Other business opportunities include advanced delivery services for homebound patients. However, there are still some remaining hurdles. Local jurisdictions could limit sales and there could be some barriers to doctors who want to participate. Plus, there is uncertainty surrounding the new Federal administration. Still, it's full steam ahead for medical marijuana in Florida unless someone says otherwise.
Friday, January 13, 2017
This new press article, headlined "Study Links Medical Marijuana to Fewer Traffic Fatalities: The health and public safety concerns that kept marijuana illegal for generations are proving unfounded where it is now legal," reports on more good news emerging from public health research in medical marijuana states. Here are the details (with links from the original):
A new study from Columbia University found that traffic fatalities have fallen in seven states where medicinal cannabis is legal and that, overall, states where medical marijuana is legal have lower traffic fatality rates than states were medical marijuna remains illegal.
The study found that “medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states.
Seven researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health worked on the study, with two more researchers from the University of California at Davis and Boston University. They published the study in the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers used traffic accident data from 1985 to 2014, about 1.2 million accidents. They focused on the relationship between medical marijuana laws and the number of fatal traffic accidents, examining each state with legalized medical marijuana separately.
They also looked at the relationship between the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and traffic accidents, finding a reduction in the number of fatal accidents among those ages 25 to 44 in areas where dispensaries were open.
The researchers concluded that both medical marijuana legalization and dispensaries were, on average, associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among drivers 25 to 44-years-old.
They suggested a few possibilities for this conclusion.
- Those under the influence of marijuana are more aware of their impaired condition than those under the influence of alcohol and may more often make the choice not to drive.
- More people have replaced going out to drink in bars with partaking of marijuana at home, reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.
- An increased police presence in areas where medical marijuana is legal could have led to fewer people attempting to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine releases massive new report on "Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids"
I am very pleased to see that today, just in time for a long weekend, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has produced this massive new report titled "The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research." The nearly 400-page report is available for download from this website, and here its the website's brief account of the report's coverage:
In one of the most comprehensive studies of recent research on the health effects of recreational and therapeutic cannabis use, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers a rigorous review of relevant scientific research published since 1999. This report summarizes the current state of evidence regarding what is known about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including effects related to therapeutic uses of cannabis and potential health risks related to certain cancers, diseases, mental health disorders, and injuries. Areas in need of additional research and current barriers to conducting cannabis research are also covered in this comprehensive report.
Helpfully, this new Business Insider article provides some of the substantive highlights of this important new report under the headline "11 key findings from one of the most comprehensive reports ever on the health effects of marijuana." Here are excerpts from this press account:
A massive report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives one of the most comprehensive looks — and certainly the most up-to-date — at exactly what we know about the science of cannabis. The committee behind the report, representing top universities around the country, considered more than 10,000 studies for its analysis, from which it was able to draw nearly 100 conclusions.
In large part, the report reveals how much we still have to learn, but it's still surprising to see how much we know about certain health effects of cannabis. This summation was sorely needed, as is more research on the topic.... Before we dive into the findings, there are two quick things to keep in mind.
First, the language in the report is designed to say exactly how much we know — and don't know — about a certain effect. Terms like "conclusive evidence" mean we have enough data to make a firm conclusion; terms like "limited evidence" mean there's still significant uncertainty, even if there are good studies supporting an idea; and different degrees of certainty fall between these levels. For many things, there's still insufficient data to really say anything positive or negative about cannabis.
Second, context is important. Many of these findings are meant as summations of fact, not endorsements or condemnations. For example, the report found evidence that driving while high increased the risk of an accident. But the report also notes that certain studies have found lower crash rates after the introduction of medical cannabis to an area. It's possible that cannabis makes driving more dangerous and that the number of crashes could decrease after introduction if people take proper precautions.
We'll work on providing context to these findings over the next few days but wanted to share some of the initial findings first. With that in mind, here are some of the most striking findings from the report:
• There was conclusive or substantial evidence (the most definitive levels) that cannabis or cannabinoids, found in the marijuana plant, can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, according to the report, which is "by far the most common" reason people request medical marijuana. With similar certainty, they found that cannabis can help treat muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis and can help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
• The authors found evidence that suggested that marijuana increased the risk of a driving crash.
• They also found evidence that in states with legal access to marijuana, children were more likely to accidentally consume cannabis.
We've looked at these numbers before and seen that the overall increases in risk are small — one study found that the rate of overall accidental ingestion among children went from 1.2 per 100,000 two years before legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 two years after legalization. There's still a far higher chance parents call poison control because of kids eating crayons or diaper cream, but it's still important to know that some increased risk could exist.
• Perhaps surprisingly, the authors found moderate evidence (a pretty decent level of certainty and an indication that good data exists) that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking. However, they did find some limited evidence suggesting that chronic or frequent users may have higher rates of a certain type of testicular cancer.
• Connections to heart conditions were less clear. There's insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the risk of a heart attack, though there was some limited evidence that smoking cannabis might be a trigger for a heart attack.
• There was substantial evidence that regular marijuana smokers are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis and that stopping smoking was likely to improve these conditions. There's not enough evidence to say that that cannabis does or doesn't increase the risk for respiratory conditions like asthma.
• There was limited evidence that smoking marijuana could have some anti-inflammatory effects.
• Substantial evidence suggests a link between prenatal cannabis exposure (when a pregnant woman uses marijuana) and lower birth weight, and there was limited evidence suggesting that this use could increase pregnancy complications and increase the risk that a baby would have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.
• In terms of mental health, substantial evidence shows an increased risk of developing schizophrenia among frequent users, something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place. There was also moderate evidence that cannabis use is connected to a small increased risk for depression and an increased risk for social anxiety disorder.
• Limited evidence showed a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence (which has also been shown to increase the risk for problematic use).
• One of the most interesting and perhaps most important conclusions of the report is that far more research on cannabis is needed. Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis was connected to an increased risk doesn't mean marijuana use caused that risk.
And it's hard to conduct research on marijuana right now. The report says that's largely because of regulatory barriers, including marijuana's Schedule I classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the fact that researchers often can't access the same sorts of marijuana that people actually use. Even in states where it's legal to buy marijuana, federal regulations prevent researchers from using that same product.
Without the research, it's hard to say how policymakers should best support legalization efforts — to say how educational programs or mental health institutions should adapt to support any changes, for example. "If I had one wish, it would be that the policymakers really sat down with scientists and mental health practitioners" as they enact any of these new policies, Krista Lisdahl, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told Business Insider in an interview shortly before we could review this report.
It's important to know what works, what doesn't, and what needs to be studied more. This report does a lot to show what we've learned in recent years, but it also shows just how much more we need to learn.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Legal marijuana sales in 2016 in North America over $6.5 billion after another year of remakable growth
As reported in this new Forbes article, "North American marijuana sales grew by an unprecedented 30% in 2016 to $6.7 billion as the legal market expands in the U.S. and Canada, according to a new report by Arcview Market Research." Here is more reporting on a new report on the legal marijuana marketplace:
North American sales are projected to top $20.2 billion by 2021 assuming a compound annual growth rate of 25%. The report includes Canada for the first time as it moves towards implementing legal adult use marijuana.
To put this in perspective, this industry growth is larger and faster than even the dot-com era. During that time, GDP grew at a blistering pace of 22%. Thirty percent is an astounding number especially when you consider that the industry is in early stages. Arcview's new editor-in-chief Tom Adams said, "The only consumer industry categories I've seen reach $5 billion in annual spending and then post anything like 25% compound annual growth in the next five years are cable television (19%) in the 1990's and the broadband internet (29%) in the 2000's."
ArcView's analysis uses data provided by BDS Analytics that has access to millions of individual consumer transactions from dispensary partners. “One of the biggest stories was the alternative forms of ingestion,” said ArcView Chief Executive Officer Troy Dayton. “Concentrates and edibles are becoming customer favorites versus traditional smoking.”
Even though the market is putting up huge sales numbers, there is still a great deal of uncertainty that comes with the new administration's approach towards legalization. Dayton believes that President-elect Donald Trump has been consistently in favor of states rights when it comes to legalization. “It's one of the few things he has been consistent on,” he said. Dayton also believes that even if Trump backed away from adult use, he would still favor medical marijuana.
The proposed attorney general Jeff Sessions is a confirmed critic of legalization, but Dayton believes that marijuana will be a low priority for the new administration. In any event, the group is reviewing and preparing for a more aggressive stance toward marijuana from the federal government should that happen. Even with this cloud of uncertainty, Dayton is bullish for the market. He said investment dollars are pouring into California, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada. “Twenty-one percent of the total U.S. population now live in legal adult use markets,” said Dayton. He also noted that Colorado, Washington and Oregon saw their sales jump 62% through September of 2016 over 2015.
Investors are predominantly interested in investing in new technology within the industry like testing technologies and new growing technologies. Retail also remains attractive as new brands vie to win market share. Dayton also said there is a great deal of interest in Canada. That country's market is smaller than the U.S., but without the overhang of government conflict, it is a good indicator for which businesses could be replicated and thrive in the U.S.
January 3, 2017 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
This new posting by Tom Angell at Marijuana.com, headlined "Legal Marijuana Fears Are Unfounded, New Data Show," reports on two new sources of data from marijuana reform states. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Marijuana opponents have often fixated on two big fears they have about legalization: It will lead to increased use by young people and will cause carnage on highways as more stoned drivers get behind the wheel. But two new studies released this week undermine both claims.
First, the latest results from the federally-funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that while adult marijuana use rose in Colorado in the first two years following the implementation of legal sales, teen cannabis use actually declined.
Legalization proponents have long argued that taking marijuana sales out of the hands of drug dealers and putting them into a controlled, regulated system where licensed retailers are greatly incentivized to ensure their customers are of age would make cannabis harder for young people to get. The new data, first reported by the Washington Post, seem to bear that out.
“Medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years, the study in the American Journal of Public Health found. “Dispensaries were also associated with traffic fatality reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Silvia Martins, the study’s lead author, told the Post that her team “found evidence that states with the marijuana laws in place compared with those which did not, reported, on average, lower rates of drivers endorsing driving after having too many drinks.”
As legalization plays out in Colorado and other states that have already enacted it, and more data is collected showing that it not only creates jobs and generates tax revenue but doesn’t lead to the horrors that opponents have long claimed, it is likely that voters and elected officials in a growing number of other places will move end their own prohibition laws.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
The question in the title of this post is my reaction to this recent Denver Post article headlined "Colorado researchers receive $2.35M to study marijuana use on driving, other impacts of legalization." Here are details:
In a groundbreaking effort to better understand what, exactly, happened after voters legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, the state’s Health Department on Tuesday announced $2.35 million in grants to researchers who will help answer that question.
Most of the money — $1.68 million — will go toward two studies that look at the impacts of marijuana use on driving. The first will compare driving impairment for heavy marijuana consumers versus occasional consumers. The other will study dabbing — the smoking of highly potent marijuana extracts — to determine its effects on driving and cognitive functioning.
Other studies receiving grant funding will look at how long marijuana stays in the breast milk of nursing mothers, the adverse effects of edible cannabis products, the cardiovascular risks of marijuana use in people with heart problems, the impact of marijuana use on older adults and, lastly, an “analysis of data from before and after implementation of recreational marijuana in Colorado,” by a psychology professor specializing in addiction counseling at Colorado State University.
“This research will be invaluable in Colorado and across the country,” Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a statement. “The findings will inform our public education efforts and give people additional information they need to make decisions about marijuana use.”
The Health Department previously spent $9 million as part of a historic effort to fund the study of medical marijuana by a state government. Those research projects are still ongoing. Earlier this year, the state legislature approved funding for the new grants to study recreational marijuana. The Health Department received 58 preliminary applications, which were winnowed to a pool of 16 from which the final seven recipients were selected.
I am pleased to see that Colorado continues to invest substantial amounts into medical and recreational marijuana research, and the roughly $11.5 million spent to date is nothing to scoff at. Nevertheless, this article reports that Colorado "collected more than $135 million in marijuana taxes and fees in 2015," and increased sales data in 2016 would suggest that the state is on pace to collect at least another $165 million or more this year. Consequently, the tax monies raised in Colorado from marijuana reform in Colorado being "reinvested" in needed research is only about 4%.
Though my biases as a researcher is showing through, I think reinvesting only 4% of tax revenues into needed research is woefully inadequate given all the important and unanswered questions raised by marijuana reforms in Colorado. Though picking out numbers here, I think at this still-very-early stage of state-level marijuana reforms that states ought to be seriously considering putting 10% or more of revenues raised back into public health and public policy research on the impact of state-level reforms.
December 17, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, December 16, 2016
This new local piece, headlined "Survey finds Ohio physicians not yet sold on medical marijuana," reports on the results of a notable poll taken of Buckeye state doctors concerning medical marijuana. Here are the details:
Only 3 in 10 Ohio doctors responding to a State Medical Board survey indicated they will be likely to recommend medical marijuana to patients under a new state law.
The board received responses from 3,000 of the state's 46,000 medical and osteopathic doctors during a survey in September. The results were announced at a meeting of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee on Thursday. About 40 percent of respondents say they would not be likely to recommend medical marijuana, 30 percent said they would be likely, and the remaining 30 percent were neutral or had no opinion.
Many physicians surveyed said they might change their mind if the federal Drug Enforcement Administration changed marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, if they had more peer-reviewed research on the subject, or if they training and education.
The law effective Sept. 8 allows certified physicians to recommend, not prescribe, medical pot for patients with any of 21 qualifying diseases and medical conditions. The rules for the program are just now being proposed. Patients probably won't have access to the drug until Sept. 2018.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new US News & World Report article. Here are excerpts:
American voters and legislatures increasingly are allowing medical and adult recreational use of marijuana, but as home-growing spreads and retail stores open, younger teens are reporting the scarcest availability in at least 24 years.
Explanations remain theoretical for the surprising trend in the face of widespread liberalization of cannabis laws. But it appears clear that fears about children finding the drug easier to acquire have not become a national reality, at least not yet.
In 2016, 8th-grade and 10th-grade respondents to the large Monitoring the Future survey gave the lowest-ever indication that marijuana was easy to get if they wanted it, a question posed to the groups every year since 1992. Only 34.6 percent of 8th-grade students said it would be easy to get marijuana, down 2.4 percentage points. Of 10th graders, 64 percent said it would be easy to get, also the lowest rate ever, though not a statistically significant annual drop.
High school seniors, asked the question every year since 1975, reported greater accessibility with 81 percent saying it would be easy to acquire, a non-significant increase from 2015, which saw that age group’s lowest-ever rate.
Actual use of the drug dropped among 8th grade students and stagnated among 12th graders. Reported annual use continued a five-year slide among 10th grade students, though the year-to-year change was not statistically significant.
“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissions the annual survey. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up,” she says.
“We’re seeing that more people in the U.S. except for teenagers are taking it," Volkow says. "The rates of increases are highest among young adults 18-24, so one would expect that would translate to the adolescents, but apparently it has not.”...
Volkow says explanations for long-term trends in use and accessibility are unproven, but that she is interested in hypotheses that include a connection to similar declines in alcohol and tobacco use, or the fact that teens spend more time around computers and less time around friends who could offer them drugs. She says it also may be possible legalization has prevented the rates from plunging.
"Every time a state considers rolling back marijuana prohibition, opponents predict it will result in more teen use. Yet the data seems to tell a very different story," says Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The best way to prevent teen marijuana use is education and regulation, not arresting responsible adult consumers and depriving sick people of medical marijuana."
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, says he believes the results show there’s no connection between legal reforms benefiting adults and young people’s marijuana use, which he says is more driven by cultural influences. “That’s excellent news. It’s reassuring,” he says of the new survey results. “Marijuana legalization opponents typically try to use the argument that legalizing marijuana for adults will hurt kids. Even though it’s not a credible argument, the Monitoring the Future data suggest there’s no substance to that claim whatsoever.”
Nadelmann says some legalization supporters are likely to argue that regulation has made pot less accessible to teens, but he sees no clear evidence. He offers as one potential explanation a generational aversion to inhaling smoke, and says he also recalls a Dutch explanation for low cannabis consumption despite open sales in coffee shops. “We succeeded in making cannabis boring," he recalls being told. “Maybe marijuana use is becoming less and less a symbol of rebellion among teenagers,” he says.
But legalization foes are unlikely to throw in the towel. With President-elect Donald Trump's pick of a dogged legalization opponent to serve as attorney general, they are optimistic about the possibility of ending recreational pot markets, which opened with the Obama administration's permission despite federal law banning pot possession in almost all cases.
"This year's results should be a wake-up call to all of us," says former presidential drug policy adviser Kevin Sabet, leader of the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "We are seeing heartening declines in the use of almost every category of drug -- legal or illegal -- except for marijuana," he says. "The policy environment of legalization, acceptance and commercialization is making marijuana the exception."
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the run-up to the November 2016 election, I suggested that Florida's vote over a significant medical marijuana ballot initiative could be as important as any of the recreational marijuana reform votes taking place in other states. This new Forbes article, headlined "Florida Medical Marijuana Sales Could Rival Colorado By 2020," reinforces my view. Here are excerpts (with links from the original):
Colorado and California may be ground zero for medical marijuana, but Florida could quickly catch up. A new report from New Frontier Data with market data provided by Arcview Market Research projects that Florida's market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 140%. That would make it half the size of California's projected $2.6 billion market and top the projected $1.5 billion medical marijuana market for Colorado.
Florida voters legalized medical marijuana during this past election with more than 70% of the vote. Florida has the fifth-highest median age and is one of the most popular places to retire in the country. It is considered to be well-positioned to serve the aging population with medical cannabis products. The New Frontier report believes that Florida could end up becoming 7.5% of the total legal U.S. cannabis market and 14% of the medical marijuana market by 2020.
“Florida has the potential to be one of the largest medical markets in the country. The state is home to the nation's largest percentage of people 65 and older, a demographic for whom chronic pain and catastrophic illnesses are commonplace and expensive to treat. Amendment 2 gives this large patient pool access to legal cannabis as an alternative therapy to their diverse medical needs,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha DeCarcer.
Troy Dayton of The Arcview Group said, “The opportunity for good jobs, tax money and wealth creation created by Amendment 2 passing cannot be understated. And, thankfully, seriously ill patients will no longer need to go to high school parking lots or drug dealers to get their medicine.” Dayton also noted that cannabis entrepreneurs are pretty excited at their prospects in the state.
One example of this is the decision by High There!, a social media site that caters to the cannabis crowd, to move from Colorado to Florida. “When we launched 18 months ago, we felt Denver was the right city to be home to High There!, as it was a legal state. But with Florida legalizing medical marijuana, we realized the opportunity was really in our home state, and High There! could be a model of the economic impact a legal marijuana market can bring to a region,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Darren Roberts.High There! is bringing jobs with it as it moves its headquarters back to the founders home state. The company plans to add positions in operations, and marketing in the coming months, and continues to add strategic partners as the company solidifies itself as a leading technology platform for the cannabis community. The company wants to promote accessibility of medical marijuana and has partnered with United For Care, the largest organization that worked to pass Amendment 2....
December 10, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Via email, I received news of this new accounting (with some typos) of reform states and their populations recently produced by folks at Carnevale Associates LLC. In addition, the same folks previously produced a three-page Policy Brief headlined "Policy Debate Must Adjust to Changes in State Law and Public Opinion" which I promoted in this prior post titled "Highlighting the 'knowledge gap' as marijuana reform moves forward at a speedy pace"
Though I will not crunch the numbers here, the accounting of states and populations reveals that before last week, there were roughly 20 million Americans living in states which had passed full marijuana legalization by initiative. Now, thanks to big states like California and Massachusetts and with a little help from Nevada and Maine, the number of Americans living in states that have passed full marijuana legalization has tripled to over 65 million.
November 15, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new Forbes article which highlights why at least one notable business is already reaping some significant benefits from all the success of marijuana reform initiatives this election cycle. Here are excerpts:
Traditionally a wholesome company known for helping suburban households keep their lawns green, Scotts Miracle-Gro has recently tapped into the pot market by selling equipment for hydroponics, a method of growing that allows people to produce cannabis, or any other plant, indoors. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden,” Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn told FORBES in a July feature story.
Scotts Miracle-Gro shares have jumped 34% in the last six months. “The bulk of that is basically marijuana driven,” said Joe Altobello, an analyst who covers the stock at Raymond James. “If you’re looking to play that angle, this is probably your best bet.”
No one has made more money off of the wager so far than Hagedorn and his family, who own 27% of Scotts Miracle-Gro. Since July, they have added an estimated $370 million to their family fortune, bringing their current net worth to roughly $1.8 billion. A company spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Investors are impressed. “What he’s doing is he’s diversifying the portfolio,” said Jason Gere, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets. “They’re capitalizing on trends, and it’s very entrepreneurial.”
Scotts announced its first major move into the industry in March 2015, when it purchased two sister companies named General Hydroponics and Vermicrop for $135 million. By July 2016, those businesses had already grown by more than 20%, roughly four times the rate of the rest of the company. “The sizzle in the stock, the growth potential that people are looking at is from the cannabis industry,” said Ivan Feinseth, an analyst at Tigress Financial Partners. “It’s going to be a major growth engine.”
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this new article from my own Columbus Dispatch. Here are excerpts:
Can you legally buy medical marijuana in Ohio? If so, can you get it from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, family member or friend, drug dealer or grow it yourself?
You would think the answers to these questions would be simple and straightforward under the letter of the law. Not so much.
Technically, medical marijuana has been legal in Ohio since a new law, House Bill 523, took effect Sept. 8. But as of yet — and probably not until 2018 — patients in Ohio cannot legally buy marijuana for medical purposes.
Before that happens, the complicated, time-consuming job of drafting rules, policies, certifications, licenses and many other things must be completed. Rules don’t have to be in place, by law, until next year. Only after rules go through two state oversight agencies can cultivators begin growing marijuana crops, with processing, lab testing and sales through licensed dispensaries to follow. Advocates have pressed the board to allow physicians to utilize an “affirmative defense” clause in the statue, essentially offering legal protection against prosecution if physicians recommend medical marijuana for a patient prior to it being available here.
Robert Giacalone, a medical board member, said the agency “is in no way prohibiting the recommendation of medical marijuana now that HB523 is effective.” But he added there is “ conflicting language” in the law because of a provision prohibiting physicians from recommending marijuana until Ohio rules are written and the product is grown and sold in the state. “If any physician wishes to recommend medical marijuana before the rules are in place, we strongly recommend that they contact a private attorney,” Giaclone said at a board meeting last Wednesday.
Rob Ryan, head of Ohio Patient Network, an advocacy group, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that people with qualifying conditions should be able to get medical marijuana in Ohio.” Ryan said he knows some physicians are recommending marijuana but, like patients, they are being very cautious. Asked where patients can get marijuana if they have a physician’s recommendation, Ryan said, “it might be growing in your backyard or basement, from a family member or friend, or a dealer as a last resort. I’d be very careful going out of state.”
Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, which advises the medical board, concludes it would be “very difficult” to legally obtain marijuana in Ohio at this time. “Everybody knows there’s significant lead time built into this statute,” DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said. “We don’t have the specific rules in place at the medical board or the pharmacy board.”...
The delays and moratoriums are seen as chipping away at the law by Savannah Smith of the Ohio Rights Group, an advocacy organization. “It’s extremely frustrating,” Smith said. “The sick, dying and disabled of Ohio are our most vulnerable. They are medical refugees. “We had hoped this law would provide some real relief for the population that we’ve been fighting for for years.”
October 26, 2016 in Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, September 22, 2016
--- in April, Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor signed into law the Keystone State's new medical marijuana law (basics here);
--- in June, Ohio's Republican Governor signed into law the Buckeye State's new medical marijuana law (basics here); and
--- in September, as reported here, Michigan's Republican Governor signed into law new medical marijuana regulations.
As a number of folks know, these three states are always interesting to watch and study politically and practically on an array of issues for an array of reasons. Pennsylvania is at once an urban east-coast state around Philadelphia, an urban midwest state around Pittsburgh, and a rural state in between. Ohio is the ultimate bellwether state with urban, suburban and rural, northern and southern regions and populations that closely mirror many national realities. And Michigan likewise has a diverse array of distinctive regions (and, in this context, has a considerable history of a legal but largely unregulated medical marijuana industry).
I could go on and on about why each of these states with their own distinctive (and still developing) medical marijuana laws justify close study individually. But my point in this post is to highlight the unique and uniquiely important research opportunity presented by the fact that all three of these (connected) states have new and detailed medical marijuana regulations coming on line at roughly the same time. In particular, I am hopeful that some of the independent research entities following marijuana reform developments closely (e.g., the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation) will give particular attention in the months and years ahead to these particular democratic laboratories.
September 22, 2016 in History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this notable new empirical paper authored by Anna Choi, Dhaval Dave and Joseph Sabia now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This study comprehensively examines whether medical marijuana laws (MMLs) have affected the trajectory of a decades-long decline in adult tobacco use in the United States. Using data from three large national datasets — the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), the Current Population Survey Tobacco Use Supplements (CPS-TUS), and the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) — we estimate the relationship between MMLs and cigarette consumption.
Our results show that the enactment of MMLs between 1990 and 2012 are associated with a 0.3 to 0.7 percentage-point reduction in tobacco consumption among US adults, though this estimate is somewhat sensitive to controls for state-specific linear time trends. These findings suggest that tobacco and marijuana are substitutes for many users. However, this average response masks heterogeneity in the effects of MMLs among early versus late-adopting states and across the age distribution.
Friday, September 16, 2016
This new FoxNews Health report, headlined "Medical marijuana programs may help cut opioid use," reports on the latest evidence suggesting the availability of medical marijuana helps reduce opioid use. Here are the details:
Making medical marijuana legal may lead to a reduction of opioid use in adults under the age of 40, a new study suggests. The researchers found that the rates of opioid use decreased in adults ages 21 to 40 in states that had legalized medical marijuana and where residents with prescriptions could obtain cannabis from dispensaries or grow their own, compared to states that had legalized medical marijuana but did not yet have an operational program for people to obtain it.
However, the finding didn't apply to adults over 40. For this group, opioid use did not decrease in those states with operational medical marijuana programs, according to the findings, which were published online today (Sept. 15) in the American Journal of Public Health. [Full study available at this link]
These findings seem to support the idea that marijuana may offer a substitute for opioids in people ages 21 to 40 who have severe or chronic pain, said lead author June H. Kim, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. There is other evidence that medical marijuana may act as a substitute for opioids in states that have passed this legislation: A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 suggested that the legalization of medical marijuana in U.S. states appears to be linked with lower death rates from opioid overdoses within that state....
In the study, the researchers looked at data from toxicological tests for alcohol and other drugs that were found in the systems of drivers killed in car crashes. Some states collect this information on a yearly basis for the majority of drivers who die in crashes on public roads, according to the study. Toxicological testing from deceased drivers who crashed in states that did or did not have medical marijuana laws seemed like an interesting data source, and it is an objective way to evaluate prior opioid use, for both medical or recreational purposes, Kim said....
The study found that drivers ages 21 to 40 who died in car crashes after a medical marijuana law was implemented had half the odds of testing positive for opioids, compared to similarly aged drivers who crashed in states before such a law was implemented, Kim said. [7 Ways Marijuana May Affect the Brain] "That's a pretty moderate-to-large reduction," Kim told Live Science.
The practical implication of these results is that fewer individuals may be using opioids in states with operational medical marijuana laws, Kim said. This study's findings are consistent with what is currently known about medical marijuana and how patients have used it, Kim said. Most prior surveys of medical marijuana patients show that they tend to be younger than 45, and most laws set patient age restrictions at 21 and older, he said.
Some states that have legalized medical marijuana are starting to see increases in use by adults over the age of 45, who are seeking out marijuana as a treatment alternative to opioids. It's possible that future studies may find reductions in the prevalence of opioid use in older age groups, Kim suggested. One limitation of the study is that the findings may not be generalizable to all U.S. states, the researchers said. In addition, the results establish an association, rather than a cause-and-effect relationship, between the implementation of medical marijuana laws in states and prior opioid use by individuals, the researchers said.
Monday, September 5, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this interesting lengthy new Stars & Stripes article. Here is how it gets started:
Roberto Pickering’s story is all too familiar. The infantry Marine says he fought during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, lost some “good buddies” and returned to civilian life a “basket case” from battling a new enemy: post-traumatic stress disorder.
Pickering says he was pumped full of medications — from Valium to Zoloft, OxyContin, Seroquel, Lithium, Ambien and more — by Department of Veterans Affairs doctors. He tried to go back to school but had trouble adjusting.
He recoiled further after one friend took his own life and another died of a heroin overdose after becoming dependent on opioids through his medical care. Pickering moved into his parents’ California basement and found solace in the bottle while his life spiraled out of control.
Unlike thousands of post-9/11 veterans who have committed suicide, Pickering then found another way to cope: He began experimenting with marijuana about 10 years ago. “This war doesn’t end when you come back,” he said. Cannabis “really improved my quality of life … I found what works for me.”
Using marijuana regularly, he said, his angry outbursts diminished and he was able to get a good night’s sleep. He said he was able to kick his drinking habit and, best of all, he didn’t have to take the litany of pills he calls toxic. Pickering said he usually smokes a bit at night and calls himself a responsible family man, far from the stereotype of a coach-potato stoner.
He doesn’t know why marijuana changed his life, and researchers can only guess, because the plant has never been studied as a treatment for veterans’ PTSD. Despite state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical and nonmedical use in recent years, earlier this month it again received the highest drug classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A recently approved $2.15 million study — paid for by the state of Colorado and conducted by researchers from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins University and the Scottsdale Research Institute — could change all of that....
The study, which is about to begin accepting participants, is a two-phase random, placebo-controlled, multisite study that will assess the safety and efficacy of four types of smoked marijuana to manage chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD symptoms, said Rebecca Matthews, a MAPS clinical trial leader working with the team. In the first phase, 76 participants will smoke randomly assigned types of marijuana, including a placebo strain, from a pipe for three weeks. They will keep a diary to describe their experiences. They will then abstain from smoking for two weeks.
The second phase is a repeat of the first. Afterward, participants will follow up with the researchers for six months. The team will track measurements of PTSD and PTSD symptoms and safety data throughout.
The aim is to provide information on “marijuana dosing, composition, side effects and specific areas of benefit to clinicians and legislators considering marijuana as an acceptable treatment for PTSD,” Matthews said.
Researchers plan to start recruiting veterans in September, adding two participants per month, per site. The study should run about two years. “By working with chronic treatment-resistant veterans, we address a national emergency and limit variability at the potential expense of generalizability,” Matthews said. “Further research will be needed to determine if these results will apply to other groups of PTSD sufferers.”
The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix, said the hypothesis for the study is that cannabis may improve PTSD symptoms in a dose-dependent manner. “I have no preconceived notions about the outcome of the study,” she said. “I’m not pro-cannabis; I am strictly pro-science. I’m actually not a fan of cannabis, and I’ve never tried it personally. I care deeply about our military veterans, and I am determined to find new treatments for PTSD — besides the only two [Food and Drug Administration] approved medicines on the market, Zoloft and Paxil, which are both highly disappointing.”
The study could discount or verify an argument by VA doctors and opponents of pot for PTSD treatment, who claim cannabis masks symptoms and doesn’t treat them like exposure therapy is thought to, Sisley said. “Nobody is arguing [cannabis] is a cure [for PTSD],” she added. “ ... What we are hoping is that cannabis is alleviating the suffering of PTSD patients and not just masking it. This is a distinction that can only be evaluated through a randomized controlled trial.”
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
New York Department of Health releases two-year report on "Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act"
I was pleased to find this big new data-rich report from the New York Department of Health titled simply "Medical Use of Marijuana Under the Compassionate Care Act: Two-Year Report." For those really interested in really understanding how really serious medical marijuana programs are operating (as I am), this kind of official report is terrifically interesting and valuable. Here is the 13-page report's introduction and some of its closing recommendations:
On July 7th, 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the Compassionate Care Act to establish a comprehensive Medical Marijuana Program (“program”). Just eighteen months after the Compassionate Care Act was signed into law, the first New Yorkers obtained medical marijuana. The program launched on time and statewide, providing access to a new treatment option for patients in a manner that protects public health and safety. Within the first six months of operation, over 5,000 patients were certified with the program. The program also registered more than 600 physicians across the State. In just six months, New York’s program has more physicians registered than other states whose programs have been in existence for significantly longer than New York’s. The program continues to oversee the manufacture and sale of medical marijuana to ensure that it is dispensed and administered in a manner that protects public health and safety.
Pursuant to Public Health Law (PHL) § 3367(3), this report provides an overview of Medical Marijuana Program activities since the signing of the Compassionate Care Act, as well as recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. The data for this report was obtained on June 15, 2016, from the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) Medical Marijuana Data Management System (MMDMS) and the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry (PMPR)....
1. NYSDOH recommends authorizing Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to certify New Yorkers for medical marijuana, consistent with their current authority to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids) for patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions covered in the Compassionate Care Act. Allowing NPs to issue certifications for medical marijuana would allow them to properly treat patients suffering from severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions, particularly in many rural counties where there are fewer physicians available to treat such ailments....
4. NYSDOH recommends evaluating allowing distribution of Medical Marijuana to certified patients through home delivery services provided by registered organizations, and review of policies and procedures from other jurisdictions to help craft guidelines to provide for a safe and effective home delivery program.....
5. NYSDOH recommends working with the registered organizations to make more brands of medical marijuana products available to patients....
7. NYSDOH recommends a review of evidence be conducted for the medical use of marijuana in patients suffering from chronic intractable pain....
9. To meet additional patient demand and increase access to medical marijuana throughout New York State, NYSDOH recommends registering five additional organizations over the next two years, using a phased-in approach to permit their smooth integration into the industry.
Friday, August 19, 2016
This local article, headlined "Could legalizing marijuana be West Virginia's pot of gold?," reports on this interesting new policy brief released by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy suggests. The article summarizes the themes of the report, which is titled "Modernizing West Virginia's Marijuana Laws: Potential Benefits of Decriminalization, Medical Marijuana and Legalization." This summary comes directly from the first two pages of the full 27-page report:
Over the last two decades, states across the country have modernized their marijuana laws to reflect the growing evidence that doing so will help reduce criminal justice costs, help treat some medical conditions, and boost tax revenues and their state’s economy. As of 2016, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, 25 states (and DC) allow for marijuana to be used for medical purposes, and 21 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. With several states considering ballot measures this November and public support for legalization rapidly growing (53% of Americans support legalization) among all age groups, the number of states taking action to undo restrictions on marijuana is likely to grow.
While most states have taken at least one step toward modernizing their marijuana laws, West Virginia has not. However, bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in West Virginia over the last several years to legalize medical marijuana and tax marijuana for retail sales to adults. A 2013 poll found that a majority of West Virginians supports decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing it for medical use, while 46 percent supported regulating it like alcohol.
As West Virginia continues to be plagued by large budget deficits (a projected $300 million for FY 2018), an undiversified economy with a fading coal industry, and poor health outcomes, modernizing the state’s marijuana laws could be a step in addressing these problems and could help save the state money in the long run.
This report provides an overview of the states that have modernized their marijuana laws in recent years– including decriminalization, medical marijuana, and recreational use – and the implications for West Virginia if it decided to pursue a similar path. It provides an overview of federal and state marijuana laws (Section 1), an estimation of the potential tax revenue from legalizing recreational marijuana in West Virginia (Section 2), an evaluation of some potential benefits from modernizing West Virginia’s marijuana laws (Section 3), and recommendations on reforming West Virginia’s marijuana laws (Section 4).
If marijuana was legalized and taxed in West Virginia at a rate of 25 percent of its wholesale price the state could collect an estimated $45 million annually upon full implementation. If 10 percent of marijuana users who live within a 200-mile radius of West Virginia came to the state to purchase marijuana, the state could collect an estimated $194 million.
In 2010, it is estimated that West Virginia spent more than $17 million enforcing the state’s marijuana laws. Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana in West Virginia could reduce the number of marijuana-related arrests, especially among African Americans, which in turn, could reduce criminal-justice-related costs.
The marijuana industry has the potential to add jobs both directly and indirectly. As of September 2015, Colorado had 25,311 people licensed to work in its marijuana industry and over 1,000 retail marijuana businesses. If marijuana were legal in West Virginia it could also have the effect of increasing tourism to the state, particularly in regions with outdoor recreational activities.
Marijuana may potentially have a positive impact on West Virginia’s opioid-based painkiller and heroin epidemic by offering another, less-addictive alternative to individuals who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions.
August 19, 2016 in Business laws and regulatory issues, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Taxation information and issues | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, August 14, 2016
This recent USA Today piece, headlined "As states OK medical marijuana laws, doctors struggle with knowledge gap," puts a needed spotlight on what I think may be the most under-examined aspect of modern state medical marijuana reforms. Here are excerpts:
Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine for almost 20 years. But Farmington physician Jean Antonucci says she continues to feel unprepared when counseling sick patients about whether the drug could benefit them. Will it help my glaucoma? Or my chronic pain? My chemotherapy’s making me nauseous, and nothing’s helped. Is cannabis the solution? Patients hope Antonucci, 62, can answer those questions. But she said she is still “completely in the dark.”
Antonucci doesn’t know whether marijuana is the right way to treat an ailment, what amount is an appropriate dose or whether a patient should smoke it, eat it, rub it through an oil or vaporize it. Like most doctors, she was never trained to have these discussions. And, because the topic still is not usually covered in medical school, seasoned doctors, as well as younger ones, often consider themselves ill-equipped. Even though she tries to keep up with the scientific literature, Antonucci said, “it’s very difficult to support patients but not know what you’re saying.”
As the number of states allowing medical marijuana grows – the total has reached 25 plus the District of Columbia – some are working to address this knowledge gap with physician training programs. States are beginning to require doctors to take continuing medical education courses that detail how marijuana interacts with the nervous system and other medications, as well as its side effects.
Though laws vary, they have common themes. They usually set up a process by which states establish marijuana dispensaries, where patients with qualifying medical conditions can obtain the drug. The conditions are specified on a state-approved list. And the role of doctors is often to certify that patients have one of those ailments. But many say that, without knowing cannabis’ health effects, even writing a certification makes them uncomfortable. “We just don’t know what we don’t know. And that’s a concern,” said Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a practicing doctor in Pennsylvania.
This medical uncertainty is complicated by confusion over how to navigate often contradictory laws. While states generally involve physicians in the process by which patients obtain marijuana, national drug policies have traditionally had a chilling effect on these conversations. The Federation of State Medical Boards has tried to add clarity. In an Aug. 9 JAMA editorial, leaders noted that federal law technically prohibits prescribing marijuana and tasks states that allow it for medical use to “implement strong and effective ... enforcement systems to address any threat those laws could pose to public safety, public health and other interests.” If state regulation is deemed insufficient, the federal government can step in.
That's why many doctors say they feel caught in the middle, not completely sure of where the line is now drawn between legal medical practice and what could get them in trouble. In New York, which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2014, the state health department rolled out a certification program last October. (The state’s medical marijuana program itself launched in January 2016.) The course, which lasts about four hours and costs $249, is part of a larger physician registration process. So far, the state estimates 656 physicians have completed the required steps. Other states have contacted New York’s Department of Health to learn how the training works.
Pennsylvania and Ohio are also developing similar programs. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, doctors who wish to participate in the state medical marijuana program are required to take courses approved by the American Medical Association. Maryland doesn’t require training but encourages it through its Medical Cannabis Commission website, a policy also followed in some other states.
Physicians appear to welcome such direction. A 2013 study in Colorado, for instance, found more than 80% of family doctors thought physicians needed medical training before recommending marijuana. But some advocates worry that doctors may find these requirements onerous and opt out, which would in turn thwart patients’ access to the now-legal therapy, said Ellen Smith, a board member of the U.S. Pain Foundation, which favors expanded access to medical cannabis.
Education is essential, given the complexity of how marijuana interacts with the body and how little physicians know, said Stephen Corn, an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Harvard Medical School. Corn also co-founded The Answer Page, a medical information website that supports the New York program and is also bidding to supply information for the Pennsylvania program, Corn said....
From a medical standpoint, the lack of information is troubling, Filer said. “Typically, when we’re going to prescribe something, you’ve got data that shows safety and efficacy,” she said. With marijuana, the body of research doesn’t match what many doctors are used to for prescription drugs.
Still, Corn said, doctors appear pleased with the state training sessions. More than 80% of New York doctors who have taken his course said they changed their practice in response to what they learned. But even now, whenever Corn speaks with doctors about medical marijuana, people ask him how they can learn more about the drug’s medical properties and about legal risks. Those two concerns, he said, likely reduce the number of doctors comfortable with and willing to discuss marijuana’s place in medicine, even if it’s allowed in their states.
August 14, 2016 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (2)
Friday, August 12, 2016
The title of this is the headline of this new Time article that serves as a somewhat fitting follow-up to the (big?) news the DEA delivered this week about marijuana scheduling and research. Here are excerpts:
On Thursday the U.S. government announced that marijuana would continue to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. However, the feds are allowing more research on marijuana’s medicinal uses by making it easier for researchers to grow it.
Many researchers, both those who view marijuana as beneficial and those who are skeptical, argue that the government’s stance still hinders research. “I understand the cautious nature of the government, whose role is basically to protect its citizens, but it is disappointing that marijuana continues to be included on the DEA’s list of the most dangerous drugs,” says Dr. Yasmin Hurd of Mount Sinai, who studies the effects of marijuana on the brain.
Though more than 20 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal uses, there’s still a lot scientists don’t know about it. “It’s actually quite amazing how little we really know about something that has been used for thousands of years,” says Sachin Patel of Vanderbilt University who studies cannabis. “We desperately need well-controlled unbiased large scale research studies into the efficacy of cannabis for treating disease states, which we have very little of right now. Without these studies we are basically flying blind with regard to medical marijuana in my opinion.”
Scientists argue that studying marijuana is safe, and researching it shouldn’t be such a difficult process. “A question that is not on the lips of researchers is whether or not the consumption of cannabis-based medicines is safe,” says Gregory Gerdeman, an Assistant Professor of Biology at Eckerd College. “In the biomedical research community, it is universally understood that cannabis is a very safe, well-tolerated medicine.”
Here’s what researchers tell TIME they want to know about marijuana.
Is marijuana an effective cancer therapy?...
What does it do to the brain?...
What dosage or strains have the best use in medicine?...
Can marijuana help brain and cognitive problems?...
What about anxiety?...
Can pot help end the opioid epidemic?...
Are there long term consequences of using pot?
August 12, 2016 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, August 11, 2016
DEA announces new policy "designed to increase the number of entities registered under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to grow (manufacture) marijuana to supply legitimate researchers in the United States"
As the DEA exaplins in this press release (which also notes its decision to deny petitions seeking rescheduling of marijuana under the CSA (discussed here)), the agency has "announced a policy change designed to foster research by expanding the number of DEA- registered marijuana manufacturers." The formal announcement of the new policy can be found in this Federal Register document, and here is more about the policy change from the DEA press release:
This change should provide researchers with a more varied and robust supply of marijuana. At present, there is only one entity authorized to produce marijuana to supply researchers in the United States: the University of Mississippi, operating under a contract with NIDA. Consistent with the CSA and U.S. treaty obligations, DEA’s new policy will allow additional entities to apply to become registered with DEA so that they may grow and distribute marijuana for FDA-authorized research purposes.
This change illustrates DEA’s commitment to working together with the FDA and NIDA to facilitate research concerning marijuana and its components. DEA currently has 350 individuals registered to conduct research on marijuana and its components. Notably, DEA has approved every application for registration submitted by researchers seeking to use NIDA-supplied marijuana to conduct research that HHS determined to be scientifically meritorious.
Encouragingly, John Hudak at Brookings, who understand the ins and outs of federal marijuana laws and regulations better than anyone, has this new commentary explainaing why he thinks this DEA marijuana research decision "is more important than rescheduling." Here is how he starts his must-read commentary:
Today the Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to announce its decision on a five-year-old marijuana rescheduling petition. After a long wait and amid wild speculation about the agency’s intentions, DEA has decided to keep marijuana as a Schedule I substance, but to take the unexpected step of ending the monopoly on the production of research grade marijuana.
This move will certainly disappoint many in the marijuana reform community who hoped that DEA would change marijuana’s status. Under current policy — and now continuing policy — marijuana is categorized along with heroin and LSD as a substance that has no medical value and that has a high potential for abuse. Reformers hoped that the administration would accept the claim that marijuana has medical benefit and can be used safely in treatment. Today, it is opting not to do so.
However, DEA, in a clear sign of the growing political complexity around cannabis policy in the United States, will strike a balance. Rather than wholly maintaining the current policy, the administration nixed a different stumbling block to the study of marijuana and its efficacy as a medical product: the DEA mandated monopoly on the growth of marijuana for research (administered through the National Institutes on Drug Abuse). The DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly was cited as a significant barrier to research by observers like myself, Mark Kleiman and many others, as well as clinical researchers themselves.
Despite reformers’ discontent, this decision may be more meaningful than the ultimate goal of rescheduling for both policy and political reasons.
August 11, 2016 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical community perspectives, Medical Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)