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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

IL Marijuana

Residents of Illinois have petitioned the state in an attempt to get them to add more than 20 new medical conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program. Some of the conditions include anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I am a Vietnam vet and can only imagine how things would have been,” wrote a petitioner for PTSD. “While visiting in Colorado I had the benefit of trying cannabis in candy form…. and I felt wonderful. No thoughts of violence, self-deprecation, or hopelessness. My life would be different today.”

Marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 23 states and the District of Columbia. California, where medical marijuana laws are more lenient, doctors recommend marijuana for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, migraines and “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief,” according to the wording in the 1996 ballot initiative that made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

Illinois law lists dozens of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, but most if which are very serious conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Illinois residents and the marijuana industry want Illinois to have a less restrictive medical marijuana program so that more people can obtain marijuana to help with their medical ailment(s).

The Illinois Department of Public Health must approve any additions to the list. An advisory board made up of patients, nurses, doctors and a pharmacist is reviewing the petitions and will make a recommendation after holding a public hearing May 4. People can submit petitions twice annually, in January and July. At those times, ILmmj.com will be posting an article with a link so people can submit petitions.

A doctor from the advisory board said they will be “cautious and conservative” as they view research studies, the severity of the illnesses, alternative remedies available, and what other states’ medical marijuana programs are doing.

Marijuana Safer Alcohol

A person is over 100 more times likely to die from overdosing on alcohol than from marijuana, a scientific study has recently found.

The study, published in Scientific Reports journal, compared the risks associated with 10 substances using the margin of exposure approach; which compares a lethal dose of the substance with the dosage typically taken by recreational users. Some of the substances tested included nicotine and alcohol, as well as other substances such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy (MDMA) and methamphetamines.

The findings were astounding. They revealed that the mortality risk to individuals posed by marijuana was approximately 114 times less than that of alcohol. Marijuana, in fact, was the only substance to be classified as ‘low risk’ among all the substances, while alcohol posed the highest risk to individuals and was ranked alongside nicotine, heroin and cocaine as ‘high risk’.

In conclusion, the study suggested that tobacco and alcohol should be prioritized in terms of risk, and suggested that governments should legalize and regulate the use of marijuana as opposed to the current practice of full prohibition.

Marijuana Brain

Scientists found that pathways in the brain associated with marijuana (cannabinoid receptors) were also responsible for the effects of a chemical called minocycline.

The results were released last week in the Oxford journal Cerebral Cortex.

“Our findings confirm that minocycline decreases brain damage caused by traumatic brain injury… the activation of cannabinoid receptors is required for the neuroprotective actions of this compound.”

Inflammation is believed to contribute to brain damage that occurs after a head injury. Earlier studies show that minocycline can protect against this damage.

However, when researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid gave minocycline along with chemicals that block the activity of cannabinoid receptors, its protective effects were prevented.

Interestingly, other studies suggest that marijuana may play a direct role in protecting against brain damage – including research by Professor Yosef Sarne of Israel’s Tel Aviv University..

While still in its early stages, Prof. Sarne told Science Daily that the main chemical in marijuana, THC, showed incredible promise.

“THC could be applicable to many cases of brain injury and be safer over time.”

THC’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are thought to protect the brain from further damage following injury.

CA Marijuana

According to the results from a statewide California poll, 55% of likely California voters feel that “the use of marijuana should be legal” in California. This is the largest level of support ever recorded for marijuana legalization in the statewide poll.

The most likely to express support for legalizing marijuana were: African Americans (69%), Whites (64%), Democrats (63%), and Independents (57%). The most likely to oppose legalizing marijuana were: Republicans (44%), Latinos (42%), and Asians (39%).

Among the poll respondents who acknowledged having tried marijuana, 74% supported legalization. Among respondents who had never tried marijuana, 63% favored keeping it illegal.

California is one of about a dozen states that will be deciding by a ballot measure in 2016 as whether to legalize marijuana. A few other states with ballot measures in 2016 to legalize marijuana are: Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Nevada.

In 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative (46.5% to 53.5%) that would have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana Research

Allegations from anti-marijuana proponents stating that marijuana use causes serious harms are debunked, unwarranted and unproven, says one of the nation’s leading marijuana researchers.

Dr. Igor Grant recently spoke to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and stated about marijuana that there is “ no evidence for long-term damaging effects in adults.”

Over his professional tenure, Dr. Grant has authored multiple peer-review journal articles about the health effects of marijuana, including a report which concluded that long-term and frequent use of marijuana was not associated with the “substantial, systematic, and detrimental effect of cannabis use on neuropsychological performance.”

Dr. Grant also served as the director of the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. At that time he oversaw the completion of numerous FDA-approved clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana. In 2012, he co-authored a summary of these trials for the scientific journal Open Neurology. The article stated: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

Dr. Grant further noted that the present Schedule I classification of the plant is inappropriate and severely hampers researchers from studying its effects.

NY Marijuana

Final regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program have been released by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). The announcement followed much public backlash in which potential patients, health experts, and industry professionals submitted over a thousand letters and emails critiquing the proposed regulations for being overly restrictive.

The Department of Health made no major changes to the regulations, even after the vast input from the public. Instead, the DOH made only handful of minor fixes, such as correcting typos.

The medical marijuana law, which narrowly passed, gave the Health Commissioner the authority to make changes to the program. Unfortunately, the final regulations clearly show that the Commissioner did not use his authority to expand the program and that the Governor’s administration intends to make the program as restrictive as possible.

For instance, advocates asked for a clear and transparent process for how qualifying medical conditions for marijuana, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will be addressed, but the final regulations reveal no mention of any additional qualifying conditions; it only says that the Commissioner may issue guidance on this issue at a later date.

“As a veteran, I am dismayed that the final regulations fail to include PTSD, which so many of my fellow soldiers suffer from on a daily basis,” said a member of Veterans for Peace. “PTSD is covered in a least nine other states with medical marijuana laws, and given the strong scientific evidence that cannabis can help those with PTSD, people suffering from it [in] New York should also have access. I find it even more upsetting that there is still no transparency or explanation for how PTSD — or any other medical condition for that matter — will be added or excluded from the program in the future.”

A spokesperson from the Drug Policy Alliance stated that “It’s baffling and downright unacceptable for Governor Cuomo to ignore both the science on medical marijuana and the evidence on medical marijuana programs” and “Since Cuomo is abandoning patients and families in need in pursuit of a war on drugs approach, we have no choice but to return to the legislature to fix New York’s medical marijuana program.”

Marijuana Survey

For the first time since the General Social Survey first asked the question in 1975, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. This was one of the findings from the 2014 General Social Survey which has been measuring trends in American opinion and behavior since 1972.

The survey, which is conducted by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, aggregates long-running and wide-ranging questions about a vast array of issues to the public. The 2014 survey data was recently released, and an analysis of its results was conducted by the General Social Survey and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

52% of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legalized, while 42% think it should remain illegal. Support for marijuana legalization has increased since 2012, when only 43% stated that they were in favor. In 1990, only 16% supported legalizing marijuana.

The survey also found that majorities of blacks and whites were found to support the legalization of marijuana, whereas only 38% of hispanics were in favor of legalization.

People under the age 35 were the most likely to say marijuana should be legal in the U.S.

Read the full report here.

Marijuana Allergies

Marijuana may be the key to treating a wide range of skin diseases at the gene level, according to new research from Italy.

The study, published online in the British Journal of Pharmacology, shows that chemicals in marijuana have the potential to stop harmful DNA activity that underlies diseases like skin cancer and allergies.

“Our findings may lead to the development of preventive medicines, for example aimed at controlling allergic reactions, or to the design of new and more effective treatments for skin cancer.”

Certain genetic factors are believed to play a role in the uncontrollable growth of skin cells – a key characteristic of many disorders.

But a class of chemicals produced by marijuana called cannabinoids appears to have an unique ability of switching them off.

“Plant-derived cannabinoids that are absent of psychoactive effects may be useful candidates for these applications.”

In the study, researchers recorded the effects of three cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidivarin (CBV) – on human skin cell lines.

CBD was found to be the most effective at targeting unwanted DNA activity, followed by CBG.

While THC has also been suggested as an effective therapy for skin allergies, research is beginning to focus on compounds in marijuana that can’t get you high – which may be more appealing to patients.

The authors also conclude that the potential to switch off gene activity may “extend well-beyond skin disorders” to diseases like multiple sclerosis and other forms of cancer.

Arizona Marijuana Law

Arizonans for Responsible Legalization will be the second group to file paperwork with Arizona election officials to register an effort to put recreational marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot.

The first group to file with election officials is lead by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who was behind the 2010 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in Arizona.

“A new committee formed Friday plans to file a ballot initiative to allow adults to purchase small amounts of marijuana for private use and provide new programs for the legal oversight and taxation of the marijuana industry with tax revenue invested into education,” said a spokesperson for Arizonans for Responsible Legalization.

More information for the proposed initiative will be released in April.

The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona’s that their initiative is modeled after Colorado’s recreational marijuana law, which allows adults 21 and older to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project stated that their organization supports “the most effective scenario possible” for legalizing marijuana in the Arizona, and that they “want to establish a good public policy that replaces the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol.”

Marijuana Anorexia

It’s no secret that marijuana helps to increase appetite, but its potential to treat anorexia may not quite so simple.

What scientists now know is that anorexia actually leads to changes in the brain – specifically in pathways connected to marijuana.

These pathways are part of the endocannabinoid system, which include natural marijuana-like chemicals (cannabinoids) and the receptors that they bind to.

Last week, a team of Belgium researchers published more evidence of this relationship from a “well-known rodent model” of anorexia nervosa.

Their findings appear online in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

“These data point to a widespread transient disturbance of the endocannabinoid transmission, specifically for CB1 receptors in the ABA model [activity-based rat model of anorexia].”

They also concluded that a change in the brain’s cannabinoid system likely takes place as an effect – rather than a cause – of anorexia.

Specifically, their findings suggest that the body creates more receptors to compensate for a “chronically hypoactive” endocannabinoid system in cases of anorexia. But these changes may only be temporary, since receptors rebounded to normal levels after the experiments stopped.

Like marijuana, chemicals that make up the endocannabinoid system act as regulators of appetite.

Some scientists believe that the body may produce lower levels of these chemicals in order to improve the ability to survive during periods of “prolonged starvation” – or anorexic states.

That is, patients with anorexia may experience a natural decrease in appetite because of changes that occur in the brain.

Although yet to be tested in anorexia, the authors note that marijuana has been shown to increase food intake in other patient groups.

“Cannabis and cannabinoid agonists with minimal psychoactive side effect profile have been used as eating stimulants in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or cancer patients.”

Unfortunately, treatment options are limited when it comes to anorexia and full recovery is seen in only 40-50 % of patients, according to the authors.

They hope their latest findings will lead to a better understanding of how marijuana-based treatments may be used to help patients recover from the eating disorder.