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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 17 Mar 2020 04:20:21 PST

House Committee Advances Marijuana Protections for Veterans

Washington, DC: Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) passed two separate pieces of legislation today pertaining to cannabis policy.

"Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our country, the absolute least we owe them is to ensure they are taken care of when they return to civilian life," stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "It is imperative that we approve legislation such as the Veterans Equal Access Act so that the countless vets suffering from post-traumatic stress and other debilitating disorders have access to the safe and effective option of medical marijuana treatment."

The first bill, HR 712, known as the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019, directs Veterans Administration to conduct research on marijuana in regard to a wide variety of ailments commonly associated with service-related issues. This bill was introduced by Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA) and a similar version of this bill also passed in HVAC but was not considered on the floor of the House.

The second bill, HR 1647, known as the Veterans Equal Access Act of 2019, allows V.A. doctors to fill out the state-legal medical marijuana recommendations. Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Originally introduced years ago by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, this marks the first time that the bill has been considered by HVAC.

After the passage, Rep. Blumenauer said, "Today was a monumental day for our veterans. We have been working for years to reform this counterproductive policy that forces veterans outside of the VA to receive legal medical cannabis treatment for chronic pain and PTSD. This is the culmination of the tremendous work of our movement, but we will not be finished until this becomes the law of the land . We must reform our federal cannabis policy."

Both bills were only assigned to the HVAC, so now it is up to the House Majority to schedule floor time for the whole chamber to cast their votes.

In the United States, the veterans population consumes cannabis at rates far higher than the general population, with the majority reporting their use for medical purposes. According to polling conducted by the American Legion, 22% of veterans said they themselves "use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition."

Study: Medical Cannabis Associated with Quality of Life Maintenance in Chronic Disease Patients

Barcelona, Spain: The sustained use of medical cannabis in patients with chronic conditions is associated with quality of life maintenance and a lack of cognitive decline, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

A team of Spanish and Brazilian investigators assessed the use of cannabis over a 12-month period in a cohort of patients with chronic diseases, such as HIV, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia. Most participants (90 percent) in the study self-medicated with cannabis daily.

Researchers reported no decline in either cognition or psychopathology measures. Patients' quality of life scores held steady over the study period.

"Mid-term use of medical cannabis seems to show adequate tolerability regarding cognitive and psychopathological abilities, and it may help patients with chronic diseases to maintain an acceptable QoL (quality of life)," authors concluded. "It seems that medical cannabis could act as a substitute for other medications that have harmful or unwanted side effects. Further research is necessary, including research that recruits medical cannabis patients before they begin treatment and follows them prospectively in order to establish potential causal relations."

The findings are consistent with those of other studies, such as those here and here, associating medical cannabis use with either maintaining or improving self-reported quality of life measures among patients and seniors.

Full text of the study, "Quality of life, mental health, personality and patterns of use in self-medicated cannabis users with chronic diseases: A 12-month longitudinal study," appears in Phytotherapy Research.

Virginia: Lawmakers Approve Bill Decriminalizing Adult-Use Marijuana Possession

Richmond, VA: Lawmakers have advanced legislation to the Governor's desk decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

The legislation amends existing law so that the possession Virginia lawmakers also advanced several other marijuana-related bills over tof up to one ounce of cannabis is penalized by a civil summons and a $25 fine. Under existing law, possession offenses may be punishable by up to one-year in jail, a $2,500 fine, and a criminal record. The measure also allows for the sealing of past marijuana convictions. In 2018, police made nearly 29,000 marijuana-related arrests.

"This long overdue victory comes after years of sustained effort by Virginia NORML and its members. A supermajority of Virginians has for many years opposed the continued criminalization of personal possession, and the legislature has finally taken action to turn public opinion into public policy," said NORML Development Director Jenn Michelle Pedini, who also serves as the executive director of the state affiliate, Virginia NORML.

The proposal now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports the law change Once signed into law, the measure will take effect July 1, 2020.

Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.

Virginia lawmakers also advanced several other marijuana-related bills over the course of the 2020 legislative session, including Senate Bill 1015 and Senate Bill 976, which expand the state's nascent medical program and improve legal protections for state-qualified patients.

Poll: Eight in Ten Likely Democratic Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana

Washington, DC: A super-majority of Democratic voters back legalizing marijuana, according to polling data compiled by the think-tank Data for Progress.

Pollsters surveyed a national sampling of registered Democrats who are likely to vote in the 2020 primaries. Eighty percent of respondents said that they favor "fully legalizing marijuana at the national level." Support was greatest among Caucasian voters (85 percent) and weakest among African Americans (67 percent).

Overall support was even stronger (90 percent) for releasing those incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes in states that have since legalized the plant. Respondents, regardless of race, expressed nearly similar support for overturning convictions.

"Democratic voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana, fixing the justice system to account for legalization, and for granting restitution to the American families and communities harmed by the War on Drugs," pollsters summarized.

Prior national surveys, such as those here, have consistently identified super-majority support for marijuana legalization among Democratic-leaning voters.

New Jersey: Supreme Court Affirms Employee Cannot Be Discriminated Against Solely for Off-The-Job Medical Cannabis Use

Trenton, NJ: An employer may not discriminate against a medical cannabis patient who consumes the substance while away from the job, according to a ruling handed down Tuesday by the state's Supreme Court. The Court's opinion affirms a 2019 ruling by the state's Appellate Court.

The decision allows the plaintiff's discrimination lawsuit against his former employer to move forward. The plaintiff had been fired by his former company for using medical cannabis in compliance with state law as part of his cancer treatment. The company had sought to dismiss the plaintiff's lawsuit.

The case is Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.

Courts in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have recently issued similar rulings affording workplace protections for qualified medical cannabis patients.

Last year, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation, Assembly Bill 20, explicitly "prohibit[ing] employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee based on the employee's status as a registry identification cardholder."

Case Study: Cannabis Therapy Provides Symptom Relief in Patient with Treatment-Resistant TBI

Albuquerque, NM: The use of medical cannabis is associated with decreases in agitation and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress in a 38-year-old patient with an acquired traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a case report published in the journal Psychosomatics.

Investigators affiliated with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center reported on the effect of medical cannabis treatment in a TBI patient with post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorder. The patient had been unresponsive to conventional therapies.

Authors reported that cannabis treatment was associated with sustained, "clinically meaningful" decreases in the patient's "depression, agitation, aggression, and anxiety." The patient increased his number of social interactions and discontinued his use of opiates. He reported no significant adverse side-effects from cannabis therapy.

Authors concluded: "The improvement of symptoms in [this] case, which is medically and psychiatrically complex, suggests that MC (medical cannabis) can potentially be effective for neuropsychiatric symptoms in acquired brain injury when other psychotropic treatments have failed. ... Future studies must be conducted to better meet the needs of survivors of acquired brain injury and to help inform provider and patient decisions in using MC to treat symptoms."

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis reduced agitation in acquired brain injury: A case study," appears in Psychosomatics.

Report: Most Unregulated Vape Products "Unfit for Human Consumption"

San Diego, CA: An analysis of unregulated THC vapor pens in southern California reported that most products contained unsafe amounts of adulterants, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Of the counterfeit products tested, 62 percent were positive for pesticides and almost 40 percent were positive for elevated levels of lead. Half of the products contained far lower levels of THC than advertised, and several products tested positive for the presence of Vitamin E oil – an adulterant that is believed to be a primarily culprit in EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury).

Overall, researchers reported that nearly 80 percent of the products sampled were determined to be "unfit for human consumption."

The findings are similar to prior reviews of counterfeit vapor products in California and in other states which also have reported that the use of unregulated products posed serious dangers to health.

For more information, see the new California NORML white paper, "Health Benefits and Risks of Cannabis Vaporizers and Vape Pens."

Study: Cannabinoids Effective at Reducing Bacteria Associated with Dental Plaque

Mortsel, Belgium: Cannabinoids possess more potent anti-bacterial activity than do commercially marketed oral care products in the treatment of dental plaque, according to preclinical data published in the journal Cureus.

A pair of Belgian researchers compared the efficacy of oral care products and cannabinoids (cannabidiol, cannabichromene, cannabinol, and cannabigerol) in reducing the bacterial content of dental plaques. Plaque samples were collected from human subjects and incubated in a petri dish.

Authors reported, "By evaluating the colony count of the dental bacteria isolated from six groups, it was found that cannabinoids were more effective in reducing the bacterial colony count in dental plaques as compared to the well-established synthetic oral care products such as Oral B and Colgate."

They concluded, "Although commercially available oral care products are considerably effective in maintaining the oral hygiene of the average population, our study found that cannabinoids are substantially effective in reducing the colony count of the bacterial strains of the dental plaque as compared to the well-established synthetic oral care products such as Oral B and Colgate. ... We believe that our study opens up the possibilities of developing personalized next-generation oral care products based on cannabinoids."

Prior preclinical studies have previously demonstrated cannabinoids to possess potent anti-bacterial properties, particularly against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus) and malaria.

Full text of the study, "Comparison of efficacy of cannabinoids versus commercial oral care products in reducing bacterial content from dental plaque: A preliminary observation," appears in Cureus.

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