Category Archives: Marijuana

Long-Term Marijuana Use Changes Brain at the Cellular Level, Say Scientists

The team behind the study hopes that their findings can eventually be used to treat people with cannabis use disorder, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 as a “problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

By Yasmin Tayagon October 16, 2017

Filed Under Alcohol, Drugs, Neuroscience & Sex

In March, long-term marijuana smoker Woody Harrelson surprised fans by announcing he was giving up his chronic pot habit, saying it made him “emotionally unavailable.” Likewise, in June, notorious stoner Miley Cyrus did the same, saying she “wanted to be really clear” while making her new album. Long-term pot smokers who have quit cite similar anecdotal evidence about the chronic effects of weed, but scientists have only recently begun understanding what, if anything, it actually does to the brain.

In a study on mice published Monday in the journal JNeurosci, scientists report that long-term marijuana use does indeed change the brain.

In their study, the researchers from Brigham Young University’s neuroscience department, led by Jeffrey Edwards Ph.D., focused on the brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA), a region rich with the dopamine and serotonin receptors that comprise the brain’s reward system, looking at how its cells changed as the teen mice they studied received daily THC injections every day for a week. Researchers know that drugs of abuse, like opioids, alcohol, and marijuana, act on the VTA, and it’s thought that the active ingredients in these drugs stimulate the release of dopamine in this area, thereby triggering the flood of pleasure that drugs (as well as friendship and sex) provide — and creating cravings for more.

In particular, they looked at a type of cell in the VTA known as a GABA cell that marijuana researchers hadn’t looked at before. The cells are named for the type of neurotransmitter they pick up — GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid — which is well-known for its inhibitory properties. Imagine GABA as the high-strung friend who becomes anxious when the rest of the group has too much fun. When GABA is released in the brain, it regulates the levels of happy-making dopamine, making sure revelry doesn’t go overboard.In particular, they looked at a type of cell in the VTA known as a GABA cell that marijuana researchers hadn’t looked at before. The cells are named for the type of neurotransmitter they pick up — GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid — which is well-known for its inhibitory properties. Imagine GABA as the high-strung friend who becomes anxious when the rest of the group has too much fun. When GABA is released in the brain, it regulates the levels of happy-making dopamine, making sure revelry doesn’t go overboard.

This friend is a bit of a buzzkill but seems to be necessary to prevent the brain from having too much of a good thing. But, as it turns out, GABA neurons can be incapacitated, too.This friend is a bit of a buzzkill but seems to be necessary to prevent the brain from having too much of a good thing. But, as it turns out, GABA neurons can be incapacitated, too.

As the researchers observed these cells in teen mice over their THC-filled week, they saw that the ability of the GABA neurons to regulate dopamine faltered as the trial went on. In contrast, mice who only received a single injection of THC — the Bill Clintons of the group — didn’t show any changes in their GABA neurons, suggesting that the effects seen in the chronic users are a consequence of long-term marijuana use. Those changes led dopamine to linger in the VTA longer than usual, which caused an abnormally drawn-out feeling of reward. And too much of those pleasurable feelings, scientists have found, is what leads to addiction.

The team behind the study hopes that their findings can eventually be used to treat people with cannabis use disorder, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 as a “problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO AND FURTHER INFORMATION!

(MY COMMENT?  I know you all can see where this is going, right?)

Advertisements

Congressman Heck Introduces Marijuana Banking Amendments

by NORML September 2, 2017

Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) with Representatives Perlmutter (CO-07), Lee (CA-13), and Titus (NV-01) have submitted two amendments to the financial services division to be included in the House appropriations bill. Both of these amendments focus on banking services for legal marijuana-related businesses and would be a temporary fix until the current legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is passed into law.

The first amendment prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to punish banks for serving marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The second amendment prohibits the Treasury from altering FinCEN’s guidance to financial institutions on providing banking services to legitimate marijuana businesses. These amendments, if included, would allow for legal marijuana-related business to operate according to state laws and enjoy access to the banking system.

Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of marijuana and more than half the states have implemented medical marijuana laws, so it is both sensible and necessary to include these proposed amendments so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

You can click here to send an email in support of the SAFE Banking Act to your federal elected officials now.

CONTINUE READING…

Uncertain legal status of financial transactions in marijuana industry lead to bitcoin, cryptocurrency development

By Steve Brachmann
September 2, 2017

On July 27th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing of the full committee to markup several pieces of legislation, including S.1662, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2018. News reports indicate that, during that hearing, the Senate appropriations committee approved an amendment which would reduce the ability of federal-level law enforcement agencies to interfere with state laws on the medicinal use of marijuana. This amendment comes at a time during which the nascent medical marijuana industry looks as though it’s turning to cryptocurrency in response to the questionable legal status of medical marijuana businesses.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed the amendment to allow states to implement medical marijuana laws. The amendment would ensure that none of the funds made available through the appropriations act would be used to prevent any of 46 of the 50 United States from implementing any law authorizing the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana. The amendment does not include the states of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska or South Dakota, but it does include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

An article on the medical marijuana amendment published by Congressional blog TheHill quotes Leahy as saying:

“The federal government can’t investigate everything and shouldn’t, and I don’t want them pursuing medical marijuana patients who are following state law… We have more important things for the Department of Justice to do than tracking down doctors or epileptics using medical marijuana legally in their state.”

A press release issued in early August by financial news and publishing company NetworkNewsWire reflects the positive response of the medical marijuana industry to the news of the amendment to the 2018 Commerce appropriations bill. The press release discusses the business activities of medical marijuana firms across the world and cites to polls conducted by both Gallup and CBS News which reflects the changing views of the American public on the legality of marijuana, a sentiment which has become more positive as more states move to legalize either the recreational or the medicinal use of marijuana.

One of the companies cited by the NetworkNewsWire press release as being an innovator in the field of marijuana payments is SinglePoint Inc., a full-service mobile technology provider headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, which also operates a cannabis dispensary hub subsidiary known as SingleSeed. SinglePoint reportedly closed upon a $1 million promissory note with an institutional investor this June and plans to invest the proceeds into the development of a bitcoin solution to conduct non-cash transactions for marijuana products. Bitcoin transaction solutions are also being developed by ChineseInvestors.com Inc., a Chinese-language financial information firm with an increasing presence in the global marijuana industry.

Bitcoin payments for marijuana and related products seem to be developing in response to an industry-wide issue regarding the bankability of marijuana business activities caused by tensions between state and federal level laws on the subject. Even as states increasingly vote for the legalization of marijuana, the plant is still considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which is enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The tenuous legality of marijuana at the federal level has led to the growth of an industry in which many businesses have to sit on cash without being able to open business accounts with banking institutions which have been concerned with their federal-level legal liability if they accept deposits from marijuana businesses.

The concerns of financial institutions over federal regulations on marijuana don’t seem to be unfounded given the effects of the CSA and marijuana’s Schedule I status on intellectual property owners in the space. The uncertain status of federal registrations for marijuana trademarks is the result of the confluence of the CSA along with 37 CFR 2.69, the statute governing trademarks sought on the sale or transportation of any product which is regulated by an act of Congress. No such regulatory restrictions seem to affect the patenting of medical marijuana-related technologies, however. Through this January, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued dozens of patents, and published almost as many patent applications, on medical marijuana technologies, including a patent covering a controlled-release chewing gum containing cannabinoids developed by AXIM Biotech.

Increasingly, bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies are becoming the choice for most financial transactions within the nascent marijuana industry as the sector increases in value. North American marijuana sales reached $6.7 billion during 2016 and were expected to rise up to $20.2 billion annually by the year 2021. This June, Bloomberg published an article discussing how SinglePoint and Seattle, WA-based cannabis point-of-sale firm POSaBIT were utilizing bitcoin strategies to conduct transactions for cannabis products while taking steps to comply with federal and state regulations.

For marijuana and other industries that may face regulatory risks which could impede their ability to conduct business, bitcoin offers various benefits. A blog post published by payment processing company Bankcard Brokers discusses bitcoin’s anonymity and availability to high risk industries, as well as the fact that bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed except by the party receiving the bitcoin.

Bitcoin can be exchanged into a variety of other cryptocurrencies and one such cryptocurrency is designed specifically for the cannabis industry. PotCoin is seeking to position itself as the standard form of cryptocurrency payment for transactions in the legalized marijuana industry. PotCoin has proven to be a volatile investment, seeing a 23 percent dip this March in response to news that PotCoin sponsored a recent trip by Dennis Rodman to North Korea; this major decline came one day after PotCoin’s value increased by a dramatic 97 percent. Other types of cryptocurrencies being developed for the marijuana industry include CannabisCoin and WeedCoin.

Bitcoin’s status as a decentralized system for financial transactions stands in some contrast to the current activities being undertaken by a variety of entities seeking patents in the sector. A recent article published by CoinDesk notes that the USPTO published 390 patent applications related to blockchain tech, the underlying distributed ledger technology supporting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, between January and July of this year. That represented a 90 percent increase over the number of blockchain-related patent applications published during the same period in 2016. A recent U.S. patent application filed by bitcoin exchange company Coinbase discusses an innovative security system for digital assets such as bitcoin. This March, Reuters reported that the man claiming to be bitcoin’s creator has filed more than 70 patent applications in the UK to protect blockchain-related tech like medical document storage and WiFi security systems.

CONTINUE READING…

Pot Was Flying Off the Shelves in Uruguay. Then U.S. Banks Weighed In.


Pot Was Flying Off the Shelves in Uruguay. Then U.S. Banks Weighed In.

By ERNESTO LONDOÑOAUG. 25, 2017

A line outside a pharmacy selling legal marijuana last month in Montevideo, Uruguay. Credit Matilde Campodonico/Associated Press

The pharmacies selling pot were doing a brisk business.

After Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana sales for recreational use last month, some of the pharmacies struggled to keep up with the demand.

Then came the stern letters from American banks.

The letters immediately sent officials in Uruguay scrambling to make sense of the Patriot Act and other American laws that could doom an essential part of their country’s new marijuana market.

American banks, including Bank of America, said that they would stop doing business with banks in Uruguay that provide services for those state-controlled sales.

Afraid of losing access to the American banking system, Uruguayan banks warned some of the pharmacies over the last couple of weeks that their accounts would be shut down, potentially signaling a broader international impasse as other countries, including Canada, set out to legalize marijuana.

“We can’t hold out false hope,” President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay told reporters this week, adding that his administration was trying to come up with a solution.

Uruguay’s Marijuana Law Turns Pharmacists Into Dealers JULY 19, 2017

The snag mirrors challenges that such businesses have faced in American states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis. Under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it is unlawful for American financial institutions to do business with dealers of certain controlled substances, including marijuana. The provisions were designed to curb money laundering and drug trafficking.

American banks, including Bank of America, said they would stop doing business with banks in Uruguay that provide services for the country’s state-controlled marijuana sales. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Obama administration indicated in 2014 that banks were unlikely to face penalties for offering services to marijuana businesses in states where the trade is legal, as long they screened accounts for signs of money laundering and ensured that customers followed state guidelines. This enabled some of the businesses to get accounts at credit unions, but major banks have largely stayed away from the expanding industry, concluding that the burdens and risks of doing business with marijuana sellers were not worth the hassle.

“Banks are businesses, and they can pick and choose who they do business with,” said Frank Robison, a lawyer in Colorado who specializes in marijuana regulation. “From a banking industry perspective, the marijuana industry might be perceived as a flea on a dog’s back.”

Several pot businesses in states like Colorado and Washington — the first to legalize recreational marijuana — have opted to remain cash-only businesses. Others have found small banks willing to take a calculated risk.

But finding a workaround in Uruguay may be hard. Sales of marijuana represent a small share of business for pharmacies, which are currently the only merchants licensed to sell it, and the pharmacies say they need banking services to operate.

Similarly, bankers in Uruguay will probably find it much more important to remain in good standing with American financial institutions than to preserve the accounts of a small number of pharmacies.

The threat of losing their bank accounts has led some of the roughly 15 pharmacies that initially signed up to participate in the new market to give up on marijuana sales, said Pablo Durán, a legal expert at the Center of Pharmacies in Uruguay, a trade group. Twenty other pharmacies that were expected to join the market are holding off while the government explores solutions, he said.

The American regulations are counterproductive, supporters of the legal market in Uruguay contend, because they may inadvertently encourage, not prevent, illicit drug sales.

Fighting drug trafficking was one of the main reasons the Uruguayan government gave for legalizing recreational marijuana. Officials spent years developing a complex regulatory framework that permits people to grow a limited supply of cannabis themselves or buy it at pharmacies for less than the black market rate. Lawmakers hoped that legal structure would undercut illicit marijuana cultivation and sales.

“There probably isn’t a trade in Uruguay today that is more controlled than cannabis sale,” Mr. Durán said.

As a candidate, President Trump said that American states should be free to chart their own courses on marijuana, and he promised to pare back regulation in the financial sector. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has been a sharp critic of legalization and has compared marijuana to heroin.

Now, some members of the cannabis industry wonder whether the United States government will resolve the conflict between its banking laws and the expanding patchwork of measures to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use around the world. The guidance from the Obama administration, issued by the Justice and Treasury Departments in a pair of memos in 2014, addressed the matter domestically but not for international banking.

“Uruguay may be the tip of the iceberg,” said Mr. Robison, the Colorado lawyer who specializes in marijuana regulation.

Pharmacists in Uruguay were incredulous to learn that their bank accounts could be shut down, considering the years of study and planning that preceded the start of retail marijuana sales last month. The country’s marijuana law was passed in 2013.

“We can’t understand how the government didn’t have the foresight to anticipate this,” said Gabriel Bachini, a pharmacy owner in the coastal city of Colonia.

Buying marijuana in a pharmacy in Montevideo. Credit Andres Stapff/Reuters

Since sales began, the number of registered buyers in Uruguay has more than doubled. As of Aug. 15, more than 12,500 people had enrolled in a system that verifies customers’ identities with fingerprint scanners and allows them to buy up to 40 grams per month (at a price of about $13 for 10 grams, enough for about 15 joints, advocates say). Under the law, only Uruguayan citizens and legal permanent residents are allowed to buy or grow marijuana.

“Demand has been very strong,” Mr. Bachini said. “People are thrilled that they no longer have to go to private homes or venture out into neighborhoods” to get marijuana.

In emailed statements, the Treasury and Justice Departments said that their earlier guidance was still being applied. But banking and legal experts say the Trump administration has yet to lay down clear markers on this area of policy.

Officials in Uruguay are hopeful that American lawmakers will pass legislation allowing banks to do business with marijuana sellers in states and countries where it is regulated. Representative Ed Perlmutter, Democrat of Colorado, introduced a bill in April that would do that, but marijuana advocates say they do not expect a prompt legislative change.

“It is ironic that laws aimed at fighting drug trafficking and money laundering have created a roadblock for a system that intends to do just that,” said Hannah Hetzer, an analyst at the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports decriminalization of marijuana. “Uruguay is creating a legal market that displaces the illicit marijuana market.”

Mr. Bachini, the pharmacist, said he had not yet heard from his bank. But if it threatens to shut down his account, he said, he will not think twice about giving up marijuana sales.

“This pharmacy has been around for 30 years,” he said. “I’d just stop until this issue with the United States is resolved.”

Correction: August 26, 2017

An earlier version of this article misidentified the state that Ed Perlmutter represents in the House. It is Colorado, not Oregon.

Mauricio Rabuffetti contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Uruguay’s Legal Pot Is Imperiled by U.S. Banks. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Continue reading the main story


Why the Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way

MJA CB

By Jim Patterson, Opinion Contributor – 08/16/17 02:10 PM EDT

Earlier this month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. To some, this bill may look like another liberal attempt to push for widespread legalization of marijuana across the country. But for those of us who work in this industry and understand the complexities and inequities of current marijuana policies, the bill is a bold step forward in transforming the industry as we know it.

I recommend that anyone who questions why marijuana should no longer be illegal under federal law, take the time to watch Sen. Booker’s three-minute video explaining his legislation. It will shine a light on how marijuana policies have negatively impacted targeted communities, specifically low-income communities of color. This bill seeks to undo some of the damage that Booker aptly describes as, “the unjust application of the law and economic bias.” For example, the bill would expunge convictions for those with marijuana use and/or possession charges at the federal level which, in turn, will allow for greater access to education and economic opportunities.

As CEO of a company which works in the legal marijuana industry, it is a priority for me that this industry gives everyone a fair and equal playing field. On a daily basis, I meet and speak with entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in becoming a part of the marijuana industry because of its huge growth potential and opportunity.

However, with opportunity come risks, and in this industry we take financial, legal and professional risks. That said, there is a large segment of the population that is not at the table for these types of discussions because they were previously targeted during the war on drugs and now cannot fully participate in the state legal boom of this business.

For them, the risks are still too high under marijuana’s current federal classification as a Schedule I drug. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to change this by taking steps to fix the system so that marijuana is not just legal, but that the industry as a whole can move forward in a direction that we can be proud of.

Additionally, this legislation is important because it would also address a number of challenges marijuana businesses face such as lack of access to ordinary banking services. It would also move towards regulating the marijuana market as a whole and by regulating legal access, it would discourage and replace illicit drug activity.

I applaud Booker for introducing thoughtful legislation that would legalize the industry in the “right” way and that truly has the ability to move the ball forward on some of the historically negative aspects of this industry. Now is the time for the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana should be legal and removed from the list of controlled substances.

A recent CBS News poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and use in states that have legalized it, and 61 percent of Americans want marijuana legal across the country. Additionally, in the first six months of this new Congress, over a dozen bi-partisan bills have been introduced aimed at moving marijuana policies and regulations forward. Like Booker’s legislation, these bills acknowledge that updated marijuana laws and policies will bring a plethora of economic and social benefits to our country through increased job opportunities and tax revenues.

Congress must acknowledge the position of the majority of the American public and respond accordingly. I call on lawmakers to support this legislation and will be doing my part to raise this bill as a priority in the technology, transportation, policy and marijuana business communities eaze is a part of.

Jim Patterson is the CEO of eaze, a cannabis technology that connects people to doctors and dispensaries for on-demand consultations and deliveries.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

CONTINUE READING…

Commentary: Support states’ rights on cannabis

Joey Gilbert

As a Nevada citizen, a marijuana special use attorney, and advocate for veterans, I write today to discuss important issues related to states’ rights, federalism, and cannabis regulation.

The Constitution of the United States codifies federalism, protecting the power of the states to speak, act and legislate in a constitutionally guaranteed and sovereign manner. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” I agree!

Currently, 29 states have legalized some form of cannabis. Individual states must be allowed to determine their own policies for the regulation of their legal, state-based cannabis industries.

The concept of federalism cannot and should not be selectively applied by D.C. policymakers. It is politically and philosophically lazy to be a selective federalist. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The people of Nevada have spoken. We favor legalized, regulated, adult use cannabis. Constitutionally speaking, the Federal government must respect our duly enacted laws and regulatory regime for cannabis. Federal intrusion into states that have medical or adult use cannabis is an assault on our constitutional system.

So the question is – what can be done? I urge Congress to adopt the McClintock-Polis amendment preventing the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with state cannabis laws. Authorization of this amendment will remove uncertainty and ambiguity from our state-based, state-legal, and state-regulated cannabis industry.

I also support H.R. 1810, authored by Representative Carlos Curbelo, reforming IRS Section 280(e), allowing for cannabis businesses to be treated like any other legal, state-based business. Congress must also reform federal banking laws so that legal cannabis operations have access to traditional banking services.

Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, any profit by companies in the marijuana sector is considered illegal. Banks who accept accounts from cannabis businesses become open to government seizure and criminal prosecution. This banking reform is currently part of the CARERS Act of 2017.

These policies, if enacted, will allow our state to prioritize limited law enforcement assets and curtail the cash and cartel-based operations of the marijuana black market.

If you believe in Federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and the power of the states to regulate and grow their own economies, within their own borders, let your federal officials know that state-legal, state-based cannabis laws should fall under state jurisdiction. Also, let them know that you support commonsense reform of federal laws in order to provide for state-first regulation of these burgeoning cannabis industries.

CONTINUE READING…

Trump’s DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana

Image result for marijuana

By Lydia Wheeler – 07/23/17 07:30 AM EDT

The Trump administration is readying for a crackdown on marijuana users under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking the plant. 

Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.

“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” he wrote. 

Criminal justice reform advocates fear Sessions’s memo signals stricter enforcement is ahead.

“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. 

“We’re worried there’s going to be something in the recommendations that is either saying that that’s true or recommending action be taken based on that being true.”

Sessions sent a letter in May asking congressional leaders to do away with an amendment to the DOJ budget prohibiting the agency from using federal funds to prevent states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” said the letter from Sessions, first obtained by Massroots.com and verified by The Washington Post.

As for the task force, Sessions said another subcommittee would “explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies, and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.”

On Wednesday, Sessions reportedly re-established a controversial criminal asset seizure program ahead of the committee’s recommendations.

Local law enforcement leaders say a crackdown appears to be next, though they argue there’s no need for it.

“From a practitioner’s point of view, marijuana is not a drug that doesn’t have some danger to it, but it’s not the drug that’s driving violent crime in America,” said Ronal Serpas, the former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department and co-chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.

“That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powdered cocaine, heroin and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and another 21 states allow the use of medical marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, but marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.

If Sessions ignites a fight over states’ rights, Chettiar wonders whether it will spur Republicans into a showdown with the Trump administration on criminal justice reform.   

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who publicly criticized Sessions for reversing Obama-era guidelines on criminal charges and sentencing in May, said he’s not in favor of the DOJ interfering with state policies regarding marijuana. 

“I will oppose anybody from the administration or otherwise that wants to interfere with state policy,” he told The Hill this week.

Paul is part of a bipartisan group of Senators pushing legislation to allow patients to continue accessing medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution.

Legislation introduced last month by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Paul introduced — known as the The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act — would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies.

According to Politifact, Trump pledged to leave marijuana legalization up to the states while on the campaign trail. But last month he reportedly pushed back against the congressional ban on the DOJ interfering with state medical marijuana laws in a signing statement, asserting that he isn’t legally bound to the limits imposed by Congress.

The DOJ’s likely move on marijuana comes amid rising tensions between Trump and Sessions.

Trump in an interview with The New York Times publicly dressed down Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, calling that decision “very unfair” to him.

Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone argued this week that Trump has been disappointed in Sessions.

“The president initially bonded with Sessions because he saw him as a tough guy,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.

“Now he’s saying: ‘Where’s my tough guy? Why doesn’t he have my back?’ There’s a lack of aggressiveness with Sessions, unless it involves chasing people for smoking pot.”

In an interview with The Hill, Booker called Sessions “one of the greatest threats to the safety of our local communities in America.”

“If you try to start prosecuting marijuana … you create more violence and more danger as well as greater government cost,” he said. “These policies that he’s doing ultimately go to the core of the safety of our communities.”

Though Sessions appears to be an obstacle for lawmakers and advocates who want sentencing reform, Booker said he’s not “insurmountable.”

“If we can overcome Strom Thurmond’s filibuster against the civil rights bill, we can overcome a U.S. Attorney General who is out of step with history and out of step with his party,” he said. 

But Sessions isn’t alone in his views on pot. Though he said he believes in the need for sentencing reform, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seemed to agree this week that there needs to be stricter enforcement.

“I believe marijuana probably needs to be cracked down on, but we’ll see when he sends it over,” Graham said of the task force report.

Tags Kirsten Gillibrand Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Jeff Sessions Al Franken Rand Paul Mike Lee

CONTINUE READING…

(KY) GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR GET SUED OVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA!

BECAUSE THIS STORY IS SO IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY I HAVE INCLUDED TWO SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK TO THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHICH WAS AIRED ON WLKY.

THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED TODAY, JUNE 14TH, 2017, IN JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY AGAINST GOV. MATT BEVIN AND AG ANDY BESHEAR BY DANNY BELCHER OF BATH COUNTY, AMY STALKER OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, AND DAN SEUM JR OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.

ky mj lawsuit

ABOVE:  LINK TO PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON WLKY

FACEBOOK – WLKY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH COMMENTS

Mark Vanderhoff Reporter

FRANKFORT, Ky. —

Three people are suing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear over Kentucky’s marijuana laws, claiming their rights are being violated by not being able to use or possess medicinal marijuana.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in Jefferson Circuit Court, was filed on behalf of Danny Belcher of Bath County, Amy Stalker of Louisville and Dan Seum Jr., son of state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale.

Seum turned to marijuana after being prescribed opioid painkillers to manage back pain.

“I don’t want to go through what I went through coming off that Oxycontin and I can’t function on it,” he said. “If I consume cannabis, I can at least function and have a little quality of life.”

The plaintiffs spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Seum does not believe the state can legally justify outlawing medical marijuana while at the same time allowing doctors to prescribe powerful and highly addictive opioids, which have created a statewide and national epidemic of abuse.

That legal justification lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ legal challenge, which claims Kentucky is violating its own constitution.

The lawsuit claims the prohibition violates section two of the Kentucky Constitution, which denies “arbitrary power,” and claims the courts have interpreted that to mean a law can’t be unreasonable.

“It’s difficult to make a comparison between medical cannabis and opioids that are routine prescribed to people all over the commonwealth, all over the country, and say that there’s some sort of rational basis for the prohibition on cannabis as medicine when we know how well it works,” said Dan Canon, who along with attorney Candace Curtis is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also claims Kentucky’s law violates the plaintiffs’ right to privacy, also guaranteed under the state constitution.

Spokespeople for Gov. Bevin and Beshear say their offices are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit.

In a February interview on NewsRadio 840 WHAS, Bevin said the following in response to a question about whether he supports medical marijuana:

“The devil’s in the details. I am not opposed to the idea medical marijuana, if prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way we would other pharmaceutical drugs. I think it would be appropriate in many respects. It has absolute medicinal value. Again, it’s a function of its making its way to me. I don’t do that executively. It would have to be a bill.”  CONTINUE READING…

Lawsuit challenges Kentucky’s medical marijuana ban

By Bruce Schreiner | AP June 14 at 6:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s criminal ban against medical marijuana was challenged Wednesday in a lawsuit touting cannabis as a viable alternative to ease addiction woes from opioid painkillers.

The plaintiffs have used medical marijuana to ease health problems, the suit said. The three plaintiffs include Dan Seum Jr., the son of a longtime Republican state senator.

Another plaintiff, Amy Stalker, was prescribed medical marijuana while living in Colorado and Washington state to help treat symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder. She has struggled to maintain her health since moving back to Kentucky to be with her ailing mother.

“She comes back to her home state and she’s treated as a criminal for this same conduct,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Canon. “That’s absurd, it’s irrational and it’s unconstitutional.”

Stalker, meeting with reporters, said: “I just want to be able to talk to my doctors the same way I’m able to talk to doctors in other states, and have my medical needs heard.” CONTINUE READING…

Cannabis and the Constitution: A Brief History of Cannabis in the U.S.

Lisa Rough

The Constitution of the United States is arguably the most important document in the history of this country, aside from possibly the Declaration of Independence. It forms the backbone of America’s most basic rights, liberties, and laws upon which democracy is founded.

In its original form, the Constitution contained no mention of drugs or alcohol. In order to enact alcohol prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment was introduced and ratified in 1919, specifically stating that the production, transport, and sale of alcohol was illegal. The prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, until the Twenty-first Amendment was introduced to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment in its entirety and re-legalize alcohol.

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

There is no mention of cannabis, nor any other drugs, in the Constitution. Does that mean that the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional?

The first international prohibition of drugs came in the form of the International Opium Convention, an international drug treaty commissioned in response to the rising opium trade. The International Opium Convention was signed on January 23, 1912 and went into force globally in 1919, when it was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. The initial objective of the treaty was not prohibition or criminalization of drugs, but rather restricting exports of opium, coca, and cannabis.

In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to deem cannabis, along with alcohol, morphine, and opium, as “addictive and/or dangerous.” The law required drug labels to list any of these ingredients, and was primarily a “truth in labeling” law, although it was credited with paving the way for the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Curiously, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and other such drugs continued to be available legally without a prescription, so long as they were properly labeled.

Then, along came Harry Anslinger.

RELATED STORY

The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

As head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger took note of the rising use of cannabis in the 1930’s. In 1935, he urged Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt the Uniform State Narcotic Act, using the Hearst newspaper chain to promote the campaign. The Uniform State Act defined “habit forming drugs” as coca leaves, opium, “cannabis indica,” or “cannabis sativa,” and although only nine states adopted the regulations, it was drafted without any scientific study or evidentiary basis for the marijuana section.

Anslinger continued on a nationwide campaign against cannabis, declaring that marijuana causes temporary insanity. He produced films and advertisements that featured young people smoking cannabis, committing crimes, and killing themselves or others. This is exemplified in the infamous propaganda film, Reefer Madness.

The U.S. government official also made no compunctions about who, exactly, the campaign was aimed against. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” Anslinger said. “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” He also offered a charming portrait of the average cannabis consumer, to his knowledge. “Most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

RELATED STORY

It’s Time to Treat Medical Cannabis Like Medicine

In 1937, Anslinger drafted the Marijuana Tax Act, which did not criminalize the possession or use of cannabis; rather, it imposed a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone commercially dealing in cannabis or hemp.

Dr. William Woodward, legislative counsel to the American Medical Association, vehemently opposed the bill, noting that much of the “evidence” presented originated from Anslinger himself, and that the use of the word “marijuana,” which was largely unknown at the time, prevented physicians from realizing they would lose cannabis as medicine. “Marijuana is not the correct term,” argued Woodward. “Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”

Anslinger may not have actually created the law to prohibit cannabis, but he is certainly responsible for changing the public perception of cannabis from an innocuous substance available in many tinctures and medicines at the pharmacy to a dangerous, addictive, stigmatized drug, a perception that persists today.


RELATED STORY

How Mexican ‘Herbolarias’ Transformed Hemp into Psychoactive Marijuana

In 1969, Richard Nixon drafted the Controlled Substances Act, the legislation that criminalized the use and possession of cannabis, and ruled that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no established medicinal value. The term “controlled substance” was defined to exclude alcohol and tobacco, an important exemption, as these are two of the most widely used drugs (with some of the most addictive properties).

The United States Constitution was drafted in order to spread power among many groups, by a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person has too much power. Thus, the Controlled Substances Act could be changed by the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, or by petition from any interested party.

Since 1970, there have been numerous petitions to reschedule cannabis. The first petition was filed by NORML in 1972 and was not given a hearing until 1986, and another attempt in 1981 from Representative Stewart McKinney was also shot down. Since then, it has been a recurrent theme of petition and denial through the years.

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge

During a hearing on the subject in 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that, “In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Whether or not the prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether the prohibition of cannabis is truly for the safety of the country, or simply for the peace of mind of a few select opponents still entrenched in the past.

CONTINUED…

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

Mike Adams, The Fresh Toast

Medical marijuana could cost big pharma $4 billion a year

This post originally appeared on The Fresh Toast.

fresh toast logo

Once the federal government finally allows medical marijuana to become a legitimate part of the healthcare industry, Big Pharma could suffer the loss of billions of dollars, a new report finds.

It seems the pharmaceutical trade has more than enough reasons to fear the legalization of marijuana, as an analysis conducted by the folks at New Frontier Data predicts the legal use of cannabis products for ailments ranging from chronic pain to seizures could cost marketers of modern medicine somewhere around $4 billion per year.

The report was compiled using a study released last year from the University of Georgia showing a decrease in Medicare prescriptions in states where medical marijuana is legal. The study, which was first outlined by the Washington Post, was largely responsible for stirring up the debate over how a legitimate cannabis market might be able to reduce the national opioid problem. It found that medical marijuana, at least with respect to those drugs for which it is considered an alternative treatment, was already costing pill manufactures nearly $166 million annually.

Researchers at New Frontier identified nine key areas where medical marijuana will do the most damage to the pharmaceutical market — castrating drug sales for medicines designed to treat anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, nerve pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Tourette syndrome and glaucoma.

By digging deep into each condition, researchers found that if cannabis was used an alternative treatment in only a small percentage of cases, it could strip in upwards of $5 billion from pharmaceutical industry’s $425 billion market.

Although that may not sound like much of a dent, John Kagia, executive vice president of industry analytics for New Frontier, said, “The impact of medical cannabis legalization is not going to be enormously disruptive to the pharmaceutical industry.”

The report specifically calls out drug giant Pfizer Inc, suggesting that medical marijuana could suck a half billion dollars from its $53 billion in annual sales revenue.

It is distinctly possible that the latest report paints an accurate portrait of the impact medical marijuana could have on the pharmaceutical trade — that is, unless the drug manufactures decide to get in on the cannabis business.

GW Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics are already developing cannabis-based medications that are set to come to market in the near future. Depending how medicinal cannabis regulations eventually shake out with the federal government, it is conceivable that the medical marijuana programs that we have come to know would disappear, with the pharmaceutical companies being the only ones profiting from this alternative medicine.

Some experts say federal legalization would change the cannabis industry in ways that would be unsatisfactory to most in the business.

Be careful what you ask for.

More Mike Adams.

CONTINUE READING…