medical cannabis

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Judge dismisses suit that challenged Pennsylvania medical marijuana program

A state court judge threw out a lawsuit that could have undone Pennsylvania’s nascent medical marijuana program.

The suit was filed in September 2017 by Keystone ReLeaf of Bethlehem, whose bid for a dispensing license failed.

The lawsuit, had it succeeded, could have delayed patient access and the state’s MMJ industry for years, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In the lawsuit, Keystone argued the application process was conducted haphazardly and had been “infected by bias and favoritism” because Pennsylvania’s health department – which managed the application process – had kept the panelists who picked the winners secret.

Keystone’s lawyers said those problems invalidated the application process, according to the newspaper.

The company sought an injunction from the court that would have canceled all grow and dispensary permits awarded by the health department, the Inquirer reported. That would have forced the state to start the process from scratch.

But Judge Michael H. Wojcik dismissed the suit, writing that Keystone should have taken its complaints to the health department before the court, according to the Inquirer.

Read the full article HERE

Philadelphia Greenlights Marijuana to Treat Opioid Withdrawal

Terminal illness, neurodegenerative diseases, and dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders are can now be treated with medical marijuana.

U.S. city Philadelphia will soon be second, after New Jersey, to permit the use of marijuana to treat opioid withdrawal.

“It’s another tool,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said. “The whole idea of this program is to provide another tool in the toolbox of physicians to treat these conditions.”

Levine explained that her office has approved the sale of cannabis leaf or bud, which is more affordable than oils or vaporizers since it requires no additional processing.

“I am ecstatic today,” State Sen. Daylin Leach, said. “Allowing the whole plant will dramatically expand the number of patients who benefit from medical cannabis and will go a long way toward guaranteeing that this huge new industry survives and prospers.”

Gov. Tom Wolf thanked Levine and the state Department of Health for approving the changes.

“Allowing dry leaf for vaporization will shorten the time it takes to get medication to dispensaries, expand options for the growing number of patients, and hopefully make the program less cost-prohibitive for some patients.”

Read the full article HERE

Students need a policy for on-campus medical marijuana

By: 

In 2016, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law that legalized the use of medical marijuana in the state. In June 2017, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pennsylvania Department of Health awarded 27 companies licenses to open up dispensaries around the state.

According to a report from CNN, medical marijuana is used to reduce pain, as well as the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s diseases. Cannabidiol, an active chemical in marijuana, offers numerous health benefits, according to The Washington Post.

With the evidence supporting medical marijuana, along with the legalization across Pennsylvania, Temple needs to enact a policy that allows students with a state-issued medical marijuana card to safely use the substance on Main Campus.

A student with a medical marijuana card who wishes to remain anonymous has reached out to Temple administrators inquiring about their rights to access and use medical marijuana on campus but has been left without answers.

“The City of Philadelphia effectively decriminalized possession of marijuana by reducing penalties and consequences for personal-use quantities of marijuana,” university spokesman Brandon Lausch wrote in an email. “As a result, Temple is monitoring regulatory guidance on how best to synchronize its policies with all current laws.”

Since the university is eager to be up to date with Philadelphia laws, it should take the same approach when creating an on-campus medical marijuana policy.

“The city of Philadelphia is doing the same, and there’s an active discussion with all businesses,” said Chris Goldstein, a journalism instructor who teaches the class Marijuana in the News. “How do we accommodate patients in the workplace?”

Enacting an on-campus medical marijuana policy should be obvious. This is a health need that should be addressed immediately.

Massachusetts also legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2012. To accommodate students with a medical need for marijuana, Tufts University enacted a policy that offers students a way to fulfill their medicinal needs.

Tufts doesn’t allow the use of marijuana on campus, but students with a medical marijuana card are permitted to submit a letter to the dean of student affairs to end their on-campus housing leases and relocate to an area off campus to use their medical marijuana.

Arizona also made the distinction between medical marijuana use and recreational use by decriminalizing medical use and allowing it on college campuses.

Temple should follow the lead set forth by these universities and allow students to safely use medical marijuana.

 

Read the full article HERE

Week in Review: Pennsylvania flower sales, Oregon’s cannabis surplus & MassRoots’ big losses

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis dispensaries get the OK to sell flower for vaping, Oregon’s marijuana glut is hurting the state’s smaller growers, and MassRoots reveals that its losses widened to $44 million in 2017.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Positive in Pennsylvania

The announcement that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries can sell dry leaf and flower for vaping is good news for the industry’s bottom line, according to a Keystone State MMJ business owner who is trying to build her company.

Corinne Ogrodnik, the CEO and co-founder of Pittsburgh-based Maitri Medicinals, said the allowance of flower will bring more patients into the program and help grow a market that could become one of the nation’s largest.

“It will be a more affordable product because we won’t have to be utilizing the equipment to process the flower and leaf into concentrates,” she said. “It will also require less intensive packaging.”

Ogrodnik also is hopeful that being able to offer flower will help her business get off the ground.

The restraints on Pennsylvania’s MMJ business owners make it a capital-intensive process, including costs for:

  • Renovating properties
  • Security
  • Medical staff

“We were looking at a few years of lean times,” Ogrodnik said, “and (flower) is really going to enable us to fully implement our business plan with the anticipation of how the market is going to expand.”

Other medical marijuana markets that allow flower for vaping require the dry plant material to be offered in a prepackaged vaping device.

Ogrodnik said it’s unclear how Pennsylvania will regulate the sale and consumption of dry leaf and flower.

She hopes dispensaries will be able to sell whole flower, rather than prepackaged or preground plant matter, and patients are allowed to decide how they will vaporize it.

No matter how it plays out, Ogrodnik believes the program is moving in the right direction.

“It demonstrates that the Department of Health supports this program working, which then translates to the viability of our business,” she added.

 

Read the full article HERE.

Legal marijuana could soon be a bigger market than soda

By:  
  • Legal marijuana is set to hit $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to a note from analysts at the investment bank Cowen.
  • Weed is already putting pressure on alcohol sales. In states that have legalized marijuana, binge drinking rates are declining.
  • The market for marijuana could eventually eclipse soda sales.

Cannabis could soon become a bigger industry than soda, and it has already started putting pressure on alcohol sales.

If marijuana is made legal nationwide in the US by 2030, the legal weed industry could generate $75 billion in sales by that year, according to a new note from the investment bank Cowen.

Cowen’s cannabis sector analyst, Vivien Azer, revised her previous estimate up by $25 billion. Legal marijuana sales are already around $50 billion, Azer said in the note.

Soda consumption, on the other hand, is declining. Per capita consumption fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, Bloomberg reports, with $76.4 billion in sales in 2017.

Legal marijuana is already starting to impact alcohol sales as well.

In states that have legalized cannabis, binge-drinking rates have fallen 9% below the national average, and 11% below states that don’t allow the sale of recreational marijuana, according to the note. Adults in states with legal cannabis binge drink an average of 13% fewer times per month than those in states without legal recreational marijuana.

“This work builds on our prior assertions that cannabis acts as a substitute social lubricant for consumers,” Azer said in the note.

“As cannabis access expands, we expect further pressure on alcohol sales, given this notable divide in consumer consumption pattern,” she added.

The cannabis market is still far behind alcohol, however. Sales of alcohol hit $210 billion in 2017, according to the note.

 

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.

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