By Chris Kudialis (contact)
Saturday, July 30, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Medical marijuana dispensaries should no longer be able to accept California doctors’ recommendations from out-of-state patients to purchase in Nevada, according to an opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office, sent this week to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In a letter from Attorney General Adam Laxalt to health department Director Richard Whitley, obtained by the Sun on Friday, Laxalt’s office responds to two department inquiries on the Silver State’s medical marijuana program: whether patients can use a copy of a completed application at a Nevada dispensary to purchase medical marijuana, and whether out-of-state residents should be allowed to use a California physician's note to purchase medical marijuana. Laxalt advised against both practices.
“A recommendation from a California physician ad (sic) a driver’s license from another state cannot be used to obtain medical marijuana from a Nevada dispensary,” the letter said.
The letter and subsequent recommendations came as a surprise to Nevada dispensary owners, who said they were unaware that Whitley had reached out to the Attorney General’s Office. Some went as far as to call the potential effect of the letter “devastating” to business and patients they claim rely on such measures to purchase marijuana while in town.
“Not only (is it important) for our business, but for the patients who need medicine when they’re visiting here,” said David Goldwater, owner of Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary, 2520 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Goldwater, who estimated his clientele is about 60 percent Nevada cardholders and 40 percent out-of-state buyers, said his business model would change “drastically” if patients with California doctor's notes were barred from buying at Inyo.
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Three Santa Ana police officers caught on tape last year destroying cameras, throwing darts, eating what look like pot edibles and insulting a disabled cannabis patient, have been fired, a Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) spokesperson has confirmed. Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas and Jorge Arroyo are no longer employed by SAPD, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, an SAPD spokesperson, who declined further comment, saying he was unable to discuss "personnel matters."
As the Weekly reported last month, the three officers recently pled not guilty to charges of vandalism and petty theft (of what prosecutors allege were candy bars) stemming from the notorious May 26, 2015 raid of the Sky High Holistic marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana. They were last reported to have been on paid leave pending administrative appeals, but according to Bertagna, Arroyo's last day on the job was April 20, 2016—insert 420 joke here—while both Quijas and Sontag left the department on May 6.
After raiding Sky High, arresting several individuals and dismantling all the video surveillance equipment they could find inside the dispensary, the officers apparently thought they had found all the cameras. But a backup surveillance system with cameras inside each room showed officers joking about kicking pot activist Marla James, an amputee confined to a wheelchair who has since sued Santa Ana, in her "nub." Then, after retrieving what appear to be pot edibles from a back room, the officers begin snacking on the treats, including one officer who joked that he felt "kinda light headed."
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By David Weigel July 9
ORLANDO — The Democratic Party endorsed a "reasoned pathway to future legalization" of marijuana and called for the drug to be downgraded in the Controlled Substances Act, in a tense and unexpected victory for supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Going into the platform committee meeting, Sanders's campaign had no new language about marijuana. The senator from Vermont had favored state-to-state legalization efforts, and the language approved by the drafting committee called for "policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty."
But on Saturday afternoon, the committee brought up an amendment that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. David King, a lawyer and Sanders delegate from Tennessee, argued that marijuana was added to the act — giving the drug the same legal classification as heroin — during a "craze" to hurt "hippies and blacks." The amendment, however, was headed for defeat, with some committee members worrying that it went too far and undermined state-by-state efforts to study decriminalization.
Arguments stopped when committee members proposed swapping in the language of a rival amendment — one that merely downgraded marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act and included the undefined "pathway" to legal status.
When the vote was called, 81 of the 187 committee members backed the downgrade amendment — and just 80 opposed it. A roar of applause went up from the seats where people not on the committee were watching the votes.
For the next 10 minutes, that victory was thrown into jeopardy. Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, the co-chair of the platform committee, entertained a complaint that at least one member might not have been able to vote, lacking the "clicker" that recorded electronic ballots.
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John Hudak and Grace Wallack | May 27, 2016 1:10pm
As marijuana rescheduling has gained traction in Congress and DEA has announced it will rule on a rescheduling this summer, a common concern has emerged in the cannabis reform community and among industry actors. It goes something like this: "If marijuana is moved to Schedule II, the Feds will shut down our state's legal system." The worry is that this administrative change will make marijuana pharmaceuticals legal and thus require all such products to be removed from the market until FDA approval is granted. And of course, clinical drug testing and FDA approval often takes years and hundreds of millions (if not more) dollars in research—something cannabusinesses can't afford and time medical marijuana patients don't have.
Alas, these concerns are overstated. Rescheduling will not shut down the thousands of existing medical (or for that matter recreational) grows, processing facilities and dispensaries that serve people in about half of the U.S. There are a few reasons why this is the case and we will discuss each.
I. The legal authority keeping marijuana enterprises open has nothing to do with schedulingThe scheduling of drugs in U.S. comes from authority vested in the Congress and the executive branch under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under this law, Congress or the relevant federal agencies make determinations about substances based on their medical value, safety for medical treatment, and likelihood of abuse. Under that law, the government assigns a drug to a schedule and has the power to reassign a substance to a different schedule (rescheduling).
The Controlled Substances Act does not authorize state-approved and regulated marijuana enterprises to remain open. In fact, the CSA explicitly outlaws any such enterprise. The authority under which cannabis enterprises continue to operate, despite the substance's "absolute" prohibition under the CSA, is a series of memoranda issued by the U.S. Justice Department. These memos—the Cole and Ogden Memos—allow state-approved, heavily regulated operations to exist, so long as they do not violate certain areas of DOJ’s concern, such as selling to minors or engaging with drug cartels.
These memos are executive actions that assert a Supreme Court-approved power of the presidency: enforcement discretion. Enforcement discretion allows the president and officials in the administration to make choices--priorities--about how and under what circumstances laws will be enforced. The Obama administration has de-prioritized the enforcement of the CSA for marijuana in certain states under certain conditions. Nothing will change with regard to these memos if marijuana were rescheduled.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the FDA would ever approve smoked, whole flower marijuana, even after rescheduling. Instead, cannabis pharmaceuticals will come in the form of tablets or liquids, made by isolating individual cannabinoids or compounds of cannabinoids. Currently, FDA has approved trials for two cannabis based drugs—Sativex and Epidiolex—that do exactly that. Worry exists that since FDA won't allow whole flower marijuana, the existing system of grows and dispensaries will be closed. However, as explained above, FDA is not the entity that allows those grows and dispensaries to remain open and would have no power to reverse the administrative carve out currently allowing marijuana businesses to remain open.
II. If the federal government is ok with a Schedule I substance being sold in the states, they'll be fine with Schedule II.
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By Christopher Ingraham
July 13 at 10:01 AM
There's a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that's always been just an assumption.
Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.
They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.
But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.
VIEW CHART @ https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2016/07/pot_prescriptions4.png&w=1484
These conditions are among those for which medical marijuana is most often approved under state laws. So as a sanity check, the Bradfords ran a similar analysis on drug categories that pot typically is not recommended for — blood thinners, anti-viral drugs and antibiotics. And on those drugs, they found no changes in prescribing patterns after the passage of marijuana laws.
"This provides strong evidence that the observed shifts in prescribing patterns were in fact due to the passage of the medical marijuana laws," they write.
In a news release, lead author Ashley Bradford wrote, "The results suggest people are really using marijuana as medicine and not just using it for recreational purposes."
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by Rick Anderson
The recent killing of a marijuana store security guard in Colorado and the wounding of another guard in San Bernardino are the latest examples of the crime lure posed by cash-only pot dispensaries, industry observers say.
But while those armed robbery attempts and a pot store shootout in Walnut Park in Los Angeles County were unfolding last month, Democratic-sponsored legislation that could have led to more dispensaries offering plastic and electronic payments in lieu of cash was blocked by House Republicans.
“Moments such as this,” said security expert Michael Jerome of Blue Line Protection Group, referring to the recent killing of 24-year-old Colorado pot store guard Travis Mason, “remind us that the cash-based nature of the legal cannabis industry here in Colorado makes these dispensaries and cultivation facilities prime targets.”
A former Marine with a wife and three children, Mason was shot in the head on June 19 by two armed robbers at the Green Heart pot dispensary in Aurora, a Denver suburb. It was his second week on the job.
The would-be robbers, who fled without any money, are still being sought. Rewards totaling $12,000 have been offered for their capture.
“This incredibly sad situation underscores the public safety risk faced by our industry due to the fact that we don’t have access to banking,” Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told the Aurora Sentinel.
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When will the DEA announce its marijuana rescheduling decision? Federal government now says no deadline for announcement
The Drug Enforcement Administration flaked on its self-imposed deadline to announce whether to reschedule marijuana, and now it’s not clear when a decision might come.
In April, the DEA told lawmakers in a letter that it was reviewing information on rescheduling and “hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016.” That hope ended when June did, and a DEA spokesman in Washington, D.C., told The Denver Post late last week that there is no update on the administration’s contemplations of rescheduling.
Earlier this month, DEA spokesman Russell Baer told the tech news website aNewDomain, “We aren’t holding ourselves to any artificial time frame.” Even after the DEA announces a decision on rescheduling, that decision could still be subject to further review and litigation.
All of this counters a purported scoop touted by the Santa Monica Observer as “groundbreaking,” in which it quoted an unnamed, chardonnay-sipping “DEA lawyer” saying that the administration would move cannabis to Schedule II in August.
Marijuana is currently listed under Schedule I, which means the federal government considers it to have no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. As part of the most recent petition to reschedule cannabis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reconsidered marijuana’s medicinal value and abuse potential. That department has sent a recommendation to the DEA, which has not disclosed what the recommendation says.
There’s a recent history of the federal government taking longer than promised on marijuana issues. After voters in Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis possession and use in 2012, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would announced its response, “relatively soon.” The response didn’t comefor another eight months.
Whatever the time frame, some federal lawmakers appear to be getting restless.
On June 30 — the last day the DEA had to hold to its previously hoped-for deadline — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York sent the DEA a letter asking, “that you take immediate action to remove ‘cannabis’ and ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’ from Schedule I.” The letter was co-signed by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Boulder.
Among other details, the letter mentions a proposed DEA rule in 2010 that would have placed drugs that mimic the FDA-approved drug dronabinol — a synthetic form of THC marketed as Marinol — into Schedule III. According to the proposed rule, that rescheduling would “include formulations having naturally-derived dronabinol” from cannabis plants.
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There's some good news wafting through the air for potheads.
The same compounds in marijuana that make you get high may protect you from Alzheimer's.
The San Diego–based Salk Institute released a new study revealing that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds removed toxins associated with the disease known as amyloid beta from lab-grown human neurons.
"Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper, said in statement.
As the U.S. population increases and people live longer, the number of people with Alzheimer's is soaring. More than 5 million Americans are affected and that number is expected to triple over the next 50 years. Past research has found that amyloid beta accumulates within the nerve cells of the brain before the appearance of Alzheimer's. When the amyloid clump together, they are thought to form the plaque deposits that progress the disease.
In the study published in the June 2016 Aging and Mechanisms of Disease journal, the researchers revealed a relationship between high levels of amyloid beta and cellular inflammation and higher rates of neuron death. When cells grown in the lab were exposed to THC, the amyloid beta protein levels decreased and as a result the cells didn't become inflamed and survived.
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Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.