MJ News for 12/19/2014

7greeneyes

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/u...oklahoma-sue-colorado-over-marijuana-law.html





Nebraska and Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Law




DENVER — Two heartland states filed the first major court challenge to marijuana legalization on Thursday, saying that Colorado’s growing array of state-regulated recreational marijuana shops was piping marijuana into neighboring states and should be shut down.

The lawsuit was brought by attorneys general in Nebraska and Oklahoma, and asks the United States Supreme Court to strike down key parts of a 2012 voter-approved measure that legalized marijuana in Colorado for adult use and created a new system of stores, taxes and regulations surrounding retail marijuana.

While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, officials have largely allowed Colorado and other states to move ahead with state-run programs allowing medical and recreational marijuana. But the lawsuit from Nebraska and Oklahoma, where marijuana is still outlawed, argues that Colorado has “created a dangerous gap” in the federal drug-control system.

“Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states,” the suit says, undermining their marijuana bans, “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.”

For months, some sheriffs and police officers in rural counties bordering Colorado have complained that they have seen more marijuana entering their towns and being transported down their highways since recreational sales began in January. Oklahoma and Nebraska said the influx had led to more arrests, more impounded vehicles and higher jail and court costs. They say it has also forced law-enforcement agencies to spend more time and dedicate more resources to handling marijuana-related arrests.

“We’re seeing a lot of marijuana coming over from Colorado,” said Sheriff Adam Hayward of Deuel County, Neb., who said that he was gratified that the two states were challenging Colorado’s marijuana laws. He has complained that marijuana arrests have strained his jail budget. “For the longest time we were saying, this is becoming a problem for us.”

Colorado’s attorney general, John Suthers, a Republican, said in a statement that the challenge from Nebraska and Oklahoma was “without merit.” Like many elected officials in Colorado, Mr. Suthers had opposed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana. But on Thursday, he said “we will vigorously defend” against the lawsuit attempting to undo it.

Nebraska and Oklahoma’s challenge is aimed more at the commercial side of marijuana legalization, which created new systems of regulations and taxes as well as recreational stores, dispensaries and production facilities that are monitored and licensed by state officials. The suit does not specifically seek to overturn the portion of Amendment 64 that made marijuana legal for personal use and possession, meaning that portions of legalization could survive even if Nebraska and Oklahoma prevail.

But marijuana advocates said that the challenge — if it succeeds at shutting down marijuana retailers — could boost the black market.

“If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed, they will put the violent criminal organizations back in charge,” Michael Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a Colorado-based trade group, said in a statement.

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The lawsuit, which was brought by Nebraska’s attorney general, Jon Bruning, and Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, accused Colorado officials of participating in a “scheme” that cultivates, packages and distributes marijuana in direct violation of controlled-substances laws while “ignoring every objective embodied in the federal drug control regulation.” It was filed directly with the Supreme Court because it involves a dispute among states.

“The Constitution and the federal antidrug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country,” the lawsuit says.

Nebraska and Oklahoma accused Colorado of leaving huge holes in marijuana rules that allowed the plant to flow out of state.

While it is against the law to take legally purchased marijuana across state lines, Nebraska and Oklahoma said that Colorado does not require consumers to smoke or eat their marijuana where they buy it, and said that despite purchasing and possession limits, anyone can easily visit several dispensaries and stock up. Some sheriffs in bordering states say they have pulled over drivers and found edibles and marijuana from multiple Colorado retail outlets.

They also criticized Colorado for not tracking marijuana once it is sold, and for not requiring marijuana buyers to undergo criminal background checks (under Colorado law, anyone 21 or older can legally purchase recreational marijuana). Colorado’s rules have no way to prevent “criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels from acquiring marijuana inventory directly from retail marijuana stores,” the lawsuit says.

Nebraska and Oklahoma complained about a “significant influx of Colorado-sourced marijuana,” but the suit did not mention specific statistics about Colorado-related marijuana arrests or drug seizures. In earlier interviews, some local law-enforcement officers along Colorado’s borders said that they had not seen an increase in marijuana coming from Colorado.
 

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics...render-in-the-medical-marijuana-fight/383856/





Why Congress Gave In to Medical Marijuana




Congress may have tried to stop residents of the nation's capital from being able to light up joints with impunity, but lawmakers retreated last week in another important drug-war front: medical marijuana.

The $1 trillion spending bill that passed last week included a provision that blocks the Justice Department from spending any money to enforce a federal ban on growing or selling marijuana in the 23 states that have moved to legalize it for medical use. It marks a huge shift for Congress, which for years had sided with federal prosecutors in their battle with states over the liberalization of drug laws. "The war on medical marijuana is over," Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, declared to the Los Angeles Times.

Another leading advocate of legalization, Allen St. Pierre of NORML, was pleased but not quite so jubilant. After all, under President Obama, the Justice Department in the last five years has sharply curtailed its raids on pot growers and sellers. But directives from Washington, he said, had not stopped overzealous prosecutors and DEA agents in parts of California from targeting the largest marijuana dispensaries. Will they follow Congress but not the president? "They will decide whether this comes to be," St. Pierre said by phone, in reference to the prosecutors and the DEA.

More broadly, the fact that the policy change made it through a Republican-controlled House is indicative of how the fight over drug laws has shifted from a debate over the medical benefits for people suffering from cancer and other diseases to the question of total legalization. Just last month, voters in Alaska and Oregon as well as D.C. approved measures allowing for the recreational use of marijuana. Congress wasn't ready to go that far, moving to block D.C.'s recreational law, but party leaders signed off on allowing pot for medical uses.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, was one of the authors of the medical-use provision, and he made the case to his colleagues on grounds that many conservatives can understand: states' rights. In a statement, he said his amendment would force the federal government to "respect state sovereignty" on the question of medical marijuana.

St. Pierre, however, says the shift is more generational. As Baby Boomers and their children have come to occupy positions of power across all levels of government, opposition to a strict marijuana prohibition has dropped. "There's almost a fait accompli," he said. A poll by the Third Way think tank in September found that while the country is still split on recreational marijuana, more the three-quarters—78 percent—support legal pot use for medical purposes. It might not do much for Congress's dismal approval rating, but on this issue at least, lawmakers appear to be following the public.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/18/indiana-university-marijuana-research/20604669/





Indiana University studying marijuana's effect on brain





LOUISVILLE — Though marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the country, little is definitively known about its impact on the brain.

A study taking place at Indiana University in Bloomington is designed to help change that.

Clinical psychologist Brian O'Donnell and colleague Sharlene Newman are recruiting current and former marijuana users to participate in a study in which their brains will be analyzed for changes in structure and function.

"From animal studies, there's reason to believe it (marijuana use) will affect parts of the brain and also the connections between them, and some of our preliminary studies suggest that is the case," said O'Donnell, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

The study — funded by a $275,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health — is taking place as marijuana is gaining more acceptance in some parts of the country. For example, marijuana has been legalized for adult use in places such as Colorado, Washington state, Alaska and Oregon, and many states now have medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"It's being decriminalized, but without knowledge of really its long-term effects on brain structure or function," O'Donnell said. People who choose to use marijuana need to know "what aspects of physical or mental function it might affect."

Recreational use of marijuana is illegal in both Indiana and Kentucky, but Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill into law in April, allowing limited prescribing of cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative. The product, sometimes called cannabis oil, has shown promise in treating children who have epileptic seizures, said Van Ingram, director of Kentucky's Office of Drug Control Policy. In general, efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky have failed.

The Indiana University researchers — who will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to conduct the study — are recruiting 90 people, ages 18-35, to participate in their research. Along with current and past users of marijuana, the study, which is one of the first of its type, will include people who have never used the drug.

"We're comparing the subjects in the different groups," said Newman, who's an associate professor and the director of the university's Brain Imaging Facility. "... The group that's never used marijuana is our baseline group."

The users will go through drug screening to verify that they aren't taking other drugs. "We want to study the effects of marijuana, not the effects of marijuana plus cocaine or marijuana plus a lot of alcohol," O'Donnell said.

Former marijuana users are being studied because it's possible that "smoking cannabis causes problems in the brain in terms of structure or in terms of function, but maybe, people recover after they stop using it for a little while," he said.

Study participants will undergo a series of brain scans so that the research team can do connectivity analysis.

"Connectivity analysis tells us something about the efficiency of the communication between brain regions," Newman said in an e-mail. "I like to think of the brain as an electrical circuit. If the insulation on the wires is not intact, you can get current leakage resulting in faulty communication. ... If the connections between brain regions are faulty, then the functioning of the brain will be faulty/inconsistent. With the MRI techniques we will use, we will be able to examine the integrity of the insulation."

In a previous study, the researchers found that connectivity in the brain was altered in cannabis users in a way that seemed to make the brain less efficient, he said.

O'Donnell noted that people who smoke a lot of marijuana in adolescence are at increased risk later in life of developing schizophrenia. But "we don't know whether marijuana smoking causes that. It might be that people who are becoming mentally ill tend to smoke marijuana," he said.

In the new study, the research team will explore whether people who smoke more marijuana over their lives experience more symptoms that are similar to schizophrenics'.

"I think there's a big lack of knowledge about how marijuana might affect the brain and importantly, whether those changes last a long time or not," O'Donnell said. One thing that will be looked at is "whether people who started use earlier in life, say as middle-schoolers, show more problems with mental health or cognition than those who maybe started in college."

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, negative effects of marijuana include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, disrupted learning and memory, and impact on brain development. Marijuana also may affect cardiopulmonary health, according to the institute.

But "what most people don't know is that there hasn't been a lot of research focusing on marijuana — up until very recently in fact — at least (as) to how it affects the brain," said Francesca Filbey, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.

"There's been a lot more attention toward alcohol, nicotine and other illicit drugs like cocaine," said Filbey, director of cognitive neuroscience research in addictive disorders at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas. Also, the approaches have varied across studies and the findings have been inconsistent, she noted.

Filbey is the lead author of a recently published study that is similar to the research underway at Indiana University. She and other researchers studied 48 chronic marijuana users and found that they had reduced gray matter volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with addiction, decision-making, inhibition and adaptive learning. However, there was increased connectivity, which suggests that the brain may be able to compensate for that, Filbey said. But it's unclear how the changes that were noted affect marijuana users' behavior, and the researchers didn't find a correlation with users' IQ.

Filbey noted that those who started using marijuana earlier in life had greater abnormalities in the brain.

It's important to learn more about marijuana's impact on the body because changes in legislation suggest that more people in the United States will be using the drug, and existing studies "have suggested there are effects on the brain, but what's most important is that these effects are particularly detrimental when use is initiated during adolescence," Filbey said.
 

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-kampia/the-top-10-marijuana-vict_b_6348528.html





The Top 10 Marijuana Victories in 2014





Since the Marijuana Policy Project was founded 20 years ago, I've oftentimes written a list of the top 10 victories at the end of each year. 2014 was either the best or second-best year in 20 years, depending on how you weigh the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington in 2012.

As usual, this top 10 list is limited to policy progress relating to marijuana in the United States. That is, the list excludes non-psychoactive hemp, breakthrough research, celebrity endorsements, and the like.

1. LEGALIZATION IN OREGON: On November 4, an impressive 55 percent of Oregon voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older, similar to the initiatives that passed two years ago in Colorado and Washington.

2. LEGALIZATION IN ALASKA: Also on November 4, 53 percent of Alaska voters passed a similar legalization initiative. As a result, Alaska and Oregon became the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.

3. TWIN REFORMS IN MARYLAND: In April, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in Maryland; at the same time, he signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in the state. This was the first time that any governor signed two substantial marijuana policy reform bills at the same time.

4. TWIN REFORMS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: In March, the local D.C. government enacted a law decriminalizing marijuana possession in our nation's capital. Then, on November 4, 70 percent of D.C. voters passed a ballot initiative to remove all penalties for personal possession and home cultivation of marijuana. (It remains to be seen whether a recent act of Congress will block the voter initiative from taking effect.)

5. CONGRESS REINS IN THE DEA: This month, Congress and President Obama enacted a massive spending bill for FY 2015 that, in part, prevents the U.S. Justice Department -- which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration -- from spending money to interfere with state-level medical marijuana laws. (This will expire on September 30 but could be renewed annually each fall.)

6. MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN MINNESOTA: After nine years of lobbying by advocates and patients in St. Paul, the Minnesota Legislature enacted a law in May to allow certain patients to use marijuana in a non-smokable form.

7. MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN NEW YORK STATE: After 12 years of lobbying by advocates and patients in Albany, the New York Legislature enacted a law in July that's similar to the Minnesota law.

8. MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOSS IN FLORIDA: On November 4, 58 percent of Florida voters voted in favor of a medical marijuana initiative. Because all Florida initiatives require 60 percent of the vote to pass, the medical marijuana initiative failed. But the close vote during a hostile midterm election means Florida voters will very likely pass a similar initiative during the presidential election in November 2016.

9. 25 LOCAL INITIATIVES IN FOUR STATES: On November 4, voters in 23 local jurisdictions passed marijuana-related initiatives, joining two more that had passed local initiatives in August. In South Portland, Maine, voters legalized marijuana possession. In the two biggest counties in New Mexico and eight cities in Michigan, voters decriminalized marijuana possession. And in 14 state legislative districts in Massachusetts, voters instructed their state legislators to support legislation to legalize marijuana.

10. MARIJUANA ON TRIBAL LANDS: This month, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo stating it would not interfere with the cultivation and sale of marijuana on tribal lands, even in states where such activity is prohibited.

As you can see, this was a huge year for the movement to end marijuana prohibition in the U.S.

I predict 2015 will also be a big year, with state legislatures like Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island passing various reform measures. And 2016 will be the best year ever, with five or more states (including California) legalizing marijuana at the ballot box on Election Day.
 

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http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/19/venture-investors-light-up-cannabis-startups/





Venture Investors Light Up Cannabis Startups




As American lawmakers legalize cannabis in a handful of states and decriminalize it in others, “potrepreneurs” are emerging from the shadows to bring tech to the cannabis community.

There’s Weedmaps, the Google Maps for tracking down dispensaries, Leafly, the Yelp-like rate and review platform for various strains of the plant, and MassRoots, the social network for marijuana enthusiasts.

Not surprisingly, venture capitalists had taken a (puff puff) pass on investments in cannabis startups – until now. Recently, all signs point to a revolution budding in the cannabis tech industry.

In the past year, CrunchBase has recorded 29 venture investments in cannabis startups for a total of nearly $90 million in capital committed – and this is not including the reported $75 million Series B for Seattle-based Privateer, rumored to list Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund as an investor.

Granted, the majority of this money is going into companies based in Canada, where medical marijuana use has been federally legalized. But participation from U.S. funds is rising, and networks like ArcView Group are growing quickly with a mission to facilitate investments in the cannabis sector.

And for good reason. Over 12% of Americans are daily or near daily cannabis consumers. Medical and non-medical use is legal in four U.S. states – Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska – with additional states voting on the issue again in 2016. Cannabis has very high profit margins, and the attention to detail from both the producers and consumers of the product leaves a lot of room for tech innovation.

“We started looking at the cannabis space about 2 years ago. It took us a really long time to get comfortable, both from the federal level and the maturity level of the startups and entrepreneurs in the space,” says Douglas Leighton of Dutchess Capital.

Then Leighton met Isaac Dietrich, a finalist for Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20, who immediately caught his attention. Leighton’s Dutchess Opportunity Fund contributed to a Series A for Dietrich’s MassRoots, a social network for marijuana users.

Deitrich started MassRoots last April for his friends who were unable to post about marijuana on Facebook or Instagram. “I wouldn’t want my grandma seeing a picture of me taking bong rips on Facebook either,” Dietrich acknowledges.

But a year and a half later, MassRoots has proven it’s much more than just a social platform for stoners. “We are up to 3 million posts now on our network, and tens of millions of data points across all of the posts that we can analyze to help dispensaries carry what consumers want, but also help investment funds make decisions based on data,” says Dietrich.

“LinkedIn is your professional profile, Tinder is your dating profile, and MassRoots is your cannabis profile,” says Leighton. Dutchess has recorded 14 investments in cannabis startups in the past year, from vaporizer companies to licensing companies.

“It’s a less mature space, and you’ve got some stigma to get over, but I think that the bow has broken on the talent problem — we’re entering into a space where we’re starting to see some more really quality teams going after this,” says Troy Dayton, CEO of cannabis investor network ArcView Group.

ArcView helps cannabis startups leverage their membership to grow, from weekly webinars to quarterly pitch-offs in front of an investor audience. “For the most part ArcView’s not involved in the deals,” says Dayton, “but in the last year or so there’s been over 18 million dollars invested in 34 companies (that we know of) that have pitched from ArcView.”

ArcView’s members range from real estate investors to organic food industry leaders, but Dayton reports that they’re seeing a lot more involvement from tech entrepreneurs and investors in the past year.

“While there is a stigma against the cannabis industry from the public perspective overall, that’s something that’s going to change,” says Brian Sheng, Founding Partner at Fresh VC.

Fresh VC is one of the few broadly focused venture firms to invest in a cannabis startup, contributing to a $1.5 million seed round for medical marijuana delivery startup Eaze earlier this year. “As an on-demand delivery company, Eaze is part of our investment thesis, we really believe in Keith the founder, and we think at the same time that this is a vastly growing industry,” says Sheng.

Founded by Keith McCarty, one of the first employees at Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, Eaze represents a new kind of startup in the market — one with an executive who comes from a seasoned tech background.

“We were really bullish on the on-demand service industry, so we started to look at pillars that made companies like Uber successful, with the underlying tech being on-demand,” says McCarty, “and cannabis kept coming up.” Eaze launched in late July, and McCarty says they had little trouble raising money despite the stigma around the industry.

Still, Eaze is not technically “touching the plant” — an important distinction that separates companies that are dealing with the physical product or handling transactions from those that are not.

“The industry has sort of bifurcated into two parts of investing – one is touching the plant, and one is not. A lot of people will not make an investment that is touching the plant because of the federal implications,” clarifies Leighton.

Eaze, for instance, partners with dispensaries, so the drivers making the deliveries and collecting the money are employed by the dispensaries, not by Eaze. By operating in San Francisco where medical cannabis has been legalized, and verifying that all users hold a medical cannabis card, Eaze is legally in the clear.

But the stigma is beginning to wear off, and companies that are touching the plant, like Privateer, are becoming increasingly more appealing to venture investors.

“It’s both an opportunity and a drawback from a business standpoint,” says Dayton. “If you believe at some point in the next three years that those barriers are going to go down and that federal legalization will occur in the next 5-7 years, then the fact that there are current barriers now is a huge opportunity because it gives the little guy a chance to really make a play at this in various regional markets without competition from big multinational companies taking over the space.”

“And for a startup that’s great — it’s great to have a niche where the big state doesn’t have a chance to play.”
 

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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...il-reverse-the-effects-of-cancer-9934577.html





(UK) Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?




In the summer of 2012, George Wilkins, a documentary filmmaker, was in his friend's health food shop when a customer walked in, looking exceptionally ill. "He walked up to the counter and asked for hemp oil to help treat his lung cancer," explains the 29-year-old from Hull.

"When I quizzed him, it turned out he was muddling hemp oil with cannabis oil. Still, I thought, why would he want that? So when I got home, I started researching it and found some quite compelling scientific evidence about the huge benefits of cannabis oil for cancer patients. Meanwhile, the health of the guy who came into the shop improved significantly within just a month of taking it."

Wilkins, who runs a film production company, wasted no time in spotting an opportunity to make a documentary and, two-and-a-half years on, Project Storm has just launched on YouTube. Crowd-funded by supporters and following the stories of six UK cancer patients (two of whom are children) who are being treated using cannabis oil, the film is controversial, but is seen as big news by a fast-growing community that wants to promote this more integrated approach to oncology.

Cannabis oil, which requires an extra stage of preparation once the plant has been harvested, is basically made up of cannabinoids such as CBD and the psychoactive THC, the active chemicals found in the plant that cause the "high" sought by recreational users. Already forming the basic make-up of the pharmaceutical cannabis-based drug Sativex, which is used to treat MS, growing scientific research now suggests that cannabis oil may also possess anti-cancer properties that help stem the growth of malignant tumours. The crème-de-la-creme is seen as 1:1 oils, which contain equal amounts of THC and CBD, which, when combined, are more effective. CBD also has the added benefit of moderating the psychoactive effects of THC.

"I'm not claiming cannabis oil is a miracle," says Wilkins, who explains that the six patients that the documentary follows range from three to 75 years old and are being treated for various cancers including prostate, glioma (brain), bowel and GBM, a common childhood cancer. "Nor am I suggesting people should stop more conventional treatments for cancer. In fact, my whole aim with the film is to blow the hyperbole out of the water. After all, if you couple the fact that there are very polarised opinions on this issue with the fact that those who shout the loudest get their views heard on the internet, it means that cancer patients looking to make a genuinely informed choice can find it impossible. I wanted to try and fill that gap."

It is true that the film points out some of the limits of current research, as well as highlighting some of the potentially negative aspects of cannabis oil (side effects such as anxiety, for example, as well as the problems of scammers selling olive oil as cannabis oil). Moreover, the film does not hide the fact that the outcomes for the six patients are not all positive. But it would be a stretch to call the film objective, with Wilkins himself responding to the question, "Did you contact organisations such as Cancer Research UK?" with the answer, "Why would I want to do that?" Cancer Research UK, he explains, claims there isn't enough reliable evidence to prove whether cannabinoids can effectively treat cancer, whereas he'd like to see the drug legalised. Moreover, Wilkins chose YouTube over channels including the BBC "because the channels wanted to change the slant I took".

There was a second reason, he adds. "They didn't want me to focus so heavily on Jeff Ditchfield because of his past convictions. But Jeff is the pivotal person in the whole movement."

Indeed, having founded the organisation Bud Buddies in 2002 – which supplied cannabis to ill and disabled people free of charge – and now a regular lecturer on the medical properties of cannabis to the Royal College of GPs, Ditchfield is recognised as a hugely influential figure in the development of medicinal cannabis in Britain.

For five years, Ditchfield operated from a cannabis coffee shop in Rhyl, north Wales that, despite being under constant surveillance and subjected to six police raids, became a key part of the local community. But in 2007, he resettled in Spain, where Bud Buddies now receives support and sponsorship from companies within the cannabis industry, as well as raising funding from books and seed sales. "I chose Spain because unlike in the UK, supplying cannabis in Spain is only illegal if you profit in some way," says Ditchfield, who put Wilkins in touch with the six subjects of the documentary. "Spain has a far more open-minded attitude to research in medical cannabis."

Wilkins' endeavour cannot have been made easy by the fact that even some experts who have made headway with research refused to get involved in the film. Dr Wai Liu at St George's University in London, whose research suggests that cannabinoids possess anti-cancer properties that help to stem the growth of malignant tumours, told The Independent that he was among them.

"There is lots of evidence to suggest that cannabis might work with cancer patients, but as it stands there is still no firm proof on humans," he says. "I didn't want to be associated with a film where I couldn't be certain that this picture would be presented impartially."

Dr Emma Smith, a senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, shares his concern. "I haven't actually seen the film, but following six patients in this way is purely anecdotal and those who survived might have done anyway without taking cannabis oil. I am also worried that the potential benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment are often presented in a misleading and overhyped way. Furthermore, cannabis is both illegal and could interfere with other treatments you are having. Finally, most of the research that has been done to date is on cancer cells grown in the lab or on mice."

This is not to say that cannabis has no future role, she says. "But as it stands, we still need proper trials to know for sure whether it has any effect and if so, for what types of cancer, at what dose and in conjunction with what other treatments."

These trials can't come soon enough, believes Peter McCormick, a lecturer in Cell Biology at the School of Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia, who earlier this year found that THC could help combat the growth of cancerous cells. "There are hundreds of reports out there and I do get concerned about them being written off as some anomaly or people trying to push recreational drugs into a legalised setting. The reality is that there are plenty of cases where cannabinoids do seem to be doing something and our study is further evidence that more research needs to be done."

As for Wilkins, he hopes that, at the very minimum, the film provides cancer patients with a fuller picture than they've had access to so far and that it acts as a catalyst in what everyone agrees is a much needed debate.
 

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http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Le...er-urges-legalization-export-of-cannabis.ashx





Lebanon agriculture minister urges cannabis cultivation for export




BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb Friday called for the legalization of cannabis farming to allow the state to benefit from the revenue of its export.

“We are conducting studies on [how to] organize this type of agriculture so that it becomes monitored by the state, and thus the state can buy the harvest and export it to the countries that need it,” Chehayeb said in a morning interview with a local radio station.

“This agricultural product is in demand worldwide for pharmaceutical production.”

Chehayeb said the state should end its war on cannabis farmers and find workable alternatives.

“Instead of prosecuting the farmers, let’s find other solutions for them,” he said. “The planting of cannabis must be organized to benefit the state and the industrial sector, and it is one way of helping the farmers.”

For many poor villages in east Lebanon, the cultivation and sale of marijuana has for decades been the primary source of revenue.

Upon pressure by international donors and foreign states, Lebanon launched a crackdown on the farmers after the end of the Civil War.

The government then attempted to implement alternative agriculture projects to encourage the farmers to grow fruits and vegetables instead.

However, the projects had little impact on the local farmers, who attempt to go back to planting cannabis whenever they have a chance.

MP Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party to which Chehayeb belongs, has also called for the legalization of cannabis cultivation.
 
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