Connecticut: Regulators Expand Qualifying Conditions Eligible For Cannabis Therapy
Hartford, CT: Patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis, spasticity disorders, and neuropathic facial pain are among those who are now eligible for marijuana therapy following a decision this week by regulators to expand the program’s list of qualifying conditions.
Under the just-announced rules, doctors may for the first time recommend medical cannabis to patients with the following diagnoses: spasticity, severe rheumatoid arthritis, post herpetic neuralgia, hydrocephalus, intractable headache, neuropathic facial pain, muscular dystrophy, and osteogenesis imperfecta (aka broken bone disease). Over 27,000 Connecticut are currently enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program.
Fibromyalgia Patients Report Subjective Benefits From Cannabis
Haifa, Israel: Patients suffering from fibromyalgia frequently use cannabis to treat chronic pain and other symptoms of the disease, according to data published in the journal Pain Research and Treatment. Israeli researchers surveyed over 2,700 fibromyalgia patients. Of those who responded to the questionnaire, 84 percent reported consuming cannabis.
“Pain relief was reported by 94 percent of cannabis consumers, while 93 percent reported improved sleep quality, 87 percent reported improvement in depression, and 62 percent reported improvement in anxiety,” authors concluded. In addition, “nearly 85 percent of the patients either completely stopped taking any other pain medications or reduced the dosage of other meds. This reflects the advantage of cannabis over other meds in alleviating pain in addition to its favorable effects on sleep and mood.”
Full text of the study, “The consumption of cannabis by fibromyalgia patients in Israel,” appears in Pain Research and Treatment.
Springfield, IL: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation into law authorizing the state to license individual farmers to grow hemp for commercial purposes.
The new law, which took immediate effect, expands the state’s existing hemp program. Under the 2014 pilot program, only universities were permitted to produce hemp for research purposes. The new act allows “any individual, partnership, firm, corporation, company, society, [or] association” to apply for a hemp cultivation license.
“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” the Governor said in a statement.
Over 40 states have enacted statutes distinguishing hemp from marijuana, and authorizing its licensed production. According to estimates provided by the advocacy group Vote Hemp, US farmers legally cultivated over 23,000 acres of hemp last year.
Clean Slate Act To Seal Records Introduced To Congress
Washington, DC: Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) announced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.
The Clean Slate Act is important legislation that would ease the burden felt by those unjustly suffering the collateral consequences resulting from cannabis prohibition.
Individuals saddled with a marijuana possession conviction are disproportionately either people of color or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, and it is essential that they are not held back from being able to obtain employment, housing, access to higher education, and all of the other necessities of being an active participant in their community. Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.
Study: Cannabis Leaves Possess Anti-Bacterial Activity Against MRSA
Kanpur, India: Ethanol-based tinctures containing crushed cannabis leaves provide anti-bacterial effects against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to data published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine. Strains of the MRSA bacterium are often resistant to antibiotic treatment and can be associated with life-threatening infections, such as septic shock and severe pneumonia.
A team of researchers from India assessed the antimicrobial activities of cannabis leaf extracts, along with extracts from the leaves of the plants Thuja orientalis (a form of cypress) and Psidium guajava(lemon guava), against MRSA.
Authors reported that each of the individual extracts inhibited MRSA growth, but that these effects were more profound when cannabis was used in combination with Thuja orientalis. They concluded, “Ethanolic extract of C. sativa alone and in combination with T. orientalis provided two potential therapeutic agents for use against MRSA infections.”
Prior studies have demonstrated that constituents in the cannabis plant possess potent antibacterial and antifungal properties which are capable of halting of the spread of MRSA and malaria under controlled conditions.
Full text of the study, “Antimicrobial activity of Cannabis sativa, Thuja orientalis, and Psidium guajava leaf extracts against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” appears in the Journal of Integrative Medicine.
Illinois: Cannabis Permitted As Opioid Substitute
Springfield, IL: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation into law on Tuesday permitting physicians to recommend medical cannabis to pain patients in lieu of opioids.
Senate Bill 336, which took immediate effect, permits doctors to recommend cannabis for any “medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.” The new law also makes several other patient-centric changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, such as authorizing applicants with a provisional registration to purchase medical cannabis upon submitting their paperwork.
“We have a new weapon against opioid abuse,” the Governor posted to his twitter account. “Medical pros can now prescribe cannabis instead of opioids for pain management. Science wins again.”
According to data published last year in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Care, enrollees in Illinois’ medical marijuana program frequently reported using cannabis "as an alternative to other medications – most commonly opioids.”
Numerous observational studies report that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.
Illinois joins New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania – each of which explicitly permit physicians to recommend medical cannabis for opioid-related diagnoses.
NORML's fact-sheet highlighting the relevant, peer-reviewed research specific to the relationship between cannabis and opioids is available online.