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medical marijuana

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 7, 2013

    The results of a first-of-its-kind worldwide survey of nearly 1,000 medicinal cannabis consumers shows that most patients prefer their medicine in the way that nature, not Big Pharma, intended it to be.

    Investigators from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States conducted a web-based survey consisting of 21 structured questions to assess patients’ perceptions of different types of cannabinoid-based medicininal products as well as their preferred modes of consumption. Over 950 subjects participated in the survey.

    The study’s findings appear in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

    Overall, subjects said that herbal cannabis preparations were more cost-effective and posed fewer side-effects than cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals. Participants also reported greater satisfaction with inhaled (via either smoking or vaporizing) forms of cannabis products as compared to oral dosing.

    “In general, herbal non-pharmaceutical CBMs (cannabinoid-based medicines) received higher appreciation scores by participants than pharmaceutical products containing cannabinoids,” the study concluded. “[O]ur data suggest that overall there is good satisfaction with whole plant preparations that are affordable and administered in an inhaled manner, or in the form of a tincture.”

    An abstract of the study, “The Medicinal Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids — An International Cross-Sectional Survey on Administration Forms,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2013

    Members of the Oregon House and Senate have given final approval to House Bill 3460, which licenses medicinal cannabis dispensaries statewide.

    Senate members approved an amended version of the bill by an 18 to 12 vote on July 3. House members had previously passed the bill in June. Members signed off on the Senate’s amendments this past weekend.

    House Bill 3460 “directs [the] Oregon Health Authority to establish a registration system for medical marijuana facilities.” The department has until March 2014 to draft rules regulating dispensaries. Such facilities exist presently in the state but are unregulated and remain subject to state and local prosecution. Officials expect to register an estimated 225 dispensaries in the first two years.

    Oregonians initially authorized the physician-supervised use of cannabis in 1998. However, the law limits patients’ access to cannabis to either home-cultivation or cultivation by a designated caregiver.

    House Bill 3460 was publicly supported of Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum. The measure now awaits approval from Gov. John Kitzhaber.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island have state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. (California dispensaries are not licensed by the state.) Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 19, 2013

    House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday agreed on a final version of House Bill 573, which allows for a regulated system of medical cannabis distribution in New Hampshire.

    The amended bill calls for the creation of four state-sanctioned marijuana dispensing facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to state-qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation. Patients diagnosed with one of approximately twenty qualifying conditions — including cancer, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — would be permitted to legally possess up to than two-ounces of cannabis. Under the proposed law, patients must obtain cannabis only from a state-licensed facility. Qualified patients will not be provided with any legal protections to possess or use cannabis prior to the establishment of such facilities.

    As originally passed by the House, the measure allowed for qualified patients to have the option to grow their own cannabis. The measure also allowed for physicians to recommend cannabis for the treatment of post-traumatic stress. Both provisions were stripped from the bill by the Senate at the request of newly-elected Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan.

    Gov. Hassan is expected to approve the reconciled version of HB 573. A commission is expected to be put in place to oversee the implementation of the law as soon as the bill is passed.

    New Hampshire will become the 19th state to allow for the limited, legal use of medical cannabis and the final New England state to do so.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 18, 2013

    Another study has once again affirmed that the enactment of statewide medical cannabis laws is not associated with increased rates of adolescent marijuana consumption.

    According to data published this week in the American Journal of Public Health, the passage of medical marijuana laws in various states has had no “statistically significant … effect on the prevalence of either lifetime or 30-day marijuana use” by adolescents residing in those states.

    Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine evaluated the effects of medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use rates during the years 2003 and 2011. Investigators “found no evidence of intermediate-term effects of passage of state MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on the prevalence or frequency of adolescent nonmedical marijuana use in the states evaluated.” Authors concluded, “Our results suggest that, in the states assessed here, MMLs have not measurably affected adolescent marijuana use.”

    The study’s findings rebut often repeated claims from cannabis prohibitionists that the passage of therapeutic cannabis laws adversely impacts teens’ usage of the substance.

    In fact, numerous published studies have contradicted this claim. A 2012 analysis of statewide cannabis laws and adolescent use patterns of commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany concluded: “Our results suggest that the legalization of medical marijuana was not accompanied by increases in the use of marijuana or other substances such as alcohol and cocaine among high school students. Interestingly, several of our estimates suggest that marijuana use actually declined with the passage of medical marijuana laws.”

    A separate 2012 study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology reported similar findings, concluding: “[P]assing MMLs (medical marijuana laws) decreased past-month use among adolescents … and had no discernible effect on the perceived riskiness of monthly use. … [These] estimates suggest that reported adolescent marijuana use may actually decrease following the passing of medical marijuana laws.”

    Previous investigations by research teams at Brown University in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2007 made similar determinations, concluding, “[C]onsistent with other studies of the liberalization of cannabis laws, medical cannabis laws do not appear to increase use of the drug.”

    Full text of the study, “Effects of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 4, 2013

    Lawmakers gave final approval on Monday to legislation, Senate Bill 374, to allow for the establishment of licensed facilities to dispense cannabis to state-qualified patients. The measure passed with two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers. It now awaits action from Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has previously acknowledged that he is open to the idea of regulating medical cannabis dispensaries.

    If signed into law, SB 374 would establish rules and regulations for the establishment of up to 66 not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries up and running. Similar dispensary outlets are in the process of opening in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

    Nevada voters enacted legislation in 2000 to allow for physician authorized patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, the law does not explicitly provide for facilities where authorized patients may obtain medicinal cannabis.

    Approximately 3,800 Nevadans are presently authorized to grow and/or consume cannabis under state law.

    To track the progress of marijuana law reform legislation in other states, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

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