With New Jersey this week poised to become the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana, 81 percent in the national survey support the idea. That's up from an already substantial 69 percent in 1997.
Indeed, the main complaint is with restrictions on access, as in the New Jersey law.
A combination of compounds in marijuana could help fight off a particularly deadly form of brain cancer, preliminary research suggests.
Researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) combined the non-psychoactive Cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD), with 9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (9-THC), the primary psychoactive active ingredient in Cannabis.
They found the combination boosts the inhibitory effects of 9-THC on glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.
"Our study not only suggests that combining these two compounds creates a synergistic effect but it also helps identify molecular mechanisms at work here, and that may lead to more effective treatments for glioblastoma and potentially other aggressive cancers," said Sean McAllister, a scientist at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study.
Previous studies had shown that 9-THC was effective in inhibiting brain cancer growth in cell cultures and in animal models and prompted a small clinical trial in Spain.
There is also evidence that other compounds in Cannabis might prove effective against tumors, but limited scientific evidence is available.
The CPMCRI researchers screened a number of different cannabis-based compounds before settling on CBD as the most active one.
"Compared to using 9-THC alone against glioblastoma cell lines, the combination therapy of 9-THC and CBD showed a significant improvement in activity, both in slowing down the growth of those cells and also, and perhaps more importantly, in doubling the number of cancer cells which underwent apoptosis or programmed cell death," McAllister said.
The new study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
The Pot Dispensary Wars
Colorado - Medical marijuana backers just won't take yes for an answer. The Denver City Council this week took the extraordinary step of passing regulations that will allow 200 to 300 marijuana dispensaries in a town where none existed just months ago. Not a single council member voted no.
So were dispensary backers grateful? Not on your life. The hearing was rife with complaints that the restrictions trampled on patient and caregiver rights. A lawsuit was threatened. From the alarmed reaction, you'd have thought the council had been supplanted by a cabal of pot prohibitionists from the attorney general's office.
The irony is that the dispensaries — in Denver and elsewhere — face a genuine threat: The legislature is considering shutting them down by limiting each "caregiver" to five patients, making such disputes as occurred in Denver irrelevant. "If you believe in the dispensary model — and I believe in the dispensary model — you better start working now to save it," Councilman Charlie Brown advised the critics, after counseling flexibility on their part.
Brown is right. The self-righteous carping only confirms the worst suspicions of dispensary opponents: that the medical marijuana lobby is actually interested mainly in the backdoor legalization of cannabis itself — a status that Colorado voters rejected in 2006, six years after they legalized medical marijuana with Amendment 20.
As someone who supports a regulated dispensary model (and explained why in last Saturday's column), I'm baffled by the all-or-nothing attitude of some proponents toward modest restrictions. It's one thing to argue, for example, that Denver's spacing requirement of 1,000 feet between dispensaries and schools, day care centers and other dispensaries is excessive (I happen to agree) and quite another to insist that it "is an effective ban on a constitutional right," as attorney Robert Corry argued in a letter to the City Council.
Corry maintains that "the medical use of marijuana is a fundamental constitutional right," meaning any restriction must pass the highest legal standard of "strict scrutiny." Yet it is not yet clear that Colorado courts will see it his way — that they will end up equating the operation of a dispensary with the exercise of basic civil liberties. District Judge Christopher Cross recently upended Centennial's clumsy attempt to close the CannaMart dispensary, but it would be foolish to conclude that he or other judges will bow to dispensaries in every dispute.
As Denver assistant city attorney David Broadwell recently reminded me, Denver already imposes spacing requirements on a number of establishments, including liquor stores, halfway houses and adult businesses. True, voters haven't passed a constitutional amendment protecting those entities, but dispensaries aren't mentioned in Amendment 20, either.
Critics even object to Denver's rule against convicted felons owning dispensaries for five years, although background checks are required for child-care providers, security guards and other occupations.
Some (but not all) cannabis enthusiasts will no doubt also be out in force to fight state Sen. Chris Romer's bill defining what Amendment 20 calls the "bona fide physician-patient relationship," but that too would be a mistake. The bill needs some tweaking, as it comes perilously close to putting government in the middle of the doctor-patient relationship (as Romer acknowledged to me on Friday), but by and large it lays down reasonable rules.
Some frustrated cannabis advocates threaten to take another measure to the ballot, as if Colorado voters would ever agree to their Wild West vision of medical marijuana sales.
In New Jersey this week, the legislature approved a medical-marijuana plan that limits patients to 2 ounces of pot per month and authorizes a limited number of "alternative treatment centers" to grow it. It so happens that Colorado's medical marijuana amendment is silent on how much a patient can purchase over a period of time, a loophole inviting abuse. If pot zealots want to play the ballot game, maybe lawmakers should consider offering voters at the same time a constitutional referendum cracking down on unrestricted purchases.
Any bets on which measure would become law?
Source: The Denver Post
Author: Vincent Carroll
81% Of Americans Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana
Nearly Half Americans Back Legalizing Small Amounts Of Pot For Recreational Use
POSTED: 3:18 pm MST January 18, 2010
UPDATED: 4:17 pm MST January 18, 2010
Fifty-six percent say that if medical marijuana use is allowed, doctors should be able to prescribe medical marijuana to anyone they think it can help. New Jerseys measure, which is more restrictive than most, limits prescriptions to people with severe illnesses, including, "Cancer, glaucoma, positive HIV/AIDS status or other chronic, debilitating diseases or medical conditions that produce, or the treatment of which produces, wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to a New Jersey Senate press release. State health officials can add to the list of medical conditions.
Aside from medical marijuana, there have been recent efforts to decriminalize recreational use of marijuana in some states.
A preliminary vote on one such measure is to be held in the Washington state legislature this week. In California, organizers say theyve collected enough signatures to hold a statewide referendum on the issue next fall. And a separate proposal in California to legalize and tax the drug cleared a legislative committee last week.
A poll in California last spring found 56-percent support for the idea, which its backers say would raise $1.3 billion a year.
Nationally, this survey found 46-percent support for legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use - the same as it was last spring, and well above its level in past years. For example, 39 percent of respondents supported the idea in 2002 and 22 percent in 1997.
Age is a factor in who supports relaxing marijuana restrictions.
Just 23 percent of senior citizens favor legalizing marijuana for personal use. That jumps to 51 percent of adults under age 65.
There are political and ideological differences as well. Thirty percent of conservatives and 32 percent of Republicans favor legalization, compared with 49 percent of Independents, 53 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of moderates and 63 percent of liberals.
One of the last things Gov. Jon S. Corzine did before he left office this month was sign legislation Monday decriminalizing two ounces of marijuana per month for some medical patients. But it will be at least six months, if not longer, before New Jersey residents can use the drug. And even then, a number of state residents will likely be left behind. For Diane Riportella, not much changes, for now.
The bill sets up alternative treatment centers and establishes a list of medical conditions that will allow people to register to legally smoke marijuana. She has advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal disease better known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease, which is covered by the law. The disease has withered the muscles in her wrists and ankles, leaving them to dangle painfully. The law will allow a person to buy two ounces of marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. The first six dispensaries two each in the states northern, central and southern regions must be nonprofits, but subsequent ones dont have to be. Riportella, 53, said she smokes as many as a half-dozen marijuana cigarettes per day to combat the pain and anxiety she said grows worse at night. She can use three ounces in a month. The Egg Harbor Township woman has used marijuana for years. Asked how she acquires the currently illegal substance, she joked, If I tell you, I have to kill you. Until the law takes effect, she said she will continue to get marijuana from friends who share what they have, not wanting to see her suffer. Any shortfall would likely be filled the same way. I never felt like a criminal, but for those people who arent as aggressive as I am, those people are so afraid of getting caught, she said. I feel really bad for these people. I myself have brought (joints) to other ALS patients and their caregivers if I had something and I know they wont go out and get it. New Jerseys law is considered the most restrictive in the nation for three reasons, said Beth Schroeder, aide to state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, who sponsored the bill: New Jersey is the only state of 14 with medicinal marijuana laws that bans patients from growing it in their own homes. Patients are restricted to two ounces of usable marijuana per month. This is less than other states, in part because of the ban on growing marijuana, and the 30-day limit. The drug is for people suffering from a debilitating medical condition, and that is the most limited. The designation does not include severe or chronic pain, she said, or people with neuropathic pain stemming from birth defects or from burns, amputations or spinal surgery. The law allows the state Department of Health and Senior Services to administratively adopt other conditions that can be treated with marijuana. But with incoming Gov. Chris Christie appointing a new DHSS commissioner, it is unclear how the agency will react. Christie is a socially conservative Republican and former U.S. Attorney who did not oppose medicinal marijuana on the campaign trail, instead calling for additional restrictions. For Jack OBrien, a 55-year-old from Millville, not much will change, even after the law takes effect.
Well, you know what I will be doing is what I done before: Hurry up and wait, said OBrien, who has used marijuana for years to treat chronic pain. Im just going to wait until its put into place and Ill access me a card and access my medicine. But the way the law is written, he will be excluded. I was born without fingers and toes. No reason why, just born that way, he said. But my condition over the years has produced neuropathic pain, from nerve endings not fully formed. Marijuana effectively relieves his pain, but ever since he publicly said he uses it, OBrien said he has been under surveillance. He said he was optimistic he would eventually be covered because marijuana effectively relieved his pain with minimal side effects. I have not found a pain medication that did that, except for pain medications that wouldnt let me get off the couch or a pill that would not let me sit here and communicate with you like I am now. New Jersey lawmakers took steps to restrict access to marijuana after testimony raised concerns about the experience in California. After voters there approved a medical marijuana measure in 1996, relatively lenient standards for treatment meant the drug has been essentially decriminalized in parts of the state. Opponents, however, do not think the New Jersey laws restrictions are adequate. Joyce Nalepka, president of DrugFree Kids: America's Challenge, said her organization gave Corzine its first annual skunk award for bad policy. She said, If California is any example of what is going to happen, its going to be pretty messy. Robert Goldberg, director of medical oncology at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, said he would consider prescribing the drug when other treatments fall short. Some of his patients used marijuana in the 1980s to relieve symptoms associated with the treatment of cancer. But with improvements in medicine, he could not think of any current patients to whom he would suggest it. He questioned the variability of different crops and its suitability for people with difficulties
Ultimately, he said his loyalty was to his patients. I jokingly tell patients, If blue mud helps, well, heres a bucket and shovel. Contact Derek Harper: