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Cancer and cannabis

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A hopeful report by Randy Robinson. Although one case doesn’t establish efficacy, it certain suggests that research is justified—and Obama will not budge on reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I. Randy Robinson writes in Culture:

At 14 years old, Alysa Erwin was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  As it would with any family, the news hit hard. “When the doctor called me to tell me Alysa had cancer, she said there wasn’t a good outcome. There was no success rate whatsoever,” said Carly, Alysa’s mother.

“She told me all we could do was have hope.”

But that was in 2011.

In 2014, Alysa is cancer-free, and her family believes cannabis oil saved her life. At the time, the Erwins’ outlook appeared grim. Doctors call her condition Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, an inoperable cancer with a near-zero survival rate. Alysa’s disease, caused by uncontrolled neuron growth, had spider-webbed throughout her brain. There were no individual tumors to target. A wiry network of cancerous cells penetrated so far into her skull that surgery was impossible. That meant Alysa would have to undergo aggressive chemo—and radiation therapies, a choice which leaves many terminal patients incapacitated during their final days. In Alysa’s case, even with traditional medical treatment, doctors expected she’d survive for only another one or two years. The situation became desperate, and the Erwins sought out another choice.

Alysa’s father David, heard about Rick Simpson’s Phoenix Tears Foundation through Michigan Compassion, a medical cannabis organization. After watching the documentaries What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? and Run from the Cure, the Erwins decided cannabis oil was their best bet for Alysa’s recovery.

“We knew what we wanted,” Carly said, “but we wanted to hear her choice.”

Alysa, presented with the options of chemotherapy or cannabinoids, tried the conventional route first. After just five days of popping Temedor pills—and enduring the debilitating nausea that comes with them—she abandoned chemo and went with cannabis. The Erwins were floored. They saw instant results.

Thirty minutes after she took her first half-teaspoon mix of concentrate and peanut butter, Alysa was laughing again. She was eating. Her pain vanished and she could hold down food. “She was like a regular teenager,” her mother said. . .

Continue reading. Why won’t Obama budge on reclassifying marijuana? It is an action he could take immediately, but he doesn’t and since he doesn’t have press conferences, there’s no way of asking him why. But none of the reasons I can think of are very complimentary to him.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 April 2014 at 2:00 pm

Americans finally understand that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol

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Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post:

A new Pew survey out today provides yet another illustration of the failure of America’s drug war. By a nearly five-to-one margin, Americans agree that alcohol is worse for you than marijuana. However you slice the data up demographically, majorities say the same thing.

reefer-madness

The elderly, Republicans and Hispanics are the least likely to agree that booze is more harmful than weed, but even among these groups respondents said that alcohol was more harmful by more than a two-to-one margin. At the other end of the spectrum, blacks say alcohol is more harmful by an eight-to-one margin, while those under thirty agree by nearly seven-to-one.

On the relative dangers of marijuana and alcohol, the public is now in line with what medical researchers have been saying for years. A 2010 study in the journal Lancet, for instance, graded common drugs on sixteen criteria relating to how harmful the drugs were to users, and how harmful they were to society overall. On both measures – harm to self and harm to users – marijuana scored significantly lower than alcohol.

harm

In fact, alcohol was the most dangerous of all the drugs studied, vastly more dangerous than other drugs in terms of harm to society, and behind only meth, crack and heroin when it came to harm to users.

Other topline findings from the Pew survey: . . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: And check out this story: “NJ Prosecutors Reverse Age-old Position and Now Support Marijuana Legalization“. From the article:

The paper reported that Barr’s other reasons for backing marijuana legalization include:

• Requests by prosecutors to analyze samples of marijuana are overwhelming the state’s drug-testing laboratories, sometimes leading to dismissals of cases when defendants invoke their rights to speedy trials;

• Studies show that marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, nicotine or caffeine;

• Marijuana is easier for high school students to obtain than alcohol because the sale of alcohol is strictly regulated;

• Very few of the thousands of DWI cases prosecuted annually are for driving under the influence of marijuana;

• Statistics show that African-Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people, but there is no evidence to show there is disproportionately more marijuana use in minority communities;

• The state loses money by not collecting sales tax on marijuana, while drug dealers profit.

“The time has come to understand that this particular offense makes about as much sense as prohibition of alcohol did,” Barr said. “It is time to stop the insanity.”

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2014 at 11:46 am

Posted in Drug laws, Health, Science

Fight crime: Legalize marijuana

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Obviously legalizing marijuana fights crime in one sense: buying and using marijuana stops being a crime, so that’s a plus right there. But it turns out that other crimes (homicide and assault, for example) also drop when marijuana is legally available. Nicole Flatow reports at ThinkProgress:

Legalizing medical marijuana did not cause an increase in any category of crime in states that have done so, according to a new study. In fact, medical marijuana laws have been associated with decreases in some violent crime, particularly homicides and assaults. The study by University of Texas at Dallas researchers is the latest piece of research to debunk assertions that marijuana legalization is linked to crime.

“In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes,” write the authors in a study published in PLOS One.

In fact, they surmise, “[g]iven the relationship between alcohol and violent crime, it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes that can be detected at the state level.”

The study analyzes Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest data between 1990 and 2006 in 11 states where medical marijuana became legal during that time period, controlling for the drug crimes that would be directly affected by legalization. But it does not draw conclusions about the reason why crime held steady and even dropped in some categories.

Legalization proponents in the law enforcement community have argued that creating a legal market would reduce violent crime because it is the gangs and drug cartels driven by the black market that are responsible for the bulk of the violent activity related to drugs. If this reasoning contributed, then legalization of recreational pot could lead to a more significant reduction in these violent crimes, since medical marijuana is limited to those with a doctor’s prescription.

The researchers noted that the drops in assaults and homicides were small (about 2.4 percent), and could have been caused by other variables not accounted for. But this is one of several studies to find that medical marijuana laws yield no increases in crime. A 2012 study found that medical marijuana dispensaries don’t lead to increases in crime in the neighborhoods where they are located. And a 2013 University of Chicago study found that medical marijuana laws were associated with a decrease in fatalities, contrary to the concerns of some about driving under the influence.

These findings strongly suggest that marijuana legalization should proceed quickly.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2014 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Science

DEA: Stop Blocking Medical Marijuana Research for Treating Veterans with PTSD

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Here’s a Change.org petition I just signed. At the link:

My name is Sargeant Ryan Begin United States Marine Corps (Ret).  I served two tours in Iraq.  During my second tour on August 1, 2004, I was hit by an improvised explosive device, also known as a roadside bomb. I lost my right elbow and endured over 30 surgeries.  On that day my elbow saved my life in two seperate ways.  First it physically saved me by absorbing the shrapnel and blocking my vital organs from being ripped apart.  The second way it saved me would not reveal itself until last winter, seven years later.  It qualified me for medical marijuana in the state of Maine due to the intractable pain.  I have also been diagnosed with severe PTSD, and although people with PTSD do not “qualify” for medical marijuana,  it was my PTSD condition that received the greatest benefit from medical marijuana.

Every day veterans are returning home from combat and once they return they face their biggest battle, dealing with the PTSD they now suffer from. We know it works and we want research to be done so that we can find out how and why. Sadly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and DEA refuse to allow research to be done on medical marijuana and PTSD. 

The FDA has approved a protocol to study the therapeutic potential of marijuana for veterans suffering from PTSD. But amazingly, NIDA has a monopoly on the cannabis used for research in the U.S. and they continually refuse to allow researchers to purchase their marijuana for this study. Their decision is clearly political, and it’s impending research and prolonging suffering for America’s troops who have sacrificed so much for their country. 

NIDA’s refusal also comes at a time when physicians themselves are recognizing the medical value of medical cannabis. Recently, the California Medical Association told the Los Angeles Times that the question of whether marijuana is a medicine “can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done” (“California Medical Assn. calls for legalization of marijuana”, October 15, 2011).

Scientists, veterans, physicians, public health officials, and state governments are now calling for an end to the U.S. government’s blockade of medical marijuana research. I hope you’ll join us and sign this petition. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2014 at 8:16 am

Federal government slightly eases restrictions on marijuana medical research

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Nicole Flatow reports at ThinkProgress:

As more states move to legalize all or some marijuana use, reform has remained stalled not just by outright federal prohibition, but also by federal policies that have suppressed research on cannabis.

On Friday, the federal government took a potentially momentous step back from this position, granting researchers who have for years borne the brunt of this policy access to a legal supply of marijuana. The decision means a psychiatry professor at the University of Arizona who specializes in treating veterans may for the first time be able to perform a triple-blind study on marijuana and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans and others suffering from PTSD have long vouched anecdotally that marijuana provides unique relief for their symptoms. And a study last May that examined the brain without actually administering marijuana suggested that cannabis may mitigate the flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and other symptoms that plague PTSD sufferers.

But federal government denial of both the legal supply of marijuana to study the issue and a supply of federal funding have thwarted studies like this one, despite approval by the Food and Drug Administration and financial backing from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

“MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we’ve been granted permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA,” the group said in a statement.

In August, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta announced he had reversed his position on marijuana, saying, “we have been terribly and systematically misled,” and that “sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works” to treat medical conditions. He told the story of now-7-year-old Charlotte Figi, whose transformation after using a marijuana extract to treat her seizures inspired many other parents of children with seizures to flock to Colorado for treatment.

Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning it is deemed to be a dangerous drug with no currently accepted medical value. This designation is more severe than that of cocaine and opium poppy. Sttudies like this one are needed not just to put scientific backing behind the anecdotes and better adjust prescriptions; they are also necessary to persuade the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule the drug. The agency has maintained in response to numerous petitions that there is not sufficient rigorous research to rebut Congress’ 1970 decision to place the drug in the Controlled Substances Act’s most restrictive category.

Last February, a a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and one-time MacArthur Fellow analogized the suppression of marijuana research to creationist control over paleontology, citing this PTSD study. “The most blatant example of this behavior came last year, when NIDA blocked an FDA-approved clinical trial testing marijuana as a remedy for post traumatic stress disorder,” said John H. Schwarz. “… As a physicist, I can assure you that this not how physics works. … We are all expected to act like grownups and accept it gracefully as experiments prove our favorite theories are false. In physics, unlike marijuana policy, we consider the right message to send to be the message that’s true.”

He and others in the medical marijuana community have argued that the DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse act as a “tag team” to censor science, with NIDA holding a monopoly over legal access to cannabis for research, and the DEA refusing to reconsider the drug’s designation in the Controlled Substances Act on the basis that sufficient research does not exist.

This study must still be granted DEA approval, but is expected to receive it.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 March 2014 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Medical, Science

How Drug Money Is Funding Drug Education

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The Colorado experiment in legalized marijuana seems to be going well—indeed, much better than anticipated. Kyle Chayka reports at Pacific Standard:

On February 19, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper did something unexpected. He announced a state spending plan for nearly $100 million, with the vast majority of the funding devoted to improving drug awareness, addiction prevention, and public health—an enviable sum for any government to put toward normally difficult-to-fund initiatives. Even more surprising is that every dollar of that amount will come from tax revenues on the sale of drugs that were illegal until this year.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use last year, but the first retail marijuana stores have only opened in the past few months—the state now has over 150 of them. The initial results are staggering, not just for the individual cannabis businesses but also for the state itself. Tax revenues from recreational marijuana sales, which hit $2 million in January, have exceeded all expectations. Voters were initially given a projection of $70 million in marijuana tax revenue, but the government now expects over $130 million in sales and excise taxes in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. (Washington, which has also legalized marijuana sales but hasn’t opened the floodgates yet, expects $190 million over the next four years.)

For every recreational marijuana sale in Colorado, there’s a 2.9 percent sales tax, a 10 percent additional sales tax (part of which goes to local governments where the sales take place), and a 15 percent excise tax. On top of that, the state will earn an expected $2 million in the next fiscal year from the fees that businesses pay for licenses to sell the drug. The 28 percent net tax on marijuana is actually less than the rate for tobacco products, which is 40 percent in Colorado.

Under the new recreational cannabis law, the first $40 million earned through the excise tax will go toward building new schools in the state. With the governor’s proposal, the remainder of the revenue will be funneled into educational programs around marijuana, “creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to the budget committee.

It’s a strange irony that legalizing a drug still outlawed by the federal government could allow for more resources to be devoted to preventing its negative effects. But that’s exactly what’s happening in Colorado—the marijuana tax has proven so effective at raising public funds that there’s more than enough money to combat the criticism that recreational marijuana will lead to more addiction. In fact, with the new initiatives, it could lead to fewer drug problems all around.

The money that the recreational marijuana tax raises is strictly limited as to where it can be put to use. In his letter, Hickenlooper laid down two guidelines: “programming should have a direct or indirect relationship to marijuana use, and we should not create any situations where State or local government has an incentive to promote marijuana use.”

To that end, the plan allocates around $45 million of the funding to “youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence” and another $42 million to “substance abuse treatment,” including adding space to existing drug treatment facilities. Public health programs will see a $9 million cash infusion. And $15 million will be distributed between law enforcement and public safety and regulatory oversight, reinforcing the laws already put into place to limit marijuana sales and use. On top of that, the state expects a surplus, and will likely end the next year with $12 million in a Marijuana Cash Fund.

This spending is as good for cannabis businesses as it is for the state. Legal marijuana is the rare industry that’s campaigning for its own regulation, high taxes, and strict oversight, in sharp contrast to Silicon Valley start-ups like Uber and AirBnB that are making a case for less government intrusion in the commercial sphere, deregulating public transportation and residency restrictions in the name of market-induced efficiencies. . .

Continue reading. There’s more. And this chart from the article is interesting:

marijuana-co-chart

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2014 at 11:16 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Remember how Obama and Holder promised no prosecutions for marijuana suppliers obeying state laws….

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Nicole Flatow writes in ThinkProgress:

When Robert Duncan was laid off from his job in the television industry, he got a call from some family friends offering him a job. He was hesitant of their offer: they were starting a medical marijuana dispensary. He consulted a lawyer at a fee of $800 to advise him on whether to even accept the job. At the time, the wisdom was that prosecutors would not target state-compliant dispensaries, and that they certainly wouldn’t target employees.

So he moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and started working an estimated 80 hours a week in what he called a challenging and rewarding job managing grow houses.

“I honestly had some stereotypes of what I expected to see when I got into the business — people who probably really didn’t need marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he said in a Huffington Post synposis of his story. “But I was actually quite surprised to see people who were battling cancer, in wheelchairs, suffering from chronic pain from car accidents. It was quite justified. We had thousands and thousands of members of our cooperatives.”

He said he was particularly gratified that some of the strains he grew were able to help his own family members suffering from cancer. By all accounts, the business was operating in compliance with state law. The dispensary had interacted with state police when reporting robberies to the facility without consequence. Owner Matthew Daviesshowed a New York Times reporter a “sheaf” of legal documents demonstrating he had complied with California law.

But in October 2011, the grow house where Duncan worked in Stockton, Calif., was raided by the federal government while Duncan was working at the facility. For reasons that have not been disclosed to Duncan, federal prosecutors ultimately indicted Davies, his co-owner, and Duncan — an hourly employee. There were an estimated 50 employees.

Duncan was lobbed with marijuana manufacture charges that carried up to ten years in jail. He will serve two, plus several more on probation. On Monday, HuffPost Live will broadcastDuncan’s entry to prison. Davies and co-owner Lynn Smith will also begin their five-year sentences Monday.

The raid of the Stockton grow house and the subsequent arrests came during a period when the federal government had rolled back its pot prosecution policy, and then ramped it up again again. When he joined the dispensary as an employee, the Justice Department had advised prosecutors in what is known as the “Ogden Memo” not to target dispensaries complying with state law. Less than two years later, the feds backtracked in a second 2011 “Cole memo” that instead advised prosecutors not to target “users” complying with state law, and left growers and sellers more susceptible.

“None of us would have taken this risk if we thought we were at any serious legal risk,” Duncan said Monday, hours before he was scheduled to report to prison. “Basically we just wanted to be compliant and kinda set an example of kind of a model business in this line of work and obviously it didn’t pan out that way.”

The Stockton grow house is one of several businesses that aimed to become models for state compliance, and in doing so, became federal targets. A raid of a Montana marijuana dispensary run by a state lobbyist who helped design the laws also saw several prosecutions, and one defendant died in jail.

The start of these prison sentences comes in the months after Attorney General Eric Holderonce again directed prosecutors to roll back crackdowns on state-compliant pot businesses. This time, he has issued several subsequent memos as part of a “Smart on Crime” initiative that aims to focus resources on serious, violent offenders. He added another piece of guidance that could have helped the Stockton grow house: the mere size or commercial nature of a business is not sufficient grounds for prosecution.

Duncan called it “frustrating” to watch President Obama dismiss marijuana as nothing more than a “vice” and less dangerous than alcohol, as his Justice Department is sending him to jail for helping sick patients. “You don’t really know what to believe,” he said.

This is in part because U.S. attorneys retain their prosecutorial discretion, and nothing short of a change in the law can fully insulate anyone from a legal action. In fact, even after Holder’s directive, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, in the Northern District of California, hasmade good on her pledge to continue her targeting of large medical marijuana dispensaries.

Watch Duncan’s entry to federal prison here.

This almost amounts to entrapment: the President and the Attorney General of the United States pledge not to pursue or prosecute medical marijuana suppliers and patients when state laws are obeyed, and then they send people to prison who believed their pledge. This is infuriating and makes it seem as though the President and the Attorney General were lying to the public.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2014 at 4:20 pm

A 14-year struggle to get permission to study using marijuana to treat PTSD

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Since the Federal government has already decided that marijuana has no medical benefit (and is highly addictive to boot), the FDA is unwilling to allow studies that might contradict the Federal position. (Marijuana is a Schedule I drug: those are drugs that have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse.) April Short describes a 14-year effort to get approval for a study of marijuana’s effects on PTSD:

As a psychiatrist and physician focused on internal medicine, Sue Sisley of Arizona treats first responders and military veterans on a regular basis. Many of them suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After years observing and speaking with patients she learned that many were using an alternative medicine—cannabis—to successfully manage their symptoms.

“We ran these patients through the gauntlet of every FDA-approved medicine, and either nothing worked or it had really onerous side effects,” said Sisley. “So all these patients were gradually, on their own, starting to use cannabis as an alternative way to treat their symptoms, and talking to me about it.”

While Sisley describes herself as a lifelong Republican who has never tried an illicit drug and doesn’t drink, she became curious to know why and how cannabis was helping so many of her patients.

“This is a dire need, understanding PTSD, not just for combat vets but for all our citizens who are plagued by this,” she said, noting that 22 veterans kill themselves per day in the U.S. according to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Any physician who’s also a human being can’t rest when we know that there’s something out there, in this case a plant, that has the potential to reduce human suffering.”

She began to look into studying the plant, but came up against the same wall that has blockaded any attempts at clinical research on cannabis outside of limited research by the U.S. government for the last 40 years. Due to the demonization of cannabis by drug war propaganda, the plant falls under Schedule I classification. This is the most restrictive possible scheduling, and means that officially, pot is considered dangerous and devoid of any potential medical use.

“I started asking more and more questions about why we couldn’t research this drug properly and why these studies were being suppressed,” she said. “[Cannabis] has proven itself over and over again in literally thousands, millions of patients across the country, and when you know that, you can’t rest and just allow this plant to be forced out. I think we have a duty as physicians to demand that this plant be rigorously studied.”

Her curiosity and determination led her to meet Rick Doblin, the executive director of MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). The California-based nonprofit organization has been trying for 14 years to complete federally sanctioned clinical research studies on cannabis. So far, however, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—which has a DEA-protected monopoly on the only legal supply of cannabis for use in FDA-regulated research—has refused to sell them cannabis.

Doblin and Sisley worked to develop protocols for a study that would look at cannabis’ effects on treatment-resistant combat veterans with PTSD, with Sisley as principal investigator. After years of back and forth, the study’s protocols were approved by the Food and Drug Administration three years ago. They were also approved by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the University of Arizona has agreed to play host.

There’s just one problem: they still need NIDA approval in order to purchase federally sanctioned weed, and NIDA won’t sell until a third review process is completed by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), as required by a 1999 guideline.

This additional review is not required for research on any other Schedule I drug, but was tacked onto the regular approval requirements and is governed by the U.S. Health and Human services department, under NIDA.

After the original study protocol was rejected by PHS in September 2011, MAPS resubmitted a revised protocol on Oct. 24, 2013. Ever since, the line has gone dead. Unlike FDA protocols which require a response within 30 days, there is no timeline requiring PHS to respond. The PHS guidance has effectively blockaded the study of cannabis by failing to respond.

Sisley called the PHS review process redundant, and said the only real reason for it to exist is to keep the war on drugs alive.

“If their motive is to suppress any research that might prove the benefits of marijuana, then it’s understandable they don’t want that data out there because that conflicts with their mission,” she said.

Brad Burge, communications director for MAPS, points out that President Obama has the authority to terminate the extra requirement at any time. The Secretary of Health and Human Services could also legally revoke the guidance as it was issued within HHS.

“We’re hoping with this pressure, with enough public attention, HHS will make a statement or Obama—especially given his recent statements on medical marijuana—will decide to eliminate the hold, and to eliminate the process,” he said.

Thousands of veterans nationwide swear by marijuana’s effectiveness in reducing their PTSD symptoms and advocate for better access to cannabis as an alternative to the pharmaceuticals they’re regularly prescribed. Perry Parks, a Vietnam combat veteran and decorated retired military officer called the limits on access to medical marijuana a “healthcare tragedy few people recognize.” Oaksterdam University has a new scholarship program to help train more veterans to grow their own plants and work in the cannabis industry.

Despite the vocal and increasingly recognized call for veterans’ access to cannabis, the study in question would be the world’s first-ever controlled clinical study on using the herb to treat PTSD in human patients. Burge notes that prior animal studies, among them a study using lab rats published in the scientific journal Nature, have shown that cannabis helps calm an overactive fear system. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2014 at 3:03 pm

The Mommy Lobby for medical marijuana

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Ariana Eunjung Cha reports in the Washington Post:

Standing in a Wisconsin State Capitol hearing room surrounded by parents hugging their seriously ill children, Sally Schaeffer began to cry as she talked about her daughter.

Born with a rare chromosomal disorder, 6-year-old Lydia suffers from life-threatening seizures that doctors haven’t been able to control despite countless medications. The family’s last hope: medical marijuana.

Schaeffer, 39, didn’t just ask lawmakers to legalize the drug. She begged.

“If it was your child and you didn’t have options, what would you do?” she said during her testimony in Madison on Feb. 12.

The representatives were so moved that they introduced a bipartisan bill to allow parents in situations similar to Schaeffer’s to use the drug on their children.

Emboldened by stories circulated through Facebook, Twitter and the news media about children with seizure disorders who have been successfully treated with a special oil extract made from cannabis plants, mothers have become the new face of the medical marijuana movement.

Similar scenes have been playing out in recent weeks in other states where medical marijuana remains illegal: Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Utah, New York, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky.

The “mommy lobby” has been successful at opening the doors to legalizing marijuana — if only a crack, in some places — where others have failed. In the 1970s and ’80s, mothers were on the other side of the issue, successfully fending off efforts to decriminalize marijuana with heartbreaking stories about how their teenage children’s lives unraveled when they began to use the drug.

Mothers have long been among the most powerful constituent groups in the United States, and the reason is clear. Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving are able to draw so much public support because they tug at a universal human emotion: the desire to protect children from harm. And while national gun-control efforts after the Sandy Hook massacre faltered, mothers’ groups worked to keep the issue on the public radar, helping to get some new measures passed at the state level.

Today, mothers are fighting for access to the drug, and they have changing public attitudes on their side. For the first time, a majority of Americans in opinion polls say they support the full legalization of marijuana.

Last year, Colorado and Washington state made marijuana fully legal, and there has been a groundswell of support in several states for ballot initiatives or legislation to do the same, including some in the conservative South.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The diseases and conditions for which it can legally be used are limited and vary by jurisdiction. Most states have additional requirements for children: Instead of one prescription, parents must get two from different doctors.

Even in states where marijuana is available for children, the mothers say it is often a challenge to convince physicians that the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

The drug the mothers are seeking is an extract that contains only trace amounts of the part of the plant responsible for the euphoric effect of the drug but is still high in cannabidiol, or CBD — a substance that scientists think may quiet the electrical and chemical activity in the brain that causes seizures. Instead of leaves that are smoked, it is a liquid that is mixed in food or given to a child with a dropper. . .

Continue reading. Video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2014 at 2:48 pm

First medical marijuana commercial on major TV

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Via ThinkProgress:

Ian Millhiser notes at ThinkProgress:

A company called Marijuana Doctors, which connects medical marijuana patients with doctors who can prescribe the drug, claims that it is airing what it claims is the “first ever marijuana commercial on a ‘Major Network.’” The ad, which “draws a parallel between a ‘shady’ street dealer attempting to push ‘unsafe’ sushi to unsuspecting buyers, and medical marijuana patients being forced to obtain their medication in a similar fashion,” airs in New Jersey on several national networks — including A&E, Fox, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network and the History Channel. . .

Although medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey — the state started issuing medical marijuana identification cards in 2012 — adult patients currently have greater access to the drug than children. Indeed, one family recently decided to move from New Jersey to Colorado to ensure their daughter would have access to the liquefied marijuana she uses to stave off potentially fatal seizures. Child marijuana patients in New Jersey are technically allowed to access edible marijuana, but marijuana in this form isn’t generally available at New Jersey dispensaries.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) recently rejected a bill that would have permitted families in a similar situation to buy marijuana in other states and transport it home to New Jersey.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2014 at 10:56 am

Who is being helped by a restrictive medical marijuana stance?

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Certainly not the patients. Tara Culp-Pressler writes at ThinkProgress:

Brian and Meghan Wilson don’t want to leave their home state of New Jersey. They would prefer to remain near their families and friends — and they want their two-year-old daughter to be able to keep seeing her nationally renowned neurologist, who’s an expert at treating her rare form of epilepsy.

But, since progress on New Jersey’s medical marijuana policy has stalled, the family is beingforced to relocate anyway. They’re going to Colorado to seek out treatment for their daughter, Vivian, who needs a liquefied marijuana strain in order to prevent her potentially fatal seizures.

The Wilsons have been fighting for policy reform in New Jersey for the past year. Although the state began issuing medical marijuana cards back in 2012, there were stringent limits for minors that prevented kids like Vivian from being able to take edible marijuana. “Please don’t my daughter die,” Vivian’s dad implored Gov. Chris Christie (R) in August, pressuring the governor to approve legislation that would have expanded access to several strains of marijuana.

Christie ended up approving a weakened form of that legislation. But it wasn’t enough. Although kids with conditions like Vivian’s are now legally allowed to access edible marijuana, the dispensaries in the state aren’t producing those type of products, and the state’s health department has no plans to begin testing them. Christie says he’s “done expanding the medical marijuana law,” and recently rejected a bill that would have allowed families like the Wilsons to buy edible strains in other states and transport them home to New Jersey.

The Wilsons have tried to navigate New Jersey’s restrictive medical marijuana law. But they say the state laws don’t go far enough to help two-year-old Vivian — who must wear an eye patch, avoid direct sunlight, and stick to a special low-carb diet in an attempt to prevent potentially deadly seizures — and they can’t afford to wait it out. Treatment for Vivian’s condition still remains out of reach.

“I’m just ready to start the next chapter. If we get medicine that helps Vivi, that’s great. Who the hell cares we had to move?” Meghan Wilson told the Star-Ledger as her family prepared to board their flight to Colorado.

The Wilsons will join a growing number of “medical refugees” who have moved to Colorado to seek a so-called “miracle strain” of marijuana that can help treat pediatric epilepsy. About 180 other children like Vivian are currently receiving treatment from the same dispensary in Colorado Springs. More than 100 families have moved from 43 states to pursue this optionfor their severely ill children.

The so-called “Charlotte’s Web” strain is named after Charlotte Figi, the first child who tried the treatment after her parents exhausted all of their other medical options. After she started taking this strain of medical marijuana, Charlotte’s seizures immediately stopped, and the seven-year-old is now feeding herself, walking, and riding her bike. Her case helped convince CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta to reverse his position on the medical benefits of marijuana, admitting that he was “too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2014 at 9:01 am

Radley Balko: Yes, the War on Drugs is bad

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Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post:

Last month, I wrote a response to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson in which I laid out many (but by no means all) of the harms caused by the modern-era war on drugs. Now Charles Lane, a columnist and editorial writer here at the Post, has responded to my post. You can read Lane’s response in full here.

I’ll go ahead and keep the debate alive by now responding to Lane. I’ll first note that Lane didn’t address the majority of the points I made about the harm caused by the drug war. So I’ll obviously only address those that he did. I’d also point out that my post wasn’t meant to be comprehensive. To give just one example, I didn’t address the harm our drug war has inflicted on Latin America (although I did mention the awful carnage in Mexico), Thailand, or Afghanistan, or how it has undermined our efforts to fight terrorism.

But let’s get to the points Lane does make.

According to federally sponsored surveys that track drug usage, the rate of current-month powder and crack cocaine use dropped by half in the past 10 years. Meth use fell by a third; heroin use has remained flat.

True, marijuana use rose slightly overall — but it fell among 12- to 17-year-olds, a result that even legalizers should applaud since they generally don’t favor allowing minors to smoke.

The timeline here is interesting. I understand why Lane chose it—the National Survey on Drug Use and Health changed its methodology in 2002, making statistics after that year incomparable to those in previous years. But the modern drug war began with the Reagan administration, and most of the more pernicious policies—mandatory minimum sentences, civil asset forfeiture, the proliferation of SWAT teams, and police militarization were passed and implemented from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. The Monitoring the Future surveys, for example, have comparable data going back to 1991. (They start on page 28 of the linked report.) If we look at drug use in the last 30 days among respondents to those surveys, they show the same similar drops since the early 2000s that Lane mentions. But we also see significant increases in the overall rate of illicit drug use among all age groups since 1991, including among 8th (+35 percent), 10th (+60 percent), and 12th (+72 percent) graders.

Interestingly, over the period Lane cites, marijuana has actually become moreavailable (through legalization for medical use), not less. Public attitudes toward pot use have also relaxed over the last decade. As Lane points out later in his piece, albeit it in a different context, crime over the last decade has dropped. In fact, nearly all social indicators have been moving in the right direction since the mid-1990s. (More on that in a moment.)So to summarize: Since the harshest policies of the drug war went into effect in the early 1990s, illicit drug use is up, pretty significantly. But over the last decade, pot has become more available, attitudes toward pot are more relaxed, and more adults are smoking the stuff. Yet over that period of time, violent and property crime have dropped, nearly all other social indicators are improving, and adolescent pot use has dropped. (Incredibly, use of pot among those under 18 began dropping in 1996, the same year California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.) That to me suggests that making pot more available for adults isn’t doing much harm at all.

At the same time, while public attitudes have relaxed, enforcement hasn’t. Arrests for pot have soared, as have the number of highly aggressive, highly volatile police raids on people suspected of breaking the marijuana laws—with predictably tragic consequences. All of which makes a strong argument that the prohibition of pot is doing a lot more damage than ingesting the drug ever could.

It’s true that crack and powder cocaine use has dropped. But cocaine use has fluctuated widely over the last century or so. The same is true of meth. These drugs go in and out of vogue. I suspect that the bad reputations (admittedly aided by government-funded public awareness campaigns) earned by crack and homemade meth have contributed to the decline in use. But the war side of the drug war focuses not on treatment or PR, but on punitive measures aimed at reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Last year, in a study published in the BMJ medical journal, a group of researchers from the U.S. and Canada evaluating government supply-side anti-drug efforts by measuring the purity and cost of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana between 1990 and 2009. Their conclusion:

With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.

In other words, the drop in use of cocaine in meth has little to do with government efforts to reduce the supply of drugs—also known as the drug war. Those drugs are still as available as ever. It has much more to do with the preferences of people who use illicit drugs. And as Lane himself concedes, there’s ample evidence that people who want to get high have merely turned their attention elsewhere, like prescription drugs.

Back to Lane’s post:

Meanwhile, even as drug prohibition continued, violent crime and property crime fell, dramatically. Not only did the number of murders in the United States decrease from 24,703 in 1991 to 14,612 in 2011 but drug-related murders declined from 1,607 to 505, according to Justice Department statistics. Some 6.5 percent of murders were related to drugs in 1991, but only 3.4 percent were in 2011.

Again, the modern, all-too-literal drug war began in the early 1980s. The homicide rate dipped slightly in the early 1980s, before starting to climb again in 1986 until its peak in 1991. The most likely explanation for this is the crack epidemic. That’s also the likely explanation for the peak in drug-related murders Lane points to in 1991. With a new drug on the market (or at least a new form of an existing drug), dealers fought one another for market share. Yet crack was a product of prohibition, just like bathtub gin or other noxious booze America gulped down in the 1920s. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 February 2014 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Interesting article on medical/physical effects of cannabis

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Jerome Groopman has an interesting book review in the NY Review of Books. Just one quotation in the article:

To put it bluntly, marijuana works. Not dazzlingly, but about as well as opioids. That is, it can reduce chronic pain by more than 30 percent. And with fewer serious side effects. To be sure, some researchers think it’s too soon to declare marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids a first-line treatment for pain, arguing that other drugs should be tried first. But that may be too cautious a view.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 February 2014 at 2:51 pm

Interesting idea: Guzman was just tired of the life

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An article by Alma Guillermoprieto in the NY Review of Books makes an interesting case: Guzman just wanted out.

At 6:40 AM last Saturday, Joaquín Guzmán Loera was taken prisoner by Mexican Navy special forces in the pretty little seaside resort of Mazatlán, where senior Americans love to retire and where the juniors of the drug trade love to party. Since his escape from jail in 2001, he had moved freely around Mexico, and, it would seem, much of the rest of the world. People who know about these things even say that he was frequently in San Diego, California, shopping for the designer tennis shoes and fancy moccasins he favored. But in the end the best-known, and possibly even the most powerful of Mexico’s many, many drug traffickers was pretty much where he’d always been: in his home state of Sinaloa. He was found dozing peacefully in a plain furnished apartment overlooking Mazatlán’s oceanfront drive—the kind of place rented by families looking to save money on a comfortable vacation. Reportedly, there was a pot of beans on the kitchenette stove at the time of his arrest. His fortune is legendary, but Guzmán has always been a country boy at heart.

His capture was so easy that one wonders if he was tired of the hard life, looking to be caught, needing some relief from the pressure of transporting thousands of tons of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, you name it, in addition to the daily agony of deciding whom to kill, whom to trust. And then there was all the money requiring cleaning, tons of that too, literally, barrels and cratefuls of cash coming in every week: What to do with the boxes of it left over once the bodyguards, spies, goons, hit men, police officers, judges, mayors, governors, customs officials, army generals, prison guards, railroad workers, trucking bosses, journalists, ranch hands, relatives, cabinet ministers, bank officers, helicopter, jet, and airplane pilots, business associates, and barbers have been paid off? This last item is not negligible; the person who comes in to wield scissors very close to your neck once a month or so and monitor your half-hearted attempts at a disguise—a moustache, a dye job—is someone you definitely want to tip richly if you’re Joaquín “Chapo” Guzmán.

Everyone has to be tipped, in fact, every single person you come into contact with—if you’re Guzmán and there’s a seven-million-dollar reward on your head. Tipped and feared. The jefe was reported to drive around Sinaloa and the states of Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora with an army of bodyguards, in armored cars, lookouts everywhere. It’s a tiresome business, and so it becomes a real question: What was Guzmán doing, slumbering in an apartment building right on Mazatlan’s main tourist drag, five days after Navy special forces knocked down the reinforced metal door to one of his seven houses in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacán, giving him just enough time to escape through one of the tunnels that connected the houses to each other and to the public water system? In the mountains and craggy valleys of the Sierra Madre, Guzmán has been impossible to capture even on those occasions when the security forces showed some interest in doing so. But he fled from Culiacán last week not to the Sierra but to Mazatlán. Perhaps he thought he’d been tipping to everyone´s satisfaction, and miscalculated.

Until the Gulf Coast traffickers made their bid for national coverage starting in the late 1970s, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 February 2014 at 8:17 am

Posted in Business, Drug laws, Law

Interesting history of US movements to legalize marijuana

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Very interesting (and somewhat lengthy) article by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post. From the article (which includes a series of profiles of people who have worked for legalization for many years):

MarijuanaPolling_graph

Written by LeisureGuy

23 February 2014 at 7:17 am

Posted in Drug laws

Cannabis Catch-22: Marijuana has no proven medical benefits and medical studies of the effects of marijuana are not allowed.

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Nicely played by the head-in-the-sand crowd, but unfortunately that keeps us from realizing any significant benefits—as reported at ThinkProgress by Tara Culp-Ressler:

New research suggests that THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, could help prevent the HIV virus from spreading throughout the body. When the study’s authors first presented their “groundbreaking” findings at a conference in 2011, they were excited about the potential implications. But they also knew that, thanks to the U.S. government’s restrictions on research related to marijuana, they probably won’t be able to test it out on humans.

Led by Dr. Patricia Molina, a team of Louisiana State University researchers arrived at theirconclusions after studying a group of monkeys infected with an animal form of the HIV virus. They administered a daily dose of cannabis to the primates for 17 months, and eventually saw a dramatic decrease in the damage to the monkeys’ stomach tissue — as well as an increased population of normal cells around that damaged tissue.

Since the stomach is one of the most common areas in the body for HIV to spread, the results signal that cannabis could help prevent HIV from infecting and killing off healthy cells.

“It adds to the picture and it builds a little bit more information around the potential mechanisms that might be playing a role in the modulation of the infection,” Molinaexplained to Leaf Science.

This isn’t the first study to report a correlation between cannabis and HIV. Last year, a Philadelphia researcher found evidence that THC could help suppress infected cells from entering the brain. Harvard researchers report that cannabis could help protect the brainfrom a toxic protein created by the HIV virus that often leads to brain injury. According to a 2012 study, cannabis can help fight the HIV virus in patients that are already in advanced stages of AIDS. And several different studies have demonstrated that marijuana can alleviatesome of the common side effects, like loss of appetite and pain, that result from HIV drugs.

Nonetheless, Molina knows that it will be virtually impossible to conduct large-scale clinical trials on humans, even though that has the potential to benefit the approximately 1.1 million Americans who are living with HIV.

Since the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug — the most restrictive of the five categories under the Controlled Substances Act — it’s difficult for scientists to get funding for any research in this area. The government controls access to a small legal supply of marijuana for research purposes, and often refuses to back projectsthat could lead to important treatments simply because they require cannabis. Researchers have repeatedly complained that drug prohibition stifles scientific innovation.

Even though President Obama has acknowledged that he believes marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, he still refuses to commit to reclassifying it, ensuring that the federal government will continue treating cannabis as a bigger threat to public health than cocaine and opium.

This isn’t the only area of scientific research that’s hampered by outside influences. There’s also been a dearth of federal studies into gun violence, thanks to the National Rifle Association’s successful efforts to strip funding from the Centers for Disease Control’s gun research programs. Some scientists who want to study the effects of gun policy have beenforced to resort to crowdfunding to get their projects off the ground. Unlike marijuana, however, the White House has publicly committed to working to undo these restrictions.

It should be noted that the White House could reschedule marijuana at the stroke of a pen. Obama claims to want that to happen, and yet he somehow feels powerless to make it happen. I don’t get it.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2014 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Medical, Science

The law of which juries are never informed

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Despite its importance and relevance given unreasonable laws regarding (e.g.) marijuana:

Written by LeisureGuy

13 February 2014 at 10:24 am

Posted in Drug laws, Law

Liberals and conservatives show huge shift in attitude to US drug laws

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Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch writes in The Guardian:

Never did I think I would find myself agreeing with Texas governor Rick Perry on drug policy. But when the darling of Tea Party Republicans argued in favour of reducing prison populations and against federal obstruction of Washington and Colorado’s alternative marijuana policies, I found myself applauding the three-term governor.

“After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past,” Perry said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalisation and keep people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade.”

When liberals, libertarians and Tea Party Republicans find themselves nodding in unison on drug law reform, it’s fair to say that the issue’s time has come. The drug policy ground is shifting in the US – and fast. Every month, more Americans favour taxing and regulating marijuana, new ballot initiatives are launched and the status quo appears more outdated.

Last April, Pew Research Centre found that “for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans [favour] legalising the use of marijuana”. The 52% of people who support the legalisation of marijuana use reflect an 11% increase from 2010. A few months later, Gallup released a poll that revealed 58% of Americanssupport legalisation.

As the debate generates steam, it is becoming increasingly more sophisticated. On the rare occasions that pundits revive tired Reefer Madness narratives, they are largely mocked or simply ignored. Colorado and Washington may seem like quirky experiments to some, but these states will not be alone for long. It is expected that marijuana will be on the ballot in 2014 in Alaska and the people of Oregon appear poised to approve a tax-and-regulate system this year. One poll found that 57% of likely voters in Oregon support marijuana legalisation.

California also remains a possibility; a recent poll showed 55% favoured legalisation (with only 31% supporting “strict enforcement”). This survey was a more modest estimate compared with an October poll that found “nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) support a proposal to legalise, regulate and tax marijuana in California for adults”.

Poll numbers are not lost on lawmakers. The regulation of marijuana has so far been led by voters but sooner or later legislatures could pass reforms on their own. All of this amounts to an unprecedented opportunity to fix a system that is recognised as broken by the highest levels of government.

Eric Holder, the head of the US Justice Department, said last October: “As the so-called ‘war on drugs’ enters its fifth decade, we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective… Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. And many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate these problems, rather than alleviate them.”

Such statements are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2014 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Drug laws

DEA shows contempt for the law

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Aaron Cantú reports for AlterNet:

Drug Enforcement Agency training documents reveal how the agency constructs two chains of evidence to hide surveillance programs from defense teams, prosecutors, and a public wary of intelligence gathering methods, reports MuckRock.com, a website that files freedom of information requests on behalf of its users.

From MuckRock: 

The DEA practices mirror a common dilemma among domestic law enforcement agencies: Analysts have access to unprecedented streams of classified information that might prove useful to investigators, but entering classified evidence in court risks disclosing those sensitive surveillance methods to the world, which would either end up halting the program due to public outcry or undermining their usefulness through greater awareness.

The agency uses a deceptive technique called ” parallel construction” to obscure the controversial methods by which it gathers data on drug offenders, because such revelations could jepordize future surveillance efforts if a court ruled them unconstitutional. A secretive unit within the DEA known as the “Special Operations Division” (SOD) specializes in gathering information on defendants through cavalier means (including data-sharing with the NSA), and then helps investigators recreate information trails so evidence appears to have come from “normal investigative techniques.”

The new documents released to MuckRock reveal “DEA trainers routinely teach the finer points of parallel construction to field agents and analysts across the country, not just within the SOD” or the DEA. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 February 2014 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government, Law

An informed look at marijuana

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In the New York Review of Books Jerome Groopman reviews a new book on marijuana.

A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition
by Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian
New Press, 264 pp., $17.95 (paper)In the summer of 2006, a young scientist from Israel joined my laboratory. He came to learn how viruses attack cells, a major focus of my research program. And I looked forward to drawing on his expertise in an emerging area of science that intrigued me: the biological effects of cannabinoids, the active chemical compounds in the marijuana plant. The Israeli researcher had trained at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University with Professor Raphael Mechoulam, a chemist credited with the discovery in 1964 of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Mechoulam later characterized cannabidiol (CBD), a related substance plentiful in the plant, as distinct from THC in that it had no discernible effects on mood, perception, wakefulness, or appetite.1

The work of the young scientist proved productive. In short order, he tested the effects of several cannabinoids on a herpes virus that promotes the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a disfiguring and sometimes fatal tumor among people with impaired immunity, like those with AIDS. It turned out that CBD, the plentiful, nonpsychoactive compound, could switch off the malignant effects of the virus.2Scientists in my department also found that cannabinoids could alter how white blood cells migrated in response to physiological stimuli, a key aspect of immune defense; other research teams found that THC inhibited the growth and spread of lung cancer and CBD of breast cancer in laboratory models.3 Clearly, chemicals in the plant could have diverse and potent effects on normal and malignant cells.

But what I found most fascinating was that we have a natural or “endogenous” cannabinoid system. In 1988, researchers identified a specific docking site, or receptor, on the surface of cells in the brain that bound THC. This first receptor was termed cannabinoid receptor 1, or CB1.4 Five years later, a second receptor for cannabinoids, CB2, was found.5 This latter docking protein was less plentiful in the central nervous system but richly present on white blood cells. Again, it was Raphael Mechoulam who discovered the first endogenous cannabinoid, a fatty acid in the brain, which he termed “anandamide.” (The name is derived from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss.”) When anandamide attached to CB1 it triggered a cascade of biochemical changes within our neurons.6

Other endogenous cannabinoids were later identified. This makes evolutionary sense, since the CB1 and CB2 receptors would not be present on our cells if we did not normally make molecules to dock on them. The physiological ramifications of endogenous cannabinoids appeared quite broad; their most impressive effects were related to perception of and response to pain.

Cannabis is one of the oldest psychotropic drugs in continuous use. Archaeologists have discovered it in digs in Asia that date to the Neolithic period, around 4000 BCE. The most common species of the plant is Cannabis sativa, found in both tropical and temperate climates. Marijuana is a Mexican term that first referred to cheap tobacco and now denotes the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. Hashish is Arabic for Indian hemp and refers to its viscous resin. An emperor of China, Shen Nung, also the discoverer of tea and ephedrine, is held to be among the first to report on therapeutic uses of cannabis in a medicinal compendium that dates to 2737 BCE. In 1839, William O’Shaughnessy, a British doctor working in India, published a paper on cannabis as an analgesic and appetite stimulant that also tempered nausea, relaxed muscles, and might ameliorate epileptic seizures. His observations led to widespread medical use of cannabis in the United Kingdom; it was prescribed to Queen Victoria for relief of menstrual discomfort.7

The cannabis plant contains some 460 compounds, including more than 60 cannabinoids. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2014 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Science

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