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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

Marijuana and Opiods Overdose
Overdose deaths from pharmaceutical opioids, such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, have nearly tripled since 1991. Every day 46 people die from such overdoses in the United States.

In the 13 states that passed legislation allowing for the use of medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, 25% fewer people died from opioid overdoses annually. Currently, 35 states have passed laws to allow qualifying patients access to marijuana for medical purposes.

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers hypothesized that in the states where medical marijuana is legal, patients may be using marijuana to treat pain by either replacing their prescription opiates or mixing the two; either way, the patients would likely be lowering their typical opiate dosage making it less likely to lead to a fatality.

“The difference is quite striking,” said study co-author Colleen Barry, a health policy researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. She told Newsweek that the shift showed up quite quickly and became visible the year after medical marijuana was legalized in each state.

It is a fact that marijuana is much less toxic than opiates like Percocet or morphine, and that it is basically impossible to overdose with marijuana, noted Barry.

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AZ Marijuana PTSD
The Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association, an Arizona medical marijuana advocacy group, is appealing the Arizona Department of Health Services’ terms and delay to implement post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana for treatment in Arizona.

Lawyer Ken Sobel is representing the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association. Sobel stated, “I will be putting in a request for a hearing to get an order from the court that orders the department to immediately implement PTSD as a debilitating condition, and to strike everything after…all that surplus language that involves delaying the implementation.”

Will Humble, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, stated last July that medical marijuana could only be used for “palliative care,” meaning to temporarily relieve PTSD symptoms and not treat PTSD as a primary treatment. He also stated that the date chosen (January 2015) for PTSD implementation as a medical marijuana qualifying condition is to give doctors and dispensaries enough time to “develop policies, procedures and educational materials required” before distributing medical marijuana to PTSD patients.

Sobel said he and the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association have attempted to meet with the Arizona Department of Health Services and Will Humble to help them with such policies, procedures and materials, but the department has “rejected” their help.

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Marijuana Concentrates Safety
Marijuana concentrates (hash, oils, waxes, etc) are becoming a very popular method of medicating for medical marijuana patients across the country. But risks are involved because of the possible toxins created by the extraction processes used to make the marijuana concentrates.

Marijuana concentrates are comprised of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc) and terpenes extracted from marijuana by means of chemical solvents or gas (butane, CO2, etc). Most marijuana concentrates contain 60-90% THC; whereas, marijuana strains found in dispensaries typically contain 12-22% THC.

Higher levels of cannabinoids help many medical marijuana patients treat their illnesses without having to use marijuana as frequently.

The effectiveness of marijuana concentrates is determined by the quality of the marijuana used to create it, as well as the safety and accuracy of the extraction process. Concentrates can be rather safe when they are produced using the proper methods. But if an extraction method is not up to par, residual toxic solvents can be left behind in the final product. Inhalation or consumption of these solvents can be very harmful.

Currently, the Arizona Department of Health Services does not require dispensaries or caregivers to have their marijuana tested by a lab for traces of toxic substances, but many dispensaries and caregivers do get their marijuana tested anyways. Therefore, when looking to purchase marijuana concentrates be sure to ask the dispensary’s employees if their concentrates are safe for consumption and are free of toxic contaminants.

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Marijuana Events

Many marijuana events are taking place this weekend and in the coming weekends.

Hempcon, one of America’s largest cannabis industry health, lifestyle and culture events, will be held in San Francisco from August 22-24. The following Saturday, MMJ for Tucson, a medical marijuana event that is open to the public will be held in Tucson. It will feature dispensaries, marijuana doctors, and more.

The High Times Cannabis Cup will be held in Seattle in early September. Other marijuana industry events such as trade shows and conventions are also happening in the near future. Check out the marijuana events calendar to see all upcoming events.

Reoccurring Arizona medical marijuana events are also listed in the marijuana events calendar.

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Teen Marijuana Use
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts – found that adolescents are not more likely to use marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The Journal of Adolescent Health’s study on adolescents and marijuana use came to a similar conclusion: “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to [the] legalization of medical marijuana.”

In another study, investigators from the University of Colorado at Denver, Montana State University, and the University of Oregon analyzed federal data on adolescent marijuana use and treatment episodes during the years of 1993 to 2011, when 16 states authorized medical marijuana use, and the investigators concluded that “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students.”

Findings such as these help to confirm that the legalization of marijuana for medical use does not mean that adolescents are more likely to use marijuana, a common concern among lawmakers.

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Marijuana Legalize
66 percent of Americans surveyed believe that adults should be able to legally use marijuana in the privacy of one’s own home, according to a recent nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey.

59 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Independents said marijuana should be legalized.

Republican poll respondents did not support private consumption by a margin of 57 percent to 31 percent.

A majority of poll respondents, 55 percent, support state-wide laws seeking to tax and regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana for adults, such as those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington.

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Arizona Marijuana Grow
Some medical marijuana patients outside Arizona’s metro areas should soon regain the right to grow their own marijuana.

The Arizona medical marijuana law currently states that if a medical marijuana patient lives within 25 miles of a dispensary they cannot obtain the right to grow their own marijuana. Almost all of the 56,000 medical marijuana patients in Arizona are within 25 miles of a dispensary.

Last week, judge Tammy Eigenheer rejected arguments by a Gold Canyon resident that he should be exempt from this law because while a dispensary was 8 miles as the crow flies, it was 26 miles by road. Eigenheer said that is the way the law is written. But, Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said this isn’t the first time this issue has been raised.

“I actually agree with them. And so we’re [the Arizona Department of Health Services] in the process right now of revising our regulations. And in those new revised regulations were going to change that definition of 25 miles to by road,” said Humble.

Humble also stated that the 25-mile rule, however measured, is justified because it honors the intent of the voters who voted for a system which requires marijuana to be handled by regulated dispensaries, complete with reporting requirements; rather than a free-for-all industry where patients can grow what they want and distribute it to others.

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Banks Marijuana
Over 100 US financial institutions are now working directly with marijuana-related businesses in states that have legal marijuana markets, according to the US Department of Treasury.

Financial Crimes Enforcement Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery acknowledged that US financial institutions have filed over 1,000 reports with the Treasury Department in regards to businesses engaged in the sale of marijuana and marijuana-related goods and services.

“Currently 105 individual financial institutions from states in more than one third of the country engaged in banking relationships with marijuana-related businesses,” stated Calvery.

The Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued two memos in February providing limited guidance to financial institutions that wish to engage in transactions with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

In July, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation restricting the Treasury Department’s ability to take punitive actions against financial institutions that provide assistance to state-authorized marijuana businesses.

However, the US Senate has yet to take any action on the measure.

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Nevada Marijuana
Authorities in Nevada are working on a plan that would allow medical marijuana patients from other states, including Arizona, to purchase medical marijuana at Nevada dispensaries, which will be opening in early 2015.

The bureau chief of the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health said that Nevada’s new medical marijuana program will allow Arizona residents to shop at dispensaries if they are part of the medical marijuana program in Arizona.

Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada, has officially said that up to 66 dispensaries will open all over the state, with the first expected to open in Las Vegas at the beginning of 2015.

According to state law, Nevada dispensaries can choose to honor out of state medical marijuana cardholders as long as the state that issued their license has an electronic database of patients that “allows the Division and medical marijuana dispensaries in (Nevada) to access the database.”

This measure would obviously need to first be approved by authorities in Arizona.  Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, is hesitant to believe that this law would ever work out in conjunction with Arizona cardholders because the system in which medical marijuana is sold and regulated is specific to Arizona dispensaries.  However, Nevada authorities are confident that once the organized system is functioning by early 2015, their dispensaries won’t even need to access the database in Arizona, and that onsite dispensary agents will be able to validate the out-of-towners’ licenses.

There are more than a few details that need ironing out, but if all goes according to plan, Arizona medical marijuana cardholders and other states will have a few more reasons to visit Las Vegas next year.

Get a medical marijuana card

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Congress Marijuana
The District of Columbia Board of Elections agreed to put an initiative on this November’s ballot that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the district. This prompted an interesting question: Will Congress be allowed to use marijuana recreationally?

If passed, Initiative 71 will allow D.C. residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to six plants, and transfer (not sell) up to 1 ounce. All members of Congress who live in D.C. are adults, so technically they will be permitted to use marijuana at their leisure.

Marijuana possession is still illegal on federal property. So until marijuana is removed from the Schedule I substance list, it will not be allowed on federal property. Members of Congress won’t be able to light up at work, but they can at home – if they live in the district. “Possessing marijuana in their [Congress members'] own home would be legal under D.C. law, as it would be for anybody else,” said Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

And Initiative 71 does not include any additional provisions related to Congress either. A subsection addresses the professional workplace, but states that agencies, employers, and officers will not be required to allow their employees to use marijuana off the job. Basically, employers will still be allowed to enact their own drug-testing policies; but fortunately for members of Congress, their workplace doesn’t have one.

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