DEA targets doctors linked to medical marijuana
Category: News | Posted on Fri, June, 6th 2014 by THCFinder
US Drug Enforcement Administration investigators have visited the homes and offices of Massachusetts physicians involved with medical marijuana dispensaries and delivered an ultimatum: sever all ties to marijuana companies, or relinquish federal licenses to prescribe certain medications, according to several physicians and their attorneys.
The stark choice is necessary, the doctors said they were told, because of friction between federal law, which bans any use of marijuana, and state law, which voters changed in 2012 to allow medical use of the drug.
The DEA’s action has left some doctors, whose livelihoods depend on being able to offer patients pain medications and other drugs, with little option but to resign from the marijuana companies,where some held prominent positions.
The Globe this week identified at least three doctors contacted by DEA investigators, although there may be more.
“Here are your options,” Dr. Samuel Mazza said he was told by Gregory Kelly, a DEA investigator from the agency’s New England Division office. “You either give up your [DEA] license or give up your position on the board . . . or you challenge it in court.”
Mazza, chief executive of Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers, which won preliminary state approval to open a dispensary in Holyoke, said the DEA investigator’s visit came shortly after state regulators announced the first 20 applicants approved for provisional licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Mazza said he returned from vacation in February to find a DEA business card on the door to his home and several messages on his answering machine urging him to contact the agency immediately.
The quiet DEA crackdown comes even as the US House of Representatives approved a measure last week that would restrict the DEA from raiding medical marijuana operations in states where it is legal. Senate action is pending.
Tensions between federal and state officials have flared as 22 states, including Massachusetts, have legalized medical marijuana, many since 2010.
A spokesman for the DEA in Boston on Wednesday referred calls to agency headquarters in Washington.
A DEA spokeswoman in Washington declined to answer questions Thursday about the doctors’ assertions that they are being asked to choose between their drug prescribing licenses and their ties to dispensaries. The spokeswoman would not say whether the action in Massachusetts is part of a national policy or limited to the state.
Read more: http://www.bostonglobe.com
Big Tobacco Planned Big Marijuana Sales in the 1970s
Category: News | Posted on Tue, June, 3rd 2014 by THCFinder
Documents buried deep in tobacco company archives reveal a hope and a plan to sell marijuana as soon as legally possible
Tobacco executives anticipated the legalization of marijuana as early as the 1970′s — and they wanted a piece of the action, according to newly discovered documents from tobacco company archives.
Public health researchers scanned 80 million pages of digitized company documents for keywords such as, “marijuana,” “cannabis,” “reefer,” “weed,” “spliffs,” and “blunts.” The results, published Tuesday in the Milbank Quarterly, reveal a long history of maneuvers toward marijuana-laced products.
“The starting point must be to learn how to produce in quantity cigarettes loaded uniformly with a known amount of either ground cannabis or dried and cut cannabis rag,” read one memorandum from British American Tobacco’s adviser on technical research, Charles Ellis.
A hand-written letter from Philip Morris president George Weissman read, “While I am opposed to its use, I recognize that it may be legalized in the near future…Thus, with these great auspices, we should be in a position to examine: 1. A potential competition, 2. A possible product, 3. At this time, cooperate with the government.”
Philip Morris even went so far as to request a marijuana sample from the Department of Justice for research purposes, promising to share its findings with the government so long as the company’s involvement remained strictly confidential. “We request that there be no publicity whatsoever,” wrote a Philip Morris executive. The Justice Department drug science’s chief Milton Joffee obliged with a promise to deliver “good quality” marijuana.
While tobacco executives missed the mark on legalization by several decades, they did lay out a persuasive case for vigilance. In early 1970, an unsigned memorandum distributed to Philip Morris’ top management read, “We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying these needs.”
The study authors said the documents provide proof of tobacco companies’ intent to enter the marijuana trade, despite their claims to the contrary. They urged policymakers to prevent tobacco makers from entering the nascent market for legal marijuana “in a way that would replicate the smoking epidemic, which kills 480,000 Americans each year.”
DOJ Restricted From Interfering With Medical Cannabis
Category: News | Posted on Mon, June, 2nd 2014 by THCFinder
DOJ Restricted From Interfering With Cannabis
It's enraging for stoners to see their friends, family, and fellow smokers to get thrown in jail for simply enjoying a plant. There's nothing wrong with utilizing nature... Why are people getting so severely punished for it? It's definitely not fair and definitely needs to change. This week was a great one for medical cannabis patients everywhere, providing that the House vote is respected by the people conducting these ridiculous raids.
The US House Of Representatives spent the majority of a day debating this subject, not leaving until after midnight. But the lower chamber of Congress changed the game when they cast their vote of 219 to 189 in favor of restricting the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from using taxpayer money in order to interfere with the state-approved medical marijuana programs. Erik Altieri of NORML Communications said that "the approval of this amendment is a resounding victor for basic compassion and common sense". Patients can now rest with a little more assurance that they'll be able to get their meds without government interference.
The incredibly conflicting laws between the state and federal government regarding marijuana leaves the patients in a tense situation. On one hand, they are told by their doctors that cannabis is a positive, helpful treatment for a disease that they're suffering from. But on the other, they stand to lose their entire lives because of this medicine, just because the federal government can't manage to tear themselves away from harassing sick people. The Feds should have absolutely no right to get involved with patient medicine and invading the clinics where this medicine is available is definitely an interference.
The amendment that passed also says that the DOJ and DEA cannot use taxpayer funds to shut down hemp operations as well. The hemp products will be state sanctioned and will drastically improve the overall wellbeing of the states that approve it. More than a dozen states have enacted pro-hemp cultivation amendments, allowing farmers to grow one of the most useful plants in the entire world.
The amendments still must be approved by the Senate and then signed by the President. Hopefully, they make it all the way through and the world of cannabis will begin to really change for the better.
House Blocks DEA From Targeting Medical Marijuana
Category: News | Posted on Fri, May, 30th 2014 by THCFinder
WASHINGTON -- Reflecting growing national acceptance of cannabis, a bipartisan coalition of House members voted early Friday to restrict the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to go after medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws.
An appropriations amendment offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) prohibiting the DEA from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers passed 219-189. The Senate will likely consider its own appropriations bill for the DEA, and the House amendment would have to survive a joint conference before it could go into effect.
Rohrabacher said on the House floor that the amendment "should be a no-brainer" for conservatives who support states' rights and argued passionately against allowing the federal government to interfere with a doctor-patient relationship.
"Some people are suffering, and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way," Rohrabacher said, his voice rising. "And that's what's happening."
The debate pitted three House Republicans who also are doctors against one another. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) opposed the amendment, while Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) supported it.
Harris insisted that there were no medical benefits to marijuana and that medical marijuana laws were a step toward legalizing recreational pot.
"It's the camel's nose under the tent," said Harris. He cited piece of anti-marijuana propaganda published by the DEA this month that claimed medical marijuana was just "a means to an end" -- the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. The taxpayer-funded report uses scare quotes around the word "medical."
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
New York Assembly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill
Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 28th 2014 by THCFinder
ALBANY — For the fifth time in seven years, the State Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana, backing a measure that would far surpass a program Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced this year.
But with less than four weeks left in the legislative session, the prospects for passage in the State Senate remained uncertain.
The bill allows the possession and use of up to two and a half ounces of marijuana by seriously ill patients whom doctors, physician assistants or nurse practitioners have certified. It permits organizations to establish dispensaries to deliver the drug to registered users and their caregivers, part of what advocates call a “seed to sale” system meant to prevent abuse or illegal use.
Marijuana plants grow under artificial sunlight in one of the many climate-controlled rooms at Tweed Marijuana in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Tweed is one of about 20 companies that are licensed to grow medical marijuana in Canada.When Cannabis Goes CorporateMAY 24, 2014
Katrin Haugh, left, and Carol Thompson, of the Absentee and Petition Office in Anchorage, processed signatures that supported the effort to put marijuana legalization on the ballot.Pivotal Point Is Seen as More States Consider Legalizing MarijuanaFEB. 26, 2014
“There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers with serious, debilitating, life-threatening conditions whose lives could be made more tolerable and longer by enacting this legislation,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan who heads the Health Committee and sponsored the bill.
But enacting any bill on medical marijuana may be difficult. The Assembly, where Democrats are a majority, has passed such bills as far back as 2007, but Republicans in the Senate have been chilly to the concept.
This year, supporters’ hopes have been aided by the advocacy of Senator Diane J. Savino of Staten Island, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group that shares leadership with the Republicans. She has sponsored a similar bill in her chamber, and said she had the support of as many as 40 senators, including several Republicans.
Ms. Savino’s bill narrowly passed the Senate Health Committee last week; the finance panel could take it up next week.
Still, for the bill to be brought to a vote in the Senate, the Republican leader, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, would need to allow it. Senator Skelos was considerably more circumspect about medical marijuana’s chances on Tuesday, saying no decision had been made on a vote.
Ms. Savino suggested that talks with Mr. Skelos were continuing and said she fully expected her bill to be passed before the legislative session is scheduled to end June 19.
“I’m doing this,” she said in an interview. “It’s going to happen.”
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com
Canada vending machines pop out marijuana
Category: News | Posted on Mon, May, 26th 2014 by THCFinder
The vending machines at a Vancouver storefront look ordinary -- but instead of spitting out gum or snacks, for a few coins they deliver medical marijuana.
For Can$4, the brightly lit "gumball" machine drops a plastic ball filled with the so-called "Cotton Candy" variety of the drug. The "Purple Kush" option costs Can$6.
But the really good stuff, said proprietor Chuck Varabioff, is "Pink Kush," available from another machine the size of a fridge that delivers a wide range of marijuana in plastic bags heat-sealed for hygiene.
His British Columbia Pain Society is one of about 400 pot stores -- which call themselves medical marijuana dispensaries -- in the western Canadian city.
They're all part of a booming medical marijuana industry that operates in a legal gray zone since a federal court ruling recently overturned Ottawa's latest attempt to regulate its distribution.
Under the new regulatory regime, as of April 1, some 30,000 home-based growing operations and distributors across Canada are to be replaced by fewer but larger commercial operations.
Many of the smaller growers and distributors, particularly in westernmost British Columbia province, however, refused to step aside.
The drug is illegal outside of the new regime, Vancouver police said in March, but it's not one of the force's top priorities, which are instead focused on violent and predatory drug traffickers, gangs and hard drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
"Medical marijuana dispensaries operating today in Vancouver do not meet these criteria," the police warning said.
Official city policy -- and to a lesser degree British Columbia government policy -- tackles all illegal drugs as a health instead of a criminal issue.
The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was effectively legalized in Canada in 1999, and its use has been expanded through a series of court challenges.
Calls are now growing to also decriminalize recreational marijuana use -- which Canada has prohibited since 1923.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com
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