Biggest Opium Pushers In U.S. Are: U.S. Politicians & AG Jeff Sessions

In the United States, we have been hearing a lot about the drugs that are made from this plant over the past few years. I admit to those of you who don’t know me that I am neither a scientist, psychotherapists nor a medical doctor. I am just an average 61-year-old person who reads a lot and who pays attention to reality the best that I can. Even though I am not the smartest person in the U.S. I am a person that strives to be bluntly honest about everything even if I don’t personally like the results of the answer. Truth has ‘no spin’ to it! I have said a few times before on this website that there really is only one real Truth, and that is ‘God’s’ Truth. When you/we/I have an argument concerning any issue, if we can honestly say that we would stand before our Creator, look Him in His eyes and tell Him that we are speaking the Truth, then that argument would be the Truth, to the very best of our personal knowledge anyways. Either that, or we would be acting like a total idiot and or a fool because we would be condemning our own self on purpose.

I have a question for each of us, do we/you/I believe that the politicians in D.C. are looking out for our best interest or their own best interest? Do you believe that your Congressman/woman, Senator or President cares more about you, or about the lobbyist who is funding their next campaign and or their personal lifestyle? Now, before I get into the meat of this article on the Opium issue I will tell you up front that Marijuana legalization is something that I totally agree with. I believe, excuse me, I know, that Marijuana helps with nerve pain, I am 100% sure of that. Back when I was in the U.S. Army I was directly struck by a lightning bolt. Even Social Security says I am disabled even though the VA doesn’t agree that the lightning has anything to do with me being disabled no matter what the non-VA Doctors and other experts have to say about it. As most of you know the Federal Government and the crooked ignorant putz AG Jeff Sessions say that Marijuana is just as or even more dangerous than Heroin and they class Marijuana as a class one narcotic, just like Heroin. To believe the Federal Government’s argument a person would have to be either clueless just plain ignorant or ‘on the take.’ The Feds say that Marijuana has no medical value even though that is totally contrary to all of the scientific evidence that says the Feds are lying.

So, the argument comes down to, why does the Fed’s keep lying? Or, do you really believe they are simply that ignorant? As long as the Federal government continues this policy the VA is not allowed to prescribe Marijuana to the service-connected disabled Veterans. The VA has no problem pumping many billions of taxpayer dollars worth of pills into the disabled Vets every year whether we need them or not but they refuse to allow the Veterans to use God’s given Herbs for pain relief. What is even worse is that if the VA in one of their blood or urine test finds THC from Marijuana in your system, they will cold turkey you off of the drugs they are giving/selling to you. This is even though doing this to people on some of these medications can easily kill a person. Why would any remotely honest or caring person do that to people? The answer to this is simple folks, its money.

For those of you who don’t believe me, I am going to offer you some cold hard facts as to why I used the title of this article. Even if you are a person who says they would never ever smoke Marijuana, does that mean that you have any right to insist that others cannot, no matter what? I am going to use last November’s Elections in Arizona as a perfect example. This example shows just how dirty big Pharma is, I am going to show you just how much they want people to die from Opium use and the reason is simple, money!

Within everyone’s brain, there is what is called an MU Opioid Receptor. This is something that Opium sticks to in a person’s brain. Morphine is an Opioid drug, just like Heroin is so I am going to use them in this example. Even though Pharma made drugs like Morphine and Oxycontin are very expensive even on the street drugs like Heroin are amazingly cheap. Yet there is another man-made drug called Fentanyl, a synthetic form of Heroin that is even cheaper and easier to make than regular Heroin. Trouble is this that this street drug Fentanyl is about 100 times more powerful than Heroin and it is very deadly even to come into contact with very much of it at all. Fentanyl has become a major problem for first responders, EMS and Police as they do come into contact with it many times every day. These days Ambulances and Police Vehicles are being required to carry the ‘antidote’ for their own safety’s sake.

This ‘antidote’ is called Narcan and Narcan is a drug that is big Pharma made and distributed. Concerning Opium products like Heroin and Morphine the antidote, Narcan works quite well at knocking the Opium off of the MU Receptor yet it does very little to help get the Fentanyl off of the MU Receptor. Don’t get me wrong, people are still dying every day from Opioid overdoses also. The Fed said that Opioid overdoses are up more than 400% here in the U.S. since the year 2000. The big Pharma company’s who make Narcan know this fact very well, so do the politicians yet they prove to all of us that they do not care about all of these thousands of people who are dying nor their families, nor even the First Responders.

Now back to the 2016 Elections in the State of Arizona. The facts show that in the States that have made recreational Marijuana legal that Opioid overdoses and deaths are down about 50%. On a side note, in these states alcohol sales are down about 25%, think of how many people aren’t getting into car accidents because of drinking and driving. Also, think of how many domestic violence deaths aren’t happening in those States and how many fatal ‘bar fights’ aren’t happening. Yet the reality is that big Pharma companies make billions from their pharmacy-made drugs so just like last November in Arizona they pumped in many millions of dollars in false advertisements to try to get the people of Arizona to vote down making Marijuana legal in their State. The sad part is, they were successful in Arizona. The big Pharmaceutical companies have been pushing hard to get Narcan into every ambulance, police car, school, and home in America. There is only one reason for this and that is money, to heck with people’s lives, the only thing that really matters is a company’s profits. These Pharmaceutical companies know that Marijuana is a natural painkiller but they aren’t making any money off of a plant that anyone can grow in their own garden. Now, you do understand why I said that the politicians and people like AG Jeff Sessions want to keep Marijuana illegal don’t you? The answer is very simple, campaign contributions from these big Pharma Companies and because of many who own stocks in these same big Pharma Companies.

 

Here are some of the companies who put huge amounts of money into last November’s ‘anti-pot’ vote in Arizona. I got this information from (The Guardian, US News And World Report, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and from Equities.com News.)

These companies are:

Chandler Pharma

Insys Therapeutics

Pfizer Inc

Walgreens Boot’s Alliance Inc

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc

Mylan N.V.

Opnet Technologies Inc

 

Federal Judge Says DOJ Must Answer For Marijuana Being Classed As A Class 1 Drug

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘FLORIDA MARIJUANA.NET)

 

For the very first time in history the United States Government will have to answer to the judiciary about the scheduling of cannabis and its unconstitutionality.  Jeff Sessions, the DEA, and the DOJ will all have to stand trial according to the judge overseeing their case.  This is the first time that a trial to legalize cannabis has proceeded past the normal attempts at dismissal.  All of the defendants will have to get recorded depositions.  This is great news for the plaintiffs in the case which include Army combat veteran, Jose Belen, former NFL player Marvin Washington, 11 year old Alexiss Bortell who uses cannabis to treat her epilepsy, Jagger Cotte.

alexis bortell medical marijuana

The developments are also welcome news for cannabis advocates around the country.  If this lawsuit is successful, it would mean the scheduling of cannabis will be ruled unconstitutional and completely de scheduled federally.  Some of the best quotes from the 80+ page filing in federal court can be found below.Marvin Washington medical marijuana

“Despite the relatively recent stigmatization of cannabis in the United States as a supposed ‘gateway drug’ used primarily by ‘hippies’ and minorities, there is a long and rich history of people from virtually every part of the world using cannabis for medical, industrial, spiritual, and recreational purposes,” the suit reads. “Indeed, those who have cultivated, encouraged the cultivation of, and/or used cannabis include, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — an assortment of the most intelligent and accomplished statesmen in American history.”

 

jose Belen cannabis jeff sessions

“Jose’s treatment providers at the Veterans Administration informed Jose that they are unable to prescribe medical cannabis because it is illegal under the CSA,” reads the suit, referring to Belen, the military veteran.

“We are seeking a ‘declaration’ to that effect, and also a permanent injunction restraining enforcement of the CSA as written, as it pertains to cannabis,” said Lauren Rudick, one of the plaintiffs attorneys. “The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug deprives individuals of basic constitutional rights, including Due Process and the fundamental right to travel. Some of these individuals, such as Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte (both plaintiffs in the action) are patients who seek cannabis as a means of life-saving medication. The government has a federal patent on cannabis, and has recognized the medical efficacy of cannabis in a variety of ways, yet Sessions is trying to reverse policy on cannabis use and contend that it has no medical use. It’s hypocritical.”

 

One thing is for sure, Jeff Sessions and the federal government will not go down without a fight.

jeff sessions medical marijuana

 

Our neighbors to the north in Canada only had their rights recognized after challenging medical marijuana as a right through the courts.  It appears this is how the Jeff Sessions legacy is about to be written.  Instead of doing the right thing, his Justice Department will be forced to recognize the rights through the court system.

Please share this with your friends and make sure everyone keeps up to date on the developments in the case.

Veterans Overwhelmingly Favor Medical Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TASK & PURPOSE’)

 

Veterans Overwhelmingly Favor Medical Marijuana. When Will VA And Lawmakers Get On Board?

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An overwhelming majority of U.S. military veterans and veteran caregivers support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a new national poll by Five Corner Strategies conducted on behalf of the American Legion — and veterans aren’t going to stop until the Department of Veterans Affairs starts taking medical marijuana research seriously.

The poll found that while 82% of respondents supported the legalization of medical cannabis, a whopping 92% supported expanded research into the medical benefits of the drug. And that attitude cuts across political boundaries: 88% of respondents who self-identified as “conservative” and 90% of self-identified “liberals” supported a federal legalization effort.

Medical cannabis is currently only legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia; yet, it is unlawful for VA doctors to prescribe it since marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance — forcing vets to use medical cannabis at their own risk or not at all. Further, shortfalls in funding, restrictive eligibility criteria for a recently approved federal study specific to vets, and little support from the VA has prevented any policies from moving forward in Washington, despite a growing acceptance of marijuana to mitigate pain and mental-health issues.

RELATED: LAWMAKERS ARE URGING THE VA TO TAKE MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR VETERANS SERIOUSLY »

According to the American Legion’s new poll, one in five veterans surveyed consume marijuana “to alleviate a medical or physical condition.” Ironically, the majority of those using medicinal pot are over the age of 60, despite support for the practice declining among older respondents, where 100% of 18-30-year-old respondents favored federally legalized medical marijuana, only 79% of sexagenarians agreed.

Following the release of the poll, conducted by national PulsePoint IVR on 802 self-identified veterans (513 respondents) and veteran caregivers (289) between Oct. 8 and Oct. 10, 2017, on Capitol Hill on Nov. 2, the American Legion, in conjunction with members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, called upon Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin to push for new research despite an increasingly obstinate approach to legalization by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“In order to keep veterans safe, we need to listen then,” Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from California and vice ranking member on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the assembled crowd. “When a majority of veterans say medical cannabis has the potential to provide relief, we need to listen to them … If the VA’s research confirms that medical cannabis can be effective, it can have a transformative effect of veterans care while preventing veterans from lipping into the trap of opioid addiction.”

veterans medical marijuana research

The poll is the culmination of a growing push to change the federal government’s approach to veterans and medical marijuana. In a Oct. 26 letter to Shulkin, lawmakers on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs called on the VA to initiate renewed research into the medical benefits of legal cannabis, citing both a rising chorus of veterans advocacy organizations like the American Legion and the opioid epidemic that the Trump administration declared a national health emergency the same day.

While the VA has done little to move the needle on medical marijuana research, Shulkin has personally said he’s open to exploring alternative therapies, including medicinal weed, if they benefit veterans and their care.

“We are acutely aware of the work that’s going on around the country, particularly in states that have legalized medical marijuana,” Shulkin toldTask & Purpose in a June 12 interview. “And we are observing very closely work that’s being done that may be helping veterans, and we are open to any ideas and therapies that may be effective.”

VA Secretary David Shulkin on Medical Marijuana For Vets
In an exclusive sit-down interview with Task & Purpose June 12, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made clear his department would pursue any emerging therapy with promise for disabled or troubled veterans — including medical marijuana. Here’s what he said.

National attitudes toward marijuana legalization have come a long way in recent years: According to an Oct. 25 Gallup poll conducted around the same time as the American Legion survey, a majority of registered Republicans are in support of marijuana legalization for the first time in a half-century. But even with public support for recreational marijuana legalization at an all-time high, only 64% are in favor of ending the federal prohibition on the substance — well below the levels of support detailed among veterans and military families in recent surveys.

While many veterans and doctors are already working to circumvent the VA’s existing medical marijuana policies, as Task & Purpose reported in October, it’s those changing attitudes among military and VA officials that will shape the course of medical marijuana research.

RELATED: HOW VETS AND THEIR DOCTORS ARE GETTING AROUND THE VA’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA POLICY »

“As we researched, we came across veterans who said that the only reason they were alive today and didn’t commit suicide was because they found medical cannabis,” Lou Celli, the American Legion’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation, said on Nov. 2. “But you and I know we can’t change policy based on anecdotes. We need facts in order to have a meaningful discussion. And in order to get evidence and facts, we must do clinical research.”

WATCH NEXT:

VA Secretary Shulkin: ‘I’ll Have The Veterans’ Backs’
In an exclusive interview with Task & Purpose June 12, VA Secretary David M. Shulkin emphasized the importance of keeping a strong VA — and not privatizing all its services — to foster deeper trust between service members and the nation they serve.

 

Jared Keller is a senior editor at Task & Purpose and contributing editor at Pacific Standard. Follow Jared Keller on Twitter @JaredBKeller
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Arizona Marijuana: Everything to Know About Marijuana Law in AZ

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK.COM)

 

Arizona Marijuana: Everything to Know About Marijuana Law in AZ

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Brandi Atkins, an Arizona resident and former dancer, was diagnosed in late 2015 with a rare autoimmune disease that made her joints and muscles swell, causing chronic pain. She popped in and out of the hospital with a cornucopia of prescription medications handed out to alleviate her pain, ease her symptoms, and navigate around her type 1 diabetes. These medications would often clash with her disease and cause her blood sugar to soar. In desperation, she turned to medical marijuana.

Almost immediately, Adkins noticed an improvement in balance, palatable reduction in pain, and (most importantly) hope for her future. The dispensary she visited took the time to understand her specific concerns, her goals, and the particulars of her health conditions. Thanks to medical marijuana, Adkins feels like she can dance again.

This hopeful scenario plays out in dispensaries across Arizona, where more than 100,000 patients suffering everything from epilepsy to chronic pain find relief through medical marijuana.

It’s an interesting situation: legalized medical marijuana and dispensaries in one of the United States’ most conservative territories. How do these conflicting events coexist? Have you ever wondered what exactly is the state of medical marijuana affairs in Arizona? Here’s our in-depth explanation of everything you always wanted to know about Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws (but were too afraid to ask).

The road to marijuana legalization in Arizona

When the federal government originally passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the predecessor to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, all American states had criminalized cannabis in one way or another. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Arizona state legislators began listening to decades-long calls for marijuana law reform.

In 1996, Arizona passed Proposition 200, allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana (specifically, controlled substances) to treat diseases or relieve pain in seriously/terminally ill patients. In order for a patient to use medical marijuana, a doctor had to provide scientific evidence to prove marijuana’s usefulness along with a second doctor’s opinion to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This caused conflict between supporters and opponents of medical marijuana, and started a lengthy battle over the law’s lack of specificity in addition to the language “prescribe.” For a doctor to prescribe medicine, the substance must first undergo FDA trials and doctors must specify the exact dosage and consumption methods to be used. Unfortunately, this rendered Prop 200 illegal on a federal scope and a medical marijuana program never materialized. It did, however, protect first-time drug offenders from prison sentences, which was a step towards decriminalization.

Arizona tried once more to legalize medical marijuana in 2002 with Proposition 203, but the initiative failed, receiving 42.7% of the vote. A viable solution was not presented and approved until nearly a decade later.

In 2010, Arizonans voted to approve a much-revised version of Proposition 203, an initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Proposition 203 authorized doctors to recommend cannabis as a therapeutic option, as opposed to prescribing a specific dosage of cannabis with strict consumption or application methods. This law also tasked the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to regulate the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

Arizona’s current marijuana policy

The ADHS had until April 2012 to establish a registration application system for patients and nonprofit marijuana dispensaries, as well as a web-based verification platform for use by law officials and dispensaries to verify a patient’s status as such. It also specified patients’ rights, qualifying medical conditions, and allowed out-of-state medical marijuana patients to maintain their patient status (though not to purchase cannabis).

On December 6, 2012, Arizona’s first licensed medical marijuana dispensary opened in Glendale.

In 2012, Arizona legislators amended the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to include college and university campuses in their non-consumption list, even if the cardholder was over 21 years old. However, in April 2017, this ruling was overturned by the Arizona Court of Appeals, and though colleges can privately prohibit medical marijuana on campus, lawmakers cannot make campus cannabis use illegal.

The people of Arizona took advantage of the Department of Health’s qualifying condition appeal process in 2013 when they petitioned to include PTSD, migraines, and depression among the list of qualifying medical conditions. Following due process, the Director of the ADHS denied the petition.

prop 205 arizona

While it seemed like the Arizona population was becoming more tolerant of cannabis, it proved too soon to jump to recreational legalization. In 2016, Arizonans narrowly voted no on Prop 205 by a margin of 48:52, which would have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Ballotpedia attributes this loss to heavy early campaigning by opponents of recreational marijuana years before the election process. Opponents such as Insys, the creators of Fentanyl, lobbied heavily against recreational cannabis — their CBD medicine passed the first phases of FDA trials earlier in 2016. This loss resulted in a significant surge in new medical marijuana patients, many of whom were waiting to get their card only if the recreational law failed to pass.

Despite various lawmakers’ attempts to place limitations on Arizona’s medical marijuana law, the program is growing larger each year. As of late June 2017, there were 132,487 Arizona marijuana patients, 155 dispensary licenses (up from 124 at the law’s passage), and 881 patient caregivers.

The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act”

The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act,” or AMMA, empowers Arizona doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a viable treatment option for Arizona patients diagnosed with at least one qualifying medical condition. With this recommendation, a patient may apply for an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card, a card that allows patients to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana.

2.5 oz of cannabis, up to 12 plants, deliveries of marijuana, 25 miles from a dispensary

Arizona marijuana patients or caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any given time, and obtain 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period from an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary. Patients can also be authorized to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for their own use, or otherwise, find a caregiver to grow cannabis for them if they reside more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary.

Living as a medical marijuana patient

chronic pain, alzheimers, cachxia, cancer, crohn's disease, glaucoma, hepatitis c, muscle spasms, nausea, ptsd, sclerosis, seizures, two or more conditions

For Arizonans like Brandi Atkins — mentioned at the beginning of this article — who think medical marijuana might be right for them, patients must receive a recommendation to use medical marijuana from a licensed Arizona physician. The patient must have one of the below qualifying medical conditions, and their physician must determine that the patient indeed has a qualifying condition. The written certification would state the doctor believes, in their professional opinion, the patient would likely receive therapeutic benefit from medical marijuana use.

Arizona’s list of debilitating qualifying conditions

ALS, alzheimer's disease, cancer, glaucoma, hiv/aids, hepatitis c, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscle spasms, nausea, seizures, severe and chronic pain

Once a patient has received their written certification from an Arizona doctor, they may apply to the ADHS for a Registry Identification Card, a card that grants patients and caregivers the authority to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana legally.

To apply for a Registry Identification Card, patients must submit their written certification, the application fee, their personal information, and a statement declaring they won’t use their medical marijuana for nefarious purposes (i.e. sell it to kids). If a minor wants to be a medical marijuana patient, there are stricter rules to follow before they can qualify for their card. The ADHS website explains the application process in more detail.

The most “caring” of the bunch

Some patients in critical need of cannabis are unable to travel easily to purchase or even consume cannabis without some assistance. Arizona included regulations to cover the people who would take care of these patients, known as Caregivers, allowing them to assist patients (up to five) in the medical use of marijuana.

Whether taking care of a child or an elderly parent, this endeavor is a huge responsibility. Caregivers need to educate themselves on the different aspects of marijuana, like different strains, consumption methods, and their patients’ specific health needs. Arizona caregivers must follow all the same regulations as patients, including registering with the ADHS and carrying an ID card.

Don’t worry, the law protects you!

As federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (without medicinal value), Prop 203 and other medical cannabis laws were designed to protect citizens’ rights. Arizona medical marijuana patients are supposed to be treated like every other resident. The AMMA’s regulations protect the rights of patients and caregivers in certain circumstances:

  • A school or landlord may not refuse to enroll/lease to a qualifying patient unless failing to do so would incur ramifications under federal law.
  • Medical facilities cannot deny treatment to patients based on their status as a medical marijuana user.
  • Parental rights cannot be denied based on a parent’s status as an Arizona medical marijuana patient.

While these protections are essential, they do not provide for every eventuality. Employers may not discriminate against employees who are medical marijuana patients, and may not penalize them for a positive drug test. However, employees cannot use or possess marijuana during the hours of work. Employers may lawfully discipline and even terminate any employee who tests positive for marijuana if they used or possessed during work hours, even if the employee is a registered patient.

Despite nearly 20 years of progress toward decriminalization and regulation, Arizona is still one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to marijuana. Even minor possession is a felony for those who aren’t medical marijuana patients, with a max sentence of 3.75 years and a $150,000 fine.

I’m a physician, what part do I play in medical marijuana?

“I have found in my study of these patients that Cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications.” -Philip Denney, MD, Testimony to the Arkansas legislature in support of House Bill 1303, “An Act to Permit the Medical Use of Marijuana,” Nov. 17, 2005.

Doctors are the gatekeepers to medical marijuana. In all medically legal states, doctors must fully evaluate their patients and determine whether cannabis is a fit for their medical needs and whether they have a qualifying condition. This places a lot of responsibility on doctors’ shoulders, which most Arizona doctors bear with professionalism and true concern for their patients. The physician must be a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, a naturopathic physician, or a homeopathic physician who holds a valid license to practice in Arizona.

medical marijuana doctors in arizona

Physicians meet patients, either in person or via telemedicine services, to determine if the patient has a qualifying condition before signing a written certification stating that, in their professional opinion, the patient has a qualifying condition and would likely receive therapeutic benefits from medical marijuana use.

However, Arizona courts have cracked down on some physicians who have turned their practices into “certification mills” due to their being no additional requirements for marijuana recommendations other than holding a valid license to practice medicine in Arizona.

Visiting from out of state?

Arizona allows non-Arizona medical marijuana patients the same rights and protections as Arizona citizens. This caveat makes sense … sort of.

The law states a Registry Identification Card, or its equivalent, issued by another state is valid in Arizona, except in that a visiting qualifying patient may not obtain marijuana from an Arizona marijuana dispensary.

This is a bit paradoxical. How is an out-of-state patient to access medical marijuana without purchasing from a dispensary or bringing it over state lines, which is federally illegal? Here’s how:

Another registered Arizona patient or designated caregiver can offer and provide medical marijuana so long as nothing of value is given in return, and the recipient doesn’t end up possessing more than 2.5 oz. of marijuana. This works, though it may be simpler to become a resident of Arizona.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary basics, keeping patients safe, obeying laws

inside a dispensary

All Arizona marijuana dispensaries are nonprofit organizations, a philosophy similar to out-of-state patients: “nothing of value may be exchanged for the transfer of medical marijuana.” While medical marijuana isn’t free, dispensaries may charge for medical marijuana as part of the expenses incurred during business operations. Patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, either as flower or an equivalent amount in concentrate, edibles, or other cannabis product forms.

As marijuana is still federally illegal (and valuable), security remains a  top priority. Dispensaries are required to use the ADHS online verification system to confirm each Arizona marijuana patient’s status as a patient and the amount of marijuana purchased over the last 60 days. This system is password protected and will not allow any access through an unencrypted internet connection. This online system does not include patients’ addresses or other personal information.

Dispensaries are also required to have a strong security system for their facility, including a single secure entrance. Medicating on the premises is forbidden. These heavy requirements go hand-in-hand with Arizona officials’ concern that marijuana products will encourage theft, violence, or negligent/illegal use.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the future

Though Arizona’s medical marijuana laws are full of sticky, complicated red tape, the program’s existence is still a huge step forward in the crusade for national legalization. Suffering patients in Arizona can find medical relief with our favorite plant and still enjoy protection from the law. Hopefully, after reading our guide, you now understand the nuts and bolts of how medical marijuana regulations work in Arizona.

Still want more information? Check out the Arizona Department of Health Services website at www.azdhs.gov.


Sources:

https://azmarijuana.com/links/legal/

https://azmarijuana.com/news/proposition-203-arizona-medical-marijuana-act/

http://norml.org/legal/item/arizona-medical-marijuana

http://www.azdhs.gov/licensing/medical-marijuana/index.php

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881#Arizona

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2017/04/06/ruling-overturns-law-banning-medical-marijuana-arizona-college-campuses/100145648/

http://blog.norml.org/2011/05/16/alternet-the-five-worst-states-to-get-busted-with-pot/

http://www.azdhs.gov/documents/licensing/medical-marijuana/debilitating/2013-july/medical-marijuana-debilitating-medical-condition-decision-form-jan-2014.pdf

https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Marijuana_Legalization,_Proposition_205_(2016)

https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/arizona-ballot-measure-205-legalize-marijuana

http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/24/lawmakers-act-to-change-medical-marijuana-rules/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/09/a-maker-of-deadly-painkillers-is-bankrolling-the-opposition-to-legal-marijuana-in-arizona/?utm_term=.7428039f5547

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theemploymentbeat/2014/12/02/medical-marijuana-and-the-workplace-what-employers-need-to-know-now/#3ff5578b66b8

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=000593

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizonas-week-in-weed-pot-docs-cant-lie-on-forms-az-supreme-court-says-8277359

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2014/07/arizona-court-rules-that-medical-marijuana-patients-can-sell-weed-to-other-patients/

http://www.azdhs.gov/documents/licensing/medical-marijuana/reports/2016/2016-apr-monthly-report.pdf

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National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)

 

MPP Blog


National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 02:40 PM PDT

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Monday urging that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove marijuana from scheduling in order to give federally approved banks the ability to work with marijuana businesses. This would also allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

Due to the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, federally insured banks risk penalties if they offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses. For that reason, many of these businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, making them a target for criminals. While limited guidance has been issued, which intended to encourage financial institutions to serve marijuana businesses, access to banking remains a problem.

The full resolution can be found here.

MPP’s Karen O’Keefe said the following statement in a press release:

“State legislators and the vast majority of voters agree that marijuana policy should be left to the states,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country.

“Legitimate, taxpaying marijuana businesses should not have to face the difficulties of operating on a cash-only basis. Allowing banks to offer them financial services will be good for the industry and benefit public safety,” O’Keefe continues. “Even more so, states should not have to worry about the federal government interfering with their marijuana policy choices.”

The post National Conference of State Legislatures Passes Resolution Urging De-Scheduling of Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:22 AM PDT

New Approach South Dakota has 90 days to collect the remaining signatures needed to place marijuana initiative measures on the 2018 ballot.

Two petitions are being circulated — one seeks to legalize marijuana for medical uses and the other to legalize certain amounts of marijuana for adult use and to regulate and tax marijuana businesses.

Signatures are tied to the number of votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election, so each petition needs at least 13,871 signatures by November 2017 to make it on the November 2018 ballot.

To read the petitions and for more information about adding your signature, check out New Approach South Dakota’s website.

The post South Dakota Has 90 Days to Collect Enough Signatures for 2018 Ballot appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

Burning Man and Marijuana Laws

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 10:15 AM PDT

Heading to Burning Man? Here’s what you need to know about Black Rock City’s and Nevada’s marijuana laws.

If you are heading to Burning Man this year, you may be thinking about bringing cannabis to the playa, now that Nevada finally legalized marijuana. Not so fast! Before you head out, there are some important things you need to know:

  • Burning man is held on FEDERAL land, and the Bureau of Land Management will enforce federal law, which unfortunately considers all marijuana possession a criminal offense — even if you have a medial card! BLM may also ticket you for violations of various rules in the “closure order,” though these, thankfully, are civil rather than criminal.
  • “Gifting” marijuana to others is drug trafficking under federal law, even though no money is being exchanged. And if you are caught selling marijuana, or are found in possession of more than 1 oz., you will likely be prosecuted under Nevada law by the local Pershing County Sheriffs, who also patrol Burning Man.
  • Especially important: GATE ROAD is also federal property, and in the past, a lot of the law enforcement activity has occurred while people are driving into the event. Keep in mind that you have fewer rights while driving than you do in your home (or in this case, your tent or RV), and can be stopped for a broken taillight or any other minor infraction by law enforcement, who may ask you for consent to search your vehicle (you have the right to refuse). Any marijuana consumption while on the Gate Road could result in a ticket or charges for DUI or marijuana possession.
  • Before or after Burning Man, when you are not on federal land: Adults ages 21 and older may legally purchase marijuana from retail establishments in Nevada! MPP supported the initiative that made Nevada the fifth of eight states to end prohibition.
  • Public consumption could result in a misdemeanor charge, with a fine of up to $600. And because the casinos’ regulators directed them to follow federal law, you cannot consume in hotel-casinos. MPP and our allies hope to establish safe, legal consumption spaces for tourists, but that won’t happen before Burning Man 2017. But you can consume in private homes, which may include private homes for rent.
  • You should also know that Nevada has very strict laws on driving under the influence of marijuana. There is a “per se” threshold of 2 ng/mL of THC in your blood, meaning that you can be convicted based on a positive test result whether you were impaired or not. If you are a regular marijuana consumer, please note that you can have this amount in your system even if you haven’t consumed in a couple of days.
  • If you do have an encounter with law enforcement, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. In addition, Burning Man would like to know about your experience, and if you get into trouble, you can reach out to the volunteer group Lawyers for Burners for help after you return home.

This legal information is provided as a courtesy and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to your specific circumstances, we encourage you to consult an attorney. MPP is offering this information as a public service and is in no way affiliated with the Burning Man Project.

The post Burning Man and Marijuana Laws appeared first on MPP Blog.

  

How Jeff Sessions Could Crack Down on Legal Marijuana (And Why He Might Not)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

How Jeff Sessions Could Crack Down on Legal Marijuana (And Why He Might Not)

12:31 PM ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an outspoken critic of recreational marijuana, and he has the power to hobble cannabis sales in states where it’s legal. But for now, business owners and advocates say they don’t think he’ll actually do it.

As the head of the Justice Department, Sessions has a few strategies he could use to go after marijuana which, while legalized for recreational use in 8 states and D.C. and legalized medicinally in 29, remains a federal crime.

In a directive issued last week, Sessions said he wants to increase asset forfeiture, which allows the government to seize money and property from people suspected of a crime without ever formally charging them with one, let alone convicting them. Historically, asset forfeiture has been used to disrupt cartels, and Sessions said he would use it “especially for drug traffickers.”

But it also means he could send agents to take cash, properties and supplies from cannabis businesses operating legitimately under state law. Even if those businesses sued for their assets back, the case would be lengthy and expensive, and their shops would be effectively closed in the meantime.

“Does it tie in specifically with our industry? I don’t know for sure,” Bruce Nassau, partner in Tru Cannabis dispensary in Colorado and Oregon, says of Sessions’ push for more asset forfeiture. “But it certainly gets one to speculate, doesn’t it?”

Outside of asset forfeiture, which bypasses the court system, Sessions could also choose to prosecute anyone involved in the industry, whether that be the owners of dispensaries or just people who do business with them, like the landlords who rent the property for the stores. Nassau’s concern about asset forfeiture gets to an approach many legal experts and cannabis industry spokespeople think Sessions could employ: target a few high-profile businesses to sow fear.

That would make strategic sense, given Sessions’ relatively limited resources to shut down an industry blooming in nearly 30 states, if you include the ones that have legal medical marijuana.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if what Sessions does is settle for enough prosecutions to terrify people and not try to shut down the system systematically,” says Mark Kleiman, head of the crime and justice program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management. “Not only can’t they protect themselves from being shut down, they can’t protect themselves from being sent to prison for what they’ve already done… These people are taking insane risks.”

Sessions has already signaled his intent to go after pot. He convened a task force to review drug enforcement, which is expected to release its findingssoon. He has rolled back sentencing guidelines put in place under his predecessor Eric Holder which called for granting leeway to drug offenders, now saying instead that prosecutors should go after the most serious offense available. The task force is likely also reviewing the 2013 Cole memo, another Holder-era document, which said that the federal government would largely defer to states on marijuana enforcement. What the Justice Department decides to do about the Cole memo will have huge implications for whether or not Sessions cracks down on the drug.

One marijuana advocate even goes to the Department of Justice’s website to look up the memo.

“I periodically check to make sure it hasn’t disappeared,” says Tom Angell, spokesperson for Marijuana Majority.

Sessions has also asked Congress not to renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, in place since 2014, which prevents the federal government from interfering in medical marijuana at the state level. “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Congress first reported by Angell. (“Congressman Rohrabacher has a clear and strong disagreement with his old friend Jeff Sessions,” Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs told TIME.)

Sessions has numerous formidable legal tools at his disposal, has indicated that he wants to attack both recreational and medical marijuana, and has previously compared pot to heroin. So why aren’t people in the cannabis industry more concerned?

Because legal pot is hugely popular, even among Republicans.

“I don’t see a mass wave of people feeling panicked or making exit strategies or changing their plans,” says Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We are seeing a certain amount of optimism that the support for the industry is such that a move to crack down on it would create a bipartisan outcry.”

CBS News poll from April found that support for legalizing marijuana is at an all-time high. Sixty-one percent of Americans think it should be legal, 71% think the federal government shouldn’t mess with states that have legalized it on their own and 88% support medical use. This includes majorities even among Sessions’ own party: 63% of Republicans don’t think the federal government should interfere with states on this issue.

“Cannabis right now is a helluva lot more popular than Donald Trump,” says Kleiman. And even Trump himself indicated during the campaign that he’d favor leaving it up to the states. “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump said in a 2015 interview with the Washington Post. “I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

Along with potentially running afoul of the president, with whom he has already recently fallen out of favor, Sessions would also cross congressmen from states with legal pot.

“This is not a fight this Administration wants to take,” Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon warned in a statement to TIME. “The legalization train has left the station.”

Blumenauer has introduced multiple marijuana reform bills with the Democratic senator from his state Ron Wyden, who also told TIME in a statement, “Jeff Sessions can’t cherry-pick on a whim which states’ rights he likes and which ones he doesn’t. Voters in Oregon and a growing number of states who have chosen to legalize marijuana should not have their votes casually thrown in the trash by this administration.”

It doesn’t seem that Sessions or other members of Trump’s Administration are cowed by politics. Still, pot advocates feel protected by the swelling public support for their industry. And although Sessions’ task force on marijuana was directed to look into links between the drug and violent crime, many are hoping he will realize that regulated cannabis businesses can actually help him fight the crime rates he’s eager to lower.

“We are the wall between the black market and the cartels and our society,” says Nassau of Tru Cannabis. “The president talks about building a wall, and we are a virtual wall. You want this? We are it.”

Nevada Marijuana Sales Exceeded All Expectations: Freedom For The People = High Tax Income For State

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Recreational marijuana sales have exceeded the expectations of Las Vegas area store owners, who have seen long lines outside their dispensaries since Saturday, when Nevada became the fifth state with shops selling pot to the public.

That move jump started a market projected to be fueled by the tens of millions of visitors that Sin City welcomes each year.

Eager pot customers on Monday again lined up before dispensaries opened their doors. Some were looking to make their first purchase since Saturday, and others were shopping for seconds. Tourists and locals alike have taken advantage of the change in state law.

“I’m a very happy with the way sales have gone and continue to go, especially when you consider that the word didn’t really get out ahead of time.” said Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and a store owner. “The public really only had a couple of weeks’ notice, whereas Colorado had a full year to prepare.”

Nevada voters approved legalizing recreational pot in November, but regulations needed before the sales could start weren’t approved until the past two weeks. The state later this week will release a report regarding the unannounced enforcement inspections that were conducted Saturday at dispensaries across the state.

The demand for recreational marijuana has been such that dispensaries had to turn away customers in line over the weekend, and at least one extended its hours of operation. Dispensaries reported wait times of 45 minutes to an hour Saturday afternoon and up to 20 minutes Sunday.

The Euphoria Wellness dispensary had 50 people waiting to make purchases midmorning Monday. Its marketing coordinator, Jim Ferrence, said budtenders helped at least 1,000 customers during the first two days of legal recreational pot sales.

Customers on average bought a quarter of an ounce of marijuana flowers and a sampling of various edibles and concentrates, Ferrence said. “Everyone was calm, cool and collected. No unruly crowds at all,” he said.

Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. As of Friday, the state had licensed 44 dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana. Thirty-nine of those shops are in the Las Vegas area.

More than 42 million tourists flock for business and pleasure to Las Vegas every year. They along with visitors to the rest of Nevada are expected to make nearly two of every three recreational pot purchases in the state.

But people can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Strip, hotels and casinos. Violators face a misdemeanor citation and a $600 fine.

Fifteen tourists on Monday hopped on a bus for a three-hour tour of dispensaries in the Las Vegas area. The “Cannabus” took the visitors to two stores with whom they have an agreement to allow riders to skip the lines.

The recreational marijuana sales did not cause Las Vegas police a headache over the weekend. The department did not deploy additional officers and does not track misdemeanor citations, Officer Larry Hadfield on Monday said.

“It was business as usual,” he said. “Everything went smooth as far as we can tell.”

The state stands to earn millions from the sales of recreational marijuana, but the tax collection data won’t be available for several weeks.

Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in allowing adults to buy the drug that’s still banned by the federal government. The market in the Silver State is expected to outpace all others in the U.S., at least until California starts its sales.

“With all due respect to Denver, Seattle, and Portland, Las Vegas is already the party capital of the world, and this is just an extension of that,” Ferrence said. “There’s no question that the demand is ever going to relent.”

(IS JEFF SESSIONS THE BIGGEST IDIOT IN AMERICA OR IS IT ALL THE MONEY HE HAS EXCEPTED FROM THE BIG PHARMACEUTICALS AND THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY THAT CLOUDS HIS MIND?)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

(IS JEFF SESSIONS THE BIGGEST IDIOT IN AMERICA OR IS IT ALL THE MONEY HE HAS EXCEPTED FROM THE BIG PHARMACEUTICALS AND THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY THAT CLOUDS HIS MIND?)

Pot Advocates Worry Marijuana Protections Are Burning Down Under Trump

Marijuana advocates worried that President Donald Trump’s administration will crack down on state weed laws used the unofficial holiday celebrating the drug to call for a “joint session” of Congress — pun intended.

The pro-cannabis rights group DCMJ used April 20th — or 4/20 — to organize a free joint giveaway just steps from the Capitol in an effort to encourage Congress to reauthorize an expiring provision preventing the federal government from meddling in medicinal marijuana programs.

Even as approval ratings for legalized marijuana reach new highs, the new administration is pushing for pro-pot policies to go up in smoke.

Play
Marijuana Legalization Has Record-High Support in New Poll

A CBS News poll released Thursday found 61 percent of Americans support legal marijuana use, up five points from one year ago. More than 70 percent of Americans said they do not think the federal government should block marijuana sales in states that have legalized the drug.

Eighty-eight percent of Americans favor medical marijuana, the poll found.

Weed legalization has been a tricky subject for members of both parties as states continue to approve recreational use of the drug. Justice Department guidance under President Barack Obama called for prosecutors to enforce federal statutes outlawing the drug in a limited set of cases.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of marijuana, is reviewing the nation’s weed laws.

“I don’t think America will be a better place when more people, especially young people, smoke pot,” he said in February.

“It remains a violation of federal law,” he added.

Play
Sessions: ‘We Don’t Need To Be Legalizing Marijuana’

Homeland Secretary John Kelly as recently as Sunday on “Meet The Press” said, “Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war.” But he changed his tune in a speech just days later, vowing to uphold federal laws barring weed.

“Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the United States Congress, we in DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books,” he said.

Many states, however, have legalized some form of marijuana use. And its acceptance has increasingly become a bipartisan issue.

Pot giveaway @DCMJ2014 of 2joints to credentialed feds &cong staffers. Ron of DC is retired USArmy

Four members of the House of Representatives, two Democrats and two Republicans, announced the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in February to help integrate federal and state laws governing weed.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a co-founder of the caucus, said in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Thursday said he has issued clear warnings to the White House not to impede on what Oregon and other states have done to legalize the drug.

“We’ve pointed out repeatedly in the press and with advocate groups that marijuana got more votes than Donald Trump last November and that the American people are on our side,” Blumenauer wrote.

Support has come from even the opposite side of the political spectrum, like longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. “Don’t let Jeff Sessions’ draconian views on 420 run roughshod over states,” he tweeted to Trump Thursday.

Though recreational marijuana use is legal in the nation’s capital, it is not legal to consume it in public or to possess more than two ounces. And under federal law it is illegal to possess pot. Capitol Police said they arrested seven volunteers with DCMJ on Thursday, four for possession and two for possession with intent to distribute.

More arrests are expected on Monday when another demonstration is planned on the Capitol.

“Possession of cannabis on the Capitol grounds is not legal. Consuming cannabis anywhere in DC outside of a home is not legal either,” organizers warned in a statement announcing the protest. “But sitting quietly while the Trump administration rolls back our freedoms is not something we plan to do. We need to be loud and proud!”

Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau Submits Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Will Canada be known for another kind of leaf — other than its iconic maple?

On Thursday, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled its plans to legalize recreational marijuana.
If the Cannabis Act passes Parliament, Canada would become the second nation in the world, after Uruguay, to regulate a legal marijuana market.
The government’s new policy had been expected for some time as Trudeau had endorsed legalizing marijuana on the campaign trail.
“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” according to a tweet from his official account.
The legislation “seeks to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis, and it will make Canada safer,” said Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, on Thursday.
Here are five things to know about Canada’s proposed marijuana policy, which officials hope to have in place by July 2018.

1. Government regulates marijuana sales

The Canadian government would create a system to regulate marijuana production, distribution and sale. It would also collect licensing fees and taxes on marijuana sales, which officials say takes profits away from criminals and organized crime.
“Criminals pocket between $7 and $8 billion in illicit proceeds. We simply have to do better,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Producing or distributing marijuana outside the government regulation would be considered serious offenses, officials said.
The federal government will provide minimum conditions, but the provinces could set more rules about distribution and sale on top of those.
But many issues remain for government officials to figure out, including how much to charge for marijuana, reported CNN’s partner CBC.

2. Adults can have marijuana and grow them too

Adults would be able to have up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public and be permitted to grow up to four plants per household.
Under the Cannabis Act, Canadians would be able to buy marijuana at legal retail outlets or receive them through a licensed producer in the mail.
However, marijuana will remain illegal until the new law is approved and goes into effect.

3. But kids and teens can’t have marijuana

Teens and minors under the age of 18, would be prohibited from having or buying marijuana. Canadian provinces can raise that minimum age higher if they’d like.
Authorities envision regulating marijuana like alcohol.
“By providing a highly regulated system of distribution, we can be much more successful as we have been with alcohol,” Blair said. “It’s not an absolute guarantee that kids won’t get access to it, but it will be far more difficult for kids to get access to it when this new regime is in place than it is today.”
Officials lamented that the current policy of banning marijuana hasn’t deterred kids from drug use. Despite about $2-6 billion spent by the Canadian police to deal with marijuana use, Canadian teens are among “the heaviest users in the Western world,” Goodale said.
“If your objective is to protect public health and safety, and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors and stop the flow of illegal profits to organized crime, the law as it stands today, has been an abject failure,” Goodale said.
The new policy would create tougher criminal offenses for selling marijuana to a minor — punishable by as much as 14 years in prison.

4. No, you can’t drive while high

The bill would add new offenses prohibiting people from driving while they’re drunk or impaired by marijuana and other drugs.
It would create three new offenses and allow police to require saliva tests for drivers whom they suspect of being high, reported the CBC. A positive test could result to more testing including a blood test.

5. Don’t bring it over the border

Bringing marijuana across borders would remain a serious criminal offense — especially as marijuana laws differ depending on countries.
“Each country establishes its own rules,” Goodale said.
“The laws of the United States are the responsibilities of the United States. The laws of Canada are the responsibility of Canada.”

Where Marijuana Is Legal: Opioid Deaths And Alcohol Sales Are Way Down

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE)

For many years, the biggest threat to marijuana legalization and fledgling legal cannabis businesses was the police.

Fears of DEA agents breaking down the front door at dawn, prosecutions in federal court with its accompanying mandatory minimums or warrantless visits from helicopter-riding police who merely cut down plant and leave—such things happen and are legal—was what kept people involved in cannabis up at night.

But now, with legalization sweeping the country and a vast majority of Americans in support of medical marijuana, the real enemy is revealing itself.

And as recent events in Arizona demonstrated, it’s Big Pharma.

In 2015, U.S.-based companies made up 40 percent of the global pharmaceutical trade, a market share worth $413 billion. These companies are well aware that cannabis is becoming an accepted treatment for chronic pain and many of the other lifelong afflictions now treated by highly profitable trademarked drugs—and some have proven willing and able to take steps to make sure marijuana stays out of the hands of law-abiding Americans in order to protect that enormous bottom line.

“Pharmaceuticals are going to run me down,” Dr. Gina Berman, medical director of the Giving Tree Wellness Center, a Phoenix, Arizona-based cannabis dispensary, told the Guardian. “We have a small business, and we can’t afford to fight Big Pharma.”

The most egregious case to date is Insys Therapeutics. Insys, is an Arizona-based drug manufacturer of pain drugs that contain fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that’s been fingered in many fatal opiate overdoses (including the death of Prince).

Arizona was the lone state where a marijuana legalization initiative failed at the ballot in November—and one of the leading donors to the anti-legalization campaign, with a $500,000 check, was Insys. (Another was Trump-supporting casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Here are the Vegas nightlife spots to boycott, forever.)

As the Intercept reported this fall, Insys executives openly recognized the threat to its market posed by marijuana. And in a devious twist, Insys identified marijuana as an existential threat and moved to keep it illegal, while developing a new drug based on synthetic THC.

On March 23, the DEA ruled that Insys’s new drug, called “Syndros,” could be marketed and sold as a Schedule II drug—meaning it could be prescribed to patients as soon as this fall.

So far, the FDA has approved Syndros for AIDS-related weight loss and vomiting and nausea associated with chemotherapy—two of the original applications for medical marijuana.

“It’s pretty absurd that federal law considers marijuana to have no medical value, but allows for the development of synthetic versions of the same substance,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored Arizona’s legalization measure, told the Guardian.

But what about Insys Therapeutics? It’s a company straight out of a Superman comic. 

In December, Justice Department prosecutors took the “unusual” step of charging six former Insys executives, including former CEO Michael L. Babich, with racketeering for its “aggressive” marketing of a fentanyl-based pain drug called Subsys, the New York Times reported. Prosecutors alleged that in order to sell more Subsys, the company arranged lavish dinners and other events for doctors who prescribed “lots of” the drug, and when that didn’t work, the company resorted to kickbacks. 

One Connecticut nurse pleaded guilty in 2015 to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from the company. Families of dead patients, prescribed Subsys despite prescriptions for other drugs that are fatal when combined, and despite no cancer diagnosis—the drug is only FDA-approved from cancer-related pain—have also sued the company.

In a statement, Carmen Ortiz, the-then U.S. attorney for Massachusetts (before she and many others were summarily fired by Trump administration officials earlier this year), pinned part of the blame for the country’s opiate epidemic squarely on “corporate greed.”

In January, Insys founder John Kapoor stepped down as chairman, a role he took over from the indicted Babich in late 2015. Kapoor’s exit came after Insys’s sales plummeted 40 percent, as Forbes reported. (Wonder if the alleged kickbacks had anything to do with the inflated numbers?)

It’s all very ominous, but in a real way, marijuana activists should let Insys try—and then fail, spectacularly, as they are primed to do.

Insys’s proposed product, called Syndros, is a solution of “oral dronabinol.” Dronabinol is the generic name for another synthetic version of THC that’s been on the market for quite some time, called Marinol—and if you know anyone who has used Marinol, you know what they think of it. Namely, it kind of sucks.

For many patients, fake weed simply doesn’t work. As one patient prescribed Marinol told CBS News, “It might as well have been M&M’s.”

This is almost certainly because as synthetic THC only, Marinol and Syndros both lack cannabidiol, or CBD, as well as dozens of others cannabinoids. And as per the “entourage effect” theory, proffered by luminaries like CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and many more, your body and brain need all of cannabis’s component parts in order for its medical “magic” to work.

But let’s say Insys strikes out with Subsys. It won’t end there.

This is a company accused, with enough evidence to indict in a federal court, of being willing to see people die in order to sell more drugs. And it won’t end with this company.

Big Pharma is scared of weed—terrified—and as any animal scientist will tell you, a cornered and frightened animal is the most dangerous. And that applies to humans.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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