• Can Political Candidates be Open About Their Cannabis Use?
    A congressional candidate in Illinois is making waves after smoking marijuana in a campaign ad where he discussed his personal experience with cannabis and the need for federal reform. Anthony Clark, who is aiming to unseat Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) in next year's Democratic primary, filmed a roundtable discussion he hosted that revolved around marijuana issues for the ad. The Air Force veteran said he first started using cannabis in high school but rediscovered it as an adult after being injured in a Seattle shooting. A medical cannabis patient, Clark said the plant helps him cope with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Marijuana “has always been there for me throughout my life, enabling me to interact with society and deal with the pressures that society often brings upon you,” he said.
    He also stressed in the campaign video that he's transparent about his marijuana use because “if we really want to make change and we have a platform, you just have to be courageous with your platform.” “I think I have to be just as open about my cannabis use because lying to individuals, I think, plays a direct role in enabling status quo, in enabling the oppressors, the top one percent, to remain,” he said.” I don't hide this at all. I tell people on a daily basis, cannabis saved my life, it continues to save my life.”
    Support candidate with a donation today fighting for: Legalization Auto vacate & expungements Reparations jobs & economic growth Expand medical & hemp End work discrimination Black, Brown, women, owners/investors https://t.co/sNuEwNJJyN pic.twitter.com/J2vdDXRCvZ — Anthony Clark for Congress (@anthonyvclark20) November 22, 2019 “Legalization with a focus on racial justice is a direct part of building greater equality in our country,” he said. “For me, I think it's extremely important to be honest as a political candidate.” This isn't the only time Clark has consumed marijuana on camera. Earlier this week, he celebrated reaching 10,000 Twitter followers by smoking a joint while singing Ice Cube's “It Was A Good Day.”
    Today Was a Good Day! My accomplice in the revolution @VoteAshcraft & I reached 10k followers, helping us signal boost our revolutionary messages. As promised, in celebration of milestone, I blazed to the revolution while rapping/ singing ... read more
    Source: Marijuana.comPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Joe Biden Reverses Previous Stance That Marijuana Is A ‘Gateway Drug’
    Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s views on cannabis appear to be evolving. During a conference call with reporters Monday, Biden reversed his previous stance that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Biden told reporters that he hasn’t seen evidence to support the gateway drug theory about cannabis. But only a week prior, during a Las Vegas town hall, Biden said the exact opposite. In front of the town hall crowd, Biden said there was not enough evidence to know whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. Now, in the face of public blowback and criticism of his remarks, Biden said he was only telling the audience what “some say” about cannabis. Despite New Stance, Joe Biden Isn’t Revising His Cannabis Platform Among the crowded field of Democratic candidates, Biden’s views on cannabis reform have been among the most conservative. While front-runners like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have called for nationwide adult-use legalization as part of a plan to dismantle the war on drugs, decarcerate people for drug-related offenses and expunge prior criminal records, Biden has situated his campaign’s platform at the back of the pack. Still, Biden does support some major cannabis policy shifts. He has said he believes the federal government should decriminalize cannabis use and simple possession. And he has backed a plan to expunge criminal records of minor cannabis offenses. These policies would make a major difference for many people whose lives have been disrupted by an encounter with the justice system over weed. But they fall far short of more progressive policies like federal legalization and amnesty for those currently behind bars for marijuana-related convictions. Despite Biden’s support for decriminalization and expungement, however, Biden’s public statements aren’t making voters confident that he’s the right person to lead a major national policy shift on cannabis. And his recent “gateway drug” comments are a case in point. When asked why he doesn’t support broader measures like full legalization, Biden routinely resorts to the argument that there isn’t enough evidence or research to support such a move. But the candidate’s retrograde comments on cannabis reveal that he’s not very familiar with the latest evidence and research supporting legalization. Out of date on the science and apparently out of touch with contemporary public views on cannabis, Biden has faced a week of criticism after his “gateway drug” statements at a Las Vegas town hall. Now, Biden is trying to control the damage from those statements by attributing them to an anonymous ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Massachusetts Enacts First Statewide Ban On Vape Flavors And Menthol Cigarettes
    BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes, after the Republican governor signed a bill Wednesday that responds to recent deaths linked to e-cigarettes and attempts to reduce their appeal to young people. Anti-smoking groups hailed the ban signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, which outlaws the sale of flavored vaping products immediately and of menthol cigarettes starting June 1, 2020. Some states have temporarily banned or restricted flavored tobacco or vaping products to different degrees, but Massachusetts is the first state with a permanent ban in place, anti-smoking groups say. Especially notable is its ban on menthol, which is among the most popular flavors and has often been exempted from bans. The bill is a “major step forward,” Baker said, but states can do only so much to address the public health emergency around e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are the only ones that can address the issues comprehensively, he said. President Donald Trump has promised for months to approve a national ban on most flavored e-cigarettes. But in recent weeks his administration canceled a planned announcement of a ban, and Trump has said he will meet with the vaping industry and medical professionals instead. “It’s pretty clear there isn’t going to be a federal policy on this anytime soon,” Baker said Wednesday. “So in the absence of that, we had to act.” The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, which had opposed the legislation, said in a statement the ban will disproportionately affect communities of color and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Studies have shown menthol cigarettes are consumed disproportionately by young people and minorities, and anti-tobacco groups and health experts have argued menthol has been marketed in particular to African Americans. The law’s new restrictions on flavored tobacco products are important because they have helped the traditional smoking market grow and led to the flavored vaping products popular with youths, state Attorney General Maura Healey said. “This is not a nanny state effort,” said Healey, a Democrat. “This is a significant public health effort.” The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network said it hoped the new law would send a message to an industry accused of using flavored products to introduce teenagers to smoking. “More than 80% of teens who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product, and the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Wisconsin’s Governor Signs Bill To Make Hemp Program Permanent
    MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday signed into law a bipartisan bill that makes Wisconsin’s hemp-growing program permanent as it continues to surge in popularity in just its second year. Hailed by supporters as Wisconsin’s “comeback crop,” hemp is seeing renewed popularity in large part because of the growth in the market for CBD, a legal, therapeutic compound extracted from the cannabis plant that marketers say can treat a range of ailments without getting users high. It’s widely marketed in oils, lotions and foods. Hemp is also used to make a variety of products, including rope, fabrics, lotions and granola bars. “I was proud to sign this collaborative, bipartisan bill into law today to ensure the continued success of our hemp program and the many new opportunities hemp provides to Wisconsin farmers,” Evers said in a statement. He signed the bill in his office surrounded by lawmakers, hemp growers, processers, retailers and consumers of products made with hemp. Wisconsin began a hemp pilot program in 2018, using about 250 licenses to grow the crop that is a form of cannabis. This year, 1,247 hemp growers and 556 hemp processors were licensed and registered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. While still a small, niche industry compared to other cash crops, proponents of hemp say its strong growth potential holds promise for farmers looking to diversify. One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Republican Rep. Tony Kurtz, is a hemp farmer. “This is still an emerging industry,” Kurtz said in a statement. “Still, I believe that Wisconsin can be a leader in hemp production.” The bill Evers signed brings Wisconsin’s program into line with requirements under the 2018 farm bill, making mostly technical changes. It does change state law to allow for a THC concentration of up to .03% in the bloodstream, to account for people who may be taking legal products containing CBD with trace amounts of THC. Hemp is bred to contain less than 0.3% of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that gets people high. Marijuana seized by federal officials averages about 12% THC. Any hemp crop that is above the 0.3% threshold for THC must be destroyed. Wisconsin joins six other states with similar laws allowing for people to legally have trace amounts of THC in their blood. While the hemp program has bipartisan support, Evers and Democrats have not been successful in their push to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize small amounts of pot. A bill to fully legalize recreational marijuana ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • FDA Details CBD Safety Concerns, Warns Firms of Illegal Practices
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detailed its concerns regarding the safety of CBD on Tuesday while issuing warnings to 15 companies the agency says are illegally marketing products containing the cannabinoid. In a consumer update posted to its website, the FDA said that only one pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, has been approved by the agency for the treatment of patients with two rare forms of epilepsy. For others, the potential risks may outweigh the benefits. “The FDA is concerned that people may mistakenly believe that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,'” the update reads. “The agency wants to be clear that we have seen only limited data about CBD’s safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered.” The update noted that it is currently illegal to add CBD to foods or label CBD products as dietary supplements. The FDA also detailed several potential risks of CBD that have been discovered through scientific research, including the possibility of liver damage and interactions with other drugs. The agency also warned that studies of laboratory animals revealed a risk of male reproductive toxicity from CBD in males and the male offspring of females that had been given CBD, such as a decrease in testicular size, inhibition of sperm growth and development, and decreased circulating testosterone. The FDA also warned consumers that products with CBD were being marketed with unproven medical claims and could be produced with unsafe manufacturing practices. The update also noted that CBD was being added to products for animals, another use that has not yet been approved by the agency. Warnings Issued to 15 CBD Companies Also on Tuesday, the FDA announced in a press release that is has issued letters to 15 firms warning them that they are marketing CBD products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA said that the companies had been marketing CBD products illegally, including adding the cannabinoid to foods, labeling CBD products as dietary supplements, or advertising the products as a treatment for diseases. The federal regulator also announced that it could not “conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food.” “As we work quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns,” said FDA principal deputy commissioner Amy ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • More Medical Marijuana Patients Are Seeing Doctors In Virtual Visits
    Throughout the healthcare industry, telemedicine technologies and services are becoming increasingly popular. Typically, these products provide ways for patients to interact with healthcare providers. Telemedicine services can cover anything from a remote checkup to a remote visit to obtain a prescription. And now, the trend is catching on in the medical marijuana space. While not all states allow for remote medical marijuana doctor’s visits, a growing number of them do. Most recently, Oklahoma has seen a boom in the popularity of remote, telemedicine visits between patients trying to get their medical marijuana cards and physicians licensed to give recommendations. And while many Oklahomans are embracing the introduction of telemedicine, some in the state’s medical marijuana industry have reservations. Virtual Visits for Medical Marijuana Card Exploding in Popularity As reported by news source The Register-Herald, Oklahoma is seeing a spike in the number of virtual doctor’s appointments for medical marijuana cards. One of the telemedicine companies leading the charge is PrestoDoctor. The company offers virtual medical marijuana doctor’s visits to patients in Oklahoma, California, Nevada, New York, and Missouri. And their services have been exploding lately in Oklahoma. “Every month there are just more and more people,” PrestoDoctor CEO Kyle Powers told The Register-Herald. “I think more and more people are finding out about the program.” He added: “Everyone these days is too busy to take two hours out of your day to sit in a doctor’s office. It’s not very convenient when you can just do the appointment at home.” PrestoDoctor currently has 15 to 20 licensed physicians in Oklahoma. And the company is now seeing so many patients that Powers said their doctors are meeting with more than 100 patients a day, six days a week. What Happens in a Virtual Visit Typically, a virtual visit consists of a patient going online to schedule an appointment. Then, they will usually meet with a licensed physician via video chat. From there, it’s basically the same as any other doctor’s visit. The patient describes their symptoms and the physician makes a recommendation. In Oklahoma, some virtual services also require patients to send their physician relevant medical records prior to the video chat appointment. Currently, new patients in Oklahoma pay PrestoDoctor a $139 fee for the virtual visit. They then pay the state’s licensing fee on top of that to obtain their medical marijuana card. Some Have Problems With Virtual Visits While it appears that patients throughout Oklahoma are embracing virtual visits, some within the medical marijuana industry are voicing concerns. For ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Utah Hemp Farmers Growing Strains Named After Obama and Trump
    Farmers in Utah have begun growing hemp following the legalization of the crop late last year, including strains of the plant with names featuring a decidedly political twist. One varietal, Obama, is named for former President Barak Obama, who was in office when the 2014 Farm Bill that authorized hemp research pilot programs was signed into law. Another strain, Trump, is also named for a president that figures prominently in hemp history. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill in December, which legalized the crop as an agricultural commodity in the United States. Farmer Kenny McFarland grew hemp for the first time this year, planting clones on eight acres of his farm in Weber County. He shared some of the knowledge he gained from the experience at the annual convention of the Utah Farm Bureau that was held last week in Layton. “Trump was super aggressive,” McFarland said, drawing laughs from the crowd of farmers at the event. Since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has issued 290 cultivation licenses to grow hemp, including 190 licenses that were active for this year’s growing season. Farmers were required to pay a fee of $500 to obtain the license. Difficult First Growing Season for Hemp in Utah Drew Rigby, the Utah agriculture agency’s director of medical cannabis and industrial hemp, said that the first year of hemp cultivation in the state was a difficult learning experience. Besides Obama and Trump, farmers also gave other strains of hemp a try, including ones named Cherry Blossom, Tokyo, and Merlot. “We did not have a lot of successful grows and the quality of the product was nothing to write home about,” Rigby said. “It is not unusual to struggle the first year.” Mont McPherson of Millard County planted 60 acres of hemp at his farm. He used four different varieties of what was supposed to be feminized seed but achieved a germination rate of only 30 percent, including 10,000 to 15,000 male plants that had to be removed from the field to prevent the female plants from being pollinated and producing flowers with seed. “We spent hours driving the fields looking for males,” McPherson said. “It was pretty much a train wreck,” he added. Rigby agreed that male plants posed a challenge for growers, noting that just one male plant in a field can pollinate the females, producing seed and reducing the value of the crop. “Culling males is a very difficult thing,” he ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Washington, DC Joins Several States In Suing Juul Labs
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia is joining several states in suing the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, saying the company’s online ads and promotions illegally targeted minors. Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that Juul’s viral marketing contributed to the surge in underage vaping by teens in the district and across the U.S. The lawsuit also says that Juul misled consumers about the potent nicotine levels contained in its flavored pods. The move follows similar lawsuits filed last week by California and New York. North Carolina became the first state to sue the San Francisco startup in May. A Juul spokesman said Tuesday the company’s products are intended for adults and that it is committed to combating underage vaping. Under intense legal pressure, Juul recently suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company closed its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO. Juul, which launched in 2015, now controls roughly two-thirds of the U.S. retail market for e-cigarettes. The company also faces separate investigations by Congress, the FDA and other federal regulators. Juul rocketed to the top of the vaping market based on the popularity of its high-nicotine pods, fruit and dessert flavors and early online marketing, which featured youthful, attractive models. Racine said Tuesday the company’s practices “unfairly and unconscionably dragged a new generation into nicotine addiction.” The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, also alleges that Juul previously: — made unsupported claims that its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional smoking, — failed to adequately verify customers’ ages before selling e-cigarettes through its website, and — failed to implement a “secret shopping” program and other steps touted by the company to deter underage use. The district also said it sent subpoenas to eight other vaping companies seeking information about their business and marketing practices. Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18. E-cigarettes, which have been available in the U.S. since about 2007, have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry with little government regulation. The battery-powered devices typically heat a solution that contains nicotine, the drug that makes cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive. Most experts say vaping is likely less harmful than traditional smoking, which produce thousands of toxic chemicals. But there is little ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • FDA Accelerates Psilocybin Research For Major Depressive Disorder
    The Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin mushrooms as a “Breakthrough Therapy” for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a move that will accelerate research and review of new medications developed with the hallucinogenic compound. The Breakthrough Therapy classification is designed to speed up the development and approval of new drugs. The new Breakthrough Therapy designation for MDD, more commonly referred to as depression, was granted to Usona Institute, which recently launched a phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of a single oral dose of psilocybin as a treatment for depression. The Usona Institute is a non-profit medical research organization that “conducts and supports pre-clinical and clinical research to further the understanding of the therapeutic effects of psilocybin and other consciousness-expanding medicines.” Usona is currently recruiting volunteers for the clinical trial. At least 17 million adults in the United States have depression, the leading cause of disability in the nation for those 15-44. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 300 million people have MDD. Prior research has shown that terminally ill patients who were treated with psilocybin showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety. A similar study is being conducted in Melbourne, Australia. “The results from previous studies clearly demonstrate the remarkable potential for psilocybin as a treatment in MDD patients, which Usona is now seeking to confirm in its own clinical trials,” said Charles Raison, MD,  the director of clinical and translational research at Usona, in a press release. Not the First Time This is the second time in just over a year that the FDA has designated psilocybin as a Breakthrough Therapy. In October, 2018, the agency granted the designation to COMPASS Pathways for its use of psilocybin as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD is defined as symptoms of depression that do not improve with the use of two or more traditional therapies. In October, the University of Texas Science Health Center in Houston (UTHealth) announced that researchers there would be conducting a study on the effectiveness of psilocybin as a treatment for TRD. “What is truly groundbreaking is FDA’s rightful acknowledgement that MDD, not just the much smaller treatment-resistant depression population, represents an unmet medical need and that the available data suggest that psilocybin may offer a substantial clinical improvement over existing therapies,” said Raison. “Given that there is so much complexity with psilocybin and that Usona is charting new ground, these interactions will ensure that Usona and the FDA are aligned in approaching the development program with acceptable best practices.” Although ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Michigan Temporarily Suspends Sale of Marijuana E-cigarettes
    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan on Friday halted the sale of marijuana vaping products until they are tested for a compound that has been identified as a culprit in e-cigarette-related lung illnesses. The state Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s emergency rules, which prohibit vitamin E acetate, apply to existing medical marijuana businesses and those in the process of being licensed to sell for recreational use as soon as Dec. 1. Regulators noted that U.S. health officials found the compound in the damaged lungs of 29 patients across the country who were sickened from vaping. “It is absolutely vital that patients and consumers know, with certainty, the ingredients in the products that they are using,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a written statement. “These rules require stringent testing and will continue to prioritize the health and safety of Michiganders.” Effective immediately, businesses cannot sell previously made marijuana vaping products unless they pass new testing. Processors making new products are barred from using inactive ingredients that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Regulators said they will inspect processing facilities twice a month to ensure compliance. Inactive ingredients added to marijuana products must be clearly listed on the label. Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive, most notably as a thickener in e-cigarette products that contain THC, which gives marijuana its high, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though vitamin E is safe as a pill or to use on the skin, inhaling oily droplets of it can be harmful. Fifty-five vaping-related lung injuries have been identified in Michigan, including a 17-year-old boy who needed a life-saving double lung transplant. This is the second time since September that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has taken emergency steps to limit vaping. Her ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes has been blocked by a state judge and is being appealed. An industry group backed the latest rules on Friday. “We’re fully supportive of the governor’s decision,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “Our member’s No. 1 priority is providing safe, tested medicine to medical marijuana patients across the state. We think this will contribute significantly towards that goal.” By David Eggert The post Michigan Temporarily Suspends Sale of Marijuana E-cigarettes appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Boston Green-Lights Independent Cannabis Board To Boost Diversity In Industry
    BOSTON (AP) — Boston is overhauling its process of reviewing marijuana businesses to boost involvement of minority entrepreneurs in Massachusetts’ burgeoning pot industry. The City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance calling for the creation of an independent Cannabis Board to oversee local review of prospective marijuana businesses. The proposal by Councilor Kim Janey also requires Boston to ensure that at least half of its marijuana licenses go to companies from communities affected by the war on drugs. And it creates Massachusetts’ first local fund supporting minority-owned marijuana companies, according to Janey and other city officials. Boston’s new Equity Fund will provide qualified business technical assistance. It will be financed through local industry fees. Janey said the goal of the overhaul is to make Boston’s “opaque and vague” marijuana business application process more transparent. She said it also provides “economic justice” to marginalized communities that have suffered for years under harsh drug enforcement policies and have so far not benefited from the lucrative legal pot industry. “The evidence is clear: without intentional focus on equity, the status quo will prevail,” Janey said as the council weighed her proposal. “Larger and wealthier companies will lock out smaller, diverse companies from our communities.” Activists across the country have complained that black and Latino business owners have struggled to break into the legal marijuana trade, often because of prior, drug-related criminal records. Since Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana use and sales in 2016, more than 200 licenses have been issued statewide, according to the state Cannabis Control Commission. Only 10 are considered owned by minorities or disadvantaged populations. Massachusetts’ first two retail pot shops opened their doors Nov. 20, 2018, in Northampton and Leicester. One year later, there are 33 stores operating statewide, but none is in Boston. Boston’s ordinance sets a national standard for local vetting of prospective marijuana businesses, suggested Shaleen Title, a member of Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission that issues the state licenses required for opening a marijuana business. “There’s transparency, there are criteria that are fair, there are people in charge who are accountable for making those decisions, and there’s financial assistance available,” she said after observing Wednesday’s vote in City Hall. “Those four things create a model that other cities and towns should look to.” Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh, whose office oversees the marijuana review process, commended Janey for her efforts and said he’ll sign the measure into law. He’s also expected to issue an executive order creating the cannabis oversight board in the coming days. “Together, we ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Joe Biden Walks Back Marijuana ‘Gateway Drug’ Comment
    About one week after former Vice President Joe Biden said he opposed legalization in part because marijuana might be a gateway drug, the Democratic presidential candidate is now saying research doesn't support that position. In a call with reporters on Monday, the Nevada Independent's Megan Messerly asked Biden whether he was wrong about suggesting that cannabis was a gateway to harder drugs at an earlier town hall event in Las Vegas. Biden denied that he made the claim, stating “I didn't. I said some say pot was a gateway drug.” He added that he supports decriminalizing cannabis, expunging prior records, releasing those incarcerated for marijuana offenses and rescheduling the plant.
    Here's @JoeBiden's full answer to me on whether he was wrong to suggest pot might be a gateway drug at a recent Las Vegas town hall. "I don't think it is a gateway drug. There's no evidence I've seen that suggests that," he said. pic.twitter.com/DJzM7LutRy — Megan Messerly (@meganmesserly) November 25, 2019 “That has been my position and continues to be my position,” he said. “With regard to the total legalization of it, there are some in the medical community who say it needs to be made a Schedule II drug so there can be research studies, as not whether it is a gateway drug but whether or not it, when used in other combinations, may have a negative impact on people overcoming other problems, including in fact on young people in terms of brain development — a whole range of things that are beyond my expertise. There are serious medical folks who say we should study it more. Not that we should make it illegal, that we should be in a position where we criminalize it but where we should look at it.” “But I don't think it is a gateway drug,” he said. “There's no evidence I've seen to suggest that.” Listen to Joe Biden's new marijuana comments below: This is different from what the former vice president said just last week. At the town hall, Biden said “there's not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug.” “It's a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally,” he said. “I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.” Shortly after he made ... read more
    Source: Marijuana.comPublished on 2019-11-25
  • Congressman Says ‘OK, Boomer’ After Kellyanne Conway Voices Concerns About Weed
    Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida has a message for Kellyanne Conway and her stance on the reform of marijuana laws: “OK, boomer.” Gaetz, 37, used the disparaging comment popularized by fellow millenials and members of Generation Z to reply to Baby Boomers and other older people they feel are out of touch with current norms on an appearance on CNN. Gaetz, a staunch supporter of President Trump, said in an interview that he has tried to encourage him to support reforming the nation’s cannabis laws. “I have worked to be a positive influence with the president on marijuana reform. To my friend, Kellyanne Conway, I would say, ‘OK, boomer,’” said Gaetz. The congressman added that Conway, who serves as counselor to the president, has a “very boomer approach to marijuana.” At 52, Conway is technically a member of Generation X. Cannabis Reform Not a Priority for Trump Administration Although Trump has expressed support for the STATES Act, a bill that would protect cannabis operations legal under state law from federal prosecution and make essential services like banking and insurance available to the industry, his administration has done little to advance the cause. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed progress, rescinding an Obama administration directive not to interfere with cannabis businesses that operated in compliance with state law. In April, Conway told CNN that the administration had reservations about efforts to legalize cannabis. “We’re very concerned about the effect [of marijuana] on the brain, among young people,” Conway said. She also expressed skepticism that cannabis could be a viable alternative to the widespread use of opioids. “For all the folks who talk about the benefits and the legality of marijuana, there are many health professionals and employers increasingly concerned that this is not your grandfather or your father’s marijuana,” Conway said. “The TCH [sic] components are much stronger […] We just can’t say it’s all good for all people at this moment.” Gaetz replied to that comment on Saturday, noting that Conway referred to the compound primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis as TCH rather than THC. “I think her reflection shows a real ignorance to the science demonstrating that in states where there are marijuana programs, you see a reduction in Schedule I drug recommendations,” Gaetz said. “You also see a reduction in the types of overdoses that are crippling our country and hollowing out America.” Gaetz also told CNN on Saturday that the “federal prohibition against marijuana has not worked” and has stifled medical advances. “It ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25
  • Legalization of Industrial Hemp Draws More Farmers Who Are Unfamiliar With It
    CLAYTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Dave Crabill and two business partners started small for their first foray into farming hemp, growing two strains of the now-legal cousin of marijuana on an acre along a dirt road outside the industrial city of Flint. The endeavor was not easy. Flooding from record rain stunted some plants. Crabill and others had to carefully walk the field and uproot 1,000 undesirable males, a third of the plants, to protect more valuable females. Some plants were stolen. And it’s still not clear whether they will make money from the effort, which Crabill likened to “planting $20 bills and hoping to harvest $50.” “That’s why we did the 1 acre,” said Crabill, who runs a small marketing company and is among more than 500 people who registered this year as hemp growers in Michigan, many hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for the extract CBD. “Something manageable. We can make mistakes and it won’t kill us. … We’re all going to be smarter next year.” The legalization of industrial hemp in the U.S. less than a year ago has sparked interest from both traditional farmers and newbies like Crabill. The early stages are proving tricky, but up for grabs is a lucrative market, one that could grow more than five-fold globally by 2025 — driven by demand for CBD. The compound, which doesn’t cause a high like that of marijuana, is hyped as a health product to reduce anxiety, treat pain and promote sleep. The U.S. is the biggest hemp-importing country, and even before the cannabis plant was fully legalized federally, some states ran pilot programs under the 2014 farm bill. Last month, the U.S. government finalized an interim national regulatory framework that is expected to pave the way for the crop’s widespread commercialization starting as early as 2020. In Michigan, farmers who participated in the state’s first growing season since World War II cover the gamut — including cannabis enthusiasts and large-scale operators who want to diversify beyond low-price commodities. For attorney Keith Hagen and his two farmer brothers, branching out past sugar beets, wheat and dry beans was primarily a financial decision. They founded Hempure Farm in Ubly and grew 340 acres (140 hectares) of hemp, the most statewide. “There’s not a lot of money being made in any crop right now. The margins are so small … and then you start piling on tariffs and those margins even get smaller,” Hagen said. “So when something new like hemp popped up, well they’ve ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25
  • American Medical Association Wants To Ban All E-Cigs And Vaping Products
    The American Medical Association on Tuesday called for an immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. The group adopted the sweeping stance at a policy-making meeting in San Diego. It aims to lobby for state and federal laws, regulations or legal action to achieve a ban, but the industry is sure to fight back. The AMA cited a surge in underage teen use of e-cigarettes, which typically heat a solution that contains nicotine. “It’s simple, we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people.” Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA’s president, said in a statement. The doctors’ group said a separate health issue also prompted its action — the recent U.S. outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping. Most of those sickened said they vaped THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana, not nicotine. Officials believe a thickening agent used in black market THC vaping products may be a culprit. The outbreak has “shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” Harris said. About 2,100 people have gotten sick; 42 have died. The AMA has previously sought bans on e-cigarette flavors and ads. Some observers say the AMA’s position is flawed and has little chance of achieving a sweeping ban. “I would be 100% with the AMA if they were seeking a ban on all tobacco products that are smoked, including e-cigarettes,” said Jonathan Foulds, a tobacco addiction specialist at Penn State University. “But right now, nicotine electronic cigarettes are competing with and replacing the most harmful legal product in this country.” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy group, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made clear that its focus “is not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but illicit contaminated THC oil cartridges sold by drug dealers.” “It would be a mistake for adult smokers and their families to listen to these misguided prohibitionists, as the evidence continues to indicate that adult smokers who switch to nicotine vaping products greatly improve their health,” Conley said. The AMA policy calls for a ban of vaping products not approved to help people quit. But so far, none have been reviewed or approved for that use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stephanie Caccomo, an FDA press officer, said the agency is “committed to doing everything we can to prevent kids from using tobacco products and will continue to develop a policy approach that aligns with that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25
 
  • Can Political Candidates be Open About Their Cannabis Use?
    A congressional candidate in Illinois is making waves after smoking marijuana in a campaign ad where he discussed his personal experience with cannabis and the need for federal reform. Anthony Clark, who is aiming to unseat Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) in next year's Democratic primary, filmed a roundtable discussion he hosted that revolved around marijuana issues for the ad. The Air Force veteran said he first started using cannabis in high school but rediscovered it as an adult after being injured in a Seattle shooting. A medical cannabis patient, Clark said the plant helps him cope with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Marijuana “has always been there for me throughout my life, enabling me to interact with society and deal with the pressures that society often brings upon you,” he said.
    He also stressed in the campaign video that he's transparent about his marijuana use because “if we really want to make change and we have a platform, you just have to be courageous with your platform.” “I think I have to be just as open about my cannabis use because lying to individuals, I think, plays a direct role in enabling status quo, in enabling the oppressors, the top one percent, to remain,” he said.” I don't hide this at all. I tell people on a daily basis, cannabis saved my life, it continues to save my life.”
    Support candidate with a donation today fighting for: Legalization Auto vacate & expungements Reparations jobs & economic growth Expand medical & hemp End work discrimination Black, Brown, women, owners/investors https://t.co/sNuEwNJJyN pic.twitter.com/J2vdDXRCvZ — Anthony Clark for Congress (@anthonyvclark20) November 22, 2019 “Legalization with a focus on racial justice is a direct part of building greater equality in our country,” he said. “For me, I think it's extremely important to be honest as a political candidate.” This isn't the only time Clark has consumed marijuana on camera. Earlier this week, he celebrated reaching 10,000 Twitter followers by smoking a joint while singing Ice Cube's “It Was A Good Day.”
    Today Was a Good Day! My accomplice in the revolution @VoteAshcraft & I reached 10k followers, helping us signal boost our revolutionary messages. As promised, in celebration of milestone, I blazed to the revolution while rapping/ singing ... read more
    Source: Marijuana.comPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Joe Biden Reverses Previous Stance That Marijuana Is A ‘Gateway Drug’
    Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s views on cannabis appear to be evolving. During a conference call with reporters Monday, Biden reversed his previous stance that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Biden told reporters that he hasn’t seen evidence to support the gateway drug theory about cannabis. But only a week prior, during a Las Vegas town hall, Biden said the exact opposite. In front of the town hall crowd, Biden said there was not enough evidence to know whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. Now, in the face of public blowback and criticism of his remarks, Biden said he was only telling the audience what “some say” about cannabis. Despite New Stance, Joe Biden Isn’t Revising His Cannabis Platform Among the crowded field of Democratic candidates, Biden’s views on cannabis reform have been among the most conservative. While front-runners like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have called for nationwide adult-use legalization as part of a plan to dismantle the war on drugs, decarcerate people for drug-related offenses and expunge prior criminal records, Biden has situated his campaign’s platform at the back of the pack. Still, Biden does support some major cannabis policy shifts. He has said he believes the federal government should decriminalize cannabis use and simple possession. And he has backed a plan to expunge criminal records of minor cannabis offenses. These policies would make a major difference for many people whose lives have been disrupted by an encounter with the justice system over weed. But they fall far short of more progressive policies like federal legalization and amnesty for those currently behind bars for marijuana-related convictions. Despite Biden’s support for decriminalization and expungement, however, Biden’s public statements aren’t making voters confident that he’s the right person to lead a major national policy shift on cannabis. And his recent “gateway drug” comments are a case in point. When asked why he doesn’t support broader measures like full legalization, Biden routinely resorts to the argument that there isn’t enough evidence or research to support such a move. But the candidate’s retrograde comments on cannabis reveal that he’s not very familiar with the latest evidence and research supporting legalization. Out of date on the science and apparently out of touch with contemporary public views on cannabis, Biden has faced a week of criticism after his “gateway drug” statements at a Las Vegas town hall. Now, Biden is trying to control the damage from those statements by attributing them to an anonymous ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Massachusetts Enacts First Statewide Ban On Vape Flavors And Menthol Cigarettes
    BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes, after the Republican governor signed a bill Wednesday that responds to recent deaths linked to e-cigarettes and attempts to reduce their appeal to young people. Anti-smoking groups hailed the ban signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, which outlaws the sale of flavored vaping products immediately and of menthol cigarettes starting June 1, 2020. Some states have temporarily banned or restricted flavored tobacco or vaping products to different degrees, but Massachusetts is the first state with a permanent ban in place, anti-smoking groups say. Especially notable is its ban on menthol, which is among the most popular flavors and has often been exempted from bans. The bill is a “major step forward,” Baker said, but states can do only so much to address the public health emergency around e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are the only ones that can address the issues comprehensively, he said. President Donald Trump has promised for months to approve a national ban on most flavored e-cigarettes. But in recent weeks his administration canceled a planned announcement of a ban, and Trump has said he will meet with the vaping industry and medical professionals instead. “It’s pretty clear there isn’t going to be a federal policy on this anytime soon,” Baker said Wednesday. “So in the absence of that, we had to act.” The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, which had opposed the legislation, said in a statement the ban will disproportionately affect communities of color and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Studies have shown menthol cigarettes are consumed disproportionately by young people and minorities, and anti-tobacco groups and health experts have argued menthol has been marketed in particular to African Americans. The law’s new restrictions on flavored tobacco products are important because they have helped the traditional smoking market grow and led to the flavored vaping products popular with youths, state Attorney General Maura Healey said. “This is not a nanny state effort,” said Healey, a Democrat. “This is a significant public health effort.” The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network said it hoped the new law would send a message to an industry accused of using flavored products to introduce teenagers to smoking. “More than 80% of teens who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product, and the ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Wisconsin’s Governor Signs Bill To Make Hemp Program Permanent
    MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday signed into law a bipartisan bill that makes Wisconsin’s hemp-growing program permanent as it continues to surge in popularity in just its second year. Hailed by supporters as Wisconsin’s “comeback crop,” hemp is seeing renewed popularity in large part because of the growth in the market for CBD, a legal, therapeutic compound extracted from the cannabis plant that marketers say can treat a range of ailments without getting users high. It’s widely marketed in oils, lotions and foods. Hemp is also used to make a variety of products, including rope, fabrics, lotions and granola bars. “I was proud to sign this collaborative, bipartisan bill into law today to ensure the continued success of our hemp program and the many new opportunities hemp provides to Wisconsin farmers,” Evers said in a statement. He signed the bill in his office surrounded by lawmakers, hemp growers, processers, retailers and consumers of products made with hemp. Wisconsin began a hemp pilot program in 2018, using about 250 licenses to grow the crop that is a form of cannabis. This year, 1,247 hemp growers and 556 hemp processors were licensed and registered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. While still a small, niche industry compared to other cash crops, proponents of hemp say its strong growth potential holds promise for farmers looking to diversify. One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Republican Rep. Tony Kurtz, is a hemp farmer. “This is still an emerging industry,” Kurtz said in a statement. “Still, I believe that Wisconsin can be a leader in hemp production.” The bill Evers signed brings Wisconsin’s program into line with requirements under the 2018 farm bill, making mostly technical changes. It does change state law to allow for a THC concentration of up to .03% in the bloodstream, to account for people who may be taking legal products containing CBD with trace amounts of THC. Hemp is bred to contain less than 0.3% of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that gets people high. Marijuana seized by federal officials averages about 12% THC. Any hemp crop that is above the 0.3% threshold for THC must be destroyed. Wisconsin joins six other states with similar laws allowing for people to legally have trace amounts of THC in their blood. While the hemp program has bipartisan support, Evers and Democrats have not been successful in their push to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize small amounts of pot. A bill to fully legalize recreational marijuana ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • FDA Details CBD Safety Concerns, Warns Firms of Illegal Practices
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detailed its concerns regarding the safety of CBD on Tuesday while issuing warnings to 15 companies the agency says are illegally marketing products containing the cannabinoid. In a consumer update posted to its website, the FDA said that only one pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, has been approved by the agency for the treatment of patients with two rare forms of epilepsy. For others, the potential risks may outweigh the benefits. “The FDA is concerned that people may mistakenly believe that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,'” the update reads. “The agency wants to be clear that we have seen only limited data about CBD’s safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered.” The update noted that it is currently illegal to add CBD to foods or label CBD products as dietary supplements. The FDA also detailed several potential risks of CBD that have been discovered through scientific research, including the possibility of liver damage and interactions with other drugs. The agency also warned that studies of laboratory animals revealed a risk of male reproductive toxicity from CBD in males and the male offspring of females that had been given CBD, such as a decrease in testicular size, inhibition of sperm growth and development, and decreased circulating testosterone. The FDA also warned consumers that products with CBD were being marketed with unproven medical claims and could be produced with unsafe manufacturing practices. The update also noted that CBD was being added to products for animals, another use that has not yet been approved by the agency. Warnings Issued to 15 CBD Companies Also on Tuesday, the FDA announced in a press release that is has issued letters to 15 firms warning them that they are marketing CBD products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA said that the companies had been marketing CBD products illegally, including adding the cannabinoid to foods, labeling CBD products as dietary supplements, or advertising the products as a treatment for diseases. The federal regulator also announced that it could not “conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food.” “As we work quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns,” said FDA principal deputy commissioner Amy ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • More Medical Marijuana Patients Are Seeing Doctors In Virtual Visits
    Throughout the healthcare industry, telemedicine technologies and services are becoming increasingly popular. Typically, these products provide ways for patients to interact with healthcare providers. Telemedicine services can cover anything from a remote checkup to a remote visit to obtain a prescription. And now, the trend is catching on in the medical marijuana space. While not all states allow for remote medical marijuana doctor’s visits, a growing number of them do. Most recently, Oklahoma has seen a boom in the popularity of remote, telemedicine visits between patients trying to get their medical marijuana cards and physicians licensed to give recommendations. And while many Oklahomans are embracing the introduction of telemedicine, some in the state’s medical marijuana industry have reservations. Virtual Visits for Medical Marijuana Card Exploding in Popularity As reported by news source The Register-Herald, Oklahoma is seeing a spike in the number of virtual doctor’s appointments for medical marijuana cards. One of the telemedicine companies leading the charge is PrestoDoctor. The company offers virtual medical marijuana doctor’s visits to patients in Oklahoma, California, Nevada, New York, and Missouri. And their services have been exploding lately in Oklahoma. “Every month there are just more and more people,” PrestoDoctor CEO Kyle Powers told The Register-Herald. “I think more and more people are finding out about the program.” He added: “Everyone these days is too busy to take two hours out of your day to sit in a doctor’s office. It’s not very convenient when you can just do the appointment at home.” PrestoDoctor currently has 15 to 20 licensed physicians in Oklahoma. And the company is now seeing so many patients that Powers said their doctors are meeting with more than 100 patients a day, six days a week. What Happens in a Virtual Visit Typically, a virtual visit consists of a patient going online to schedule an appointment. Then, they will usually meet with a licensed physician via video chat. From there, it’s basically the same as any other doctor’s visit. The patient describes their symptoms and the physician makes a recommendation. In Oklahoma, some virtual services also require patients to send their physician relevant medical records prior to the video chat appointment. Currently, new patients in Oklahoma pay PrestoDoctor a $139 fee for the virtual visit. They then pay the state’s licensing fee on top of that to obtain their medical marijuana card. Some Have Problems With Virtual Visits While it appears that patients throughout Oklahoma are embracing virtual visits, some within the medical marijuana industry are voicing concerns. For ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-27
  • Utah Hemp Farmers Growing Strains Named After Obama and Trump
    Farmers in Utah have begun growing hemp following the legalization of the crop late last year, including strains of the plant with names featuring a decidedly political twist. One varietal, Obama, is named for former President Barak Obama, who was in office when the 2014 Farm Bill that authorized hemp research pilot programs was signed into law. Another strain, Trump, is also named for a president that figures prominently in hemp history. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill in December, which legalized the crop as an agricultural commodity in the United States. Farmer Kenny McFarland grew hemp for the first time this year, planting clones on eight acres of his farm in Weber County. He shared some of the knowledge he gained from the experience at the annual convention of the Utah Farm Bureau that was held last week in Layton. “Trump was super aggressive,” McFarland said, drawing laughs from the crowd of farmers at the event. Since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has issued 290 cultivation licenses to grow hemp, including 190 licenses that were active for this year’s growing season. Farmers were required to pay a fee of $500 to obtain the license. Difficult First Growing Season for Hemp in Utah Drew Rigby, the Utah agriculture agency’s director of medical cannabis and industrial hemp, said that the first year of hemp cultivation in the state was a difficult learning experience. Besides Obama and Trump, farmers also gave other strains of hemp a try, including ones named Cherry Blossom, Tokyo, and Merlot. “We did not have a lot of successful grows and the quality of the product was nothing to write home about,” Rigby said. “It is not unusual to struggle the first year.” Mont McPherson of Millard County planted 60 acres of hemp at his farm. He used four different varieties of what was supposed to be feminized seed but achieved a germination rate of only 30 percent, including 10,000 to 15,000 male plants that had to be removed from the field to prevent the female plants from being pollinated and producing flowers with seed. “We spent hours driving the fields looking for males,” McPherson said. “It was pretty much a train wreck,” he added. Rigby agreed that male plants posed a challenge for growers, noting that just one male plant in a field can pollinate the females, producing seed and reducing the value of the crop. “Culling males is a very difficult thing,” he ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Washington, DC Joins Several States In Suing Juul Labs
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia is joining several states in suing the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, saying the company’s online ads and promotions illegally targeted minors. Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine announced the lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that Juul’s viral marketing contributed to the surge in underage vaping by teens in the district and across the U.S. The lawsuit also says that Juul misled consumers about the potent nicotine levels contained in its flavored pods. The move follows similar lawsuits filed last week by California and New York. North Carolina became the first state to sue the San Francisco startup in May. A Juul spokesman said Tuesday the company’s products are intended for adults and that it is committed to combating underage vaping. Under intense legal pressure, Juul recently suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company closed its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO. Juul, which launched in 2015, now controls roughly two-thirds of the U.S. retail market for e-cigarettes. The company also faces separate investigations by Congress, the FDA and other federal regulators. Juul rocketed to the top of the vaping market based on the popularity of its high-nicotine pods, fruit and dessert flavors and early online marketing, which featured youthful, attractive models. Racine said Tuesday the company’s practices “unfairly and unconscionably dragged a new generation into nicotine addiction.” The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, also alleges that Juul previously: — made unsupported claims that its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional smoking, — failed to adequately verify customers’ ages before selling e-cigarettes through its website, and — failed to implement a “secret shopping” program and other steps touted by the company to deter underage use. The district also said it sent subpoenas to eight other vaping companies seeking information about their business and marketing practices. Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18. E-cigarettes, which have been available in the U.S. since about 2007, have grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry with little government regulation. The battery-powered devices typically heat a solution that contains nicotine, the drug that makes cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive. Most experts say vaping is likely less harmful than traditional smoking, which produce thousands of toxic chemicals. But there is little ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • FDA Accelerates Psilocybin Research For Major Depressive Disorder
    The Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin mushrooms as a “Breakthrough Therapy” for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a move that will accelerate research and review of new medications developed with the hallucinogenic compound. The Breakthrough Therapy classification is designed to speed up the development and approval of new drugs. The new Breakthrough Therapy designation for MDD, more commonly referred to as depression, was granted to Usona Institute, which recently launched a phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of a single oral dose of psilocybin as a treatment for depression. The Usona Institute is a non-profit medical research organization that “conducts and supports pre-clinical and clinical research to further the understanding of the therapeutic effects of psilocybin and other consciousness-expanding medicines.” Usona is currently recruiting volunteers for the clinical trial. At least 17 million adults in the United States have depression, the leading cause of disability in the nation for those 15-44. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 300 million people have MDD. Prior research has shown that terminally ill patients who were treated with psilocybin showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety. A similar study is being conducted in Melbourne, Australia. “The results from previous studies clearly demonstrate the remarkable potential for psilocybin as a treatment in MDD patients, which Usona is now seeking to confirm in its own clinical trials,” said Charles Raison, MD,  the director of clinical and translational research at Usona, in a press release. Not the First Time This is the second time in just over a year that the FDA has designated psilocybin as a Breakthrough Therapy. In October, 2018, the agency granted the designation to COMPASS Pathways for its use of psilocybin as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD is defined as symptoms of depression that do not improve with the use of two or more traditional therapies. In October, the University of Texas Science Health Center in Houston (UTHealth) announced that researchers there would be conducting a study on the effectiveness of psilocybin as a treatment for TRD. “What is truly groundbreaking is FDA’s rightful acknowledgement that MDD, not just the much smaller treatment-resistant depression population, represents an unmet medical need and that the available data suggest that psilocybin may offer a substantial clinical improvement over existing therapies,” said Raison. “Given that there is so much complexity with psilocybin and that Usona is charting new ground, these interactions will ensure that Usona and the FDA are aligned in approaching the development program with acceptable best practices.” Although ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Michigan Temporarily Suspends Sale of Marijuana E-cigarettes
    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan on Friday halted the sale of marijuana vaping products until they are tested for a compound that has been identified as a culprit in e-cigarette-related lung illnesses. The state Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s emergency rules, which prohibit vitamin E acetate, apply to existing medical marijuana businesses and those in the process of being licensed to sell for recreational use as soon as Dec. 1. Regulators noted that U.S. health officials found the compound in the damaged lungs of 29 patients across the country who were sickened from vaping. “It is absolutely vital that patients and consumers know, with certainty, the ingredients in the products that they are using,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a written statement. “These rules require stringent testing and will continue to prioritize the health and safety of Michiganders.” Effective immediately, businesses cannot sell previously made marijuana vaping products unless they pass new testing. Processors making new products are barred from using inactive ingredients that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Regulators said they will inspect processing facilities twice a month to ensure compliance. Inactive ingredients added to marijuana products must be clearly listed on the label. Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive, most notably as a thickener in e-cigarette products that contain THC, which gives marijuana its high, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though vitamin E is safe as a pill or to use on the skin, inhaling oily droplets of it can be harmful. Fifty-five vaping-related lung injuries have been identified in Michigan, including a 17-year-old boy who needed a life-saving double lung transplant. This is the second time since September that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has taken emergency steps to limit vaping. Her ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes has been blocked by a state judge and is being appealed. An industry group backed the latest rules on Friday. “We’re fully supportive of the governor’s decision,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “Our member’s No. 1 priority is providing safe, tested medicine to medical marijuana patients across the state. We think this will contribute significantly towards that goal.” By David Eggert The post Michigan Temporarily Suspends Sale of Marijuana E-cigarettes appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Boston Green-Lights Independent Cannabis Board To Boost Diversity In Industry
    BOSTON (AP) — Boston is overhauling its process of reviewing marijuana businesses to boost involvement of minority entrepreneurs in Massachusetts’ burgeoning pot industry. The City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance calling for the creation of an independent Cannabis Board to oversee local review of prospective marijuana businesses. The proposal by Councilor Kim Janey also requires Boston to ensure that at least half of its marijuana licenses go to companies from communities affected by the war on drugs. And it creates Massachusetts’ first local fund supporting minority-owned marijuana companies, according to Janey and other city officials. Boston’s new Equity Fund will provide qualified business technical assistance. It will be financed through local industry fees. Janey said the goal of the overhaul is to make Boston’s “opaque and vague” marijuana business application process more transparent. She said it also provides “economic justice” to marginalized communities that have suffered for years under harsh drug enforcement policies and have so far not benefited from the lucrative legal pot industry. “The evidence is clear: without intentional focus on equity, the status quo will prevail,” Janey said as the council weighed her proposal. “Larger and wealthier companies will lock out smaller, diverse companies from our communities.” Activists across the country have complained that black and Latino business owners have struggled to break into the legal marijuana trade, often because of prior, drug-related criminal records. Since Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana use and sales in 2016, more than 200 licenses have been issued statewide, according to the state Cannabis Control Commission. Only 10 are considered owned by minorities or disadvantaged populations. Massachusetts’ first two retail pot shops opened their doors Nov. 20, 2018, in Northampton and Leicester. One year later, there are 33 stores operating statewide, but none is in Boston. Boston’s ordinance sets a national standard for local vetting of prospective marijuana businesses, suggested Shaleen Title, a member of Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission that issues the state licenses required for opening a marijuana business. “There’s transparency, there are criteria that are fair, there are people in charge who are accountable for making those decisions, and there’s financial assistance available,” she said after observing Wednesday’s vote in City Hall. “Those four things create a model that other cities and towns should look to.” Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh, whose office oversees the marijuana review process, commended Janey for her efforts and said he’ll sign the measure into law. He’s also expected to issue an executive order creating the cannabis oversight board in the coming days. “Together, we ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-26
  • Joe Biden Walks Back Marijuana ‘Gateway Drug’ Comment
    About one week after former Vice President Joe Biden said he opposed legalization in part because marijuana might be a gateway drug, the Democratic presidential candidate is now saying research doesn't support that position. In a call with reporters on Monday, the Nevada Independent's Megan Messerly asked Biden whether he was wrong about suggesting that cannabis was a gateway to harder drugs at an earlier town hall event in Las Vegas. Biden denied that he made the claim, stating “I didn't. I said some say pot was a gateway drug.” He added that he supports decriminalizing cannabis, expunging prior records, releasing those incarcerated for marijuana offenses and rescheduling the plant.
    Here's @JoeBiden's full answer to me on whether he was wrong to suggest pot might be a gateway drug at a recent Las Vegas town hall. "I don't think it is a gateway drug. There's no evidence I've seen that suggests that," he said. pic.twitter.com/DJzM7LutRy — Megan Messerly (@meganmesserly) November 25, 2019 “That has been my position and continues to be my position,” he said. “With regard to the total legalization of it, there are some in the medical community who say it needs to be made a Schedule II drug so there can be research studies, as not whether it is a gateway drug but whether or not it, when used in other combinations, may have a negative impact on people overcoming other problems, including in fact on young people in terms of brain development — a whole range of things that are beyond my expertise. There are serious medical folks who say we should study it more. Not that we should make it illegal, that we should be in a position where we criminalize it but where we should look at it.” “But I don't think it is a gateway drug,” he said. “There's no evidence I've seen to suggest that.” Listen to Joe Biden's new marijuana comments below: This is different from what the former vice president said just last week. At the town hall, Biden said “there's not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug.” “It's a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally,” he said. “I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.” Shortly after he made ... read more
    Source: Marijuana.comPublished on 2019-11-25
  • Congressman Says ‘OK, Boomer’ After Kellyanne Conway Voices Concerns About Weed
    Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida has a message for Kellyanne Conway and her stance on the reform of marijuana laws: “OK, boomer.” Gaetz, 37, used the disparaging comment popularized by fellow millenials and members of Generation Z to reply to Baby Boomers and other older people they feel are out of touch with current norms on an appearance on CNN. Gaetz, a staunch supporter of President Trump, said in an interview that he has tried to encourage him to support reforming the nation’s cannabis laws. “I have worked to be a positive influence with the president on marijuana reform. To my friend, Kellyanne Conway, I would say, ‘OK, boomer,’” said Gaetz. The congressman added that Conway, who serves as counselor to the president, has a “very boomer approach to marijuana.” At 52, Conway is technically a member of Generation X. Cannabis Reform Not a Priority for Trump Administration Although Trump has expressed support for the STATES Act, a bill that would protect cannabis operations legal under state law from federal prosecution and make essential services like banking and insurance available to the industry, his administration has done little to advance the cause. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed progress, rescinding an Obama administration directive not to interfere with cannabis businesses that operated in compliance with state law. In April, Conway told CNN that the administration had reservations about efforts to legalize cannabis. “We’re very concerned about the effect [of marijuana] on the brain, among young people,” Conway said. She also expressed skepticism that cannabis could be a viable alternative to the widespread use of opioids. “For all the folks who talk about the benefits and the legality of marijuana, there are many health professionals and employers increasingly concerned that this is not your grandfather or your father’s marijuana,” Conway said. “The TCH [sic] components are much stronger […] We just can’t say it’s all good for all people at this moment.” Gaetz replied to that comment on Saturday, noting that Conway referred to the compound primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis as TCH rather than THC. “I think her reflection shows a real ignorance to the science demonstrating that in states where there are marijuana programs, you see a reduction in Schedule I drug recommendations,” Gaetz said. “You also see a reduction in the types of overdoses that are crippling our country and hollowing out America.” Gaetz also told CNN on Saturday that the “federal prohibition against marijuana has not worked” and has stifled medical advances. “It ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25
  • Legalization of Industrial Hemp Draws More Farmers Who Are Unfamiliar With It
    CLAYTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Dave Crabill and two business partners started small for their first foray into farming hemp, growing two strains of the now-legal cousin of marijuana on an acre along a dirt road outside the industrial city of Flint. The endeavor was not easy. Flooding from record rain stunted some plants. Crabill and others had to carefully walk the field and uproot 1,000 undesirable males, a third of the plants, to protect more valuable females. Some plants were stolen. And it’s still not clear whether they will make money from the effort, which Crabill likened to “planting $20 bills and hoping to harvest $50.” “That’s why we did the 1 acre,” said Crabill, who runs a small marketing company and is among more than 500 people who registered this year as hemp growers in Michigan, many hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for the extract CBD. “Something manageable. We can make mistakes and it won’t kill us. … We’re all going to be smarter next year.” The legalization of industrial hemp in the U.S. less than a year ago has sparked interest from both traditional farmers and newbies like Crabill. The early stages are proving tricky, but up for grabs is a lucrative market, one that could grow more than five-fold globally by 2025 — driven by demand for CBD. The compound, which doesn’t cause a high like that of marijuana, is hyped as a health product to reduce anxiety, treat pain and promote sleep. The U.S. is the biggest hemp-importing country, and even before the cannabis plant was fully legalized federally, some states ran pilot programs under the 2014 farm bill. Last month, the U.S. government finalized an interim national regulatory framework that is expected to pave the way for the crop’s widespread commercialization starting as early as 2020. In Michigan, farmers who participated in the state’s first growing season since World War II cover the gamut — including cannabis enthusiasts and large-scale operators who want to diversify beyond low-price commodities. For attorney Keith Hagen and his two farmer brothers, branching out past sugar beets, wheat and dry beans was primarily a financial decision. They founded Hempure Farm in Ubly and grew 340 acres (140 hectares) of hemp, the most statewide. “There’s not a lot of money being made in any crop right now. The margins are so small … and then you start piling on tariffs and those margins even get smaller,” Hagen said. “So when something new like hemp popped up, well they’ve ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25
  • American Medical Association Wants To Ban All E-Cigs And Vaping Products
    The American Medical Association on Tuesday called for an immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. The group adopted the sweeping stance at a policy-making meeting in San Diego. It aims to lobby for state and federal laws, regulations or legal action to achieve a ban, but the industry is sure to fight back. The AMA cited a surge in underage teen use of e-cigarettes, which typically heat a solution that contains nicotine. “It’s simple, we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people.” Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA’s president, said in a statement. The doctors’ group said a separate health issue also prompted its action — the recent U.S. outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping. Most of those sickened said they vaped THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana, not nicotine. Officials believe a thickening agent used in black market THC vaping products may be a culprit. The outbreak has “shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” Harris said. About 2,100 people have gotten sick; 42 have died. The AMA has previously sought bans on e-cigarette flavors and ads. Some observers say the AMA’s position is flawed and has little chance of achieving a sweeping ban. “I would be 100% with the AMA if they were seeking a ban on all tobacco products that are smoked, including e-cigarettes,” said Jonathan Foulds, a tobacco addiction specialist at Penn State University. “But right now, nicotine electronic cigarettes are competing with and replacing the most harmful legal product in this country.” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy group, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made clear that its focus “is not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but illicit contaminated THC oil cartridges sold by drug dealers.” “It would be a mistake for adult smokers and their families to listen to these misguided prohibitionists, as the evidence continues to indicate that adult smokers who switch to nicotine vaping products greatly improve their health,” Conley said. The AMA policy calls for a ban of vaping products not approved to help people quit. But so far, none have been reviewed or approved for that use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stephanie Caccomo, an FDA press officer, said the agency is “committed to doing everything we can to prevent kids from using tobacco products and will continue to develop a policy approach that aligns with that ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-11-25