Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Uruguay to vote on marijuana legalisation bill

Uruguay's House of Representative is preparing to vote on a bill to legalise marijuana on Wednesday.

If passed by the House and the Senate, Uruguay will become the first country to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale 
of marijuana.

The law is backed by the government of President Jose Mujica, which says it will remove profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs.

Under the bill, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana.

The state would assume "the control and regulation of the importation, exportation, plantation, cultivation, the harvest, the production, the acquisition, the storage, the commercialization and the distribution of cannabis and its by-products".

Buyers would have to be registered on a database and be over the age of 18. They would be able to buy up to 40g (1.4oz) per month in specially licensed pharmacies or grow up to six plants at home.

Political hot potato
Fifty representatives out of the 99 sitting in the House will have to vote in favour of the bill for it to go to a second vote in the Senate.

While the governing Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition has a majority of one in the House, Frente Amplio Congressman Dario Perez has threatened to vote against the bill.

Three opposition representatives have expressed support for the bill, but it is not clear whether they will vote accordingly 
on Wednesday.

President of the House of Representatives German Cardoso predicted it would be "a long session, in which many representatives will want to take part".

The bill was unveiled last year by Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro who argued that "the prohibition of certain drugs is creating more problems for society than the drugs themselves... with disastrous consequences".

But Mr Cardoso of the opposition Colorado Party said that "in no country in the world has the consumption of drugs been reduced through legalisation".

Another opposition politician, Richard Sander, said that even if the law made it through both chambers, he would launch a petition to have it overturned.

The vote comes amidst a vociferous debate about drug legalisation in Latin America.

A group of former presidents and influential social figures, including the Brazil's Henrique Cardoso, the Mexico's Ernesto Zedillo and Colombian ex-leader Cesar Gaviria, have called for the legalisation of marijuana.

But only last week Pope Francis criticised drug legalisation plans during a visit to Brazil.

Speaking at the inauguration of a clinic for drug addicts in Rio de Janeiro he said it was "necessary to tackle the problems which are at the root of drug abuse, promoting more justice, educating the youth with the values that live in society, standing by those who face hardship and giving them hope for the future".


Manipulating Marijuana: Monsanto and Syngenta Invest In RNA Interference Technology

Having been cultivated and used ceremonially, recreationally and medicinally for thousands of years, cannabis – despite prohibitive laws surrounding the non-medicinal use of the plant – is undoubtedly on the radar of big agribusiness.

These companies would certainly turn a profit from developing a patentable transgenic seed for sole distribution if the use of cannabis were to become legal. It would be easy for these companies to create a monopoly over the industry by abusing their ties with federal regulators. This has all been a point of much debate within the cannabis community for many years.

With this in mind, it's fair to say that one of the only positives of marijuana prohibition, with the art of breeding, growing and distributing cannabis heavily underground for most of its commercial history, the Big 6 seed and chemical companies have not been able to dominate the industry with their patented technologies.

The trouble: things may change soon. Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF, Bayer, Dow and DuPont have, until recently, largely focused their energy on monopolizing the food industry, but some have developed a keen interest in this still-illegal plant as well.

Whether the backwards idea of keeping psychoactive plants entirely prohibited continues, or whether full legalization is granted, or simply if only medicinal liberties remain the loophole on marijuana use, these companies are seeking new and preparatory ways to cash-in on the popular use of cannabis.

With bureaucratic regulation of medicinal use of the plant being discussed in the halls of government and on its way to becoming the standard, many agro-companies are set to be outsourced as the main providers of medicinal pot. For obvious reasons then, these companies are already underway researching genetically modified (GM) cannabis in order to control its THC content.

If these corporations are given sole administrative power of seed distribution to the licensed medicinal outlets, they may want to keep THC at very low concentrations of 3 to 5%. On the contrary, if by retract of the recent medicinal freedom, pot becomes entirely prohibited once again, they can still benefit by joining hands with the champions of the drug war and eradicating THC content in the plant entirely.

THC: Potency the Natural Way

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the psychoactive components in marijuana, has always been the subject of artful breeding. Without GM technology, experienced growers have perfected ancient methods of breeding organic cannabis with around 10% or more THC. By use of a natural cultivation process called human selection – a sped up form of natural selection – marijuana growers have been learning how to increase THC content without the use of any lab or corporate product.

This has enabled the marijuana world to maintain independence from the massive seed and chemical companies.

Of course, deep knowledge of the plant, extensive farming practices, genuine care and time spent in order to learn how to breed this useful plant, are a must for growers who want to deliver a truly organic, naturally cultivated and increasingly potent product.

In North America, British Columbia has been a place of highly concentrated talent – growers from all over the world come to the Northwest to take advantage of its nutrient-rich soil, prime weather conditions, and historically lax laws to learn how to grow potent marijuana, learning the best techniques to breed a product with a high THC content.

The concentration of organic-friendly farmers and environmentally concerned activists in the area have been a bonus to growers who, like tomato and arugula cultivators, learn from each other using permaculture-based methods (to ward off pests naturally without pesticides or BT technology, for instance) and thereby nurture prime conditions for growing successful healthy crops.

With the demand for potent BC Bud always increasing, of course there will be those attracted to growing with purely profit-driven motives. Rather than take the time and patience to learn true farming practices, some unexperienced growers will look to chemical companies to help increase their crop yields.

GM cannabis has already been developed for purely pharmaceutical use and to license to the government for medicinal study in laboratories. At the same time, over the last ten years, the realization that these chemicals and genetically modified versions of our ingestible plants could possibly cause major health problems like cancer, has been front and center on the stage of awareness.

Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other advocacy groups have said the risks of GM technologies have not been adequately identified or resolved. Opponents also question the objectivity of regulatory authorities.

The fight against GM food will surely heat up as this awareness increases. With the close-knit relationship between those who enjoy an organic plant-based diet and those who enjoy using marijuana, agribusiness might be safely kept away from cannabis cultivation – just so long as growers who value the true art of growing stick to their ancient practices, and those who are destructively profit-driven are pushed out.

But this will require high levels of consumer awareness. Medicinal patients should also demand their medicinal marijuana doesn't come from the laboratory, but rather, to have experienced organic growers be the government's source for licensed marijuana.

RNA interference

The biggest concern with cannabis and GM control now remains. While they gain a monopoly over medical marijuana, the challenge of governments who continue to wage the ostensible "War on Drugs" is being taken on by some of the Big 6. Monsanto and Syngenta are currently investing millions of dollars into a new GM technology called RNA interference.

RNAi, as it's also known, is a method where the RNA - which is the code from a plant or animal's DNA that tells its proteins how to organize in order to create, say, what colour the plant will be - is interfered with. In RNAi, double-stranded RNA is inserted so that this original code is obstructed; so that the pigmentation instructions don't make it to the proteins.

Scientists in Spain have successfully injected double-stranded RNA into a purple petunia to interfere with the genes that usually tell the flower to turn purple. Where the RNA code translation was interfered with, the flower grew white stripes where the proteins had no information on how to organize in order to create the colouring.

This process initially stepped into development as an alternative to insecticides: if you can insert double-stranded RNA into a plant's seed that is designed to interfere with the offending insect's RNA instructions for, say, digestive capabilities, after ingesting the plant and therefore the RNAi, the pest will no longer be able to eat.

More on this science has been in the works. Testing has already been done creating double-stranded RNA that have been injected into spider mites, the most resilient of crop pests, which interferes with the RNA instructing the mites' proteins on muscle development so the sider mite can no longer move.

The problem with this process is that the transgenic genes intended to interfere with the plant or the pest will then be ingested by the human. No matter how small an amount this gene interference is intended to be, there are scientists raising red flags about the potential harm this could have on our own biological systems or cell and protein development.

GM Cannabis

Here, the potential applications of this technology for the cannabis industry step onto the stage: imagine what genetic instructions within the cannabis plant might be interfered with. Certainly to profit from the billions spent on the Drug War in its attempt to eradicate the world of psychoactive plants, these companies might offer a rendition of this GM technology where genes determining THC content are interfered with.

If it weren't for the growing evidence that GM and RNAi crops may be damaging to humans, it's possible to imagine a host of potential benefits to genetically modifying the cannabis plant. Larger, more potent, and pest-resistent grow shows are an attractive proposition, but are they worth the many risks?

RNAi technology is still in its elementary development stage and they're currently testing methods by which to administer it. A spray that contains this double-stranded RNAi technology, is thought to be the most marketable, but in Spain, injecting RNAi directly into the seed has been the focus of their extensive research. Another step before making it to the market is the question of how to regulate it for food-safety and health risks.

Developers of RNAi technology estimate that it could take 5 to 10 years to bring the technology up to code, so there is still time to help support and empower organic growers and non-GM cultivators.

Canada will soon employ a new commercial medical marijuana production system, where large-scale producers will be permitted to grow cannabis and distribute it through the mail. If you have a licence to purchase cannabis for medicinal use in Canada, tell Health Canada to you will not accept a product that has been interfered with using GM or RNAi technology.

In the United States, it could be a long while before the federal government allows any kind of research and development into GM cannabis, let alone any kind of sales or distribution for medical or recreational purposes, but things are moving quickly at the state level.

The slogan "Know Your Farmer" has gained popularity over the years in enlightened agricultural circles. In order to save our most ancient and beloved psychoactive plants from falling into the hands and under the control of the agri-chem profiteers, let everyone remember the slogan "Know Your Grower."

Hard work, pure talent, and unparalleled dedication to the natural world will continue to deliver us both our health and our freedom.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Fact: Cannabis Kills MRSA, Disrupts Prion Diseases

Marijuana is a potent antibiotic that can kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and disrupt the progression of prion diseases such as Mad Cow disease and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease — just don't expect the federal government to tell you any of this.

The factoids come from - a medical information resource for doctors sponsored by The Massachusetts Medical Society, publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists from Italy and the United Kingdom reported in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of Natural Products that the main active ingredient in weed, THC, as well as four other pot molecules “showed potent antibacterial activity against six different strains of MRSA of clinical relevance."

Pot also stops prions, a type of protein that can cause neurodegenerative diseases that are invariably fatal. Once prions get into a brain they replicate rapidly and shred brain tissue “resulting in a ‘spongiform’ appearance on post-mortem histological examination of neural tissue."

In 2007, American and French researchers reported that pot molecule cannabidiol “prevents prion accumulation and protects neurons against prion toxicity” in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Cannabidiol inhibited prion accumulation in mouse and sheep prion disease cell cultures and inhibited prion formation in the brain of infected mice given injections of CBD. “The authors conclude that CBD likely represents a new class of anti-prion drugs.”

“These findings are encouraging, as prions are very difficult to kill. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, presently there is no FDA-approved treatment that can cure or even control [prion] disease.”

MRSA kills about 18,000 Americans each year and sickens about 94,000.

The federal government, as directed by Congress, still maintains that cannabis is a dangerous “schedule 1” drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse. All weed research must be federally approved, and the US government has resisted approving any studies that seek to show beneficial medical properties in the plant.


Justin Bieber tour bus caught with marijuana at Canadian border

July 30, 2013: Justin Bieber's customized tour bus, which was stopped at the Canadian border as it was entering the US an found to be carrying drugs and drug paraphenalia.

A bus traveling with Justin Bieber’s ‘Believe’ tour was busted for drugs at the Canadian border on Sunday, authorities said.

Justin Bieber tweeted "I'm a lucky guy" on Tuesday morning — and it may have been because he narrowly escaped a drug bust over the weekend.

The embattled pop star’s Believe Tour has been riddled with headline-grabbing bad boy antics since the beginning, the latest of which came Sunday as Bieber was on his way to perform in Detroit.

U.S. border agents found marijuana on one of the “Baby” singer’s tour buses as it crossed into Detroit from Windsor, Canada — but Bieber wasn’t on it.

The bus was stopped as it attempted to enter the U.S. on the Ambassador Bridge, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ken Hammond confirmed to the Detroit Free Press.

The 19-year-old singer was completely separate from the situation, likely in another vehicle, and was able to perform later that night at the Joe Louis Arena.
Hammond told the Free Press a police dog indicated the presence of drugs on the bus and that drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana were found. He added that the bus driver was cited and that the bus and its passengers were allowed to continue on.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Legal Cannabis goes on sale in New Zealand

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has found a way to sell Cannabis to its supporters without breaking the law.

The political party is selling $50 Cannabis bond certificates in anticipation of legalisation and will redeem them for a 1/8th of an ounce of cannabis when it is legal to do so.

The Cannabonds are a fundraising effort to raise the ALCP's profile during the 2014 election campaign and promote a regulated, taxable market for adults.

"We think this is a fun way of repaying our supporters in the future," spokesman Steven Wilkinson said.

"We are the only political party in New Zealand that is offering Cannabis bonds so we think it will give us an advantage leading into the next election."

When cannabis is legalised in New Zealand, six-months will be allowed for the growing of an ALCP "Victory Crop". When the victory crop is harvested, the Cannabonds will be redeemable for Cannabis from any ALCP representative nationwide.

When asked about the legality of the Cannabonds, Mr Wilkinson said they were "entirely legal" and "the party would not be engaging in any illegal activity".

The bonds can be purchased on the ALCP's website:

Source --

Study Finds Cannabis May Provide Treatment For Autism

A new study out of Stanford University has found promising signs to suggest that cannabinoids – compounds found in cannabis, as well as naturally produced in our body – may help to treat autism.
According to Autism Daily Newscast (ADN); “A new study shows that mutations associated with autism block the action of brain molecules that act on the same receptors that marijuana’s active chemical acts on”.
They continue: “Thomas Sudhof, a cellular physiologist at Stanford University, tested mutations associated with autism in mice. Two mutations associated with autism in a synapse-adhesion protein led to deficits in prolonged endocannabinoid signaling in mice. This suggests that autism could caused by a disruption of the brain’s ability to send clear signals”.
These findings suggest that cannabinoids could be used as a treatment to autism as they can unblock a disruption in the body’s cannabinoid receptors.
ADN points to another study which helps to validate this possibility; “Danielle Piomelli of UC Irvine and Olivier Manzoni of INSERM, the French national research agency, treated mice exhibiting symptoms of Fragile-X Syndrome, a disorder that causes autistic symptoms, with novel compounds that correct the signaling of endocannibinoid transmitters in the brain [which cannabinoids can do]. The mice showed dramatic behavioral improvements in maze tests measuring anxiety and open-space acceptance”.
Clearly more research is needed to truly consider cannabis an effective autism treatment, but these findings are promising. As ADN puts it; “families who are already using the drug to treat their children’s symptoms believe it has made all the difference in the world. Many children with autism are already given cocktails of drugs that may be even stronger than marijuana, with serious side effects and limited results”.

Source - TheJointBlog --

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Giant pro-marijuana ad to run outside Brickyard 400 NASCAR event

Fans attending a major NASCAR race this weekend will see a most unlikely video posted on a giant video screen shortly before entering the track: a pro-marijuana legalization ad.

Outside the NASCAR Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, the same track that hosts the famed Indianapolis 500, Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest pro-marijuana legalization advocacy group, has purchased space to air - dozens of times over the weekend - a video that pushes the theme that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

It marks the first time a pro-marijuana legalization ad will appear so close to an entrance gate of a major sporting event. The Brickyard 400, in its 20th year, is regarded as one of NASCAR's biggest races.

But the video ad isn't just pro-marijuana. While it's made to look like a beer ad, its tone sounds anti-alcohol. Unlike beer, a narrator in the video says, marijuana has "no calories," "no hangovers" and, the ad says, "it's not linked to violence or reckless behavior."

The video ends with this tagline: "Less harmful than alcohol, and time to treat it that way."

NASCAR has no affiliation with the advertiser or the company selling the inventory, and the ad will not appear anywhere on track property. NASCAR executives declined to comment.

Even then, it makes for a potentially uncomfortable pairing for NASCAR. Crown Royal Whisky is a major sponsor of the race. Miller Lite also is a sponsor.

For the Marijuana Policy Project, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group behind the video ad, it's a potential PR bonanza. Over the three-day weekend race, upwards of 600,000 fans may attend the race. The privately-owned track seats 225,000.

"We think it's critical that the public recognize that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol," says Mason Tvert, who created the spot and who is a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We wanted to reach out to an audience that clearly appreciates that adults should be able to use beer and alcohol responsibly. They should also be able to use marijuana responsibly - since it's less harmful."

He says he bought the ad space from Grazie Media for a "non-profit" rate of $2,200. The spot, which he says he and two staffers made with stock film footage for about $350 over three days, is scheduled to appear 72 times over the three-day period.

J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement that the track is not affiliated with Grazie Media and the ad is not on track property "or on property over which we have any control."

Grazie Media executives declined to comment. 

By Bruce Horovitz

USA Today

Source --

Video --

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cannabinoids Found to Reduce 90% of Skin Cancer in Just 20 Weeks, According to New Study

A new study conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health, and published in the newest issue of the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, has found that cannabinoidscannabis6small can reduce up to 90% of skin cancer in just a 20 week period.
For the study, researchers used synthetic cannabinoids (natural, cannabis-derived cannabinoids are typically even more effective) on mice with skin cancer in a 20 week study, and found that the cannabinoids had a hugely positive effect, reducing skin cancer by up to 90% as well as “inhibiting tumor promotion”.

Researchers conclude:

"This is the first report indicating the structure–activity relationships for the anti-inflammatory activity of synthetic cannabinoids on TPA-induced inflammation in mice. Naphthoylindoles, JWH-018, -122 and -210 [synthetic cannabinoids], had the most potent anti-inflammatory activity and also markedly inhibited tumour promotion by TPA in the two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis model. The present results suggest that synthetic cannabinoids, such as JWH-018, -122 and -210, may be used as cancer chemopreventive agents in the future."


 Structure-dependent inhibitory effects of synthetic cannabinoids against 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced inflammation and skin tumour promotion in mice


Jun'ichi Nakajima, Dai Nakae, Ken Yasukawa
Article first published online: 21 MAY 2013

DOI: 10.1111/jphp.12082

© 2013 Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Massachusetts Medical Society Sponsoring Free Online Medical Cannabis Study Program

The Massachusetts Medical Society – the oldest continuously operating state medical society in America – is sponsoring and accrediting an online study program launched by which cannabis-crohnsaims at offering a quick and informative overview of medical cannabis, designed to help train current medical professionals which may be interested in, but have little knowledge of the benefits, history and uses of cannabis.

“Most medical schools are lagging in teaching the scientific facts about the medicinal use of cannabis,” stated Sunil Aggarwal, MD, who’s a resident physician at New York University’s Medical Center, “It’s great that doctors can now get excellent and rapid CME training on medical marijuana at TheAnswerPage.”

The coursework covers numerous aspects of medical cannabis, including an examination of the five most studied cannabinoids, an overview of the endocannabinoid system, an explanation of state and federal marijuana laws, etc..

The program – which was initiated in February and has introduced new content almost daily – features a quiz and a crossword at the end of each section for people wanting to test their knowledge of what they just learned.
This new program – which can be found here – was designed to educate medical professionals, but is useful, informative and free of charge for everyone.

Source: TheJointBlog

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Best Treatment for Migraines? Marijuana

Marijuana is the best treatment for migraines, writes the father of internal medicine, Dr. Sir William Osler in “The Principles and Practice of Medicine” first published in 1892.

“Cannabis indica is probably the most satisfactory remedy [for migraines],” Osler wrote, agreeing with Edward Constant Seguin – the president of the New York Neurological Society and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons professor.

Such stunning endorsements for pot come courtesy of a new online medical cannabis study program initiated by, which is sponsored and accredited by the Massachusetts Medical Society – the oldest continuously-operating state medical society in the United States.

Founded in 1998, TheAnswerPage began offering Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses on medical marijuana July 9. While the information on TheAnswerPage is designed mainly for physicians and healthcare professionals, a daily Q&A on medical marijuana is written for the lay person.

For example, The Answer Page asks: “How many overdose deaths have occurred from cannabis?”

The answer? “Zero. Cannabis, even in concentrated forms, is incapable of causing overdose in humans.” medical cannabis coursework is a response to doctors’ appalling lack of knowledge about one of the oldest, safest, pain and nausea drugs in existence. In a January interview, San Francisco General Hospital chief of Oncology Dr. Donald Abrams told me most general practitioners are “absolutely not” experts on cannabinoid therapies. Dr. Abrams lamented the low attendance at a San Francisco CME course on cannabis this year. “I think that’s really sad.”

“Most medical schools are lagging in teaching the scientific facts about the medicinal use of cannabis,” said Sunil K. Aggarwal, MD, PhD, resident physician at NYU Medical Center. “It’s great that doctors can now get excellent and rapid CME training on medical marijuana at TheAnswerPage.”

Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it is an important area of study in healthcare, states TheAnswerPage co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Stephen B. Corn, MD, a physician, researcher, inventor and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. Medical use of the botanical is legal in 18 states. Over 750,000 Californians are thought to have a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis.

“Doctors and healthcare professionals must understand the medical, legal, social and political issues to best respond to their patients’ questions and attend to their needs,” he said.

TheAnswerPage coursework focuses on several aspects of medical marijuana, including: the five most studied cannabinoids and an explanation of the endocannabinoid system; state and federal marijuana laws; the FDA drug approval process as it pertains uniquely to marijuana, including information on pre-clinical trials, phase I, II and III trials, new drug applications and the drug marketing process.

In conjunction with TheAnswerPage coursework, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access is holding “wake and learn” sessions every day at 10 a.m. PST on Facebook and Twitter.

“Popular support for medical marijuana is strong across the country, but there are still significant gaps in knowledge among patients and their doctors,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We’re hopeful that these gaps can begin to be filled with the relevant and crucial information provided by TheAnswerPage.”

TheAnswerPage uses the Socratic question-and-answer teaching method that characterizes much of the clinical educational experience. The content, written by academic clinicians respected in their fields, is peer-reviewed and referenced from current texts and recent literature. Subscribers receive AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits™ by reading the content and completing an industry-unique interactive crossword puzzle. Subscribers have personal accounts that organize their CME credits and allow them to download, email or print CME certificates for credentialing and licensing.

“Registering and content remain free so that physicians, researchers and other healthcare professionals around the world may take advantage of the exceptional content and reinforce their learning through our interactive crossword puzzle methodology,” said John Stephenson, CEO of The Answer Page, Inc.  


Weekly Wrapup: Cannabis Funding Picture Brightens + CO Moving Forward With Retail Regs -- By Medical Marijuana Business Daily

Looking for money to get your cannabis idea off the ground or take your MMJ company to the next level?

Dust off your suit jacket, refine your business plan and polish your pitch, because a growing number of investors are looking for opportunities to get involved in the marijuana industry.

The latest evidence of the improving funding climate came last week, when Privateer Holdings – the first private equity firm in the industry – announced it raised $7 million to invest in cannabis-related companies. Over a dozen investors contributed in amounts ranging from $50,000 to in excess of $1 million, with interest increasing noticeably during the past few months of fundraising, Privateer’s CEO told MMJ Business Daily. What’s more, the firm will launch a second round of fundraising soon and will aim for at least $25 million.

The announcement comes on the heels of several other positive developments in the funding arena over the past few months:

- The Securities and Exchange Commission voted to lift a ban that prevented entrepreneurs from pitching investors via advertisements and talking about their funding needs to the media. The result: Cannabis startups will have an easier time getting their name out in front of potential investors, easing one of the biggest challenges to raising money in the industry right now.

- A California firm co-founded by the CEO of WeedMaps announced it is starting to raise money for a new venture capital fund. The founders hope to net anywhere from $10 million to $25 million for investments in ancillary marijuana companies. Whether or not they’ll reach that goal remains to be seen, but it’s yet another example of increased funding efforts in the marijuana space.

- In April, a Delaware financial firm reportedly launched a $250 million fund that offers marijuana businesses cash advances and lines of credit. The amount of available money is particularly notable, as is the fact that the funds are earmarked for dispensaries and other businesses that actually handle marijuana.

- The ArcView Group, an angel investment network, recently helped a handful of cannabis startups land more than $1 million in investments combined. The companies offer everything from security services for dispensaries and grows to extraction systems.

- One of the companies that received money from ArcView investors – a crowdfunding site called WeCanna – is set to launch soon, providing average consumers and small investors with the chance to pump money into cannabis-related companies, political campaigns, projects and other efforts.

All in all, a lot of activity in a short period of time. If these efforts prove successful and cannabis companies that receive money start providing solid returns, investors could start flocking to the industry.

Also last week, the Colorado Department of Revenue named the members of its five working groups set up to help hammer out the nitty gritty details of regulations on the adult-use marijuana industry. Aside from lawmakers and law enforcement representatives, more than a dozen cannabis business leaders were named to the working groups, including Meg Collins of the Cannabis Business Alliance, Genifer Murray of CannLabs, Mike Elliot of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, dispensary owners Cheri Hacket and Matt Huron, and MMJ attorney Christian Sederberg, among others.

It’s encouraging to see so many MMJ business professionals (as opposed to just lawmakers, law enforcement personnel and academics) in the working groups, as they will help shape the permanent rules on everything from packaging and labeling to inventory tracking.


Live free or high: New Hampshire becomes 19th state to allow medical marijuana

CONCORD, N.H. — Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed a law making New Hampshire the 19th state to allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana to treat their illnesses.

The law allows patients with cancer and other conditions to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana obtained from dispensaries.

Up to four dispensaries can be licensed and have a maximum of 80 marijuana plants, 160 seedlings and 80 ounces of marijuana or 6 ounces per qualifying patient.

The law took effect with her signature Tuesday but getting the program operating could take up to two years. The bill calls for a commission to be appointed as soon as possible to implement the new system. 


Uruguayan President Wants to Legalize Marijuana, Even If He's Never Tried It

Earlier this week, Uruguayan President José Mújica, a progressive politician who is pushing a law to legalize marijuana consumption in Uruguay, confessed that he has never smoked weed.

"I have never tried it in my life and I don't know what it is," Mújica told Radio Carve, a local radio station. He added that he's aware "a lot of young people have tried it."

Mújica's somewhat surprising admission came shortly before he met with José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), to discuss a recent report on drug consumption in the Americas. The report favored drug decriminalization of marijuana, an initiative that Uruguayan legislators have been discussing for nearly a year.

"We don't have any objections against this process moving forward," Insulza said in reference to a marijuana legalization bill in Uruguay. "We don't support it openly because we don't have a mandate from [OAS] member countries, but that is the road that is being followed. The marijuana debate is now open and it's going to lead to changes."

Mújica, a former guerrilla fighter known for his humility and kindness, and the Broad Front, a coalition of left-wing parties of which Mújica is a member, are supporting this bill, which would allow Uruguayans over the age of 18 to buy up to 40 grams of weed per month from state-sanctioned distributors.

The legislation was first introduced in 2012 in order to fight drug consumption and drug trafficking. Last December, the government had the necessary votes to pass the bill, but President Mújica asked parliament not to vote in the legislation after a poll revealed that most Uruguayans did not favor the initiative. ("Don't vote on a law because you have majority in parliament," Mújica said back then. "Support has to come from the streets.")

The president then charged the bill's leading supporters with convincing Uruguayans of the importance of marijuana legalization. Since then, the vote has been delayed and legislators both in favor and against the initiative have tried to court public opinion through media appearances and op-eds in the nation's most important newspapers.

The vote is now set for July 31, 2013.

According to Uruguayan newspaper El Observador, the Broad Front now has 49 of the 50 required votes for the bill to clear the Lower Chamber. The coalition is still striving to convince Darío Pérez, who has met with Mújica to discuss the matter. Other options include José Carlos Cardoso, a legislator from an opposition party who agrees with the policy but who is still unwilling to go against his political organization.

Insulza's visit, largely seen as a show of support for Mújica's initiative, could well help secure that 50th vote. On Monday, the OAS Secretary General said that legalizing marijuana is a strategy that is worth trying. He also made point of highlighting that Uruguay is the first country where he is presenting the OAS report "The Drug Problem in the Americas."

"What better place to start than here, where there is already a debate," Insulza said.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Individuals With PTSD Top List of Those Registered For Medical Marijuana

People suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so far represent the largest group of Connecticut residents who have registered with the Consumer Protection Department to use medical marijuana.

Of the 735 people who have registered, 212 name PTSD as their primary qualifying condition, according to a report from the Office of Legislative Research, which used statistics from early July.

One hundred and ninety two patients with spinal cord injuries have also registered as well as 141 patients with multiple sclerosis. Another 192 people have registered with various other ailments.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD is a condition developed by some people who have experienced terrifying ordeals. It is widely associated with soldiers returning from combat situations, but can also be experienced by violent crime victims and people who have survived traumatic accidents or natural disasters.

The disorder is often treated through “talk therapy” or with antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil among other drugs, according to the institute.

Dr. Carolyn Drazinic, assistant professor at the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and president of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society, said many psychiatrists in the state were surprised that the disorder was added to the list of ailments that qualify someone to use medical marijuana.

Although there are studies suggesting cannabis helps treat many of the illnesses included in the law, Drazinic said that is not the case with PTSD.

“Right now there is no data to suggest that marijuana is helpful in treating post traumatic stress disorder,” she said.

Drazinic did not rule out the possibility that future studies could suggest the substance is a viable treatment, but said for the time being that research has not been done.

However, there are anecdotal accounts suggesting the substance has been helpful to some suffering from the disorder.

Last month, Maine added PTSD as a qualifying condition for patients seeking marijuana under that state’s palliative use law. Eighteen other states have laws allowing for medicinal use of the substance and several have allowed it for treatment of post traumatic stress.

Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein said people should be cautious of drawing conclusions from the program’s statistics so far.

“It’s a very small sample. This program is just getting up and running,” he said.

Connecticut passed legislation legalizing the palliative use of marijuana last year. The law allows people with certain debilitating illnesses to access cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. The law calls for the substance to be distributed through a licensed pharmacist.

Lawmakers specifically approved around a dozen ailments which can qualify someone to use the substance with a doctor’s note. But the legislature gave the Consumer Protection Department the authority to make the drug available to people suffering from additional conditions if it is recommended by a board of physicians.

The DCP is also tasked with developing a set of regulations governing the process of growing and distributing marijuana to patients in Connecticut. In April the department heard public testimony on its draft rules.

Rubenstein said the department has submitted a revised set of regulations to the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee in June. He said he expects the committee will take up the regulations when they meet in August.

In the meantime, the state has authorized patients with recommendations from doctors to register with the DCP for a fee. Registered patients are permitted to possess a small amount of marijuana. So far 91 doctors have registered with the state to issue patient recommendations.

The average age of a registered medical marijuana patient in Connecticut is 42.8, according legislative research. The report also found that men have registered in greater numbers than women by a three-to-one margin.