In November of 2012 Coloradans made history by becoming the first of two states to legalize Cannabis for all responsible adults 21 years of age or older. On the Fifth of November in 2013 Colorado made the final leap forward and allowed its citizens to vote on a proposed tax for the recreational cannabis industry. The citizens spoke, the vote was passed, and there are now “proper” tax laws in place which will ensure that all regulatory agencies receive the necessary funding to properly carry out their enforcement duties. This is all outstanding news, that is, if you work for one of governing bodies. The tax percentage that was agreed upon totals 25% from the state with a proposed 3.5% city tax from the City of Denver (5% in Boulder). If dispensary owners decide to pass all of the taxes along to the consumer it means that the price per ounce will go up nearly 30% and consumers could pay upwards of $300+ for an ounce of premium cannabis. The biggest fear is that these hefty taxes will only fuel an already rampant black market. Chances are recreational consumers are not going to be too pleased when a red card wielding patient approaches the counter at the other end of a dispensary and pays almost $100 less per ounce for the same product. In actuality, a $55 doctor’s visit for a red card could conceivably pay for itself in just one visit to a medical dispensary, depending on the amount of medicine the patients uses. Once recreational users catch wind of this the medical industry will continue to flourish due to its lower taxes and the recreational industry (and in essence Colorado schools) will continue to spiral downward. No money for regulation might result in improper enforcement which could potentially have a negative effect on Colorado citizens.
So what is the solution to this poorly thought out tax plan? There is really no way to tell until things are implemented in January, 2014. The only way that I can see this working effectively is if OPC owners (the growers) and Collective owners agree to each take a 5% price cut (10% total) which will leave a 15% tax for the consumer to take on, a fair compromise which will leave prices at a reasonable rate and allow the recreational industry to blossom. As an industry worker I understand the need for taxation in order to fund these agencies, but I am also a realist who deals with cannabis consumers daily. Although this tax was hurriedly passed by the public, which as an outsider gives the façade of a cannabis community that is willing to play ball, there is a good chance that many of the voters are not cannabis consumers themselves, and solely voted due to the fact that they saw the potential figures to be earned by Colorado Public Schools. As for our shop, we are gearing up to open our medicinal doors to the general public in January like many others across Denver and Colorado. To be brutally honest we will survive no matter what. If recreational flourishes then that is great. If recreational falls through then we have a whole slew of new patients who are simply tired of paying recreational prices. At the end of the day it will be the consumer (likely tourists) who will determine the fate of the recreational industry. I honestly feel that it would be foolish for Colorado cannabis users who are over the age of 21 not to obtain a “Red Card”, even if only for the obvious monetary savings.
Readers recently joined in a lively debate about the use of medicinal marijuana. In Clinical Decisions,1 an interactive feature in which experts discuss a controversial topic and readers vote and post comments, we presented the case of Marilyn, a 68-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer. We asked whether she should be prescribed marijuana to help alleviate her symptoms. To frame this issue, we invited experts to present opposing viewpoints about the medicinal use of marijuana. J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Mayo Clinic, proposed the use of marijuana “only when conservative options have failed for fully informed patients treated in ongoing therapeutic relationships.” Gary M. Reisfield, M.D., from the University of Florida, certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and Robert L. DuPont, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, provide a counterpoint, concluding that “there is little scientific basis” for physicians to endorse smoked marijuana as a medical therapy.
We were surprised by the outcome of polling and comments, with 76% of all votes in favor of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes — even though marijuana use is illegal in most countries. A total of 1446 votes were cast from 72 countries and 56 states and provinces in North America, and 118 comments were posted. However, despite the global participation, the vast majority of votes (1063) came from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Given that North America represents only a minority of the general online readership of the Journal, this skew in voting suggests that the subject of this particular Clinical Decisions stirs more passion among readers from North America than among those residing elsewhere. Analysis of voting across all regions of North America showed that 76% of voters supported medicinal marijuana. Each state and province with at least 10 participants casting votes had more than 50% support for medicinal marijuana except Utah. In Utah, only 1% of 76 voters supported medicinal marijuana. Pennsylvania represented the opposite extreme, with 96% of 107 votes in support of medicinal marijuana.
Outside North America, we received the greatest participation from countries in Latin America and Europe, and overall results were similar to those of North America, with 78% of voters supporting the use of medicinal marijuana. All countries with 10 or more voters worldwide were at or above 50% in favor. There were only 43 votes from Asia and 7 votes from Africa, suggesting that in those continents, this topic does not resonate as much as other issues.
Where does this strong support for medicinal marijuana come from? Your comments show that individual perspectives were as polarized as the experts’ opinions. Physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on our responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering. Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana. Those who opposed the use of medicinal marijuana targeted the lack of evidence, the lack of provenance, inconsistency of dosage, and concern about side effects, including psychosis. Common in this debate was the question of whether marijuana even belongs within the purview of physicians or whether the substance should be legalized and patients allowed to decide for themselves whether to make use of it.
In sum, the majority of clinicians would recommend the use of medicinal marijuana in certain circumstances. Large numbers of voices from all camps called for more research to move the discussion toward a stronger basis of evidence.
Now that more and more studies are being done on the medical benefits of cannabis there is evidence that marijuana can help those effected by brain tumors.
Research conducted by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Complutense University in Madrid discovered that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could prevent the growth of tumors. Overall, two out of nine participants showed a decrease in tumor cells. They also point out that the delivery of Cannabinoids was safe and could be achieved without overt psychoactive effects. You can read the full report of the study done here
Another study was published by researchers that indicated THC could in fact slow the effects of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Results showed that THC reduced the amount of neuronal injury in rats, which leads to the belief that cannabinoids can protect the brain against neurodegeneration.
This final study published in this journal found that cannabinoids played a role in the reversal in tumor activity in the brain. It states that doses of THC and CBD produced a strong antitumoral action in both TMZ-sensitive and TMZ-resistant tumors.
These are all scientific studies done on THC and other Cannabinoids which are all found in the marijuana plant. Surely one can not deny the benefits medical marijuana has. A plant with so many positive traits should be able to be used by anyone who can benefit from its use.
I don’t understand how Alcohol is legal, yet a naturally growing plant that does wonders for people remains illegal in many parts of the world.
We need to get over all the negativity associated with marijuana and start funding more studies on this wonderful plant.
Researchers and advocates of public health can often come across as “The People Who Say, Don’t!” Then, knowing human nature, they’ll add with a headshake: “But if you have to, then for goodness sake protect yourself.”
And you can’t blame them.
When you look at big numbers, broad statistics, the individual gets lost in what can be dire, expensive and preventable public health disasters: overeating, STDs, problems related to alcohol consumption … and one of the worst habits causing the most headshaking: Smoking.
Consequently, when it comes to smoking marijuana, health experts wish people would not add one more thing into their lives that could cause trouble for themselves and society. That said, there are reason humans have sex, drink, smoke and take drugs. And, some of those reasons are very good ones, such as taking a drug to relieve pain or treat a disease.
Enter Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML — the National Organization for the reform of Marijuana Laws. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2013)
Armentano wanted to clarify what research says about the dangers to your lungs from smoking weed, and this is the right forum for that.
So, here’s what he wrote us:
No one argues that the ingestion of combustive smoke, whether it is tobacco smoke or cannabis smoke, is healthy. However, it is inaccurate to allege that the risks to the consumer posed by these two substances are equal.
Writing in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2012, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco reported that occasional to moderate cannabis consumption was not associated with the adversely pulmonary risks associated with tobacco smoking.
Investigators “confirmed the expected reductions in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) and FVC (forced vital capacity)” in tobacco smokers.
By contrast, “Marijuana use was associated with higher FEV1 and FVC at the low levels of exposure typical for most marijuana users. With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function.” The full study may be read online.
The findings in JAMA were hardly a surprise. Previously, the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime.
Summarizing the study’s findings in The Washington Post, lead investigator and pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA concluded, “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.” The full study is available online.
More recently, this past May presenters at the annual meeting of the American Academy for Cancer Research reported that subjects who regularly inhale cannabis smoke possess no greater risk of lung cancer than do those who consume it occasionally or not at all — according to an analysis of six case-control studies, conducted between 1999 and 2012, involving over 5,000 subjects (2,159 cases and 2,985 controls) from around the world.
They concluded, “Our pooled results showed no significant association between the intensity, duration, or cumulative consumption of cannabis smoke and the risk of lung cancer overall or in never smokers.”
Most recently, an editorial in July published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society concluded: “Cannabis smoking is not equivalent to tobacco smoking in terms of respiratory risk. … [C]annabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that at low doses cannabis may be protective for both conditions. … This conclusion will affect the way health professionals interact with patients, parents with teenagers, and policy makers with their constituents. … Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, [those] who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”
It is true that some studies of cannabis smoke and pulmonary function indicate that chronic exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain respiratory complications, including cough, bronchitis, phlegm.
That said, the ingestion of cannabis via alternative methods such as edibles, liquid tinctures, or via vaporization – a process whereby the plant’s cannabinoids are heated to the point of vaporization but below the point of combustion – virtually eliminates consumers’ exposure to such unwanted risk factors and has been determined to be a “safe and effective” method of ingestion in clinical trial settings.
Cannabis smoking is certainly not without potential risks. But these risks should not be overstated, nor should they be asserted as a justification for a public policy that continues to criminalize and stigmatize responsible, adult cannabis consumers.
The International Medical Veritas Association (IMVA) is putting hemp oil on its cancer protocol. It is a prioritized protocol list whose top five items are magnesium chloride, iodine, selenium, Alpha Lipoic Acid and sodium bicarbonate. It makes perfect sense to drop hemp oil right into the middle of this nutritional crossfire of anti cancer medicines, which are all available without prescription.
Hemp oil has long been recognised as one of the most versatile and beneficial substances known to man. Derived from hemp seeds (a member of the achene family of fruits) it has been regarded as a superfood due to its high essential fatty acid content and the unique ratio of omega3 to omega6 and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – 2:5:1. Hemp oil, is known to contain up to 5% of pure GLA, a much higher concentration than any other plant, even higher than spirulina. For thousands of years, the hemp plant has been used in elixirs and medicinal teas because of its healing properties and now medical science is zeroing in on the properties of its active substances.
Both the commercial legal type of hemp oil and the illegal THC laden hemp oil are one of the most power-packed protein sources available in the plant kingdom. Its oil can be used in many nutritional and transdermal applications. In other chapters in my Winning the War on Cancer book we will discuss in-depth about GLA and cancer and also the interesting work of Dr. Johanna Budwig. She uses flax seed oil instead of hemp oil to cure cancer – through effecting changes in cell walls – using these omega3 and omega6 laden medicinal oils.
Actually there is another way to use medical marijuana without smoking the leaf. According to Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, “The usual irritating and toxic breakdown products of burning utilized with smoking are totally avoided with vaporization. Extraction and inhaling cannabinoid essential oils below ignition temperature of both crude and refined cannabis products affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity, and tracheobronchial tree from pyrollytic breakdown products.[iii]
Rick Simpson, the man in the documentary below, has been making hemp oil and sharing it with friends and neighbors without charging for it. In small doses, he says, it makes you well without getting you high. “Well you can’t deny your own eyes can you?” Simpson asks. “Here’s someone dying of cancer and they’re not dying anymore. I don’t care if the medicine comes from a tomato plant, potato plant or a hemp plant, if the medicine is safe and helps and works, why not use it?” he asks.
When a person has cancer and is dying this question reaches a critical point. The bravery of Rick Simpson from Canada in showing us how to make hemp oil for ourselves offers many people a hope that should be increasingly appreciated as money dries up for expensive cancer treatments. We are going to need inexpensive medicines in the future and there is nothing better than the ones we can make reasonably cheaply ourselves.
For most people in the world it is illegal so the choice could come down to breaking the law or dying. There is no research to indicate what advantages oral use of hemp oil vs. vaporization but we can assume that advantage would be nutritional with oral intake. Dr. Budwig Below work would sustain this point of view especially for cancer patients.
According to Dr. Robert Ramer and Dr. Burkhard Hinz of the University of Rostock in Germany medical marijuana can be an effective treatment for cancer.[v] Their research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Advance Access on December 25th of 2007 in a paper entitled Inhibition of Cancer Cell Invasion by Cannabinoids via Increased Expression of Tissue Inhibitor of Matrix Metalloproteinases-1.
The biggest contribution of this breakthrough discovery, is that the expression of TIMP-1 was shown to be stimulated by cannabinoid receptor activation and to mediate the anti-invasive effect of cannabinoids. Prior to now the cellular mechanisms underlying this effect were unclear and the relevance of the findings to the behavior of tumor cells in vivo remains to be determined.
Marijuana cuts lung cancer tumor growth in half, a 2007 Harvard Medical School study shows.[vi] The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.
This is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy. THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors.
“The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer,” said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine. Acting through cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids (as well as THC) are thought to play a role in variety of biological functions, including pain and anxiety control, and inflammation.
Researchers reported in the August 15, 2004 issue of Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, that marijuana’s constituents inhibited the spread of brain cancer in human tumor biopsies.[vii] In a related development, a research team from the University of South Florida further noted that THC can also selectively inhibit the activation and replication of gamma herpes viruses. The viruses, which can lie dormant for years within white blood cells before becoming active and spreading to other cells, are thought to increase one’s chances of developing cancers such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease.[viii]
In 1998, a research team at Madrid’s Complutense University discovered that THC can selectively induce programmed cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting surrounding healthy cells. Then in 2000, they reported in the journal Nature Medicine that injections of synthetic THC eradicated malignant gliomas (brain tumors) in one-third of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by six weeks.[ix]
Led by Dr. Manuel Guzman the Spanish team announced they had destroyed incurable brain cancer tumors in rats by injecting them with THC. They reported in the March 2002 issue of “Nature Medicine” that they injected the brains of 45 rats with cancer cells, producing tumors whose presence they confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). On the 12th day they injected 15 of the rats with THC and 15 with Win-55,212-2 a synthetic compound similar to THC.[x]
Researchers at the University of Milan in Naples, Italy, reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana inhibited the growth of glioma cells in a dose-dependent manner, and selectively targeted and killed malignant cells through apoptosis. “Non-psychoactive CBD produce[s] a significant anti-tumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”[xi]
The first experiment documenting pot’s anti-tumor effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest of the U.S. government. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana’s psychoactive component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”[xii]
Funded by the National Institute of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice — lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia. The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research even though the researchers “found that THC slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”
“Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids,” an article in a 1975 Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports, “Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN)” — two types of cannabinoids, a family of active components in marijuana. “Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and CBN had reduced primary tumor size.”
Marijuana relieves pain that narcotics like morphine and OxyContin
have hardly any effect on, and could help ease suffering from
illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer.[xiii]
According to Devra Davis in her book Secret History of the War on Cancer, 1.5 million lives have been lost because Americans failed to act on existing knowledge about the environmental causes of cancer. It is impossible to calculate the added deaths from suppressed ‘cancer cures’ but we do know of the terrible suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who have been jailed for marijuana use.
Hemp oil with THC included has the making of a primary cancer treatment, which even alone seems to have a great chance of turning the tide against cancer tumors. It has the added advantage of safety, ease of use, lack of side effects and low cost if one makes it oneself. Surrounded by other medicinal anti-cancer substances in a full protocol it’s hard to imagine anyone failing and falling in their war on cancer.
THC should be included in every cancer protocol.
Sodium bicarbonate is another excellent anti tumor substance that reduces tumors but is much more difficult to administer than THC hemp oil. Cannabinoids are able to pass through all barriers in the body like Alpha Lipoic Acid so simple oral intake is sufficient. With bicarbonate we need intravenous applications and often even this is not sufficient, often we have to use catheters and few doctors in the world are willing to administer this way.
In the end all cancer treatments that are not promoted by mainstream oncology are illegal. No licensed doctor is going to claim that are curing cancer with sodium bicarbonate though they will treat people with cancer explaining they are balancing pH or some other metabolic profile with this common emergency room medicine found also most kitchens of the world. More than several states have passed laws making medical marijuana legal but the federal government will not relax and let people be free to choose their treatments even if their lives depend on it.
Davis notes that the cowardice of research scientists, who publish thoroughly referenced reports but pull their punches at the end, by claiming that more research needs to be done before action can be taken. Statements like these are exploited by industry that buys time to make much more money. It is a deliberate attempt that creates wholesale public doubt from small data gaps and remaining scientific uncertainties.
They have done that with everything right up to and including sunlight. Everything is thought to be dangerous except the pharmaceutical drugs which are the most dangerous substances of all. Stomach wrenching chemotherapy and the death principle of radiation are legal yet safe THC laden hemp oil is not.
It is legal for doctors to attack people with their poisons but you can go to jail for trying to save yourself or a loved one from cancer with the oil of a simple garden weed. Our civilization has put up with this insanity but there is a great price being paid. In a mad medical world people die that need not and this is a terrible sadness that has destroyed the integrity and ethics of modern medicine.
The science for the use of hemp oil is credible, specific fact-based, and is documented in detail.[xiv] There is absolutely no reason to not legalize medical marijuana and create an immediate production and distribution of THC hemp oil to cancer patients. Unfortunately we live in a world populated with governments and medical henchmen who would rather see people die cruel deaths then have access to a safe and effect cancer drug.
Meanwhile the Food and Drug Administration approved Genentech’s best-selling drug, Avastin, as a treatment for breast cancer, in a decision, according to the New York Times, “that appeared to lower the threshold somewhat for approval of certain cancer drugs. The big question was whether it was enough for a drug temporarily to stop cancer from worsening — as Avastin had done in a clinical trial — or was it necessary for a drug to enable patients to live longer, which Avastin had failed to do. Oncologists and patient advocates were divided, in part because of the drug’s sometimes severe side effects.”[xv]
The differences between Avastin and hemp oil are huge. First Avastin will earn Genentech hundreds of millions where THC hemp oil will earn no one anything. Second there are no severe or even mild side effects to taking hemp oil and lastly it is not a temporary answer but a real solution. Certainly hemp oil will ensure a longer life.
A rheumatology expert from Dalhousie University believes medical marijuana could be very useful for managing pain and inflammation in arthritis, but needs to be taken more seriously by those in the field.
Jason J. McDougall, PhD, an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Anaesthesia, was one of the experts who spoke at a session called “Medical Marijuana and the rheumatologist”, reports Rheumatology Update. The session took place during the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego and was the first ever to be held on the topic.
“… the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. It allows adults 21 years of age or older to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and paraphernalia. It also allows adults 21 years of age or older to engage in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. It prohibits recreational use activities in public spaces, school grounds …”
The Portland Press Herald is reporting that 70 percent of voters have approved the measure. And, while there are more votes to come in, the lead has proponents declaring victory.
These are not the big tests of legalized and taxed recreational markets that will come up for votes in several states, primarily Alaska and Oregon, in 2014, and many others in 2016. But the votes are a test of public willingness all the same.
Voters in three Michigan cities – Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale – all approved the legalization of the use or possession of up to an ounce of marijuana on private property by anyone 21 years or older.
Nearly 63 percent of Lansing residents voted to amend the city’s charter to legalize the possession, use and transfer of an ounce of marijuana, reported Mlive.com.
Jackson passed a similar ordinance by 60 percent and Ferndale passed one as well by 69 percent of the vote,the site reported.
“There are now 14 cities in the state of Michigan that passed similar ordinance, and we hope this will send a message to politicians,” marijuana proponent Roger Maufort told the news site. “We’re very excited.”
The landslide vote to legalize the adult possession of cannabis in Portland, Maine caught many commentators by surprise. While the ballot initiative, Question 1, polled well, few expected such a blowout victory in an off-year election in state not usually associated with cannabis policy reform.
The good news is that Maine’s largest city will probably not be the only surprise reform victory notched in coming years. Here’s a snapshot of five surprising states which are poised to beat expectations and pass significant cannabis reform by 2016:
Missouri came out of seemingly nowhere to become the surprise hit of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver last month. The legalization group Show Me Cannabis impressed even seasoned drug policy activists with a surprisingly strong performance to date: through a series of “town hall”-style meetings, the reform group has generated considerable momentum by bucking the common wisdom. Instead of pushing for decriminalization or a medical initiative, the group has pushed for a full-throated adult legalization bill which could go before the voters of the Show Me state as early as the midterm November 2014 election. Initial polling, showing support well over 50%, has taken the national movement by storm; if they can keep up the momentum for another year, Show Me Cannabis may soon be showing the whole world what a small group of concerned and dedicated citizens can accomplish in a very short time.
Arkansas came within inches of shocking the entire world when a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana last November won a respectable 49% of the vote. The measure, known as Issue 5, would have notched a hugely symbolic victory as the first medical marijuana reform to come to a southern state. Even though Arkansas’ state legislature adjourned in April without passing any cannabis reform, the Natural State remains poised to once again take up the mantle; in the wake of a major shift in public opinion toward legalizing marijuana in nearly every state of the nation, the next attempt to reform cannabis laws in Arkansas stands a strong chance of succeeding.
UPDATE: According to ASA, a new signature-gathering drive has just begun for the new version of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, to be put before voters in 2014. The campaign is hosting a music festival this Saturday, Nov. 9th, from 2pm to 2am, at the Silverado Club in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Kentucky may not represent the forefront of cannabis reform in the minds of most Americans, but historically no other state has ever benefited from a thriving cannabis economy as much as the Bluegrass State, long the heart of America’s industrial hemp economy. Neither the history lesson nor the economic potential of a revitalized economy have been lost on the state’s Senate delegation, with both Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mitch McConnell counting themselves among the community advocating for hemp reform. Indeed, the Kentucky state legislature already passed industrial hemp reform through Senate Bill 50 this summer, and both Sens. Paul and McConnell have been vocal advocates on Capitol Hill for a change in federal law, which is the last obstacle to the legal hemp renaissance waiting in the wings. With an amendment to the federal farm bill authorizing the experimental production of hemp passing the US House in the spring, that renaissance may come more swiftly than most Americans would expect.
Florida failed to pass medical marijuana reform this year when SB 1250, the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act” died in committee in the state Senate. So why, then, are activists so hopeful about the Sunshine State? One reason is polling: 70% of voting Floridians (and 56% of Republicans) declared earlier this year that they support medical marijuana laws coming to their home state. Shifting attitudes have already registered at the ballot box, with residents of Miami Beach voting this week to approve a nonbinding resolution in support of medical marijuana. Meanwhile, outreach efforts specializing in reaching Florida’s unique demographics are only now getting started in earnest, between the efforts of groups like the Silver Tour (a senior-led group which aims to spread education on the benefits of medical marijuana for the elderly) and Veterans for Cannabis. If senior citizens, which as a group vote at higher rates than other demographics, can put political pressure on their representatives to allow them to have the medicine they need, then medical marijuana reform may only be a few months around the corner.
Texas may be the last state anyone ever thinks of to pass major drug reform, but in fact the Lone Star State has already done just that. Through a somewhat obscure parallel “drug court” system which operates alongside the traditional punitive measures which make the state famous, the Texan judicial system has so effectively reduced the prison population that the state closed an entire prison for the first time in its 150-year history in 2012. In fact, the program’s focus on drug addiction treatment over punitive prohibition as been so effective at reducing the state’s prison population (and the large tax bill which accompanies it) that more reform may be just around the corner. Although HB 594, a bill which would have provided an “affirmative defense” to Texans caught with marijuana who can show a legitimate medical need for it, failed to advance out of committee in the last legislative session, it’s clear that Texan voters demand a return of the debate over marijuana policy. Perhaps that is why Miriam Martinez, a Republican candidate for Texas governor, has announced her support for both decriminalization and medical marijuana reform. It is a classic case of the politicians following the people. According to a poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project this year, a surprising 58% of Texans support taxing and regulating marijuana in a way similar to alcohol. The results confirm a truism about Texas politics which many nationwide find surprising: although the state’s residents love punitive justice, they love their cherished liberties and low taxes even more.