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Marijuana News in MA and World

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.

THC

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the primary ingredients found in marijuana, and is responsible for the “high,” that most marijuana strains cause.

But getting high is not all that it’s good for. THC also has a wide range of medical benefits, and is commonly reported to relieve pain, nausea, and depression, among many other things.

Scientific research on THC began decades ago in Israel, and has since spread to many countries across the globe. Yet its status as an illegal drug has made information about this marijuana compound hard to come by.

Here are six unknown and amazing facts about THC:

1. THC doesn’t always come with a “high.” – Most people know of THC because of its ability to induce euphoria, or a high. Interesting enough, THC does not always have this effect on its own.

That’s because THC is mostly present in the cannabis plant as THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), its acidic precursor. THCA is not psychoactive, which is why ingesting cannabis raw is unpopular among recreational users. On the other hand, medical users commonly take raw preparations, since THCA possesses some of the same therapeutic benefits as THC.

THCA is typically converted to THC when exposed to heat, through a reaction known as decarboxylation. However, when plants are stored, small amounts of the acid may be converted to THC over time.

2. THC is one of more than 60 active ingredients in cannabis. – Despite being the most recognized ingredient in marijuana, THC is just one of many compounds in the plant with known medical uses.

THC belongs to a unique class of compounds called cannabinoids. Since Dr. Mechoulam’s discovery, more than 60 other cannabinoids in cannabis have been identified.

THC and CBD are the two cannabinoids usually found in the highest concentrations.

3. THC was discovered in 1964. – THC was first isolated and synthesized from the cannabis plant by a scientist in Israel named Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.

As a postdoctoral student in the early 60s, Dr. Mechoulam noticed that the active compounds in morphine and cocaine had been isolated, but no one had isolated the active ingredient in marijuana.

Dr. Mechoulam was in such a rush to conduct his research that he actually broke the law by obtaining marijuana from his friends in the police department. But the scientist still managed to isolate THC in 1964, marking the start of a long career dedicated to cannabis research.

The discovery of THC paved the way for later discoveries and earned Dr. Mechoulam numerous honors, including a NIDA Discovery Award in 2011.

4. THC is used in FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. – While THC is still illegal in the U.S. and most countries around the world, synthetic versions of the chemical have been legally prescribed for decades.

The first THC-based pharmaceutical, a pill sold as Marinol (scientific name: dronabinol), was developed by a company called Unimed Pharmaceuticals with funding from the National Cancer Institute. In 1985, Marinol received FDA approval as a treatment for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.

Since then, other pharmaceuticals containing THC have also been developed. These include Cesamet (nabilone), a synthetic isomer of THC, and Sativex (nabiximols), a whole cannabis extract administered as an oral spray.

5. Chemicals similar to THC are found in the body. – Following the discovery of THC, scientists searched for decades for similar chemicals in humans that might explain its effects. In 1992, Dr. Mechoulam and his team made another breakthrough when they discovered a molecule called anandamide.

As it turns out, anandamide is one of a few cannabinoids produced in various parts of the body, including the brain. Similar to the way opioids work by mimicking their natural counterparts (endorphins), chemicals in marijuana mimic naturally occurring cannabinoids called endocannabinoids.

Both anandamide and THC act on pathways in the body called cannabinoid receptors. In the brain, anandamide works to regulate mood, sleep, memory and appetite.

6. THC can protect brain cells and stimulate their growth. – Contrary to popular belief, THC has been proven to have a number of positive effects on brain cells. Whereas most recreational drugs are neurotoxic, THC is considered a “neuroprotectant,” meaning it can protect brain cells from damage caused by things like inflammation and oxidative stress.

What’s more, scientists have even shown that THC can promote the growth of new brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis. This effect was first discovered in 2005 by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Xia Zhang, noted in an interview with Science Daily: “Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis. Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis.”

Senate Bill Medical Marijuana

A new Senate bill being introduced would protect medical marijuana patients, doctors and businesses from federal prosecution in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical purposes. It would also remove marijuana from being listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no benefits, to a Schedule II drug, which means it has an accepted medical use.

The bill would be a huge victory for marijuana in the U.S and would stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from prosecuting medical marijuana patients, doctors, growers, and dispensaries in states with medical marijuana laws. The bill would also give military veterans in medical marijuana states easier access to marijuana by allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana for medical purposes.

“This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine,” stated Michael Collins, of the Drug Policy Alliance.

To date, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and a dozen other states have legalized marijuana with low-THC for medical purposes. All these states would be protected under the new Senate bill. Four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington – and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use.