On August 25th, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that theorized that patients in medical marijuana states may use cannabis over pain medication, or at least use enough to reduce the amount of prescription opiates taken. This makes sense, considering patients in these states have an alternative to pain meds, and are therefore less likely to take enough to overdose.
Not everyone agrees that medical marijuana is the cause for the decrease, however. Dr. Andrew Kolodny has said that the correlation between medical marijuana and a decrease in painkiller ODs is flimsy, considering “You don’t have primary care doctors in these states [prescribing] marijuana instead of Vicodin.” He argued that cannabis is not as readily prescribed for pain management as, say, appetite stimulation for cancer and AIDS patients.
Regardless, medical marijuana is a significantly safer method of managing pain than prescription narcotics. No one has ever died from “overdosing” on cannabis, whereas 46 people die of RX opiate overdose daily in the U.S. There is nothing in marijuana that is chemically addictive, yet patients often develop addictions or tolerances to prescription drugs, forcing them to take dangerous amounts. Best of all, marijuana is an all-natural plant grown from the earth and has been around for thousands of years, whereas pills are manufactured in a lab and often have dangerous side-effects.
Despite the vast majority of Florida voters supporting legalization of medical marijuana, conservative drug war veterans are always looking for new ways to invoke fear–and their latest attempt is their most ridiculous yet.
A graphic posted on “No on 2″s Facebook page shows a couple with a photoshopped package marked “marijuana cookies” in the man’s back pocket, with an arrow pointing to it and text above asking “Will the new face of ‘Date Rape’ look like a cookie?” It makes the bold (and false) assumption that legal edibles will be used as a tool for date rape.
Never mind that date rapists use much more discreet methods of intoxicating victims, never mind that rapists will do the deed with or without edibles being legalized, and never mind the simple fact that edibles don’t work that way; No on 2 would rather patients remain in pain and addicted to pharmaceuticals because they are frightened of a hypothetical situation that will never happen.
Thankfully, Floridians have seen past the smoke of this Reefer Madness. The ad was met with a great deal of ridicule and disapproval. It’s good to see patients and citizens not falling for these scare tactics.
Signs point to “unlikely,” although marijuana may mirror the alcohol industry as recreational legalization spreads.
Marijuana in recreational form might always be a small industry compared to booze and “big tobacco”, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s growing and attracting a lot of investors. While tobacco relies on a large number of moderate users to bring in profits, marijuana caters to a smaller number of heavy users–“cannabis connoisseurs,” as they like to call themselves. These users buy large amounts of marijuana (typically strains with high THC content) and supplement the flower with expensive glassware, fancy lighters, and other such high-end tools the average user would not bother investing in. Some have even moved past flower altogether and now consume “dabs” (concentrated forms of trichomes like wax, hash, and kief). These power users are the boon for the burgeoning recreational cannabis industry.
As of right now, only medical marijuana is legal in California. A discussion of profits and revenue is still a bit early for this state, not to mention that use in the forms that “cannabis connoisseurs” prefer are not widely offered here. Collectives that specialize in dabs and concentrates raise suspicion from law enforcement as a place that might not be operating under the law, as they are typically not used for medicinal purposes.
This pattern is similar to the alcohol industry, which depends on people who drink regularly as opposed to light social drinkers who only buy one bottle of wine here and there. It will be interesting to observe the patterns of recreational cannabis retail as more data is collected from Colorado and Washington, especially with legalization in CA possibly on the horizon in 2016.
When the Compassionate Use Act (California Prop 215) was first passed in 1996, medical cannabis was approved for only select conditions–notably those inflicted by cancer and AIDS, like lack of appetite, nausea, and pain relief. As more research becomes available and as marijuana’s medicinal uses become more known, the list of illnesses relieved by cannabis use has grown exponentially to include PTSD, Crohn’s Disease, epileptic seizures, back pain, and more. Unfortunately, some states do not recognize all of these new conditions as valid reasons to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation, denying thousands of potential patients access to legal medical marijuana.
Washington D.C. recently passed new legislation that challenges this idea.
Last Thursday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed in the Medical Marijuana Expansion Emergency Amendment Act of 2014. This emergency legislation removes the list of conditions that must be met to acquire a medical marijuana prescription and increases the cultivation plant limit from 95 to 500. This places the power of medical cannabis recommendations squarely in the hands of medical professionals instead of politicians and lawmakers.
This legislation is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel, considering many states have recently been passing highly restrictive medical marijuana laws that only allow certain kinds of medicine to be used or certain kinds of patients access. The most prominent example of restrictive medical marijuana legalization is CBD-only legislation, which has become popular in conservative states.
Due to the nature of cannabis still being classified as a Schedule I substance at the federal level, regulation regarding the manufacturing of medical marijuana products–specifically edibles, tinctures, and pills/capsules–is scarce. Thankfully, with Colorado and Washington allowing recreational use, we expect to see more oversight to ensure that the edibles patients are consuming are produced in safe and sanitary environments. One step in the right direction is the country’s first medical marijuana recall.
At Home Baked Infused Brownie Mixes, Blondie Mixes, Rice Krispy Treats and Stixx Candy are being pulled from shelves all over Colorado because of possible contamination from equipment not intended for food manufacturing. The equipment in question is a washing machine used to produce the bubble hash used in their edibles. The health inspectors found mold and erosion in the machine–which shouldn’t be used in the manufacturing of anything meant for human consumption to begin with. An employee at the company argues that they have been using the method for years and not one patient has gotten sick from their product.
Regardless, more oversight may be a good thing for anything meant to be consumed by the public. Regular inspections means safer medicine, and the last thing the budding medical marijuana community needs is a controversy caused by unsafe edibles!
Two weeks after the medical marijuana farmer’s market debuted in Boyle Heights, the city of LA is ordering the California Heritage market to cease operation immediately, citing violations of Prop D.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer claims that the farmer’s market is not in the spirit of Proposition D, a measure passed that only allows roughly 135 collectives to remain in operation. While the collective overseeing the market, West Coast Collective, has a pre-ICO license, Feuer argues that multiple vendors should not be allowed to sell under one roof–only volunteers and employees of that particular establishment.
“The court was very clear: There could be no multiple vendors selling at this site, only bona fide employees,” Feuer said. He also argued that the whole market is an attempt to work around the limitations imposed by Prop D under the guise that the medicine is being sold from the grower to the patient without any middleman.
In addition to possible Prop D violations, law enforcement as well as residents of the Boyle Heights area complained that the event was a nuisance. Lines of people waiting to get into the market blocked sidewalks and entrances to businesses, taking up vast amounts of local parking spaces, and creating crowds and bustle that impeded on the ability of law enforcement to properly do their job.
But attorney David Welch disagrees with the City’s decision to shut down the market, arguing that it was in no way violating Prop D.
There will be a hearing on August 6 to permanently decide the fate of the market.
Missouri is the most recent state to adopt a medical marijuana law… but unfortunately it may not be the best for patients.
Along with Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin, Missouri has earned an “F” rating from Americans for Safe Access based on their archaic medical marijuana laws.
While CBD-only laws may seem appealing at first–after all, CBD is the prime medicinal component in cannabis, and high CBD low THC strains have been proven to help reduce incurable seizures in children without giving them any psychoactive effects–they are also very flawed. The primary issue is that CBD does not treat ALL of the conditions and symptoms cannabis has been shown to help with–for example, AIDS and cancer patients who need to increase their appetite need THC, not CBD, so those patients are out of luck. The other problem CBD-only legislation presents is that these laws typically do not provide any protection to those who cultivate, manufacture, and distribute the medicine. While they decriminalize possession of CBD product, they do not decriminalize those responsible for providing medicine to patients.
While legalization in some capacity is always a good thing, sometimes laws spring up are not so great but since they are adopted by one state, others follow suit. We hope Missouri will reconsider and expand their marijuana legalization laws beyond just CBD.