#NORML #News
Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
media :: news
- Tue, 13 Nov 2018 04:20:21 PST

Plant-Derived Marijuana Medicine Now Available In US Pharmacies

Washington, DC: Epidiolex, a prescription medicine containing a standardized formulation of the plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD), is now available in pharmacies in all 50 states.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the product in June 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. Physicians, at their discretion, may also elect to prescribe the medicine "off-label" for medical conditions other than epilepsy.

An annual prescription for Epidiolex is estimated to cost $32,500 per year, a price that the manufacturer says is "in line with other FDA-approved anti-epileptic drugs."

Epidiolex is the fourth marijuana-based medicine to receive FDA approval -- joining dronabinol (aka Marinol), nabilone (aka Cesamet), and liquid synthetic THC (aka Syndros). However, Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medicine containing plant-derived non-synthetic cannabinoids.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns

Washington, DC: United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday announced his resignation from the Justice Department.

Sessions was a longstanding, vocal opponent of marijuana policy reform, who once opined, "Good people don't smoke marijuana." As Attorney General, his office rescinded the 2013 Cole memorandum which directed prosecutors not to interfere in state-sanctioned marijuana activity. However, that action encouraged numerous members from both parties to strongly criticize the office, and eventually led to the introduction of The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 - bipartisan House and Senate legislation that seeks to protect jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana from federal intervention.

Sessions' chief of staff Matt Whitaker will serve as acting Attorney General until a permanent appointment is confirmed.

Study: Patients With Tourette Syndrome Report Benefits From Cannabis

Tel Aviv, Israel: Patients suffering from Tourette syndrome (TS) report symptomatic benefits following the use of medical cannabis, according to data published in the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.

Israeli researchers surveyed 42 patients with TS who had approval from the Health Ministry to use medical marijuana. Subjects typically reported reduced tic severity, better sleep, and improved mood following cannabis administration. About 75 percent of total participants elected to continue using cannabis long-term. Those who ceased their use did so because of a lack of perceived efficacy or due to side-effects.

Authors concluded: "MC (medical cannabis) seems to hold promise in the treatment of GTS (Gilles de la Tourette syndrome) as it demonstrated high subjective satisfaction by most patients."

Prior studies have consistently demonstrated that the administration of either whole-plant cannabis or oral THC is associated with reduced tic severity in TS patients.

Full text of the study, "Single center experience with medical cannabis in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome," appears in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders. NORML's literature review on cannabis and Tourette Syndrome is online.

Colorado: Jury Rejects Civil RICO Complaint In Marijuana Smell Case

Denver, CO: A Denver jury has rejected a civil complaint that sought to use federal anti-racketeering (RICO) laws as a mechanism to shut down licensed marijuana operators.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was initially backed by the anti-drug organization Safe Streets Alliance, argued that the presence of a nearby licensed marijuana retailer was detrimental to their property values and sought millions of dollars in damages. The jury rejected their claims and found that the business was not responsible for any alleged monetary losses.

It is not yet known whether plaintiffs plan to appeal the verdict.

Similar RICO suits have been filed against marijuana facilities in other states, but have yet to be successful.

Pennsylvania: Governor Signs Law Eliminating License Suspension Penalty For Marijuana-Related Offenses, Other Crimes

Harrisburg, PA: Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has signed legislation into law eliminating mandatory driver's license suspensions for a wide range of non-driving related crimes, including marijuana-related offenses.

House Bill 163 amends existing law so that those age 21 or older convicted of certain drug-related offenses unrelated to driving are no longer subject to the revocation of their license. Some 149,000 Pennsylvanians are estimated to have had their licenses suspended for non-driving related drug crimes between the years 2011 and 2016.

In 1991, federal lawmakers threatened to withhold transportation funding to state governments unless they mandated licenses suspensions for drug-related crimes. Today, fewer than a dozen states continue to impose such bans.

The new law abolishing the ban takes effect in six months.

Review Paper: Marijuana's Driving Impact Less Than That Of Alcohol

Los Angeles, CA: Cannabis' impact on driving performance is generally less pronounced than that of alcohol, according to a review paper published by a pair of New York University researchers and BOTEC Analysis, LLC.

Authors reported that the use of cannabis, absent the simultaneous use of other drugs or alcohol, creates "only a fraction of the risks associated with driving at the legal 0.08 BAC threshold, let alone the much higher risks associated with higher levels of alcohol." By contrast, they report that "the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis is linked to higher levels of driver impairment than either alone" - a finding that is consistent with much of the available literature.

They conclude, "The maximum risk for cannabis intoxication alone, unmixed with alcohol or other drugs, appears to be more comparable to risks such as talking on a hands-free cellphone (legal in all states) than to driving with a BAC above 0.08." As a result, they suggest that as a matter of policy, "stoned driving alone (not involving alcohol or other drugs), should be treated as a traffic infraction rather than as a crime, unless aggravated by recklessness, aggressiveness, or high speed."

In virtually all instances, cannabis-influenced driving is classified as a criminal rather than an administrative offense.

Investigators also argued against the imposition of per se limits which criminalize the act of operating a vehicle with trace levels of either THC or THC metabolites in one's blood or urine. They determined: "Blood THC is not a good proxy either for recency of use or for impairment, and the dose-effect curve for fatality risk remains a matter of sharp controversy. ... Moreover, the lipid-solubility of THC means that a frequent cannabis user will always have measurable THC in his or her blood, even when that person has not used recently and is neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired."

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) take a similar stance against the use of blood/THC concentrations as per se evidence of psychomotor impairment. NORML has long articulated similar opposition, stating, "Per se limits and zero tolerant per se thresholds … are not based upon scientific evidence or consensus. … [T]he enforcement of these strict liability standards risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations, including those persons who are consuming cannabis legally in accordance with other state statutes."

Full text of the paper, "Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options," is available online. NORML's fact-sheet, "Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance," is online.

Study: Medical Cannabis Offsets Chemotherapy-Related Adverse Events

Tel Aviv, Israel: The use of medical cannabis mitigates many of the side-effects associated with cancer chemotherapy, such as pain and nausea, according to data published in the international medical journal Acta Haematologica.

Israeli researchers assessed the efficacy of medical cannabis administration in controlling chemotherapy-induced adverse effects in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). They reported that the use of cannabis was associated with improvements in subjects' pain relief, nausea, appetite, and general well-being.

"Medical cannabis use is prevalent in this HL cohort, and appears to be effective in ameliorating chemotherapy-related AEs (adverse events)," authors concluded.

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use by Hodgkin lymphoma patients: Experience of a single center," appears in Acta Haematologica.

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