Thursday, 26 December 2013
Monday, 23 December 2013
Right and Left Wings Join Hands for Legalization
TEL AVIV — Thousand people march in Tel Aviv to express support for expansion of medical marijuana usage in Israel, support new bill decriminalizing cannabis for personal use.
The protest was held under the slogan "putting an end to it. Stop the abuse of patients and the persecution of citizens" (the word 'putting' in Hebrew is similar to the word drugs) and was the largest show of force the legalization movement has put forward yet.
Protesters holding signs reading "legalization now, we are not criminals" and "live and let live" made their way from Tel Aviv's Habima Square to Rabin Square.
The event was a held jointly by those attempting to ease restrictions on medical marijuana and those calling for legalization of the plant for recreational purposes, as well as those supporting a Meretz bill which calls for the decriminalization of marijuana intended for personal use.
Shahaf Brendker, one of the organizers said "the protest has two goals, to change the public conception of cannabis and to support the bill proposed by MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud ) and MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz). We demand reasonalization (not legalization per se), because the current situation is devoid of any reason if a law abiding citizen who causes no harm to anyone will constantly live in fear and persecution because he smokes a joint after a long day at the office.
"Those who need it for medicinal proposes also cannot get any because the Interior Ministry has decided so."
According to protesters, millions of shekels are invested in arresting and prosecuting law abiding citizens, thus burdening the system instead of funding it through taxed marijuana. They further called for an expansion of medical marijuana in Israel, with some recalling the amazing effects it had on the ill.
A. from Bnei Brak said: "I am a manic-depressive and take cannabis on a daily basis for more than three years. I take it instead of traditional medicine and since I have begun, it has changed my life. The law must be changed, no one can tell me not to use something created by God."
MK Tamar Zandberg was also present at the protest and said "We have already seen Knesset members admitting they have smoked. They know what the reality is, and I think its time to adjust the law to fit reality."
Saturday, 21 December 2013
An intriguing new study being published in next month’s issue of the journal Critical Care Medicine, and published online early by the National Institute of Health, has found that cannabinoid-based medicine administered through IV may provide a method of helping an individual resuscitate from cardiac arrest.
According to researchers, who examined rate models of cardiac arrest, “Blood temperatures decreased from 37°C to 33°C in 4 hours in animals in WIN55, 212-2 [cannabinoid receptor agonist] hypothermia group.. There was a significant improvement in myocardial function in the animals treated with WIN55, 212-2 hypothermia beginning at 1 hour after start of infusion.”
They continue; “WIN55, 212-2 hypothermia group was associated with significantly improved neurologic deficit scores and survival time when compared with placebo control group and WIN55, 212-2 with normal body temperature group.”
They conclude that; “In a rat model of cardiac arrest, better postresuscitation myocardial function, neurological deficit scores, and longer duration of survival were observed by the pharmacologically induced hypothermia with WIN55, 212-2. The improved outcomes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation following administration of WIN55, 212-2 appeared to be the results from its temperature reduction effects.”
The study can be found here:
This study was conducted by researchers at the Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine, and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
A new study published in the journal Chemotherapy has found that cannabinoid receptor activation – something done naturally by cannabis and cannabinoids – can lead to the death of gastric cancer cells.
For the study, researchers at the Catholic University of Korea’s Department of Internal Medicine studied the effects of a cannabinoid receptor agonist (which cannabis is) on mice injected with gastric cancer cells.
It was found that, after 14 days, “Tumor volume decreased by 30% in the WIN 55,212-2 [a cannabinoid receptor agonist] -treated group.. Apoptotic [self-destructed] cells were found more commonly in the WIN 55,212-2 treatment group than in the control on immunohistochemistry.”
Researchers conclude that activation of cannabinoid receptors has “antineoplastic effect [the ability to kill cancer cells] on the gastric cancers in in vivo model.”
The full study can be found on the website for the U.S. Library of Medicine
Thursday, 19 December 2013
By Matt Sledge, HuffingtonPost.com
He’s been a cop, a sheriff’s deputy and a DEA agent. And now Patrick Moen is taking on his latest assignment: helping sell marijuana. But he isn’t going undercover — he’s going to work for a legal business that supports the marijuana industry.
Moen recently left his job with the DEA in Portland, where he tracked cocaine and methamphetamine traffickers, to work for a small private equity firm in Seattle called Privateer Holdings.
As the company’s managing director of compliance and senior counsel, Moen will guide Privateer Holdings through the tricky legal waters of investing in marijuana-related businesses in one of the two states that has legalized the drug — while keeping federal prosecutors happy. Moen’s company will not directly support marijuana growers and distributors yet, but it does aim to invest in ventures like marijuana strain review websites and “business parks” for growers.
HuffPost talked to Moen about his 10-year stint with the DEA, what his old coworkers think of his new career track and what he sees in store for the burgeoning industry.
What do your former colleagues at the DEA think?
My overall experience with former colleagues has been overwhelming positive. I was actually kind of surprised at that response, but they were really very supportive.
It’s basically an extension of how my family and friends reacted. It was important to me when I was making this transition to get feedback from family and friends, and I wanted to make sure they viewed this favorably, and I wasn’t sure how they would take it.
The DEA, of course, is charged with enforcing marijuana laws. Do you see your new line of work as a break with what you were doing at the agency?
I look at it as more of an evolution. When I was with DEA, I was primarily focused on large scale trafficking of so-called hard drugs … and I didn’t work a lot of marijuana cases. It never was a priority for me personally, and I think that attitude is shared by my former colleagues, so it never was a priority.
When this opportunity came up, I didn’t see it as a contradiction, I saw it as an evolution — in the sense that we all know prohibition is going to end, and I think personally that it’s critically important in order for this process to succeed, we need to establish professional businesses that can bring mainstream brands to mainstream America, and without that this experiment in democracy is going to fail.
So marijuana wasn’t a priority for front-line agents? Is focusing on marijuana a bad way to get ahead within the agency?
I guess you could say there’s kind of a hierarchy within the DEA of which cases are sexy and exciting and those that aren’t, and really that reflects I think the priorities that the agents feel in terms of which of these drugs are most harmful to society … cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Advancing, it’s all merit based. You make good cases, you do good work and opportunities open up. I don’t think there’s any kind of a bias one way or another, it’s, ‘Are you a capable investigator?’
Why did you want to work with the marijuana industry?
Prohibition causes the black market, the black market creates opportunities for illicit money, and ideally we want that black market to go away. In order to do that, we need to establish professional companies. If the industry side of this can’t succeed, the black market won’t go away. And there are plenty of obstacles in the industry, there’s a lot of fragmentation, there are inexperienced and ineffective managers … in addition, the legal landscape is complicated, and we’re trying to navigate it.
We’re focused on Washington right now. Washington state has promulgated a set of regulations for the initial licensing process. There’s going to be growing pains. On paper they look pretty good. We’re probably going to encounter some difficulties as we move through the process.
At the DEA you must have done work looking at the financing for illegal drug enterprises. Do you see any parallels in the difficult work of obtaining access to banking services for legal marijuana operations?
If we don’t give the industry access to banking like any other industry would have, we’re creating the potential for problems. If you’re forcing the business into a cash-only business, you’re only creating the possibility for theft, robbery, et cetera.
Do you think legalizing marijuana is the first step toward legalizing other so-called ‘hard’ drugs?
That’s a really tough question. It’s taken so long to get this far on marijuana legalization, and I think the tide of opinion is changing rapidly in favor of legalization. I really don’t know what that’s going to mean for other drugs down the road. They’re not really, in my opinion, in the same category. If you’re talking about harm to society, you can’t even compare.
Personally, we’re trying to focus right now on bringing mainstream cannabis brands to the mainstream audience. That’s what people want right now. I don’t think the public tolerance level for further discussion is in the cards right now.
Will Privateer Holdings lobby to legalize marijuana in states beyond Colorado and Washington?
It’s not something we here are going to get really involved in. We have been asked our opinion by legislators and policy wonks, and we certainly have an opinion, but we’re really focused on building our company and the industry. I think they go hand in hand to some degree — one can’t exist without the other, policy and industry.
The tide has turned with the policy, and we need to establish professional businesses to ensure that all these efforts don’t go to waste. If the businesses cannot professionalize and be transparent and be compliant, then they’re going to shut the operation down and this is all going to go away.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
On December 23rd, Denver, Colorado’s City Council is expected to unanimously approve a proposal to decriminalize cannabis possession for those under 21, according to CBS.
With the passage of Amendment 64 last year, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is no longer a crime for those over 21. However, despite this new law, those under 21 caught in possession of cannabis – even a miniscule amount – can still be hit with a drug charge that can stay on their permanent record. To fix this, the Denver City Council is looking to reduce the charge associated with a minor in possession of cannabis to a simple ticket, rather than an arrestable misdemeanor.
“We do not want this age group to be to have their legs cut off before they get started in life,” said City Council Member Albus Brooks, who introduced the proposal; according to the Denver Post, it has already received preliminary approval from the full council.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Uruguay has approved pioneering legislation legalizing marijuana, becoming the first nation in the world to oversee the production and sale of the drug.
After a 12-hour debate, 16 leftist senators out of 29 lawmakers voted Tuesday in favor of the legislation championed by President Jose Mujica, who must now sign it into law.
Outside the Senate, hundreds of cannabis-smoking supporters set off fireworks in what they dubbed "the last march with illegal marijuana." The atmosphere was festive.
"The war against drugs has failed," said Senator Roberto Conde as he presented the bill on behalf of the ruling leftist Broad Front, calling it an "unavoidable response" to that failure.
"It is an historic day. Uruguay is now on the international forefront of this issue," said ruling party senator Alberto Couriel.
The bill passed the lower house of Congress in August and was assured of approval because the ruling coalition controls both chambers.
It authorizes the production, distribution and sale of cannabis, allows individuals to grow their own on a small scale, and creates consumer clubs -- all under state supervision and control.
Mujica, a 78-year-old former leftist guerrilla fighter, has called his plan an experiment. "There are a lot of doubts and the doubts are legitimate," he told Channel 4 television before the vote.
"But doubts shouldn't paralyze us in trying new paths to deal with this problem that has gripped us." However, he added: "We are not totally prepared. But as in everything, you have to give it a chance." The legislation has caused unease in neighboring Brazil and Argentina.
The bill goes well beyond the marijuana legalization measures recently approved by the US states of Colorado and Washington, or the similarly liberal laws of the Netherlands and Spain.
Consumers over 18 will be able to grow their own marijuana, though no more than six plants per person. They can also get it through clubs or buy up to 40 grams per month from pharmacies.
In every case, they must be registered with the government.
When the law is implemented in 120 days, Uruguayans will be able to grow six marijuana plants in their homes a year, or as much as 480 grams (about 17 ounces), and form smoking clubs of 15 to 45 members that can grow up to 99 plants per year.
Registered drug users should be able to start buying marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies in April.
Conde argued that the law strikes a balance between individual liberty and public health, while also resolving the "grotesque juridical inconsistency" arising from the status quo, in which marijuana consumption is not penalized but its production and sale is.
"Another blow against social hypocrisy," said a smiling Valeria Rubino, a 37-year-old who took part in Tuesday's "last march." Opposition parties rejected the measure, as did pharmacists, who reject the idea that marijuana will now be sold in drug stores.
There is also widespread public skepticism in this small country of 3.3 million. A poll taken in September found 61 percent disapprove of the law.
Legalizing cannabis will "diminish the perception of risk and foster consumption, especially among children and adolescents," said Senator Alfredo Solari of the opposition Colorado Party.
"Neither our government nor the rest of the world should experiment with Uruguayans," he said.
Uruguayan psychiatrists were divided over the measure. Some argue it will help tamp down the use of more dangerous drugs, while others say it trivializes marijuana's harmful effects.
Not all users were in favor of the law, either, with some chafing at the government controls.
"It's invasive, because it is not up to the government to determine how much marijuana can be consumed and the quality," said Alicia Castilla, the author of a book on "Cannabis Culture" who spent three months in jail for growing the drug at home.
In a region where the war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives, the Uruguayan initiative won the support of former Latin American presidents who served on the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
But the International Narcotics Control Board, which oversees the implementation of international treaties on drugs, has warned that it violates the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs, adopted in 1961 by Uruguay and 185 other countries.
The government has accompanied action on the law with a publicity campaign featuring the slogan, "All drug consumption has risks." Conde said the law deals with an already entrenched social reality.
"Marijuana is the illegal drug that is most consumed, fundamentally by young people, one that is perceived as extremely low risk and is easily obtained," he said.
Consumption of cannabis has doubled here in the past decade, and now accounts for 70 percent of the illegal drug consumption in Uruguay.
The government estimates that 128,000 of the country's inhabitants smoke cannabis, though marijuana consumer associations put the number at around 200,000.
It’s almost too taboo to discuss: pregnant women smoking marijuana. It’s a dirty little secret for women, particularly during the harrowing first trimester, who turn to cannabis for relief from nausea and stress.
Pregnant women in Jamaica use marijuana regularly to relieve nausea, as well as to relieve stress and depression, often in the form of a tea or tonic.
In the late 1960s, grad student Melanie Dreher was chosen by her professors to perform an ethnographic study on marijuana use in Jamaica to observe and document its usage and its consequences among pregnant women.
Dreher studied 24 Jamaican infants exposed to marijuana prenatally and 20 infants that were not exposed. Her work evolved into the book Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science and Sociology, part of which included her field studies.
Most North American studies have shown marijuana use can cause birth defects and developmental problems. Those studies did not isolate marijuana use, however, lumping cannabis with more destructive substances ranging from alcohol and tobacco to meth and heroin.
In Jamaica, Dreher found a culture that policed its own ganja intake and considers its use spiritual. For the herb’s impact when used during pregnancy, she handed over reports utilizing the Brazelton Scale, the highly recognized neonatal behavioral assessment that evaluates behavior.
The profile identifies the baby’s strengths, adaptive responses and possible vulnerabilities. The researchers continued to evaluate the children from the study up to 5 years old. The results showed no negative impact on the children, on the contrary they seemed to excel.
Plenty of people did not like that answer, particularly her funders, the National Institute on Drug Abuse. They did not continue to flip the bill for the study and did not readily release its results.
“March of Dimes was supportive,” Dreher says. “But it was clear that NIDA was not interested in continuing to fund a study that didn’t produce negative results. I was told not to resubmit. We missed an opportunity to follow the study through adolescence and through adulthood.”
Now dean of nursing at Rush University with degrees in nursing, anthropology and philosophy, plus a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, Dreher did not have experience with marijuana before she shipped off for Jamaica.
The now-marijuana advocate says that Raphael Mechoulam, the first person to isolate THC, should win a Pulitzer. Still, she understands that medical professionals shy from doing anything that might damage any support of their professionalism, despite marijuana’s proven medicinal effects, particularly for pregnant women.
Dr. Melanie Dreher’s study isn’t the first time Jamaican ganja smoking was subjected to a scientific study. One of the most exhausting studies is Ganja in Jamaica—A Medical Anthropological Study of Chronic Marijuana Use by Vera Rubin and Lambros Comitas, published in 1975. Unfortunately for the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for Studies of Narcotic and Drug Abuse, the medical anthropological study concluded:
Despite its illegality, ganja use is pervasive, and duration and frequency are very high; it is smoked over a longer period in heavier quantities with greater THC potency than in the U.S. without deleterious social or psychological consequences [our emphasis]
Monday, 9 December 2013
A new study from Harvard University may help dismiss concerns about the link between marijuana use and schizophrenia.
While many still debate the potential for marijuana to cause schizophrenia, researchers at Harvard Medical School say there has “yet to be conclusive evidence that cannabis use may cause psychosis.”
Their latest study, published last week in the journal Schizophrenia Research, adds support to the role of genetic factors in schizophrenia, and that marijuana use alone does not increase the risk of developing the disorder.
“In summary, we conclude that cannabis does not cause psychosis by itself. In genetically vulnerable individuals, while cannabis may modify the illness onset, severity and outcome, there is no evidence from this study that it can cause the psychosis.”
The team, led by Lynn DeLisi, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, compared the family histories of 108 schizophrenia patients and 171 individuals without schizophrenia to determine whether cannabis use was a factor in developing the disorder.
They found that a family history of schizophrenia increased the risk of developing schizophrenia, regardless of whether or not an individual used cannabis.
The authors say further studies should investigate whether marijuana can interact with genetic factors to affect the age at which schizophrenia develops. However, the latest findings provide enough evidence for Dr. DeLisi and her team to conclude that cannabis “is unlikely to be the cause of illness.”
Interestingly, the authors also point out that different types of marijuana may play a role in the outcome of schizophrenia.
“The amount of THC is particularly of concern, whereas CBD is the component that is thought to have medicinal value even in schizophrenia.”
Indeed, although THC is known to have psychosis-like effects, there is growing evidence that CBD can counter the effects of THC, and may even be useful as a treatment for schizophrenia.
The study received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Friday, 6 December 2013
Health Ministry seeks to centralize marijuana distribution. Currently, the 14,000 Israelis with cannabis cards purchase medical marijuana directly from the growers. Likud MK Moshe Feiglin suggests permitting all doctors to prescribe cannabis. The government will hold a vote on Sunday to approve new guidelines regarding the distribution of medical marijuana.
The newly proposed measure calls for giving 30 doctors licenses to prescribe cannabis, which if passed, would mean adding 10 more doctors to the current number already permitted to do so. The proposal stands in contrast to Likud MK Moshe Feiglin's call for all doctors to be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana. In Israel, 14,000 people hold medical marijuana cards.
The proposal to be voted upon on Sunday was drafted by the Health Ministry with contribution from the Defense, Interior and Agriculture and Rural Development ministries. It is in line with the Health Ministry's "policy of moderation" regarding marijuana. The decision on whether to expand use of marijuana for medical reasons will be voted on by a committee of experts who will evaluate research and medical records attesting to the safety and efficiency of treatment with cannabis.
The Health Ministry evaluated importing cannabis to shut down the grow houses in Israel, but the idea was ruled out as the Holland is the only country that exports cannabis -- and only up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds), the weekly consumption of Israeli patients. Currently patients receive medical marijuana directly from the growers. The Health Ministry proposal seeks to centralize distribution by having all the marijuana distributed by the Sarel medical supply company. Sarel would package and weigh the cannabis and would then distribute packages to approved medical centers.
ATLANTA (AP) - A Wendy's employee who dropped a partially smoked blunt in a customer's cheeseburger has been fired and charged with marijuana possession.
Police in the city of Lovejoy, Ga., about 25 miles south of downtown Atlanta, said a customer drove home with her food on Nov. 1, took a bite out of the burger and noticed a strange smell wafting from it.
The woman pulled the bun off and saw a partially smoked blunt inside, police said. A blunt is marijuana rolled into a hollowed-out cigar.
The woman called the restaurant's manager and met there with police soon afterward.
In an incident report released Thursday, authorities said 32-year-old Amy Elizabeth Seiber admitted that the marijuana belonged to her as soon as she saw police standing in the restaurant with her manager.
Seiber told Officer Randall Rowland that it wouldn't make any sense to lie about the marijuana, since she and the restaurant's manager were the only ones working when the customer placed her drive-thru order, Rowland wrote in the report.
Seiber apologized, saying she had misplaced the marijuana, Rowland wrote.
Wendy's officials said they're deeply sorry for what happened.
"Obviously the employee broke the rules and did not follow proper food handling steps," said Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch. He added that the corporation contacted the restaurant's owner and officials were told that she had been fired.
"They have apologized to the customer and have offered to pay the medical bills," Lynch said. "Furthermore, the franchisee is working on a satisfactory resolution with the customer."
Clayton County court officials were unsure if Seiber had an attorney. A telephone number listed for her was out of service.
A call to the customer who found the drug in her sandwich was not immediately returned.
Thursday, 5 December 2013
After having her last regressive idea, the banning of outdoor marijuana consumption on private property, killed like a rabid dog – Jeannie Robb is at it again. According to Forbes.com, the Denver city Council, which on Monday shot down the idea of trying to stop people from smoking weed on their own private property – regardless of how visible it is by the public – is now germinating limits on home cultivation. Her newest idea is a slap in the face to all who voted for amendment 64, by capping the number of marijuana plants that can be cultivated at any household to 12 – despite the number of adults which may reside there.
Conversely, Amendment 64 permits all state residents over the age of 21 to cultivate up to six cannabis plants, “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” It clearly states that doing so “shall not be an offense under Colorado law or the law of any locality,” provided “the growing takes place in an enclosed, lock space, is not conducted openly or publicly, and is not made available for sale.” As Amendment 64 was passed and is now part of Colorado’s state Constitution, it seems unlikely Rob’s brain-dead proposal would hold up in a court of law.
Regurgitating the mindless new aged reefer madness, Rob’s recent epiphany for a 12-plant-per-household limit, are the same tired talking points spewed by the anti-marijuana group, Smart Colorado, which seems pretty dumb.
“The police are very worried about the homegrows and the problems they could cause,” she told the Denver Post. Specifically, she claims to be worried about “fires, pesticide use, the mold, structural damage, children who might be living in these areas, and THC on surface areas.”
Wait…what – THC on surface areas?
She seems to have the idea that marijuana is equivalent to crystal meth – well, it’s not. Regardless of what Smart Colorado, or the highly educated councilwoman understands about the cultivation process, THC is a sticky, resinous substance that is not vomited back into the environment, polluting all around it.
More concisely, any supposed safety concerns Ms. Robb might have about growing 12 plants, would equally apply to 15, or 20 pot plants. Whatever the real issues that may exist can be handled without capriciously contradicting Colorado voters or their new constitutional freedoms.