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GARLAND, Texas – For 22 years, Tim Timmons has fought the pain of multiple sclerosis.

Prescribed medicine couldn’t stop the spasms or help him sleep, he said. Ultimately, Timmons said, relief came in the form of illegal marijuana, which is why he is now pushing for the drug to be legalized.

While 13 states have legalized medical marijuana, Texas isn’t one of them. Timmons said he wants that to change since he feels like he’s been forced to support organized crime.

“I have to support black market crime, but they’re the ones forcing me to do it,” he said. “I don’t want to support organized crime more than anyone would.”

Studies have shown that marijuana can ease muscle spasms and numb pain.

The Texas legislature voted down the last three medical marijuana bills that would have given doctors the authority to prescribe the drug.

In the past, lawmakers defended the ban on medical marijuana by citing the American Medical Associations’ position on the topic. But, after 72 years, that position may be changing. The AMA announced last Tuesday that it’s reversing its policy of classifying the drug as a Schedule 1 narcotic, stating that the issue needs to be reviewed. The announcement was in response to a new medical report by the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, which detailed various medical benefits.

Many pharmacists and doctors argue that those benefits can be obtained through legalized drugs that contain the active ingredient in marijuana, THC.

“What they fail to understand is there is THC available in a legal dose called Marinol,” said Donna Barsky, a Plano pharmacist. “It’s a prescription item. All a doctor has to do is write a prescription for it.”

Opponents of medical marijuana say it’s healthier because smoking the drug can pull unhealthy substances into the lungs.

“Marinol just plain doesn’t work, or causes worse situations than you had starting off,” Timmons said.

Another medical marijuana bill is expected to be filled in the Texas legislature in 2011. by Steve Stoler Source.

November 14, 2009 – The following comes from Rick Simpson’s website, Pheonix Tears. The procedure is outlined in detail below and he shows exactly how to produce Hemp Oil in this video ( about 2 minutes into the video)

“Properly made hemp medicine is the greatest healer on this planet bar none. Once you experience what this medication can do you will understand why history and I call hemp medicine a cure all.”

Rick Simpson
For those of you who have watched the documentary “Run from the Cure”, this should answer any questions about producing your own oil. I recommend that people grow their own hemp either in a small indoor grow system or outdoors. Growing it yourself will eliminate the high cost associated with buying hemp from drug dealers. The cost of hemp can vary greatly from dealer to dealer and so can the quality of the hemp. For anyone new to growing hemp a good book or video on the subject is a necessity. If you go to Cannabis Culture, the good people there should be able to point you in the right direction.

Caution:
Oils that drug dealers sell can have many contaminants and often little or no THC. From my experience, most hemp oil available on the street should be avoided for medicinal use. Make your own oil or have someone you trust produce the oil to assure a very pure, high quality oil is produced.

How much to make and take?
One pound (500g) of bone-dry hemp buds will usually produce about 2 ounces (55 – 60 mL) of high-grade oil. This amount of oil will cure most serious cancers; the average person can ingest this amount in about three months. This oil is very potent so one must begin treatment with small doses. A drop of oil about half the size of a grain of rice, two to four times a day is a good beginning. After four or five days, start increasing your daily dosage very gradually. As time goes on the body builds a tolerance to the oil and more and more can be taken. In cases where people are in a great deal of pain, I recommend that their dosage be quickly increased until it kills the pain. High quality hemp oil will stop pain even when morphine is not effective. The oil can be applied to external injuries for pain relief in minutes.

Will I get high?
Following the dosage previously described, many people can take the full treatment and never get high. In regards to hemp, getting “high” is a joke, even if a person does take too much oil the effect wears off quickly and no harm is done. No one has ever died from the use of hemp medicine.

Will I become addicted?
Hemp oil does not cause your body to crave more. It is non-addictive, harmless and effective for practically any medical condition.

Is this the same as hemp seed oil?
No! This is hemp oil, made from the bud and small leaves of the hemp plant. It is the essential oil of the hemp plant. Health food store sells oil made from hemp seed that is often mislabeled as hemp oil. Although seed oil is very beneficial, it does not contain enough THC to have any effect on cancer and other serious illnesses.

Are hemp and marijuana the same?
The word marijuana is one of over four hundred slang terms used worldwide to describe the cannabis and/or hemp plant.

Are all hemp plants the same?
When buying or growing hemp, procure a strain that has the highest possible THC content. To energize someone suffering from depression, I recommend a good Sativa strain. For most other medical conditions, I strongly suggest that Indica strains be used. Indicas relax a person and provide them with more rest and sleep.

How do I use it?
High quality hemp oil can be vapourized, ingested or used topically. Add the oil to creams and salves for external use.

Where can I get information about making the oil?
For someone new to making the oil I suggest that you go to “Run From The Cure”. There you can watch our documentary in seven segments. Segment #4 shows how the oil can be produced at home or one can go to Phoenix Tears Movie and download the full documentary. You will need a high-speed internet connection and there is no charge. The process in the video could only be described as crude at best, but the oil that is produced will cure cancer. In reality, this medicine should be produced in a controlled environment, using distilling equipment, etc. to reclaim the solvent and to purify the oil. Most people do not understand distilling and do not have access to the required equipment. This is the reason such a simple method is descried in the documentary, so if need be just about anyone can produce the oil. As in the video, again we stress that this process, if not done properly can be dangerous and we bear no responsibility if this educational information is misused.

Process for Making Medicinal Hemp Oil:

Starting material:
I generally work with a pound or more of good grade hemp starting material. You can use just one ounce. An ounce will usually produce 3 or 4 grams of oil. The amount of oil produced per ounce of hemp will vary from strain to strain, but it all has that wonderful healing power.

1 – Place the completely dry starting material in a plastic bucket.
2 – Dampen the material with the solvent you are using. Many solvents can be used. I like to use pure naphtha but it costs $500 for a 45-gallon drum. You can use 99% isopropyl alcohol, which you can find in your local drug stores. Alcohol absorbs more chlorophyll from the plant material than naphtha does. This gives oils made with alcohol a darker colour but does not diminish the potency of the oil to any noticeable degree. Ether, naphtha or butane and many other solvents can produce oils that are amber and transparent. Granted these clear oils do look better but dark oil can be just as potent. If the process is done properly, little or no solvent residue is left in the oil. I have been consuming oils produced using different solvents for eight years with no harmful effects. You will require about two gallons of solvent to strip the THC off one pound of dry starting material. 500 milliliters of solvent should be more than enough to strip the THC from one ounce of hemp starting material.
3 – Crush the plant material using a stick of clean untreated (chemical free) wood or some such device. Even though the starting material has been dampened with the solvent, you will find that the material can be readily crushed.
4 – Add solvent until the starting material is completely covered.
Use the stick to work the plant material. As you are doing this, the THC dissolves off the plant material into the solvent.
5 – Continue this process for about 3 minutes.
6 – Pour the solvent-oil mix off the plant material into another bucket. You have just stripped the plant material of about 80% of its THC.
7 – Second wash – again add solvent to the plant material and work it for another 3 minutes to get the other 20%.
8 – Pour this solvent-oil mix into the bucket containing the first mix that was poured off previously.
9 – Discard the twice-washed plant material.
10- Pour the solvent-oil mix through a coffee filter into a clean container.
11- Boil the solvent off. I have found that a rice cooker will do this boil off very nicely. The one I have has two heat settings – high and low – and will hold over a half gallon (2.5 liters) of solvent-oil mix.
12- Add solvent-oil mix to the rice cooker until it is about ¾ full.

Make sure you are in a very well ventilated area and set up a fan to carry the solvent fumes away. The fumes are very flammable. Be sure to stay away from red-hot elements, sparks, cigarettes etc. that could ignite the fumes.

13- Plug the rice cooker in and set it on high heat.
14- Continue adding solvent-oil mix as the level in the rice cooker decreases until it is all in the cooker.
15- Add a few drops of water to the solvent-oil mix as the level comes down for the last time. The amount of water added depends on how much starting material you had in the beginning. If I am producing oil from a pound of good bud, I usually add about ten drops of water.
16- When there is about one inch of solvent-oil-water mix left in the cooker, put on your oven mitts, pick the unit up and gently swirl the contents
17- Continue swirling until the solvent has been evaporated off. The few drops of water help release the solvent residue and protect the oil somewhat from too much heat. When the solvent has been boiled off, the cooker that I use automatically goes to low heat. This avoids any danger of overheating the oil. At no time should the temperature of the oil go over 290F degrees (140 C).
18- Put on your oven mitts and remove the pot containing the oil from the rice cooker.
19- Gently pour the oil into a small stainless steel container.
20- Place this container in a dehydrator or put in on a gentle heating device such as a coffee warmer. It may take a few hours but the water and volatile turpines will be evaporated from the oil. When there is no longer any activity on the surface of the oil the medicine is ready for use.
21- Pour the hot oil into a bottle; or as in the video suck it up into a plastic syringe. Putting the oil in a plastic syringe makes it very easy to dispense the medicine.

When the oil cools off it has the consistency of thick grease. Some strains will produce very thick oil and you may have trouble squeezing it out of the syringe. If this happens, place the syringe in warm water a few minutes prior to use.

To anyone starting to use hemp oil as a medication, here are some simple facts.
Hemp oil will lower blood pressure and if you are on blood pressure medication, you may find that this medication is no longer needed. The same is true for diabetics. I have seen hemp oil control blood sugar to the extent that insulin was no longer needed.

I am not a doctor and I do not have the right to tell people what they should do. Personally, I would not consider taking any cancer treatments currently in use by our medical system, I do not recommend that hemp oil be taken along with chemotherapy. What would be the sense of making your own cure and then allowing the medical system to give you massive doses of poison?

From my experience with hemp medicine, I have found that most pharmaceutical medications are no longer needed once a person starts using hemp oil. Hemp oil seems to mix well with most natural medications but I have had a few reports from people trying to take hemp oil and pharmaceuticals who experienced stomach pain etc. All problems ceased when they stopped taking the prescription drugs.

To anyone who is going to act on this information to help a loved one, I welcome you to the world of real medicine. Again, I caution you to be very careful when boiling the solvent off. The fumes are very flammable. Be sure to stay away from red-hot elements, sparks, cigarettes etc. that could ignite the fumes.

Hemp Oil Dosage Information

It takes the average person about 90 days to ingest the full 60 gram treatment. I suggest that people start with 3 doses per day about half the size of a grain of dry rice. A dose such as this would equal about ¼ of a drop. After four days at this dosage, increase your doses every four days until you are at the point where you are ingesting about 1 gram in 24 hours, so each dose should equal 1/3 of a gram.

It takes the average person about 5 weeks to get to the point where they can ingest a gram per day. Once they reach this dosage they can continue at this rate until the cancer disappears. A gram is just slightly less than 1ml.

By using this method it allows the body to build up its tolerance slowly, in fact, I have many reports from people who took the oil treatment and never got ‘high’. We all have different tolerances for any medication. Your size and body weight have little to do with your tolerance for hemp oil.

Be aware when commencing treatment with hemp oil that it will lower your blood pressure, so if you are currently taking blood pressure medication, it is very likely that you will no longer need it.

When people are taking the oil, I like to see them stay within their comfort zone, but the truth is, the faster you take the oil the better the chance of surviving. At the end of their treatment most people continue taking the oil but at a much reduced rate. 6 to 12 grams a year would be a good maintenance dose. I do not like to see people overdosing on the oil, but an overdose does no harm. The main side effect of this medication is sleep and rest which plays an important role in the healing process. Usually, within an hour or so of taking a dose, the oil is telling you to lay down and relax. Don’t fight the sleepy feeling, just lay down and go with it. Usually within a month, the daytime tiredness associated with this treatment fades away but the patient continues to sleep very well at night. The only time I would recommend that people start out with larger doses would be to get off addictive and dangerous pain medications. When people who are using such medications begin the oil treatment, they usually cut their pain medications in half. The object is to take enough oil to take care of the pain and to help the patient get off these dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Taking the oil makes it much easier for the patient to get off these addictive chemicals.

I simply tell people the oil will do one of two things; it will either cure your cancer or in cases where it is too late to affect a cure, the oil will ease their way out and they can at least die with dignity. Hemp oil has a very high success rate in the treatment of cancer, unfortunately many people who come to me have been badly damaged by the medical system with their chemo and radiation etc. The damage such treatments cause have a lasting effect and people who have suffered the effects of such treatments are the hardest to cure. It should also be mentioned that the oil rejuvenates vital organs like the pancreas. Many diabetics who have taken the oil find that after about six weeks on the oil that they no longer require insulin since their pancreas is again doing its job.

Properly made hemp medicine is the greatest healer on this planet bar none. Once you experience what this medication can do you will understand why history and I call hemp medicine a cure all.

Source.

November 14, 2009 – It’s no surprise that pharma brands have been reluctant to enter the social media sphere. Indeed, it’s been repeated over and over at this week’s Food and Drug Administration hearing on 31655pharma marketing online.

Pharma marketers are intimidated by social media for several reasons: lack of control over brand messages, fear of violating the FDA’s cloudy regulations, and the threat of class-action lawsuits brought as a result of consumers using social tools to report adverse drug effects.

These marketers are struggling to determine how to monitor social media — in part to report adverse effects of their drugs and products as required by the FDA. However, their hesitance to acknowledge social conversations by monitoring them, creating Twitter accounts, or responding to consumer comments in forums, also is hampering their desire to buy online advertising and other online marketing services.

That’s led an array of online media firms, ad agencies, and marketing services firms to Washington, DC, in the past two days to participate in a discussion hosted by the FDA intended to assist the agency in crafting clear rules for this highly-regulated advertiser sector.

“Most pharma and medical device companies are unwilling to advertise” in social media sites alongside user generated content, said Christopher Schroeder, CEO of health site HealthCentral.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, pharma and healthcare advertisers spent the smallest amount on Web ads in 2007 and 2008 compared to other advertiser verticals, accounting for 4 percent of online ad revenues in both years. In contrast, pharmaceutical marketers represented the second largest ad vertical across all media based on ad expenditures in 2007 and 2008, according to Nielsen. Automotive is the largest.

In addition to simply running ads adjacent to online conversations, pharma marketers also worry about the time and effort it takes to monitor user generated media to watch for mentions of their brand names and reports of negative side effects of their drugs. They also question how often they’ll need to revisit Web sites where they’ve spotted relevant postings.

In 2008, Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics measured 500 randomly selected healthcare messages online. According to hearing speaker Melissa Davies, research director, healthcare, at Nielsen’s Online division, only four messages — less than 1 percent — mentioned an adverse event. Clearly it’s in Nielsen’s best interest to promote its BuzzMetrics social media monitoring service, along with its finding that pharma brands don’t have a lot to worry about if they do start monitoring social media.

Google and Yahoo stopped by the hearing yesterday. Both firms suggested that search ads for pharmaceutical products have become less transparent since the FDA sent warning letters to 14 pharma companies in April accusing them of failure to include drug risk information in online ads. Many advertisers, as a result, have been running sponsored search listings with generic messages that do not mention drug brands by name. Google reported lower click-through rates on pharma ads since the FDA letters were sent.

It’s clear media and marketing services firms are pushing for the FDA to establish clear guidance on how pharma brands should handle online advertising and social media because they expect to benefit from more pharma dollars moving online. Now, as expressed by many hearing speakers, it’s up to the FDA to move quickly to develop regulations that are relevant to the evolving technologies and cultures of the Internet.
Source. By Kate Kaye.

SAN FRANCISCO — Marijuana advocates are gathering signatures to get as many as three marijuana-legalizationpot-legalization measures on the ballot in 2010 in California, setting up what could be a groundbreaking clash with the federal government over U.S. drug policy.

At least one poll shows voters would support lifting the pot prohibition, which would make the state of more than 38 million the first in the nation to legalize marijuana.

Such action would also send the state into a headlong conflict with the U.S. government while raising questions about how federal law enforcement could enforce its drug laws in the face of a massive government-sanctioned pot industry.

The state already has a thriving marijuana trade, thanks to a first-of-its-kind 1996 ballot measure that allowed people to smoke pot for medical purposes. But full legalization could turn medical marijuana dispensaries into all-purpose pot stores, and the open sale of joints could become commonplace on mom-and-pop liquor store counters in liberal locales like Oakland and Santa Cruz.

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period. After overseeing a series of raids that destroyed more than 300,000 marijuana plants in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills this summer, federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske proclaimed, “Legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary, and it’s not in mine.”

The U.S. Supreme Court also has ruled that federal law enforcement agents have the right to crack down even on marijuana users and distributors who are in compliance with California’s medical marijuana law.

But some legal scholars and policy analysts say the government will not be able to require California to help in enforcing the federal marijuana ban if the state legalizes the drug.

Without assistance from the state’s legions of narcotics officers, they say, federal agents could do little to curb marijuana in California.

“Even though that federal ban is still in place and the federal government can enforce it, it doesn’t mean the states have to follow suit,” said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who recently published a paper about the issue.

Nothing can stop federal anti-drug agents from making marijuana arrests, even if Californians legalize pot, he said. However, the U.S. government cannot pass a law requiring local and state police, sheriff’s departments or state narcotics enforcers to help.

That is significant, because nearly all arrests for marijuana crimes are made at the state level. Of more than 847,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2008, for example, just over 6,300 suspects were booked by federal law enforcement, or fewer than 1 percent.

State marijuana bans have allowed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to focus on big cases, said Rosalie Pacula, director of drug policy research at the Rand Corp.

“It’s only something the feds are going to be concerned about if you’re growing tons of pot,” Pacula said. For anything less, she said, “they don’t have the resources to waste on it.”

In a typical recent prosecution, 29-year-old Luke Scarmazzo was sentenced to nearly 22 years and co-defendant Ricardo Ruiz Montes to 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking through a medical marijuana dispensary in Modesto.

At his bond hearing, prosecutors showed a rap video in which Scarmazzo boasts about his successful marijuana business, taunts federal authorities and carries cardboard boxes filled with cash. The DEA said the pair made more than $4.5 million in marijuana sales in less than two years.

The DEA would not speculate on the effects of any decision by California to legalize pot. “Marijuana is illegal under federal law and DEA will continue to attack large-scale drug trafficking organizations at every level,” spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said.

The most conservative of the three ballot measures would only legalize possession of up to one ounce of pot for personal use by adults 21 and older – an amount that already under state law can only result at most in a $100 fine.

The proposal would also allow anyone to grow a plot of marijuana up to 5 feet-by-5 feet on their private property. The size, Pacula said, seems specifically designed to keep the total number of plants grown below 100, the threshold for DEA attention.

The greatest potential for conflict with the U.S. government would likely come from the provision that would give local governments the power to decide city-by-city whether to allow pot sales.

Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state already operate openly with only modest federal interference. If recreational marijuana became legal, these businesses could operate without requiring their customers to qualify as patients.

Any business that grew bigger than the already typical storefront shops, however, would probably be too tempting a target for federal prosecution, experts said.

Even if Washington could no longer count on California to keep pot off its own streets, Congress or the Obama administration could try to coerce cooperation by withholding federal funds.

But with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement earlier this year that the Justice Department would defer to state laws on marijuana, the federal response to possible legalization remains unclear.

Doug Richardson, a spokesman for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the office is in the process of re-evaluating its policies on marijuana and other drugs.

Richardson said the office under Obama was pursuing a “more comprehensive” approach than the previous administration, with emphasis on prevention and treatment as well as law enforcement.

“We’re trying to base stuff on the facts, the evidence and the science,” he said, “not some particular prejudice somebody brings to the table.” Source.

September 27, 2009 – In 1996, voters in California approved a referendum that made it legal for the first time in decades in the US for people to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.

More than a dozen states have followed suit since and several others – the most recent of which is Picture 8Massachusetts – have approved laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of the drug.

Now, there are moves afoot in California to go further to fully legalize marijuana.

Evidence of the impact that the approval of medicinal marijuana has had on some areas of California is clear in Oakland.

Across the bay from San Francisco, it has come to be known as Oaksterdam, in a nod to the symbolic global capital of marijuana deregulation, Amsterdam.

The relaxed approach to marijuana use in this part of Oakland has led to the opening of several marijuana dispensaries.

They are establishments in this once deprived area of town which sell a broad array of cannabis related products, from food products such as brownies and cereal bars laced with cannabis to traditional marijuana for smoking.

Oaksterdam University

“This is where it all started,” says Richard Lee, a leading advocate for the legalization of cannabis, pointing to a building where the first ever dispensary was opened in 1996.

His sense of excitement is palpable as he shows me around Oaksterdam, which beyond dispensaries is also home to a facility where state residents can go through the process of getting the ID needed for their right to use cannabis for medical purposes.

The area is also home to the Oaksterdam University, which Mr Lee runs.Picture 9

He shows me around the student union of the university, which he describes as a trade school for all of those interested in finding a place in the thriving cannabis trade that medicinal marijuana has spawned.

Mr Lee tells me that making cannabis use legal makes economic sense but would also help in the fight against the Mexican drugs cartels.

“According to some estimates, the Mexican cartels get about 60-70% of their money – their profit – from cannabis,” he tells me.

“So if we cut that out of the equation then theoretically 60-70% of the violence they perpetrate would be cut out, because they’d have less money for the guns and weapons and ammunition to kill people and to spend on bribing officials and all the rest,” Mr Lee says.

Trailblazing

That perspective, along with the fact that the California state authorities estimate that marijuana could bring in nearly $1.5bn a year in much needed tax revenue if it were legalised, has led to an increased support among the state’s voters for the full legalization of the drug.

And, politicians like Tom Ammiano, who represents one of the most liberal districts of San Francisco in the California state assembly, have been paying close attention.

Mr Ammiano came into politics as a trailblazing gay rights activist in the 1970s and has long advocated greater tolerance for cannabis use.

Earlier this year, he took that approach one step further and introduced a bill in the California state assembly, which, if approved, would grant cannabis the same legal status in the state as alcohol and tobacco.

That would put California ahead of even Amsterdam, where marijuana use is tolerated but not altogether legal.Picture 10

Sitting with him in his office in the state government building in San Francisco, with its sweeping views of the city, it becomes very clear that his proposal is far from a flight of fancy.

He tells me he has been finding that more and more of his colleagues in the state assembly are coming around to seeing why moving towards legalization makes perfect sense.

‘Lighten up’

“People across the board, whether they’re conservative or liberal, have come to realize that the so-called war on drugs has failed and failed miserably,” Mr Ammiano says.

“In fact, it’s costing us money instead of saving us money. This new approach would be a way for the policing efforts to be focused on the big bad guys, the cartels, with their violence and murder, and lighten up on the more minor offenses. We like to say prohibition is chaos and regulation is control,” he adds.

“On the streets a drug dealer does not ask a kid for his ID before selling him cannabis,” he concludes with an acerbic, humorous tone that serves as proof that he has, beyond politics, also had some success in his other career as a stand-up comedian.

But, despite his optimistic tone, Mr Ammiano says that he knows that those who oppose his proposal, including key figures in the medical and law enforcement community, are armed with statistics pointing to the damaging long-term effect of the drug and have the stamina and resources to wage a major fight to ensure that the bill never gets signed into law.

One of those opponents of the proposal is Ronald Brooks, the president of the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, which represents more than 70,000 narcotics enforcement officers in the US.

We meet in the town of Redwood City, south of San Francisco, and as I get in his car, we drive past what appears to be a nondescript office building.

‘Seriously flawed’

However, he tells me that, in the 1980s, it was a bank – the place where his partner on the police force was killed in front of him by a ruthless marijuana dealer, who was carrying out a bank robbery to fund his drug business.

He says experiences like that have strengthened his resolve that America can’t allow itself to take on a more lenient approach to marijuana.

“This argument of freeing up law enforcement so that we can take on the cartels is seriously flawed,” he tells me.

“This is really a hoax being perpetrated on the voters of California to authorize their political Picture 11agenda – that is to legalize marijuana as one step to legalize drugs in America because they simply don’t think that the government ought to control drugs,” he adds.

“The people who are going to lose if this gets approved are the taxpayers because we’re going to have increased costs associated with this, both healthcare and law enforcement costs, and the people who have to drive on the state’s highways who are going to be in danger from being hit by someone intoxicated from using cannabis. This is simply a reckless public policy,” he concludes.

Back across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland, specifically Oaksterdam, the patrons of the Bulldog Cafe are enjoying their legally sanctioned right to consume marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Emerging industry

Gary has traveled from Texas for the weekend to attend a seminar on the cannabis trade at the Oaksterdam University across the street.

He is in his 50s, but says he is hoping to take the information he has picked up in his course on the cannabis business and make a life-transforming move in the coming months to California.

“My girlfriend and I are interested in moving to California from Texas to become a part of this here. We’re not quite sure where we fit in but we want to get into the business itself. We feel it’s an emerging industry, and this is where I feel compelled to come,” he tells me as the smell of cannabis wafts through the room.

Like Gary, there are hundreds of others participating in the courses at the Oaksterdam University on any given week.

Beyond that, there are more than 200,000 people in the state registered as consumers of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

As for Mr Ammiano’s proposal to legalize marijuana in the state, that is still making its way through the California state assembly and it is difficult to say whether it will succeed or not.

What is clear, however, is that whatever the outcome of the legalization proposal, the medical marijuana law and the multi-million dollar industry it has spawned appear to be here to stay in California. By Emilio San Pedro. Source.

August 19, 2009 – In a piece published here last j1week, Rachel Ehrenfeld reports with dismay that the National Institute on Drug Abuse is presently soliciting proposals from contractors to grow marijuana for research and other purposes. Unfortunately, Ehrenfeld’s misunderstanding of this request for proposals is so monumental that one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Ehrenfeld suggests that this is some sinister part of “ObamaCare.” “For the first time,” she writes, “the government is soliciting organizations that can grow marijuana on a ‘large scale,’ with the capability to ‘prepare marijuana cigarettes and related products … distribute marijuana, marijuana cigarettes and cannabinoids, and other related products’ not only for research, but also for ‘other government programs.'”

Ehrenfeld spends several paragraphs explaining how this is all the evil brainchild of George Soros, the pet villain of prohibitionists. After all, “Since when is the U.S. government in the business of distributing marijuana cigarettes?”

Since 1978, actually. The federal government has been distributing medical marijuana to a small group of patients for more than three decades via a program known as an IND (for “investigational new drug”). This program has been covered in the media from time to time, and still exists, although it was closed to new enrollment by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. It’s not exactly a state secret.

In addition, under present (thoroughly dysfunctional) rules, scientists doing clinical research on marijuana must obtain the marijuana for testing from NIDA. Since the 1970s, the government has contracted with the University of Mississippi to produce marijuana for this purpose, and all expectations are that the university will get the contract again. In other words, there is nothing new here.

Having completely misconstrued NIDA’s request for proposals as something new and sinister, Ehrenfeld proceeds with a selective, wildly distorted description of research on medical marijuana, claiming, “The evidence about the harm caused by marijuana to the individual user and society is overwhelming.”

In fact, there is a wealth of research that documents marijuana’s medical efficacy and safety, and a vast array of medical and public health organizations that have recognized marijuana’s medical potential.

For the record, let’s consider a bit of what’s been said about medical marijuana by organizations that are presumably not part of the Evil Soros Conspiracy. Bear in mind that this is just a tiny sampling of the material that’s available from respected medical organizations.

From the 124,000-member American College of Physicians:

“Given marijuana’s proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity, reclassification [out of Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act] would reduce barriers to research and increase availability of cannabinoid drugs to patients who have failed to respond to other treatments. …

“Evidence not only supports the use of medical marijuana in certain conditions but also suggests numerous indications for cannabinoids.”

From the American Nurses Association:

“There is a growing body of evidence that marijuana has a significant margin of safety when used under a practitioner’s supervision when all of the patient’s medications can be considered in the therapeutic regimen. …

“There is significant research that demonstrates a connection between therapeutic use of marijuana/cannabis and symptom relief. The American Nurses Association actively supports patients’ rights to legally and safely access marijuana/cannabis for symptom management and to promote quality of life for patients needing such an alternative to conventional therapy.”

From the Lymphoma Foundation of America, HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and others (in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court):

“For certain persons the medical use of marijuana can literally mean the difference between life and death. At a minimum, marijuana provides some seriously ill patients the gift of relative health and the ability to function as productive members of society.”

And finally, from a study of smoked marijuana as a treatment for HIV-related nerve pain, published in the February 13, 2007, issue of the journal Neurology:

“The first cannabis cigarette reduced chronic pain by a median of 72% vs. 15% with placebo … No serious adverse events were reported. Conclusion: Smoked cannabis was well tolerated and effectively relieved chronic neuropathic pain from HIV-associated sensory neuropathy.”

Marijuana has been used as a medicine for some 5,000 years–maybe longer, actually, but written records only go back that far. In the world of scientific reality–not to be confused with the BizarroWorld inhabited by certain prohibition ideologues–it is both effective at treating a number of troubling symptoms and safer than the pharmaceuticals taken by millions of patients every day. Indeed, as a “recreational” substance it’s vastly safer than booze. But it’s much easier to imagine conspiracies run by billionaires with foreign-sounding names than it is to read and understand the actual research.

Bruce Mirken, a longtime health writer, serves as director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. Source.

15pot.480July 22, 2009 – A New York Times article on Sunday discussed the debate over whether more and more potent types of cannabis affect the levels of addiction to the drug. This particular issue has become part of the larger debate over whether marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized.

Anti-drug activists say that if the drug is legalized, more people will use it and addiction levels, made worse by the increased potency, will rise too. Legalization advocates note that pot addiction is not nearly as destructive as, say, abuse of alcohol. What would be the effect of legalization or decriminalization on marijuana abuse and addiction?

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More Honesty Needed
roger_roffman.50Roger Roffman

Roger Roffman is a professor of social work at the University of Washington.

Marijuana dependence occurs in 9 percent of Americans who have ever used the drug, and between 33 percent and 50 percent of those who smoke it daily. Approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users. In 20 years of marijuana dependence counseling studies at the University of Washington, those who’ve sought help averaged 10 years of daily or near daily use and had unsuccessfully tried to quit more than six times.

There might be a big difference between legalization and decriminalization when it comes to the dependence issue.

Surveys indicate increasingly positive attitudes in the U.S. for liberalizing marijuana Picture 14policies. Two ways of doing this are: (1) legalization, which would involve lawful cultivation and sale of marijuana, and (2) decriminalization, which would retain criminal penalties for cultivation and sale while removing them for possession of small amounts.

Will more people use marijuana and become dependent if marijuana is decriminalized? Probably not. A number of U.S. studies tell us decriminalization would not likely have an effect on the rates of marijuana use by adults or adolescents.

What if marijuana is legalized? No one can say for certain. Using one country’s reform example to estimate what would happen in another is very risky. How countries differ (cultural, social, political, economic) makes a big difference.

However, the Dutch “coffee shops” example might give us a little insight. The de facto legalization policy in the Netherlands did not, in itself, affect rates of marijuana use among adults or young people. But rates of use among young people increased when the number of coffee shops increased and the age of legal access was 16. Then these rates declined when the numbers of coffee shops was reduced and the age of legal access became 18.

A cautious conclusion, as I see it, is that any consideration of legalization should include careful planning for how those who are most vulnerable to harm from marijuana use, children and adolescents, can be protected.

I support finding alternatives to criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Those penalties have costs (being jailed, having a criminal record, barriers to employment, loss of scholarships, to name a few) and may accomplish little in deterring use.

However, our debates need more honesty. Those favoring liberalizing marijuana policy ought to stop inferring that marijuana is harmless; it is not. Those who believe possession should remain a crime need to acknowledge that most adult occasional users are not harmed, and should be prepared to defend with data the belief that criminalizing possession is the best way to avoid harm.

Mitigating Dependence
wayne_hall.50Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall is a professor of public health policy at the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Australia.

What effect would marijuana legalization have on dependence?

Some people remain skeptical about whether marijuana dependence exists but let’s assume that it does and that it affects around 1 in 10 of those who use marijuana. The effects that legalization has on marijuana dependence depend critically on what we mean by the term.

Marijuana use increased in the Netherlands in the 1990s, but this was also the case in the rest of Europe.

If we mean replacing imprisonment with a fine as the penalty for using marijuana then Picture 15legalization would have little effect on dependence. Evaluations of this policy in 11 U.S. states in the 1970s and 1980s found little or no effect on rates of use among adolescents and adults.

There is more debate about the effects of allowing a de facto legal marijuana market as the Netherlands has done since 1983 in tolerating the sale of small amounts of marijuana in coffee shops. Marijuana use increased in the Netherlands in the 1990s, but this was also the case in the rest of Europe, and policy analysts disagree about whether rates of use increased faster in the Netherlands than elsewhere.

If by legalization we mean making it legal to use, grow and sell marijuana then our task becomes more speculative because no modern country has adopted this policy. It seems common sense that legalizing marijuana use and sales would lead to more people using it regularly and this would probably mean more marijuana dependence.

Nonetheless it is difficult to say how much use may increase because there are options for reducing use under a legal market that are not now available. For example, we could tax marijuana to set the price at a level that discourages casual use, regulate its THC content, restrict sales to minors, include a health warning on packs and advise users on ways to reduce dependence risks (e.g. by using less than weekly). These possibilities make it difficult to predict the effect that a legal market would have on rates of marijuana dependence.

Marijuana dependence should be taken into account in considering whether we should legalize marijuana in any of these ways. But this concern also needs to be weighed against the costs of current policy, that is, the creation of perverse incentives to produce more potent marijuana, the widespread disregard of legal prohibition on marijuana use that could contribute to a decline in respect for law and policing; the unregulated access of minors to marijuana; and the social and economic costs of a large marijuana black market.

Not Your Grandfather’s Pot?

mark_kleiman.50Mark A.R. Kleiman

Mark A.R. Kleiman is a professor of public policy at U.C.L.A., the editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis and the author of “Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results.” His new book, “When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment,” will be published later this summer.Picture 16

One of the standard arguments against the legalization of cannabis is that “this is not your grandfather’s pot”: cannabis, say the drug warriors, is much stronger now than it was a generation ago. It is, therefore, much more dangerous, and must remain prohibited.

Whatever we do about cannabis will leave us with most of the nation’s drug-related problems.

That argument is a few bricks shy of a full load. Here are some of those bricks.

1. The average gram of cannabis sold today contains much more Δ-9-trahydrocannabinol (THC) than the average gram sold in 1970, though there has always been some highly potent product available.

2. Emergency-room visits and treatment admissions related to cannabis have increased, though the number of self-reported cannabis users hasn’t.

3. If the only change were in potency as measured by THC content, users could (and do) compensate by smoking smaller quantities.

4. But contemporary cannabis also has a much higher ratio of THC (which tends to induce anxiety) to cannabidiol (CBD, which tends to relieve anxiety). That would be expected to create a higher rate of panic attacks.

5. Whether high-THC, high-ratio pot is also more habit-forming than other pot remains unknown. Increased treatment admissions might come from increased enforcement pressure against users. Or perhaps a cannabis habit is harder to live with than it used to be because the cannabis experience is more disturbing.

6. If cannabis were made legal, restrictions could be put both on potency and on the THC/CBD ratio. So rising potency makes no sense as an anti-legalization argument; if anything, less-potent legal pot would be expected to substitute for the more-potent pot that would remain illegal.

7. Any sort of flat-out legalization would risk a large increase in the number of very heavy users. A legal cannabis industry, like the legal alcohol industry, would derive more than half its revenue from people with diagnosable substance abuse disorders. Telling marketers they can get rich by creating disease is dangerous.

8. Instead we could choose a “grow your own” policy that would allow production for personal use or by small nonprofit cooperatives, but forbid commercial sales.

Cannabis policy is fascinating because so many people smoke the stuff, but whatever we do about cannabis will leave us with most of the nation’s drug abuse problems, which center on alcohol, and most of the nation’s drug-market and drug-enforcement problems, which center on cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

Lessons From the Dutch
peter_reuter.50Peter Reuter

Peter Reuter is a professor at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland.

Experimenting with marijuana has long been a normal part of growing up in the U.S.; about half of the population born since 1960 has tried the drug by age 21. Perhaps one out of six has used it for a year or more. This statement is increasingly true of other Western countries such as Australia and Britain.

Over the last decade most of these countries have seen three trends; sharp increases in the number of marijuana users seeking treatment, in the potency of the marijuana consumed and in the number of arrests. For example, in the European Union the number of people entering treatment programs for marijuana dependence tripled between 1999 and 2005. In the U.S., the potency of seized marijuana has steadily increased since the late 1970s, while arrests for simple possession have tripled since 1991 to 750,000.

Legalization in the U.S. might be a much more commercial matter than in pragmatic Picture 17Holland.

Are these trends connected? Given that marijuana research is almost as scarce as drug-free communities, all that is available is moderately informed speculation. A recent book that I co-authored, “Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond the Stalemate,” identifies five other factors that may play an influence in this. There is also no direct evidence that potency makes a difference to how much the drug hurts users’ health; most users titrate their dose with higher THC.

What would happen if the drug were legalized? The Dutch de facto legalization of sale through coffee shops is the closest available experience. The most striking observation is that marijuana use in that country is lower than in many other European countries and a lot lower than in the United States; 6 percent of 15- to 64-year-olds in Holland had used marijuana in the past year, compared to 11 percent in the U.S.

Legalization in the U.S. might be a much more commercial matter than in pragmatic Holland, where the government created a legally ambiguous regulatory system with minimal court oversight. The U.S. might find it hard to prevent producers from using their First Amendment rights to actively promote the drug. A way of avoiding this would be to remove prohibitions on growing for your own use and for gifts to others. No doubt there would still be a black market but it would allow access to marijuana without creating a full commercialization. Probably this would lead to a modest increase in the number of people who use the drug, which needs to be weighed against the elimination of 750,000 arrests for simple possession.

The Tobacco Precedent
norm_stamper.50Norm Stamper

Norm Stamper was Seattle’s police chief from 1994 to 2000. He is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the author of “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.”

Any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans, the number who’ve tried marijuana Picture 18at least once, is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran, I’ve seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect for the law, and contempt for those who enforce it.

Let’s examine arguments against legalizing marijuana: use and abuse would skyrocket; the increased potency of today’s marijuana would exacerbate social and medical problems; and legalization would send the wrong message to our children.

Stronger strains of marijuana are already out there, unregulated by anything other than market forces.

It’s reasonable to expect a certain percentage of adults, respectful or fearful of the current prohibition, would give pot a first try if it were made legal. But, given that the U.S. is already the world’s leading per capita marijuana consumer (despite our relatively harsh penalties), it’s hard to imagine a large and lasting surge in consumption. Further, under a system of regulated legalization and taxation, the government would be in a position to offer both prevention programs and medical treatment and counseling for those currently abusing the drug. It’s even possible we’d see an actual reduction in use and abuse, just as we’ve halved tobacco consumption through public education — without a single arrest.

Potency? Users, benefiting from the immutable law of supply and demand, have created huge market pressure for “quality” marijuana over the past few decades. Legalization opponents are correct that “today’s weed is not your old man’s weed.” But the fear-mongers miss the point, namely that stronger strains of marijuana are already out there, unregulated by anything other than market forces. It’s good that responsible consumers know to calibrate their consumption; they simply smoke less of the more powerful stuff. But how about a little help from their government? Purchase booze and you have access, by law, to information on the alcoholic content of your beverage, whether it’s .05 percent near-beer or 151-proof Everclear.

Perhaps the biggest objection to legalization is the “message” it would send to our kids. Bulletin: Our children have never had greater access to marijuana; it’s easier for them to score pot than a six-pack of Coors. No system of regulated legalization would be complete without rigorous enforcement of criminal laws banning the furnishing of any drug to a minor.

Let’s make policy that helps, not handcuffs, those who suffer ill effects of marijuana or other drugs, a policy that crushes the illegal market — the cause of so much violence and harm to users and non-users alike. Source.

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