Category Archives: Marijuana

Why Cannabis and Not Marijuana


 

January 31, 2017 GreenSleeves

You may be wondering why even though the word Marijuana is a very ingrained in American culture, we tend to use the word Cannabis.

Cannabis used as medicine is a significant part of American history. It was used mainly in the form of tinctures and very commonly prescribed for various ailments.

It’s only when a mass influx of legal Mexican immigrants came into the country between 1910 and 1920 to seek asylum from civil war that smoking Cannabis for recreational purposes became very popular as they brought the practice with them.

This of course brought with it a fear of the unknown and the term Marijuana became associated with the recreational smoking of the plant rather than its practical medicinal uses.

As the hysteria grew, especially in the Southern states about these immigrants bringing with them ‘’evil practices’’ which would corrupt the weak willed youth, the term became etched in society’s psyche not only as a derogatory term for the use of Cannabis but also perhaps the immigrants themselves.

Now, a word only has the power we assign it but considering there are many parts of the world that are deprived of safe treatment of their conditions through ignorance, we would like to champion the term that actually implies medicinal rather than recreational use.

We have no problem with either the word Marijuana nor its cultural roots but there is a very clear distinction between recreational and medicinal use.

Will the awakening from this hysteria induced slumber come from using different terminology? Doubtful but it does help to erode the stigma attached to the plant and distinguish medicinal use from recreational use or even abuse.

To cloud the issue even further there are Cannabis breeders who are giving their strains that they create very controversial names such as ‘’Green Crack’’ and ‘’Herijuana’’. Green crack in particular is supposedly very good for migraines and Herijuana is supposed to be a great strain for general pain relief hence its implied effects of heroin/marijuana combined.

Now if these are the only strains available that help with certain types of pain and users experience massive relief from them, we are not against using them but as a general rule we try to avoid promoting strains with names that only hurt the cause of ending prohibition. It’s a marketing gimmick that is outright irresponsible to the cause.

How many times have we heard about how much stronger Cannabis is today and therefore how dangerous it is? We don’t need the additional hysteria from ignorant members of society who believe that Cannabis should be scheduled alongside hard drugs.

Back to the term Marijuana, we don’t have a problem with it and may even use it from time to time but the term Cannabis, we believe is the proper term for the uses we want from the herb and that is medicinal first and foremost. Perhaps the distinction could help with demonstrating to the public that there is a difference between use/abuse and genuine medicinal need.

Kind Regards
The Canna-Base Team

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DEA Approves Synthetic Marijuana for Company That Spent $500K to Keep Weed Illegal


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March 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Written by Alex Thomas

(ANTIMEDIA) Lobbying in the nation’s capitol is a billion dollar industry, but sometimes, companies dip their toes into state and local politics, as well. When giant corporations want to influence bills and national elections, they generally spread their money around, cozying up to a number of politicians and shaking hands with numerous government officials. However, at the local level, high-dollar financing is a bit more transparent.

Insys Therapeutics is a small player on the national scale. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that they spent only $120,000 lobbying in D.C. in 2016. But in Arizona, where the company is based, they forked over $500,000 — and they did it to keep marijuana illegal in the traditionally Republican state.

Last September, the Washington Post first reported the large donation, which was one of the largest single contributions to any anti-legalization campaign ever.” Insys’ money was given to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a localized political action committee that opposed the state’s ballot measure to legalize cannabis in 2016. That measure was ultimately defeated, and now the group is fighting the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, a bill that could hit Arizona ballot boxes on November 8, 2018.

According to the full text of the bill, acquired by Anti-Media via ballotpedia.org, the application was filed at the beginning of March. It states that “marijuana and cannabis have been used safely for thousands of years for recreational, medical, religious and industrial purposes.” The bill also cited a study funded in part by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that “did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs.”

The bill proposes a number of changes that would essentially legalize marijuana. These include:

“There shall be no limit on the number of cannabis plants in a personal grow that are not yet in a state of florescence.”

“All persons at least twenty-one years of age are authorized to maintain a home garden provided the person obtains a transaction privilege tax license.”

“Commercial grows, home gardens and cannabis sales are not authorized within 1,000 feet of a school.”

According to the Washington Post, Insys has “developed a drug based on a synthetic ingredient, THC. Called Syndros, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July for treatment of AIDS and cancer patients’ symptoms.”

Insys was just given preliminary approval for Syndros from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) this week.

However, Insys has a shady history as a big pharmaceutical company, as they manufacture Subsys fentanyl, a deadly painkiller. An NBC report found that as of 2015, Insys had enjoyed sales of $147.2 million for their high-risk drug. They also came under investigation for the aggressive manner in which they were marketing and selling their drug. The NBC study quoted the Oregon assistant attorney general, who stated, “I’ve been investigating drug cases for about 15 years now, and the conduct that we saw in this case was among the most unconscionable that I’ve seen.”

For Insys, the fight against marijuana legalization has been long and arduous. In 2011, they retained the lobbying firm Hyman, Phelps & Mcnamara to nudge the DEA against legalization. In a statement to the Post, the company claimed they oppose marijuana legalization because “marijuana’s safety hasn’t been demonstrated through the federal regulatory process.”

Safer Arizona, the group fighting for legalization, features the tagline, “We don’t have a drug problem, we have a political problem,” on their website. Marijuana legalization in Arizona would be a huge step for nationwide legalization, as the state is seen as a stronghold of traditional American values. However, if big pharma continues to bankroll the opposition, the political action groups fighting against legalization will have more money to fund campaigns for local politicians who share their sympathies.

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The Best Recipe for Maximizing the Medical Effects of Marijuana


CBD-only preparations lack the synergies available when marijuana’s other cannabinoids and its terpenes are kept in the game.

 

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By Phillip Smith / AlterNet

March 22, 2017

CBD (cannabidiol) is getting a lot of attention these days as the medicinal cannabinoid in marijuana. CBD-only products are all the rage in the ever-expanding medical marijuana market, and CBD-only medical marijuana laws are becoming a favorite resort of red state politicians who want to throw a sop to those clamoring for medical marijuana, but are hesitant to actually embrace the demon weed.

But is CBD the miracle molecule on its own? Or would users benefit from using preparations made from the whole pot plant? Not to knock CBD, which even by itself clearly provides succor for many people, but advocates of “whole plant medicine” make a strong case.

That case is based on the entourage effect, which posits an interactive synergy between the components of the plant, and not just the major cannabinoids, such as THC and CBC, but also the lesser-known but still therapeutically active cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, THC-a, and THC-v, and even the terpenoids, the molecules that make pot plants smell and taste lemony (limonene) or piney (pinene), earthy (humulene) or musky (myrcene). The entourage effect suggests that if people want to unlock the full benefits of medical marijuana, they need to be using whole plant medicine.

“CBD and THC seem to work better together. They lessen each other’s side effects,” said Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, director of the American Cannabis Nurses Association.

“CBD has value, but its value can be enhanced with the whole plant and we can develop more individualized medicine,” said Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, and president and co-founder of Patients Out of Time.

And again, it’s not just the cannabinoids.

“THC seems to potentiate all the effects of CBD and conversely, CBD affects THC,” explained Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD. “Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This ‘phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,’ as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and even cancer,” he said.

“Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the ‘downer’ neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the ‘upper’),” Solomon continued.

The entourage effect makes whole plant medicine the preferred means of ingesting therapeutic marijuana, the trio agreed.

“I think that any whole plant medicine is more effective than any CBD-only product,” said Solomon.

“Whole plant medicine is the only way to go,” echoed Theisen.

“It’s safer and more effective, and tolerance will develop more slowly—if at all,” Mathre concurred.

The traditional method of consuming whole plant marijuana has been to smoke it, but that’s not an especially favored route among medical marijuana advocates. And there are other options.

“Vaporization or tinctures of whole plants. Any sort of extraction method that isn’t going to deplete it,” said Theisen.

“Delivery methods vary greatly in terms of their efficiency and their effects. I heard a colleague say that smoking a joint for therapeutic effect is akin to opening your mouth in the rain to get a drink of water,” said Constance Finley, founder and CEO of Constance Therapeutics. “Our preferred methods are buccal (cheek) ingestion or sublingual ingestion, vaping from a vaporizer or vape pen whose hardware is safe to use with cannabis extracts, and topical for additional localized impact.”

With whole plant superior to single-cannabinoid preparations, people living in states that have only passed CBD-only laws are not able to enjoy the full benefits of medical marijuana. That’s a damned shame, said an exasperated Mathre.

“We have lawyers and politicians practicing medicine without a license—they don’t know what they are talking about,” she said. “Clearly there may be some patients who need little to no THC, but the vast majority will benefit from it. Patients should have all of the options open to them and research needs to continue to help determine how to best individualize cannabis medicine.”

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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(IL) Illinois lawmakers propose legalizing recreational marijuana


Illinois recreational marijuana

 

Robert McCoppinContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Lawmakers are proposing to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois but say the legislation probably won’t come up for a vote until next year.

Sponsors on Wednesday introduced bills that would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow and buy limited amounts of marijuana.

The state would license and regulate businesses to grow, process and sell the plant, and it would establish safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements, sponsors said.

The measure would also allow residents to possess up to 28 grams of pot, or about an ounce, and to grow five plants.

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce wholesale, plus the state’s standard 6.25 percent sales tax.

Based on sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, estimates sales in Illinois could generate about $350 million to $700 million per year.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan reserved judgment, as they typically do with new bills. But the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police opposes legalization, saying marijuana poses a threat to public health and safety, and causes potential enforcement problems because it conflicts with the federal prohibition on marijuana.


Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Robert McCoppin

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

(Robert McCoppin)


The co-sponsors, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Democrats from Chicago’s North Side, said they don’t plan to call the bill for a vote this session but will hold hearings to get feedback and see whether some version of a legalization bill can get support next year.

“If we bring this out in the open, we can generate revenue legally rather than for the black market,” Steans said.

Cassidy said marijuana prohibition creates far more problems than it prevents. “Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer,” she said.

Eight states have allowed the sale of the drug, generally by referendum. But in Illinois, it’s very difficult to get a binding vote on the statewide ballot, so it probably would take legislative action to change the law.

If approved, the plan would make Illinois the first state in the Midwest to allow the general public, including out-of-state visitors, to buy marijuana, though it would remain illegal to transport it across state lines. The proposal also calls for dividing the tax revenue, with half going to the state’s general fund and the rest to schools and drug abuse treatment and prevention.

Legal marijuana sales can generate windfall tax revenues, but the social and health costs are largely unknown, cautioned Rosalie Pacula, a senior economist at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization.

“The tax revenue comes right away,” Pacula said. “The data on emergency room visits, car crashes, graduation rates and absenteeism takes a lot longer.”

As with any new industry, marijuana can be regulated, but there are many variables, such as what pesticides should be allowed, Pacula said, so there should be provisions for new laws to expire or be changed along the way.

For more than a year, Illinois has had a pilot program allowing the sale of marijuana to patients with any of about 40 debilitating diseases, such as cancer or AIDS. But without a broad qualifying condition like chronic pain, as some other states have, the number of patients has been limited to about 17,000, with current retail sales of about $5 million a month.

The proposed new law would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot for one year before newly licensed businesses would be allowed to enter the market.

Last year, a new state law also decriminalized the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, punishing it instead with fines.

Police have not noticed any significant problems with either law, according to Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger Jr., who is first vice president of the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, which opposes legalization. But he said the medical marijuana law is limited, and a lot of municipalities had previously decriminalized cannabis, so the effects were muted.

Kruger cited a rise in emergency room visits for medical marijuana ingestion among children in Colorado and studies showing the drug’s harmful effects on developing brains.

Advocates for legalization say kids are already getting marijuana illegally, but legalization would allow it to be more closely regulated.

“I think this does a good job of being very reasonable,” Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn said. “It’s a realistic approach.”

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Top 6 Marijuana Bills to Follow


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by Nanette Porter on March 11, 2017

 

Lawmakers have been busy introducing a variety of marijuana bills since the election. While there is no guarantee that any of these bills will actually become laws, a perusal of the bills introduced offers useful insight into how the decisions made regarding cannabis might affect our lives more immediately than the slow churn of Washington, D.C.

In the current political climate, it more important than ever to spend some time getting familiar with these bills. Please click on the links to get more information about each proposed bill. We strongly encourage you to get in touch with your elected representatives to express your views and opinions.

Below are six (6) cannabis-related bills that are worth following closely:

H.R. 975 – Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment has been law since 2014 and prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with a State’s laws. Unfortunately, it was passed and signed into law as part of an omnibus spending package, and to remain legally binding it must be included in the end-of-year spending package for FY2017. The spending restriction is temporary and Congress must act to keep it in place.

California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has sponsored H.R.975 to limit federal power on marijuana. Rohrabacher is a Republican and professed Trump-guy, but feels the government has become too involved in States’ rights and asset seizures, and believes this is the best way to proceed.

The Rohrabacher-Farr provision comes up for renewal on April 28, and rather than trying to convince the new administration to renew, he says he hopes this paves the way for them to leave it up to the States. If passed by Congress, it will then move to the Senate, and hopefully on to the President’s desk for signature to become law.

H.R. 1227 – Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017

Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett introduced legislation aimed at federally decriminalizing marijuana. H.R. 1227 asks that marijuana be removed from the federal controlled substances list, in essence putting it in the same arena as alcohol and tobacco.

“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.” – Congressman Garrett

Garrett claims “this step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth…something that is long overdue. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”

H.R. 331 – States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act

Sponsored by California Rep Barbara Lee, H.R.331 seeks an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so as to prevent civil asset forfeiture for property owners due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.

H.R. 714 – Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marihuana Act (LUMMA)

Virginia Rep H Morgan Griffith introduced H.R. 714 to provide for the legitimate use of medicinal marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States by moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

The bill also includes a provision that, in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed by a physician for medical use under applicable State law, no provision of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act shall interfere with such State laws. (This provision is also included in H.R. 715.)

At present, no U.S. healthcare professional can legally prescribe cannabis. Several states have laws on the books that were passed many, many years ago in expectation that federal law would change; but until then, doctors even in these states are legally prohibited from prescribing it. Doing so, would expose medical practitioners to prosecution and loss of his/her license.

H.R. 715 – Compassionate Access Act

Also sponsored by Griffith is H.R. 715. This bill asks for “the rescheduling of marihuana (to any schedule other than I), the medicinal use of marihuana in accordance with State law and the exclusion of cannabidiol from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes,” and that cannabidiol (CBD), derived from the plant or synthetically formulated and containing not greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, be excluded from the definition of “marihuana.”

The bill also calls for control over access to research into the potential medicinal uses of cannabis be turned over to an agency of the executive branch that is not focused on researching for the addictive properties of substances, and empower the new agency to ensure adequate supply of the plant is available for research. It further asks that research performed in a scientifically sound manner, and in accordance with the laws in a State where marijuana or CBD is legal for medical purposes, but does not use marijuana from federally approved sources, may be considered for purposes of rescheduling.

California AB 1578

California lawmakers quickly got to work and proposed AB 1758, aiming to have California declared as a “sanctuary state” from federal enforcement. If passed and signed into law, state or local agencies would be prevented from taking enforcement action without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency resources to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California and from transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

AB 1758 is pending referral and may be heard in committee on March 21.

30+ bills have been introduced in California since voters approved Proposition 64 in November. Most of these have been submitted to help clean-up the administration and the complex and inconsistencies that exist between the medical and recreational systems.

Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high

Cannabis has long-established medical uses as an effective treatment for ailments that include HIV/AIDS, inflammatory and auto-immune diseases, gastro-intestinal disorders, PTSD, chronic pain, and many others.

According to a Qunnipiac poll released February 23, 2017, U.S. voters say, 59 – 36 percent, that marijuana should be legal in the U.S.; and voters support, by a whopping 96 – 6 percent, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes if prescribed by a doctor; and an overwhelming 71 -23 percent believe the government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized it.

Twenty-eight (28) states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam, either through ballot measure or legislative action, have approved the use of medical marijuana when recommended by a physician. An additional seventeen (17) states have approved use of low THC, high CBD products for medical reasons in some situations.

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In Peru, mothers rouse support for legalizing medical marijuana


Ana Alvarez, a working mother of two in Lima, never imagined being on the frontlines of a fight for marijuana in conservative Peru.

But a police raid on a makeshift cannabis lab that she and other women started to soothe the symptoms of their sick children has roused support for medical marijuana, prompting President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to propose legalizing it in the latest pivot away from decades-old restrictions on drug use in Latin America.

Alvarez said cannabis oil is the only drug that helped contain her epileptic and schizophrenic son’s seizures and psychotic episodes. She and other women in similar situations formed the group Searching for Hope to seek legal backing as they honed techniques for producing the drug.

“We wrote to Congress, to the health ministry,” Alvarez said from her apartment as her son played in his room. “We got two negative responses.”

But the police bust put the women’s plight on national television, triggering an outpouring of sympathy as they marched with their children in tow to demand police “give us our medicine back.”

“When we saw their reality, we realized there’s a void in our laws for this kind of use” of marijuana, said cabinet advisor Leonardo Caparros. “We couldn’t turn a blind eye.”

It is unclear if the right-wing opposition-controlled Congress will pass Kuczynski’s proposed legislation, which would allow marijuana to be imported and sold in Peru for medical reasons and could permit domestic production after two years.

Kuczynski, a 78-year-old socially liberal economist, once provoked an uproar for saying that smoking a joint “isn’t the end of the world.”

But an Ipsos poll conducted following the raid showed 65 percent of Peruvians favor legalizing medical marijuana, and another 13 percent back legalizing the drug for recreational use.

If the bill is passed, Peru would follow neighboring Chile and Colombia in legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Mexico’s Senate has approved a bill to permit the use of medical marijuana, while Uruguay has fully legalized cannabis from seed to smoke.

In the meantime, Searching for Hope has turned to the black market. Member Roxana Tasayco said cannabis oil had given her terminal cancer-stricken mother her appetite back and calmed her vomiting and nausea.

Also In Health News

“It’s not going to cure her but it’ll give her a better quality of life in her last days,” said Tasayco. “If I have to break a few laws to do that for her I will.”

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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WHO Takes First Steps To Reclassify Medical Cannabis Under International Law


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by Scott Gacek on January 01, 2017

 

It could still be a long wait, but patients in the United States may not be dependent on the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) recently met and initiated the first steps in a long process that could lead to the rescheduling of medical marijuana under international law, and has committed to hold a special session to discuss medical marijuana in the next eighteen months.

“In order for cannabis to be rescheduled, the United Nations General Assembly would vote on a recommendation made by the CND.”

Eighteen months may seem like a long time, but discussions regarding the potential rescheduling of cannabis have been stalled for years, and the process could result in fundamental changes in the way medical marijuana research and regulations are handled in the United States and around the world.

The ECDD is a very influential committee whose recommendations are made to the Secretary General of the United Nations, who can then bring the recommendations to a vote by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). In order for cannabis to be rescheduled, the United Nations General Assembly would vote on a recommendation made by the CND.

If approved by the UN General Assembly, those changes would then be reflected in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which currently lists cannabis as a Schedule I and IV substance, meaning a substance with a high risk of abuse, produces ill effects, and has no potential therapeutic benefit.

Under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which was ratified in 1961 and is signed by 185 of the 193 countries that make up the United Nations, including the United States, member countries are responsible for passing and enforcing their own drug laws, but the Single Convention is regarded as the standard for international drug laws. Many lawmakers point to the Single Convention as the primary obstacle in the United States’ inability to reschedule cannabis.

According to an extract from the 38th Expert Committee on Drug Dependence that convened from November 14-18 in Geneva, the committee recognized an increase in the use of cannabis and its components for medical purposes, the emergence of new cannabis-related pharmaceutical preparations for therapeutic use, and that cannabis has never been subject to a formal pre-review or critical review by the ECDD.

Over the next eighteen months, the committee has requested pre-reviews for cannabis plant matter, extracts and tinctures, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and stereoisomers of THC.

This pre-review is a preliminary analysis used to determine if a more in-depth critical review will be undertaken by the ECDD, and will represent the first new scientific guidance on marijuana to the United Nations since 1935, when cannabis was first classified as a Schedule I/IV substance by the Health Committee of the League of Nations.

Rescheduling at the international level would have major ramifications for US policy on medical cannabis, as all too often politicians cite the Single Convention as the reason Congress cannot move towards rescheduling cannabis. So while this may seem like a long, drawn out process, it could ultimately remove that final roadblock, making it well worth the wait.

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LINK TO UN PDF DOC…

RELATED:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-humphreys/can-the-united-nations-bl_b_3977683.html

https://massroots.com/blog/un-warns-us-and-canada-on-legal-marijuana

Burgeoning Marijuana Market Prompts Concerns about Crop’s Environmental Impact


By Melati Kaye on February 2, 2017

A visit to a marijuana farm in Willow Creek, the heart of northern California’s so-called Emerald Triangle feels like strolling through an orchard. At 16 feet high and eight feet around, its 99 plants are too overloaded with cannabis buds to stand on their own. Instead each plant has an aluminum cage for support.

Welcome to America’s “pot basket.” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates 60 percent of cannabis consumed nationwide is grown in California. According to the Department of Justice, the bulk of that comes from the three upstate counties of the Emerald Triangle: Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity. Conditions here are said to be perfect for outdoor marijuana cultivation. But that has proved to be a very mixed blessing for the region, bringing with it a litany of environmental disturbances to local waterways and wildlife. Creek diversions threaten fish habitat and spur toxic algal blooms. Road building and clear-cuts erode soil and cloud streams. Deep within, illegal “guerilla grows” pepper forestlands with banned rodent poisons that are intended to eradicate crop pests but are also fatal to other mammals.

On November 8 voters in four states—Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada—legalized recreational marijuana. These states join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, along with the District of Columbia, where one can already legally buy the drug for recreational use. Will this expanded market mean more environmental damage? Or will legalization pave the way for sounder regulation?

In 1996 California legalized marijuana for medical use, providing the first legal space for pot cultivation since the federal government’s blanket ban on the crop some 60 years before. As grow operations in the state flourished, California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Scott Bauer analyzed satellite imagery to examine the impact of cultivation on water levels in four Emerald Triangle watersheds. His study, published in PLoS ONE in 2015, found that in three of the four watersheds, “water demand for marijuana cultivation exceeds stream flow during the low-flow [summer] periods.”

The real problem is not marijuana’s overall water consumption, which still falls far short of California staples like walnuts or almonds, explains environmental scientist Van Butsic of the University of California, Berkeley. Rather it is an issue of where and when pot is grown. Analyzing aerial imagery of 4,428 grow sites in 60 Humboldt county watersheds, Butsic found that one in 20 grow sites sat within 100 meters of fish habitat and one in five were located on steep land with a slope of 17 degrees or more. “The problem is that cannabis is being grown in the headwaters, and much of the watering is happening in the summer,” Butsic says.

If that arrangement goes on unchecked, U.C. Berkeley ecologist Mary Powers warns, summer plantations could transform local rivers from cool and “salmon-sustaining” to systems full of toxic cyanobacteria. Over eons of evolution native salmon species have adapted to “deluge or drought” conditions, she says. But the double whammy of climate change and water extraction could prove to be a game-changer.

Powers spelled out the unprecedented stresses in a 2015 conference paper focused on the Eel River that flows through Mendocino and southern Humboldt. She and her team found riverbed-scouring floods in winter, followed by dry, low-flow conditions in summer, led to warm, stagnant, barely connected pools of water. That is bad news for salmon, but ideal for early summer algal blooms. The algae then rot, creating an oxygen-deficient paradise for toxic cyanobacteria, which have been implicated in the poisoning deaths of 11 dogs along the Eel River since 2002.

Dogs are not the only terrestrial creatures endangered by the grow operations. Between 2008 and 2013 Mourad Gabriel, then a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Genetics Lab, carried out a study of the American fisher, a small carnivorous mammal that is a candidate for the endangered species list. He wanted to suss out the threats to fisher populations in northern California. So he radio-tagged fishers from Trinity County’s Hoopa Valley Reservation and public lands near Yosemite National Park to track their movements. Between 2006 and 2011, 58 of the fishers Gabriel and his team tracked turned up dead. Gabriel studied the necropsies and found that 46 of the animals had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides—rat poisons that block liver enzymes, which enable blood clotting. Without the enzyme the exposed mammals bled to death from flesh wounds.

The finding puzzled Gabriel at first, because rat poison is more common in agricultural and urban settings than in remote forests. But then he started visiting the remnants of guerilla grows that had been busted under the guidance of lawmen such as Omar Brown, head of the Narcotics Division at the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office. “We have found [anticoagulant rodenticides] carbofuron on grows in the national forest,” Brown reports. “These are neurotoxin-laced pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. since 2011. And even for allowed pesticides, we’ve found instances where trespass grows are using them in illegally large quantities.” The poisons hit female fishers particularly hard, because the early, pest-prone phase of marijuana cultivation coincides with the fishers’ nesting season, when pregnant females are actively foraging.

Gabriel, now director of the Integral Ecology Research Center based in Humboldt County, says other states may be dealing with rodenticides, water diversions and other problems from guerilla grows, too. “The climate in Colorado, Oregon and Washington is conducive for marijuana cultivation,” he observes. But “there just isn’t the scientific data to prove whether other states have these problems because there has not been research funding put towards answering these questions.”

In California headwater ecosystems could get a reprieve if a greatly expanded legalized pot industry moves to the Central Valley, where production could take place indoors and costs would be less. In pot-growing pioneer states like Colorado or Washington much of the production has moved indoors, where temperatures can be more closely managed. But other factors may hinder that move. “Bud and pest problems are always worse indoors, which biases farmers toward a chemically intensive regime,” says Marie Peterson of Downriver Consulting, a Weaverville, Calif.–based firm that helps growers fill out the paperwork for state and county permits as well as assesses water management plans for their plantations. And besides, the Central Valley already suffers from prolonged drought.

Of the eight states that legalized the cultivation of recreational marijuana, only Oregon and California allow outdoor grows. But regulating open-air pot plantations in these states remains challenging, even though legal operations for medical marijuana have been around since 1998 and 1996, respectively. In 2015 California passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which calls on the state’s departments of Food and Agriculture, Pesticide Regulation, and Fish and Wildlife, along with the state’s Water Board—to oversee environmental impacts of the industry. The board came up with a list of requirements for a marijuana plantation water permit, which in turn became a necessary condition for a license to grow medical pot in any of the three Emerald Triangle counties. Counties have until January 2018 to decide whether to create similar stipulations for recreational marijuana growing permits.

Butsic is optimistic about a more regulated future for the marijuana industry in California. “I think five years from now things will be more sustainable. Permitting shows growers that the state is interested in water use and their crop.”

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Ignorance abounds in Kentucky concerning cannabis law


 

In October, farmworkers transported harvested marijuana plants at Los Suenos Farms, America’s largest legal open-air marijuana farm, in southern Colorado.

 

The following story was printed on Kentucky.com and my response is included.

By Thomas Vance

The world is watching Colorado and is finding out that everything we have been told by our government about marijuana has not been factual, to put it nicely.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and recreational in 2014. They have paid more than $150 million in taxes on $1.3 billion in sales for 2016 and have created more than 20,000 full-time jobs in the process and none of the predicted harms of legalization have materialized.

California has had an easy access medical marijuana program for 20 years and none of the terrible things we have been told will happen should cannabis be legal have happened.

All we have to do is copy Colorado’s regulations and standards and get on with it. What are we waiting for? The people in our eastern counties are praying for something to replace the coal industry. God has one ready to go for us and we are ignoring his help.

It’s like the old joke about the guy trapped on his roof in a flood. He prays for God to save him. A helicopter comes by and offers to pick the man up. “No, no, thanks anyway but God said he would save me.”

After a while a boat comes and offers to pick up the man. Again he says no because, “God will save me.”

Later on that night, the waters rose and the man drowned. When he gets up to Heaven He asks God, “Why, why God, didn’t you save me?” and God replies, “I sent you a boat and a helicopter, why didn’t you get in?”

Let’s take this winning lottery ticket the good Lord has given us: an industry safer and healthier than coal. Alleviate the suffering of our eastern counties, create thousands of jobs, garner millions in revenue, enable billions in economic activity and put that money to work for the citizens of our great state.

It would seem that if we get to the end of this legislative session and nothing is done, one could reasonably conclude the Republican-controlled legislature is being derelict in its duty to improve the lives and the well being of our citizens and our state.

Thomas Vance of Alexandria is senior adviser for Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Sample of comments:

H.B. Elkins ·

Media Consultant at Kentucky Valley Media Consulting

Industrial hemp, medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are three distinctly different and separate issues. Far too many times, advocates have appeared to champion the first two and then they show their true colors and advocate for the third. This puts a cloud of suspicion over the motives for supporting industrial hemp and medical marijuana.
You do your cause no favors by mentioning Colorado’s approval of recreational use if you are really advocating medical use. I suspect you are really for full legalization and are just using medical use as an incremental step.
Be honest about your motives. It won’t make me support recreational legalization — I don’t — but it will allow me to respect your efforts.

 

MY RESPONSE:

It is people like HB and JOHN below who are complicit in keeping the repeal of cannabis hemp laws out of KY. Unfortunately most of the politicians in KY have the same mindset.

It all boils down to who has the money now and who they don’t want to have any in the future.

Personally, I am not a legalizer, I am a repealer, meaning that I believe all Cannabis statutes from the Federal Government and UN should be abolished as they are illegal to begin with in my opinion. (Do your own research because I am tired) Legalization renders to regulation which renders to incarceration because, well, what can be more profitable than the prison industrial complex?

This plant has been useful for all of humanity’s existence and will continue to be,  regardless of whether it is legalized or not. (Again, do the research).. The sad part is all the people that could be helped (and one day it may be YOU) that will suffer and die needlessly because of evil people whose only concern in life is how much money they can scarf up from everyone else.

In the meantime, many peoples lives are being saved or at least made better by an illegal plant that God put here, by people who are risking there very lives to get this to those that need it – real patients.

Yes, there are those of us who enjoy smoking a good cannabis ‘cig’ – It helps relieve the mind of stress and pain. Sure is a lot better than the alcohol which most people consume on a daily basis and end up dying from in the long run…

So, I guess until everyone gets their heads on straight about Cannabis, everyone will continue to suffer from statutes, regulation, and imprisonment because people are either too stupid to educate themselves, or are too evil to care.

Which one are YOU???

sk

SOURCE AND LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON KENTUCKY.COM

Marijuana can be covered in pesticides, fungi, and mold — even if it’s legal


marijuana weed pot 2

There is no known lethal dose of marijuana, which means it can’t kill you. But the stuff that gets sprayed or grows organically on pot buds can.

Studies show that marijuana sampled across the US carries unsafe levels of pesticides, mold, fungi, and bacteria. Earlier this year, Colorado recalled hundreds of batches that tested positive for banned pesticides.

It’s unclear how much cannabis, whether purchased legally in a dispensary or bought from a college roommate’s cousin’s friend, is at risk. But as the industry goes mainstream, experts suggest it’s time legal weed gets quality assurance.

Educating consumers on what they’re smoking might be the first step, according to scientists at Steep Hill Labs, a leading cannabis science and technology firm in Berkeley, California.

In 2016, Reggie Gaudino, vice president of scientific operations at Steep Hill, set out on a scientific experiment. He visited three brick-and-mortar dispensaries in the Bay Area and bought at least five samples of cannabis flower from each.

In order to decide which strains to buy, he asked cashiers, called “budtenders,” for their recommendations. He also chose the strains with the highest percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Many patients choose that option from the menu because they believe it will get them the most high, or give them “the most bang for their buck,” Gaudino explains.

It’s unclear if the dispensaries he visited test their products for contaminants at third-party labs — a practice that’s becoming more common as states with newly legalized cannabis roll out regulations.

When Gaudino took the samples back to the lab, he found that 70% of the samples tested positive for pesticide residues. One-third of samples would have failed pesticide regulations in the state of Oregon, which has the most sophisticated system for pesticide-testing of the seven states with fully legalized marijuana.

Fifty percent of the samples that tested positive for pesticides also contained Myclobutanil, a fungicide treatment commonly used on California grapes, almonds, and strawberries. When digested, it’s harmless. But when heated, the chemical turns into hydrogen cyanide, a gas that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen normally.

The central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and pulmonary system (lungs) start to fail when exposed to high concentration of the gas.

The news isn’t quite as alarming as it sounds. Donald Land, chief scientific consultant at Steep Hill, tells Business Insider that most people would not be susceptible to falling ill after inhaling a few spores.

However, someone whose immune system is weakened — like a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy or a person infected with HIV — is much more vulnerable to infection upon inhaling contaminated cannabis. Basically, the people who stand to benefit the most from medical marijuana are also the most vulnerable.

The results of Gaudino’s study have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, though Gaudino tells us a white paper is in the works. The lab plans to test an array of other marijuana products, like concentrates and oil cartridges for vaporizer pens, before publishing.

Land and Gaudino explain that, for the most part, the industry is doing the best it can to provide safe pot.

There is no framework on the federal level that dictates how cannabis should be tested or what threshold constitute a failing grade. Most growers and dispensaries in states with legalized marijuana have to hold themselves accountable for verifying the safety of their product.

Some pay third-party labs like Steep Hill to analyze their product for pesticides and contaminants, but most only want to know the THC content of a given strain, Land says. The more potent the weed, the more they can charge for it.

Fewer than 20 states offer some form of testing, according to estimate provided by Land. The states that offer the most widely available marijuana, including California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, have testing facilities — but they don’t all require testing, and regulations can vary on a local level.

More research is needed to understand the health concerns associated with cannabis. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, making it difficult for scientists to acquire the funding and samples needed for study.

In the meantime, Land suggests marijuana patients and recreational users take responsibility for their health by asking their budtender to see a lab report on the strain they wish to buy. They can compare the results with Oregon’s publicly available threshold levels for safe cannabis.

Even if you can’t make out what the report means, the dispensary’s ability to provide documentation is “absolutely better than nothing,” Land says.

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