Category Archives: Marijuana

Florida Medical Marijuana Update

SOUTH FLORIDA WILL HAVE LOTS OF CERTIFIED DOCTORS WHO WILL BE ABLE TO PRESCRIBE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Taken from Sun-Sentinel:

Hundreds of doctors in Florida are now certified since June 16th, who are able to  recommend medical marijuana for patients, and one of the biggest concentrations is in South Florida.

The state is moving forward to implement a constitutional amendment approved by voters; however, patients in some parts of the state have no access and insurance does not cover marijuana, so poorer patients could be priced out of the market.

  • State lawmakers eliminated the original 90 day waiting period to get medical marijuana;
  • There are now 957 doctors in Florida qualified to recommend medical marijuana, with 357 of them in South Florida;
  • Monroe county has the most certified doctors, with one for every 8,208 residents in the county;
  • Of Florida’s 30 largest cities, Boca Raton has the state’s highest per capita number of certified doctors;
  • Doctors “recommend” marijuana rather than “prescribe” it, because it is a federally-controlled substance.

HOW CAN I GET IT?

Patients must have a qualifying ailment.  Those include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class,” per the amendment’s language.

To find a local doctor, go to http://SunSentinel.com/marijuanadoctors

You can also go to Floridahealth.gov, or call the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use at 850-245-4657.

Patients can receive a 70-day supply at a time.  When that is exhausted, they must get another recommendation, which can be phoned in.  After 30 weeks, patients must once again see their doctor in person.

A typical in-person visit costs about $250.  Patients must also pay a $75 fee for their medical marijuana card; then, there’s the cost of the marijuana which ranges from about $100 to $200 for a 70-day supply.

At his Boca Raton clinic, one doctor treats about 50 patients.  He has used the law’s “other debilitating medical conditions” provission to prescribe (recommend) marijuana for auto-immune diseases similar to Crohn’s, severe arthritis and chronic pain from nervous system damage.

A photo ID is required on the card in order to be placed on the state registry, and there has been a steady increase in the volume of applications since Amendment 2 went into effect.

There are now 12 growers and there will be 5 more added in October.  They agree they have enough capacity to supply patient demand.

 

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The DEA Is At War With Chronically Ill Patients – Again

An article on Forbes.com, written by David Kroll, caught my attention.

kratom plant

The Kratom Plant

First, it was and still is, Cannabis.  Now, it’s another plant.  A natural medicine – not artificially-produced, addictive, pain killers and human killers, known as “opioids,” by Big Pharma.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has filed a notice of intent (PDF) to place the southeast Asian plant called kratom to the most restrictive classification of the Controlled Substances Act. The plant, Mitragyna speciosa, and its two primary constituents, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, will be temporarily placed onto Schedule I on September 30, according to a filing by the DEA today.

Mr. Kroll also states:

Various forms of kratom and teas made from the plant’s leaves are sold in cafes and on the internet. Their primary effect is to provide a short-lived peaceful and calm feeling that is described as pleasant. Consistent with this effect being opioid-like, anecdotal reports indicate that some users have used kratom to successfully recover from physical and psychological dependence on prescription opioids and heroin. Comments on my last report on kratom have also indicated the successful use of teas made from the plant in managing chronic pain without the side effects and addictive potential of prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.

Research has shown why kratom might be a useful and safer alternative to prescription opioids:  its inherent alkaloids, metabolite and an oxidation product in the plant, minimize the opioid receptors in the body.  If the opioid receptors in the body’s cells were not reduced by not consuming kratom, you would have normal body’s “tolerance and dose escalation commonly seen with prescription opioids.”

Thank the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability) for “protecting public health” in this case; (as in the case of Cannabis – Marijuana) as well.

Last month, the CDC came out with a report that kratom “can be abused and that poison control centers have received over 660 calls between 2010 and 2015 regarding kratom intoxication.”  The report stated the plant kratom, had a “stimulant effect” and was “an opioid substitute.”  Opioids are suppressants.  How can kratom be an “opioid substitute” when it has a “stimulant effect”?  How can a plant be an opioid substitute when it actually lessens the effect of an opioid?  The plant lessens the dependency on opioids.

No scientific testing was done.  The DEA has acted only on CDC’s reports of use of kratom which showed:

  • Medical outcomes associated with kratom exposure were reported as: minor (minimal signs or symptoms, which resolved rapidly with no residual disability) for 162 (24.5%) exposures;
  • Moderate (non-life threatening, with no residual disability, but requiring some form of treatment) for 275 (41.7%) exposures; and
  • Major (life-threatening signs or symptoms, with some residual disability) for 49 (7.4%) exposures;
  • For 173 (26.2%) exposure calls, no effects were reported, or poison center staff members were unable to follow up again regarding effects.
  • One death was reported in a person who was exposed to the medications paroxetine (an antidepressant) and lamotrigine (an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer) in addition to kratom.

The Drug Enforcement Administration includes kratom on its Drugs of Concern list (substances that are not currently regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, but that pose risks to persons who abuse them), and the National Institute of Drug Abuse has identified kratom as an emerging drug of abuse.

Among calls reporting use of kratom in combination with other substances (multiple exposures), the most commonly reported other substances were ethanol, other botanicals, benzodiazepines, narcotics, and acetaminophen.

Aspirin is a drug that could be abused; Tylenol (acetaminophen), Naproxen and Ibuprofen are drugs that could be abused.  Anything taken in huge doses, which are now “safe drugs” could turn into abusive drugs.  If a person’s intent is to inflict harm, it can be accomplished.

The last sentences of the CDC report are:

Kratom use appears to be increasing in the United States, and the reported medical outcomes and health effects suggest an emerging public health threat. Members of the public and health care providers should be aware that the use of kratom can lead to severe adverse effects, especially when consumed in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

The CDC report was based on 660 reports between 2010 and 2015 across the 50 states; more than half of which showed no harm or very little harm to those who consumed kratom.  I believe this is going “a little” overboard.

It is plain to me that the DEA and CDC are doing everything they can, to protect Big Pharma, even when it makes sense to only the DEA and CDC, for which we, with our tax dollars, are paying through the nose.  Again.  Yet.  Still.

Source:  Article by Forbes contributor, David Kroll

[Image of Kratom plant from Forbes.com]

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Why Is Big Pharma Fighting Legalizing Marijuana?

 

MJ

It’s obvious.

We all know by now that most prescribed pain killers (especially opioids) are addictive, and yet, our government bows down to Big Pharma and continues to allow clinicians to prescribe them indiscriminately.

Many, many committees, commissions, agencies , etc., have been holding meetings to discuss this problem.  Has anything been done?  Of course not.

All the “conclusions” of these “get-togethers” have amounted to: ZERO.

Now, we have something else to throw into the “pot.”

There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

Medical marijuana is being used for medicinal purposes and not for “recreational” purposes.  There is this misconception held by very conservative groups:  medical marijuana will be used for recreational purposes or will lead to recreational marijuana use in order to get “high.”  Medical marijuana is used as medicine to relieve pain and other symptoms of chronic and/or serious medical conditions.

fewer pills

The graph above, published by Bradford and Bradford, Health Affairs, July 2016, sheds much light on the impact the use of medical marijuana has had and continues to have, on addictive drug use.

Let’s get on with it, elected officials!  Let the light shine through, and give our ill citizens availability to this plant that has many healing qualities, especially relief from many types of pain.  Some of your colleagues have seen the light and passed state laws allowing prescribing of medical marijuana.  Until the federal government passes a national law or properly amends the scheduling of marijuana, I hope more states will join the almost 30 states which have already passed marijuana laws.

Source:  Article in the The Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham

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The UN Is Assessing the World’s Drug Problem

 

united nations

An historic opportunity to achieve more humane and effective drug policy is at risk.

The 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem is an initiative that came from sitting presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.  The UN General Assembly endorsed the call for an open, honest and evidence-based debate.

The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) will be convening in New York from April 19-21 and is the first such meeting in 18 years.

Since the deliberations began in Vienna in 2015, they have been neither transparent nor inclusive.  In other words, closed doors negotiations ensured that crucial priorities were neglected and outdated policies retained.

It is expected that the outcome of the April meeting will not result in meaningful change; however, there is evidence of ways to put people’s health, safety and human rights first.  These fundamental aspirations cannot be met without:

 Ending the criminalization and incarceration of drug users;

 Abolishing capital punishment for drug-related offenses;

 Empowering the World Health Organization (WHO) to review the scheduling system of drugs on the basis of scientific evidence;

 Ensuring a broad spectrum of treatments for dependent people and services designed to reduce the harms of drugs; and

 Allowing governments to apply different approaches to drug regulation in order to maximize public health, and destroy the power of organized crime.

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A Florida Poll On Medical Marijuana

According to a poll, reported on Johnny Green’s blog, “The Weed Blog,” there is enough Florida voters (with wiggle room), that will make our quest a reality.

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This is exciting news, and let’s hope the figures don’t lie, and we will finally see all the hard work come to fruition!

Please read:

Latest Poll Shows 65% Support For 2016 Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative

 

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How Did Marijuana Fare In 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill?

 

med

While millions of Americans let out a sigh of relief, knowing our government will not shut down at least for another fiscal year, millions of Americans may not have been aware of marijuana legislation that was and was not included in the Omnibus bill.

According to an article in The Daily Chronic, the following marijuana re-authorizations for 2016 took place:

  • Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration will not have funding for interfering with state medical marijuana laws; and
  • The DOJ and DEA will not have funding to interfere with state industrial hemp research programs.
  • col

Unfortunately, the following individual provisions were not included:

  • To permit Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to military veterans;
  • To prevent the V.A. from denying services to veterans because they are state recognized medical marijuana patients;
  • To include Senate-backed language seeking to authorize financial institutions to engage in relationships with state-licensed marijuana business; and
  • To allow the District of Columbia to sell and tax marijuana.  (Currently, DC residents can grow, possess and share marijuana.)

The parts that stand out for me is:

  1. The fact that our members of Congress are still interfering with doctor-patient relationships in the VA; and
  2. Licensed businesses still have to pay their bills in cash instead of accessing banking services.

This is a very slow and frustrating process.

In the meantime, patients suffer and Congress shows it DOES NOT CARE about our very sick and needful military veteran citizenry.

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And, rubbing salt in the wounds:  the licensed, lucrative, high tax-paying marijuana businesses are not allowed to use the same banks to which small, under-funded, and low tax-paying businesses across the country have access.

Is there something wrong with this picture?

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Assuring Quality and Standards in the Cannabis Laboratory

Question:  How can a medicinal marijuana patient or a recreational user have assurances that the cannabis product he/she is purchasing is safe and is actually the one prescribed or desired, no matter in which state the product is purchased?

Answer:  A cannabis chemistry committee was established last year and has now become a subdivision of the American Chemical Society (the largest chemical society in the world).  Of course, this will take work and time in order to establish central cannabis laboratory regulations,  creating precise standards which, hopefully, would eventually require adherence to by all laboratories.

cannabis

According to an article in Culture Magazine, there are no standardized procedures at the present time and this has created a safety concern throughout the cannabis industry as well as for the users of the cannabis products.  Standard methods of production and screening for pesticides is a great concern.  The formation of this subdivision, under the jurisdiction of the Chemical Health and Safety division, is a progressive step in the direction of safety for the cannabis industry.

 

New Jersey Has The Right Idea

 

Today, the State of New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding its first hearing on the legalization of marijuana in the state.

nj

This progressive action could be a possible standard for all states who are starting to realize the reality of the use of marijuana by its citizens.  With this attitude, otherwise law-abiding citizens will not have their lives ruined by having to face arrest if caught using or carrying a small amount.

If this action by New Jersey comes to fruition (legalization of marijuana), they will be joining Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia in the expanding circle of states who have come to the realization that the push for legalization of marijuana is a sensible, growing “grass” root movement.

The taxation will contribute to infrastructure repair and upgrades, drug and alcohol abuse programs, and regulation of marijuana could be handled the same as adult alcohol consumption.  It’s a “no-brain-er.”

The benefits to the average citizen’s life who uses marijuana, will mean:

  • no criminal record;
  • no legal discrimination;
  • no difficulty to secure employment or housing;
  • no difficulty to obtain student loans or drivers’ licenses;
  • no stigma or embarrassment;
  • no need to hire an attorney;
  • no lost hours from work or school and
  • no more 3 times more arrests of people of color for possession than for whites.

The benefits to the state with legalization of marijuana would be:

  • no more arrests for possession, saving the state over $100M a year;
  • police resources would be free to handle serious criminal issues;
  • an increase of the budget for important state issues without increasing or perhaps even lowering state taxes.

Making it legal in New Jersey will allow regulated, safe marijuana to be available, taking it off the black market where quality and safety is always in question.

The committee will be listening to testimony on taxation, legalization and regulation.  The testimonials will be given by experts who have been invited to the hearings.  The names of those people have not been disclosed at this time.

[Image and inspiration for this post is from “The Weed Blog.”]

Cannabis And Opioids From Canada To HHS To Florida

Canada seems to be progressive where cannabis is concerned; whereas, Florida is trying very hard(?) to get out of the dark ages – maybe not hard enough, in my estimation.  And in between, we have our Health and Human Services (HHS).

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The Weed Blog, so aptly managed by Johnny Green, is a wealth of current informative articles about cannabis, as well as about cannabis books, testing, growing, recipes and strain reviews.

The article that recently caught my eye was “Canadian Researchers: Use Medical Marijuana Instead of Opioids For Neuropathic Pain.”  In this blog post, Johnny states:

Using opiods for pain is a hard thing for many people. Sure, the painkillers provide temporary relief from pain, but the side effects can be horrific. They tear up your organs, and often times lead to a level of addiction that ruins lives. If only there was another medicine out there that was effective that didn’t come with all of the problems.

And, he goes on to say:

Medical marijuana is a proven form of treatment for pain, specifically neuropathic pain.

Recently researchers in Canada started pushing for Canadian doctors to substitute opioid based painkillers [with] medical marijuana.

Now, doesn’t that make sense?  Thanks, Johnny.

If anyone is interested in knowing about some of the possibly addictive prescription drugs that medical marijuana could replace, click on this link.

In contrast, our own HHS, under the “leadership” of Sylvia Burwell, is “Taking New Steps To Combat Opioid Use Disorder.”  In Secretary Burwell’s first sentence she states:

Blair [Hubbard] fought back from an addiction to heroin and prescription opioids that nearly took her life.

And Burwell goes on to say:

Blair struggled for many years with her addiction, and today, families and communities across our nation are struggling. And too many Americans who have watched a friend or loved one struggle with opioid use disorder have witnessed the toll of this epidemic. [disorder?]

OK, Blair was addicted to heroin.  That’s one thing.  We don’t know which came first but, the point is, she was also addicted to opioids.  Prescriptions were obtained from doctors who kept prescribing ad infinitum, until she was at risk of being  “overdosed.”

Of course, now, if someone is at risk of being  “overdosed” on opioids, there is help!  A fantastic solution:  Another prescription is available for a drug called “naloxone.”

Secretary Burwell informs us that:

A drug called naloxone has been proven to reverse opioid overdose, and save lives.

Naloxone could be a dangerous drug itself.  There are caveats for its use.  Click here to find out about it.

This whole thing is so ridiculous, that I’m not going to continue talking about opioids and her anymore.  In my mind, she is a total “negative.”  This is “Sunshinebright blog” and I refuse to be negative.

Now, about Florida:

The medical marijuana law that was passed in 2014 has been in a state of flux.  The Florida State Legislature ended their session in the Spring without any further action in that regard.  It’s in the hands of the Florida State Supreme Court.

Perhaps and hopefully, in the 2016 election, we will be able to pass a Constitutional Amendment for Medical Marijuana.  Supporters of the Amendment are working hard – collecting petitions and money – to make sure it will be on the ballot next year.  The law that is now languishing is probably going to continue in that position forever.  Just sayin’.

If you live in Florida, and haven’t yet signed the petition to put the Medical Marijuana Amendment on the 2016 ballot, click here to download and print the blank petition from a pdf file.  Instructions about where to mail it are on the document.

Ending this post with a positive attitude:

“Smile, even if you don’t feel like it, and your world will appear brighter.”

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Cannabis and Cancer: More Patients Going Public with Pot Passions and Practices

 

Some Doctors Voice Concerns About Safety, Risks of Rx Weed

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle WA, publishes a newsletter that is quite informative.  It is called, “Hutch News.”  They publish news about their research on cancer and a host of other diseases, including:  Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) from which my late husband suffered; Multiple Sclerosis (MS); HIV/AIDS; and many others.

This latest article was interesting in that it was the first one that I’ve come across which details a good reason why perspective users of medical marijuana should beware.

Mold is a very real possibility.

The article contains stories and opinions of patients who use medical marijuana to help relieve their pain and discomfort from chemotherapy; however, I got the impression, from reading the article, that a possibility of mold infection was very low on the scale of possible side effects.

High on the scale of course, was the patients’ feelings of well-being and relief from the discomfort they experienced.  They were able to go on with their daily activities without the pain and other effects from cancer treatments.

Questions … and more questions

“Legalization has changed the conversation. When somebody asks me: ‘Did you vote for the [Washington] marijuana law?’ I say I did because I don’t think it’s something that needs to be super regulated,” Pergam added “But I think we need to use it judiciously. The question really is: How do you do that while protecting patients and then giving them access to the potential benefits that there may be?

“I want to understand the use patterns so I can give people constructive advice. If patients wanted to use it, what are the best ways to be protected? But I don’t think we know any of this data yet.”

That absence of evidence is due to the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance along with heroin and LSD. Drugs in Schedule 1 have “no currently accepted medical use,” U.S. authorities assert. Marijuana also remains federally illegal.

The designation essentially creates a federal monopoly on the marijuana that researchers need to study the plant’s medical potential. There is one U.S.-sanctioned pot garden — at the University of Mississippi. It’s managed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and produces the only cannabis that’s available for federally sanctioned marijuana studies.

So, what does that leave doctors who want to answer their patients’ pot questions? Mostly: More questions.

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