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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

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.

Marijuana Beer

A District of Columbia beer company has entwined culture and politics into a beer. In celebration of the nation’s capital legalizing marijuana, the DC Brau Brewing Company unveiled a new IPA that was crafted to deliver a marijuana aroma and flavor.

With the opportunely named “Smells Like Freedom” IPA beer, DC Brau sought to acknowledge the District’s fight to legalize recreational marijuana as Congress attempted to block the implementation of the law that D.C. voters approved last November.

President and co-founder of DC Brau, Jeff Hancock, stated: “The one variety [of experimental hop] we used that we got most excited about was NJ007, because those hops had more uniquely sticky and heavy cannabis notes… Then we did three dry-hop editions (adding hops post-fermentation) of this beer to really drive home the nice, heavy cannabis aroma.”

Hancock claims that “Hops are close kissing cousins to cannabis, they only differ by a couple of molecular structures … and like the higher the THC percentage in pot, the higher percentage of alpha acid means a more potent and pungent hop.”

The Smells Like Freedom beer is only available for a limited time. So if you’re a beer aficionado you’d better book a flight to D.C. soon.

Bill Montgomery

Maricopa County attorney Bill Montgomery and Arizona attorney Mark Victor debate marijuana legalization. But during the debate a Vietnam veteran expresses that he is a medical marijuana patient and recreational marijuana user and Montgomery responds by publicly belittling and shaming the veteran.

Montgomery (who is also a veteran) asks the veteran and medical marijuana patient if he also uses marijuana recreationally. The vet responds by saying “yes.” Montgomery then responds by telling the veteran that he “has no respect for [him]” and that he is an “enemy” of the United States because he uses marijuana.

Watch video here. (The incident occurs between 1 hour and 2 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes.)

Bill Montgomery is one of Arizona’s most notorious anti-marijuana advocates. And after this incident, he will likely be despised by most U.S. military veterans across the country for publicly disgracing a veteran.

Texas Marijuana

State lawmakers in Texas have introduced legislation that would allow patients with cancer, PTSD, seizure disorders, and other debilitating medical conditions access to medical marijuana, if recommended by a doctor.

Representative Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) introduced House Bill 3785 along with a companion bill sponsored by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) in the Senate to follow. The bills would create a program where individuals with qualifying medical conditions would receive licenses, if recommended by a doctor, which allow them to possess small amounts of medical marijuana. The state’s Dept. of Health Services would be responsible for regulating the program’s marijuana cultivators and dispensaries.

“The law currently does not reflect marijuana’s legitimate medical use and denies access to patients, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), citizens suffering with cancer and severe aliments of the aging,” stated Rep. Marquez. “By continuing to deny access to patients, we limit the rights of families to seek the best possible treatment for conditions that do not respond to other drugs or therapies. We should create paths, and not obstacles, in allowing doctors to recommend medicine that has been shown to work.”

These latest bills differ from the others previously introduced which only allowed access to CBD-only marijuana with little or no THC. Many medical marijuana patients have found that THC and other substances naturally found in marijuana are needed in addition to CBD to effectively treat their medical ailment(s).

77% of Texans believe that seriously ill people should be able to use marijuana for medical purposes, according to a poll from 2014.

“Every year, thousands of Texans are diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses,” said Caitlin Dunklee of Texans for Medical Freedom, a group supporting the medical marijuana legislation. “The suffering that these patients experience is devastating for them and their families. The bill being filed today would allow patients the freedom to access the medicine that can best alleviate their suffering.”

Obama Marijuana Legalization

President Obama predicted in an interview this week that as more and more states decriminalize marijuana, pressure will increase on Congress which could force federal marijuana laws to be changed.

“We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side. At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana,” Obama said in the interview with VICE.

View Obama Interview Here

Along with the positive prediction about the future of marijuana federal policy, the president seemed shocked by VICE interview Shane Smith saying that marijuana was the most suggested topic to discuss in the interview from VICE readers and that if Obama led the way toward marijuana legalization, it would be the biggest part of his legacy.

“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” stated Obama. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

On average, there’s a marijuana possession arrest nearly every minute in the U.S. Billions of dollars are spent enforcing marijuana prohibition laws that don’t deter most people from using marijuana, but do damage lives via criminal records. Furthermore, the immense damage caused by the black market and drug cartels.

It should also be noted that despite what the president said about Congress feeling increased pressure to decriminalize marijuana, his administration can actually do that without any additional Congressional action needed.