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Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 27 May 2014 04:20:21 PST

Colorado: State Approves Up To $10 Million For Cannabis Research

Denver, CO: Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday approved legislation to fund observational and clinical research assessing the safety and therapeutic efficacy of cannabis.

The measure earmarks up to $10 million within the state's medical marijuana program fund to be utilized specifically to "gather objective scientific research regarding the efficacy of administering marijuana and its component parts as part of medical treatment." The law also establishes a 'scientific advisory council,' which may include expert participants from around the nation, to evaluate research proposals and make recommendations in regards to funding requests.

Despite the passage of legislation in various states permitting patients to access medicinal cannabis, only one state, California, has explicitly directed state funds toward sponsoring clinical cannabis research. That program, established at various California state universities, funded numerous clinical trials over the past decade evaluating the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis for a variety of conditions, including multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain. A review of these trials published in The Open Neurology Journal concluded, "Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking."

Earlier this month, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) publicly 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 - including those trials that are either state or privately funded.

Minnesota: Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Compromise Measure

St. Paul, MN: Minnesota House and Senate lawmakers, along with Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton, agreed late last week to legislation that seeks to provide access to limited preparations of cannabis to qualified patients.

Under the plan, state regulators intend to license two producers of cannabis and up to eight distribution centers. To be eligible to participate in the state's program, patients need to possess a physician's recommendation (or the recommendation from a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant) and be diagnosed with one of eight qualifying conditions (cancer/cachexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette's Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, seizures - including those characteristic of epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms -- including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis, and/or Crohn's Disease) and/or a terminal illness, and be registered with the state Department of Health.

However, unlike other state medical cannabis programs, the Minnesota plan does not permit qualified patients to possess or obtain whole-plant cannabis. Instead, the forthcoming law mandates that state-licensed distribution centers provide oils, pills, and/or extracts prepared from the plant. Such products would be subject to laboratory testing for purity and potency. Patients are permitted to ingest or vaporize, but not smoke, these medical cannabis preparations. Patients' health care provider must compile ongoing reports in regards to their patients' progress.

The law authorizes the state to license cannabis producers by no later than December 1, 2014. Cannabis-based preparations are expected to be available at state-licensed dispensaries by July 1, 2015.

States moving quickly on hemp legislation; Feds get sued over seeds in Kentucky

South Carolina: Legislators Sign Off On Hemp Cultivation Measure Columbia, SC: State legislators last week approved legislation reclassifying varieties of cannabis possessing minute quantities of THC as an industrial crop rather than a controlled substance.

Senate Bill 839 states, "It is lawful for an individual to cultivate, produce, or otherwise grow industrial hemp in this State to be used for any lawful purpose, including, but not limited to, the manufacture of industrial hemp products, and scientific, agricultural, or other research related to other lawful applications for industrial hemp." The proposal awaits action from Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

In February, Congress approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus federal Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Since that time, lawmakers in five states - Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Utah - have enacted legislation allowing for state-sponsored hemp cultivation.

On Monday, the Illinois Senate unanimously approved similar legislation, House Bill 5085. House members had previously voted in favor of an earlier version of the bill. Once both chambers agree to concurrent language, the measure will go to the Governor's desk.

More than a dozen states have now enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural product and permitting state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.

Last week, Kentucky state officials sued the US Drug Enforcement Administration after the agency refused to turn over a shipment of hemp seeds that were intended to be used as part of a state-approved research program. State officials designed the program to be compliant with Section 7606 of the federal farm bill.

According to the U.S. Congressional Resource Service, the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.

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