Washington, DC: State regulators have licensed farmers and researchers to cultivate over 500,000 total acres of industrial hemp in the first half of 2019, according to data compiled by the organization VoteHemp.
"Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation in the US has grown rapidly," the group summarized in a press release. "The number of acres of hemp licensed across 34 states totaled 511,442 in 2019 – more than quadruple the number of acres licensed from the previous year. State licenses to cultivate hemp were issued to 16,877 farmers and researchers, a 476 percent increase over 2018 [totals]."
Congress enacted legislation in December 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. However, the United States Department of Agriculture is still in the process of finalizing federal regulations to oversee the plant's commercial production.
Currently, 46 states have redefined hemp as a crop distinct from cannabis, according to VoteHemp.
The full text of VoteHemp's 2019 crop report is online.
District of Columbia: City Council Approves Workplace Protections for Medical Cannabis Patients
Washington, DC: District council members have enacted legislation — Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act — to protect qualified patients from workplace discrimination.
The Act states, "A public employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual's status as a qualifying [medical cannabis] patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual's place of employment or during the hours of employment."
It further states, "A qualifying patient's failure to pass a public employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patients was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient's place of employment or during hours of employment."
The law does not apply to either employees in "safety sensitive positions" or to those who are required to undergo drug testing as a federal requirement.
Council members voted 12 to zero in favor of the proposal. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not sign the measure.
Like all District legislation, the act must undergo a 30-day Congressional review prior to taking effect.
Commenting on the Act, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: "Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of medical cannabis while away from the job. The enactment of this law will provide clarity to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia."
To date, 15 states provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients. Two states, Maine and Nevada, limit certain non-safety sensitive employers from taking punitive actions against any adult who uses cannabis while off the job.
Utah: Lawmakers to Revise Medical Cannabis Access Law
Salt Lake City, UT: State lawmakers are scheduled to convene a special session on Monday, September 16, to amend the state's nascent medical cannabis access law.
Specifically, lawmakers are seeking to revise the law so that public health departments are no longer responsible for the overseeing of the distribution of medical cannabis products. Instead, legislators are proposing that regulators license up to 12 privately-owned dispensaries throughout the state.
"My administration is dedicated to ensuring that quality, medical grade cannabis products are accessible to patients by March of 2020," Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. "Removing the requirement for a state central fill pharmacy will provide efficient and timely distribution of this substance for those who need it."
Voters in 2018 approved Proposition 2, which legalized the use and dispensing of medical cannabis to qualified patients. Shortly thereafter, lawmakers held a special legislative session where they voted to repeal and replace the initiative law with their own legislation. Specifically, lawmakers eliminated patients' option to home cultivate cannabis, narrowed the list of qualifying conditions, and placed additional restrictions on the dispensing of cannabis products, among other changes.
Cannabis Derivative Provides Anti-Cancer Activity in Preclinical Model of Pancreatic Cancer
Boston, MA: The administration of a cannabis-derived flavonoid enhances radiotherapy treatment in preclinical models of pancreatic cancer, according to findings published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology.
A team of researchers affiliated with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts assessed the anti-cancer activity of a non-psychoactive cannabis derivative, FBL-03G, in preclinical models of metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Researchers reported that the inclusion of FBL-03G during radiotherapy "induce[d] apoptosis and inhibit[ed] cancer cell concentration" in culture. In animal models, the compound "slowed tumor growth" and was associated with a "significant increase in mice survival."
They concluded, "[T]he FBL-03G results reveal a new potential non-cannabinoid cannabis derivative with major potential for consideration in further investigations in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, where new therapy options are urgently needed." Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest-to-treat forms of the disease, killing over 90 percent of sufferers within five years.
Preclinical studies identifying anti-cancer activity of cannabinoids date back to the mid-1970s. Far fewer studies exist assessing the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis-specific flavonoids, but recently some scientists have expressed interest in their anti-inflammatory potential.
Full text of the study, "Flavonoid derivative of cannabis demonstrates therapeutic potential in preclinical models of metastatic pancreatic cancer," appears in Frontiers in Oncology.
Study: Oral THC Effective at Reducing Pain in Geriatric Patients
Potsdam, Germany: The administration of oral THC (dronabinol) safely and effectively reduces pain in geriatric patients, according to clinical trial data published in the German journal Schmerz.
A team of German researchers assessed the use of dronabinol in elderly (over 80 years of age) subjects with chronic pain. Oral THC administration was associated with a pain reduction of 30 percent or greater in over half of the patients. Ten percent of subjects experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in their pain.
Authors concluded: "This study is one of the few analyses of the use of dronabinol in geriatric patients. We show that cannabis-based drugs (in this case dronabinol) are an effective, low-risk treatment option that should be considered early in therapy."
Dronabinol has been FDA-approved in the United States since 1985 as an anti-emetic and as an appetite stimulant.
Full text of the study, "Dronabinol in geriatric pain and palliative care patients: A retrospective evaluation of statutory-health-insurance-covered outpatient medical treatment," appears in Schmerz.
Case Reports: Synthetic Cannabinoid Improves Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders
Modena, Italy: The administration of nabilone, a FDA-approved synthetic CB1-receptor agonist, is associated with improved health in patients with chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, according to a case series published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology.
Italian researchers assessed the use of naboline over a three-month period in six patients with severe GI disorders. They reported, "[O]ral nabilone improved the health of nearly all patients, with visible improvements in reducing diarrheal symptoms and weight gain. ... Moreover, even though the duration of the therapy did not exceed three months, improvements were maintained over time."
Authors concluded, "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that provide preliminary evidence that a CB1-receptor agonist may be safe and play a beneficial role when the outcomes are focused on chronic GI disorders, especially on the diarrheal symptom."
Full text of the study, "Nabilone administration in refractory chronic diarrhea: A case series," appears in BMC Gastroenterology.
Study: Cannabis Products Commonly Used by Patients with Epilepsy
Portland, OR: Nearly nine out of ten patients with epilepsy report using cannabis for therapeutic purposes, according to survey data published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.
Investigators from the Oregon Health and Science University surveyed epilepsy patients undergoing observation at a local hospital. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported having consumed cannabis for symptom management, and 82 percent agreed that it mitigated seizure frequency. Most participants reported using cannabis products more dominant in CBD than THC. The majority of respondents reported inhaling herbal formulations of cannabis.
Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration approved Epidiolex, a prescription medicine containing a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD), for the treatment of severe forms of pediatric epilepsy.
Full text of the study, "Marijuana use by patients with epilepsy at a tertiary care center," appears in Epilepsy & Behavior.