Psychoactives

Alaska Is Officially the First State to License On-Site Marijuana Consumption at Cannabis Stores

Chris Roberts, writing for Marijuana Moment:

Adults 21 and over can buy regulated and taxed cannabis from licensed storefront dispensaries in a growing number of U.S. states—but until Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) signed new regulations into law on Tuesday, no states had been in the business of issuing permits authorizing on-site consumption.

There are some dispensaries in California that allow cannabis users to consume their purchases on-site in accordance with local policy—nearly all of which are in San Francisco, which permitted such use in the medical marijuana era—and businesses in Denver can apply for permits to allow vaporizing.

But other than that, thus far in the legalization era, a safe place (other than one’s own private home) to sit and consume legally purchased cannabis has been elusive. As in every other state where marijuana is legal, outdoor smoking is illegal. Cannabis consumers in certain rental housing risk fines or eviction for using the legal substance.

Now, licensed retail businesses in Alaska will be able to begin applying for a “special onsite use endorsement” from the state beginning April 11.

It remains to be seen when these cannabis consumption spaces will be open for business, but keep your eyes peeled—it’s expected to happen later this year.


The UN Chief Executives Board Unanimously Endorses Decriminalization

Transform Drug Policy Foundation:

The Chief Executives Board of the UN, representing 31 UN agencies, has adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use. This comes just days before a key meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, which will review, the UN’s 10-year Global Drug Strategy, and plan for the next one.

People are always going to use drugs. Criminalizing possession and use does nothing to help users or the wider society, but it does cause a lot of unnecessary harm. This is good news coming out of the UN, but we’ll have to see if this advice is heeded.


Missouri Police Search for Marijuana in a Stage 4 Cancer Patient's Hospital Room

Tara Law, writing for TIME:

A stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient says he feels his rights have been violated after police search his hospital room for marijuana in a video that has since been viewed more than 500,000 times on Facebook.

In the clip, which was first streamed on Facebook Live on Thursday, a pair of police officers search bags that belong to Nolan Sousley, a patient with pancreatic cancer who was hospitalized in Missouri.

Sousley tells them that all he has are pills containing THC, which he says is to treat his cancer. The officers claim that they have been tipped off that there was a marijuana smell coming from Sousley’s room.

The dude is literally dying from stage 4 pancreatic cancer. A sane society would let him have as much cannabis as he wants and leave him in peace. Instead, these cops tore through his room looking for weed. And to top it all off?:

The officers did not find anything illegal in the room.

Just try to watch the video without your blood starting to boil.


Bipartisan Legislation To End Marijuana Prohibition Filed

NORML:

Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Don Young (AK-AL) introduced today two landmark bipartisan marijuana bills.

Introduced was The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019, to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana as they choose, without federal interference.

This would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and put a stop to federal prohibition, but it wouldn’t legalize it in the sense of creating a legal and regulated market. The next would begin the collection of data on the efficacy of state legalized and medicinal cannabis programs.

Also introduced was The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019, which would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice, and employment.

In other words, these two bills would get the federal government’s hands out of cannabis once and for all and also kickstart the process of learning more about what is working (and what isn’t) in medical and recreational states.


A Ketamine-Like Drug Is the First New Antidepressant to Get FDA Approval in Years

Julia Belluz, writing for Vox:

Ketamine, which has long been used as an anesthetic, has increasingly been tried off-label by psychiatrists as a last-ditch effort to treat the 12 to 20 percent of adults with depression who don’t respond to other antidepressant medications or treatments.

Building on years of preliminary research about ketamine’s potential benefits for depression, Johnson & Johnson developed a drug called esketamine, sold under the brand name Spravato. The nasal spray is designed to alleviate depressive symptoms within hours — much faster than the other antidepressants on the market, such as Prozac, which can take weeks or months to act.

In February, an FDA panel determined, in a 14-2 vote, that esketamine’s benefits outweigh its risks and recommended that the agency approve the drug. The approval came on Tuesday, the first new antidepressant type to be greenlit by the agency in decades.

At first glance this may sound like good news, but weekly supervised administrations of esketamine will only be available for:

  1. Adults suffering from treatment-resistant depression,

  2. Who are also taking another oral anti-depressant, and

  3. Have access to a certified clinic where patients can be monitored for two hours after taking the drug.

Oh, and it’s going to be prohibitively expensive for most. While street ketamine is relatively expensive (typically $70-100 per gram), these nasal spray esketamine treatments will cost patients “anywhere between $2,360 to $2,540 a month.”

And the controversy doesn’t end there, either. Some physicians like psychiatrist Erik Messamore have a few problems with this news:

We’ve known since at least 2006 that ketamine (old, cheap, generic ketamine) rapidly shrink depressive symptoms. The antidepressant response occurs in a matter of hours and can last for up to a week after a single dose. […]

We didn’t need eskatamine, really. We just needed a way to get 2006 medical science discoveries into clinical practice in less than 13 years. […]

-Without FDA approval, insurance companies will find a convenient excuse not to cover treatments – even if medical science shows that the treatment is useful.

-Only pharmaceutical companies have enough money to get the FDA to look at data and opine on effectiveness.

-Pharmaceutical companies won’t spend a dime to ask the FDA to review generic drugs like ketamine (or natural products like fish oil)

-We do not have organizations [that] are reliably willing to review non-industry-sponsored science and make recommendations about when a generic drug or natural product should move into clinical practice.

Similar issues are emerging in the psilocybin space right now too. In the midst of all the excitement with psychedelic drugs being medicalized, we should remain aware of the potential problems we face with only allowing certain populations of people have access to these tools—and with letting Big Pharma reap all of the profits that should instead be going toward the brave people who belong to a movement the industry has fiercely attempted to stave off for decades.