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British study links high potency cannabis to psychosis

A study published on Tuesday in British medical journal, the Lancet Psychiatry, states that those using high potency cannabis or heavy use of cannabis can induce psychosis and can be harmful for mental health.

Dr. Marta Di Forti, lead author of study and clinician scientist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said that it’s specifically psychotic disorder that was studied.

The researchers examined data from 11 different sites that treat psychosis – 10 across Europe and one in Brazil. They looked at 901 patients who had a first-time episode of psychosis over five years and compared them to more than 1,237 matched non-patients.  

“Across the 11 sites, people who used cannabis on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a diagnosis of first episode psychosis, compared with people who had never used cannabis,” they wrote. “This increased to five times more likely for daily use of high potency cannabis.”

The researchers estimated that overall, those who consume cannabis daily are three times more likely to have a first episode psychosis than those who have never used cannabis. If the cannabis is high potency, the risk increased to five times more likely.

Dr. Michael Bloomfield of the Translational Psychiatry Research Group, was not a part of the study, but said that the findings are important and that the research “adds weight to the advice that people who use cannabis recreationally should avoid high-THC cannabis.”

“Cannabis carries severe health risks and users have a higher chance of developing psychosis,” he told Science Media Centre. “The risks are increased when the drug is high in potency, used by children and young people and when taken frequently.”

Professor of Psychiatry & Cognitive Neuroscience at King’s College London, Dr. Philip McGuire, told sources that the findings are not necessarily new information. Even so, he said that the study “involves relatively large numbers of subjects and has controlled for other risk factors that might have accounted for the results”.

According to McGuire’s own research “if healthy volunteer are given THC this induces transient psychotic symptoms like paranoia. However, if volunteers are given CBD beforehand, this blocks the induction of psychotic symptoms by THC”.

“The net effect of cannabis that contains both THC and CBD depends on the relative amounts of each,” he said. “The cannabis that was available in the 1960s was relatively low in THC and high in CBD. However, these days illicit cannabis is often ‘high potency,’ with a high THC content and a low CBD content.”

“We are currently conducting research to define the ratio of CBD:THC in cannabis that is optimal for minimizing its psychotic effects,” he said.

In response to the study, University of Liverpool Suzanne Gage has said that there are other ways of interpreting the data.

“While cannabis use has increased in some populations, the corresponding level of psychosis incidence has not,” worse Gage.

She said that there are some people who have a genetic predisposition to both cannabis and schizophrenia. According to Gage, it’s possible that people who have psychosis may be more disposed to using cannabis heavily and that it could also be “bidirectional”, meaning it works different ways for different people.

“The next priority is to identify which individuals are at risk from daily potent cannabis use,” said Gage.

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Despite thriving medical and underground markets, cannabis in Greece remains stigmatized

Greece is a small and picturesque country, occupying an Alabama-sized 50,000 square miles of mountainous terrain replete with thousands of islands, age-old ruins, and the longest coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, writes Erin Hiatt.

It is home to many ancient traditions that span centuries, like the theatrical art forms of drama, tragedy, and satire that were born there to honor Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility, madness, and ecstasy. Greece is also also the birthplace of direct democracy, a form of government which continues to this day.

Today’s cannabis culture in Greece, however, is much less enlightened than its storied history might suggest. Little has been recorded, though much speculated, about the ancient Greeks’ use of cannabis, given the country’s strategic position bridging Europe and the Middle East. Even so, it’s believed that cannabis was part of the ancient Greek pharmacopoeia for the treatment of inflammation, pain, and injuries, as well as its myriad uses as a fiber.

Nonetheless, Greece banned the cultivation, importation, and use of cannabis in 1890, and did not take up any conversation about legalizing or regulating cannabis until 2016, despite a thriving, albeit very underground, cannabis scene.

“Greece has a cannabis culture, and quite a big one, actually,” said a 26-year old Greek citizen, who wished to remain anonymous, due to the stigma. And it is true, cannabis is the most common illicit drug consumed among Greek adults ages 18 through 65. “Unfortunately, the law is quite strict on cannabis prohibition, which results in people having to gather at places where police officers find it hard to operate (kind of rough neighborhoods),” he said. “[But] there are one or two annual festivals that are opposed to cannabis prohibition, which are supported by a great amount of people, thousands at least.”

For the past two years, the capital city of Athens has convened a cannabis expo dedicated to sharing the medical and pharmaceutical achievements in the cannabis space, as well as educating the public about products such as CBD, vaporizers, and clothing. The most recent expo, held last January, attracted 150 vendors and 20 speakers — some of whom came from American states like Colorado and Michigan. If there are more freewheeling festivals similar to the Boston Freedom Rally or Seattle Hempfest, they are tough to track down.

“There is no open consumption of marijuana in Greece,” said Yannis Zervos, who was born in Greece in 1944 and has lived there most of his life. “Traditionally, this was an area in which hashish was used, and associated with ‘decadent’ elements of society.’” Zervos notes that Greece is quite conservative, and that he has observed a strong cultural affiliation of marijuana and criminal activity, particularly among Albanian gangs. “Psychologically, the voting public might be ill-disposed to its legalization,” he added.

The laws regarding prohibition and consumption in Greece, however, take a somewhat more progressive, Portugal-like stance, where drug consumers who run afoul of the law are treated as patients rather than criminals. Still, Greek Law No. 4139/2013 stipulates that for those who obtain, process, or cultivate cannabis plants in numbers indicating even just personal use may still be sentenced to prison, although for no more than five months.

Our 26-year-old Greek friend says that the country’s continued prohibitionist attitudes may stem from a lack of education around cannabis, a thriving illicit market, and potentially even, he speculates, political corruption. (According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018, with zero being the most corrupt and 100 being the least, Greece scores on the more corrupt side, with a score of 45).

However, there is some slow progress being made on the medicinal cannabis front. In 2016, under the leadership of populist left-wing SYRIZA Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a working group was convened to debate medical marijuana legalization, and in 2017, Tsipras announced that medical cannabis would be legal for patients with a doctor’s prescription. Yes, a prescription, unlike in the U.S., where medical professionals are only allowed to “recommend” cannabis, since medical marijuana remains federally illegal.

Greece’s law allows for licensed physicians to prescribe cannabis so it can be more easily accessible in pharmacies. However, according to Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, medical cannabis will not be subsidized through state health insurance. Meanwhile, non-intoxicating CBD products have been legalized as long as they contain less than 0.2 percent THC, and hemp is also legal to cultivate with ministry authorization.

Even though Greek authorities don’t have definitive numbers, it is believed that there are thousands of medical cannabis patients in Greece. However, convoluted regulations have made it difficult to obtain the medicine, despite a 2017 go-ahead on allowing medicinal cannabis imports, mainly from Canada and Israel. In an attempt to correct the limited supply, last June, Greek lawmakers allowed for patients to grow cannabis at home. “It has thrilled patients and their families, who were tortured with having to go abroad to find cannabis,” said Konstantinos Syros, who leads Organisation for Patients Supporting Medicinal Use of Cannabis.

Currently, patients living with HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, chronic pain, neuropathy, nausea, and cancer pain may seek out medicinal cannabis, although the law does allow a physician to prescribe it for any condition if they feel it will benefit the patient.

But access remains a problem. Last November, Greece granted grow licenses to two companies, while twelve more are expected to be issued soon. At a news conference, Greece’s Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas indicated that the first medical cannabis products will not be available for another 12 to 18 months.

Avid interest in the Greek market is already coming from outside investors in countries like Canada and Israel, as well as Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, France and Russia. All told, more than 30 countries have applied to invest in Greece’s nascent cannabis market, which could put Greece ahead of Denmark as the EU’s top cannabis supplier.

Stergios expects that there will be large productions of medicinal cannabis as well as industrial hemp, and analysts believe that the investments under consideration could lead to around 7,000 jobs, bring investments of around 1.5 billion euros, and position Greece as an international hub for cultivation and processing.

But for our Greek friend and others like him who are not medical cannabis patients, they will have to stick to getting together at someone’s house in an out-of-the-way neighborhood to consume the ancient — and decidedly illegal — herb.

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CONVERSATORIO: LA VOZ DE LOS MÉDICOS TRATANTES SOBRE TERAPIAS BASADAS EN CANNABIS

Hoy hay un alto número de médicas y médicos que apoyan el uso de cannabis medicinal; profesionales de la salud que prescriben, acompañan y supervisan un tratamiento que ha resultado efectivo y beneficioso para miles de pacientes a lo largo del país. El próximo sábado 23 de marzo a las 10:30 horas en la Fundación Base Pública realizaremos un encuentro entre doctores, profesionales de la salud y pacientes, con el objetivo de conversar sobre la realidad de los tratamiento con cannabis, sus beneficios, potenciales usuarios y tipos de patologías que se pueden tratar con cannabis. En ese encuentro, los médicos tratantes darán a conocer sus vivencias en relación a los beneficios de una terapia con cannabis y la experiencia de sus pacientes. El conversatorio contará con la participación de los doctores Ramiro Zepeda, médico con doctorado de la U. de Chile en farmacología y director del Centro de Alivio del Dolor; María José Diaz, médica especialista en Salud Pública de la Universidad de Chile; Diego Cruz, médico de Fundación Daya especialista en el uso de cannabinoides para el manejo del dolor, Ivo Vusukich, director del Instituto de Fenomenología Médica y Patricio Silva, médico de Fundación Daya dedicado al uso de medicina cannábica para el manejo del dolor. En ese contexto, al finalizar este diálogo, haremos la entrega de un Manifiesto de Apoyo a las Investigaciones con Cannabis y al Tratamiento con sus Derivados. Este documento está firmado por más de cincuenta médicos. Estamos viviendo un momento decisivo; como bien saben, no ha sido fácil abrir el camino al uso medicinal de cannabis, y más difícil aún ha resultado lograr el pleno respeto del nuestro derecho al cultivo personal de nuestras plantas medicinales. Hoy más que nunca necesitamos su apoyo para evidenciar la realidad de los más de 35 mil los pacientes que supervisados por sus médicos han decidido optar por un tratamiento con cannabis medicinal, mejorando su calidad de vida. Las y los esperamos para disfrutar de este encuentro para que se escuche la voz de profesionales de la salud, médicos tratantes y pacientes.  

La entrada CONVERSATORIO: LA VOZ DE LOS MÉDICOS TRATANTES SOBRE TERAPIAS BASADAS EN CANNABIS aparece primero en Fundación Daya.

Fitorremediación o como el cannabis puede descontaminar suelos

—Es que además —podríamos argumentar tras enumerar la extensa lista de propiedades beneficiosas o prácticas que tiene el cáñamo— el cannabis sirve para descontaminar suelos incluso afectados por contaminación radioactiva.
—¿Cómo? —preguntará alguien incrédulo, alguien que quizá nunca haya oído hablar de la fitorremediación, o sea, prácticamente nadie.

¿Qué es la fitorremediación?

La fitorremediación es un conjunto de métodos que aprovechan la capacidad de ciertas plantas para absorber, acumular, metabolizar, volatilizar o estabilizar contaminantes presentes en el suelo, aire, agua o sedimentos (como metales pesados, metales radioactivos, compuestos orgánicos y compuestos derivados del petróleo). Estas llamadas fitotecnologías ofrecen numerosas ventajas en relación con los métodos fisicoquímicos convencionales, como por ejemplo su amplia aplicabilidad, bajo costo y, sobre todo, su sostenibilidad.

 

La sostenibilidad del cannabis

Antes de hablar de las propiedades descontaminantes del cannabis, cabría apuntar su gran sostenibilidad ambiental. Si consideramos las extensas aplicaciones del cannabis en un gran abanico de ámbitos, resulta sorprendente que sociedades avanzadas y racionales del siglo XXI no lo estén explotando como deberían.

La idea de la sostenibilidad es producir desarrollo sin amenazar las fuentes de los recursos naturales y ni comprometer los de las futuras generaciones, buscando la mayor armonía posible entre la sociedad y la naturaleza. El cáñamo se nos presenta como una materia muchísimo más adecuada en este sentido que muchas opciones convencionales.

Así, nos preguntamos por ejemplo qué hacemos fabricando papel a partir de árboles cuando podríamos hacerlo con cáñamo. Sí, sabemos que hoy se recicla mucho más que antes (pero aun no suficiente) y que el papel nuevo procede generalmente de bosques cultivados ex profeso. No obstante un cultivo de cáñamo produce cuatro veces más papel que un cultivo de árboles de la misma extensión, además de que el papel de cáñamo se puede reciclar más del doble de veces que el papel de pulpa de madera.

De igual forma, un biocombustible basado en el cannabis sería una alternativa mucho más ecológica, dado que al reducir la dependencia de los combustibles fósiles se reduciría la cantidad de COneto emitido a la atmósfera.

Podríamos quizá mencionar también sus aplicaciones en la industria textil, dado que el cáñamo es capaz de generar fibras de primerísima calidad, o en la construcción, con productos como el hempcrete u hormigón de cannabis, un material con unas excelentes características: más resistente y liviano que el cemento común, además de más maleable, y con excelentes propiedades termo-reguladoras, por lo que es ideal para aislamientos, así como de regulación de la humedad.

También sus apabullantes usos en medicina, cosmética y alimentación apuntalan el fantástico repertorio de aplicaciones de esta planta tan maltratada e infravalorada por reguladores miopes.

Pero es que además, como decíamos, el cannabis sirve para descontaminar suelos.

 

El cannabis y la fitorremediación

Gavin Stonehouse, un estudiante graduado en biología de plantas de la Universidad Estatal de Colorado, comenzó a cultivar en 2017 cáñamo en una mezcla especial de tierra dosificada con diferentes niveles de selenio para saber si el cultivo podía tolerar el selenio. Este mineral se encuentra naturalmente en la mayor parte del oeste de los Estados Unidos y es un contaminante ambiental muy nocivo cuando es producido en exceso por la actividad industrial o agrícola. Según Stonehouse, el cáñamo resultó ser súper tolerante al selenio. Ninguna planta murió y solo aquellas sometidas a mayores concentraciones del mineral mostraron ciertos signos de estrés. “Si se puede limpiar el medio ambiente y aún así obtener un producto comercial”, dice Stonehouse, “se están matando dos pájaros de un tiro”.

Esta capacidad del cannabis para sacar el selenio (y otros contaminantes) del suelo se conoce como fitorremediación. En realidad la fitorremediación también se puede aplicar al agua o al aire. En esencia es retener o degradar contaminantes orgánicos e inorgánicos utilizando plantas. En un sentido más amplio hablamos de biorremediación, cuando se usan, además de plantas, hongos, microorganismos o enzimas para los mismos fines.

Aunque la palabra fitorremediación (del griego phyton «planta» y del latín «remediare») es un neologismo, el concepto de descontaminar usando plantas ya existía hace 3000 años, por ejemplo, para la purificación del agua.

De hecho, la palabra fitorremediación se la debemos al Dr. Ilya Raskin, del Centro de Biotecnología para la Agricultura y el Medio Ambiente de la Universidad de Rutgers. Raskin fue miembro del grupo de trabajo original del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica (OIEA) que examinó el área de Chernobyl. En 1998 se plantó cáñamo industrial con el fin de eliminar los contaminantes en la zona.

“El cáñamo está demostrando ser una de las mejores plantas fito-remediativas que hemos podido encontrar”, dijo Slavik Dushenkov, un investigador científico. “Para los contaminantes específicos que probamos, el cáñamo demostró tener muy buenas propiedades de fitorremediación”.

 

Fitorremediando en Italia

Vincenzo Fornaro le contaba a CBS que durante generaciones su familia había producido carne y queso ricotta a partir de ovejas. Pero en 2008 el gobierno italiano descubrió una peligrosa dioxina en los suelos de Taranto, Italia, procedente de una cercana planta siderúrgica, la más grande de Europa, que, durante años, había ido contaminando los suelos de la región.

Hubo que sacrificar al rebaño entero (600 cabezas) y la economía que durante generaciones había mantenido a su familia ya no tenía sentido en una región echada a perder por la contaminación. Así pues, conocedor de las propiedades fitorremediadoras del cáñamo, Fornaro se dedica ahora al cáñamo industrial con el que dispone de una economía al tiempo que ayuda a descontaminar los suelos en los que una vez pastaban las ovejas.

—¿Crees que la marihuana es el futuro de tu granja? —le preguntaba Seth Doane de CBS a Fornaro.
—Sí, absolutamente.

La entrada Fitorremediación o como el cannabis puede descontaminar suelos aparece primero en Nekwo.

Former NHL players to be given cannabis for post-concussion treatment

Dozens of former NHL players will be given CBD as part of a study examining whether the cannabis compound might help alleviate symptoms of brain injuries.

“We see a lot of athletes who have chronic pain and have other problems related to repetitive brain trauma,” neurosurgeon and concussion expert Dr. Charles Tator told CTV’s Your Morning Monday.

“We are reasonably optimistic that cannabis and especially the CBD part of cannabis can relieve a lot of that suffering.”

Approximately 100 former NHLers with chronic brain conditions will take part in the study, which will get underway this summer. Half of them will be given CBD, while the other half will be given a placebo. All will continue to undergo other recommended treatments.

Researchers will monitor all of the former players for one year, looking for any signs that the treatment has affected their conditions.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other concussion-related conditions can contribute to depression, PTSD and even dementia. It has been estimated that 10 to 15 per cent of people who suffer from sports-related concussions develop chronic symptoms.

“It’s really rather sad when you see these giants of sport having to deal with terrible headaches and emotional issues as well — there’s quite a bit of anxiety and depression and PTSD in athletes that has gone unrecognized,” Tator said.

Athletes with chronic pain issues have traditionally been prescribed opioids or other analgesics. Tator said doctors are hesitant to treat patients this way — particularly when possible brain conditions are involved — and would prefer a safer alternative.

“Opioids are very effective in relieving pain, but the problem is they have this terrible side effect of causing addiction and dependence,” he said.

The study is being conducted by researchers at Neeka Health, along with cannabis producer Canopy Growth and the NHL Alumni Association.

“This complex and multidimensional study will give us an unprecedented understanding of the interactions between [CBD] and the brains and behaviours of former NHL players living with post-concussion symptoms,” Canopy chief medical officer Mark Ware said in a statement.

Researchers at the University of Miami have found that a combination of CBD and the NDMA anesthetic improved the cognitive functions of animals that had suffered brain injuries. A human trial is now underway.

Tator is also hoping to study the potential benefits of cannabis as a treatment for post-concussion conditions himself. He recently applied for a grant to fund a project exploring the effectiveness of CBD on post-concussion headaches.

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The status of cannabis in Massachusetts

Recreational use of cannabis is now legal in Massachusetts. This is a massive victory for personal freedom and a clear sign of progress for those still in dire need of natural and clean alternatives to traditional medicines.

Along with this legalization, many are curious whether they should still get their medical marijuana cards or wait for more recreational dispensaries to open across the state.

Massachusetts and Legalization

Massachusetts has an interesting history with marijuana legalization. In 2012, it became the 18th state the legalize the use of medical marijuana. While not necessarily at the forefront of the push for a greener field of medicine, Massachusetts is a pioneer nonetheless. Since Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012 passed, allowing the “Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana”, the state has seen an increase in medical patients seeking cannabis treatment. Medical marijuana reform in MA has since been met by a drop in marijuana related crimes and a steady increase in patient options.

Like all states that have legalized cannabis for medical uses, Massachusetts has seen opposition. In 2012, around the time that Chapter 369 was being voted on, the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance appealed to the state supreme court that wording on the ballot be changed. Naturally, their appeal was denied. However, the wording was eventually changed after a vote, and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley rewrote the language on the ballot to clarify what a “yes” vote would mean. The “yes” vote did triumph despite the obstacles, and medical marijuana has proven to be a valid—and pivotal—industry in the state since.

Doors Open to Recreational Users

Recreational users were left out of Chapter 369 Act of 2012. That changed in 2016 with Question 4 of the ballot initiative. A majority voted “yes” to recreational marijuana being allowed. This changed the landscape in Massachusetts as personal use of cannabis went from decriminalized to fully legal.

Much like Chapter 369, there was opposition, but the people voted, and the law was made. The first retail licenses for recreational cannabis were granted in late 2018. Profits have been huge: one shop reported sales of upwards of $2.2 million in the first week of recreational legalization.

Advantages of the Medical Marijuana Program

While recreational use of marijuana is allowed in the state of Massachusetts, obtaining the cannabis can still be fraught with hurdles. Not all dispensaries are given retail licenses. In fact, only a few have them right now.

For medical marijuana card holders, this is a non-issue. Medical marijuana can be sold without the need for a retail license because the two use cases are separate: one use is for medical reasons, the other for personal use. If you own a card, you no doubt know that you can walk into any dispensary in the state and be helped. Even if you don’t have a card, you are more than likely eligible. A simple consultation with a medical marijuana doctor is all that it takes and you might enjoy the accessibility and prices more at medical dispensaries.

Taking the steps to get a medical card can be daunting if done alone. Well, there is no need to tread alone. Veriheal exists to get medical marijuana cards in the hands of those who truly need them and potentially don’t see a primary care physician anymore, or their primary care physician may not be registered with the state. All of the doctors in Veriheal’s network are licensed by the state to certify patients for medical cannabis use.

Do I qualify for medical cannabis in MA?

Any Massachusetts resident, who is at least 18 years old with a valid MA address and ID who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition listed on the programs qualifying conditions is eligible to become a medical cannabis patient in the state. The listed debilitating conditions are as follows:

ALS

Anorexia

Anxiety/Depression

Cachexia

Cancer

Crohn’s Disease

Epilepsy

Glaucoma

Hepatitis C

HIV/AIDS

Hodgkin Lymphoma

Insomnia

Multiple Sclerosis

Parkinson’s Disease

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Sarcoma

Seizures or muscle spasms

Severe nausea

Getting a Medical Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts

First, you need to do is book an appointment with a doctor through Veriheal to get approved for medical marijuana in Massachusetts. During the appointment, the doctor will talk to you about your ailments and how medical marijuana can help. Listen to what your doctor has to say, and be honest with them. You’ll be approved in no time.

After the consultation, a patient will then be given a temporary medical number. Register this number on the Massachusetts Department of Health website and pay the $50 application fee. If it’s your first time registering with the state, you’ll need to register on the Virtual Gateway (VG).  After you login to VG, you can start your registry with the MMJ Online System. Your card should arrive in 2-3 weeks once the application is submitted. The temporary number given by the doctor can actually be used at dispensaries while you wait for the physical ID card to come in the mail.

Having a medical marijuana card on hand makes the entire process even more secure, safe, and reliable. If you need your treatment, you’ll have your card in your wallet ready to go.

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Smoking medical marijuana is now legal in Florida. Here’s how it happened

It started in 1986 with a puff of Myakka Gold marijuana on Bradenton Beach.

Cathy Jordan was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and given no more than five years to live. She came down to Florida from her home in Delaware with the goal to end her own life.

She wanted to see the beach and smoke some pot before she took a handful of muscle relaxers that would numb her pain once and for all.

But after a few hits on the beach that night, she suddenly felt better. She went home to Delaware and told her husband, Bob Jordan, about her experience. Little did they know, the couple had become a part of something bigger.

 “I didn’t believe her,” Jordan said. “But as we got more aware of it, we found out when she has cannabis she’s better. And when she doesn’t have it, she’s sick.”

Twenty years later Cathy Jordan, who has been living with ALS, has become the face of a movement for medical marijuana. More specifically, smokable medical marijuana — a ban on which was repealed by the Florida Legislature and quietly signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday. There was no public signing of the bill, which also establishes a research consortium, allows products like bongs and rolling papers to be purchased and requires a second opinion from a board-certified pediatrician for non-terminal patients under age 18. The change in law is effective immediately.

Cathy Jordan, a Sarasota resident with Lou Gehrig’s disease, is among those suing the state for banning smoking as a way of using medical marijuana. She testified in court Wednesday that smoking is the most effective way to treat her pain and symptoms.

But long before DeSantis took up repealing a ban on smokable pot, Bob Jordan was growing and perfecting the strains that would work best for his wife of 37 years.

It’s a daily routine that’s lasted as long as Jordan can remember.

After he gets Cathy out of bed, cleaned up and dressed in the morning, she sits at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and two marijuana cigarettes. She sips. She smokes. She coughs.

The cough is key. It brings up the phlegm that accumulates in her lungs, a process for which some ALS patients use a special vest-like device.

“It ain’t pretty, but she coughs it up and then she says she can start her day,” Jordan said.

The cannabis also dries out her mouth, helping her maintain excess saliva instead of resorting to a towel or worse, choking.

Bob Jordan said he put “a lot of love” into cultivating his plants, which he harvests, hangs to dry and then carefully trims to make his wife’s joints.

He said the potential harm his wife faces without marijuana is “more heinous than the crime.”

“Cathy faces death,” he said. “It’s medical necessity.”

Unintended consequences

In 2013, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Bill was introduced by former Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, and former Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole, D-Plantation.

Shortly after, the Jordan’s Parrish home — they moved to Florida about 30 years ago for the better weather — was raided by deputies and detectives with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office drug intervention unit. No arrests were made, but 23 marijuana plants Jordan uses for her treatments were confiscated by authorities.

As Manatee County Commission considers enacting a 180-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensing facilities, Cathy and Bob Jordan, who are medical marijuana advocates, address the commission Thursday.

After the raid, Bob Jordan said that he connected with John Morgan, the prominent Orlando attorney who eventually bankrolled the constitutional amendment that led to legalizing medical marijuana in 2017.

Jordan said he’s most proud of how his efforts have given people the freedom to tap cannabis and “take them out of the shadows.”

“There’s no shame in sickness,” he said.

Morgan, whose younger brother was paralyzed as a teenage lifeguard after a diving accident, said he fights for his brother’s right to use marijuana to relieve pain and stop spasms. He said he became interested in legalizing the drug after he met the Jordans and when he saw people trying to do it in a “haphazard way.”

“The only way to do it was to pour money at it and pour money at it fast,” Morgan said.

Morgan first fought to get a medical marijuana proposal on the ballot in 2014, but it got too much pushback from anti-drug groups and too few signatures to make it. In 2016, he poured in more money to try it again, focusing on older voters and riding the high voter turnout of a presidential election.

Gov. Scott’s opposition

In total, he says he’s spent $15 million on the cause.

“I thought of Cathy Jordan, I thought of Tim Morgan and I thought of hundreds of thousands like them. That’s what motivated me to try the second time,” Morgan said. “Then we won but we didn’t really win because Rick Scott … did what he wanted to do, not what the people wanted to do.”

In 2016, about 71 percent of Floridians who voted were in favor of a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. While the 2017 bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott legalized access to the drug in pill, oil, edible and vape form, it made smoking it illegal.

The provision, commonly referred to as the “smoking ban,” was challenged in circuit court in July 2017. In his complaint, Morgan, who represented patients and two advocacy organizations, argued the smoking ban altered the definition of “marijuana” and by banning smoking in public, implicitly authorized smoking marijuana in a private place. He asked the court to invalidate the law passed by the Florida Legislature because it violated the intent of the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016.

Other similar cases were heard and ruled favorably by a circuit court judge — cases Scott appealed before he left office.

“It’s a generational thing,” Morgan said. “Rick Scott is an old, bald-headed dinosaur. The Rick Scott generation has a fear of marijuana. They don’t know the difference between marijuana and LSD and fentanyl.”

In June 2018 an appellate court refused to lift a stay on a Tallahassee judge’s ruling that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana if their doctors approve it, making smokable medical pot a talking point among those running for office.

As the campaign season progressed, the smoking issue cropped up across social media. Then-candidate for agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried said smoking medical marijuana was the “will of the people” in a video she posted to Twitter on Sept. 13. In the video, Fried calls out Scott for fighting the appeal for smokable marijuana and implored DeSantis and Fried’s opponent, former Rep. Matt Caldwell, to respond.

The hashtag “#NoSmokeIsAJoke, coined by Morgan, followed suit and continues to pepper Florida politics on Twitter.

New money, new leadership

And while conversations surrounding marijuana continued to build, so did the money. Since the summer of 2016, when a campaign to bring medical marijuana to Florida ramped up, Florida’s licensed cannabis corporations and their executives have given at least $2.5 million in political contributions to state lawmakers and political parties.

The new governor wasn’t blind to the donations he received or the interest from influencers like Morgan, and he had the likes of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and state Sen. Jeff Brandes in his ear. At a Jan. 17 press conference DeSantis held in Orlando, he declared that if lawmakers didn’t pass bills by March 15 allowing patients to smoke marijuana, he’d drop the state’s appeals of at least eight lawsuits — including one filed by Morgan.

“What the Florida Legislature has done to implement the people’s will has not been done in accordance with what the amendment envisioned,” DeSantis said at the time. “Whether they [patients] have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that?”

The Legislature swiftly took action to carry out the governor’s orders.

The Senate was the first to get a bill passed out of the chamber, with the leadership of Brandes.

In his closing statement on the Senate floor, Brandes said Jordan represents those who need to smoke marijuana to live.

“In her quiet voice, she would advocate for smokable medical cannabis,” Brandes said. “As Floridians, even those who barely have a voice in this process can be heard, recognized and respected. This legislation honors that in a way that is responsible.”

The House, which overwhelmingly approved the bill March 13, treated the legislation as more of an obligation to DeSantis than a priority of the chamber.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the 2017 bill banning smoking, sponsored the 2019 House bill to repeal the ban. The Estero Republican said without the bill to guide smoking marijuana, a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s smoking ban would leave Florida with “the law of the wild west.”

House Speaker José Oliva had openly criticized smoking medicinal marijuana as an option, saying efforts to legalize it are just “some cover” for getting access to recreational marijuana.

“I’ve been in the smoke business my entire life, and I’ve never heard anyone say it’s good for you,” the Miami Lakes Republican and cigar company CEO said a press conference before the legislative session started.

After the House vote, Oliva told reporters that he still has reservations.

“This is a difficult issue. … This is the best that we could do and still remain responsible,” he said. “I would certainly have been interested to hear what would have come of that appeal. We might still. But I think that the most important thing was that the elected lawmakers of the state have an opportunity to legislate how this will be governed in our state.”

After the House passed the Senate bill, both DeSantis, the new governor, and Fried, the marijuana lobbyist turned agriculture commissioner, cheered.

“The Florida Legislature has taken a significant step this week to uphold the will of the voters and support the patients who will gain relief as a result of this legislation,” DeSantis wrote in a statement.

“It’s about damn time,” Fried echoed.

“Today is a landmark victory for patients across Florida and for our democracy,” she said in a statement. “It’s a triumph owed to the relentless advocacy of Floridians who refused to be silenced. Our state must not disregard the voice of its people — when the people’s will is nullified by those with authority, liberty cannot survive.”

Jordan says he considers the bill signing to be a victory of sorts.

“A disabled Vietnam veteran and a woman with ALS took on the state of Florida and we won,” Jordan said. “It brought us to where we are today. If that lawsuit was not in place right now, they would not have passed this.”

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Cannabis Legalization: Is Thailand ready for it?

Is Thailand ready for cannabis legalization? “If we let it be used recreationally, our society is not ready yet, so I want to do this first step first— the issue of making medicine,” “if society is ready,” marijuana “could become a food supplement.” “And eventually that could lead us to its recreational use,”— Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee; National Legislative Assembly

 

Early practices of cannabis in Thailand towards legalization

Thailand’s connection with cannabis goes back centuries. Most researchers speculate that cannabis came to Thailand from India, given that both countries refer to the plant by a similar name, “ganja”. This used cannabis in conventional remedy for centuries before it was forbidden in 1934. Laborers used it as a muscle relaxant, and women used it to ease the pains of childbirth. In fact, the word ‘bong’, which represents a water pipe usually used to smoke weed, comes from the Thai language. Are these practices may lead to the legalization?

Another factor that may lead to cannabis legalization are the local farmers. Thais are expert cultivators they know how to grow, take care of the plant and to take out the male plant from an autoflower seed cannabis. The farmers organized and consistently tied them to small bamboo sticks and bound them with strings of hemp fiber.

The cannabis global influence

The U.S. has a long history in Thailand, influencing drug policies and promoting anti-narcotics drives. The Drug Enforcement Agency even has offices there. Thus, Thailand’s decision to legalize medical marijuana did not evolve from the intense public demand put on the government. Rather, Thailand’s change is more a reflection of changing U.S. culture and policies. Policies that have influenced the world.

Thailand’s move to legalize the use of marijuana for medical and research purposes follows a stream of legalization across the globe, including in Britain, Colombia, Denmark, Israel, and several U.S. states. Canada and Uruguay have gone one step further and also legalized recreational use.

Cannabis leave with medical logo - CANNABIS LEGALIZATION: IS THAILAND READY FOR IT?

Thailand is taking it one step at a time; legalizing medical cannabis

The push for cannabis legalization in Thailand has been a long time coming. In 2016, Thai Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya requested the government to decriminalize cannabis. The minister didn’t feel that government exercises had been useful in curbing the use of cannabis. With the legalization of cannabis, Thailand hopes to cut out a stake in the global cannabis industry.

The bill preceding the legislative reforms had remarked that recent studies have explained that marijuana extract has medicinal benefits.

Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly, whose members are designated by the country’s ruling military junta, supported changes to the drug laws that legalize the use of cannabis for medicine and research.

Potential global cannabis market

As a result of the growing global wave of cannabis recognition and, which has led to medicinal legalization in countries around the world, experts estimate the rapidly growing legal marijuana industry. Canada and California’s legalization of recreational cannabis dispense further commodification of the previously prohibited plant is as assured as it is profitable. Some in Thailand now say the country is having a composed to disrupt the global cannabis market and serve as serious competition for the global market.

Experts say Thailand, previously a regional hub for medical tourism, has a mixture of factors working in support of cannabis legalization, including a tropical climate that could acknowledge for cheaper production of cannabis than, for instance, in Canada.

If cannabis legalization and regulation are, in fact, globally contagious, the condition has reached across borders in the same way the herb originally drove its way across the globe and now into Asia.

Wild cannabis farm - CANNABIS LEGALIZATION: IS THAILAND READY FOR IT?

Legalization of cannabis may boost agricultural economic growth

Some other political parties and lawmakers are promoting cannabis as an innovative cash crop of Thailand’s significantly agrarian economy. With more than 40 percent of Thais employed in agriculture, the country’s economy is very susceptible to price variations of commodities like rubber, sugar, and particularly rice.

Now that Western views have changed, Thailand seems to gradually but certainly be preparing to support the historical example of various industries and use its optimal environment and low wage costs to dominate the cannabis market with its exports upon legalization.

The dilemma of cannabis legalization

There will still be firm limitations on recreational marijuana. Patients allowed to use cannabis for medical purposes will need a prescription, and there will be boundaries to who can plant and sell it. It is the first step forward toward wider cannabis legalization.

What made the criminalization of marijuana particularly challenging, not just in Thailand, but certain parts of Southeast Asia, was that it was recognized little more than a medicinal or cooking herb with a few or no local legal or ethical stigma associated.

Thai legislators still encounter several challenges on the road to medical legalization. Patent applications from foreign firms leave lawmakers cautious, as these could recognize foreign interests to dominate the demand and make it challenging to receive cannabis in the hands of medical patients and researchers.

Cannabis Plant close up - CANNABIS LEGALIZATION: IS THAILAND READY FOR IT?

The high demand for Thai Sativa cannabis

Thailand even has its own landrace strain of cannabis seeds that once piloted the burgeoning secret cultivation market by storm. This popular cannabis strain was already one of the country’s largest exports, as well. Thai marijuana is a pure Sativa landrace indigenous to the tropical jungles of Thailand are often bred to preserve high THC levels. They are recognizable by their wispy hairs and dandelion-like hairs and pale green to brown batches of its leaves and light green-brown buds. The cannabis strain has a citrusy aroma offering a clear, cerebral high that’s added light and relaxed than drowsy and lethargic that is valued around the world. Thai marijuana is often packaged in “Thai sticks”, large blunts consisting of flowers wrapped around a stick, all of which is then rolled and bound in the plant’s own fan leaves.

Conclusion

Though Thailand’s recent move may dazzle random spectators, the shift towards more permissive marijuana policies has been years in the making. Thailand’s Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya shocked many when he called for the government to decriminalize and regulate marijuana and kratom, a plant native to Thailand with opiate-like effects. Is Thailand ready for cannabis legalization?

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Nova Scotia hospital sees increase in cannabis-related calls

Following an influx of calls to its poison center, the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia is warning parents about the dangers of edible marijuana. The center said it received three times as many cannabis-related calls in 2018 than in 2015.

The Centre said that other poison centers across Canada have received more calls than usual since the country legalized cannabis in October. Most of the issues have been a result of exposure to concentrated forms of cannabis and other infused edibles. Many of the calls have been in relation to children aged 12 and under.

Currently, edibles are illegal in Canada but it’s expected that they will become legal later this year. Edibles often look like regular candy or snacks, and as such the IWK warns that parents needs to ensure that parents are properly storing their edibles away so that children do not have access to them.

“Right now, there are no regulations for safe storage of cannabis products, such as child-resistant packages or warning labels. That’s why it’s crucial to store all cannabis products in a locked space or container, out of the reach of kids,” said Julie Harrington of the IWK’s Child Safety Link in a statement.

The IWK also recommends avoiding using cannabis in any form in front of children, and making sure that they don’t know where cannabis is stored.

“Children are more sensitive to the effects of the active ingredients in cannabis,” said Laurie Mosher, clinical leader of IWK Regional Poison Centre in a statement.

“Parents may not realize that children have eaten a toxic amount of a cannabis nicotine product until they have symptoms, such as profound drowsiness and other serious symptoms.

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Opioids and Medical Cannabis: An Update on the Latest Information

America is in the throes of a major crisis. Opioid addiction has taken over many parts of the country and is taking a number of lives daily. The opioid crisis is at its breaking point right now. More people are spending time in hospitals or losing their lives to opioid overdose than ever before. According to the National Institute onRead Article

The post Opioids and Medical Cannabis: An Update on the Latest Information appeared first on Medical Marijuana 411.