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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 4, 2016

     

    LATEST NORML NEWS

    State and Local:

    Everyday NORML Affiliates and Chapters from around the country invest countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels. To get involved in your area, please send an email to KevinM@NORML.org to get started today!

    California:

    California NORML’s executive director questioned a recent report produced by an anti-tobacco organization that encouraged municipalities to ban the use of marijuana in public areas or in locations that must adhere to clean indoor air regulations.

    “The report vastly inflates the health hazards of smoked marijuana, but concedes that it shouldn’t be criminalized. Rather, it calls for stigmatizing it as much as possible,”
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2016/02/03/anti-tobacco-forces-target-legal-pot-use

    As California gets closer to approving a legalization measure for this November’s ballot, some activists are raising concerns about the impact it will have on the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “If you look at the ballot initiative that’s circulating right now, it doesn’t give a lot of incentives to the medical marijuana industry except that you can avoid some of the (proposed 15 percent excise and extra cultivation) taxes if you go to some trouble.”
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/article/Will-doctors-suffer-if-marijuana-is-legalized-6793270.php

    “We are calling for locals to repeal the bans in favor of meaningful land regulations that will enact the statewide licensing standards … in order to protect public safety, the environment and patients’ rights,”
    http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/tns-california-local-marijuana-regulations.html

    Colorado:

    Last week, Denver NORML announced they will be leading a Responsible Use initiative that will allow the limited consumption of marijuana in the City of Denver. Details are still being worked out with NORML’s national office.

    “We are willing to work with them on this issue — we just really want something to happen, we want action to take place,”
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/pot-activists-plan-denver-initiative-to-allow-smoking-in-public-places

    “Denver NORML announced that it would be filing its own initiative to put a limited social use of marijuana item on the ballot in 2016.”
    http://www.westword.com/news/denver-norml-to-file-marijuana-social-use-initiative-for-2016-ballot-7537133

    Illinois:

    Medical marijuana patients in Illinois experienced another setback after lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have expanded access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “My concern is first and foremost for patients to have access to this medicine and if shops are closing then patients will have to go farther distances to get access to this medicine.”
    http://foxillinois.com/news/local/springfield-medical-marijuana-dispensary-to-open-in-february

    “By having the Illinois Department of Public Health deny the eight conditions that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board approved to be added to the list of debilitating conditions for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, this administration has turned their back on veterans suffering from PTSD”
    http://www.sj-r.com/article/20160201/OPINION/160209956

    Iowa:

    After a long court battle, Iowa State University NORML won a first amendment lawsuit against school administrators after an attempt to censor a marijuana leaf printed on a t-shirt.

    “Members of ISU NORML weren’t keen on being censored. They felt the administration was discriminating against their group. So on July 1, 2014, they filed a lawsuit alleging that school administrators had violated their constitutional rights.”
    https://www.civilized.life/cannabis-shirt-freedom-speech-1582756933.html

    Missouri:

    NORML KC is working hard to push an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana in Kansas City.  

    “Once you start talking to people about cannabis reform, you’d be surprised how many people are for it,” Kacz said. “It doesn’t have to be Democrats or liberals, it’s Republicans, it’s religious people, it’s elderly people.”
    http://kcur.org/post/kansas-city-marijuana-reformers-working-toward-decriminalization#stream/0

    New Hampshire:

    New Hampshire NORML urged lawmakers to support a bill that would add PTSD to the state’s list of ailments for medical marijuana.

    “By stuffing opiates down people’s throats, it’s going to create a problem. You guys are going to have a heroin epidemic. You’re going to see it. And in the last two years, it is just out of control,”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/1/22/new-hampshire-medical-marijuana.html

    Virginia:

    With some of the stringent marijuana laws in the country, Virginia NORML continues to work with state lawmaker on a wide range of marijuana reform bills.

    “We will continue to work educating lawmakers who wish to learn more about cannabis science and widely accepted medical applications, the successful decriminalization legislation in 21 states and successful medical legislation in 24 states.”
    http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/house-gop-favors-criminal-penalties-for-marijuana-possession/article_fdb5d256-c706-11e5-89c2-1b85526f966e.html

    Washington:

    Washington NORML is encouraging lawmakers to support a bill that would permit the home cultivation of marijuana.

    “NORML Washington is doing a great job leading this fight to grow your own marijuana. They have even made it possible for you to help the movement from your computer/tablet/phone. Here’s a letter they’ve put together for you to send to your representatives and urge their support for personal cultivation”
    http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/02/if-marijuana-is-legal-why-is-growing-your-own-a-felony/

    Wyoming:

    After going through a much needed reorganization, Wyoming NORML has assembled a strong team who are dedicated to passing the Peggy A. Kelley Wyoming Cannabis Act of 2016.

    “We haven’t stopped on that from day one, but in the same process we just had to get things a little more organized and get a better structure in here.”
    http://kgab.com/wyoming-norml-makes-final-push-to-get-medical-marijuana-question-on-2016-ballot/

    “NORML Wyoming spokeswoman Carrie Satterwhite said the group has the fewest number of volunteer petition circulators in the conservative northeast part of the state, but that region will be targeted in the upcoming months”
    http://www.wyomingnews.com/opinion/drake-medical-marijuana-will-improve-quality-of-life/article_a6184c86-c652-11e5-8361-4fcfb98c3a2f.html

    “Even though Wyoming NORML didn’t get enough signatures this year, members say if they have enough signatures for the 2018 ballot, medicinal marijuana could help Wyoming in the long run.”
    http://www.kcwy13.com/home/headlines/Effort-to-Legalize-Medicinal-Cannabis-367659921.html

    Federal:

    NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano recently spoke to reporters about the need for a common sense approach to ending the prohibition of marijuana in America.

    “This administration clearly recognizes that the present enforcement of marijuana prohibition and marijuana criminalization is out of step with both public opinion and common sense,”
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/212416-2/212416/

    NORML board member and passionate marijuana advocate will prove to be one of this year’s most effective weapon in the war against the prohibition marijuana.

    “Steves has been on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for years and he has worked closely with Washington pot initiative author Alison Holcomb, who now heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice”
    http://crosscut.com/2016/02/rick-steves-ready-to-push-pot-nationally/

    During a recent interview, NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano shared his thoughts on a recent study about the health risks associated with marijuana use.

    “Ultimately, this study’s findings are consistent with the notion that while cannabis is not altogether harmless, its potential risks to health relative to other substances — including legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications — are not so great to warrant its continued criminalization,”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/marijuana-use-may-hurt-memory-in-middle-age/

    Events:

    2016 NORML Congressional Lobby Day

    NORML Houston Marches at the State Capital

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day Feb. 17, 2016

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day March 2, 2016chapter_spotlight

    Veterans: Operation Trapped – Year Long Project

    Texas NORML’s 3rd Annual Puff-N-Putt Spring Fling at Willie’s Golf Course

    Texas NORML’s 9th Texas Marijuana March

    Texas NORML Statewide Veteran Conference Call

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 27, 2016

    cbdThe administration of cannabis oil extracts high in cannabidiol reduces seizure frequency in children with intractable epilepsy, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the journal Seizure.

    Israeli researchers retrospectively evaluated the effects of CBD oil in a multicenter cohort of 74 patients with intractable epilepsy. Participants in the trial were resistant to conventional epilepsy treatment and were treated with CBD extracts for a period of at least three months. Extracts in the study were provided by a pair of Israeli-licensed growers and were standardized to possess a CBD to THC ratio of 20 to 1.

    Investigators reported: “CBD treatment yielded a significant positive effect on seizure load. Most of the children (89 percent) reported reduction in seizure frequency. … In addition, we observed improvement in behavior and alertness, language, communication, motor skills and sleep.”

    They concluded, “The results of this multicenter study on CBD treatment for intractable epilepsy in a population of children and adolescents are highly promising. Further prospective, well-designed clinical trials using enriched CBD medical cannabis are warranted.”

    Previously published retrospective studies and surveys, such as those here and here and here, have also reported CBD administration to be efficacious in reducing seizure frequency.

    In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration granted orphan drug status to imported, pharmaceutically standardized CBD (aka Epidiolex) extracts for use in experimental pediatric treatment. Open-label safety trial data published online in December 2015 in the journal Lancet Neurology reported a median reduction in seizures in adolescent patient treated with Epidiolex that approached 40 percent. Authors concluded, “Our findings suggest that cannabidiol might reduce seizure frequency and might have an adequate safety profile in children and young adults with highly treatment-resistant epilepsy.”

    An abstract of the study, “CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 29, 2015

    The director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, believes that cannabidiol (CBD) – a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid – is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.” Volkow made the comments in an op-ed published by The Huffington Post.

    Volkow further acknowledged, “[P]reliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions.”

    Preclinical studies have documented CBD to possess a variety of therapeutic activities, including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, and bone-stimulating activity. Clinical and observational trials have documented the substance to possess anxiolytic, anti-psychotic, and anti-seizure activity in humans. Safety trials have further concluded the substance to be “safe and well tolerated” when administered to healthy subjects.

    To date, 15 states have enacted laws specifically permitting the possession of high-CBD formulated extracts for therapeutic purposes, primarily for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy.

    In a recent Time Magazine op-ed, Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA) and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (IA) encouraged the Obama administration to “definitively determine if CBD has scientific and medical benefits,” and to “look at expanding compassionate access programs where possible, to benefit as many children as possible.”

    Under federal law, CBD — like cannabis — is defined as a Schedule I controlled substance with “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use, … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 21, 2015

    The administration of oral cannabis extracts is associated with the mitigation of seizures in adolescents with epilepsy, according to clinical data published this month in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.

    Researchers from the Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver performed a retrospective chart review of 75 children provided cannabis extracts. Authors reported that 57 percent of subjects showed some level of improvement in seizure control while 33 percent reported a greater than 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency.

    Researchers also reported “improved behavior/alertness” in one-third of subjects and improved motor skills in ten percent of treated patients. Adverse events were reported in 44 percent of subjects, 13 percent of which reported increased seizure activity. Overall, however, authors concluded that the extracts were “well tolerated by children.”

    Separate clinical trial results publicized last week at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology reported that the administration of a proprietary form of CBD (cannabidiol) extracts decreased seizure frequency by 54 percent over a 12-week period in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

    Survey data compiled by Stanford University in 2013 reported that the administration of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis decreased seizures in 16 of 19 patients with pediatric epilepsy.

    Last February, the Epilepsy Foundation of America enacted a resolution in support of the “rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana.”

    An abstract of the study, “Parental reporting of response to oral cannabis extracts for treatment of refractory epilepsy,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 24, 2015

    NORML Responds To Marijuana And Psychosis ClaimsLast week, in what is becoming a semi-annual mainstream media ritual, news outlets around the globe published sensational headlines alleging that consuming cannabis will drives people crazy.

    On Monday, I published a rebuttal of these claims in a commentary published on the website Alternet.org — an excerpt of which appears below.

    Debunking the Latest Pathetic Fear Smear Campaign Against Marijuana

    [excerpt] [N]umerous (though far less publicized) studies have come to light downplaying the likelihood that cannabis use is a direct cause of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. Specifically, a 2009 paper in the journal Schizophrenia Research compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Authors reported that “incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” during this period, even though pot use among the general population was rising. They concluded: “This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and incidence of psychotic disorders. … This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence.”

    Similarly, a 2010 review paper published by a pair of British scientists in the journal Addiction reported that clinical evidence indicating that use of he herb may be casually linked to incidences of schizophrenia or other psychological harms is not persuasive. Authors wrote: “We continue to take the view that the evidence that cannabis use causes schizophrenia is neither very new, nor by normal criteria, particularly compelling. … For example, our recent modeling suggests that we would need to prevent between 3000 and 5000 cases of heavy cannabis use among young men and women to prevent one case of schizophrenia, and that four or five times more young people would need to avoid light cannabis use to prevent a single schizophrenia case. … We conclude that the strongest evidence of a possible causal relation between cannabis use and schizophrenia emerged more than 20 years ago and that the strength of more recent evidence may have been overstated.”

    More recently, researchers at Harvard University released a study further rebutting this allegation. Writing in 2013 in Schizophrenia Research, investigators compared the family histories of 108 schizophrenia patients and 171 individuals without schizophrenia to assess whether youth cannabis consumption was an independent factor in developing the disorder. Researchers reported that a family history of schizophrenia increased the risk of developing the disease, regardless of whether or not subjects consumed weed as adolescents. They concluded: “The results of the current study, both when analyzed using morbid risk and family frequency calculations, suggest that having an increased familial risk for schizophrenia is the underlying basis for schizophrenia in these samples and not the cannabis use. While cannabis may have an effect on the age of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness.”

    In fact, some researchers speculate that specific cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), may even be efficacious in treating symptoms of psychosis. According to a review published in the January 2014 issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology: “CBD has some potential as an antipsychotic treatment. … Given the high tolerability and superior cost-effectiveness, CBD may prove to be an attractive alternative to current antipsychotic treatment.” Specifically, a 2012 double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing the administration of CBD versus the prescription anti-psychotic drug amisulpride in 42 subjects with schizophrenia and acute paranoia concluded that two substances provided similar levels of improvement, but that cannabidiol did so with far fewer adverse side effects.

    Case reports in the scientific literature also indicate that some patients turn to cannabis for subjective benefits, though other studies indicate that pot use may exacerbate certain symptoms in patients with psychiatric disorders. Nonetheless, even a recent paper summarizing the “adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use” acknowledges, “It is difficult to decide whether cannabis use has had any effects on psychosis incidence, because even if a relationship were to be causal, cannabis use would produce a very modest increase in incidence.”

    You can read my full commentary here.

    You can also watch my discussion with Thom Hartmann of The Big Picture (air date: February 23) here.

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