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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Wed, 12 Dec 2018 04:20:21 PST

Reconciled Farm Bill To Include Provisions Lifting Federal Hemp Ban

Washington, DC: House and Senate lawmakers have agreed in principle to a reconciled version of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill), which includes provisions lifting the federal prohibition of industrial hemp.

The hemp-specific provisions - which Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) included in the Senate version of the bill, but were absent from the House version - amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: 'Conforming changes to controlled substances act.') Certain cannabinoid compounds extracted from the hemp plant would also be exempt from the CSA.

House and Senate lawmakers still need to vote on the engrossed version of the Act, which they are expected to do later this month. Passage of the bill would allow state governments, rather than the federal governments, to be the primary regulators of hemp and hempen products.

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Utah: Lawmakers Replace Voter-Initiated Medical Cannabis Law

Salt Lake City, UT: Lawmakers voted in a special legislative session on Monday to replace the state's voter-initiated medical cannabis access program. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill, House Bill 3001, into law that same day. The new law, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, takes immediate effect.

The former law, Proposition 2, was approved by 53 percent of voters on November 6.

Legislators announced in October their intent to rewrite the legislation, prior to its passage, after meetings with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - who opposed the bill - and other groups, including some backers of the original bill. However, other proponents of Proposition 2, including the group TRUCE (Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education), have announced their intent to file a lawsuit in response to lawmakers' decision to amend the law.

The replacement legislation significantly differs from the language that was approved by the voters. It eliminates patients' option to home cultivate cannabis, it prohibits the dispensing of either processed flower or edible cannabis products (oils, capsules, or topicals are permitted), it narrows the list of qualifying conditions, and it significantly reduces the total number of permissible state-licensed dispensaries, among other changes.

Members of the House voted 60 to 13 in favor of the new language. Members of the Senate voted 22 to 4. The bill required two-thirds support from both chambers in order to become law.

The vote to rewrite the voter-initiated law broke down largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers deciding in favor of the change and Democratic members largely voting 'present.' An alternative measure backed by members of the Democratic Caucus that sought to make only minor administrative changes to the initiative was defeated.

Report: More Banks Providing Services To Cannabis-Specific Businesses

Washington, DC: A growing number of banks and credit unions are providing financial services to marijuana-related businesses, according to data released by FinCEN (the US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and first publicized by the news portal MarijuanaMoment.net.

The report acknowledged that the number of financial institutions actively banking with marijuana-related businesses rose from 401 in October 2017 to 486 in September 2018.

Although the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I prohibited substance discourages banks from cooperating with state-licensed cannabis businesses, a 2014 US Treasury Department memo provided guidance to financial institutions wishing to transact with the marijuana industry. However, that memo was rescinded by the Justice Department earlier this year.

Study: Marijuana Use Not Positively Associated With Conduct Problems In Young People

Philadelphia, PA: Marijuana use by young people is not predictive of later conduct problems, such as school truancy or theft, according to data published in the journal Addiction.

A team of investigators from the United States and the Netherlands assessed the long-term association between self-reported marijuana use and conduct problems in a cohort of 364 racially and socio-economically diverse youth.

They reported, "Change in cannabis use did not predict changes in conduct problems or peer cannabis use over time." Rather, they acknowledged, "[I]ncreases in conduct problems predicted increases in cannabis use."

Authors concluded: "Conduct programs predicted cannabis use but not vice-versa, particularly during mid-late adolescence. ... If youth with CP use unprescribed cannabis to cope with their condition, then healthier alternative coping strategies and support should be made available."

Full text of the study, "Disentangling longitudinal relations between youth cannabis use, peer cannabis use, and conduct problems: Developmental cascading links to cannabis use disorder," appears in Addiction.

Study: Little Distinction Exists Among 'Sativa' Or 'Indica'

Middlebury, VT: The interbreeding of cannabis plants has resulted in a dearth of pure 'indica' or 'sativa' strains, according to a review published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

In most cases, these classifications are used arbitrarily, the author states. "Categorizing cannabis as either 'sativa' and 'indica' has become an exercise in futility," he concludes. "Ubiquitous interbreeding and hybridization renders their distinction meaningless."

A prior study published in the journal PLoS ONE in 2015 determined that strains of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica possess relatively few significant genetic differences and are often mislabeled by breeders.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis systematics at the levels of family, genus, and species," appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Study: Long-Term Use Of Epidiolex Reduces Seizure Frequency In Subset Of Pediatric Patients

New York, NY: The long-term use of Epidiolex is associated with reduced seizure frequency in a subset of patients with pediatric, refractory epilepsy, according to clinical data published in the journal CNS Drugs.

A team of investigators from Columbia University in New York and the University of California, San Francisco assessed the efficacy and tolerability of a proprietary CBD extract (Epidiolex) in 26 children with refractory epilepsy over a period of several years.

Authors reported that a subset of the cohort (seven patients) experienced a sustained >50 percent reduction in motor seizures after four-years of treatment. Three of those seven patients remained seizure-free over the duration of the treatment.

By contrast, 15 patients discontinued their use because of a lack of efficacy. Several patients also reported a decrease in appetite, weight loss, and diarrhea, among other adverse events.

"Cannabidiol imparted a clinically meaningful reduction in seizure frequency to a subset of patients with medically refractory epilepsy that was sustained over a period of 2 to 4 years," authors concluded.

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified it from Schedule I to Schedule V -- the lowest restriction classification available under federal law.

Full text of the study, "Long-term safety, tolerability, and efficacy of cannabidiol in children with refractory epilepsy: Results from an expanded access program in the US," appears in CNS Drugs.

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