Reefer Madness in Boston
The most dangerous things about cannabis are the laws against it and the people willing to support that agenda. The evolving landscape of legal cannabis and medical cannabis are bringing about a healthy change in the minds of people worldwide. As more people realize the truth about cannabis, the lies and rhetoric become more obvious and repulsive. Let’s look at the raw facts. Last year over 28.5 million people in America used cannabis. Not a single one of those users died from a toxic overdose, not last year or ever. Recently, Dr. Steve Adelman, a Massachusetts based addiction psychiatrist and also a Director at the Mass. Medical Society made comments trying to link the cause of the Boston Marathon Bombing to prolonged cannabis use and its withdrawals. He suggests that because Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a ‘stoner’ and had THC in his system at the time of the attack, that his clouded judgment and decision making could be blamed on that notion. Adelman advises that today’s elevated levels of THC when combined with a lack of parental supervision, radicalism and readily available internet bomb recipes will most certainly lead to terrorism. Dr. Adelman also warns doctors that cannabis has no medical value, its use will lead to addiction and the SSDI patients growing their own will divert their cannabis to the streets into the hands of our misguided youth. While the extreme ignorance of his statements sound like they were voiced from one person, the reality is that the same group endorsing Dr. Adelman has a network of 22,000 physicians and student members. This is a primary reason to stand up and take a role in cannabis reform and have your voice be heard. Folks like Dr. Adelman have taken their stance, and if his people win, then you lose.
Marijuana users searching for bigger highs may start injecting THC, doctor fears
By Michael Roberts blogs.westward.com
As a member of the Amendment 64 task force who is deeply troubled by the possible repercussions of legalizing marijuana, as well as a central figure in the national anti-pot organization Project SAM, Dr. Christian Thurstone is controversial in the marijuana community. But he hasn't backed away from warning about the dangers of weed, particularly for adolescent users.
His latest assertion? Users may soon start directly injecting THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, rather than smoking or ingesting marijuana.
"It seems like people are doing more and more to get a deeper high and presenting to us more and more addiction to marijuana," says Thurstone, whose main gig is as medical director of a Denver Health program called Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention (STEP). "I worry that might be a next step toward the injection of THC."
Thurstone shares this concern in "Higher and Higher, the latest blog on his personal website, DrThurstone.com. The offering revolves around elevated levels of THC found in urinalysis tests conducted on his patients, most of whom range in age from thirteen to nineteen.
The seeds of the study were planted long ago. According to Thurstone, "I started thinking about this in 2004, when Dr. Wilson Compton published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that the prevalence of marijuana use in the U.S. was staying the same, but the prevalence of cannabis use disorders -- marijuana addiction -- was going up significantly."
The phrase "marijuana addiction" is guaranteed to raise the hackles of many cannabis activists, who insist that the substance is not addictive. Thurstone disagrees.
"I don't think in the mainstream scientific world of addiction that there's debate any more that it's addictive," he maintains. "It works on the same part of the brain as all other addictive substances, and there's an animal model of marijuana addiction now. We know that it's not just psychologically addictive but physically addictive, and studies by Dr. Alan Budney at Dartmouth have characterized a physical addiction to marijuana. Marijuana withdrawal is clinically equivalent to tobacco withdrawal -- and anecdotally, in our experience, we see adolescents coming into treatment extremely addicted to marijuana. They're dropping out of life, giving up on school and families to pursue their marijuana addiction."
Moreover, Thurstone says he's seen addictions become more severe over time, and speculated that one reason might be marijuana's increasing potency.
"We know that there's been an increase from about 2 percent THC a couple of decades ago to more like 10 percent now," he continues. "And in Colorado, it's probably even higher than that."
Continue for more of our interview with Dr. Christian Thurstone about more potent marijuana and the prospect of injecting THC.
For Thurstone's patients at Denver Health, 95 percent of whom are referred for issues concerning marijuana, "we felt the urinalysis ratio had been increasing, too. So we looked at our data as far back as we could -- 2007 -- and analyzed it over time. And we noticed a significant increase in the urinalysis ratios when we analyzed that data pre- and post-2009 and 2010, which is when we had the big commercialization of marijuana."
This period involved the growth of the medical marijuana industry, and while only a handful of patients under the age of eighteen have received red cards allowing them to legally use the substance, Thurstone maintains that plenty of them have been doing so anyhow. "That's right about when our kids started using medical marijuana," he says. "And that's when we saw a big jump in the THC ratio" -- from an average of 358 nanograms per milliliter of urine to 536 nanograms.
Here's a graphic depicting the difference.
"You could make the argument that increased marijuana potency is a good thing," Thurstone acknowledges, "because that would mean people were smoking less of it -- exposing themselves to the same amount of THC, but exposing themselves to it via less smoke. But the data were analyzing for publication is showing no, our young patients are actually exposing themselves to more THC."
Because of what he says is "widespread diversion of medical marijuana to teens," the patients coming to him "have more severe marijuana dependence and more symptoms than teens not using medical marijuana. And it's also consistent with the whole idea that kids are using higher potency marijuana that's probably more addictive. Anecdotally, we're hearing about patients who start with cheap, low-grade marijuana before moving on to more potent marijuana, and then other ways of consuming it: waxing marijuana, dabbing marijuana and chasing a bigger and bigger high."
Such actions echo the behavior of those using other drugs, Thurstone allows. "People who start with pills may graduate to snorting or smoking heroin -- and then to heroin injection. It's just a way to get a more intense high, because anything that's injected tends to reach the brain pretty quickly."
That's why Thurstone concludes his "Higher and Higher" article with the following line: "It is reasonable now to question how much longer it will be before we see injection use of THC -- especially as marijuana is legalized."
Thus far, however, Thurstone admits that none of his patients have taken this step.
Continue for more of our interview with Dr. Christian Thurstone about more potent marijuana and the prospect of injecting THC.
"I have not seen it clinically," he says, "and I have not seen it described except in research studies, which say it's possible to have an injectable form of marijuana. I don't know exactly how to do the preparation, to be honest, and I don't know how the high would differ. I can only hypothesize."
By floating such possibilities, Thurstone has won the enmity of marijuana advocates like Russ Belville, aka Radical Russ, a talk-show host and media director for the National Cannabis Coalition. In an online response to "Higher and Higher," Belville accuses Thurstone of being a scaremonger and a profiteer. An excerpt from his take:
All you're finding is that the people forced into your business for violating prohibition are getting higher, not that getting higher forces people into your business. You know as well as I do...that for every one person who self-admits to rehab solely for marijuana, another four are forced there by the criminal justice system. Colorado went and added language to the constitution that is really bad for your bottom line.
To that, Thurstone says, "I work with adolescents and young adults, so for pretty much 99 percent of my patients, marijuana is sill illegal. Amendment 64 didn't really change anything in terms of their legal status."
Additionally, he says, "fewer than half of our referrals are court-referred. The majority are not. They come in voluntarily because of their addictions. And we've done a fair amount of research in which we've been able to offer free treatment to teenagers with substance-abuse problems. And when we offer it free, we've had no problems getting kids to come to treatment.
"The whole juvenile-justice-referral thing has a lot to do with the artifact of nobody wanting to pay for treatment. We wait for teenagers to fall into the hole of juvenile justice before we're willing to pay for their treatment. If we had good payment and reimbursement -- third-party payers for substance treatment -- more people would go on their own."
In the meantime, Thurstone says the number of clients he's seeing began growing substantially even before the passage of Amendment 64. "We've doubled our case load since September of 2012," he reveals, "and we're in the process of hiring another therapist to meet the demand."
He's not sure why the number of clients has climbed so quickly, but he's got some ideas. "Is it became more kids are using? Is it because more kids are getting addicted? Is it became more kids are using higher potency marijuana? Is it because there's less stigma about this and more people are willing to go to treatment? Is it because our name has gotten out there? Or is it a combination of all of the above? I can't really answer that, but I'd guess it's a combination of all those factors."
Whatever the case, he says the flood of patients means he and his staff are "all-hands-on-deck to try to meet the demand." And if people start injecting THC, he figures to be busier than ever.
Even if Obama doesn't support it, WE as the PEOPLE have the power and the right to vote, be heard! - ILLA
The movement to legalize marijuana has arrived at Congress' back door.
Later this month the first medical cannabis dispensaries are expected to open in the nation's capital, including one just eight blocks from the Capitol dome.
The milestone is lifting the spirits of pot enthusiasts who believe a safe and profitable in D.C. could help nudge along the drug nationwide.
ABC News recently toured the Metropolitan Wellness Center, one of the district's three soon-to-open shops, located on Capitol Hill.
While pot products have yet to hit shelves – the shop is still awaiting a license from the district – general manager Vanessa West said they will soon offer multiple varieties of cannabis, paraphernalia and a mix of pot-infused products, including brownies, cookies and drinks.
West, a veteran operator of dispensaries in California who admits she "smoked a little grass in college," said the sleek, modern set-up of her "product selection and payment room" underscores a serious focus on patients and treating their pain.
"When we find out what a patient's symptoms are, we can make a recommendation about what the best strain is for them and what the best possible route for ingesting that strain is," she said.
"Forget about the recreational part for a second," she says to skeptics. "Listen to how cannabis has changed patients' lives for the better."
Only employees and patients registered with the District of Columbia Department of Health will be allowed inside the dispensary once weed sales officially commence. The shop will effectively go on lockdown, protected by a high-tech security system of a dozen cameras and motion sensors keeping watch.
"This is sort of a delicate business," West said. "It's like a bank or a high end jewelry store. We want to protect the product and the people that are inside this building."
Under district law, no one is allowed to consume pot on the premises, West said. Approved users are required to head directly home after making their purchases.
The rules for obtaining legal access to the drug are equally stringent. A prospective patient must be a district resident with one of the few qualifying diseases, such as AIDS, glaucoma or multiple sclerosis. A doctor must formally recommend the drug, and that recommendation must be certified by the Department of Health. Each patient must also submit an application and pay a license fee.
"It's a pretty difficult process, but it sort of needs to be," said West. "You don't want to create a free for all."
The dispensaries in D.C. will remain illegal under federal law, which still bans the cultivation and sale of marijuana as a dangerous and addictive "Schedule I" drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Officially, marijuana is classified has having "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S."
The headquarters for the Justice Department, the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal law, is located just four miles from the Metropolitan Wellness Center.
West says she's not worried about a raid.
"History has shown that if you are a dispensary operating in a state that is transparent and heavily regulated, the federal government is not interested in intervening," she said.
Medical marijuana is now allowed in 18 states plus the District of Columbia. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington took the movement further, endorsing the sale of marijuana without a prescription for recreational purposes. Both states are establishing regulatory regimens for pot similar to alcohol.
A poll released last month by the Pew Research Center found for the first time a majority of Americans now favor full legalization of marijuana. Fifty-two percent favor decriminalization, with 45 percent opposed.
The level of support is a landmark shift from 40 years ago when just 12 percent backed legalized pot, according to Gallup.
In light of the trend, President Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters in December that he's re-thinking federal prosecution of some marijuana users.
"It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state laws that's legal," Obama said.
"We've got bigger fish to fry," he added.
The big question now for pro-pot states: Will the Justice Department spoil plans for dozens of new dispensaries, and a potential bonanza of millions in taxes and fees?
The Department, which is reviewing the new Colorado and Washington marijuana laws, has yet to formally decide whether or not they will be challenged in court.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from those states have re-invigorated legislative efforts to repeal or weaken the federal ban on pot. So far this year, seven bills dealing with marijuana have been introduced in the U.S. House, including one that would entirely decriminalize the drug.
All of the bills face an uphill climb, which means for now at least, the new D.C. dispensaries will remain at odds with the law.
Colorado Lawmakers Set Taxes And Rules For Marijuana Sales
Colorado is set to become the first U.S. state to regulate and tax sales of recreational marijuana, after lawmakers approved several bills that set business standards and rules. Legislators expect enforcement of the rules to be paid for by two taxes on marijuana — a 15 percent excise tax, and a 10 percent sales tax.
Other measures included in the package set limits on how much marijuana visitors to Colorado can buy (a quarter of an ounce), as well as a limit on how many cannabis plants a private citizen can grow (six).
Gov. John Hickenlooper has indicated he will sign the legislation, according to Colorado voters first approved the legalization of pot for recreational use by people over age 21 in a ballot initiative last November.
Voters adopted a similar measure in Washington state, where plans for regulation and taxation are still being formed.
"The first legal marijuana should be on sale in Washington in March 2014," reports the , "and Colorado will have its cannabis stores open as soon as Jan. 1."
Like all new Colorado taxes, voters must approve the new taxation system in a ballot initiative this autumn.
Other states are already taxing pot, but those levies cover medical marijuana. California reportedly raises more than $100 million a year on such sales.
The Colorado legislation adopted Wednesday also includes a requirement that "pot must be sold in child-resistant packages with labels that specify potency," . "Edible marijuana products will have serving-size limits."
California Medical Marijuana Crackdown Ramps Up As More Dispensaries Targeted For Closure
SAN FRANCISCO -- Several dozen protesters gathered in downtown Berkeley Wednesday afternoon to fight federal action against one of California's oldest medical marijuana dispensaries, targeted for closure by the Justice Department.
"The Obama administration's ongoing war against patients is despicable and has to stop," Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, told the crowd. "This is a mean, vindictive move aimed at shutting down one of the oldest and well-respected dispensaries in the country."
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag on Friday served pot shop Berkeley Patients Group with a lawsuit that attempts to seize the property and ultimately shut the business. Berkeley officials say the dispensary provides significant benefits to the community.
"BPG has served as a national model of the not-for-profit, services-based medical cannabis dispensary," Berkeley City Council member Darryl Moore said in a resolution opposing the lawsuit. "They have improved the lives and assisted the end-of-life transitions of thousands of patients; been significant donors to dozens of other organizations in our city; [and] shaped local, state and national policies around medical cannabis."
Berkeley Patients Group received a letter from Haag last year, claiming its location within 1,000 feet of a school broke state law. The operation later relocated, and the lawsuit makes no mention of its proximity to schools or violation of specific laws.
Dispensaries throughout northern California have received similar legal threats from the U.S. attorney over the past few weeks. San Francisco's Hemp Center and seven pot shops in San Jose all received letters warning of property seizures and prison sentences should they not shut down. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is reportedly investigating a handful of other San Francisco dispensaries.
"This round of U.S. attorney threat letters is just the latest move to undermine President Obama's repeated pledges that his federal government would respect state medical marijuana laws," Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell told The Huffington Post. "This is part of a continuing effort to try to intimidate the legal marijuana industry out of existence."
California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes when voters legalized Proposition 215 in 1996. Since then, medical marijuana has flourished statewide, generating upwards of $100 million in annual tax revenue.
But marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Despite early promises to ignore states that had legalized it, the Obama administration launched an aggressive crackdown against California's cannabis operations in late 2011. Since then, hundreds of businesses have been forced to close and thousands of jobs have been lost.
In a further blow to the industry, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that cities have the authority to ban dispensaries outright.
Angell said he believes the crackdown comes from bureaucrats within the Justice Department who feel threatened by the growing national acceptance of marijuana. Washington and Colorado legalized recreational use last fall.
"Whoever is coordinating these attacks in the federal law enforcement apparatus is clearly terrified about what the increasing acceptance of a legal and regulated marijuana trade means for the drug war bureaucracy that employs them," Angell said.
A recent poll showed that a clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana if it would be taxed and regulated like alcohol.
Meanwhile, advocates said they hope to place a ballot measure that would legalize pot for recreational use before California voters in 2016. Elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, have expressed their support.
"It seems clear that California is on pace to legalize marijuana for adult use," Angell said. "Hopefully more politicians will soon sense which way the wind is blowing and get in front of this issue before voters leave them behind."
In a speech in Mexico City on Friday, President Obama shut the door on any possibility that he'll support efforts in his second term to legalize certain recreational drugs.
“I’ve been asked, and I honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer,” the president told a large gathering of young Mexicans at the city’s Anthropology Museum.
Polls show that more and more Americans favor ending the federal ban on pot. A handful of states in the U.S. have lifted legal restrictions on the drug in recent years — including Colorado and Washington — putting Obama in an awkward place. A pot smoker in his younger days, he must decide whether to instruct his Department of Justice to challenge those state laws, or to simply let them be.
The president likely felt it necessary to touch on drugs in his speech today since marijuana is a chief import from Mexico to the United States. It is also largely to blame for the rising swell of cartel violence that has killed thousands in Mexico over the years, and has occasionally spilled over into the southern U.S.
Obama said that his administration must focus on an all-encompassing strategy to deal with drug users at home, as well as figure out a way to reduce demand for drugs.
“We understand that much of the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico, for which many so Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. And so we’ve got to continue to make progress on that front.”
He added that fixing the problem will require “a comprehensive approach — not just law enforcement, but education and prevention and treatment.”
Those words reflect the latest plan put forth by Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which essentially considers recreational drug use to be a public health issue. Rather than advocating for reforming drug users through jails and prisons, the plan calls for blending strong prevention techniques with effective rehabilitation programs in order to curb future drug use.
The Obama administration’s strategy, though, is somewhat controversial since it technically defines regular pot users as people with brain diseases — addiction, the administration says, is a brain disease. Scores of marijuana defenders, however, say that there is no proof that the drug is addictive.
Advocates of legalized marijuana march through downtown Fort Worth
By Susan McFarland
FORT WORTH — In what was perhaps the largest legalize marijuana demonstration in Fort Worth, more than 200 activists marched through downtown Saturday with the noticeable aroma of cannabis lingering behind as they passed.
Organizers said several hundred more had turned out last year for a similar march in Dallas, which had provided police security.
But there was no particular Fort Worth police presence as demonstrators, carried signs, some openly toking on pipes and chanting, “Le-gal-ize! Le-gal-ize!”
One person dressed as a marijuana plant and several played instruments while a march organizer drove a recycled police car with flashing green lights and covered with logos of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of NORML, the national group to reform cannabis laws.
“We want the Metroplex to know the movement is strong here,” said Shaun McAlister, executive director of DFW NORML, which promoted the event. “A lot of people overlook the DFW area as being friendly to the cause. A lot of people have no idea that we have a NORML chapter.”
“Not only do Texans deserve legal marijuana, just like Colorado and Washington, Texas patients deserve medical marijuana just as much as the other nineteen states with medical marijuana,” said McAlister, 28, an Arlington videographer.
One of the marchers, Mike Farner, 53, of Springtown, wore pink overalls and carried a burlap “marijuana” sack filled with crumpled newspaper. He said his medical use of marijuana helped him through treatment for throat cancer. Then he corrected himself, saying it was glaucoma.
Michael Burns, 30, of Mansfield, said he marched because he believes that people have been misled for “years and years” about the effects of marijuana.
“It’s more about the uses of it, not the fact that it’s a drug,” he said.
Fort Worth attorney David Sloane, a NORML spokesman, predicted that Texas likely will be among the last states to legalize marijuana even though legislators are holding discussions about decriminalization.
But Sloane said events such as the march on Saturday confirm how strong the movement is both locally and worldwide.
“It lets the powers that be see that we’re here and not afraid to step out in the street and discuss this with them,” he said.
The march was peaceful, with no known arrests and only a few bicycle police in sight.
Two opera goers, Rick and Marianne Williamson of Fort Worth, ran into the group while trying to get a quick dinner before the performance.
“The funny thing is, we were just talking about this whole thing, the legalization of it,” Rick Williamson said. “And why not? I’ve never been in a bar and seen someone stoned on marijuana have a fight. They’re mellow; that’s probably what we need a little more of around here.”
Marianne Williamson called alcohol a “far worse epidemic” in the country. “People drink alcohol, it’s broadly accepted. I don’t think there is a big difference between the two.”
Haggling Continues Over Marijuana Testing, Magazines
May 4, 2013 4:00 PM
DENVER (CBS4) – Time running is out for the new marijuana rules. Colorado senators scrambled Friday to advance a sweeping series of regulations and taxes on the newly legal drug.
The Senate Finance Committee approved two measures Friday to tax and regulate pot, but big questions remain before the annual session ends Wednesday.
Senators were haggling over pot testing standards and a proposal to ban the infusion of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, into premade foods such as Twinkies and Pop Tarts.
As the marijuana measures advanced, Senate President John Morse told reporters he’s still thinking about pushing a brand-new ballot measure to ask voters whether marijuana legalization should be repealed without accompanying taxes. He told Coloradans to stay tuned.
Consider the simple cookie. It can be made with marijuana, but there’s a limit to how much is too much. And when it comes to minors, another state lawmaker has a new idea for the marketing of marijuana minors might see.
“We’ve seen increases to the emergency room in the last year or so on edibles from children,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. “We want to make sure that we’re protecting them.”
Pabon has been helping to making marijuana laws for months. Placing a limit of 10 milligrams per serving of THC in something edible has not been controversial and comes with some teeth. Some businesses could be shut down if they sell a cookie that is overloaded with too much THC
“That could be a possible enforcement mechanism, there could be license suspension,” Pabon said.
What is controversial is a late legislative idea requiring the removal of marijuana magazines from store shelves and selling them only from behind the counter, such as pornography.
“The idea is that we need to keep marijuana out of the hands of children; that we don’t want to encourage the use, we want to discourage the use by children,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.
Gardner is well aware limitations on the placement of a marijuana magazine might violate free speech. But he argues since government can control cigarette sales to minors, why not do the same with marijuana?
“Let me emphasize these publications are not banned, they’re not prohibited, they’re marketing is being controlled,” Gardner said.