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Medical marijuana push spreads to Utah, Oklahoma

The push for legalized marijuana has moved into Utah and Oklahoma, two of the most conservative states in the country, further underscoring how quickly feelings about marijuana are changing in the United States.

If the two measures pass, Utah and Oklahoma will join 30 other states that have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to the pro-pot National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws. Nine of those states and Washington, D.C. also have broad legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year.

Utah and Oklahoma already are among 16 states that allow for use an oil called cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound from cannabis that doesn’t get users high but can treat a range of health concerns.

Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, is confident the Utah and Oklahoma measures will pass.

“America’s appetite for cannabis is not going away,” Strekal said. “We are in the death rattles of prohibition.”

Marijuana legalization efforts have faced some pushback from religions before — including in 2016 in Arizona and Nevada from the Mormon church, and the same year from the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. But not to the scale they could face this year in Utah, where Mormons account for about two-third of the population, said Matthew Schweich, executive director of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.

Mormons have long frowned upon marijuana use because of a key church health code called the “Word of Wisdom,” which prohibits the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out against the proposal this month, saying in a statement drugs designed to ease suffering should be tested and approved by government officials first. The church said it respects the “wise counsel” of doctors, and commended the Utah Medical Association for opposing it. The association has accused organizers of trying to disguise their intention of simply paving the way for legalizing recreational marijuana.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told middle school students in January that he thinks medical marijuana will someday be legalized in the state but in March he announced his opposition to the ballot question, which he argues lacks safeguards for the growing and distribution of marijuana.

Advocates remain confident that they’ve crafted a medical marijuana measure that respects the Mormon church and culture while providing much-needed relief for people with chronic pain, Schweich said. His Washington, D.C.-based organization helped draft the measure.

Unlike other medical marijuana states, Utah’s proposal would not allow pot smoking or for residents to grow their own, Schweich said. It would create a state-regulated growing and dispensing operation to allow people with certain medical conditions to get a card and use the drug in edible forms like candy, in topical forms like lotions or balms, as an oil or in electronic cigarettes. Proponents turned in the signatures Monday to get the measure on the ballot in November.

“It’s a question of compassion,” Schweich said.

Oklahoma will vote in June on its proposal that would allow doctors to recommend that patients receive a medical marijuana license allowing them to legally possess up to three ounces of the drug, six mature plants and six seedlings.

Ted Lyon, a 78-year-old Mormon, is a supporter because he saw in the past decade how medical marijuana helped two of his neighbors in Provo — one with multiple sclerosis and another who has seizures. He said he wouldn’t support the drug’s legalization for recreational use.

Lyon, a retired professor at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University, said he’s afraid the church’s opposition will have a chilling effect on members of the faith but said he remains hopeful there are enough progressive-leaning Mormons who will see the benefits.

“In 10 years, the church may say something different,” Lyon said. “This is not an eternal banishment of medical marijuana. My father was a good historian, and he used to say, ‘If you don’t like something in the church, just wait a while because it will change.'”

Nathan Frodsham, a 45-year-old married Mormon father of three, is hoping the measure passes so he can get off opioids and back to using the vaporized form of marijuana that he used when he lived in Seattle after his doctor recommended trying for his painful osteoarthritis in his neck.

Frodsham wasn’t discouraged by the Mormon church statement, which he notes doesn’t go as far in opposition as when the church explicitly asked members to vote against full marijuana legalization in Arizona and Nevada. He said marijuana is a natural plant and that the religion’s health code doesn’t single out cannabis as being prohibited.

“I think there’s some room for interpretation on this,” said Frodsham.

The 4,500-member Utah Medical Association isn’t against the idea of legalized medical marijuana but has numerous concerns with an initiative it thinks is too broad and doesn’t include necessary regulatory measures, said Michelle McOmber, the group’s CEO.

“We want to be very careful about what we bring into our state,” McOmber said. “This is an addictive drug.”

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Associated Press writer Adam Causey in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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Find complete AP marijuana coverage here: https://apnews.com/tag/LegalMarijuana

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John Boehner Now Lobbying For Medical Marijuana

Make no mistake: John Boehner’s career after serving as speaker of the House has really gone to pot.

Really.

The former Ohio congressman has signed on to the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company that cultivates, processes and dispenses marijuana in 11 U.S. states.

The decision to support weed comes nine years after the Republican claimed to be “unalterably opposed” to legalization, according to Bloomberg.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” he said the website. “I find myself in that same position.”

Boehner said his position on pot evolved after he saw the positive effects the plant had on a friend dealing with serious back pain.

He said marijuana has great potential for helping veterans with PTSD and reversing the opioid epidemic. He also believes de-scheduling marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s controlled substances list, saying the move would help ease problems with the criminal justice system.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner said. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld (R), who has supported medical marijuana since the early 1990s, has also just joined the Acreage advisory board.

Like Boehner, he believes pot is the key to reversing the opioid epidemic.

“Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug,” he told Bloomberg.

However, both politicians insist they’ve never tried marijuana in any of its forms.

Although President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are no fans of marijuana, Boehner’s decision ― as unexpected as it may seem on the surface ― is actually mainstream.

A Gallup poll from October shows that 64 percent of Americans favor making marijuana legal. The same poll found that 51 percent of Republicans favored legalization, an increase of nine percentage points from the 2016 survey.

Acreage Founder and CEO Kevin Murphy believes having the two former politicians on the board will advance U.S. cannabis policy.

“The addition of [former] Speaker Boehner and [former] Governor Weld to our Board will lead to even greater access for patients by changing the conversation overnight,” Murphy said in a release. “These men have shaped the political course of our country for decades and now they will help shape the course of this nascent but ascendant industry.”

Some people in the cannabis industry believe Boehner’s budding involvement is a good thing.

Eddie Miller, Chief Strategy Officer for GreenRush.com, a business that is like GrubHub or Amazon for weed, thinks Boehner will lend new credibility to the whole cannabis industry. 

“It will help [us] by bringing a new wave of support from conservative politicians that have never considered cannabis to be a legitimate industry,” he told HuffPost.

Erik Knutson, CEO of Keef Brands, which manufactures cannabis-infused cola and sparkling water, said Boehner’s pro-pot stance harkens the end of an era.

“With the majority of Republicans favoring legalization and states rights, it is no surprise that mainstream right-leaning politicians are beginning to gravitate towards Cannabis,” he told HuffPost by email. “Luckily for all of us, the Reagan era drug warrior platform is dying.”

However, attorney Perry N. Salzhauer, who specializes in cannabis industry law, worries Boehner’s involvement is a sign that big business could drive out the little guy.

When a powerful political figure with ties to the tobacco industry makes a public move like this, it certainly raises fears among the smaller operators that their days may be numbered,” he told HuffPost. “Despite this, we believe that there will always be room for a craft cannabis industry similar to what we’ve been seeing in the beer and spirits industry.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Cynthia Nixon On Marijuana: It’s Effectively Legal For White People

Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for governor continues with her latest video about why she supports legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in New York.

“There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” said Nixon in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday.

Nixon, who in March announced her run against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary, notes in the video that 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested for marijuana are black or Latino.

“The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time,” she says. “Isn’t it time we legalize it for everybody else?”

While Nixon has spoken out about recreational legalization in New York before, this discussion on how it correlates to the issue of racial inequality is particularly refreshing and needed.

The gubernatorial candidate and former actress goes on to say in her campaign video that white people and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates. Yet black people in New York are arrested or detained for marijuana 4.5 times more than white people, according to a report by the ACLU.

“The consequences follow people for the rest of their lives, making it harder to get jobs or housing, and for noncitizens, putting them in the crosshairs of deportation,” she says.

The 52-year-old also says that legalizing would “generate millions of dollars in tax revenue” and “create new agricultural opportunities for New York’s farmers.” 

Currently, eight other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. New York state does have a medical marijuana program, though it is extremely restrictive.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
Cynthia Nixon speaks to people at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 2018.

Current New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D) had previously called marijuana a “gateway drug” in 2017, though his stance has since shifted slightly. In January 2018. Cuomo proposed a study in his 2018 budget plan that explores the potential impacts of recreational marijuana use in New York State.

Of the study, Cuomo said: “If it was legalized in Jersey and it was legal in Massachusetts and the federal government allowed it to go ahead, what would that do to New York, because it’s right in the middle? This is an important topic, it’s a hotly debated topic, pardon the pun, and it’d be nice to have the facts in the middle of the debate once in a while.”

The study will now move forward after the state’s $168 million state budget was approved in March.

Nixon is slated to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

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Bet money on yourself with Proveit, the 1-vs-1 trivia app

Pick a category, wager a few dollars and double your money in 60 seconds if you’re smarter and faster than your opponent. Proveit offers a fresh take on trivia and game show apps by letting you win or lose cash on quick 10-question, multiple choice quizzes. Sick of waiting to battle a million people on HQ for a chance at a fraction of the jackpot? Play one-on-one anytime you want or enter into scheduled tournaments with $1,000 or more in prize money, while Proveit takes around 10 percent to 15 percent of the stakes.

“I’d play Jeopardy all the time with my family and wondered ‘why can’t I do this for money?’ ” says co-founder Prem Thomas.

Remarkably, it’s all legal. The Proveit team spent two years getting approved as “skill-based gaming” that exempts it from some laws that have hindered fantasy sports betting apps. And for those at risk of addiction, Proveit offers players and their loved ones a way to cut them off.

The scrappy Florida-based startup has raised $2.3 million so far. With fun games and a snackable format, Proveit lets you enjoy the thrill of betting at a moment’s notice. That could make it a favorite amongst players and investors in a world of mobile games without consequences.

“I could spend $50 for a three-hour experience in a movie theater, or I could spend $2 to enter a Proveit Movies tournament that gives me the opportunity to compete for several thousand dollars in prize money,” says co-founder Nathan Lehoux. “That could pay for a lot of movies tickets!”

Proving it as outsiders

St. Petersburg, Fla. isn’t exactly known as an innovation hub. But outside Tampa Bay, far from the distractions, copycatting and astronomical rent of Silicon Valley, the founders of Proveit built something different. “What if people could play trivia for money just like fantasy sports?” Thomas asked his friend Lehoux.

That’s the same pitch that got me interested when Lehoux tracked me down at TechCrunch’s SXSW party earlier this year. Lehoux is a jolly, outgoing fella who became interested in startups while managing some angel investments for a family office. Thomas had worked in banking and health before starting a yoga-inspired sandals brand. Neither had computer science backgrounds, and they’d raised just a $300,000 seed round from childhood friend Hilt Tatum who’d co-founded beleaguered real money gambling site Absolute Poker.

Yet when he Lehoux thrust the Proveit app into my hand, even on a clogged mobile network at SXSW, it ran smoothly and I immediately felt the adrenaline rush of matching wits for money. They’d initially outsourced development to an NYC firm that burned much of their initial $300,000 seed funding without delivering. Luckily, the Ukrainian they’d hired to help review that shop’s code helped them spin up a whole team there that built an impressive v1 of Proveit.

Meanwhile, the founders worked with a gaming lawyer to secure approvals in 33 states including California, New York, and Texas. “This is a highly regulated and highly controversial space due to all the negative press that fantasy sports drummed up,” says Lehoux. “We talked to 100 banks and processors before finding one who’d work with us.”

Proveit founders (from left): Nathan Lehoux, Prem Thomas

Proveit was finally legal for the three-fourths of the U.S. population, and had a regulatory moat to deter competitors. To raise launch capital, the duo tapped their Florida connections to find John Morgan, a high-profile lawyer and medical marijuana advocate, who footed a $2 million angel round. A team of grad students in Tampa Bay was assembled to concoct the trivia questions, while a third-party AI company assists with weeding out fraud.

Proveit launched early this year, but beyond a SXSW promotion, it has stayed under the radar as it tinkers with tournaments and retention tactics. The app has now reached 80,000 registered users, 6,000 multi-deposit hardcore loyalists and has paid out $750,000 total. But watching HQ trivia climb to more than 1 million players per game has proven a bigger market for Proveit.

Quiz for cash

“We’re actually fans of HQ. We play. We think they’ve revolutionized the game show,” Lehoux tells me. “What we want to do is provide something very different. With HQ, you can’t pick your category. You can’t pick the time you want to play. We want to offer a much more customized experience.”

To play Proveit, you download its iOS-only app and fund your account with a buy-in of $20 to $100, earning more bonus cash with bigger packages (no minors allowed). Then you play a practice round to get the hang of it — something HQ sorely lacks. Once you’re ready, you pick from a list of game categories, each with a fixed wager of about $1 to $5 to play (choose your own bet is in the works). You can test your knowledge of superheroes, the ’90s, quotes, current events, rock ‘n roll, Seinfeld, tech and a rotating selection of other topics.

In each Proveit game you get 10 questions, 1 at a time, with up to 15 seconds to answer each. Most games are head-to-head, with options to be matched with a stranger, or a friend via phone contacts. You score more for quick answers, discouraging cheating via Google, and get penalized for errors. At the end, your score is tallied up and compared to your opponent, with the winner keeping both player’s wagers minus Proveit’s cut. In a minute or so, you could lose $3 or win $5.28. Afterwards you can demand a rematch, go double-or-nothing, head back to the category list or cash out if you have more than $20.

The speed element creates intense, white-knuckled urgency. You can get every question right and still lose if your opponent is faster. So instead of second-guessing until locking in your choice just before the buzzer like on HQ, where one error knocks you out, you race to convert your instincts into answers on Proveit. The near instant gratification of a win or humiliation of a defeat nudge you to play again rather than having to wait for tomorrow’s game.

Proveit will have to compete with free apps like Trivia Crack, prize games like student loan repayer Givling and virtual currency-based Fleetwit, and the juggernaut HQ.

“The large tournaments are the big draw,” Lehoux believes. Instead of playing one-on-one, you can register and ante up for a scheduled tournament where you compete in a single round against hundreds of players for a grand prize. Right now, the players with the top 20 percent of scores win at least their entry fee back or more, with a few geniuses collecting the cash of the rest of the losers.

Just like how DraftKings and FanDuel built their user base with big jackpot tournaments, Proveit hopes to do the same… then get people playing little one-on-one games in-between as they wait for their coffee or commute home from work.

Gaming or gambling?

Thankfully, Proveit understands just how addictive it can be. The startup offers a “self-exclusion” option. “If you feel that you need to take greater control of your life as it relates to skill-gaming,” users can email it to say they shouldn’t play any more, and it will freeze or close their account. Family members and others can also request you be frozen if you share a bank account, they’re your dependant, they’re obligated for your debts or you owe unpaid child support.

“We want Proveit to be a fun, intelligent entertainment option for our players. It’s impossible for us to know who might have an issue with real-money gaming,” Lehoux tells me. “Every responsible real-money game provides this type of option for its users.

That isn’t necessarily enough to thwart addiction, because dopamine can turn people into dopes. Just because the outcome is determined by your answers rather than someone else’s touchdown pass doesn’t change that.

Skill-based betting from home could be much more ripe for abuse than having to drag yourself to a casino, while giving people an excuse that they’re not gambling on chance. Zynga’s titles like Farmville have been turning people into micro-transaction zombies for a decade, and you can’t even win money from them. Simultaneously, sharks could study up on a category and let Proveit’s random matching deliver them willing rookies to strip cash from all day. “This is actually one of the few forms of entertainment that rewards players financially for using their brain,” Lehoux defends.

With so much content to consume and consequence-free games to play, there’s an edgy appeal to the danger of Proveit and apps like it. Its moral stance hinges on how much autonomy you think adults should be afforded. From Coca-Cola to Harley-Davidson to Caesar’s Palace, society has allowed businesses to profit off questionably safe products that some enjoy.

For better and worse, Proveit is one of the most exciting mobile games I’ve ever played.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com

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Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find

(CNN)Experts have proposed using medical marijuana to help Americans struggling with opioid addiction. Now, two studies suggest that there is merit to that strategy.

Watch Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN Special Report “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills” on Sunday, April 29, at 8 p.m. ET.
The studies, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, compared opioid prescription patterns in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws with those that have not. One of the studies looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicare Part D between 2010 and 2015, while the other looked at opioid prescriptions covered by Medicaid between 2011 and 2016.
The researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.
    “This study adds one more brick in the wall in the argument that cannabis clearly has medical applications,” said David Bradford, professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia and a lead author of the Medicare study.
    “And for pain patients in particular, our work adds to the argument that cannabis can be effective.”
    Medicare Part D, the optional prescription drug benefit plan for those enrolled in Medicare, covers more than 42 million Americans, including those 65 or older. Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 73 million low-income individuals in the US, according to the program’s website.
    “Medicare and Medicaid publishes this data, and we’re free to use it, and anyone who’s interested can download the data,” Bradford said. “But that means that we don’t know what’s going on with the privately insured and the uninsured population, and for that, I’m afraid the data sets are proprietary and expensive.”

    ‘This crisis is very real’

    The new research comes as the United States remains entangled in the worst opioid epidemic the world has ever seen. Opioid overdose has risen dramatically over the past 15 years and has been implicated in over 500,000 deaths since 2000 — more than the number of Americans killed in World War II.
    “As somebody who treats patients with opioid use disorders, this crisis is very real. These patients die every day, and it’s quite shocking in many ways,” said Dr. Kevin Hill, an addiction psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the new studies.
    “We have had overuse of certain prescription opioids over the years, and it’s certainly contributed to the opioid crisis that we’re feeling,” he added. “I don’t think that’s the only reason, but certainly, it was too easy at many points to get prescriptions for opioids.”
    Today, more than 90 Americans a day die from opioid overdose, resulting in more than 42,000 deaths per year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose recently overtook vehicular accidents and shooting deaths as the most common cause of accidental death in the United States, the CDC says.
    Like opioids, marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating chronic pain as well as other conditions such as seizures, multiple sclerosis and certain mental disorders, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Research suggests that the cannabinoid and opioid receptor systems rely on common signaling pathways in the brain, including the dopamine reward system that is central to drug tolerance, dependence and addiction.
    “All drugs of abuse operate using some shared pathways. For example, cannabinoid receptors and opioid receptors coincidentally happen to be located very close by in many places in the brain,” Hill said. “So it stands to reason that a medication that affects one system might affect the other.”
    But unlike opioids, marijuana has little addiction potential, and virtually no deaths from marijuana overdose have been reported in the United States, according to Bradford.
    “No one has ever died of cannabis, so it has many safety advantages over opiates,” Bradford said. “And to the extent that we’re trying to manage the opiate crisis, cannabis is a potential tool.”

    Comparing states with and without medical marijuana laws

    In order to evaluate whether medical marijuana could function as an effective and safe alternative to opioids, the two teams of researchers looked at whether opioid prescriptions were lower in states that had active medical cannabis laws and whether those states that enacted these laws during the study period saw reductions in opioid prescriptions.
    Both teams, in fact, did find that opioid prescriptions were significantly lower in states that had enacted medical cannabis laws. The team that looked at Medicaid patients also found that the four states that switched from medical use only to recreational use — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — saw further reductions in opioid prescriptions, according to Hefei Wen, assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Kentucky and a lead author on the Medicaid study.
    “We saw a 9% or 10% reduction (in opioid prescriptions) in Colorado and Oregon,” Wen said. “And in Alaska and Washington, the magnitude was a little bit smaller but still significant.”
    The first state in the United States to legalize marijuana for medicinal use was California, in 1996. Since then, 29 states and the District of Columbia have approved some form of legalized cannabis. All of these states include chronic pain — either directly or indirectly — in the list of approved medical conditions for marijuana use, according to Bradford.
    The details of the medical cannabis laws were found to have a significant impact on opioid prescription patterns, the researchers found. States that permitted recreational use, for example, saw an additional 6.38% reduction in opioid prescriptions under Medicaid compared with those states that permitted marijuana only for medical use, according to Wen.
    The method of procurement also had a significant impact on opioid prescription patterns. States that permitted medical dispensaries — regulated shops that people can visit to purchase cannabis products — had 3.742 million fewer opioid prescriptions filled per year under Medicare Part D, while those that allowed only home cultivation had 1.792 million fewer opioid prescriptions per year.
    “We found that there was about a 14.5% reduction in any opiate use when dispensaries were turned on — and that was statistically significant — and about a 7% reduction in any opiate use when home cultivation only was turned on,” Bradford said. “So dispensaries are much more powerful in terms of shifting people away from the use of opiates.”
    The impact of these laws also differed based on the class of opioid prescribed. Specifically, states with medical cannabis laws saw 20.7% fewer morphine prescriptions and 17.4% fewer hydrocodone prescriptions compared with states that did not have these laws, according to Bradford.
    Fentanyl prescriptions under Medicare Part D also dropped by 8.5% in states that had enacted medical cannabis laws, though the difference was not statistically significant, Bradford said. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, like heroin, that can be prescribed legally by physicians. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and even a small amount can be fatal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
    “I know that many people, including the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, are skeptical of cannabis,” Bradford said. “But, you know, the attorney general needs to be terrified of fentanyl.”

    ‘A call to action’

    This is not the first time researchers have found a link between marijuana legalization and decreased opioid use. A 2014 study showed that states with medical cannabis laws had 24.8% fewer opioid overdose deaths between 1999 and 2010. A study in 2017 also found that the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2012 reversed the state’s upward trend in opioid-related deaths.
    “There is a growing body of scientific literature suggesting that legal access to marijuana can reduce the use of opioids as well as opioid-related overdose deaths,” said Melissa Moore, New York deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “In states with medical marijuana laws, we have already seen decreased admissions for opioid-related treatment and dramatically reduced rates of opioid overdoses.”
    Some skeptics, though, argue that marijuana legalization could actually worsen the opioid epidemic. Another 2017 study, for example, showed a positive association between illicit cannabis use and opioid use disorders in the United States. But there may be an important difference between illicit cannabis use and legalized cannabis use, according to Hill.
    “As we have all of these states implementing these policies, it’s imperative that we do more research,” Hill said. “We need to study the effects of these policies, and we really haven’t done it to the degree that we should.”
    The two recent studies looked only at patients enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare Part D, meaning the results may not be generalizable to the entire US population.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    But both Hill and Moore agree that as more states debate the merits of legalizing marijuana in the coming months and years, more research will be needed to create consistency between cannabis science and cannabis policy.
    “There is a great deal of movement in the Northeast, with New Hampshire and New Jersey being well-positioned to legalize adult use,” Moore said. “I believe there are also ballot measures to legalize marijuana in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota as well that voters will decide on in Fall 2018.”
    Hill called the new research “a call to action” and added, “we should be studying these policies. But unfortunately, the policies have far outpaced the science at this point.”

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    Boy could die unless given cannabis oil, says mum

    Image caption Billy Caldwell, 12, has severe epilepsy

    A severely epileptic boy suffered two more seizures overnight, his mother who wants to continue treating her son with cannabis oil has said.

    Charlotte Caldwell, from County Tyrone, said she was “full of hope” that a solution would be found.

    Her son Billy Caldwell, 12, began using cannabis oil in 2016 to control his seizures but his most recent supply was confiscated at Heathrow Airport.

    According to MP Órfhlaith Begley, the Home Office has now released the oil.

    In a tweet, the Sinn Féin MP said: “I’m delighted to say that I have just spoken with Charlotte to tell her that I have received official confirmation that Billy is going to receive his medication and it is on its way.”

    The Home Office had earlier said it was in contact with Billy’s medical team.

    In a statement to reporters on Saturday, Ms Caldwell, said she was “overwhelmed” by the professionalism and expertise of doctors at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where Billy is being treated.

    She said: “The hospital staff, Billy’s team and the Home Office are all working together. I’m confident we will find a solution. I’m praying for a miracle.”

    According to Mrs Caldwell, when Billy uses the oil as his anti-epileptic medication, his “life-threatening” seizures are dramatically reduced.

    Image copyright PA
    Image caption Billy was admitted to hospital in London on Friday

    Billy, from Castlederg, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.

    In 2017, he was prescribed the medication on the NHS. But in May this year, his GP was told he could no longer do so.

    At the time the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said cannabis had not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.

    Last Monday, Ms Caldwell tried to bring a six-month supply of the oil – to treat up to 100 seizures a day – into the UK from Canada but the substance was confiscated by officials at Heathrow airport.

    His family said he was taken to hospital when his seizures “intensified” in recent days.

    The Home Office said it was in contact with Billy Caldwell’s medical team to “carefully consider” options. A spokeswoman said it was “deeply sympathetic to the extremely difficult situation that Billy and his family are in”.

    Ms Caldwell previously said the situation was “beyond cruelty”. She said: “We’ve now reached the point where Billy is too ill to travel to get his medication, but his medication is stored minutes away from where we’re now living in London.

    “Despite the best and honest efforts of the NHS, frontline doctors are fighting Billy’s condition with both hands tied behind their back because the only medication that will be effective is the cannabis oil [with a banned component].”

    She said doctors in Canada and Northern Ireland who were familiar with Billy’s case have described her son’s situation as life-threatening.

    “The medicinal cannabis that he’s had access to the last 19 months had been doing an amazing incredible job at controlling his seizures, so this sort of has thrown me a wee bit,” she added.

    “Medicinal cannabis for Billy was his anti-epileptic medication.”

    On Friday, she said Billy had had “back-to-back seizures”.

    “On his medication, which included the vital but banned THC component, he was seizure-free for more than 300 days,” she said.

    “If Billy dies, which is looking increasingly possible, then the Home Office, and (minister) Nick Hurd, will be held completely accountable.”

    Billy’s family later said he could now only be treated with hospital-administered medication because doctors said it was too dangerous to treat him with “rescue meds” at home.

    Image copyright Getty Images
    Image caption Cannabis oil is not licensed in the UK as a medicine

    A Home Office statement said it was “deeply sympathetic to the extremely difficult situation that Billy and his family are in”.

    “Billy is in the care of medical professionals who are best placed to assess the care and treatment that he requires,” it said.

    “The Home Office is contacting Billy’s medical team. If the team treating Billy advise a particular course of urgent action, the Home Office will carefully consider what options are available to help facilitate that advice.”


    Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

    CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

    A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

    Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

    MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

    Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

    Source: NHS Choices


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    Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

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    Epileptic boy gets cannabis oil back

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    Media captionCharlotte Caldwell says “history has been made” after the Home Office allowed her son to use cannabis oil

    A boy with severe epilepsy has been given back medicinal cannabis oil that was confiscated from his mother at customs, the home secretary has said.

    Billy Caldwell, 12, received the oil after doctors made clear it was a “medical emergency”, Sajid Javid said.

    Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, from County Tyrone, said they had “achieved the impossible” but called for the oil to be freely available.

    Billy began using cannabis oil in 2016 to control his seizures.

    The cannabis oil, which contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is illegal in the UK but available elsewhere.

    Billy’s most recent supply – which Ms Caldwell had tried to bring into the UK from Canada – was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on Monday and he was admitted to hospital before Mr Javid said it would be returned.

    The oil arrived at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where Billy is being treated, on Saturday afternoon. It was administered under a special 20-day licence and is not allowed to be taken home.

    A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it was an “exceptional licence” for a “short term emergency” and it would need to be reviewed.

    ‘Completely broken’

    Ms Caldwell said: “I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart, and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heart strings.”

    But she said Billy’s “little body has been completely broken and his little mind”.

    “No other family should have to go through this sort of ordeal, travelling half way round the world to get medication which should be freely available,” she said.

    “My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.

    “Children are dying in our country and it needs to stop now.”

    Image caption Billy was admitted to hospital in London on Friday

    Mr Javid said he had issued a licence to allow Billy to be treated with the cannabis oil after discussions with Billy’s medical team.

    “This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way,” he said.

    “My decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.

    “The policing minister met with the family on Monday and since then has been working to reach an urgent solution.”

    Barbara Zieniewicz, co-founder of campaign group Families4Access, and who travelled to Canada with Billy and Ms Caldwell, called Mr Javid’s decision “triumphant”.

    “I strongly believe that this is the first push – from here, it’s a ripple effect. This means, to me, there is hope, not just for Billy, but for all the families that need it.”

    Billy, from Castlederg, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.

    Ms Caldwell says Billy’s seizures dramatically reduce when he takes the oil.

    In 2017, he was prescribed the medication on the NHS. But in May this year, his GP was told he could no longer prescribe it.

    At the time the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said cannabis had not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.

    Last Monday, Ms Caldwell tried to bring a six-month supply of the oil – to treat up to 100 seizures a day – into the UK from Toronto but the substance was confiscated by officials at Heathrow airport.

    The boy’s family said he was taken to hospital when his seizures “intensified” in recent days.

    The family’s MP, Órfhlaith Begley, said the Home Office’s decision was “life-saving”, adding: “I will continue to engage with the Home Office and the health authorities to ensure he can access his medication in the longer term so there is no repeat of the trauma he has suffered over recent weeks.”

    ‘Not straightforward’

    Dr Amir Englund, who studies cannabis at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “Clearly, there is evidence that Billy’s medication works for him where others have failed.

    “The duty of government is to protect its citizens from harm with regulations on medicines, so that the ones doctors prescribe are safe and effective.

    “However, there are instances which these measures become counterproductive and harmful. This is such an instance, and the Home Office should allow an exemption so that he does not come to further harm.”

    Meanwhile, clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, Dr Michael Bloomfield, said on the one hand “current laws are too strict”, but added that the issue of medical marijuana is “far from straightforward”.

    “Any ‘medical marijuana’ needs a scientific evidence base, in the form of medical trials et cetera, which is currently lacking for many disorders and has become, for many jurisdictions, a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door,” he said.


    Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

    CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

    A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

    Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

    MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

    Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

    Source: NHS Choices


    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

    Marissa SafontEpileptic boy gets cannabis oil back
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    Cynthia Nixon adds $4.20 donation button to her website because weed, dude

    Justice, liberty, and spliffs for all!
    Image: timothy a. clary/AFP/Getty Images

    There is nothing Twitter progressives love more than  a quality pro-weed troll coming from an older politician.

    Take New York Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who recently added a $4.20 donation button to her website to express her support for legalized marijuana. Her opponent, Governor Cuomo, has taken the avoidant “let’s do more research” approach.

    “We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” Nixon says in the video. “Eighty percent of the New Yorkers who are arrested for marijuana are black or Latino, despite the fact that whites and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates.”

    In 2014, Governor Cuomo legalized medical marijuana in New York with extreme restrictions. When it comes to recreational marijuana, however, Cuomo calls it a gateway drug. He has proposed decriminalizing small amounts of the drug which… *elongated sigh.*

    In March, Nixon first declared her support for legalization, arguing that doing so would raise millions in tax revenue and help the struggling agriculture industry.

    According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, as does 100 percent of people who live in the apartment below me — my dudes, get another hobby.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/

    Marissa SafontCynthia Nixon adds $4.20 donation button to her website because weed, dude
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    Two More Studies Have Linked Legalized Marijuana To A Decrease In Opioid Use

    A pair of studies has found that states in the US that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana have seen a drop in opioid prescriptions.

    Both published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the two pieces of research analyzed more than five years of data from Medicare Part D and Medicaid.

    The former was investigated by researchers from the University of Georgia, Athens. It concerned elderly people over the age of 65 between 2010 and 2015.

    In states that had legalized medical marijuana, they found that opioid prescriptions decreased by 2.11 million daily doses a year. This increased to 3.7 million when dispensaries to get marijuana opened up.

    In the second study, by the University of Kentucky, they found that states that had legalized medical marijuana saw a 5.9 percent drop in opioid prescriptions. That rose to 6.4 percent for states that had legalized recreational marijuana. Both were between 2011 and 2016.

    In an accompanying opinion piece, it was noted that the findings supported “anecdotal evidence from patients who describe a decreased need for opioids to treat chronic pain after initiation of medical cannabis pharmacotherapy.”

    Marijuana has long been touted as a way to decrease dependence on opioids, which claim the lives of 90 people in the US every day due to overdoses. And there has been plenty of research before that the pain relief afforded by medical marijuana could reduce the need for opioids.

    Not all research agrees, however. In February this year, a study found that although there was a correlation between the increase of medical marijuana use and the reduction of opioid deaths, there was no evidence it was the cause.

    This is similarly noted in the opinion piece about prescriptions, adding these latest studies are ecological analyses. “We do not know whether patients actually avoided or reduced opioid use because of increased access to cannabis,” they note.

    However, the research does seem to point in the direction of marijuana having some sort of positive benefit with regards to lessening opioid prescriptions. Cannabis policy has advanced much quicker than cannabis science in the US, so it’s likely more studies will be needed to properly see the effects legalization is having.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

    Marissa SafontTwo More Studies Have Linked Legalized Marijuana To A Decrease In Opioid Use
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    John Boehner, who helped send drug dealers to prison, to lobby for marijuana

    "My thinking/the profits on this matter have evolved."
    Image: chip somodevilla/Getty Images

    Now that he’s retired from Congress, former House Speaker John Boehner has decided to channel his inner flip-flopper and lobby for legalized weed. 

    Boehner announced his decision Wednesday to join the board of Acreage Holdings, “an investment company with an established footprint in the cannabis industry in the United States.” 

    “My thinking on cannabis has evolved,” Boehner said, sans winking emoji, in a tweet.

    Boehner said he’d be lobbying to de-schedule the drug so we can “do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic.”

    The former speaker’s decision comes at a time of soaring profits for the legalized cannabis industry, with $10 billion in sales recorded in 2017.

    In 2011, John Boehner said he was “unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug.” He added, “I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

    In fact, the former speaker spent much of his legislative career making life harder for drug users and instituting harsh penalties for drug sellers. In 1999, he voted to prohibit needle exchange and medical marijuana in D.C. — services that, arguably, help the the most vulnerable victims of the drug trade. In 2007, he voted against expanding services for ex-offenders leaving prison and re-entering public life. In 1999, he voted for a bill that allowed juveniles to be tried as adults for serious drug offenses.

    Towards the end of his career in Congress, Boehner did signal an openness to getting people out of prison who “don’t really need to be there,” including non-violent drug offenders. The bill was never passed, and shortly thereafter, Boehner left Congress.

    I wonder if Boehner’s thoughts on all of the drug bills he signed have also “evolved.”

    My hunch is a giant “Nah.” 

    Read more: http://mashable.com/

    Marissa SafontJohn Boehner, who helped send drug dealers to prison, to lobby for marijuana
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