law mandated that patients only have access to non-herbal cannabis preparations, such as infused oils and pills. However, in April Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine approved a unanimous recommendation by the state’s 11-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to permit sales of cannabis flowers.

    “The dry leaf form of medical marijuana provides a cost-effective option for patients, in addition to the other forms of medication already available at dispensaries,” Dr. Levine said in a prepared statement. Retail prices for medical cannabis products in Pennsylvania are among the highest in the nation.

    NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or arbitrarily restrict patients’ access to whole-plant herbal cannabis. (See NORML’s op-ed, “The case for whole-plant cannabis” here.) Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms experience fewer benefits from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects. Furthermore, isolated formulations of individual cannabinoids lack the so-called ‘entourage effect’ associated with the concurrent administration of the plants naturally occurring compounds, oils, and terpenes.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    The use of herbal cannabis is associated with reductions in self-perceived insomnia severity, according to data published in the online, open-access journal Medicines.

    University of New Mexico researchers assessed the influence of marijuana use on self-perceived insomnia severity levels in 409 subjects. Study participants recorded real-time ratings of their symptom severity on a zero to 10-point scale using a mobile software application.

    Authors reported that subjects “experienced a statistically and clinically significant improvement (-4.5 points on a zero to 10-point scale) in perceived insomnia levels. However, products made with C. sativa were associated with less symptom relief and more negative side effects than products made from C. indica or hybrid plant subtypes.” They added, “CBD potency levels were associated with greater symptom relief than were THC levels.”

    Researchers concluded: “[O]ur results show that consumption of cannabis flower is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia with differential effectiveness and side effect profiles. The widespread apparent use of cannabis as a sleep aid underscores the importance of further medical research regarding its risk-benefit profile and the effectiveness of cannabis as a substitute for other substances, including alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, and scheduled medications (e.g., opioids and sedatives), many of which are used in part as sleep aids.”

    Full text of the study, “Effectiveness of raw, natural medical cannabis flower for treating insomnia under naturalistic conditions,” is available online here.

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