Poll: 63 Percent of Adults Support "Legalizing Marijuana on a National Level"
New York, NY: More than six in ten US adults believe that the personal use of cannabis ought to be legal in every state in the country, according to nationwide polling data compiled by Survey Monkey and the news portal Axios.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they support "legalizing the recreational use of marijuana on a national level." Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that they support "allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes." Both percentages are consistent with other recent national surveys.
Though nearly two-thirds of respondents favored legalization, only about one-quarter of those surveyed expressed interest in using marijuana themselves.
Study: Cannabis Safe and Effective in Fibromyalgia Patients
Petach Tikva, Israel: The administration of herbal cannabis is safe and effective in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, according to clinical data published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
Israeli investigators assessed the use of cannabis over a six-month period in 211 patients with the disease. Eight-one percent of subjects reported "at least moderate improvement in their condition ... without experiencing serious adverse events." Patients were most likely to report overall reductions in pain and overall improvements in their quality of life following cannabis therapy.
Twenty-two percent of subjects "stopped or reduced their dosage of opioids," and 20 percent reduced their use of benzodiazepines – findings that are consistent with those of other studies.
"In the present study, we demonstrated that medical cannabis is an effective and safe option for the treatment of fibromyalgia patients' symptoms," authors concluded. "Considering the low rates of addiction and serious adverse effects (especially compared to opioids), cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care. ... Future studies should aim to compare medical cannabis to the standard therapy of fibromyalgia, to establish the proper place of cannabis in fibromyalgia therapeutic arsenal."
Full text of the study, "Safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in fibromyalgia," appears in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. Additional information on cannabis and fibromyalgia appears online.
USDA Intends To Finalize Federal Regulations Governing Commercial Hemp Cultivation By Late Summer
Washington, DC: The United States Department of Agriculture is aiming to finalize regulations governing the licensed production of industrial hemp by this August, according to a notice filed this week in the Federal Register and first reported by Marijuana Moment.
The USDA notice emphasizes that such regulations must be in place in order to facilitate commercial hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with the provisions of the 2018 Farm Act.
Under those provisions, states that wish to license commercial hemp cultivation must submit their plan to the USDA. However, the agency is not reviewing any state-specific plans until it has finalized its own federal regulations.
The agency had previously announced its intent to have regulations in place prior to 2020.
In December, Congress enacted legislation removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Maine: Lawmakers Finalize Rules For Retail Marijuana Sales
Augusta, ME: Maine lawmakers have finalized rules and regulations governing the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. The proposed guidelines now await action from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who is expected to sign the provisions into law.
Under the proposed rules, commercial licenses will initially (until 2021) be granted only to state residents. State employees, active members of law enforcement, those with felony drug convictions, and those who have been denied licenses in other states are ineligible to participate in the retail cannabis industry.
The regulations impose limits with regard to THC content and the appearance of cannabis-infused edible products. Retailers will not be permitted to sell customers more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and/or five grams of concentrate in a single day. Retailers will need to first receive local approval prior to applying for a state operator's license.
Maine voters initially approved the legalization of cannabis sales in November 2016, but lawmakers – led by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage – repeatedly took steps to delay the law's implementation.
Once the proposed rules are signed into law, it is estimated that that cannabis sales could begin by March 2020.
Governor Mills has previously signed legislation into law this session explicitly permitting the retail sales of hemp-derived CBD products (LD 630), and allowing those with out-of-state medical cannabis registration cards to access Maine dispensaries (LD 538).
New York: Lawmakers Advance Measure Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties, Expunging Past Convictions
Albany, NY: State lawmakers late last week advanced legislation to the Governor's desk amending marijuana possession penalties and establishing procedures for the automatic expungement of prior, low-level cannabis convictions.
The legislation, Assembly Bill 8420-A, reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession violations (up to one ounce) to a $50 fine. It also amends penalties for offenses involving the possession of more than one ounce but less than two ounces of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a non-criminal violation punishable by a $200 fine – regardless of an offender's prior criminal history. Under existing law, the possession of over 25 grams of marijuana is punishable by up to three months in jail.
The measure further amends the classification of offenses involving the use or possession of marijuana in public from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, to a fine-only offense. In New York City alone, police typically make tens of thousands of marijuana arrests annually under the 'public view' exception. Over 87 percent of those charged with the crime are either Black or Latino.
Finally, A. 8420-A establishes procedures to allow for the automatic expungement of criminal records specific to crimes involving the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana.
While several lawmakers expressed disappointment that members failed to move forward a more expansive legalization proposal, they acknowledged that the changes proposed in Assembly Bill 8420-A are an important first step. "The drug laws that are currently on the books have devastated our communities by disproportionately targeting people of color, forcing them to live with a criminal record that makes it harder to get a job or find housing," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. "Decriminalizing marijuana, paired with expunging records for these low-level offenses, will help undo some of these decades long injustices, and allow for people to be productive and successful. This is not the final step, but it will lay the groundwork for full decriminalization and legalization in the future."
A statement issued jointly by various New York NORML affiliates states that the proposed changes fail to either adequately address "the legacy of harm from prohibition and targeted enforcement" or provide "a pathway forward to a more equitable future. ... Our legislators and Governor Cuomo have failed in that regard, and have sent a message to New Yorkers that racial and economic justice are not priorities for them."
The measure takes effect 30 days after it is signed into law by the Governor.
New Jersey: Lawmakers Advance Medical Cannabis Expansion Bill
Trenton, NJ: Lawmakers have advanced legislation, Assembly Bill 20 (aka The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act), to expand the state's medical cannabis access program. The measure now awaits action from Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.
The measure increases the total quantity of herbal cannabis that patients may obtain monthly from two ounces to three, and phases out the existing sales tax on medical cannabis goods. The proposal also for the first time permits dispensaries to provide edible cannabis products and to operate on-site consumption areas. Under the plan, patients certified to access medical cannabis products would have their registration validated for one-year rather than for four months.
The bill also proposes increasing the total number of medical cannabis providers and dispensaries. Regulatory changes instituted earlier this month by the state Health Department similarly seek to expand the total number of licensed providers statewide.
An estimated 50,000 New Jersey citizens are registered with the state to access medical cannabis.
Salem, OR: Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has signed legislation, Senate Bill 420, to facilitate the expungement of past marijuana convictions.
The measure establishes procedures for persons previously found guilty of low-level (up to one ounce) marijuana possession offenses to file a motion with the court to have their convictions set aside. Petitioners may not be charged a fee for submitting such a request, and any objections to the request must be filed within 30 days. The proposal expands upon prior legislation, enacted in 2015, which sought to make it easier for those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2020.
The policy is similar to marijuana-related expungement laws recently enacted in a number of states, including Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington. California law automatically expunges past marijuana convictions.
Earlier this month, Gov. Brown signed legislation, Senate Bill 970, prohibiting landlords from taking discriminatory action against those who either use medical cannabis or possess cannabis-related convictions. The Governor also signed Senate Bill 582, which seeks to authorize Oregon to enter into agreements with regard to exporting cannabis to other states. The latter bill is in response to reports that licensed cultivators in the state have a surplus of marijuana.
Review: CBD Holds Promise in Treating Alcohol Use Disorder
Bron, France: The use of cannabidiol (CBD) holds promise in the treatment of alcoholism and may offer protection against alcohol-induced liver damage and brain damage, according to a review of preclinical data published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
A team of French scientists reviewed experimental data finding that CBD administration reduces alcohol intake and cravings in animals. Separate findings also demonstrate the compound to mitigate alcohol-related steatosis and fibrosis, and to possess neuroprotective effects against alcohol-related brain damage.
Authors concluded: "[E]xperimental data underline that CBD offers multiple therapeutic prospects in patients with AUD (alcohol use disorder). CBD seems to facilitate drinking reduction, making CBD an interesting pharmacological option in AUD treatment. Moreover, CBD might provide idiosyncratic protection to the liver and the brain. ... In this perspective, CBD treatment could be proposed to subjects who are unable to reduce or to stop alcohol consumption, in order to prevent or reduce the effects of alcohol on the brain and the liver, thus opening new and original therapeutic options for harm reduction in AUD."
The administration of CBD in human trials has previously been shown to reduce cravings for both heroin and tobacco. Population-based studies have also shown that those subjects who report consuming cannabis are less likely than non-users to suffer from either fibrosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Full text of the study, "Therapeutic prospects of cannabidiol for alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related damages to the liver and the brain," appears in Frontiers in Pharmacology.