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Scientists Study mmj for Sickle Cell Disease Pain


As researchers continue with the study’s next step — conducting human trials — they’re heading to California, as Minnesota doesn’t easily allow testing cannabis on people. The state’s recently passed medical marijuana law doesn’t include sickle cell disease as a qualifying medical condition, but the University's current research could play a role in how that law changes in the future.

“We find that cannabinoids have good outcomes in treating pain [in mice with sickle cell disease],” said chief researcher and associate professor of medicine Kalpna Gupta.

Gupta said the researchers are now ready to expand their study to patients. And in doing so, they will move to California, where medical marijuana became legal nearly two decades ago. Minnesota’s stricter version of that law will take effect next summer.

Right now, the Minnesota Department of Health is working to appoint members to a task force that will oversee medical cannabis therapeutic research in the coming months. The department is also fine-tuning the rules that outline patient access and qualifications.

The researchers are looking at marijuana for pain relief from sickle cell disease pain because opiates tend to depress the respiratory system and may be "overkill" for certain types of pain.

This is something others doing research into pain management have mentioned in relation to other illnesses and medications - it's better to use marijuana than an opiate whenever possible to avoid the problems associated with opiates. If someone finds the marijuana is not sufficient, a low dose of opiates can be added. Since marijuana helps to facilitate opiates, a smaller opiate dose may be sufficient in such cases.

Republican Andy Harris, from Maryland, seeks to prevent implementation of D.C. law

Contact information for Harris: https://harris.house.gov/contact-me

Rep. Andy Harris, a conservative Republican from Maryland, will propose a spending rider on the District of Columbia’s annual funding bill Wednesday that would deny funding for implementing the city’s recently passed marijuana decriminalization law.

...(Harris, a doctor), will seek to block the implementation of the District’s newly passed decriminalization law that would limit punishments for small amounts of marijuana to a civil infraction of $25 — among the laxest in the nation. While Congress has 60 legislative days to review D.C.’s decriminalization proposal, Harris is choosing to instead just cut off its funding. “Probably too late to affect anything because of the deadlines. But there will be a limitation amendment,” Harris said. “I would suspect it will pass the committee.

There’s a long history of Congress taking their pet issues and applying them to D.C., which is still in many ways overseen by Capitol Hill. Republicans have attached riders to spending bills that prohibited city money from being spent on providing abortions, and an amendment that loosened the city’s strict gun laws torpedoed Democrats’ attempt to give the District a congressional seat when Nancy Pelosi was speaker.

“[Harris would] have a whole lot of push-back in his own district if he tried that. I mean, they may be conservative but he’s got a whole lot of people in his district smoking pot, and they’d be incensed,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) of Harris’s Eastern Shore district. “It’s like kicking somebody when they’re down. Invariably, we have amendments to pick on D.C. because you can get away with it and they figure D.C.’s politically powerless to do it. And it’s wrong.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/andy-harris-marijuana-washington-dc-108259.html#ixzz35cENqOR5

To add insult to injury, Harris' own state decriminalized marijuana this year. He can't be a petty despot there, but, because of the rules of Congress concerning D.C. law - he gets to stomp all over the rights of citizens who live in D.C.

D.C. passed a medical marijuana law more than a decade ago, iirc, and, in that case, Congress refused to fund the implementation of the law until this year.

What a little fascist fuck.

David Blight lecture series on the Civil War

This link should lead to 26 other lectures, as well. Recommended by TNC at The Atlantic Monthly. Posting here to share - I haven't listened to them all.


Another nonsensical editorial spin


First, the REEFER MADNESS omg headline: Candy’s Dandy, but Pot’s Scary: As Marijuana Laws Ease, the Risks Grow

This headline reflects little of what the editorial writer says, but does refer to the Maureen Dowd Experience™ of someone acting irresponsibly then blaming a bad experience on the cannabis, not the person who chose to ignore the WARNING that she was told about and that was on the candy - even tho Dowd elided this information in her editorial.

The editorial says:
Marijuana is more dangerous than many of us once thought. For one thing, cannabis use is associated with schizophrenia, an often devastating disorder in which people can hear disembodied voices that sneer, hiss and command.

This cant goes on for quite a bit before the person, in order to not totally invalidate credentials as a scientist, has to admit that correlation does not equal causation. In other words, people with schizophrenia may self-medicate.

This is an anthropologist at Stanford, so he or she is going for science since the drug warriors know how badly they come off when people cite their poor relationship with reality in regard to research. What the anthropologist talks about is increased schizophrenic diagnoses related to marijuana. Studies are cited. The editorial left out these LATEST studies, and the long-term meta analysis of marijuana and schizophrenia studies, and leaves out the remarks of Roger Pertwee - who happens to be the leading pharmacologist in the UK in regard to cannabis research and who spoke about the issue of schizophrenia in 2010 at GB's largest medical/scientific conference and noted there is no causal relationship. But don't let the expert in the field of study in this regard stop you, New York Times, from yet another reefer madness moment.

The causal arrow is complicated here. This does not prove that marijuana brings on schizophrenia. It could be that people with incipient schizophrenia are drawn to cannabis. But it is clear that cannabis can lead to passing paranoid and hallucinatory experiences, and a 2014 psychiatric overview argued that cannabis could not only cause those symptoms to persist, but to develop into a condition that looks like schizophrenia. Jim van Os, a leading European schizophrenia researcher, suggested that marijuana might be responsible for as many as one in seven or eight cases of schizophrenia in the Netherlands.

To elide a moment of passing paranoid feelings or hallucinatory experiences that only last as part of intoxication at some levels for some people with a permanent mental disorder is breathtakingly dishonest. The equivalent is to say "it is clear that alcohol can lead to disturbances in balance and disinhibition" and claim that, once someone is no longer tipsy, this is a state of being that is permanently changed in the alcohol user. If anyone made such a statement about alcohol, would anyone think this person has something worthwhile to contribute to a discussion of the issue of alcohol use?

Yet this passes the smell test for the New York Times. Shades of Judith Miller and Aspen trees when you have a war you want to promote, whether it's one on drugs or one on Iraq, I suppose.

This person cites research from 1987, when recent research, from 2013, 2009, 2006, etc, is seemingly ignored.

Harvard research from 2013 indicated no link between marijuana and schizophrenia. Iow, NYTimes, Harvard sneers in your general direction.


Harvard: Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Schizophrenia
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 10, 2013

...The new study is the first family study that, according to the researchers, “examines both non-psychotic cannabis users and non-cannabis user controls as two additional independent samples, enabling the examination of whether the risk for schizophrenia is increased in family members of cannabis users who develop schizophrenia compared with cannabis users who do not and also whether that morbid risk is similar or different from that in family members of schizophrenia patients who never used cannabis.”

...The researchers recruited 282 subjects from the New York and Boston metropolitan areas who were divided into four groups: controls with no lifetime history of psychotic illness, cannabis, or any other drug use; controls with no lifetime history of psychotic illness, and a history of heavy cannabis use during adolescence, but no other drug use; patients with no lifetime history of cannabis use or any other drug and less than 10 years of being ill; patients with a history of heavy cannabis use and no other drug use during adolescence and prior to the onset of psychosis.

Information about all first-, second-, and third-degree relatives was obtained, as well as information about any other relative who had a known psychiatric illness. This resulted in information on 1,168 first-degree relatives and a total of 4,291 relatives. The study gathered together information regarding cannabis use, and family history regarding schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and drug abuse.

...“While cannabis may have an effect on the age of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness,” said the researchers, who were led by Ashley C. Proal from Harvard Medical School.

Then there's this meta-analysis


A recent systematic review concluded that cannabis use increases risk of psychotic outcomes independently of confounding and transient intoxication effects. Furthermore, a model of the association between cannabis use and schizophrenia indicated that the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia would increase from 1990 onwards. The model is based on three factors: a) increased relative risk of psychotic outcomes for frequent cannabis users compared to those who have never used cannabis between 1.8 and 3.1, b) a substantial rise in UK cannabis use from the mid-1970s and c) elevated risk of 20 years from first use of cannabis. This paper investigates whether this has occurred in the UK by examining trends in the annual prevalence and incidence of schizophrenia and psychoses, as measured by diagnosed cases from 1996 to 2005. Retrospective analysis of the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) was conducted for 183 practices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The study cohort comprised almost 600,000 patients each year, representing approximately 2.3% of the UK population aged 16 to 44. Between 1996 and 2005 the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining. Explanations other than a genuine stability or decline were considered, but appeared less plausible. In conclusion, this study did not find any evidence of increasing schizophrenia or psychoses in the general population from 1996 to 2005.

Cannabis use does not cause schizophrenia

What research has found is that family members of people who have used cannabis who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia are ALSO more likely to have mood disorders themselves. This finding aligns with the research that indicates cannabis use may lead to earlier onset of schizo-affective disorders, but not the development of schizophrenia. But no one wants to legalize marijuana for children or adolescents for recreational use, and any medical use would include a cost/benefit analysis for anyone, whatever their family medical history might be, just as is the case with any other medical treatment.

Knowing the attempt to elide science and reefer madness will not pass the smell test for many who are informed about this issue, the anthropologist has to admit..

To be sure, that increased risk is pretty low: About one in 100 people will develop schizophrenia. The unnerving question is whether in this country, with its history of gun violence and its easy access to guns, a person with a paranoid reaction is more likely to act violently.

BE AFRAID. BE VEWY, VEWY AFWAID. Legalization of a substance that people have used by the millions for decades is suddenly going to change them all into psychotic Elmer Fudds.

The editorial writer draws inspiration from the Washington Times, the Rev. Moon propaganda organ, to note that, because cultures have different expectations of behaviors based upon setting, since America is a gun nut culture - we should worry that cannabis legalization will lead to shoot outs and people engaging in incidents they already engage in, such as going to an elementary school and murdering children. Or going to a movie theater and shooting people. This was the exact tact of a recent editorial in the Washington Times that disputed the meme of the "mellow stoner."

The Washington Times scooped the NY Times on this b.s. one by a week.

Then, as an anthropologist, the person does talk about a reality. How someone responds to the influence of a substance is not just physiological. Culturally-learned behavior is also part of the expression.

As Eugene Raikhel of the University of Chicago summarizes the literature, drug experience is determined not only by the body’s chemistry but also by local ideas about what those drugs should do.

Since this anthropologist acknowledges cultural expectation - is it not the height of irresponsible behavior to suggest those who use marijuana should exhibit the violence that is already epidemic in this culture?

I see no value in the editorial other than as an attempt to provide a counter-narrative to the overwhelming cultural view that marijuana mellows. Since cannabis is recognized as an anxiolytic in medical uses, this cultural narrative has a foundation. But, as with any substance, no two people respond exactly the same. The composition of the marijuana matters, as well, and marijuana with a lot of THC to the exclusion of CBD is going to be more likely to precipitate rather than ameliorate anxiety. The amount consumed in one setting matters (c.f. The Maureen Dowd Experience™). Some pharmaceutical drugs have vastly different effects for people. We don't call for the prohibition of pharmaceuticals or make claims that people who use pharmaceutical drugs under a doctor's supervision are more likely to go out and get a gun.

But for some reason (reefer madness) it makes perfect sense to imply just such a scenario as New York State has to deal with the reality that people who live there want to have medical access to marijuana - and recreational access as well - as do the majority of adults in the American population - whether they intend to actually use marijuana or not.

Here's a tip for newspapers: Publish articles that provide accurate information about marijuana related to the way it is used and the amount that is used. Explain the importance of set and setting for the experience. Note that marijuana ingestion has not been linked to any deaths... other than two related to marijuana ingested (we don't know if alcohol was as well, or anything else) and one person harmed himself while another harmed his wife. This never happens outside of marijuana use, of course...

Stop the drug warrior cant and fear mongering. You sound like abstinence-only advocates telling teenagers they will be permanently damaged if they have sex before marriage. Really. As with the issue of sex education, we know fear-mongering and false information causes more harm than good. Papers of note, such as the New York Times, would never print such b.s. uncritically. But if the issue is marijuana, apparently accurate information is less important than appeasing the positions of those in power (cough, Cuomo, cough).

NIDA official admits agency has harmed scientific inquiry


Go to the link to read part of her exchange with Virginia Democrat Gerry Connelly.

Volkow acknowledges that the NIDA places tighter controls on marijuana than it does heroin or meth, and that the agency holds a monopoly on production of cannabis only, while other drugs the U.S. creates for studies are produced by license to other entities.

Further, in order for clinical investigators to access NIDA’s limited pot supply, researchers must first obtain permission from multiple agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Public Health Service (a division of the Department of Health and Human Services), NIDA, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Yet federal approval of all of these multiple agencies is not a necessary requirement for researchers seeking to clinically investigate any substance besides cannabis.

Rep. Connolly: “But (in) studies involving marijuana, additional approval also has to be sought from NIDA and HHS. Is that not correct?...Is that true about heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines? Do they have to go through that triple-tier approval process for research as well for human studies?”

Nora Volkow: “No. The approval for those human studies mostly comes from review committees at the NIH and if the DEA approves of giving them the drug (then) it’s a simple, it’s a different process.”

Rep. Connolly: “Yes, it’s a different process and it’s less cumbersome.… And we’ve created all kind of special barriers with respect to marijuana as if it was the über alles of all drug abuse when, in fact, it is not. And we’ve impeded the ability to have legitimate research that could benefit human health. And it’s very hard for me, frankly, to understand why we continue to insist it is a class I substance.”

Connolly also noted Volkow's agency is not dedicated to scientific inquiry. Its entire goal is prevention of drug use. Therefore, it's goal is not aligned with reality - because reality doesn't require suppression of evidence in order to be "true."

As has been noted here, the NIDA cannot even mention a possible benefit from a drug that has been restricted by Congress. This is also the case with the Drug Czar's office.

We have entire bureaucracies whose purpose is to propagate a drug war, not seek out truths that may be contrary to their mission statements.

Why does the U.S. taxpayer fund agencies whose sole purpose is to create propaganda directed at them?

This is craziness. This is reefer madness.

It seems to me Congress needs to change the law regarding various federal agencies to align with reality-based views of scientific inquiry. More to the point, Congress should dissolve the Drug Czar's office and remove cannabis from the oversight of any political entity, since Congress has demonstrated it was willing, in the past, to use federal agencies to target populations in the U.S. for arrest based upon Congress' own willingness to suppress evidence available from scientific research, as well as prevent the research itself.

Let the National Academy of Sciences have oversight on drug policy and access for research, as well as licensing. Decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and allow states to make their own laws, as was the case with the end of prohibition of alcohol.

Interestingly, spite of various agencies tasked with suppressing evidence or preventing research, a body of research exists. As one doctor who has done research into the therapeutic value of marijuana explained in a video (Donald Abrams), scientists and doctors have to word their grant and research proposals in such a way that they indicate their goal is to show harm, not merely test a hypothesis based upon observable evidence.

Nevertheless, when your research indicates no harm, as PhD/Dean of Nurses Melanie Dreher found in her studies of children in Jamaica whose mothers used cannabis throughout pregnancy as part of folk medicine, your research may often be denied future funding.

That's not how good science operates.

Pope Francis is on the wrong side of history (again)

It's really irksome to see someone who supposedly cares about harm reduction and that sort of thing to come off as a typical posturing jerk wad drug warrior.

But drug warriors are using Francis to bolster their claims.

So, since you drug warriors want to use this institution to bolster your claims, let's take a look at the institution, shall we?

Where was the church when it knew priests were molesting children? For.. how many decades? At least four. How many children's lives were destroyed while the church looked the other way? Where was the church when children were being starved by nuns and thrown into a septic tank in Ireland? Where were they when right wing dictators were murdering students in Argentina by throwing them, live, out of planes into the ocean, merely for their political positions? Oh, that's right. They were assisting in these atrocities. They were the progenitors of them.

If this is the sort of institution that you rely upon for guidance, well, I feel sorry for you.

I rely upon science to inform my opinions about issues related to science. The science is clear that marijuana has medical use. The science is clear that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol as a recreational drug. Oh, is the Pope calling for alcohol to be prohibited, since he spoke against drugs? Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the western world. Let's hope our politicians get going on that re-prohibition of alcohol, right? No double standards, please.

We saw how well that drug war turned out, amirite?

I think a definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

You know what does work to decrease the harm of drug abuse? Openness. The ability to seek help without fear of criminal conviction.

The ability to face problems without shame from assholes who make their living shaming others.

Simply by eliminating needle sharing among addicts, we save lives. And not only lives. We save money that would go toward treatment of HIV/AIDS. Of course it's anathema to choose policies that both improve qualities of lives and save money. Not when there's something to call "evil."

If you are a "culture of life" you don't support policies that absolutely create a culture of death. Unless, of course, you're good buddies with Frank. (Or his protestant wannabes).


Francis said: “Let me state this in the clearest terms possible,” he said. “The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs. Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.”

RainDog said: Let me state this in the clearest terms possible. The claim that addiction is an evil is straight out of medieval Compton. Only the most regressive and stupid among us think that calling a physical illness an evil makes sense.

Maybe the Vatican is worried they'll lose market share for exorcisms if people can use cannabis to stop seizure activity? I dunno. But, frankly, Francis, you have demonstrated you have nothing of worth to say on this issue by calling a physical illness an evil.

Is there any kickback from the faithful for spouting these sorts of lies? This lie is so heinous, it could come from the father of lies. Cancer is also evil, right? It's also a medical issue that may stem from bad choices. So people should suffer rather than have relief through medical marijuana, right, Frankie? But it helps to bolster bigotry among the faithful, so no doubt we'll continue to hear this sort of father of lies talk.

Here's what Frankie is really saying - he and his followers think those who abuse drugs are sinners and should suffer. There's nothing godly about this pov. It's sort of like the father of lies would have the view that he should impose further suffering on those already suffering. I don't remember the story were Jesus did that. Must be in the gospel of Lucifer. (stated without apologies to those of you who worship satan - I find all sides of that argument creepy.)

“We have seen the evil that drugs cause to every segment of society and contrary to what opponents say, we agree that any type of unauthorized drug use leads to problems,” said Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “Anybody in a position of leadership that recognizes the dangers of drugs to our community, we certainly appreciate that support.”

Another sheriff believes allowing the legalization of marijuana would further open the door to a life of drug abuse and crime.

“Being sheriff of an institution that has more than 1,200 inmates today, with 80 percent who are drug- and alcohol-addicted, I’m a firm opponent of legalization myself,” Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis said. “Inmates tell me daily that marijuana was a gateway drug for them. I hear that every day.”

Funny that Sheriff Evangelidis takes the imprisoned at their word in this case. I wonder how often that's his fall back position otherwise? Is it any wonder that drug warriors have stated this lie for so many years that those who are under their control repeat it?

Isn't it odd how stupid the arguments from the marijuana prohibitionists are?

This is why I say that drug warriors are the creationists of bureaucrats. I guess, tho, they gotta believe or they may not be able to continue to earn enough money to go out and buy a six pack on a Saturday night. Cheers!

The Gift of Obama


From Keith Stroup, founder of NORML. I can only post 4 graphs here, so please read the link, which is far more comprehensive than this excerpt.

...Perhaps because I have lived in Washington, DC for 48 years and have seen too many administrations come and go, I did not expect Obama to do anything significant to advance marijuana legalization during his first term. Controversial policy changes generally come, if at all, during a president’s second term, when he faces no future elections, and is sometimes willing to risk some of his personal popularity to embrace a policy on principle.

That appears to be precisely what has occurred with Obama.

Stroup goes on to discuss legislative changes at the state level and the Obama administration's response.

...In other words, President Obama has given the legalization movement 2-3 years to demonstrate that we can legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in a responsible manner, without the fear of federal interference – a sort of free-zone until the end of his second term. That is an incredible gift, and should allow us to demonstrate that legalization works better than prohibition for everyone; law-enforcement as well as consumers, and that it will raise a significant new stream of badly-needed revenue for the states. If we succeed, it is hard to imagine the next administration, whether Republican or Democrat, will have the political support required to attempt to roll-back our progress at the state level.

Of course, we eventually need to change federal law so we do not have to rely on the deferential discretion of the Department of Justice for these innovative new state laws to be implemented. At the end of alcohol prohibition, the government ended federal prohibition and allowed the various states to adopt whatever alcohol policy they wanted; they could keep alcohol illegal, or experiment with different models of legalization – that is the goal we should have for ending marijuana prohibition.

Stroup notes that, now, the onus is upon those who support reforms of marijuana laws to act responsibly in those states and cities that have made it possible to demonstrate just such self-regulation - which has been the point all along.

City of Philadelphia Decriminalizes Up to One Oz possession


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council today signed off on a bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And there were enough votes to override what could be a veto this fall from Mayor Nutter.

All thirteen of City Council’s Democratic members voted in favor of the pot decriminalization bill, and Council’s three Republicans voted against.

The measure makes possession of about an ounce of pot punishable only by a $25 fine, with the matter never entering the court system.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who...supported the bill, said the police department’s resources should be focused elsewhere.

Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) team up on marijuana legislation

The bill to which this amendment is attached is scheduled for hearing today in the Senate.


Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) will offer an amendment to a federal spending bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state marijuana laws. The House approved a similar bipartisan measure on May 29th. An amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp production for research purposes also passed the U.S. House. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar hemp amendment in committee June 5th that was offered by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“The House just made history last month by voting to stop the DEA from interfering with state marijuana laws,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now every U.S. Senator has the opportunity to provide relief for the sick and dying – and to be on the right side of history, not to mention public opinion.”

The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment.

Twenty-two states (now twenty-three, with New York, within the last hour) and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for medicinal purposes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Ten states have laws on the books or about to be signed into law by their governors regulating CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of medical marijuana that some parents are utilizing to treat their children’s seizures: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

New York state legalizes medical marijuana

you can read about it here - http://www.democraticunderground.com/11702249

New York State Senators spoke about their journey, their growth in understanding, that medical marijuana is, in fact, a reality whose legality impacts people of all age groups when it is legally available.

Democrat Diane Savino closed the Senate session. She noted the FDA has refused to address the issue of rescheduling marijuana, to study the issue and correct the Federal law that currently exists. Savino chided the failure of federal bureaucracies charged with these issues. If they would look at cannabis dispassionately, scientifically, that action would've made the long struggle with this bill unnecessary.

She lauded Senator Bill Larkin, a Republican whose vote made it possible to move the bill forward (noted here in the drug policy forum in an earlier post, btw.)

In explanations for votes, Senator James Sanders, of Queens, expressed his dismay that veterans were left out of this bill by the failure to cover PTSD, and voiced his concern that the bill could be overturned based upon law enforcement concerns rather than scientific ones, as he voted for the bill.

Senator Kathleen Marchione demonstrated ignorance regarding the relative safety of marijuana and compared it to heroin, while opining that New York state must not turn in to California, whose medical marijuana legislation has so few restrictions it is de facto legality. She said she agonized over this bill. She is a conservative. And yet she voted yes because of the health benefits for those who suffer.

49-yeas 10 - nays

The Assembly has passed bills in support of medical marijuana five times, most recently in May, only to see the measures die in the Senate, where Republicans were cool to the idea.

The State Health Department would have up to 18 months to establish regulations governing medical marijuana, such as identifying the entities permitted to dispense it, though it is possible that doctors may be trained and allowed to recommend the drug before then. Initially, five organizations — both businesses and nonprofits — would be allowed to dispense marijuana, each at up to four locations around the state. The drug would be grown in New York and sales of it would be taxed at 7 percent.


"This legislation strikes the right balance," Governor Cuomo said. "Medical marijuana has the capacity to do a lot of good for a lot of people who are in pain and suffering, and are in desperate need of a treatment that will provide some relief. At the same time, medical marijuana is a difficult issue because there are risks to public health and safety that have to be averted. I believe this bill is the right balance, and I commend the members of the Legislature who worked so hard on this measure."

To be prescribed medical marijuana, a patient must receive a certification from a licensed practitioner who must register with the Department of Health and be qualified to treat the serious condition for which the patient is seeking treatment. The serious conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed are cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication on intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, or as added by the commissioner by DOH.

To ensure medical marijuana is in the hands of only individuals in need and their health care provider, Registry Identification Cards will be issued by DOH to certified patients. The card would contain any recommendation or limitation on form or dosage imposed by the practitioner as well as other information. The Department would be able to suspend or revoke the card of a patient who willfully violates any provision of the new law.

Health insurers would not be required to provide coverage for medical marijuana.
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