Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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The war on drugs failed a long time ago, even if it has taken a while for America’s leaders to get the message. The same is true in other parts of the world, but as in the United States, change is picking up speed.

Two of the most important health-related organizations in the United Kingdom said in October that they support major marijuana reform in the country. The announcement makes the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health the largest British health lobbies to back cannabis decriminalization.

Cannabis abuse should be treated as a health issue, rather than a crime

The two groups argue that marijuana should be treated as medicine rather than an illegal drug, and its use and abuse should be treated as a health matter instead of a crime. But their proposal wouldn’t go as far as some reformers may hope.

File photo of a medical marijuana starter plant

For one thing, the health organizations favor partial decriminalization rather than full legalization. British adults would be allowed to possess and use small amounts of marijuana without facing criminal penalties, but sale of the drug would remain illegal.

Marijuana possession is a crime in UK

It is currently a crime to possess cannabis for any use in the United Kingdom. Police in some areas, especially London, usually ignore petty offenses, but even simple possession can lead to criminal charges.

The two health groups say they don’t want to encourage marijuana use. But sending tokers to jail is counter-productive, they say.

For one thing, it is often even easier to find illicit drugs behind bars as it is on the outside. And much of that supply is harder than marijuana, worsening the addiction and mental health problems that land many pot users in jail.

It also costs huge amounts of money to warehouse inmates on cannabis convictions, money that has little effect on addiction, illegal trafficking, and other drug-related problems. Most important, though, is the effect incarceration has on users guilty of nothing more than burning a plant.

Conviction can come with a permanent rap sheet

Jail is bad enough, but arrest and conviction – whether in the U.K. or the United States – also come with a permanent criminal record. This rap sheet makes it difficult if not impossible to rent an apartment, find a job, or even obtain government benefits.

JailAnd those punitive effects have never reduced the supply of dangerous illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine. There is literally no trade-off: young men, mostly members of racial or ethnic minority groups, fill Western prisons for no apparent reason.

This state of affairs is especially bad for drug addicts.

Marijuana is widely considered the least addictive of the most popular drugs. It’s less habit-forming than alcohol, opioids, even coffee. But a small percentage of users do get hooked, and subjecting them to arrest, jail, and the stigma of a criminal record do no one any good, least of all the addicts themselves.

The decision by two of Britain’s largest health organization to support reform in that country is evidence legalization is spreading in the West. And it could help prod similar groups in the U.S., including the American Medical Association, to follow suit.

Tell us what you think: Does the support of major medical associations make any difference to the speed of marijuana reform? Leave a comment below.

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Halloween is a predictable holiday, a reliable annual formula of costumes, candy, and kids. Also, naturally, false scare stories about pot-poisoned sweets.

Police and health officials apparently have no plans to disappoint on that front in 2016. Poorly informed government agencies have already sent out the year’s supply of bogus rumors about sociopaths planning to lace their Halloween candy with THC – or at least the occasional schlub who confuses weed brownies and Mars bars.

Florida scare tactics ahead of MMJ vote

The latest alert comes from Florida’s poison control officials, who said parents should keep their eyes open for cannabis candy on Halloween. Coincidentally (or not), the warning went out two weeks before a statewide vote on medical marijuana.

“I think it’s very unlikely that it would happen intentionally,” said Alfred Aleguas, director of the Florida Poison Information Center. “I think it’s certainly possible with an accidental – accidentally, that could happen.”

It never has. There has not been a single credible report of accidental underage cannabis consumption by way of Halloween candy, anywhere. The same is true of other dark rumors about the holiday, including tales of razor blades in chocolate bars.

Halloween candy marijuana fears
Fears of children being unwittingly given cannabis-infused candies have resurfaced.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association issued a warning of its own, as did many other local and state police agencies across the country. But the issue has raised special concerns in the Sunshine State, where a vote on medical marijuana is just days away.

“Anything like that that interfaces with something on a ballot is going to be perceived as highly political,” Susan MacManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida, told WFTS TV of Tampa. “On the other hand, we have a pretty good history [in which] concerns about objects and things in children’s candy is something that we talk about.”

Political fear-mongering

But that’s exactly the problem: Police bang the drums over the threat of pot candy every October despite a lack of evidence that it has ever happened. These claims naturally arise in October, often shortly before votes on cannabis reform, a fact that raises the possibility of political fear-mongering.

Similarly baseless rumors about candy tampering with other drugs or sharp objects have caused countless parents unnecessary alarm over the years. In some cases, adults may deny their children the chance to trick-or-treat out of misplaced concern about weed candy.

There are a few simple reasons you will never encounter laced Halloween sweets. For one thing, states where pot is legal have adopted tough new labeling and packaging rules to reduce the risk kids will accidentally eat cannabis edibles.

For another thing, no parent is likely to unwrap marijuana candy and then drop it in a bowl full of Snickers Fun Size bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Homeowners these days don’t usually hand out unwrapped treats on Halloween, intentionally or otherwise.

Finally, most parents just aren’t dumb enough to confuse THC edibles with real candy. Children do sometimes eat marijuana-infused food without realizing it, but those cases are rare, and none has involved Halloween candy.

If you’re a parent and you really need something to worry about Oct. 31, try to limit your fears to traffic, obesity, and cavities. Tooth decay is more likely to land your kid in the hospital than marijuana gummy bears.

Tell us what you think: Why do police and other officials spread the myth that Halloween candy could be laced with cannabis? Leave a comment below.

Medical marijuana states vote

It’s common knowledge by now that five states will vote on marijuana legalization Nov. 8: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Recent polls show support is strong in all these places, with chances good for a five-state sweep.

But cannabis initiatives in three other states have received much less coverage this election season. These proposals on the ballot in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota, would legalize medical rather than recreational pot.

Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota will all vote on medical cannabis on Election Day – (Click to Tweet)

There’s nothing new about this – nearly 30 states already allow medical cannabis use – and that may explain the lack of interest in these votes. But they’re critical nonetheless. Here’s a look at what’s at stake for MMJ patients on Election Day.

DALY CITY, CA - APRIL 18: A bowl of medicinal marijuana is displayed in a booth at The International Cannabis and Hemp Expo April 18, 2010 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. The two day Cannabis and Hemp Expo features speakers, retailers selling medical marijuana smoking paraphernalia and a special tent available for medical marijuana card holders to smoke their medicine. Voters in California will consider a measure on the November general election ballot that could make the State the first in the nation to legalize the growing of a limited amount of marijuana for private use. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Arkansas: Issues 6 and 7

Arkansas voters will decide whether they want to legalize marijuana as a medical treatment for as many as 56 qualifying conditions. But the choice could prove confusing, as there will be two medical pot initiatives on the ballot at the same time.

Issue 6 would allow patients to buy small amounts of cannabis from dispensaries but not grow it at home. The question is structured so that if it passes, the Arkansas Legislature could not change its provisions without a second public vote.

Issue 7, by contrast, would be subject to amendments and repeal by lawmakers. It would cover more conditions than Issue 6 and, most importantly, it would allow limited home grows. Reform advocates generally prefer Issue 7 to 6.

Florida: Amendment 2

Amendment 2 in Florida would allow patients with any of 10 specified conditions to buy, possess, and use small amounts of cannabis as medicine. In addition, doctors could prescribe the drug for other disorders if they believe it could help patients.

A similar effort in 2014 garnered 58 percent of the vote but failed because Florida law requires 60 percent to amend its constitution. But the odds look better this time around, in part because presidential elections tend to produce healthier turnout among the younger, more progressive voters who most support legalization.

North Dakota: Measure 5

Voters in North Dakota will decide whether they want to allow patients with “debilitating medical conditions” to obtain and use whole-plant marijuana. If the proposal passes, the state would become one of the most conservative to approve medicinal weed.

Medical marijuana new yorkA similar measure failed to make the ballot in 2012 after officials declared thousands of voter signatures fraudulent. And chances aren’t great this time, either. North Dakota is a deep red state, and what few polls there are have never shown support reaching 50 percent.

But in North Dakota as elsewhere, every vote matters. As more states legalize cannabis for recreational use, medical marijuana votes get less and less attention, and that means pot advocates must stay vigilant if they want to see reform continue its advance.

What do you think? Will medical marijuana pass in any of these three states? Leave a comment.

Colorado edibles THC stamp

Confused Colorado stoners will have an easier time determining whether their chocolate bars, cookies, and iced coffee contain marijuana.

The new stamp required on all edible products sold in Colorado

State officials started enforcing a new rule in October that requires a stamp on all edible products to distinguish them from traditional food. All products must now contain a diamond-shaped stamp with the letters “THC” on both the packaging and the edibles themselves.

That means, for example, that a cannabis chocolate bar would come with multiple single-dose squares (usually 10 milligrams of THC per square), each with its own stamp. The rule took effect Oct. 1 and applies at every pot shop and medical marijuana dispensary across the state.

Lawmakers adopted the requirements in response to reports children were unwittingly eating marijuana-laced food they mistook for real treats. Parents complained there was no way to distinguish the two.

First state to require product stamping

Colorado is the first state to impose such a regulation. Marijuana is also legal for any use in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia.

The new stamps are designed to make it easier for parents to know if their children are using cannabis, intentionally or otherwise. Edibles must include the stamp not only on each product, but on each dose of each product. That should make it harder for students to sneak even small amounts.

Colorado edibles THC stamp
The new stamp required on all edible products sold in Colorado

It should also make it easier for parents to identify THC-laced food without tasting or smelling it. The rule only affects legal sales, so children may still be able to get their hands on unstamped edibles, but the new regulation makes that less likely.

New rules were widely supported

The requirement drew little opposition when lawmakers adopted it in 2015. Even the legal cannabis industry supported the legislation, with many business owners saying tighter protections for children would improve their reputation and make their shops more appealing to adult customers.

The stamp requirement took effect along with several other major regulations, including labeling and packaging rules such as childproof containers and warnings to keep the products away from kids. Users are also warned not to drive after eating marijuana and not to use it while pregnant or nursing.

In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, photo, candy bars wrapped in new packaging to indicate that the products contain marijuana are shown in the kitchen of BlueKudu candy in the historic Five Points District of Denver. A new Colorado requirement, which goes into effect this Saturday, makes edible producers to label their goods with a diamond-shaped stamp and the letters T-H-C to distinguish the treats from their non-intoxicating counterparts. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, photo, candy bars wrapped in new packaging to indicate that the products contain marijuana are shown in the kitchen of BlueKudu candy in the historic Five Points District of Denver. A new Colorado requirement, which goes into effect this Saturday, makes edible producers to label their goods with a diamond-shaped stamp and the letters T-H-C to distinguish the treats from their non-intoxicating counterparts. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“We want to ensure that people genuinely know the difference between a Duncan Hines brownie and a marijuana brownie, just by looking at it,” said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, who sponsored the legislation.

Accidental consumption of cannabis edibles remains rare, even in Colorado. A recent study of pediatric admissions at a Denver-area hospital in the years since legalization found more children have been hospitalized after eating cannabis, but it is one of the least common types of poisoning. Far more children are treated in emergency rooms after ingesting household cleaning products.

The most common reason for unintentional marijuana overdoses, the study found, was “poor child supervision or product storage.” But lawmakers hope the new packaging and labeling rules will cut down on the problem.

Leave a comment below: Do you think edible stamps like this are necessary to protect children? Is it worth the extra cost to consumers?

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It makes perfect sense. Legal marijuana threatens the profit interests of the pharmaceutical companies that make competing medications. But now there’s proof of the outsize role the industry is playing in the fight to stop pot reform.

Reports in September revealed Insys Therapeutics Inc. of Arizona gave $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group formed that month to fight Proposition 205. That initiative, which will appear on the statewide ballot Nov. 8, would legalize purchase, possession, and use of small amounts of cannabis; impose a sales tax; and regulate a new marijuana industry.

The donation was the first widely reported evidence that Big Pharma hopes to stop legalization, but the pattern is likely to continue. Medical marijuana represents a massive risk to these companies as they strive to hold their dominance over Western medicine.

Insys faces a real threat to profits

Insys makes a single product, Subsys, a nasal spray containing fentanyl. That opioid painkiller is significantly more potent than heroin, and drug dealers are increasingly cutting their supply with it, leading to a wave of overdose deaths across the country.

But this danger hasn’t led to any changes at Insys or other pharmaceutical makers. While cannabis remains illegal for most uses in most places, fentanyl and other opioids are still widely prescribed for pain, despite their high risk of addiction and fatality.

Big Pharma Pills

That means marijuana poses a major threat to companies such as Insys. Pot is known to be a highly effective pain reliever for many patients. What’s more, chances of addiction are low and the consequences minimal. Opioid addiction is a national crisis, while pot has never killed a human being.

Cannabis is a safer, more effective alternative

In other words, cannabis is safer for everyone and equally effective for many. Any drug that allows more people to stay off opioids is a good thing for patients. But it’s a bad thing for Insys.

“Insys Therapeutics made $62 million in net revenue on Subsys fentanyl sales in the first quarter of this year, representing 100 percent of the company’s earnings,” The Washington Post reported. “The CDC has implicated the drug in a ‘surge’ of overdose deaths in several states in recent years.”

Studies have found that marijuana helps many opioid users to withdraw from those drugs or at least reduce their consumption. A 2015 survey by the RAND Corp. found opioid-related deaths drop when patients have access to medicinal pot.

Criminal investigations are underway

There are clean players in the pharmaceutical industry, buy Insys is not one of them. The company faces criminal investigation in multiple states over allegations its executives bribed physicians to over-prescribe Subsys, a practice that has contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of patients.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, for one, sued Insys earlier this year, saying the company’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and pushed addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”

States with Medical Cannabis

Company executives claimed they made the anti-legalization donation because Prop. 205 “fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens and particularly its children.” Few observers have given this explanation much credibility, given Insys’s clear financial interest in the outcome of Arizona’s vote.

The executives admitted as much in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, telling shareholders the contribution was meant to battle a drop in Subsys sales. Medical cannabis also stands in the way of dronabinol, a synthetic form of marijuana the company is developing. Insys acknowledged real pot is more effective than synthetic versions.

“Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate,” the filing stated. “If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced, and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.”

Tell us: Do you think Big Pharma will succeed at slowing or stopping legalization? Why? Leave a comment.

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Of all the many health problems marijuana treats, mental illness may be the most controversial. Chronic pain, for all its complexity, is far simpler than depression, psychosis, or other mental disorders. And for all we don’t know about what causes these diseases, we know even less about how to treat them.

Still, we do have some facts. So what do they tell us? Is marijuana an effective treatment for depression – the most common mental disorder? And is it more effective than the medications typically prescribed by psychiatrists?

These questions are not easy to answer, to say the least. For one thing, psychiatry is decades, even centuries, behind any other branch of medicine. Doctors and researchers know little about what ultimately causes depression in the first place.

What they do know is that the disorder involves chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These chemicals deliver information from one brain cell (or neuron) to another by passing through “synapses,” gaps between the neurons. The brains contains billions of neurons and trillions of synapses.

Serotonin is believed to be the most important neurotransmitter involved in depression. The general theory is that stable moods require the adequate presence of serotonin in relevant synapses. When neurons absorb too much serotonin from those synapses, too little remains to prevent depression.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. The oldest of these drugs, Prozac, has been on the market since the 1980s, with new products reaching the market every few years since.

Pharmaceutical companies have developed newer antidepressant models that work on different brain chemistry, but those aren’t widely prescribed. And like SSRIs, the science behind them is limited. But what does it tell us, both about how well SSRIs work and how they compare to medical cannabis?

The evidence on antidepressants is mixed. We know they make a real difference for some people, and we know SSRIs are more effective than any previous antidepressants.

Problems with SSRIs

But there are plenty of drawbacks, too. A large meta-study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association six years ago concluded SSRIs are no more effective than placebo for most patients with depression. The drugs are only proven to work in severely depressed patients, the study found.

Prozac

And there are side effects, too, sometimes nasty ones. Dry mouth, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and other problems are relatively common. And while scientists generally agree the overall benefits of antidepressants outweigh the downsides, they also acknowledge SSRIs are more dangerous than many other treatments.

Marijuana, for one.

Cannabis has never killed anyone, and SSRIs have caused no more than a handful of fatal overdoses. But the side effects of SSRIs can be unpredictable, while the potential adverse effects of pot are limited and well-known: paranoia, dry eyes, dry mouth. They are almost never severe enough to require hospitalization – something that can’t be said of antidepressants.

Cannabis is more effective

For many patients, weed is notably more effective than SSRIs. Regular toking can sometimes stave off depression for years. We also know at least a bit more about how cannabis works: THC molecules in marijuana interact (or “bind”) with specific neurons (“cannabinoid receptor cells”) to produce a euphoric effect that lifts low mood.

So which is better for you? That’s not a question we can answer. The smartest thing you can do is talk to your doctor, research your options, and see what works. One of the many great things about medical weed is that it’s pretty easy to quit if it doesn’t work – and it won’t take long to figure out if it does.

What do you think: Would you rather use antidepressants or marijuana to treat depression? Both? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Medical marijuana does many, many things, most of them good. It fights cancer. It reduces nausea. It saves the lives of patients with severe seizure disorders. Now it turns out marijuana could be useful in repairing broken bones.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel studied cannabis and its effects on fractured bones. Their research, published in the Journal of Bone and Medical Research in September, suggests that CBD, a chemical commonly found in marijuana, “significantly helps heal bone fractures” by speeding the repair process.

CBD makes bones heal stronger

CBD also makes bones stronger, the study found, which prevents damage from future injuries. Among other things, the findings mean CBD marijuana could help many patients who suffer from broken bones, osteoporosis, and other bone-related disorders. Osteoporosis is responsible for nearly 9 million fractures each year.

Researchers separately tested the cannabinoids CBD and THC on broken bones in rats. THC is the chemical that gets pot smokers high, while CBD has a wide range of non-intoxicating medical uses. The scientists said they discovered a link between cannabinoid receptors in the brain and stimulation of bone growth.

 

Cannabis broken bonesCannabinoid receptors are a type of nerve cell found in the brain. These cells bind to cannabinoid chemicals produced by the body (endocannabinoids) as well as cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. When these substances trigger cannabinoid receptors, the brain sends messages that produce the physical and mental effects of cannabis.

“We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” the researchers said.

“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” said Dr. Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv’s Bone Research Laboratory. “While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinic therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis.”

Correlation between CBD and bone healing

The correlation between CBD and bone healing is important not only because of its medical implications but because the chemical doesn’t get users high. This could make it more appealing to many potential patients, especially children with bone fractures.

Colorado vs Oregon vs Washington Marijuana Laws

CBD is known as an effective medicine for a number of other disorders, especially severe pediatric epilepsy. THC also has many medical applications, but patients in many places are barred from using it. The new Israeli study also offers hope for the future – both for scientists and for patients at risk of further fractures.

“After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future,” Gabet said. “Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing.”

Tell us: Have you ever used non-intoxicating medical marijuana, or medical pot otherwise high in CBD? Did it help you? Leave a comment below.

Life may never be the same for stoners after Nov. 8. Five states – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – will vote on legalizing marijuana, and polls in all five suggest the odds are good for victory.

Four states have already legalized cannabis for any adult use, while another 25 allow full medical marijuana and more than a dozen permit a non-intoxicating medical form of the drug. But so far, all these votes have been treated as political experiments, with uncertain outcomes and far-from-universal public support.

But that is changing. And if even a few of the five states vote yes, there may be no returning to the days of pot prohibition. That’s especially true if weed is legalized in California, the most populous state in the country.

Gaining momentum

It’s not an exaggeration to say Election Day will be a major turning point for marijuana reform in America. That was true in 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized the drug, and in 2014, when Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia followed suit.

But it may be even more true in 2016. If all five ballot initiatives pass, they would more than triple the number of Americans with access to legal cannabis. Roughly 18 million people live in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, compared to 56 million in California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Even if California is the only state to legalize marijuana next month, the number would more than double. The Golden State, with 38 million residents, would immediately become the largest legal cannabis market in the world by far.

California to vote on Prop. 64

Voters there will decide Proposition 64, which would make it legal for adults to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of pot and grow up to six plants at home. Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would also impose special excise and sales taxes and create regulations for a newly legal cannabis industry.

Polling in California suggests the initiative is likely to pass, with about 60 percent saying they plan to vote yes. The proposals on the ballot in the other four states are less popular but still winning at least 50 percent support.

american flag and weed

Almost any combination of victories could prove to be the tipping point for the rest of the United States. If California, Arizona, and Nevada vote yes, marijuana would be legal along the entire Pacific Coast and in much of the American Southwest. If either Maine or Massachusetts legalize, reform would reach the East Coast for the first time.

And that’s not to mention ballot questions that could bring medical cannabis to Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas. Voters in Montana could also add provisions to the medical pot law there.

Are reformers becoming too complacent?

But many advocates worry success has become so commonplace voters and reformers will become complacent. Opponents, meanwhile, are ramping up their efforts to block legalization in as many states as possible. Their long-term goals are hopeless, but any setback could slow reform for the rest of the country.

“California is much closer than we’re hearing about,” Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana told The Atlantic. “It’s a coin flip in all of the states right now.”

Sabet offered no data to refute recent polls in California, but he’s right that the votes could go either way in the other four states. Still, the experience of Americans who have already legalized pot suggest this could be a very good year for marijuana reform.

Let us know: How do you think states will vote on legalization initiatives Nov. 8? Leave a comment.

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Medical marijuana patients in New York have some good news, as the state has adopted new regulations making it easier to get the drug.

The new rules allow home-bound patients to get medical cannabis via delivery while granting nurse practitioners authority to recommend the drug to patients who need it. This removes the need for time-consuming exams by medical doctors.

In addition, officials could double the number of companies that operate MMJ dispensaries across the state, to 10 from five. In anticipation of the changes, Business Insider sent a reporter to visit a typical New York pot shop. Here’s a summary.

The magazine explored a shop operated by Columbia Care, a medical cannabis business that also runs dispensaries in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The stores are designed by RPG, a retail display business.

Columbia Care

Among other locations, Columbia Care operates a store-front pot shop off 14th Street near Union Square. It’s a new retail store in a modern-style building, and the office feels almost nothing like a clinic or typical dispensary. The walls have rounded angles, the reception area is adorned with plants and wood, and the lighting is soft and pleasing everywhere in the shop.

The business logo – Cs inside Cs – reflects a highly professional approach that honors New York’s MMJ program, a highly restrictive system that discourages recreational toking. Columbia Care and its Manhattan location gives little hint that cannabis is sold there.

Columbia Care Medical Marijuana Dispensary

“It’s physically bringing you into the space,” Bruce Teitelbaum of RPG said of the rounded walls.

Inside, Columbia Care is a mix of 20th century design and more modern touches. But the architecture and furniture also reflect practical concerns: A blue couch, for example, offers seating for patients with disorders that limit their mobility.

Other aspects of the design are made to keep customers relaxed and comfortable, with walls painted a warm orange. Stone and wood are combined throughout the shop in a calming manner.

Columbia Care
The Product at Columbia Care coms from growing facilities across the country including the chino valley arizona location above.

Medical marijuana is available to New York patients who suffer from a short list of “debilitating or life threatning” disorders, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease. But patients may not smoke the drug; instead, they must vaporize it or ingest it by mouth.

Patients are also typically limited to extremely small daily cannabis doses, rendering it a useless treatment for many of them. And even in small amounts, medicinal marijuana can run patients more than $300 per month, roughly $1 per milligram of THC, or $10 for a single recreational dose of THC-infused chocolate.

walking-in-from-14th-street-the-first-thing-you-see-is-the-columbia-care-logo-of-nested-cs

“Insurance does not cover these products, but we offer financial subsidies to patients who need assistance to access the products,” Teitelbaum said. “Our goal is to ensure 100% of qualifying patients can afford our products and will collaborate with the State to reach this goal.”

The list of qualifying disorders will likely grow in coming months and could soon include Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental or neurological illnesses.

Let us know: Is New York getting medical marijuana right? What would you change? Leave a comment.

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Medical marijuana is now legal in 25 states. That, at least, is the statistic commonly cited by American activists and journalists. But it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

What confusion there is stems from the fact that states with medicinal cannabis laws, regulations, and patient programs use widely different approaches. Some set high caps on legal possession while others allow patients to carry only a small amount of cannabis. Some permit toking while others limit consumption methods to vaporizers, edibles, and tinctures.

More importantly, a majority of states with medical marijuana laws allow “whole-plant” medicinal treatments while a minority have legalized only a non-intoxicating cannabinoid known as CBD. The distinction is critical: Patients have far more options in whole-plant states than in those that allow only CBD preparations.

“Whole plant” means what its words imply: Doctors may recommend, and legitimate patients may use, any part of the cannabis plant and any cannabinoid found in it. This includes THC, the chemical that gets users high, as well as CBD.

States with Medical Cannabis

Contrary to popular belief, many if not most marijuana patients need to get high for the drug to work. Mood disorders, anxiety, and nausea relief all require THC, as do many other health conditions.

CBD, on the other hand, is most useful in treating seizure disorders and spastic conditions such as multiple sclerosis. It can also be helpful in alleviating chronic pain and reducing inflammation, but its primary use is as treatment for severe childhood epilepsy.

Royal CBD OilIt is this fact that has made the CBD-only approach especially appealing in conservative states that want to adopt medical cannabis, especially in the Deep South and Mountain West. Indeed, every state in the old Confederacy, with the exceptions of Texas and Arkansas, has a CBD law on its books.

Parents whose children suffer from epilepsy have been the driving political force behind CBD laws. Hundreds have been forced to move to Colorado so their children can access the drug, and popular sympathy for these families has compelled even right-wing lawmakers to endorse CBD.

States with CBD-only laws

The following states with medical marijuana allow high levels of CBD but only minimal levels of THC:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

But of these 15 states, only three – Alabama, Florida, and Missouri – have made it possible to obtain the drug without breaking state or federal criminal laws.

States allowing whole-plant medical marijuana

The following states with medical cannabis allow whole-plant therapies:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington.

Four of these states have also legalized recreational cannabis use: Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, along with the District of Columbia.

Tell us: Does your state allow whole plant medical marijuana? Leave a comment.

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