Democratic Governors Meet In New York City To Discuss Cannabis And Vaping

NEW YORK (AP) — The governors from several Northeastern states said Thursday they want to work together to regulate marijuana and vaping, including possible regional restrictions on flavored vaping products.

Democratic governors from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania met in New York City with health and legislative officials. Representatives from Massachusetts and Colorado were also on hand for the meeting.

“What we want to do is coordinate this on a regional basis,” said Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, noting how the “patchwork quilt of marijuana regulations makes no sense at all.” He said the group came up with “very preliminary” principles concerning how to regulate legalized, recreational marijuana, such as agreeing to have similar policies for THC content, edibles, advertising and taxation in order to dissuade people from turning to the illicit market.

Lamont said “different states are going to have different timeframes” to pass marijuana legislation and he didn’t foresee everyone enacting the exact same law at the same time. He said more work needs to be done and staff from the participating states will continue working together on the issue. Several of the governors unsuccessfully pushed for their states to allow recreational pot sales in the last year.

“We just want to make sure we go in with our eyes open and we’re consistent,” Lamont said.

On vaping, Lamont said there appeared to be “the most unity” among the officials on possibly outlawing flavored e-cigarettes next year, given their appeal to young people and the growing number of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths across the country.

“I think you’ll see some unanimity on that at the start,” he said.

 

Earlier this month, a state appeals court temporarily blocked New York from enforcing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 90-day emergency ban on such products after the vaping industry sued to block the regulations. In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker last month announced a statewide ban on the sale of vaping products, a measure that has been challenged in court.

Meanwhile, a new law just took effect in Connecticut that increased the age to 21 for someone to purchase vaping products.

Cuomo said a lack of federal action on pot and vaping regulations means it’s up to states to act. He noted that marijuana is often vaped and states should also consider that when considering marijuana legalization.

 

By Green Miles Buds Team

Thousands Of UK Patients Will Be Given Cannabis In Groundbreaking Study

The UK’s first large-scale cannabis study and biggest marijuana health investigation in European history has been announced, raising hopes that many of the country’s health professionals will finally be swayed on the efficacy of the drug for use in treating seven different health conditions.

Substance reform organization Drug Science is administering the investigation, which is called Project TWENTY21. Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, previously of the University of Bristol, will be in charge of the study, which will examine cannabis’ effects on chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder, and substance abuse.

Earlier this year, media reports found that many UK hospitals were refusing to recommend medical cannabis based on “the risk of serious side effects.” Pain management clinic staff members were quoted saying, “We would welcome high-quality studies into the use of cannabis-based medicinal products for pain treatment.”

All the more reason to be excited about the Project TWENTY21 study, which will fund medical cannabis treatment for 20,000 patients by the end of 2021. The project has previously announced that it will be doing work in the fields of prison population harm reduction and the use of cannabis as a counterweight to drug addiction.

 

“I believe cannabis is going to be the most important innovation in medicine for the rest of my life,” commented Nutt. “There are children who have died in this country in the last couple of years because they haven’t had access to cannabis. It’s outrageous, it’s unnecessary and we want to rectify it.”

Although Health England has been extremely slow to endorse cannabis as medication, Project TWENTY21 has the co-sign of the British Pain Society, United Patients Alliance, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

“The College welcomes this pilot project which it hopes will make an important contribution towards addressing the paucity of evidence for the use of cannabis-based medicinal products,” commented the institution’s president Wendy Burn.

“We hope that this project, along with other research such as more much-needed [randomized] control trials, will continue to build the evidence on [cannabis-based medicinal products],” she continued.

Cannabis in the UK

It’s not the only cannabis study being conducted in the UK. University of Westminster researchers recently released the results of an investigation that concluded CBD could be a useful tool in the fight against antibiotics resistance, which currently costs the lives of some 5,000 people in England every year, according to the country’s public health agency.

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since October 2018. But the issue of medical marijuana has been of much debate in the country, its urgency exacerbated by the mounting problem of opioid addiction.

A prime motivator in the case of Great Britain has been the drug’s efficacy when it comes to sick kids. Young people like eight-year-old epilepsy patient Alfie Dingley and five-year-old Indie-Rose Montgomery, whose cannabis oil to treat her seizures was confiscated at London Stansted Airport in July, have shown the public how the issue is affecting fellow Brits.

 

By The Green Miles Buds

Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Patients Are Finding Costs of Cannabis Too High

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Three months after medical marijuana became available in Louisiana, doctors and clinics say some patients are finding the cost for therapeutic cannabis too high for treatment, pricing them out of a medication they waited years to obtain.

Nine pharmacies dispense medicinal-grade pot and set their individual prices. Dispensary owners say their charges reflect an industry with startup charges, small patient numbers and lengthy regulatory hurdles to meet.

In August, Louisiana became the first Deep South state — and one of more than 30 states nationwide — to dispense medical marijuana, four years after state lawmakers agreed to give patients access. Now, the state is grappling with the growing pains of a new medical market and a patient group that can’t use health insurance to cover costs.

Kathryn Thomas, CEO of The Healing Clinics, said a third of the medical marijuana patients across its five clinics in Shreveport, Monroe, Baton Rouge, Houma and Lafayette can’t foot the bill for the product.

“They can’t afford ongoing treatment,” Thomas said. “It’s becoming the program for the elite.”

The only cannabis currently available comes in a flavored liquid tincture, a bottle containing a dropper to use. One bottle can range from about $90 to $220, depending on concentration and pharmacy, according to medical marijuana advocates.

Dr. Victor Chou, who has a medical marijuana clinic in Baton Rouge with more than 600 patients, said many of his patients take a dosage of about one bottle per month and are finding relief from chronic conditions. But one-quarter of his patients, Chou said, can’t afford the medication.

“The average chronic pain patients would be spending maybe $1,000 a month at current prices for what they need,” he said.

About 3,500 people have received medical marijuana since the program began, according to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy. Under state law, Louisiana is allowing cannabis to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

“We’re now working through the real kinks of a startup business and industry,” said Jesse McCormick, with the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives representing the nine dispensaries. “They’re just like everybody else out here, trying to stay open and keep the lights on.”

Only the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow medical marijuana.

GB Sciences, LSU’s grower, is the only one currently providing product. John Davis, president of GB Sciences Louisiana, wouldn’t disclose its wholesale prices, but said pharmacies determine their own markups.

McCormick said the pharmacies have higher tax liabilities and banking costs than other businesses, and he said some Louisiana dispensaries built facilities and carried costs for months with no income waiting for cannabis products.

“I finally came up with our prices the night before we opened. It really was based on our expenses and what we had spent and lost, and what we needed to recover in five years,” said Doug Boudreaux, a pharmacist and co-owner of the Shreveport medical marijuana dispensary Hope Pharmacy.

Pharmacies say if they get more patients, prices will go down. They say any addition of new products also will help, such as plans to offer dissolving strips taken by mouth and topical creams.

Doctors and patients hope the addition of a second grower would drive down costs.

Southern’s grower, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, is setting up operations, with plans to have medical marijuana on pharmacy shelves next year. Ilera CEO Chanda Macias said the company will have a manufactured-suggested retail price for products and will stress customer affordability to pharmacies.

Chou’s hopeful the cost difficulties some patients are having will be addressed.

“I want to be clear: there are a lot of people who are getting a really, really good benefit out of this. I have many people who tell me they’ve been totally pain free for the first time in years,” he said.

By Green Miles Buds

Marijuana Legalization In Illinois Won’t Apply To People Living In Public Housing

Once again, a major failing in the current model of state-by-state marijuana legalization has been exposed. In Chicago, the public housing agency has released a memo clarifying that residents may not partake in the state’s soon-to-be-legal cannabis industry in the comfort of their homes.

Chicago Housing Authority, which is the third largest agency of its kind in the country with over 20,000 households in its system, had this to say in a communication sent to housing voucher recipients:

“While federal law prohibits marijuana use and possession in federally subsidized housing, the CHA is working to educate and inform residents so they understand all applicable laws related to cannabis and federally-funded housing. The CHA will work with the City of Chicago as it develops rules and regulations in accordance with existing state and federal laws in order to ensure a safe and responsible implementation of legalized cannabis in Chicago on January 1, 2020.”

The memo was a reminder of an issue that has plagued many of the five million public housing residents across the country, of whom one quarter are disabled and 35 percent are elderly. Since many such programs are federally funded, federal law applies to the properties. That means residents can be evicted for consuming state-legal cannabis, even if they have been approved as medical marijuana patients.

Residents Face Evictions

Such regulations can be disastrous, particularly for public housing residents whose age or health condition leave them with limited mobility, and echoes similar restrictions on residents of federally subsidized nursing homes. In upstate New York, an elderly man was evicted from his public housing after authorities discovered he had been taking medicinal marijuana for his chronic pain condition. 78-year-old John Flickner wound up in a homeless shelter, even though he has a New York medical cannabis card.

A similar incident took place in California’s Humboldt County, where a woman and her teenage daughter were evicted after a maintenance worker discovered a small bag of the woman’s medicinal marijuana in their apartment. That woman’s lawsuit against the federal government over the matter was dismissed by a judge this summer.

The issue has not gone unchallenged in Washington, D.C. U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced the latest bill that would permit medical marijuana use in public housing this spring. She presented a similar proposal during the last session that did not make it out of committee.

“Individuals living in federally funded housing should not fear eviction simply for treating their medical conditions or for seeking a substance legal in their state,” Norton commented upon bringing up the legislation earlier this year.

Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on January 1, after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation into effect in June. It is estimated that cannabis sales could pull $250 million in tax revenue by 2022.

The legislation has a special focus on social equity programs, and will prioritize business applications from entrepreneurs hailing from communities negatively affected by the War on Drugs as well as facilitate the expungement of thousands of past cannabis-related crimes.

This summer, the state’s medical cannabis program also underwent an expansion that added 11 new qualifying conditions for patients and guaranteed the permanent status of the system, among other changes.