Jeff Sadow: Louisiana's medical marijuana dispensing more about politics, money than medicine

Did anyone doubt that legalizing medical marijuana dispensing in Louisiana would descend into something less about medicine and more about politics and money?

Although Louisiana legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes over a quarter-century ago, the state had no lawful way to dispense it. Lawmakers kick-started that procedure three years ago by prohibiting its use in inhalable form, creating a list of conditions the drug may treat legally, and establishing a system of ten dispensing pharmacies selected by the existing Board of Pharmacy, a body of gubernatorial appointees.

These changes invited bucks and influence to shape what would come. To date, research shows only two conditions affected significantly and positively by ingesting marijuana: chronic pain and spasticity. Yet the law with its successive iterations expanded the list to ten, not only because dispensaries needed a critical mass of users to make enough money to stay in the business but also because of pressure put on legislators to legalize a presumed palliative for a number of conditions.

The sketchy-to-nonexistent empirical support for most uses listed in statute hasn’t stopped momentum to expand usage further. Bills this legislative session have tried to multiply applicable ailments for treatment and to make legal vaporization. A bill that has passed the House of Representatives, although removing vaporization, added several medical conditions to the list of legal uses.

Last week, medical marijuana’s nexus of politics and money became even more apparent. In the Legislature, members of the Black Caucus voiced concern that minority-owned firms received short shrift from the current dispensing process and just ten licenses provided insufficient outlets around the state.

In response, a House committee advanced a bill to grant an unlimited number of licenses but restricting those to pharmacists while relaxing applicant financial requirements. This

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Commentary: There is a place for medical marijuana. But do it the right way.

I have been reading the editorials concerning Utah’s medical marijuana initiative for some time now. I have read many opinions supporting the passing of this initiative and I keep thinking someone will come up with an intelligent article about why people should not pass the initiative.

I was glad, recently, to hear Gov. Gary Herbert come out against it as well as the Utah Medical Association and the LDS Church. Now recent editorials have lambasted all three for their opinions, so I have decided I must speak for myself. I do not hold a doctor of medicine degree, nor do I hold any important public office, or speak for a large body of people. I am, however, the grandmother of a child who has used medical marijuana (legally, in another state).

My grandchild has a rare form of epilepsy called infantile spasms. The seizures look like baby movements and so are often not diagnosed very early. We were lucky to have a quick diagnosis. Because the seizures interfere with a baby’s regular development, 100 percent control of seizures is needed. We were desperate for a way to quickly reach 100 percent control so that development was not delayed. We tried all the regular medical interventions. No parent should have to watch as their child suffers from seizures that rob their child of normal development, knowing if they can just stop them in time, they may develop normally.

Since medical marijuana is legal in the state where my daughter lives, my daughter and her husband decided it was an option for their child. When they went to sign up their baby, they had one doctor’s signature but found they needed another. Because it was a child, they needed the signatures of two different doctors. They

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Congressman Jared Polis Visits Northglenn Dispensary on 4/20

Congressman Jared Polis has been known for his progressive stance on marijuana since Colorado legalized the plant, but the gubernatorial candidate punctuated his support of pot by visiting a dispensary on that highest of holidays, April 20.

Polis took a tour of Northglenn’s bgood dispensary, which has a cultivation attached, to learn more about the seed-to-sale process and other aspects of the state’s marijuana industry. While collecting information on such subjects as the differences between indica and sativa, Polis broadcast his visit on Facebook Live to show viewers what goes on behind the scenes at a licensed pot business.

“So this is the stuff that Attorney General Jeff Session hates?” he asked bgood employees as he studied such strains as Grape Stomper, Super White and 92 OG. Then Democrat Polis came upon Presidential Kush. “Which president, Obama?” he continued with a smile. “This place is amaze.”

Although Polis was an early supporter, now old-guard politicians have started embracing the thought of legalizing marijuana. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing to legalize hemp since March, President Donald Trump recently told Senator Cory Gardner that Colorado’s legal marijuana industry is safe from federal interference, and on April 20, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced his support for federally decriminalizing marijuana. Even former House speaker John Boehner, who once said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana, joined the advisory board of a national marijuana company in April.

Polis has used numerous arguments to defend Colorado’s right to legalize marijuana; during a hearing in 2015, he cited laws in Louisiana that allow residents to smoke crawfish. Lately he’s been pushing bills to regulate marijuana like alcohol at the federal level and provide federal tax breaks for marijuana businesses; he’s also suggested amendments in budget bills that would protect state-legal industries from federal persecution.

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How can medical marijuana benefit older adults?

Managing symptoms such as pain, nausea, and psychiatric illness can be challenging as people age. A new Journal of the American Geriatrics Society review highlights what’s currently known about the indications and risks of medical marijuana use for older adults.

The review notes that medical marijuana appears useful for the treatment of pain (particularly neuropathic pain) and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It has neuropsychiatric side effects but even when smoked, it does not appear to increase the risk for lung cancer.

Importantly, however, medical marijuana’s positive and negative effects have not been thoroughly studied specifically in older adults.

“There is a dearth of evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for medical indications in older adults. Common sense practices are applicable here though, including performing a thorough assessment for side effects and expecting that lower doses will have a greater impact,” said lead author Dr. Joshua Briscoe, of the Duke University Medical Center. “As younger generations age, it is also important to expect that they have experience using marijuana in recreational contexts, which will affect their approach to its use in a medical setting.”

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Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Messenger: Case of 'stolen valor' has veterans fuming, medical cannabis advocates scrambling

It was the photo that caught James Rogers’ attention.

There it was, in one of those triangle-shaped frames that often carry U.S. flags, visible on a table behind retired Cpl. Liz Roberts. Roberts, a retired Army veteran, was speaking in a video posted on the website of Missourians for Patient Care, which is seeking to put an initiative on the November ballot to legalize medical marijuana.

“I am retired due to a spinal cord injury,” Roberts says, seated in a wheelchair. Medical marijuana, she says, “gives patients like me hope.”

Rogers watched the video and focused immediately on the photo.

He has one just like it.

It is of the 82nd Special Troops Battalion. Rogers, who lives in Pevely and is a retired disabled veteran, was a platoon sergeant in that unit. The photo was taken in Afghanistan.

Liz Roberts isn’t in it. Douglas Roberts is. That’s who Liz was during her eight years in the Army. That’s who served under Rogers’ command.

The video that was used to promote a ballot initiative was misleading at best.

If this were a simple case of a transgender soldier transitioning after service, Rogers wouldn’t care. But it’s not. The problem is that Roberts’ stories change depending on who she’s talking to, about her gender, about her service, about how she ended up in a wheelchair.

So much of what Liz Roberts has told veterans, politicians, reporters and others about her background simply isn’t true.

Hers is a case of stolen valor, say two men who served with her when she went by her given name.

“She was lying about everything,” Rogers says. “It’s a complete disgrace. I’m embarrassed to

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