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Disabled veterans press for access to medical marijuana

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Testifying in favor once again was Stephen Mandile, an Army veteran, Uxbridge selectman and longtime medical marijuana advocate who said he used cannabis to end a decade of addiction to opioids prescribed to treat pain from injuries he sustained in Iraq in 2005. A string of other veterans and cannabis activists also touted the bill at Tuesday’s hearing.

The bill (H 179 / S 70) filed by Rep. Michael Soter and Sen. Ryan Fattman would essentially expand the current eligibility criteria for medical marijuana and also create a way that disabled veterans who receive their health care at a federal Veterans Administration facility — and whose doctors therefore cannot legally recommend a medical marijuana prescription — could become eligible.

While anyone 21 or older can buy non-medical marijuana in Massachusetts, registered medical marijuana patients do not have to pay the effective 20 percent tax that is levied on non-medical sales, have access to higher THC dosages for edible products, and can receive discounts from retailers and dispensaries.

Under Soter’s bill, veterans who get their care at the VA could be considered qualifying patients under the state’s medical marijuana law without receiving a diagnosis from a registered physician if they provide their Veterans Administration award letter “indicating an existing disability” to the Cannabis Control Commission. Soter said Illinois and North Dakota already accept VA paperwork in lieu of a doctor’s recommendation.

“The intent of this bill is to allow veterans to submit their Veterans Health Administration paperwork, which confirms having a qualifying condition, [and] removing out-of-pocket costs that veterans are required to spend in order to get a medical card, which is reported as the third-greatest barrier reported by veteran respondents behind cost and access to the right products,” Mandile told the committee.

Soter’s bill would add post-traumatic stress disorder and opioid use disorder to the list of debilitating medical conditions that make someone, veteran or not, eligible to be a medical marijuana patient.

“Currently, Massachusetts is the only state in New England without post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition. New Mexico was the first state to specifically list PTSD as a qualifying condition in 2009 and, since then, over 25 states have included PTSD as a qualifying condition,” the representative told the committee Tuesday.

Soter’s bill got a hearing before the Cannabis Policy Committee last session, in the weeks just before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the Legislature’s work. Senate Chair Sonia Chang-Diaz said the committee ran out of time to fully vet the idea last session but heard concerns about separating treatment using medical marijuana from a health care provider.

“One of the push-backs that we heard when asking for input from different stakeholders on this legislation was the fear of veteran patients who are suffering from PTSD or other potential maladies for which cannabis might be an appropriate treatment, separating them from the medical attention and counseling that … a non-veteran medical patient would normally have with their primary care provider,” she said. Chang-Diaz added, “That was the concern about this. If you’re getting your care at the VA, but the VA is not allowed to participate in sort of structuring the care plan around use of cannabis.”

Mandile told Chang-Diaz that his VA doctor is aware of and approves of his cannabis use and “would rather me have that than the fentanyl that they can offer me.”

“They are allowed and encouraged to discuss these things and work on an individual basis … with each patient in making sure that they know that they’re not going to lose benefits for being registered in their state marijuana program and help them get as close as they can to where they want to be without having to sign paperwork,” he said, citing a VHA directive.

Source: fallriverreporter

Image: Unsplashed



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Cannabis medication for epileptic girl costs £1k a month

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The parents of an epileptic two-year-old are paying £1k a month for medical cannabis they cannot get on the NHS.

Emily Howis and Spencer Carret said the treatment has reduced their daughter Clover’s seizures from 80 a week to just one.

The family, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, are importing cannabis oil from The Netherlands.

The government said cannabis-based medicine use was being limited due to “ongoing concerns”.

Clover was born with part of her brain missing – known as aicardi syndrome. The genetic condition meant the first three months of her life were blighted by regular epileptic fits.

Mr Carret said she was having “70 to 100” fits a week.

When she was four months old, Clover’s parents paid for an over-the-counter CBD cannabis oil.

Now she has one seizure a week on average, and some weeks none at all, they said.

The couple said it was “incredible” how her life has changed, and that their own neurologist was amazed at her progress.

“They weren’t expecting her to be able to walk or talk, or do anything really,” Mr Carret said.

In 2018, the government said specialist doctors could legally prescribe cannabis oil for medicinal use.

Application rejected

But campaigners said only a handful of families have been successful in the process.

When Clover’s parents applied, they were rejected, so their best hope is for her to be included in a medical research trial.

Family and friends are currently fundraising to help pay for the treatment. Friend Lee Evans is doing a 100,000km (62,000 mile) sponsored run.

But like some other families, the couple said they were worried that restrictions caused by Brexit mean they may soon no longer be able to import cannabis oil from The Netherlands.

The Department of Health said several professional medical bodies “remain concerned” about the lack of evidence around the safety and success of cannabis-based medical products.

A spokesman said: “The NHS is working with the National Institute for Health Research and others to build a high-quality evidence base to determine if patients with refractory epilepsy could benefit from these products.”

NICE, the body that issues prescription guidelines, updated its advice on cannabis-related medical products in March 2021.

The body said it does not want to ban doctors from prescribing medical cannabis to severely epileptic children as this would restrict research, but has stopped short of recommending CBD oils as a widespread treatment for childhood epilepsy.

Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids, which have different impacts on the body and are concentrated to different extents in certain parts of the plant.

The most well-known of these are THC and CBD.

THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid – the one that recreational users use to get “high”. CBD does not have this effect.

While almost all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD – or cannabidiol as it is also known – is not.

Source: BBC

Image supplied by: https://medcansupport.co.uk/project/clover-emily-and-spencer/ 

 

 

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Morocco moves to legalise some cannabis cultivation

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Revolutionising medical cannabis cultivation across Europe

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In recent years, cannabis has been legalised for medical purposes across most of Europe. However, the European market is still in its infancy and it is therefore essential for players in this sector to be highly reliable with the thorough knowledge, cultivation experience, and scientific guidance needed to produce the highest possible standard of product.

The current and future direction of European cannabis markets

Currently, most growers of cannabis in Europe are fairly new adopters of LED lighting and so may have limited awareness of strategies to optimise yield and quality in their operations. However, this newcomer status within the European market comes with its advantages—such as, the existing proven expertise available to draw upon from other horticultural areas. As the European medical cannabis market gathers pace, it is expected that experts in other crops will diversify into growing cannabis also. To provide an example, chrysanthemums are short-day plants similar to cannabis, so ornamental growers with a proven track record could use their experience and knowledge to make a successful move over to cannabis production. At Fluence, our experts can be available on the ground to facilitate this transition further, offering sound guidance backed by thorough research. Drawing on a combination of their own horticultural knowledge and the long-established cannabis cultivation techniques seen in North America, European growers have all the potential for the success.

Personalised service

At Fluence, we are currently focusing on controlled environments in countries like Switzerland, Portugal, Israel, Netherlands and Denmark that are becoming hotbeds for medical cannabis production. As the markets here are still relatively new, demand for expert insight and best practice is high and this is where we come in. We have a vast install base of over 325,000 square meters of cannabis canopy under our LED lights, which provides us with a wealth of knowledge and experience for cultivators to draw from.

Our skilled horticulture services team across Europe but also in the US and Canada is positioned to provide guidance in cannabis production, speak the growers’ languages, understand the nuances of the local markets and support growers every day in their facilities. No two facilities are the same, so it is essential to provide a bespoke service to suit each customer’s individual operational needs. This is why we emphasise in-person partnerships with growers to adapt the right lighting strategy for each environment, whether that’s a warm-climate greenhouse with a high daily light integral or a cold-climate warehouse that uses 100% supplemental light. We value growers who want data and analytics to understand highly tactical and operationally specific needs like photo acclimation, seasonal production, and compressed cultivation cycles.

Defined strategy

In order to achieve the highest possible standards, cultivators must take the time to understand their own business models and products. Do they want to compete in the high-end flower market, or will they focus on extracts and edibles? Do they want to enter the growing CBD market or produce well-rounded cannabis products that fit the needs of physicians and their patients? Pinpointing the needs of the customer upfront will allow growers to deliver a tailored service to satisfy customer demand.

Supporting research

It is also crucial for growers to use trusted research to inform their business decisions and strategy. As an example, we conducted a study with Wageningen University and Research which demonstrated that cultivators who focus on high-end flower production should apply high PPFD levels to enhance plant growth. As facility space is limited and expensive in Europe, maximising capacity is even more crucial. Growing under high PPFD and broad-spectrum lighting can help growers produce consistent, high-quality crops with balanced cannabinoid and terpene profiles.

Fluence’s extensive cannabis research programme in North America is continuing to fuel the market, with new findings that benefit collective understanding of how light impacts cannabis plant production. These findings are shared with the global network of cannabis growers and can be found at https://fluence-led.com/case-studies/.

Customers and patients

Another key point to focus on is consistency. As the profile of medical cannabis continually rises, it is important for cultivators to maintain consistently high standards at all times, regardless of seasonal variations. Greenhouse growers, in particular, should ensure they maintain the same environmental conditions during the winter and summer. If they do not do so, they will achieve different results and the end product will be inconsistent and unreliable for customers.

About Timo Bongartz

Timo Bongartz has spent more than a decade helping businesses transform legacy processes into interconnected digital strategies. His passion for accelerating business transformation—combined with a childhood affinity for cultivation—ultimately led him to the horticulture industry. Today, Bongartz serves as the general manager for Fluence by OSRAM’s EMEA region, empowering food, ornamental and pharmaceutical crop growers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to achieve their cultivation goals through advanced horticultural lighting technologies.

Source: healtheuropa

Image: Unsplashed



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