ReliefWeb-9 hours ago
International-ABC News-Mar 15, 2018
In-Depth-CNBC-Mar 16, 2018
International-<a href="http://Marketplace.org" rel="nofollow">Marketplace.org</a>-15 hours ago
In-Depth-CNN-Mar 15, 2018
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A Pulaski County judge plans to issue a ruling next week after putting the state’s plans to issue licenses to five medical marijuana cultivators on hold.
Judge Wendell Griffen promised a decision on the status of his temporary injunction after a hearing Friday.
The key words are “arbitrary and capricious.” Naturalis Health, LLC is one of the losing medical marijuana hopefuls, but they claim that's how the state acted when they graded the winning cultivators. That's unconstitutional, and so they sued in Griffen’s court to keep the state from awarding the licenses to the winning would-be cultivators.
“We absolutely would be in the top five based on the strengths in our application,” said Patrick Murphy, in-house counsel and co-owner of Naturalis Health. “We were the only one that I know of that had a current grow facility.”
Murphy said Naturalis spent $3-million on it’s hydroponic lab, growing legal plants and vegetables that they donated to charity. The five commissioners graded the application and placed them 38th out of 95.
He testified that he led an investigation of public records and found cases where members of the medical marijuana commission rushed through the grading process and cases where applicants should have been disqualified.
Among his findings were three potential owners listed by the Arkansas Secretary of State as owing unpaid franchise taxes and an application that should have been disqualified because a computer map indicated the facility would be within 3000 feet of a church.
He said commissioner Travis Story gave a high score to Osage Creek Cultivators because he had a lawyer/client relationship with the owners and that commissioner Dr. Carlos Roman delivered a high score to a fellow medical doctor that shared a patient referral service.
Deputy attorney general Monty Baugh initially tried to get the case dismissed and twice drew pointed rebukes from Judge Griffen over interpretations of case law. But Baugh also painted Murphy’s testimony as speculative or uninformed. He also tried to convince the court that Naturalis could never make up enough points to reach the top five.
Later, Mary Robin Casteel testified as the director of the Alcohol Beverage Control board. State attorney Jennifer Merritt tried to get her to fill in the blanks that Murphy couldn't see in the public files.
“The plaintiff's allegation reads as if certain members of one of the applicants only submitted an affidavit and that affidavit was accepted as proof of residency,” she testified. “That’s not true.”
She and Merritt entered evidence that the commissioners never would have seen information like that because Casteel’s staff went over the applications and made sure they met the requirements for submission.
Joel Dipippa, senior counsel for the Department of Finance and Administration, gave testimony refuting the tax allegations levied by Murphy.
But lawyers for Naturalis also tried to show that commissioners rushed through scoring late in the process and that different commissioners used different criteria in grading applicants. And Judge Griffen pointedly wanted clarification about the different measurements on the application that appeared to site a facility close to a school.
The judge closed the hearing with a promise to make a written decision “within five days.” He also kept referring to an expected appeal no matter what he decides.
© 2018 KTHV
The Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association will hold the First Meeting of Medicinal Cannabis Patients, in a joint effort with the Department of Health and in order to guide and evaluate patients in an alternative health treatment.
The event, to be held on March 18, will serve to evaluate and certify new patients interested in including medical cannabis in their treatment program.
For such purposes there will be certified doctors to recommend medical cannabis, as well as staff from the Medical Cannabis Office of the Department of Health, taking care of the requests of the patients who meet to process their certification and issue their patient identification at the time.
It will be the first event that takes place offering the totality of the service.
"The idea is to encourage a meeting point that brings together people interested in exploring the possibility of treating medicinal cannabis with others who have already made it part of their treatment. We want to continue educating because it is an option that can transform lives. Those who want more information or those who are already determined, but have not taken the next step have in this event a suitable opportunity to orient themselves. They can clarify doubts, evaluate themselves with a doctor, know the available treatment options and get certified, "said Carmen Serrano, spokesperson for the Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association.
The certification process will be free for the first 500 patients who show up at the site.
Then it will cost 25 dollars.
The event will have about 25 doctors authorized to examine patients, who must carry photo identification and medical evidence about their health conditions.
It is expected to certify around 1,500 new patients in the process.
In addition to certifying new patients, the event will offer talks and educational material about alternative dispensaries, use, treatment and methods of authorized consumption.
"The Department of Health is committed to providing the tools and educating citizens about the benefits of this program, which is already helping thousands of patients find relief and a better quality of life," said Antonio Quilinchini, executive director of the Medical Cannabis Office of the Department of Health.
The current regulation provides that patients who can be certified to choose to include cannabis in their treatment are those diagnosed with any of these conditions: cancer, fibromyalgia, HIV or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Amotricious Lateral Sclerosis or Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's , Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, Parkinson's, Anorexia, migraine, spinal cord injuries, hepatitis C, conditions that cause chronic pain, or conditions that are allowed by regulation by the Department of Health.
Check the following article
Contribute to better translation
Play / Pause
On / off sound
About 300 people interested in being part of the medicinal cannabis industry in Puerto Rico participated yesterday in an educational workshop to receive a series of certifications.
In the workshop, organized by the Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana entity , 30 patients interested in benefiting from this therapy were also certified , reported Michael Soler, the first doctor in the country who, in June 2016, issued a prescription for the local use of cannabis medicinal.
Occupational licenses, dispensary technicians ("budders"), good manufacturing practices and agricultural and "seed to sell specialist" were some of the certifications granted . Among the participants there were several who only attended as listeners.
Soler and Godwin Aldarondo Girald, of Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana, agreed that, almost three years after the establishment of the medicinal cannabis industry on the island, there is a lot of space to progress.
"Colorado's (state) law (on the use of medical cannabis) has been amended 80 times, both in the Health Regulations and in the law (on this subject) there are many areas to improve," said Aldarondo Girald, whose entity is dedicated to educating on legal aspects of medical marijuana in Puerto Rico.
Including more diseases to the list of conditions allowed by law to use this healing plant, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, was one of the recommendations offered by Aldarondo Girald. This is in the process of strengthening what it considers an industry still in its infancy that has a lot of potential for growth, as well as an economic incentive for the island.
"We must regulate more medical tourism (medical cannabis). Puerto Rico needs income and (to maximize this industry) is a way to improve the economy of the country. For that, you have to make it easier for the tourist (the process) to acquire your card or permit, "he said.
Developing a "wellness center" that includes medicinal cannabis therapy, as well as encouraging research and local development of this plant, were other recommendations of the lawyer.
"The Board (Medicinal Cannabis Regulator) does not have (right now) the resources to do the work. They are good and committed people, but they do not have the resources and that is very important, because (the success of) this industry depends on compliance with the regulations, "he said.
Currently, on the island there are 35 medical marijuana dispensaries in operation and between 15 and 20 crops.
"There must be more opportunities for distribution in all municipalities, at least there is a franchise of everything," said Aldarondo Girald, lamenting the government's "lack of efforts" to educate the people on this issue and their ability developmental.
As an example, he mentioned that although on the island there are 17,000 patients certified for the use of medicinal cannabis, it is estimated that some 150,000 people could benefit from this therapy.
For his part, Soler said that although originally about 500 doctors in the country were certified to prescribe medicinal cannabis, there are 190 physicians duly authorized.
"There was an economic expectation of a (larger) number of patients (requesting this therapy) and that has not happened," he said.
According to Soler, clinical experience indicates that this therapy is beneficial in nine out of 10 patients.
He added that, since the use of this plant was made viable for healing purposes in the country, myths that were previously associated with this treatment have been defeated. He mentioned that there has not been an increase in crime or vehicular accidents among patients in this therapy.
In his opinion, the industry must grow to the point that its income sustains the country's health system , as he said in other states.
It was on May 3, 2015 that the then Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed an executive order to authorize the medicinal use of some or all of the controlled substances or components derived from cannabis. On July 9, Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed a law to regulate the use of this medicinal plant on the island.