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Va. lawmakers pass bills expanding medical cannabis access

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Ralph Northam, gay news, Washington Blade

Lawmakers have sent two bills to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk expanding access to medical cannabis. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Va. lawmakers pass bills expanding medical cannabis access

RICHMOND, Va. — Legislation is heading to the Governor’s desk to expand patients’ access to medical cannabis products.

Senate Bill 1557 expands the pool of health professionals who can approve cannabis therapy to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. It also permits qualifying patients access to a broader spectrum of products containing both plant-derived CBD and THC. Lawmakers in both chambers unanimously passed the bill.

Senate Bill 1719 facilitates greater patient access to cannabis products by permitting “registered agents” or caregivers to pick up or receive deliveries. The measure also passed unanimously in both chambers.

Under the state’s access law, medical professionals may recommend plant-derived cannabis extracts to those patients for whom they believe will benefit from them.

Wis. guv calls for overhaul of marijuana laws

MADISON, Wis. — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has publicly announced his support for amending the state’s marijuana laws in a manner that would permit its medical access and decriminalize its recreational use.

Speaking last week at a press conference outlining the state’s budget, the governor said that Wisconsin should join the other 33 states that regulate medical cannabis access. He also called for decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses (involving up to 25 grams) and expunging past marijuana-related convictions. The governor opined that police often make marijuana arrests in a racially disproportionate manner. Historically, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession crimes in Wisconsin at approximately six-times the rates of whites.

Under existing state law, the possession of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six-months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record.

Cannabis not associated with changes in morphology

Cannabis exposure is not associated with significant changes in brain morphology in either older or younger subjects, according to a pair of newly published studies. Commenting on the two studies, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These findings dispute the long-standing ‘stoner-stupid’ stereotype and should help to assuage fears that cannabis’ acute effects on neurocognitive behavior may persist long after drug ingestion, or that cannabis exposure is associated with any sort of significant changes in brain morphology.” In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine compared brain scans of occasional (one to two times per week) and frequent (more than three times per week) marijuana consumers versus nonusers. Subjects were between 14 and 22 years of age. Investigators reported: “There were no significant differences by cannabis group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or gray matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found. Follow-up analyses indicated that values of structural neuroimaging measures by cannabis group were similar across regions, and any differences among groups were likely of a small magnitude.” They concluded, “In sum, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis users and non-users.” The findings appear in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. In the second study, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder compared magnetic resonance imaging scans in 28 cannabis users over the age of 60 versus matched controls. Cannabis consumers, on average, had used marijuana weekly for 24 years. Authors reported that long-term cannabis exposure “does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes while controlling for age, despite over two decades of regular cannabis use on average. This is in contrast to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes) that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance.” Researchers also reported “no significant differences between groups” with regard to cognitive performance. They concluded: “The current study was able to explore cannabis use in a novel older adult population that has seen recent dramatic increases in cannabis use while controlling for likely confounding variables (e.g., alcohol use). The participants in this study were generally healthy and highly educated, and it is in this context that cannabis use showed limited effects on brain structural measures or cognitive performance.” The findings appear in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. The studies’ conclusions are similar to those of prior trials similarly finding no significant long-term changes in brain structure attributable to cannabis exposure.   Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, go to NORML.org or contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at [email protected].
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America’s largest cannabis gatherings, National Cannabis Festival and The Emerald Cup, combine forces for a coast-to-coast online 420 festival benefiting Coronavirus relief charities.

Join us on 4/20 at 4:00pm EST for a full day of music performances, online workshops, demos, and interactive panels.

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Cannabis Culture

Cannabis Culture

Two-thirds of Latinos back legalizing marijuana

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Two-thirds of Latinos back legalizing marijuana

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — More than two in three U.S. Hispanic adults support legalizing marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the digital media firm H Code.

Pollsters surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic respondents. Sixty-eight percent of those polled said that they are favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States.

That percentage is consistent with other nationwide polls of U.S. adults, such as those here, here, and here, finding that two-thirds of respondents believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal. By contrast, prior polls of Hispanic-only voters had often reported that Latinos were less likely than the general population to express support for legalizing cannabis.

Smoking cannabis is most popular method of ingestion

SEATTLE — Adults who consume cannabis are most likely to smoke it, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers analyzed data from over 6,100 adult cannabis consumers in 12 states. Ninety-one percent of respondents acknowledging having smoked herbal cannabis, with 59 percent reporting that inhalation “was their only mode of marijuana use.” By contrast, only 25 percent of respondents reported having ever used cannabis-infused edible products, and only 20 percent reported ever having vaporized cannabis. Five percent of subjects reported exclusively consuming marijuana edibles, and two percent said that they only vaped cannabis.

The data is consistent with prior studies, such as those here and here, showing that the majority of people who self-report consuming cannabis do so by methods that involve smoking the substance.

Medical cannabis is Maine’s 3rd largest economic market

AUGUSTA, Maine — Patients purchased an estimated $112 million worth of medical cannabis-related products in 2019, according to newly released Maine tax data.

The annual revenues related to medical cannabis are more than the total revenues generated by the sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters combined. Only the state’s lobster industry and potato industry bring in more annual revenue.

Some three-quarters of the revenue generated from medical cannabis (85.3 million) came from sales by caregivers to patients. Although the state’s medical cannabis access program has been operational for some two decades, Maine officials only began tracking caregiver-related tax revenue in February of 2019.

Licensed retail adult-use marijuana sales are anticipated to begin in June.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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Cannabis Culture

Cannabis Culture

ABA calls for marijuana banking access

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SAFE Banking Act, gay news, Washington BladeABA calls for marijuana banking access

CHICAGO — The American Bar Association has adopted a resolution urging the passage of federal legislation facilitating banks and other financial institutions to legally interact with licensed cannabis businesses.

The resolution calls for the “enactment of [federal] laws to ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banks and financial institutions to provide cannabis-related services.”

Under existing law, banks are discouraged from engaging with state-licensed marijuana businesses. In September, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, amending federal law so that financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal repercussions. The bill now awaits action from the Senate Banking Committee. However, Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Ind.) has expressed opposition to the measure.

In 2019, the ABA adopted a separate resolution urging Congress “to enact legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.” With over 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is among the largest voluntary organizations in the world.

More seniors turning to cannabis

NEW YORK — Cannabis use is increasing among those ages 65 and older, according to data published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers affiliated with the New York School of Medicine assessed trends in self-reported cannabis use among seniors. They reported that 4.2 percent of seniors acknowledged engaging in past-year cannabis consumption in 2018, up from 2.4 percent in 2015 and 0.4 percent in 2006.

The study’s findings are consistent with those of prior papers similarly reporting an uptick in marijuana use among older Americans. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, marijuana use among seniors is associated with self-reported improvements in pain management, day-to-day functioning, and in their overall health and quality of life.

Employers’ attitudes shifting on drug tests

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — A growing number of companies are either abandoning marijuana-specific drug testing programs or reducing the frequency with which they test, according to nationwide survey data compiled by the online recruitment website Simply Hired Incorporated.

Fifty-five percent of hiring managers polled in the survey said that their companies do not test current employees for off-the-job marijuana use. Among those hiring managers who work for companies that do engage in testing, 40 percent said that “they do it less often than in the past.” Larger-sized companies (1,000+ employees) were far more likely to utilize pre-employment testing for cannabis than were smaller-sized companies.

Nearly 70 percent of hiring managers said that their company would be “okay” with an employee using cannabis while away from work “as long as the company remains unaware of it.” Among employees surveyed, 75 percent said testing positive for marijuana should not be grounds for automatic termination.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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