Weed 2, Cannabis Madness, the latest Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN special on medical marijuana that aired last night, is drawing raves and some critique from the cannabis community. The documentary largely chronicles the battle of Brian and Meghan Wilson of New Jersey, the parents who fought Gov. Chris Christie to get lifesaving high-CBD oil for their epileptic daughter, Vivian. Their story was highlighted among many stories of parents who are fleeing their states as “medical marijuana refugees” to Colorado to save their children with medical marijuana. Only one adult patient who uses smoked marijuana with high THC was shown in the hour-long presentation, without much follow-up on the importance of THC for so many patients. However, extended time was dedicated to Dr. Raphael Machoulem, the discoverer of THC, to explain the “entourage effect” – that is, the superior synergistic effect of whole plant cannabis to any of its extracted constituents alone. Project SAM’s Patrick Kennedy, sensing the turning tide, lamented the federal government’s inaction on medical marijuana, oblivious to the hypocrisy of his own contribution to that inaction. A tour of GW Pharmaceuticals provided a glimpse of the future, where whole plant medical marijuana is standardized for prescription sprays; indeed, Dr. Gupta interviewed an American physician granted FDA permission to study GW’s Epidiolex, their replacement for the high-CBD cannabis oil made famous by Dr. Gupta’s first documentary.
The DEA has raided several medical marijuana dispensaries in the Los Angeles area today at 11am. Agents with the DEA and LAPD officers stormed Black Rose dispensary in Fairfax, Downtown Medical Caregivers off Main Street, Washington and Western Medical Group in Harvard Heights, Herbman in Exposition Park and two homes in Beverly Hills in building a case against one man, still unnamed, who owns all four outlets. No arrests have been made and DEA claims to have seized marijuana, cash, and a handgun.
According to a new Wall Street Journal poll, Americans find marijuana less harmful than sugar. Given a choice of four popular substances, tobacco was listed by almost half the respondents (49%) as the most harmful, followed by alcohol in second place with 24%, and sugar in third with 15%. Marijuana was considered the least harmful, with just 8% of respondents ranking it the most harmful substance. And speaking of sugar, three studies now have shown marijuana consumers have less risk for diabetes and lower body-mass-index and prevalence of obesity than non-tokers. “The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” says the lead author of the one study, Murray Mittleman. “Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”
Minnesota law enforcement is close to killing prospects for a medical marijuana bill. Rep. Carly Melin was frustrated by law enforcement’s refusal to compromise on the bill, a requirement asked for by Gov. Mark Dayton, who agrees about law enforcement’s “legitimate concerns”. Rep. Melin offered to drop the provision allowing patients to grow their own medicine and offered to prohibit smoking of medical marijuana in favor of vaporization. That didn’t suit Dennis Flaherty of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, whose group favored only pill and oil forms of medical marijuana. Flaherty also objected that conditions like post-traumatic stress and intractable pain would be allowed because they present “potential for abuse”. Flaherty’s group instead offered that medical marijuana should be for AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and seizures and be limited to high-CBD versions with little to no THC. House Speaker Paul Thissen said it would be unlikely the bill moves forward without a compromise.
Louisiana Rep. Austin Badon has filed a bill to legalize whole plant medical marijuana. House Bill 720, however, tightens the restrictions on medical marijuana even more than previous state laws. Only neurologists, oncologists, and ophthalmologists who register for a special state license would be allowed to recommend cannabis, and their relationship with the patient must be “bona fide”, meaning writing the recommendation cannot be the sole contact with the patient. Patients would only qualify with terminal cancer, nausea produced by chemotherapy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and seizure disorders like epilepsy. There would be just six cultivation centers and ten dispensaries statewide that must be licensed pharmacies, limited to dispensing “one month’s supply” of cannabis. Patients would not be able to cultivate their own medicine.
Meanwhile in Kentucky, Sen. Denise Harper Angel has filed Senate Bill 236 to mandate clinical trials on medical marijuana. Her plan would direct $14 million toward trials at the University of Louisville through a 20 year program to be amended every two years. The other public university, University of Kentucky, would be eligible to apply for up to $14 million more. This bill would augment another bill, Senate Bill 124, which would legalize cannabidiol for physicians to prescribe at the public universities conducting FDA-approved trials.