Marijuana Products


December 4, 2009 – A member of a medical marijuana group in Victoria has been arrested for allegedly making cookies, massage oil and other products from marijuana following a raid that could have implications for similar groups.

Thursday’s bust was sparked by a complaint about the smell coming from a makeshift bakery in a one-bedroom apartment in Victoria, according to Ted Smith, head of Victoria’s Cannabis Buyers Club, which rents the apartment.

Victoria police confirmed the raid took place but released no other details.

One man was arrested and Smith said he too expected to be charged.

Smith said his group, which has 3,000 members, has used marijuana to bake cookies and make massage oil and other products in the apartment for the past two years without a problem.

Health Canada allows people suffering from debilitating illnesses to have access to marijuana for medical purposes. They can get the marijuana through Health Canada or they can get permission to grow it themselves.

But Smith said there is a contradiction in the law, which allows the designated users to smoke marijuana but prohibits them from turning it into any other product.

Seeking city’s help
“If you take legally grown cannabis, or Health Canada’s and make it into one of these products, you’ve actually made an illegal extract,” he said.

Smith said he was found not guilty on a similar charge in 2007.

“We were successful in court, beating those charges, so we are going to use this unfortunate opportunity to point out the fatal flaw in Health Canada’s programs.”

The charge makes all medical marijuana groups vulnerable, Smith said.

He said his group would call on the City of Victoria to help legitimize the club by issuing it a permit or making a representation in any court proceedings. Source.

December 3, 2009 – Marijuana is a complex substance containing over 60 different forms of cannabinoids, the active ingredients. Cannabinoids are now known to have the capacity for neuromodulation, via direct receptor-based mechanisms at numerous levels within the nervous system. These have therapeutic properties that may be applicable to the treatment of neurological disorders; including anti-oxidative, neuroprotective, analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions; immunomodulation, modulation of glial cells and tumor growth regulation. This article reviews the emerging research on the physiological mechanisms of endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids in the context of neurological disease.

Introduction
Over the past few decades, there has been widening interest in the viable medicinal uses of cannabis. The National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Medicine, and the Food and Drug Administration have all issued statements calling for further investigation. The discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system with specific receptors and ligands has led the progression of our understanding of the actions of cannabis from folklore to valid science. It now appears that the cannabinoid system evolved with our species and is intricately involved in normal human physiology, specifically in the control of movement, pain, memory and appetite, among others. The detection of widespread cannabinoid receptors in the brain and peripheral tissues suggests that the cannabinoid system represents a previously unrecognized ubiquitous network in the nervous system. Dense receptor concentrations have been found in the cerebellum, basal ganglia and hippocampus, accounting for the effects on motor tome, coordination and mood state. Low concentrations are found in the brainstem, accounting the remarkably low toxicity. Lethal doses in humans has not been described.

The Chemistry of Cannabis
Marijuana is a complex plant, with several subtypes of cannabis, each containing over 400 chemicals. Approximately 60 are chemically classified as cannabinoids. The cannabinoids are 21 carbon terpenes, biosynthesized predominantly via a recently discovered deoxyxylulose phosphate pathway. The cannabinoids are lipophilic and not soluble in water. Among the most psychoactive is D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in dronabinol (Unimed Pharmaceuticals Inc). Other major cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), both of which may modify the pharmacology of THC or have distinct effects of their own. CBD is not psychoactive but has significant anticonvulsant, sedative and other pharmacological activity likely to interact with THC. In mice, pretreatment with CBD increased brain levels of THC nearly 3-fold and there is strong evidence that cannabinoids can increase the brain concentrations and pharmacological actions of other drugs.

Two endogenous lipids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-aracidonylglycerol (2-AG), have been identified as cannabinoids, although there are likely to be more. The physiological roles of these endocannabinoids have been only partially clarified but available evidence suggests they function as diffusible and short-lived intercellular messengers that modulate synaptic transmission. Recent studies have provided strong experimental evidence that endogenous cannabinoids mediate signals retrogradely from depolarized post synaptic neurons to presynaptic terminals to suppress subsequent neurotransmitter release, driving the synapse into an altered state. In hippocampal neurons, depolarization of postsynaptic neurons and the resultant elevation of calcium lead to transient suppression of inhibitory transmitter release. Depolarized hippocampal neurons rapidly release both AEA and 2-AG in a calcium-dependent manner. In the hippocampus, cannabinoid receptors are expressed mainly by GABA-mediated inhibitory interneurons. Synthetic cannabinoid agonists depress GABAA release from hippocampal slices. However, in cerebellar Purkinje cells, depolarization-induced elevation of calcium causes transient suppression of excitatory transmitter release. Thus endogenous cannabinoids released by depolarized hippocampal neurons may function to downregulate GABA release. Further, signaling by the endocannabinoid system appears to represent a mechanism enabling neurons to communicate backwards across synapses in order to modulate their inputs.

There are two known cannabinoid receptor subtypes; subtype 1 (CB1) is expressed primarily in the brain, whereas subtype 2 (CB2) is expressed primarily in the periphery. Cannabinoid receptors constitute a major family of G protein-coupled, 7-helix transmembrane nucleotides, similar to the receptors of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Activation of protein kinases may be responsible for some of the cellular responses elicited by the CB1 receptor.

Neuromodulation and neuroprotection
As we are developing an increased cognizance of the physiological function of endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids it is becoming evident that they may be involved in the pathology of certain diseases, particularly neurological disorders. Cannabinoids may induce proliferation, growth arrest or apoptosis in a number of cells, including neurons, lymphocytes and various transformed neural and non-neural cells. In the CNS, most of the experimental evidence indicates that cannabinoids may protect neurons from toxic insults such as glutamatergic overstimulation, ischemia and oxidative damage. The neuroprotective effect of cannabinoids may have potential clinical relevance for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson.s disease, cerebrovascular ischemia and stroke. Both endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids apear to have neuroprotective and antioxidant effects. Recent studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective effects of synthetic, non-psychotropic cannabinoids, which appear to protect neurons from chemically-induced excitotoxicity. Direct measurement of oxidative stress reveals that cannabinoids prevent cell death by antioxidation. The antioxidative property of cannabinoids is confirmed by their ability to antagonize oxidative stress and consequent cell death induced by the powerful oxidant, retinoid anhydroretinol. Cannabinoids also modulate cell survival and the growth of B-lymphocytes and fibroblasts.

The neuroprotective actions of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids have been examined in rat cortical neuron cultures exposed to toxic levels of the exitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate toxicity was reduced by both CBD (non-psychoactive) and THC. The neuroprotection observed with CBD and THC was unaffected by a cannabinoid receptor antagonist, indicating it to be cannabinoid receptor-independent. CBD was more protective against glutamate neurotoxicity than either ascorbate (vitamin C) or a-tocopherol (vitamin E).

Cannabinoids have demonstrated efficacy as immune modulators in animal models of neurological conditions such as MS and neuritis. Current data suggests that the naturally occurring, non-psychotropic cannabinoid, CBD, may have a potential role as a therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disorders produced by excessive cellular oxidation, such as ALS, a disease characterized by excess glutamate activity in the spinal cord.

It is not yet known how glutamatergic insults affect in vivo endocannabinoid homeostasis, including AEA, 2-AG, as well as other constituents of their lipid families, N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) and 2-monoacylglycerols (2-MAGs). Hansen et al used three in vivo neonatal rat models characterized by widespread neurodegeneration as a consequence of altered glutamatergic neurotransmission and assessed changes in endocannabinoid homeostasis. A 46-fold increase in cortical NAE concentration and a 13-fold increase in AEA was noted 24 h after intracerebral NMDA injection, while less severe insults triggered by mild concussive head trauma or NDMA receptor blockade produced a less pronounced NAE accumulation. In contrast, levels of 2-AG and other 2-MAGs were unaffected by the insults employed, rendering it likely that key enzymes in biosynthetic pathways of the two different endocannabinoid structures are not equally associated with intracellular events that cause neuronal damage in vivo. Analysis of cannabinoid CB1 receptor mRNA expression and binding capacity revealed that cortical subfields exhibited an upregulation of these parameters following mild concussive head trauma and exposure to NMDA receptor blockade. This suggests that mild-to-moderate brain activity via concomitant increase of anandamide levels, but not 2-AG, and CB1 receptor density. Panikashvili et al demonstrated that 2-AG has an important neuroprotective role. After closed head injury (CHI) in mice, the level of endogenous 2-AG was significantly elevated. After administering synthetic 2-AG to mice following CHI, a significant reduction of brain edema, better clinical recovery, reduced infarct volume and reduced hippocampal cell death compared with controls occurred. When 2-AG was administered together with additional inactive 2-acyl-glycerols that are normally present in the brain, functional recovery was significantly enhanced. The beneficial effect of 2-AG was dose-dependently attenuated by SR-141716A (Sanofi-Synthélabo), an antagonist of the CB1 receptor [30]. Ferraro et al looked at the effects of the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN-55212-2 (Sanofi Winthrop Inc) on endogenous extracellular GABA levels in the cerebral cortex of the awake rat using microdialysis. Win-55212-2 was associated with a concentration-dependent decrease in dialysate GABA levels. Win-55212-2 induces inhibition was counteracted by the CB1 receptor antagonist SR-141716A, which by itself was without effect on cortical GABA levels. These findings suggest that cannabinoids decrease cortical GABA levels in vivo.

Sinor has shown that AEA and 2-AG increase cell viability in cerebral cortical neuron cultures subjected to 8 h of hypoxia and glucose deprivation. This effect was observed at nanomolar concentrations, was reproduced by a non-hydrolyzable analog of anandamide, and was unaltered by CB1 or CB2 receptor antagonists. In the immune system, low doses of cannabinoids may enhance cell proliferation, whereas high doses of cannabinoids usually induce growth arrests or apoptosis.

In addition, cannabinoids produce analgesia by modulating rostral ventromedial medulla neuronal activity in a manner similar to, but pharmacologically distinct from, that of morphine. Cannabinoids have been shown to produce an anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the production and action of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and other acute phase cytokines. These areas are discussed in great detail in a recent paper by Rice.
Glia as the cellular targets of cannabinoids

There is now accumulating in vitro evidence that glia (astrocytes and microglia in particular) have cannabinoid signaling systems. This provides further insight into the understanding of the therapeutic effects of cannabinoid compounds. Glial cells are the non-neuronal cells of the CNS. In humans they outnumber neurons by a factor of about 10:1. Because of their smaller average size they make up about 50% of the cellular volume of the brain. Glial cells of the CNS fall into three general categories: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglia. Schwann cells and the less well-recognized enteric glia are their counterparts in the peripheral nervous system. Glia are ubiquitous in the nervous system and are critical in maintaining the extracellular environment, supporting neurons, myelinating axons and immune surveillance of the brain. Glia are involved, actively or passively, in virtually all disorders or insults involving the brain. This makes them logical targets for therapeutic pharmacological interventions in the CNS. Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type of the CNS. They express CB1 receptors, and take up and degrade the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide. The expression of CB2 receptors in this population appears to be limited to gliomas and may be an indicator of tumor malignancy. Two recent studies suggest that some of the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids, such as the inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) and TNF release are mediated by CB1 receptors on astrocytes.

The most recent therapeutic role for cannabinoids in the CNS evolved from the discovery that cannabinoids selectively induce apoptosis in glioma cells in vitro and that THC and other cannabinoids lead to a spectacular regression of malignant gliomas in immune-compromised rats in vivo. The mechanism underlying this is not yet clear but it appears to involve both CB1 and CB2 receptor activation. A recent study comparing the antiproliferative effects of cannabinoids on C6 glioma cells suggests the involvement of vanilloid receptors.

Microglia are the tissue macrophages of the brain. In variance from other immune tissue but in accordance with their place in the CNS microglia appear to lack CB2 receptors on protein and RNA levels. Similar to their effect on peripheral macrophages, cannabinoids inhibit the release of NO and the production of various inflammatory cytokines in microglia. Interestingly, the inhibition of NO release seems to be CB1 receptor- mediated, whereas the differential inhibition of cytokines is not mediated by either CB1 or CB2 receptors, suggesting as yet unidentified receptors or a receptor independent mechanism. Irrespective, the potential of cannabinoids on inflammatory processes such as a mouse model of MS or future experiments on brain tumors in immunocompetent animal.

Nothing is known of the effects of cannabinoids on oligodendroglia. In the light of the clinical and experimental evidence suggesting the beneficial effects of cannabinoids in MS, investigations in this direction appear promising.

Future trends

A growing number of strategies for separating the sought-after therapeutic effects of cannabinoid receptor agonists from the unwanted consequences of CB1 receptor activation are now emerging. However, further improvements in the development of selective agonists and antagonists for CB1 and CB2 receptors are needed. This would allow for the refinement of cannabinoids with good therapeutic potential and would facilitate the design of effective therapeutic drugs from the cannabinoid family. Customized delivery systems are also needed; as the cannabinoids are volatile, they will vaporize at a temperature much lower than actual combustion. Thus heated air can be drawn through marijuana and the active compounds will vaporize and can easily be inhaled. Theoretically this removes most of the wealth hazards of smoking, although this has not been well studied. Recently, pharmacologically active, aerosolized forms of THC have been developed. This form of administration is achieved via a small particle nebulizer that generates an aerosol which penetrates deeply into the lungs.

From a regulatory perspective, the scientific process should be allowed to evaluate the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis, dissociated from the societal debate over the potentially harmful effects of non-medical marijuana use. This class of compounds not only holds tremendous therapeutic potential for neurological disease but is also confirmed as having remarkably low toxicity. Source.

Benefits of Cannabis Use

November 17th, 2009 – A widely prescribed and expensive cholesterol drug is not as effective as niacin, a cheap vitamin, in helping to unclog coronary arteries in people already taking statins, the standard medicines used to lower cholesterol, according to a new study.

The research, which appears Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is sending rumbles through the medical community because it is the third recent study to raise questions about the effectiveness of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin, highly profitable pharmaceuticals made by Merck & Co.

Introduced in 2002 and 2004 amid heavy direct-to-consumer marketing, Zetia and Vytorin became blockbusters for Merck and Schering-Plough, which had collaborated on their development. The companies recently merged.

Last year, a study released by Merck showed that Zetia did not reduce plaque in arteries compared with patients taking only statins, which are much less expensive and available in generic form. Although released in January, the study had been completed in 2006, prompting a class-action lawsuit alleging that Merck intentionally withheld unfavorable results of a clinical trial. The company paid $41.5 million in August to settle the claims.

Another study published last year showed a potential increase in cancer among patients taking Zetia and Vytorin, compared with those taking only statins.

So what does this have to do with medical marijuana? Everything. Understand that these same profit-making mega-corps of Big Pharma are desperately trying to create cannabinoid-based medicines that can’t be grown in your back yard or closet. While we rejoice that the AMA reversed its position and urged the rescheduling of cannabis, keep your mind focused on why they might have done that. Is it the pure altruism of realizing a mistake and returning to a rational scientific approach to cannabis moderated by compassion for suffering people and the benefit herbal cannabis would provide?

Or is it the realization that the people are crusading for legal marijuana and succeeding, and if herbal cannabis becomes truly legal their friends in the pharmaceutical industry lose all the profits off of cannabinoid pills, sprays, and inhalers to the ultimate “less expensive generic”?

Remember that drug companies only make money if you take drugs. If you’re not sick, you don’t take drugs, so they need to keep finding new drugs to push on you for new ailments you never knew you had. If you go about relieving your unhealthful stress with a joint after a long day, you’re not going to get those stress-related diseases for which you’ll need a lifelong regimen of drugs.

Beware the medicalization of marijuana. I can forsee a ruling where herbal cannabis is placed in Schedule II so research is then allowed to take place. At Schedule II, your doctor could prescribe it to you, but since Schedule II drugs are tightly controlled (no refills, for instance) perhaps he won’t. Meanwhile, Big Pharma identifies and synthesizes the medically-effective compounds in cannabis (taking out the pesky “high”, of course) and these expensive drugs are packaged and mega-hyped on TV. These drugs are placed, like Marinol, at Schedule III or lower. With effective alternatives to herbal cannabis found (and lobbying pressure from Big Pharma looking to protect their investments), states have no reason to begin or continue their herbal cannabis programs.

Next thing you know, the “medical marijuana era” is a relic of the history books, “crude” marijuana is rejected, and those who grow it are busted just like now (remember, possession and manufacture of an unauthorized Schedule II substance can get you in as much trouble as Schedule I.) By: Radical Russ. Source.

“If we were talking about medical use of marijuana, THC, or cannabinoids,” Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey said on CNN last week, “I’d be 100 percent for it.”

For anyone familiar with McCaffrey’s history, this opening whopper made it hard to pay attention to anything else he had to say. Here is McCaffrey in August 1996 on the subject of medical marijuana:

There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax that sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show.

At a December 1996 press conference, McCaffrey was asked whether there was “any evidence…that marijuana is useful in a medical situation.” His reply was unequivocal: “No, none at all.”

While research since then has added to our knowledge of marijuana’s medicinal properties, there was plenty of evidence at the time McCaffrey made these dismissive remarks that the plant is medically useful, especially in fighting nausea and restoring appetite but also in treating various kinds of pain. You might conclude that McCaffrey just didn’t know what he was talking about then and has since read up on the subject, except that he is still playing the same games.

Although he’s “100 percent for” the medical use of marijuana, McCaffrey told Lou Dobbs it isn’t necessary to let patients use the plant because they already have access to the prescription drug Marinol, an FDA-approved capsule containing a synthetic version of THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient. (Marinol also was around back in 1996, and the double-blind clinical trials necessary to get it approved conclusively showed that McCaffrey was wrong when he insisted there was no evidence that marijuana is medically effective.) But right after presenting Marinol as a perfect substitute for marijuana, McCaffrey cut it down, saying “it’s available for patients” but “not much used” because “it’s not a very good drug.” In fact, that is an assessment you will often hear from medical marijuana users who have tried Marinol. But if McCaffrey delved into the reasons many patients prefer marijuana to Marinol—e.g., it’s easier for people suffering from severe nausea, it takes effect much faster, the dosage is easier to control, and the psychoactive effects are less disturbing—he would be making the case for medical marijuana. Which he would be totally for if he weren’t completely against it.

McCaffrey’s stance against medical marijuana went beyond denying the evidence in its favor. As the Cato Institute’s Tim Lynch pointed out in the same segment of Dobbs’ show, McCaffrey helped spearhead the Clinton administration policy of threatening to prosecute doctors or take away their prescribing privileges simply for discussing marijuana’s benefits with their patients. That policy, which in some respects was more extreme than anything the Bush administration later did in this area, was slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on First Amendment grounds. Source.

October 6, 2009 – Montana – Deni Llovet, a family nurse practitioner, organized River City Family Health’s first medical marijuana clinic after a patient with chronic back pain committed suicide.medmarijuana1

“Two and a half years ago, I had a client who was really suffering,” Llovet said. “We had tried everything and finally I said, ‘You know, I hear that marijuana could help.’” When the patient asked if it was legal, Llovet said no. She did not know about the state’s exemption.

“She bought cannabis from her 27-year-old son and it worked wonders,” Llovet said. “But her family did not approve, so she killed herself because her pain was so great.

“I should have known it was legal. That’s when I realized that I was missing the beat.”

Nearly 700 medical studies of cannabis and its derivatives are published each year that confirm their useful medical properties, said Tom Daubert, who led the campaign to establish the Montana law and later founded the patient support group Patients and Families United.

In 2002, adjunct University of Montana professor and local neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo researched the long-term effects, positive and negative, of smoking marijuana as a medical treatment.

Russo’s team, which included a UM grad student, evaluated four remaining members of the FDA’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug program. Though the program no longer accepts new patients, the remaining four are provided with four to eight ounces of government-grown, cured marijuana each week as treatment for serious illnesses such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.

“The Missoula Study,” as it was nicknamed, concluded the medical use of marijuana relieved pain, muscle spasms and intra-eye pressure. The researchers recommended that the program be reopened or that states develop laws to accommodate patients in serious need.

“While some 13 American states allow medicinal use of cannabis for
 certain conditions, it remains illegal under federal law,” Russo said. “One possible
 solution to this situation would be FDA approval of a cannabis-based 
medicine so that it could be prescribed. Because of the side effects of smoking and variability in herbal
 cannabis without standardization, it is extremely unlikely that it could
 attain FDA approval.”

Most recent research delves into the relationship of phytocannabinoids found in marijuana plants, such as THC, and endocannabinoids, their counterparts produced in the human body. When a medical marijuana patient takes a dose, most of the phytocannabinoids engage with cells of the nervous system in conjunction with the endocannabinoids already present to produce a variety of effects, including pain relief.

Russo continued to research and synthesize these cannabinoids as senior medical adviser for GW Pharmaceuticals to help develop a cannabis-based oral spray. The product, called Sativex, is approved in Canada to treat cancer pain and multiple sclerosis.

But until it is approved in the U.S. or the cost of similar cannabis-derivatives decreases, physicians such as Llovet say they will continue to recommend the leafier medical counterpart.

Llovet said she prefers to recommend marijuana over opiate painkillers because it does not have the side effects, physical addictions or overdoses commonly seen among patients prescribed morphine or Oxycontin, for example.

“If you wanted to kill yourself with cannabis, you would have to smother yourself under bales of it,” Llovet said. “Overdose is easy with prescription pain killers.” Using medical marijuana or its pharmaceutical derivatives in conjunction with other painkillers can provide superior relief and reduce the risk of developing a tolerance to opiate prescriptions, Russo said.

Sitting at Food For Thought, Llovet was wrapped up in her excitement. Her coffee grew cold as she talked about the clinics where she works with others to identify the best treatments, sometimes including medical marijuana.

Contrary to what she expected, Llovet said the clinics don’t see recreational users looking for a loophole.

“We see the little old ladies, the old man living out in the woods and once we went out to a car to help a quadriplegic. We are seeing people who haven’t seen a health care practitioner in 30 years,” Llovet said. “We really are providing a public service. Our job is to make sure they really do qualify, and we want to give them suggestions on how to improve their health, whether that includes medical marijuana or not.”

At River City Family Health, visiting the clinic costs $200 for the patient, who must also register for an appointment and submit medical records in advance, though qualifying individuals without records are also allowed to attend.

When a prospective patient arrives at the clinic, a nurse gives him a physical before passing the chart to Llovet, who speaks with each individual for at least 15 minutes about his medical history and suggests all possible treatments. The person and chart then move to the final stage for a consultation with Dr. Michael Geci, who may sign a physician’s recommendation for medical marijuana if he believes the patient legally qualifies and the treatment seems appropriate.

After receiving a physician’s recommendation, the person applies for a patient registry card with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services and can designate one person as a caregiver. Each patient is allowed to grow six plants for their medicine and possess one ounce of usable marijuana, and if they name a caregiver, that person can tend six plants and hold one ounce for each patient they assist.

“We are not affiliated with caregivers,” Llovet said. “We do recommend you enter into a relationship with a caregiver you trust.”

Daubert said many people designate a spouse or close friend as a caregiver, but often it is difficult initially because most people do not have experience growing cannabis.

“These are the only patients in the world growing their own medicine,” Daubert said. “Contrary to what a lot of people think, growing medical marijuana is not so simple. It takes months to grow a plant.”

In February, Daubert led a group of patients, caregivers, and activists to the state capitol, where they sought to improve the law’s functionality through Senate Bill No. 326, which died in a House committee after passing Senate.

“The House legislature was evenly divided (between parties) and a lot of bills couldn’t make it out of committee,” Daubert said. “It’s some part political fluke and partly because it was brand new information to many of the representatives. We got more support than I’d expected, however.”

The bill, created by Daubert and other PFU associates, sought to expand the law’s list of qualifying illnesses, allowing patients to obtain medicine from any registered caregiver, establish inventory audits under certain conditions, increase the amount of medical marijuana a patient and caregiver can possess and alter the definition of a mature plant to make it easier for patients to maintain a steady flow of medicine.

“We’ve likened our law to being allowed to have six tomato plants, but only one tomato and needing one in the fridge tomorrow to guarantee your medicine,” Daubert said. “Let me see you grow the plants and follow that rule. That’s what we are asking them to do.”

And for people who choose not to grow themselves, or who need larger amounts for relief, they rely on their caregivers to provide consistently as they, too, abide by the tomato rule.

Sometimes, an even flow of medicine cannot be maintained for other reasons.

Daubert said there is one con artist who travels the state persuading people to fund a large grow operation that he promises will yield large profits, then walks off with the money. He’s also heard complaints about caregivers who charge exorbitant prices or don’t deliver the medicine to patients as promised.

Because the law does not include provisions for punishing negligent caregivers or reasonable oversight that would limit the opportunities of con artists, one anonymous Missoula cardholder said many patients like himself are left without a legal source of medicine and no guarantee of justice.

“There are a lot of people taking advantage of new patients,” he said. “There is no database of reliable caregivers.” Source.

October 5, 2009 – An Objective, Brief, and Ethical Exploration of a Law Prohibiting Marijuana

Marijuana is illegal, but should it be? That is a question that remains unanswered. The road to the freezedirtbag2illegalization of marijuana began in 1937 when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed. While it didn’t make the drug illegal, it made it very dangerous to deal with the substance. It wasn’t until the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that marijuana became a schedule 1 narcotic, making it illegal. In order to be declared a schedule 1 narcotic, a substance must meet the following criteria:

(A) The drug or other substance has high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

In this article we will explore the function of drug laws, how that function relates to marijuana, and whether or not a law prohibiting marijuana is ethical and fair. In addition to the guidelines offered by the CSA, we will include our own reasons for controlling a substance, which are:

(A) The drug induces severe psychological affects, which cause unpredictable behavior that may endanger the user and those around them.

(B) Use of the drug could lead to crime.

(C) Use of the drug can lead to severe health problems.

The opposition to marijuana (in the modern day) stems largely from fears in regards to the possible psychological and physical health effects of the drug. Some claim that marijuana causes permanent damage to brain, hindering a person’s cognitive skills over time. Others note personality changes such as loss of motivation, paranoia, and addiction.

Studies have shown the fears regarding personality to be justified. However, the general consensus is that the people most affected by marijuana in terms of addiction and personality changes, are people who began using the drug before the age of 18, a period in a child’s life that is important to their psychological and social development. In fact, 10-14% of marijuana users suffer from addiction problems and withdrawal that is comparable to nicotine withdrawal, says University of Vermont associate professor and director of its Treatment Research Center, Dr. Alan J. Budney (Carroll).

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) marijuana can have lasting effects on a user’s daily life. The following is taken from NIDA’s information page of marijuana:

Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status. Several studies associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.

As for physiological health effects, the three main concerns are in regards to the brain, the heart, and the lungs. As mentioned earlier, many opponents to marijuana use claim that the drug causes permanent damage to the brain. Many studies dispute this notion, but we will cover that in more depth when we get to the pro-marijuana portion of this paper. Instead, we will focus on the areas in which scientific studies have been able to confirm potential health risks.

Research has shown that the risk for a heart-attack increases within the first hour of marijuana use. This happens because of an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to heart concerns, marijuana poses a threat to the respiratory system as it is carcinogenic and users tend to hold smoke in their lungs longer. While it was originally believed that marijuana smoke caused cancer new studies have proven otherwise, some even saying that the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, may be able to help prevent certain kinds of cancer (NIDA).

Nevertheless, the debate on medicinal marijuana has caused an increase in the amount of research regarding the drug, many of which have ended with surprising conclusions. In 15 different studies, varying from 3 months to 13+ years, scientists observed regular marijuana users and non-users to determine if there was any damage to the brain as a result of use. All of the studies conclusively proved that marijuana does not damage the brain permanently as previously believed. Other studies have produced similar results (WebMD).

Igor Grant, MD and lead researcher for the previously mentioned studies makes sure to mention that the participants were all adults and that the results would most likely be different if it was a 12 year old user, whose nervous system is still developing (WebMD).

In regards to addiction, ”Everything is relative,” said Dr. Donald Jasinksi, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins medical school and director of the Center for Chemical Dependence at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. ”Does it destroy as many lives as alcohol? No. Does it kill as many people as cigarettes? No. Does it have as many deaths associated with it as aspirin overdose? No. (Carroll).”

While studies have shown a percentage of marijuana users to suffer from addiction to the drug, it is a small percentage of the population and an argument can be, and has been, made that anything can be addictive based on the emotional attachment a person has to an activity. The withdrawal period is far less severe than that of alcohol and other drugs. The NIDA has found that the average withdrawal begins after 1 day of abstinence, peaks at 2-3, and subsides after a week or two (NIDA).

As far as physical health effects, respiratory problems appear to be the only one that both sides agree on, but advocates of marijuana contend moderate use of the drug is less severe than cigarette use as cigarette users tend to smoke multiple cigarettes a day. Furthermore, alternative means of marijuana consumption such as eating it or using a vaporizer lower the amount of carcinogens that enter the lungs. Even more surprising, studies conducted in Italy and Britain have found that THC might be useful in fighting off bacteria (Fountain).

With the amount of studies that have been conducted on marijuana since the 1950s, and the nature of their findings, it is shocking as to why a collective conclusion has not yet been reached in regards to the legality issue of the substance. Based on the above information and the criteria established earlier for determining whether a substance should be controlled or not, we will systematically explore the ethical validity of a law prohibiting the use, growth, and sale of marijuana.

First, we must define the telos or function of a law. Certainly, most will agree that the function of a law is to protect the majority of the population from a dangerous element of society. If that is the function of a law then we must examine the societal effects of the illegalization of marijuana versus the potential dangers.

As a result of the prohibition of marijuana, millions of Americans have been arrested and entered into the justice system, with 872,721 people being arrested in 2007, 89% for simple possession (NORML). The number is a 5.2% increase from 2006, with the annual number of marijuana arrests rising steadily on a yearly basis (NORML).

The majority of people arrested for marijuana are non-violent offenders with no previous criminal record. This means they pose no threat to society. So what is the law protecting the population from? Themselves? This seems to be the case since the law has damaged more lives through legal troubles than it protected since most marijuana users do not use the substance and go on crime sprees.

If the law’s function is meant to protect people from the health risks associated with the population then we must once again return to the studies conducted on the issue. While marijuana, like anything, has negative effects, it appears that overall it is no more dangerous than many legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, aspirin, etc. In the WebMD article, which talks about Igor Grant’s research regarding the effects of marijuana on the brain, Lester Grinspoon, MD, a retired Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who studied medicinal marijuana use since the 1960s and wrote two books on the topic, says that while Grant’s finding provide more evidence on its safety, “it’s nothing that those of us who have been studying this haven’t known for a very long time.”

“Marijuana is a remarkably safe and non-toxic drug that can effectively treat about 30 different conditions,” he tells WebMD. “I predict it will become the aspirin of the 21st century, as more people recognize this. (WebMD)”

While many credible minds in the scientific community warn about the dangers of marijuana use on people under the age of 18, the consensus seems to be that it is relatively safe to use for adults, especially when used in moderation.

If it poses little danger to a person’s health, brings joy to those who use it, and its users are not prone to criminal behavior, what is the function of a law prohibiting marijuana? If, as a law, it is to protect the population from an assumed danger, is it serving that function? The answers to those questions are for the reader to determine based on the evidence and analysis presented within this paper, in addition to any evidence found independently. Source.

Works Cited

Carroll, Linda. “Marijuana’s Effects: More Than Munchies.” New York Times 22 Jan. 2008.

“872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007, up 5.2% from 2006.” NORML. 15 Sept. 2008. NORML. 22 Oct. 2008 .

Fountain, Henry. “Marijuana Ingredient May Fight Bacteria.” New York Times 5 Sept. 2008: F3.

“Info Facts – Marijuana.” National Institute of Drug Abuse. June 2008. National Institute of Drug Abuse. 22 Oct. 2008.

Kirchheimer, Sid. “Heavy Marijuana Use Doesn’t Damage Brain.” WebMD. 1 July 2003. WebMD. 22 Oct. 2008 .

September 30, 2009 – Mary Jane’s Soda, marketed as “a relaxing soft-drink that delivers euphoric relaxation and focus to a stress-filled life,” implicitly mimics the effects of marijuana. The drink’s y560ck10website says that the effects of the drink are sometimes compared to that of alcohol, but without the “drowsiness, beer goggles, tough-guy syndrome, and hangovers.”

“We created Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda as an alternative to alcohol, for people who want a healthy, natural, and legal way to relax and unwind,” said CEO and creator Matt Moody.

You may remember the “pot sucker” controversy from a few years ago. The suckers were marketed as “hemp-flavored lollipops.” The notorious candy, sold at Spencer’s, a gift shop found in many malls, spawned a debate about the ethical considerations of marketing illicit substances to young children. “Every lick is like taking a hit,” claimed the producers of the candy. Subtlety was clearly not a priority.

The company sold hundreds of thousands of the suckers before being yanked from the shelves, so the market was there. The proponents of Mary Jane’s Soda must have taken notice.

William Wood, a 23-year-old journalism major from Atlanta, said “That is clever marketing. They obviously couldn’t market it explicitly as an alternative to marijuana. They are probably trying to get the college-age market.”

The multi-billion dollar energy drink industry markets heavily towards college students. “I could see that [Mary Jane’s Soda] being used to accompany energy drinks if someone drinks too many Red Bulls to get through the school day, and they want to counteract the caffeine,” said Wood. This is something I can relate to. I could see myself using the drink for this purpose but several studies are being done on the negative effects of energy drinks and perhaps I should see how those pan out before acquiring another habit.

The company’s website recommends drinking its product after a long day or before a first date to calm the nerves. It claims to be helpful for job interviews and public speaking. Road rage, something every Georgia State student can relate to, is another reason the website lists.

“I wouldn’t drink it,” says Courtney Hill, a freshman from Alpharetta. Wood said, “I probably wouldn’t drink it because I only drink water.”

I cannot comment on the taste, as the product is not currently available on the east coast. “If it’s herbal and all natural, it probably does not taste great,” said Wood. He makes a good point. Mostly anything herbal is not very tasty, at least in my experience. The website does not really address the taste except to say that past attempts to put Kava in a drink have failed at masking the naturally bad taste and that Mary Jane’s Soda is the first to do so successfully.

The website says not to drink Mary Jane’s Soda if you are on any prescription drugs. “That sounds dangerous,” says Hill. I personally cannot help but wonder how many Americans are not taking any prescription drugs. Kava, the main ingredient, has been used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes in the South Pacific for thousands of years. Other medicinal uses for the root are to relieve muscle tension, to treat depression, and as a mild anesthetic. Its relaxing properties also have been used for insomnia.

The drink is being marketed as an ‘anti-energy drink.’ “People could buy it. College kids buying soda and marijuana-yep, people will buy it,” said Wood. Hill, a non-drinker, doesn’t share this sentiment. Hill said “I think it’s stupid.”

“If it’s in stores and readily available, then I could see it selling. I have a hard time seeing people getting on the internet to have soda shipped to them,” said Wood. I wouldn’t order it either. The time it would take alone would deter me from making an online purchase. If I see it in stores, then I’ll try it. However, Mary Jane’s Soda is not currently available to Georgia State students unless they order online. The online price is $56 for a pack of 24, so this relaxation comes at a price that I would venture to say most college students would probably not pay. By: Kirkland Carter. Source.