More than 1,000 Missouri Medical Marijuana Patients are Already Approved to Consume Cannabis!

MISSOURI NORML

The Missouri Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Greater St. Louis NORML, Mid-Missouri NORML, MU NORML, NORML KC,

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For Immediate Release:  Friday, July 12, 2019                                                          For More Information Contact:

Dan Viets, 573-819-2669

DanViets@gmail.com

More than 1,000 Missouri Medical Marijuana Patients

Are Already Approved to Consume Cannabis!

During the past two weeks, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has approved applications from more than 1,000 Missouri patients who have applied for approval to legally possess and consume cannabis.  Although Amendment 2, now Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution, gives DHSS up to 30 days after a patient files an application to approve or deny approval, in fact, DHSS began to approve hundreds of patient applications on the very first day that they could apply, Friday, June 28.

Since then, despite the intervening holiday, DHSS has approved hundreds of additional patient applications, a total of 1,078 as of July 12, according to Lisa Cox, spokesperson for DHSS.

Attorney Dan Viets is Missouri NORML Coordinator and President of New Approach Missouri, the organization which drafted Article XIV, placed it on the ballot and led the very successful campaign for its passage. Viets praised DHSS for its efforts to implement Article XIV in a timely manner.

“Two thirds of Missouri voters supported the passage of Article XIV, far more than supported the other half dozen initiatives on that ballot, and far more than voted for any statewide candidate.  DHSS has been very actively engaged in implementing Article XIV since the election.  The fact that they are approving many patient applications within hours of the time they are filed illustrates this fact,” said Viets.

NORML has six active Chapters in the state.  These Chapters and hundreds of individual members of NORML were critical to the success of the Article XIV campaign.

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Marijuana for Pain

Canada: Rising Popularity Of Medical Cannabis Among Veterans Associated With Declining Opioid Use

by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 9, 2016

Rising rates of medical cannabis use among Canadian military veterans is associated with a parallel decline in the use of prescription opiates and benzodiazepenes, according to federal data recently provided to The Globe and Mail.

According to records provided by Veterans Affairs Canada, the number of veterans prescribed benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Ativan, and Valium) fell nearly 30 percent between 2012 and 2016, while veterans’ use of prescription opiates declined almost 17 percent. During this same period, veterans seeking federal reimbursements for prescription cannabis rose from fewer than 100 total patients to more than 1,700.

Canadian officials legalized the use of cannabis via prescription in 2001.

While the data set is too small to establish cause and effect, the trend is consistent with data indicating that many patients substitute medical cannabis for other prescription drugs, especially opiates.

Prior assessments from the United States report that incidences of opioid-related addiction, abuse, and mortality are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medicinal cannabis access as compared to those states that do not.

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Study: Opioid Abuse Rates Lower In Medical Cannabis States

San Francisco, CA: Rates of prescription opioid abuse are significantly lower in jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana access, according to data reported by Castlight Health, an employee health benefits platform provider.

Investigators assessed anonymous prescription reporting data from over one million employees between the years 2011 and 2015.

In states that did not permit medical cannabis access, 5.4 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription qualified as abusers of the drug. (The study's authors defined "abuse" as opioid use by an individual who was not receiving palliative care, who received greater than a 90-day cumulative supply of opioids, and received an opioid prescription from four or more providers.) By contrast, only 2.8 percent of individuals with an opioid prescription living in medical marijuana states met the criteria.

The findings are similar to those reported by the RAND Corporation in 2015, which determined, "[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not."

Data published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine also reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, finding, "States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "The opioid crisis in America's workforce," appears online at: http://www.castlighthealth.com/typ/the-opioid-crisis/.

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Cannabis vs. Pills

Medical Cannabis Access Decreases Opioid Use In Chronic Pain Patients

Ann Arbor, MI: Chronic pain patients with legal access to medicinal cannabis significantly decrease their use of opioids, according to data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Pain.

Investigators at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor conducted a retrospective survey of 244 chronic pain patients. All of the subjects in the survey were qualified under Michigan law to consume medicinal cannabis and frequented an area dispensary to obtain it.

Authors reported that respondents often substituted cannabis for opiates and that many rated marijuana to be more effective.

"Among study participants, medical cannabis use was associated with a 64 percent decrease in opioid use, decreased number and side effects of medications, and an improved quality of life," they concluded. "This study suggests that many chronic pain patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for chronic pain treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications."

About 40 people die daily from opioid overdoses, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Long-term daily use of herbal cannabis has been shown to mitigate analgesia and significantly reduce opioid use in chronic pain patients unresponsive to conventional therapies. Observational studies also show lower levels of opioid-related abuse and mortality in jurisdictions where patients are permitted medical cannabis access.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis associated with decreased opiate medication use in retrospective cross-sectional survey of chronic pain patients," appears in The Journal of Pain.

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Pain Relief

Study: Long Term Cannabis Use Mitigates Pain, Reduces Opioid Use

Jerusalem, Israel: The daily, long-term use of cannabis is associated with improved analgesia and reduced opioid use in patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions, according to clinical trial data reported online ahead of print in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

Investigators with Hebrew University in Israel evaluated the use of cannabis on pain in a cohort of 176 patients, each of whom had been previously unresponsive to all conventional pain medications. Subjects inhaled THC-dominant cannabis daily (up to 20 grams per month) for a period of at least six months.

A majority of participants (66 percent) experienced improvement in their pain symptom scores after cannabis therapy, and most reported "robust" improvements in their quality of life. Subjects' overall consumption of opioid drugs declined 44 percent by the end of the trial, and a significant percentage of participants discontinued opioid therapy altogether over the course of the study.

Authors concluded, "In summary, this long-term prospective cohort suggests that cannabis treatment in a mixed group of patients with treatment-resistant chronic pain may result in improved pain, sleep and quality of life outcomes, as well as reduced opioid use."

The Israeli results are similar to those reported in a 2015 Canadian trial which concluded that chronic pain patients who use herbal cannabis daily for one-year experienced reduced discomfort and increased quality of life compared to controls, and did not possess an increased risk of serious side effects.

Separate data published in 2014 in The Journal of the American Medical Association determined that states with medical marijuana laws experience far fewer opiate-related deaths than do states that prohibit the plant. Investigators from the RAND Corporation reported similar findings in 2015, concluding, "States permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not." Clinical data published in 2011 in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics previously reported that the administration of vaporized cannabis "safely augments the analgesic effect of opioids."

A scientific review published earlier this year assessing the clinical use of cannabinoids for pain in over 1,300 subjects concluded, "Overall, the recent literature supports the idea that currently available cannabinoids are modestly effective analgesics that provide a safe, reasonable therapeutic option for managing chronic non-cancer-related pain and possibly cancer-related pain."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "The effect of medicinal cannabis on pain and quality of life outcomes in chronic pain: A prospective open-label study," appears in The Clinical Journal of Pain.

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Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Linked To Less Prescription Drug Use, Medicare Spending

Legalization nationwide estimated to reduce Medicare costs by nearly half a billion dollars

Athens, GA: The enactment of statewide medicinal cannabis laws is associated with a quantifiable decline in the use of traditional prescription drugs, according to data published in the July edition of the scientific journal Health Affairs.

Investigators at the University of Georgia assessed the relationship between medical marijuana legalization laws and physicians' prescribing patterns in 17 states over a three-year period (2010 to 2013). Specifically, researchers assessed patients' consumption of and spending on prescription drugs approved under Medicare Part D in nine domains: anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders, and spasticity.

Authors reported that prescription drug use fell significantly in seven of the nine domains assessed.

"Generally, we found that when a medical marijuana law went into effect, prescribing for FDA-approved prescription drugs under Medicare Part D fell substantially," investigators reported. "Ultimately, we estimated that nationally the Medicare program and its enrollers spent around $165.2 million less in 2013 as a result of changed prescribing behaviors induced by ... jurisdictions that had legalized medical marijuana."

Investigators estimated that prescription drug savings would total more than $468 million annually were cannabis therapy to be accessible in all 50 states.

They concluded, "Our findings and existing clinical literature imply that patients respond to medical marijuana legislation as if there are clinical benefits to the drug, which adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the Schedule I status of marijuana is outdated."

Survey data compiled from medical marijuana patients reports that subjects often reduce their use prescription drug therapies, particularly opioids, when they have legal access to cannabis. According to a 2015 RAND Corporation study, opiate-related abuse and mortality is lower in jurisdictions that permit medical cannabis access as compared to those that outlaw the plant.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Medical marijuana laws reduce prescription medication use in Medicare Part D," appears in Health Affairs.

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