Tag: Medical

A Tale of Two Initiatives: Big Trouble In Little Rock

What in the world is going on in Arkansas? The state has not one but two initiatives to legalize medical cannabis on November’s ballot. Both of have been hit with challenges in court. One is now facing legal pushback from a surprising source: a member of NORML’s legal committee.

The key players in this convoluted tale are one-time colleagues turned friendly foes, divided on how medical marijuana should be implemented in Arkansas.

Attorney David Couch previously worked on the 2012 campaign with the Arkansans for Compassionate Care, an initiated state statute that, in his words, “we lost by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin.” His proposal is on November’s ballot as the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

Melissa Fults and Ryan Denham have spent years working on their medical marijuana initiative, whose ballot title, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, or Issue 7 on the ballot, was approved by former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. Fults and Denham have spent the past two years gathering signatures and support for the measure, mostly through grassroots efforts but also with the assistance of paid canvassers.

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Why two separate initiatives? Because the advocates couldn’t agree on a few key issues.

As Couch explains it, home cultivation remains the biggest source of contention. “They don’t like my initiative, because theirs has a provision that would allow people to grow your own and mine doesn’t. Through all my polling, I don’t think the people of Arkansas will vote for one that includes a grow-your-own provision.”

Another disagreement comes down to ballot language, specifically phrases in the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Statute such as “cannabis care centers” in reference to dispensaries, and even the word “compassion,” as Denham explained. “Their reasoning says that when we use the word ‘compassionate,’ they call that political coloring, saying that we drafted our title in a partisan way that could alter how people understand and interpret the title.”

Both initiatives are on the ballot. But that could change with the drop of a gavel in court.

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Group Asks Arkansas Court to Block Medical Marijuana Measure

A third group, Arkansans Against Legalized Marijuana, has filed a lawsuit against both initiatives. The group is headed up by psychiatrist Melanie Conway and includes the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Farm Bureau, and the Family Council Action Committee. The lawsuit challenges the ballot titles under the guise that they are misleading to the public and should be thrown out.

David Couch laughed at the thought of them going after his title. “Mine was approved by the Republican attorney general in Arkansas, so if I get to the end of the process [of the lawsuit], I can say, ‘Hey, your team approved it. You’re criticizing your own Republican AG.’”

Although the lawsuit takes issue with the ballot title for each initiative, the legal action is technically filed against Secretary of State Mark Martin, whose authority “takes ownership” of the measures once they’ve been approved for the ballot. Martin’s office has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuits. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. “We only have 60 days left until the election,” Denham said. “For the Supreme Court to hear this case with oral arguments, that would take time—and they’re running out of time.”

The lawsuits were annoying but, for the sponsors of both initiatives, they weren’t exactly a surprise. “We expected that we were going to face a lawsuit that tried to get us off the ballot,” Ryan Denham told Leafly earlier this week. “We had that happen in 2012, but we prevailed. Usually one of the lowest hanging fruits to try to kick someone off the ballot is to go after their ballot title.”

Then last Friday a wild card got thrown into the game.

“What do you mean NORML is suing us?“

Ryan Denham, Arkansans for Compassionate Care

Arkansans for Compassionate Care received word last week that they were on the receiving end of yet another lawsuit. This time the attack came from a wholly unexpected source: Kara Benca, a Little Rock criminal defense attorney and lifelong member of the NORML legal committee. Her suit went after the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act but not the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

Denham was shocked. “I started getting messages saying, ‘NORML is suing you.’ And we were confused, like, ‘What do you mean NORML is suing us?’” he said.

Upon further investigation, however, things were far from what they seemed.

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Is Arkansas Ready for Medical Cannabis?

“Basically the NORML legal committee is a way for attorneys to advertise their legal services on their site [for people who] might get arrested for cannabis,” said Denham.“It’s just an advertising thing. She in no way represents NORML at all. NORML has already condemned the lawsuit and said they do not support it.”

Leafly confirmed this with the NORML’s Arkansas chapter. Glen Schwarz, executive director of Arkansas NORML, expressed his disbelief upon hearing news of the lawsuit. “I was shocked to hear that a member of the NORML legal committee was pressing this lawsuit,” Schwarz said. “We do not support this lawsuit.” On the contrary, he insisted, “We do and will continue to support both initiatives.”

If Benca represents the cannabis community, then why the lawsuit?

Benca’s law firm didn’t respond to Leafly’s request for comment.

“If you don’t follow the rules, then the signatures that were collected don’t count.”

David Couch, Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment

Couch walked through the specifics of Benca’s lawsuit, as best as he could figure it. “In 2013 … our General Assembly changed a lot of the laws in regards to canvassing, specifically in regards to how you have to do paid canvassers,” he said.“Benca’s lawsuit basically says that the Cannabis Act canvassers didn’t follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, then the signatures that were collected by those who didn’t follow the rules don’t count. And if you take those away, then they’re below the number they need to get on the ballot.”

Denham expressed confidence in the signatures, the canvassers, and the process undertaken to bring the Medical Cannabis Act before voters. “Our campaign did diligent work following the rules to ensure that everything was done properly and that all paid canvassers’ work was done properly,” he said, reflecting on the unusual circumstances of the campaign.

“Fighting a competitor and then fighting the normal opposition groups — and now having two suits against us,” he chuckled dryly. “It’s been an interesting one.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Ireland Mulls New Cannabis Regulations, Formal Medical Use

Irish patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy may have cause for hope thanks to the July introduction of a parliamentary bill that would legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoid products, a milestone on the Emerald Isle.

Irish MP Brid Smith, of the People Before Profit Alliance, an opposition party in parliament, as well as other in the legislature introduced the bill with the support of working with support from non-governmental organizations including Help Not Harm. The bill’s expected to come to a vote during the current term.

The legislation includes elements featured in other European medical laws, such as establishing safety, labeling, and production norms. It would create a Cannabis Regulation Authority that would oversee the new market and bear any unforeseen costs of implementation.

There is still widespread confusion in Ireland and the British Isles over what cannabinoids are legal and what treatments are feasible, so advocates and educators behind the bill are going further by holding a multidisciplinary conference. The Global Medical Cannabis Summit, set for Sept. 14 in Dublin, aims to foster a thoughtful discussion and pave the way for reintroduction of the plant to Irish society.

“The first Western scientific article on cannabis-based medicine was published by Irish-born Sir William O’Shaughnessy in 1837,” noted Graham de Barra, Help Not Harm’s director, adding that he’d like to see modern Irish society benefit from the plant the same way patients in other countries do.

The Irish emphasis on fact-based discussion is in lockstep with the work being done to reform cannabis laws now taking place by groups like End Our Pain in the U.K., a country where drug policy has been based on repression.

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It’s Time to Treat Medical Cannabis Like Medicine

Roughly a million Britons rely on cannabis for medical reasons, according to estimates, yet they, like their Irish brethren, risk breaking the law each time they seek to obtain or use cannabis-based medicine.

What is legal for use is cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that patients have used to find relief from many illnesses, such as Dravet syndrome, a severe form of childhood epilepsy.

Demand for CBD is solid and growing, according to Jim McDonald, owner of The Hemp Company in Dublin, a retailer of CBD for medical use. Yet there’s still an uphill climb before the general public realizes that some forms of relief are already available and that CBD and hemp products offer much to society.

McDonald’s shop supplies CBD to Irish clients with a wide range of ailments from mild to severe, he said, with very positive results and feedback.

But while CBD offers benefits now, many are under the impression it’s illegal in the country. Some exporters in other countries are wary of shipping to Ireland for that same reason.

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“For some people it’s a bit of gray area,” McDonald said.

To overcome the challenges, the Global Medical Cannabis Summit, which Leafly is sponsoring, will bring together international experts to discuss the latest cannabis research, varying regulatory possibilities, and how the topic can be conveyed effectively and intelligently to the public through the media.

McDonald said that the Irish are watching closely the developments in Germany, where a robust medical cannabis program is in the works. It’s impossible to ignore the medical and adult-use legalization progress being made in the U.S. and elsewhere, he said.

But progress in Ireland starts with education on the facts and a focus on medical uses first. Marc McDonald, Jim’s son, expects Ireland will embrace medical cannabis far before the country warms to adult use.

“More realistic is medical legalization [in Ireland], with Germany going next year.” he said. “Now is a fantastic time to be part of this industry, helping people of all walks of life who are looking after themselves for better quality of life.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Michigan Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Tax, Regulations

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan would tax medical marijuana in a tiered regulatory system that would explicitly authorize dispensary businesses under bills that cleared a big hurdle Thursday in the Legislature, where supporters said the framework addresses a “wild west” atmosphere enabled by a confusing 8-year-old state law that legalized the drug.

The main bill, approved 25-12 by the Republican-controlled Senate, would require a state operating license to grow, process, sell, transport and test cannabis used for medical purposes. “Provisioning centers” that sell the drug to patients or their caregivers would pay a new 3 percent tax on their gross retail income.

Another measure would clarify that allowable cannabis includes infused, non-smokable forms such as lotions and edible products.

“What we have now is totally out of control like the wild, wild west.”

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge

Michigan voters legalized medical marijuana in 2008, but the law has led to conflicts in the courts. More than 211,000 qualifying patients grow their own marijuana plants or obtain the drug from nearly 37,000 registered caregivers.

The GOP-led House approved much of the package nearly a year ago and could send it to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as early as next week.

Sen. Rick Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge, said law enforcement groups and local governments “are crying for help, for clarification. What we have now is totally out of control like the wild, wild west.”

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that patients and caregivers could not transfer cannabis to another patient or anyone else, and dispensaries that facilitate such transactions could be shut down as a public nuisance. Some municipalities have let the dispensaries continue to operate unchecked while others have not.

The legislation would allow patients to continue to grow their own cannabis or buy it from individual growers. A five-member board would grant operating license applications, assess fees, and oversee and inspect marijuana facilities. Background checks would be required.

The five-tier regulatory system — which has been likened to the state’s alcohol regulations — would include growers, processors, “secure transporters,” provisioning centers and testing facilities. They could not obtain a license unless their local government adopts an authorizing ordinance. Municipalities could cap the number of licenses within their borders.

The tax on the provisioning dispensaries would generate an unknown amount to be split among the state and municipalities.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Canton was among 12 Republicans to vote against the legislation, which was discharged to the floor because a committee considering the bills was opposed. He said it goes “well beyond” what is called for under the voter initiative and would set the stage for the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

“There’s a lot of money at stake for a lot of the players involved in this,” he said. “A lot of money at stake for the wholesalers, the distributors, the retailers. There’s a lot of money that’s been donated to lawmakers to assist them in their decision-making.”

Sen. Ken Horn, a Republican from Frankenmuth, said the “big bureaucratic system” would drive up marijuana costs and do nothing to help patients and caregivers.

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But Sen. David Knezek, a Democrat from Dearborn Heights, said his district has seen an “unregulated and unchecked proliferation” of medical marijuana facilities, including nearly 200 in Detroit alone.

“They’re next to our schools, they’re next to our churches, they’re next to liquor stores,” he said. “They’re places that none of us want them to be. These bills are going to finally give teeth to our local units of government to be able to enact rules and regulations that are going to keep our children safe, that are going to keep our communities safe and frankly are going to keep our patients safe as well.”

The state has estimated a need for as many as 151 additional employees under the proposed regulatory framework. Under a “worst-case scenario” estimate of $21 million in annual costs, the average amount passed on to each patient would be $100.

In January, however, the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency said the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulating Affairs seemed to be basing its cost estimate in anticipation of the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

State of the Leaf: Is ‘Europe’s Cannabis Capital’ Doomed?

U.S. News Updates

Alaska

As Alaska prepares to launch a full-fledged retail system for adult-use cannabis, many looking to enter the industry have more questions than answers. The state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office is overwhelmed and claims it lacks the time and resources to respond to inquiries. (Unlike the application process for a liquor license, applicants can’t just sit down with state officials and have their questions answered.) In the meantime, the paper is piling up: The staff of 15 people has already received 104 applications for cultivation facilities, retail shops, and testing facilities. The agency added six new members to handle regulations and enforcement, but it may not be enough. In Colorado, by comparison, Denver alone hired an additional 37 employees to deal with cannabis regulations. Between processing applications, inspecting potential sites for cannabis businesses, and creating a completely new digital system for cannabis applications, the Alaska board has their work cut out for them. The board has approved 50 licenses for cannabis businesses so far, but none of the licenses have been for retail cannabis shops. Shops are expected to open by year’s end, but the timing is uncertain at the moment.

Colorado

The Denver Elections Division has officially approved a measure for the November ballot that would allow businesses to create designated cannabis-consumption areas. The plan, titled the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, would apply to nearly any business — from bars and night clubs to yoga studios and art galleries. Another initiative, put together by Denver NORML, was also under consideration this year, but it did not obtain enough valid signatures to qualify for the coming ballot.

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Maryland

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is facing a difficult balancing act: how to guarantee opportunities for racial minorities to participate in the state’s cannabis industry — all without running afoul of the law. Nearly 30 percent of Maryland’s residents are black, and the state’s medical marijuana law requires that the commission ensure minorities are represented among licensees. The process, however, needs extensive documentation for legal purposes, and the commission has faced scrutiny since awarding 15 cultivation licenses and 15 processing licenses last month without any regard as to whether minority applicants were included. A team of attorneys general and commissioners have been formed to examine the the issue and develop possible solutions, although there is no word on what those may be or when they might take effect. In short, Maryland’s medical marijuana program is facing yet another delay.

New York

State health officials could begin expanding the state’s medical marijuana program as early as next month, including plans to introduce home delivery, allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis, open up to 20 additional dispensaries, and post a list of participating physicians online. The steps are being taken in order to increase access for would-be patients. Officials are also considering the possibility of adding more qualifying conditions to include chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. New York has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country to avoid unnecessary abuse, but, as a result it’s also hamstrung patients seeking to access medicine.

Ohio

Ohio’s medical marijuana program officially took effect Thursday, 90 days after it was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. Although it’s now be technically legal to possess cannabis to treat certain qualifying conditions, the program is still in its infancy. The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board and Board of Pharmacy have 30 days to form a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee that will oversee and enforce the rules and regulations of the program. Once the committee has drafted the regulations, the rules must be adopted within one year of the bill’s effective date, and the program is specified to be fully operational within two years of the bill. One of the first changes Ohio may see with the bill’s effective date is cities, towns, and counties imposing moratoriums on cannabis-related businesses. For now, patients have no legal way to obtain cannabis and have been encouraged by one lawmaker to find cannabis “wherever they can find it available — any source is allowed.”

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Oregon

The Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), the agency tasked with licensing laboratories that test cannabis, is, in the words of its own administrator, “on the precipice of collapse” due to a lack of resources and a glut of applications. As yet, just three labs have received full accreditation through the program. Dozens are stuck in limbo. Gary Ward, the ORELAP administrator, wrote to the labs in question to explain the delay. One of the biggest problems ORELAP faced, he said, was a lack of staff — although Ward requested three additional staffers, he received none. Recreational retailers are expected to be operational by the end of the year, after they become eligible under the new tax structure starting Oct. 1. Without accredited labs for testing, retailers won’t have accredited products to stock their new shelves. Currently all cannabis, both medical and adult use, is sold through existing medical dispensaries.

International News Updates

Albania

Albanian police have been busily cracking down on cannabis cultivators. Altin Qato, a senior director with the Albanian police, announced that officers have destroyed more than 1.7 million cannabis plants so far this year. That’s about three times the number of plants destroyed during the same period last year. Officers have also arrested 150 people in connection to the grows. The officers say it’s been difficult to enforce cannabis prohibition because many growers stick to remote mountainous areas that are inaccessible to vehicles. Until a few years ago, Albania was known as a major producer of cannabis in Europe, with the village of Lazarat considered by many to be “Europe’s cannabis capital.” In June of 2014, in an effort to root out production, 800 Albanian police descended on the village with the intention of shutting down cannabis operations. It didn’t go smoothly. The action led to a five-day standoff between the officers and armed villagers.

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Italian Law Enforcement Join Push for Cannabis Legalization

Denmark

Denmark’s famed Christiania district, known for its relaxed stance on cannabis and soft drugs, may no longer exist under the same peaceful principles upon which it was founded. After a recent police shooting, in which two officers sustained injuries and the suspected gunman was fatally wounded, Christiania residents took it upon themselves to tear down the stalls and booths where cannabis vendors traded goods in the popular tourist destination. One resident explained their decision as a return to the moderation and soft cannabis trade the area is known for, as opposed to recent crime and violence. “I’m not saying hash should disappear completely from Christiania,” said resident Helene Schou, “but we needed a kiosk and what we had was a supermarket.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New York Looks to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Dan Ryszka is a pharmacist, so he knows something about medicine. But he was still stumped when drug after drug failed to curb his children’s violent seizures. Then they joined New York’s fledgling medical marijuana program, and the attacks all but stopped.

“You go through the ABCs of medicine. Let’s try this drug, let’s try that one, let’s find one that works,” said Ryszka, a Buffalo-area resident whose 15-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son are now taking medications derived from marijuana. “We tried 10 drugs. Now, my son is off oxygen. He’s smiling. Somedays my daughter was having three to five seizures. Now it’s one a month.”

More than 7,000 New Yorkers have signed up since New York began allowing patients with certain conditions to obtain non-smokeable marijuana preparations early this year through one of the most cautious medical marijuana programs in the nation. Now, the state is looking to expand it, with plans for home delivery and more dispensaries.

State health officials say they will also allow nurse practitioners to authorize medical cannabis, and are weighing proposals to make chronic pain a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. To make it easier for patients to find doctors, the state may post an online list of physicians who participate in the program.

“Right now there’s a micro market.”

Ari Hoffnung, CEO, Vireo Health New York

The steps are overdue and don’t go nearly far enough, said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat and one of the authors of the law, which was passed and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

“The excessive restrictions in the medical marijuana law and regulations are not justified,” he said. “Patients deserve easier access and more choice.”

Currently, there are 17 dispensaries around the state operated by five companies that grow and process cannabis. Three more are slated to open. The state’s expansion plan calls for up to 20 more dispensaries.

At least one company picked to operate the program is concerned about the expansion plan.

“Right now there’s a micro market,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health New York, which operates dispensaries in Queens and Westchester and Broome counties. “We urge the state to hit the pause button… there may at some point be a rationale to adding more. The time for that has not yet come.”

Alphonso David, Cuomo’s counsel, said the state will carefully assess the need for more dispensaries as it makes other changes — such as allowing nurse practitioners to authorize medical marijuana recipients — to ensure the transition is smooth.

“We are expanding the program we’re doing so in a thoughtful way,” he said. “We are focused on patient access… We need to make sure there is sufficient demand before we increase the supply.”

Unlike most other states, New York’s program prohibits smokeable marijuana, instead requiring dispensing the drug capsules or oils or tinctures that can be vaporized or used with an inhaler. Doctors must complete an online training course before authorizing the drug. Patients may not know which doctors have agreed to participate, making it difficult to access the program.

When he signed the program into law Cuomo said it “strikes the right balance” between treatment for patients and the need to protect public health and safety.

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Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia now have medical cannabis programs. Enrollment rates vary considerably. Michigan has 182,000. Rhode Island, which has a population 1/20th of New York’s, has nearly 12,000.

A study by Columbia University Medical Center researchers this year found that enrollment is highest in western states with older, less restrictive programs and lower in more recent “medicalized” programs like the one in New York. Minnesota, which has a program similar to New York’s, has enrolled nearly 2,800 patients since its program started a year ago.

The study suggests that if Cuomo’s plan was to create a program that’s difficult to abuse, he may have succeeded.

Ryszka said he’s pleased the state is expanding access to a program that has helped his children. He said there are still many people in need who can’t get the drug.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I get calls all the time: ‘I live in this area, is there a doctor I can talk to?’”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Leading by Example: A German Parent’s Experience With Medical Cannabis

Whether cannabis in a given jurisdiction is fully legal, strictly prohibited, or anything in between, cannabis supporters and opponents are unanimous on one thing: Herbs don’t belong in the hands of children. For medical cannabis patients in Germany who are parents, that means an obligation to store medicine in place that kids can’t get to it. Under the country’s narcotics security rules, patients with a medical card must keep the cannabis they buy at the pharmacy in a mini-safe at home.

Cannabis consumers, whether medical patients or not, should also ensure minors are never exposed to cannabis smoke or vapor. Consumption should take place only in the garden, on the balcony, or at least near at an open window. The consumption of cannabis as a necessary medical measure is protected by federal law in Germany, which means consumption is legal even in public places so long as you stick to the rules. These rules largely correspond with those of the Non-Smoking Protection Act. Additionally cannabis should not be consumed “ostentatiously.” Some German police agencies have even received a service instruction after cannabis patients repeatedly got in trouble due to the consumption of their medicine outside their homes.

Single Parents Often Have No Choice

Single parents who depend on cannabis as medicine have a difficult balancing act. They must remain within sight of their children so as not to neglect their duty of supervision, but they also have an obligation to distance their kids from consumption. It’s a tough spot, especially for someone who relies on cannabis to ease symptoms in order to work or care for kids. A six year old child can’t be told, “Mommy will be right back, just wait here for 10 minutes”.

As a patient, I don’t want to hide. As a parent, I don’t want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor.

For cannabis patients, medical cannabis is as important as a pain patch is to others. They should neither hide nor be ashamed of consuming cannabis. Especially at big events, during traveling, in the playground or in an amusement park, it’s virtually impossible to fulfill the duty of supervision and stay medicated if you have to consume out of view of your children.

As an affected father, I consider the Non-Smoking Protection Act as a guide for my medical cannabis consumption. I stand outside any playground to inhale while keeping the kids in sight. I wish some cigarette-smoking parents would do the same — after all, cigarettes have been banned from playgrounds for years — but they are still present on the benches surrounding Berlin’s playing fields.

As a patient, I don’t want to hide. As a parent, I don’t want my children to inhale my smoke or vapor. So I take the opportunity to educate them, explaining that I take a medicine that is intended for adults only and has been recommended by a health care professional. At the end of the day, no parent wants her or her child to try drugs or medicine, either out of curiosity or by accident.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

State of the Leaf: Montana Dispensaries Shut Down in Droves

U.S. News Updates

Alaska

Cannabis social clubs have existed in a legal gray area since the state legalized cannabis for adult use in 2014. But this week Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth weighed in, the Associated Press reports, saying that under his office’s interpretation of the law, the clubs are illegal. Cannabis social clubs are not to be confused with licensed retail cannabis shops, however, which will allow onsite consumption under strict regulations. Separate clubs are considered public spaces in the same vein as movie theatres, cafes, or other businesses — and as such consumption there is illegal. Lindemuth didn’t specify whether the state will take legal action against existing clubs.

Arizona

Proposition 205, which would legalize cannabis for adult use in Arizona, is officially headed for November’s ballot after finally shrugging off legal challenges by opponents. The measure’s ballot language will change slightly as the result of the latest challenge, however. Maricopa County Judge James Blomo this week ordered Secretary of State Michele Reagan to change the description, which currently says cannabis would be legal for anyone “over 21,” to correctly reflect that adults “21 and older” may lawfully consume cannabis.

Colorado

Denver advocates are trying to carve out safe public spaces in which adults can consume cannabis socially, but one of the citywide initiatives just bit the dust. Although NORML’s Denver chapter submitted more than 7,500 in support of its cannabis social club initiative, city officials found that only 2,987 signatures were valid. An alternative measure, the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Initiative, submitted 10,800 signatures that are still being verified by state officials.

Montana

Despite the best efforts of medical marijuana advocates and patients across the state, most Montana dispensaries went dark this week. A court ruling from March limits dispensaries to serving just three patients total. Implementation of the ruling was delayed until Aug. 31. Though advocates fought tooth and nail to delay it further, their efforts fell short. Dispensaries that chose to close operations held sales and even gave away product as a goodbye to some of the state’s 13,640 registered patients. In certain areas, such as Butte, as many as 93 percent of patients will no longer have safe access to medicinal cannabis. Advocates are hoping to undo the crippling restriction through a ballot measure, Initiative 182, that will be on the ballot in November. The initiative would erase the court ruling and ease restrictions on the medical marijuana program. If the ballot measure passes, many dispensary owners plan to re-open their shops.

Nevada

At least three Nevada-based prohibitionist groups have been formed to fight Question 2, the measure on November’s ballot that would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. But so far legalization opponents have been curiously quiet, having neither purchased nor reserved a single TV advertising slot. A Reno educational nonprofit known as Join Together Northern Nevada has, however, erected several billboards in Reno and Las Vegas with images of cookies and candies beside text that reads, “Can you spot the POT? Can your KIDS?” For now all eyes are on Sheldon Adelson, a staunch anti-cannabis voice who provided financial backing for campaigns that opposed Florida’s 2014 push to legalize medical marijuana. Late last year Adelson bought Nevada’s biggest paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and critics have since noticed a shift in the paper’s opinion pages.

New York

The state Health Department is making changes to the state’s medical marijuana program in an attempt to address patient complaints. The changes will be based on recommendations of an agency report, which include allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis and allowing home delivery of medicine. The regulations are subject to a 45-day comment period before they’re enacted, but home deliveries of cannabis products could be available as early as the end of September. The report also recommended expanding qualifying conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder and other debilitating illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Tennessee

Both Memphis and Nashville are considering municipal measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, but law enforcement officials are divided on the idea. Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, in Nashville, has expressed support for the measure, asking “Do you really want the 19-year-old kid who has marijuana in the car … sent to jail overnight, go to court, tie up bed space?” The Nashville measure would replace current criminal penalties for possessing up to a half an ounce of cannabis to a civil fine of $50 or 10 hours of community service. Sheriff Joe Long of Williamson County, however, argues that decriminalization creates a loophole for drug dealers. “Here is what happens: A dealer will carry just a half-ounce with him and leave the rest in the car, then go back and return with another half-ounce,” he said. In Memphis, where a similar decriminalization measure is being considered, the City Council’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted to approve the measure despite the Memphis Police Department’s testimony against it.

International News Updates

Israel

An Israeli doctor is in the process of obtaining permits from the Health Ministry for one of the first formal clinical trials of the effects of cannabis on autism. Dr. Adi Eran is leading the study, which will involve 120 patients with autism. Participants are between 4 and 30 years and have been diagnosed with low- to medium-functioning autism. Treatment will involve cannabis oils high in CBD and low in THC and will focus specifically on a certain behavioral symptoms, such as physical aggression toward themselves and others. Cannabis oil is not typically recognized as a form of treatment for autism, but anecdotal evidence shows that it has helped several dozen Israeli patients who suffer from severe, treatment-resistant symptoms.

New Zealand

The Ministry of Justice in Rotorua released figures in response to a public-records request that reveal that the number of individuals arrested for cannabis possession has fallen more than 66 percent in the last six years. The drop was attributed to law enforcement being more likely to issue warnings for low-level drug offenses, but it’s also a reflection of changing attitudes towards cannabis in New Zealand. A recent Drug Foundation poll found that 64 percent of Kiwis believe possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use ought to be decriminalized, and 79 percent support cannabis use for medicinal reasons.


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Can Israel Become the Next Country to Export Medical Cannabis?

Israel is making progress toward becoming the world’s third national exporter of medical cannabis. In an announcement this week, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said that within two years Israel will join the Netherlands and Canada as global cannabis suppliers.

Israel has long been an international frontrunner in the field of medical cannabis. In 1964, Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam became the first person to isolate THC in a lab. In 1992 Mechoulam and his colleagues isolated and described anandamide, a endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter in the human brain. The country is a world leader in cannabis research, and it was the third country after the Netherlands and Canada to establish a national medical cannabis agency as mandated under United Nations drug treaties.

“The Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis, a plant whose foremost use is the medical treatment of patients around the world,” Ariel, the agriculture minister, told Israel Radio.

Israeli medical cannabis activist Boaz Wachtel welcomed the news of exports as a step forward but not yet a breakthrough. Wachtel, chairman of the board for CBD neutraceutical company Creso Pharma, served as a representative on a 1995 parliamentary committee that examined the legal status of cannabis. “The export option has been denied a number of times by the authorities,” he told Leafly. “Here we have one minister who makes a supportive statement — which is progress — but the final decision is at the hands of the full cabinet. And there are some ministers, such as the minister of interior affairs, who oppose this move.”

Leafly caught up with Wachtel to discuss the state of cannabis in Israel.

Leafly: What’s the situation for medical cannabis patients in Israel like at the moment?

Boaz Wachtel: Around 25.000 patients receive medical cannabis from eight growers. The government recently decided to move from licenses for patients to prescriptions and to supply the medical cannabis via the pharmacies. The number of doctors who can prescribe will be expanded, now it is limited to a small number of expert physicians. The health ministry has compiled a comprehensive book on cannabis for both doctors and patients, The Green Book, that forms the basis for doctor’s education that is a prerequisite for joining the prescribing doctors. We’ve had problems with pain doctors because people who wanted medical cannabis came to them, because pain is a subjective, self reported symptom, as opposed to other illnesses. So many patients chose this route to have access to medical cannabis at a monthly cost of a hundred US dollars, regardless of quantity. There is some leakage from patients to recreational users, mainly because medical cannabis is ten times cheaper than recreational cannabis.

Do you think home growing for patients will be decriminalized or legalized anytime soon?

No. The minister of justice recently talked about replacing criminal prosecution of smokers with civil penalties, a good but insufficient move. There are a few members of parliament who support one plant home growing, but it did not advance as a law yet.

How is the situation for recreational cannabis consumers in Israel?

Many people smoke, there are over 22.000 arrests a year for cannabis smoking and dealing, but most of these people are released and not prosecuted. This is a waste of money and resources by the police and the judicial system, not to mention all the other disadvantages of cannabis prohibition.”

Do you see any downside to the agriculture minister’s plans should they go through?

Not really, no. It may help local growers become more professional and help maintain or reduce the price for local patients.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Montana Dispensaries Close as Restrictions Take Effect

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Medical marijuana dispensaries across Montana have closed their doors as new restrictions took effect Wednesday that limit cannabis providers to three patients apiece, leaving thousands of state-registered cannabis patients without a legal way to buy the drug.

The restrictions begin after five years of unsuccessful court battles to overturn the 2011 state law that rolled back much of a voter-approved law that brought medical marijuana to Montana in 2004. It is one of the most significant rollbacks by the 25 states and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes.

Medical marijuana advocates estimate that over 12,000 patients are losing legal access to cannabis because their providers did not choose them as one of their three patients. There were 13,190 registered patients at the end of July, says the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Dispensaries posted Facebook messages to their patients that they were closing Tuesday. Some offered their products at discounts, such as Lionheart Caregiving’s $3 marijuana brownie sale, while others gave away inventory before closing down.

“Everybody’s shutting down,” said Kate Cholewa, government relations director for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association. “It’s over.”

The Montana Supreme Court this year upheld three key provisions of the 2011 state law: marijuana providers can sell to no more than three registered users each; doctors who recommend the drug to more than 25 patients in a year must be automatically reviewed; and cannabis advertising is banned.

‘We’re hoping they do abide by the law, and if we find out otherwise, we will be visiting with them.’

Brian Gootkin, Gallatin County Sheriff

Enforcement of the new restrictions will be the duty of sheriff’s offices and local police departments. In Gallatin County, which had 130 medical marijuana providers in July, Sheriff Brian Gootkin said he just doesn’t have the manpower to knock on doors to confirm that everyone is following the law.

Instead, the department is sending out letters to providers to make sure they know what is required of them.

“We’re taking the approach that we’re hoping they do abide by the law, and if we find out otherwise, we will be visiting with them,” Gootkin said.

The state health department, which oversees the medical cannabis program, has already spent months contacting patients and providers about the changes, department spokesman Jon Ebelt said.

Only 1,900 patients told the department they kept their provider, found a new one or plan to grow their own, Ebelt said. Another 8,600 registered patients have not told the department what they plan to do, and health officials will issue them 30-day cards to allow them more time to make plans.

Out of the 488 registered providers in the state at the end of July, 304 sold marijuana to more than three patients. Ebelt said 305 providers have told the department that they will continue to provide marijuana to up to three patients.

The rest either did not respond or asked to be removed from the state registry, Ebelt said.

Many patients who are in hospice or have serious illnesses aren’t strong enough to grow their own cannabis, while others don’t have the first clue how to do it, said Katrina Farnum, who runs Garden Mother Herbs in Missoula.

As a result, some of her patients are leaving the state, while others have said they may have to go on opioids or try to buy the drug on the black market, she said. Farnum was one of the providers who gave patients cannabis for free before closing, up to the legal limit of 28 grams.

Patients and providers alike have pinned their hopes on a ballot initiative in the November election that would reverse many of the restrictions put into place. Dispensaries, in their Facebook farewell messages, urged their patients to vote for the measure and vowed to re-open if it passes.

“The patients of the state of Montana are counting on voters to turn out,” said Tayln Lang, a patient from Hamilton who is backing the ballot initiative.

But an error in the initiative could delay its implementation by more than half of a year, even if it passes. Initiative organizers did not update the section of the proposed bill’s effective date in the most recent draft, leaving the bill to read that the three-patient limit would not be lifted until June 30.

Organizers called that a clerical error that can be corrected after the election, but the chief legal counsel for the Montana Legislative Services Division said it was a substantive change that would require legislative approval.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.