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
- The Netherlands
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.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Ladies and gentlemen, medical pot is on its way to passing into law in Pennsylvania! This is a huge announcement considering the current political climate, and the fact that Pennsylvania is one of the swing states that is essential to sealing the deal on a presidential election.
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few years, let me get you caught up on what’s going down. Marijuana reforms and legalization movements have been taking the country by storm, noting that medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, recreational marijuana is legal in 3, and both are legal in Washington, D.C. the 2014 November midterms set us up for a domino effect of legislation, with anyone wagering against weed coming up empty handed in most cases.
The 2016 presidential election campaigns starting to rev their respective engines in regards to reforms concerning addiction and mental health, and the issue of legalizing marijuana on a state by state basis could be one of the deciding factors for the presidential hopefuls.
Bipartisan Backing Senate Bill 3
Tuesday took the Pennsylvania Senate by storm when an overwhelming bipartisan majority approved the medical cannabis bill according to Democratic State Senator Daylin Leach for Delaware. Leach sponsored Senate Bill 3 from its initial formation, along with Republican Senator Mike Folmer, was just one of the politicians backing it. All in all including:
- 19 Democrats
- 21 Republicans
The measure passed by a 40-7 margin, a total landslide victory in the chronicles of chronic history. Leach said in a press release,
“Today, the Senate showed it stands with the 88% of Pennsylvanians who support medical cannabis. A huge, bipartisan majority supported SB3 because it will allow children suffering from devastating seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and cancer patients being ravaged by the side effects of chemotherapy, among others, to get the medicine they need.”
Now by the typical standards of marijuana reform, be it for recreational or medicinal purposes, this is a pretty impressive majority.
Pushing for Pots Potential
Under the regulations set forth by SB3 Pennsylvania residents would be eligible to be treated with medical marijuana for a wide variety of illnesses. But, for everyone getting all excited about breaking out the new bong, the legislation text states they will not be able to smoke it. Leach added that in his opinion, legalizing marijuana is a “moral issue, not a partisan issue.” He also went on to add said in a speech on the floor of the Senate after the bill was passed:
“If any one of us had a sick child, a sick mother, a sick brother, that’s the only thing in the world we would care about. This is going to make a huge difference in the lives of so many people.”
In the past Leach has cited the economic opportunity which legalizing marijuana could present, beyond just medicinal marijuana. During a trip to Colorado in July 2014, he noted in an Op-Ed that marijuana growing facilities employed a number of positions that included:
- Medical technicians
- Mechanical engineers
- Extensive support staff
He talked about how dispensaries created other forms of employment, such as:
- Sales force (known as bud-tenders)
Leach stated that these individuals had to be highly educated about their products, and thus were paid a very respectable salary.
Leach talked about the potential for state income, saying that in Colorado the tax revenues coming into the state are “astronomical.” According to his report in the first 6 months of legal cannabis the State of Colorado estimated to have generated well over $50 million in direct tax revenues, plus millions more from licensing fees, and indirect businesses such as:
Sealing the Drug Deal
Now SB3 must be approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives before getting a final signature into law from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. While there is still a possibility this will stop it in its tracks, considering the broad bipartisan support the bill received in the Senate, it would seem a probability that SB3 will pass the House and become legally binding.
However, don’t count the fight completely over. This would be the first time a bill passed through the Pennsylvania Senate just like that only to fail in the home-stretch. In the fall of 2014 another bill similar to SB3 was rejected in the House after passing the Senate, so nothing is guaranteed just yet folks. Opponents of the bill were largely social conservatives concerned with family values, and many are not convinced with the dependability of marijuana’s medical value, some even citing research that contradicts the argument that marijuana is good for seizures, and some saying it actually worsens them.
Still, if this revolutionary new bill becomes a law, Pennsylvania would become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. And again, with this being a swing state it could influence the path the future president takes, and even the entire country. Only time will tell, now all eyes are on Pennsylvania. Next… Ohio?
Medical marijuana may be uniquely beneficial to many patients in need, but for the addict it can only continue to create an unnecessary risk that could cause even more harm down the line. While there are already plenty of risky medications out there, a drug is a drug and this one can still be abused. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The latest bit of news on the subject of whether or not the newest wave of marijuana law reforms will be washing up on the beaches of the sunshine state is not looking so bright for those in favor of medical marijuana. This past Tuesday the Florida House of Representatives cut short its legislative session three days ahead of schedule, meaning that any hope of getting any kind of medical marijuana initiative passed will have to wait… at least until 2016.
Sunshine Swing State
The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll was released regarding the 3 swing states that are huge in the new 2016 presidential elections and the views those citizens had on legalizing marijuana. Florida was one of those states, and according to those statistics:
- 55% of voters in Florida support recreational marijuana use
- 84% of voters in Florida support medical marijuana
- 17% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would use it
- 81% of Florida voters say they “probably” or “definitely” would not use it
So with Florida being one of the historically essential states in elections, it seems that the states stance on adjusting pot policies is a huge influence. So it does make a lot of sense that any officials in the state would want to take their time and be able to take every aspect into consideration before leading a charge that could change the country.
Looking For the Right Legislation
There are already a couple of medical marijuana bills that had been introduced in the current session, including HB 683.
- HB 683
This particular piece of politics is being sponsored by Representative Greg Steube, and HB 683 calls for a non-smokable form of marijuana for medical purposes, and it would only be available to be prescribed to patients suffering from:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Terminal illness
Now those all seem like pretty legitimate reasons to seek out forms of treatment that would generally be unorthodox. But others suggest that even more lenient restrictions should be put in place.
- Florida Medical Marijuana Act
Senator Jeff Brandes introduced the Florida Medical Marijuana Act in late January designed to give doctors the ability to use medicinal marijuana to treat patients afflicted with similar diseases.
Senator Brandes had also introduced another bill with another senator, meaning Senator Bob Bradley, which was intended to assist patients with debilitating diseases by giving them faster access to a medicinal marijuana containing lower levels of THC.
Brandes had already admitted defeat and accepted that his initiative was off the table for the current session, but while that battle was lost Brandes believes he has not lost the war. He expressed a desire to go back over the initiative this summer to get more info from experts and rehash the bill for another try at consideration.
Calling It Early
Regardless of the status of any bill, the House’s decision to shut things down with three days left before it was scheduled effectively killed any chance of moving forward with all medical marijuana bills. The House cited the ongoing debate over health-care expansion as the reason for calling it early, but some think this is an unacceptable excuse. United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara said via a statement:
“Today the people we elected to represent us in Tallahassee literally abdicated their responsibility to Floridians. The House of Representatives decided to simply quit work, three days before the end of session, and with that, medical marijuana legislation is dead in Tallahassee.”
Pollara was one of many that appeared outraged that the House decided to simply tap out on account of deadlock about something as important as healthcare, especially when so many still need answers. In regards to the Houses closing up shop Pollara stated:
“Hundreds of thousands of patients across this state are sick, suffering, and dying, but the House simply quit. Nearly 3.4 million Floridians voted ‘yes’ for medical marijuana, but the House simply quit. Despite courageous leadership from senators and representatives in both houses and both parties, Tallahassee has failed us again.”
This definitely isn’t the first problem Florida has had with getting medical weed legalized in Florida. Back in November during the midterm elections the Amendment 2 initiative fell short of passing by a mere 2% points! Leaving supports disappointed but not discouraged. Amendment 2 was as close as Florida has ever come to joining 23 other states and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana.
Still, United for Care and other groups in the area were hopeful that the improvement in the polls was a sign of positive change. As a result, the group began an online petition to get the initiative back on the ballot for 2016, so to some degree they were already preparing to take this movement on the long hall. Pollara and others are extremely confident that medical marijuana will make it to the polls, and that the “voters will pass what the legislature failed to.”
One fun fact- with the numbers: did you know in Florida more people voted for medical marijuana than voted for Rick Scott?
Marijuana legalization is firmly set to become a popular topic in the coming months, especially placed in the path of the presidency. It may be on the other side of the debate on drug law reform and improving mental health and addiction treatment, but what does this mean for those already struggling with the disease of addiction?
A drug is a drug, and all of them can be dangerous for an addict. While many advocate for the medical advantages that marijuana can create, others are troubled by the potential it has to affect those who battle with substance abuse and recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135