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.

California’s Growing Marijuana And Its Impacting Agriculture

California has received the dubious distinction of being the biggest dope supplier in the United States of America. It is believed that approximately 75 percent of marijuana sold in the country is grown in the state of California.

In a recent California Weed Science Society annual meeting in Santa Barbara, California, Sgt. Mike Horne of the Ventura County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Department narcotics bureau who was invited to speak on the cultivation of marijuana said it has grown to the point wherein it is making things dangerous for employees of the government like farm advisors of the University of California Cooperative Extension to perform their duties. Horne showed a video and photos of automatic weapons confiscated in a raid and images of fertilizers and chemicals that are used in these marijuana growing operations.

Michelle Le Strange, UCCE farm advisor in Tulare County and immediate past president of CWSS, remarked county officials and law enforcement officers have warned her to stay alert in driving a county vehicle in rural areas as plantation tenders for marijuana may believe she is an officer in law enforcement department to bring troubles for her. Horne said these marijuana plantations are operated by drug cartels from Mexico who are behind thousands of murders in Mexico each year.

Cultivation of marijuana has flourished in the last few years in the rich agricultural valleys of California and precipitated by new medical marijuana laws of the state. Illegal dealers are functioning under the guise of growing marijuana for medical purposes.

Multiple Medical Marijuana Reform Measures Introduced By Congress

A bi-partisan coalition of United States House lawmakers has introduced multiple measures in Congress for reforming federal marijuana laws.

The House Bill 1983, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act ensures that medical cannabis patients, caregivers, or third-party providers in states that have approved its use will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies. It states, “No provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed or recommended by a physician for medical use under applicable State law.”

Says the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA): “The time has come for the federal government to stop preempting states’ medical marijuana laws. For the federal government to come in and supersede state law is a real mistake for those in pain for whom nothing else seems to work. This bill would block the federal prosecution of those patients who reside in those states that allow medical marijuana.”

State-authorized medical marijuana businesses have full access to banking services by amending the federal Bank Secrecy Act, as per the House Bill 1984, The Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who states: “When a small business, such as a medical marijuana dispensary, can’t access basic banking services they either have to become cash-only — and become targets of crime — or they’ll end up out-of-business. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, and for businesses that have been state-approved, it is simply wrong for the federal government to intrude and threaten banks that are involved in legal transactions.”

The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 has been amended to allow a deduction for expenses in connection with the trade or business of selling medical cannabis pursuant to state law under the House Bill 1985, The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) said, “Our tax code undercuts legal medical marijuana dispensaries by preventing them from taking all the deductions allowed for other small businesses. While unfair to these small business owners, the tax code also punishes the patients who rely on them for safe and reliable access to medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor. The Small Business Tax Equity Act would correct these shortcomings.”

Medical Marijuana Discouraged By Researchers In Studies

The U.S. federal government is still finding new ways to deter popularity and usefulness of medical marijuana despite the fact that the Obama administration has offered tacit support and giving hints and doing things to promote liberal medical marijuana laws. However, the Federal government is ignoring and delaying the legalizing process to make marijuana available for research.

This can be evident from the fact Lyle E. Craker, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Massachusetts, applied nearly nine years ago to get permission from federal authorities and the Drug Enforcement Administration has refused permission. The worst part is that this was after the agency’s own administrative law judge ruled in 2007 that the application of Dr. Cracker should be approved.

The fact that the federal government is trying every way is also evident from the comments made by a spokesman for National Institute on Drug Abuse. Shirley Simson said, “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” and added, “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.

It is worth noting that marijuana is the only major drug for which the federal government controls the only legal research supply, for which the government needs a special scientific review.

Studies in the last few decades, especially the last few years, have shown that marijuana may improve appetite and relieve nausea among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The drug also has the potential to alleviate the numbness and aching that are experienced by HIV and AIDS patients. Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego recently said that there are strong hints that the drug can ameliorate some of the neurological problems associated with degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths

Laws legalizing medical marijuana have resulted in a nearly nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent reduction in beer sales, according to a groundbreaking study.

“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.

Data from a variety of sources including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was collected by the researchers. This is the first study for examining the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic deaths.
“We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana,” Rees said. “We looked into traffic fatalities because there is good data, and the data allow us to test whether alcohol was a factor.”

Traffic deaths are significant from a policy standpoint, noted Anderson. “Traffic fatalities are an important outcome from a policy perspective because they represent the leading cause of death among Americans ages five to 34,” he said.

It was cautioned by Rees and Anderson that legalization of medical marijuana may result in fewer traffic deaths as it is typically used in private, while alcohol is often consumed at bars and restaurants.

“I think this is a very timely study given all the medical marijuana laws being passed or under consideration,” Anderson said. “These policies have not been research-based thus far and our research shows some of the social effects of these laws. Our results suggest a direct link between marijuana and alcohol consumption.”

“Although we make no policy recommendations, it certainly appears as though medical marijuana laws are making our highways safer,” Rees said.

Reference:
D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees. Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption. IZA Discussion Paper, November 2011

Marijuana Licensing Laws Vetoed By WA Governor

A proposal that was going to make licensed marijuana dispensaries was recently vetoed by Washington State Governor, Christine Gregoire. Gregoire said she would be working with other states and try to get a change in federal laws so that these types of conflicts will be resolved.

U.S. attorneys in their letters wrote that civil or criminal penalties would be considered for medical marijuana operations on a large-scale and those who regulate them, even those operations and regulators that are allowed by state law.

Lawmakers are now concerned about their current medical marijuana policies even though no state workers have been charged by the federal government for regulating medical marijuana. Presently, fourteen states in the United States of America permit marijuana for medical usage, despite it not being federally legal.

The WA governor said she wanted to collaborate with other governors and get medical marijuana federally reclassified as a Schedule 2 substance that would put it in the same category as morphine and oxycodone. Medical marijuana is presently a Schedule 1 narcotic, and has the strictest level of enforcement in federal drug law.

Tracy Schmaller, Justice Department spokeswoman said, “We will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.” Ezra Eickmeyer, Washington Cannabis Association political director, said this about the recent events, “Coming in and trying to strong-arm legislatures is way over the top. We would have expected this sort of thing from the Bush administration, but not Obama.”

According to the National Drug Policy Alliance, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have statutes decriminalizing marijuana for medical reasons despite the fact that cannabis is still listed as an illegal narcotic under federal law.
In recent months, the Justice Department has taken a hard line against what it terms illegal drug activities conducted under the guise of state medical marijuana laws.

New state controls on medical marijuana cultivation and distribution would not render growers, dispensary operators or even their landlords and financiers immunity from federal prosecution and civil actions, as per Washington’s two U.S. attorneys, Jenny Durkan of Seattle and Michael Ormsby of Spokane in a legal opinion. They wrote that “state employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability” from prosecution.

Medical Marijuana USA Laws

The U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

medical-marijuana-states-list

Alaska

Patients who possess written documentation from their physician advising that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana” do not face any state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana. The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity, nausea, and any other conditions approved by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Arizona

“Qualifying patients can obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary, the qualifying patient’s designated caregiver, another qualifying patient, or, if authorized to cultivate, from home cultivation. When a qualifying patient obtains or renews a registry identification card, the Department will provide a list of all operating dispensaries to the qualifying patient.”

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures (including epilepsy), severe or persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis).

California

Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness (AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, including seizures associated with epilepsy, severe nausea; Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms) where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician” are afforded legal protection under this act.

Colorado

The state of Colorado has removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by patients (suffering from Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS positive, cachexia; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy; or persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis) who possess written documentation from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and advising that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.”

District of Columbia (DC)

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, other conditions that are chronic, long-lasting, debilitating, or that interfere with the basic functions of life, serious medical conditions for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial, and patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Delaware

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are debilitating medical conditions, defined as cancer, HIV/AIDS, decompensated cirrhosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder; or a medical condition that produces wasting syndrome, severe debilitating pain that has not responded to other treatments for more than three months or for which other treatments produced serious side effects, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

Hawaii

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS; A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease.

Maine

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea or vomiting as a result of AIDS or cancer chemotherapy.

Michigan

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are ebilitating medical conditions, defined as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, epilepsy, muscle spasms, and multiple sclerosis.

Montana

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, glaucoma, or positive status for HIV/AIDS, or the treatment of these conditions; a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, including seizures caused by epilepsy, or severe or persistent muscle spasms, including spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease.

Nevada

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea, or pain.

New Jersey

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Seizure disorder, including epilepsy, intractable skeletal muscular spasticity, glaucoma; severe or chronic pain, severe nausea or vomiting, cachexia, or wasting syndrome resulting from HIV/AIDS or cancer; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, muscular dystrophy, or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease, and terminal illness.

New Mexico

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are severe chronic pain, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea/vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection, Crohn’s disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and hospice patients.

Oregon

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, or treatment for these conditions: a medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including seizures caused by epilepsy, or persistent muscle spasms, including spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.

Rhode Island

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating, chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease; or agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vermont

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cancer, AIDS, positive status for HIV, multiple sclerosis, or the treatment of these conditions if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms; or a disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating and produces severe, persistent, and one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain or nausea or seizures.

Washington

The approved conditions for which medical marijuana can be availed are Cachexia; cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable pain (defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications, and multiple sclerosis.

References:
1. Alaska Ballot Measure 8 (100 KB), Nov. 3, 1998
2. Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Marijuana Registry,” Department of Health and Social Services website (accessed Nov. 24, 2010)
3. Alaska Senate Bill 94 (40 KB), June 2, 1999
4. Alaska Statute Title 17 Chapter 37 (36 KB), Nov. 3, 1998
5. Arizona Ballot Proposition 203 (300 KB), Nov. 2, 2010
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7. Arizona Department of Health Services, “Frequently Asked Questions” (100 KB), Aug. 11, 2010
8. Jerry Brown, “Guidelines for the Security and Non-diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use” (55 KB), Aug. 2008
9. California Ballot Proposition 215 (45 KB), Nov. 5, 1996
10. California Department of Public Health, “Medical Marijuana Program (MMP),” MMP website (accessed Nov. 24, 2010)
11. California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Public Affairs, Email to ProCon.org, Dec. 7, 2010
12. California Second District Court of Appeals, People v. Kelly (50 KB), May 22, 2008
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14. California Supreme Court, S164830 (300 KB), Jan. 21, 2010
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16. Catherine M. Cobb, Director of Maine’s Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, Email to ProCon.org, Aug. 19, 2010
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19. Colorado House Bill 1284 (235 KB), June 7, 2010
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21. Delaware Senate Bill 17 (100 KB), May 11, 2011
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40. New Jersey Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 140 (25 KB) , Dec. 20, 2010
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