Survey: Three Of Four Military Veterans Would Consider Using Medical Cannabis

NEW YORK: Seventy-five percent of military veterans say that they would consider using either “cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option,” according to member survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The organization represents over 400,000 veterans nationwide.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the Department of Veteran Affairs are forbidden from providing medical cannabis recommendations, even in jurisdictions that legally permit private practitioners to do so.

Overall, 83 percent of respondents expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis access, and 68 percent believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs “should allow for research into cannabis as a treatment option.” Proposed federal legislation to direct the agency to conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabis for PTSD and for other conditions is currently pending in the US House and Senate.

Twenty percent of veterans surveyed acknowledged having previously used cannabis for medical purposes. Other studies have estimated that as many as 41 percent of veterans acknowledge having consumed cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Available data documents that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain and may potentially mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, along with other conditions veterans commonly face.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at: (202) 483-5500. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Veterans Issues.”

Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Localized Reductions In Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

CALIFORNIA: Counties that permit the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries possess reduced rates of opioid-related mortality, according to the findings of an academic research paper published on the SSRN online network.

Researchers from Claremont McKenna College in California, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock assessed the localized impact of dispensary operations on opioid-related mortality.

Authors reported, “[W]ithin MCL (medical cannabis law)-adopting states, counties with dispensaries experience six percent to eight percent fewer opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men, while mortality due to heroin overdose declines by more than ten percent.”

They concluded, “Extrapolating our results implies that, for every 100,000 non-Hispanic white men, 10 fewer opioid-induced fatalities would have occurred between 2009 and 2015 if dispensaries were present and operating in every county within each MCL state.”

Prior studies have consistently identified a relationship between legal cannabis access and reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The effect of medical cannabis dispensaries on opioid and heroin overdose mortality,” appears online. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids,” is online.

How Legalized Marijuana is Changing The Healthcare Industry

by Trevor McDonald

Medical marijuana continues to be a hot-button issue, and we can expect that to continue until it’s legalized in all 50 states. But as the debate heats up and more states approve medical marijuana, we can look to the early adopters to find out what’s working.

Here are a few ways legalized marijuana is changing the healthcare industry.

Fewer opioid overdose deaths

In states that have legalized marijuana, we’re seeing fewer deaths from opioid overdose. In fact, a 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that states with medical marijuana programs have a 25 percent lower opioid-related death rate than states that haven’t approved marijuana for medical use.

America’s addiction epidemic is currently claiming an average of 115 lives every day, so this is clearly an issue that is rocking the healthcare in addition to thousands of families. If we can reduce those overdose deaths by 25 percent, that would equate to nearly 29 fewer overdose deaths – every day.

Marijuana is showing promise for chronic pain

Harvard researchers completed a systematic review of the available research and found that almost all patients who took marijuana for chronic pain saw some improvement.

This is likely why we’re seeing fewer opioid prescriptions in states that have legalized marijuana.

For those who understand how both of these medications work, this news should come as no surprise. Opioids and marijuana both work as analgesics, so they block pain signals within the nervous system. THC binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors to block pain signals while opioids bind to opioid receptors.

A Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research study suggests that patients even prefer cannabis over opioids. Researchers found that 81 percent of patients who used opioids believe that adding medical marijuana is more effective than opioids alone.

Fewer prescriptions for anxiety and depression

In states that have legalized medical marijuana, doctors seem to prescribe fewer doses of anxiety and depression medications. A 2016 a Health Affairs study found that Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat these conditions dropped. Interestingly, researchers only found a dip in prescriptions for conditions that marijuana can effectively treat. They did not see the same drop in other prescriptions.

It’s important to note that marijuana can exacerbate some mental health conditions, and it can even make anxiety worse for some people. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has also been associated with psychosis in some cases.

Medical marijuana has emerged as an alternative to many prescription medications with dangerous side effects. Because of this, the benefits of using marijuana in these areas far outweighs any risks.

Still, we must remember that medically-approved marijuana is in its infancy. At best, we have about two decades of history to draw from. As more states legalize cannabis, we’ll have a better picture of its full impact on the healthcare system.

 

Author Bio: Trevor is a freelance content writer and a recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

Study: Majority Of Chronic Pain Patients Replace Opioids With Cannabis

OHIO: More than two-thirds of chronic pain patients registered to legally access medical cannabis products substitute marijuana for prescription opioids, according to data published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

Investigators from the United States and Canada assessed the use of medical cannabis and prescription drugs in a cohort of over 2,000 Canadian patients licensed to access marijuana products. Among those patients with a primary diagnosis of chronic pain, 73 percent reported substituting cannabis in place of opioids. Among those patients diagnosed specifically with headache/migraine, cannabis was frequently reported as a substitute for other medications – including opiates (43 percent), anti-depressants (39 percent), NSAIDS (21 percent), triptans (8 percent), and anti-convulsants (8 percent).

“Most patients in the pain groups reported replacing prescription medications with medicinal cannabis, the most common of which were opiates/opioids across all patient groups,” authors concluded. “This is notable given the well-described ‘opioid-sparing effect’ of cannabinoids and growing abundance of literature suggesting that cannabis may help in weaning from these medications and perhaps providing a means of combating the opioid epidemic.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort,” appears in The Journal of Headache and Pain. NORML’s fact-sheet highlighting the relevant, peer-reviewed research specific to the relationship between cannabis and opioids is available online.

Oregon Marijuana Company Launches Cannabis For Opioids Swap

OREGON: Kaya Holdings has announced it will be holding talks with Oregon state and local law enforcement authorities and compliance officials to launch “Kaya Cares,” a Cannabis-for-Opioids swap program whereby people dependent on opioids and wishing to explore cannabis as a safe alternative can exchange their prescription opioids for cannabis products at no cost.

“We decided to step up and do our part after President Trump announced the war on the opioid epidemic,” commented Kaya Holdings CEO Craig Frank, “Numerous studies, including those reported by Newsweek, NBC News, US News and World Report, CNN and others, have shown that states with legal marijuana programs have declining rates of opioid addiction, with some states reporting a decrease in deaths as high as 25%. We want to help people in the communities we serve, as well as demonstrate that cannabis companies can be part of the President’s solution to the crisis.”

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KAYS presently operates three Kaya Shack marijuana retail stores to service the legal medical and recreational marijuana market in Oregon, with a fourth retail outlet scheduled to open shortly. Additionally, KAYS recently acquired a 26 acre parcel in Lebanon, Oregon, on which it plans to develop the Kaya Farms medical and recreational marijuana grow and manufacturing complex, at which it plans to explore development of  opioid-free cannabis infused pain relief alternatives.

Adds KAYS Senior Advisor, W. David Jones, “The opioid epidemic kills an average of 91 Americans a day. Beyond the human cost in lives and devastated families, the epidemic disrupts our economy with reduced productivity and increased healthcare costs. We realize this administration has been reviewing its stance on legal marijuana and we appreciate US Attorney Jeff Sessions’ clarification to Congress regarding the Cole Amendment. We wish to heed President Trump’s call to create constructive, private sector based initiatives with high probabilities of success. We believe a program like Kaya Cares and other initiatives to be undertaken by KAYS will help transition people away from dangerous opioids, making the government’s war on opioids a little more successful.”

Patients Use Fewer Opioids Following Enrollment In Medical Cannabis Program

NEW YORK:  Patients enrolled in New York state’s medical cannabis program reduce their use of opioids and spend less money on prescription medications, according to data published online in the journal Mental Health Clinician.

Investigators from GPI Clinical Research labs in Rochester and the University of Buffalo assessed trends in patients’ medical cannabis and prescription drug use following their enrollment in the state’s marijuana access program.

On average, subjects’ monthly analgesic prescription costs declined by 32 percent following enrollment, primarily due to a reduction in the use of opioid pills and fentanyl patches. “After three months treatment, medical cannabis improved [subjects’] quality of life, reduced pain and opioid use, and lead to cost savings,” authors concluded.

The study’s findings are similar to those reported among enrollees in other states’ medical cannabis programs, including the experiences of patients in IllinoisMichiganMinnesotaNew Mexico, and elsewhere.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Preliminary evaluation of the efficacy, safety, and costs associated with the treatment of chronic pain with medical cannabis,” appears in The Mental Health Clinician. NORML’s fact-sheet highlighting the relevant, peer-reviewed research specific to the relationship between cannabis and opioids is available online.

Veterans Push For A Federal Study Of Hemp In Hopes Of Stemming Opioid Prescriptions At VA Facilities

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A group of United States Armed Forces Veterans descended on the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, April 17 to meet with members of the Cannabis Caucus and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Their request is an urgent call for change in medical treatment options for Veterans: stop the dependency on opioids and compel the Veterans’ Affairs Administration to study CBD derived from industrial hemp as a legal alternative to opioids, the go-to drug in masking a variety of medical conditions.

Steve Danyluk, who spearheaded the legislative meeting with Veterans, is retired from the Marine Corps Reserves. His last position was working wounded issues at Walter Reed and Bethesda. That is where he became very troubled by what he saw.

“I witnessed what I believe is a policy of overmedicating wounded service men and women with opiates and other toxic medications, which led me to establish Warfighter Hemp,” said Steve Danyluk, LtCol, USMCR (RET.) and founder Warfighter Hemp. “CBD derived from Industrial Hemp provides much of the relief that these Veterans seek, at a fraction of the cost, without the psychoactive side effects, making it an ideal alternative to the various psychotropic and toxic medications in the VA’s dispensary. We welcomed the opportunity to share our CBD stories with legislators.”

Danyluk, along with three Veterans from Minnesota and Virginia, met with Congressman Jared Polis (D) Colorado, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D) Oregon, and representatives from the offices of combat Veteran Congressman Moulton (D) Massachuetts, Congressman Don Young (R) Alaska, and Congressman Tim Walz (D) Minnesota. The group met individually with Congressman Brian Mast (R) Florida, himself a combat Veteran, along with an aide for Congressman Scott Peters (D) Ohio.

The group requested legislators sign a letter to Acting Secretary Robert Wilke, Department of Veterans Affairs, asking him to green light a study into CBD derived from Industrial Hemp.

 

 

Pennsylvania Treasurer, Auditor General, & The Mayor Of Philadelphia To Speak At Cannabis Learn

3 PA Officials Will Discuss Social & Economic Benefits Of Cannabis Legalization At Cannabis Learn Conference & Expo

PENNSYLVANIA: Greenhouse Ventures,  a Philadelphia-based business accelerator, will host the three-day Cannabis Learn Conference and Expo featuring keynote presentations from Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, and Philadelphia’s Mayor, Jim Kenney on the economic benefits and savings from cannabis legalization.

In 2014, due to the work of then Councilmen, now Mayor, Jim Kenney, Philadelphia became the largest city to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession. Three years after implementing decriminalization the city of Philadelphia saw a 75% decrease in cannabis arrests, dropping for 12,000 (from the previous three years) to 2,900 (the three years after).

Cannabis Learn

“As a member of City Council, I was proud to pass legislation that decriminalized small quantities of marijuana. In the years since, we’ve seen a significant decrease in arrests for this. As a result, fewer people have entered our criminal justice system for possession than they did previously. I am looking forward to discussing our progress at this conference.” said Mayor Kenney.

In 2017 the ACLU of Pennsylvania released a study that found despite decriminalization inside Philadelphia, across the rest of the state there was a 33% increase in adults arrested from possession between 2010-2016.

Pennsylvania Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, calls the state’s approach to dealing with cannabis nonsense. In 2016 the commonwealth’s general fund was down $1.6 billion, and another $600,000 deficit was expected heading into Fiscal Year 2018. DePasquale said in a conservative estimate, full legalization could provide at least $300 million in tax revenue a year.

“I think it is appropriate to regulate and tax marijuana in Pennsylvania because if we do this right we can actually reduce teen access, grow our economy, reduce opioid addiction and bring in critical revenue so that we don’t have to raise taxes,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said. “Pennsylvania could bring in, conservatively, about $300 million in revenue annually from regulating and taxing marijuana. It will also stimulate business and job growth in every region of the state.”

This estimate was made based on the cannabis industry operating strictly in all cash, as the industry is still largely shunned from banks. In effort to remove on of the industry’s most crippling problem, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, along with several other state Treasurers wrote Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter, requesting a meeting to receive clarity of the federal administration’s stance on cannabis legalization.

“All across the country—including right here in Pennsylvania—states are evaluating the use and legal status of cannabis products and making policy decisions based on our needs, not Beltway politics. In a state like PA—which has passed legislation allowing for medicinal use of these products and affecting their legal and tax status, growers and distributors need access to basic structures of the economy like secure banking services. I’m glad to participate in the Cannabis Learn Conference and Expo, and to discuss and help navigate these important issues.” said Torsella.

With three days of workshops and advanced programming for business owners, ancillary professionals, and operators working in the cannabis industry, the Cannabis Learn Conference and Expo will provide a forum for subject matter experts, policy makers, and cultural influencers to connect and share insights with those working in the day-to-day industry. Following PA’a Department of Health (DOH) announcement regarding phase two of the medical cannabis program, and the “Chapter 20 clinical registrant” license guidelines, the Cannabis Learn Conference aims to provide a stage for an in-depth discussion on the state of the PA medical cannabis program, while examining the social impact and economic benefits that cannabis legalization could have within Pennsylvania and the tri-state area.

“A regulated and prosperous cannabis market can’t exist in Pennsylvania without support from credible influencers in Harrisburg and large cities like Philadelphia.” said Kevin Provost, CEO of Greenhouse Ventures – the Philadelphia-based organization hosting the Cannabis Learn Conference. “Mayor Kenney, Joe Torsella, and Eugene DePasquale have been publicly supportive of the cannabis industry to date, and we felt it necessary to bring the cannabis industry influencers from around the country to work more closely with leading politicians, health care professionals, universities, and economic development organizations here in Pennsylvania – that’s what this conference is all about”.

The Cannabis Learn Conference and Expo is taking place April 30th – May 2nd at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia as part of Philly Tech Week – Sponsored by Comcast. The conference is being hosted by Greenhouse Ventures, a business accelerator and program development organization specific for ancillary startups in the medical cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

Studies: Marijuana Legalization Laws Correlated With Reduced Opioid Prescribing Trends

KENTUCKY: The enactment of statewide marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in the number of opioids prescribed and filled, according to a pair of studies published online Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Declining Rates Of Painkiller Abuse

GEORGIA: Cannabis dispensaries are associated with reduced levels of opioid-related treatment admissions and overall drug mortality, according to a study published online on SSRN.com.

A University of Georgia economics professor assessed the relationship between the opening of medical cannabis dispensaries and drug treatment admissions.

Dispensary openings are associated with “a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations,” the study reported. This correlation was strongest among non-Hispanic white males in their thirties.

Dispensary openings also resulted in fewer drug-related mortalities per 100,000 people.

The author concludes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

The paper’s findings are similar to prior studies reporting that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The effect of medical marijuana dispensaries on adverse opioid outcomes,” appears online.