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Florida: First Southern State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Florida: First Southern State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Author: Shernide Delva

Much more than presidential candidates was on the Florida ballot.  In fact, there were very important amendments pending approval. Amendment 2, formally known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation Initiative, passed.  The amendment allows for prescribing of medical marijuana for diseases such as PTSD, glaucoma, HIV, ALS and Crohns disease. For the first time, marijuana is legal, at least for medical and in some cases for recreational purposes, in 29 states.

According to the Associated Press, Florida voters approved the state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana Tuesday. As of 8:30 p.m. EST, the amendment passed with a 71 percent approval rate based on more than 68 percent of the vote at the time.

People United for Medical Marijuana raised almost double what the opposition did. The Morgan Firm and the Florida Democratic Part were among the top donors to contribute to the effort.  The amendment is a significant expansion of the limited program in place now.

Currently, there is a special program for physicians to prescribe non-smokeable low-THC cannabis to patients with cancer or who suffer from seizures or severe muscle spasms. Amendment 2 will now allow wider access to marijuana for medical use only.

In case you forgot, a similar initiative to Amendment 2 was defeated by a narrow margin in the 2014 election. The amendment fell two points short of the 60 percent supermajority it needed to pass.

The difference in Amendment 2 is that it had a much narrower definition of “debilitating medical condition.” It also clarified the requirement for obtaining consent from parents of patients younger than 18.  Florida was not the only state with marijuana on the ballot. This new clarification may have made the amendment more favorable for both sides.

In addition to Florida, many other states had Marijuana Legalization on their ballot in one form or another. Here are the results:

Approved Recreational Marijuana:

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Nevada

Approved Medical Marijuana:

  • Florida
  • Arkansas,
  • North Dakota
  • Montana

Denied Recreational Marijuana:

  • Arizona

Marijuana Legalization: Pros vs. Cons

In Colorado, the marijuana industry created more than 18,000 full-time jobs last year and generated $2.39 billion in economic activity, according to an analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group.  Furthermore, California will benefit from recreational marijuana reform because it allows for better regulations that would help with the drought epidemic in the state.

However, those benefits do come with consequences. Emergency rooms have seen a significant increase in adult marijuana-related exposure cases. The number of calls to poison control centers involving Colorado children has gone up as well as the number of children taken to the hospital for treatment due to unintentional marijuana exposure.

When it comes to marijuana legalization, the opinion on the matter varies. However, research has shown consistently that the drug is helpful for many health conditions. As a result, more and more people are at least in support of medical marijuana even if they are sternly against recreational use.  There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that have studied medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving (and other) properties.

Benefits of Marijuana include treating:

  • Glaucoma
  • Epileptic Seizures
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Hepatitis C
  • Among many others

Still, like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. Marijuana addiction is a real problem for people. Regardless of whether you are in support of marijuana reform or not, the recent decisions made on Tuesday are historic changes. Marijuana is being viewed in a way is never was before. What are your thoughts on marijuana reform? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Colorado Pot Crops Found to Have Dangerous Levels of Pesticides

Colorado Pot Crops Found to Have Dangerous Levels of PesticidesAs green as Colorado is known to be, it looks like their marijuana crops are not as green as one would hope.Recent studies reveal that Colorado’s marijuana crops have “dangerous levels” of pesticides and the news is inciting panic among people and the state’s agricultural agencies.

According to last week’s CNN report, at least one legal over-the-counter pot product tested positive for illegally high levels of the neurotoxin imidacloprid. The news of the pesticides led to a recall of 2,362 pot products.

Unfortunately, this is not the first study to find toxins in marijuana products. Just last September, a study from the Denver Post found that the marijuana products they tested contained six times the legal amount of pesticides in consumable products.

To put it in perspective, if the same amount of pesticides were found on a food product like avocados, they would be immediately pulled off the shelves. However, since Colorado only recently legalized marijuana, they are still figuring out how to deal with these types of issues.

Since marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, there is no FDA regulation to step in and correct the issue leaving pesticide legislation up to the states. This lack of government oversight leads to confusion on the quantities of pesticides that should be allowed in marijuana products.

The Ever-Changing Cannabis Laws

The marijuana businesses in Colorado are not required to test products for pesticides before they sell them. They also do not have to test products before making them available for sale. Instead, consumers and businesses must exercise extreme caution before selling and consuming unregulated products. Various state agencies are hoping to remedy this problem.

As for now, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper just issued an executive order earlier this month allowing state agencies the authority to pull products off the shelves and destroy them if they contain higher than the approved levels of pesticides.

“When a pesticide is applied to a crop in a manner that is inconsistent with the pesticide’s label, and the crop is contaminated by that pesticide, it constitutes a threat to the public safety,” the order said.

The Denver Post reported that Colorado is also working to pass a legislation preventing illegal pesticides from being used in the first place. Legislator is working to pass rules that would limit the amount of pesticides used in marijuana that are approved for consumption. The goal is that eventually marijuana will be used safely in greenhouses and will be safer for human consumption. Until then, Colorado cannabis lover must remember to proceed with caution.

With the news of pesticides in marijuana products, it is important to know the environmental impacts of marijuana farms. We have discussed in detail how marijuana farms are causing serious damage to the environment in areas like California. In California, run-off from marijuana farms get into the water and causes damage to the ecosystem. Also, since marijuana requires high amount of water to grow successfully, California is facing a major water shortage and marijuana farms are part of the problem.

The fact that marijuana is only legal on a state by state basis makes the process of establishing clear procedures difficult since regulations are not able to be considered on a federal level. In states where marijuana is legal, businesses have to rely on cash-only transactions as they are unable to use federal banking systems.

Overall, the issue of marijuana reform is an increasingly complex issue and in the future, solutions to the problems of legalization will be addressed. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

-Author: Shernide Delva

Drug for Seizures Gabapentin Shown to Treat Marijuana Addiction


Author: Shernide Delva

When scientists were creating the drug gabapentin to treat epilepsy, they probably did not imagine the drug being used to prevent people from smoking marijuana. Yet, here we are…

Researchers have recently discovered that the drug gabapentin, currently on the market to treat neuropathic pain and epilepsy , is effective in helping people overcome marijuana addiction.  The drug gabapentin targets stress receptors in the brain that can be activated due to drug withdrawal.  Many drugs have been researched for their ability to decrease marijuana use; however gabapentin is the first with proven results in a controlled treatment study.

In the study, 50 treatment-seeking marijuana users were found to have fewer withdrawal symptoms like sleeplessness, and scored higher on tests of attention, impulse-control, and other cognitive skills, compared to patients who received a placebo. If these results are confirmed, Gabapentin could become the first FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatment for marijuana addiction.

Lead researcher Barbara Marson believes that gabapentin would be a promising drug for marijuana treatment since it’s already been widely prescribed so “safety is less likely to be an issue.” Recreational drugs disrupt the normal tuning of the brain’s motivation circuitry. When smoking marijuana, the stress response is reflected and withdrawals such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability and dysphoria occur, often leading to relapse as a last resort to quiet the withdrawal symptoms.

For the study, Mason found her participants by posting an ad in the newspaper that said “Smoking too much pot? We want to help you stop.” Over 700 queries later and Mason was able to gather those she needed for her research. Considering how marijuana reform is such a major topic of discussion, it is surprising that an ad for marijuana addiction generated such a high level of responses.

“Some people deny that cannabis can be addictive, but surveys show that between 16 and 25 percent of substance use treatment admissions around the world every year involve people with primary cannabis dependence,” Mason explained.

The results of the study were incredibly promising. Those who were given gabapentin did not use marijuana during the entire study. Furthermore, in the last four weeks of the study, the subjects given gabapentin stayed sober. The drug also reduced symptoms of withdrawal such as sleep disturbances, drug cravings, and dysphoria.

Gabapentin is known for being a “brain quieting” usually results in sleepiness as a side effect. However, for some reason marijuana addicts actually showed sharpened cognition from using the drug. This is great news since the sleepiness side effect was a concern.

Seven gabapentin and ten placebo patients sat for tests of attention, impulse-control, and other executive functions just before the start of the trial and at week four. While the placebo patients tended to score lower after four weeks of attempted abstinence, the gabapentin patients generally scored higher.

Help Resisting Cravings

Addiction researchers realize that one of the effects of repeated drug use is the weakening of executive function such as self-control which makes it harder for people to resist cravings when they’re trying to quit. Gabapentin has been found to restore those circuits by reducing stress and enabling patients to sleep better so they function better while awake.

“People in the treatment community have told me that they’re eager for these trial results to come out, because until now nothing has been shown to work against both relapse and withdrawal symptoms,” Mason said.

Furthermore, if the drug continues to produce these types of results, it will be a major breakthrough in the treatment community. Despite the push for marijuana reform, it is important to remember that even if marijuana becomes legal, it does not mean that marijuana cannot be addictive.

Any substance can be abused and develop into an addiction, even marijuana. If you are struggling with marijuana addiction, do not hesitate to get help today. Do not feel embarrassed or afraid. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Oregon Will Now Expunge Past Marijuana Records

Author: Shernide Delva

Oregon is one of the first states to address the concerns of marijuana legalization answering the debated question: what do you do with someone with a record for something that used to be a crime but now isn’t? With this new policy, anyone with any low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record that’s at least ten years old can wipe their record clean (as long as they have not re-offended).  As many as 50,000 people will benefit from this law passed in Oregon.

Oregon is known for its progressive marijuana legislation that spans over the past few decades. Back in 1973, Oregon was the first state in the country to decriminalize low-scale marijuana possession. Now legal experts and marijuana business people are saying that the state is leading the way in creating new laws that would allow people with past marijuana offenses to wipe their slates clean.

In 2016, Oregon will allow more serious felony pot convictions, like growing, to be eligible for record sealing. The law is not restricted to drug offenses. A second law will allow expungement for people who were under 21 at the time of a past conviction.

Citations for marijuana possessions can haunt a person for years preventing them from career opportunities, renting an apartment, loans, and grants. Oregon is one of three states in the United States that allow marijuana use on a recreational level and now this law will give those who were prosecuted for the now legal crime to be able to move on with their lives.

So far, no state has gone further than Oregon on this issue.  Even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the idea of expunging past records still remain controversial. In states like Colorado, Alaska, Washington and the District of Colombia where recreational marijuana is legalized, similar laws are available yet are still unclear. Oregon’s law will be one of the first structured policy following marijuana reform.

Expungement for pot conviction is gaining attention since the legalization of marijuana has raised questions for those convicted in the past. Years after the arrests, citizens are left with a record that will haunt them for the rest of their life, for getting caught doing something that is legal in many states today.

The expunge center in Oregon elaborated on how significant this law is for those who need it most:

“It really doesn’t matter if you had been arrested on a petty charge. The stigma of having an arrest or conviction record against your name can make it difficult for you to find housing, seek employment opportunities and obtain grants for school…. Regardless of how much you have changed or how many dreams you might have, one single mistake of your past can affect your chances of having a good future.”

Even for those with more serious marijuana crimes who are unable to qualify for expungement or reduce their impact may be qualified to reduce the impact of past criminal convictions. They may be able to reduce the severity of their charges so they are granted access to certain rights.

The law comes very soon after Oregon legalized marijuana recreationally. Time will tell if other states will follow Oregon in also expunging records now the drug is continuously decriminalized and marijuana reform continues to stir debate around the country.

Whether or not you agree with marijuana reform, the fact of the matter is more and more states are legalizing the drug either recreationally, medically or both. The next logical step would be deciding best policy when it comes to addressing those who were criminalized for something legal today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588  

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California’s Environment

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California's Environment

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

Lately, the conversation regarding marijuana has shifted from “Is it safe” to “Is it safe for the environment?” The dramatic rise in pot farms in California is proving to be detrimental to the states ecosystem.

The state’s most lucrative agricultural product, marijuana, is causing water diversions and serious environmental damage. And because marijuana is not regulated like other agricultural crops, the destruction continues to get worse.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that the dramatic rise in pot farms in Northern California is taking a toll on the environment. Agricultural practices like water-siphoning, pesticide spraying and littering have had a huge effect on the fragile ecosystem.

California’s marijuana farms are rapidly increasing. In one 37-square mile patch of forest, state scientist found close to 281 pot farms and 286 greenhouses containing an estimated 20,000 plants. These plants are being fed by water from creeks or the nearby Eel River.

Scientist estimates that the farms are swallowing close to 18 million gallons of water every year — water at a time when salmon need it most.  The damage is threatening the state’s coast wide fishing industry.

Fish and Wildlife officers have recently joined local narcotic teams to raid pot farms said to be draining half a million gallons of water a day from the Eel River.  Because of the murky legal status of marijuana usage, the growing industry has been overlooked since medical use was legalized in 1996.

California’s governor Jerry Brown approved a $3 million budget to monitor water use and environmental impacts from marijuana cultivation. The compliance program signals a shift in the right direction. The goal is to identify and inspect water-thirst pot gardens in sensitive natural settings.

So far, officials from the State Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife have visited 150 sites and filed 50 environmental violations.

California’s four-year drought alerted authorities to broaden their approach to monitoring marijuana growth throughout the state. In addition to the compliance program, the state has begun to issue marijuana water permits and plans to ramp up targeting offenders through civil lawsuits.

Marijuana Environmental Crisis

  • Just one marijuana plant requires six gallons of water per day to grow—so for an industrial sized growing operation, between 12,000 and 30,000 gallons of water minimum is required.
  • Fish and Wildlife Officials reported nearly 100 environmental violations that range from damming creeks, dumping soil, or growers tapping springs.
  • Some commercial operations were found with thousands and thousands of plants that were draining 500,000 gallons of water a day from tributaries to the Eel River.
  • Narcotics officers cut down 1,426 marijuana plants due to violation. Environmental violations included draining excessive water from a mountain stream that provides cold water flows to sustain Coho salmon in Willow Creek.
  • Many farmers cultivate bigger crops to make more profit. They cut huge clearings for industrial size green houses. These operations dump tons of slit into streams during the rainy season.

Furthermore, the impact on the environment by insecticide and pollutants is significant. The insecticide Carbofuran is used to kill off bears and other animals that raid their camps. The farmers mix the insecticide with tuna or sardines; the bears eat it and die. The insecticide requires a special permit because it is lethal in small doses to humans.

Now, authorities are finding the insecticide in some of California’s more sensitive ecosystems. Seeping into the ecosystem are fertilizers, soil amendments, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel and human waste.

Scientists are concerned that the runoff from excess potting soil combined with lower-than-normal river flow has caused toxic blue algae to appear in North Coast Rivers over the last decade. The bacteria pose a risk to swimmers and kills aquatic invertebrates that salmon and trout eat. Officials have had to warn residents and their pets to stay away from the rivers. So far, 11 dogs have died from the bacteria since 2001.

Good or bad, the cannabis boom shows no signs of slowing down. With Colorado legalizing recreational use and states like Ohio debating on the matter, it seems like an increase in pot farms is on the horizon. The growth intensifies the challenge of environmental protection. But until marijuana is legalized on the federal level, it’s hard to grasp how states are going to control the situation.

Marijuana farms are not regulated which is costly to California’s water and wildlife. Their complex legal status makes it an even harder issue to tackle.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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