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Maryland and Missouri Vote to Legalize Cannabis

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Voters in Maryland and Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the recent midterm elections, bringing the total number of states that have legalized cannabis for use by adults to 21. Ballot measures to legalize marijuana failed to win a majority of votes in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, however, with voters in those states instead opting to maintain nearly a century of cannabis prohibition. 

https://cannabisnow.com/breaking-maryland-and-missouri-vote-to-legalize-cannabis/



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Cannabis

Does Marijuana Legalization Increase Teen Use? New Study Has Answers

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A federally funded study has found no correlation between marijuana legalization and cannabis use among teens, which is relief for marijuana enthusiasts. At the same time, this study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has poked holes in the theory that’s often fronted by legalization opponents — that legalization will increase teen consumption of marijuana.

Currently, adult-use marijuana is legal in 21 states and DC. Maryland and Missouri joined this list through the midterm elections that happened barely a month ago.

teens high school
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The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reviewed data collected from three longitudinal studies relating to use of cannabis among teens in New York, Oregon, and Washington between 1999 to 2021. The researchers found that teens in states that have legalized cannabis are not any more likely to abuse cannabis than teens in states that have not legalized cannabis.

RELATED: Does Marijuana Legalization Increase Alcohol Use? A New Study Might Surprise You

Though preliminary, the results from this study offer a glimmer of hope that marijuana legalization could have more benefit than harm to offer. Study author Jennifer Bailey has, however, advised cautious optimism, saying, “Although things look encouraging now, as we note in our paper, alcohol use increased slowly over 40 years after the end of alcohol prohibition.”  

This article originally appeared on MyCannabis.com and has been reposted with permission.



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Bill no 5506

Colorado is 2nd State to Legalize Psychedelics: Voted in By the People

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Mid term elections came and went, and they certainly changed the landscape in terms of drugs. Not only did Maryland and Missouri pass cannabis legalization measures for recreational use; Colorado also made a big move when it became the second state to legalize psychedelics by allowing entheogenic plants. What does this mean for the state?

How did the vote go?

Mid term elections aren’t always exciting, particularly because they’re not for presidential candidates. But that doesn’t mean exciting things can’t happen, and Colorado is a great example of this. This year, while five states allowed residents to vote on recreational cannabis legalization measures, Colorado did it a bit more like Oregon, putting it to their people to choose if they wanted to legalize some psychedelics.

And the people said yes! Coloradoans had Proposition 122 put before them, the Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative. The winning yes vote came from a massive 91.46% of the voting population (you read that right), which was comprised of 1,296,994 votes. The no end accounted for a mere 8.54% of the voting population, with 121,111 votes. To say Colorado really wanted legal psychedelics, is practically an understatement.


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So what does this Proposition 122 do? The newly passed Colorado measure works to define specific plants containing psychedelics, as natural medicines. These include dimethyltryptamine (DMT); ibogaine; mescaline (but not the peyote plant, which is technically already covered federally under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, while the other mescaline-containing plants were never federally illegalized, making for a loophole); and psilocybin; and psilocyn, the compounds found in magic mushrooms.

It also decriminalizes the personal possession, use, transport, and cultivation of these plants, so long as the person is 21 or older. Along with this, it creates the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program which will be used to open an industry of licensed healing centers where such medications can be administered as a part of natural medicine services.

How does this differ from Oregon?

Colorado is not the 1st state to pass a law to legalize psychedelics. In fact, its technically the 2nd state to pass a recreational legalization, and the 3rd state to offer some form of access measure. The most well-known, is the first to do it, Oregon. In the 2020 elections, Oregon also put it to its people to decide if they wanted to specifically legalize psilocybin mushrooms.

In November 2020, 55.75% of the voting population gave a yes vote to Measure 109: Psilocybin Mushroom Services Program Initiative. That equaled 1,270,057 votes. 44.25% of the voting population voted no to the measure, comprised of 1,008,199 votes. This measure came with far less specifics than the Colorado measure, and there was uncertainty for many months over what kind of a legalization it was, and if it counted more as medical. In 2022, Oregon released its first draft rules for the industry, making a few things clear.

According to these rules, not only does this only relate to magic mushrooms, but only one kind of magic mushroom applies: Psilocybe cubensis. Meaning once its not this particular magic mushroom, the legalization no longer holds. But it also doesn’t apply to some other important things. Like personal possession, or the ability to self-cultivate the mushrooms. Oregon only went as far as to legalize use of the mushrooms in approved centers, under the eye of trained, but not medical, tripsitters. Everything outside of this specific scenario, is not legal.

Colorado and its move to legalize psychedelics is much wider-reaching. It involves many different plants with psychedelic compounds, it allows the personal possession of the plants, and the personal cultivation of them. Though it will set up centers for use, it doesn’t disallow the personal use of the substances outside of this. As it relates specifically to plants containing psychedelic compounds, it excludes psychedelics like LSD and MDMA, which are synthetically-made, and do not appear in nature.

But didn’t Colorado already legalize MDMA?

Yes, Colorado has been on a rampage. Not only was Denver the first city in the US to pass a decriminalization measure for psychedelics in 2019, but in 2022, Colorado passed HB 1344, which was officially signed off on in June of this year, after essentially racing through the state’s congress at nearly unprecedented speeds.

HB 1344 is an interesting bill. It doesn’t exactly legalize MDMA, because it’s not federally legal yet. What it does is work as a pre-emptive legalization. As in, the second the US passes a federal legalization, Colorado is already ready to go with laws set up to govern the use of the drug in the state. This means, should it not get a federal pass, HB 1344 is useless. It goes into action only upon the federal passage.

Colorado legalizes MDMA for pilot program
Colorado legalizes MDMA for pilot program

How likely is this federal passage? Very likely. When the FDA gives ‘breakthrough therapy’ status to the medication a company is working on, a status meant to quicken a drug to market in the case of it being a new therapy that can offer benefits that existing therapies don’t offer; it means a government agency is literally pushing for it to happen. And such is the case for both MDMA and psilocybin on a federal level.

In the case of MDMA, the company leading the charge is MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), which not only has this breakthrough therapy status, but which organized its Phase III trials directly with the FDA to ensure that results meet regulation. It would be short-sighted to believe that a legalization isn’t coming, especially considering how well the trials have been going for the treatment of PTSD.

But wait…Connecticut gives access to psychedelics too, right?

If you’re paying attention, I said Colorado is actually the 3rd state to pass some form of a legalization measure. Oregon was first, and as it turns out, Connecticut was second, though with a different kind of measure, which isn’t considered an outright legalization. It’s also strictly for medical use.

Connecticut passed Bill No. 5506, which actually makes use of an existent federal pilot program, that is unfortunately, not often accessed. The federal program is the FDA’s expanded access program, which allows the use of drugs that have not been approved yet and are still under investigation. The point of the program is to allow patients in dire need, to access medications that have made it at least through Phase I, with the thought being that dire circumstances allow for dire measures to be taken.

Connecticut’s bill really just accesses this program through its own pilot program, and is meant to begin in the state in 2023. Once the compounds it allows are officially approved by the federal government, the pilot program ends, and the new legalization measures take over. The Connecticut bill specifically allows for the access of yet-unapproved psilocybin and MDMA medications.

This pilot program will allow access solely on a medical level, which is different from both Oregon and Colorado. It comes with absolutely no recreational aspects, and does nothing to allow for personal possession, use, or cultivation. What it does do, is reinforce the usefulness of both psilocybin and MDMA in treating different disorders, and works to start getting access to these compounds, to patients in need.

Moving forward

The psychedelics boom is happening very quickly. Way more quickly than the cannabis boom, which realistically paved the way of the former. Had we not gotten the country acclimated to marijuana, it probably would’ve been harder to push for psychedelics. But with weed now legal in just about half the country, psychedelics are sliding by much faster, and more easily.

Besides the three states just mentioned which have some measure in place, there are plenty of other states that have been/are considering full-state legalizations (California, Washington, Michigan), and a multitude of locations that have decriminalized use. These include: San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata, in California; as well as Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and Detroit, in Michigan; Washington, DC; Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, Massachusetts; and Seattle, Washington.

Should we expect more? You better believe it. Which one will be next, and how long it may take, are undetermined, but the trend is in place, and we know from watching cannabis, that the snowball becomes an avalanche. States where legislation was recently introduced include New Jersey with its Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act; California with its SB-519 to decriminalize several compounds and open facilitated use centers; Oklahoma which introduced HB 3414 to study psilocybin and give access to patients in need; and Hawaii, which passed SB No 3160 to create a task force to implement psilocybin medications for adults medically.

Conclusion

Colorado shows that the push to legalize psychedelics didn’t end with Oregon, and that we can expect way more. It also shows the progression already in motion for these laws, as it offers a much wider legalization than its predecessor. It will be interesting to see what happens next in this world.

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Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania To Give $50 A Month For Medical Marijuana Costs To Low-Income Seniors

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By Nina Zdinjak

Medical marijuana patients who are also senior citizens with low incomes in Pennsylvania will receive financial assistance for medical cannabis via a new pilot program. The state’s Department of Health recently launched a program offering $50 a month in financial assistance to help nearly 1,400 senior citizens afford the cost of medical marijuana.

“The payments are the first step toward establishing a third phase for the financial assistance program authorized to help low-income medical marijuana patients afford the drug,” reported Capitol Wire. “Because insurance companies don’t include medical marijuana in their prescription drug coverage, medical marijuana patients are left to pony up the full cost of medical marijuana when they visit the state’s dispensaries.”

medical marijuana
Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

The outlet further reported that the Keystone State doesn’t have enough resources to offer needed financial help to all of the low-income patients.

The start of the new pilot program comes as a third phase of the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program (MMAP) that was launched earlier this year, writes HighTimes.

Phase 1 focused on eliminating yearly card fees for eligible participants registered in the commonwealth’s financial hardship program, according to the PA Health Dept. Phase 2 removed all background check fees for eligible caregivers, while Phase 3 aims to distribute yet-to-be-established benefits per funding period for eligible patients.

RELATED: Whoa! Here’s How Many Pennsylvania Voters Want To Legalize Marijuana

Prices for medical marijuana in the state have been an issue for a while now. Earlier this year, John Collins, former director of the Office of Medical Marijuana called attention to the issue.

“I’m clearly calling out today, secretary, a red flag that needs to be investigated,” Collins told Pennsylvania Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter, reported the Inquirer.

seniors and cannabis
Photo by Westend61/Getty Images

Recent Cannabis Updates In PA

In the meantime, support for adult-use cannabis legalization has grown. According to a September CBS News Poll, 66% of registered voters support the cannabis policy reform, while 34% oppose it.

Despite the support marijuana enjoys among PA voters, cannabis laws in the state remain harsh.

RELATED: Criminalization Of Weed Is A Waste Of Resources, Pennsylvania AG Says As Elections Approach

A recent report from the Marijuana Policy Project revealed that Pennsylvania is one of 19 US states where marijuana possession is penalized with possible imprisonment and a criminal record.

In 2021, 12,439 adults and 1,057 juveniles were arrested for simple cannabis possession, data from Pennsylvania State Police showed. Even though the figures represent a 30% drop between 2020 and 2021, they remain high.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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