Tag Archives: cannabis

Legal Pot Linked to Reduced Opioid Use in Two New Scientific Studies

While many patient anecdotes have suggested that medical marijuana may be effective for chronic pain and that it could be used as an alternative to opioid pain medications, the U.S. government’s categorization of cannabis as a hardcore Schedule I narcotic with no medical use has hamstrung the ability of scientists to test that theory in clinical trials. Government-ordered studies on pot have only sought to associate it with negative externalities, and clinical trials on the safety or medical benefits of pot are effectively banned under current law.

However, pot-legal states have begun to produce volumes of data that can be analyzed by researchers, and two new scientific studies released this month in JAMA Internal Medicine have linked cannabis legalization laws with a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions filed in the state.

In the study, Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees, University of Kentucky’s Hefei Wen and Emory University’s Jason Hockenberry examined “all-capture Medicaid prescription data for 2011 to 2016” between states and found that “medical marijuana laws and [recreational] adult-use marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates (5.88% and 6.38% lower, respectively).”

“Medical and adult-use marijuana laws have the potential to lower opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a high-risk population for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose, and marijuana liberalization may serve as a component of a comprehensive package to tackle the opioid epidemic,” the study concluded.

A second study in JAMA Internal Medicine, Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population by Ashley Bradford, David Bradford, and Amanda Abraham of the University of Georgia, examining “longitudinal analysis of Medicare Part D” found that “prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law.”

That study also suggested that laws focused on improving medical marijuana access reduced opiate prescription rates further than other types of legalization schemes.

“The type of medical cannabis laws [MCLs] implemented in these states was important as well, with greater reductions in opioid prescriptions observed in states with more structured MCLs that increased access to medical cannabis. Prescriptions for opioids fell by 3.74 million daily doses per year (95% CI, −5.95 to −1.54) when medical cannabis dispensaries opened, but only by 1.79 million daily doses per year (95% CI, −3.36 to −0.22) when states only offered allowances for home cultivation,” read the research.

“Medical cannabis policies may be one mechanism that can encourage lower prescription opioid use and serve as a harm abatement tool in the opioid crisis,” Bradford et al concluded.

While a growing chorus of patient anecdotes have been cited by medical marijuana activists suggesting that medical cannabis has allowed them to discontinue the use of potentially-deadly opiates, the lack of scientific studies confirming this, partly due to the government’s ban on clinical research on cannabis, has often been cited by health officials in discouraging the passage of such bills.

For example, prior to the publication of these two studies, Tennessee Department of Health officials testified in a hearing on the state’s Medical Cannabis Only bill that there was not enough scientific evidence available to link medical cannabis to reduced opioid use rates or to suggest that it is effective for relief of chronic pain. On the heels of that testimony, Medical Cannabis Only died in the Tennessee Senate on Tuesday, according to The Tennessean.

Tenn. Medical Pot Decriminalization Bill Passes Criminal Justice Committee

A significantly-amended reworking of the Medical Cannabis Only bill HB 1749 passed the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 9-2. The bill decriminalizes the possession of medical marijuana by individuals with qualified medical conditions and a doctor’s prescription, but falls short of providing access to the medication in-state.

Truth in Media reported last month that the more robust original version of the bill had passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee with Republican Speaker Beth Harwell’s tying vote.

The qualifying medical conditions under the bill include cancer, HIV and AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease, severe arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, or chronic or debilitating diseases.

While the original version of the bill would have provided a legal marketplace for medical pot, bill sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) stripped the bill of language related to marijuana access and focused on decriminalization due to fears that he would not get the votes needed to pass the Criminal Justice Committee. “You’re always working to meet the needs of the individual committee that you’re in,” he told The Tennessean. Faison also complained that medical pot opponents in the state are “stuck in Reefer Madness.”

While speaking on behalf of the decriminalization bill at Wednesday’s committee meeting, Rep. Faison argued, “We have Tennesseans who are illegally alive today, and they’re doing well, but they’re breaking the law. My question is why would we want to have the law be able to arrest these type of individuals or put them in jail or give them a criminal record when they’re fighting to stay alive?”

Reps. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), Michael Curcio (R-Dickson), Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough), and Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) voted in favor of the bill.

Reps. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) voted against the measure.

Lawrenceburg mother Andrea Houser testified at the committee that she needs THC-activated cannabis oil to deal with epilepsy and that alternative pharmaceutical drugs used to treat it had given her 19 kidney stones. “Because of cannabis, I felt normal again. I stopped because I didn’t want to break the law – but my seizures came back… It’s not fun when you’re having a seizure, biting your tongue and choking on blood in front of your kids,” she said according to Fox 13.

“I would rather be illegally alive than legally dead,” she added.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott testified against the bill and said that it would lead to an increase in impaired drivers. “Once you start down this slope, it is very difficult to stop the ball from rolling,” he said according to The Tennessean.

The Knox County Democratic Party issued a tweet criticizing the bill for not going far enough. “By removing all language that referred to the creation of a safe, transparent and accountable business and regulatory model for medical cannabis from his own bill, GOP Rep Jeremy Faison gives TN a choice: Leave to get a prescription or break the law by buying on the black market,” it read.

According to Fox 17, the bill now moves on to the House Health Committee.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said that the Tennessee Senate will delay considering the bill until it passes through committees in the House.

Cronos Becomes First Marijuana Producer Listed on U.S. Stock Exchange

New York, NY— On February 27th, the Cronos Group Inc., a major Canadian medical marijuana producer, began trading on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol “CRON” — making it the first cannabis company to attain a listing on any major U.S. stock exchange.

“It’s very significant for the company and the whole industry,” said Mike Gorenstein, Cronos founder and CEO, according to Bloomberg. “It’s a huge moment— just shows the stigma is continuing to erode on cannabis.”

The Toronto-based Cronos Group, which is listed in Canada on the TSX Venture Exchange, is the first company that produces and sells marijuana to be approved for trading on Wall Street, although other businesses with indirect ties to cannabis are traded.

“We’re the only pure play marijuana company” to be traded on a U.S. exchange, Gorenstein told CNN.

[RELATED: U.S. Marijuana Legalization Weakens Mexican Cartels]

The listing was seen by some analysts as a milestone for the entire marijuana industry.

“The fact that Cronos was able to have its application approved speaks volumes regarding the company’s governance and the ability of its management team to think outside the box and execute,” said Beacon Securities’ analyst Vahan Ajamian in a note to investors.

“We imagine the SEC would have gone through a very thorough review/vetting process before allowing a cannabis company to list on a major U.S. exchange,” he wrote.

The process to gain a listing however, was long and arduous, Gorenstein told VICE Money.

“It’s complicated and intense because of their securities rules. We started building a relationship with the NASDAQ sometime last year, and we had to go through many audits and reviews by different independent committees to make sure that our governance was up to snuff,” he said.

Gorenstein added, “It’s more than just getting on the exchange. We wanted to be the first company that went about this the right way.”

According to a report by Investopedia:

Cronos has an edge over many of these small startups in that it serves an international market. It ships its products to Germany, is building a facility in Israel and has a license through a joint venture in Australia. So far, it does not have a presence in the U.S. because of legal issues.

CNN Money reports that Canada is expected to legalize the retail sale of recreational marijuana in August. Gorenstein said his company will begin producing recreational cannabis for the Canadian market once legalized.

In the U.S. recreational marijuana has been legalized in 9 states and in Washington, D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in 30 states. The U.S. federal government continues to maintain prohibition of cannabis, denoting it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no known medical usage, thus companies like Cronos maintaining a holding pattern on the U.S. market until federal legality is established.

Jeff Sessions Wages War on Cannabis

What entity should be in charge of marijuana law? Click here to vote in our poll.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ready to wage war on cannabis. Or, should I say, he wants to return to the drug war of the 1980s.

I’ve warned you about this before. But the latest step taken by Sessions should ignite a real debate over states rights. Meanwhile, even after Sessions’s comments, cannabis has seen its biggest month ever in 2018.

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

Legalized cannabis just had an incredible month. January 1 of 2018 was a huge day for marijuana legalization.

On that day, California, the country’s most populous state and, by the way, the world’s 6th largest economy, officially launched the recreational marijuana industry.

More than 400 businesses were licensed as of January 1. Cities, including Los Angeles—the most populous in California—began letting businesses sell cannabis for recreational use, adding dozens more approved licenses to the state’s total.

All of that happening, with the backdrop of Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempting to double down on his hatred of marijuana. And a move he made that, despite what he hopes, may actually increase legalized cannabis.

To understand that, we have to go back to 2013.

In 2013, the Obama administration letter issued a memo called the Cole memo that essentially told federal prosecutors to use discretion.

Specifically, it focused on states that had legalized cannabis or recreational and medical use. It told those prosecutors to use discretion, to focus not on businesses that comply with state regulations, but on illicit enterprises that create harms like selling drugs to children, operating with criminal gangs, selling across state lines, and so on.

That memo, on its own, was problematic because it still turned into criminals, parents who might live in a state like Georgia where cannabis oil is legal, but cultivating cannabis is not. Those parents have to cross state lines to get the cannabis they need, and that forces them to break the law.

But as messy as all of that was, Sessions just made it messier when last month he ordered that the Obama-era memo be rescinded.

So what does that actually mean?

It means that federal prosecutors no longer need to keep their hands, for most part, off of state licensed dispensaries. It also means that all U.S. Department of Justice enforcement memos issued before and after the Cole memo are now gone as well. That includes a 2014 memo dealing with money laundering laws. It gave guidance on how financial institutions should be dealt with if they want to provide banking for the cannabis industry.

But it also means something else. Because since Sessions has announced the rescinding of that memo, the backlash has come from a number of places—most importantly, from congress.

There is a now a push to create a federal law that will require the DOJ to leave alone states where the cannabis industry is legal. Members of Congress are all about money, and they will likely move to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020.

And, even after the Sessions move, another state has just legalized recreational marijuana use.

According to Vox.com:

“…after Sessions announced his new marijuana policy, Vermont legislators, with the support of Republican Gov. Phil Scott, legalized marijuana for recreational use. The law won’t allow sales — only possession and growing. But it’s a big move because Vermont is now the first state to have legalized marijuana through its legislature.”

So what you need to know is that Jeff Sessions may hate marijuana, but polling numbers prove that, by and large, the majority of Americans hate the drug war even more.

In fact, the latest poll from Gallup shows 64 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana—the highest number in half a century. Oh and, by the way, in that same poll, for the first time, a majority of Republicans favor legalization, with 51 percent expressing support.

The war on cannabis is coming to an end. But what would be almost ironic, is if Jeff Sessions’s attempt to revive that war, was the catalyst to finally ending it for good.

That’s Reality Check, let’s talk about it tonight on Twitter and Facebook.

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Treasury Department Considering Removal of Marijuana Banking Protections

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration is weighing the removal of an Obama-era protocol that permitted banks to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses without being considered in violation of law, according to a recent report by Forbes.

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to overturn the Cole Memo, which had previously laid a hands-off federal policy towards state marijuana policy under the Obama administration, federal prosecutors will now be allowed to decide how to prioritize enforcing federal cannabis prohibition in relation to possession, cultivation or distribution in states that have legalized the drug.

With Sessions’ revocation of three Obama-era memos last month, which had provided guidance that allowed banks to provide their services to marijuana businesses without the risk of federal prosecution, the Treasury Department is now “reviewing the [banking] guidance in light of the Attorney General’s announcement and are consulting with law enforcement,” Drew Maloney, the U.S. Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

The letter from the Treasury Department was in response to an inquiry last month from a  bipartisan group of 31 House members, that included a request for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) agency to carry on with the cannabis banking guidance.

“FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud,” the House lawmakers wrote in their letter. “Leaving your guidance unchanged will continue to encourage small companies to make investments by freeing up access to capital. It will also further provide for well regulation and oversight through suspicious activity reports. Rescinding this guidance would inject uncertainty in the financial markets.”

According to the report by Forbes:

“The FinCEN document, issued in 2014, laid out a process for how banks can open accounts for marijuana businesses and avoid triggering federal enforcement actions.

The FinCEN policy, which requires financial institutions to regularly file reports on their cannabis customers, was intended to provide clarity and assurances to banks, but many have remained reluctant to work with marijuana businesses because of overarching federal prohibition laws.

Nonetheless, documents released by FinCEN late last year showed that the number of banks willing to work with the marijuana industry has steadily grown over time, though those figures were collected prior to Sessions’s move to revoke the broader Justice Department guidance.”

While cannabis use has been legalized or decriminalized in a majority of U.S. states, it is still considered a Schedule 1 substance— denoting no accepted medical use— under federal law, which has created a conflict between state and federal law.

[RELATED: Truth in Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent on Cannabis as Medicine]

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal:

A significant chunk of the financial system—including most credit-card companies and all banks that have access to the Fed’s payments highway—is regulated by the U.S. government, which considers distribution and use of marijuana a crime. As a result, marijuana dispensaries have had to rely mainly on cash, raising security and logistical concerns.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued legal guidance indicating that its priorities in combating illegal drug trafficking didn’t include the sale and purchase of state-legalized marijuana. It said it would crack down on the marijuana industry only in cases tied to other criminal activities, such as distribution to minors, firearm violence or trafficking of other drugs.

Last month, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Sigal Mandelker, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department, said that the FinCEN memo is still in effect while the Trump administration considers its revocation. On Wednesday, Maloney confirmed in his letter that prior guidance “remains in place” for now, and vowed to inform Congress of any policy changes.

Marijuana Shows Potential in Treating Painkiller Addiction

Could marijuana be just what the doctor ordered to kick an addiction to opioid painkillers, the most widely prescribed class of drugs in America today?

Two reputable studies published in the last year point to this conclusion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving painkillers in 2014. That’s roughly 40 individuals per day.

When heroin is thrown into the mix, the death toll from opiates surpassed 28,000 people in 2014, a 14 percent increase year over year.

The rise in heroin use corresponds with an increase in prescription drug abuse over the last decade.

Prescription painkillers, for example, are involved in 68 percent of opioid overdoses treated in emergency rooms, according to the CDC and Federal Drug Administration.

The toll does not discriminate, impacting all major demographics, including women, inner-city racial minorities and suburban white youth. Sales of opioids reached nearly $2 billion in 2014.

Earlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the rate of death related to painkillers is 25 percent lower on average in states where medical marijuana use is legal compared with states where it remains prohibited.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow the marijuana plant to be used for medicinal purposes. And 16 states allow the use of cannabis oil without psychoactive effects to be used for certain medical conditions like epilepsy and Crohn’s disease.

And last summer, a Columbia University study found that among 60 patients, smoking marijuana was associated with successful completion an opioid detoxification program.

“Post-hoc analysis showed that the 32 percent of participants who smoked marijuana regularly during the outpatient phase had significantly lower ratings of insomnia and anxiety and were more likely to complete the 8-week trial,” the study extract reports.

Meanwhile, several states are moving to limit the prescribing of opioid painkillers like Hydrocodone and Oxycontin in an effort to limit abuse and dependence.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts, for example, passed a bill this month to restrict painkiller prescriptions to a 7-day supply. Vermont and Maine are exploring similar proposals.

And in Kentucky, opioid prescriptions dropped 8.6 percent in 2012 after doctors were required to check databases designed to weed out pill mills and doctor shopping.

Most states now have similar monitoring programs in place.

GOP-led Pa. House Passes Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 3 on Wednesday by a vote of 149-43. If it becomes law, the legislation would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, leaders in the state’s GOP-led Senate have said that the bill is expected to pass the Senate as well.

I applaud the Pennsylvania House for passing legislation to legalize medical marijuana, and I look forward to the Senate sending the bill to my desk. We will finally provide the essential help needed by patients suffering from seizures, cancer, and other illnesses,” said Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in a statement cited by FOX 43.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Debating in favor of the bill, Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong), a cancer survivor, said, “We have a chance today to improve the lives of kids – and old people like me.

Fox News notes that Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) argued against the bill, saying, “I can not remember the last time a body voted on a bill in direct violation of federal law.

The bill would allow the use of cannabis in oil, pill, or ointment form, but would not legalize smoking. Up to 25 growers would be permitted across the state, and licenses would be issued to up to 50 dispensaries, each of which being allowed to serve patients at up to 3 locations.

The Daily Chronic published a list of medical conditions, seen below, that would qualify a patient to obtain a medical marijuana card under the legislation. The law would require patients to renew their cards annually.


Put aside philosophy, put aside agendas, and think for a moment of giving a moment of relief to the afflicted,” said Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Philadelphia).

In September of 2014, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Vermont Police No Longer Training K9s to Detect Marijuana

A report from the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus revealed that Vermont’s police force has stopped training its police dogs to detect the odor of marijuana.

According to the Times Argus, this is the first year that marijuana detection has not been part of the regular training of the state’s police dogs. The paper reported that the decision was partially influenced by the likelihood that Vermont will legalize marijuana in the near future, which would lead to the possibility that re-training police dogs to cease detecting marijuana would exhaust additional time and resources.

Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos explained that if Vermont legalizes marijuana, “All local and state dogs would need to be replaced at significant cost to the state police and to municipalities that would have to get new dogs that were not trained to alert for marijuana.”

Robert Ryan, the K-9 training coordinator in Vermont, noted that “if for some reason it doesn’t become legalized, it’s an odor that (dogs) can be trained to alert on later.”

Dogs currently trained to detect marijuana would still be used in the state for regulatory purposes such as searches at high schools and prisons, and also for police work at the federal level.

Vermont’s legalization bill continued to move forward on Friday, as the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill 6-1.

The bill, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeanette K. White, would legalize the possession of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21, and implement a “controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores,” according to MyChamplainValley.com.

The Burlington Free Press reported that the Finance Committee decided to propose a 25 per cent tax for marijuana, and changed the original proposed legal amount of possession from one ounce to a half-ounce.

The Times Argus reported that the state Senate may vote on the bill as soon as next week.

To Get Her Daughter the Treatment She Needs, A Mother Fights to Legalize Medical Cannabis

By Kathryn Bullington – Lolly Bentch-Myers is a mother of three and full-time activist with Pennsylvania’s Campaign4Compassion. Her daughter, Anna, has Mesial Temporal Sclerosis, a brain condition that causes intractable epilepsy, insomnia, and autism. There are not many options for kids like Anna, or moms like Lolly.

Lolly has been entrenched in a battle with the Pennsylvania legislature to gain legal access to medical cannabis for Anna, and others who can benefit from medical cannabis.

A June 2015 Franklin and Marshall poll showed that 87% of PA residents approve of medical marijuana. Another poll of PA physicians by the North East Journal of Medicine showed 96% of surveyed Pennsylvania doctors support cannabinoid options for their patients.

If the 87% of citizens and the physicians who support this bill would contact their representatives, this bill would pass.

With all of this support, why can’t the legislation pass?

Lolly said the problem getting this legislation through largely falls on apathetic citizens.

“Our house is broken.” she says, “If the 87% of citizens and the physicians who support this bill would contact their representatives, this bill would pass.”

In the meantime, Lolly and other parents and patients in Campaign4Compassion are doing the hard work of lobbying government, and the people.

She started her journey doing research and writing her legislators, encouraging them to support medical marijuana bills. A letter she got back from one representative quipped, “Sorry, but I don’t condone 5 year olds smoking pot.” Bentch-Myers was discouraged, but she says, after the Sanjay Gupta documentary on CNN, she thought she might get more traction.

Shortly after seeing the documentary Lolly saw another mom talking about medical marijuana on the news. She made contact and began her journey as an activist with other concerned parents and patients.

“We really are a close knit community,” she said. “Some people think this is about getting high, but that is not the case. This is about getting well.”

Lolly said a key to her successes has been kindness, and building broad bipartisan support.

“It is crucial in Pennsylvania to have a large network of support from the Republican Party,” she explained.

About half of the sponsors of Senate Bill 3 are Republicans. Legislation passed the state Senate overwhelmingly in the summer of 2015, with a 40-7 vote. It then moved to the House where Speaker Mike Turzai (R) placed the bill in the Health Committee. The bill then stalled, as Health Committee Chair Matt Baker (R) flatly refused to bring the bill up for a vote, saying if passed, the bill would do more harm than good.

Baker’s actions were arguably predictable, as he said himself:

“I’ve had marijuana bills in my committee for years, and I’ve never moved them. This should come as no surprise to anyone.”

To Baker, it is not a matter of what the people want, but of what is right. He told the Morning Call, “Chairmen have a higher level of responsibility to make decisions on which bills are meritorious and ready to be voted upon.”

Baker made it clear that he would not circumvent Federal or FDA approval of medical marijuana by allowing his state to make a vote on the issue. Voting on the issue, he said, would put a medical matter in the hands of legislators. He hinted that others might find a way to bring the vote anyway.
That is exactly what happened.

Lolly explained the emotional legislative relay that ended with the de facto death of PA Senate Bill 3:

Nick Miccarelli (R) filed a discharge resolution to get SB 3 out of Baker’s committee and to the floor for a vote. As Miccarelli was ready to be called to follow through with his discharge, Baker moved to adjourn the session, and called a Healthcare Committee meeting. Baker’s committee then voted to move SB 3 to the Rules Committee, effectively killing Miccarelli’s discharge resolution.

At least the bill was out of Baker’s hands. Supporters had a bit of hope. The Rules Committee, headed by Dave Reed (R), put together what Lolly described as “a class act bipartisan group who takes their job seriously” to study the issue and draft a new bill, or amendments.

Lolly said the group compiled “fantastic” recommendations, including a minimum of 25 growers, and an expanded conditions list. Unfortunately, none of the recommendations made it out of the Rules Committee, and after Speaker Truzai had an emotional breakdown, and walked out of a closed Republican caucus meeting on the bill, 197 amendments were piled onto SB 3.

Lolly fears that because of the unwieldy number of amendments on SB 3, the only way forward now was to craft a new bill, but Peter Schweyer (D), a member of the Rules Committee working group, told the Morning Call that the majority of the house supports the bill:

[quote_box_center]“There is a segment of the Republican caucus who will do everything to kill it, including Chairman Baker. But I also know a majority of House members support this, including a number of Republicans.

I think all of us put way too much time and energy into this to let it go away.”[/quote_box_center]

Lolly echoed Schweyer. She said, despite the barriers, most of the legislature has been a joy to work with, and, “I am very persistent. I am not going to quit. I have invested too much time to give up.”

She is looking forward to seeing this through so she can have the health care she needs for Anna, and spend less time as an activist and more time with her three kids.

Other citizens can help her and her cause, she says, by refusing to sign ballot petitions for legislators, unless they agree to support medical cannabis; visiting the Campaign4Compassion website to request a speaker for Rotaries and civic events, and calling the House of Representatives to voice their support.



This article was republished with permission from IVN.

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Opposes Legal Cannabis, Cites Heroin Epidemic

Democratic National Committee chair and U.S. Congresswoman from Florida Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on Wednesday that she opposes legalizing marijuana.

In an interview with The New York Times, Wasserman Schultz said that she does not oppose medical marijuana, but added, “I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs. We have had a resurgence of drug use instead of a decline. There is a huge heroin epidemic.

New York Times reporter Ana Marie Cox then pressed the DNC chair on the connection between legally-prescribed opiate painkillers and heroin abuse, prompting Wasserman Schultz to reply, “There is a difference between opiates and marijuana.

[RELATED: O’Malley Says Debates Are ‘Rigged’ For Hillary, Gets Hit With DEATH STARE From DNC Chair]

Speaking on the origins of her anti-pot views, Wasserman Schultz said, “They’re formed by my personal experience both as a mom and as someone who grew up really bothered by the drug culture that surrounded my childhood — not mine personally. I grew up in suburbia.

According to The Intercept, beer, wine, and liquor industry companies are the fifth-leading donor group funding her congressional reelection effort. Contributors include the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Bacardi USA, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and Southern Wine and Spirits.

[RELATED: Truth In Media Accelerates National Cannabis Discussion]

Wasserman Schultz also said that her record on criminal justice reform is “not as progressive as some of my fellow progressives.

Philosophically, she described her approach to public service as an effort to protect citizens from themselves. “I guess I’m protective. Safety has been my top legislative priority. I’m driven by the idea that safety is really a core function of government,” she said. “I don’t think we should just let things happen to people and let them be stupid and the victims of the consequences of their actions. I think we can put enough obstacles in the path of poor decision-making.

VIDEO: Charles Koch Rips Hypocrisy of Pot Criminalization

Billionaire philanthropist and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch blasted the hypocrisy of pot criminalization’s disproportionate enforcement in an October interview on CBS This Morning.

In the interview, which can be seen in the above-embedded video, Koch said, “Some poor kid in the inner city smokes a joint, goes to prison, ruins his life, where we have a president who is more privileged, who smoked a joint, becomes president. We have a candidate who admits smoking a joint — he’s running for president. Now, where is the justice in that?

The controversial Koch brothers have long pushed for criminal justice reforms that would reduce or eliminate harsh criminal penalties for non-violent offenders.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Speaking in terms of principles, Koch said, “I think government is a social agency of coercion. Now that sounds horrible and bad, but we need coercion. Beyond that, government should only be doing those things where coercion works better than voluntary cooperation and competition… But the burden of proof needs to be on the government.

Koch told CBS correspondent Anthony Mason that he dislikes the tone that many Republican candidates have struck on immigration in 2016 presidential primary debates. “We need to reform our immigration policy, letting everyone in this country who’s going to make the country better and let in no one who is going to make it worse,” he said.

Describing his business philosophy, Koch explained, “The way to succeed long term is not to think how do I maximize profits, but how do… we maximize the value we create for others.

[RELATED: Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’]

The Koch brothers are oft-vilified by political progressives who characterize their high levels of spending to promote political causes and candidates as efforts to buy elections.

I get a lot of death threats. I’m now on al-Qaeda’s hit list too. It gets pretty scary… I decided long ago I’d rather die for something than live for nothing,” said the billionaire.

He added, laughing off the challenges of pushing for his political views in the face of so much opposition, “My goal was to get more and more people to understand what makes their lives better, what’s fair, what’s a just society… You know, it’s hard to save the world when the world doesn’t want to be saved.

Judge Orders State of NH to Issue Medical Marijuana Card to Dying Cancer Patient

Concord, New Hampshire- While the state of New Hampshire continues to deal with delays in its implementation of a medical marijuana program approved in 2013, a Merrimack County Superior judge has ruled in favor of a woman suffering from late-stage lung cancer seeking access to a medical marijuana card.

Linda Horan, an Alstead resident suffering from stage 4 lung cancer, is seeking to obtain marijuana in the neighboring state of Maine because New Hampshire has yet to open any marijuana dispensaries despite approving a medical marijuana program. The Maine Medical Marijuana Act was passed in 1999 and the program was further expanded by voters in 2009.

New Hampshire, a state governed by Democrats for over a decade, appears to be experiencing much more difficulty approving and implementing medical marijuana than its neighboring states. While Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan signed a limited medical marijuana program into law in 2013, the program becoming a reality for patients in New Hampshire has been a lengthy process. Patients are continuing to wait for access as the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has just begun accepting applications for cards. No cards will be issued until dispensaries are opened, which is not expected to happen until early next year.

The Marijuana Policy Project provided an overview pointing to certain actions taken by the state which have led to delays, including the attorney general’s office “postponing its implementation of the patient registry process” in 2014.

In addition, rather than appointing “a member of the public” and “a qualifying patient” to an advisory council tasked with overseeing the law’s implementation, MPP noted that Gov. Hassan appointed Tuftonboro Police Chief Andrew Shagoury, as well as a patient described by MPP as “completely unknown to the patients who had supported the bill” who has not attended any meetings. On the council, Chief Shagoury represents the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, an organization which has been a longtime and vocal opponent of medical marijuana legalization.

Before filing the lawsuit, Horan addressed Gov. Hassan during a NH AFL-CIO lifetime achievement award speech, asking the governor in an emotional plea to open dispensaries “not just for me, but for all the other sick people in this state.”

Shortly after Horan filed her lawsuit, MPP’s New England Political Director Matt Simon told Truth In Media that “the fact that a terminal cancer patient like Linda Horan still can’t be protected from arrest in New Hampshire is appalling and downright insane.”

Simon noted that “Governor Hassan signed the law creating this program on July 23, 2013, but somehow, patients today are still criminals if they choose to use marijuana as a substitute for prescription painkillers. This lawsuit shouldn’t even be necessary, but patients all over New Hampshire will be watching closely and hoping for a successful result.“

Horan showed frustration over the fact that New Hampshire has had multiple delays in providing patients with access to medical marijuana. “The state simply needs to issue me an ID card so that I can access the medicine that I need,” said Horan, according to the Union Leader. “It’s hard to imagine why it would take more than two years for that. There are seriously ill people throughout New Hampshire who are suffering every day they go without it.” 

“I want the state to stop dragging your feet over a technicality when you’re dealing with sick people,” she was also quoted as saying. “We don’t have the time to fool around.” 

Although Horan had expressed urgency in seeking medical marijuana and has been given a few months to live, state officials argued against the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Gov. Hassan argued in a statement that “the law that we have put in place- as approved by the legislature- requires ID cards to contain the ‘registry identification number corresponding with the alternative treatment center (dispensary) the qualifying patient designated,’ which prevents the issuance of these cards until the ATCs are open.”

The Concord Monitor reported that “state officials, including Gov. Maggie Hassan, have maintained patients could not get ID cards until dispensaries, or Alternative Treatment Centers, in the state are open, which is expected to happen early next year.”

Judge Richard McNamara disagreed with the state’s argument. “Nowhere does the statute say that a qualifying patient can only obtain cannabis from a New Hampshire ATC,” wrote McNamara.

Hassan did not provide comments after McNamara’s ruling. Horan is expected to receive a card on Wednesday.

Ben Swann released a Truth In Media episode in 2014 which exposed the government’s hypocrisy in publicly treating marijuana as a health hazard while it holds two patents on cannabis for medical use.


Colo. Prosecutors Complain Juries Are Refusing to Convict Pot-Influenced Drivers

Prosecutors in pot-legal Colorado are expressing frustrations that they are having a tough time finding juries willing to convict some suspects who have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

According to CBS Denver, Colorado District Attorneys’ Council head Tom Raynes said that juries are in some cases refusing to convict individuals who have been found driving with levels of pot in their system exceeding the 5 ng/ml THC legal limit.

You are putting lives in danger. I want the message to be understood. It’s about driving while under the influence of drugs — it’s not about recreational or medical, it’s about being impaired when you drive,” he said. “I don’t believe anyone can drive better under the influence of any substance.

[RELATED: Ron Paul Calls for Jury to Nullify Cannabis Oil Mom Shona Banda’s Criminal Charges]

CBS Denver pointed to the case of medical marijuana patient Melanie Brinegar as an example. Brinegar was charged with driving under the influence of pot during a June traffic stop over an expired license plate. Though she admitted to having used marijuana and was found over the legal limit, officers did not witness her driving erratically.

Brinegar claimed that marijuana use improves her ability to drive and that she was neither high nor impaired. She was acquitted by a jury of her peers.

[RELATED: Indiana County Introduces Marijuana Goggles to Curb Teen Use]

The Free Thought Project characterized the jury’s refusal to convict as “jury nullification.” However, it appears that a component of the law allows juries to find defendants not guilty even if they are above the legal limit.

Brad Wood, a foreman on the jury that acquitted Brinegar, said, “The law allows you to infer that the person was impaired if they have over 5 ng/ml. But you may also feel free not to infer that and in any case use all the evidence to make your judgement… If the law says we strongly encourage you to weigh this as the biggest factor, I think it would have been a whole different story… If the officer said, ‘We saw her weave,’ it probably would have been a different story.

Wood referred to the law as poorly written and said that the jury believed Brinegar’s claim that marijuana does not impair her driving.

[Activist Charged with Jury Tampering for Promoting Jury Nullification Outside Courthouse]

During the trial, Brinegar’s attorney Colin McCallin argued that the pot driving impairment law differs from driving under the influence of alcohol laws that require juries to convict simply on the basis of the suspect’s blood alcohol content. McCallin said that this argument might not work in other incidences in which an individual has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

Are we sending a message it’s okay to smoke and drive? I don’t like that message. In [Brinegar’s] case maybe its fine,” Wood said.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

A bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would end federal prohibition on marijuana and allow legalization to be determined by the states.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 states that it would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana, ultimately removing all references to cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act.

[RELATED: Colorado Becomes First State to Generate More Tax Revenue From Marijuana than from Alcohol Sales]

The Huffington Post noted that Sanders’s bill is modeled after one that was proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013 and reintroduced in 2015 as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

“Just as alcohol prohibition failed in the 1920s, it’s clear marijuana prohibition is failing today,” Polis said. “For decades, the federal ban on marijuana has wasted tax dollars, impeded our criminal justice system, lined the pockets of drug cartels, and trampled on states’ ability to set their own public health laws.”

Polis described the introduction of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act in the Senate as “a huge step forward in the movement to enact the commonsense drug laws needed to grow our economy and restore fairness to our justice system.”

Although recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, Alaska, ColoradoOregon and the District of Columbia, it remains illegal under federal law.

[RELATED: Reality Check: U.S. Non-Violent Drug Offenders Incarceration Rate is Shameful]

Leslie Bocskor, a managing partner of Electrum Partners, a medical marijuana consulting firm, told Yahoo News that he believes removing marijuana from the federal government’s list of banned substances would “alleviate several unwanted byproducts of the U.S. war on drugs.”

[pull_quote_center]This includes reducing our rate of incarceration for nonviolent offenders, addressing racial injustice enabled by the criminalization of marijuana not to mention increased tax revenue, a regulated marketplace keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, job creation, the destruction of criminal cartels by removing their revenue streams and keeping wealth in the communities that have established regulated frameworks.[/pull_quote_center]

The Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana reform organization, noted that while Sanders’ bill is the fourth one seeking marijuana policy reform, it is the first bill that actually proposes the end of federal marijuana prohibition.

While cannabis has been known to help with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, the Drug Enforcement Administration defines marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

On the DEA’s list of drugs, marijuana is alongside substances including heroin, LSD and ecstasy, while cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone are listed as less hazardous Schedule II drugs.

Last year, Ben Swann examined the federal government’s classification of marijuana, seen in the video below. While marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, the government also holds patents on the substance to treat various diseases and conditions.


Exclusive: Tommy & Shelby Chong on Career, Cancer and Cannabis


Tommy and Shelby Chong join Kurt Wallace to talk about the failed war on drugs, they discuss how the fight with cancer has effected their lives. Tommy shares why Shelby is the reason for his successful career.

We talk about dancing with the stars, their greatest comedic influences and their secret to a happy 40 year marriage – raising three children.

Subscribe to us on iTunes: http://bit.ly/TIM-Podcasts



Exclusive Interview: Medical Cannabis Patient Facing Prison Sentence Speaks Out

Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook recently interviewed Rolland Gregg, a Washington medical marijuana patient who was charged by the federal government for growing and consuming cannabis along with others in a group now known as the Kettle Falls Five. Gregg and four others were federally charged in spite of a rider within the 2014 “cromnibus” federal spending bill that forbids the Department Of Justice from undermining states that have legalized marijuana. Gregg is facing 33 months in federal prison.

The Kettle Falls Five- consisting of Washington medical marijuana patients Larry Harvey (now deceased); his widow, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey; Rhonda’s son, Rolland Gregg; Rolland’s wife, Michelle Gregg; and friend Jason Zucker- established a cannabis collective on a northeastern Washington property owned by Rhonda and Larry. The collective was operated in accordance with Washington law before they were raided by federal agents in 2012.

[Read More: Legal Medical Cannabis Growers on Trial: “Obama Admin is a Lie”]

Despite Washington’s law allowing for the cultivation and consumption of medical cannabis, the federal government superseded the state and pursued a case against the Kettle Falls Five, arguing that the Five were growing cannabis to distribute. During the trial, no one was allowed to discuss the group’s use of cannabis for medical purposes or the fact that they had obtained doctors’ recommendations.

Charges were dropped against Larry Harvey due to the progression of his pancreatic cancer. Larry passed away in August. Jason Zucker took a plea deal ahead of the trial and received a 16-month sentence. Following the trial, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and Michelle Gregg each received a one-year sentence; Rolland Gregg received the strictest sentence of 33 months.

Gregg, who runs a technology development company outside of Seattle, shared his story in an exclusive interview with Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook. Gregg explained how cannabis changed his life as well as others in the Five, the details of the cannabis collective in which the group focused on adhering to state regulations, and the legal battles that have ensued.

Listen to Gregg’s exclusive interview with Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook below.


A Whitehouse.gov petition has been launched seeking a pardon for the remaining Kettle Falls Five defendants; click here to view. Gregg and his mother have also created an Indiegogo campaign to help with funding for their appeals process.

Minors Face ‘Unintended’ Felony Charges For Pot Under Wash. Recreational Cannabis Law

Three teens, ages 14, 15, and 17, are facing felony charges for pot possession in the U.S. state of Washington, where recreational marijuana possession is legal.

According to NPR, a lesser-known provision in a new law, SB 5052, which was aimed at consolidating taxes and regulations between the state’s medical and recreational marijuana industries, has stiffened the penalty for pot possession by individuals under 21 from a misdemeanor punished by up to 90 days in jail to a class C felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Jaime Smith, a spokesperson for Democratic Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee, said in comments cited by The Associated Press, “I can only tell you that this was not the intention that the governor had when working with legislators on this bill.” Smith added, “There are other ways to [discourage marijuana use by minors] without charging them with felonies.” Gov. Inslee signed the bill into law earlier this year.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out]

Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), who sponsored the bill, said that the provision was intended to discourage minors from using marijuana. “We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate,” she said.

The Lewiston Tribune notes that the three teens are facing charges in Asotin County, which borders Idaho. Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols pointed out the fact that they are the first to be charged under the new law and explained its effect, “If you are a minor, a person under 21, [marijuana possession] is a felony no matter what.” Nichols later appeared open to downgrading the teens’ charges to misdemeanors.

Nichols said that if lawmakers were to repeal the provision, the teens currently facing charges could have their expected convictions vacated by the court after the fact.

Rick Laws, an Asotin County public defender assigned to represent one of the teens, said that hard prison time is “an awfully high price for a few people to have to pay for faulty legislative work.

Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Exclusive Post-GOP Debate Interview With Gary Johnson

“After last night I believe now that the Republican nominee is going to be Carly Fiorina,” says Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former two-term Republican governor from New Mexico. “I think Carly Fiorina won the debate hands down. I thought she was clearly impressive, that she was dynamic,” said Johnson, but “I disagree with her on a lot of things she had to say.”

Johnson told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook in an exclusive interview that he disagreed with Fiorina on her marijuana policy. Johnson, who is fiscally responsible and socially liberal, noted that when U.S. Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.), NJ Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J) and Carly Fiorina were discussing drug laws, there was talk of utilizing treatment options rather than incarceration. “That’s a really old model, the notion to pledge support for treatment over incarceration,” said Johnson, particularly for marijuana.

“The Republican Party is behind the eight-ball on a lot of issues that are directly impacting the country and the world and it’s just too bad.”

“With the exception of Huckabee who supports the Fair Tax, nobody is really talking about how to grow to the economy and how to bring about economic growth,” said Johnson.

Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook asked Johnson, “If you were President, what would you do regarding foreign policy in the Middle East right now?”

“We need to recognize our enemy and our enemy is radical Islam,” Johnson responded.

“We can do a better job of drying up the funding of these terrorist organizations. And that  would include money coming into the United States. And it doesn’t involve boots on the ground and it doesn’t involve dropping bombs. But there is a real threat. Of late, I am not Islamicphobic, I’m Shariaphobic,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he wasn’t going to run as a Libertarian as this moment. “There’s no real advantage to getting out there at this point. You’ve got the Republicans that are sucking all the air out of the room, and for that matter, same with the Democrats,” said Johnson.

“I hope to be the Libertarian nominee and I hope to be able to be the voice of what I think is the philosophy of most Americans, which speaking with a broad brush stroke, is being fiscally responsible and socially liberal- the definition of a classic liberal which I think most of us in this country falls in that category,” said Johnson.

Watch the video above, and download our podcasts: PodBean | Itunes

‘Gas and Grass’ Cannabis Dispensary Gas Stations Coming Soon to Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colo. medical cannabis dispensary company Native Roots is launching a new type of marijuana business called “Gas & Grass.

According to 7NEWS Denver, the gas stations, which Native Roots hopes will open for business by mid-October, will feature a medical marijuana dispensary in addition to the usual provisions typically found in convenience stores.

Native Roots plans to start by opening two locations and has purchased two Conoco stations in Colorado Springs with the intention of converting them into Gas & Grass businesses. The convenience store and medical marijuana dispensary portions of the business will reportedly have separate entrances.

Company spokesperson Tia Mattson said in comments to KOAA-TV, “We definitely are leaders and we’re visionaries. It’s just one more thing for us to pair up the shopping and convenience of gas with a stop for somebody who is a patient, to knock off both errands at one time.

She added, “I believe we’ll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes and similar things that you would pick up in a convenience store.

[RELATED: Truth In Media Accelerates National Cannabis Discussion]

A manager for Native Roots said that medical marijuana patients who shop at Gas & Grass will receive discounts on fuel under a rewards program modeled after those offered by grocery stores that feature gas pumps.

Local business owner Trevor Field criticized the business model and told KRDO-TV, “It’s a gateway to smoking and driving. People are getting way too laid back with marijuana. Oh let’s go to the gas station and buy our pot, roll it up while we’re fueling up and out the parking lot we go.

I lived up in the mountains and we had a gas station, a convenience store and a liquor store right next to each other. What’s the difference?” said local resident Beth Van Eaton who lives near one of the planned Gas & Grass locations.

Representatives from the Colorado Springs City Clerk’s Office said that Native Roots, a licensed medical cannabis provider, has obtained approval from the city and state.

The announcement of the new Gas & Grass business idea has raised questions as to whether the model will become a trend inspiring recreational marijuana providers to follow suit.

Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.