Sep 292014

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is asking the U.S. Justice Department for a waiver to permit the state to import limited amounts of marijuana for the treatment of seriously ill children and young adults who suffer from rare seizure disorders, just less than a year after he opposed the use of medical marijuana.  Gov. Cuomo seeks federal permission for New York to work with private companies to supply special strains of marijuana.  Since Cuomo signed a law in July making New York the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, at least three children with the seizure disorders have died.  While Cuomo signed the medical marijuana legislation in July, a host of hurdles – from its many restrictions to developing a system for dispensing to how the crop can be grown in New York – will keep the program from being up and running until January 2016 or later.

Nevada’s state and federal lawmakers have been working to bring medical marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to conduct a pilot study on the safety and efficacy of marijuana on veterans with chronic and treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder.  While the study would be financially supported by sponsors and not receive any federal money, it has received all the federal approvals, said Sisley, who has been working on securing the study since 2011. She is hoping the university will provide the research space.  She would study five different strains of marijuana that would be smoked or vaporized and inhaled by 70 veterans. It would be the first and only randomized controlled trial in the country looking at marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.  Sisley gave a presentation Sept. 22 to the psychology department’s faculty board about joining as a research faculty member.

The Australian federal government would be given oversight over the production and distribution of medical cannabis under new legislation to make the make the drug available to patients with chronic pain. The push to legalize medical cannabis is gathering pace, with Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, chairman of the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, now finalizing a bill that is set to be introduced into Parliament next month. Supporters of legalized medical cannabis have been buoyed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s strong public support for the legalization of the drug for medical use.  Senator Di Natale, a former GP, is also pushing for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to create a special category for the drug so that it can be available with a doctor’s prescription. The TGA currently lists cannabis as a prohibited substance.  Following a campaign on behalf of terminally ill Tamworth man Daniel Haslam, the NSW government announced a clinical trial of medical cannabis earlier this month.

The Uruguayan presidential candidate favored by drug policy reform advocates, ex-President Tabare Vazquez, has proposed to use the registry of marijuana buyers and cultivators created by the law as a way to expose them to drug treatment.  “[T]here will be a record of drug users, and that registry of drug users, via the sale in pharmacies, will provide a greater understanding of those who are involved with drugs and will give the state the opportunity to try to rehabilitate this person at earlier stage.”  During the debate over the law last year, the existence of the registry itself caused some controversy, with several pundits calling it invasive. To reassure these critics, the bill was amended to state that the registries will be “sensitive data,” that cannot be revealed “without the individual’s express written consent.” Vazquez’s talk of the state using the registry to “rehabilitate” users, then, seems to contradict the spirit of this provision.

A marijuana giveaway for veterans attracted about 1,000 people to a Colorado hotel.  The “Grow 4 Vets” giveaway in Colorado Springs aimed to bring cannabis-based treatments to veterans with service-related conditions as an alternative to pain medications.  Roger Martin, the executive director and co-founder of Operation Grow4Vets, which put on the event, said the group’s goal is to bring cannabis to veterans with service-related conditions as an alternative to pain medications.  Marijuana activists have tried unsuccessfully to have post-traumatic stress disorder added to the Colorado list of medical conditions that qualify for joining the medical marijuana registry. Now that pot is legal for all adults over 21, organizers are free to give away marijuana.  Not all who received the bags were veterans. A $20 dollar donation from nonveterans was encouraged.