Mexico Lawmakers Approve Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Mexico’s lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

According to Reuters, the bill sailed through the Senate in December, passed the Lower House of Congress on Friday, and will now be sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to sign it.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement on its website.

The measure passed in a general floor vote with 371 in favor, seven against and 11 abstentions, and now classifies the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as “therapeutic.”

Speaking in April 2016 at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

Pena Nieto, once a vocal opponent of drug legalization, has said the United States and Mexico should not pursue diverging policies on marijuana legislation. Last year, he proposed a bill to allow Mexicans to carry up to an ounce of marijuana, a measure that has since stalled in Congress.

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Colorado House Votes 56 to 7 to Prohibit Law Enforcement from Assisting in Federal Marijuana Crackdown

By Associated Press

Colorado may prohibit law enforcement officers from assisting in a potential federal marijuana crackdown.

The state House voted 56-7 Wednesday to bar public employees from assisting federal agents in “arresting a Colorado citizen for committing an act that is a Colorado constitutional right.”

The Colorado bill doesn’t specifically mention marijuana. But sponsors say it is inspired by threats that federal authorities may try cracking down on the marijuana industry. Federal authorities generally rely on local law enforcement to enforce federal drug law.

California lawmakers are considering a similar bill .

Colorado is also considering a measure to allow marijuana growers to reclassify recreational pot as medical pot, a gambit to avoid federal seizure of recreational pot plants.

The Trump Administration has sent mixed messages on whether a marijuana crackdown is planned.

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Washington Hemp Legalization Bill Signed by Governor

Legislation that legalizes industrial hemp has been signed into law by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

House Bill 2064 passed the House of Representatives at the end of February with a vote of 98 to 0, and earlier this month passed the Senate with a unanimous 49 to 0 vote. Yesterday it was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

The new law excludes industrial hemp “from the definitions of “controlled substance” and “marijuana” for purposes of the uniform controlled substances act.” The proposal establishes no regulatory framework or specific guideliens (such as grow or age limits), but simply makes hemp legal.

The full text of House Bill 2062 can be found by clicking here; it was filed by Representative Matt Shea with six bipartisan cosponsors.

According to congressional research, the U.S. imports roughly half a billion dollars in hemp from other countries while retaining the illegality of its cultivation among its own farmers. According to the same report, the hemp market to consist of over roughly 25,000 various products.

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West Virginia Hemp Bill Signed into law by Governor Jim Justice

A West Virginia industrial hemp bill has been signed into law by the state’s governor.

Governor Jim Justice signed House Bill 2453 into law yesterday, expanding a state law that allows hemp to be grown for research purposes, to also allow hemp to be grown commercially. The proposal was passed by both the House and Senate unanimously; the combined vote was 133 to 0, with just one member of the state’s legislature not voting.

The full text of the measure, filed by Delegate John Shott (R), is found below:

AN ACT to amend and reenact §19-12E-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to expanding the list of persons the Commissioner of Agriculture may license to grow or cultivate industrial hemp.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That §19-12E-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

ARTICLE 12E. INDUSTRIAL HEMP DEVELOPMENT ACT.

  • 19-12E-5. Industrial hemp – licensing.

(a) A person growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes shall apply to the commissioner for license on a form prescribed by the commissioner.

(b) The application for a license must include the name and address of the applicant and the legal description of the land area to be used for the production of industrial hemp.

(c) The commissioner shall require each first-time applicant for a license to file a set of the applicant=s fingerprints, taken by a law-enforcement officer, and any other information necessary to complete a statewide and nationwide criminal history check with the criminal investigation bureau of the department of justice for state processing and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal processing. All of the costs associated with the criminal history check are the responsibility of the applicant. Criminal history records provided to the department under this section are confidential. The commissioner may use the records only to determine if an applicant is eligible to receive a license for the production of industrial hemp.

(d) If the applicant has completed the application process to the satisfaction of the commissioner, the commissioner shall issue the license which is valid until December 31, of the year of application. An individual licensed under this section is presumed to be growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision of this article, rule or the provisions of chapter sixty-a of this code to the contrary, the Commissioner of Agriculture may license qualified persons and state institutions of higher learning to lawfully grow or cultivate industrial hemp in this state, but institutions of higher learning may only lawfully grow industrial hemp for research and educational purposes.

You can also click here for the full text of House Bill 2453.

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Congress Passes Bill that Expands Federal Medical Marijuana Protections, Sends it to Trump

U.S. Congress has given approval to a short-term budget measure that prevents a government shutdown.

The approved legislation extends an Obama-era law that prevents the government from interfering with state-level medical cannabis laws; specifically it prohibits the Justice Department (which includes the DEA) from using federal funding to do so. Although the extension is only until May 5th, the fact that the medical cannabis protection wasn’t removed is a promising sign that it will be retained in the future.

The proposal has been sent to the desk of President Donald Trump. Trump is expected to quickly sign the measure into law.

Congress will need to vote on a new spending bill by May 5th in order to keep the government running, and the protections in place.

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Study: Medical Cannabis Patients Use Less Opioids, Antidepressants, Sleep Medications and Alcohol

By Elara Mosquera, saludmóvil.com (republished with special permission)

Upon using medical cannabis, patients in pain and those suffering from other medical conditions reduced their use of opioids, antidepressants, sleep medications, alcohol, and other dangerous substances, according to a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

saludmóvil™ had a chance to speak with a lead researcher on the study, Brian J. Piper, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

“So what we found is that after starting medical marijuana that many of the patients that were previously using opioids reduced the use of those agents,” Dr. Piper said. “So over three-quarters of the medical marijuana patients who were using opioids decreased the use of those agents.”

A breakdown of the study’s findings by numbers

According to the online survey of 1,513 people, 66.1 percent were from Maine, 24.2 percent were from Vermont, and 9.7 percent were from Rhode Island.

The researchers found a 76.7 percent drop in regular opioid use, 37.6 percent dip in antidepressant use, and a 42.0 percent drop in alcohol use.

In addition, the majority of respondents also cut down their use of other dangerous drugs after using medical cannabis.

  • 71.8 percent of patients used less anti-anxiety medications;
  • 66.7 percent used less migraine medications;
  • 65.2 percent used less sleep medications.

The preferred administration of medical cannabis: smoking it

“In the study, the preferred route of administration of Medical Cannabis for almost half of respondents was joint, pipe, or bong; vaporizer for one-quarter, edibles (1 of 10) or tincture (1 of 10),” Dr. Piper wrote in a subsequent email.

A whopping 84.7 percent of respondents used cannabis for medical purposes.

“Over two-thirds (70.4%) of patients in Maine and Rhode Island listed intractable or chronic pain followed by post-traumatic stress disorder (25.5%), severe muscle spasms (12.2%), or nausea (10.6%) as their qualifying condition. Although chronic pain was not a qualification to become a patient in Vermont’s marijuana registry when the survey was administered, 69.0% of Vermont respondents indicated that they had been diagnosed by a medical professional with chronic pain. Among all patients with chronic pain, three-quarters (74.8%) had back/neck pain, one-third (34.5%) neuropathic, one-quarter (26.9%) reported pain following trauma or an injury, one-fifth (21.0%) with post-surgery or abdominal (17.7%) pain, while cancer (5.9%) and menstrual pain (4.2%) were less frequent.”

Respondents reported that medical cannabis (MC) was most effective treating pain following trauma. On a scale from 0 to 100 percent (100 percent representing “complete relief”), respondents awarded medical cannabis’ effectiveness to treat the following conditions with each of its subsequent average scores:

  • In treating pain following trauma MC scored an average 77.9 percent;
  • In treating menstrual pain MC scored an average 77.5 percent;
  • In treating back and neck pain MC scored an average 73 percent;
  • In treating neuropathic pain MC scored an average 72.3 percent;
  • In treating cancer pain MC scored an average 75.8 percent;
  • In treating post-surgery pain MC scored an average 72 percent.

How Federal Law is standing in the way of stopping the opioid epidemic

Despite the findings of this study and many others that have shown the benefits of medical cannabis, Dr. Piper believes that the federal law against cannabis hinders the ability to find out whether medical cannabis use is the best strategy to stop the opioid epidemic.

“I’d say it’s too early to say that,” Dr. Piper said when asked whether cannabis was the best way to curb the opioid epidemic. “The Federal Schedule I status makes it extremely difficult to do randomized controlled trials with the strains of medical marijuana that patients are currently using.”

Does Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to crack down on medical marijuana?

President Donald Trump endorsed medical cannabis while campaigning, and said that states should be free to legalize it, but his appointment of Jeff Sessions, who has outspokenly opposed legalized cannabis, as U.S. Attorney General has some cause for concern.

During a speech he delivered before law enforcement officials in Virginia, Mr. Sessions said that cannabis was only slightly less awful than heroin.

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

Dr. Piper stated that there is an extremely low overdose potential relative to alcohol or heroin and opioids like vicodin and oxycontin.

“The overdose potential is certainly a lot less for cannabinoids than those other classes of agents,” Dr. Piper said. “The risk of overdoses is extremely limited to non existent with cannabinoid agents.”

The National Institute On Drug Abuse For Teachers, a division of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health, reports that it is very unlikely that a person can “overdose and die” from using cannabis.

The current laws of cannabis in the U.S.

Currently, eight states have approved the controlled legalized sales of cannabis after state voters directly approved the measures.

The District of Columbia also legalized the recreational use of cannabis, but not sales. In addition, 28 states and the federal district have legalized medical cannabis.

Recreational and medical cannabis use is still illegal nationally under the Controlled Substances Act and it is listed under the Schedule I list of drugs, along with heroin and LSD. In the end, Congress has the power to change that classification, but it hasn’t acted to do so.

What’s next?

As of March 1, 2016, there are an estimated 2,604,079 medical marijuana users nationwide.

Dr. Piper conducts and calls for more research to ensure medical cannabis is a viable strategy for dealing with the opioid epidemic.

“I’d like to follow up this line of research by looking at medical records and pharmacy records to verify these self-recorded findings,” Dr. Piper said.

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California CBD Bill Passes Two Committees Unanimously

Cannabidiol (CBD) legislation in California has been passed by two Assembly committees, both unanimously.

Assembly Bill 845 was passed earlier this month by the Assembly Health Committee, and on Wednesday was given approval by the Assembly Appropriations Committee; both committees passed the bill unanimously with a combined vote of 30 to 0.

According to the proposal; “Existing law, the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, classifies controlled substances into 5 designated schedules, with the most restrictive limitations generally placed on controlled substances classified in Schedule I, and the least restrictive limitations generally placed on controlled substances classified in Schedule V. Existing law places marijuana in Schedule I. Cannabidiol is a compound found in marijuana.” Existing law also “restricts the prescription, furnishing, possession, sale, and use of controlled substances, including marijuana and synthetic cannabinoid compounds, and makes a violation of those laws a crime, except as specified.”

Based on its official summary; “This bill, if one of specified changes in federal law regarding the controlled substance cannabidiol occurs, would provide that a physician who prescribes and a pharmacist who dispenses a product composed of cannabidiol, in accordance with federal law, is in compliance with state law governing those acts.”

The bill would also “provide that upon the effective date of one of those changes in federal law regarding cannabidiol, the prescription, furnishing, dispensing, transfer, possession, or use of that product in accordance with federal law is for a legitimate medical purpose and is authorized pursuant to state law.”

Click here for the full text of the measure.

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