Medical Marijuana: How Much is Enough?

Medical Marijuana: How Much is Enough?
Posted by CN Staff on May 21, 2008 at 04:51:16 PT
By Carol M. Ostrom, Seattle Times Health Reporter
Source: Seattle Times 
Seattle, WA -- A state Health Department proposal that medical-marijuana patients be allowed more than 2 pounds of pot every two months took law enforcement by surprise and prompted the governor to tell health officials to start over.Faced with a legislative mandate to spell out what constitutes a "60-day supply" by July 1, the department in February briefed Gov. Christine Gregoire's office on its recommendation: Patients or caregivers could possess up to 35 ounces of cultivated marijuana and be allowed a plant-growing area of 100 square feet.
Gregoire promptly directed Department of Health Secretary Mary Selecky to solicit more comment from law enforcement and medical providers. "I wouldn't say she was upset" by the amount, said Gregoire's spokesman, Pearse Edwards, but she believed input had been one-sided.The issue of how much marijuana a patient needs remains one of the most contentious parts of the law voters passed in 1998, which allows patients with certain chronic, fatal and debilitating diseases to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana with a doctor's authorization.Last year, in an effort to help end conflict between law enforcement and patients or their pot-growing caregivers, the Legislature directed the state Health Department to define how much marijuana patients can possess under the law.In four hearings around the state last fall, hundreds of patients and medical-marijuana advocates lined up to speak. But conspicuously absent from most hearings were the voices of two important "stakeholders": doctors and law-enforcement officials.Doctors have a stake because under the law, they must authorize qualified patients to use marijuana.And law-enforcement officers have a stake because they must decide whether to treat pot smokers and growers as patients or criminals. Why The Detour?  Now the Health Department says it can't meet the July 1 deadline for a final rule, though it hopes to have an official draft by then so it can gather public comment during the summer. Once it makes a decision, it isn't subject to a veto by the governor, although Selecky ultimately answers to Gregoire.Medical-marijuana activists suspect the process got derailed by objections to the amount of marijuana the department planned to propose. Some worry that a process supposed to be guided by science has been hijacked by politics.Officially, law-enforcement leaders say they just want a number — any number — for the amount of pot qualified users can possess. They say they're not doctors and they wouldn't presume to set an amount any more than they would tell a patient how much cholesterol medication to take.But when pressed, they express discomfort with the amounts revealed to the governor in the briefing.Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said he's been invited to an upcoming "stakeholder" meeting by the Health Department. He said the amounts originally proposed by the department "fly in the face of reasonableness from our perspective."At 35 ounces, the amount of usable marijuana the health department planned to recommend is nearly a kilogram — 2.2 pounds — Pierce said. "That's a lot."Cowlitz County Sheriff Bill Mahoney says the whole issue is now "very, very difficult for law enforcement to deal with" because nobody knows what constitutes a 60-day supply."From my standpoint as a sheriff, I just need the state to step up and define it. I don't care what the number is."But, he adds: "Most of our cops, if they were forced to come up with a number, they'd say 3 ounces."  Basis of Calculation  How did the state Department of Health (DOH) calculate the amount? According to its briefing memo, obtained through a Public Disclosure Act request, the department began with the average dosages given to a handful of patients enrolled in a federal medical-marijuana program.It doubled that amount, because some patients might eat the marijuana instead of smoking it.Sunil Aggarwal, a University of Washington medical and doctoral degree student who studies "medical cannabis" there, says the department's calculation used an incorrect multiplier.Because "oral administration" of medical marijuana is much less efficient than smoking, the limit should be about 71 ounces for 60-day supply, he has told health officials.The 35-ounce amount is more than permitted in some places that allow medical marijuana use, but less than others. For example, Oregon allows 24 ounces of usable marijuana and six mature plants, while limits in California counties and cities range from 8 ounces to 3 pounds in Humboldt, Santa Cruz and Trinity counties, the Health Department's memo said.The federal program, called "Compassionate Investigational New Drug"program, supplies a limited number of patients with 300 to 450 "joints" per month, or about 9 ounces, according to department research.Karen Jensen, an acting assistant secretary for DOH, said the department is now conducting "informal conversations," with law-enforcement officials and medical providers."The rule needs to be something that works for law enforcement and the medical community and the advocacy community," Jensen said, although she and the governor's office deny that the current process is a "negotiation."Aggarwal says he worries that there is political "backdoor dealing" going on, with law enforcement at the head of the table. "This was supposed to be a public process, and it was supposed to be based on the best available medical science. ... That's why it went to the DOH in the first place."Jensen maintains "definitive science" is scarce. "We don't have some standard out there that we can go to. There are studies and reports, but no hard-core science out there for us to lean on." Guidelines   The Legislature told the Health Department to base its decision on research, expert advice and public input. Public input, so far, has been overwhelmingly from patients and advocates.Tom Curry, executive director of the Washington State Medical Association, says Selecky recently sought some names of doctors knowledgeable about medical marijuana or patients with conditions authorized under the law, such as cancer, HIV, or multiple sclerosis.One is Dr. Bob Wood, director of the HIV/AIDS Program for Public Health — Seattle & King County.Wood, who doesn't care for patients directly these days, says he doesn't authorize patients under the law, but he did march to Westlake Plaza during the recent "free marijuana" rally.Watching a few rail-thin patients in wheelchairs "smoking up a storm," Wood said he thinks there's "a lot of variation" in what patients need. Some may just need the occasional hit to deal with pangs of nausea, but some with serious or fatal diseases may simply want to stay high all the time."I would say, if that person isn't driving a school bus or driving down the road in a wheelchair, I don't see how they're hurting anybody," Wood says.Still, despite state laws allowing medical marijuana use — and the very limited federal program — it remains illegal under federal law.And because "science has been effectively blocked by the feds," Wood says, it may be hard for the health department to settle on a hard-and-fast number.Pierce, a former Bellingham police chief, says sheriffs and police chiefs have always maintained that setting a limit on a 60-day supply "is really a medical decision that should be determined by physicians."His group, he says, has told the department: "You shouldn't be talking to the law-enforcement community to find out what the right number is, any more than you should be talking to the advocate community."But on this issue, Pierce says, doctors aren't willing to step forward. "Most physicians are reluctant to identify what the appropriate supply is, because many of them don't feel there is an appropriate supply."Law enforcement's interest is simple, he says. "We don't want folks who are involved in the sale of drugs to be able to hide behind the medical-marijuana law. Because we think that's not good for our community ... [or] for the people who have a legitimate use for medical marijuana."Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Carol M. Ostrom, Seattle Times Health ReporterPublished: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 Copyright: 2008 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #23 posted by Had Enough on May 25, 2008 at 08:53:15 PT
Speaking of the economy, stocks, and human nature…This might be of interest to you.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on May 25, 2008 at 05:46:11 PT
Since my husband and I lived thru the 70s when this happened before we geared our lives so it would not happen to us again. We have heated with wood since we built out house back in 79. We live far away from any big cities and we have never put money in the stock market just our home. Here's an article I thought you might appreciate.Energy Fears Looming, New Survivalists Prepare
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Comment #21 posted by aolbites on May 24, 2008 at 23:35:03 PT
err, woops, meant 1450-1456
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Comment #20 posted by aolbites on May 24, 2008 at 23:25:47 PT
Don't rush to judgement.
the rise in the cost of Many Many goods has many many factors behind it .. what could be one of the primary factors behind all this is way way to complicated to try to explain in even several multi-page the heart of the matter though, is the lack of confidence of foreign US debt holders [us treasury bonds] that they will ever be paid what they are owed.there are a great many factors behind this, the rapidly rising us debt, the lack of confidence in our banks, the shenanigans lately of our federal reserve [yea a group of PRIVATE companies controls our currency], the 'massaged' inflation numbers - which btw affect everything from those bonds to food stamps and SSI and pay for a great many govt employees ...anyhow, there is a huge international financial war going on right now, its just not being publisised. and unless you are very very short the market you are NOT going to be making money this, I am 3x leveraged on the short side, cause these a$$#$$ are not going to destroy me again.. the truth is coming out.accounting rules have changed, and everyone is hurting real bad. and thats not even counting the massive changes in commodity prices!check out look at the masses of foreclosures on ... things are NOT GOOD.Please all of you ... make sure you are aware of the things that are going on around you!check your 401k, consider going to cash for the next 3 years .. if you are truly a long term investor, there is one rule that has yet to lose money .. quote:
if you're a "long term" investor you and just follow one
 single signal - the 20WMA over the 50WMA, with crosses of at least 1%
 required, historically speaking you are WAY ahead of the S&P 500. This is the simplest market timing system there is and over the last
 20 years it has NEVER failed to protect you. That is, you go to CASH whenever the 20WMA goes 1% or more below the
 50WMA, and you go back long in the index when the 20WMA crosses by at
 least 1% over the 50WMA.------------------------------------note: WMA= Weekly Moving Average
you only have to get the paper once a week and get out a calculator, don't ya dare listen to the BS on cnbc - they are all pumpers whose jobs depends on the illusion that stocks only go up------------------------I am serious here! there is very little left to this bear market rally, (I think Its already over, but it-s&p- could go back to 1350-56, but only as a pop)
if you have stocks .. you have been warned!!
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on May 24, 2008 at 21:27:44 PT
Fuel prices...
Again... are we being robbed? Are we being controlled... too much? Are the big "They" cracking down on American fuel use? In some places in this country, many places, we hardly use our land. There's acres and acres of brush. Unused farm land. A lot of land could be more productive than it is... without ever touching our vast areas of deep wildernesses.Maybe we ought to be looking at some more of those "Forty Acres and a Mule" days, in some areas, at least.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on May 24, 2008 at 18:43:53 PT
This weeks diesel fuel cost my husband over $1500. That's for about 2000 miles. Everything will keep going up since it is costing so much to keep a truck on the road. 
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Comment #17 posted by aolbites on May 24, 2008 at 17:00:17 PT
so .. 
has anyone noticed price increases, or is the underground economy somehow insulated from fuel costs?is local starting to be cheaper than imports yet? I haven't seen electric rates double in the last year .. $5+ diesel has got to be take'n its toll at some point .. I know the traditional farmers are feelin, if you've got tanks, I wouldn't be surprised at 7-10 by dec, so fill 'em if ya got 'em .. fyi.
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Comment #16 posted by Dankhank on May 22, 2008 at 20:28:39 PT
as do we all ...
I heartily agree with your comment.there should be NO limits ...
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Comment #15 posted by JohnO on May 22, 2008 at 15:23:53 PT:
There is no legitimate limit on freedom.
I find it ludicrous that anyone should agree with limits on how much cannabis a person should keep for medical (or any other) reasons. 
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Comment #14 posted by OverwhelmSam on May 22, 2008 at 07:12:06 PT
Any Idiot Can Get In - And They Often Do
I actually considered getting into law enforcement when I got out of the military, the only problem, my conscience would never allow me to bust someone for pot. LOL 
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Comment #13 posted by Sam Adams on May 21, 2008 at 17:45:33 PT
the article about the Atlanta police is very disturbing. The longer the WOD goes on, the more corrupted and incompetent law enforcement becomes.  They know the WOD is a sick joke, a make-work project created to enrich LEOs while they make war against the US citizenry.It's just like the Iraq war is destroying the military. How long will someone who really wants to work toward the public good (police work should be an excellent opportunity to do that) stick around when the whole dept. is focused on exploiting and destroying innocent people? They won't stick around, they'll leave and do something else, and lower-quality thugs will fill in the gaps. Until no one good is left, which appears to be the case in Atlanta.
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Comment #12 posted by museman on May 21, 2008 at 17:29:37 PT
This 'side' is getting brighter all the time!
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Comment #11 posted by slightlybeneaththesu on May 21, 2008 at 17:08:54 PT
sam adams
the harder and the longer the city makes the procedure to do something...the more discouraged people get and the easier they are to control.
you should see the beuracratic procedures put on dispensaries in order for them to be within city ordinances, it's double what restaurants/bars have to go through...easy.
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Comment #10 posted by OverwhelmSam on May 21, 2008 at 15:24:34 PT
Taking Cues
Whenever cops get into trouble they fight and appeal their buts off. And quite often, they get over based on some twist of the law. By contrast, cannabis consumers as a whole tend to roll over and accept conviction. Maybe we should be taking our cues from the cops in this regard. If everyone demanded a jury trial for every traffic ticket, every parking meter charge, the courts would clog and shut down practically overnight.The few traffic tickets I wanted to fight were dropped, probably because it wasn't worth the prosecutor's time to arrange voire dare for a parking or moving violation. The system works, but it does require due diligence.
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Comment #9 posted by dankhank on May 21, 2008 at 15:13:05 PT
they don't think at all ...
Police Chief Richard J. Pennington disbanded the narcotics unit, then reformulated it and doubled its size.kinda tells us that not much is gonna change ...the evil will not abate ...wanta know something nuts?I'm related by marriage to the governor of GA.sure hate it ...
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Comment #8 posted by OverwhelmSam on May 21, 2008 at 14:56:32 PT
What Were They Thinking?
In case you missed it:,0,6671049.storyJustice, perhaps. I'll bet all three cops appeal and get their convictions overturned by the appeals courts. Appeals courts routinely find some reason to overturn cop convictions. But really, what were these guys thinking? Does making a drug bust have to be this deadly? Why don't they just wait until the guy goes to the convenience store and catch him outside? Jeezusss already.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 21, 2008 at 12:21:57 PT
AP: State To Miss Deadline for Medical Marijuana 
 May 21, 2008 
SEATTLE — The state Health Department says it will miss a July 1 deadline to define how much marijuana is a 60-day supply for medical purposes.  
 An assistant department secretary, Karen Jensen, says it’s talking with police, doctors and marijuana advocates to come up with a rule that works.After four hearings around the state last fall, the department suggested a medical marijuana supply of more than two pounds.Gov. Chris Gregoire directed Health Secretary Mary Selecky to take more input from law enforcement and medical providers. The executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Don Pierce, says he’s been invited to an upcoming meeting.Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on May 21, 2008 at 12:17:28 PT
great post! I try to look on the bright side - at least on cannabis access, we're moving in the right direction. 15 years ago the "legal" and "approved" amount was zero. there was a big article in the paper a while ago on the city of Boston and its hyper-regulatory state. For a restaurant or bar to put tables outside in the summertime, they have to go through a 17-step legal application process, with each step requiring a separate application to a separate agency, and each application requiring legal work and fees. It can take years.It's not hard to see why fun is an endangered species in this USA. Another effect is that the only public places where people can get together are places where they buy stuff and spend lots of money. You can't open a small neighborhood coffeehouse or pub if you have to pay lawyers to go through a 2 year, 17-step process just to put a few tables outdoors for 3 months in summer.
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Comment #5 posted by mykeyb420 on May 21, 2008 at 11:53:38 PT
how much?
Let's see,,,first, take the amount you need, lets say 1 pound per year,,add what the cops will take, with what mother nature takes and add it to what the nieghborhood punks take,,thats how much you need per year,,,
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Comment #4 posted by museman on May 21, 2008 at 09:29:52 PT
AN even better idea
Lets limit the amount of money that all politicians rake in, based on scientific research of how much money it actually takes to survive and live comfortably in Amerika, then scale back what they don't need and raise the minimum wage to compensate?Then all corporate manufacturing companies should have an imposed limit on the production of goods based on the actual amount of use by consumers -without incentives and redundant, exensive advertising. The money and material saved could make a small 3rd world country solvent and safe.Since so many need to have laws passed to tell them how to live their lives, lets pass a law making it illegal to transport any goods that can be made or grown locally from another source, especially a 3rd world slave camp.Another great solution would be to outlaw SUVs and luxury cars, since people can't seem to limit their gasoline consumption, and therefore their pollution contribution as well.And since cops only need one bullet to kill someone, we should conscientiously limit their possession to 1 bullet a year, because any cop that kills more than one person a year is over zealous.And presidents should only be allowed one war per 8 year term, and extended to one war per party per 20 years -based on scientific research as to how much damage a generation can take before it is non-functional.While we are at it, we need to pass a law that all preachers need to have a hand written note, signed by God, giving them permission to lead the flock, with stern contractual reprecussions should they deviate from the truth.And finally, and most important, based on scientific study, no one should be allowed to have more than one six-pack of beer per person, per week, any other amount would be statistical proof of alcoholism, and evidence of abuse, including the probability of driving drunk. They should also piss test for alcohol every morning at every workplace, the savings in prevention of death, maiming and destruction of property, as well as increasing the productivity of the workers.
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on May 21, 2008 at 08:42:52 PT
medical amounts
I was pleased to see mention of the Federal Compassionate Use program and the approx. 3/4 of a pound they send each month.Another good point made is regarding those who ingest their cannabis. That takes much more cannabis as it is not as efficient yet, for some that is the necessary delivery method.They don't say how much cannabis butter you can have. I guess you would buy the limit, process to butter and then buy more. The butter lasts and I think can be frozen as well.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 21, 2008 at 07:51:09 PT
I can't get over how sad I am about Senator Kennedy. If he had died of a sudden heart attack it wouldn't have been this hard. I hope he is able to try a Cannabis treatment. I think the treatment needs to be by IV though. It seems cannabis cuts off the blood supply to tumors and with a cancer like his this could help. 
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on May 21, 2008 at 07:34:03 PT
Too Much is Not Enough
35 ounces seems to be plenty. Send any extra to Senator Kennedy.His prognosis is grim. Aggressive, invasive neuro-surgery is not going to be of any help. I had a relative who died from a malignant glioma. It is a sad, long, drawn-out ordeal.The amount of time he has is 77 to 92 weeks.Medical cannabis ingestion will be a godsend. He needs it.
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