Friday, May 29, 2015

Get Paid $560 to Vape Cannabis for Five Days Straight

by David Downs
Fri, May 29, 2015 at 9:18 AM

That might be a bit of a sensationalist headline, but it’s for a good cause — science.

Researchers at San Francisco General Hospital are in serious need of study subjects for a landmark trial of whole plant medical cannabis for treating the pain of sickle cell disease.

As detailed in past coverage, UCSF oncologist Dr. Donald Abrams has done the near-impossible — convinced the federal government to let him give patients pot in a hospital.

Vaporized cannabis is thought to reduce the pain, inflammation, and progression of sickle cell disease. - DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
  • Drug Policy Alliance
  • Vaporized cannabis is thought to reduce the pain, inflammation, and progression of sickle cell disease.

For this new study, Abrams and his research team are investigating the efficacy of using vaporized cannabis to treat the pain of sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease is a painful condition caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells. The disease particularly affects African Americans who carry a gene mutation that confers limited protection against malaria infection, at the cost of a shortened and more painful lifespan.

Researchers think cannabis’ efficacy on sickle cell pain and inflammation might be part of the reason pot is so popular in Jamaica. Cell and animal studies support these first human trials.

To be eligible, applicants for the study must:
  • have a diagnosis of sickle cell disease
  • be taking a stable regimen of pain medications, including an opioid (such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, etc.) for chronic sickle cell disease-associated pain
  • Be able and willing to spend two separate periods of five days and four nights in the Clinical Research Center at SFGH.
  • Have smoked cannabis on at least 6 occasions in your lifetime
  • NOT use cannabis for one week prior to starting the study.
  • Agree to use adequate birth control during this study.
  • NOT be pregnant or breast-feeding, if you are a women who can become pregnant. You will be tested for pregnancy at screening.
  • Be able to read and speak English.
  • NOT have any severe heart, lung, kidney, or liver problems.
  • NOT currently be using smoked tobacco products.
  • NOT test positive for alcohol or injection drugs, as determined by urine screening.
If eligible, you will spend two, five-day periods in a clinical research center at SF General, have blood tests and other measurements done, inhale cannabis three times a day (using the VOLCANO™ vaporizer), and keep a pain diary for five days prior to both hospitalizations to track your pain and medication use.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta featured this research in his recent documentary Weed 3, in which he called for a medical cannabis revolution in the US.

For more information on study enrollment, call 415-476-4082 x 146. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Arizona Now Has Dueling Marijuana Legalization Campaigns

by David Downs
Wed, May 27, 2015 at 12:51 PM

California isn’t the only state where cannabis supporters are sabotaging one another’s legalization efforts.

Arizona now has two competing initiatives to legalize cannabis in 2016. The Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is leading one effort while some newly minted medical cannabis dispensaries — which MPP helped legalize in 2010 — are running a competing initiative.



Just like in California, the Arizona infighting threatens the prospects of legalization in 2016.

This week, medical dispensary operator Jason Medar of the “Campaign to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana” filed paperwork to begin gathering signatures for a legalization proposal that would go before voters in 2016, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. This effort comes a month after MPP’s “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” launched its own petition drive.

MPP and some medical dispensaries in Arizona bitterly parted ways in April over the issue of potential recreational competition.

There don't appear to be substantial differences between the MPP proposal and the dispensary proposal. Both give preferential treatment to existing dispensary operators. The MPP proposal allows for home growing of six plants while Medar's proposal allows for twelve plants. The two also differ slightly over penalties for possessing more than the personal amount allowed by law. In one written comparison, Medar's proposal appears to be looser than MPP's initiative.

Carlos Alfaro, Arizona political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told reporters the MPP’s initiative is more viable. Medar meanwhile told reporters that voters would be better off without legalization than it would be with the competing initiative.

Medical marijuana in Arizona just barely passed in 2010 by 4,341 votes out of nearly 1.7 million votes cast.

Do you think voters are going to be turned off by this friendly fire, or is it just a sign of a vivacious public debate? We'll take your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Cannabis Cultivation Tips from Jorge Cervantes

by David Downs
Tue, May 26, 2015 at 7:37 AM

Sonoma resident and noted gardening author Jorge Cervantes is touring the world in support of his new book, The Cannabis Encyclopedia.

In this week’s Legalization Nation column, Cervantes tells cannabis farmers and consumers to prepare for legalization and industrialization to cut pot prices in half. Cervantes also wades into the thorny details of California legalization, speaking out on local bans and personal possession limits.

Iconic gardening author Jorge Cervantes inspects a cannabis flower bud. - JORGE CERVANTES
  • Jorge Cervantes
  • Iconic gardening author Jorge Cervantes inspects a cannabis flower bud.

But we wanted to give growers some practical advice as well. Below, an interview excerpt on what growers should be doing in June.

If they’re growing outside, it’s starting to get pretty hot at that time. They should put on a layer of straw mulch. It should be straw. It doesn’t decompose like alfalfa does.

A nice, six-inch coat of that will really deflect the sun and keep the heat out. Just keeping the soil cool at that time makes a huge difference. If the roots are cool on hot day, it makes a huge difference as far as plant health goes.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Evidence Mounts For Cannabis to Help Curb Painkiller Overdose Epidemic

by David Downs
Thu, May 21, 2015 at 10:50 AM

An average of 44 Americans die every day from an overdose of prescription painkillers, a trend the Centers for Disease Control calls a national epidemic.

Today, more evidence piles up that medical cannabis is part of the solution to the American health crisis.

More …

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Senator Feinstein Discovers Cannabis Science, Supports CBD

by David Downs
Wed, May 20, 2015 at 11:16 AM

Ardent drug warrior and California Senator Dianne Feinstein evolved a little on the topic of pot this week, moving to endorse federal research on cannabidiol — a therapeutic molecule in cannabis.

Feinstein and Iowa republican Senator Chuck Grassley sent letters to the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services this week, “urging the agencies to determine whether cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, should be rescheduled and asking the agencies to clarify their conflicting positions on existing barriers to cannabidiol research,” according to public statements.
Nanny Stateswoman Sen. Diane Feinstein is evolving on cannabis science.
  • Nanny Stateswoman Sen. Diane Feinstein is evolving on cannabis science.

The senators requested that: "the Department of Justice, in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services, immediately conduct a scientific and medical evaluation of, and provide a scheduling recommendation for, cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound derived from the marijuana plant and administered in the form of an oil."

More …

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gavin Newsom Talks Marijuana Legalization, Youth Prevention in Oakland

by David Downs
Tue, May 19, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom came to Oakland today to discuss the role of youth education and prevention in the ongoing efforts to legalize cannabis in California. Newsom spoke out this morning at a public forum organized by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, which is hosting a series of meetings this year on legalization. Today, Newsom and ACLU officials, speaking at Youth UpRising in East Oakland, were addressing claims that ending cannabis prohibition sends the wrong message to youth and would lead to increased access and use.

Pot law reformers have long argued that the criminal justice system is more harmful to youth than marijuana — and that teen access to marijuana has been high for decades due to the fact that the market is unregulated. By contrast, advocates say, public health efforts aimed at decreasing tobacco and alcohol use by youth have proven to be much more effective. 

More …

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Mother of Modern Medical Marijuana Calls in a Favor

by David Downs
Fri, May 15, 2015 at 1:15 PM

One of California’s first, best-loved, and most well-known nonprofits — the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana — is in trouble.

A divorce between co-founder Valerie Corral and her husband of forty years, Mike, may result in the loss of WAMM’s lush farm in Santa Cruz. So WAMM announced this week that it is looking to raise $150,000 by July on

One of the oldest non-profit medical marijuana coops in the world faces a new challenge — divorce.  (via WAMM)
  • One of the oldest non-profit medical marijuana coops in the world faces a new challenge — divorce. (via WAMM)
WAMM started in 1993 — three years before California activists passed the first medical marijuana law in America — and dedicated itself to growing and giving away medical cannabis to those needed it most and afford it the least — the impoverished sick and dying. Corral discovered cannabis for seizures in the 1970s, and co-authored the compassionate use act Proposition 215.

More …

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Oregon Medical Marijuana Battles Offer Lessons for California

by David Downs
Wed, May 13, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Oregon’s robust medical marijuana industry fended off the first round of post-legalization restrictions this week, but not without an all-hands-on-deck, knock-down, drag-out fight that provides a lesson for California.

Sources report that Oregon Senate Bill 844 to inspect and restrict certain commercial medical collective grows failed to pass committee Monday.

But Oregon’s medical marijuana growers will remain in the crosshairs of both law enforcement and the commercial recreational industry — mainly because medical growers leak tons of pot into the black market. Oregon enjoys the distinction of having the cheapest high-quality bud in America, at $204 per ounce, compared to $241 in the Bay Area and $346 in Washington, DC. The national average is $324. While medical patients celebrate the access, officials chafe at the leakage.

More …

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Watch Texas’ First Big TV Ad for Pot Decriminalization

by David Downs
Tue, May 12, 2015 at 12:23 PM

As California goes, so goes the nation — and the nation is waking up to the ravages of cannabis prohibition.

Over in the Lone Star state, a last-minute push to get weed decriminalized will include broadcast television ads aimed at persuading voters and their representatives.

In the ad, a folksy Texas Hill Country resident, veteran cop and narcotics detective says cannabis is safer than alcohol and limited law enforcement resources should focus on crimes for which there are victims — like rape, murder, and robbery.
“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Detective Russell Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic. Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession. They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

More …

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who Wants To Open Berkeley's Next MMJ Dispensary? These Folks.

by David Downs
Thu, May 7, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Several long-time figures in the Bay Area cannabis industry have applied to win the City of Berkeley's highly coveted new, fourth medical cannabis dispensary permit.

Berkeley is in the process of expanding its number of permitted dispensaries from three to four, and yesterday the city released a list of groups who applied to run that fourth club. Many are from nearby dispensaries from all across the Bay Area. Here’s a look at the applicants.

More …

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