Releaf Magazine
30Aug/150

Cannabis Takes on Alzheimer’s and Dementia Successfully: Story and Studies

You’ve probably read about the positive effects of coconut oil’s medium chain triglycerides (TCMs) to produce ketones that energize brain cells in lieu of dysfunctional brain metabolism (how coconut oil can stave off and reverse Alzheimer’s). And there are herbs from Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda that are helpful while Big Pharma flounders with failures to create a profitable Alzheimer’s pharmaceutical that might help more than harm.

But now there is another effective non-pharmaceutical solution to add: Cannabis.

A Personal Story of Cannabis Ameliorating Symptoms During Late Stage Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is the third most prevalent disease killer in the Western world after heart disease and cancer, and its rate of diagnosis continues to soar. In addition to the obvious cognitive dysfunctions, Alzheimer’s victims are dysfunctional with mundane matters and daily routines, have little or no recollection of close relatives and friends, and tend to be very grouchy and feisty.

A daughter tells the arduous caretaker story of helping her mother’s final stages of Alzheimer’s by getting her on medical marijuana and off pharmaceuticals in stages. Her mother, who arrived to her daughter’s Oregon home as she was approaching 80 years of age, was not the type who took advantage of holistic medicine and organic foods and supplements. In addition to her Alzheimer’s, she was on several other medications for other ailments.

But the crafty inclusion of some home cooked organic meals and cannabis produced very positive results with the mother’s cognitive abilities. The herb stews made her much more sociable and cooperative instead of feisty, angry, inappropriate and anti-social, which are all symptoms of Alzheimer’s, in addition to the gross absence of memory.

Her mother did pass away peacefully and lovingly at age 83 after the mother-daughter bond was firmly re-established. In other words, she exited the Earthly realm in a much better state than if she had not been exposed to cannabis.

Scientific Studies Support this Woman’s Story

A 2013 in vivo (mice) study in Spain, a vanguard for cannabis research, did a study on cannabis for Alzheimer’s entitled “CB2 cannabinoid receptor agonist ameliorates Alzheimer-like phenotype in AβPP/PS1 mice”.

The researchers concluded that:

“… the present study lends support to the idea that stimulation of CB2 [cannabinoid] receptors ameliorates several altered parameters in Alzheimer’s disease such as impaired memory and learning, neuroinflammation, oxidative stress damage and oxidative stress responses, selected tau kinases, and tau hyperphosphorylation around plaques.”

But that’s not the only Alzheimer’s study of recent that has come to similar conclusions. Researchers who worked on a study published in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience came up with the most advanced understanding of Alzheimer’s mechanics and how cannabis demonstrates efficacy without toxic side effects. Their study was preceded by similar onesshowing cannabis efficacy for Alzheimer’s.

Gary Wenk, Ph.D, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, told Time Magazine:

“I’ve been trying to find a drug that will reduce brain inflammation and restore cognitive function in rats for over 25 years; cannabinoids are the first and only class of drugs that have ever been effective.”

Let’s hope our brain dead, oppressive government and medical system wakes up to raw cannabis’s medical potentials.

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VIA Natural Society

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28Aug/150

Oregon newlyweds offer weed bar at their wedding

WEST LINN, Ore. -- The legalization of pot in Oregon has couples considering weed bars at their weddings.

"We were shocked by how much people loved it," groom John Elledge said of his recent wedding reception. "I'm still getting a couple of texts a day from guests who enjoyed the weed tent."

Elledge married Whitney Alexander this summer on a Christmas tree farm.

"On private property where no liquor license is involved, it is legal," Mark Pettinger with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said.

However, he added, a caterer with a liquor license cannot legally serve alcohol at an event where marijuana is also being served to guests. "Caterers should be aware there cannot be bartenders and budtenders."

"We made sure we were legal," said Elledge, "We know the limit is 8 ounces so we had small amounts of 13 varieties with a budtender controlling consumption."

The couple had a wedding planner from Lake Oswego's Bridal Bliss.

"This was our first request for a weed bar," said owner Nora Sheils, "We made sure everyone was safe and provided transportation. The couple provided the product and hired the budtender for the tent."

Elledge, who describes himself as a professional marijuana grower, seems pleased to be a pioneer.

"Even an 81-year-old woman who hadn't smoked weed since the '60s came into the tent at our wedding," he said. "Though skeptical at first she ended up loving it."

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VIA USA Today

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26Aug/150

Desperate parents driving national demand for medical marijuana

By Lex Talamo, Nick Swyter and Calah Kelley / News21

In room 716 of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, 12-year-old Hannah Pallas is motionless, but for an occasional turn of her head and the blink of her eyes, following a series of life-threatening seizures. On the same day, 5-year-old Sydney Michaels is down the hall in room 749, waiting to be discharged after 15 grand mal seizures within 36 hours.

Their mothers have known each other for years, though it's a hapless coincidence caused by their daughters' epilepsy that brings them to the pediatric unit on the same day.

The two women are part of a tenacious group of parents and national marijuana advocates demanding that politicians and state legislators legalize medical marijuana treatment for their children, whose medications have had limited success treating seizures and other severe conditions.

"This is something that needs to happen across the country so that every child who might need this would have access," said Julie Michaels, Sydney's mother and a member of Campaign for Compassion, which is pushing for comprehensive medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania. "Why should the state lines be the factor as to whether my child can get help or not?"

Sydney is one of only a few hundred children around the country enrolled in a clinical trial to test the use of marijuana-based treatments for epilepsy. But Hannah is not.

"I'm watching my daughter die every day," said Heather Shuker, Hannah's mother. "Hannah has so many seizures, and every seizure could take her from me. I firmly believe that medical cannabis will help her."

"There's so much that I want for her right now that she just can't do," Michaels said about Sydney. "Just being able to go out and experience life, to be able to go out and play in the yard without fear of seizures starting."

Since 2014, 17 states have legalized the use of marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) in children: Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.  The laws are intended mostly to treat intractable epilepsy and, in some cases, other conditions. Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, for example, allow limited medical marijuana use for cancer treatment.

CBD is the non-psychoactive component of the marijuana plant. It has yet to be proven scientifically as a successful treatment, though anecdotal evidence suggests it helps some children. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the part of the plant that produces a high, but it is also known – if not proven – to treat pain, nausea and insomnia, among other symptoms.

The 17 states that recently passed CBD legislation all placed limits on the THC concentration of medical marijuana extracts to minimize the psychoactive effects of the medication. They range from 0.3 percent in Oklahoma to 5 percent in Georgia.

children2.jpgJulie Michaels and her daughter, Sydney, 5, prepare to go home after spending a couple of days at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Sydney is one of a few children enrolled in a clinical trial for Epidiolex. (Calah Kelley/News21)

Shuker said her daughter Hannah, diagnosed with severe intractable epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, has about 250 seizures a month. They have tried more than 18 different seizure medications and special diets.

Pharmaceuticals made her daughter's seizures worse, Shuker said. Hannah now has a surgical feeding tube because she can no longer swallow on her own. Doctors have told Shuker that Hannah's only remaining option to try to reduce the seizures is a brain surgery procedure, with risks of infection, increased seizures or stroke.

Meanwhile, visits to the emergency room and pediatric ward have become routine, Shuker and Michaels say their lives revolve around doctor appointments and unexpected stays in the hospital. While other mothers track their children's height on walls with markers, these mothers track dates and times and numbers of seizures on homemade charts.

Sydney is one of 25 children in the clinical trial at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who are receiving doses of Epidiolex, a purified CBD created by London-based GW Pharmaceuticals.  Part of the drug's attraction is that it is low in THC.

"Prior to this study, she couldn't do a puzzle. After about two weeks, she was whipping through puzzles on an iPad and we're like, 'Who is this kid?'" Michaels said. "We're talking about a kid who was seizing easily from 1,000 to 3,000 times in a week. It was incredible."

Dr. Eric Marsh, assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and attending physician for the Philadelphia clinical trial, was cautiously optimistic about the overall results, with parents reporting a 50 to 60 percent reduction in their children's seizures. However, Marsh encourages families to wait until marijuana-derived medications earn Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

"There's so much interest and excitement over this that it really could skew results," Marsh said.  "It does seem that CBD interacts with some of the other medications. Clearly it's not a miracle drug. It has interactions with other drugs, and it does have side effects."

For many parents, the 2013 airing of the CNN documentary "Weed" was the watershed moment that ignited a movement to make cannabis oil available to children. The report featured Charlotte Figi, a then-five-year-old girl from Colorado Springs, Colorado, who used cannabis oil to treat the 300 grand mal seizures she suffered each week.

The oil she uses, Charlotte's Web, is named after her and produced by Colorado-based Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises.

"We tried this on her, and it stopped her seizures," said Paige Figi, Charlotte's mother. "Now, three and a half years later, she has two seizures a month – down from 1,200."

"They've responded very well, obviously it's not a silver bullet for everyone," said Jesse Stanley, who grows and produces the oils with his brothers. Their nonprofit, the Realm of Caring, offers oils to patients at reduced prices.

children3.jpgAmy Hilterbran and her son, Austin Hilterbran, at the Garden of the Gods visitor center in Colorado Springs, Col. Austin has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of intractable epilepsy. (Nick Swyter/News21)

Many other parents, inspired by Charlotte Figi's story and frustrated with unsupportive politicians, have since moved from their home states to Colorado, where marijuana treatments are legal. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are 434 children on the state's medical marijuana registry. In August 2013, there were 60.

"The first 'Weed' presentation was in August of 2013, and so we started getting a lot of phone calls starting in September and October, and started seeing patients in November and December," said Kevin Chapman, a neurologist at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Chapman sees many of the children using cannabis oil to treat their seizures, including those whose families moved to Colorado in the last two years. He authored a report last year that measured the effectiveness of using cannabis extracts to reduce seizures. He and other doctors surveyed the parents of 75 children in Colorado and concluded that 33 percent of parents said they saw their children's seizures reduced by more than 50 percent.

The Denver neurologist understands the limitations of his study, starting with the sample size of 75 children – who all used different oils, each with its own chemical make-up. Making matters more complicated, the participants had different types of epilepsy that ranged in severity. The study also depended on parental reporting, which Chapman says can produce biases.

The report said the study results highlighted "the need for controlled studies to evaluate the efficacy and safety of oral cannabis extracts for treatment of pediatric epilepsies."

"Families picked up and moved to Colorado with the hopes that it's going to make their child better," Chapman said. "All of us in that situation would hope that it really works, and therefore we think that there might be some bias that could skew the numbers to suggest that it's a bit more effective."

Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and director of the Colorado health department, said he could not ignore the anecdotal success stories reported by parents, but more research needs to be done.

"You only hear about the children it helps. The problem is that it doesn't help everyone. The results are mixed," Wolk said. "As a physician, I'm worried that we're rushing this."

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, families have become medical refugees – leaving their homes to chase the uncertain prospect that medical cannabis may save their children's lives. Many believe medical cannabis is their last option.

Earlier this year, 9-year-old Alexis Bortell of Dallas had one of her worst seizures and was taken to a hospital. For moments at a time, she stopped breathing. A week later, she suffered stroke-like symptoms, said her father, Dean Bortell.

Anti-seizure pharmaceutical drugs like Depakote and Carbatrol did little to stop her seizures and seemed to incite a range of side effects such as anger. "We had to put all the knives in the house up out of her reach," her father said.

"She was just not herself," Dean Bortell said, " That's when Liza and I, my wife, decided it's time to go."

They moved to Colorado earlier this year. Today, Alexis wakes up early every morning to take her dose of CBD oil with a drop of THC in her new home in Littleton, Colorado. She swallows the oil through a syringe twice a day.

"I would describe it like an earthy taste," Alexis said.

What follows is a very active schedule: playing with Purdy the service cat, Skyping friends in Texas, shooting hoops, golfing practice, playing at the park, swimming and ending the day eating frozen yogurt at Yogurtini.

"It has changed my daughter's life in the most positive way, humanly possible," Bortell said, adding that she hasn't had a seizure in 100 days. "We've got our little girl back."

Thirteen-year-old Austin Hilterbran also is a medical refugee, having moved with his family from his home in Choctaw, Oklahoma to Colorado just last year. Two years ago, he was on life support seven times because the drugs he took for Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, damaged his internal organs, his mother said.

"You are leaving your home for something you don't even know is going to work," Amy Hilterbran said.

Austin started taking CBD oil with THC, a combination his mother calls "Austin's Answer." Hilterbran said his seizures are down by 90 percent and she's weaned him off 70 percent of his pharmaceutical drugs. He walks on his own, something he's rarely done.

"He gets to be a little boy," she said. "He's able to communicate because he's not in a pharmaceutical fog."

Despite the legislation passed in 17 states, obtaining CBD is not as simple as buying the oil off a dispensary shelf. States such as Alabama and Tennessee only dispense oils through clinical trials at universities. Florida and Texas allow for the production and distribution of oils to qualified patients in the state, but their programs are not yet operational. Other states such as Iowa and Virginia don't define methods of access in their laws.

Parents also say that the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment should be extended to include conditions such as cancer and bowel diseases. But perhaps the most contested component of the laws is the THC limits.

children4.jpgAlexis Bortell, 9, left, and her sister Avery, 6, play on a seesaw at a playground in Littleton, Colorado. Alexis said she had to stay away from her sister before she used cannabis oil to treat her seizures. (Nick Swyter/News21)

In Colorado, the Bortells and Hilterbrans add droplets of concentrated THC into their children's cannabis oil treatments – something that would be illegal in their home states of Texas and Oklahoma.

"It's vital for people to know that she is not just taking CBD oil. She is taking CBD oil mixed with THC," Dean Bortell said.

Bortell believes that adding THC to his daughter's medicine will increase the effectiveness of seizure control.

The benefits of combining THC and CBD, a concept known as the "entourage effect," was first researched and documented by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of Israel, who concluded that the 400-plus chemical components of marijuana work better together than in isolation.

The FDA, which monitors most clinical trials, has not approved any marijuana-related treatment. Its website warns parents of using these untested treatments.

"We understand that parents are trying to find treatments for their children's medical conditions. However, the use of untested drugs can have unpredictable and unintended consequences," the FDA statement says. "Caregivers and patients can be confident that FDA-approved drugs have been carefully evaluated for safety, efficacy, and quality, and are monitored by the FDA once they are on the market."

Steve Schultz, a vice-president at GW Pharmaceuticals, said the FDA has authorized 450 children across the country to participate in clinical trials with Epidiolex. "We don't argue with the fact that these parents want to help their children." Schultz said. "But it takes time and money. It's an onerous process in place for the protection of the consumer and the patient."

While early observations from Epidiolex clinical trials are promising, it's uncertain if and when the drug will be readily available.

The Cannamoms, a group of mothers from Florida advocating medical marijuana, made a trip to California last year to see if cannabis oil would work on their children. Florida's program, legalized in 2014, is not yet operational.

Jacel Delgadillo of Miami said she was seeking alternatives to medications her four-year-old son has taken since he was seven months old to treat intractable epilepsy. "I actually had one day with no seizures. That's very unheard of in Bruno's case," Delgadillo said of her visit to California. "All he was taking was the cannabis oil."

Until the oils are available in Florida, Bruno is back on powerful anti-epileptic medications. His latest drug is potassium bromide – a veterinary drug used on dogs that is not approved by the FDA.

"Today there is nothing available, but if we wanted to prescribe another drug that is more harmful to him, it would be available right away," said Delgadillo.

The new law allows no more than 0.8 percent THC to be used in the oils. "Here in Florida, when that bill is up and running, the higher THC won't be available, even though some patients would definitely benefit from it," Delgadillo said.

Not all Florida parents are as enthusiastic about using THC on their children.

"From a children with epilepsy standpoint, I don't know if I am interested in THC products, personally for my daughter. There are studies that show that high THC is not good for the developing brain," said mother Holley Moseley, whose 12-year-old daughter RayAnn suffers from epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Holley Moseley and her husband Peyton Moseley are among the many parents who fought for cannabis. They hired two lobbyists to help send a bill through the state legislature. Several days before Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill, their daughter RayAnn Moseley was invited to his office, where he promised the bill would go through.

"It was pretty special," Holley Moseley said, "to know that this little person is changing Florida law."
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VIA AL

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19Aug/150

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows

The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.

THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.

"The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer," said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine.

Acting through cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids (as well as THC) are thought to play a role in variety of biological functions, including pain and anxiety control, and inflammation. Although a medical derivative of THC, known as Marinol, has been approved for use as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients, and a small number of U.S. states allow use of medical marijuana to treat the same side effect, few studies have shown that THC might have anti-tumor activity, Preet says. The only clinical trial testing THC as a treatment against cancer growth was a recently completed British pilot study in human glioblastoma.

In the present study, the researchers first demonstrated that two different lung cancer cell lines as well as patient lung tumor samples express CB1 and CB2, and that non-toxic doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cell lines. "When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays," Preet said.

Then, for three weeks, researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumors were reduced in size and weight by about 50 percent in treated animals compared to a control group. There was also about a 60 percent reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice as well as a significant reduction in protein markers associated with cancer progression, Preet says.

Although the researchers do not know why THC inhibits tumor growth, they say the substance could be activating molecules that arrest the cell cycle. They speculate that THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.

Preet says much work is needed to clarify the pathway by which THC functions, and cautions that some animal studies have shown that THC can stimulate some cancers. "THC offers some promise, but we have a long way to go before we know what its potential is," she said.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Association for Cancer Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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VIA Science Daily 

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16Aug/150

Confession of a Doctor Who Drank Cannabis Oil: “I Had Cancer, Cannabis Oil Brought My Life Back”

“I have never smoked a single joint in my life and I am an opponent of all drugs. Classical medicine is my calling. However, when I faced lung cancer I tried everything”, says the doctor. He claims to be cured by cannabis oil.

The fifty-year old doctor from Serbia had been detected with lung cancer with metastasis to the lymph nodes 6 months ago. Stage two of three. He began to use cannabis oil. He now fully supports the opportunity to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

“Colleagues immediately did everything to help me. Diagnosis and biopsy were done within seven days. After the initial shock, I decided to go into battle against a very awkward opponent”.

As an advocate of classical medicine, he began to go to chemotherapy and had to have over five cycles. “All possible alternatives were included . I used a variety of preparations, drops, syrup monastery … I have heard of the cannabis oil, but because its usage is prohibited by the law and is punishable, it was difficult to procure and to convince the seller that I am not a provocateur, “says P.B.

Before he started therapy he was unsure whether the therapy will work or not. “The symptoms I feel when I use cannabis oil is a dry mouth and sometimes mild transient feeling of head floating”, explains P.B.

The recent findings of his lungs are stunning. “After only three months of cannabis oil usage the cancer is reduced, and the last finding of scanner is good. My radiologist is delighted. I told my oncologist that I use cannabis oil, and he only shrugged and told me to use everything that I think can help me”, says P.B.

There are many controversies in the world about the use of marijuana. “There is solid evidence that marijuana helps, but I support the continuation of experimentation with cannabis in order to find the best solution for patients,” said recently Dr. Cat Arni, famous physician who deals with the examination of the tumor.
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VIA Healthy Food House

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14Aug/150

Canada Votes Medical marijuana legal in all forms, Supreme Court rules

ot-infused brownies are divided and packaged at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder, Colo. in September 2014. The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday said medical marijuana can include products other than dried pot, such as cannabis-infused cookies brownies, oils and tea. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

Health minister 'outraged' by ruling, vows to combat 'normalization' of pot.

Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.

The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the "dried" form.

The country's highest court found the current restriction to dried marijuana violates the right to liberty and security "in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice."

Restricting medical access to marijuana to a dried form has now been declared "null and void" — Sections 4 and 5 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, which prohibits possession and trafficking of non-dried forms of cannabis, will no longer be in effect.

The respondent in this case, Owen Smith, called it "a very emotional day."

"I'm proud and really happy today for all those people who are going to benefit from this ruling," he said at a press conference in Victoria, B.C.

The decision upholds earlier rulings by lower courts in British Columbia that said they went against a person's right to consume medical marijuana in the form they choose.

Many users felt smoking it was even potentially harmful. However, methods such as brewing marijuana leaves in tea or baking cannabis into brownies left patients vulnerable to being charged with possession and trafficking under the law.

According to evidence submitted to the trial judge, it came down to forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment, and an illegal but more effective choice.

Federal health minister 'outraged'

"It's a positive — it's a great thing for patients ... and people who need extracts who can't smoke their cannabis or don't even want to in the first place," said David-George Oldham, founder of The ARC, a consortium of cannabis patients, doctors, activists and chemists.

SCOC Medical Marijuana 20150611
David-George Oldham smokes marijuana outside the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

"Imagine smoking seven grams of cannabis when you're having a migraine so bad that just moving your fingers is excruciating pain," he said during a scrum outside the Supreme Court.

"Taking a [cannabis] pill is a lot more sensible and having pills stocked in my cupboard makes a lot more sense than having just raw cannabis out and about in my house."

The federal government, however, isn't pleased.

"Frankly, I'm outraged by the Supreme Court," said Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

"Let's remember, there's only one authority in Canada that has the authority and the expertise to make a drug into a medicine and that's Health Canada," she said during a press conference.

"Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which of course, requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials with scientific evidence."

Arrest of pot baker sparked court challenge

The case stems from Smith's 2009 arrest in Victoria.

Smith, a baker for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, was found with more than 200 cookies and 26 jars of liquids, including cannabis-infused massage oils and lip balms. The baker was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Marijuana ruling - Owen Smith pot cookie baker
Owen Smith was caught baking more than 200 pot cookies for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club in 2009. (CHEK)

The club delivers medical marijuana products to its members, but doesn't have a licence to produce it.

At his trial, Smith argued that the law under which he was charged was unconstitutional and violated Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

The British Columbia trial judge agreed and acquitted him. A B.C. Appeal Court also ruled in Smith's favour, under the principle that no one can be convicted of an offence under an unconstitutional law.

The federal government then appealed that decision to take his case to Canada's top court. Thursday's decision affirms Smith's acquittal.

The Appeal Court had also suspended its declaration for a year to give Parliament time to rewrite the law. The Supreme Court has now deleted that suspension, saying otherwise it would "leave patients without lawful medical treatment and the law and law enforcement in limbo."

Ambrose said the federal government will fight against the court's "normalization" of marijuana.

"We will continue to combat it. We will continue our anti-drug strategy, we will target youth with the message that marijuana pot is bad for them," the minister said. "We'll continue to work with medical authorities across the country to make sure they're involved in the message."

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VIA CBCNEWS

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12Aug/150

Man Who Was Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana To Be Set Free

Jeff Mizanskey, seen here in an undated photo, became eligible for parole when Missouri's governor commuted his sentence in May. | Credit: Jefferson City Correctional Center via Associated Press

Jeff Mizanskey, a 61-year-old Missouri man who was serving life in prison for nonviolent marijuana offenses, will be set free in a matter of days, his attorney confirmed Monday to The Huffington Post.

"We were notified today that he will be granted parole and be released within '10 to 25 days,'" lawyer Dan Viets said about the Missouri Department of Corrections' decision.

Mizanskey had met with the parole board just last Thursday.

After two decades in prison, Mizanskey became eligible for parole in May when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) commuted his life sentence, while granting pardons to five other nonviolent offenders who had already completed their punishments. Parole was an option that Mizanskey did not have previously because he had been sentenced as a "prior and persistent drug offender" under Missouri's three strikes law, which was repealed last year.

All three of Mizanskey's offenses involved marijuana. He was given a life sentence after a conviction for attempting to sell about six pounds of pot in a 1993 police sting operation.

A Change.org petition seeking clemency for Mizanskey had received nearly 400,000 signatures.

"Great news everyone... Jeff is coming home this month!" said a post Monday on the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page. "We want everyone to know how greatful [sic] we are for all the support received throughout this whole ordeal."

Marijuana offenses, mainly involving simple possession, account for roughly half of all drug-related crimes. According to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union, 88 percent of the more than 8 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010 were for possession alone. There were more arrests in the U.S. for marijuana possession in 2011 than for all violent crimes combined, according to the FBI's uniform crime report.

The ACLU report also found significant racial disparities in the arrest patterns. While black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rates, blacks were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana during the years examined.

While the U.S. accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s population, it is home to a full 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Harsh sentences for nonviolent drug possession and distribution crimes are part of the reason that figure is so high. In 1980, there were roughly 40,000 drug offenders in federal and state prisons and jails, according to research from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform group. By 2013, the number of drug offenders behind bars had ballooned to nearly 490,000 -- most of whom were not high-level operators and did not have prior criminal records.

It's difficult to calculate the human toll of all those incarcerations, some of them decades long. But by some national estimates, it costs state and local governments between $10 billion and $20 billion a year just to maintain the prohibition on marijuana.

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VIA Huffington Post

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10Aug/150

Congress and Obama Are Too Timid on Marijuana Reform

Even as support for ending marijuana prohibition is building around the country, Congress and the Obama administration remain far too timid about the need for change.

Last year, residents in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted to join Colorado and Washington State in making recreational use of marijuana legal. Later this year, residents of Ohio are expected to vote on a ballot measure that would legalize it. Nevadans will vote on a legalization proposal next year. And Californians could vote on several similar measures next year.

Instead of standing by as change sweeps the country, federal lawmakers should be more actively debating and changing the nation’s absurd marijuana policies, policies that have ruined millions of lives and wasted billions of dollars. Their inaction is putting businesses and individuals in states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana in dubious legal territory — doing something that is legal in their state but is considered a federal crime. Many growers, retailers and dispensaries also have to operate using only cash because many banks will not serve them, citing the federal prohibition. Recently, the Federal Reserve denied a master account to a credit union in Colorado seeking to provide financial services to marijuana businesses.

Lawmakers who hope their colleagues in Congress will act face an uphill struggle. For example, a bill introduced in the Senate by Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrats of New Jersey and New York, respectively, and Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, would allow states to legalize marijuana for medical use. It would also allow banks and credit unions to provide financial services to cannabis-based businesses in states that have legalized the drug. The bill has 16 sponsors, including two Republicans, but the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, has not scheduled it for a hearing or a vote. An identical bill in the House with 17 sponsors, eight of them Republican, is also languishing in committee.

Congress has taken a few positive steps, like approving a provision that would prevent the Justice Department from using federal funds to keep states from carrying out their own medical marijuana laws. And some senior Republicans, including Mr. Grassley and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, have expressed support for the medical use of a compound known as cannabidiol, which is found in the cannabis plant but is not psychoactive. The Obama administration recently made it easier for scientists to study marijuana by removing a requirement that studies not funded by the federal government go through an additional review process, beyond what is required for researchers working with other drugs.

But both Congress and the White House should be doing more. Specifically, marijuana should be removed from the Controlled Substances Act, where it is classified as a Schedule I drug like heroin and LSD, and considered to have no medical value. Removing marijuana from the act would not make it legal everywhere, but it would make it easier for states to decide how they want to regulate it.

Even as Washington demurs, efforts to legalize marijuana continue in the states. In California, several activist groups are trying to get legalization measures on the 2016 ballot. The state was the first in the country to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996, and a majority of residents favor legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

State legalization efforts are not uniformly well thought out, which is another reason for Congress and the president to act. For example, activists in Ohio are trying to legalize marijuana with a constitutional amendment that would allow commercial cultivation of the plant on just 10 dedicated sites listed in the measure. This would grant a lucrative monopoly to a few businesses. Ohio officials will soon decide whether organizers have collected enough signatures to put the proposal on the ballot.

Direct democracy can sometimes produce good results. But it would be far better for Congress and the president to repeal failed laws and enact sensible drug policies.

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VIA NY Times

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3Aug/150

Newport man wants to open marijuana club in RI

WARREN, R.I. — A retired Newport firefighter wants to open a "club" in the former Nathaniel Porter Inn where medical marijuana can be purchased and smoked while classes are offered on cultivation and cooking techniques.

For months, Patrick Rimoshytus has been searching for a home for his new venture, Green Cross of Rhode Island, with the hope of connecting medical marijuana users and growers in part because he believes the state-regulated dispensaries are too expensive.

"What he's trying to do is link up people who have available medicine with people who are in need of medicine. He certainly doesn't want to violate any law. When we went to Warren to meet with a building inspector, nothing specifically allowed for the placement of this facility, so we had to consider an ordinance," said Rimoshytus' attorney, Robert J. Healey Jr., the former Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate.

The Warren Planning Board has already unanimously approved an amendment to allow three "nonprofit medical marijuana care center(s) operating as membership club(s)" in districts zoned for business, manufacturing and waterfront among others. (The use would not be permitted in a residential area.) The Warren Town Council will have a public hearing on the amendment at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

If approved, the club would be a first for the state. Rimoshytus, who testified before the General Assembly multiple times this year on bills that would expand the state's medical marijuana program, had said he uses the drug for chronic pain and anxiety associated with his former career as a firefighter. He received a Carnegie Medal in 2013 for pulling a Barrington woman from a burning car and in the process suffered first-and-second degree burns.

He plans to operate Green Cross of Rhode Island as a nonprofit, members-only club with dues paid to support the cost of operation. The business was registered in December 2014 to "assist registered qualifying patients with information and services regarding the medical use of marijuana in a safe, secure and private environment."

But questions remain.

State uncertainty

If Warren were to approve the zoning change and allow the club to operate, it's not entirely clear how the state would view the business.

Neither the Attorney General's Office nor the Department of Health were consulted on the proposal, but both suggested it could be problematic.

"A cursory look at the language of the suggested ordinance raises more questions than it answers. It is yet another example of the attempted expansion of marijuana in this state and is an exploitation of the medical marijuana program," said Amy Kempe, a spokeswomen for the Attorney General's Office.

Christina Batastini, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, had this to say: "At present, the state is limited by statute to three compassion centers. ... The Department has concerns that a proposal like this could be used to circumvent the registration certificate required for a compassion center."

Healey said the proposal is in no means an attempt to skirt the law.

"It's an interesting little war because the compassion centers have a strong voice in the legislature, but the cost is really weighing on the patients," Healey said. "If the state is truly patient-oriented, they'll see this is not a bad idea. The Department of Health hasn't issued much guidance in this area, so everybody is groping in the dark to figure out how to implement state law."

Lawmakers first permitted the use of medical marijuana in 2006. In 2012, the stateeliminated criminal charges for those who possess an ounce or less of marijuana. For five consecutive years, legislation proposing to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana has been introduced in the General Assembly, though the bills have not been approved.

This year, the House approved a measure to legalize the growth of hemp — cannabis with less than 1 percent of the psychoactive ingredient THC. The bill never cleared the Senate before the General Assembly's disheveled recess in June.

There are 11,427 qualifying medical marijuana patients in the state, and 3,263 people are registered caregivers.

There are also three state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries or "compassion centers" — in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth — where there are no limits to the number of patients that can be served.

Questions in town

Warren Councilman Steven Thompson said the proposal has created a "buzz" in the town for months. He's heard from residents concerned about everything from children's exposure to parking problems near the proposed location at 125 Water St.

He said he believes the council needs to publicly discuss the impact on the community with the potential for hundreds of people converging on the only such "club" in the state.

"As a society it seems like this is probably the direction we are moving towards, and Rhode Island has been toying with the sort of vague structure we have set up now for a while. My concern is that I want to be very sure that if we are going to put this as an allotted use we understand what the ramifications are," Thompson said.

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VIA ProJo

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3Aug/150

The 300+ Outlets Allowed to Sell Recreational Cannabis Starting October 1st in Oregon

Oregon Governor Kate Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows medical cannabis dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis to anyone 21 and older beginning October 1st. According Oregon’s official website, there are currently – as of this publication – 310 medical cannabis dispensaries approved to operate in the state.

Oregon’s website includes a directory of each of the state’s dispensaries, which can be found by clicking here. Each of these locations will be allowed to sell up to a quarter ounce of recreational cannabis to those 21 and older starting October 1st.

We recommend contacting the outlets prior to October 1st to confirm that they’ll be selling recreational cannabis before planning to purchase from them. It’s also a good idea to confirm that they’re currently open for business.

In Oregon, as of July 1st, it’s legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis in public, and up to eight ounces at a private residence. The personal cultivation of up to four plants is also allowed.

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VIA The Joint Blog

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