Saturday, March 31, 2018

Duke City Cannabis Decriminalization Equals Harm Reduction

Science says that decriminalizing cannabis positively benefits youth and stops criminal records from preventing success later in life.

On Monday, April 2nd 2018 the Albuquerque City Council will be taking final action on the proposed Ordinance O-18-12; "Amending The Criminal Code Of Albuquerque To Remove Marijuana Offenses And Related Penalties; Amending Chapter Eleven Of The Code Of Ordinances To Establish Civil Penalties For Possession Of One Ounce Or Less Of Marijuana Or Marijuana Paraphernalia"
The proposed ordinance can be read here:|Text|&Search=

Decriminalization does not mean that cannabis is legal, just that getting caught with it no longer results in jail time or a criminal record. Decriminalization means that a state or city has repealed or amended its laws to make certain acts criminal, but no longer subject to prosecution. In the cannabis context, this means individuals caught with small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption won’t be prosecuted and won’t subsequently receive a criminal record or a jail sentence. In many states, possession of small amounts of cannabis is treated like a minor traffic violation.

A new study, on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website, offers new insight into whether cannabis decriminalization leads to an increase in arrests and cannabis use among youth. According to the study, it doesn’t.

The study examines five states—Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Mayland—which all decriminalized cannabis between 2008 and 2014. The arrests and youth cannabis use in these five states were compared to other states that did not pass similar decriminalization policies in those years. The study found a strong association between cannabis decriminalization and a decrease in drug-related youth arrests, while cannabis use among youth either stayed the same or in some cases, declined. The study found similar results for adults.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, along with over 54 Cities like; Santa Fe, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Orlando. This generally means certain small, personal-consumption amounts are a civil or local infraction, not a state crime (or are a lowest misdemeanor with no possibility of jail time). Decriminalization measures are written and enforced slightly differently depending on what state you’re in, but generally result in a system where cannabis possession is treated similarly to a speeding ticket.

The Committee on Substance Abuse and Adolescence of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also support less-punitive measures for youth cannabis use. Additionally, the AAFP supports a reclassification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act to ease research efforts, as well as decriminalization.

For policy makers, in Albuquerque and in the Roundhouse, their priority should be so it’s clear, it should be removing the public health risks of cannabis prohibition. Those public health risks, like putting people in jail for victimless crimes, jeopardizing people's access to financial aid for higher education, jeopardizing people’s employment, and exposing people to a underground market that would increase their potential to access more harmful drugs.

All of those areas of harm reduction are ones that communities can see a public health improvement in, through the decriminalization of cannabis. And all of those issues can be achieved with a logical approach to decriminalization.

Form follows Function and Policy makers in New Mexico need to stop using the debate surrounding legalization of cannabis for recreational use to obscure the science and policy regarding the harm reduction achievements of decriminalizing cannabis and the medical use of cannabis. In today’s era of how legalization, cannabis taxation and financial profits of cannabis has spread, the distinction matters and this behoves policy makers to follow a process that achieves the greatest harm reduction.

Duke City Cannabis Decriminalization Legislation
Meeting: 5 PM Monday, April 2nd 2018
1 Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque.
All meetings begin at 5:00 p.m and are open to the public.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Cannabis For Veterinary Patients Gets Research Attention and Funding

Stigma begins to lift but legal question remain. 

More than five years after the first states legalized recreational marijuana, leading to a proliferation of cannabis products for pets and people alike, momentum is building to scientifically document whether cannabis makes good medicine for veterinary patients.

In the first study to attract substantial independent funding in the United States, a neurologist at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has begun enrolling patients in a clinical trial to test the effects of the cannabis compound cannabidiol on 60 epileptic dogs who respond poorly to standard treatment. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) has awarded the research $356,022.

At Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama, the director of the clinical pharmacology laboratory also plans a clinical trial of cannabidiol in epileptic patients, along with other cannabis-related research. Her work has received $150,000 in analytical equipment and pilot-study funding, with a promise of more to come, from a nonprofit called Pet Conscious. The organization is associated with Canna-pet, a Washington company that sells cannabis-derived capsules, oils and biscuits for cats and dogs.

Dr. Stephanie McGrath
Colorado State University photoDr. Stephanie McGrath, a veterinary neurologist, is the first researcher to receive significant independent funding in the U.S. to document the therapeutic potential of cannabis in dogs.

For human patients, a large body of lore and a smaller body of science support the concept of cannabis as effective medicine for an array of conditions — pain, neurological disorders, nausea, anorexia, anxiety and sleep disturbances, to name a few. A report, "The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research," published by the National Academy of Sciences in January 2017, is a comprehensive review of the hard evidence to date. In a few areas, the authors found conclusive or substantial evidence of medical benefit — specifically, for the treatment of chronic pain in adults; as antiemetics to quell chemotherapy-induced nausea; and to address spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis.

People considering cannabis for their own ills inevitably wonder whether animal companions with similar conditions could benefit, too. There, scientific documentation has been scarce to non-existent.
Dr. Dawn Boothe, an internist and clinical pharmacologist at Auburn, 16 months ago lamented the dearth of support for cannabis research in veterinary medicine, owing to the federal government's stance that marijuana has no medical benefit. Boothe told the Veterinary Information Network News Service that she'd tried to obtain private funding without success. Shortly afterward, Canna-pet offered her seed money.

So far, the most likely sources of financial support are businesses that sell cannabis products. The work at Colorado State attracted the substantial AKC CHF grant only because the researcher, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, had done a safety study. That early work was funded by Applied Basic Science Corp., a Colorado company interested in producing and selling cannabis as medicine for dogs.
McGrath's promising early findings using cannabidiol oil produced by Applied Basic Science enabled the AKC CHF, a leading funder of canine health research, to support further work. "You don't just jump into a clinical trial with any product unless you have preliminary safety and dosing information specific to that species," said Dr. Diane Brown, CEO of the foundation. "All AKC CHF-funded research undergoes rigorous scrutiny through our Scientific Review Committee, and this proposal raised some unique questions.”
The reviewers had to settle their nerves about supporting a study involving a plant that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regulates as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that the federal government considers it to have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse. "There was a lot of discussion about the potential backlash; the politics," Brown said. "Is this going to be frowned upon? Is this legitimate science?"
The foundation concluded that in addition to anecdotal evidence that cannabis has medicinal benefits, there's a compelling safety reason to support research: "Some people are administering cannabis products to dogs based on [consulting] Dr. Google, so it really is important for the AKC CHF to take a leadership role, demonstrating responsibility and making an investment to acquire scientifically-driven data for dogs," Brown said.

Ultimately, the foundation was proud to take the step. "We are excited to be at the forefront supporting the first clinical trial for a cannabis product for drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs," Brown said.

Still, the battle for legitimacy and support for cannabis research in veterinary medicine is far from over.

Institutional resistance lingers
McGrath, the neuroscientist leading the epilepsy study in dogs, has struggled to get her pilot work on cannabis published. Her first study sponsored by Applied Basic Science examined the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oil in 30 research beagles — what different dosages and delivery systems looked like in the dogs' blood, and whether there were any harmful side effects. (There were not.)

When it came time to report the results, McGrath met resistance from several scientific journals in the United States.

"They did not feel that the product was federally legal, therefore, they wouldn't publish a manuscript on a product that was not federally legal. That's what they either alluded to or outright said," McGrath recounted.

She had to reach outside the country to find a receptive publication. In January, the study was accepted by the Canadian Veterinary Journal, which McGrath said expects to publish the research in October.

The question of legality of cannabis products in the United States, especially those containing the active agent cannabidiol — CBD in shorthand — is convoluted and confounding because the laws are inconsistent.

As explained in guidelines from the Colorado State University Office of the General Counsel and Office of the Vice President for Research, the federal Controlled Substances Act outlaws the possession, cultivation and use of Cannabis sativa, otherwise known as marijuana. However, the Agricultural Act of 2014, section 7606, allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp, defined as "the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."

The distinction is this: Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes euphoria, or a "high." But THC is just one biologically active ingredient in cannabis among many that are believed to have a potentially therapeutic effect, CBD chief among them. Cannabis growers say plant strains exist that produce high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. Under the Agricultural Act definition, any cannabis plant that has little to no THC is industrial hemp that may be grown "for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research" in states that have laws allowing such.

According to the Colorado State guidelines and fact sheet, Colorado law permits research on and commercial cultivation of industrial hemp by growers who have registered with the state Department of Agriculture. The university has state permission to grow hemp indoors and out in specified locations.

The nuance and conflict in federal law is unrecognized by a recent document prepared by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, "Cannabis: What Veterinarians Need to Know." The guide, published in January, relays the DEA position that all derivatives of the marijuana plant, including CBD, are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. The AVMA guide states: "Marijuana and its derivatives including CBD are federally illegal ..." and does not mention the 2014 farm bill.

To inquire about enrolling a dog in the Colorado State University clinical trial investigating the efficacy of cannabidiol in treating epilepsy, contact the research team at
To inquire about free therapeutic drug monitoring of cannabinoids in pets being given any cannabis products, contact the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory.

Promising research ends
The AVMA council's strict interpretation of the law contributed to a halt on promising research at Cornell University.

In pilot studies requested by a company in Maine called ElleVet Sciences, Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, an associate professor of clinical nutrition and sports medicine and rehabilitation at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, tested the pharmacokinetics of CBD oil produced by ElleVet. Then he tested it as a treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis and crepitus. Wakshlag said ElleVet provided about $80,000 in funding.

Wakshlag reported resounding results: "Lo and behold, when the patients were on industrial-hemp oil with enriched CBD in it, the dogs did remarkably better. The older and more decrepit they were, the more pronounced the improvement."

The double-blinded study, which began in late 2016, involved 16 patients, each of whom received either the hemp oil or a placebo twice daily for four weeks. After a two-week break, patients who'd received the placebo were then given the hemp oil, and those who received hemp oil earlier were given the placebo, a study design known as "crossover."

Some dogs were in such bad shape that their owners were ready to euthanize, Wakshlag said. In one such case, the owner of a dog who was on the olive-oil-based placebo and not showing improvement asked, "Can we just end this?" the doctor recounted.

He asked the owner to try the second oil before giving up. After the switch, "that dog came trotting in for the two-week follow-up, and the owner was thrilled," Wakshlag reported.
In another case, within three days of starting her dog on CBD oil, the owner was "in our office, crying, thanking us for giving her her dog back," Wakshlag said.

Overall, the research showed "a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity" with no observable side effects, Wakshlag said. The experience made him a believer. In a video posted on the ElleVet website, Wakshlag predicts that CBD will "change the face of pain management probably for years to come."

But first, it has to be widely accepted as a legal product for veterinary use. Bills are pending in at least two states — California and New York — but to date, no state has given veterinarians explicit authority to discuss cannabis as medicine, much less recommend it.

"That's the sad part," Wakshlag said. "We have something out there that we think will probably help 60 to 70 percent of dogs with arthritis, and we can't recommend it."

Equally disappointing, he said, his institution's hospital director is unwilling to allow further research, owing to the DEA's statement that CBD is illegal and the AVMA's agreement. Wakshlag said he had finished the clinical trial when the DEA position, followed by the AVMA report, came out. The combination led his hospital administration to stop further research, he said. "Things are getting hairy and fuzzy, so I'm not doing it anymore."

AVMA spokesperson Sharon Granskog said the group was unaware that its report on cannabis influenced Cornell to stop a research program. The purpose of the report, she said by email, was "to help veterinarians navigate the complex issues and questions around the therapeutic use of marijuana."

Asked why the report does not mention the Agricultural Act of 2014 provision for industrial hemp, Granskog said other laws are more germane — namely, the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and the Controlled Substances Act. "Whether hemp may be grown for food and pharmaceutical products remains a question for the FDA and/or the DEA," she said, echoing a statement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

'It seemed crazy that there was no research'
McGrath, the Colorado State neurologist, said the AVMA historically has taken a conservative posture on cannabis but she was heartened to receive an invitation from the association to speak about her research at its annual convention in July. "I'm hoping that that at least shows that there's some more openness to their stance on the subject," she said.

McGrath credits robust support from Colorado State in making her research with veterinary patients possible. When she consulted a member of the university's legal staff at the outset, she was told, "Heck yeah, you can do studies. Just make sure it's hemp product so it's less than 0.3 percent THC."
"I do feel like I'm very protected by CSU," McGrath said. "If I were out in private practice, there's no way I would do this. I would personally not feel comfortable at all exposing myself to the potential legal repercussions."

She added: "I do spend a little bit of time feeling like, 'Gosh, I hope I'm OK doing what I'm doing.' "
Conducting pioneering studies on cannabis is nothing McGrath ever aspired to do. "I had no intention of doing this research at all," she said. "I hadn't been following any of this and had very little interest in it."

Then in 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington made marijuana legal for recreational use, marking a trend toward liberalizing attitudes on a drug that had been accepted for years in a number of states for medical use. (Today, 30 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, according to Governing magazine.) McGrath began fielding calls from local veterinarians and pet owners asking whether the plant's apparent medicinal effects in humans extended to other species. She looked into what was known on the topic.

"I was pretty alarmed by how little research was out there," she said. Considering that people were likely to try products on their animals regardless, McGrath thought that "with a substance that is seemingly pretty harmless — specifically, CBD — and potentially how beneficial it could be, it seemed crazy that there was no research to support that."

Her interest piqued, McGrath mused, "I wonder if I could be the one to do this research, since nobody else seems to be?"

About that time, a physician acquaintance in Colorado, Dr. Alan Shackelford, had begun to explore the anti-convulsive effects of CBD after being implored for help by the mother of a 5-year-old. The child had a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome that caused her to have near-constant seizures.

Initially reluctant, Shackelford was persuaded by the mother's desperation. With the doctor's referral, the mother obtained a cannabis extract derived from a strain said to have high levels of CBD. She gave it to her daughter. The child "went from 300 grand mal seizures a week to none. Immediately," Shackelford said.

She had a seizure one week later, but the frequency was notably diminished. "To go from 300 a week to two to four seizures a month is an astonishing change," the doctor said.

Word spread. The girl's experience was detailed in a CNN documentary, "Weed." Parents of children suffering from seizure disorders began moving with them to Colorado to seek similar treatment.
McGrath and Shackelford discussed whether CBD might work in dogs, too. Epilepsy is the most common neurologic condition in canines, and standard drugs don't work in 20 to 30 percent. "Let's see if we can find the money to do a study," Shackelford recalled saying. "This was new, of course, the very notion."

Shackelford enlisted S. David Moche, an entrepreneur who'd done real-estate deals in what he calls "the medical marijuana ecosystem" of California. Moche also had ties in Israel, dubbed "The Holy Land of Medical Marijuana" by U.S. News & World Report for its groundbreaking cannabis research. (It was an Israeli chemist who isolated THC and discovered that it acts on the brain by mimicking a neurotransmitter, a pioneering step toward recognizing the body's endocannabinoid system.)
In Colorado, Shackelford and Moche established Applied Basic Science and set out to obtain scientific validation of prospective products. "I was not going to put a product on the market without having the research behind it," Moche said. "Otherwise, I'd be there like every other Tom, Dick and Harry doing a big marketing game. This should not be a marketing game. You're dealing with a pet who is the most loyal, trusted, best friend. All of that is cliché, but it's true."

Results of safety study lead to clinical trials
Moche, president and CEO of the company, estimates it has contributed about $500,000 to the science to date. To start, McGrath tested the safety of oral CBD oil on 30 research beagles. She detected no harmful effects. (The finding applies to the specific product given and cannot be extrapolated to CBD products in general. The same is true of the testing done by Wakshlag at Cornell.)

The safety data enabled McGrath's research team to apply for and receive approval from the university's Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee for a study on client-owned animals — pets. Applied Basic Science wished to test its CBD on arthritic as well as epileptic dogs, so McGrath enlisted a Colorado State colleague, Dr. Felix Duerr, a sports medicine and rehabilitation and surgery specialist, to handle the arthritis portion.

Duerr had had no particular knowledge of cannabis, and believed that any study proposal involving cannabis would be stalled in the legal gray zone. Moreover, he was accustomed to inquiries from businesses chasing cures. "I get a call from a company about every week that says, ‘We've found a cure for arthritis,’ he told VIN News. "I always tell them that we are open to anything as long as we know it's safe for the dogs and there's some preliminary evidence suggesting that it might be beneficial. I give them a rough estimate of what a real clinical trial costs and 95 percent of the time, they never call me again."

This proposal turned out to be one of the 5 percent that materialize.

The study involves 24 arthritic dogs, each of whom receives CBD oil for six weeks and a placebo for six weeks. Effects of each are measured through analysis of the dogs' gait, radiographs, activity monitoring and owner questionnaires. Because the research is double-blinded, Duerr doesn't know yet how well the CBD works versus the placebo. He anticipates seeing answers in May.
McGrath's pilot clinical study examining the effects of CBD on 20 epileptic dogs, now winding down, is double-blinded, too. McGrath expects to see the data in a few months. Meanwhile, her research team has begun vetting prospects for the larger AKC CHF-funded study; they aim to enroll 60 patients.

The subjects will be dogs for whom conventional epilepsy drugs don't work well or cause unacceptable side effects. The patients must be able to visit the clinic at Colorado State frequently. That requirement has not deterred out-of-state dog owners. "There's definitely people who've offered to move to Colorado for six months so their dog can take part in the study," McGrath said.
At Auburn University in Alabama, Boothe, the clinical pharmacologist, has had more difficulty getting her clinical work off the ground, owing to the legal morass. Alabama is one of 20 states where marijuana remains illegal for any purpose, although the state in 2016 created an industrial hemp research program overseen by its agriculture department.

Boothe's research is slowed by the DEA posture that cannabis-derived products, including CBD, are subject to the same restrictions as marijuana with substantial THC content. The DEA position compelled Boothe to apply for a federal permit for research involving a Schedule I controlled substance, the classification under which marijuana (along with heroin, LSD and other narcotics) falls.

The legal landscape is dynamic. On Monday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, announced plans to introduce the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.
Meanwhile, Boothe said, her research team is doing work that doesn't involve them directly giving patients CBD. For example, they're measuring the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the body tissues of normal and abnormal animals as a means of understanding the biological effects of cannabinoids. They're also offering free therapeutic drug monitoring of cannabinoids in the blood of pets receiving any cannabis product.

Once they are able to work clinically with cannabinoids and animals, Boothe said one question her team will try to answer is what dose is needed in dogs, cats and horses to achieve a therapeutic response, and how best to deliver the dose.

With growing support for research, Boothe said she's feeling much more optimistic about the prospect of obtaining reliable, science-based information about the potency of cannabis as medicine for veterinary patients. "Ten years from now, we will have a lot settled," she predicted. After a moment's thought, she added, "I think five years might be reasonable."

Boothe is continuing to seek independent funding for research because she knows that involvement by commercial interests can detract from the credibility of findings, rightly or wrongly. "Pet Conscious has been wonderful," she said. "They have put no restrictions on what we can study, but the advantage of non-industry-sponsored studies is that it removes the perception of bias."
Without continued and wider support for research, Boothe said, veterinary medicine stands to be left behind.

"Here's the bottom line," she said: "These products are coming. There's no doubt in my mind that cannabinoids are going to prove [to be] important therapeutic interventions. What remains to be seen is for what conditions and the most appropriate doses and ways to use it. I'm convinced we need to get on this train, because it's going to go with or without us, and I'd rather it be with us."

March 29, 2018
By: Edie Lau
For The VIN News Service 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Hemp Farming Act of 2018

In a recent breakout session at the American Farm Bureau National Convention in Nashville hemp supporters discussed legislation to remove the crop from the DEA’s schedule one substance list.  Hemp is only legal in states with certified industrial hemp pilot programs like Kentucky. The federal government currently classifies hemp as an illegal substance due to its similarities to cannabis.

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the industry association that joins the nation’s leading hemp companies and all of its major grassroots organizations, yesterday lauded U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell upon his announcement of the pending introduction of “The Hemp Farming Act of 2018.”  Leader McConnell’s bill, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), would permanently remove hemp from regulation as a controlled substance and treat it as an agricultural commodity.  Similar legislation, H.R. 3530, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017,” was introduced last year by Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and has been co-sponsored by 43 of his colleagues, from both sides of the aisle.

“The hemp industry is very grateful to Leader McConnell for his strong leadership over the years on behalf of providing Kentucky farmers – and the whole U.S. agricultural commodity – this exciting new economic opportunity,” stated Roundtable President Brian Furnish, an 8th generation tobacco farmer from Cynthiana(KY), who credits the Leader with empowering his transition from tobacco to hemp.  “Leader McConnell’s persistence and commitment has gotten us to this point – through his work on the 2014 Farm Bill and subsequent legislation that created today’s hemp pilot programs.  There’s no better person to help get us across the finish line.”

“While this has been, and will continue to be, a broadly bipartisan effort in Congress, when the history of hemp legalization is written, the two most important figures will be Mitch McConnell and James Comer,” stated Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller, who previously served as Kentucky’s State Treasurer and Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “Everyone who is working so hard to build this nascent industry understands that we owe deep appreciation to Senator McConnell for his strong commitment and steady leadership on this issue.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (R-KY) announced on March 26th the impending introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

Senator McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by using his leadership position in the Senate to spearhead a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

“Here in Kentucky, we have built the best Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in the country and have established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement,” Commissioner Quarles said. “I want to thank Leader McConnell for introducing this legislation which allows us to harness the economic viability of this crop and presents the best opportunity to put hemp on a path to commercialization.”

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves their implementation plan. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.

Senator McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate, with Senator Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members, following this state work period.  McConnell acknowledged there was "some queasiness" about hemp in 2014 when federal lawmakers cleared the way for states to regulate it for research and pilot programs. There's much broader understanding now that hemp is a "totally different" plant than its illicit cousin, he said to WBKO News 13 in Kentucky.

"I think we've worked our way through the education process of making sure everybody understands this is really a different plant," the Republican leader said.

McConnell said he plans to have those discussions with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to emphasize the differences between the plants. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on all things cannabis.

McConnell said his bill will attract a bipartisan group of co-sponsors and that language of the legislation will be similar to the Hemp Farming Act of 2017. He said the measure would allow states to have primary regulatory oversight of hemp production if they submit plans to federal agriculture officials outlining how they would monitor production.

At least 34 states passed legislation related to industrial hemp. State policymakers have taken action to address various policy issues — the definition of hemp, licensure of growers, regulation and certification of seeds, state-wide commissions and legal protection of growers. Some states establishing these programs require a change in federal laws or a waiver from the DEA prior to implementation.

Thirty eight states and Puerto Rico considered legislation related to industrial hemp in 2017. These bills ranged from clarifying existing laws to establishing new licensing requirements and programs.  At least 15 states enacted legislation in 2017 — Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, North Dakota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada authorized new research or pilot programs. The governors of Arizona and New Mexico vetoed legislation, which would have established new research programs. 

(New Mexico, Senate Bill 6, Industrial Hemp Research -Latest Details)

On Tuesday, January 2, 2018, New Mexico’s Supreme Court blocked District Judge Sarah Singleton’s decision that determined that Governor Martinez did not legally veto 10 bills passed during the 2017 legislative session. The January 2 ruling puts a hold on the promulgation of all 10 bills until the court has a ‘full and fair opportunity’ to consider the case.

The 10 bills, including two bills legalizing hemp research, were passed by legislators during the 2017 legislative session and then vetoed by Governor Martinez. The Governor’s veto was challenged in District Court with Judge Sarah Singleton ruling that the 10 bills were not vetoed through a legal process, and therefore should be promulgated. The Governor’s office then challenged Judge Singleton’s ruling in the New Mexico Supreme Court. The recent Supreme Court decision puts the 10 bills, including hemp, back in legal limbo until the court address the issue at a later date. A full story can be found at the following link.  

While hemp and cannabis products both come from the cannabis plant, hemp is typically distinguished by its use, physical appearance and lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp producers often grow the plant for the one or more parts — seeds, flowers and stalk. The plant is cultivated to grow taller, denser and with a single stalk.

State statutes, with the exception of West Virginia, define industrial hemp as a variety of cannabis with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent. West Virginia defines hemp as cannabis with a THC concentration of less than 1 percent.

Many state definitions for industrial hemp specify that THC concentration is on a dry weight basis and can be measured from any part of the plant. Some states also require the plant to be possessed by a licensed grower for it to be considered under the definition of industrial hemp.

Map of State Laws Related to Industrial Hemp (Click Here)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Is Vaping Cannabis Safe?

Some vape pens may not be vaporizing at all. - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN BRENEMAN
Credit: B. Breneman

Some vape pens may not be vaporizing at all.
Of all the methods of ingesting cannabis, vaping (short for "vaporizing") has grown the most in popularity in recent years. It involves heating — but not burning — cannabis and then inhaling the vapor. It's generally thought to be safer than smoking, and it's more discreet and convenient. But is it actually safe?
Well, it depends on your vaping device, and there are a few factors to consider.
Vaping is commonly done via a portable vape pen, and while you can use raw cannabis in some vape pens, most require cartridges of concentrates. These concentrates are created through the use of solvents, such as butane, CO2, or ethanol, which extract compounds from the plant and leave behind a more potent substance.
Hydrocarbon extraction, such as using butane or propane, is more likely than CO2 extraction to result in residual solvents ending up in the concentrate. A 2015 study published in The Journal of Toxicological Sciences found that more than 80 percent of the concentrate samples were contaminated by residual solvents.
There can also be issues with the raw cannabis itself. In the same 2015 study, pesticides were detected in one-third of the concentrate samples. While there are new requirements for testing cannabis (in all its forms) before it goes to market, they won't be enforced until July 1.
Of particular concern with vaping is propylene glycol (PG), a chemical that's added to cannabis oil products as a thinner. (It's also used in everything from shampoo to ice cream.) Although the FDA classifies it as "generally recognized as safe," there are concerns about propylene glycol when it's heated to high temperatures, according to a 2015 report by Jahan Marcu, chief scientific officer for Americans for Safe Access. That's because it transforms into carbonyls, "a group of cancer-causing chemicals that includes formaldehyde, which has been linked to spontaneous abortions and low birth weight," Marcu wrote. In the same report, Project CBD research associate Eric Geisterfer looked at hemp-derived CBD vape oil and found that nearly every one contained PG or polyethylene glycol (PEG), another toxic additive.

A more recent study, published in November 2017, tested four common thinning agents — PG, PEG 400, vegetable glycerin (VG), and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) — used by the cannabis industry, heating them to 230-degrees Celsius (or 446-degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature appropriate for cannabis oil vaporization. The results showed that PG and PEG 400, in particular, produced high levels of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde when heated. With PEG 400, formaldehyde production was nearly the equivalent of smoking one cigarette, the researchers found.
Marcu said another issue of concern are added terpenes, which give cannabis its distinctive odor. "They're generally regarded as safe," he said in an interview. "But not all are safe to be inhaled at a high concentration."
While cannabis oil only needs to be heated between 160- and 190-degrees Celsius to begin to aerosolize, vaping devices do not heat evenly or consistently. People also use the products differently.
Jeremy Green, COO of vape pen company Dosist, noted that almost all vape pens are made in Shenzhen, China, which bills itself as the headquarters of the e-cig industry. (Vape pens are made from the same device as e-cigarettes.) The actual heating element can vary, from ceramic to glass to metal. Green said the nichrome (or nickel-chromium) wire — the same type of heating mechanism you'll find in a toaster — is the most common heating element found in vape pens.
"A lot of people say they have a ceramic heating element, but really that's not true," said Green. "The nichrome [wire] is wrapped around the ceramic or embedded in the ceramic." (Green said Dosist pens use a custom blended alloy.)
The problem? In a peer-reviewed study published in 2013, a researcher at UC Riverside found a high concentration of heavy metals and silicates in the vapor of e-cigarettes, which came from the device's heating element — nickel-chromium wire coated in silver.
Just how much heat is being generated depends on the device's battery and how long the user engages it. Some vape pens are activated by pushing a button, while others are powered when the user sucks on it.
Green said many vape pens also have silver tips (the part you suck on), which are nickel or chrome plating. "You don't see those on medical devices because they aren't safe," he said. (He said Dosist uses medical-grade plastic for its exterior.)

There are no regulations for these devices in the e-cig or cannabis industry, so there are no standards, Green noted. While some vape brands, such as Brass Knuckles and Stiiizy, test their concentrates for pesticides and residual solvents and list the results on their websites, others may only tout potency.
So how can consumers stay safe? Marcu recommends looking for a third-party seal of approval on products (such as PFC, or Patient Focused Certification, of which he is the director), critically reviewing the label (beware of propylene glycol), and not being afraid to ask the company questions about its ingredients and testing. Also, don't buy any product that doesn't come with storage and usage guidelines. And when it comes to using the device, don't inhale or hold down the button for too long because you may be smoking the concentrate. All that said, "true vaporizers are absolutely safe," he noted.

What Is Patient Focused Certification?

But with cannabis testing regulations going into effect July 1 (for California), Green believes many vape brands will go under due to a lack of compliant product and increased costs related to compliance. "So, you're going to start to see some consolidation among the brands," he said. "There won't be 45 vape pens on the shelf."
By Kathleen Richards for East Bay Express

Sunday, March 25, 2018

“Scope” of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board

During 2017 the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board meet twice, once in April and once more in November. There was not one state legislator in attendance for either one. The LECUA Patients Coalition Of New Mexico grassroots advocacy group provided 42 Petitions to the State of New Mexico Department of Health For Expanding Safe Access of Medical Cannabis in 2017.

Not all Petitions were heard or seen by the Advisory Board in 2017.

Per the Department of Health’s legal counsel’s input, they said several Petitions “would require statutory changes or are not covered under the duties of the MCAB and would not discussed at the MCAB meeting”.

Here are all the recommendations that Advisory Board Doctors made in 2017 to the State:

A. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following fourteen (14) health conditions be added into the medical cannabis program; ADD/ADHD, Autism (ASD), Anxiety, Degenerative Neurological Disorder, Depression, Dystonia, Eczema / Psoriasis, Migraine Headache, Muscular Dystrophy, Post-Concussion Syndrome & TBI, All Types Seizures (such as: psychogenic neurological disorders; Motor Disorders / Motor Development Disorders), Sleep Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorder(s) (and Opioid Use Disorder);

B. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following four (4) medical treatments be added into the medical cannabis program; Pediatric Oncology & Medical Cannabis Use for Antiemetic in State Hospitals(Recommended to add to MCP with 5-0 Vote by sending a letter of support to Legislature to add into LECUA Act, 2007.), Change/increase possession limit to 16 oz for Patients, Removal of Potency Limit on THC Content for Concentrates, and Patient Run Collectives;

C. Advisory Board Doctors were denied by the Department of Health in Reviewing the following 6 Medical Treatment Petitions in 2017 : (1)Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis Program Research & Education Established, (2)Medical Treatment; ADA language for Section 8 of LECUA; (3)Medical cannabis registry,Medical Treatment;Medical Cannabis 3 yr registry identification cards, (4)Medical Treatment; Recognition of nonresident medical cards, (5)Medical Treatment; Adequate Supply: LNPP Plant Count Increase, (6)Medical Treatment; Increase Medical Cannabis Advisory Board membership.

Yet we often hear State Government Regulators and Lawmakers in New Mexico say how they need to learn more about medical cannabis or that there isn’t enough research for this or to do that; yet all the while the Governor and Lawmakers have now stopped medical cannabis research twice since 2015.

During the 2017 Regular Legislative Session, state lawmakers made efforts to legislate a number of changes to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program with over 25 different pieces of legislation, one of the bills vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez, was House Bill-527, on Friday-April 7th 2017 (same day as the medical cannabis advisory board meeting), saying she did so in part because she didn’t want to “eliminate an important responsibility” of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher, has the final word on changes to the state Medical Cannabis Program.

That same Friday morning, on April 7th 2017, the Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board held a meeting exercising that important responsibility the Governor spoke of. Then per the Department of Health’s legal counsel’s input, in saying that these petitions (below) would require statutory changes or are not covered under the duties of the MCAB and would not discussed at the MCAB meeting. Wait I thought the Governor of New Mexico said she didn’t want to take away this important responsibility of the according to the Governor these Petitions should have been heard?

Why was there a denial by the State of hearing these petitions (listed below) that are deemed the “important responsibility” of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board by the Governor?
  • Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis Program Research & Education Established (Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.”)
  • Medical Treatment; ADA language for Section 8 of LECUA; Medical cannabis registry (Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.”)
  • Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis 3 yr registry identification cards. (Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.”)
  • Medical Treatment; Recognition of nonresident medical cards. (Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.”)
  • Medical Treatment; Adequate Supply: LNPP Plant Count Increase(Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.”) **3 of the 5 MCAB members made public comment that they feel this is part of the scope of work they do for the program and further said they (MCAB) should have been able to hear this petition as it does pertain to adequate supply in the medical cannabis program... 
  • Medical Treatment; Increase MCAB membership . (Petition was not heard at this meeting - “they are beyond the scope of the Medical Advisory Board.” Despite the Boards desire to review and hear the petition and others.)
All of these medical treatment petitions provide a solution to the State’s current neglected medical cannabis program law and items proposed in all of these petitions were also proposed and passed in one or both chambers of the State’s legislature with some dying in committee or being vetoed in 2017.

Now with Department of Health’s legal counsel’s input, in saying that these petitions not heard require statutory changes or are not covered under the duties of the MCAB...let’s go back to 2010, 2014 and 2015.

The New Mexico Department of Health in 2010 announced changes to its medical cannabis regulations, one of which was to add to the supply by increasing the number of plants licensed producers can grow from 95 to 150. After surveying medical cannabis program participants in 2013 , we saw in 2015 a set of rules was proposed and approved by the Department of Health allowing the LNPPs to have up to 450 plants, along with the highest re-licensure fees in the country. 

We have also seen the Department propose and make changes to rules and regulations that pertain to Registry Identification Cards, PPL Registry & Regulations, one previous increase to quantities of cannabis necessary to constitute an Adequate Supply.

Increasing the number of medical cannabis plants a producer can grow does not require a statutory change(s), the Department of Health has already done so themselves. The Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, vetoed legislation from fellow Republican Representative Nate Gentry that would have improved the medical cannabis program (House Bill-527). And the Governor said she did so as not to “eliminate an important responsibility” of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

And now we see how the Department’s legal counsels input was wrong, those 6 Petitions do fall under the duties of the MCAB per the LECUA, 2007 law. The Governors own statement reaffirms the MCAB statutory duties and issuing recommendations concerning rules to be promulgated. Any New Mexico resident may submit a petition requesting the addition of a new medical condition, treatment or disease to the Board.

All 6 of those petitions rejected from being heard by the Department all are specific to the addition of a new medical condition, treatment or disease into the medical cannabis program.

The current law for the Medical Cannabis Program, passed in 2007, states the following, (Page 1/Section 2) “PURPOSE OF ACT.--The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.”

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary states that “medical treatment” means; the management and care of a patient to combat disease or disorder. Medical treatment includes: Using prescription medications, or use of a non-prescription drug at prescription strength; and or treatment of disease by hygienic and pharmacologic remedies, as distinguished from invasive surgical procedures. Treatment may be pharmacologic, using drugs; surgical, involving operative procedures; or supportive, building the patient's strength. It may be specific for the disorder, or symptomatic to relieve symptoms without effecting a cure.(Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 9th edition.)

The State of New Mexico is Not following or fulfilling the following sections of the LECUA Law:
  • The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis and this is Not being fulfilled.
  • "adequate supply" for the Medical Cannabis Program is Not being followed or fulfilled.
  • The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board Duties are Not being allowed to be fulfilled.
  • Recommendations made by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board are Not being followed.
  • The Department of Health is not fulfilling its own Duties in accordance with the LECUA, 2007 and the State Rules Act. (Example: Testing of Medical Cannabis)
  • The Department is not following or fulfilling one of the most crucial sections of the LECUA law; “determine additional duties and responsibilities of the advisory board; and be revised and updated as necessary”
  • The State of New Mexico is acting as a Medical Provider and Practicing Medicine Without a Medical License and is therefore Not following the LECUA Law. 
Medical Cannabis in New Mexico 2017: 
The Lynn And Erin Compassionate Use Act Report
This report will provide the State of New Mexico with timely tools they need to improve the medical cannabis program to truly meet the needs of the patients they are meant to serve. The Full Report is 40 pages and attached here and link is below.

The approval of ALL the recommendations made by the Doctors on the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, having the Department of Health to open the application process to add more licensed non-profit producers, and increasing the amount of medical cannabis plants a LNPPs and Patients can grow; would all need to be done to bring the State of New Mexico in compliance with the legal intent of the LECUA law and uphold the spirit of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2007.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started 40 years Ago in 1978. After public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis...the first law.