Senate reverses decision on inhaling medical marijuana

Original article by Mark Ballard at TheAdvocate.com

With an amendment, the Senate Monday reversed its opposition to allowing patients to inhale medical marijuana.

Senators voted 21-14 Saturday to strike inhalation, then killed the bill. On Monday the Senate included inhaling then advanced the legislation on a vote of 31-7.

St. Martin Parish Republican Sen. Fred Mills brought House Bill 358 back up Monday and added language that dosage could only be taken using a metered dose inhaler.

“You’re not smoking at all, it’s just a puff of the medication,” Mills said. “It’s just the delivery form of the concentration of the medicine.”

Medical marijuana patients take their doses orally. Inhaling allows the medicine to hit the system faster, he said.

Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said when the program to allow the use of marijuana products for medicinal purposes a few years ago, promises were made that patients wouldn’t be allowed to inhale marijuana. The products are used to combat pain and seizures.

Mills’ amendment was approved on a 30-7 vote.

House Bill 358 by Baton Rouge Democratic Rep. Ted James would have let therapeutic cannabis patients use an inhaler, like asthma patients use. The House overwhelmingly had agreed to the inhalation proposal.

The original language in HB358 was not tight, but the amendments added enough restrictions, said Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles. “This is not inhaling raw marijuana,” he said.

Medicinal-grade pot isn’t yet available to patients. Regulatory disagreements slowed getting the product to shelves, with estimates it could be available later this month.

Voting to allow inhaling medical marijuana (31): President Alario and Sens. Allain, Barrow, Bishop, Boudreaux, Carter, Chabert, Colomb, Cortez, Donahue, Erdey, Gatti, Hensgens, Hewitt, Johns, LaFleur, Lambert, Luneau, Martiny, Mills, Morrell, Morrish, Peacock, Peterson, Price, Riser, G. Smith, J. Smith, Tarver, Ward and White.

Voting against HB358 (7): Sens Appel, Claitor, Fannin, Long, Milkovich, Thompson and Walsworth.

Not Voting (1): Sen Mizell

Read the full article at: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_788064ac-8643-11e9-9f4e-8f54e3043bf2.html


Congratulations to patients in Arkansas!

Medical marijuana sales there are expected to begin this Sunday, May 12, 2019.  Arkansas voters approved therapeutic Cannabis on November 8, 2016.  Louisiana’s legislature approved of the modern therapeutic Cannabis program by passage of SB 143 in the summer of 2015 and signature of then Governor Bobby Jindal on June 29, 2015.  So it looks like Arkansas is going to beat Louisiana to implementation by at least a full year.

 

Read the full article at: https://mjbizdaily.com/marijuana-business-this-week-mmj-sales-in-arkansas-mjbizdailys-first-euro-symposium-cbd-and-epilepsy/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mjbiz_daily&utm_campaign=MJD_20190506_NEWS_Daily%20%20_05062019


Doctors in five states charged with prescribing pain killers for cash, sex

April 17 at 3:59 PM

Dozens of medical professionals in five states were charged Wednesday with participating in the illegal prescribing of more than 32 million pain pills, including doctors who prosecutors said traded sex for prescriptions and a dentist who unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids.

The 60 people indicted include 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other licensed medical professionals. The charges involve more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions written in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, according to indictments unsealed in federal court in Cincinnati.

“That is the equivalent of one opioid dose for every man, woman and child in the five states in the region that we’ve been targeting,” Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview. “If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers.”

The charges include unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances by a medical professional and health-care fraud. Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, and many of the defendants face multiple counts. One doctor in Tennessee is charged in connection with an overdose death caused by opioids, officials said.

The indictments are part of a broader effort by the Justice Department to combat the nation’s prescription pain pill epidemic, which claimed the lives of nearly 218,000 Americans between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How fentanyl triggered the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, has become the leading cause of overdose deaths in America. 

Over the past two years, Justice Department officials said they have targeted doctors, health-care companies and drug manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the epidemic. Last year, the department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.

Benczkowski said he created the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force late last year to target the region, which has been devastated by the epidemic. The department analyzed several databases to identify suspicious prescribing activity and sent 14 prosecutors to 11 federal districts there.

“The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.

Once they had the data indicating suspicious prescriptions, investigators used confidential informants and undercover agents to infiltrate medical offices across the region. Cameras and tape recorders were rolling as they documented how medical professionals used their licenses to peddle highly addictive opioids in exchange for cash and sex, officials said. The arrests began early Wednesday morning.

In one case, a doctor operated a pharmacy in his office, just outside the exam room, where patients could fill their prescriptions for opioids immediately after receiving cursory exams, according to the Justice Department. In another, prosecutors said, patients consented to having their teeth pulled so they could obtain opioid prescriptions from a dentist and then paid in cash.

In a number of cases, according to the indictments, doctors across the region traded prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone for sexual favors. Some physicians instructed their patients to fill multiple prescriptions at different pharmacies. Prosecutors also documented how patients traveled to multiple states to see different doctors so they could collect and then fill numerous prescriptions.

“What these doctors have done is pretty remarkable in its brazenness,” Benczkowski said.

In Dayton, Ohio, which has been hit particularly hard, a doctor who authorities say was the state’s highest prescriber of controlled substances, along with several pharmacists, was charged with operating a “pill mill.” Prosecutors say that the health-care professionals dispensed more than 1.7 million pills between October 2015 and October 2017.

In Tennessee, a doctor who branded himself the “Rock Doc,” allegedly prescribed dangerous combinations of opioids and benzodiazepines, sometimes in exchange for sexual favors. Over the course of three years, prosecutors say he prescribed nearly 500,000 hydrocodone pills, 300,000 oxycodone pills, 1,500 fentanyl patches and more than 600,000 benzodiazepines.

In Alabama, a doctor allegedly recruited prostitutes and other young women to become patients at his clinic and allowed them to use drugs at his home, prosecutors said. Another Alabama doctor allegedly prescribed opioids in high doses and charged a “concierge fee” of $600 per year to be one of his patients.

Prosecutors allege that a doctor in Kentucky prescribed pain killers to his Facebook friends who would come to his home to pick up their prescriptions in exchange for cash.

Prosecutors also said some health-care professionals prescribed opioids for themselves. An orthopedic surgeon in West Virginia allegedly wrote fraudulent prescriptions for pain pills using the name of a relative and a stolen driver’s license from a colleague. In Pennsylvania, a state outside the targeted region, prosecutors say a nurse filled out phony prescriptions for oxycodone in her name and in the names of others to obtain pills for herself.

The arrests could leave thousands of addicts and legitimate pain patients without access to their doctors and health-care professionals. Federal and local public health officials say they are working together to “ensure continuity of care.”

“It is also vital that Americans struggling with addiction have access to treatment and that patients who need pain treatment do not see their care disrupted,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

The opioid indictments come as more than 1,500 cities, counties, Native American tribes and unions are suing drug companies in one of the largest and most complicated civil cases in U.S. history.

A federal judge in Cleveland is overseeing the cases, which accuse some of the biggest names in the industry of fueling the opioid epidemic by failing to report suspicious orders of narcotics and falsely marketing opioids to pain patients. The companies have blamed the epidemic on corrupt doctors and pain management clinics and say the epidemic is too complicated to attribute to their actions.

Justice officials Wednesday did not discuss the companies that have supplied opioids to the Appalachian region. Benczkowski said this investigation targeted medical professionals because they were “the gatekeepers to the patients.”

“But obviously, if there are doctors or others who give us information working backward up the chain in the course of this case or any other case we’re going to be interested in hearing what they have to say,” he said.

Read the full article at:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/doctors-in-five-states-charged-with-prescribing-pain-killers-for-cash-sex/2019/04/17/7670d20e-607e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fd2cef9c223e


Louisiana medical marijuana backers demand product by May 15

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana pharmacists permitted to dispense medical marijuana and the patients waiting for it are demanding that state regulators allow therapeutic cannabis to reach shelves by May 15.

GB Sciences, one of two state-sanctioned growers, said Monday it hopes to have a “limited release of product” by mid-May, available to patients with the most severe conditions. It’s unclear who would be on that list.

A larger release for all eligible patients is predicted for August or later.

But any product availability is contingent on completion of lab testing and other regulatory hurdles by the state agriculture department, which oversees medical marijuana.

Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain hopes to meet the May 15 deadline, but he didn’t commit to it.

Lawmakers agreed to a medical marijuana dispensing framework nearly four years ago.

View full article here


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

cannabis_moshe_israel_071013_820px

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


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