• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 5, 2018

    Pain reliefCannabis therapy mitigates symptoms of the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and is associated with a reduction in the use of other prescription drugs, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. An estimated 3 to 6 million Americans are afflicted by fibromyalgia, which is often poorly controlled by standard pain medications.

    Israeli investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in a cohort of 26 patients with fibromyalgia. They reported that medical cannabis treatment “was associated with significant favorable outcomes in every item evaluated,” such as reductions in pain and increases in energy.

    Most patients also reduced their use of conventional prescription drugs, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, during the trial period. Nearly half of the participants (46 percent) reduced their prescription drug intake by more than 50 percent during the study. Several patients were also able to return to work following the initiation of cannabis therapy.

    Researchers concluded, “Medical cannabis treatment had a significant favorable effect on patients with fibromyalgia, with few adverse effects.”

    Prior trials evaluating the use of either whole-plant cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids have similarly shown efficacy in patients with the disease. A summary of these prior studies is available here.

    The abstract of the study, “Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia,” is online here.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate March 2, 2018

    Welcome to the March 2nd edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Arizona NORML! Activists in Arizona lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Monday 2/26 in favor of a bill that would require testing for potency and health and safety as well as certifications for independent testing labs.

    Also at the state level, Massachusetts regulators agreed to delay considering proposed rules allowing marijuana social use areas and delivery services until a later date after receiving intense pressure over those license categories from state officials. But they also decided that when the Cannabis Control Commission does authorize the services, initial licenses will only be available to people with past drug convictions or who live in neighborhoods with high drug arrest rates. The commission also agreed to place caps on marijuana farmers and determined a threshold for how much marijuana product they have to sell.

    New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization this month, with the first one scheduled for this Monday March 5th at noon by the Assembly Oversight Committee. On the other hand, several NJ lawmakers are still skeptical about legalization. A survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.

    On a brighter note, Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and Alaska raked in its biggest monthly haul in marijuana taxes, with just over $1 million collected in January. Proponents of a Missouri ballot initiative effort to legalize and regulate medical cannabis statewide reached a milestone by surpassing over 200,000 signatures, although they only needed 160,000.

    Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines. These include legalization and medical expansion measures in Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia, and Kansas.

    At a more local level, Denver, CO approved its first social use marijuana license, allowing vaping and edibles in a Lincoln Park coffee shop. Additionally, The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution supporting a state Senate bill that seeks to create a state-chartered bank that could be used by the marijuana industry.

    Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Your highness,

    Priority Alerts


    End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

    The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

    Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

    New Hampshire

    The Legislature is considering HB 656, which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by those 21 and older.

    The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.

    Update: The House Ways and Means Committee may kill HB 656 even though it already passed the full chamber, and despite A February 2018 UNH Granite State poll finding that 56 percent of adults support the amended version of this bill. They’re having a full committee work session on 3/12 at 1pm.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization


    Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law.

    Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. NORML opposes this law change.

    To date, legislators have refused to enact provisions in the 2016 law permitting for the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. As a result, adults may only obtain marijuana via home cultivation. Further, no data has been presented indicating that this provision is either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market.

    Other changes recommended by lawmakers include: banning any social use establishments and significantly increasing the proposed excise tax on wholesale marijuana products.

    ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to oppose this effort and implement the will of the people


    State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.

    The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

    Update: Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee Dr. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) signed on as co-sponsors to the Medical Cannabis Only Act on 2/26. The following day, the House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 4-3 to approve HB 1749, with House Speaker Harwell casting the tie-breaking vote. HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/7/18. SB 1710 is still posted in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access


    House Bill 764 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

    The measure would permit for the first time patients with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain the option to engage in CBD therapy.

    Update: HB 764 passed the House by a 145-17 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.

    GA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion


    HB 410 is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577 is also pending.

    Update: HB 577  passed the House by a 59-11 vote on 2/28, and now awaits action in the Senate. HB 410 is still posted in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

    ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access


    HB 1893 is pending, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. HB 1893 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/15, and then approved with amendments, and passed on to the Judiciary Committee.

    Update: HB 1893 was heard by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, and then was approved unanimously 8 to zero.

    HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort


    House Bill 1214 is pending, further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients.

    Despite the passage last year of limited language permitting certain patients to possess CBD, law enforcement has continued to take punitive action against those providing CBD products, and some officials have continued to questioned their legality. Passage of these measures will eliminate this legal confusion and greatly expand CBD access.

    Update: HB 1214 was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee after it was heard on 2/27.

    IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in favor of greater CBD access


    House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

    The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

    Update: HB 698 was approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee with amendments on 2/26. The amendments were adopted and it passed the third reading by a 136-1 vote on 3/1.

    MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp


    Additional Actions to Take

    New Hampshire

    House Bill 1476 is pending,  to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

    Under the state’s existing medical marijuana program, patients are mandated to obtain cannabis from only a limited number of state-licensed dispensaries. Those who cultivate for themselves may be guilty of a felony offense.

    Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 1476 by a 13-8 vote on 2/23.

    NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation


    SB 726 and HB 1251, both introduced by Republican lawmakers, would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit.

    Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

    Update: HB 1251 is already on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting his signature. SB 726 passed the House 96-0 on 2/28.

    VA resident? Click here to email Gov. Northam urging him to sign these bills into law


    House Bill 376 was recently introduced, to establish a state bank that will help assist in financial matters related to marijuana businesses. It’s currently pending in the Labor and Commerce Committee.

    Activities of the bank would include helping “marijuana-related businesses make deposits and to help other financial institutions receive deposits from marijuana-related businesses.”

    AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking options for cannabis businesses

    Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 1, 2018

    Patients routinely reduce or eliminate their use of prescription opiates following the use of medical cannabis; two recently published studies reaffirm this relationship.

    In the first study, published by the Minnesota Department of Health, investigators assessed the prescription drug use patterns of 2,245 intractable pain patients participating in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Among those patients known to be taking opiates for pain upon enrollment in the program, 63 percent “were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months.” The findings are similar to those of registered patients in other states’ medical cannabis programs, including Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico, among others.

    In the second study, Israeli researchers assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis in a cohort of over 1,200 cancer patients over a period of six months. Ninety-six percent of patients “reported an improvement in their condition.” Nearly half of respondents reported either decreasing or eliminating their use of opioids during the treatment period.

    A third recently published clinical trial provides insight into explaining this relationship. Investigators from the United States and Australia and assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis and sub-therapeutic doses of oxycodone on experimentally-induced pain in a double-blind, placebo-controlled model. Researchers assessed subjects’ pain tolerance after receiving both substances separately or in concert with one another. While neither the administration of cannabis nor oxycodone alone significantly mitigated subjects’ pain, the combined administration of both drugs did so effectively.

    Authors determined, “Both active cannabis and a low dose of oxycodone (2.5 mg) were sub-therapeutic, failing to elicit analgesia on their own; however, when administered together, pain responses … were significantly reduced, pointing to the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.” They concluded, “Smoked cannabis combined with an ineffective analgesic dose of oxycodone produced analgesia comparable to an effective opioid analgesic dose without significantly increasing cannabis’s abuse liability.”

    The new studies add to the growing body of research finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, opioid-related drug treatment admissions, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

    Additional information regarding the association between cannabis and opioids is available from NORML’s fact-sheet here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 28, 2018

    Cannabis PenaltiesNew York City police are continuing to disproportionately arrest African Americans and Latinos for minor marijuana possession violations, despite ongoing pledges from Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the practice.

    In 2017, city police made an estimated 17,500 arrests for marijuana possession in the 5th degree — a class B misdemeanor. Consistent with past years, 86 percent percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

    Since the de Blasio administration took office in 2014, city police have made over 75,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests; 86 percent of arrestees were either Black or Latino.

    Under state law, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is a non-arrestable offense, except instances where the police contend that the substance was either being burned or was in public view.

    During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio said that the city’s elevated marijuana arrest totals “demonstrate clear racial bias” and promised to “direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions.”

    Despite consuming cannabis at rates comparable to whites, recent analyses of marijuana arrest data from multiple states find that African Americans are consistently arrested for marijuana possession offenses at at least three times the rate of Caucasians.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 27, 2018

    Proponents of a Missouri voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

    The initiative permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to cultivate limited quantities of marijuana or to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

    The group behind the effort, New Approach Missouri, includes members of both national NORML as well as its state and local affiliates.

    For more information about this initiative campaign or to become involved, click here.

    Proponents sought to place a similar effort on the 2016 ballot. That effort failed after the courts upheld the decision of St. Louis-area election authorities to reject some 2,000 signatures in the state’s second Congressional district.

    Missouri is one of several states where voters this year are anticipated to decide on cannabis-related ballot measures. In November, members of Michigan NORML and other coalition members turned in 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act for the November ballot. (Just over 252,000 valid signatures from registered voters are necessary.) Also in November, grassroots activists in South Dakota turned in over 15,000 signatures in an effort to place the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative on the ballot. (Over 13,800 valid signatures are necessary.) In Utah, advocates are well on their way to gathering the necessary quantity of signatures necessary to place The Utah Medical Cannabis Act on the 2018 ballot. In Oklahoma, voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January.

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