Governor Jan Brewer is softening her position on medical marijuana as well as for the right for terminally ill patients to choose to use drugs that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Brewer’s newly-found empathetic stance for people with debilitating medical conditions has her changing her views towards the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act which allows patients with certain medical conditions to get a doctor’s recommendation to obtain marijuana from dispensaries for medical purposes.
“I’ve been reading a lot about it [marijuana research studies],” she stated. “And it certainly looks like it probably does help people.”
When asked about Proposition 303, the “right to use” measure, Brewer stated: “I think that if someone is facing life or death that they should be able to make that choice … and if they’re willing to take that risk … they ought to be able to do it”
Proposition 303 would allow drug companies to make available drugs and/or medical devices that are not yet approved by the FDA for people with a terminal illness. It would also protect doctors from being disciplined by regulatory boards because they agreed to prescribe a non-approved drug to a patient.
As Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to resign from his post, he appears to be more open than ever towards the rescheduling of marijuana as a less dangerous, more beneficial substance.
In an interview, Holder stated, “I think it’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin. Especially given what we’ve seen recently with regard to heroin — the progression of people from using opioids to heroin use, the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country. And to see by contrast, what the impact is of marijuana use. Now, it can be destructive if used in certain ways, but the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that we need to ask ourselves and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
Holder also stated that the Obama administration would be “more than glad” to work with Congress to re-examine how marijuana is scheduled. In April he said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about how the historic marijuana legalization movements in Colorado and Washington were working out.
The Obama administration, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and a few U.S., raided hundreds of marijuana that were compliant with state . But it was Holder, in 2013, who announced that the Department of Justice would let Colorado and Washington implement their new marijuana legalization laws.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana isas a Schedule I substance, as is LSD and heroin. According to the DEA, Schedule I substances have a “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use.” Yet science has clearly indicated otherwise by proving that marijuana does help provide relief from a multitude of health ailments.
Although marijuana legalization is quickly gaining momentum in the United States, statistics from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveal that teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are using less marijuana than they were a decade ago.
According to the statistics, teen alcohol and tobacco consumption has declined as well. This might signify a healthy lifestyle shift by our society.
The survey also noted that teenagers are finding it more challenging to get a hold of marijuana than a decade ago. This can lead to the conclusion that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use has made marijuana less available to teens. It’s also likely that the legal and regulated marijuana industries, whether medicinal or recreational, are diminishing the marijuana black market leading to less marijuana being distributed on city streets.
A marijuana advocacy group attempting to make marijuana legal for adults in Arizona in 2016 has filed the necessary paperwork with state elections officials granting them permission to raise money to campaign for the initiative.
The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative will be based off of Colorado’s voter-approved recreational marijuana program that taxes and regulates marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
Andrew Myers, who is helping with the initiative, said the group will form a “diverse coalition” to assist with drafting the initiative’s language. He also stated that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s recreational marijuana program to determine what should and shouldn’t be replicated in Arizona. Colorado’s marijuana program allows a limited number of medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries to operate and has heavy oversight to regulate the industry.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which advocates to legalize and regulate marijuana, said it will pursue legalizing marijuana in Arizona in 2016 because such initiatives are more successful during presidential elections, which is when more voters visit the polls.
Over 50,000 Arizonans already have medical marijuana cards which allow them to legally purchase and use medical marijuana. Many more people are expected to become cardholders as more dispensaries open every month making access to medicine much more convenient.
It has been two months since the first recreational marijuana opened their doors in Washington, and sales are skyrocketing, which has lead to an increase in tax revenue for the state.
According to Washington’s State Liquor Control Board, $12.1 million of legal recreational marijuana has been purchased since July 8, the opening day for licensed business. Total sales more than doubled in August to $6.9 million, up from $3.2 million in July. Monthly tax revenue increased from around $805,000 to $1.75 million.
September sales are on pace to be around $7.1 million, which would translate into $1.8 million in tax revenue.
The rapid sales growth is due to more dispensaries opening across the state. There were only 24 approved retail dispensaries in July when retail sales began, but that number has since increased to more than 50 dispensaries. More dispensaries are coming as officials grant additional licenses to some of the thousands of applicants.
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.
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., 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.
On July 3rd, anis being held for Arizona medical marijuana patient Chris Martin who’s pre-trial hearing is on July 7th in Yavapai County. Martin, a celebrated chef and the founder of Billy Zonka’s Edibles and the ZonkaGear clothing line, is facing more than 125 years in prison for creating marijuana .
This case has generated national attention because of the severe punishment being sought after in a country and state where the stance on marijuana is turning towards legalization. Creating marijuana edibles and concentrates was illegal in 2012 when Martin was arrested, but nevertheless, it’s still a wonder why a life sentence is being sought after by Arizona authorities.
In conjunction with Safer Arizona and The Human Solution East Valley, Martin will be holding a press conference at Up in Smoke smoke shop in Tempe to educate the public on the rights of defendants charged with marijuana offenses.
The panel will discuss the struggles medical marijuana patients face when prosecuted and what protections are needed to be built into the upcoming 2016 citizens’ initiative for marijuana legalization in Arizona. Safer Arizona, Arizona’s marijuana reform PAC, sponsored the 2014 Arizona marijuana legalization initiative and is currently working with the marijuana reform group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), on the public outreach and drafting phases of the 2016 Arizona marijuana legalization campaign.
Arizona has a record-high number of state-licensed medical marijuana operating throughout Arizona.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows for up to 126 dispensaries to open. Nearly 80 dispensaries are now open in Arizona, and many more plan to open in 2014.
“Arizona’s medical marijuana industry is predicted to enlarge significantly in 2014,” stated a spokesperson for Hemp American Media Group.
Arizona currently has 50,000 medical marijuana patients and almost 80 dispensaries. Over 70% of patients have chronic pain listed as their qualifying condition and the majority of patients are males.
“As dispensaries become more common place in Arizona, the amount of interest and awareness by the public continues to increase.” stated an industry professional.
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