Blog Voices from the Frontlines
Federal momentum behind medical cannabis reform continues to build. Last week, the White House lifted bureaucratic hurdles to scientific research. But with progress comes more scrutiny. One national study spotlighted serious inconsistencies in the way edibles are labeled for potency in California and Washington, and a second review of the scientific literature showed mixed results when it comes to the efficacy of medical cannabis for certain conditions.
Here in California, the state legislature seems determined to adopt some kind of medical cannabis regulations. Bills dealing with commercial licensing, environmental standards for cultivation, and manufacturing concentrates all have committee hearings soon. Meanwhile, local law enforcement raided numerous cannabis gardens in the Island Mountain area of the Emerald Triangle. Law enforcement spokespeople say more raids are coming, in part, because of illegal water diversion and other harmful cultivation practices.
Poor labeling, questions about efficacy, rules for cultivation, and more – it all points to the need for sensible regulations. ASA calls on local and state lawmakers to finish the long overdue work of fully implementing Proposition 215 by adopting guidelines that protect patients, providers, communities, and ecosystems. Read about all the medical cannabis news, events, action alerts, and more in this week’s California Weekly Roundup.
CA Senate Moves To End Discrimination Against Medical Cannabis Patients Seeking Organ Transplants - Americans for Safe Access
The California Senate approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, earlier today by a margin of 33-1. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process. Medical cannabis patients in California are routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical cannabis. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
“AB 258 is about fundamental fairness and compassion. Legal medical cannabis patients should never face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant,” said Don Duncan ASA’s California Director. “AB 258 will help the law catch up with science, which has shown that medical cannabis patients are just as likely to benefit from an organ transplant as other patients.”
Earlier today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced they will lift the public health service (PHS) review on marijuana research projects not funded by the federal government. The PHS review process was established in 1999 following a 1998 Institute of Medicine report that called for more in depth scientific research on marijuana. While the process was intended to facilitate greater research today it is broadly recognized as undermining legitimate scientific inquiry.
"The US government has systematically impeded marijuana efficacy research, and the PHS review has played a large role in that stonewalling," said Dr. Sue Sisley. "It was a shameful tactic used by opponents of marijuana research who never wanted the public to see objective data about the efficacy of marijuana. To see the government finally eliminate this waste of taxpayer dollars is a triumph and hopefully represents another historic shift in drug policy reform."
ASA expects the California Senate to approve AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, some time today. This ASA-sponsored legislation will prohibit discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process.
The bill goes next to the Governor, who has twelve days to sign or veto the bill. You can send a message to Governor Brown asking him to sign the bill right now:
ASA wants to say a special thank you to thousands of members and friends who made phone calls, sent emails, and signed a petition in support of the bill. We are especially grateful for 200 patients and advocates who visited Senate offices in support of AB 258 on Monday as part of the California Citizen Lobby Day. Well done!
The Biochemical System Controlling the Effects of Cannabis: An Introduction - Americans for Safe Access
In every human there are complex biological systems working to keep physiological functions in order. When these biochemical systems are functioning optimally, they maintain optimal mood, help maintain appropriate levels of immunity, proper digestion, regular sleep, brain function, etc. The housekeeping properties of these systems have an important role in modulating health and disease. One of these systems is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The system is built out of G protein-coupled receptors called (CB1 and CB2 “receptors”) and the “endocannabinoids” that bind to them. The ECS maintains normal cerebral and physiological function.
Human clinical trials and animal studies show that stimulating this biochemical system can have both highly beneficial health effects and few negative side effects.2,3 Basic research experiments with genetically modified mice, which are created without CB1 or CB2 receptors, have shown that without this biochemical system, the animals (and presumably, humans) would probably die at birth.4-7 Studies in both humans and animals demonstrate that blocking this biochemical system can result in dreadful consequences, including, but not limited to, depression, stress, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and even increased tendency for suicide.8-11 The only antagonist drug ever to be marketed to humans that blocked the cannabinoid receptors — Acomplia® (rimonabant; Sanofi-Aventis; Paris, France) — was quickly withdrawn from the market due to its negative health consequences.
We are less then 1 week away from the big day! Join us June 23rd from 1:00 – 2:00pm ET for our online webinar on “Improving Analysis of Edibles, Topicals, and Related Products using Flash Chromatography”. In this webinar you will learn how to overcome challenges in cannabis potency testing.
Explore how flash chromatography, equipped with universal detection technology, can address quality control challenges by offering a more efficient way to isolate cannabinoids and other compounds of interest from complex matrices. As well as how flash in conjunction with other analytical techniques can remove matrix interferences, quantify low level cannabinoid in edibles and topicals, and how it can be used to create your own reference standards.
The State & Challenges in Cannabis Analysis
Potency Testing Challenges
Analytical Testing Procedures
What is Flash Chromatography?
Benefits of Flash for Isolating Compounds
Isolating Cannabinoids from Various Complex Matrices
The Colorado’s Supreme Court Unfortunate Ruling On Employment Discrimination - Americans for Safe Access
Earlier today the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that employers in Colorado can fire employees for cannabis use even if they are medical cannabis patients. At the center of today’s ruling is Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic that used cannabis to control leg spasms while off duty from his job. Coats had argued that his usage was protected under Colorado state law, but the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that he could be fired because cannabis is illegal under federal law.
Here are some key takeaways to help you understand today’s ruling:
Hundreds of medical cannabis patients and advocates will be visiting the state Capitol this afternoon to talk with lawmakers about medical cannabis legislation. One of the most important bills on the table is AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. This bill will prevent discrimination against medical cannabis patients who need organ transplants. It is a high priority for ASA, because medical cannabis patients have already died after being dropped from the organ transplant waiting list. Others are in danger right now.
Don’t wait. The Senate could vote on the bill any time this week. Look for news from today’s California Citizen Lobby Day and the vote on AB 258 later this week.
Legislation sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) entered the home stretch on Wednesday when the California Senate Health Committee approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. The bill by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) will protect medical cannabis patients from discrimination in the organ transplant process. AB 258 must now be approved by the full Senate and signed by the Governor. A final vote is expected next week.
Patients in California who test positive for cannabis use are routinely denied a place on the organ transplant waiting list – even if they are using legal medical cannabis. This widespread policy at hospitals and transplant centers is based on outdated policies that classify legal medical cannabis use as “drug abuse.” Patients have died after being denied an organ transplant based solely on their use of doctor-recommended medical cannabis, and others are at risk right now.
Senate Committee Approves Mikulski Medical Marijuana Amendment with Strong Bipartisan Support - Americans for Safe Access
In a huge victory today for medical marijuana patients, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee markup hearing on the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, the a bipartisan group of senators voted 21-9 to adopt the Mikulski Amendment to the DOJ budget for FY2016. The amendment language mirrors that of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which passed last week in the House, 242-186 with 67 Republicans and 175 Democrats. (See below for the vote results.)
Of additional importance, the amendment language that was approved today is the functional equivalent of Section 2 of the CARERS Act, which protects people acting in accordance with state medical marijuana laws from federal inference. With 95% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans on the committee supporting this language, it is clear that the CARERS Act remains viable and has a real chance for passage in this session if it were to make its way to a vote. Currently the bill is lingering without a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it will be harder for Committee Chair Grassley to not move forward with the bill after today's vote. Take action here to urge the Senate and House to pass CARERS.