New Hampshire Medicinal Marijuana Prospects Get Boost

The state of New Hampshire gets a much better chance to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana today than at any time in its history. This is because, for the first time, both major political parties have nominated a candidate – Republican Ovide Lamontagne, of Manchester, and Democrat Maggie Hassan, of Exeter – who endorse the change. In addition to this, three-time Libertarian candidate John Babiarz, of Grafton, likewise has supported the claim of New Hampshire to become the 18th state to make marijuana available to chronically ill patients.

Republican Ovide Lamontagne extended support to medicinal marijuana if it is properly prescribed by a physician for the right reasons and if it is dispensed safely by a pharmacist.

A four-term Democrat, outgoing Gov. John Lynch, recently remarked that conceptually he was not opposed to the idea but he vetoed two attempts by the Legislature to make it happen. The first time was when Democrats were in power in 2009 and when Republicans held the power again in June. The outgoing governor however raised concerns about lack of oversight and risk of proliferation.

The Senate’s 13-10 vote fell shy of the two-thirds majority in late June that was needed to override Lynch’s veto.

Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said it is pleasing as this would not be a divisive issue in this campaign and there would be a governor who can help us make this happen. To become law, the governor would however have to overcome strong opposition from law enforcement and perhaps from the attorney general.

It was maintained by State Police Maj. Russell Conte that medical marijuana laws in other states of the United States have either failed to restrict who can receive it legally or have led to abuses by unscrupulous residents. Medical marijuana law opponents pointed out that one in 33 residents qualified for an identification card to make them eligible for medical marijuana that would mean about 40,000 residents.

Assistant Attorney General Karin Eckel said most states have failed to keep the recreational use of marijuana out of the medical marijuana equation.

Medical Marijuana User Ban Suspended

The Commissioners of Maine State Housing have decided that tenants in subsidized housing may continue to grow or use medical marijuana in their homes for another six months.

The board voted unanimously for placing a moratorium of 180 days on a policy that was enacted by it last month to ban the use, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana in housing subsidized through its Section 8 program.

Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the housing authority, said the board was addressed by State Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, Alysia Melnick, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and three caregivers who are licensed to grow medical marijuana for patients.

Turcotte remarked that the board approved a moratorium to facilitate working with Sanderson and the ACLU of Maine for getting more clarity from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about its position on the users of medical marijuana in federally-subsidized housing. Maine Housing wants a document from the federal government that would say it may have a policy for medical marijuana that applies to all current Section 8 voucher recipients and make it clear that the agency does not have to treat tenants on a case-by-case basis else funding would be put at risk.

While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has said public housing applicants cannot make use of medical marijuana that is illegal under the federal law, the federal agency has left local housing authorities to decide on the fate of users who already get public assistance in the 17 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Donald Capoldo, a commissioner from Bath who made the motion for a moratorium, said he believes the federal government does not want to be the one to kick medical marijuana users out of these housing units either, so they leave it up to us and said then he will side with what his state says.

Michigan Court To Hear On Medical Marijuana Cases

The Supreme Court of Michigan is all set to hear oral arguments on October 11 about two controversial medical marijuana cases.

The court would be deciding in People v McQueen whether Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) allows registered patients and caregivers to transfer and/or sell medical marijuana to patients they are not linked to through Michigan’s registry program. It has been argued by Prosecuting Attorney of Isabella County that McQueen’s dispensary (Compassionate Apothecary) was a public nuisance and it violated the Public Health Code. His argument was disagreed by a circuit judge who refused to enter an injunction. The prosecutor thereafter appealed and oral arguments were heard by Michigan’s Court of Appeals (COA).

The Court of Appeals issued an opinion that overturned the decision of the circuit judge. The attorneys of McQueen’s appeal against the decision of COA and asserted that “patient-to-patient transfers of marijuana are protected by the MMA and that attaching a price to those transfers does not violate the Public Health Code.”

The second case to be heard by the highest court of Marijuana is People v Bylsma wherein the circuit court of Kent county held that Ryan Bylsma illegally possessed approximately 60 marijuana plants. The Court of Appeals of Michigan held oral arguments on September 7, 2011 in the Byslma case and upheld the decision of the circuit court in an opinion released on September 27, 2011. The attorney of Byslma, Bruce Block, made an appeal to the Supreme Court and argues that his client only possessed 24 of the 88 medical marijuana plants that were allegedly discovered by police. The attorney also revealed that many other registered patients and/or caregivers owned a majority of the medical marijuana plants that were being grown in a common, enclosed, locked facility that was leased by Bylsma.

MMJ Michigan Application

Medical Cannabis Often Consumed For Pain And Muscle Spasms

According to population data published in the present issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, patients in California with the recommendation of a physician are predominantly using cannabis to treat symptoms of pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

Data from 1,746 consecutive admissions to nine medical marijuana assessment clinics operating throughout California was analyzed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Authors reported, “Relief of pain, spasms, headache, and anxiety, as well as to improve sleep and relaxation were the most common reasons patients cited for using medical marijuana.” Patients usually reported that cannabis offered them with more than one therapeutic benefit.

Of those sampled, three-fourths of the patients were male and three-fifths were Caucasian. Compared to the US Census of California, the patients in this sample were on average “somewhat younger, reported slightly more years of formal education, and [were] more often employed.” Two-fifths of patients in the sample “had not been using marijuana recreationally prior to trying it for medicinal purposes.”

It was also reported by investigators that use of tobacco by patients was somewhat higher than in the general population, but [that their] prevalence of alcohol use was significantly lower” than that of the general population.

Authors concluded: “Compared to earlier studies of medical marijuana patients, these data suggest that the patient population has evolved from mostly HIV/AIDS and cancer patients to a significantly more diverse array. … This suggests that the patient population is likely to continue evolving as new patients and physicians discover the therapeutic uses of cannabis.”

The study “Who are medical marijuana patients? Population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics,” appeared in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Medical Marijuana Facts

Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act Introduced

Legislation – House Bill 6335, the Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act – has been introduced by United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), along with eight co-sponsors, for amending the federal Controlled Substances Act so as to “exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.”

The first of its kind ever introduced in Congress, introduced by Representative Lee, is in response to increased use of the civil asset forfeiture statute of the Justice Department to sanction property owners whose tenants are involved in the production or distribution of cannabis in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. According to tabulations compiled by the group Americans for Safe Access, US Attorneys in California alone have sent more than 300 threatening letters to landlords across the state, resulting in the closure of more than 400 cannabis dispensaries since October.

Rep. Lee explained, “As a long-time supporter of the rights of patients to have safe and legal access to medicine that has been recommended to them by their doctors, this bill will provide clarification to California businesses and security for California patients. The people of California have made it legal for patients to have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, as a result, thousands of small business owners have invested millions of dollars in building their companies, creating jobs, and paying their taxes. We should be protecting and implementing the will of voters, not undermining our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes and comply with the laws of their states in providing medicine to patients in need.”

The Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act has been assigned before both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Many other marijuana law reform measures – including HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, HR 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, and HR 1831/S 3501, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act – also remain pending before Congress.

Cannabis Effective Treatment For Cancer Patients

According to clinical data presented in January 2012 at a conference of the Israeli Oncologists Union, some two-thirds of Israeli cancer patients who were authorized to make use of cannabis have reported long-term, symptomatic improvement from the plant.

The efficacy of cannabis therapy was assessed by investigators at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, in conjunction with the Israeli Cancer Association over the course of one year in 264 patients with cancer.

It was reported by the researchers, “Some 61 percent of the respondents reported a significant improvement in their quality of life as a result of the medical marijuana, while 56 percent noted an improvement in their ability to manage pain. In general, 67 percent were in favor of the treatment, while 65 percent said they would recommend it to other patients.”

It was concluded by the study that cannabis is an “effective” form of treatment for specific symptoms of the disease cancer and recommended, “The treatment should be offered to the patients in earlier stages of cancer.”

The most common types of cancer for which medical marijuana was prescribed were lung cancer (21 percent), breast cancer (12 percent), and pancreatic cancer (10 percent). The study emphasized primarily on the use of cannabis for relieving different symptoms of cancer or cancer treatment, such as pain and nausea. The study, however, did not evaluate whether marijuana therapy may potentially suppress the proliferation of the disease.

Different cannabinoids — including THC and CBD (cannabidiol) — have been shown to selectively target and eliminate malignant cells and cancerous tumors in preclinical trials.

Two medical marijuana growers sent behind bars

Problems over medical marijuana further increases as two more people associated with the business in Columbia along with the head of Operations of another business house are sent behind bars by the federal court. As per the court records the person accused named Christopher Durbin, 33, of Oregon and Whitefish is the owner of many businesses in the Flathead Valley and operated Four Seasons Gardening, Northern Lights Medical and Good Medical Providers, all located on Jellison Road.

Among them, Good Medicine was a medical marijuana dispensary; Four Seasons was known to sell equipment for the growth of medical marijuana providers and North Lights helped people get a medical marijuana patient card. The prime accusations that prosecutors claimed were that from November 2009 to March 2011, Durbin was delivering huge quantities of marijuana to people in as well as out of Montana. It was at this time that the federal, state and the local law enforcement teams raided major medical marijuana business houses in Montana. The evidence of the activity being initiated by Durbin was testified by law enforcement preparing confidential informants who were made to work for Durbin. Durbin’s spread of work was testified both in nationally as well as locally. In fact at the local level, the law enforcement bought marijuana four times under the cover at Good Medicine. Further revelations brought to light the presence of 1000 marijuana plants in warehouses on the East Reserve Drive in Kalispell. The witnesses further testified that it was Durbin who funded the growth of plants and the maintenance of the warehouse for their protection.

It was also found out that Durbin deposited an amount of $71,900 at Glacier Bank in amounts small enough not to avoid any currency transaction report by the Bank. This was testified by the witnesses as well who asserted that Durbin has talked to them about it.
Considering the charges and the evidences supporting each of them, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy finally sentenced Durbin imprisonment for 84 months and five years of supervised release.

 His arrest was followed by the imprisonment of many people involved in medical marijuana distribution namely Trey Scales, 33, two Kalispell men, Justin Maddock, 40 and Aaron Durbin, 29. This was mainly the result of Homeland Security Investigations that took place followed by a raid at Four Seasons and Good Medicine. Scales’ house in Whitefish was found to have as many as 43 marijuana plants which only strengthened the charges against him. He was finally pleaded guilty to manufacture marijuana and was imprisoned for nine months, six months of home arrest and four years of supervised release.

Research From USC Involving Medical Marijuana

A study published in the European Journal of Immunology and conducted by Professor Prakash Nagarkatti of the University of South Carolina has explored the benefits of marijuana for medical purposes.

The study suggested that marijuana, also known as cannabis, can be extremely useful in providing significant relief to patients with multiple sclerosis, allergies, and arthritis.

Nagarkatti, the Carolina Distinguished Professor in the department of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the USC School of Medicine, also remarked that both marijuana and cancer are truly complex and placed some doubts on the usefulness of medical marijuana for treating cancer.

Nagarkatti believes that human clinical trials would be useful on finding out whether marijuana could really be of use for treating human cancer after studies on lab mice were found encouraging. He added that the medical possibilities of marijuana cannabinoids impressed him but he remarked that he is still against self-prescribing of marijuana.

More Than One Million Use Medical Marijuana In CA

Over 750,000 people in California (some two percent of the population) use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, according to estimates published by California NORML, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The figure indicates a substantial increase from previous estimates of the organization but is in line with registration rates in other comparable states that enjoy similar wide access to medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries.

In a press release, States California NORML said: “Because patients are not required to register in California, their exact number is uncertain. Under California’s medical marijuana law, … patients need only a physician’s recommendation to be legal. Just a tiny fraction of the state’s medical marijuana population is enlisted in the state’s voluntary ID card program, which issued just 12,659 cards in 2009-10. Therefore, California patient numbers must be estimated from other sources. Among the most salient are medical marijuana registries in Colorado and Montana, which report usage rates of 2.5% and 3.0%, respectively. Because California’s law is older and has more liberal inclusion criteria than other states, usage here is likely to be higher.”

It adds: “Despite this, there is no evidence that liberal access to medical marijuana has spurred overall marijuana use in California. According to U.S. SAMHSA data, the total number of users in the state, including non-medical ones, amounts to 6.7% of the population (2.5 million) within the past month, or 11.3% (4.1 million) within the past year. This places California only slightly above the national average in marijuana use (6.0% monthly and 10.4% yearly), and below several states with tougher marijuana laws. Use of marijuana by California school youth has declined since Prop. 215 passed, according to data from the Attorney General’s Survey of Student Drug Use in California. The increase in medical marijuana use therefore appears to reflect a tendency for existing users to ‘go medical,’ rather than the enlistment of new users.”

It is estimated by California NORML that the total retail value of medical marijuana consumed in California is “between $1.5 and $4.5 billion per year, assuming a market of 2% to 3% of the population, average use of 0.5 to 1 gram per day, and an average cost of $320 per ounce.”

California NORML

History Of The Medical Marijuana Industry

During 2008-10, many western and central states witnessed an exponential surge in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that sold marijuana for medicinal purposes. California, the first state in the United States to legalize marijuana, has been the biggest beneficiary and supplier of marijuana in the country.

In recent times, the business of medical marijuana is growing with every passing day despite the stigma often linked with drugs. Medical marijuana has been used for alleviating symptoms of physical conditions, including chronic pain, gout, vision problems and nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.

The consumption of marijuana is no longer restricted to hippies at concerts and its sale is no longer limited to shady people in alleys.

Erik Santus, the owner of Lotus Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado, said he opened a dispensary for medical marijuana to create a favorable environment for people to learn about the benefits of marijuana. Santus further remarked that bringing a dispensary involves several initial hurdles and a burden of $200,000 to set up and another $15,000-$20,000 every month for maintenance.

The list of clients is long but legitimate. While some have fought in Iraq and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, a few elderly take it for getting relief from chronic pain and have a sound sleep, and some take medical marijuana for finding comfort from health conditions such as gout.