Monday, 28 October 2013

New Harvard Study: Cannabis Can Reverse Effects of HIV-Associated Dementia

A new study published this week by the U.S. National Institute of Health, as well as the British Journal of Pharmacology, has found that activation of the brain’s cannabinoid receptors – something which cannabis does naturally – provides neuroprotective effects that can reverse impaired neurogenesis caused by HIV-related dementia.

According to researchers; “HIV-1 glycoprotein Gp120 induces apoptosis in rodent and human neurons in vitro and in vivo. HIV-1/Gp120 is involved in the pathogenesis of HIV-associated dementia (HAD) and inhibits proliferation of adult neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in GFAP/Gp120 transgenic (Tg) mice.”

They state that; “Since cannabinoids exert neuroprotective effects in several model systems, we examined the protective effects of CB2 agonist AM1241 on Gp120-mediated insults on neurogenesis.”

In doing so, the researchers found that cannabinoid receptor activation “resulted in enhanced in vivo neurogenesis in the hippocampus as indicated by increase in neuroblasts, neuronal cells, BrdU  cells and PCNA  cells.” They continue; “Further, a significant decrease in astrogliosis and gliogenesis was observed in GFAP/Gp120 Tg mice treated with AM1241 as compared to those treated with vehicle control.”

They conclude that; “CB2 agonist rescued impaired neurogenesis caused by HIV-1/Gp120 insult. Thus, CB2 agonists may act as neuroprotective agents for rescuing impaired neurogenesis in HAD patients.”

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Division of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, can be found here:

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Medical marijuana-using parents get baby back

Child Protective Services took the baby in September after alleging the Michigan couple might be exposing the infant to marijuana.

LANSING, Mich. — Baby Bree is back home.
In a case that galvanized Michigan supporters of medical marijuana, custody of an infant seized by Child Protective Services workers last month was awarded to the child's parents Friday in a Lansing courtroom.

"I'm ecstatic," said Bree's mother, Maria Green, standing outside the courtroom with a dozen medical marijuana activists wearing green ribbons.

"Bree will be in her own bed tonight. We're going to hug her and read to her and love her," said Maria's husband, Steve Green.

On Sept. 13, Steve and Maria Green, each a state-approved marijuana user, stood in their Lansing home in shock as employees from the county's Child Protective Services unit said the Greens might be exposing their infant daughter Bree to marijuana. As police looked on outside the Greens' two-story gray house, Bree was taken from her mother's arms and driven away.

That action triggered an outcry of "Free Baby Bree" — on websites and the Greens' Facebook page, at rallies and fund-raisers, on the weekly web-streamed Planet Green Trees Radio and outside the Ingham County courthouse.

Four attorneys volunteered their time. And leaders of the medical-marijuana community declared the case would make or break future investigations involving medical marijuana by child protective units across the state.

"The idea that medical marijuana patients can't be good parents is just drug-war hysteria," said Charmie Gholson, 49, of Ann Arbor. But the Greens aren't the first to suffer the loss of a child, Gholson said.

"This has been going on almost since the law passed," she said. Gholson is founder of Michigan Moms United, what she calls "a campaign to re-educate the public and legislators about how the failed drug war destroys families."

Steve Green, 34, is a former auto mechanic who suffers from severe epileptic seizures that no medicine would relieve until he tried marijuana, he said. Maria Green, 31, is a former preschool teacher who has multiple sclerosis and operates a home-based business, selling her own nutrition supplements, "that keeps a roof over our heads," she said. Both are state-approved medical-marijuana users, as their attorneys showed in court.

At their previous home in Auburn Hills, the couple was charged with manufacturing marijuana — a four-year felony — because Oakland County authorities found them growing marijuana. Friday's court order allows them to resume growing the plants, Covert said.

"I was there and I have to tell you — that was hard to watch," Joshua Covert, the couple's key attorney, said about Bree being taken away. But Friday's decision had him smiling.

"We said we're going to let the parents medicate (with marijuana) but not around the children, just what they've been doing all along, and allow some type of regular testing of the baby, maybe a mouth swab," to prove that Bree was not being exposed, Covert said.

The Greens had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday, but this week their luck turned. Ingham County Probate Judge Richard Garcia, at an evidentiary hearing Wednesday, voiced doubts about the actions of social workers and their allegations on a Child Protective Services petition. That led Garcia to call for a special hearing Friday. That's when the couple heard the words they longed to hear — that Baby Bree would come back to her mother and father.

"We've been hoping and praying for this, and we were joking about the return policy," Maria Green said. The infant has been living with her parents near Port Hurton, under a temporary custody arrangement.

The Ingham County assistant prosecutor who represented Child Protective Services at Friday's hearing declined to comment.

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said Tuesday that he could not comment directly about Bree Green's parents' fitness to raise her.

"But I would hope that any parents who have the need to use prescription medication would do so in a manner that does not expose their child to harm," Dunnings said.

In Michigan's see-saw battle over the legitimacy of medical marijuana, the Greens have become heroes to those who support full legalization of the drug.

But for those at the other end of the spectrum, medical marijuana activity in Michigan has become a cover for drug dealing.

"I've seen it first-hand," said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin, who spent most of his career in narcotics enforcement.

"I'm sure there's legitimate patients, but we spend a lot of time and effort investigating guys who have their (state registry) card and they're raising plants and selling the drug to anyone who'll buy from them," Berlin said.

Cannabis May Be A Gastroprotectant, Says New Study

A new study conducted by researchers at the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy at Semmelweis University in Hungary, and published by the United States National Library of Medicine, has found promising evidence to suggest that cannabis may be a gastroprotectant.
According to the study; “Stimulation of central angiotensin AT1 receptors via activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors [something which cannabis does naturally] induces gastroprotection in a DAGL-dependent and vagus-mediated mechanism.”

Here is the entire abstract from the study;

"The aim of the present study was to analyze whether angiotensin II via the endocannabinoid system can induce gastric mucosal protection, since transactivation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors by angiotensin AT1 receptor in CHO cells was described. Experimental ulcer was induced by acidified ethanol given orally in male Wistar rats, CB1( / ) wild type and CB1(-/-) knock out mice. The compounds were administered intracerebroventricularly. It was found, that 1./ Angiotensin II inhibited the ethanol-induced gastric lesions (11.9-191 pmol); the effect of angiotensin II (191 pmol) was inhibited by the CB1 receptor inverse agonist AM 251 (1.8 nmol) and the inhibitor of diacylglycerol lipase (DAGL), tetrahydrolipstatin (0.2 nmol). 2./ Angiotensin II exerted gastroprotection in wild type, but not in CB1(-/-) mice. 3./ The gastroprotective effect of angiotensin II (191 pmol) was reduced by atropine (1 mg/kg i.v.) and bilateral cervical vagotomy. In conclusion, stimulation of central angiotensin AT1 receptors via activation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors induces gastroprotection in a DAGL-dependent and vagus-mediated mechanism."

The study can be found here:

Friday, 25 October 2013

Activated CB1 Receptor: New Study Shows Cannabinoids Might Prevent Prostate Cancer

A recent study out of Madrid Spain and published by the US National Institute of Health is offering hope for those who suffer from prostate cancer. Utilizing a compound meant to imitate the medical effects of marijuana’s cannabinoids, researchers discovered that by activating the body’s own natural cannabinoid receptors – a naturally occurring event when cannabis is consumed – can prevent, and treat hormone sensitive prostate cancer.

While prostate cancer is predominantly an issue for older men – over the age of 65, men with a family history of prostate cancer stand a greater risk of being diagnosed as early as their late 30s, or early 40s.

According to Instituto de Química Médica’s;

“Chromenopyrazolediones have been designed and synthesized as anticancer agents using the multi-biological target concept that involves quinone cytotoxicity and cannabinoid antitumor properties. In cell cytotoxicity assays, these chromenopyrazolediones have antiproliferative activity against human prostate cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma. It has been shown that the most potent, derivative 4 (PM49), inhibits prostate LNCaP cell viability (IC50 = 15 μM) through a mechanism involving oxidative stress, PPARγ receptor and partially CB1 receptor. It acts on prostate cell growth by causing G0/G1 phase arrest and triggering apoptosis as assessed by flow cytometry measurements. In the in vivo treatment, compound 4 at 2 mg/kg, blocks the growth of LNCaP tumors and reduces the growth of PC-3 tumors generated in mice. These studies suggest that 4 is a good potential anticancer agent against hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.”

The conclusion of this study is that marijuana’s cannabinoids represent a; “good potential anticancer agent against hormone sensitive prostate cancer.”

Great news to end the week…

Ireland ‘ready for legalisation of cannabis’

Proposed Bill from Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan would allow restricted home cultivation and personal possession

Proposed Bill from Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan would allow restricted home cultivation and personal possession.

Mr Flanagan estimated that the legalisation of cannabis could generate up to €300 million through tax revenues and the freeing up of resources. However, he stressed this was an estimate and it was not possible to know for sure what savings might be made.

“If cannabis is legalised, we can make a shopping list out of the amount of money which legalising cannabis will save this country,” said the TD.

These savings could, he said, lead to the reversal of the recent Budget cuts including cuts to the bereavement grant, cuts to young people’s social welfare payments and the abolition of the telephone allowance.

The Bill, which is due to be debated in the Dáil on November 5th and 6th, would, if passed:

- regulate cannabis for recreational and medical use

- allow for home cultivation up to a maximum of six cannabis plant

- allow for the personal possession of up to one ounce of cannabis

- allow for the setting up of “Cannabis Social Clubs” which would allow up to 50 club members to cultivate up to 300 plants for not-for-profit use

- set up a “cannabis regulation authority” to regulate the cultivation, sale, labelling, advertising and marketing of cannabis

- see tax revenue from cannabis fund drug addiction services, medical research and juvenile education courses on drugs.

- include a requirement that the Minister for Justice and Minister for Agriculture to examine the feasibility of the safe regulation and controlled use of cannabis.

“This Bill will protect our youth from unscrupulous dealers; it will make it, in my opinion, more difficult for them to get it; and in the same way as if a minor uses alcohol, a minor who uses cannabis will also face similar sanctions such as having to go into treatment,” Mr Flanagan said.

Mr Flanagan also announced the setting up of a new group, Normal Ireland, which aims to “proactively educate the Irish public as to the social, economic and health benefits of legalising cannabis” and to lobby for a change to the law.

The board of the new groups includes Stuart Clark, assistant editor of HotPress; Dr Garrett McGovern, a GP specialising in alcohol and substance abuse and Dr Cathal ÓSúiliobháin, a GP working with addiction.

Source and 
Full text of Cannabis Regulation Bill 2013 :

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Shredding The Social Stigma Between Women And Marijuana

By Simone Fischer 

As I navigate my way through the cannabis industry, I can’t help but wonder about its current relationship with women. Most of the time when I do find visible women within the community, I see “420 nurses” or other types of scantly-clad females.

I find it interesting that despite the rampant sexual objectification of women in the cannabis industry, women are still often faced with the stigma of using cannabis in the first place. Some have gone as far to say that using cannabis is an “unladylike” or “unappealing” habit for a woman to have. As far as I know, using cannabis knows no gender, but many women are confronted with inherent shame when opening up about it.

Why can’t we see more Diane Fornbachers and Sabrina Fendricks?

I have a theory.

Lets go back to 1949 during the time when propaganda around “Reefer Madness” was peaking. Kristen Gwynne’s article on Alternet teases out some of the issues in the film She Shoulda Said ‘No!’. The story line revolves around a girl who experiments with cannabis which consequently heightens her sexual promiscuity, undoubtably portrayed in a negative light. First off, causation does not prove correlation. Smoking weed does not inherently make you a slut.

Secondly, this type of thinking promotes the same kind of victim blaming that we also see with alcohol intoxication. The idea that if women choose to use these substances, the consequence of rape or other forms of sexual violence is a given. This is victim blaming and slut-shaming.

The previous generation of America has systematically used women’s sexualities to discourage the use of cannabis. “Don’t smoke weed unless you are willing to risk your self-worth and/or reputation”. This is another example of the sexist double standards that often applies to women, while leaving men unexamined in the same light. The purity myth when applied to cannabis works to discourage female experimentation with cannabis, which is still happening today.

If women still feeling guilty about opening up about smoking pot, the chances of them being involved within the cannabis world is slim. The unwarranted sexual stigma associated with women and cannabis usage has also worked to isolate women from the cannabis industry. Rape culture has been perpetuated through the prohibition mindset by the handy work of the U.S. government. Women should not be unfairly judged because they smoke pot.

You should be able to do your thing ladies. Stigma free.

In order to break the stigmas that female cannabis users are faced with, we must work to “come out” of the green closet as women. To successfully legitimize cannabis in society at large, women must recognize and validate our own experiences and usage. This alone can be daunting due to the harsh backlash women often endure when deviating from gender norms. Mothers are especially criticized for their cannabis use which brings up serious race, class, and gender issues.

Women must start recognizing the responsibility of claiming their experiences with cannabis. But with that said, if the cannabis industry wants to succeed in the inclusion of women without stigma, the issues on gender oppression must be addressed.

Lets work together to create a cannabis industry that everybody can relate too.

Simone Fischer recently graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and a Minor in Philosophy, where she worked in the PSU Office of Graduate Studies. Prior to making the switch to Women’s studies, Simone was pre-med so her interests have always been rooted in medicine. Currently, she pens thought provoking pieces for our blog and works as a Front Desk Representative at Brightside Community Foundation.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


"The Jamaican Me Crazy Cocktail is a sweet tropical concoction that taste like a little slice of heaven." -


2 fluid ounces Simple Cannabis-Infused Dark Rum* 

1 fluid ounce Amaretto

3 fluid ounces coconut water, either plain or with pineapple

Ice cubes

Pot leaf for garnish (optional)

Combine rum, Amaretto, and coconut water in a shaker and strain over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a pot leaf and enjoy. It’s like a piña colada without 
the dairy.

* Use the Simple Cannabis-Infused Rum Recipe below and substitute dark rum like Gosling’s or Appleton Estate

Cannabis Infused Dark Rum


Dark rum

½ ounce of cannabis buds

Add the cannabis to a glass quart jar and fill with dark rum (or the liquor of your choice). Place jar in a cool, dry place, shaking every day. Do this for about four weeks. Strain well and keep jar in a cool, dry place.

Recipe from Natasha Lewin

Aside from being a pot smoker, I’m also a drinker, and with that comes my love of working in bars. It’s a great way to make new friends (and some extra money on the side). In 2010 I was nominated for Best Bartender in New York as part of a contest that pitted me against twelve other hardworking servers. 
Following an online vote, the top four, including myself, had to make our signature drinks for a panel of judges. I made my now-famous Jamaican Me Crazy and won—though I think it was the pot leaf garnish that really took the top prize. I’d never seen so many people posing for pictures with a drink before. I knew if I made it to the Final Four, winning the award would be a piece of space cake. I just didn’t know the leaf would be the celebrity in the room, not me. No complaints here, though. I’m totally open about my love of the green behind the bar. I wear pot-related T-shirts during my shift so that people know what method of relaxation I really prefer. Sure, I’ll serve you a drink, but in my opinion, what’s really going to chill you out after a long week is some sweet Mary Jane. So I try to subliminally insert my preference for pot in every drink I serve—with or without the pot leaf garnish. 
—Natasha Lewin

For first time, most Americans favor legalizing marijuana: poll

Americans who believe marijuana should remain illegal are now in the minority, according to new poll numbers released Tuesday.

For the first time ever in a Gallup poll, a clear majority of the country – 58 percent – say that pot should be legalized. That figure represents an increase of 10 percentage points since last year, according to Gallup. The poll surveyed 1,028 Americans by phone Oct. 3-6.

Those in favor of legalization skew young and liberal, though the biggest increase of support came among people identified as independents. Sixty-two percent of independents favored legalization in 2013, up 12 percentage points from last year, according to the poll. Sixty-five percent of Democrats favored legalization, vs. just 35 percent of Republicans.

The polled broke Americans down into five general age groups: 18 to 29, 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65 or older. The only age group not in favor of legalization was those 65 years or older – 53 percent of those polled still opposed legalization. 

“Americans are increasingly recognizing that marijuana is less harmful than they’ve been led to believe,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Marijuana Policy Project.  “I think it’s time to regulate marijuana like alcohol and most Americans appear to agree. We’re seeing support for ending prohibition in states across the country and efforts are being made to change state laws.”

Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, permit marijuana for medical use. Washington state and Colorado have passed legislation permitting use of the drug recreationally. Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government and is categorized as a hallucinogen by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Gallup first started tracking the question of legalization in 1969, when just 12 percent of the country favored legal use of marijuana. That figure doubled in the 1970s, reaching 28 percent. Support rose steadily and reached 50 percent in 2011, according to Gallup research. A Gallup poll released in early August said that 38 percent of Americans have tried marijuana.

Still, there is opposition.

“I’m concerned that these people that are saying that they are favoring legalization are really not aware or knowledgeable about the marijuana that’s out there today,” said Carla Lowe, the founder of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.

A poll conducted by Pew Research, released in April, said that 52 percent of the country favored legalization. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Uruguay prepares to legalize sale of marijuana at $1 a gram

Uruguay is set to become the first country in the world to legalize the sale of marijuana at a market price of US$1 a gram. The bill is expected to pass through the senate in November, bringing the $40 million industry under state control.

The legislation was passed through the lower house earlier this year in August and backed by President Jose Mujica’s government. The measure is part of an initiative to combat the illegal drugs trade in Latin America and curtail cartel violence, which has decimated parts of the region. 

Lawmakers have agreed at an initial price of $1 per gram of the drug, a price that aims to compete with the illegal market value, which currently stands at around $1.40 for a gram. 

National Drug Board chief Jose Calzada told Uruguayan newspaper El Pais that bringing the industry under state control “will provide a safe place to buy, a good quality product and moreover will sell at a standard price.” 

He assured that one gram is enough for “one large joint and three slimmer ones,” stating the first legal marijuana crop should hit the market in the middle of 2014. 

The legislation stipulates a number of conditions that will govern the sale of the drug. Uruguayan citizens will be required to register in a private database to be able to purchase marijuana and will be restricted to 40 grams each per month. 

Moreover, citizens will legally be allowed to cultivate six marijuana plants per head or band together and organize a club of up to 45 members with the possibility of growing 99 plants. 

The Uruguayan state will also offer advice to marijuana users on the drug’s consumption. 

“As well as smoking marijuana in a cigarette, you can also vaporize it - which is much less harmful - or consume it in food like brownies,” said Calzada.   

There are still a number of details to finalize in the Uruguayan bill to legalize marijuana. At present no money has been allocated to finance the new director for the Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis. 

The initiative has also hit upon opposition politicians who released a poll over the summer that claimed that 60 per cent of the country’s population was against the idea. 

The National Drug Board estimates that there are around 120,000 marijuana users in Uruguay from a population of 3.3 million. Consumer groups estimate that the figure as higher, putting the number of users at around 200,000. 

The board has also calculated that about 20 hectares will be needed in order to satisfy demand. As part of the initiative, the Uruguayan government will give licenses to private businesses, which will be allowed to cultivate on state-controlled land. 

New Study: CBD May Treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Cannatonic 13% CBD, 7% THC

A new study published in the journal Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology has found that cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis, may treat OCD.

According to the start of the study’s abstract; “Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the main components of Cannabis sp, presents clinical and preclinical anxiolytic properties. Recent results using the marble-burying test (MBT) suggest that CBD can also induce anticompulsive-like effects.”

“This study represents the first direct demonstration of the role of the endocannabinoid system on the antihyperalgesic effect of ankle joint mobilization.”

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo’s School of Medicine tested cannabidiol on rats with OCD, and found that; “The results, in addition to reinforcing a possible anti-compulsive effect of CBD, also suggest that mCPP-induced repetitive burying could be a useful test for the screening of compounds with presumed anticompulsive properties.”

Researchers conclude that; “the serotonergic and cannabinoid systems interact to control repetitive behaviors, although the precise nature of this interaction is not clear.”

This study was also published online by the National Institute of Health.

Sour Tsunami strain 10-11% CBD and 6-7% THC

The study can be found here: 

Cannabidiol (CBD) Rich Cannabis strains

Cannatonic 13% CBD, 7% THC
Sour Tsunami 10-11% CBD , 6-7% THC 
Omrita Rx3 9-12% CBD, 5-7% THC
True Blueberry/OG Kush 9.4% CBD, 4.8% THC
Jamaican Lion 8.91% CBD, 5.54% THC 
Harlequin 4% CBD, 2% THC / 75% sativa and 25 % indica
Juanita la Lagrimosa 8.8% CBD, 6.8% THC
Good Medicine 9.03% CBD, 8.2%THC
Misty 7% CBD, 10% THC
Soma A+
Stinky Purple
Cotton Candy/Diesel
Rx Red
Poison OG

 Juanita La Lagrimosa strain 8.8% CBD, 6.8% THC

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Market for Medical Marijuana: Black to Gray to Everyday

Despite some Reefer Madness-era stigma still tucked away in the corners of society, marijuana has become a thing in the United States — a controversial, quasi-legal, socially and medically important thing that the nation as a whole still doesn’t really know what to do with yet.

Research that has been conducted and has come to light over the past several years has pretty much laid to rest the myth that cannabis has no medicinal or therapeutic qualities, and 20 states plus the District of Columbia currently recognize this. While still (very) illegal at the federal level — cannabis and cannabis resin are Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, in league with LSD, MDMA, heroin, and psilocybin – there are an estimated 2.4 million medical marijuana patients in the U.S., and more are signing up every day.

But in order for medical marijuana to truly join the pantheon of legitimate drugs, two things have to happen: cannabis will have to find its place within the market mechanism, and the federal government will have to give up on its failed war against the drug.

Determining which one of these things should come first is a chicken-and-egg problem. In reality, there is no on-off switch for either condition. Each co-evolves, one referencing the other. What once was a black market for cannabis is making the transition through the gray and into the light of day. As legitimate medical use of the drug increased in the shadow of existing regulation, policymakers have been pressured to relax controls. And as regulation eases, the market moves forward, and the process repeats itself in a virtuous cycle.

The medical marijuana debate in its current form really took shape in 1996, when California passed the Compassionate Use Act. The act ensures, among other things, that “seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician.” It was the first time a state dodged the federal position and recognized legitimate medical uses for marijuana, and it was the first step the market for medical marijuana took toward legitimacy.

Of course, this created a conflict of interest between state governments and the federal government. The issue came to a head in 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard Gonzales v. Raich, in which a California producer of marijuana for medical use sued the government for interfering with his right to produce (meaning the operation was shut down by the Drug Enforcement Agency).

The case addressed the inevitable issue: What happens when the federal government decides to exercise its authority over a conflicting state law? The short answer? The Feds win.

But the federal government doesn’t have the will or capacity to strictly enforce marijuana laws, and one by one, states decided to simply take action on their own. Following in California’s footsteps, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington passed state-level legislation recognizing legitimate uses for medical marijuana in 1998. Maine followed in 1999; Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada in 2000 — by 2013, as mentioned before, 20 states and the District of Columbia had jumped on the bandwagon.

In October 2010, United States Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement regarding the Department of Justice’s position on the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. The address was given in response to another California action, Proposition 19, a ballot initiative due to be voted on that November, which, if passed, would have legalized various (read: recreational) uses of marijuana at the discretion and regulation of local governments. Holder said the following:

“Regardless of the passage of this or similar legislation, the Department of Justice will remain firmly committed to enforcing the CSA in all states. Prosecution of those who manufacture, distribute, or possess any illegal drugs, including marijuana and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department. Accordingly, we will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

The message was loud and clear, but people didn’t really care. Medical marijuana advocates continued to push the issue, and on August 29 this year, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memorandum regarding marijuana enforcement under the CSA:

“For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance. These schemes must be tough in practice, not just on paper and include strong, state-based enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding.

“Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time. But if any of the stated harms do materialize — either despite a strict regulatory scheme or because of the lack of one — federal prosecutors will act aggressively to bring individual prosecutions focused on federal enforcement priorities and the Department may challenge the regulatory scheme themselves in these states.”

The decision, as Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, amounts to de facto legalization of recreational marijuana. Washington and Colorado had already legalized recreational use to some degree, and it was really only the specter of federal prosecution that haunted the decision.

More importantly, though, it was a major step forward for medical marijuana advocates. This change in tone from the DoJ helps relieve some of the concerns that businesses have had about operating in the industry.

So what does the industry look like today? Estimates vary wildly because accurate measurement is hard, given the opaque legal environment and cottage-style nature of the industry. But there are still some informed estimates out there.

“The medical marijuana industry has grown at a rate of 13.8 percent per year over the last five years to about $1.7 billion in 2013,” said Nima Samadi, a senior analyst at IBISWorld, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Over the next five years, we’re going to see even stronger growth. It’s expected to grow 24.3 percent per year and approach about $5 billion [by 2018]. The majority of that revenue growth has come from the nonprofit medical marijuana collectives.”

Samadi’s forecast covers just the medical marijuana industry. Specifically, it does not include growth upstream or downstream, or the recreational market. Recreational legalization at a large scale is farther down the regulatory road, but it also promises a much larger market.

Jamen Shivley, a founder of Diego Pellicer, is one of the few people willing to throw out estimates on the current size of the black-and-gray marijuana market that, ostensibly, equates to the size of the hypothetical legal market. His pitch to investors values the marijuana industry at $100 billion, which could grow as large as $500 billion worldwide.

Still, the ambiguous legal environment creates a sort of fog of war that is getting in the way of development.