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Should Marijuana Get Same State-to-State Treatment as Guns?

Should Marijuana Get Same State-to-State Treatment as Guns?

You may remember last week we talked about how some states are pushing to take gun rights away from people prescribed medical marijuana. Of course, this topic has sparked a lot of conversation on how medical marijuana should be addressed. But a lot of the discussion has been on how 2nd amendment rights should be protected. The debate ranges from push-back for individual states, to argue that federal law still considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, meaning people who use the drug are not allowed to own or possess firearms.

Well, since we have already jumped into the discussion comparing gun rights and medical marijuana, we might as well talk about another interesting story brought about by a Democratic congressman from California.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

The whole conversation starts with the introduction of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which is currently being pushed by Republican lawmakers this week. This new piece of legislation would mandate that if someone is able to receive a concealed carry permit for a firearm in one state, that all other states would be required to honor that concealed carry permit. This means even if your state has much more strict requirements for concealing a gun, someone from a state with much more relaxed requirements is still allowed to travel into your state with a concealed weapon.

Now to be clear, there are many states that already honor concealed carry reciprocity. For example, if I were to get my concealed carry permit in my home state of Ohio, the vast majority of states would allow me to carry a concealed weapon.

Also, in the Buckeye State, they actually recognized the concealed carry permits of every other state already.

But Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna argues that it goes against the very idea of state’s rights and federalism. He argues that the Republican Party, which is often the champion for state’s rights, is forgetting that each state should be able to determine what laws are best for their own citizens and that this legislation will essentially federalize concealed carry permits.

The reason we wanted to talk about this is due to the argument used by Congressman Ro Khanna using marijuana to try and make his point.

Marijuana Reciprocity

Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley area, made a video that argues that if the GOP wants to move forward with making concealed carry permits a national movement, then the same protections should be required by all states to honor marijuana laws.

In the clip posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Khanna states:

“If one state allows the legalization of marijuana, does that mean every state needs to allow the legalization of marijuana?”

Going off of Khanna’s comparison, applying the logic of the H.R. 38 Concealed Carry Reciprocity policy to marijuana would mean someone in California who received a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana for anxiety should be able to legally use marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has more strict restrictions on their medical marijuana laws, with anxiety not being included as a qualifying medical condition.

While Khanna’s comparison is more tongue-in-cheek as part of his opposition to the H.R. 38 bill, it does present an interesting question; should medical marijuana be recognized with reciprocity? One should remember that gun ownership is an actual constitutional right, versus cannabis decriminalization being a recent movement.

Then again, does it make sense to argue “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” in a context like this? This brings us back to the argument of whether or not the federal government should be putting more effort into federal law against marijuana, or if the states have more a right to decide if they will allow cannabis for medical or recreational purposes.

It is still an interesting argument to make. Should states compare these two concepts in the debate on policy?

Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However, the legal status of any medication does not take away from the dangers of substance abuse. Plenty of prescription medications have a high risk of abuse and addiction, and marijuana abuse can be harmful to an individual’s life.

People often mistake marijuana for having no addictive properties. This misconception is because most people consider cannabis a ‘soft drug’ when compared to other ‘hard drugs’ such as crack-cocaine or heroin. While the chemical hooks may not be as drastic or apparent, the truth is that habitual use of any chemical can result in developing tolerance, which can also lead to withdrawal. Symptoms most commonly associated with marijuana withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia, nightmares, vivid dreams, using dreams
  • Drug craving
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Digestion problems
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Shakiness and dizziness

If you are struggling with cannabis abuse, do not hesitate to get help today. Often time’s people who use one substance develop a habit of abuse with many others.

Be careful not to underestimate the substances you are using. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Legal Marijuana Coming to New Jersey and Virginia?

Author: Justin Mckibben

The elections held this past Tuesday may not have directly addressed the status of marijuana, but voters in multiple states did elect officials who are adamant about making legal marijuana more available.

Next Year in New Jersey

One of those states is New Jersey, who’s outgoing governor is Chris Christie, chairman of the White House commission on opioids.

Last week Democrat Phil Murphy, who made legal marijuana one of the cornerstones of his campaign, won the state over. This creates a radical change for the state. For years Chris Christie has blocked attempts to legalize cannabis, and even maintains his opposition to it while fighting to help the country get a grip on the opioid epidemic.

Phil Murphy has been pretty open about his support for marijuana legalization. According to Forbes, Murphy even talked about it during his primary night victory speech saying,

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,”

“And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”

Apparently, it isn’t just Murphy in the state that is looking forward to pushing this legislation along. The Democratically-controlled state Senate is expecting to bring up legal marijuana as early as next year. In regards to the topic, earlier this year Senate President Stephen Sweeney said,

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

Voters in Virginia

Voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia also elected an official who advocates for loosening restrictions on marijuana. Current lieutenant governor Ralph Northam is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession. While it may not be as liberal a stance as Murphy, it is still a big step in a lot of people’s minds. Northam writes,

“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia.”

But it isn’t just about the individuals. Northam also points out the resources going to this issue. He has written to the Virginia State Crime Commission as part of its review of the effects of marijuana decriminalization.

“Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement—enough to open up another 13,000 pre-K spots for children,”

Again, not that he is pushing for complete legalization, but to stop stiff penalties for those with small amounts of marijuana. Northam also advocates for research into the medicinal uses of marijuana. According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has stated,

“As a doctor, I like to make the point to people, over 100 of the medicines that we use on a daily basis come from plants,” he said in an interview Monday. “So I think we need to be open-minded about using marijuana for medical purposes.”

He isn’t alone in Virginia either. Even the Republican state Senate leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. questioned whether or not small amounts of marijuana should remain a crime.

Marijuana in More Areas

But it isn’t just these two offices that indicate there may be more change coming for marijuana policy. In other areas around the country, there are other notable shifts that may dramatically impact marijuana policy.

  • Athens, Ohio

77% of voters in the college town eliminated fines and court costs for possessing or growing up to 200 grams of marijuana.

  • Wayne County, Michigan

In an area that includes Detroit, voters now allow cannabis businesses to operate in more areas and to stay open longer. Michigan is expected to have a marijuana legalization bill on the 2018 ballot.

  • Philadelphia

Lawrence Krasner won the election for District Attorney. Krasner has been outspoken about the benefits of marijuana reform. According to Krasner,

“One of the things we see in other jurisdictions is that, where marijuana is readily available, there’s a 25% reduction in opiate/opioid overdose deaths.”

“So if Philadelphia is looking at 500 opiate/opioid overdose deaths a year, a district attorney, by choosing not to enforce against marijuana usage, can potentially save 125 lives. That’s what a district attorney should exercise his or her discretion to do.”

It seems between lightening the punishments for possession, expanding programs for legal marijuana, and electing officials that will advocate for its use, marijuana may have already seen some real change this November.

What to Remember about Legal Marijuana

It is important to note for anyone who has a history of substance use disorder that the legal status of a substance does not make it safer. You could argue that marijuana is much safer than opioids like prescription drugs or heroin. While marijuana is not as lethal concerning overdose deaths, it still should not ignore the risks.

Marijuana reform has the potential for some positive and negative outcomes. Ultimately voters will have to consider weighing the pros and cons of reform. Either way, it is important to remember that any substance, legal or not, can be addictive. While marijuana may become more accepted on a legal level, it is still unhealthy to abuse this drug. If you find yourself abusing this or any drug it is very important that you seek safe and effective treatment resources.

Because drug abuse is always destructive, marijuana abuse is no exception. If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, losing control of your use can lead to something much worse. We want to help. You are not alone. Call toll-free now. 

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California says NO to Pot Delivering Drones

California says NO to Pot Delivering Drones

Californians expecting to get their marijuana delivered via drone should not hold their breath. A new set of regulations will make it harder for California businesses who try to deliver pot in unique ways.

The legalization of marijuana has raised a host of controversy. For one, the question of who has the right to distribute pot is already a complex issue. However, now there is the question of how these products get delivered.

Pot Drones? Should they be allowed?

California legislators are hoping to get these questions answered before issuing dispensary licenses next year. They came together this month to lay down the rules. Ultimately, it was decided that marijuana could NOT be delivered by drones.

The decision was part of the Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations released by the state.

“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” the regulations read, according to Ars Technica.

While deliveries will be allowed, they must adhere to the following guidelines:

Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle. Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be left in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery.”

The news will be a major disappointment to the handful of businesses in California who already promised future pot deliveries by drone. One company, MDelivers, said the opportunity to deliver marijuana via drone was “unmistakable.”

Nevertheless, the company CEO did not count on lawmakers forbidding drone deliveries:

After navigating the complexities of medical marijuana permitting, the state and FAA licensing process was actually pretty simple. Nobody can jump in at the 11th hour and rewrite the laws of aerodynamics,” Chris Boudreau, CEO and founder of MDelivers said in a blog post before the regulations were announced.

With the new policies in place, there is no telling how entrepreneurs will get marijuana to their customers. Even if drones are off the table, there are a variety of other new, interesting methods being considered.

We may see a vending machine attached to a self-driving car before we see a drone,” Marshall Hayner, CEO of Trees Delivery, told Mashable.

As California prepares to expand its cannabis market, there continues to be challenges among those against marijuana legalization, especially when it comes to the products crossing state lines illegally. This has already been a major concern for states where port had been legal for recreational use such as Colorado and Oregon.

Surrounding states are trying to address the marijuana diversion issue by requiring pot businesses to track their product from “seed to store.” Time will tell how these sorts of issues will be regulated.

Furthermore, there remains to be conflicting ideologies on whether or not marijuana use is beneficials. While there has been proven benefits of marijuana use, there are also negative effects of marijuana use. Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused.

As more and more states legalize marijuana, logistical challenges remain such as how the products can be delivered. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, where it’s still classified as a controlled substance. This results in a variety of challenges in states like Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal.

The federal government requires that Colorado and any state that legalizes marijuana work together to prevent:

  • Distribution of marijuana to minors.
  • Transporting marijuana from states where it’s legal to other states.
  • Growing marijuana on public lands.
  • Marijuana possession or use on federal property.
  • Other criminal activity or violence associated with the sale of marijuana.

It is important to remember that like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. Do not feel shame for feeling out of control of your marijuana use. Stigma should not prevent you from seeking treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out today. Do not wait. Call toll-free now.

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Greece Legalizes Marijuana for Medical Purposes

Greece Legalizes Marijuana for Medical Purposes

Author: Shernide Delva

The United States has slowly begun to see more and more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana. But the U.S. is far from the only country seeing major shifts in marijuana policies.

Greece just joined six other European Union countries in approving some form of medical cannabis. Greece is “turning its page” on drug policy by allowing qualified citizens to access medical cannabis. The announcement by Greek officials occurred on June 30 at a press conference.

“Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” according to Greece’s Government Gazette.

Now that the government had reclassified cannabis from Table A to Table B, it is now possible for certain patients to access marijuana for medical purposes legally. This move is like moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the United States’ Controlled Substances Act.

In the U.S., cannabis is still classified under Schedule I, alongside heroin and LSD. Although various states permit marijuana use, it is still not legal on a federal level. Drugs like oxycodone, methadone, and methamphetamine are in Schedule II, a less restrictive drug category.

With these new implementations, Greece can now import products from other countries like Canada and the United States. There are qualifying conditions required by the Ministry of Health that patients must have to access medical marijuana.

These health conditions include:

  • Chronic or Neuropathic Pain
  • Nausea & vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Some eating disorders

 “From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Greece joins six other European Union countries that have approved medical cannabis in some form.

Other countries include:

  • The Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Germany

Germany is a recent addition to the list. Their law went into effect this past March to help “critically ill” citizens.

Another country approving cannabis in June is Mexico, where the new law passed legislation with overwhelming support.

A country like Greece supporting medical marijuana is a major shift in the country’s mentality. Greece has a long known history of strict anti-drug laws. However, the debt-ridden country is moving in a different direction. The government legalized the processing of hemp in April, “ending 60 years of prohibition of the traditional, non-psychoactive plant,” Leafly reported at the time.

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for mass use. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, they are distinctively different. Hemp has low THC levels, which means it does not produce a high. Hemp is processed into a variety of useful products including paper, textiles, clothing, plastics, biofuel, and food.

Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to reveal themselves, more countries are opening up to the idea of legalization. What do you think about the recent legalization of medical marijuana in Greece?

Like any substance, marijuana can be abused. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, if you feel out of control with your substance use, please reach out. We want to help. 

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Should Marijuana Be Used in Addiction Treatment?

Should Marijuana Be Used in Addiction Treatment?

Author: Shernide Delva

A California rehab is under scrutiny after it was discovered that the rehab incorporates marijuana in their addiction treatment program. The different uses of medical marijuana continue to raise controversy, especially when it comes to addiction treatment.

Therefore, the question remains:

Does medical marijuana have a place in addiction treatment?

The mission of the California rehab states: to help addicts stop abusing substances that are most harmful to them.  The rehab says marijuana is a tool to help clients along the withdrawal process, and if needed, aid in long-term recovery. While the treatment center boasts positive results, their stance on marijuana use is at odds with many in the treatment and recovery community.

But they are far from the first. Other treatment centers are considering a similar treatment philosophy. So, is it wrong to do so?  Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist and the author of “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” agrees with the philosophy.

“This stuff that emphasizes this morality, we don’t have anything else like that in medicine,” said Szalavitz, a former heroin addict, and AA member. “And the 12-step thing talking about ‘defects of character,’ that’s not exactly helpful for someone who already has a lot of self-hatred.”

“This whole idea that total abstinence is the only route to recovery has been incredibly damaging to the addiction field,” she continues.

This idea of “non-abstinence” treatment relates to a program known as harm reduction which accepts that drug use is a part of life. Instead of trying to get people to stop doing drugs, harm reduction focuses on improving overall safety through reducing the negative consequences associated with using drug use.

An example of a harm reduction program is safe needle exchange programs. These programs focus on providing addicts with clean needles that overall, reduce the risk of infections like Hepatitis C. Another example would be methadone clinics or suboxone maintenance programs. While controversial, these programs help in reducing the number of overdose fatalities.

Does Marijuana Curb Addiction?

Despite treatment centers using marijuana in addiction treatment, there are not many studies that confirm its efficacy. Research exists that suggests cannabis may be a helpful tool for opioid addiction. Marijuana is used in some treatment facilities to aid with long-term pain relief and opioid withdrawals.

Still, a major report published in January by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said that “only one randomized trial assessing the role of cannabis in reducing the use of addictive substances” exists.

Furthermore, many of the studies suffered from at least one research error. Mostly, the sample size was too small to make a solid conclusion.

“I think ideally you’d study it before you just go and do it,” Szalavitz said. “I think it’s an intriguing idea that we need more research on.”

Many experts argue the use of cannabis to treat addiction is absurd.

“Marijuana has exactly no role in the treatment of any mental illness, especially substance-use disorders,” Thomas McLellan, who founded the Treatment Research Institute and served briefly as the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama administration, told The Guardian.

Marijuana: A Gateway Drug?

Even if marijuana is not someone’s drug of choice, it is possible that cannabis use can trigger a relapse. Any mind-altering substance can lower a person’s ability to make rational decisions regarding their sobriety.

“People are more likely to seek their primary drug or alcohol when they are intoxicated or high,” says Anne Lewis, a clinical psychologist and licensed addictions counselor with Indiana University Health. “It lowers your inhibition, so you don’t care. We don’t make good decisions when we’re drunk or high.”

Therefore, even if a person does not have an issue with marijuana,  it may increase the temptation to use. Marijuana could make it harder to stay on the recovery path.

Chemicals in the Brain?

To explain further, one must understand brain chemicals. Cannabinoid receptors closely tie into the brain’s dopamine systems. These chemicals play a role in reward—motivated behavior. Blocking those receptors can assist people trying to give up smoking, alcohol, cocaine or heroin. However, the use of marijuana can trigger those receptors increasing the risk of a relapse.

While there are always success stories from clients who have used marijuana maintenance plans successfully, for the most part, the risks are great.

What are your thoughts? What do you think about treatment centers incorporating marijuana in the treatment process? Addiction is an epidemic of great proportions. The first step is seeking treatment.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

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