Agriculture department offers to let LSU expand marijuana production as regulatory process plays out

Louisiana’s state agriculture department on Thursday offered to give LSU permission to expand its medical marijuana-growing operations if its contractor meets certain conditions related to the regulatory process.

Under the agreement, which has not yet been signed, LSU and its contractor, GB Sciences Louisiana, would be allowed to move “plant material” into the vegetative room and mother room of its production facility in south Baton Rouge.

GB Sciences is currently operating in a smaller “pod” facility and has not moved into the main facility because it has not won full regulatory approvals from the state agriculture department. The endeavor has been delayed several times, keeping marijuana from reaching patients several years after the state legalized the program.

View the full article here

View the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners Verification Results here. 


Israel takes step toward allowing export of medical marijuana

An Israeli government committee gave an initial nod on Sunday for the export of medical marijuana in what could be a windfall for companies in Israel, widely regarded as a leader in research in the field.

A government statement announcing the vote said it could take months for the legislation to make its way through parliament.

In the United States, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use and since 2012, Colorado, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, D.C. have also approved marijuana for recreational use. The market there, by some estimates, will reach $50 billion over the next decade.

Israel is widely regarded as one of the world leaders in medical marijuana research, even though the local market is small. Only 23,000 people have Health Ministry permits to purchase medical cannabis from nine licensed suppliers, creating a market of $15 million to $20 million at most.

Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, a private cannabis research hub in Israel, said there are about 50 Israeli medical marijuana companies active in many aspects of the industry, from agriculture to delivery devices, such as inhalers.

Kaye estimated that international investments in Israeli companies reached about $100 million in 2016.

Last month, Israel moved toward decriminalizing small-scale personal use of marijuana and authorities are supportive of research. Israeli Health Minister Yakov Litzman supports medical cannabis usage and has introduced steps to ease its prescription and sale.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Source:  Reuters


AUSTIN — Physicians and patients came out in full force Tuesday to support a proposed medical cannabis bill that will be considered in the Texas Legislature next year.

Senate Bill 269, which was filed Tuesday morning, would allow patients with debilitating or chronic conditions to receive medical cannabis under their doctor’s recommendation. The bill would expand on a 2015 Texas law that allows patients to receive certain forms of cannabis if they have intractable epilepsy.

Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who authored the proposed bill, said the law is helpful but excludes many Texans who have other conditions that could benefit from cannabis treatment.

Twenty-eight states have legalized medical cannabis, but Menéndez said Texans should not have to leave the state to get care.

“Why are we forcing Texans to become medical refugees?” Menéndez asked. “If that’s what they’ve come to find that works for them, they should be able to live in their state and be able to have access to the medicine that their doctor feels is best for them.”

Debbie Tolany, a mother to a child with autism and intractable epilepsy, said her son has tried multiple different medications that have not worked for him.

“I can assure you that when you witness these things in your child and you know that it is because of the medication that you have given him, you wrestle with many emotions,” Tolany said. “These are harmful band aids and do nothing to address the physiological sources of my son’s pain and suffering.”

 Menéndez co-authored the bill that allowed for limited cannabis use for people with epilepsy, and also filed another bill in 2015 that would have extended medical cannabis use to more health condition

Medical Marijuana is No Laughing Matter for Those Who Need it

ARLINGTON — When we hear about states legalizing medical marijuana, it’s easy to picture situations like this. But for folks like Eric Espinoza, who suffers from spastic cerebral palsy, the need for daily medication is no laughing matter.

“You take 1 to3 a day of various things,” Espinoza told NewsFix.  “Muscle relaxers, painkillers, anti-inflammatories.”

He’s even spent time taking more extreme medications.

“It’s a year of my life I’ll never get back because there is no memory on Oxycontin.”

Espinoza says his search for a better option led him to visit Colorado, where he – and others like him – have experimented with medical cannabis.

“They’re not looking for a good time,” said Espinoza.  “They’re looking for 48-72 hours of relief. I was enjoying my environment and my surroundings, I was not thinking about my condition. And it’s not something that I worry about ‘if I accidentally take another pill, am I gonna die?’

“It’s difficult in Texas to talk about medical cannabis with your doctor. ‘Well, I can’t give that to you because you would just be at a Whataburger drive-thru with the munchies at midnight,'” he said mocking how a doctor might respond.

Hey, the doctors couldn’t prescribe marijuana anyway, since it’s against the law here. But with more than half the country now giving the stuff a green light, who knows what will happen in the future.

In the meantime, Eric says “I’m a patient, not a criminal.”

 


A FLOURISHING $40 MILLION MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY HELPS ISRAELIS FORGET

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Holocaust survivor Moshe Rute, a resident at Hadarim nursing home, where he smokes cannabis daily to fight chronic pain. (Shira Rubin)

On a recent afternoon in Kibbutz Naan, near the city of Rehovot, Israel, Moshe Rute took a hefty puff from his pot pipe, with the blessing of the government. His hands stopped convulsing, and he drifted into the story of how cannabis had done for him something that no person could—help him forget. A “Holocaust child,” he said the memories of his past—of hiding in a chicken barn in his native France to escape the Nazis, and the later death of his wife—haunted him.

For years Rute, 81, had been silenced by his psychological baggage and unsuccessful at sleep. But in 1988, when he arrived at the Hadarim nursing home in central Israel, where he was prescribed medical cannabis for a cocktail of ailments, he finally “opened up,” he said. “When I was a child my imagination saved me. I was alone, talking to the chickens. What saved me here was the cannabis.”

After the hourlong smoking session on the porch, we retreated into a spartan, ground-floor room, where the creative by-products of his drug use were on display. They included sketches of chickens and of his late wife, as well as black-and-white Pollock-style splatter paintings. He’d already completed three books.

In the United States, marijuana has been approved for medical use in 18 states and the District of Columbia and for recreational use in two states, but with federal statutes still criminalizing the drug, the future of the substance remains unclear. In Israel, meanwhile, the $40-million-per-year medical-marijuana industry has flourished.

Illegal for recreational use, today medical cannabis is prescribed to some 11,000 Israeli patients, up from 1,800 in 2009, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. It is used to treat an extensive list of illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s, Tourette syndrome, and PTSD. While government attempts to limit use have sparked a heated debate, legislation is still relatively liberal. In May, Health Minister Yael German announced that an additional 11 doctors would be certified to prescribe cannabis—bumping up the number to 19—by the end of the year.

While rabbinic support for medical cannabis has long existed in Israel, government regulation is relatively new. The issue was raised for the first time in 2009, in the wake of a documentary titled Prescribed Grass, directed by Zach Klein. “I made the movie because my mother was suffering from cancer, and she was afraid to take hashish, afraid about the long-term effects,” Klein told me. “It was time that Israel woke up.”

He said the term marijuana has proven a detrimental moniker, conjuring up connotations of street crime, whereas the word cannabis has historical precedent in the Bible. He added that an accurate, shared vocabulary is needed for both politicians and patients to feel comfortable discussing the drug.

marijuana-elderly-home-3-07-12

Rivke Holop, 85, prefers the yogurt preparation. Photo: Dan Balilty

With chief nurse Inbal Sikorin, Klein built the Hadarim nursing home. Bustling trays of cannabis—in liquid, food, and pill form—for the lunchtime crowd, Klein and Sikorin agreed that the “munchies effect” is one of the drug’s most beneficial perks. Many patients here suffer from chronic pain from chemotherapy or other treatments and are at serious risk of having dangerously low body weight. Thus, Sikorin said, allowing the use of medical cannabis is an issue of medical ethics.

Sikorin remembered that in the days before marijuana was common treatment at Hadarim, “We had learned to prolong life, and we did that very well, but it wasn’t clear to me what we could offer them in terms of quality of life. We would always give them medicines that weren’t completely perfect. So, we would add other medicines, and they had their own side effects. This was, also, not at all cost-effective.” Of the 16 patients receiving medical cannabis, there are a few special cases, like half-paralyzed and wheelchair-ridden Rom (he requested his last name be omitted for privacy), 90 years old. He can’t speak or stay awake for more than a few seconds, let alone swallow a pill, and thus consumes the marijuana via vaporizer.

As Sikorin and I watched him inhale, we saw his eyes immediately light up. He yawned, to the delight of Sikorin. His wife Rachel prodded him to finish his third cannabis balloon, so that he could join her for lunch.

The pot doled out here comes from an organic greenhouse in the Galilee called Tikkun Olam, referring to the Jewish principle of healing the world. The largest of eight other government-sponsored cultivation digs, the cannabis farm supplies about 2,000 patients across Israel and goes by the motto derived from Psalm 118, “This is God’s doing; it’s marvelous in our eyes.”

At Tikkun Olam, crossbred products include a strain that reportedly inspires the most powerful high in the world and another that provides none at all. The latter is achieved by isolating the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, responsible for the “high,” and upping the concentration of the non-psychoactive cannabidiol, or CBD, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In the 1960s Israel was a world leader in research on marijuana and its components under the so-called grandfather of cannabis, professor Raphael Mechoulam, at Hebrew University, who first isolated the THC component.

Dr. Ruth Gallily, an immunology professor at Hebrew University who has researched CBD for 15 years, said the drug offers still unknown potential in treating neurological and physical illnesses. “Where the THC binds to the brain receptor, giving the high feeling, the CBD doesn’t bind, making it effective without toxicity,” she said. “It can be used for liver inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and even diabetes type 1, which afflicts millions of people.” But the fact that it is a plant, she said, and is therefore harder to control and impossible to patent, makes it an unattractive investment for medical companies.

marijuana-elderly-home-07-12

Another Haradim resident receives cannabis injections directly into his stomach. Photo: Getty Images

Dr. Reuven Or is the director of the bone-marrow transplant department at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where he said medical cannabis was first used. He said that holes in the bureaucratic system and demands on already overburdened doctors to handle prescription requests are compensated by “independent organizations and a lot of grace.” He maintains, though, that there’s still a long way to go in fully understanding the drug.

At the distribution center at Hadassah Hospital, patients, including young children, attend group classes on how to take the drug. Every patient has a prescription and pays a monthly fee of 370 shekels (about 100 dollars). To register at distribution centers like this, patients must present a green card signed by their doctor, specifying their monthly cannabis allowance. Patients can also petition to have the monthly cost covered by their health-care providers.

Daniel Davis, a 34-year-old yoga practitioner who has salivary gland cancer, attends those classes as both a student and a teacher. A self-declared “former pothead,” he said he has a “calling” to demystify the drug for nervous first-timers. On the other hand, he said, “The kind of sneaky part in me is telling me that I beat the system. Not only am I getting marijuana from the government, they’re also subsidizing three quarters of the cost.”

Davis said marijuana was “a savior” in helping him gain back the 20 pounds lost during intensive bouts of chemotherapy. He maintains a vegan diet and does yoga and meditation when he can muster the strength, though his deteriorating condition has his doctors pessimistic. But even in facing this difficult truth, Davis said, marijuana helped. “It enables me to let go,” he said, “to not fight so much, not to struggle with the current reality.”

 

Source:  Tablet


Marijuana Could Be the Answer to Curing Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Shows

The clinical failure rate of Alzheimer’s drugs is exceptionally high, yet early data from researchers at the Salk Institute suggests marijuana could provide a cure.

The statistics associated with Alzheimer’s disease are downright depressing.

The disease, which typically affects the elderly and is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive function, currently afflicts 5.4 million Americans, and the Alzheimer’s Association expects the direct and indirect costs of treatment to reach $236 billion in 2016. Some one in nine people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, and within the U.S., it’s the sixth-leading cause of death.

These statistics are even scarier when you consider how much researchers still have to learn about this disease. Though there are medications designed to slow the progression of the various stages of the disease, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease remains elusive for the time being.

A number of big-name drug developers have taken aim at Alzheimer’s, only to have their studies end in disappointment. Drug giants Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer teamed up to develop bapineuzumab, while Eli Lilly developed solanezumab. Both drugs missed their primary endpoints in phase 3 studies. It’s difficult to get medicine through the blood-brain barrier, and the clinical success rate of Alzheimer’s drugs is particularly low.

Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) is hoping to change that with experimental therapy aducanumab, which, in early-stage studies, produced reduced cognitive decline and substantial beta-amyloid clearance. (Beta-amyloid is a protein found around the brain that, when clumped together, can form plagues that block neurons and lead to a progressive decline in cognitive function.) Unfortunately, early-stage success stories often miss the mark in later-stage studies, so the jury is still out on aducanumab.

Is cannabis the answer to Alzheimer’s disease?

However, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies believe the cure to Alzheimer’s disease might come from a readily available substance: marijuana.

In order to test their theory, researchers at the Salk Institute modified nerve cells to produce high levels of beta-amyloid. Researchers then noted that these higher levels of beta-amyloid production led to the expression of pro-inflammatory proteins and eventually nerve cell death. The ongoing death of these nerve cells is what leads to the progressive cognitive decline witnessed in Alzheimer’s patients. This itself was an intriguing finding, as it was long believed that an immune-like response, not the proteins themselves, led to nerve cell death.

Now here’s where things get interesting. As the researchers noted in their findings, nerve cells in the brain contain receptors that are activated by lipid molecules known as endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced by nerve cells. These endocannabinoids are believed to help nerve cells with their ability to send signals relating to appetite, pain sensation, and memory. Marijuana contains the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as THC), which is similar to endocannabinoids and can activate those same nerve cell receptors. In other words, the researchers at Salk Institute hypothesized that cannabis could block the receptors that lead to the release of pro-inflammatory proteins and prevent nerve cell death.

For their test, the researchers applied THC to nerve cells producing high levels of beta-amyloid. The findings showed that beta-amyloid production was reduced, eliminating the pro-inflammatory protein response and sparing the nerve cells from death.

Understandably, this study would need to be tested in a well-controlled clinical setting to have validity, but it nonetheless offers significant hope that cannabis could hold the key to curing Alzheimer’s disease.

Before you get too excited…

While the findings from Salk Institute’s researchers are eye-opening and exciting from a medical standpoint — and they mark another victory for cannabis enthusiasts who’d like to see medical marijuana legalized throughout the country — the reality is that cannabis’ path to approval as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease could be long and difficult.

If you recall, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued a ruling that will keep cannabis designated as a schedule 1 (i.e., illicit) substance. Although the DEA appears to be relaxing its stance on marijuana for the purposes of medical research, there are no guarantees that access to cannabis for medical research will improve anytime soon. This also complicates matters for residents living in the 25 states that haven’t legalized medical marijuana.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation on cannabis seemed to coincide with that of the DEA. The stance of both the DEA and FDA is that much is still unknown about the chemical composition of marijuana and that marijuana has no recognized medical benefits. There are also unknowns surrounding its safety that could make it difficult for any marijuana or cannabinoid-based drug to make it past the FDA.

Beyond these restrictions on marijuana’s medical potential, the marijuana business in general faces some inherent disadvantages. Because marijuana remains an illicit substance at the federal level, marijuana businesses struggle to obtain basic financial services ranging from a checking account to lines of credit. Just 3% of the nation’s 6,700 banks are currently working with companies in the cannabis industry.

Marijuana businesses also face disadvantages come tax time. U.S. tax code 280E prohibits businesses that deal with federally illegal substances from taking normal business deductions, leaving them to pay tax on their gross profits instead of net profits.

Ultimately, marijuana has shown flashes of medicinal potential across a number of disease types, including Alzheimer’s disease. However, without controlled and FDA-approved clinical studies, the evidence needed to give marijuana recognized medical benefits just isn’t there. Unfortunately, both Alzheimer’s patients and investors looking to take advantage of marijuana’s potentially expansive growth prospects will have to watch and wait from the sidelines.

Source: The Motley Fool


Legal Marijuana Is Inevitable – Here’s Why You Should Vote In Favor

Legal Marijuana is going to happen, the only question is when. The most recent polls show 54% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. Here’s why you should get behind it, too.

Marijuana is packed with medicinal uses we can’t legally exploit here in the United States, but why? Are we still stuck in the Reefer Madness of the 30s? Or is the idea of a pain-curing plant you can grow in your backyard too great a threat to the powerful pharmaceutical industry?

Marijuana is not a gateway drug. The science is overwhelming. While some users do go on to use other drugs, most do not. No significant connection can be made.

The Medicine and the Science

The human body has a vast system of of cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes. When stimulated, cannabinoid receptors respond with a variety of physiologic processes.

Cannabinoid receptors are stimulated by -wait for it- cannabinoids. The two cannabinoids that have been studied most are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD).

The medicinal properties of marijuana are well documented. The earliest pharmacopeia documentation shows that marijuana was cultivated for medical purposes in 2,700 B.C. to treat rheumatic pain, intestinal constipation, disorders of the female reproductive system, malaria, and other health issues.

Today, cannabinoids are under study for treatment of:

And many more serious health concerns. But legal issues continue to impede the progress of scientific study, and much of the science is contradictory.

Cannabinoids and Mental Health

In addition to the physical health benefits, cannabinoids in the form of CBD oil have been used to treat mental disorders like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and the debilitating effects of chronic stress…without the psychoactive side effects of THC.

Nora D. Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, is cautiously optimistic on the subject of CBD. In a presentation to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, she said, “Rigorous clinical studies are still needed to evaluate the clinical potential of CBD for specific conditions. However, pre-clinical research (including both cell culture and animal models) has shown CBD to have a range of effects that may be therapeutically useful, including anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.”

Accessibility

Marijuana is a hardy plant that can grow almost anywhere. While it naturally adapts well to outdoor conditions, most commercial crops are grown and CBD oil is manufactured in greenhouses for faster maturation, using light deprivation techniques in a carefully controlled environment.

Small crops for personal use can be grown in a very small area. Laws vary; in the most lenient states like Colorado (for example), anyone 21 and older can grow up to six marijuana plants, with three at a time in the flowering stage. Even though it’s easy to grow, most people opt for commercially grown product, making legal marijuana a $1 billion industry.

The Opposition

With all this evidence about the positive aspects of legalized weed, low price, popularity, ease of access and use, you might be wondering who is against it. To answer that, it’s a good idea to follow the money. If chronic conditions can be managed with a plant you can grow in your yard, who loses profits? Pain management is roughly a $300 billion dollar industry that affects 100 million Americans. It’s not hard to imagine why the powerful pharmaceutical industry would put up big money to oppose a free treatment.

The Opioid Crisis

In 2014, 28,647 people died from opioid abuse. That’s 78 people every day. Tens of thousands of Americans are addicting and killing themselves with prescription drugs. In the same year, the number of marijuana deaths was…zero.

The opioid epidemic is significant in this discussion because the deadly addiction usually starts with a prescription for pain management. Marijuana is a viable and far less destructive option for people in chronic pain.

The Changing Tide

For the first time in history, the tide has begun to change. Legal Marijuana legislation is proposed in many states and voters are speaking up. Colorado collected $88 million in marijuana taxes last year, and used it to fund schools.

The reality is that people smoke pot – 49% say they’ve tried it. It’s easy to grow, easy to find, and relatively cheap. Decriminalization would give science the opportunity to study its medicinal properties and growers the leeway to produce marijuana’s relative, hemp, a fast-growing fibrous plant with tons of uses.

Keeping outdated marijuana laws on the books is simply insane. Decriminalization is inevitable. The only question is how much longer we’re going to let money-grubbing lobbyists spread false information – and stand in the way of higher quality of life for people with dozens of conditions that might be better managed with cannabinoids.

 

Source:  Sherry Gray, Huffington Post


Low Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain

Barth Wilsey, MD, Thomas D. Marcotte, PhD, Associate Professor, Reena Deutsch, PhD, Statistician, Ben Gouaux,Research Associate, Staci Sakai, Research Associate, and Haylee Donaghe, Research Associate

Abstract

We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of vaporized cannabis in subjects, the majority of whom were experiencing neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Thirty-nine patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for inhaling either medium dose (3.53%), low dose (1.29%), or placebo cannabis with the primary outcome being VAS pain intensity. Psychoactive side-effects, and neuropsychological performance were also evaluated. Mixed effects regression models demonstrated an analgesic response to vaporized cannabis. There was no significant difference between the two active dose groups’ results (p>0.7). The number needed to treat (NNT) to achieve 30% pain reduction was 3.2 for placebo vs. low dose, 2.9 for placebo vs. medium dose, and 25 for medium vs. low dose. As these NNT are comparable to those of traditional neuropathic pain medications, cannabis has analgesic efficacy with the low dose being, for all intents and purposes, as effective a pain reliever as the medium dose. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well-tolerated, and neuropsychological effects were of limited duration and readily reversible within 1–2 hours. Vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain.


States with medical marijuana see decline in employee sick leave, study finds

While the misconception remains that stoners are lazy and unmotivated, a new study shows that marijuana may keep people on the job both healthy and productive.

In a July study published early online for the journal Health Economics, researchers found statistically significant declines in employee sick leave in states that allow safe and legal access to medical cannabis, reports Marijuana.com.

According to the numbers provided in the report, businesses in medical marijuana states reported an 8 to 15 percent drop in employee absences related to illness compared to states that still prohibit medical cannabis.

Author Darin F. Ulman observes:

Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana. The effect is stronger in states with ‘lax’ medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards.

Ulman suggests that legal access to medical marijuana may increase employee productivity while decreasing the sick pay costs of employers.

Source:  SFGATE


New Report Blasts DEA For Spending 4 Decades Obstructing Marijuana Science

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been impeding and ignoring the science on marijuana and other drugs for more than four decades, according to a reportreleased this week by the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug policy reform group, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a marijuana research organization.

“The DEA is a police and propaganda agency,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said Wednesday. “It makes no sense for it to be in charge of federal decisions involving scientific research and medical practice.”

The report alleges that the DEA has repeatedly failed to act in a timely fashion when faced with petitions to reschedule marijuana. The drug is currently classified as Schedule I, which the DEA reserves for the “most dangerous” drugs with “no currently accepted medical use.” Schedule I drugs, which include substances like heroin and LSD, cannot receive federal funding for research. On three separate occasions — in 1973, 1995 and again in 2002 — the DEA took years to make a final decision about a rescheduling petition, and in two of the cases the DEA was sued multiple times to force a decision.

The report criticizes the DEA for overruling its own officials charged with determining how illicit substances should be scheduled. It also criticizes the agency for creating a “regulatory Catch-22” by arguing there is not enough scientific evidence to support rescheduling marijuana while simultaneously impeding the research that would produce such evidence.

A spokesperson at the DEA declined to comment on the report.

The feds have long been accused of only funding marijuana research that focuses on the potential negative effects of the substance, but that trend appears to be changing.

According to The Hill, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has conducted about 30 studies to date on the potential benefits of marijuana. NIDA oversees the cultivation, production and distribution of marijuana grown for research purposes at the University of Mississippi in the only federally legal marijuana garden in the U.S.— a process through which the only federally sanctioned marijuana studies are approved.

The joint report comes less than two weeks after the House approved three amendments taking aim at the DEA and its ability to enforce federal marijuana and hemp laws in states which have legal marijuana operations and industrial hemp programs. The medical marijuana amendment was sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).

“Nobody should be afraid of the truth,” Rohrabacher said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of other drugs that have harmful side effects. Is the downside of marijuana a harmful side effect? Or is there a positive side that actually does help? That needs to be proven.”

The federal government’s interest in marijuana certainly appears to be growing. Since 2003, it has approved more than 500 grants for marijuana-related studies, with a marked upswing in recent years, according to McClatchy. In 2003, 22 grants totaling $6 million were approved for cannabis research. In 2012, that number had risen to 69 approved grants totaling more than $30 million.

“The DEA has obstructed research into the medical use of marijuana for over 40 years and in the process has caused immeasurable suffering that would otherwise have been treated by low-cost, low-risk generic marijuana,” Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, said in a statement. “The DEA’s obstruction of the FDA approval process for marijuana has — to the DEA’s dismay — unintentionally catalyzed state-level medical marijuana reforms.”

Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Eight other states — Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin — have legalized CBD oils, made from a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana frequently used to treat epilepsy, for limited medical use or for research purposes.

A number of recent studies have shown the medical potential of cannabis. Purified forms may attack some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use also has been tied to better blood sugar control and may help slow the spread of HIV. One study found that legalization of the plant for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates.

Nadelmann said the DEA has “demonstrated a regular pattern of abusing its discretionary powers.”

“We believe this authority would be better handled by another government agency in the health realm, or even better still, by an organization that is truly independent, perhaps something that involves the National Academy of Sciences,” he said. “We will be working to encourage greater congressional oversight and also to call for reforms of federal law.”

 The Huffington Post


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