Margaret Cho to star in a new marijuana comedy for Amazon

A new era of weed TV is upon us!

Amazon announced Monday that a new dramedy called Highland,starring Margaret Cho, is in development. The series stars the standup (who is very outspoken about her weed use in her personal life) as a woman who moves back in with her pot dispensary-owning family after spending some time in court-ordered rehab.

Episodes will each be an hour long, with Cho as executive producer and Liz Sarnoff (ofDeadwoodandLost) writing.

Cho’s announcement is the latest in a growing wave of programming that addresses marijuana’s newly legal status in certain states. HBO has High Maintenance, and NBC has ordered a sitcom about a weed dispensary from Adam Scott(Buds).Plus, Roseanne Barr teased a new webseries called She’s So High on YouTube this week.

So get your lighters ready, we’re in for a dank 2016.

H/T Flavorwire |Photo via matsuyuki/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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We experimented with Meowijuana, the ‘marijuana for cats’

Look, Im a realist. I know that it’s impossible to share a toke with my beautiful cats. But as a stoner, its something Ive always dreamt of doing. Theyre pretty chilled out by nature, so mostly I just pretend theyve joined me on an altered plane of consciousness.

But what if I neednt pretend any longer? What if there were a productsay, catnipnot blandly packaged and sold in pet stores, but branded to appeal to stoners like me and available for purchase online, that could afford me the opportunity to chemically commune with my pets?

Look no further, fellow feline-friendly pot fiends, for a product has shimmied its way into our cold, meaningless lives, sold exclusively in a little place calledMeowijuanaville:

Perusing Meowijuanas online retail presence, you have a few choices of catnip bud, as well as your pick of many accessories that allow you to flaunt your quirky weed/catnip consumerism. All the bud is packaged with labels featuring big green crosses, meant to convey its hilarious faux benefits as a pharmaceutical drug. To assuage any doubts of the legality of such a purchase, the fine folks at Meowijuana LLC also offer you the option of purchasing a Medical Meowijuana ID for $9.95, which you can file away in case the feds get wind of your cat drugs.

Because I was on a budget, I took the risk of only purchasing the small jar of Purrple Passion strain catnip (sans ID card), feeling very assured by its nine 5-star reviews that the herb would transport my cats into a reality beyond their comprehension.

When the package arrived, my catsPetey, my gray tabby and Cheddar, my orange tabbywere immediately intrigued.

Jen Gutierrez

A little background on my precious beasts: In general, I describe Petey as the pretty and sweet cat who conveys little to no substance of character, evidenced by her hollow, empty eyes. Shes not very bright, but shes cute. She also doesnt understand boundaries or that her claws are sharp.

Cheddar, on the other hand, is much more human-like. He processes way more information about you than Petey does or ever will. He understands boundaries and that his claws are sharp. For these reasons, hes my favorite (dont tell Petey). I like to think that its his suffering through hardshipspecifically, asthmathat has informed his senseofbeing.

So I guess what followed post catnip-consumption wasnt exactly surprising, and I was proud that Petey finally found her souls calling.

Jen Gutierrez

In short, Petey lost her goddamn mind. She couldnt get enough of this stuff. She rolled and pawed around, licking a bag filled with a couple of catnip buds (it didn’t take much!), chewing on it so aggressively that she released the buds in order to get them directly into her mouth. She was consumed by a desire that held her and forced her body to and froshe needed that nip any way she could get it.

Jen Gutierrez

Cheddar had his fun, too. But this is the only compromising position I caught him in during this extended catnip photo session:

Jen Gutierrez

About 10 minutes later, he was over itas if possessing the knowledge of aprophet who knows the depths of lifes bounty and that catnip is only one of many avenues of accessand saw fit just to stand idly by while Peteyreveled in ecstasy for the next 45 minutes.

Jen Gutierrez

Jen Gutierrez

I repeated this experiment a couple of times, giving Petey (the true connoisseur) the chance to choose between pet-store brand catnip and the branded-for-her-stoner-owner Meowijuana, and she always picked the latter, always losing all her shit.

Jen Gutierrez

Jen Gutierrez

Maybe certain strains of marijuana have a similar effect on people, but Ive never seen it. Catnip isnt weed for cats; its MDMA for cats. Or at least this cat who Ive already mentioned is basically an empty vessel waiting to be filled with anything of substance. Perhaps it is only through this herb that Petey can fully express herselfcan finally fill herself up with something more than vacuity. With Meowijuana, she has found her souls complement, she explored the deepest wells of her True Self.

Shes finally free.

Jen Gutierrez

So if, like me, you like to get high but lament the fact that your cats cant join you, consider giving them the opportunity to transform into the Dionysian starchild youve always wanted them to be by purr-chasing some Meowijuana. Theres no guarantee your cat will reach Peteys heights of ecstasy, but they have a decent chance. Besides, you can always just smoke the stashlike the low-standards stoner you are.

Photo viaStephen Kruso/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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Colombian president signs decree to legalise medical marijuana

New rules on growing and sale are major step in fight against illnesses, President Juan Manuel Santos said, as country shifts away from US-backed drug policies

Colombias President Juan Manuel Santos has signed a decree legalizing the growing and sale of marijuana for medical purposes, a dramatic shift in a country long identified with US-backed policies to stamp out drug crops.

Santos said the new regulatory framework was long overdue given that Colombians had been consuming marijuana and marijuana-based products in a legal void for years.

The new rules represent a major step that put Colombia at the vanguard and forefront of the fight against illnesses, Santos said during the signing ceremony for the presidential decree.

With the new rules, Colombia joins countries from Mexico to Chile that have experimented with legalization or decriminalization as part of a wave of changing attitudes toward drug use and policies to combat it in Latin America.

Colombia has long been identified with US-backed policies to eradicate narcotics production and a sharp decline in levels of violence over the past 15 years is largely attributed to the no-tolerance policing.

Proponents of the new approach say as many as 400,000 Colombians suffering from epilepsy and other ailments could benefit from the clearer regulatory framework.

Colombians for two decades have been allowed to possess small quantities of any narcotic for personal use due to a series of constitutional court rulings guaranteeing the free development of ones personality.

But the congress and the executive branch have been loth to endorse such views, in part because of officials skittishness about showing any weakness in a country that is the biggest supplier of cocaine to the US.

Conservative critics in Colombia and abroad see Santoss drive to reform drug policy, including a decision earlier this year to end a two-decade-old campaign of spraying illegal coca crops with herbicides, as a sign that the governments resolve is weakening.

Santos, who has acknowledged smoking pot as a journalism student in the 1970s at the University of Kansas, repeated his commitment that the new rules only apply for medical and scientific purposes, not recreational use.

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Former NFL players call for medical marijuana to be taken off banned list

Football players take an alarming array of pain medication to get back on the field but some believe medical cannabis is a safer and more effective alternative

To understand football, Nate Jackson says, you need to remember one inherent truth about the game: a human body was not made to absorb that kind of punishment.

Theres no safe way to get hit by a truck, Jackson puts it.

Jackson, author of the football memoir Slow Getting Up, spent six seasons playing tight end for the Denver Broncos. Recounting a lifetime of football-related injuries is nearly impossible, because, as he put it: Youre always kind of battling with something.

To hurry players back from injury, a cocktail of pain pills and anti-inflammatory injections are typically dispensed. Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, Toradol, Celebrex, Vioxx (before it was recalled for increasing the long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes) and so on. The widespread use of highly potent prescription pain drugs, some argue, has allowed the NFL to become the multibillion-dollar industry that it is today, but at a price.

A 2011 study by researchers at Washington University in St Louis found that former NFL players were four times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers than the general population. And more than seven in 10 players who used pain medications during their playing days went on to abuse them, though former offensive tackle Kyle Turley said he thinks that number is actually closer to 90%.

Turley and Jackson are among a group of former players trying to fight this epidemic of prescription drug abuse by lobbying the NFL to change its policy and allow players access to an alternative: medical marijuana.

Currently, marijuana, whether recreational or medical, is on the list of prohibited substances. All NFL players are tested once a year during the pre-season. As long as you pass that test, you can medicate all year with marijuana, Jackson said.

Thats what Jackson did. After tinkering with various cocktails of painkillers throughout his playing days, he decided that medical marijuana was the most effective for him.

I feel like I can speak about this because Ive tried everything, Jackson said. Ive shot up HGH [human growth hormone], done the injections, tried the pills, tried marijuana. Its not that Im this big marijuana guy, it just helped my body the most.

Jackson guessed that at least half of all active NFL players medicated with cannabis, an estimation corroborated by other former players such as Chris Kluwe.

Though some consider medical marijuana an excuse for healthy people to con their way into buying weed for recreational purposes college football coaches have called player marijuana use an epidemic ex-players insisted that was far from the truth. It wasnt about Im going to go get blazed and tear up the town. It was like, Yeah, I smoked a bit and passed out on the couch because I felt like crap after practice, Kluwe told HBOs Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The advent of other forms of cannabis, from topical creams to edibles to tinctures, can also help players target specific ailments.

For years, Turley had been given a plethora of different prescriptions to deal with injuries, as well as insomnia, mood disorders and suicidal thoughts. Side-effects were overwhelming, though, and he called the experience horrific. But his football-related medical issues remained, and pills seemed like the only option.

But Turley said that moving to California last year and becoming a medical marijuana patient changed his life. It was exactly what I was looking for in rest, recovery, alleviating my mind, he said. He eventually weaned off his other medications. I dont take Aleve, Advil, aspirin, nothing, he said. Ive gone nine months now, what I like to say, completely drug-free.

Earlier this year, Turley founded the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, a group of former players dedicated to sharing their personal experience with medical marijuana and advocating for its inclusion in the NFL.

One of the goals of advocates is to push the NFL to fund research into how medical marijuana might benefit players. Harvard Medical School professor emeritus Lester Grinspoon, a leading researcher in the potential health benefits of marijuana, sent an open letter last year to the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, urging him to finance a scientific investigation into marijuanas potential in treating the after-effects of concussions.

Grinspoon also called on the NFL to end its policy prohibiting cannabis. This may not be that far-fetched. The National Hockey League, for instance, does not include marijuana on its list of banned substances. And the NFL didnt always prohibit players from using cannabis. In fact, the league only began testing players for marijuana in the 1980s, a direct result of the emerging national war on drugs.

Though few active players have openly advocated for changes in the leagues marijuana policy, one leading coach has expressed his support. Seattle Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll, who has led his team to the past two Super Bowls, said last year he thought medical marijuana should be allowed if it would benefit the players. Regardless of what other stigmas may be involved, I think we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and theyre coming to some conclusions, Carroll said before Super Bowl XLVIII.

The NFL may ultimately be forced into reform of its prescription opiates policy. Earlier this year, approximately 1,300 retired players filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that teams and their medical staffs were illegally pushing painkillers in a way that jeopardized players long-term health. The suit claims that information about the severity of injuries was withheld from players as they were given prescriptions to get them back on the field as quickly as possible. It also says that some former coaches and assistants told players they would be cut from the team if they didnt take painkillers and return soon from injury. (A similar lawsuit filed in 2014 was dismissed and is now being appealed.)

Jackson also suggested that marijuana use could reduce alcohol abuse among players. For guys who fail the marijuana test and are in the substance abuse program, theyre getting tested three to four times a week and cant medicate with marijuana, Jackson said, so many turn to alcohol instead.

Commissioner Goodell expressed an openness to consider the issue in January 2014, saying: We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. But, he added: Our medical experts are not saying that right now. For its part, the NFL has liberalized its marijuana testing regime, increasing the threshold for a positive test from 15ng/ml of THC in the blood or urine tests to 35ng/ml, but even that new level is far below the 150ng/ml threshold set by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees testing for the Olympics.

Were the NFL to lift its marijuana ban, it could create a competitive advantage for teams in medical marijuana states. Right now, 20 of the leagues 32 teams play in states that permit medical marijuana; those teams could wind up with an edge in attracting free agents if NFL marijuana rules were to change.

Turley said the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition has tried to reach out to the NFL league office on the issue but hasnt received much response. Theyre just giving lip service like they were on concussions, he said.

Still, both he and Jackson were hopeful that the NFL would ultimately relent, whether in five years when the new collective bargaining agreement with players is negotiated or perhaps sooner.

Players need medication, like it or not, to go back on the field every week, Jackson said. Marijuanas already keeping the game afloat. Roughly half of those guys are already using it every week. They have to keep it a secret, though. If they get caught they get fined or suspended. Its a really uncompassionate stance to take.

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New York Medical Marijuana Program Begins — And No One Is Excited

New York’s medical marijuana program finally begins Thursday, a year and a half after it was approved, but it won’t be the landmark achievement its advocates dreamed of. 

A dearth of marijuana vendors and producers, onerous restrictions on patients and requirements that doctors take a special class likely will cripple medical marijuana in the state, according to advocates. 

New York’s program “is definitely better than no program at all,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post in an email.  But not by much.

“It’s a shame that some politicians want to race to the bottom to enact the most restrictive — meaning the worst — medical marijuana law,” O’Keefe said.

New York, the 23rd state to offer patients medical marijuana, will allow eight dispensaries to open on Thursday, based on the June 2014 medical marijuana law.  Twelve more are set to open later this month — a number advocates said is far too low.

“Twenty dispensaries in a state as large as New York is woefully insufficient,” Americans for Safe Access policy director Mike Liszewski told HuffPost. “States seem to have this fear of letting the genie out of the bottle.”

Missy Miller, who lives in Long Island town of Atlantic Beach, said in a statement through the Drug Policy Alliance that the dispensary shortage would leave her son without medicine.

“There are none opening on Long Island, which leaves my son Oliver, who suffers from life-threatening seizures, out of luck,” Miller said. 

The state Health Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s inquiry about the number of dispensaries. 

Also problematic, Liszewski said, is that the state only awarded five producer licenses to grow medical marijuana. 

“Unfortunately, New York doubled down on keeping variety low by only allowing the growers to produce a handful of stains,” Liszewski said.

The steps physicians must take in order to prescribe the drug also appear to be holding back the program, advocates said. Patients will only be able to get a medical marijuana prescription from doctors who have completed the state’s four-hour, $249 online course, which so far only 150 physicians have done. Such a process is uncommon in the 22 other states with medical marijuana laws. The Drug Policy Alliance reported that New York patients are having a hard time finding doctors who have completed the training.

“The hoops doctors have to jump through are ludicrous and do not apply to far more dangerous medications, such as opiates,” O’Keefe said. “These onerous rules will only restrict doctors, and thus their patients’ participation, making life harder and more painful.”

Advocates have been pointing out what they see as flaws in New York’s law since it was first passed. Only patients living with one or more of 10 conditions, including cancer, HIV or AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, will be allowed access to the drug. Even with a qualifying condition, patients must also show signs of serious wasting, seizures or other types of pain to qualify for marijuana. 

O’Keefe warned that New York’s policy will drive patients who have severe and constant pain to addictive opiate prescription drugs, which figure in more than 16,000 fatal overdoses annually. By comparison, zero people fatally overdosed on marijuana in 2015. 

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Marijuana legalization in California is on the path to the November ballot

Proposal backed by Silicon Valleys Sean Parker would allow for the sale to adults aged 21 and older, potentially bringing in more than $1bn a year in tax revenue

A plan backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California is on the path to the November ballot, potentially bringing more than $1bn a year in tax revenue, according to legislative analysts.

The proposal, which would allow for the retail sale of marijuana to adults aged 21 and older, is one of the most highly anticipated initiatives, in no small part because California is the countrys largest economy and the eighth largest in the world.

But some industry insiders are unhappy with the proposal which is backed by Parker, the founder of Napster, and Justin Hartfield, the founder of WeedMaps and are withholding support.

This skews towards big marijuana, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, an industry trade and lobbying group.

The states attorney general cleared the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) on Wednesday, allowing the campaign for the measure to begin. The first hurdle will be gathering 365,880 signatures to qualify for this years general election an effort that will start in a handful of days, according to AUMA spokesman Jason Kinney. Signature gathering could cost as much as $2m, with the overall campaign reaching $10m, according to industry sources.

Campaign organizers have formed a political action committee called Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children, which says it has collected $1.25m including from Parker; Hartfield; Drug Policy Action, the PAC of the Drug Policy Alliance; and the Marijuana Policy Project of California. Parker has contributed $250,000 from his foundation effort and another $250,000 as a matching contribution through a Pac, according to filings with the California secretary of state. Hartfields WeedMaps also donated $250,000 through its own Pac, and a Pac associated with the heirs of Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis contributed $250,000.

Allen and some growers are concerned the AUMA would favor corporate interests over the small farmers who currently dominate the industry in the state while other stakeholders worry the measure doesnt go far enough to decriminalize marijuana.

The Parker initiative does not respect the provisions that were developed in the legislature that protect a fair marketplace, said Allen, referring to the framework created by state lawmakers last year to regulate medical marijuana market which had functioned largely without oversight for nearly 20 years. Allen said his group was concerned there were not enough limitations against vertical integration, or allowing businesses to take part in multiple aspects of cultivation, distribution, and retail sales at once.

For that reason, he says, his organization is remaining officially neutral on the proposal despite pressure to fall into line, although he said he would continue to talk to AUMA organizers.

Dale Sky Jones, chair of Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform and its offshoot, Reform CA, said her organization was taking a similar position. Reform CA had previously cleared its own legalization ballot measure last year but voted in December to hold off gathering signatures based on the momentum behind the Parker proposal and to avoid mutual destruction with competing measures, she said.


The proposal is backed by Sean Parker, the founder of Napster. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters/Corbis

We are not going to oppose and we are not going to compete, she said. We are simply standing down.

Despite that, Jones said she still has concerns that the AUMA does not go far enough with legalization and does not adequately address social justice issues that her group considers paramount in the debate such as shielding parents involved in cannabis activities from legal issues with child protective services.

Its not true legalization, she said of AUMA. Its just softer prohibition.

Californias legalization efforts have long been plagued by dissenting opinions and lack of unity divisions that contributed to a 2010 failed attempt at legalization. Reform CA was one of the first efforts to create some cohesion for stakeholders, but Kinney said that AUMA has also done everything we can to build the broadest consensus possible, including amending the plan based on concerns raised after the initial proposal was released.

Those changes helped gain the backing of some groups that were undecided, including the NAACP. Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP and a member of Reform CA, said she had issues that I wanted taken care of concerning the African American community. An earlier version of the Parker plan included restrictions on licenses in neighborhoods with higher crime rates and did not put tax dollars directly into the hands of community organizations both areas that she felt negatively impacted African American and minority communities.

Huffman said AUMA representatives made fixes in its language to address those disputes, winning her support. I dont think they were perfect in doing it, but I dont think there are enough problems with it that we should be out opposing it, she said, calling legalization a civil rights issue.

But Jones says the outstanding divisions within the legalization movement could keep many stakeholders from volunteering their time towards the initiative or even voting in its favor.

I have spent my entire life looking forward to the end of prohibition, and I cannot tell you what I will do at the ballot box, said Allen, echoing that sentiment.

Jones added that lukewarm reception from stakeholders like her may leave the AUMA campaign to depend less on volunteers and more on paid media to get its message out.

They are going to come in and drop their advertising bombs and go out again, she predicts. Its not enough to get anyone impassioned They are not going to put aside their lives, their time, their money to fight for something that isnt going to accomplish what they want it to accomplish.

Kinney said the campaign would likely hold off on any major advertising until after the June primary but has an enthusiastic group ready to go and ultimately if you support a legal, open and controlled and regulated system, then this is the measure you are going to support.

Huffman backed that position. She said that the NAACP would actively support AUMA, including direct mailings to 300,000 African American voters.

Ill do whatever it takes to succeed, she said. Parker has got the money it would be foolish not to get this thing passed while the environment is right.

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First medical marijuana dispensaries open in New York

Eight of 20 dispensaries began operations Thursday, as advocates criticized programs restrictions on who can get licenses and how drug can be administered

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in New York state opened on Thursday, as the state became the latest to launch a comprehensive program for certified patients to legally obtain and use cannabis to treat severe illnesses.

The first dispensary opened its doors in Manhattans bustling Union Square, a modest facility run by the Columbia Care medical marijuana company and sandwiched between an urgent care center and a falafel restaurant.

Its gorgeous, one patient, who declined to be named, said as he left the dispensary. They were as excited about seeing me as I was about seeing them.

Newly equipped with a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, the patient, 53 years old and based in Long Island, visited the clinic in search of oils to treat the symptoms of neuropathy, a form of nerve disease common to diabetics. He exited the dispensary without buying anything; as the facility only had tinctures in stock on its opening day.

Almost two years after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act that allows qualifying patients to use marijuana to ease symptoms, smokeable and edible marijuana remain prohibited. Patients will only have access to cannabis in the form of tinctures, concentrate for vaporization or orally ingestible capsules.

Under the program, New York has licensed five organizations to make and sell medical marijuana. Each organization is allowed to operate four dispensaries, and all are expected to be running by the end of January. Eight of the 20 dispensaries opened across the state on Thursday, including the Union Square location.

Outside the Manhattan dispensary, curious people approached the doors but didnt go inside. The business is starting small patients can visit and consult with pharmacists by appointment to find the right marijuana treatment.

Rory Chong, a 27-year-old who works in real estate, visited the dispensary to find out how he could get a medical marijuana identification card. According to the legislation, patients can only qualify for the ID card if they suffer from severe illnesses such as cancer, HIV /Aids, Parkinsons disease or multiple sclerosis.

Chong, who had a cancerous brain tumor removed last year and underwent chemotherapy, said he was seeking oils to help reduce tumor growth and help him fall asleep.

When you have cancer, [sleep] is a major thing.

Chong was unable to buy anything from Columbia Care, as his medical marijuana card was issued by New Jersey, where he lives. But the monthly drive to the dispensary in Woodbridge from his home in Fort Lee takes about an hour each way, he said, so he hopes to get a New York medical marijuana ID soon.

Chong said he hoped his New York City doctors would be able to certify him. Physicians who want to certify their patients for medical marijuana have to undergo a four-hour mandatory training course, something other state programs do not mandate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Advocates have said New Yorks program has gone too far in limiting the types of patients who could qualify and how patients can use the drug.

Karen OKeefe, the director of State Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the new law, while better than nothing at all, still falls far short of what it should be.

It leaves behind the vast majority of patients who can benefit from medical cannabis, including those who have intractable pain and need a safer alternative to opiates, she said. Its cruel that so many patients are continuing to have to either break the law or needlessly suffer because the governor insisted on a restrictive program.

OKeefe highlighted the long distances patients and their loved ones must travel in order to obtain their medicine, with only 20 dispensaries set to open in a state of nearly 20 million people. She also said doctors must jump through unnecessary hoops which discourages them from becoming certified, including taking a four-hour course which costs $249.

Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy adviser and president of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, conceded that the law is restrictive compared to other states. But since the bill was passed by the states legislature and they dont typically decide what medicine is, there is a very deep skepticism throughout the healthcare system in New York. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved medical marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.

David G Evans, special adviser for Drug Free America Foundation who has worked against the legalization of marijuana in New York, said the law was passed on emotional arguments, not based on medical science.. But Evans said that those pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana had something the opposing camp did not: the monetary resources to support a vigorous lobbying effort.

The people who opposed it just simply do not have the resources to get the message before the legislature, he said.

Critics of medical marijuana also worry about where this new law might lead. Sabet is concerned about the way that lobbyists are trying to expand the law and the way theyve tried to expand the law the minute it was passed.

Im more concerned about New York selling marijuana gummy bears and calling it medicine in 2018 than I am about what theyre doing today, which is much more restrictive, he said.

Nicholas Vita, Columbia Care CEO, said launching the dispensary would be a step toward taking people away from opioid drugs like oxycodone and vicodin.

We fundamentally believe that there should be an alternative to prescription medicine, Vita said.

Vita said he was not expecting a deluge of patients yet, as the process of getting certified can take time, and people need more education on what the dispensary can provide.

While New York has lagged behind other states in adopting medical marijuana as a legal option for patients, Vita said he thought the state was coming to terms with it in its own time.

Healthcare is a very personal issue, Vita said. We dont want to push anyone.

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This Substance Is More Likely To Be A ‘Gateway Drug’ Than Marijuana

There’s apparently a substance far more deserving of the label “gateway drug” than marijuana, and it’s legal in all 50 states.

According to The Washington Post, researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida found the majority of 12th graders who reportedusing illegal drugs triedalcohol before marijuana and tobacco.

The conclusion was based on data collected from 2,835 US 12th graders in an annual federal survey called Monitoring the Future.

Of the students who admitted to usingdrugs, 54 percent said they used alcohol first,32 percent said they used tobacco first and only 14 percent said marijuana was the first of the substances tried.

Students who went on to use the most amount of illegal substances were those who tried alcohol at young ages.

Researchers reportedly said,

Alcohol was the most widely used substanceamong respondents, initiated earliest, and alsothe first substance most commonly used in the progressionof substance use.

Those students who tried alcohol in the sixth or seventh grades went on to use an average of aroundtwo illegal substances, while those who didn’t drink until 12th grade were much less likelyto have tried additional illegal substances.

The students who tried alcohol at young ages also went on to use illegal substances on a more consistentbasis compared to those who tried alcohol atlater ages.Researchers did not provide similar statistics regarding those who tried tobacco or marijuana first because the numbers of those who didweretoo low.

Researchers also saidthe study alone isn’t enough toestablish causal trends; many of the students who tried other illegal substances may have been naturally inclinedto do so based on some other factor. But, it appears alcohol is the first drug students are usually most willing to try.

Additionally, when compared to tobacco and marijuana, alcohol seems to instill the biggest desire to try other drugs if it isused at an early age before the other two.

This research was originally published in theJournal of School Health.

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Warriors Coach Says He Used Marijuana For Back Pain, Favors It Over Painkillers

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he smoked marijuana to treat the pain as he recovered from two back operations and believes it may be a better option for professional athletes than some painkillers.

Kerr told CSN Bay Area on Friday that he experimented with the drug a “few times” to help him overcome the chronic back pain over the last two seasons.

“I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said on The Warriors Insider Podcast.

“A lot of research, a lot of advice from people, and I have no idea if maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA, but I tried it and it didn’t help it all.

“But it was worth it because I’m searching for answers on pain. I’ve tried painkillers and drugs of other kinds as well, and those have been worse. It’s tricky.”

Kerr, who underwent two surgeries on his back during the summer of 2015, said he still feels discomfort on occasion. He said he does not use the drug recreationally and no longer uses it for medical purposes.

But the 51-year-old Kerr told CSN that he would like to see the league and other organizations become more aware and accepting of medical marijuana use.

“I would hope so, and I’m not a pot person. It doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr said. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff.

“But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C…

“Vicodin is not good for you. It’s way worse for you than pot, especially if you’re looking for a painkiller and you’re talking about medicinal marijuana … I think it’s only a matter of time before the NBA and NFL and Major League Baseball realize that.”

(Editing by Larry Fine)

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New York’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are (Sort Of) Open For Business

Breaking: New York maybe catching up to California when it comes to being cool.

Eight medical marijuana dispensaries opened their doors in the Empire Stateon Thursday, thanks to a law passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014. New York joins 22 other herb-friendly states including Montana, Colorado and Oregon.

This also signifiesNew Yorkers officially climbingon boardthe common sense train by providing the seriously ill with legal access to their medicine.

But not so fast. If you’re looking to stock up on bud for “Kung Fu Panda 3,” think again.

Eight dispensaries sounds like plenty until you consider how many people live in New York. There are a lot — like, 8.4 million in NYC alone a lot.I have a hard enough time getting a decent avocado in New York.

The prescriptions will also be difficult to obtain. None of this “I think I have restless leg syndrome” or “I have trouble taking naps” business will fly.

The State of New York requires you to prove you have one of the followingconditionsto qualify: severe nausea; cachexia or wasting syndrome; seizures; severe or persistent muscle spasms; severe or chronic pain.

Basically, you’ll have to barf and seize in the doctor’s office if you hope to get anywhere.

It won’t be easy for physicians, either.Doctors looking to prescribe the drug will have to complete the state’s four-hour, $249 online course and face a lengthy registration process.If these measures sound excessive, that’s because they are.

Eventually, state legislators willcome around tothe fact that not a single person has died from a weed overdose. Contrary to the experience of consuming edibles, it’s physically impossible.I Googled it.

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