VA parents push for access to medical marijuana for kids
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, May, 12th 2014 by THCFinder
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -
Some Virginia parents are making the heartbreaking decision to split up the family, so their sick child can get access to medical marijuana.
It may sound unorthodox, but these families say they are desperate and it's the only treatment making a difference.
Three little Virginia girls, Haley, Jennifer, and Lucy, share three different stories of families in the fight of their life. Haley is a curious 13-year-old, who shakes uncontrollably through the night. She had more than 800 major seizures last year alone.
"I'll get compliments, or when we go out in public they'll think, 'well you keep her nice' or 'she seems so happy.' Well, it's like, 'You don't see her in this state,'" said Lisa Smith, Haley's mother.
The Smith family lives in the Northern Neck. Haley started having seizures at 5-months-old. She has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy with no clear treatment. Haley functions at the level of a 3 to 5-year-old. She's been through 21 different medications.
"These are life threatening seizures and one day one of them will take her life," said Smith.
Jennifer Collins, 14, has a different form of epilepsy, and she's been through 13 different drugs. Some of them aren't even approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"We have no other options in terms of existing medications. One of them she's on now is clearly experimental," said Jennifer's father, Patrick Collins.
The side effects of her pharmaceutical drugs leave her fighting, "depression, suicidal thoughts, waking cognitive issues, anger, hair loss," said her mother, Beth Collins.
These symptoms from legally prescribed medication can be just as bad as her 300 seizures each day. She was falling behind in school.
"She's going to go one of two ways," her father said. "If we stick with where we are now, she'll never be the person that she could be."
The Collins' made the painful decision to split up the family. Patrick and his other daughter stayed behind in Fairfax. Beth and Jennifer moved 1,700 miles away to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal.
"It was terrible. It was terrible," Patrick said, choking back tears.
Why Health Insurance Won't Cover Your Medical Marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don't cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month.
Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.
Still, insurers are reluctant to cover it, in part because of conflicting laws. While 21 U.S. states have passed laws approving it for medical use, the drug still is illegal federally and in most states.
But perhaps the biggest hurdle for insurers is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved it. Major insurers generally don't cover treatments that are not approved by the FDA, and that approval depends on big clinical studies that measure safety, effectiveness and side effects.
That research can take years and millions of dollars. And while the FDA has approved treatments like Marinol that contain a synthetic version of an ingredient in marijuana, so far, no one has gained approval for a treatment that uses the whole plant.
As a result of the obstacles, advocates for medicinal marijuana say insurers likely won't cover the drug in the next few years. In the meantime, medical marijuana users — of which advocates estimate there are more than 1 million nationwide — have to find other ways to pay for their treatment.
Bill Britt, for instance, gets his supply for free from a friend whom he helps to grow the plants. Britt lives mostly on Social Security income and uses marijuana every day for epileptic seizures and leg pain from a childhood case of polio.
"I'm just lucky I have somebody who is helping me out, but that could go away at any time," said Britt, 55, who lives in Long Beach, California. "I am always worried about that."
Insurers have not seen enough evidence that marijuana is safe and more effective than other treatments, said Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Marijuana's Schedule I classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies that might provide that evidence. The classification means the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. And that means extra precautions are required in order to study it.
Researchers have to apply to the FDA to approve their study. Public Health Service, another arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, also may review it, a process that can take months.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has to issue a permit after making sure researchers have a secure place to store the drug. Researchers also have to explain the study plan to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, another agency within Health and Human Services.
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Can you get fired for smoking medical marijuana?
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
Even as recreational marijuana usage is gaining acceptance, people who medicate with marijuana in most states can still get fired for failing their employer's drug test.
FORTUNE -- Acceptance of medical marijuana, and the patients who medicate with marijuana, is sweeping state legislatures across the country. Of the 21 states that have passed laws addressing medical marijuana, nine have done so in the past three years. A growing number of Americans appear willing to allow those with chronic illness or pain to alleviate their symptoms with the plant, quite apart from the issue of recreational use, which Colorado and Washington state recently approved.
But even as recreational usage is gaining acceptance, people who medicate with marijuana across most states can still get fired for failing their employers' drug test. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana use, but it's still unclear whether employees' jobs are protected in those states if they smoke off duty -- either for recreation or medical use. In Colorado, for instance, the marijuana law allows employers to impose any drug policies they see fit.
There are a lot of unanswered questions, and it's time for U.S. lawmakers to clarify how companies should treat these cases. Regardless of a state's law, using marijuana remains a violation of federal law. This conflict has important consequences in the workplace: Employees are left with no protection and employers with little guidance.
Moreover, in a 2013 ruling, the Colorado Appellate Court said that because marijuana is still illegal under federal law employees could be fired for using it off duty.The case has gone to the Colorado Supreme Court; if it rules in favor of the employee, it would provide protection to thousands of medical marijuana users in Colorado and potentially influence other states to follow. If the court decides in favor of the employer, the status of registered users in Colorado remains unchanged: They have very little protection from losing their job.
Take the case of former Wal-Mart (WMT) employee Joseph Casias, who medicated with marijuana, off duty, in accordance with Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act to alleviate the symptoms of his sinus cancer and brain tumor. In 2009, after a workplace injury, he failed a company drug test. Wal-Mart fired him. The Michigan court upheld his firing because the state's medical marijuana law did not regulate private employment; it merely provided a defense against criminal prosecution. Similar incidents have occurred in California, Washington, and Oregon. Courts there have ruled in favor of employers who fired people for testing positive for marijuana though they were medicating with it off duty and in accordance with state laws.
Medical-marijuana bill now includes cancer, MS, other ailments
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, May, 7th 2014 by THCFinder
People who have cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or other ailments could be able to use medical marijuana under the expanded "Charlotte's Web" bill awaiting the governor's signature.
The original proposal targeted only a limited number of children with debilitating seizures, but the bill's final wording means Florida will be taking a much larger step toward legalizing medical marijuana.
"It is very important to me to have cancer as a qualifying ailment," said state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, who sponsored the original House bill and shepherded many of the last-minute changes, including the cancer addition.
Gov. Rick Scott said last week he would approve the bill, but his office on Tuesday did not comment on the changes.
If Scott signs the measure, the Florida Department of Health would select and license five companies — one in each corner of the state and in Central Florida — to grow a marijuana variety bred to have a low content of the THC chemical that can get people high and a high content of the CBD chemical that is thought to improve nerve-cell function and shows promise in treating malignant tumors.
The companies would be able to harvest the plants and extract an oil first commercially introduced in Colorado under the brand name "Charlotte's Web." And they would be able to sell the oil in their own dispensaries, which the state could authorize throughout Florida.
As early as Jan. 1, Florida doctors could start registering patients to buy and use the oil if the patient is "suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to the revised bill.
Medical-marijuana opponents say they are concerned about expanding the range of potential abuses.
"Would a physician treating someone for nonmalignant skin cancer be able to place an order? What about someone who has persistent leg cramps?" said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs.
The final bill still is far from creating the kind of broad medical-marijuana legalization that Florida voters will consider in November when they decide Amendment 2.
Unlike the Charlotte's Web bill, the ballot initiative would not limit THC content; it would legalize smokable marijuana; and it would authorize treatment of a much broader range of diseases.
Still, the bill — the final version was known as substitute Senate Bill 1030 — creates a state regulatory, licensing and oversight bureaucracy that could serve as the framework to support Amendment 2 if it is approved, or to handle future expansions of medical marijuana authorized by the Legislature.
Gaetz called the bill "a start" and said he expects it to be built upon.
He said he still would like to see Florida address conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, which this bill does not. He also acknowledged that the low THC — limited to 0.8 percent of the oil — would make the oil ineffective for other treatments, including relieving the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy.
Poll shows Floridians favor medical marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, May, 6th 2014 by THCFinder
Florida appears ready for medical marijuana.
A poll released Monday shows that 88 percent of Florida voters support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, bolstering the arguments of advocates who have placed a constitutional amendment on the November ballot seeking legalization.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, indicates widespread support across political and demographic lines — Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old — for legal medical marijuana if it is prescribed by physicians. The constitutional amendment needs approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.
"If Vegas were giving odds on medical marijuana becoming legal in Florida, the bookies would be betting heavily," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a statement released with the results.
Support for the idea has grown slightly since a Quinnipiac poll in November 2013 indicated 82 percent of voters approved of legalization. Since that poll, a group spearheaded by prominent Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan finished gathering enough petition signatures to place the issue on this year's general-election ballot and also received a sign-off from the Florida Supreme Court.
Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican legislative leaders wanted the Supreme Court to block the constitutional amendment, contending that the proposal was far broader than billed. For example, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, described the proposal as being "about the Coloradofication of Florida, where the end game is a pot shop on every street corner."
But the Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, allowed the amendment to move forward, finding that the wording of the ballot title and summary would not mislead voters.
Despite the criticism of the ballot proposal, the GOP-dominated Legislature last week approved a bill aimed at making available a strain of marijuana that supporters say will help children who have a form of epilepsy that causes severe seizures. The substance, known as "Charlotte's Web," is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, so users do not get high.
Missouri Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Extract Bill
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, May, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
Missouri’s Senate vote unanimously to approve House Bill 2238 Thursday, sending the measure to the governor. The proposal would legalize the possession and distribution of low-THC cannabis extracts.
If signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon, or allowed to become law without his signature, House Bill 2238 would authorize the state’s Department of Agriculture to produce, manufacture and distribute cannabis extract that’s low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and high in CBD (cannabidiol). Those who receive a recommendation from a neurologist would be allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of the extracts.
The proposal also mandates the state to certify a college to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. Its passage in the Senate will send it to the state’s governor for consideration.
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