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Researchers Propose Study on Marijuana and PTSD

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The New York Times is reporting on a proposed study from the Santa Cruz, CA-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and a researcher from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona which is currently seeking federal grant money.

The goal of the study is to examine the benefits of cannabis in treating post-traumatic stress disorder by offering the drug to fifty veterans of combat situations who have had no response from other treatments.

Rick Doblin, the founder and executive director of the group in Santa Cruz told the press, “With so many veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a widely accepted need for a new treatment of PTSD. These are people whom we put in harm’s way, and we have a moral obligation to help them.”

The FDA said in April that it was satisfied with the way Doblin and Dr. Sue Sisley, an assistant professor of psychiatry and internal medicine in Arizona, had addressed safety concerns. In a letter to Doblin that confirmed this information, the FDA also pointed out that the study couldn’t actually begin until the source of the researchers’ marijuana was identified, and that can’t happen until the scientific review panel of the Department of Health and Human Services also approves the study.

According to Doblin, once the proposal has been approved, the research team will obtain marijuana from the University of Mississippi, which grows it under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the only source of marijuana authorized for use in federal studies.

While HHS still has the proposal under review, Doblin and Sisley both said that getting an approval to study the benefits of an illegal substance rather than the risks is extremely difficult.

Dr. Sisley said, “We really believe science should supersede politics. This illness needs to be treated in a multidisciplinary way. Drugs like Zoloft and Paxil have proven entirely inadequate. And there’s anecdotal evidence from vets that cannabis can provide systematic relief.”

Of the sixteen states where medical marijuana is legal, only Delaware and New Mexico list post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for obtaining authorization to use the drug. Currently almost a third of the New Mexicans authorized to use medicinal cannabis are doing it to relieve their PTSD symptoms, but no one is certain how many are veterans.

The plan, if the study is approved, is to provide up to 1.8 grams/day of marijuana to the participating veterans, who would be observed for three months on an outpatient basis. During some periods they would not be using the drug, so researchers could compare differences, but the choice to smoke or use a vaporizer would be up to each participant.

In addition to a placebo, the researchers plan to use four different strains of marijuana in the study, each of which would have a different level of THC, and one of which would also have a significant amount of CBD.

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Brief: Legal MMJ Moves Forward in Delaware

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Great news for the people of Delaware: the state Senate there has approved a bill allowing the medical use of cannabis in The First State, with 18 yea votes and only 3 nays. That vote was on Thursday, March 31st.

Senator Robert Venables (representing Laurel) told the press that using marijuana for medicinal reasons will help ease the unncessary suffering of cancer patients and others.

This bill would give authorized users of medical marijuana legal permission to possess up to six ounces of the drug, which would be obtainable from “compassion centers” which much be registered with the state.

The bill now moves to the Delaware House of Representatives for their review or approval, and then, if it’s approved, to the governor for signature or veto.

Here’s hoping the other half of the Delaware legislature does the right thing, and gives this bill resounding support.

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MMJ in Hawaii

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Chronic patients in Hawaii may have cause for new hope

While medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for eleven years now, the state lacks any kind of dispensary system, which leaves patients there to acquire their weed either by buying it on the black market, or by growing their own.

Last month, however, state Senator Kalani English, of Maui, introduced SB1458, a bill designed to create what was he described as a “… comprehensive five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot program in an unspecified county.”

English explained, at the time, that he proposed the program because he was seeing too many suffering patients asking where they could get their medicine. He added that he had to make the bill “drip with money” in order to appeal to money-conscious legislative colleagues.

Under the terms of the bill dispensaries (which English referred to as “compassion centers” would be taxed, but they’d also allow patients visiting from other MMJ-friendly states to buy temporary permits for the duration of their visit to Hawaii, at a cost of $100, which may make Hawaii the first American marijuana tourist destination.

The bill passed the Senate at the end of March, and passed two House committees (Health and Safety) as well, with a hearing scheduled for the House Judiciary Committee today.

Last week, a call went out asking people for pro-MMJ testimony. If the bill passes today’s hearing, it will then go before the full House of Representatives, and then on to a joint hearing with both the Hawaii Senate and the House.

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Vermont Considers Dispensaries

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Like Hawaii, the state of Vermont has had medical marijuana laws on the books for several years, but has left patients to either grow their own cannabis or buy it from illegal sources.

Also like Hawaii, Vermont is considering the creation of dispensary system this year. In fact a bill allowing the creation of such businesses has already been introduced into the state legislature and has passed the state Senate Government Operations Committee and is scheduled for a full Senate hearing sometime this week.

The bill, which was sponsored (in part) by Senator Richard Sears (D-Bennington) includes restrictions that make it fairly conservative, especially when compared to the systems in place in states like California. Among them is a requirement that patients have appointments in order to buy cannabis from dispensaries.

There would also be a limit on the number of dispensaries allowed in Vermont. While the current language in the bill calls for a maximum of two dispensaries, it will be raised to four on the recommendation of Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.

The change would increase revenue to the state as well as make it easier for patients.

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