News

Poll: 44% Oppose Legalizing Marijuana In NJ; One In Four Would Try Or Use It

By Brandon Longo

GALLOWAY, N.J. (CBS) – A new Stockton University poll reveals that New Jerseyans are split when it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The university polled 728 adults who live in New Jersey asking them where they stand on the issue.

Forty-nine percent of those polled said they support legalizing pot for recreational purposes.

Currently, medical marijuana is only legal in the Garden State.

According to the study, 44 percent oppose legalization, with roughly 5 percent unsure.

“These poll results suggest there is not a consensus in New Jersey on whether marijuana should be made legal,” said Michael W. Klein, interim executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.

Stockton says 75 percent of those poll stated that they don’t currently use marijuana and would not do so even if it was legal.

But, roughly one in four participants (15 percent) said that although they do not use the drug, they would try it if it were legal.

Younger adults and men are more likely to support legalization, the study shows.

Sixty-four percent of respondents younger than age 50 support legalization, compared to 41 percent of age 50 and older. Among men, 56 percent support legalizing marijuana, while only 44 percent of women do.

Read the full article HERE

Pennsylvania medical marijuana businesses may soon sell flower for vaping

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis board has recommended allowing the sale of flower for vaping.

All that stands in the way of MMJ flower sales is a go-ahead from the state’s secretary of health, according to Triblive.com.

Adding flower to the list of available products should boost the bottom line of Pennsylvania’s cannabis companies.

Flower is one of the most affordable and commonly purchased forms of cannabis.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The board voted 11-0 to allow “dry leaf or plant form for administration by vaporization.” One member abstained.
  • Pennsylvania’s MMJ businesses currently can sell only oil, pills, tinctures or concentrate for vaping as well as ointments.
  • As of April 6, more than 25,000 MMJ patients were signed up to purchase medical cannabis, and 914 doctors were registered to recommend medical cannabis.
  • The advisory board is also expected to vote on whether to add terminal illness and palliative care to the list of medical conditions that can be treated with MMJ.

Read the full article HERE

Pennsylvania Green Lights Medical Cannabis Program Expansion

There have been issues with launching the medical cannabis program in the state of Pennsylvania, including dispensaries experiencing a shortage of available product for patients. Despite this, the State Department of Health recently announced it would be accepting more applications for new dispensaries and growing operations in April of this year.

According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, 13 permits will be up for grabs for growers and processors, while 23 will be available for dispensaries. In addition to the permits for dispensaries and grow-ops, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will include issuing permits to ‘clinical registrants’ for medical schools and hospitals who are interested in doing tests and much-needed research on the plant medicine.

One of those schools will likely be Thomas Jefferson University, who say they want to become an “academic clinical research center”. In 2017, Thomas Jefferson University received a donation of $3 million from Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert. The University used this donation to found the Lambert Center for the Study of Medical Cannabis and Hemp.

“This could really put Pennsylvania into the forefront of this whole controversial and challenging area,” Dr. Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center, told NBC10 after the university received the donation.

There are several other schools that are eager to run clinical tests on cannabis, including the University of Pittsburgh.

“We believe that the research will be of great importance in determining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases,” the University of Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Even though the Keystone State’s medical cannabis program is relatively restricted in comparison to that of other states, it is the only one that has introduced research elements. Ohio and Florida have both discussed research components in their programs, but there has not been any laws on the books as of yet.

Read the full article HERE.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Expands Medical Marijuana Program

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced a long list of reforms Tuesday morning, including lowering fees for patients and caregivers, adding five approved medical conditions and proposing legislation to increase monthly product limit for patients.

A renaissance is coming to New Jersey’s long-embattled medical marijuana program.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced a long list of reforms Tuesday morning, including lowering fees for patients and caregivers, adding five approved medical conditions and proposing legislation to increase monthly product limit for patients.

Patients receiving hospice care would be eligible for an unlimited supply of cannabis.

“We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program,” he said. “Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana.”

Effective immediately, patients suffering from anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic visceral pain will be eligible for the pot program.

The registration fee is also being lowered from $200 to $100 as of Tuesday. Veterans and people 65 years and older will be eligible for a $20 discount.

The governor is also allowing doctors who prescribe marijuana not to appear on a public registry. Murphy says there was a sense that doctors who prescribed the drug faced a stigma.

Murphy’s decision comes roughly a decade after the state implemented its medical marijuana program, enacted under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, but slowly implemented under Republican Chris Christie, who had a skeptical view of marijuana.

In January, Murphy signed an executive order calling on the New Jersey Department of Health to review the existing program. Almost exactly two months later, the department’s recommendations are now being implemented, Murphy said.

The announcement comes as the new governor pushes for legalized recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

“We will have a program that is compassionate, progressive and, at long last, meets the needs of patients,” he said. “We’re going to make it easier for patients.”

Murphy added that he would like to eventually see opioid addiction added to the growing list of approved conditions. He called cannabis “an offensive weapon” to the growing crisis.

Read the full article HERE.

How Jefferson Health birthed the nation’s first major marijuana research program

by Sam Wood

The medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania is about to enter unprecedented territory as it embarks on the nation’s first state-sanctioned research program.

 Medical schools will partner with marijuana companies. The med schools will design research studies. The companies, which will grow cannabis and sell it at their dispensaries, will enlist patients for the studies. The companies will collect patient data to be analyzed by the medical schools.

Unlike traditional drug studies, which provide experimental medicines at no cost, patients will buy the drug under investigation.

 “It’s not a normal pharmaceutical research structure by any means,” said Eric Hagarty, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Wolf. “The conflict with federal law is primarily the reason for that.”

The federal government considers all forms of marijuana to be illegal.

Backers say the program’s research arm is unique in the U.S. and could make the state a global hub for cannabis science. Philadelphia may host up to five academic centers investigating applications for the drug.

Enabling this to happen is a provision of the marijuana law many call the “Jefferson Amendment.”

Nicknamed after Philadelphia’s Jefferson Health system, which was instrumental in the law’s creation, the Jefferson Amendment is officially known as Chapter 20 of the state’s medical marijuana act. It allows as many as eight health systems to each pair with a private company. A health system, under the law, is defined as a medical school with an acute-care hospital.

 In language only a bureaucrat could love, the law calls the medical schools “Academic Clinical Research Centers” (ACRCs) and deems the marijuana companies “Clinical Registrants” (CRs).

“The whole goal is to bring research and sophistication to cannabis that doesn’t exist in the rest of the state or the country,” said James Connolly, a former vice president at drug maker Wyeth. Connolly will head Solterra Care, LLC, the CR affiliated with Jefferson. “It will put us on the map if Philadelphia has three, four or five research centers and brings some credibility to the industry.”

Drexel, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania are each expected to participate as research centers. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is also angling to get in, though the school lacks a hospital on campus.

The state Department of Health will begin accepting applications on April 5.

 

 

Read the full article HERE

New federal budget bill includes medical marijuana protections

By John Schroyer

A key federal law that prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana companies looks likely to remain in place under a new federal budget deal reportedly reached Wednesday among Congressional leaders.

Language from the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is included on page 240 of the 2,243-page budget bill, which was posted online by Republican leaders.

However, the spending deal has yet to be passed by Congress, which has a Friday deadline before the federal government shuts down.

The Washington Post reported that the deal is “uncertain.”

Even if it is approved, the deal would last only through September.

The amendment, which was first passed by Congress more than three years ago as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, blocks the DOJ and therefore the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to prevent states and territories “from implementing their own laws” on MMJ.

The law specifically protects medical marijuana laws – and, by extension, MMJ businesses – in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

The only four states that aren’t protected are Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – none of which have yet approved any functional MMJ industries. (There are several states that allow for possession of CBD but don’t permit production or sales.)

Read the full article HERE

Philadelphia mall fight could affect state marijuana laws

A fight over a Philadelphia mall’s deed restrictions belongs in federal court because it could end up affecting the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

PharmaCann Penn LLC is challenging a deed restriction that prevents it from using the mall space it bought for any “activity or use which is unlawful.” The company has a state license and city zoning approval to operate a dispensary.

Simon Property Group Inc., the mall owner, contends the deed restriction prevents PharmaCann from opening the dispensary because dispensing marijuana is a federal crime.

 

Read the full article HERE

 

Hill doctor opens medicinal marijuana prescription practice

by Elizabeth Coady

Tucked in the rear first floor of 7811 Germantown Ave. is Dr. Rebecca Maury’s newly founded medical marijuana practice, Herbal Wellness Rx.

Maury, a Chestnut Hill resident who is board-certified in internal medicine and hospice and palliative care, this week quietly begins treating patients seeking to alleviate suffering from 17 serious medical conditions for which the state of Pennsylvania allows medicinal marijuana to be used.

Maury is among 433 physicians who have completed four hours of state-mandated training and are certified to treat patients seeking medical marijuana. Pennsylvania is one of 30 states that have legalized the use of the medicinal plant, still classified as an illegal drug by federal authorities, according to Governing.com. The Keystone state’s Medical Marijuana Program was approved by legislators in April 2016 and went live Feb. 15 when the first dispensaries opened.

“It’s still something that’s coming out of the shadows,” Maury said. “But it’s something I believe in. I feel happy to be part of the movement to get it out in the mainstream.”

The Washington, D.C., native has been ahead of the curve on using herbs to heal for decades. Even before enrolling in medical school, she attended the New Mexico School for Natural Therapeutics, a massage therapy and holistic wellness program, and the Southwest School for Botanical Medicine, where she studied the healing benefits of herbs.

According to her biography at HerbalWellnessRX.com, Maury then “spent several years traveling through the Southwest, wildcrafting herbs and studying their properties.”

She subsequently graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in biology and then attended the university’s medical school. She found her way to Philadelphia via her internist’s residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

At Jefferson, she gravitated toward hospice and palliative care and discovered her ease in comforting patients with life-threatening and end-of-life illnesses.

“I was always interested in the healing arts,” Maury said, recalling how she would take care of baby squirrels that fell out of trees. “I sort of always have wanted to take care of beings. That’s just part of my nature.”

That innate caring proved a gift when dealing with the sick and dying, which she says “has the potential to be a beautiful, natural transformation.”

Treating patients with medical marijuana is a natural evolution in her caring for the sick. As she witnessed Pennsylvania’s slow roll toward legalization over the last several years, she thought to herself, “Gosh, this is something I should be making available to people. It’s a natural remedy. It has a very low if any possibility for complications for addiction.”

She points out the plant was used for centuries as a medicinal herb before being stigmatized in the early 20th century, in part by the medical industry. Even now the drug is viewed with disdain or stigma among some members of society.

But increasingly, the evidence for the health benefits of marijuana is winning out over old biases. Today, marijuana is used to ameliorate glaucoma and epilepsy, alleviate nausea and boost appetite in cancer and AIDS patients, ease post-traumatic stress disorder, lessen neuropathy from chemotherapy’s side effects, aide in sleep disorders and improve spasticity in Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis sufferers, to name a few ways it’s currently used.

Cannabinoids, a chemical component of pot, also has an “amazing anti-inflammatory component,” Maury said.

Under the new state laws, physicians who treat patients will review their medical histories and issue a letter certifying they are eligible to use medical marijuana. The patient, who must already be enrolled and issued an ID to participate in the state’s program, then takes the physician’s letter to the dispensary where they consult with a pharmacist or nurse practitioner on the optimal form, strain and TCH concentration of their marijuana treatment. Patients must pay out-of-pocket for their treatments.

Pennsylvania’s law allows for medical marijuana to be sold in liquid, pill, tincture, oil, and topical forms but forbids the sale of leaf, although members of the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board are currently considering including the sale of dried leaves to patients.

So far, 21,000 patients have registered to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program and 6,000 of those have been approved as eligible to participate by a physician, according to April Hutcheson, of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Pennsylvania has had the fastest rollout among state medical marijuana programs, according to Christine Visco, co-owner of TerraVida Holistic Center, one of the state’s 50 licensed dispensaries. Each licensed dispensary is allowed to operate in three locations in separate counties. TerraVida is licensed to operate dispensaries in Sellersville, Abington and Malvern.

 

Read the full article HERE