MJ News for 07/28/2014


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

Florida voters back medical marijuana 9 to 1, poll finds

If the latest poll is right, it’s a safe bet that Florida will legalize medical marijuana this November.

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 88 percent of voters support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, while 10 percent do not. Those attitudes were unchanged from May, but support was six percentage points up from November. The lowest level of support was among senior citizens, who still back the measure roughly 6 to 1. The youngest segment of voters backed it 19 to 1.

A ballot measure that would legalize the drug was narrowly approved in January, which means that voters will have the chance in just a few months to add their state to a growing number with legal medical pot, which seems likely given the poll.

Among all demographic groups, support for medical marijuana was lowest among Republicans, 80 percent of whom support legalization with 19 percent opposing.

When asked whether they would support a legal medical marijuana dispensary in their own town or city, 71 percent of voters said yes while 26 percent said no. Support for a dispensary in one’s own town was lowest among seniors, who still backed the idea 57 percent to 37 percent.

A majority of voters even supported legalizing marijuana simply for recreational use. The only demographic groups where majorities opposed the idea were Republicans and seniors. Overall support for recreational legalization was up seven percentage points from November.

There was a 23-point different in support between Democrats, who support recreational pot roughly 2 to 1, and Republicans. Support among men was 61 percent, a dozen points higher than that for women.

When asked confidentially, 44 percent said they’ve tried the drug. Seniors had the far and away lowest rates of trying pot, at 23 percent.


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

U.S. sees profound cultural shift on marijuana legalization

More than a third of adults have smoked it — including the last three presidents. Dozens of songs and movies have been made about it.

Marijuana is no longer whispered about, nor hidden in back rooms and basements. It has come into the open in American life despite decades of prohibition and laws treating the drug as more dangerous than meth and cocaine.

When the New York Times' editorial board called this weekend for the U.S. government to end its ban on weed — and let states decide how to regulate it — the newspaper reflected what a majority of Americans have told pollsters: Marijuana should be legal.

The status quo, according to advocates and even the president, has resulted in the disproportionate arrests of minorities and the poor.

"The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast," the editorial said. "There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to FBI figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."

These are not new arguments. But this time they come from the New York Times, not High Times.

Support for marijuana legalization has grown so rapidly within the last decade, and especially within the last two years, that some advocates and pollsters have compared it with the sudden collapse of opposition to same-sex marriage as a culture-redefining event.

Gallup has found more popular support for legalizing marijuana than for legalizing same-sex marriage.

In Gallup's most recent survey on the issue, in 2013, 58% of respondents said marijuana should be legal — up from 46% a year earlier and 31% in the early 2000s. This spring, 55% said gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry.

When Colorado passed a ballot measure in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana, more residents voted for legal weed than for President Obama (who carried the state). Washington state's legalization effort also passed handily.

Yet through a combination of ballot measures, legislative action and judicial action, same-sex marriage has found far more success across the U.S., in a campaign supporters liken to the civil rights movement.

For marijuana, a better historical comparison is Prohibition — when alcohol was banned in the early 20th century. Public officials have moved more slowly on pot, in many cases taking incremental steps like decriminalizing possession of small amounts and legalizing the drug for medicinal use.

Taboos have slowly faded. Former President Clinton confessed to smoking marijuana but famously claimed that he "didn't inhale." George W. Bush told a friend in a recorded conversation that he didn't want to answer questions about past marijuana use because "I don't want some little kid doing what I tried." Obama was bolder, declaring before he was elected, "Of course I inhaled — that was the point!"

In a New Yorker interview published in January, Obama said, "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol." But he worried legalizing marijuana would create a slippery slope for legalizing more dangerous drugs.

The American Medical Assn., while calling for more clinical testing, has expressed skepticism that medicinal marijuana meets federal safety standards for prescriptions. The American Psychiatric Assn.'s most recent policy statement says, "There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder."

Dissenters also worry that creating a legal marijuana industry would simply be the next Big Tobacco, with legalization bringing higher rates of addiction and mental health problems.

"When you look back at Prohibition, what you see is that per-capita use of alcohol during Prohibition dropped more than 50%; as a result of that, alcohol-related deaths dropped considerably as well," says Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. "Prohibition was an enormous public health success."

Even light marijuana use, Gitlow said, can harm brain function.

Gitlow added of tobacco: "We've gone over these past 30 to 40 years from about half the population smoking cigarettes to a much smaller figure.... Now the public wants to start that cycle again with a different drug they consider safer [when] the data aren't all in. Why would we want to potentially start that disaster all over again?"

Colorado and Washington are de facto laboratories for legalization.

In Washington, where marijuana stores opened July 8, officials say it's too early to draw many conclusions.

"There was a lot of concern that maybe it would end up being a three-ring circus, and we'd have people abusing it or overdosing on it," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said. "Those sorts of problems have not manifest themselves in relation to the few stores that are open."

Alison Holcomb, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who drafted Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in the state, said, "Things seem to be going very well in Washington." For one thing, she said, the first 10 days of sales generated $318,000 in new tax revenue.

Holcomb added that in 2012, the year that I-502 passed, law enforcement officers made 5,531 marijuana-related arrests statewide. In 2013, that dropped to 120. She said it "would take a while" to evaluate whether full legalization affects use by young people.

Seattle City Atty. Pete Holmes was third in line when legal weed sales came to the city. On Sunday, he said the only way to get rid of the black market was for legal stores to succeed and the unregulated medical marijuana system to be folded into the well-regulated recreational system.

"Prohibition has failed to keep marijuana out of the hands of children," Holmes said. "It has made criminals wealthy and promoted violence and kept us in the dark about what rational regulation would look like."

Colorado, where legal sales began Jan. 1, has had some stumbles. Sheriffs in neighboring states (where pot remains illegal) have complained they are arresting more drivers coming from Colorado with marijuana.

Fourth-graders have faced discipline after allegedly selling their grandparents' legally purchased pot to classmates. Some emergency rooms have reported treating children who accidentally ate edible marijuana. And two consumers may have had deadly reactions — including a 19-year-old college student who plunged from a Denver balcony to his death after eating a pot cookie. Also in Denver, a 47-year-old man was accused of shooting his wife to death after taking drugs and eating marijuana-infused candy.

"Colorado is proving that legalization in practice is a lot uglier than legalization in theory," said Kevin Sabet, president of the policy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who opposes legalization, citing reports of increased calls to poison centers for marijuana overexposure.

"I've urged all the governors to go cautiously on this because I think there are risks that we're only just beginning to understand," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in June. "But this is going to be one of the great social experiments of the 21st century."


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

Let States Decide on Marijuana

In 1970, at the height of his white-hot war on crime, President Richard Nixon demanded that Congress pass the Controlled Substances Act to crack down on drug abuse. During the debate, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut held up a package wrapped in light-green paper that he said contained $3,000 worth of marijuana. This substance, he said, caused such “dreadful hallucinations” in an Army sergeant in Vietnam that he called down a mortar strike on his own troops. A few minutes later, the Senate unanimously passed the bill.

That law, so antique that it uses the spelling “marihuana,” is still on the books, and is the principal reason that possessing the substance in Senator Dodd’s package is considered illegal by the United States government. Changing it wouldn’t even require an act of Congress — the attorney general or the secretary of Health and Human Services could each do so — although the law should be changed to make sure that future administrations could not reimpose the ban.

Repealing it would allow the states to decide whether to permit marijuana use and under what conditions. Nearly three-fourths of them have already begun to do so, liberalizing their laws in defiance of the federal ban. Two have legalized recreational use outright, and if the federal government also recognized the growing public sentiment to legalize and regulate marijuana, that would almost certainly prompt more states to follow along.

The increasing absurdity of the federal government’s position is evident in the text of the Nixon-era law. “Marihuana” is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act alongside some of the most dangerous and mind-altering drugs on earth, ranked as high as heroin, LSD and bufotenine, a highly toxic and hallucinogenic toad venom that can cause cardiac arrest. By contrast, cocaine and methamphetamine are a notch down on the government’s rankings, listed in Schedule II.

That illogical distinction shows why many states have begun to disregard the federal government’s archaic rules. Schedule II drugs, while carrying a high potential for abuse, have a legitimate medical use. (Even meth is sold in prescription form for weight loss.) But according to the language of the law, marijuana and the other Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

STATES TAKE THE LEAD No medical use? That would come as news to the millions of people who have found that marijuana helped them through the pain of AIDS, or the nausea and vomiting of chemotherapy, or the seizures of epilepsy. As of this month, 35 states and the District of Columbia permit some form of marijuana consumption for medical purposes. New York is one of the latest states to defy the tired edict of the Controlled Substances Act.

It’s hard for the public to take seriously a law that says marijuana and heroin have exactly the same “high potential for abuse,” since that ignores the vastly more addictive power of narcotics, which have destroyed the lives of millions of people around the world. (There are no documented deaths from a marijuana overdose.) The 44-year refusal of Congress and eight administrations to alter marijuana’s place on Schedule I has made the law a laughingstock, one that states are openly flouting.

In addition to the medical exceptions, 18 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized marijuana, generally meaning that possession of small amounts is treated like a traffic ticket or ignored. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have gone even further and legalized it for recreational purposes; two others, Alaska and Oregon, will decide whether to do the same later this year.

The states are taking the lead because they’re weary of locking up thousands of their own citizens for possessing a substance that has less potential for abuse and destructive behavior than alcohol. A decision about what kinds of substances to permit, and under what conditions, belongs in the purview of the states, as alcohol is handled.

Consuming marijuana is not a fundamental right that should be imposed on the states by the federal government, in the manner of abortion rights, health insurance, or the freedom to marry a partner of either sex. It’s a choice that states should be allowed to make based on their culture and their values, and it’s not surprising that the early adopters would be socially liberal states like Colorado and Washington, while others hang back to gauge the results.

PRE-EMPTED BY WASHINGTON Many states are unwilling to legalize marijuana as long as possessing or growing it remains a federal crime. Colorado, for instance, allows its largest stores to cultivate up to 10,200 cannabis plants at a time. But the federal penalty for growing more than 1,000 plants is a minimum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. That has created a state of confusion in which law-abiding growers in Colorado can face federal penalties.

Last August, the Justice Department issued a memo saying it would not interfere with the legalization plans of Colorado and Washington as long as they met several conditions: keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors or criminal gangs; prohibiting its transport out of the state; and enforcing prohibitions against drugged driving, violence and other illegal drugs. The government has also said banks can do business with marijuana sellers, easing a huge problem for a growing industry. But the Justice Department guidance is loose; aggressive federal prosecutors can ignore it “if state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust,” the memo says.

That’s a shaky foundation on which to build confidence in a state’s legalization plan. More important, it applies only to this moment in this presidential administration. President Obama’s Justice Department could change its policy at any time, and so of course could the next administration.

HOW TO END THE FEDERAL BAN Allowing states to make their own decisions on marijuana — just as they did with alcohol after the end of Prohibition in 1933 — requires unambiguous federal action. The most comprehensive plan to do so is a bill introduced last year by Representative Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado, known as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. It would eliminate marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, require a federal permit for growing and distributing it, and have it regulated (just as alcohol is now) by the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. An alternative bill, which would not be as effective, was introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, as the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. It would not remove marijuana from Schedule I but would eliminate enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act against anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law.

Congress is clearly not ready to pass either bill, but there are signs that sentiments are changing. A promising alliance is growing on the subject between liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans. In a surprise move in May, the House voted 219 to 189 to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from prosecuting people who use medical marijuana, if a state has made it legal. It was the first time the House had voted to liberalize a marijuana law; similar measures had repeatedly failed in previous years. The measure’s fate is uncertain in the Senate.

While waiting for Congress to evolve, President Obama, once a regular recreational marijuana smoker, could practice some evolution of his own. He could order the attorney general to conduct the study necessary to support removal of marijuana from Schedule I. Earlier this year, he told The New Yorker that he considered marijuana less dangerous than alcohol in its impact on individuals, and made it clear that he was troubled by the disproportionate number of arrests of African-Americans and Latinos on charges of possession. For that reason, he said, he supported the Colorado and Washington experiments.

“It’s important for it to go forward,” he said, referring to the state legalizations, “because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

But a few weeks later, he told CNN that the decision on whether to change Schedule I should be left to Congress, another way of saying he doesn’t plan to do anything to end the federal ban. For too long, politicians have seen the high cost — in dollars and lives locked behind bars — of their pointless war on marijuana and chosen to do nothing. But many states have had enough, and it’s time for Washington to get out of their way.


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

Federal marijuana bill would legalize some cannabis strains

(CNN) -- Doctors in Macon, Georgia, told Janea Cox that her daughter, Haleigh, might not live another three months.

That was the middle of March, when Haleigh's brain was being short-circuited by hundreds of seizures a day, overrunning the array of five potent drugs meant to control them. Worse, the drugs were damaging Haleigh's organs.

"She was maxed out," Cox said. "She'd quit breathing several times a day, and the doctors blamed it on the seizure medications."

Cox had heard that a form of medical marijuana might help, but it wasn't available in central Georgia. So a week after hearing the ominous diagnosis, she and Haleigh packed up and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

There, Haleigh began a regimen of cannabis oil: four times a day and once at night.

By summer, she was down to just a handful of seizures a day. In less than three months, doctors were able to wean her off Depakote, a powerful medication that had been damaging her liver.

Haleigh had never been able to walk or talk. But freed from seizures in Colorado, "She said 'Mama' for the first time," Cox said. "She's playing with puzzles; she's walking. She's almost being a normal child."

Despite all the good news, Cox is living in limbo. Her husband, a paramedic, couldn't afford to leave his job and pension; he still lives and works in Forsyth, Georgia. The family is relying on charity to keep their Colorado apartment for the next few months; beyond that, the future is uncertain.

A bill introduced Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives could be Cox's ticket home. The three-page bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act -- the federal law that criminalizes marijuana -- to exempt plants with an extremely low percentage of THC, the chemical that makes users high.

"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up their family," said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania, the bill's sponsor. "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."

Dubbed the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014, the bill is named after Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl whose parents have campaigned nationwide for easier access to medical marijuana after successfully controlling their daughter's seizures with cannabis oil. Since her story became known, a growing number of parents have flocked to Colorado, hoping for similar success.

The Charlotte's Web cannabis strain, developed by the Realm of Caring nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs, is in high demand, in part because of the attention it's received in the media. Many families wait months for a batch to be grown and processed into cannabis oil. Perry's bill, however, would apply to any cannabis strain with a THC content of less than 0.3%.

Charlotte's Web and similar strains not only have minimal THC, they have high levels of cannabidiol, another chemical. A growing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabidiol can effectively control seizures, though there are no published studies to support its use.

It's easy to find critics who say parents should follow a more traditional route.

'Doubling down' on medical marijuana Six months into Colorado weed experiment Does medicinal marijuana get a bad rap?

"There is no evidence for marijuana as a treatment for seizures," Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, a physician, claimed during a congressional hearing last month. "We hear anecdotal stories, and that's how myths come about."

Fleming and others point out that a pharmaceutical version of cannabidiol oil, called Epidiolex, is being tested in clinical trials. But many children aren't able to get into the trials. Haleigh Cox is disqualified because she has type-1 diabetes. Others aren't willing to wait several months to be enrolled.

"With Epidiolex, there just aren't enough seats at the table," said Mark Knecht, a father from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, whose story helped inspire Perry's bill.

His daughter Anna, 11, has epilepsy and suffers anywhere from a handful of seizures a day to more than 100, despite her four anti-convulsant medications. Knecht, the chief financial officer of a large Christian medical nonprofit, says Anna has been evaluated at several top hospitals but couldn't land a spot in the Epidiolex trial.

Politically, the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act is reaching for low-hanging fruit. Across the country, highly sympathetic patients and a nonintoxicating product have proved a popular mix. While 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing medical marijuana for a variety of conditions, this year alone, another 11 passed legislation loosening regulation of strains with high cannabidiol and/or minimal THC content.

As with everything related to marijuana, the narrow laws raise a thicket of thorny issues.

Even as states rewrite their regulations, federal law remains the same: Marijuana is illegal to grow, sell or use for any purpose. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed on Schedule 1, meaning it has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." To backers of reform, the Catch-22 is familiar: Marijuana is restricted in large part because there is little research to support medical uses; research is difficult to conduct because of tight restrictions.

Some states allow the use cannabidiol oil but don't provide a framework to legally grow or process the plants. That pushes families to look to Colorado or other states with established growing operations.

A series of memos from the Justice Department has said that arresting individual medical marijuana users is not a priority, and a 2013 memo added that federal prosecutors should not target large commercial operations except on a case-by-case basis. But most observers say that shipping or transporting the drug across state lines ups the ante.
"For families like us, the biggest issue is the federal issue. You can't take it across state lines," Knecht explained.

His family still lives in Mechanicsburg. But after seeing CNN's medical marijuana documentary last year, Anna and her mother, Deb, established residency in Colorado, where they obtained a medical marijuana card that let them place an order for a batch cannabis oil, in hopes it will control Anna's seizures. If Perry's bill becomes law, Knecht says, "Realm of Caring could just put it in a FedEx package."

The Food and Drug Administration is conducting a review of scientific evidence to determine whether marijuana warrants looser treatment, but a spokeswoman says there's no set date to complete the analysis. A review in 2011 ended with the Drug Enforcement Administration leaving marijuana's status unaltered.

But the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act lands in a Congress that may be more open to change.

This month, the House passed a bill allowing banks to handle cash proceeds from dispensaries and other legal marijuana businesses.

The most recent Farm Bill allows industrial hemp -- a strain of cannabis without THC -- to be grown for academic or research purposes. That didn't stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from seizing a shipment of hemp seeds bound for the University of Kentucky this spring. In response, the Senate Appropriations Committee, with support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, passed an amendment blocking DEA funds for anti-hemp enforcement.

In May, the House passed a measure blocking money for DEA raids on marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law.

And just last week, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took it a step further, introducing an amendment to the Jobs Bill that would forbid federal prosecution of doctors and patients whose actions are legal under state medical marijuana laws.

"If states allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, and people are in good faith prescribing medical marijuana, we want to make sure it's OK and that the federal government doesn't come in and prosecute somebody," said Brian Darling, Paul's communications director.

The amendment seems likely to die amidst wrangling over the Jobs Bill, but Darling says his boss plans to move forward on a standalone measure.
"There are a lot of people who have been locked up on marijuana laws for a long time," Darling said. "The War on Drugs has gone overboard."

In this changing atmosphere, Perry says that once members and their staffs are brought up to speed, he expects the Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of intractability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress."
Knecht doesn't want to uproot his family to move to Colorado. But he says his hand may be forced. "We're taking this situation one day at a time."
That's where Janea Cox was a few months ago. She hadn't heard about Perry's bill until she got a call from a reporter but says she understands where the Pennsylvania families are coming from. She's angry at home-state lawmakers who failed to push through Georgia's cannabidiol oil bill this spring.

"I lived in Georgia for 17 years," she said, "but here in Colorado, I met my child for the first time, at the age of 5."


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

Moms’ Marijuana-for-Kids Campaign Seeks to Quiet Epilepsy

April Sintz is fighting to loosen marijuana laws for her 7-year-old epileptic son. She is one of hundreds of moms nationwide who have opened a new front in the drive to expand the drug’s legal use.

While supplying pot to a child is bound to raise eyebrows, Sintz said early evidence on the marijuana extract cannabidiol, also known as CBD, suggests it’s a potent anticonvulsant, with few dangerous side effects. That could help save the life of her son, Isaac, who has 30 seizures or so a day and suffers with kidney damage from his present treatments, she said.

“We’re probably going to lose our son to his kidneys or his seizures,” said Sintz, who lives in South Jordan, Utah, near Salt Lake City, and whose son had his first seizure at 6 months old. “We can’t find a medication to safely control those seizures, which is why we’re so excited for this oil.”

So far, the oil hasn’t been tested in large randomized trials that could prove its safety and efficacy.

The most recent data came on June 17, when researchers reported that a purified form of CBD made by GW Pharmaceuticals Plc (GWP), a U.K.-based developer of drugs derived from cannabis plants, reduced seizure frequency by at least 50 percent over 12 weeks in 27 patients. The average age of the participants was 10, and all had failed on other treatments. Only mild or moderate side effects, including sleepiness, were recorded.

Larger trials are scheduled ahead.

More than 300 patients, including children with intractable epilepsy syndromes, are now enrolled in 12 trials with the drug, said Steve Schultz, GW Pharmaceuticals’ vice president of investor relations.

Anecdotal Evidence

The lack of scientific evidence hasn’t kept the parents of children with severe epilepsy from turning to it, though, based on anecdotal evidence carried across the Internet.

After Sintz first heard about the compound, she joined and helped lead a nonprofit called Hope 4 Children with Epilepsy that set up educational events and lobbied state lawmakers in a campaign that resulted in Utah becoming one of just 11 states to allow use of the marijuana extract by youngsters, all coming this year. Twenty-three states allow medical use of marijuana for other conditions including cancer, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS.

Utah’s health department last week began issuing registration cards, and Sintz said in a telephone interview that she’s planning to get one for her son within the week, so the family can legally possess and treat Isaac.

Initially, “we were known as the marijuana moms, which we are not obviously,” Sintz said about the process of getting a bill through the state legislature. “But as soon as they sat down with us and heard about our children and what we’re going through on a daily basis they changed their tune.”

2 Million Patients

About 2 million people in the U.S. have epilepsy, with a quarter of those being children, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 percent of people with the disorder have seizures that aren’t responsive to existing medications, according to the U.S National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

For Isaac Sintz, the middle child between two sisters, that tale began when he was 6 months old and suffered his first seizure. His second and third came at the ages of 9 months and a year, and he began having regular daily seizures at age 3, Sintz wrote in an online blog.

He was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a genetic illness that causes seizures from infancy. He began a series of different treatments that included medications, supplements and diet. The end result, though, was that the treatments sapped his strength in other ways and, eventually, came kidney damage.

‘No Options’

“We have no other options,” Sintz wrote on the blog. “We have tried everything.”

The parents say that the CBD extract doesn’t carry pot’s ability to leave users stoned, and can be a safer alternative to the 20 or so standard, U.S.-approved drugs for epilepsy that carry side effects that range from drowsiness, nausea and weight changes to dangerous brain and kidney damage.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the drug fast track status for two epilepsy diagnoses, a designation that help expedite development and the agency’s review of medicines to treat serious conditions.

Elizabeth Thiele, director of the pediatric epilepsy service at Massachusetts General Hospital, said it’s important to get those results since no other research at this point goes to CBD’s long-term safety. She is currently running one of the trials testing GW Pharmaceuticals drug.

‘Nice to Know’

“My gut is that CBD is going to be pretty safe but it would be nice to know that,” Thiele said in a telephone interview. “I don’t personally think that there’s enough data for me to start prescribing medical marijuana to people.”

States are concerned as well. In most cases, the new state laws -- including Utah’s -- require registration of the child, a recommendation from a neurologist, and a product that contains only very low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s psychoactive compound and high CBD content.

Some states have also built research into their laws. Alabama, for instance, appropriated $1 million for an open clinical trial, while Florida, Missouri and Utah require neurologists to collect data on patient response and share it with the state for study purposes. Laws in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina require patients be enrolled in a clinical trial, or only allow doctors at research universities to recommend CBD oil.

Maria La France, of Des Moines, Iowa, said her son, 12-year-old Quincy, also has Dravet Syndrome. Drugs used to control his seizures left the child with brain damage, she said.

“How ironic that the federal government is so concerned about cannabis when these FDA approved drugs have caused so much damage to my son,” France said.


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

Move over Amsterdam: Barcelona becoming Europe's new cannabis capital

A faint smell of cannabis smoke hangs in the air as Susana relaxes on the sofa with her mother Juana and lights up a joint.

Welcome to Pachamama -- one of the hundreds of cannabis clubs that are making Barcelona rival Amsterdam as a smoker's haven.

With shelves full of books and board games the place could be someone's sitting room, but for a hookah pipe and photographs of hemp plants like the ones the club grows.

"This is the safest way to know what I am smoking and at the same time avoid participating in the black market," says Susana, a 27-year-old shop assistant with her curly hair dyed red.

Smokers' groups say some 700 such associations have sprung up in Spain due to a legal loophole.

Dealing in cannabis is illegal in Spain but the law does not penalise growing it for private consumption nor setting up smokers' associations.
Now authorities are getting concerned, however.

Barcelona's city hall has imposed a moratorium on associations opening premises for smoking the drug and regional authorities also want new rules on cannabis.

"These clubs have spread due to a lack of regulation," said Antoni Mateu, head of public health in the Catalonia regional government.

"Our priority is to discourage consumption, but a regulation is required to curb it."

Half of Spain's cannabis clubs are in Barcelona, which tops the rankings on WeBeHigh, a travel advice website for soft drug users.

There are also many clubs in the northwestern Basque region, whose regional government has announced it is drawing up new regulations for cannabis use.

"Since it is not regulated, it is not legal," said Jaume Xaus, spokesman for the Catalonia Federation of Cannabis Associations.

"But no one knows either what paperwork you have to have nor how to prove to the police, if they come, that what we are doing is not breaking the law."

For two years now Susana has come once a week to Pachamama to buy five grams of marijuana. She sometimes brings her parents along too.

"You have to consume responsibly and be conscious of what it entails," she says. "But it is the same with medicine, alcohol and tobacco."

Would-be members must be over 18 and be recommended by an existing member. They must be able to show they are habitual smokers.

The club's 186 current members pay an annual subscription of 10 euros ($A14) plus a variable fee to cover the cost of producing the cannabis they consume.

"This is not a potheads' club," says Patricia, 28, who founded Pachamama in 2012 in Barcelona's trendy Gracia district.

Like the other members, she asked not to be identified by her surname.

"Here we control the consumption," she said. "We inform members about the effects of smoking and we ensure a quality product," she adds.

"We have nothing to hide. We are not doing anything wrong."

A cannabis club is legal as long as it controls consumption and refrains from advertising and distributing the drug for profit, said penal law specialist Juan Munoz.

Some clubs are suspected of stepped over the line, however, venturing beyond their non-profit association activities into full-blown drug-dealing.

"Some cases have been discovered of clubs promoting consumption among tourists, supplying to traffickers and minors," Mateu said. "Some have also had problems with the neighbours."

Martin Barriuso, spokesman for the Spanish Federation of Cannabis Associations, acknowledged that some "bad practices" have emerged.

"We have reported them," he said. "But it is hard to control without a clear regulation that separates the wheat from the chaff."


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

New York Times Backs Legalisation Of Cannabis

The New York Times' editorial board has urged the federal government to end "prohibition" of marijuana, making it the most authoritative US newspaper to back legalisation of the drug.

It said the marijuana ban was "inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

"The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

America's newspaper of record said its editorial board members had arrived at that conclusion after "a great deal of discussion", amid a movement across individual states to review cannabis laws.

The article, under the headline Repeal Prohibition, said that claims marijuana is a gateway drug to more dangerous substances are "fanciful".

The newspaper cited the social costs of enforcing cannabis laws, noting that arrests for possession of the drug fall disproportionately on young black men.

The board said the overall health impact of marijuana was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

However, it conceded there were legitimate concerns about the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain.

The newspaper said it would therefore advocate legalising the drug for sale only to people aged 21 and over.

Recreational sale and consumption of marijuana is currently legal in two US states - Colorado and Washington.

Alaska and Oregon will decide whether to follow suit this year.

Cannabis laws have also been liberalised in more than 30 others states, plus the District of Columbia.


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

(Michigan) Cannabis Cup attracts thousands of marijuana enthusiasts to Vienna Township

CLIO, MI -- Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts made their way to Clio Saturday, July 26, to medicate, hear a Grammy-winning musician and bond over their love for the plant.

Auto City Speedway opened its gates on Saturday morning for the Cannabis Cup, High Times magazine's concert, expo and trade show to celebrate marijuana.

Thousands of users, patients and enthusiasts flocked to Clio on Saturday for the first day of the two-day event. A roster of 150 vendors sold growing equipment, seeds, clothing, equipment to grow the plants, foods and drinks, while those with medical marijuana cards could smoke in designated areas. Attendees had to provide medical marijuana cards to get wristbands that would grant them access to the medical marijuana area.

A seminar tent hosted talks, and on Saturday evening, Grammy-winning artist and producer Wyclef Jean was slated to perform.

Dan Skye, editorial director of High Times magazine, said the first Cannabis Cup was 27 years ago in Amsterdam. In 2010, they brought the event to the United States for the first time. This weekend's festival is the 17th in the U.S., and the second in Michigan.

Skye, a Flint native and a University of Michigan graduate, said the event is a celebration of the plant, and that politicians in Michigan, and the rest of the country, should push to fully legalize marijuana.

"People are seeing that it's a beneficial plant, and it's being normalized," Skye said, adding that Denver has already brought in $40 million in tax revenue since Colorado legalized it. "The cannabis industry is only expanding. ... Michigan really needs something like this. There's no reason the cannabis industry should have a harness on it. It's jobs -- it's as simple as that."

Aside from that, Skye said, it's a good time.

"Cannabis use is also known for a great party," he said. "There's no reason we can't have fun when we're medicating."

Skye expected 5,600 people to attend the event over the weekend.

Barbie Shinevare, who lives by Gun Lake, said she was encouraged to attend the event by her fiancé. He has compassion for people who use marijuana medicinally, including Shinevare herself, who has arthritis and a herniated disk. She said marijuana helps her manage pain and her appetite.

"I wouldn't have gone in to smoke, because I get anxiety around crowds if I do," Shinevare said, adding that she isn't a day-to-day smoker, only using it to medicate. She said that she attended the weekend's festivities as a "supporter of the cause," not as a customer.

"I'm just glad they're doing this for the people that really need it," she said.

Dewitt resident Jonathon Waccak attended the event with friends. His family members have used marijuana medicinally - -her mother has multiple sclerosis, and her grandmother has fibromyalgia. Both of them use marijuana to treat their diseases, he said.

Wacaak said that he expects marijuana to be fully legalized soon, so that he wanted to attend the Cannabis Cup early.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to come out here. Medical marijuana is only going to be around for a short time, it'll be legal in the next couple of years," he said. "It's a big step in the movement toward legalization, so I'm happy to be a part of it."


Jul 25, 2008
Reaction score

(Washington) Pierce County gets its first retail cannabis store — but it’s not pot

With neither fanfare nor protest, retail cannabis came to unincorporated Pierce County on Friday with the opening of The Ultimate Cure in Summit.

That’s cannabis, not marijuana.

Angel Swanson, one of the owners of the enterprise at 5324 84th St. E., said the products she sells contain less than 0.3 percent of THC, the principal active ingredient in marijuana.

Initiative 502, which regulates the production, processing and retail sale of pot, defines marijuana as the parts of the cannabis plant “with a THC concentration greater than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

Anything less, Swanson says, makes a plant cannabis and not pot and therefore is legal to sell. Or buy. By anyone.

The oils, topical lotions and cannabis-infused edible snacks on the shelves, Swanson said, do contain high concentrations of CBD alongside the relative absence of THC.

That’s low THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, and high CBD, or cannabidiol.

Many people believe, and have provided anecdotal evidence, that CBD offers therapeutic effects for people suffering maladies ranging from epilepsy and cancer to eczema and arthritis.

Federal law is not as generous as I-502 in defining cannabis and marijuana.

In rules published in 2003, the federal Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice discussed the exemption of certain forms of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

The rule exempts substances that contain THC provided they are used for industrial purposes and not for human consumption.

THC is acceptable in the production of paper, rope and clothing; and animal feed can contain THC if designed for animal (not human) consumption; and it’s fine if sterilized cannabis seeds are used for shampoos, soaps and body lotions.

But in no case can THC enter the human body.

As for CBD, in a brochure available at The Ultimate Cure, Swanson claims the product is essentially legal.

And law enforcement?

“It’s not been asked and answered, that I’m aware of,” said Bruce Turcott, assistant attorney general in the office of State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Would the state have purview?

“It’s never come up that way,” Turcott said. “I can’t say how the State Patrol or local law enforcement will view this.”

Maureen Goodman of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office was unfamiliar with Swanson’s specific operation.

“This is something that is new,” said Goodman, team chief for narcotics, firearms and vice in the prosecutor’s office. “We haven’t dealt with it yet.

“We would really have to know more about the substance, the process, before we would do any prosecution. If this doesn’t meet the definition for THC, and the cannabidiol is not a controlled substance, I don’t know if we would prosecute it.”

Swanson said she receives her consumable products fom “four or five vendors. The edibles are local.”

The producers of the oils are based in the state and have experience with growing low-THC cannabis, Swanson said.

Swanson and her husband, Scott, operate a pair of medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Pierce County, and they continue to seek a retail license under I-502. At first denied, they have appealed the initial decision of the state Liquor Control Board.

The Swansons are partnering in The Ultimate Cure venture with daughter Ashley and Anthony Miller, CEO of USEI Cannabis Initiatives, a California-based corporation that Miller said is eager to invest in various marijuana-related businesses.

“This helps us do a number of things,” Miller said Friday. “It gets us entrenched in the marijuana business in Washington. We’re still trying to make some traction in Colorado.”

“We hope to expand this,” Swanson said, explaining that Ultimate Cure stores could be franchised as the company expands into other Washington cities and other states.”

“Today is the day everything is in place,” she said, gesturing toward newly installed shelves that displayed the topical lotions, edibles, oils and vaping supplies.

Along with a dispensary offering medicinal marijuana, the business also sells supplies including pipes, bongs and rolling papers.

Prices range from $70 for a syringe containing one gram of CBD to less expensive crackers and candies.

“A lot of people don’t want that THC effect,” Swanson said. “When they can get high CBD, they’re all over that.”

She hopes to serve a market that could be left behind as the retail marijuana market expands.

“There are patients that are going to get edged out,” she said. “The retail shops are not going to concentrate on high-CBD products.”

All consumable products in the store, she said, are independently tested to ensure potency (or impotency) and quality, she said.

“Our tagline is ‘Get all the healing without the THC effect,’ ” she said.

“Once everybody knows we’re here I think we can capture a good portion of the medicinal market,” she said. “I want to get a Seattle store open. Then I think we’ll be ready for a public offering. It’s exciting. I’m stunned that nobody else is doing this. How can it be so easy?”

High-CBD products are widely available online, but Swanson said she is unaware of any brick-and-mortar suppliers in the state.

Or maybe beyond.

Dave Brian, editor of the Los Angeles-based industry publication 420 Times, said he knew of no stores anywhere in the country.

But he is aware of the demand.

“There’s a lot of people, they’re all seeking CBD,” he said. “They’ll go to the ends of the earth. A lot of baby boomers are into this.”

“I think the risk is low to minimal,” said Miller, the California investor. “We have a goal to do cannabis under whatever opportunities are presented to us. This is an excellent place to start.”

And how could anyone, Swanson wonders, think it’s against the law?

“It’s basically hemp, and hemp is legal,” she said.

“It seems like we learn something different every other week or so,” said Maureen Goodman of the prosecutor’s office.

“This is going to be evolving for quite a while.”