As cannabis prohibition laws crumble seemingly by the day, it’s allowing more research to be performed on this psychoactive substance that has long been a part of the human experience.
The first study to analyze the effects of cannabis on driving performance found that it caused almost no impairment. The impairment that it did cause was similar to that observed under the influence of a legal alcohol limit.
Researchers at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator carried out the study, sponsored by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy
“Once in the simulator—a 1996 Malibu sedan mounted in a 24-feet diameter dome—the drivers were assessed on weaving within the lane, how often the car left the lane, and the speed of the weaving. Drivers with only alcohol in their systems showed impairment in all three areas while those strictly under the influence of vaporized cannabis only demonstrated problems weaving within the lane.
Drivers with blood concentrations of 13.1 ug/L THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving that was similar to those with a .08 breath alcohol concentration, the legal limit in most states. The legal limit for THC in Washington and Colorado is 5 ug/L, the same amount other states have considered.”
As expected, there was impairment in all areas when alcohol and cannabis were mixed. But cannabis itself, when taken in moderate amounts, seems to cause no significant driving impairment.
In fact, some would argue that it makes them drive safer or slower.
The study’s findings further illuminate the fact that alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than cannabis, and somehow the former is legal while the latter is not.
With cannabis being decriminalized across the country, law enforcement will be getting their “rules and regulations” in place for the driving masses. They should be based on science and not Reefer Madness mentalities.
Another important finding should deter any attempts to deploy instant roadside tests for THC-blood levels.
“The study also found that analyzing a driver’s oral fluids can detect recent use of marijuana but is not a reliable measure of impairment.
“Everyone wants a Breathalyzer which works for alcohol because alcohol is metabolized in the lungs,” says Andrew Spurgin, a postdoctoral research fellow with the UI College of Pharmacy. “But for cannabis this isn’t as simple due to THC’s metabolic and chemical properties.”
(Article by Justin Gardner; from The Free Thought Project)
Boston sportscasting icon Bob Lobel is one of the hundreds of patients in Massachusetts who say they have found an effective substitute for opioids by using medicinal marijuana.
The 71-year-old longtime television reporter and anchor has dealt with chronic pain for years, the result of numerous surgeries: He’s had two knee replacements, two rotator cuff surgeries, four back surgeries and, in separate accidents, fractured the tops of both femurs.
“That was brutal,” Lobel told the Herald, referencing the femur breaks. The constant pain left him taking a variety of opioids.
“My issue was strictly pain,” he said. “I didn’t want to take any more OxyContin or oxycodone or Percocet, for a variety of reasons. The biggest thing I was worried about was addiction. But they also made me tired and it was hard to function and I couldn’t go on TV all drugged up.”
Lobel said pure curiosity led him to check out a medical marijuana event several months ago at the Castle at Park Plaza in Boston. It was there he met Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of the Uplifting Health and Wellness clinic in Natick. Dhanabalan recommends patients for medicinal marijuana certificates in Massachusetts and has been a strong advocate for using cannabis as a way to treat those who might otherwise find themselves hooked on opioids.
“She told me medical marijuana could be used for pain reduction and I said, ‘Hey, sign me up,’ ” Lobel said, adding that he had been trying to manage his pain with over-the-counter meds after committing to no longer taking opioids. “I wanted to at least try it. I wasn’t interested in getting high, that’s not the goal, believe me. It was really about helping with the pain, and it did.”
Lobel’s daughter lives outside of Portland, Ore., and set up an appointment for him to consult with a doctor there this summer. He flew out and met the qualifications for receiving a medicinal marijuana card. After getting his card, he was able to buy the cannabis. He said the whole process in Oregon took three days, but he is still waiting to get his medical marijuana card in Massachusetts.
“I don’t want to have to fly across the country and deal with drug-sniffing dogs at the airport, I want to do everything legally here,” Lobel said. “I just have to wait and get my card.”
In the meantime, Lobel says, he has been using the medical marijuana he got in Oregon to “take the edge off” of his pain. He doesn’t smoke, but instead prefers to use cannabis oil, which can be orally ingested, vaporized into the lungs, or applied topically. He also has tried forms of edible cannabis, such as candies or cookies, and says he doesn’t need to take the drug every day.
Getting past the stigma of the word “marijuana” has been part of the learning process, he said.
“It’s more than a reasonable alternative (to opioids) once you get past the stigma like you’re under a railroad bridge smoking pot,” Lobel said. “It’s not perfect, and I still need to learn more about what works best for me. I just feel like it’s a positive once you get past the word ‘marijuana.’
“I am not saying it’s the be-all and end-all,” he added. “But, in terms of pain relief … it really helps.”
Lobel spent many years as a sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-TV and has called games for the Celtics and Bruins as well as the Boston Marathon and numerous other events. He’s retired, but still teaches a few days a week at Salem State University and hosts a show called “Sports Legends of New England.” He said he will continue to learn more about medicinal marijuana and use his daughter as a caregiver and resource.
“The whole range of what’s available is incredible,” he said. “When (former Red Sox pitcher) Bill Lee was talking about marijuana and his brownies back in the ’70s, he wasn’t kidding. He was just ahead of his time.”
Project could make Santee Sioux tribe up to $2m profit a month, with work under way on the growing facility and first cigarettes on sale on New Year’s Eve
The Santee Sioux is opening the nation’s first marijuana resort on its reservation in South Dakota. The experiment could offer a new money-making model for tribes nationwide seeking economic opportunities beyond casinos.
Santee Sioux leaders plan to grow their own marijuana and sell it in a smoking lounge that will include a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food service and, eventually, slot machines and an outdoor music venue.
“We want it to be an adult playground,” the tribal president, Anthony Reider, said. “There’s nowhere else in America that has something like this.”
The tribe said the project could generate up to $2m a month in profit, and work is already under way on the growing facility. The first marijuana cigarettes are expected to go on sale 31 December at a New Year’s Eve party.
The legalization of marijuana on the Santee Sioux land came in June, months after the Department of Justice outlined a new policy that allows Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states.
Many tribes are hesitant to jump into the marijuana business. But the profit potential has attracted the interest of many other tribes, just as the debut of slot machines and table games did almost 27 years ago.
“The vast majority of tribes have little to no economic opportunity,” said Blake Trueblood, business development director at the national center for American Indian enterprise development. For those tribes, “this is something that you might look at and say, ‘We’ve got to do something’.”
A marijuana resort open to the public has never been tried in the US. Even in states such as Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal, consumption in public places is generally forbidden, although pro-marijuana activists want to loosen restrictions. Colorado tolerates a handful of private marijuana clubs.
Unlike the vast reservations in western South Dakota, where poverty is widespread, the little-known Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation is on 5000 acres (2000 hectares) of gently rolling land along the Big Sioux River.
The Santee Sioux hope to use marijuana in the same way many tribes rely on casinos: to make money for community services and to provide a monthly income to tribal members. Existing enterprises support family homes, a senior living community, a clinic and a community center offering after-school programs.
Reider hopes marijuana profits can fund more housing, an addiction treatment center and an overhaul of the clinic.
The prosperity that marijuana could bring to Indian country comes with huge caveats. The drug remains illegal under federal law, and only Congress can change its status. The administration that moves into the White House in 2017 could overturn the Department of Justice’s decision that made marijuana cultivation possible on tribal lands.
VIA The Guardian
BY RUSS BELVILLE
We all know that marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco, and even sugar. But did you know that marijuana is safer than taking selfies?
According to a post on Mashable, “More people have died from selfies than shark attacks this year.” There have been a dozen deaths - four by falls - as people attempt to take photos of themselves on their smartphones. The most recent was a Japanese tourist who fell while taking a selfie at India's Taj Mahal.
Other causes of death by selfie include people who are hit by trains or shoot themselves as they try to take the perfect action shot. Some wreck their cars while they Snapchat. Then there’s the guy who got gored by a bull trying to take a selfie during one of those “running of the bulls” events in Spain.
What else is marijuana safer than, using deaths from this decade as our guide?
Marijuana is safer than cockroaches. In 2012, a Florida man choked to death on bug parts during a cockroach eating contest. Of course, it was Florida.
Marijuana is safer than hay. In 2010, a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra was killed when a 1,300-pound round hay bale rolled down a hill and crushed him in his van.
Marijuana is safer than beavers. In 2013, a man in Belarus was attacked by a beaver that bit and severed an artery in his leg, causing him to bleed out and die.
Marijuana is safer than scarves. A Turkish university student was beheaded when the scarf when was wearing on a go-kart ride got caught up in the driveshaft.
Marijuana is safer than sewers. In 2012, a Russian couple died when they passed out while repairing a home sewage tank, fell in, and drowned.
Marijuana is safer than Segways. In 2010, a British man accidentally drove his Segway off of a cliff. He happened to be the owner of the Segway company.
Marijuana is safer than toy helicopters. In 2013, a young man in Brooklyn died when his remote-controlled helicopter fell from the sky and its rotor blades slashed his throat.
Marijuana is safer than bus stops. In 2014, a young man in England died after he ran into a bus stop while running to catch his bus.
The lesson here is enjoy taking that snapshot while you smoke your weed - just don’t do anything dangerous while taking your selfie.
VIA High Times
by DR. TIM SANDLE, PH.D.
A new study has revealed that medical marijuana includes qualities that could protect the brain from long-term damage after a traumatic injury. The protective effects come from the cannabinoid THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the major psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. This latest study implies that medical marijuana might one day help reduce the risk of brain damage after critical surgery.
The study examined the effects of THC on injury to the brain from a range of traumatic conditions including hypoxia (lack of oxygen), seizures, and toxic drugs. Each of these conditions can lead to long-term and serious cognitive damage.
Professor Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases, based at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, led the study. It was published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research.
Although the beneficial effects of medical marijuana on the brain have been studied previously on animals, these experiments involved trials where relatively high doses of THCs were administered over short periods of time (around 30 minutes); for instance, in a study conducted at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008.
Unlike these previous experiments, Professor Sarne’s new study consisted of animal trials where far lower doses of THCs were used over a longer time period (in comparison with marijuana that is smoked, the trials used doses between 1,000 and 10,000 mg lower than in other studies). According to Sarne’s conclusions, the longer time period for the treatment and the lower dosage not only benefit the brain in reducing the impact of the injury, but this process also prevents possible injury from occurring in the future if THCs are administered before the trauma occurs.
In other words, adopting both pre- and post-conditioning helps to protect the brain. Specifically, Sarne found that if THCs are administered before a brain injury occurs, this could help to build resistance and trigger brain cells to initiate protective measures. If proven in humans, this conclusion would be of great benefit in the cases of surgery that carry a major risk of brain disease, such as open heart surgery or lung operations.
Looking at the other end of the study, the reason for Sarne carrying on with the post-treatment for a long time after a brain trauma occurred is that the risk to the brain is not always seen at the time of the initial condition; it can come from so-termed secondary effects of brain injuries, such as swelling of tissues or the release of toxic chemicals.
To show the pre- and post–medical marijuana benefits on the brain, Sarne undertook a series of trials on mice. For the study, the mice were divided into two groups. In one group, THC was administered before and after a brain injury was induced; in the other group, the brain injury was induced but no THC was administered. When the mice were examined between three and seven weeks after initial injury, the mouse group that had received the THC treatment performed better in behavioural tests than the other group. The tests were designed to measure learning and memory.
Discussing his study’s conclusion, Sarne explains, “Our results suggest that a pre- or post-conditioning treatment with extremely low doses of THC, several days before or after brain injury, may provide safe and effective long-term neuroprotection.”
The effects were not only psychological. Later biochemical studies showed heightened amounts of neuroprotective chemicals in the treatment group compared to the control group. Sarne explains this as THC acting in a way which “modifies brain plasticity and induces long-term behavioral and developmental effects in the brain.”
Sarne’s research suggests that the low-dose/long-time administration triggers certain biochemical processes within the body that help to protect brain cells and stop them from dying. The THC also helps to preserve cognitive function.
In terms of what is actually going on in the brain when medical marijuana is applied, related research by Dr. Esther Shohami that has been published in the British Journal of Pharmacology points to THC acting to reduce the levels of glutamate in the brain (glutamate is a toxic molecule often released after a traumatic brain injury).
It is also thought that THC decreases the levels of free radicals and chemicals that induce inflammation after injury. It is possible that THC also increases the blood supply to the brain. A 2010 study carried out by researchers based at the Adelson Center pointed to similar effects.
In a related study published in 2012, Sarne showed that a low dose of THC has also benefitted mice against the potential brain damage that can be caused by medical anesthetics (particularly pentobarbital-induced deep anesthesia), recreational drugs like ecstasy, and exposure to carbon monoxide.
While THC has been shown to reduce the effects of brain trauma in animal models, it is important to point out that the effects seen in mice may not necessarily be replicated in humans. To show any beneficial effect in people will require some extensive clinical trials. The trials are likely to center on people at risk of brain disease, such as those who suffer from epilepsy. With these “at-risk” groups, it is possible that low-dose THCs could one day be administered as a preventative measure to help offset the risk of cognitive damage.
As part of his continuing investigation, Sarne’s next experiment will test the ability of low doses of THC to prevent damage to the heart, looking at a condition called cardiac ischemia, in which the heart muscle receives insufficient blood flow.
Flickr photo courtesy -Tico-
Oregon has taken the lead in righting some of the wrongs of the War on Weed. On Monday, The New York Times reported on Oregon’s leadership in expunging marijuana violations from citizens’ records.
Even simple pot tickets can haunt someone for the rest of his or her life, sabotaging job hiring and other milestones. So Portland’s Metropolitan Public Defender’s office is running “expungement clinics” to forever seal records of past pot crimes.
The Times interviewed a 43-year-old mother dogged by a pot ticket from her twenties. She handed a bong to a cop more than two decades ago, and it has disqualified her for jobs and she couldn’t volunteer at her kid’s school. Now, no one will see that conviction ever again.
No state has gone further than Oregon, experts say.
Anyone with any low-level felony or misdemeanor on their record that’s at least ten years old can wipe their record clean, if they have not re-offended. In 2016, more serious felony pot convictions, like growing, will be eligible for record sealing.
One new law says courts must use the standards of current law — full marijuana legalization — when considering clearing records. Citizens who were under 21 at the time of their bust are eligible for fast-track records-clearing.
The Times notes:
Clearing a record of past convictions, even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, remains controversial. In Colorado, prosecutors have wide latitude to oppose such applications and often do, especially in cases in which a person faced more serious felony charges, like drug manufacturing, but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense like simple possession.
California also faces the massive issue of people currently and formerly incarcerated for acts that might no longer be a crime.
For the first time in a century, certain marijuana activity is fully legal in the state under new California medical marijuana regulations. Patients don’t just have "limited immunity", new license-holders will be 100 percent legal. The catch is: felony convictions, say for distributing marijuana, disqualify potential licensees. Senate Bill 643 reads:
"The licensing authority may deny the application for licensure or renewal of a state license if any of the following conditions apply: ... The applicant or licensee has been convicted of an offense that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, ... includ[ing]...:
(A) A felony conviction for the illegal possession for sale, sale, manufacture, transportation, or cultivation of a controlled substance.
(B) A violent felony conviction, ...
(C) A serious felony conviction, ...
(D) A felony conviction involving fraud, deceit, or embezzlement."
Any adult-use legalization initiative that appears on the ballot will face controversy for either releasing people convicted of crimes that no longer exist, or keeping them in jail.
Groups like the California ACLU and the California NAACP are also working to ensure that former pot felons can get licensed in the legal industry.
VIA East Bay Express
TORONTO -- As medical marijuana gains traction as a treatment option for a host of conditions including chronic pain and other conditions, Canadian employers could find themselves grappling with a sticky issue.
"Individuals have the right to equal treatment ... without discrimination on the grounds of disability," says Jan Robinson, managing principal at human resources firm Morneau Shepell.
"Medical cannabis now needs to be viewed like every other doctor-prescribed drug."
But although employers have a duty to accommodate workers' medical conditions, experts say that duty must be balanced with the need to keep the workplace safe. That can be challenging, especially if employees perform duties such as operating machinery.
"There's no hard or fast rule to this," says Natalie MacDonald, an employment lawyer and the co-founder of Rudner MacDonald LLP. "It's got to be determined on a case-by-case basis -- as most things in employment law do."
Experts says the duty to accommodate comes with an important caveat -- it must not result in undue hardship for the employer.
While there is no strict definition of what constitutes undue hardship, MacDonald says the courts will consider a number of factors including how much financial difficulty the company would endure and whether accommodating the employee would compromise workplace safety.
"A small organization that has to incur serious financial hardship as a result of trying to accommodate an employee may cross the test of undue hardship," MacDonald said.
A recent decision issued by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal illustrates some of the limits that apply to the employer's responsibility to accommodate workers' needs.
The Tribunal ruled in July that B.C.-based Selkin Logging did not violate John French's human rights by refusing to allow the logging contractor to use marijuana while on the job.
The company, which has a "zero tolerance" policy on marijuana use, had argued that it did not discriminate against French based on his use of cannabis to handle the symptoms of cancer, but rather was concerned about safety.
In addition, French was not authorized by Health Canada to possess medical marijuana, although he claimed he was using the drug to ease cancer-related pain as per his doctors' recommendations, according to court documents.
MacDonald says that if French had proper medical documentation, the outcome of the case may have been different. However, safety concerns still need to be taken into account, she adds.
One alternative way to accommodate a worker's needs would be to provide the worker with a leave of absence until the medical issue is resolved, MacDonald said.
"In some cases, it may be that the employee needs to be provided with alternative forms of work that don't attract any particular safety concerns," MacDonald said.
As cannabis becomes a more popular treatment choice -- Health Canada has estimated there could be nearly half a million users by 2024 -- the issue is likely to start cropping up at workplaces across the country.
"We are starting to recognize that this trend will commence very shortly across Canada," said Robinson, noting that Morneau Shepell has been advising its clients to review their existing drug and alcohol policies to ensure they are adequate.
"If they don't look at their drug policies now, they may have issues in the future," she said.
A team of astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii have created somewhat of a stir within the scientific community after the discovery of trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a meteorite found in the Nevada desert in 2010.
The team of researchers who analyzed hundreds of meteorite fragments in search of microbacterial data found the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol in trace amounts, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabinoids, a class of diverse chemical compounds that are found in a variety of plants, but most famously in the cannabis plant.
The study, that is funded in part by a NASA grant for research in astrobiology, is the first documented find of a psychoactive organic compound originating from outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, a discovery that could revolutionize our modern view of psychotropic agents and their “cosmic” origins, admits astrophysicist James Han, head of the research team.
The discovery of Tetrahydrocannabinol on a meteorite fragment could “revolutionize our modern understanding of psychoactive agents”, believes astrophysicist James Han of the University of Hawaii
The discovery was clearly unexpected, admits the astrophysicist specialized in astrobiology.
“These findings will have a profound impact on the science of astrobiology as a whole” admits the scientist, visibly perplexed by the discovery.
“If psychoactive elements are found outside of this planet’s atmosphere, what does it say about the rest of the universe? If these chemical substances, that change brain functions and result in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness in mammals as well as humans, find their origin in outer space, what role then has cometary impacts played on the human species? Or on life on the planet as whole? This discovery ultimately leaves us with more questions than answers” acknowledges the professor.
“It also gives a whole new meaning to the term getting high” he told local reporters, with a pinch of humor.
Traces amounts of Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) were also found in a meteorite fragment in 2009 by a research team from the University of Mexico but the findings were dismissed at the time because of the “controversial nature of the discovery” and a wave of skepticism from the scientific community. Further analysis of the sample could now shed some light on this latest finding, believe experts.
Expect the topic to re-emerge at the Colorado debate hosted by CNBC next month
By John Frank, The Denver Post
More than any other state, Colorado played a prime-time role in the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night thanks to a question about marijuana legalization.
The question came as Colorado is preparing to host the next GOP debate Oct. 28 in Boulder.
CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper posed the question after saying it came from social media users. He asked Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul about former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s pledge to enforce federal law in Colorado to stop recreational marijuana use.
Paul — who became the first major presidential candidate to court the pot industry at a recent Denver fundraiser — put the emphasis on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. “I personally think this is a crime where the only victim is the individual,” Paul said of marijuana use. “And I think America has to take a different attitude.”
He went on to invoke state’s rights and say, “I don’t think the federal government should override the states.”
Paul also used the question to take a shot at Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has acknowledged smoking pot in high school, suggesting it’s a case of “hypocrisy.”
Bush responded bluntly: “So 40 years ago I smoked marijuana, and I admit it,” adding that his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, is probably not happy that he did — a line that invoked laughter from the audience.
Bush said he believes weed legalization is a state issue, not one for the federal government. “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision,” he said.
Paul challenged Bush on the remark, noting that he opposed the 2014 ballot measure in Florida to legalize medical marijuana. Bush said he is open to medical marijuana, if the process is done through the legislature, but the 2014 measure had “a huge loophole.”
“It was the first step toward getting to a Colorado place,” he said of the measure.
Given a chance to explain his original statement, Christie blasted recreational marijuana use, saying states shouldn’t be “legalizing gateway drugs,” adding that it leads to decreased productivity and ruins families.
Paul accused Christie of not supporting the 10th Amendment guaranteeing state’s rights. “Colorado has made their decision and I don’t want the federal government interfering and putting moms in jail for simply trying to get their children medication,” he said.
Christie made clear he supports medical marijuana, which is legal in New Jersey.
Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO and failed California U.S. Senate candidate, had the last word. Her daughter died from a drug addiction.
“We must invest more in the treatment of drugs,” she said. “I agree with Sen. Paul, I agree with states rights but we are misleading people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer — it’s not.”
Expect the topic to re-emerge at the Colorado debate hosted by CNBC next month. It’s unavoidable, given the location.
VIA The Cannabist
In the past year, it has become obvious that marijuana is set to become a booming industry on the legal market and recent news from Colorado gives us more evidence of this taking place.
As one of the first states to go legal, the Colorado government has collected more taxes for marijuana than they have for alcohol in the past year. This is the first time that this has ever happened in history and it shows that the market for marijuana may be larger than the market for alcohol.
According to The Colorado Department of Revenue, the state government was able to rob marijuana sellers and users blind, collecting over $70 million in taxes from cannabis sales. Meanwhile, alcohol companies were fleeced for roughly $42 million for alcohol taxes, over the course of a year.
While businesses getting looted by government tax collectors is never anything to celebrate, it is interesting to see how quickly the marijuana market is growing.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project recently said that the state was able to collect so much money in taxes that they are getting a break for one day.
“Marijuana taxes have been incredibly productive over the past year, so this tax holiday is a much-deserved day off. This will be the one day out of the year when the state won’t generate significant revenue. Over the other 364 days, it will bring in tens of millions of dollars that will be reinvested in our state,” Tvert said.
According to the figures released this week, the state of Colorado collected $69,898,059 in tax revenue from the marijuana industry this past year.
A study recently published by researchers at the University of Michigan has shown that cannabis use among teens and college students is increasing while alcohol and tobacco use is declining. In fact, for the first time ever, the rate of daily cannabis use has now surpassed the rate of daily cigarette use.
This is a great discovery considering the fact that cigarettes and alcohol kill tens of thousands a year while marijuana kills no one.