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Medical Marijuana

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 1, 2018

    Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Here’s a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    Arizona NORML Works to Reform Concentrate Law

    “Cannabis will prevail,” said Mikel Weisser, director of Arizona NORML. “I cannot see us losing—it doesn’t seem like a logical conclusion.”

    Read Tucson Weekly’s Concentrate Commotion: Arizona Appeals Court Deems Marijuana Extracts Illegal Under State Law

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Chicago NORML Activists Push for Equity in the Pot Business

    Chicago NORML Founder and Executive Director Donte Townsend: “You gotta think about how many people are doing time right now for cannabis convictions,” he said. “And there’s businesses operating as they were, they just didn’t have the money to pay for it. Now some are in jail, and some are getting rich.”

    Read more from the Chicago Sun Times!

    Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Indiana NORML Advocates for Medical Cannabis Legislation

    “Things are evolving very quickly. The legislators, even the ones who are against it, know that they’re going to have to come around in the near future if they want to stay in office,” said David Phipps, a self-described “Hoosier advocate,” and member of Indiana NORML, a group pushing for medical marijuana legalization.

    Read WIBC’s two-part interview: Medical Marijuana in Indiana: The Change in 2018 and The Summer of Medical Cannabis in Indiana?

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Lehigh Valley NORML Wins in Bethlehem and Allentown

    In Pennsylvania, the City Council of Bethlehem approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, while Mayor Ray O’Connell of Allentown signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Oklahoma NORML Instrumental in Passage of Medical Marijuana Initiative

    “We’re going to unbuckle the Bible belt,” Norma Sapp, state director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, shouted to supporters of State Question 788, the medical marijuana issue that will be on the June 26 primary election ballot.

    Read more from NewsOK!

    Follow Oklahoma NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Texas NORML Pushes for Marijuana Planks GOP Platform

    In Texas, the state’s Republican Party approved four new planks to the party’s platform: endorsing marijuana decriminalization, expanded medical cannabis access, industrial hemp and federal rescheduling.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Scott Weldon, Executive Director, Lowcountry NORML

    “As someone who has been working on this issue for several years now, I can assure you that state lawmakers want to know where their constituents stand with regard to supporting marijuana law reforms before they will have the confidence to take action. I’m certain the results from [Tuesday’s] election will be the catalyst for future conversation about this issue.”

    Read more from the Charleston City Paper!

    Follow Lowcountry NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Justin See, Board of Directors, Indiana NORML

    “Given the exceptional limitations that researchers in the U.S. face when considering the prospect of conducting clinical trials using botanical cannabis, Governor Holcomb should take the lead from 29 states and the District of Columbia and become an advocate for allowing legal access for medical purposes.”

    Read more from Indy Politics!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jeff Reidy, Executive DIrector, Lehigh Valley NORML

    “Public opinion and the power of the vote can persuade even the most stubborn of politicians. Our courts, city councils, DAs, and legislators are elected by the people, to work for the people. We should repeatedly remind them of their duties, especially when they stubbornly refuse.”

    Read more from Lehigh Valley Live!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “While the rest of the country is drastically decreasing their marijuana enforcement either because of decriminalization efforts at municipal or state levels or because of regulating use at the state level, Virginia is moving in the opposite direction,” Pedini said. “And that is not at all in context with what the overwhelming majority of Virginians want.”

    Read more from RVA Magazine!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to chapters@norml.org for help starting your own! For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level.

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your homTake Actionetown? Click here to find out how!

  • by NORML June 26, 2018

    Sooner state is the 31st state to legalize and regulate medical cannabis access

    A majority of Oklahomans today voted to enact State Question 788 a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to those patients who will benefit from it. Oklahoma is now the 31st state to legalize and regulate the use of medical cannabis under state law.

    “Public support for medical marijuana access is non-partisan,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Even in a predominantly ‘red’ state like Oklahoma, it is the will of the voters to enact common sense, yet significant marijuana law reforms.”

    He continued, “The ongoing expansion of compassionate medical marijuana in states like Oklahoma places additional pressure upon Congress to take action to end this existing state/federal conflict. It is time for members to move forward with legislation like The States Act or The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would allow states the flexibility and autonomy to regulate cannabis as best they see fit — free from the looming threat of undue federal intervention.”

    State Question 788 permits licensed medical marijuana patients to cultivate up to six mature plants and to possess personal use quantities of marijuana flowers, edibles, or infused concentrates. It also establishes a regulatory framework for the retail production and dispensing of medical cannabis at licensed facilities. The full text of SQ 788 is available online here.

    Oklahoma voters endorsed the plan despite organized opposition from law enforcement, political leaders, and other groups. Opponents of the measure spent an estimated $500,000 in the final week of the campaign on an advertising blitz that falsely claimed that “SQ 788 was not about medical marijuana,” a mischaracterization that was previously determined to be purposely misleading as by the state Supreme Court.

    “It is our hope that Oklahoma politicians will respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact SQ 788 in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law,” NORML’s Armentano said.

    Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who publicly opposed SQ 788, said that she intends to call lawmakers back for a special session to address the passage of SQ 788. Proposed rules and regulation regarding the implementation of SQ 788, drafted by the Oklahoma Department of Health, appears online here.

    Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this month, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States.  

  • by NORML June 25, 2018

    Regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration today granted market approval for Epidiolex, a prescription medicine containing a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD), for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

    The FDA’s decision was not unexpected, as the proprietary extract formulation — developed by the British biotechnology firm GW Pharmaceuticals — had previously demonstrated safety and clinical efficacy at reducing seizure frequency in several placebo-controlled trials. Epidiolex had previously received Fast Track Designation and Orphan Drug Status from the FDA. It is the fourth marijuana-based medicine to receive US FDA approval — joining dronabinol (aka Marinol), nabilone (aka Cesamet), and liquid synthetic THC (aka Syndros). However, Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medicine containing plant-derived, non-synthetic cannabinoids.

    Commenting on the agency’s decision, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The FDA’s approval of this plant-derived medicine provides an additional option to patients seeking the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. However, it remains to be seen whether physicians will be comfortable prescribing this new agent to those patients who may benefit from it, and whether it will be priced in a range that patients may afford.” According to the New York Times, analysts expect Epidiolex to cost $2,500 to $5,000 a month.

    He added: “We anticipated that Epidiolex will be the first of many potential FDA-approved medicines based on the cannabis plant. Nonetheless, these alternatives should not be regulated as options to replace the use and regulation of herbal cannabis — a product that humans have used safely and effectively as a medicine for thousands of years and is approved today by statute in 30 states.”

    Federal agencies have 90 days to determine the scheduling of Epidiolex. The new drug is anticipated to become available to patients later this fall. In clinical trials, patients administered Epidiolex, on average, obtained a 40 percent reduction in seizure frequency.

    Lennox-Gaustaut syndrome is estimated to account for between one and four percent of all cases of childhood epilepsy. Dravet syndrome is estimated to effect about 1 in 40,000 people.

    Despite today’s approval, the FDA acknowledged in a statement that the cannabidinoid CBD still remains classified at this time as a schedule I controlled substance, and that the agency is “prepared to take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with serious, unproven medical claims.” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb further added: “This is the approval of one specific CBD medication for a specific use. … [T]his is not an approval of marijuana or all of its components.”

  • by NORML June 22, 2018

    KY NORML is passionate about education. And with the opioid epidemic consuming our state, we feel that it is our duty to share valuable information regarding the relationship between cannabis and opioids. Cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, traffic fatalities, drug treatment admissions, and overdose deaths. We strongly believe, based on research, first-hand accounts, and testimonials that cannabis is truly the answer to combating this crisis that is killing thousands of Kentuckians each year.

    According to a study by the Journal of Headache and Pain, “the most common prescription medications replaced by medicinal cannabis in this study were opiates/opioids in a large percentage within every pain group, up to 72.8% of patients in the chronic pain as primary illness group. … This is notable given the well-described “opioid-sparing effect” of cannabinoids and growing abundance of literature suggesting that cannabis may help in weaning from these medications and perhaps providing a means of combating the opioid epidemic.”

    Investigators assessed opioid use patterns in patients registered with Health Canada to access medical cannabis products. Among those patients who acknowledged using opioids upon enrollment in the trial, 51 percent reported ceasing their opiate use within six-months. “The high rate of cannabis use for the treatment of chronic pain — and subsequent substitution for opioids — suggests that cannabis may play a harm-reduction role in the ongoing opioid dependence and overdose crisis. While the cannabis substitution effect for prescription drugs has been identified and assessed via cross-sectional and population-level research, this study provides a granular individual-level perspective of cannabis substitution for prescription drugs and associated improvement in quality of life over time.”

    Cannabis access is associated with reductions in overall prescription drug spending. JAMA Internal Medicine “found that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law. Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened. … Combined with previously published studies suggesting cannabis laws are associated with lower opioid mortality, these findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids.”

    The Mental Health Clinician  “investigated medical cannabis’ effectiveness in patients suffering from chronic pain associated with qualifying conditions for MC in New York State. … After 3 months treatment, MC improved quality of life, reduced pain and opioid use, and lead to cost savings. … These results are consistent with previous reports demonstrating MC’s effectiveness in neuropathic pain.”

    There are tons more information out there on this topic and the above research barely scratches the surface. We encourage you to see what’s out there for yourself. Knowledge is power and the better armed we are with that knowledge the more effective we can be in getting legislation passed. The opioid crisis that is plaguing our state has harmed so many of our citizens, and if cannabis is able to help, the legislators should get out the way and pass a comprehensive bill to deal with the problems our state is facing.

    High Regards,
    Matthew Bratcher
    Executive Director, KY NORML

    To support KY NORML you can DONATE HERE and follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Your donations help pay the bills and allow us to function and continue to make a difference in our state! Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going?

  • by NORML June 19, 2018

    In just seven days, voters in Oklahoma will have the opportunity to decide in favor of providing much-needed medical marijuana access to patients.

    State Question 788 will appear on the June 26 ballot. Under this plan, physicians — not lawmakers — will have the final say on making health care decisions involving the use of medical cannabis.

    Specifically,

    * State Question 788 permits doctors to use their discretion to decide which patients are best treated by medical cannabis;

    * It also empowers patients by permitting them to grow their own personal use quantities of medical cannabis;

    * Those patients who do not not wish to grow their own medicine may obtain cannabis flower, or other types of cannabis-infused products, at licensed dispensaries.

    In January, NORML wholeheartedly endorsed the passage of SQ 788. That is because this measure is one of the broadest, most patient-centric medical marijuana initiatives ever placed on a statewide ballot.

    But passage of SQ 788 is not assured. In recent days, opponents have purchased nearly a half-million dollars in misleading television advertisements to persuade voters to reject SQ 788.

    Voters like you must stand up to their fear-mongering and false claims. In truth, the passage of SQ 788 will provide needed relief to tens of thousands of Oklahomans in a manner similar to the laws of 30 other states.

     

    Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released this month, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States. Seriously ill patients, whose health and welfare relies on the use of this plant, must no longer face these draconian penalties for simply managing their health.

    Oklahoma residents: on Tuesday, June 26, please go to the polls and vote ‘yes’ on State Question 788.

     

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