Alibi V.26 No.46 • Nov 16-22, 2017 

Baked Goods

One More Try

Advisory board once again backing opioid addiction as qualifying condition

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Rob M.

US Attorney General Jefferson Sessions is too busy fending off criticism of his kick-'em-in-the-face-and-shoot-their-dog approach to crime fighting to say anything nasty about cannabis recently—which means I get to use this space to talk about more upbeat subjects, like our state's second chance at making cannabis history.

Yes. Earlier this year, Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher rejected the recommendation made by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to add opiate dependence and Alzheimer’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use. The board voted 5-1 in favor of adding the conditions last November after receiving a petition signed by a number of healthcare professionals, but Gallagher said there wasn't enough scientific research available to justify the policy change and shot it down.

But cannabis advocates are hard to deter these days, and the process just started all over again. A new petition to add opioid use disorder (OUD) was recently submitted to the board by Dr. Anita Briscoe, a clinical nurse. This time, 21 pages of research were attached to the petition. Once again, the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted, but this time, they voted unanimously in favor of adding the condition, reportedly receiving applause from the gathered crowd.

Whether or not this will translate into an actual policy change seems unlikely, but one can hope. In the months since Secretary Gallagher rejected the last recommendation on the subject, the idea of using cannabis as an addiction treatment has gained more and more popularity in the national discussion, and it seems silly that the one person in a position to potentially turn around New Mexico's rampant opioid addiction problem is unaware of the current research on the matter.

The board considered a total of 15 petitions during its semiannual meeting earlier this month and voted to recommend 5 new qualifying conditions to the list, including the skin conditions eczema and psoriasis, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, substance use disorder and opioid use disorder.

The board voted against recommending the addition of six conditions: polymyalgia rheumatica, dysmenorrhea, cystic fibrosis, post-concussion syndrome or concussion, diabetes and arthritis.

Money is Green, Too, Eh?

Here comes an “I told you so.” Anyone with a sound mind and a good internet connection knows that the easiest way for the government (state or federal) to make a quick buck is to legalize cannabis. Go on, tax the hell out of it. You can stop putting people into cages for smoking a plant and we'll give you lots of extra monies. It seems like an obvious and easy enough plan, but good luck convincing some of these dummies.

But last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government proposed a C$1 tax on every gram of legal cannabis sold in the country, sending cannabis stocks through the greenhouse roof. According to Bloomberg Markets, some Canadian cannabis companies saw as much as a 22 percent raise in their shares. That means more buds for everyone!

Canadian citizens will get to enjoy their newly won freedom in July, when full legalization of cannabis for adults over 21 goes into effect. Maybe those last holdouts on Capitol Hill blocking up progress stateside will answer the rumble in their bellies when they see the financial gain that inevitably follows legalization.

PTSD Research Stalled by Federal Agencies

The nonprofit research group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently conducting the first FDA- and DEA-approved clinical trial on whole-plant cannabis. The study aims to investigate the effects of cannabis on post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in veterans.

To conduct the clinical trials, the scientists involved will have to find 76 participants who suffer from treatment-resistant PTSD. The issue now is finding enough volunteers who fit the proper criteria and are able to participate on-site in Phoenix, Ariz. The researchers estimate that there are nearly 20,000 veterans in the Phoenix VA hospital who would be viable subjects, but the hospital refuses to share the study's existence with its patients.

Brad Burge, communications director at the MAPS, told Forbes that in the nonprofit's experience, the US Food and Drug Administration has shown interest in medical cannabis and is even willing to approve protocols for research into other schedule I drugs like MDMA. According to Burge, research is being blocked by “other regulatory agencies.” Most likely, these would be the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Justice.