Friday, July 20, 2018

United Kingdom Drug Policy Committee Calls For Legalization of Medical Cannabis

The U.K. is looking to take steps toward the legalization of medical cannabis. The Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs issued some “short-term advice,” declaring that cannabis has medicinal advantages and that doctors should be able to prescribe it. The committee also went as far to suggest that cannabis should be rescheduled under the misuse of drugs legislation.

Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, the chair of the ACMD stated: “The ACMD advises that clinicians in the U.K. should have the option to prescribe Cannabis-derived medicinal products that meet the requirements for medicinal standards to patients with certain medical conditions.” He added “It is important that clinicians, patients, and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.” The committee chair also said that standards for medical cannabis therapies and protocols for their use should be established, though these would be determined by the Department of Health and Social Care. The advice from the ACMD was the result of the second stage of a review of the medical use of cannabis called for by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The review came after the case of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, a Northern Ireland boy with severe epilepsy, which made international news. The Home Office recently granted Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, boys who have rare forms of epilepsy, a short-term licence to allow them access to cannabis oil, which their parents say helps to control their seizures.

The Council's advice is that only products meeting definitions decided on by the Home Office and the Department of Health will be moved out of schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 into schedule 2, which allows them to be prescribed by clinicians.

Schedule 1 includes drugs not used for medical purposes, such as hallucinogenic drugs, raw opium and cannabis.

The Council said there were still potential risks if cannabis-derived medicinal products were prescribed inappropriately and these needed to be carefully considered to avoid harm to patients.

Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, chair of the ACMD, said: "At present, cannabis-derived products can vary greatly in their composition, effectiveness and level of impurity.

"It is important that clinicians, patients and their families are confident that any prescribed medication is both safe and effective.

"The ACMD recommends that an appropriate definition be agreed by DHSC and MHRA promptly.

"Only products meeting this standard and definition should be given medicinal status."

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Five Things All Medical Cannabis Patients Should Know

Although there are medical cannabis programs of some kind in 47 states, DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico, medical cannabis still remains a mystery to the vast majority of Americans today. Using medical cannabis is an approach that is supported by research and medical professionals, and has demonstrated positive public health outcomes. While it may feel like an overwhelming experience for many new patients, it does not have to be, to help new patients feel comfortable entering the world of medical cannabis, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s largest medical cannabis patient advocacy group created Cannabis Care Certification, a medical cannabis education program for patients and caregivers. To help you start out this process, here is a list of top 5 things that all patients should know when considering medical cannabis as part of their health care regime.   

1. Learn you state medical cannabis laws

Every state has different laws and regulations regarding medical cannabis. Before becoming a medical cannabis patient, you should become familiar with your state and local laws regarding possession limitations, eligible conditions, consumption restrictions, age limits, and reciprocity. To find out what your state medical cannabis laws are, click here and fill out “Let’s Get Started” for a FREE legal overview and a list of requirements for your state Medical Cannabis Program.

2. Educate your doctor

We usually turn to Doctors as the experts. However, not all doctors are educated on medical cannabis and not all of them are for medical cannabis. Let your doctor know that this is an option you would like to explore and encourage them to do the same. Let them know that there IS medical professional education they can turn to in order to learn more about how cannabis works with the endocannabinoid system within our bodies. Medical professional education and CME credits can also be found out

3. Know your rights

As a legal medical cannabis patient or caregiver, you have rights, and you should know exactly what they are before you buy any product. It is important to understand, for example, if medical cannabis can be used in the workplace or in your home. It is also important to know how to handle any interaction with a law enforcement officer. As a legal medical cannabis patient, you do have rights, and you should not ever be afraid to use them.
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4. Know your options

When most people think about cannabis, they think about smoking cannabis. However, there are many different preparations and forms of administration; oils, tinctures and capsules with varying concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), that produce different effects. Learn about the different options and what might work best for you.

5. Learn how to talk about medical cannabis with others

Many people still associate a bad stigma with cannabis. It is important to have strategies to talk to people. Medical cannabis users should have a plan for talking to family, friends and employers about their cannabis use. It is important to help spread the knowledge that this is a real medicine that is helping you.

For more information about about medical cannabis or the Cannabis Care Certification patient education program, check out and

For 50% off the Cannabis Care Certification Patient and Caregiver Education Program, use coupon code: CCC50 at check out!

June 22, 2018 |  Debbie Churgai | Americans For Safe Access

New Mexico Warns Medical Cannabis Dispensaries on Cannabidiol Sales

The state is making it known that out-of-state CBD sources will not be allowed.

SANTA FE, N.M. — State health officials are warning medical cannabis dispensaries against selling cannabidiol produced outside of New Mexico or from hemp plants grown outside the state.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Medical Cannabis Program director Kenny Vigil wrote to dispensaries June 7 that the practice is "in violation of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act and must cease."

The act forbids businesses licensed in New Mexico from bringing cannabis or cannabis-derived products into New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Health says cannabidiol, or CBD, falls into that category.

Ultra Health CEO and President Duke Rodriguez says the CBD question in New Mexico is headed for further legal challenges, along with limits on the number of plants licensed growers are permitted and limits on dispensary locations.

What the Department of Health did was a good thing for the medical cannabis program community by preventing hemp CBD products with a unknown origin and by addressing the quality and safety of the products being sold/used in a medical program...what the letter to medical cannabis dispensaries reveals the great need for the Department of Health to employ a peer reviewed, third party certification program for the medical cannabis industry in New Mexico that is Patient Focused.

Patients have the right to know how their medicine has been produced, that is free of contaminants and should be confident that the medicine they are receiving has been handled with the highest quality of care and these hemp CBD products have no standards in New Mexico to ensure this like other medical cannabis programs or other state Hemp laws.

The Department of Health also needs to, double the plant count allowed to be grown by the program licensed non profit producers and set a required standard plant count number for Cannabis CBD plant production or allow CBD plants to be exempt from any count. When you have over 55,000 medical cannabis patients and only 14,500 medical cannabis plants - that math does not equal "adequate supply" or allow for "beneficial use" of medical cannabis which is the foundation of the Lynn & Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2007.

The State’s Medical Cannabis Program expansion is now “Medically Necessary”and the State needs to allow the Department of Health to open the application process, the State needs to increase the LNPP plant count, add more licensed non-profit producers, in conjunction with other measures to ensure safe access to medicine and to be compliant with the law. 

Currently there is less than ⅓ of a cannabis plant per one person in the medical cannabis program.

New Mexico has the highest licensing fees in the nation, and some of the lowest plant counts allowed. Licensed Non Profit Producers pay the state $200 for each plant they intend to grow, and can only grow up to 450 plants and are paying $90,000 licensure fee. Hemp stores in New Mexico selling CBD products from out of state are side skirting licensure fees and this lack of regulation is unfair to the medical cannabis producers in the program.  

“Hemp Derived CBD vs. Cannabis Derived CBD”

“Most Cannabidiol Oils Sold Online Mislabeled”
“Inadequate Regulation Contributes to Mislabeled Online Cannabidiol Products”

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cannabis research for veterinary patients advancing, cautiously

Hemp provision in 2014 Farm Bill seen as opening the way for research

Shape of a marijuana leaf inside a yellow caution signMore than half the country has legalized cannabis use in one form or another.
The decriminalization movement that started with California in 1996, when it was the first to establish a medical cannabis program, has given birth to a legally ambiguous cannabis market with a projected value of $25 billion by 2025.
Despite the dramatic shift in public opinion and state policies over the past two decades, little conclusive evidence exists concerning the short- and long-term health effects of a drug that, according to one nationwide survey, was used by 22.2 million Americans during a 30-day period in 2014.
One explanation for the lack of cannabis research is the federal classification of cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance. The most restrictive of the Controlled Substances Act categories, schedule I applies to drugs with no known medical benefits and a high potential for abuse, such as heroin and LSD.
The farm bill passed by Congress in 2014 included a provision that legalized the growing and cultivating of industrial hemp for research purposes under certain conditions. The law defined industrial hemp as all parts of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativaL.) containing less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is one of 104 cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant and the substance responsible for the psychotropic experience in human users.
Laws regulating the approval process for prospective pharmaceutical products and the criteria to conduct research on such products were not amended, however. Neither did any change occur in the Controlled Substances Act itself, which governs the manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of controlled drug products.
Those wishing to study the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids must navigate a challenging process that may involve the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Food and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, offices or departments in their state's government, state boards, their home institution, and potential funders.
Some researchers have viewed the process as sufficiently onerous that it dissuades them from proceeding, while others have negotiated it successfully. In late June, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the nation's first drug derived from cannabis, for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in humans.
Still other researchers are studying cannabis in animal patients without explicit FDA and DEA approval, but in a manner they contend complies with federal and state law.

Clinical studies

Dr. Stephanie McGrath with Atticus
Dr. Stephanie McGrath with Atticus, a 3-year-old Saint Bernard enrolled in a clinical trial of cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy, and Breonna Thomas, clinical trials coordinator at Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital (Photo by John Eisele/Colorado State University Photography)
Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist and assistant professor at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has completed two clinical studies since 2016 on the effects of cannabidiol in dogs with osteoarthritis or epilepsy. Cannabidiol is a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid that is thought to have positive effects in alleviating chronic pain and aiding in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
Dr. McGrath says she wasn't interested in cannabis as a therapy until 2012, after Colorado legalized the recreational use of cannabis. That's when the calls from referring veterinarians and pet owners started pouring in. "People were starting to use marijuana—or they had friends or family who used it—for medicinal purposes, and they called CSU a lot asking if we were doing any research, if we knew it was safe, and where to buy it," she said. "We could see this is a much-needed area of research, and whether it shows CBD helps or not, it's still very important since people are giving it to their pets."
Applied Basic Science Corp. provided Dr. McGrath with the CBD as well as funding for the canine osteoarthritis and epilepsy studies. The company manufactures and sells a hemp-hybrid plant oil extract for relief of signs of various medical conditions in pet animals.
Dr. McGrath contacted ABSC CEO David Moche about studying his company's product. "I told (Moche) how, as a scientist and skeptic, I have no interest in using your product unless you want to do this correctly," she recalled. "We're going to make sure it's safe, I want to know exactly what's in it, and I want to do clinical trials. I wasn't just going to administer this product to my patients and watch what happens. Fortunately, he was open to it."
An initial investigation involving 30 healthy research animals found that CBD was tolerated and resulted in measurable blood concentrations. Dr. McGrath expects results of that study will be published this year. Data from the other studies are being analyzed, but preliminary results of the epilepsy investigation were promising enough that, in January, Dr. McGrath began a three-year crossover study of CBD for epilepsy in dogs with a $350,000 grant from the American Kennel Club.
Dr. Dawn Boothe, director of clinical pharmacology at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, is studying cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs and is also developing an assay to measure cannabinoid toxicity and efficacy.
This past April, the AVMA responded to an FDA Federal Register request regarding the science behind reputed therapeutic benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis products. In addition, the AVMA, through its Division of Animal and Public Health and with input from the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and its Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee, has developed educational resources on the topic for veterinarians and their clients. Read the report "Cannabis: What Veterinarians Need to Know."

Client interest

As Dr. McGrath's experience shows, veterinarians are routinely questioned about the use of cannabis products, their side effects, and their therapeutic efficacy. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana for people, yet veterinarians are prohibited from administering, prescribing, dispensing, or recommending cannabis for their patients.
Legislation has been proposed in New York and California that would allow veterinarians to legally discuss the use of these products with their clients. Dr. Gary Richter, owner of Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, is a leading proponent of a California measure, AB 2215, that would require the California Veterinary Medical Board to establish guidelines for licensed veterinarians to discuss with clients the use of cannabis in their patients and to protect veterinarians from disciplinary action for doing so. While the California VMA supports the bill, the California Veterinary Medical Board does not.
"Should this pass and get signed by the governor, that would lift the restrictions on the vet community in California and let us provide the direct medical guidance we should be providing as veterinarians," Dr. Richter said.
Eight years ago, Dr. Richter opened his practice because he saw a need for additional medical options for pets. That desire—and client interest—are what drove Dr. Richter to learn about cannabis as a possible veterinary treatment. "I'm always looking for other options that are safe and effective that can be used for patients," he said. "So many people routinely come into my office saying, 'I've really benefited from medical cannabis; is this something I can use for my pet?'"
While it is not currently legal for Dr. Richter to discuss cannabis with his clients or recommend it for their pets, he directs them to resources that inform them about using cannabis safely in their pets. In June, he spoke about the topic for a Humane Society VMA webinar with more than 500 viewers.
Posted July 11, 2018 on JAVMA

Related JAVMA content:
Veterinary marijuana? (June 15, 2013)