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Oregon

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 14, 2013

    Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber today signed legislation, House Bill 3460, into law establishing regulations for the creation of state-licensed medical cannabis facilities.

    The law tasks the Oregon Health Authority with crafting rules and regulations over the following nine months to govern the new statewide distribution system.

    Oregon voters initially approved a statewide initiative in 1998 mandating state lawmakers to allow for physicians to authorize qualified patients to consume and grow cannabis. However, that law did not explicitly provide legal protections for outlets that wished to dispense the substance to authorized patients.

    Presently, an estimated 200 unlicensed cannabis dispensing facilities are operating throughout the state. An estimated 57,000 Oregonians are registered with the state to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC now have 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, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Nevada and New Hampshire.

  • 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 28, 2013

    Members of the Oregon House and Senate have given final approval to two separate legislative measures, Senate Bill 40 and Senate Bill 82, to reduce penalties related to certain marijuana possession offenses.

    Senate Bill 40 amends the criminal code to reclassify marijuana offenses involving the possession of over one ounce, but less than four ounces of marijuana, from a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to a Class B misdemeanor. It also reclassifies offenses involving the possession of less than 1/4 ounce of hashish from a felony to a Class B misdemeanor. The measure also reduces the fine presently associated with civil violations involving the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

    Senate Bill 82 eliminates the suspension of driving privileges for those cited civilly for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.

    Both bills now await action from Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber. If signed into law, the changes will take effect immediately upon passage.

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

    Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber on Thursday signed legislation, Senate Bill 281, into law to allow patients with post-traumatic stress to be eligible to engage in the therapeutic use of cannabis.

    The new Oregon law expands the state’s existing medical marijuana program, initially enacted by voters in 1998, to include post-traumatic stress as a state-qualified illness for which marijuana may be recommended.

    To date, only three states – Connecticut, Delaware, and New Mexico – specifically allow for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

    Clinical trial data published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry theorized that cannabinoid-based therapies would likely comprise the “next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

    Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. To date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 21, 2013

    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.

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