The Obama Administration has approved a researcher’s plan to study medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress. The Food & Drug Administration had already signed off on the study out of the University of Arizona; however, researchers had been stymied because the only legal supply of research marijuana comes from the federal government’s cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi. The National Institute on Drug Abuse finally relented and granted permission for the farm to supply the Arizona study, marking one of the few times NIDA has approved a study seeking to prove the benefits of medical cannabis. Researchers still need to secure the permission of the Drug Enforcement Administration to study this Schedule I drug. In its letter, the government cited “significant changes” to the study design that led to its approval, yet researchers said nothing about the changes affected the core design of the study.
A new Quinnipiac University poll reveals overwhelming support for medical marijuana in Iowa. More than four out of five, or 81% or Iowans support “allowing adults in Iowa to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.” Even the lowest supporting demographic, Republicans, support medical marijuana two-to-one (68%). However, the poll still found a majority of 55% oppose recreational marijuana legalization, with a near equal majority (54%) who believe Colorado’s legalization has been bad for its national image. Interestingly, though, if marijuana was legalized in Iowa, a majority of 57% wouldn’t be bothered “if one of [their] neighbors is growing marijuana in their home”. Four out of five Iowans agree with the president that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol and Iowans are split 46% to 46% on whether use of marijuana leads a person to the use of harder drugs. 83% of Iowans would be uncomfortable riding in a car with a driver who has smoked pot.
The so-called Jack Herer Initiative, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, is officially dead for legalizing marijuana in 2014. The California Secretary of State announced the CCHI campaign did not turn in enough signatures, leaving just the Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act viable for the 2014 ballot. CCHI refiled paperwork to allow them to attempt to gather the more than half-million signatures needed by April 18, but has less than $100,000 on hand for what would be a $3 million professional signature gathering effort. MCLR has gathered about 10,000 signatures and is also seeking “a miracle” $3 million cash infusion to gather signatures. The Drug Policy Alliance, the national non-profit with the millions needed to run a professional campaign, dropped out earlier this month, citing a better political outcome if they marshaled resources for a 2016 campaign. Ed Rosenthal, who filed an initiative to counter DPA’s proposal, dropped his initiative when DPA dropped out.
State agencies in Alaska are predicting costs of up to $7 million to regulate marijuana if it is legalized in August. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Alaska’s spokesman Taylor Bickford doubted the validity of the reports that were “put together hastily by government bureaucrats who have a vested interest in arguing for bigger budgets and more money from Juneau.” Among cost claims of the impending legalization: hiring a new food safety inspector for the edibles industry at a cost of $137,000; hiring at least three new state troopers to “target the illegal diversion and exportation of marijuana lawfully cultivated in Alaska”; hiring a tax auditor, tax technician and an investigator to process new marijuana taxes; and almost $1.5 million for training state troopers to recognize stoned drivers and conducting “Don’t Drive Stoned” media campaigns. The report fails to mention how much money would be raised from the proposed $50/ounce excise tax and how much that would offset these imagined costs.
Maryland legislators are looking to improve its ineffective research program on medical marijuana with a legitimate medical marijuana law. Today Maryland’s House of Delegates will vote to allow certified physicians to recommend medical marijuana. Patients would access medicine from licensed growers and be allowed to possess an undefined “30 day supply”. The House bill has 80 co-sponsors and is expected to pass into the Senate, where support is also strong. Another bill proposing marijuana legalization is expected to die, but the bill proposing decriminalization of 10 grams of marijuana passed the Maryland Senate 36 to 8 on Friday. Last year, the House killed a similar Senate-passed decriminalization bill; prospects for this year’s decriminalization bill are unclear.
Colorado clarified the rules on medical marijuana packaging on Monday. Medical marijuana must now comport with the requirements on recreational marijuana, including childproof, opaque, re-sealable packaging that meets federal poison prevention packaging requirements. Another measure that became law on Monday would allow local governments to conduct background checks on people working in the marijuana industry. All marijuana employees already undergo state background checks.