The Advocate: Weekly Cannabis News

Gov. Pritzker makes MMJ program permanent in Illinois 

Monday morning, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that makes the Prairie States’ existing medical marijuana program permanent, while also adding a handful of new qualifying conditions; like chronic pain, migraines, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The new measures are set to take effect immediately, and will additionally allow for registered nurses and physician assistants to certify prospective patients, instead of only Doctors.

“Patients can rest assured: the medical cannabis program and patients will remain a priority for all of us. We will not turn our backs on the patient population, even as legalization dominates the news in 2020,” explained Rep. Bob Morgan (D, Deerfield) in an interview with NPR.

With protected tax measures, and a handful of new conditions added to the now permanent program, expect Illinois to rapidly expand its already growing MMJ program – which is currently averaging over 3,000 added patients per month.

New study highlights decreases in opioid-related deaths in adult-use markets

Last year, cannabis and its potential to serve as an alternative to opiods was a common theme found within states offering an adult-use or medicinal program; in 2018, both Illinois and Colorado introduced extending policies that allow for prescription opioid users to access medicinal cannabis, implementing programs within their public health systems.

To further investigate the potential role cannabis can play within the growing opioid crisis, researchers at Colorado State and the University of Massachusetts collaborated to analyze the impact adult-use cannabis laws have had on opioid-related deaths.

Researchers analyzed 29 states in total, and found that states with an adult-use market reduced their annual opioid mortality in the rage of 20-35%.

“Recreational marijuana laws affect a much larger population than medical marijuana laws, yet we know relatively little about their effects.” said co-author Nathan W. Chan, PhD, of University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Focusing on the recent wave of recreational marijuana laws in the U.S., we find that opioid mortality rates drop when recreational marijuana becomes widely available via dispensaries.”

The study concludes that its “principal finding” is that easy-access to adult-use cannabis has proven to lower opioid-related deaths, even going as far to suggest that extending federal legislation could potentially save nearly 10,000 lives, annually.

“To provide another perspective, there were around 47,600 deaths from opioids nationwide in 2017, or roughly 14.9 per 100,000 people. A reduction of 21% would imply nearly 10,000 lives saved or a decrease of 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people”, cites the study authors.

Alabama officials debate a potential medical marijuana program

This week, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Commission held what is slated to be the first of three public meetings that intend to ‘examine a range of issues relating to medical cannabis’.

Last year, Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) introduced legislation that would have allowed for health officials to prescribe medical marijuana to approved patients, including those suffering from PTSD, cancer, and pain-related issues. Because of its broad spectrum of qualifying conditions, the proposal failed to make its way out of the Senate. But, with increased public pressure, Melson and his associates are hopeful for a better outcome.

“I think we’ll end up with a bill that will be accepted and passed,” he said. “I’ve got better things to do if we’re not going to be serious — if we don’t pass a bill this time,” told Melson to the Montgomery Advertiser.

New polls suggest Alabamians share the same sentiments as Melson, with the most recent highlighting that just 3% of the population is opposed to legalization.

Oklahoma’s young MMJ program is exceeding market expectations

The Sooner state boasts the ‘fastest-growing’ medicinal cannabis market, according to a new analysis published by Marijuana Business Daily.

The results shouldn’t come as a surprise as Oklahoma is the sole state in the US to implement a medical marijuana program that features no specific list of qualifying conditions, allowing for approved physicians to approve patients as they see fit. The low-to-no barriers existing within the (still fairly new) program has created an influx of new patients – with data suggesting the state is still averaging 641 new patient-sign-ups each day.

Florida, Ohio, and Illinois followed up Oklahoma as the ‘fastest-growing’ MMJ markets in 2019. Expect the Prairie State to only increase its future market expectations as lawmakers recently approved new legislation that adds a handful of new qualifying conditions, including chronic pain and migraines.

John Kuster

As Social Media Coordinator, John oversees all things related to getting Revolution Enterprises' unique message out. An Iowa native, John joined the Revolution team to help educate, and inform the public on cannabis and all it has to offer. Prior to joining Revolution, John helped multiple companies grow and expand their reach, ranging from the tech industry to the world of international football. He is thrilled to be working in a rapidly expanding market, and is proud to represent Illinois patients and cannabis advocates across the globe.