Posted on June 22, 2012 | Category: Medical Marijuana
The state received four applications Friday from those who hope to set up Vermont’s first medical marijuana dispensaries that could be open by the end of the year, giving those who rely on marijuana for medical uses a legal means of acquiring the drug.
Who the applicants are and where they want to open the dispensaries is unknown, however, as the state considers that confidential, said Francis “Paco” Aumand, director of the Vermont Division of Criminal Justice Services in the state Department of Public Safety.
Shayne Lynn of Burlingon is one of the applicants. He said, as he drove home from delivering his application in Waterbury late Friday afternoon, that he hopes to open a dispensary in Burlington, pending approval of permits from the city.
Whether or when information about all the applicants would become public was an evolving question Friday, a notion that was disquieting to local officials and legislators who were involved in passing the law allowing the state to have up to four dispensaries. The dispensaries would grow and sell marijuana to people with qualifying medical conditions.
State officials initially said this week that the state would not ever make any information about the dispensaries public, but after inquiries by the Burlington Free Press, then modified their response.
“This has evolved in the last two hours,” Aumand said late Friday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, Aumand said that his interpretation of state law governing confidentiality of medical marijuana was that he wasn’t allowed to disclose information about the dispensaries.
A short time later, however, Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said the state would not approve a dispensary without officials in the community knowing about it.
“No place is going to get something they don’t want,” Flynn said.
Those registered with the state to use medical marijuana for treatment of certain illnesses have been allowed to use the drug legally since 2004 in Vermont, but those who didn’t grow it themselves had no legal way of obtaining the drug that is otherwise illegal.
Posted on May 16, 2012 | Category: Medical Marijuana
THREE and a half years ago, on my 62nd birthday, doctors discovered a mass on my pancreas. It turned out to be Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I was told I would be dead in four to six months. Today I am in that rare coterie of people who have survived this long with the disease. But I did not foresee that after having dedicated myself for 40 years to a life of the law, including more than two decades as a New York State judge, my quest for ameliorative and palliative care would lead me to marijuana.
My survival has demanded an enormous price, including months of chemotherapy, radiation hell and brutal surgery. For about a year, my cancer disappeared, only to return. About a month ago, I started a new and even more debilitating course of treatment. Every other week, after receiving an IV booster of chemotherapy drugs that takes three hours, I wear a pump that slowly injects more of the drugs over the next 48 hours.
Nausea and pain are constant companions. One struggles to eat enough to stave off the dramatic weight loss that is part of this disease. Eating, one of the great pleasures of life, has now become a daily battle, with each forkful a small victory. Every drug prescribed to treat one problem leads to one or two more drugs to offset its side effects. Pain medication leads to loss of appetite and constipation. Anti-nausea medication raises glucose levels, a serious problem for me with my pancreas so compromised. Sleep, which might bring respite from the miseries of the day, becomes increasingly elusive.
Inhaled marijuana is the only medicine that gives me some relief from nausea, stimulates my appetite, and makes it easier to fall asleep. The oral synthetic substitute, Marinol, prescribed by my doctors, was useless. Rather than watch the agony of my suffering, friends have chosen, at some personal risk, to provide the substance. I find a few puffs of marijuana before dinner gives me ammunition in the battle to eat. A few more puffs at bedtime permits desperately needed sleep.
This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.
Sixteen states already permit the legitimate clinical use of marijuana, including our neighbor New Jersey, and Connecticut is on the cusp of becoming No. 17. The New York State Legislature is now debating a bill to recognize marijuana as an effective and legitimate medicinal substance and establish a lawful framework for its use. The Assembly has passed such bills before, but they went nowhere in the State Senate. This year I hope that the outcome will be different. Cancer is a nonpartisan disease, so ubiquitous that it’s impossible to imagine that there are legislators whose families have not also been touched by this scourge. It is to help all who have been affected by cancer, and those who will come after, that I now speak.
Given my position as a sitting judge still hearing cases, well-meaning friends question the wisdom of my coming out on this issue. But I recognize that fellow cancer sufferers may be unable, for a host of reasons, to give voice to our plight. It is another heartbreaking aporia in the world of cancer that the one drug that gives relief without deleterious side effects remains classified as a narcotic with no medicinal value.
Because criminalizing an effective medical technique affects the fair administration of justice, I feel obliged to speak out as both a judge and a cancer patient suffering with a fatal disease. I implore the governor and the Legislature of New York, always considered a leader among states, to join the forward and humane thinking of 16 other states and pass the medical marijuana bill this year. Medical science has not yet found a cure, but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering.
Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/opinion/a-judges-plea-for-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1
Posted on May 16, 2012 | Category: Medical Marijuana
Denver (CNN) -- A Colorado advocacy group is spending thousands of dollars to convince people that smoking pot is safer than drinking alcohol.
It's an attempt by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to rally support for a vote in November that would legalize the drug for recreational use. Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use in 2000.
Last Friday, the group aired an advertisement on a local Denver channel during daytime programming encouraging people to "start your conversation about marijuana." The 30-second spot features a young woman typing a message to her mother on her laptop, explaining that after spending her college years drinking heavily, she now prefers marijuana because "it's less harmful ... I don't get hung-over and honestly I feel safer around marijuana users."
The marketing campaign aims to "break down the stereotype about who the typical marijuana user is," explained the campaign's co-director, Mason Tvert.
"Most of them are professional, hard-working people," he said.
It's less harmful ... I don't get hung-over and honestly I feel safer around marijuana users.
TV ad, Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
The TV ad, which aired only on Friday, cost about $2,000, according to Tvert. It may run again, depending on fund-raising efforts, he said. Last month, the campaign spent about $4,500 on a billboard near Denver's (Sports Authority Field at) Mile High stadium -- purposely adjacent to the Mile High Liquors store -- to deliver a similar message, Tvert said.
The billboard also features a woman, this one in her 50s, standing with her arms crossed next to the message: "For many reasons, I prefer ... marijuana over alcohol. Does that make me a bad person?"
Watch the TV ad
By attempting to change "stereotypes" about marijuana users, the campaign hopes to make Colorado the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use.
"The goal is the choice -- to make sure adults have the choice to use a less harmful substance than alcohol," Tvert said.
Dr. Otis Brawley with the American Cancer Society questioned that conclusion.
"The problems of excessive alcohol use and the problems caused by any even minor smoking of marijuana are so different, I have difficulty comparing," said Brawley, CNNhealth.com contributor and the American Cancer Society's chief medical and scientific officer.
"There are short-term and long-term primarily pulmonary problems associated with marijuana (and) excessive alcohol use is long-term correlated with GI (gastrointestinal) and neurologic problems."
Study: Occasional pot smoking not as damaging as cigarettes
Also debatable is whether the money generated by legalizing and regulating marijuana through taxes will outweigh the costs of creating government-run marijuana distribution centers.
Tvert says the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol estimates that legalizing and regulating marijuana could generate $50 million a year in saved expenses and revenue.
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"We've been pushing very hard in Colorado and people agree, it's not worth the law enforcement resources being used (to crack down on marijuana users) and it's not worth losing out on the tax dollars," he said.
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Tvert said he was not aware of any criticism for the advertisement, noting that legalizing marijuana is "one of the biggest issues in our state legislature in the last few years."
"We live in a state that has made a lot of progress on the issue," he said. "It's not as controversial as many other issues."
That's partly because of the prevalence of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. State-sanctioned marijuana dispensaries now outnumber Starbucks in Colorado and there are well over 100,000 people on the medical marijuana registry.
Mobile marijuana clinic for Colorado's rural residents
Six years ago, an attempt to legalize marijuana in Colorado failed. This year's initiative goes much further than the 2006 ballot, because it establishes a system that regulates and taxes the drug, Tvert said. He believes the infrastructure created by Colorado's medical marijuana industry will help boost the chances that voters will approve legal recreational use of the drug.
Residents are also more accustomed to the idea of a legalized form of the drug, now that medical marijuana dispensaries are a common sight across the state, Tvert said.
"We're not asking people to imagine, as we would just two years ago," he explained. "People have seen that just because there's a marijuana center in Colorado ... just because there might be a storefront in your town or city, it hasn't caused any problems."
He noted that the initiative would allow cities and municipalities to "opt out" of allowing marijuana sales, similar to "dry counties" which ban the sale of alcohol.
Colorado isn't the only state where voters will consider legalizing marijuana in the fall: there's a similar ballot initiative in Washington and there could be one in Oregon, as well, if enough signatures are collected.
"There are actually... close to 17 or 18 initiatives working their way to the ballots," according to Sue Rusche, president and CEO of the non-profit anti-drug organization, National Families in Action.
Rusche said her group's main focus is to "force the (marijuana) industry" to ensure that it doesn't market the drug to children.
"We ask a question: if a state actually does legalize marijuana for recreational use... what kind of things can we learn form the alcohol and tobacco industries in the way they've marketed to kids?" she said. "What can we do to prevent that (marijuana) industry from marketing to kids?"
She said setting a legal age limit of 21 is not enough.
"We do not trust the advocates who are trying to legalize marijuana because we don't believe they are willing to look at these other two industries (alcohol and tobacco)," Rusche said. "Everything we read in their initiative has to do with making money and not protecting kids."
What can we do to prevent that (marijuana) industry from marketing to kids?
Sue Rusche, National Families in Action
If any marijuana initiative passes, Rusche said her group is interested in working with the state agencies that write the regulations in order "to force the industry to self-police rather than (have) the taxpayers pay for the cost" of any negative consequences, including addiction treatment and accidents caused by driving under the influence.
"We want people to take marijuana legalization seriously and think seriously about the consequences to kids," she said.
When asked about Rusche's concerns, Tvert said he was confident the marijuana industry would not target its product to minors.
"There's a great deal of self-regulating already taking place -- business owners not choosing marijuana leaves or cartoon characters," he said, referring to the medical marijuana industry. "It's an evolving industry (and) in theory, these are standards that are already being created."
That doesn't mean the marijuana industry won't advertise its product in places where children might be present, though.
"It's worth noting, every young person that walks into a professional baseball game in Colorado (at Coors Field) is walking into a beer commercial," he said. "So the notion that we somehow cannot possibly have marijuana legal because young people will somehow know about it and see it, is unrealistic."
Original article: http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/17/health/colorado-marijuana-initiative/index.html?hpt=hp_c2