Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

[Editor’s Note: This peer reviewed publication, the journal “Health Affairs”, is a study on why folks are using medical cannabis in the first place. Check out why this is important.]

Chronic pain is the most common reason people give when they enroll in state-approved medical marijuana programs.

That’s followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

The study didn’t measure whether marijuana actually helped anyone with their problems, but the patients’ reasons match up with what’s known about the science of marijuana and its chemical components.

“The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest,” said lead author Kevin Boehnke of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

California became the first state to allow medical use of marijuana in 1996. More than 30 states now allow marijuana for dozens of health problems. Lists of allowable conditions vary by state, but in general, a doctor must certify a patient has an approved diagnosis.

While the U.S. government has approved medicines based on compounds found in the plant, it considers marijuana illegal and imposes limits on research. That’s led to states allowing some diseases and symptoms where rigorous science is lacking. Most of the evidence comes from studying pharmaceuticals based on marijuana ingredients, not from studies of smoked marijuana or edible forms.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

Dementia and glaucoma, for example, are conditions where marijuana hasn’t proved valuable, but some states include them. Many states allow Parkinson’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder where evidence is limited.

The analysis is based on 2016 data from the 15 states that reported the reasons given for using marijuana. Researchers compared the symptoms and conditions with a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence: a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

The study shows people are learning about the evidence for cannabis and its chemical components, said Ziva Cooper of University of California Los Angeles’ Cannabis Research Initiative. Cooper served on the National Academies report committee, but wasn’t involved in the new study.

About two-thirds of the about 730,000 reasons were related to chronic pain, the study found. Patients could report more than one pain condition, so the figure may overestimate patient numbers.

Patients include 37-year-old Brandian Smith of Pana, Illinois, who qualifies because she has fibromyalgia. On bad days, her muscles feel like they’re being squeezed in a vise. She said she has stopped taking opioid painkillers because marijuana works better for her. She spends about $300 a month at her marijuana dispensary.

“Cannabis is the first thing I’ve found that actually makes the pain go away and not leave me so high that I can’t enjoy my day,” Smith said.

The study also found:

—Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon saw a decline in medical marijuana patients after legalization of recreational marijuana in those states.

—More than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states. That doesn’t count California and Maine, which don’t require patients to register. Other estimates have put the number at more than 2 million.

Original Post: Leafly: Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

[Editor’s Note: Florida continues the fight to smoke their medical cannabis. Hopefully this debate will reach a successful conclusion soon and not include a ridiculous 2 doctor requirement.]

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the Legislature to repeal a ban on smokable medical marijuana, but it became clear Monday that some fellow Republicans might not be on board.

DeSantis took office last month and said firmly that he wanted lawmakers to repeal the ban signed into law by now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. If they don’t do so by mid-March, DeSantis said he would drop Scott’s appeal of a court decision that declared the ban unconstitutional.

But the first attempt to get a bill passed that would allow smokable medical marijuana was met with strong resistance, and the chairwoman of the Senate Health Policy Committee amended it to say that smokable medical marijuana can only be allowed if two doctors agree that it’s the only form of that plant a patient can use. Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell talked about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

“Let me tell you some of those risks, OK?” she said. “There is a significant association with smoking marijuana and cancer. Do you know that there are over than 33 carcinogens in marijuana smoke? I won’t name them for you. I could. I have the list, and I could name them for you, but take my word.”

The bill at first died on a tie vote, but it was reconsidered and approved. It was a sign that the Republican-dominated Legislature has mixed feelings on the issue of smokable medical marijuana. Scott signed the bill to ban it, DeSantis wants to allow it, Republican bill sponsor Jeff Brandes doesn’t want Harrell’s restrictions, and Harrell and others on the committee either don’t want it, or want to severely restrict it.

“There’s a little reefer madness going on in the Florida Senate right now,” Brandes said after the meeting.

Brandes said that he hopes to remove Harrell’s restrictions before the bill gets a full Senate floor vote. It has two more committee stops.

“This bill will not reach the floor with my name on it,” Brandes said of the amended legislation. “I’m not going to bring a bill to the floor that hurts patients.”

Legalized medical marijuana was approved by more than 71 percent of Florida’s voters in 2015, but the Legislature implemented the constitutional amendment with the smoking ban. Personal injury lawyer John Morgan largely funded the ballot measure and sued the state over the smoking ban. A circuit court judge agreed that the ban was unconstitutional, but Scott appealed.

Calls and texts to DeSantis’ media office weren’t immediately returned.

Original Post: Leafly: Smoke It? An Idea Tough for Florida Lawmakers to Swallow

Supply Shortages Plague Canada’s New Cannabis Marketplace

Supply Shortages Plague Canada’s New Cannabis Marketplace

Editor’s Note: It’s a bumpy road to legalization. Store shelves are high & dry. The licensing process for retail and cultivation is long and arduous. This story relays what’s happening in the various provinces.

TORONTO (AP) — The name of the store is High North, but it might as well be named High and Dry because for all but about four hours of the first two weeks since marijuana was legalized in Canada, there was no pot to sell.

Trevor Tobin, one of the owners of the Labrador City shop in Newfoundland and Labrador, said they went 10 straight days without supply.

“The producers keep saying there will be some bumps in the road, but right now it’s not a bump in the road. It’s a big pothole,” he said.

His mother, Brenda Tobin, is a part-owner and said that after she tells customers there’s nothing to buy, “a lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, well. I guess it’s back to the black market.’”

Legalization arrived Oct. 17, and Canada became the world’s largest national marketplace for so-called recreational marijuana. But for now, it’s a superlative in name only.

The first weeks have felt more like a soft opening with few retail outlets operating and rampant supply shortages. It’s not because Canada can’t produce enough cannabis products — licensing those producers has been slow, and the federal government is taking steps to speed up the process.

The provinces are handling the sales and most of the regulations. Reports from around the country are similarly discouraging when it comes to supply.

Quebec closed its government-run shops for three days this week because of a lack of pot and will continue to keep them shut Mondays through Wednesdays until availability is stabilized. Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries said it expects product shortages in both brick-and-mortar and online stores could last six months.

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Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, won’t have any stores open until April at the earliest as the new conservative government writes regulations. Meantime, police have shut down at least 11 illegal dispensaries in the province.

Ontario residents who want to make legal purchases are flooding the online government store. At least 150,000 orders arrived in the first week, more than all other provinces combined, and the store can’t keep up.

Contributing to the delivery problem is a strike by workers at Canada Post, the nation’s postal service that handles online marijuana orders that are legal countrywide.

British Columbia, the third-largest province by population and a place that historically supplied of much of the country’s illegal weed, still has just one retail store.

Across Canada, people are returning to the black market. And some never left.

Corey Stone, a 32-year-old bar-restaurant manager in Montreal, and his friend were first in line at Quebec’s government-run cannabis store on Oct. 17, but he hasn’t been back because of the supply problems and has been getting his pot illegally.

Given the longstanding illegal status of cannabis, there were no established benchmarks to determine which products would be in high demand.

In the capital of Ottawa, Ontario Capital Buds is one of the last holdouts after most of the illegal dispensaries in town closed on Oct. 16 so they could file for legal operating licenses. Business is booming — at 11 a.m. on a recent chilly, gray day, the waiting room was packed.

Blake Murchison, 62, was among the customers. He didn’t try visiting the government’s online store.

“Why? There’s a postal strike!” he laughed. “I’m not patient. It’s a matter of convenience, really. Or inconvenience.”

Devyn Stackhouse, a 30-year-old student at Ottawa’s Algonquin College, did go to the government website on Oct. 17 and placed two orders for five pre-rolled joints and a gram each of four cannabis strains. After waiting more than a week to get a delivery, Stackhouse went to an illegal dispensary.

“If (the government) were serious about access, serious about smothering the black market, then more resources would have been allocated to the OCS,” Stackhouse said, referring to the Ontario Cannabis Store website.

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Ontario Still Struggling to Ship Orders Amidst Postal Strike

In Newfoundland, 25-year-old technician Elwood White has been to three legal shops and found little selection. He said the marijuana is more expensive but better quality.

“It definitely has better buzz,” he said.

Private and government retailers are dependent on licensed producers to send them products. But so far, of 132 marijuana producers approved by Health Canada, only 78 have sales licenses.

FSD Pharma Inc., an Ontario-based producer, received a cultivation license a year ago but still is waiting for a sales license.

“There is a lot of red tape,” said Dr. Raza Bokhari, co-chairman and interim chief executive of FSD Pharma. “Some of the obstacles are unnecessary. It is quite burdensome.”

Many that did get sales licenses are smaller operations, said Cam Battley, a top executive at Aurora Cannabis Inc., one of Canada’s large-scale producers.

Demand Topped Expectations

Health Canada has hired 300 additional staff to evaluate applications for producers. Thierry Belair, a spokesman for Canada’s health minister, said the government has streamlined the licensing process and production is increasing.

“The implementation of the new legal regime that will better protect Canadians is not an event, it’s a process,” Belair said in an email.

Tammy Jarbeau, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, said it is important to note that Oct. 17 marked the launch of an entirely new regulated industry in Canada.

“As with any new industry where there is considerable consumer demand, we expect there may be periods where inventories of some products run low or, in some cases, run out,” Jarbeau said.

She added that given the longstanding illegal status of cannabis, there were no established benchmarks to determine which products would be in high demand and which would not, or to precisely estimate demand levels.

“As the overall supply chain gains experience in the Canadian marketplace, it is expected that such localized and product-specific shortages will become far fewer in number,” she said.

The rollout problems have been felt in Canada’s financial markets. Cannabis company stocks that soared as legalization arrived have been hammered since.

Aurora’s stock price lost about half its value since peaking at $15.16 per share Canadian (US $11.68), but Battley remains optimistic.

He acknowledged some companies with sales licenses stumbled getting their products to the provinces amid demand that topped expectations. But Battley said high demand is a good thing and customers who have gotten what they wanted are satisfied.

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“A lot of people have been purchasing nondescript cannabis in a baggy, and who knows how that was cultivated,” he said. “Once they get ahold of professionally cultivated cannabis and value-added products like the pre-rolls and capsules, they are pretty darned pleased.”

Original Post: Leafly: Supply Shortages Plague Canada’s New Cannabis Marketplace

Canada Cuts Ribbon on World’s Largest Legal Marijuana Marketplace

Canada Cuts Ribbon on World’s Largest Legal Marijuana Marketplace

Ed. Note: Everyone and his Uncle Charlie is going to have a field day writing about the legalization of cannabis in Canada today. In Ann Arbor, we live north of Canada, at least by a little bit, so we’re always cognizant to what is going on in our neighboring country. This is an important day, but the importance of the day will diminish over time. That’s a good thing. Cannabis will become a normal part of society.

TORONTO (AP) — Canada is now the largest country with a legal national cannabis marketplace as sales began early Wednesday in Newfoundland.

And there was more good news for pot aficionados: Hours before a handful of retail outlets opened in the country’s easternmost province a federal official told The Associated Press that Canada will pardon all those with convictions for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana, the now-legal threshold.

A formal announcement was planned for later Wednesday. The official, who was not authorized to speak public ahead of the announcement, said those who want to take advantage of the pardons will have to apply.

Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has spent two years working toward expanding that to include so-called recreational marijuana. The goal is to better reflect society’s changing opinion about marijuana and bring illicit operators into a regulated system.

Tom Clarke, an illegal cannabis dealer for three decades, was among the first to make a legal sale in Canada when his store opened at midnight local time in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland. He made his first sale to his dad and a lineup of about 50 to 100 people waited outside his shop.

The stores are among at least 111 legal shops expected to open on Wednesday, with many more to come.

“This is awesome. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. I served my dad,” Clarke said. “I am so happy to be living in Canada right now instead of south of the border.”

Clarke, whose middle name is Herb, has been called THC for years by his friends. His dad, Don, said he was thrilled he was among the first customers of legal pot.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve only been discussing this for 50 years. It’s better late than never,” he said.

In nearby St. John’s, Newfoundland, hundreds of customers were lined up around the block at the private store on Water Street, the main commercial drag in the provincial capital, by the time the clock struck midnight. A festive atmosphere broke out, with some customers lighting up on the sidewalk and motorists honking their horns in support as they drove by the crowd.

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Ian Power, who was first in line, said he plans to frame his purchase.

The stores are among at least 111 legal pot shops expected to open across the nation of 37 million people on Wednesday, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces.

Canadians also can order marijuana products through websites run by provinces or private retailers and have it delivered to their homes by mail.

Alberta and Quebec have set the minimum age for purchase at 18, while others have made it 19.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said it’s time for the U.S. government to follow Canada’s lead.

No stores will open in Ontario, which includes Toronto. The most populous province is working on its regulations and doesn’t expect stores until next spring.

Ryan Bose, 48, a Lyft driver in Toronto, said it’s about time.

“Alcohol took my grandfather and it took his youngest son, and weed has taken no one from me ever,” he said.

A patchwork of regulations has spread in Canada as each province takes its own approach within the framework set out by the federal government. Some are operating government-run stores, some are allowing private retailers, some both.

Canada’s national approach has allowed for unfettered industry banking, inter-province shipments of cannabis and billions of dollars in investment — a sharp contrast with national prohibition in the United States.

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Nine U.S. states have legalized recreational use of pot, and more than 30 have approved medical marijuana. California, the largest legal market in the U.S., earlier this month became the first state with a law mandating expungement of criminal convictions for marijuana-related offenses that no are longer illegal.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said it’s time for the U.S. government to follow Canada’s lead.

A depiction of a cannabis bud hangs from the ceiling at a band plays at Leafly’s countdown party in Toronto Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, as they prepare to mark the legalization of Cannabis across Canada. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

“Now that our neighbor to the north is opening its legal cannabis market, the longer we delay, the longer we miss out on potentially significant economic opportunities for Oregon and other states across the country,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection invited Canadian media to a conference call on Tuesday so officials could reiterate that marijuana remains illegal under U.S. federal law and that those who are caught at the border with pot are subject to arrest and prosecution.

As Canada welcomes legalization, supply shortages could develop, as happened in some U.S. states when legalization arrived.

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Trevor Fencott, chief executive of Fire and Flower, said his company has 15 Alberta stores staffed and ready to sell marijuana, but the province has supplied only enough product to open three of them Wednesday.

“We’re aware of some of the kinks or growing pains that come with creating an industry out of whole cloth in 24 months,” Fencott said.

Brenda Tobin and her son Trevor plan to open their pot shop in Labrador City in Newfoundland and Labrador at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday — 420 is slang for the consumption of cannabis. Tobin, a longtime convenience store owner, said they will be cutting a ribbon and cake.

“We are just ecstatic,” she said.

She doesn’t expect to make much money off the pot itself, noting Newfoundland’s 8 percent cap on retail pot profits. She hopes to make money from pipes, bongs and marijuana paraphernalia.

“There’s no money in the product itself,” she said. “You got to sell $250,000 worth of product in order to make $20,000. That’s not even paying someone’s salary.”

Original Post: Leafly: Canada Cuts Ribbon on World’s Largest Legal Marijuana Marketplace

Oklahoma Officials Defied Will of the People, AG Says

Oklahoma Officials Defied Will of the People, AG Says

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Board of Health overstepped its authority with several of the emergency rules on medical marijuana it adopted last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter wrote Wednesday in a letter to the head of the agency.

In the letter to Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates, Hunter specifically cites last-minute changes the nine-member board approved last week that prohibit the sale of smokable marijuana and require a pharmacist at every dispensary.

Those rules were recommended by groups representing doctors, pharmacists and hospitals, but were fiercely opposed by medical marijuana advocates. The board approved those two rules despite a warning from its own general counsel that members didn’t have the authority to do so.

Hunter says several other rules adopted by the board appear to go beyond its statutory authority, including limits on the amount of THC allowed in cannabis products, restrictions on dispensaries, requiring surety bonds for licensing and requiring medical marijuana to be grown in enclosed structures.

Officials Must Do Will of People

Hunter said none of those regulations was authorized under State Question 788, the proposal to legalize medical marijuana that Oklahoma residents approved last month with 57 percent of the vote.

“I have no doubt that the board in good faith sought to regulate marijuana in a manner it believed would best promote the health and safety of Oklahomans,” Hunter wrote. “However, in so doing, the board made policy judgments not authorized by statute.

Those policy judgments are the prerogative of the Legislature and the people.

Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General

“Those policy judgments are the prerogative of the Legislature and the people.”

Hunter suggested the board reconvene to reconsider the rules based on his recommendations.

State Board of Health President Tim Starkey said in a statement that he has asked the agency’s staff to make the recommended changes and plans to call a special meeting to consider those changes “as soon as possible.”

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Oklahoma Health Department’s Top Attorney Resigns, Faces Felony Charges

The board’s adoption of the new rules, which were quickly signed by Gov. Mary Fallin, already has led to two separate lawsuits filed by medical marijuana advocates.

Original Post: Leafly: Oklahoma Officials Defied Will of the People, AG Says

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