Feb 042015

The Russ Belville Show #536 420RADIO News – Surgeon General Signals Greater Acceptance of Medical Marijuana [2015-02-04 Wed]

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy this morning suggested an openness to wider use of medical marijuana, saying the drug might offer some medical benefits.  Speaking with CBS This Morning, Dr. Murthy said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful.  So I think we have to use that data to drive policymaking, and I’m very interested to see where that data takes us.”  Murthy, who took over as surgeon general in December, appears to be softening his position on medical marijuana.  During his Senate confirmation hearing a year ago, Murthy told lawmakers, “Just like other drugs, I don’t recommend marijuana, and I don’t think it’s a good habit to use marijuana. If I had kids, I would tell them not to use it.”  Still, Murthy called for more research to “see what the science tells us.”

The Veterans Equal Access Act was introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans in states where it is legal.  VA doctors are currently prohibited from aiding patients seeking medical use of marijuana.  Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD and depression, according to a 2012 VA report. Some research has suggested marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. A recent study found that PTSD symptoms in patients who smoked cannabis were reduced an average of 75 percent.  “We should be allowing these wounded veterans access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana,” said Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, “not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It’s shameful.”

The Oregon Department of Agriculture this week began accepting applications for industrial hemp production.  State officials hope the timing of the announcement means prospective hemp farmers will be able to plant their crops by spring.  State agriculture officials have spent months drafting rules for commercial hemp production.  Though advocates are happy to see Oregon moving forward with an industrial hemp program, they worry law is too restrictive. They argue that Oregon’s minimum acreage requirements, restrictions on the use of hemp seed and limits on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana, make Oregon less competitive in the global hemp market.  Eighteen states, including Oregon, have laws defining industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and have removed barriers to its production, said Lauren Stansbury, a spokeswoman for the Hemp Industries Association. Only three states – Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont — planted crops this year.

More than half of the candidates running for Nashville mayor either support or are receptive to the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana — a sign of changing attitudes toward the drug that could boost ongoing efforts to change the law in Davidson County.  Their stances — revealed at a mayoral forum hosted by WPLN, the Nashville Bar Association and other lawyer-related organizations Tuesday — come on the heels of a petition drive to hold a public referendum to let voters decide whether local Metro dollars go toward the prosecution of adults for possession of 2 ounces of marijuana or less.  The Tennessee chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is hoping to collect 6,877 charter amendment signatures by May 18 to get their initiative on the August ballot, an election that also features the mayoral race to replace outgoing Karl Dean.  Backers of TN-NORML have argued the charter amendment only deals with the expenditure of Metro dollars and does not undermine state or federal law.

According to new research published in the Journal of Urology, data from the California Men’s Health Study show using marijuana led to a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer.  The study was comprised of over 84,000 men from the ages of 45 to 69 years old.  41 percent of the men were marijuana consumers, 57 percent were tobacco consumers, and 29 percent consumed neither marijuana nor tobacco.  Those men who consumed both tobacco and marijuana, 27 percent of the total, were found to have a 28 percent greater incidence of bladder cancer and those who consumed only tobacco had a 52 percent greater incidence.  While no causal relationship can be established from the data, the researchers concluded that marijuana use “may be inversely associated with bladder cancer risk” for men over age 45.