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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

National News for June 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

Fighting for Medicine in South Carolina
South Carolina: Currently hemp oil containing less than .3 percent THC is legal in South Carolina, but parents of ill children feel that the oil is not enough and would like to see medicinal marijuana legalized in the state so patients are able to obtain a higher dose of the medication if needed. Parents involved in the fight for marijuana argue that they are not interested in getting their children high and do not want the kids smoking joints, but want to be able to give them the dose of medication that will work best to control pain or seizures.

     When voting down a bill that would allow doctors to recommend the medicine and dispensaries to issue it to patients, Senator Mike Fair claimed, “It’s going to wind up being abused by those who are getting it illegally, because it’s easier to get illegally when it’s legal for some” and says there are other drugs that will relieve pain.

     Jarrod Bruder, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Sheriffs association, was a bit more open minded telling WYFF News 4, “We have all seen and heard the stories of how medical marijuana can help individuals who suffer with seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating illnesses. Collectively, our hearts break for those individuals. We want to do everything within our power to bring relief and comfort to those who suffer, but as Sheriffs, and individuals who are entrusted to live by and enforce the laws of this state, we must stop short of condoning relief that comes through an illegal manner.” 

    Bruder continued by stating: “Experts with the FDA need to determine if there is a viable medical use for marijuana, and if there is, they need to determine the best methods to administer such products. Without proper vetting by the FDA, we fear that our State’s attempt to bring relief and comfort to a small, yet important segment of our population, will create an environment that will yield greater illegal drug use and increase the already heavy burden on the law enforcement community to protect and serve our state.”

     Senator Tom Davis, who sponsored the most recent medical marijuana bill, says he will try again at the next legislative session.

Single-Serve Vape
Massachusetts: A new form of vaping will be coming in early 2017. The new system, CannaCloud, will be the world’s first single-serve, pod-based vapor system and is being called the Keurig of cannabis. The vaporizer is a travel mug-like container in which the user inserts a pre-measured pod of marijuana, then a button is pressed heating the marijuana and filling the mug with vapor in less than a minute. A mouthpiece consisting of a one-way valve releases the vapor. While there is a similar system, Pax 2, CannaCloud is the first to offer prepackaged dosages. Buyers will be able to choose the strength and strain. The company plans to focus on the medical market before hitting the recreational areas. The cost of CannaCloud will be $149, nearly half the cost of the Pax 2, but the pods containing 0.4g of marijuana for the vapor system will be about $9.99 each, almost double the amount of a 0.4g pre-rolled joint in California. The goal of the company is to one day be able to have customers walk into their local pharmacy and get CannaCups directly from the shelves. 

Marijuana Policy Project Ends Campaign
Ohio: The Marijuana Policy Project and Ohioans for Medical Marijuana announced this month that they have ended their campaign to get medical marijuana on the November ballot. The groups have been working vehemently to collect the 305,000 signatures they would need by July 6th to get their issue on the November ballot. The move to stop the project came after Ohio lawmakers passed a medical plan which will legalize most forms of the medication, with oversight from the Ohio Department of Commerce, Ohio Pharmacy Board, and the Ohio State Medical Board, but will not allow smoking or home-grows. While the initiative proposed by the Marijuana Policy Project would have allowed smoking the medication and growing it at home, the cost of going forward with the plan was too great. Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, told Cincinnati News, “The reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill.” If Gov. Kasich signs the bill, the state could be offering medical marijuana in as little as 16 months, and patients can begin buying medication from other legalized states within 90 days.

A National First
Colorado: The nation’s first wrongful death lawsuit against a marijuana company was filed last month by the children of Kristine and Richard Kirk. Richard Kirk was reportedly under the influence of a pot-laced candy when he fatally shot his wife in front of their children two years ago. The company that produces the candy has been accused of failing to notify customers of the potential paranoia, psychosis, and hallucinations that can occur if too much THC is ingested.

     The lawsuit claims, “The packaging and labeling for the potent candy contained no directions, instructions or recommendations respecting the product’s proper consumption or use. The edible producers negligently, recklessly and purposefully concealed vital dosage and labeling information from their actual and prospective purchasers including Kirk in order to make a profit.”

     A professor from the University of Denver, Sam Kamin, specializes in marijuana law and policy and believes suits such as this are part of the growing pains of a new industry. He also feels the lawsuit is a longshot as there are many products that cause harm, such as alcohol, but the manufacturer is not held responsible.

Legal Weed is NOT Harming Teens
Missouri: A new study from the Washington University School of Medicine has found, contrary to common claims made by anti-marijuana groups, the widespread changes in marijuana policy throughout the US have not increased marijuana use among teens. According to the study, conducted by Richard Grucza and his colleagues, the number of teens with cannabis related problems, such as marijuana dependency or issues with family or school due to use of the drug, actually fell by 24 percent between 2002 and 2013, with the overall number of teens reportedly using marijuana also decreasing. The report acknowledges that the research does not at all show that marijuana reform has caused the reduction in marijuana use among teens, and instead suggests more open mental and behavioral health care options are the most likely reason behind the decline. Grucza’s research has helped the marijuana community, in a sense, by showing that changes to marijuana policy have not had the negative effect on teens as has been feared by pot-opposing groups. This is not the first study to show a decline, or at least no increase, in teen marijuana use. According to the Washington Post, three other surveys have shown changes in state marijuana laws have not effected or have seen a decline in adolescent marijuana use. Grucza’s study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  

Marijuana Murderer
Texas: Charles Fields, a 20 year-old from San Antonio, was arrested late last year on a murder charge and, thanks to marijuana and DNA testing, may now be connected to another murder. Fields was originally arrested for the murder of Elliot Hudson, who met with Fields to sell him marijuana, but Fields demanded the cannabis for free then shot Hudson multiple times. While being questioned about Hudson, police also asked Fields about a body recovered from the house next door to his which was found stuffed in the crawl space with a gunshot wound in his head. Fields denied any knowledge of the body. A joint found in the victim’s vehicle, however, was tested for DNA believed to be left by the assailant and was a perfect match for Charles Fields. Thanks to the evidence provided by the marijuana cigarette a murder has been solved and Fields will be charged with two separate murders.


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