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Marijuana News in MA and World

Arizona Marijuana Law

Arizonans for Responsible Legalization will be the second group to file paperwork with Arizona election officials to register an effort to put recreational marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot.

The first group to file with election officials is lead by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who was behind the 2010 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in Arizona.

“A new committee formed Friday plans to file a ballot initiative to allow adults to purchase small amounts of marijuana for private use and provide new programs for the legal oversight and taxation of the marijuana industry with tax revenue invested into education,” said a spokesperson for Arizonans for Responsible Legalization.

More information for the proposed initiative will be released in April.

The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona’s that their initiative is modeled after Colorado’s recreational marijuana law, which allows adults 21 and older to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project stated that their organization supports “the most effective scenario possible” for legalizing marijuana in the Arizona, and that they “want to establish a good public policy that replaces the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol.”

Marijuana Anorexia

It’s no secret that marijuana helps to increase appetite, but its potential to treat anorexia may not quite so simple.

What scientists now know is that anorexia actually leads to changes in the brain – specifically in pathways connected to marijuana.

These pathways are part of the endocannabinoid system, which include natural marijuana-like chemicals (cannabinoids) and the receptors that they bind to.

Last week, a team of Belgium researchers published more evidence of this relationship from a “well-known rodent model” of anorexia nervosa.

Their findings appear online in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

“These data point to a widespread transient disturbance of the endocannabinoid transmission, specifically for CB1 receptors in the ABA model [activity-based rat model of anorexia].”

They also concluded that a change in the brain’s cannabinoid system likely takes place as an effect – rather than a cause – of anorexia.

Specifically, their findings suggest that the body creates more receptors to compensate for a “chronically hypoactive” endocannabinoid system in cases of anorexia. But these changes may only be temporary, since receptors rebounded to normal levels after the experiments stopped.

Like marijuana, chemicals that make up the endocannabinoid system act as regulators of appetite.

Some scientists believe that the body may produce lower levels of these chemicals in order to improve the ability to survive during periods of “prolonged starvation” – or anorexic states.

That is, patients with anorexia may experience a natural decrease in appetite because of changes that occur in the brain.

Although yet to be tested in anorexia, the authors note that marijuana has been shown to increase food intake in other patient groups.

“Cannabis and cannabinoid agonists with minimal psychoactive side effect profile have been used as eating stimulants in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or cancer patients.”

Unfortunately, treatment options are limited when it comes to anorexia and full recovery is seen in only 40-50 % of patients, according to the authors.

They hope their latest findings will lead to a better understanding of how marijuana-based treatments may be used to help patients recover from the eating disorder.

Marijuana Beer

A District of Columbia beer company has entwined culture and politics into a beer. In celebration of the nation’s capital legalizing marijuana, the DC Brau Brewing Company unveiled a new IPA that was crafted to deliver a marijuana aroma and flavor.

With the opportunely named “Smells Like Freedom” IPA beer, DC Brau sought to acknowledge the District’s fight to legalize recreational marijuana as Congress attempted to block the implementation of the law that D.C. voters approved last November.

President and co-founder of DC Brau, Jeff Hancock, stated: “The one variety [of experimental hop] we used that we got most excited about was NJ007, because those hops had more uniquely sticky and heavy cannabis notes… Then we did three dry-hop editions (adding hops post-fermentation) of this beer to really drive home the nice, heavy cannabis aroma.”

Hancock claims that “Hops are close kissing cousins to cannabis, they only differ by a couple of molecular structures … and like the higher the THC percentage in pot, the higher percentage of alpha acid means a more potent and pungent hop.”

The Smells Like Freedom beer is only available for a limited time. So if you’re a beer aficionado you’d better book a flight to D.C. soon.

Texas Marijuana

State lawmakers in Texas have introduced legislation that would allow patients with cancer, PTSD, seizure disorders, and other debilitating medical conditions access to medical marijuana, if recommended by a doctor.

Representative Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) introduced House Bill 3785 along with a companion bill sponsored by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) in the Senate to follow. The bills would create a program where individuals with qualifying medical conditions would receive licenses, if recommended by a doctor, which allow them to possess small amounts of medical marijuana. The state’s Dept. of Health Services would be responsible for regulating the program’s marijuana cultivators and dispensaries.

“The law currently does not reflect marijuana’s legitimate medical use and denies access to patients, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), citizens suffering with cancer and severe aliments of the aging,” stated Rep. Marquez. “By continuing to deny access to patients, we limit the rights of families to seek the best possible treatment for conditions that do not respond to other drugs or therapies. We should create paths, and not obstacles, in allowing doctors to recommend medicine that has been shown to work.”

These latest bills differ from the others previously introduced which only allowed access to CBD-only marijuana with little or no THC. Many medical marijuana patients have found that THC and other substances naturally found in marijuana are needed in addition to CBD to effectively treat their medical ailment(s).

77% of Texans believe that seriously ill people should be able to use marijuana for medical purposes, according to a poll from 2014.

“Every year, thousands of Texans are diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses,” said Caitlin Dunklee of Texans for Medical Freedom, a group supporting the medical marijuana legislation. “The suffering that these patients experience is devastating for them and their families. The bill being filed today would allow patients the freedom to access the medicine that can best alleviate their suffering.”

Obama Marijuana Legalization

President Obama predicted in an interview this week that as more and more states decriminalize marijuana, pressure will increase on Congress which could force federal marijuana laws to be changed.

“We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side. At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana,” Obama said in the interview with VICE.

View Obama Interview Here

Along with the positive prediction about the future of marijuana federal policy, the president seemed shocked by VICE interview Shane Smith saying that marijuana was the most suggested topic to discuss in the interview from VICE readers and that if Obama led the way toward marijuana legalization, it would be the biggest part of his legacy.

“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” stated Obama. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

On average, there’s a marijuana possession arrest nearly every minute in the U.S. Billions of dollars are spent enforcing marijuana prohibition laws that don’t deter most people from using marijuana, but do damage lives via criminal records. Furthermore, the immense damage caused by the black market and drug cartels.

It should also be noted that despite what the president said about Congress feeling increased pressure to decriminalize marijuana, his administration can actually do that without any additional Congressional action needed.

Marijuana Jail

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that persons arrested in Connecticut for possession of small amounts of marijuana have been given the right to get their convictions erased because the state decriminalized misdemeanor possession of marijuana in 2011.

The 7-0 ruling was due to a case involving Connecticut resident Nicholas Menditto. A Connecticut prosecutor and Menditto’s lawyer said the decision affects thousands of people who have misdemeanor marijuana convictions in the state.

“It’s a topic multiple states will have to be facing,” said Menditto’s attorney. “Because marijuana is being decriminalized across the United States, this issue needs to be addressed.”

Connecticut’s Governor and legislators, in 2011, changed marijuana possession of less than a half ounce from a misdemeanor with a possible jail sentence to a violation with a $150 fine for a first offense and fines of $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses.

“The legislature has determined that such violations are to be handled in the same manner as civil infractions, such as parking violations,” was written in the ruling. “The state has failed to suggest any plausible reason why erasure should be denied in such cases.”

NV Marijuana

Nevada residents will be able to vote in November 2016 to regulate the retail sale and production marijuana for adults.

Lawmakers failed to act on a marijuana legalization initiative petition filed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) last week; therefore putting the measure on the 2016 electoral ballot.

The measure, “The Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” obtained over 200,000 signatures from registered Nevada voters which qualified it for the ballot. The voted into law, Nevada would permits adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana (up to one ounce and/or six plants) for non-commercial purposes. The measure also regulates and taxes the retail sale and commercial production of marijuana.

The ballot language states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.”

Other states with similar ballot measures likely to be decided in 2016 include: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Missouri.

Marijuana Edibles

Marijuana edibles have been around for a long time, but you couldn’t buy them in stores or dispensaries as prevalently as now. In the past you would have to have a culinary savvy friend who also liked marijuana in order to get your hands on edibles. Now days, in Colorado and many other states, you can go into a store and purchase marijuana edibles in many different forms.

Edibles are extremely popular in Colorado. So popular, that edibles made up roughly 45% of the newly legal recreational industry in Colorado in 2014.

The variety of marijuana-infused edibles available became a “point of fascination” for consumers, said Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer for Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, one of Colorado’s largest producers of infused products.

“The proliferation of marijuana edibles stunned state and industry leaders, making it one of the biggest surprises during the first year of legal recreational marijuana sales. Potent cookies, candies and drinks — once considered a niche market — now account for roughly 45 percent of the legal marijuana marketplace and led to the most high-profile marijuana controversies in 2014. We knew that there would be consumer interest in edibles, but I think we did underestimate that the demand would exceed our expectations,” Hodas said.

MA Marijuana Legalization

A bill to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana recreationally has been introduced in Massachusetts and will appear as a 2016 ballot measure, putting the passing of the law into voters’ hands.

The bill would allow adults 21 or older to possess, grow and consume limited amounts of marijuana and would establish a fully regulated market of licensed marijuana retail stores, marijuana cafés, and facilities for cultivation, processing and testing. Retail sales at the cafés would be taxed, but home-grown marijuana would not. Marijuana possession would remain a civil violation, punishable by a fine of $100 for persons under 21 years of age.

Unlike other marijuana legalization laws enacted in other states, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act of 2016 in Massachusetts does not impose personal possession limits or restrict the number of plants an adult can grow at home. Instead, personal possession has been defined as “the cultivation, storage and delivery of cannabis without intent to sell.” However, possessing marijuana outside one’s home is considered “transportation” and is limited to ten ounces.

“Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it ought to be treated that way,” said Matt Simon, a political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, less toxic, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior.”

Medical Marijuana States 2015

There have been bills introduced in 10 states that aim to allow some form of medical marijuana legalization.

These states are considering implementing medical marijuana laws: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Many of these states are expected to base their proposed medical marijuana laws off of medical marijuana laws used in Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts.

These states are considering bills that would allow medical marijuana use for children with seizure disorders: Georgia, Virginia, and Texas. Other states such as Utah have already passed such laws.

Four states are expected to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2016: Arizona, California, Maine and Nevada.