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   Dec 03

Will Medical Marijuana Ever Be Covered By Medicare?

Lockmed Free ShippingHigh Times, Maureen Meehan, December 1st, 2015

Pot smoking among a certain sector of the country’s approximately 76 million baby boomers was a serious cultural phenomenon as they came of age in the 1960s.

Now that many in this demographic of campus radicals and hippies are receiving Medicare, they are looking to gain more access to recreational and medical marijuana. In the case of the latter, they would like it to be covered under Medicare.

“A lot of the things marijuana is best at are conditions which become more of an issue as you get older,” Taylor West, deputy director of the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association, told Reuters.

“Chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite: All of those things are widespread among seniors.”

In the meantime, what are seniors in non-medical marijuana states doing to get relief from these afflictions?

Indeed, “there is anecdotal evidence that people with health conditions—which medical marijuana could help treat—are relocating to states with legalized marijuana,” said Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy at UCLA who studies retiree migration trends.

The sheer volume of baby boomers, nearly one-quarter of the US population, is having an impact on one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that pot smoking has increased among baby boomers in the past decade and is expected to rise.

A poll of 68,000 Americans revealed that baby boomer pot usage has doubled, and even quadrupled, in some age blocks above 50 years of age.

It would therefore make sense for MMJ to be prescribed and covered by Medicare as it could lower healthcare costs and save the government a significant amount of money.

A decision by the federal government to reschedule marijuana would have to come first.

We can only hope that the current or future government will see the wisdom and logic of doing this – a move that would benefit everyone for many reasons.

Original Article Posted at High Times

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   Dec 01

Senator Harry Reid Signs On To Marijuana Banking Bill


Marijuana Business News, Johnny Green, November 21st, 2015

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today signed on as a co-sponsor to the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015 (S.1726), bipartisan legislation originally introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), which would give state-compliant cannabis businesses access to the banking system. Sen. Reid’s support for the banking measure comes as Nevada’s medical marijuana program has begun serving patients around the state.

“Medical cannabis providers in Nevada are giving compassionate care to critically ill patients, and they shouldn’t be putting themselves in danger to do it,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “We thank Senator Reid for supporting a fix to an irrational policy that puts people at risk and forces businesses and state officials to deal with massive logistical issues.

“Ending the banking crisis would be a win for everyone from patients to regulators to small business owners, and we appreciate Senator Reid standing up for his constituents.”

S.1726 would open up banking access for state-legal cannabis businesses by protecting financial institutions against prosecution or asset forfeiture for providing services to those businesses. Sen. Reid and Sen. Merkley are joined on the bill by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Original article posted at Weed Blog

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   Nov 23

New Report Predicts Which States Are Most and Least Likely to Legalize Pot By 2017

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High Times, Mike Adams, November 17th, 2015

As the 2016 election looms in the distance, with a number of states working to put initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana on their respective ballots, everyone from the studied cannabis activist to the average stoner has come crawling out of the woodwork in an attempt to pinpoint which state will embrace the herb next.

Some publications, including Rolling Stone, have already made some seemingly safe predictions for which states they believe are next in line to legalize weed. Yet, other rags and click-bait sites appear to be making their selections by simply throwing darts at a map of Northern America. After all, the highly cited 24/7 Wall St. actually had the nerve to put Minnesota on their list of “The Next 11 States to Legalize Marijuana” this past summer.

But a team of market analysts at the Anderson Economic Group recently published a relatively spot-on tip sheet for those who wish to wager on which states are most likely to legalize the leaf by 2017 and which are on course to go down with the prohibitionary ship.

The 270-page report entitled “The Market for Legal Cannabis Products in the 50 United States” signals Michigan and Nevada as the front runners for establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis industry within the next year, while suggesting that Indiana, Ohio and Texas will probably be three of the last states to make similar reforms.

“With dramatic changes in both public opinion and the legal landscape regarding marijuana, it is clear that future consumption of marijuana in the U.S. will be under a much different legal regime than in the past,” reads a lead-in of the report. “While we do not yet know what this would imply for both state and federal laws, we believe a serious effort to review the available data with numerous indicators could provide us with much better information than what was available in the past.”

As far as those states currently fighting to pass ballot measures in their neck of the woods, the analysis indicates that Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Nevada are all safe bets.

It is a bit disheartening, however, to see that although California ranks as one of the states with the most market potential for housing a cannabis industry, it is not given any chances of upgrading beyond its current medical marijuana market by 2017. Florida, a state were pot proponents have initiatives to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in 2016, was also ranked as having a high market potential—but analysts believe the state will only go as far as pot for medicinal purposes within the next year.

The report goes on to show that Rhode Island and Vermont will be the first two states in the nation to legalize a recreational marijuana market by way of state legislature.

Researchers said that they believe their report is “sober and realistic.”

An argument could be made, however, that this state-by-state assessment is rooted too much in known specifics to be on point. As with any horse race, it is often those elusive elements that end up defining the moment of truth.If California can find a way to whittle down their 12 initiatives and present a single proposal to the voters in 2016, the state could easily legalize a recreational market.

Original Article Posted at High Times

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   Nov 16

Fact: The DEA Is Spying on Your Instagram

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High Times, Mike Adams, November 13th, 2015

The rise of the social network has made it more convenient for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to seek out illegal drug activity. The agency’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reveals that the DEA is currently gathered around a bunch of computers searching for photos posted to various social media sites and perusing drug-related hashtags in order to drum up leads on the next house to receive a complimentary shakedown courtesy of Uncle Sam.

“Social media reflects how younger people perceive marijuana use as evidenced by various Internet searches that demonstrate minors using marijuana publicly and with impunity. Social media users of all ages, but primarily younger individuals, have posted hundreds of thousands of photos of themselves with marijuana products on various social media sites; these photos are associated with hashtags that represent marijuana (e.g. #420, #710, #BHO, #dabs).” (on page 70)

The DEA’s report goes on to say that around 1,200 photos and videos attached to the hashtag #BHO were posted to Instagram every day in 2014. However, the agency did not elaborate on the frequency of other pot-related hashtags commonly used on the site.

Yet, the DEA confirms that they are a witness to it all.

“In November 2014, after the success of a popular online challenge, another social media challenge was issued for people to post photos and videos of themselves using marijuana in public places with the corresponding hashtag #loudchallenge. In response to the challenge, people have posted videos of themselves using marijuana in restaurants, in airports, on public transportation, and in classrooms.”

As it was recently pointed out by Susan Squibb of Denver’s pot-related website, The Cannabist, while “it’s O.K. [in legal states] to post online photos of your home grow… make sure your garden is compliant [with the state’s grow limits] before posting photos.”

In states where prohibition is alive and well, posting any marijuana-related photos to social media sites, while not technically against the law, could be enough to get local law enforcement snooping around. Last year, a South Carolina man posted a photo to Instagram of him burning a joint while flying a middle finger at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department website. Although the cops couldn’t bust him for posting the photo, they eventually nailed him to the wall using an undercover sting operation.

Original article posted at High Times

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   Nov 11

U.S. Senate Votes in Favor of Veterans Using Medical Marijuana


High Times, Mike Adams, November 11, 2o15

The U.S. Senate has passed a measure that will allow veterans living in medical marijuana states to take advantage of those programs without consequence.

As the sun was going down on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening, both Democrats and Republicans pledged an allegiance to the nation’s veterans by signing off on a page of the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill that will not only allow physicians working through the Veterans Administration to discuss medical marijuana treatment with their patients, but it will also give veterans the opportunity to participate in their state’s respective program without losing access to prescription drugs or enduring any other penalty.

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor,” Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “It makes no sense that a veteran can’t use medical marijuana if it helps them and it is legal in their state.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 213-210 against this concept, mostly because the Republican majority just couldn’t find it within themselves to support veterans suffering from debilitating conditions as a result of protecting the safety of our nation. However, last night, the Senate version was put on the negotiation table to be included as part of a federal spending bill.

As it stands, the Department of Veterans Affairs strictly prohibits any doctor under their employ from so much as even discussing medical marijuana with their patients. To make matters worse, the department has also refused to provide prescription drug access to any veteran who tests positive for marijuana.

The latest update to the VA guidelines technically gives veterans permission to use medical marijuana, but they are forced to sign an “opiate consent” form that essentially gives the department the right to revoke their painkiller privileges if they submit a positive drug screen for THC.

Yet, the latest amendment, which was introduced and aggressively pushed by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, is designed to narrow the divide between state and federal law. Even though 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to make medical marijuana legal within their borders, the federal government still considers weed to be one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. This has put many veterans in a quandary because while medical marijuana may be available in their state, Uncle Sam is just waiting to cut them off from care completely if they choose to participate.

Unfortunately, judging from the debacles brought on by amendments stuck in last year’s federal spending bill, this measure may not be worth the paper it’s printed on. If you remember, a rider aimed at banning federal funds from being used to raid and prosecute the medical marijuana community was approved and signed into law by President Obama, but that did not stop the Justice Department from devising a clever scheme to do it any way. Because of these types of issues that seem to present themselves quite regularly in regards to situations involving conflicting state and federal law, many VA physicians may simply hold true to their anti-marijuana policies until the federal government passes something more concrete than a simple budget bill.

Original article posted at High Times

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   Nov 10

Ex-NFL Player Says Weed Helped Him Kick Pills, Suicidal Thoughts


HuffPost Sports, Maxwell Strachan, November 6th, 2015

Former All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley has said he sustained over 100 concussions in his playing days, but it’s the argument around which drugs should be used to treat the subsequent pain that he’s truly concerned about.

Turley, who played for the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs during his decade-long NFL career, has become an equally loud critic of painkillers and proponent of medicinal marijuana since his retirement from the game in 2007. During an appearance on “Highly Questionable” on Thursday, Turley opened up about his past suicidal tendencies, which he blames squarely on pharmaceutical drugs.

“My relationship with pharmaceuticals brought me to where I am today,” he said. “About eight months ago having had an episode where I really just got to my lowest point in life. Thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety were mounting, never going away.”

“Suicidal and homicidal tendencies became a part of my daily living, in that I couldn’t be around a knife in my kitchen without having an urge to stab someone, including my wife and kids,” he added. “That was highly disturbing to me.”

These thoughts of suicide confused him. He thought to himself, “I’ve got it all. So why am I sitting around contemplating suicide all the time wondering if this life is worth living?”

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">Turley takes a break during summer training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.</span>
ASSOCIATED PRESS Turley takes a break during summer training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.

Turley said he isn’t taking pharmaceutical drugs anymore, and that his life is exponentially better as a result. “I’m getting myself back.” For that, he credits marijuana. Turley remembered that on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame at San Diego State, he stepped out onto a balcony to smoke marijuana, only to have a sudden desire to jump.

“If it weren’t for cannabis I don’t think I would have made it back to my hotel room,” he said.

This is where we should note that Turley spoke to “Highly Questionable” as part of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, which is dedicated to the advancement of marijuana research. He has a stake in this game. Also, Turley is not a medical expert, simply an advocate for a treatment that he believes worked better for him than the pharmaceutical drugs that led to rampant abuse around the league.

There could be other reasons for his suicidal tendencies aside from pharmaceutical drugs — like, sadly, those 100 concussions he said he suffered during his playing career. Those are enough to do the job. But interest in whether marijuana could either reduce painkiller abuse among NFL players or even counteract the effects of CTE has become an increasingly popular question of late. Former NFL player Nate Jackson credits smoking during his playing career for keeping his “brain clean.” Bennet Omalu, the doctor who discovered the first case of CTE in an NFL player and the basis of Will Smith’s character in “Concussion,” recently joined the board of a medical company researching whether marijuana could help treat brain injuries.

Whether marijuana can play a role in making football a safer sport remains questionable, at best. There is still much research to be done, and it’s doubtable marijuana or any other drug will ever make the inherently dangerous sport safe. But Turley said Thursday that shouldn’t stop us from learning as much as we can.

“This [marijuana] could potentially prevent and postpone any damage done from concussions,” Turley said. “There is no excuse for us to say we don’t know enough anymore about a plant that has grown from the ground for thousands of years and used as medicine around the world.”

Original article posted at Huffington Post

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