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   Oct 29

New York to Require Extra Training to Prescribe Medical Marijuana

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Associated Press, October 29th, 2015

New York state will require physicians to complete an educational course before they can authorize medical marijuana for patients – an unusual mandate not applied to other new drugs or seen in other states with medical marijuana programs.

State officials say the 4½-hour, $250-online course will inform doctors about a complex drug treatment not covered in medical school. But while the investment of time and money is modest, some patient advocates worry the inconvenience could discourage physicians from participating, ultimately limiting patient access.

Medical marijuana is expected to be available beginning in January, 18 months after lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved what they intended to be a cautious program balancing patient need with concerns about abuse.

While many of the other 22 states with comprehensive medical marijuana programs offer physicians free, voluntarily resources about the drug, they haven’t required physicians to pay for training before they can authorize cannabis.

Only one other drug is subject to a similar training requirement – a potent narcotic used to treat opiate addiction – and those rules come from the federal government.

“Doctors recommend medications all the time for which they are not required to undergo special training,” said Julie Netherland, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports medical marijuana. “Obviously it is good for doctors to be educated about medical cannabis, but the concern is whether this will serve as a deterrent. How many doctors will choose to go through this training?”

Under the state’s law, cannabis will be made available to patients with certain qualifying conditions such as cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s and epilepsy if approved by a physician. In addition to the training, physicians must register with the state’s health department. Only tinctures, oils and other non-smokeable forms of cannabis will be available.

Craig Blinderman, a physician who directs adult palliative care at Columbia University Medical Center, predicted that only “the most motivated” physicians will sign up for the training.

“The vast majority of doctors are not going to do it until their patients start asking about it,” said Blinderman, who supports medical marijuana. “If you live in upstate New York and there is a handful of doctors, this is going to be an issue. It may have been a little too much to mandate.”

Eric Voth disagrees. The Topeka, Kansas, physician and chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy opposes widespread use of marijuana as a medicine and said too many states have approved programs with few controls.

“We are totally bypassing the FDA. It’s just the Wild West,” he said, adding that he supports mandatory training for physicians interested in authorizing the drug for patients. “It needs to go beyond that. There should also be ongoing oversight of their practices.”

Voluntary training courses are available in many states, including California and Washington, where medical marijuana classes are offered as part of a physician’s normal continuing education requirements.

Florida’s limited medical cannabis program includes the regulation perhaps closest to the New York training requirement. A 2014 Florida law that has yet to be implemented will allow certain patients to obtain marijuana with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, one of the drug’s active ingredients. That law will require physicians to complete a training course offered by the state’s medical association. Florida’s program is so constrained that the National Conference of State Legislatures does not include it in its list of the 23 states with comprehensive laws.

In New York, the training requirement was added by Cuomo during negotiations with lawmakers, according to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan. He noted physicians must already complete required training in drug abuse prevention and infection control.

“I would have been comfortable without such a requirement,” Gottfried said. “We generally trust physicians to learn about medications they haven’t prescribed before without special legal requirements. But I don’t see it as a problem and I think it could be helpful.”

Meanwhile, patients and their loved ones are growing tired of waiting 1½ years after the program was approved. Maryanne Houser’s 11-year-old daughter, Amanda, has a form of epilepsy that the Suffern woman hopes can be treated with cannabis. She said she’s not opposed to the training requirement – but believes the state has delayed for long enough.

“My daughter is suffering,” Houser said. “She had 11 seizures before school (on Wednesday.) I’m frustrated and I want to get her the right medicine. I want my daughter better.”

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   Oct 27

Federal Reserve Says Chartering Pot Bank is Illegal, Refuses To Do So

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Denver Post, Kirk Mitchell, October 22nd, 2015

The U.S. Federal Reserve has asked a federal judge in Denver to dismiss a lawsuit by a credit union asking a judge to force its hand and charter a bank for marijuana businesses, saying that would be “criminal.”

“Even transporting or transmitting funds known to have been derived from the distribution of marijuana is illegal,” said a motion filed Wednesday by the Federal Reserve in U.S. District Court in Denver.

The motion came in a lawsuit filed by Fourth Corner Credit Union, which was set up last year to serve Colorado’s $700-million-a-year marijuana industry. It can’t open without clearance from the Federal Reserve.

The government’s motion says it does not intend to accept a penny connected to the sale of pot because the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Federal law may even preempt state laws when they conflict or obstruct federal law, the motion says.

Condoning Colorado’s illegal marijuana trade would be akin to supporting other illegal enterprises, the document says.

“The court would not entertain other such attempts — such as if Colorado enacted a scheme to allow trade in endangered species or trade with North Korea in derogation of federal laws, and then chartered a credit union to handle the finances for companies conducting such illegal trade,” the motion says.

Marijuana businesses are caught between pursuing a business that Colorado declared legal but which violates federal laws, which the U.S. Federal Reserve must uphold.

 

“Simply put, a court of equity will not permit its process to be perverted to any illegal purpose,” the lawsuit says.

Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department issued rules for how banks can accept pot money. But the Federal Reserve now says marijuana proceeds can’t go into the banking system.

Original article posted at the Denver Post

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   Oct 26

Democratic debate: Here’s What Clinton, Sanders Said About Marijuana

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The Cannabist, October 14th, 2015

The first Democratic debate for the 2016 presidential election happened Tuesday in Las Vegas, and while the subject of marijuana legalization wasn’t discussed by all five candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders made statements, with Sanders taking a bolder edge.

In this transcript provided by debate host CNN, here’s what Clinton and Sanders had to say about marijuana, with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Juan Carlos Lopez making the queries:

COOPER: The issue now, particularly in this state, is recreational marijuana. I want to go to Juan Carlos Lopez.

LOPEZ: Thank you, Anderson.

Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You’ve said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn’t quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?

SANDERS: I suspect I would vote yes.

(APPLAUSE)

And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: …which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, we we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.

*****

LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton, you told Christiane Amanpour you didn’t smoke pot when you were young, and you’re not going to start now.

(LAUGHTER)

LOPEZ: When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you told her let’s wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It’s been more than a year since you’ve said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?

CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.

So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.

Upcoming debates

CNBC Republican debate: Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the University of Colorado in Boulder
CBS News Democratic debate: Saturday, Nov. 14, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa

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   Oct 20

Judge: Feds Cannot Block Dispensaries Operating Within State Law

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Cannabis Now, Ellen Holland, Oct 19th, 2015

In a landmark decision that carries potential ramifications nationwide, a federal judge ruled Monday that the federal government does not have the authority to block the operations of medical marijuana clubs operating within state law. The decision marks a victory for Lynette Shaw, a medical cannabis pioneer who opened the nation’s first state-sanctioned dispensary in 1996. The dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, was in operation in Fairfax, California until it was shut down by the feds in 2011. Today’s decision comes in light of a 2014 amendment proposed by representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), which prohibited the Department of Justice prosecuting those operating within compliance with the state’s rules for medical marijuana. The recent ruling represents a broad interpretation of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, a piece of legislation designed to ensure that the federal government does not expend resources prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the parameters of their state.

The ruling, which lifts the injunction against the medical marijuana club, has been called a “tipping point” by Shaw’s attorney Greg Anton and comes from the same judge who granted the permanent injunction against Shaw in 2002.

“The law is clear there will be no funds expended for interfering with California state medical marijuana laws,” Anton said to NBC Bay Area.

Judge Charles Breyer granted the injunction against Shaw in 2002, but the business continued to operate under the radar until 2011. Shaw told the SFGate, that she believes the ruling demonstrates that Congressional law is being enacted as it was intended and declared the war on medical cannabis over.

“We won the war,” she said. “And I’m the first POW to be released.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office now has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Original article posted at Cannabis Now Magazine

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   Oct 14

California Governor Signs Law Regulating Medical Marijuana Market

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Cannabis Now Magazine, Mike Adams, October 13th, 2015

It has been almost 20 years since California became the first state in the country to legalize a medical marijuana program, providing a market that, for the most part, has been considered even less restrictive than some of the nation’s recreational venues. However, that is all about to change in the next few years. Governor Jerry Brown recently put his signature on a series of bills, which eliminates Babylonia from the current model by designating a new regulatory system intended to improve the overall quality of the marketplace.

The signing of this legislation comes as state lawmakers begin to take into consideration the very real possibility that voters will pass an initiative in 2016 that will legalize a full-scale recreational pot market. Several groups have already started collecting signatures to get their respective proposals on the ballot, and it was announced last week that ReformCA, the group most financially capable of ending prohibition across the state, is simply waiting on approval from the attorney general’s office before moving ahead with phase two of their campaign.

It is for this reason that the governor’s office got together with State Legislature earlier this year to hash out a plan to put a leash around the neck of state’s nearly two-decade-old medical marijuana market. Yet, as you can imagine, this was not a simple task because everyone from law enforcement to union leader had suggestions and concerns that they wanted to kick around on the negotiation table.

“This new structure will make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system,” Governor Brown said in a statement. “This sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice.”

While the concept of regulating the state’s cannabis industry has officially become law, officials have until January 2017 to get the finally rules in place. Businesses should be permitted to apply for licenses sometime around January 2018.

At the heart of the new law comes the creation of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation; an agency that will work with other state groups to control the entirety of the marketplace. This will include, but not be limited to the distribution of licenses, product testing, and advertising. Local governments will also get involved to determine which businesses will get to continue operating in the new environment and who they will shut down.

Some believe the new law signifies the end of the Wild West of Weed, opening the gates to a more common sense approach to operating a legal cannabis trade. Others are concerned the state’s progression may disqualify them altogether. Yet, nothing about the law appears to have much of an impact on the patients – it just provides a framework that will tighten up the business landscape to ensure dispensaries are providing patients with quality marijuana products.

“These regulations will ensure patients have legal, safe, and consistent access to medical marijuana,” Lauren Vazquez, Deputy Director of Communications with the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “New guidelines for testing and labeling products will ensure patients know what they are getting and that it meets appropriate standards for quality.”

Unfortunately, part of the new law is intended to make it more difficult for people without legitimate medical conditions to obtain an identification card allowing them to participate in the program. However, this will only become a major concern if California does not successfully pass an initiative next year to legalize a statewide recreational market.

Original Article Posted in Cannabis Now Magazine

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   Oct 12

New Poll: Swing States Support the Legalization of Marijuana

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High Times, Mike Adams, October 9th, 2015

Some of the more gutsy 2016 presidential candidates may soon take a more pot-friendly position in regard to their campaigns after seeing the results from the latest Quinnipiac University poll. The survey found an impressive majority of voters in the swing states of Florida and Ohio support the elimination of prohibition in the United States, while the voting population in Pennsylvania remains divided on whether tax-paying citizens should be allowed to use recreational marijuana.

Although there is a lot of focus these days on women and weed, there are apparently more men in swing states that support the legalization of marijuana than women, according to the poll. But despite the gender gap, most of the respondents agree on one thing: they probably wouldn’t even smoke weed “recreationally” if it were legal.

“If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then the Red Planet might be the more spacey place,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. “That’s because men are more likely than women to support legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Not surprisingly support for the change is linked to age, with younger voters more likely to see personal use of pot as a good thing.”

While support for full-blown legalization is strong, it appears that all of the mainstream attention on the herb has manifested an outpouring of support for the medical sector. The poll found that only around 1 in 10 people in these states are opposed the legalizing the leaf medicinal reasons.

Next month, voters will decide on ResponsibleOhio’s controversial Issue 3, which has a fighting chance of passing if the latest data holds any weight. Fifty-three percent of the voting public in Ohio said they support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, while 44 percent said they were opposed. Of course, more men than women support the issue by a 59 percent to 38 percent margin.

With Florida, which has two groups currently working to get the issue of marijuana on the 2016 ballot, the margin is considerably closer, with 51 percent supporting an end to prohibition and 45 percent all for keeping it in place. Similar to Ohio, support on this issue is predominately male—57 percent—with women ranking in at 41 percent.

“The strong support among Floridians for legalizing medical marijuana may not be enough,” Brown explained. “In 2014, voters expressed overwhelming support for legalization, but at the ballot box they failed to meet the 60 percent threshold required by the state constitution.”

Pennsylvania voters were almost evenly split on the issue of legalizing weed for recreational use: 47 percent back it, while 49 percent are opposed.

Overall, the poll is consistent with several other surveys that have surfaced over the course of the past year suggesting that the majority of the American population is ready to put marijuana prohibition in the history books.

Original article posted at High Times

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