February 2019

Your health is on the ballot in the midterm election

(CNN)Voters in 37 states will have more than candidates to choose in Tuesday’s election. There are 158 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involve health-related issues such as Medicaid expansion, marijuana, abortion, grocery taxes and charges related to drug use and possession.

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia have measures that are aimed at restricting abortion access. If passed, Alabama’s Amendment 2 will add language to the state Constitution to give a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born.
Abortion-rights supporters in Alabama worry that the amendment could be used to criminalize some forms of in-vitro fertilization and contraception. There are also concerns that should the US Supreme Court end Roe v. Wade, this amendment would be a “trigger ban,” meaning abortion would be outlawed in the state.
    This “personhood” ballot measure doesn’t have exemptions like in other states’ laws that carve out the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or the danger to the life of the mother.
    Oregon’s Measure 106 would end state funding for abortions. Women who are public employees or who are on Medicaid would no longer get coverage for the procedure. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and a pregnancy that is a threat to the woman’s health.
    West Virginia’s Amendment 1, also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, would explicitly state that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” It also has an exception for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threats to the woman’s life. It would essentially restrict Medicaid funding for abortions.

    Marijuana

    Voters in four states will have to decide how they feel about marijuana. In Michigan and North Dakota, they will consider whether recreational use should be legal for adults over 21. North Dakota’s amendment would also automatically expunge the record of someone who had a conviction related to weed.
    Other states’ weed-related initiatives focus on medical marijuana; 31 states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize or decriminalize it.
    Missouri has three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this year. Amendment 2 would legalize medical marijuana, tax it at 4% and guarantee that the money would be spent on health care services for veterans. Amendment 3 also would legalize it for medical reasons and tax it at 15%, and the money would have to be spent to create a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, a state-run institution that would look for cures for disease. The money that the drugs would earn would go back to the state.
    Proposition C, a separate ballot question, would also legalize medical marijuana and tax it at 2%, and the money would have to go toward veterans, drug treatment, education and law enforcement. If voters say yes to all three, the one that gets the “largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”
    In Utah, if voters say yes to Proposition 2, individuals with qualifying illnesses would get access to medical marijuana.

    Health care

    Montana, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will consider expanding Medicaid. Montana’s I-185 would also raise taxes on tobacco products to help fund the expansion and other health care programs.
    Idaho’s Proposition 2 would expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level, as would Nebraska’s Initiative 427 and Utah’s Proposition 3. In Utah, that expansion would be funded in part by a sales tax increase.
    There may be additional election-related changes with Medicaid. If Democrats win in Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Florida, there’s a possibility those states could expand Medicaid as well. In Florida alone, a million people would get health care coverage if Medicare is expanded in that state. Potentially, 2.7 million additional Americans could get coverage if elections go Democrats way in those states.
    In Montana, the ballot question could end the Medicaid expansion there. The Tobacco industry has spent millions in the state to fight the initiative since it would double the cigarette task to pay for the state’s portion of Medicaid expansion.
    Other health care initiatives are on the ballot in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
    California’s Proposition 4 would authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. Proposition 8 would require dialysis clinics to refund patients for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care. Supporters of the initiative believe this would incentivize clinics to spend money on health care improvements rather than putting it toward their profits.
    Proposition 11 would require people who work on ambulances to stay on call during breaks and require employers to give EMTs and paramedics additional training and some paid mental health services.
    Question 1 in Massachusetts would limit the number of patients assigned to registered nurses working in a hospital. The state has such restrictions for intensive care units but not for any other part of the hospital.
    Nevada’s Question 4 would require the state legislature to remove taxes on durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and mobility devices that are prescribed by a licensed provider.

    Other health matters

    In Massachusetts, with Question 3, voters will decide whether they want to keep a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections. Without them, supporters of the ballot question say, people who identify as transgender could be denied access to doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical care.
    Some of the other ballot initiatives involve tax collection. In Nevada, Question 2 would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Oregon’s Measure 103 would taxes on groceries. Washington state has a similar initiative that would ban local governments from collecting taxes on groceries. The initiatives are getting broad support from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Inc that see it as a way to fight the growing movement toward soda taxes.
    South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 25 would increase taxes on tobacco products. Virginia’s Question 2 would remove a restriction on tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. Maine’s Question 1 would create a payroll tax and non-wage income tax that would fund a home health care program.
    In New Mexico, Bond Question A would provide $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities.

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

      Ohio will vote on Issue 1, which would eliminate the option for a felony charge for the possession or use of drugs, would require the state to spend on programs that would include helping people get into drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, would create sentencing programs that involve drug rehab, and would prohibit courts from sending a person to prison for non-criminal probation violations.
      Oklahoma voters will decide State Question 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail establishments.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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      World Health Organization calls to reclassify weed

      How will the 2020 presidential election shape marijuana legalization going forward?
      Image: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

      If there’s one thing that united Democrats and Republicans in the Reagan era (besides their unfortunate fixation with perms), it was their near universal hatred of weed. Everybody was a cop back then. Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate for president in 1984, called for another “War on Drugs” — all drugs. Ronald Reagan, for his part, believed that marijuana was “probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.”

      Fast forward to the 2020 election, when politicians have largely done an about-face, at least when it comes to weed. Politicians aren’t just campaigning for medical marijuana, they’re advocating for recreational marijuana to be legalized: explicitly, vocally, and on their campaign pages.

      Were it not for the hundreds of thousands of people arrested for marijuana law violations every year, it’s almost like the past 40 years of aggressive anti-marijuana drug policy didn’t exist. 

      Here’s what Daniel Mallinson, assistant professor of public policy and administration at Penn State Harrisburg, thinks of the tectonic political and cultural shift on marijuana legalization:

      “It started in the liberal states. There was a big political shift there that has since shifted to more conservative, battleground states — specifically when it comes to medical marijuana,” Mallinson told Mashable in a phone interview. “Even the majority of Republicans now support some form of legalization. That’s a rapid political shift among individuals that’s now being captured in state policy and brought to the national level.”

      Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states and Washington, DC, while medical marijuana is legal in 33. And the remarkable historical progress is only expected to grow.

      Mallinson isn’t surprised to see Democratic candidates latching onto this issue:

      “Democrats are all jostling to be the most progressive right now. At least the ones who have declared already,” Mallison said. “You have to check a box for marijuana legalization if you want to run in that space.” 

      Will recreational marijuana legalization help candidates in the general election? Mallinson isn’t so sure. The current 2020 presidential candidates have a range of views on the issue, not all of them exactly alike. Here’s where each presidential candidate stands on legalized marijuana, and where they once stood — as much as they might try to deny it. 

      2020 Democrats

      Where the Democratic candidates stand on marijuana legalization

      Amy Klobuchar

      Blazin’ on through the snow: What’s Amy Klobuchar’s stance on marijuana?

      Image: stephen maturen/Getty Images

      Minnesota will be voting on recreational marijuana in 2019. Despite widespread public support, it’s unclear whether the bill will pass and where Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar will stand. The candidate from Minnesota is considered one of the more centrist of the pack. And her position on legalization is somewhat more muddled than that of her opponents. 

      Klobuchar has signed onto the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act,” which protects states that have legalized marijuana from federal meddling. So has Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Unlike Warren, however, Klobuchar has not signed onto the Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove marijuana’s classification as a schedule 1 drug in the Federal Controlled Substances Act. 

      Klobuchar has supported cannabis research in the past, especially as it applies to medical research. Although, its classification as a schedule 1 drug makes this nearly impossible. It’s much harder for scientists to obtain legal samples of the drug when it’s classified this way.

      Her record on marijuana as Minnesota’s Attorney General is much more conservative. In 2016, she was given a “D” rating by NORML (the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), indicating a “hard on drugs” stance. 

      Bernie Sanders

      Bernie Sanders has one of the most progressive records on marijuana legalization in the Senate.

      Image: win mcnamee/Getty Images

      Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders hails from one of the most liberal states in the country. In 2019, recreational marijuana was made legal in Vermont — not through a referendum, but through a vote in the state legislature. Vermont became the first state in the country to legalize marijuana using this route.

      Sanders has long advocated for marijuana reform. In 1995, he co-sponsored a bill in the House that would authorize medical marijuana in cases of “life-threatening” and “sense-threatening” illness. In the decades following, Sanders became one of the most vocal advocates for marijuana reform. Four years ago, Sanders filed the first bill in the Senate to end cannabis prohibition. He has signed onto New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act and called for the de-scheduling of the drug.

      Sanders has also demanded banking reform, hoping to make it easier for legal marijuana businesses to operate accounts. In 2016, Sanders became the first major presidential candidate from both parties to call for removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances. 

      He is largely considered to be one of the most marijuana-friendly candidates running for president.

      Cory Booker

      Booker is one the most vocal advocates for marijuana legalization.

      Image: scott olson/Getty Images

      New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker is one of the more progressive candidates when it comes to marijuana reform. It helps that he comes from a progressive state. In November of of 2018, New Jersey’s state Senate and Assembly passed legislation easing the way for marijuana legalization. Governor Phil Murphy is now working with Senate President Stephen Sweeney to establish a more formal path for legalization and government regulation and taxation of the drug.

      They should have Booker’s support. In 2017, Booker authored the Marijuana Reform Act, which had multiple, historic, and radical elements: expunging convictions for those prosecuted for marijuana-related offenses, punishing states for disproportionately targeting groups of people (historically, that’s people of color), and legalizing the drug on a federal level.

      People who were serving federal sentences for marijuana-related offenses would be eligible for re-sentencing, presumably for a lighter sentence.

      It was a transformational piece of legislation that could have improved the lives of millions of people. But it never made it out of the Senate, thanks to a secure Republican majority.

      Every current Democratic presidential candidate who is also serving in the Senate has signed onto Booker’s legislation, with the exception of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. 

      Unlike other senators on this list, Booker has a strong record on legalization. As far back as 2012, Booker, then mayor of Newark, New Jersey, decried the drug wars, accusing the federal government of “pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that is bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential.”

      Elizabeth Warren

      Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren comes from a progressive, marijuana-friendly state, so it’s not surprising that she’s one of the most vocal advocates for legalization. In 2016, Massachusetts voted to legalize cannabis recreationally and in November of 2018, began selling cannabis to adults. 

      Warren has taken her advocacy to a federal level. Along with Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Warren is one of the lead sponsors of the STATES Act, which protects states in which marijuana is legal from federal interference. Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level.

      She’s also signed onto multiple major drug policy reform bills, including the Marijuana Justice Act, a transformative piece of legislation that would financially punish states that fail to legalize marijuana and who disproportionately incarcerate or arrest people for marijuana-related offenses.

      Because of the legal status of marijuana on the federal level, cannabis companies are often barred from using federally-backed banks. Like Sanders, Warren has supported cannabis-related banking legislation, designed to push the industry away from cash-only models and integrate it with the modern banking system, where it’s safer for businesses and will be better monitored. 

      Warren might look like the model of marijuana reform now, but it wasn’t always that way. In her 2013 campaign against Republican Dan Winslow, she came at her opponent with this accusation: “He has a 100-percent ranking from the gun lobby and he’s for the legalization of marijuana. He wants us armed and stoned.”

      Julián Castro

      Julian Castro, a less well-known candidate, has a record as a strong progressive.

      Image: Edward omelas/Getty Images

      Democrat Julián Castro hails from Florida, where only medical marijuana is legal. Recreational marijuana legalization is a long way off — advocates are currently working to ease access to medical marijuana, which was only made legal in 2016.

      Castro previously served in Obama’s White House as the Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Consequently, he doesn’t have a Congressional voting record on marijuana, making his views a bit harder to decipher.

      Castro has previously made social media posts in support of at least partial legislation. Two years ago in a Facebook post, he discouraged the federal government from cracking down on recreational marijuana crimes.

      Castro has also said he supported voters passing marijuana legalization laws by state

      It’ll be interesting to see how Castro can distinguish himself in an already crowded Democratic field.

      Kamala Harris

      Kamala Harris has come a long way on marijuana legalization.

      Image: chip somodevilla/Getty Images

      Oh, California Senator Kamala Harris. Harris, who now admits she both smoked marijuana and inhaled it in the past, wasn’t always an advocate for legalization. Her home state, meanwhile, has been one of the drug’s most vocal advocates: a whopping 57.1 percent of voters voted yes on Proposition 64 in 2017 to legalize marijuana. 

      It took until 2015 for the former attorney general to come out in support of medical marijuana. Back in 2014, she laughed in the face of a local news reporter who asked if she supported legalizing recreational marijuana. 

      Harris has a new book in which she advocates for clearing the criminal records for people convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses, as well as for legalizing the drug.

      The senator has come a long way from her earlier, more prosecutorial days, but it may not be enough to make some legalization advocates happy.

      Kirsten Gillibrand 

      Gillibrand has signed several key pieces of marijuana legalization.

      Image: alex wong/Getty Images

      New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. It’s easy for Gillibrand to hold this position, given her home state’s support for the drug (New York is poised to become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis). And while we personally don’t know if she’s ever smoked, Gillibrand has signed her name to several key pieces of marijuana reform legislation, including Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.

      She’e been outspoken about the effects of drug war policy and the racial inequities in the criminal justice system, even prior to announcing her candidacy.

      After starting her career as a conservative, Blue Dog Democrat, Gillibrand has leaned hard to the left in recent years. I expect her to follow her party’s progressive wing on this issue in the years to come.

      Pete Buttigieg

      Buttigieg could become America’s first openly gay president.

      Image: alex wong/Getty Images

      Pete Buttigieg is one of the least-known potential Democratic candidates on this list. As a result, the chances of him winning the nomination are slim. 

      Buttigieg hasn’t spoken on a national stage about his views on marijuana legalization. However, he is largely considered a progressive in the city of South Bend, Indiana, where he serves as mayor. His home state of Indiana is far more conservative: Neither recreational marijuana nor medical marijuana are legal in the state, and progress on the issue has been slow. 

      A representative from Buttigieg’s office told Mashable that the mayor supports legalization.

      Tulsi Gabbard 

      Gabbard has one of the most progressive records on marijuana in the House.

      Image: Getty Images for Teen Vogue

      Currently, the Hawaiian legislature is considering marijuana legalization. And, questionable views on Assad aside, Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is the one most progressive candidates when it comes to marijuana legislation. According to Marijuana Moment, she was lead sponsor on a bill that would require the government to research the effects of marijuana legalization on a state level. 

      She has called on the federal government to decriminalize marijuana, encouraged the federal government to fund additional research on medical marijuana, publicly explored the relationship between opioid abuse and punitive marijuana laws,  and slammed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for taking a regressive approach to drug policy.

      Gabbard is one of the most visible advocates for legalized marijuana in the field, even if her presidential polling numbers are currently very low. 

      2020 Independents and Republicans

      Where the candidates outside the Democratic Party stand on marijuana legalization

      Howard Schultz

      Do you really want to know the CEO of Starbucks’ views on marijuana?

      Image: santiago felipe/Getty Images

      Howard Schultz comes from progressive roots: His home state of Washington was the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. That being said, Pop-Tarts got more likes on Twitter than Starbucks CEO Schultz did when they announced that they were running for president, so I’m not entirely sure we need to be concerned with a Schultz presidency. Because Schultz has no political experience to speak of, his views on the marijuana issue are unclear. 

      He is, however, the founder behind the Frappuccino, which is its own kind of intoxicant. So there’s that.

      We have reached out to Schultz for comment and have not yet received a response.

       Donald Trump

      President Trump’s official policy position on marijuana is:(*)#$@)$(*$&

      Image: michael reynolds-pool/Getty Images

      Prior to becoming elected, Trump said he believed marijuana legalization should be left up to the states. In New York, Trump’s liberal home state, Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to legalize the recreational drug (medical marijuana is already legal) and establish an Office of Cannabis Management.

      Upon becoming president, however, Trump appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Sessions proceed to lift a critical Obama-era marijuana policy that made it clear that the federal government would not intervene with states who had legalized marijuana. 

      In 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Trump administration was considering strengthening anti-marijuana enforcement on a federal level.

      It’s unclear whether the president will be a candidate in 2020, depending on his incarceration status, but it’s important to keep his political worldview (absolute ideological chaos) in mind.

      Even if there’s a Democratic president in office, it’ll be hard to push comprehensive marijuana reform, depending on the partisan makeup of Congress. Still, it’s an exciting time for marijuana advocates. A record 6 in 10 Americans now support legalization, following a decade of steady progress on the issue. 

      Change will happen — in fact, it’s already happening.

      We’ll be updating this post as more candidates announce their runs for office

      Read more: http://mashable.com/

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      Olivia Newton-John Diagnosed With Cancer For 3rd Time

      LOS ANGELES (AP) — Olivia Newton-John says she has been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in three decades.

      The four-time Grammy winner, who will turn 70 on Sept. 26, told Australian news program “Sunday Night” doctors found a tumor in her lower back in 2017.

      Newton-John says she’s “treating it naturally and doing really well.” The “Grease” star says for pain, she is taking cannabis oil, made from marijuana her husband grows in California. She has undergone radiation treatments and has cut sugar out of her diet.

      She said, “I believe I will win over it.”

      She said she hopes her native Australia will legalize medical marijuana.

      Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, undergoing a partial mastectomy and reconstruction. She was diagnosed with breast cancer again in 2013.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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      Briton ‘faces up to 15 years’ in Bali jail

      Image copyright Pip Holmes

      A British man says he could face up to 15 years in an Indonesian prison after being found with cannabis oil which he says he needed for medical reasons.

      Pip Holmes, from Cornwall, was arrested for drug smuggling when he went to collect a package containing the oil.

      The 45-year-old artist says he asked a friend to send it to him while he was living in Bali to help his arthritis.

      Indonesia has very strict anti-drugs laws and frequently arrests foreigners on drug-related charges.

      Mr Holmes says he was aware of the penalties and his actions were “foolish and dumb”.

      He was detained on 3 December after going to pick up the package, sent from Thailand, which contained essential oil bottles with cannabis oil inside.

      After spending six days in a police cell, Mr Holmes was transferred to a police hospital rehabilitation facility as his lawyers argued he was a drug user – after he failed a drugs test – rather than a trafficker.

      However, he is still facing a drug trafficking charge and was paraded in front of the cameras last week for what he calls a “very surreal and bizarre” news conference.

      He sat alongside four other men accused of drug smuggling, which can carry the death penalty in Indonesia.

      Despite reports that Mr Holmes could be facing that punishment, he says the small quantity of drugs found on him means that is not the case.

      Image copyright AFP
      Image caption Pip Holmes (second from right) is put in front of the local media alongside other foreigners

      Speaking from the rehabilitation centre, where he is locked in a room and guarded by two men but has access to a phone, he told the BBC the press conference was “really harrowing”.

      He said he doesn’t feel like he is a criminal drug trafficker, but the Indonesian press are painting a picture of him along those lines.

      “I just wanted to stand up and say I’m really not in this category, but the law is very different here and it’s very harsh.

      “It feels like a great injustice, but I’m not in the UK, I’m in Bali, so it’s my own fault.”

      In the UK medicinal cannabis products can be legally prescribed to some patients after rules were relaxed earlier this year – although access is very limited.

      The father of two, whose 11-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter live in the UK with his ex-wife, has had arthritis for eight years and says it was caused by years of practising Thai boxing.

      He says: “Marijuana makes a considerable difference to the pain – it’s not a leisure activity for me.”

      Mr Holmes is no stranger to travelling – he spent time in Canada earlier this year, while he has a tattoo studio in Thailand – and he arrived in Bali at the end of October planning to spend a couple of months surfing and painting.

      Image copyright Pip Holmes

      “I knew what I was getting into,” he says. “I knew there were very strict laws but I chose to come here anyway because the surf is the best in the world.”

      Indonesian law does not recognise medical marijuana use.

      He says he is facing a sentence of between five to 15 years at Kerobokan prison in Bali – a place Mr Holmes calls “horrendous” and “terrifying”. The BBC has been unable to confirm with the Indonesian authorities what sentence he might face.

      However at his next court date, expected to be in January, Mr Holmes is hoping to be classed as a marijuana addict and be eligible for a rehabilitation sentence.

      He says although the police reported that he was found with 31g of medicinal THC oil, that weight included the bottles (28g).

      Anything smaller than 5g, he says, would make him eligible for a sentence of around 12 months in a rehabilitation facility instead.

      He says he needs to raise money to fight his case.

      Image copyright Pip Holmes
      Image caption Pip Holmes, at one of his exhibitions, will be auctioning off some of his paintings to raise money

      He says: “I have no idea what is going to happen to me next.

      “I’m afraid because I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I can hug my children again. They are the only thing keeping me going right now.”

      A Foreign Office statement said: “Our staff are assisting a British man following his arrest in Bali, and are in contact with his family, lawyer and the Indonesian authorities.”

      Related Topics

      Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

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      Who’s running for president in 2020? Growing field of candidates join race for Democratic nod

      Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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      A Compound In Cannabis May Be An Effective Anti-Depressant

      Scientists at São Paulo State have shown that a non-psychoactive component of cannabis called cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce symptoms of depression over a sustained period. In fact, the ingredient is so powerful that just one dose was enough to see benefits lasting a full week – at least in mice. The results of the study were published in the journal Molecular Biology earlier this year.

      You may have heard quite a bit about CBD over the past year. In June, the FDA approved a cannabidiol oral solution for the treatment of two rare and debilitating forms of epilepsy. In November, cannabis-based medicinal products were made available on the NHS. Again, primarily for the treatment of epilepsy. But studies also have linked CBD to various other conditions, including chronic pain, nausea associated with chemotherapy, and even psychosis

      Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis compound primarily responsible for getting you high, CBD can actually suppress some of the psychoactive properties of the plant. That means that while CBD supplements may offer you certain health benefits, it probably won’t get you high.

      To test its effect on depression, the researchers adopted an animal model, using rats and mice bred to develop depressive symptoms. The rodents (367 in total) were given a 7, 10 or 30 milligram/kilogram dose of cannabidiol before being submitted to tests designed to monitor their reaction to stress, for example, the forced swimming test

      The results suggest that the cannabidiol was both fast-acting and sustained – a single dose offered not just immediate relief, but persistent relief for seven days (something that cannot be said for conventional antidepressants). This effect was supported by the increase in synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex, which is strongly associated with depression in humans, one week after treatment. 

      “In light of this finding, we believe cannabidiol rapidly triggers neuroplastic mechanisms that help repair the neuronal circuitry that gets damaged in depression,” study author Samia Joca from Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Netherlands, and the University of São Paulo, Brazil, said in a statement.

      What’s more, a second study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggests that CBD also effects the neuroplastic mechanisms in the hippocampus, which is, again, associated with depression in people.

      While this is all extremely encouraging, the results so far have only been proven in rodents. The researchers will have to take the study to human trials to confirm CBD’s efficacy in people, but they remain optimistic that this discovery could pave the way for more effective antidepressants in the future.

      Currently, there are more than 300 million people affected by depression globally and, if the latest stats are anything to go by, this figure is only rising. While anti-depressants are an effective and invaluable treatment for millions of people worldwide, they don’t always work. The researchers hope that CBD may offer a solution.

      “We’re studying whether cannabidiol would also be effective in patients who don’t respond to conventional therapy and whether combining it with antidepressants would improve their symptoms,” said Joca.

      She added, “there’s a possibility that combining cannabidiol with SSRIs [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] might allow the latter to be used in lower doses, perhaps reducing their adverse side-effects while maintaining the therapeutic effect of higher doses.”

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

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      Maine investigates restaurant that gave lobsters marijuana

      Restaurant owner says blowing smoke over lobsters is meant to lessen their suffering before they are dropped in boiling water

      State health inspectors are investigating a Maine restaurant that tried to mellow out lobsters with marijuana before killing them to be served, cracked and eaten.

      The Portland Press Herald reported that Charlottes Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor remains open but has stopped allowing customers to request meat from lobsters sedated with marijuana.

      Owner Charlotte Gill is a state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver. She said on Friday she hoped to resume sales of smoked lobster meat by mid-October, a move meant to lessen the suffering of her lobsters before they are dropped in boiling water.

      It is unknown whether pot smoke calms lobsters or has any effect on their meat.

      A Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman, Emily Spencer, would not say if the state had asked Gill to halt such sales.

      But Gill told the Press Herald that after being contacted by the state, and upon reviewing its present laws and codes applicable to this arena, and then making a few minor adjustments to our procedure, we are completely confident that we will be able to proceed as planned.

      I imagine we will still have a push back from the state on our hands, she said, but we are confident that we will be able to field any issues they may have with us, and do it with grace.

      These are important issues and ones that can also benefit not only the lobster, but the industry as well. Truly we are not trying to go against [the states] wishes and would love to work with them in order for us all to make this world a kinder place.

      Spencer said it would be up to the Maine Medical Marijuana Program to determine if Gill was using cannabis appropriately. A program spokesman, David Heidrich, told the newspaper he could not confirm if it was investigating the lobster restaurant.

      But he added: Medical marijuana may only be grown for and provided to persons with a marijuana recommendation from a qualified medical provider. Lobsters are not people.

      Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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      Police seize almost 7,000 pounds of cannabis from a truck. But the company that bought it says it’s all legal

      (CNN)Idaho State Police says it seized 6,701 pounds of illicit marijuana from a truck passing through the state last month. The Colorado company that bought the plants in Oregon says it’s legal hemp. But the truck driver caught in the middle is now facing felony marijuana trafficking charges.

      “However, the trooper’s training and experience made him suspicious that the cargo was in fact marijuana, not industrial hemp,” the Idaho State Police wrote in a news release.
      The officer opened up one of the 31 shipping bags in the rig and, using a Narcotic Identification Kit, tested a sample that came back positive for THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana. A drug-sniffing canine also “demonstrated a positive alert on the cargo,” state police said.
      Palamarchuck was immediately arrested and charged with felony trafficking of marijuana.
      Court records indicate Palamarchuck spent four days in jail after the arrest. Jim Ball, Palamarchuck’s attorney, told CNN his client was released after posting a $100,000 bond.
      Idaho’s mandatory minimum laws dictate that because he was carrying more than 25 pounds of what Idaho deems is “marijuana,” the truck driver — if found guilty — will serve at least five years in prison and pay a minimum $15,000 fine.
        Except hemp is legal nationwide.

        Hemp can’t get you high

        Marijuana and hemp are both different varieties of the same plant, Cannabis sativa L. For centuries, hemp has been transformed into a number of products: rope, building materials, clothes, shampoo, food, even beer.
        There’s no way to visibly discern a hemp plant from a marijuana plant. And for decades, states like Idaho and the federal government treated hemp just like any other cannabis plant.
        Hemp, unlike marijuana, can’t get you high: marijuana is high in THC; hemp has extremely low levels of it. Federal law defines industrial hemp as containing less than .3% THC.
        The 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp and all of its byproducts legal. A DEA spokesperson tells CNN that includes cannabidiol, or CBD, derived from industrial hemp.
        CBD is making hemp a potentially huge cash crop because some believe it can help with anxiety, arthritis, stress and other conditions.
        The Food and Drug Administration has approved only one CBD-containing drug, Epidiolex, which is used to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
        CBD derived from marijuana plants, like marijuana itself, remains a Schedule I drug.

        Big Sky Scientific wants its hemp (and source of CBD) back

        The CBD is why Colorado-based Big Sky Scientific is suing for its hemp back. The company was set up three days before the Farm Bill was signed into law specifically to capitalize on the newly legal hemp and CBD industry.
          The company says on its website it buys “hemp that’s rich in CBD” from farmers, sends it to processers to make CBD powder, and then sells that to product manufacturers.
          And in the lawsuit, that’s what Big Sky Scientific says it did — it bought about 13,000 pounds of industrial hemp from Boones Ferry Berry Farms in Hubbard, Oregon. According to the lawsuit, the farm is licensed with the Oregon Department of Agriculture as a registered industrial hemp grower.
          The company said it tested 19 different samples from that farm’s hemp crop on January 17, and their THC level was .043% — lower than the federal legal limit of .3%.
          But the Idaho State Police says it did right by state law, and technically, it did. The routine inspection, the field drug test, the canine test were all done by the book.
          Tests like the one conducted on the hemp Palamarchuck was transporting cannot tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. The Idaho State Police says their analyses, and canine units, can only test for the presence of THC — not the concentration.
          The agency has since sent a sample of the hemp seized to a lab to test how much THC it contains.
          Idaho state law defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis, regardless of species” — and that any “evidence” of THC “shall create a presumption that such material is ‘marijuana’ as defined and prohibited herein.”
          But Big Sky Scientific attorney Elijah Watkins says that federal law, and the Constitution, supersede Idaho’s laws.
            “Idaho has the freedom to make any law it likes,” Watkins told CNN. “Idaho can legislate and be tough on drugs. The problem comes when there’s a tension.”
            Big Sky Scientific says that not only is Idaho violating the 2018 Farm Bill, but also the Commerce Clause in the US Constitution, which says that states cannot prohibit legal goods in one state from being transported through it to another state.
            The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, which — like the Idaho State Police — is being sued by Big Sky Scientific, refused to comment on that lawsuit and on the charges brought against Palamarchuck.
            But in a letter responding to the lawsuit, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts says the company’s arguments are flawed; Oregon, where the hemp was grown and shipped from, does not have a federally approved plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp in the state, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill.
            Responding to CNN about the lawsuit, Idaho State Police reiterates that Idaho law says any substance containing any amount of THC is illegal in the state.
            “Idaho State Police troopers will continue to aggressively enforce Idaho laws,” Idaho State Police public information officer Timothy Marsano told CNN.
            Nine states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, still do not allow hemp cultivation under any circumstances: Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio and Connecticut. Many other states only allow pilot programs or are just making forays into allowing hemp cultivation.
            Four states — Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas — still prohibit hemp-derived CBD.
              This case, should it be decided in Big Sky Scientific’s favor, could forcibly change that.
              But time is running out for Big Sky Scientific’s hemp; it says in its lawsuit that it’s perishable and that mold can form without proper airflow to the plants.
              Time for Denis Palamarchuck is at a standstill. He’s caught in the middle of it all, and his fate, freedom and future remain uncertain.
              “It looks like Denis unknowingly drove his truck into a fight between the State of Idaho and the federal government regarding the legality of industrial hemp,” Ball said.
              A previous version of this story mischaracterized investors in Big Sky Scientific. The company’s attorney says none had previously been in the marijuana business.

              Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

              adminPolice seize almost 7,000 pounds of cannabis from a truck. But the company that bought it says it’s all legal
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              Health concerns drive voters to back Medicaid, weed and trans rights

              (CNN)Voters in 37 states had more than candidates to choose Tuesday. There were more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involved health-related issues such as taxes on feminine hygiene products, Medicaid expansion, abortion access and legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. Based on the preliminary vote results, here’s what some voters went for and what they rejected.

              Alabama and West Virginia voted measures into their constitutions that restrict abortion.
              Alabama’s Amendment 2 adds language to the state Constitution to give a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born.
                Abortion rights supporters worry that the amendment could be used to criminalize some forms of in-vitro fertilization and contraception. There are also concerns that should the US Supreme Court end Roe v. Wade, this amendment would be a “trigger ban,” meaning abortion would be outlawed in some states.
                This “personhood” ballot measure doesn’t have exemptions like in other states’ laws that carve out the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
                West Virginia’s Amendment 1 narrowly passed. Also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, it explicitly states that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” Unlike Alabama’s law, it has an exception for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threats to the woman’s life. It also restricts Medicaid funding for abortions.
                Voters rejected Oregon’s Measure 106, which would have ended state funding for abortions.

                Marijuana

                Adult recreational users of weed will be able to use it legally in another state.
                According to preliminary results, more than 54% of voters in Michigan said yes to the initiative that imposes a 10-ounce limit for Michigan residents, creates a state licensing system, will allow for retail sales subject to a 10% tax and changes several weed-related violations to civil infractions.
                That makes 10 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington — plus the District of Columbia that allow for recreational use.
                In North Dakota, voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed for recreational use for adults over 21.
                Other states’ weed-related initiatives focused on medical marijuana; prior to the election, 31 states and the District of Columbia had laws that legalize or decriminalize it.
                Missouri had three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this year. Voters gave a definite yes to Amendment 2, which legalizes medical marijuana, taxes it at 4% and guarantees that the money will be spent on health care services for veterans. Amendment 3 and Proposition C, which would also have legalized medical use but would have spent the tax revenue differently, failed.
                In Utah, voters seem to be saying yes to Proposition 2, which means individuals with qualifying illnesses will get access to medical marijuana.

                Health care

                Voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska,mostly Republican-dominated states, voted yes to expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level. In Utah, that expansion is going to be funded in part by a sales tax increase.
                Montana voters appear to be rejecting Medicaid expansion, but they are still counting votes on this initiative. Montana’s I-185 would have also raised taxes on tobacco products to help fund the expansion and other health care programs. The tobacco industry has spent millions in the state to fight the initiative since it would havedoubled the cigarette tax to pay for the state’s portion of Medicaid expansion.
                Other health care initiatives were on the ballot in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
                Voters gave a resounding yes to California’s Proposition 4, which willauthorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. It was a closer vote, but they also said yes to Proposition 11, which requires people who work on ambulances to stay on call during breaks and require employers to give EMTs and paramedics additional training and some paid mental health services.
                California voters rejected Proposition 8, which would have required dialysis clinics to refund patients for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care.
                It appears that voters rejected Question 1 in Massachusetts that would have limitedthe number of patients assigned to registered nurses working in a hospital. The state has restrictions for intensive care units but not for any other part of the hospital.
                Voters seem to have said yes to Nevada’s Question 4, which requires the state legislature to remove taxes on durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and mobility devices that are prescribed by a licensed provider. And early results are in favor of Nevada’s Question 2 that removes sales tax from feminine hygiene products.

                Other health matters

                In Massachusetts, preliminary voting results with Question 3 seem to suggest voters said yes to keeping a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections for people who identify as transgender.
                Some of the other ballot initiatives involved tax collection.
                Voters in Washington state said yes to an initiative that bans local governments from collecting taxes on groceries. Voters went against Oregon’s Measure 103 that would have banned taxes on groceries. The initiatives got broad support from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that see it as a way to fight the growing movement toward soda taxes.
                Voters rejected South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 25 that would haveincreased taxes on tobacco products. Voters said yes toVirginia’s Question 2 that removes a restriction on tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.
                Maine’s Question 1 would have created a payroll tax and non-wage income tax that would fund a home health care program, but preliminary results show that it failed.
                In New Mexico, voters said yes to Bond Question A that provides $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities.

                Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

                  Ohio voters soundlyrejected Issue 1, which would haveeliminated the option for a felony charge for the possession or use of drugs, would require the state to spend on programs that would include helping people get into drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, would create sentencing programs that involve drug rehab, and would prohibit courts from sending a person to prison for non-criminal probation violations.
                  Oklahoma voters said no to State Question 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail establishments. It was narrowly defeated.

                  Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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                  WHO Proposes Downgrading Cannabis Under International Law For First Time

                  The World Health Organization (WHO) is proposing downgrading cannabis under international law for the first time, in light of growing evidence of its legitimate medicinal benefits.

                  Currently classified by the WHO (US classification is slightly different) as schedule IV – the same class as heroin – which is the most strictly controlled category, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) has proposed to reschedule cannabis, and other cannabis-related products as a schedule I classification. What’s more, they’ve proposed removing non-THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) cannabis products, such as CBD oil, from international drug controls completely.

                  In November last year, the WHO’s ECDD met to carry out the first full review of cannabis and cannabis-related substances since it was first listed under the International Drug Control Conventions as schedule IV in 1961.

                  The WHO schedule categories, first implemented to categorize the potential health risks and benefits of specific substances, range from schedule I – substances with addictive properties and risk of abuse, to schedule IV, the most harmful of the schedule I substances, with the addition of having extremely limited medical or therapeutic value. Cannabis currently come under both.

                  The WHO is proposing to the United Nations that cannabis be deleted from schedule IV, and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is currently listed separately as scientists had not identified THC as the psychoactive component of cannabis in 1961, be downgraded to schedule I in light of mounting evidence of the potential for medicinal and therapeutic value.

                  “The Committee recognized the public health harms presented by these substances, as well as their potential for therapeutic and scientific use,” the WHO stated. “As a result, the Committee recommended a more rational system of international control surrounding cannabis and cannabis-related substances that would prevent drug-related harms whilst ensuring that cannabis-derived pharmaceutical preparations are available for medical use.”

                  They have also recommended that extracts and tinctures derived from cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t contain a psychoactive component, be removed completely from the scheduling, and thus not be restricted under international law.

                  The review is long overdue in the face of scientific research into the health benefits of the drug, which weren’t available back in 1961. However, as research continues, attitudes have been changing towards cannabis and it is now legal for medical use in 30 countries around the world, including Canada, some parts of the US, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Argentina, and Australia, with many more under review.

                  Studies have linked the medical use of cannabis with helping manage chronic pain, epilepsy, depression, and psychosis, and though it isn’t a cure-all for cancer, it has been linked to helping patients deal with nausea caused by chemotherapy, amongst others. The new classification would allow for further scientific and medical research into the benefits of THC and CBD.

                  “These recommendations are of monumental importance as they may lead to the overcoming of barriers to research, enhance access of patients to cannabis-based medicine, and allow free commerce of cannabis products internationally,” Ethan Russo of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute told Newsweek.

                  The UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs will vote on the recommendation in March.

                   

                  [H/T: The BMJ]

                  Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

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