In a decision that could have immediate fallout for medical marijuana dispensaries, a state appeals court has ruled that California law allows cities and counties to ban the stores. The contentious issue has bounced through the state courts for years, but the opinion issued Wednesday is the first published one that directly tackles it and does so in unambiguous language. The decision could embolden more cities and counties to enact their own. It also could spur those that have bans to be more aggressive about seeking court orders to close defiant dispensaries.
A UCSF study suggests patients with chronic pain may experience greater relief if their doctors add cannabinoids - the main ingredient in cannabis or medical marijuana - to an opiates-only treatment. The findings, from a small-scale study, also suggest that a combined therapy could result in reduced opiate dosages. Cannabidiol, or CBD, appears to be very effective against pain and inflammation without creating the "high" created by THC.
Voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative last November allowing medical marijuana in the state, but the result has been just the opposite of an orderly system of dispensing cannabis to the truly sick. Rather, police raids, surreptitious money transfers and unofficial pot clubs have followed passage of the new law, creating a chaotic situation not far removed from the black-market system that has always existed.
For the past three decades, Uncle Sam has been providing patients with some of the highest grade marijuana around as part of a little-known program that grew out of a 1976 court settlement and created the country's first legal pot smoker. The program once provided 14 people government pot. Now, there are four left.
Health Canada began two days of closed-door talks Wednesday about changes to the controversial medical marijuana law that has faced legal challenges and criticism for being ineffective. But even as meetings get underway in Ottawa, there are concerns Health Canada is on the wrong track with a law that asks doctors to ignore a sworn obligation to protect patients’ health, while forcing patients to go to great lengths to obtain a drug that many say eases their pain.
The California Medical Association, representing more than 35,000 physicians statewide, questions the medical value of pot and acknowledges some health risk from its use but urges it be regulated like alcohol. It is the first major medical association in the nation to urge legalization of the drug. Dr. Donald Lyman, who wrote the group's new policy, attributed the shift to growing frustration over California's medical marijuana law, which permits cannabis use with a doctor's recommendation. That has created an untenable situation for physicians: deciding whether to give patients a substance that is illegal under federal law.
The uncertainty comes after lawmakers worked for months on a plan that would help clear up the state's medical marijuana laws. The Legislature approved a plan that would have created a system to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. But Gregoire, citing fears that state workers could face federal prosecution for participating in the licensing scheme, vetoed much of it. The remaining parts of the law allow collective marijuana grows with up to 45 plants, serving up to 10 patients.
The organisers of a Czech petition for the legalisation of cannabis in medical treatment have asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to support the relevant changes in legislation. The petition committee, including doctors, patients and scientists, recalls that it does not seek the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Since its launch on August 16, the petition has been signed by almost 5,000 people.
Czech doctors, patients and scientists launched a petition for the legal use of marijuana in treating sclerosis multiplex, the Parkinson disease, cancer and the AIDS in the Czech Republic whose legislation bans such practice. The petitioners say the ban breaches people's free choice of treatment methods and want it to be lifted. They give research results and practice in foreign countries as arguments in support of their demand.
A group of medical and criminal law experts are moving forward with drafting a plan that would clear marijuana for medicinal use. "There is a consensus between parties in the coalition and with the opposition that making marijuana legal for medical purposes is a good thing," said National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, deputy chairman of the committee drafting the proposal.
The Czech Ministry of Health has indicated that it will take marijuana off the list of banned substances and allow it to be prescribed by doctors for its medical effects. “By the end of this year we will submit to parliament an amended law on addictive substances which will move marihuana from the list of banned substances to the list of those which can be prescribed,” Deputy Health Minister Martin Plíšek pledged.
Czech health experts are in favor of allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed for a wide range of conditions with home grown marijuana in the Czech Republic used to compliment imports, according to a working group paving the way for medical marijuana to be offered for the first time in the country. The head of the working group, Tomáš Zima, who is rector of the medical faculty at Prague’s Charles University, initially indicated that the Czech Republic would favor imports alone when expected legal changes allowing marijuana to be prescribed for patients are completed.
A government expert group is adding finishing touches to new draft legislation proposing the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. While still banning patients from growing medical cannabis on their own, the amended legislation allows importing as well as the cultivation of medical hemp by local private companies under strict state supervision. The committee, whose existence was prompted by a petition initiated earlier this year by doctors, researchers and patients and is supported by the chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament, is supposed to submit the final draft proposal to the Prime Minister in about a week’s time.
Last week's request by Govs. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee to have the federal government reclassify marijuana as medicine--which at first glance looked like unalloyed good news for those who support safe access for patients--is actually a double-edged sword.
A high-ranking U.S. Justice Department official who wrote a memo saying state medical marijuana laws do not provide immunity from federal prosecution refused to say whether a recent crackdown in California signals a shift in federal policy that may result in a crackdown in other states. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the memo sent to U.S. attorneys in June speaks for itself, and he said U.S. attorneys have discretion in how federal law is enforced in their districts.
Recently, the California Medical Association, representing more than 35,000 physicians, the largest statewide physician organization in America, boldly decided to adopt a different, more pragmatic approach to the polarizing issue of marijuana decriminalization. The decision – the result of a carefully considered process, painstakingly researched and debated for more than one year – is centered on one concern above all others: patient safety.
Like every section that's left of the mostly vetoed medical-marijuana-reform law that passed in April, section 403 is vague, confusing, and inadequate to the task of regulating cannabis. Section 403, however, might be the single most important scrap of law to survive Gov. Chris Gregoire's veto pen. It's from this section, after all, that the City of Seattle, just three days ago, effectively legalized medical-marijuana gardens and dispensaries (city officials prefer the term "access points").
In October 2009, medical marijuana advocates celebrated a U.S. Department of Justice memo declaring that federal authorities wouldn't target the legal use of medicinal pot in states where it is permitted. The memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden was credited with accelerating a California medical marijuana boom, including a proliferation of dispensaries that now handle more than $1 billion in pot transactions. But last month brought a new memo from another deputy attorney general, James Cole. And this time, it is stirring industry fears of federal raids on pot dispensaries and sweeping crackdowns on large-scale medical pot cultivation.
Why is the U.S. government cracking down on medical marijuana, a $1.7 billion business — and one of the few that seems to be thriving in a moribund economy? In early October, the Justice Department announced that it would be targeting medical-marijuana dispensaries in California. Calling large dispensaries "profiteers" that "hijacked" the state's medical-marijuana law, "motivated not by compassion but by money," California's four U.S. Attorneys announced the arrests of two major dispensary owners and a lawyer they accused of making millions from growing the drug.