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Minnesota's Legislature OKs Medical Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, May, 16th 2014 by THCFinder
minn-oks-medical-marijuanaMinnesota has approved the sale and use of medical marijuana and Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will sign the legislation.
 
The state is poised to become the 22nd to legalize the drug for medical purposes.
 
Minnesota Public Radio says, "Under the agreement, the state will authorize two medical cannabis manufacturers to set up operations in Minnesota and distribute the product in pill or liquid form to qualified patients at up to eight distribution centers by July 1, 2015."
 
However, smoking marijuana would still not be legal. Instead, patients would be allowed to vaporize "whole plant extracts," but not dried leaves, MPR says.
 
The Associated Press says the deal is "a major victory to severely ill children and adults whose emotional appeals for help propelled a major policy change that once appeared dead for the session."
 
The AP says: "Some patients lamented that the agreement doesn't allow them to use actual plant material - they instead can use the drug in oil, pill and vapor form - but others were overjoyed."

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Dr. Oz Backs Medical Marijuana, Says It's 'Hugely Beneficial'

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 15th 2014 by THCFinder
dr-oz-mmj-supporterMedical marijuana just got another celebrity doctor's public support.
 
During an interview Monday with Dr. Mehmet Oz on "Larry King Live", King asked Oz if he'd changed his views on marijuana.
 
"I have," Oz responded, and went on to explain just how far he's come from his early beliefs about the plant. "I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the believe that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes," Oz said.
 
Oz joins the ranks of other TV medical experts who have come out in support of medical marijuana in recent years, including CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who recently "doubled down" on his support, and ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.
 
A vast majority of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes. According to a recent CBS News poll, 86 percent of Americans think that doctors should be able to legally prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from serious illnesses.
 
Oz -- who in addition to hosting his own show is a cardiothoracic surgeon, author, and teaching professor at Columbia University -- stopped short of supporting recreational marijuana, citing use by children as a main concern.
 
"We pervert its use at times," Oz added. "I don't think it should be widely used, certainly by kids, because that creates a dependence that is unhealthy in any setting. But it absolutely should be widely available in America [for medical use]."
 
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, but the drug remains illegal under federal law, classified as a Schedule I substance, which the federal government considers to be of "the most dangerous" variety "with no currently accepted medical use."
 

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Could medical marijuana be a 7-year-old's cure?

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, May, 13th 2014 by THCFinder
mj-7-year-olds-curePITTSFORD, Vt. —A Vermont mother believes medical marijuana could be the remedy her daughter, who suffers from epilepsy, needs to stop seizing.
 
Seven-year-old Lexi’s beaming smile suggests she is just like every other little girl.
“She was born fine,” said mother, Allison Rodgers. “She was born the day before her due date and there were no issues.”
 
But at 18 months, things changed. Allison found Lexi with a 103-degree fever. She was suffering from a grand mal seizure.
 
More than a half-decade later, doctors still are not sure exactly what triggers her seizures.
 
“Every specialist we see is completely baffled and sends us on to another one,” Allison said.
 
Lexi has never had another grand mal seizure, but doctors said she is constantly seizing while she sleeps. She has lost her ability to speak and functions at the cognitive level of a 2-year-old, Allison said.
 
Lexi takes three different medications and the nighttime seizures have not stopped.
 
That’s led Allison to explore other options. Talking with parents across the country, she discovered the Realm of Caring, a Colorado-based dispensary claiming to have developed a marijuana strain benefiting children with epilepsy.
 
WPTZ was there when the Realm of Caring’s founders visited the University of Vermont in November 2013. In that talk, one of the strain’s creators, Josh Stanley, said it has a nearly 90 percent effective rate in epileptic children.
 
“She’s not getting high on it. That's the main key. She's not getting high,” Allison said.
 
This type of marijuana is not smoked. Instead, droppers filled with the plant’s oil are put in food. The strain also does not make children high, as the psychoactive part of the cannabis, THC, is low.
 
Allison is not giving the strain to her daughter, but she would like to. She hopes some Vermont dispensaries engineer something similar. Federal law prohibits the transfer of marijuana or plant seeds across state lines.
 
“She's been on all these other medications. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work,” Allison said. “It's just something else we've tried for her.”
 
“We are talking to several parents in the state at this point,” said Shayne Lynn, executive director at Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington. Lynn runs a second medical marijuana dispensary in Brattleboro.
 
He said he will not dispense to children, pointing to a federal Department of Justice memo stating the first priority in the department’s marijuana enforcement initiative is to prevent “the distribution of marijuana to minors.”
 

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VA parents push for access to medical marijuana for kids

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, May, 12th 2014 by THCFinder
mmj-for-kids
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.
 

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Can you get fired for smoking medical marijuana?

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
fired-for-smoking-medical-marijuanaEven 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.
 

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Why Health Insurance Won't Cover Your Medical Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, May, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
mmj-insurance-companies
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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