Hagåtña, Guam: Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed legislation legalizing the personal possession of marijuana by adults, and establishing regulations governing the plant's commercial production and retail sale. Guam is a US territory with an estimated population of 165,000 people.
Upon signing the measure into law, the Governor announced: "We must regulate this illicit drug that is the most widely used drug in our society. We have to take it and control it, monitor its use and effects, benefit from its medicinal efforts, allow our people to live in a safer environment."
The Cannabis Industry Act (Bill No. 32-35) permits those age 21 or older to legally possess and transfer up to one ounce of marijuana flower and/or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. The measure, which took immediate effect, also permits adults to privately cultivate up to six cannabis plants (no more than three mature) in an "enclosed, locked space." Public consumption of cannabis will remain a violation of law.
The Act creates a new regulatory board to draft rules governing the plant's commercial production and retail sale. The board has a one-year timeline to adopt rules necessary to permit for the operation of licensed cannabis establishments.
Lawmakers resolved that the policy change "enhances individual freedom, promotes the efficient use of law enforcement resources, [and] ... enhances revenue for public purposes."
Guam joins the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island as the second US territory to legislatively enact adult use marijuana legalization.
New Mexico: Governor Signs Law Decriminalizing Minor Marijuana Possession
Albuquerque, NM: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation into law decriminalizing the possession of personal use amounts of cannabis.
Senate Bill 323, which takes effect on July 1, 2019, reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor -- punishable by up to 15 days in jail -- to a 'penalty assessment,' punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in situations where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, will remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.
Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.
Study: Cancer Patients Enrolled In State's Medical Cannabis Program Report Symptom Mitigation
St. Paul, MN: Cancer patients enrolled in Minnesota's medical cannabis access program report a significant reduction in disease symptoms following the use of marijuana, according to data published in the Journal of Oncology Practice.
Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health assessed patients' self-reported symptom severity scores at baseline and again following four months of cannabis treatment.
Authors reported "a significant reduction in scores ... across all symptoms" (anxiety, lack of appetite, depression, disturbed sleep, fatigue, nausea, pain, and vomiting).
They concluded: "Patients with cancer enrolled in Minnesota's medical cannabis program showed significant reduction across all eight symptoms assessed within four months of program participation. Medical cannabis was well tolerated, and some patients attained clinically meaningful and lasting levels of improvement."
A 2018 Israeli clinical trial reported that over 90 percent of elderly patients diagnosed with either cancer or chronic pain expressed improvement in their condition following six-months of cannabis therapy. A study from earlier this year reported that subjects who use marijuana adjunctively with conventional cancer treatment experienced reduced levels of fatigue, insomnia, and appetite loss as compared to matched controls. A literature review published this year in the journal Cancers concludes, "The complex, though moderate, action of cannabis makes it suitable for the treatment of concomitant symptoms, such as pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, spasticity, seizures, mood disorders, loss of appetite, which is a frequent condition in the palliative care patient."
An estimated one in five cancer patients consume cannabis for symptom management.
Full text of the study, "Impact of medical cannabis on patient-reported symptoms for patients with cancer enrolled in Minnesota's medical cannabis program," appears in the Journal of Oncology Practice.
Report: Fewer Colorado Companies Sanctioning Employees Over Marijuana Failures
Denver, CO: The percentage of Colorado companies that engage in pre-employment screening for cannabis is declining, as is the percentage of businesses that impose policies calling for the dismissal of employers who test positive for THC metabolites on a drug screen, according to survey data compiled by the Denver-based Employers Collective.
According to the survey, only 48 percent of Colorado companies with "well defined" drug testing policies will fire an employee for a first-time positive test result for cannabis -- down from 53 percent in 2014. Five percent of companies surveyed reported having dropped marijuana from their pre-employment testing within the past two years.
"What we're seeing here is basically it's (concerns about employees misusing marijuana in the workplace) a nonissue," an attorney for the group said.
Standard workplace drug screening identifies the presence of inert drug metabolites (breakdown products), but not the active drug itself. Carboxy-THC, the most common metabolite of THC, may be detectable in urine for weeks or even months following previous marijuana exposure.
NORML's fact-sheet, "Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace," appears online.
Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Fewer Disease-Related Complications In Crohn's Disease Patients
Chicago, IL: Crohn's disease patients seeking hospitalization who use marijuana possess fewer disease-related complications as compared to matched controls, according to data published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences.
A team of investigators from the John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago, the SUNY Downstate Medical Centre in New York City, and the Digestive Disease Institute in Cleveland assessed the relationship between cannabis use and the prevalence of Crohn's disease-related complications and clinical outcomes in a nationwide cohort of hospitalized patients.
Authors reported that patients with a history of cannabis use possessed fewer complications and experienced better clinical outcomes as compared to abstainers.
They concluded, "In summary, our study suggests that cannabis use may mitigate several of the well-described complications of Crohn's disease among hospital inpatients and this could be due to an anti-inflammatory effect of cannabis and potential improvement in gastrointestinal mucosal healing."
A prior observational study showed that cannabis use is associated with fewer incidences of Crohn's disease hospitalizations, while a placebo-controlled trial reported that cannabis therapy was associated with greater rates of disease remission.
Full text of the study, "Association between cannabis use and complications related to Crohn's disease: A retrospective cohort study," appears in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.
New Mexico: Cannabis Therapy Approved For Opioid Use Disorder
Albuquerque, NM: State officials have approved new expanded regulations to permit medical cannabis access to patients with dependence to opioids and other controlled substances.
State regulators had twice before advanced a similar measure, only to have it rejected by the administration of former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham backed the expanded policy change, stating, "Now New Mexicans experiencing opioid dependence will have another option for support."
Studies have reported that cannabinoids may reduce opioid-related cravings and relapse in patients with opioid use dependency.
For more information the NORML fact-sheet, "Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids."
West Virginia: Governor Signs Marijuana Banking Measure Into Law
Charleston, WV: Republican Gov. Jim Justice has signed legislation into law facilitating banking access to licensed medical cannabis businesses. The law takes immediate effect.
House Bill 2538, states, "The Commissioner of Financial Institutions shall not prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair a financial institution from providing services to a person or entity involved in a medical cannabis-related business functioning under the Medical Cannabis Act." West Virginia legalized medical cannabis access in 2016, but the program is yet to be operational.
Federal law discourages banks and other financial institutions from engaging in relationships with marijuana-related businesses.