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Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama medical marijuana signed by Governor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed medical marijuana legislation Monday as conservative opposition to the issue gradually faded after decades of debate.

The program will allow people with one of 16 qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness and depression, to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. The approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill in 2013 won that year’s so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill of the year in the House of Representatives.

 

Ivey called signing the bill an “important first step” and thanked the sponsors, of the bill for their work. While the bill takes effect immediately, the bill sponsor estimated it will be about 15 months or so before medical marijuana is available in the state.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days,” Ivey said.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist. It was handled in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator. The approval came after a number of lawmakers shared stories of loved ones and their illnesses.

“Hopefully, we are going to help some people,” Melson said Monday night.

Melson said for people who have tried other treatments without success, that people will have “another option to treat themselves and get some relief.” The state Senate approved the bill in February by a 21-8 vote after just 15 minutes of debate. But the House of Representatives had traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and sent the bill through two committees before approving it 68-34.

The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

The program authorizes use of medical marijuana to treat for conditions including cancer-related nausea or vomiting, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Tourette’s syndrome.

Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of a state Democratic representative, Laura Hall. She had first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall had died of AIDS.

Ball, who shepherded the bill through the House, said last week that “hearts and minds” were slowly changed on the issue.

“I think we just educated them as much as anything. This wasn’t done on emotion. This was done on science,” Melson said.

Republicans Push for Federal Legalization of Marijuana

Republicans Push for Federal Legalization of Marijuana

Republicans in the senate have introduced a federal legalization bill for cannabis.

Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would federally legalize and regulate marijuana, saying the proposal was necessary to ensure “individual liberty” and protect states’ rights.

Representative Dave Joyce, a Ohio Republican, introduced the proposed legislation to end the longstanding federal prohibition of marijuana along with Representative Don Young, an Alaska Republican.

The bill would remove cannabis from the Federal Controlled Substances list; instruct the government to create a regulatory framework for marijuana similar to the alcohol industry; allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis; and protect financial institutions dealing with marijuana distributors and growers.

“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century,” Young said in a Wednesday statement.

The Republican congressman noted that he is “proud” to represent a state that has already legalized and regulated marijuana.

“This bill takes significant steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans, in addition to finally permitting state-legal cannabis businesses to utilize traditional financial services,” he said.

Joyce released a similar statement, explaining the importance of his proposed legislation.

“With more than 40 States taking action on this issue, it’s past time for Congress to recognize that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate,” the GOP lawmaker said. Joyce said he looks forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to pass the bill.

Feds Announce New Standard THC Dose for Cannabis Research

Feds Announce New Standard THC Dose for Cannabis Research

cannabis research by the government

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced on Friday it was setting the new standard THC dose for cannabis research at five milligrams, Marijuana Moment reports. The requirement took effect immediately.

Inconsistency in the measurement and reporting of THC exposure has been a major limitation in studies of cannabis use, making it difficult to compare findings among studies. A standardized measure of THC in cannabis products is necessary to advance research by providing greater comparability across studies of both its adverse effects and potential medical uses. — NIDA Notice of Information excerpt

NIDA said the five-milligram standard unit was selected following extensive stakeholder input, expert consultation, and a request for information from the general public.

In its notice, NIDA recognized that “the same quantity of THC may have different effects” depending on a number of variables, including the method of administration, other ingredients in the product, an individual’s genetic make-up and tolerance levels, and more. Additionally, the notice clarified that the newly standardized THC unit does not limit the quantity of THC permissible in cannabis research, only the way in which investigators must record and report their work.

While cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, research efforts are difficult but not completely blocked: a 20-year study by the University of Minnesota recently revealed that long-term cannabis use has little to no effects on cognitive abilities, while another recent study found cannabis use to be associated with increased rates of exercise and physical activity.

Ann Arbor dispensary to open Michigan’s first cannabis consumption lounge

Ann Arbor dispensary to open Michigan’s first cannabis consumption lounge

Michigan cannabis consumption lounge approved in Ann Arbor
An Ann Arbor dispensary is venturing into recreational cannabis’ next frontier: consumption lounges.

According to WXYZ 7 Action News, Holistic Industries, which operates Liberty Provisioning Center, have announced plans to open a cannabis consumption lounge adjacent to the dispensary at 338 S. Ashley Street.

“We’re thrilled to bring Michigan’s first cannabis consumption lounge to Ann Arbor and create a one-of-a-kind experience for the many people in Ann Arbor who agree that life is better with cannabis,” a spokesperson shared with WXYZ. “By providing a safe, designated space for consumption, we are helping remove some of the potential roadblocks cannabis patients and customers face after they purchase products and want to consume them.”

Liberty Provisioning Center opened last summer and services recreational clients and medical marijuana patients. Despite 2018’s legalization of recreational weed in Michigan, neighboring businesses are concerned that a consumption lounge — which is exactly as it sounds like: a commercial space where adults are legally allowed to consume cannabis on-site — could pose a threat to the community.

Sherry Doughty, who operates a Montessori school just a few hundred feet from the proposed site of the consumption lounge, is among those community members who remain skeptical.

“We don’t want them using the playground as a place to party,” Doughty told WXYZ. “If people will be milling around outdoors and if that will impact our staff and our children.” A local therapist who operates his business out of a house close to the dispensary and the yet-to-open lounge is also wary even though he supports legal cannabis.

“I don’t want a bunch of potheads walking around acting like a bunch of fools, would you?” Ken Land said. “If they get out of line, I’ll get crabby. But if they don’t, live and let live.”

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama medical marijuana clears state Senate

Alabama lawmakers caved their opposition yesterday and formally approved the state’s medical cannabis legalization bill.

Alabama lawmakers sent a medical cannabis legalization bill to Gov. Kay Ivy (R) on Thursday that will allow qualifying patients to purchase certain forms of cannabis after receiving a doctor’s recommendation, according to the Associated Press.

Although House lawmakers ultimately passed the bill in a 68-36 vote, it was faced by a Republican filibuster, a delay, and finally a two-hour floor debate. The bill then returned to the Senate where it was quickly passed.

Governor spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves.”

Under the law, conditions including cancer, terminal illnesses, chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, and panic disorder will qualify a patient to sign up for the program. The bill will allow patients to purchase pills, skin patches, and creams, but does not allow for the smoking or vaping of medical cannabis products. The legislation was named after Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall, Rep. Laura Hall’s son who died from complications from AIDS.

The bill’s primary sponsor Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who is a former state trooper and state investigator, gave emotional testimony on the House floor.

“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now.” — Rep. Mike Ball

Former state Rep. Patricia Todd — who introduced Alabama‘s first medical cannabis bill in 2013 that would later receive a Shroud Award, an award given to bills deemed the least likely to pass — said she was happy the reforms had finally passed.

“They laughed at me,” she remembered. “I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue.”

US to ban Backwoods, Swishers and other flavored blunt wraps

US to ban Backwoods, Swishers and other flavored blunt wraps

US government may ban blunts

Your illegal weed dealer might be adding menthol cigarettes and smuggled Backwoods and Swisher Sweets to their offerings next year.

On Thursday, April 29, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and all flavored cigars, starting in 2022. The FDA’s proposal responds to a lawsuit from the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council calling for the national ban, which would target makers and sellers, not users, of menthols and flavored cigars.

Tobacco companies will likely challenge the decision in court, according to Stat News.

But such a ban would affect many cannabis consumers—primarily Black smokers—who roll marijuana into flavored tobacco or cigar leaves, commonly called a blunt. Half of cigar sales in 2020 were two flavored brands: Black and Mild, followed by Swisher Sweets.

A 2020 study found that a third of weed consumers smoke blunts, while almost two-thirds of Black weed consumers smoke blunts. A separate study of blunt wrap brand Backwoods-tagged content on Instagram found that half of #backwoods posts were marijuana-related.

FDA confronts a health inequity

The FDA wants to reduce tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death in the US. The agency stated that banning menthols and flavored cigars would reduce the number of kids who start smoking, and encourage menthol smokers to quit.

The FDA also said it specifically wants to reduce the number of Black Americans dying from tobacco. Three-quarters of Black smokers smoke menthols.

“Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

Banning menthols may cause 923,000 US smokers to quit, including 230,000 Black Americans in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban goes into effect. An earlier study claims the ban would prevent 633,000 deaths, including about 237,000 deaths averted for African Americans.

To do that, massive tobacco companies and distributors would face punishment for making, distributing, and selling menthols and flavored tobacco no earlier than next year.

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