Cannabis news

The Latest in AZ Cannabis News: A Threat to Potency Limits, Treating Autism and more

A small contingent of Arizona lawmakers introduced a new bill in the state’s House of Representatives that seeks to limit the potency of medical marijuana in the state to just 2 percent THC. Basically, around hemp-level potency. As it’s written, it is unclear if that 2 percent threshold would apply to flower or just concentrates.

Nevertheless, should it pass, it would have tremendous effects on the state’s nearly 200,000 medical marijuana patients, many of whom require a certain level of potency for treating their medical conditions.

Accordingly to Leafly, local law enforcement is in support of the bill. The head of the state’s Department of Public Safety, Frank Milstead, has spoken publicly against cannabis extract. It “looks like motor oil,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s easier to move across the border. You don’t have to backpack it. They can put it cars and hide it in barrels and jugs,” he said. “And all they want to do is get you or your kids addicted to this so you keep buying it.”

Before we induce a panic, however, it is worth noting that cannabis in Arizona was made legal for medical purposes through a voter initiative back in 2010. That means that voters gathered enough signatures to have legalization put on the ballot, and then gathered enough votes to pass it into law. Because Arizona has a statute in place that makes it extremely difficult to make changes to voter-led initiatives, this proposed change to potency levels may not gain any traction.

We’ll certainly be watching, however.

If you’d like to have your voice heard on medical marijuana issues in the state, contact your local representative.

Medical Marijuana and Autism Treatment

In more promising news, the state’s health board voted overwhelmingly in favor of having autism added to the list of qualifying conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana. The addition of autism to Arizona’s list of qualifying conditions was voted down back in 2018, when the state’s Department of Health cited insufficient evidence. Supporters—led in large part by mother’s groups—have long advocated for this change, and recent research seems to back up their claims on the benefits. Well-respected scientific journal Nature in January published a study citing the potential benefit of cannabis treatments for patients with autism.

The study was conducted in Israel (where it is legal to conduct marijuana research) and found that cannabis can help with certain symptoms of autism including restlessness, seizures, and fits of intense emotion.

It followed 188 patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ranging in age from 5-18 for six months. The study groups’ symptoms included “restlessness, rage attacks, agitation, speech impairment, cognitive impairment, anxiety, incontinence, depression and more.”

Although the study’s authors acknowledge that more research is needed, they make a straightforward claim about cannabis’ efficacy in autism treatment: “Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.

Their work echoed the anecdotal evidence many parents have cited. Parents of some autistic children have reported that cannabinoids helped calm their kids down and improved their focus and ability to complete tasks independently. Because of the impediments to in-depth research in the US, studies like these out of Israel have been vital in giving local lawmakers the information they need to make educated policy.

Watch this space for more in local cannabis news as it happens!

Christina Rock is a freelance writer and photographer. Connect with her here.