MJ News for 11/25/2014

7greeneyes

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http://reason.com/blog/2014/11/25/did-marijuana-kill-michael-brown





(Editorial) Did Marijuana Kill Michael Brown?





In a radio interview on August 18, a self-identified friend of Darren Wilson's reported that the police officer suspected Michael Brown was under the influence of drugs the day Wilson shot him to death in Ferguson, Missouri. "He really thinks he was on something," the friend said, "because he just kept coming." Wilson made no mention of that theory during his grand jury testimony on September 16, although he did liken Brown to a "demon" and Hulk Hogan, descriptions reminiscent of the evil and strength sometimes attributed to illegal drugs.

One challenge for anyone pushing a pharmacological explanation of Brown's alleged behavior: Despite speculation that he was on PCP, marijuana is the only drug that was detected in his blood. Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, the assistant county prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury, did what they could with pot, raising the possibility that Brown had smoked enough to experience "paranoia," "hallucinations," and maybe even a "psychotic episode." They planted that idea in jurors' heads mainly by presenting a toxicologist's misleading testimony about the amount of THC in Brown's blood and the possible effects of large doses.

The toxicologist testified that Brown's blood contained 12 nanograms of active THC per milliliter, a level that he said indicated Brown had consumed cannabis in the previous two or three hours. That contradicted testimony by Dorian Johnson, the friend who was with Brown when Wilson shot him. Johnson, who said he was with Brown all day, testified that they had planned to get high (hence the cigarillos that Brown stole from a convenience store) but never got around to it. Despite the blood test results, Johnson could be telling the truth. Daily marijuana users have been known to register 12 nanograms or more when they get up in the morning, and they may even perform competently on driving tests at that level.

In a 2013 experiment sponsored by KIRO, the CBS station in Seattle, one volunteer, a medical marijuana user, tested at 16 nanograms when she arrived but nevertheless completed a driving course satisfactorily and continued to do so until she hit 58.8 nanograms. A subject in another 2013 experiment, this one sponsored by KDVR, the Fox affiliate in Denver, was already at 21 nanograms when he arrived, even though he had not consumed any marijuana that day, and reached 47 after he smoked some pot. He performed fine on a driving simulator at both levels.

Alizadeh noted that Colorado and Washington both have set five nanograms as the cutoff for drugged driving. But as the experiments by KIRO and KDVR indicate, that standard is highly problematic, treating many regular users as impaired even when they're not. The fact that Brown's THC level was "over twice" this arbitrary number, as Alizadeh emphasized, does not necessarily indicate he was too stoned to drive, let alone that he had consumed enough marijuana to precipitate a psychotic break.

To give you a sense of how misleading the discussion of marijuana-induced psychosis was, consider this exchange between Alizadeh and the toxicologist:

Prosecutor: Could you experience the hallucination and/or the psychosis if you had a high enough dose of THC?

Witness: If you got a high enough dose, you could have a psychotic episode into hallucinations, yes.

Prosecutor: Now, in this particular case, when you tested the blood and you got 12 nanograms per milliliter for the delta-9-THC, do you consider that a high dose?

Witness: OK—

Prosecutor: What conclusions did you make from that?

Witness: Well, you have to put things in perspective. This was a very large individual. I think he was about 300 pounds. So for concentration of 12 nanograms in a large person, that shows it was a large dose. In a small person, say like 100 pounds, to get to 12 nanograms wouldn't take a lot. A single joint could easily do that. But when you talk about a larger body mass, just like drinking alcohol, larger persons can drink more alcohol because they have the receptacle to hold it.

By conflating dose with blood concentration, this exchange implies that 12 nanograms of THC per milliliter will make a large person crazier than a small person, which makes no sense. If smoking a single joint can raise a 100-pound person's THC concentration that high, and if 100-pound people who smoke a joint do not commonly behave the way Wilson claims Brown did, why should we believe marijuana helps explain why Brown is dead?

The prosecutors spent considerable time insinuating that Brown had consumed cannabis in the form of the concentrate known as "wax," even though there does not seem to be any evidence that he did and even though it would not matter if he had. If the issue is Brown's level of intoxication, the amount of material he burned to achieve it is irrelevant. The testimony about wax looks like an attempt to exoticize a familiar drug that people do not usually associate with demonic rage or Hulk-like strength.

Then again, marijuana my be exotic enough as far as the prosecutors are concerned. "You explained that the Delta-9-THC has a psychoanalytic effect?" Alizadeh said at one point. "Psychoactive," the toxicologist corrected her. Later Whirley asked, "Could this amount of THC that was found in the blood be—is it possible that someone [could be] ingesting that amount on a regular basis and not be dead?" The toxicologist explained that "marijuana really isn't lethal." Unless you smoke it before getting stopped by a cop, I guess.
 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...uld-legalize-marijuana-introduced-in-georgia/





Bills that would legalize marijuana introduced in Georgia




A Georgia state senator has introduced two pieces of legislation Monday that would legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in the state.

SB 6 would allow those at least 21-years-old to purchase a “limited” amount of marijuana and taxes and fees from the sale would be split equally between education and transportation infrastructure.

SB 7 would authorize marijuana for medical use for those with a “debilitating medical condition,” which includes but isn’t limited to cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, and any “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition.”

“Few would disagree that physicians need every good tool in their medical toolbox to provide the best healthcare possible to their patients,” Sen. Curt Thompson (D), the bills’ sponsor, said in a statement. “During the 2015 legislative session, we will have the opportunity to provide our doctors with an additional tool by legalizing marijuana for medical use.”

According to a poll conducted for WSB-TV in Atlanta of 750 registered voters by Landmark/RosettaStone, 54 percent of respondents support medical marijuana, and 30 percent are opposed. The remaining 16 percent are undecided.

A bill that would have legalized cannabis oil for medical use sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R) failed to pass the legislature in March.
 

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http://www.msnbc.com/pot-barons/marijuana-industry-sees-green-after-colorado-legalization




Marijuana industry sees green after Colorado legalization





Colorado’s grand cannabis experiment has captured the imagination of America. After 75 years of marijuana prohibition, the state’s voters amended their constitution and legalized marijuana in all forms. The results have been remarkable.

Denver has surpassed Amsterdam as the capital of the marijuana world. The city has more than 300 stores, called dispensaries, outnumbering pharmacies, liquor stores, public schools and even Starbucks. Still, the demand for legal marijuana and edible products is outpacing supply. Nearly a year after Colorado legalized marijuana, there is still a supply problem for many strains and edible products.

For generations, Americans have been told how legalized marijuana would bring madness, decadence and moral decay. But in Colorado, the reality has been shockingly mundane. Crime statistics are down. Motor vehicle incidents are down. Tourism and marijuana tax revenues are up and the state is nearing total employment. The sky has not fallen. Life as we know it goes on.

The new industry is already becoming normalized as additional cities and towns open up to legal sales. There are roughly 10,000 people who have already become licensed by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, working as growers, trimmers and budtenders, but also as bakers and chocolatiers and tour guides. These are jobs, plain and simple.

The biggest challenge for the cannabis industry has been managing all of the cash. All banks are federally regulated, and the U.S. government still says marijuana is illegal. Banks in Colorado can be fined heavily for doing business with “drug traffickers.” That poses a problem at the retail level, where most purchases are in cash, leaving dispensary owners with the question of how to deal with garbage bags full of money.

It would be funny, if it weren’t so dangerous. The cannabis industry projects roughly $750 million in 2014 sales in a state of only 5 million people. Private security firms have stepped in to help transport, store and safeguard marijuana money, but people in the business often say the situation won’t change until someone gets killed.

Another controversy has arisen over the sale and regulation of so-called “edibles”, or marijuana-infused products. They’ve comprised nearly half of total marijuana sales, but have come under fire from opponents for infusing the drug in gummy bears, lemon drops and other products that might appeal to children.

The business media is buzzing with the prospects for the new industry, which analysts project could become a $40-$50 billion dollar national industry. The prevailing wisdom is that many of the early leaders in the game will cash out for many millions, or even billions, when the big money arrives. Whether the investors come from Big Tobacco or Wall Street, industry watchers are confident of the upside potential.

America is watching, too. In the recent 2014 elections, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. voters voted to allow citizens to legally buy and smoke marijuana. Colorado’s grand experiment may soon become the new normal.
 

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http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_2...fficials-recommend-grants-8-marijuana-studies





Colorado health officials recommend grants to 8 marijuana studies




Colorado health officials have recommended funding two studies on childhood epilepsy, two studies on post-traumatic stress disorder and four other studies as part of the largest-ever state research program on medical marijuana.

The studies — totaling about $7.5 million in cost — would be paid for by a surplus of registration fees paid by medical marijuana patients. The grants need final approval by the state Board of Health in December. Research could begin early next year.

"We hope the studies will contribute to the scientific research available about the use of marijuana in effectively treating various medical conditions," Larry Wolk, the executive director of the state health department, said in a statement.

Half of the proposed studies focus on the effects of medical marijuana use by young patients. Two of those studies would examine whether a non-psychoactive component of marijuana called CBD can control seizures in children. Hundreds of families have moved to Colorado seeking CBD for their kids.

Another study would look at using marijuana for inflammatory bowel disease among young patients, and another would look at marijuana for pediatric brain tumors.

Six of the proposed studies would be conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, but the largest recommended grant would go to doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. That study would cost $2 million and would look at using marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, in veterans. Another University of Pennsylvania study on PTSD would cost $1.1 million.

While several of the proposed studies would be placebo-controlled, university researchers who hope to handle marijuana as part of their studies would have to get complicated approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration before beginning work. They may also be limited to using only marijuana supplied by the federal government.
 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...-to-recommend-medical-marijuana-for-patients/





New bill would allow the VA to recommend medical marijuana for patients




Arguing that medical marijuana may help wounded warriors with anxiety and stress disorders to “survive and thrive,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) have introduced legislation that would allow Department of Veterans Affairs’ doctors to recommend the drug for some patients.

The Veterans Equal Access Act and would challenge the Va’s policy that forbids doctors from consulting about medical pot use. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported about the issue.

“We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows,” said Blumenauer in a statement.

The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the same as heroin and LSD, deeming that it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. That means that VA, which runs the largest network of hospitals and health clinics in the country, cannot prescribe pot as a treatment, even for veterans who live in a state where medical marijuana is legal. VA says that its physicians and chronic-pain specialists “are prohibited from recommending and prescribing medical marijuana for PTSD or other pain-related issues.”

Medical staff are also prohibited from completing paperwork required to enroll in state marijuana programs because they are “federal employees who must comply with federal law,” said Gina Jackson, a VA spokeswoman.

Over 20 percent of the 2.8 million American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD and depression, according to the Blumenauer statement. In addition, a recent study found that of the nearly one million veterans who receive opioids to treat painful conditions, more than half continue to consume chronically or beyond 90 days, their statement said.

Another study found that the death rate from opiate overdoses among VA patients is nearly double the national average.

“In states where patients can legally access medical marijuana for painful conditions, often as a less-addictive alternative, the hands of VA physicians should not be tied,” the statement said.

Researchers in the United States and several other countries have found evidence that cannabis can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder and pain, although studies — such as those looking into the best strains and proper dosages — remain in the early stages.

Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, said they “are very proud to stand by Congressman Blumenauer and support the Veterans Equal Access Act.”

“The Veterans Health Administration has made it very clear that, as federal employees, they lack the free speech necessary to write the recommendations for Veterans to comply with state programs,” said Krawitz. “This legislation is needed to correct that legal situation and repair this VA doctor patient relationship.”

The status quo has numerous harmful effects, said Blumenauer. “It forces veterans into the black market to self-medicate,” he said. “It prevents doctors from giving their best and honest advice and recommendations. And it pushes both doctors and their patients toward drugs that are potentially more harmful and more addictive. It’s insane, and it has to stop.”

Though pot is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, 23 states permit medical marijuana use, including Oregon and California.
 

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http://www.thecannabist.co/2014/11/24/amsterdam-cannabis-cup-2/23879/





Amsterdam Cannabis Cup stays open, but crowd frustrated




AMSTERDAM — Don’t tell High Times the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup is canceled, shut down or in any way shuttered. Determined to proceed with the 27th annual event, organizers opened the Melkweg on Monday morning as if it were business as usual at the venue. Passes, tote bags and T-shirts were doled out to the approximate 100 attendees of the opening seminar on curing and storage.

Still, it’s hard for many to recognize what’s occurring as a Cannabis Cup in the traditional sense of the event after organizers turned away attendees on Sunday’s first day of the Cup and issued strict new rules on cannabis use and possession because the Mayor’s office had issues with the legality of the proceedings. This was perhaps most pronounced as James Loud of Loud Seeds was interrupted Monday by a staff member, who reminded the crowd that all smoking needed to take place in a designated lounge.

“Yeah, go smoke!” laughed Loud as he returned to the microphone.

Absent the lavish exhibition booths, eager competitors — and of course, the free-flowing cannabis — High Times is banking on a lineup of cannabis cult figures like Canadian “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery, NORML founder Keith Stroup and a birthday party for hash legend Mila Jansen to keep the modest crowd entertained. Not everyone is sticking around, however.

“We came to see about opening a store here,” said Paul Krasnowski of lighting business Budmaster, who made the trip from the U.K. “To see it’s canceled when we get here and no one’s given any notice, it’s not right.

“We’re going to tour some coffee shops and head home tomorrow.”

This seemed to be a common sentiment, as judges continued to leave the event to visit local coffee shops, where consumption is more freely allowed.

“I’m surprised the city of Amsterdam would do this to people who want to come and spend money,” said Cindy Henderson, who traveled from Utah with her husband and son to attend the event for the second year in a row. “It’s bad business. We’ll probably check out an American Cup next time.”

With word of rapper Action Bronson canceling his scheduled performance Monday evening, the overwhelming feeling is that High Times simply can’t catch a break.
 

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http://www.medicaldaily.com/cannabi...est-smelsers-seizures-when-other-drugs-311960





Cannabis Oil Helped Stop 8-Year-Old Forrest Smelser's Seizures When Other Drugs Couldn't: What Is CBD?





A go-to argument for marijuana opponents is that its legalization will lead to more use among young teens and kids, as it becomes more accessible. But while all-out legalization is one issue, what about when those kids need it medicinally? It’s probable many of these opponents would be against that too, but they’re not seeing the benefit it brings to some kids, either. Eight-year-old Forrest Smelser, from Eugene, Ore., is one of those kids, and is among the 467,711 children living with epilepsy in the United States.

Forrest was diagnosed with epilepsy only a week after his eighth birthday. The disease causes recurrent seizures that range in severity; an epileptic seizure can cause anything from a blank stare or rapid blinking to unconsciousness, rigidity and muscle jerks, and confusion. On some of Forrest’s worst days, he’d experience these seizures every 15 minutes, KOMO News reported. “If he has a seizure that lasts longer than three minutes, we’re venturing into brain damage territory,” his mom, Tanesha Smelser, told KMTR Eugene.

Doctors prescribed Forrest Trileptal, an anti-seizure medication. But although his seizures had stopped, he was experiencing side effects the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes occur in about one of every 500 people. “He would scream, he would fight, he would punch himself,” Melser said. Combined with his anger, he also had suicidal thoughts, and once even attempted it. This was her family’s breaking point, and they began looking into giving Forrest medical marijuana.

Nine weeks into being 8, and Forrest’s life is looking a lot calmer, but it’s not because he’s high all the time. The medical marijuana he gets comes in a capsule filled with marijuana-infused oil. Provided by TJ’s Organic Gardens, a Eugene-based medical marijuana farm that’s providing the marijuana for free, it’s a special strain of marijuana containing mostly cannabidiol (CBD), the second most active ingredient in marijuana — behind the high-inducing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). But unlike THC, it skips the high and provides analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-epileptic effects. In one 2013 study on CBD’s effect on epileptic kids, 16 of 19 parents “reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency.” (Most studies on CBD’s effects are small; you can find a list of them here.)

Forrest’s pills are produced through an organic ethyl alcohol extraction process, after which the extracted oil is then mixed with another edible oil, and put into the capsules. Forrest takes three each day. “Now that I’m on this medication, I feel like a normal boy,” he told KMTR. Roughly 195 of the 69,000 medical marijuana patients in Oregon are under the age of 18, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

“I feel like it’s saved his life — it has saved his life,” Smelser said. “I know it sounds scary, and I know it sounds unconventional, but it’s working. It’s working!”
 

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