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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 13 May 2014 04:20:21 PST

Federal Government To Increase Its Supply Of Marijuana For Clinical Research

Washington, DC: Federal agencies are moving forward with plans to increase the US government's production of research-grade cannabis.

Last week, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in the Federal Register that it is increasing its marijuana production quota from 21 kilograms to 650 kilograms (about 1,443 pounds) in order to meet increasing demand for the plant from clinical investigators.

Federal regulations permit a farm at the University of Mississippi to cultivate set quantities of cannabis for use in federally approved clinical trials. Regulators at the DEA, the US Food and Drug Administration, PHS (Public Health Service), and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse must approve any clinical protocol seeking to study the plant's effects in human subjects.

On various occasions, marijuana reform advocates and researchers have publicly criticized NIDA for focusing on protocols designed to find harms associated with marijuana while simultaneously stonewalling proposed trials seeking to assess the plant's therapeutic benefits. However, in March, federal regulators finally signed off on a long-delayed clinical protocol from researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine to evaluate the use of cannabis in war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. Also this spring, lawmakers in several states, including Alabama, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, passed legislation encouraging state-sponsored clinical trials to assess the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol - a nonpsychotropic organic component of cannabis - in the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

"The additional supply [of cannabis] to be manufactured in 2014 is designed to meet the current and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana," a NIDA spokesperson told TheHill.com. "[T]his projection of increased demand is due in part to the recent increased interest in the possible therapeutic uses of marijuana."

According to a keyword search using the term 'smoked marijuana' on the clinicaltrials.gov website, eight trials are presently ongoing to evaluate the plant's effects in humans. However, only two of these trials are intended to assess the plant's potential therapeutic efficacy.

Missouri: Sentencing Reform Measure Reduces Marijuana Possession Penalties

Jefferson City, MO: Legislation recently approved by state lawmakers to rewrite Missouri's criminal code includes provisions reducing marijuana possession penalties. The sentencing reform measure, Senate Bill 491, awaits action from Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon, who has until mid-May to either approve or veto the legislation.

Under present law, the possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one-year incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Under the proposed law, the possession of ten grams or less of cannabis will be punishable by a fine only. The possession of greater quantities of cannabis will remain punishable by jail time.

In 2010, Missouri police made nearly 18,500 criminal arrests for marijuana possession offenses, one of the highest totals in the nation.

Separate provisions in the bill amend Missouri's 'prior and persistent drug offender' law, eliminating the mandate that persons convicted of a drug felony offense for the third time do not qualify for probation or parole.

Lawmakers and advocates spent eight years drafting the legislation, which significantly revises the state's criminal code for the first time in over 30 years. Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets served on the Missouri Bar Association Committee that authored many of the criminal code revisions.

Senate Bill 491 possesses veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers. Senators voted 29 to 2 in favor of the reform measure, while House members approved the legislation by a vote of 140 to 15. The measure may also become law without the Governor's signature.

If approved, the changes to the Missouri criminal code will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2017.

Poll: Majority Of Florida Voters Want Legalized Marijuana, Super-Majority Endorse Permitting Medical Cannabis

Tallahassee, FL: Nearly nine out of ten Florida voters support legalizing the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and a majority of Floridians support allowing adults to possess the plant for any purpose, according to the results of a statewide Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters.

Fifty-three percent of voters support "allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use" - an increase of five percent since Floridians were last posed the question in 2013. Forty-two percent of respondents opposed the idea.

Independents (61 percent), Democrats (59 percent), and men (58 percent) were most likely to endorse legalization, while women (48 percent) and Republicans (33 percent) were least supportive.

When asked whether patients ought to be able to access cannabis for medicinal purposes, public support rose to 88 percent. This November, Florida voters will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to legalize and regulate the dispensing of cannabis to authorized patients. Because the measure seeks to amend the state constitution, 60 percent of voters must decide in favor of it before it may be enacted.

According to the poll, 45 percent of Florida voters -- including 62 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 64 -- acknowledge having tried cannabis.

The survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

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