Congressional Committee Approves Legislation To Expand Pool Of Federally Licensed Marijuana Growers
Washington, DC: Members of the US House Judiciary Committee last week voted in favor of legislation, HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate FDA-approved clinical trials involving whole-plant cannabis. The Act mandates the federal government to license multiple providers of research-grade marijuana, among other changes.
The vote marks the first time that lawmakers have ever decided in favor of easing existing federal restrictions which limit investigators' ability to clinically study marijuana in a manner similar to other controlled substances. The measure now awaits further action on the House floor.
Under current US policy, investigators can only administer cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi during the course of an FDA-approved trial. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.
In 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration amended its regulations to permit additional applicants to seek federal licensure to grow marijuana for use in clinical research. However, to date, neither the DEA nor the Justice Department have taken action on over two-dozen pending applications. Passage of HR 5634 would mandate federal agencies approve at least two new applicants within a year's time.
This week, clinical investigators with the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego received federal permission to import cannabis products manufactured in Canada for use in human trials. The products, which are high in cannabidiol and low in THC, are unavailable from the University of Mississippi program, which currently provides only six distinct cannabis strains - none of which contain more than 0.08 percent CBD.
SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN SUPPORT OF THIS LEGISLATION
South Africa: Highest Court Upholds Right To Consume Marijuana In Private
Johannesburg, South Africa: The nation's highest court has upheld a 2017 decision finding that the use of marijuana by adults in private is constitutionally protected behavior.
Judges unanimously ruled that privacy protections encompass an adult's right to possess and grow cannabis in a private space. It is not "a criminal offense for an adult to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption," the court determined.
Public cannabis use and marijuana sales remain prohibited under the ruling.
South African politicians first outlawed marijuana in 1908. Annually, some 13 percent of all arrests in the nation are marijuana-related.
Poll: Health Specialists Support Legalizing Cannabis
Portland, OR: Health professionals support the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use, according to survey data compiled by MedScape.
Eighty-two percent of nurses, 82 percent of psychologists, 71 percent of pharmacists, and 67 percent of physicians agreed with the statement, "Medical marijuana should be legalized nationally." Majorities in each profession also endorsed legalizing the adult use of marijuana.
A 2014 poll by WebMD/Medscape of 1,544 physicians previously reported that 67 percent of doctors believe that the plant should be a legal option for patients. The results of a 2013 survey conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 76 percent of physician respondents supported the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Study: CBD Dosing Modulates Brain Activity In Those At High Risk For Psychosis
London, United Kingdom: Cannabidiol administration is associated with changes in brain activity that may potentially lower subjects' risk for a psychotic episode, according to clinical trial data published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Researchers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands assessed the brain activating effects of a single dose of 600mg of CBD in subjects at a high risk for psychosis.
Investigators reported: "Cannabidiol may partially normalize alterations in parahippocampal, striatal, and midbrain function associated with the CHR (clinical high risk of psychosis) state. As these regions are critical to the pathophysiology of psychosis, the influence of CBD at these sites could underlie its therapeutic effects on psychotic symptoms."
Clinical trial data has previously reported that the daily, adjunctive administration of CBD mitigates psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
Full text of the study, "Effect of cannabidiol on medial temporal, midbrain, and striatal dysfunction in people at clinical high risk of psychosis," appears in JAMA Psychiatry.
Border Officials: Canadians Involved In Legal Marijuana Industry To Be Barred Entry To The United States
Washington, DC: A top official from the US Customs and Border Patrol has affirmed that the agency will enforce a federal policy prohibiting those involved with the Canadian marijuana industry from entering the United States.
Section 212 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act states that foreigners are ineligible to enter the US if they are "determined to be a drug abuser" or if they have assisted in the trafficking of an illicit substance. A US Custom representative told Politico that the agency is broadly interpreting the statute to include those who work or have financially invested in Canada's legal marijuana industry, or who acknowledge personal use of the substance.
Canada legalized the regulated production and distribution of medical cannabis nearly two decades ago. In June of this year, Canadian lawmakers gave final approval to separate legislation regulating the adult use marijuana market. The new law takes effect on October 17, 2018.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano strongly criticized the US enforcement policy, stating: "This is an irrational and discriminatory policy that unduly penalizes tens of thousands of Canadians who pose no health or safety risk to the United States. At a time when public opinion and the culture surrounding marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the United States but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a draconian and backward-looking policy."
New Mexico: Health Secretary Balks At Medical Cannabis Expansion
Santa Fe: Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher has agreed to proposed changes in the state's medical cannabis law that would permit patients with obstructive sleep apnea to access marijuana; but she rejected calls to expand access to patients with other debilitating conditions, including Tourette's syndrome (TS) and opioid dependency.
"I cannot say with any degree of confidence that the use of cannabis for the treatment of opioid dependency and its symptoms would be either safe or effective," Secretary Gallagher opined in a signed decision. She also rejected recommendations to permit the use of cannabis for the treatment of eczema, muscular dystrophy, psoriasis, or Tourette's syndrome.
A number of case reports and clinical trials report that THC can mitigate symptoms of TS. Cannabis use has also been associated with improved outcomes in opioid-dependent subjects undergoing outpatient treatment. Among chronic pain patients enrolled in medical cannabis programs, the use of opioids typically is reduced or eliminated over time.