Wednesday, May 6, 2015
May 2015 National News - by Rachel Bunting
NATIONWIDE- The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is funded by the federal government with the task of determining the risks and benefits of marijuana. This month the NIDA has officially acknowledged the capacity of marijuana to kill various cancer cells. According to the NIDA website, “Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
Dr. Wai Liu, who led a study at St. George University in London, ‘found that cannabinoids, the six non-hallucinogenic chemicals found in marijuana, have anti-cancer properties that could battle specific types of tumors. It also established that CBD and THC can weaken and turn cancer cells into radiation-susceptible cells’. The NIDA is currently working on clinical trials and preclinical studies of the effects of marijuana on mental disorders, substance abuse disorders, pain, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and other various illnesses. This admission by a government-backed agency gives hope to medical marijuana supporters and patients, who are continually being prosecuted for following their states medical laws, and also brings to light the importance of researching alternative medicine as a means to treating cancer.
MARYLAND- Finally a year after the federal government approved the study, The National Institute of Drug Abuse informed the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) that it is ready to supply the researchers with the marijuana needed to study the effects of treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder with the drug. This will be the first federally approved study where the participants will be able to ingest the drug by smoking it. It is also the first whole-plant marijuana study, meaning the marijuana will not just be an extract of the plant, such as a pill.
The study was set back last year when one of the two testing sites, the University of Arizona, fired the lead researcher. The University would not comment on the sudden termination but many suspect that the school was looking to avoid conflict with Arizona lawmakers who were opposed to the study. Shortly after being fired, the researcher was offered a $2 million grant for her work from the state of Colorado. The spokesman for MAPS, Brad Burge, said that 76 veterans will participate in the study, which will measure the effects of different potencies of smoked marijuana in treating their symptoms. The research group has four different strains of marijuana, including a placebo strain for the control group.
ATLANTA- On April 16th Georgia became the 24th state to pass a medical marijuana law. Governor Nathan Deal signed the legislation which immediately legalized cannabis oil for medicinal reasons so long as it is low potency. The law, called House Bill 1 or Haleigh’s Hope Act, does not allow for smoking marijuana and will only allow patients to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil, with no more than 5% THC in the oil. Under the law people may seek their medical card if they have cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, seizure disorders, or sickle cell disease.
The bill also created a Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis, which will be responsible for establishing recommendations regarding the regulation of medical cannabis use in the state. It will be left to the Department of Public Health to circulate rules and regulations for the establishment and operation of the patient registration process.
MONTGOMERY- The Senate in Alabama will soon consider a medical marijuana bill for the first time. The bill, the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act, barely made it through the Senate committee this month with a 4-3 vote. Last year Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a law that allows low-THC medical marijuana extracts for patients with seizure disorders but the new bill would cover a long list of medical conditions. Democratic state Sen. Bobby Singleton, who sponsored the bill, told the Associated Press the bill is meant to “give people who have ailments, who suffer from chronic pain, the opportunity to have a treatment that is natural, that is not synthetic…this is not about a smoke-fest…I’m not trying to be the next Colorado.”
Alabama is considered one of the most conservative states in the US and some lawmakers in the state believe the bill doesn’t stand a chance. Sen. Phil Williams is among those, stating that he will try to block the bill when it reaches the Senate floor. Ron Crumpton of the Alabama Safe Access Project, a non-profit group which helped draft the bill, believes passing the bill could benefit thousands of people in Alabama. Crumpton is hopeful saying, “The more and more states that have passed it, the more people are seeing that the sky doesn’t fall to the ground if you pass medical marijuana laws.”
HONOLULU- Nearly 15 years after medical marijuana was legalized in Hawaii, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to create a system of medical marijuana dispensaries. Currently there are about 13,000 patients who use cannabis in the state. The patients were unfortunately left to growing their own medication or buying it on the black market. The new bill would allow for one dispensary license to be given in each county, which would cover one cultivation site and up to two dispensing locations.
OHIO- Three groups in Ohio are currently working to get marijuana legalization on the ballot in Ohio. The first group, ResponsibleOhio, is hoping to make the 2015 November ballot and is currently half way to collecting the number of signatures needed to be placed on the ballot. Petitioners have to collect at least 305,591 valid signatures from a minimum of 44 of the 88 counties in the state and must have the petition submitted by July. ResponsibleOhio’s amendment would allow for 10 growing sites to be promised to campaign investors while entrepreneurs could apply for a license to manufacture marijuana products and sell pot at retail stores. Adults over the age of 21, with a state issued license, would be allowed to possess 8oz of dried marijuana and up to four plants. Under their revision of the law, recreation cannabis would be taxed at 15 percent for wholesale and 5 percent at retail locations. The bulk of tax revenue would go to local government to pay for roads, police, and other public services while the remaining 15 percent would go toward marijuana research and addiction services.
Another group pushing for legalization is Ohioans to End Prohibition (OTEP), who are pushing to be on the November 2016 ballot. OTEP is at an earlier stage than ResponsibleOhio, and is still collecting the 1,000 valid signatures needed to get the ballot language reviewed by the Ohio Attorney General. OTEP’s proposal is different from that of ResponsibleOhio because it would allow for more widespread growing of marijuana. It would also give only about 40 percent of tax revenue to local governments while the remainder would be dispersed between drug education and addiction treatment, public pension plans, the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and research, including research into development of hemp products. The new industry would be controlled by a division in the Department of Commerce, similar to the current Division of Liquor Control.
The third group is known as the Ohio Rights Group. The group was hoping to make it to the November 2015 ballot but has recently complained that interference from individuals associated with ResponsibleOhio will likely keep them from gathering enough signatures in time. The group made a formal complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission and will be going before them May 21st to get the matter sorted out.