November 8, 2009 – In Mississippi, where Dr. David Allen worked as a heart surgeon, authorities seized his home and ranch this year after finding $800 worth of marijuana and $1,000 in hashish. A grand jury is to consider a Picture 7cultivation charge that could net him 30 years in prison under Mississippi’s drug laws.

In Sacramento, where he now lives, Allen is a legal, licensed member of a community of physicians that enables hundreds of thousands of Californians to lawfully consume or grow marijuana for personal use.

His recently opened cannabis evaluations clinic on Auburn Boulevard is a newcomer in an increasingly robust medical industry. Born with California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, the profession is newly energized by the federal government’s recent decision to relax enforcement policies for 14 states that have legalized medicinal use of marijuana.

Voters approved California’s Compassionate Use Act amid stories of AIDS patients needing marijuana to boost appetites and cancer patients needing it to counter nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy.

These days pot physicians, touting marijuana as a healthier alternative to pharmaceuticals, are writing medical cannabis recommendations for a far wider range of ills, from restless leg syndrome to psoriasis, from sleep apnea to menopause.

The widely available doctor’s “recommendations” – they’re not formal prescriptions – stir intense debate in the medical community, even among cannabis doctors.

Doctors argue over whether the recommendations, costing anywhere from $50 to $250 each, go to patients who truly need medical marijuana or help facilitate recreational drug users and provide hefty profits for the doctors writing the notes.

Doctors are barred by state law from giving out marijuana or instructing patients where to get it. But cannabis recommendations are necessary for patients to make their purchases at the pot dispensaries now sprouting like Starbucks in some communities.

The dispensaries must operate as nonprofits. The doctors are under no such constraints.

170,000 patients seen

Already, a lucrative medical industry is taking shape with pot evaluation networks such as MediCann, a “health and wellness service” started with one San Francisco clinic. It now operates 20 offices in California – including sites in Sacramento, Elk Grove and North Highlands – and has overseen the care of 170,000 cannabis patients since 2004.

“The growth has been steady. We open up a new clinic every few months,” said Matthew Desanto, MediCann’s marketing director. “Honestly, it’s just that patients need to use cannabis as medicine.”

In the past year, another group, Marijuana Medicine Evaluation Centers, opened clinics in 10 California cities. It advertises on “WeedMaps,” an Internet service for patients seeking doctors, dispensaries and other pot services.

The newfound visibility of the medical marijuana trade is pronounced on the eclectic boardwalk of Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

Along the boardwalk’s short span, greeters work the crowd in front of three oceanfront clinics, pitching the benefits of medical pot. One large beachfront house holds the Medical Kush Doctor physician’s office and the Kush Clubhouse dispensary. Another doctor’s walk-in clinic is next door to a dispensary entrance, where a woman shouts out: “Free hash bar – patients welcome!”

In his Sacramento office, where medical diplomas are displayed with a news article on a rare beating heart bypass surgery he performed in Mississippi, Dr. Allen is bullish on his career change to full-time pot doc.

Allen was living in California last February when his Mississippi ranch was raided. He denies participation in any illegal marijuana activities.

Jackson County, Miss., Sheriff’s Lt. Curtis Speirs said Allen is being investigated for felony cultivation and distribution.

“In the state of Mississippi,” Speirs said, “whether you think it’s for medicinal use or not, it’s against the law.”

In California, Allen charges $150 for medical evaluations and exults over his work with pot patients.

“Cannabis is a miracle drug that works so well for so many reasons, for so many people, that millions are willing to risk jail and property seizures to use the medicine,” he said.

He said he is dedicated to serving the people who tell him that cannabis “is better for my migraines, for my asthma, for my menstrual cramps” than traditional treatments. “How can you deny these patients?”

Construction worker Brent Bomia, 36, who said he had back surgery after a work-related fall, showed up with his medical records and got a recommendation from Allen.

“I’m happy he is here,” said Bomia. “I believe as a community this is a steppingstone to more people realizing medical marijuana really helps.”

Prop. 215 applied broadly

Under Proposition 215, physicians can recommend cannabis for cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines or “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”

Clinical support for pot’s potential health benefits comes from the likes of Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Abrams conducted state and federally funded research that showed marijuana to be beneficial for patients with HIV and for pain from nerve damage.

“I see cancer patients every day who suffer from loss of appetite, weight loss, pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and nausea,” he said. “With cannabis, I can recommend one medicine instead of writing prescriptions for six or seven.”

But Dr. Lee Snook, a Sacramento pain physician who serves on the public policy committee for the California Society of Addiction Medicine, is alarmed over the burgeoning use of medical cannabis.

Snook, who heads Metropolitan Pain Management Consultants Inc., said he encounters many patients with marijuana recommendations who don’t need them or are better served by other treatments.

“People go into an outpatient clinic, say, ‘I have chronic pain,’ pay $100 for a card,” Snook said. “That’s it. I see it as a business. I don’t see it as practicing medicine at all.”

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – which advocates easing marijuana restrictions – lists more than 160 California doctors and clinics as “medical cannabis specialists.” Their work, as with all doctors, falls under the scrutiny of the California Medical Board.

Since 1996, the board has investigated 81 complaints against doctors who recommended pot to patients.

Regulators revoked licenses for 10 physicians for violating guidelines published to ensure they conduct in-person “good faith” examinations and review patients’ health and medical histories when recommending cannabis. Some were sanctioned for failing to detect overt, drug-seeking behaviors.

Medical Board records indicate some pot doctors attracted attention after other physicians or psychiatrists complained. Other complaints came from undercover police who said they got cannabis recommendations with little or no medical exam.

All 10 license revocations were stayed and the doctors allowed to continue practicing under supervised probation.

In July, the Medical Board sanctioned Dr. Robert Cohen of Santa Monica for recommending cannabis without a physical exam or patient records for a board investigator who said she was a mother of five and needed pot to relax.

In August, the board found that El Dorado County doctor Marion Fry improperly recommended marijuana to a patient with chronic paranoid schizophrenia despite warnings from Merced County health officials that pot exacerbated his condition.

The board put Fry’s medical license on probationary status for three years. That action came two years after she and her husband were sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to grow and distribute marijuana. A trial revealed that her medical pot recommendations netted between $750,000 and $1 million over a 26-month period.

Even some pot doctors question whether the expanding industry has sufficiently established standards and oversight.

Dr. Frank Lucido, a Berkeley family physician and leader in the medical marijuana movement, worries about a proliferation of “quick-in, quick-out mills that pretty much give out cannabis recommendations to anyone 18 or over that has money.”

“It gives the industry a bad name,” he said.

Lucido said he pre-screens patients in a telephone interview, conducts 45-minute examinations and requires medical records documenting serious health issues.

Then, there is Venice Beach.

On an oceanfront featuring four new pot clinics, one employee drew in passers-by by handing out fliers adorned with a cannabis leaf and a list of medical conditions.

“Do you have any of these?” he asked. “We can get you a recommendation. It will only take a few minutes.”

Gilbert, a 42-year-old Los Angeles man who didn’t want his last name used, was in and out of the doctor’s office next to the hash bar. He got a cannabis recommendation minutes after a brief exam and blood pressure check.

“He asked me what medications I was on and what do I think marijuana would do,” said Gilbert, who said he smokes pot to alleviate pain and high blood pressure.

“Pot smokers are going to be pot smokers. If this is going to make them feel better, then so be it.” Source.

October 16, 2009 – The Wild West of Weed – The only job 31-year-old Jason Beck has ever had is selling weed. He started as a teenager from a trailer park in Pittsburg, Calif., outside Oakland, running what heJason-Beck-Medical-marijuana-wide-horizontal calls a shop in a box. A shoebox full of marijuana, a list of loyal customers, and a beeper were all he needed 15 years ago. Beck still sells pot, but now from a storefront on sunny Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. His Alternative Herbal Health Services was one of the first medical cannabis caregiver dispensaries to open up in the Los Angeles area in 2005. At the time, there were fewer than 20 of these legal pot shops in all of Southern California.

Today, L.A. is overrun with close to 1,000 of them. Ever since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called off federal raids on dispensaries in February, the number of these businesses in L.A. has exploded in what’s being deemed “The Green Rush.” But California law prohibits medical-marijuana dispensaries from making profits; they must be run as nonprofit collectives that grow their own merchandise that they sell only to patients with state-issued medical-cannabis cards (available with a doctor’s recommendation). Many of the recent newcomers, however, are buying marijuana instead of growing their own, and marking it up for a profit. Unlike Oakland or San Francisco, or even nearby West Hollywood, L.A. has no local ordinance regulating dispensaries. After struggling for two years to draft some form of guidelines, the L.A. city council still has nothing on the books. In the interim, the city has become a cannabis free-for-all.

L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley, the same guy who ordered the arrest of Roman Polanski earlier this month in Switzerland, has grown weary of the party. “The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100 percent, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally,” he told reporters on Oct. 8. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

Anticipation of the coming crackdown angers Beck, who says a bunch of amateurs looking for a quick buck are ruining what he’s worked hard to establish as a legitimate, legal business in compliance with the state’s medical-marijuana laws. “Those of us who’ve been in this for a while, who’ve established ourselves, we’re pissed off because they’re riding on the coattails of the work we’ve put in,” he says. “They don’t know what it’s like to be raided. So, yeah, I’m all for them getting closed. Let them see how it feels.”

Beck’s shop was one of 11 Los Angeles-area dispensaries raided by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration on Jan. 17, 2007. As he recalls, DEA agents in black SWAT-team gear came smashing through his glass front door around 1 p.m. By then, Beck’s shop had been broken into twice already, so he had spent close to $90,000 upgrading security, reinforcing walls, adding bulletproof glass, and installing an electronic-buzzer system that locks the several doors patients must pass through to gain entry to his shop, and ultimately the back room where he keeps his cash and marijuana. When the federal agents came storming in, they found themselves immediately stuck in the small man trap that Beck installed as his first line of defense. It’s essentially a steel cage you walk into upon getting buzzed in at the front door. Once inside, patients show their medical-cannabis ID cards to the receptionist, who then buzzes them into the main area. The man trap is big enough for only about four people, so seven or eight DEA agents found themselves smushed on top of each other, faces pressed against the bars, guns drawn. Beck and his receptionist just sat there looking at them. “If we were real gangsta drug dealers, we could have sniped them all out,” he jokes.

Once they extricated themselves from Beck’s man trap, the agents stayed for four hours and detained everyone who was inside, handcuffing and questioning them all separately. They seized every ounce of marijuana, Beck says, about $500,000 worth, and all his cash too, about $25,000, though he later got an invoice from the DEA claiming they’d seized only $12,500. “Someone pocketed 12 grand,” he says. “How corrupt is that?” A DEA spokesperson wouldn’t address individual allegations, and would say only that all cash seized during raids is put into evidence bags and taken to a bank where it’s counted by bank officials and witnessed by DEA agents. Beck says they also cut all his security-camera wires and finished smashing the glass out of his front door before leaving, resulting in $20,000 in property damage.

Even though California legalized medical cannabis in 1996, and West Hollywood had adopted its own ordinance in 2006 regulating the operation of dispensaries, marijuana is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned. And it remains the DEA’s job to enforce federal drug laws, which trump local and state laws. Still, some local officials were angry about the raids. “Anger is an understatement; we were outraged,” says John Duran, a West Hollywood city-council member who was mayor in 2007. “They gave us no heads-up, they came in at the last minute. It was ridiculous.”

Beck and other dispensary owners who were raided were never charged with a crime. The DEA says that charges have been filed against three individuals from the 2007 raids. “They just wanted to send a message and try to scare people,” says Don Duncan, whose L.A. dispensary was raided on July 25, 2007. He too was never charged.

Beck was back in business a week after the raid, as was JoAnna LaForce, whose dispensary, the Farmacy, located just down Santa Monica Boulevard, was raided that same day. She says the raid cost her $25,000 in property damage. “They threw everything everywhere and made an absolute mess of the place,” says LaForce, also not charged with a crime. “But we weathered the storm.” Over the past two years, Beck and LaForce say things have been pretty quiet. They maintained their nonprofit collective business model, saying they grow their own pot and sell it only to patients who registered with them and have medical-use cards issued by the state. On the advice of his lawyer, Beck deals only in cash. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, and credit cards are usually issued by federally regulated banks, using them could potentially trigger a federal money-laundering case. So every month Beck takes a big trash bag of cash to his lawyer’s office, who then deposits the money in a trust and pays state sales tax from that.

After the raids, LaForce and Beck continued their efforts to become upstanding members of the business community. They joined the chamber of commerce, and now feel as entrenched as the Whole Foods down the block. The four medical-marijuana dispensaries on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood generate an estimated $4 million of local sales-tax revenue every year for the city, according to the proprietors. . “We’ve worked very hard here to establish protocols and standards of operation,” says LaForce. “And we’ve been very active in trying to establish a sensible ordinance for all of Los Angeles. But it just hasn’t happened, and now it’s like were back to Reefer Madness,” she says, referring to the church-sponsored anti-marijuana film made in 1936 that’s become a cult classic.

LaForce shares Beck’s animosity for the profiteers she says are taking advantage of the lack of a city ordinance to make a quick buck. She feels confident that when the raids do start up again, nonprofit collectives like hers and Beck’s will be spared. But that depends on whether law enforcement will differentiate between those that are operating illegally and those that have been in compliance with the local law. “We’re all a little more nervous these days,” she says. Duran says that West Hollywood city-council members have explicitly reminded their sheriff that marijuana is not a priority, and not to cooperate with the L.A.P.D. in any attempts to raid or shut down dispensaries. “But,” Duran adds, “Steve Cooley is our D.A. here in West Hollywood.” The D.A.’s office tells NEWSWEEK that Cooley believes dispensaries operating properly under the law should be safe. He just doesn’t know of any collectives that are currently operating as such.

As for Beck, he recently downloaded a Cannabis Club app for his iPhone that pinpoints the location of all the dispensaries around L.A. When he types in a ZIP code, Beck marvels at the hundreds of pushpins that go flying into almost every strip mall and shopping center and even residential neighborhoods. “We’re totally oversaturated,” he says. Just a few weeks ago, a shop opened up only a couple of blocks from Beck’s dispensary. He’s driven by a few times, and gone to its Web site. The place looks nice: flat-screen TVs, sofas and glass tables and plush carpets. It looks like an upscale hair salon. “They clearly put a lot of money into it,” Beck says. “We’ll see how long they last.” Source.

July 22, 2009-More than 100 people lined up outside a marijuana dispensary in the San Fernando Valley yesterday morning, lured by the offer of free cannabis for the first 100 patients.
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The nonprofit dispensary in Canoga Park, Roscoe’s Compassionate Collective, advertised the offer last week in Kush L.A., a monthly cannabis magazine, with a pull-out coupon for patients with marijuana medical cards and updated prescriptions. Since then, the collective has fielded hundreds of calls from people essentially asking the same question: Is this for real?
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JT Wiegman, 37, the owner’s son, said it is indeed for real and as of 11 a.m., they began giving 3.5 grams of marijuana, worth $55, to each recipient. The shop has been open only three months, and though Wiegman admitted the giveaway was in part a promotion, he said that wasn’t the main point.
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Through the pot promotion, the dispensary hopes to draw attention to collectives that overcharge and lack compassion, Wiegman said. He said there are too many people in the industry looking to make a fast buck.”I’m showing what true compassion is for this industry, for all the patients that really need the medicine,” he said. “I think collectives in general have not done a good job of taking this professional, we are a pharmacy and we have medicines that are legal.”

At 11 a.m., patients began filing into the lobby, filled with incense and Bob Marley music. Outside, those still waiting were entertained by volunteers conducting raffles.

“We love it, reggae all day,” Wiegman said of the music.
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Less than a mile away, another giveaway was going on this morning — pastries at Starbucks. Wiegman said there was no connection between the two, though he didn’t mind the idea: “Starbucks and RCC,” he said. Source.

July 10, 2009-The legalization of marijuana has been a controversial topic for many years now. It remains to be illegal in much of the country, but Drug War Rethinking PotCalifornia is one state in which it is legal for medical purposes, as long as patients have a note signed from their doctor and buy the marijuana from a dispensary that is regulated. But this is upsetting to some government officials, including the federal government who regularly raid the dispensaries, and some local government officials who say 800 dispensaries in one city is too many. One city council member said that a dispensary near a high school looked “like an ice cream shop from the 1950s” with the amount of teenaged kids crowded around it.

Maybe a high school isn’t the place for a dispensary or any other avenue to sell drugs, but the use of marijuana by responsible adults should not be a criminal activity. Medical marijuana can be used as a viable treatment for cancer, Glaucoma, Depression, PMS, lack of appetite, Crohn’s Disease, migraines, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Alcoholism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Hypertension, morning sickness (though no one will endorse the smoking of marijuana, or any other substance, by pregnant women), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, staph infections, Sickle Cell Anemia, Parkinson’s, and Sleep Apnea (snoring). Many more without a medical condition that would warrant their doctor to write a note specifying a need for the drug, feel that marijuana relaxes them after a hard day at work and one dispensary even set up a movie theatre in the shop where the patients could unwind and meet new people. There is even a dispensary selling marijuana online on social marketing websites like Twitter and Facebook that will deliver the drug free to Los Angeles residents who may not want to venture outside.

Marijuana is a relatively harmless drug and one that is a lifesaver to the many people who use it in its proper form. While there is always potential for abuse, alcohol used in an irresponsible way, as many people in the United States use it, is more harmful than marijuana used by responsible adults. Barney Frank and Ron Paul introduced legislation earlier this summer to legalize small amount of marijuana by adults, whether they would like to use it for medical or recreational purposes, and hopefully it will start to put an end to the billions that we spend on the drug war each year and the lives and businesses lost in the process of government nannyism. Source.

June 21st, 2009 – How did Yohai Golan-Gild go from being an organizer of psychedelic drug parties to being a provider of medicinal marijuana in Israel – with the full approval israel2of the Health Ministry?

“The 90s were the golden age of chemicals,” Golan-Gild said. “In every forest clearing there were people taking ecstasy and LSD and dancing themselves silly. People didn’t get married unless pills were promised to the guests. Thousands protested at Rabin Square urging us to ‘give trance a chance.’ There was a feeling that something was about to change. But in Israel, people love to party, but they don’t love paying for it. I lost millions, I collapsed financially, and that is how I found myself in California. Very quickly, I became the owner of three grow houses of medicinal marijuana, until six months ago, when I go a phone call from my American friend Rick Doblin.”

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he path taken by Golan-Gild represents the quiet but fascinating revolution that Israeli society has undergone over the last decade. In 1999, the Health Ministry legalized the use of Cannabis, the plant from which marijuana and hashish are derived, for use by patients suffering from serious symptoms such as pain, nausea and loss of appetite.

As the cultivation of the Cannabis plant became legal, the number of patients prescribed medicinal marijuana grew from two in 2000 to more than 700 today. The number is expected to reach 1,200 within three months. Cannabis growing is on the verge of becoming an economic goldmine and entrepreneurs seeking to tap its potential are eyeing the endeavor. The consumption of cannabis products, which was completely forbidden up until ten years ago, is now becoming regulated and may eventually gain the status of any other drug supplied to the general public.

“I issue 40 new prescriptions every month, with an average prescription calling for 100 grams per patient per month,” boasts Dr. Yehuda Baruch, the head of the psychiatric hospital “Abarbanel” in Bat Yam. Baruch is also the Health Ministry’s point man for medicinal marijuana prescriptions.

The aforementioned revolution has not yet been completed, and the use of medicinal marijuana is currently in a sort of twilight zone. It is considered a legitimate medical treatment, under the supervision of the Health Ministry, but is viewed as a “stepson” of sorts. Baruch, the sole provider of prescriptions, is only employed by the ministry part time, and many patients find themselves waiting for him to clear time from his busy Abarbanel schedule to renew their prescriptions.

“Baruch is already causing a bottle neck. What will happen in September when we reach 1,200 patients with prescriptions?” asks Liat Benny (37), a Tel Aviv resident, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder and is prescribed marijuana to ease her symptoms. She has recently established a non-profit organization to promote the use of medicinal marijuana like any other prescription medication.

“Our battle is against an institution mired in prejudice,” she said. “The stigma is that patients who smoke are messed up, or high, but that is not the way we are. The Cannabis, for me, comes in place of other drugs, and it allows me to function. Don’t compare me to a healthy person who smokes.” She added that she has often encountered doctors and nurses at conferences where she’d lectured who responded with giggles and asked to take her picture next to the plant.

Just to be clear, Benny’s complaints are not directed at Baruch. On the contrary – patients laud the Health Ministry and Baruch in particular for smashing the conventional closed-mindedness in regard to the use of medicinal marijuana. Dr. Itay Gur-Ariyeh, the head of pain management at Sheba hospital and the chairman of the Israel Pain Association said that Baruch is on the right track, but that the issue must be completely regulated.

Up to ten plants

The problematic nature of the status of medicinal Cannabis is most evident in its production. The Health Ministry committee that decided to permit the use of medicinal marijuana back in 1999 stipulated that the drug be given only to patients with extreme symptoms, and only in order to ease pain directly stemming from their disease. But the committee had trouble defining how the patients were to obtain the drug, which was not legally grown in Israel at the time.

Thus, until 2005, the prescriptions for medicinal marijuana were given only to ten patients, among them Benny. The ministry allowed them to independently cultivate up to ten Cannabis plants, and to possess up to 200 grams of processed plants (imagine what would happen if your doctor prescribed you a drug and then asked you to produce it yourself).

This was not the only problem. The growing of Cannabis requires some physical work, as well as time. Since the first patients to be prescribed the drug were all terminally ill, this aspect took on an ironic twist, even if not intentionally. The backwards result wasn’t far behind – Yossi Bozaglo, of the first patients to be prescribed marijuana, was tried in 2001 for buying marijuana from a drug dealer. The incident made it very clear that the ministry must take responsibility over providing the drug.

Then “angel face” arrived. That is how the patients call the man, who to this day insists on remaining anonymous, who approached the ministry and offered to provide the Cannabis to the patients. Somewhere in the north, he and his family have been growing the Cannabis with the authorization of the state for the last four years. The availability of the drug, thanks to angel face, greatly increased the number of patients who were prescribed the drug. His grow house holds dozens of plants, all of which bear the names of patients who were treated with Cannabis and have since died.

In a small apartment in Tel Aviv, patients huddle almost daily to get their joints or the raw materials from angel face and the volunteers at the organization he founded, named “Tikkun Olam.” The distribution of these cigarettes, at the improvised “clinic” and with the government’s blessing, is perhaps the most surreal and heartwarming sight to be seen at any medical facility – light years away from the atmosphere at oncology wards at hospitals.

Angel face provides relief for Parkinson’s patients in wheelchairs alongside Crohn’s disease sufferers and cancer victims, who smoke together in the yard. Patients over 70 years old suddenly get up from their chairs and begin to move around. A child suffering from Tourette Syndrome, who was forced to leave her school due to ridicule from her peers, stopped cursing thanks to the drug, went back to school, and is now in a relationship with her first boyfriend. And everyone has a smile on their face. The Cannabis they receive has a much higher concentration of the active ingredient than marijuana sold illegally.

The process of obtaining the authorization to supply marijuana can testify to the quiet revolution. At first, only angel face was permitted to handle the drug and prepare joints. Then, due to the growing demand, Baruch authorized several volunteers to help prepare the drug. Ultimately, the volunteers were given authorization to transport the drug all across the country.

Angel face doesn’t receive any payment from the state for the production of the Cannabis, and the patients don’t pay for it either. However, it is clear to everyone that this cannot continue, in light of the growing demand and the cost of production. “There must be payment,” Dr. Gur-Ariyeh declared. “Who will pay for this – the state, the HMOs or the patients – that’s a different question.” Baruch, as a representative of the Health Ministry, shares Gur-Ariyeh’s opinion and has already begun compiling a financial model.

Medicinal Cannabis – a combination of helpless patients and a drug with a hint of the wild – has sparked the attention of many entrepreneurs. The phone call Yohai Golan-Gild received a year ago was from his American friend, Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which promotes the use of these substances in medicine and research. When he heard about the revolution underway in Israel, Doblin quickly contacted his friend Golan-Gild, who was in California at the time. Last week, Baruch and other ministry representatives visited the hothouses built by Golan-Gild and his two partners, with an initial investment of NIS 1 million. (They asked not to make public the location of the hothouses, for fear of theft.) They will be the second supplier of medicinal marijuana.

The Health Ministry – which thinks it is impossible to rely on one supplier for a drug that is grown agriculturally and is susceptible to disease or other potential damage – plans to increase the number of authorized medical Cannabis growers to five or six. According to Baruch, this number would grow and supply enough Cannabis to meet the expected demand. At first patients would receive the drug for free, but they will soon be asked to pay for it.

“There are 160 varieties of Cannabis in the world and each one has its own side effects,” said Golan-Gild, adding, with pleasure, “I can suit each patient with his or her type – one that will cause exhaustion, one that will turn you into a ball of energy in the morning and one that will cause a diagonal erection.”

Baruch sees “the potential market in Israel reaching tens of thousands of medicinal Cannabis users, with each one paying NIS 5 or 10 per gram of the drug, or NIS 5,000 to NIS 10,000 per person per year.”

However, Golan-Gild claims that growing one gram of Cannabis costs NIS 15, more than what Baruch expects patients to pay. The difference, he says, would need to be subsidized by the Health Ministry or HMOs, in the same way that they do for drugs included in the public health basket.

The inclusion of Cannabis in the public health basket seems far off, especially considering most HMOs are developing complementary insurance programs, which serve as additional source of income for them and traditionally include more alternative therapies.

In the mean time, Golan-Gild plans to open three “mercy centers,” as he calls them, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ra’anana. There patients can not only smoke joints, but also – for an additional fee – participate in yoga and Pilates classes and receive training on how to use the Cannabis properly.

Light years away from all these initiatives, in a small simple Tel Aviv apartment, the “Tikkun Olam” group continues to distribute Cannabis for free and insist that patients must not pay for it out of their own pockets.

Munchies

When Cannabis was approved for medicinal purposes in 1999, it was originally intended for terminal cancer and AIDS patients. Today it is being used in earlier stages of illness and for a wider array of diseases, including Parkinson’s, Tourette Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain and shell shock. The medical establishment is also increasingly recognizing Cannabis’ effectiveness in treating illness.

At the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplantation department, patients including children and babies are treated using drops of oil derived from Cannabis. “It has no side effects and is largely effective in treating patients,” said department chief, Professor Reuven Or. “I would say it is effective in 80 percent of patients, which is a lot.”

Professor Or continued, “It stimulates the appetite and minimizes nausea and vomiting, which is of great importance in Oncology. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in cases of infection or inflammation caused by radiation. Along with this, Cannabis eases the coping process for patients – it improves their morale and lowers depression, and these are important parameters for patients battling disease.”

Half of the patients being treated with Cannabis are Oncology patients, while about a quarter suffer from chronic pain.

A multipurpose medicine

At age 6, Liat Benny began experiencing pains that would over the years become stronger and spread, until doctors diagnosed her with a rare autoimmune disorder that harms blood vessels, the eyes and joints.

Benny describes the pain she feels every hour of every day as an “insane stabbing sensation.” Three years ago, Benny’s right eye was surgically removed, and while she still has vision in her left eye, she says it is limited and blurry. She has undergone dozens of operations, treatments and hospitalizations, in addition to multiple morphine treatments, but her disease worsened to the point that Benny had to stop working.

Ten years ago, Benny’s father told her about medicinal Cannabis, and three years ago she was introduced to “Tikkun Olam.” Today she is one of the patients authorized by the Health Ministry to use medical marijuana. Benny also lectures on the subject, tries to persuade more doctors to lose their preconceived notions about the drug and increase the number of users.

“I live with interminable pain that reaches level eight to nine (ten is considered the highest pain level),” said Benny.

“Smoking Cannabis allows me to talk to you and sound coherent even if I haven’t slept all night,” she continued. “Cannabis is a multipurpose drug that should be included in the public health basket. Its use significantly decreases the use of other drugs, which is cost-effective for the state. Cannabis improves all patients’ functioning, and we are not just talking about relief from symptoms but also about a certain form of therapy.”

Several weeks ago, Benny established an organization to advance the use of medicinal Cannabis. “I see this as my mission,” she said. By By Haim Shadmi. Source.

June 7th, 2009 – (MOLALLA, Ore.) – Legal medical marijuana started with an apprehensive whimper in California in 1996. Doctor Tod Mikuriya, who had studied cannabis/marijuana as safe effective medicine for about 30 years, was most likely the first doctor to jump into the fray and controversy. The California Medical Board went “ape” and harassed him.doc_leveque350

In 1998, Oregon made medical marijuana legal. I was one of the first doctors who jumped in as I was partially disabled from medical malpractice with a spinal cord injury and could no longer do a regular office practice. I had studied cannabis/marijuana as medicine for about 50 years and I knew it was not “dangerous” but a good effective medicine.

Right after I started writing applications, the Oregon Medical Board went “totally ape” and not only harassed me personally, but were providing local newspapers with scandalous, libelous articles about me such as “Doctor Leveque is a danger to all his patients and the public in general”.

I had not harmed any patients in any way and I had up to 4,000 patients who came to me year after year to renew their permits.

I am writing this as an introduction/explanation of how the DEA and the Medical Boards use Gestapo like tactics to frighten doctors and patients getting legal permission to grow and use a effective medicine.

In spite of these DEA/medical Board Gestapo tactics, legalization of medical marijuana has blossomed into presently 13 states with legality and ten more states with mills in their legislatures.

LEGALIZATION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS TRULY EXPLODING

This will cause an extreme problem. Doctors are still paranoid fearful of the DEA and medical boards although President Obama, a former user, has implied his new attorney general will rein in the DEA. He hasn’t done it yet. SHAME ON HIM!

In California, possibly only about 100 doctors are writing MJ approvals and about 300,0000 patients are legal. In Oregon 3,000 doctors have signed applications for 22,000 patients. About 70% percent were signed by only ten doctors. Most doctors have signed only one or two applications.

I can reassure doctors that the DEA WILL NOT cause revocation of your medical license. This has happened to only one doctor, myself. They got me because my board is nearly all MD’s and I am an osteopathic doctor considered by them unfit to practice medicine.

The DEA has the capacity to influence Oregon Medical Board actions and they can restrict your license to prescribe certain medications, which they did to me.

I was a pharmacology professor for 25 years in some of the best medical schools in the U.S. And I was invited by the University of London to teach in Africa. I trained the first doctors in Tanzania.

TOTAL LEGALIZATION IS FINALLY AT HAND

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By Dr. Phil Leveque. Source.

June 7th, 2009 – With hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries operating across Los Angeles in violation of a moratorium, the City Council has set the stage to start enforcing the ban, which went into effect almost 21 months ago. imagesThe city clerk has notified 14 dispensaries that their requests for exemptions from the moratorium will be considered by the City Council on Tuesday.

Most, if not all, are likely to be denied on the grounds that they were not registered with the city by the moratorium’s deadline in 2007. A denial would allow the city’s code enforcement bureau and the city attorney to take legal steps to force them to shut down.

The city allowed 186 existing dispensaries to stay open under the moratorium. Since then, 532 dispensaries have asked the council for exemptions that would allow them to operate. Most of those have opened without waiting for permission. That has triggered concerns from activists in neighborhoods in which they have clustered. The city is still developing regulations to control where dispensaries can open.

Councilman Ed Reyes, who heads the committee that oversees the moratorium, promised earlier this week to start reviewing the exemption applications. The council has ruled on none of them. That has hampered enforcement. The city attorney’s office says it would be hard to make a case that a dispensary should be shut down when it had an exemption request pending before council.

Since Tuesday, when Reyes said he would start to deal with the applications, two dozen more dispensaries filed for exemptions, almost double the number the council will consider next Tuesday. It will also vote on whether to stop accepting new applications for exemptions.

Here are the dispensaries the council will consider Tuesday:

Aloha Spirit Organic Consumables
6657 Reseda Blvd. #202, Reseda

West Coast Holistic Institute
7226 Remmet Ave., Canoga Park

The Grasshopper 215
21146 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills

Hope Collective
20035 Van Owen St., Winnetka

The Vapor Room
305 S. Hewitt St., downtown

Atwater Alternative Care Collective
3106 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

LA Collective
3401 Glendale Blvd. B, Atwater Village

Friendly Collective
3405 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

Global Meds Collective
3425 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

Accurate Services Medical Dispensary
3429 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

House of Kush
1632 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock

Hemp Factory V
2912 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock

American Eagle Collective
2501 Colorado Blvd. No. B, Eagle Rock

Green Leaf Collective
5607 E. Huntington Drive No. N, El Sereno

Source.