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In a long-sought move anticipated by many marijuana reform advocates, the White House on Monday announced that it was removing a major obstacle to marijuana research – the Public Health Service (PHS) Review.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) welcomed the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to eliminate its Public Health Service (PHS) Review Committee for non-federally funded medical marijuana research – an additional review process not applied to other Schedule I substances. Last year, Rep. Blumenauer led a letter, signed by 29 other members of Congress, to the Secretary of HHS Sylvia Mathews Burwell requesting that this PHS process be eliminated.
“Today’s decision by HHS is a significant step toward improving an antiquated system that unfairly targets marijuana above and beyond other substances in research,” Congressman Bluemanuer said. “I applaud the Administration in heeding our request and the request of many to eliminate this barrier.
“I hope this action will facilitate easier access to marijuana for medical researchers,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “Considering the widespread use of medical marijuana, it is absolutely essential that we allow doctors and scientists to research the therapeutic benefits and risks of its use.”
At a Wednesday hearing, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand pressed federal officials to eliminate political barriers that are preventing research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana. The hearing, “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.
Officials from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed the Senators’ concerns and expressed support for removing barriers to research that have been created by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
NIDA has a DEA-mandated monopoly on the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, which is grown at the University of Mississippi. Researchers have repeatedly criticized the DEA for refusing to license additional marijuana producers, which they say is preventing the study of marijuana’s medical benefits and the development of marijuana-based medicines.
They have also criticized the poor quality and low potency of the scant marijuana that is currently available, which they say further hinders meaningful research. A DEA administrative law judge ruled that licensing additional producers would be in the public interest, but the DEA has refused to follow the non-binding ruling.
The guide explains how much weed you can carry “in the most Portland was possible,” reports KATU, by comparing an ounce to the size of a Voodoo doughnut. (Voodoo Doughnuts, recently experienced for the first time by this reporter, is a Portland institution, popular among both cannabis users and the public at large for its large, tasty creations.)
While Oregon’s law allows just an ounce to possess while you’re out and about, you can have up to 8 ounces at home. Anything more is still illegal.
Driving under the influence of marijuana can get you a ticket, as can using it in a public place. But if you see someone smoking pot in public, police urge you NOT to call 911, unless there is an immediate public safety risk; they truly don’t want to be bothered. Even the COPS know that it’s a dumb waste of their time and your money to arrest folks for smoking weed.
Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state’s legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.
The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to “opt out” of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.
Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November’s election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.
“I did not support Measure 91,” said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). “I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug.”
Three years after the state overwhelmingly voted to allow legal marijuana, the first dispensary in Massachusetts opened on Thursday: Alternative Therapies Group, based in Salem. The dispensary will accept patients by appointment only.
Unlike many other states, no marijuana will be grown on site, and most uniquely, no products will be on display – patients will have to choose their products via a computer screen. So much for the old smell test!
“The highly coveted license was approved on Friday and the facility will be operating in the neighborhood of Downtown Crossing,” reports Lynda Johnson CapitalWired.com. “Patriot Care Corp. had already been approved to open such a dispensary in Lowell although provisionally. The corporation won the permit for a location in Greenfield as well thus becoming the only company that has been authorized to run three marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.”
State officials also said they are willing to allow another company to open dispensaries in Northampton and Brookline. “The decision to award Patriot Care Corp. the license has drawn sharp condemnation from a number of critics who claim that the company was being given a special kind of treatment,” reports CapitalWired.com.
An analysis of 75 products sold to patients in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles found that just 17 percent of the labels accurately described THC levels, reports Catherine Saint Louis at The New York Times. Sixty percent of the products had less THC than claimed on the packaging, and 23 percent of them had more THC than advertised.
“We need a more accurate picture of what’s being offered to patients,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Abrams wasn’t involved in the study, which was published in JAMA.
Products with too little THC may fail to deliver symptom relief, and those with too much may make users feel uncomfortable or anxious.
The California Senate on Monday approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, by an overwhelming margin of 33-1. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.
Medical cannabis patients in California are routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical cannabis. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
“AB 258 is about fundamental fairness and compassion,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “Legal medical cannabis patients should never face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.
“AB 258 will help the law catch up with science, which has shown that medical cannabis patients are just as likely to benefit from an organ transplant as other patients,” Duncan said.