The U.S. Must Create a New Schedule for Cannabis: An Open Letter the U.S. Congress | Cannabis Now

 

As one who has been involved in the medical marijuana movement from literally the very beginning and who brings to this issue 40 years of perspective, I can say with certainty that we have never been at a more opportune time to effect dramatic and positive change. Everyone is aware, however, that changing the federal […]

Source: The U.S. Must Create a New Schedule for Cannabis: An Open Letter the U.S. Congress | Cannabis Now

Hartley campaign for hemp | Lithgow Mercury

A Hartley resident is on a mission to introduce the benefits of the much maligned hemp plant to the broader Australian community.

Source: Hartley campaign for hemp | Lithgow Mercury

Alice’s Note:  The picture above shows me with Michelle Crain, organizer of the recent Hemp Initiative near Sydney, Australia.  Michelle put together a fabulous show complete with a fantastic medical symposium, organized by United in Compassion.  All this in Australia, May 2016.

The sorrow…

Medical Cannabis news reports in the past couple days have brought two sad stories, each proving that the fight for medical cannabis is far from over and that’s its victims are often our youngest warriors.

The first is from Maine, where a 13-year old with Dravet’s Syndrome died.  The young girl, Cyndimae Meehan, became a medical cannabis advocate when her family was forced to moved from Connecticut to Maine in order to secure Cyndimae’s medicine.  Both New England states have medical cannabis laws but Connecticut, amazingly, does not allow pediatric use.  You can read more here:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/13-year-medical-marijuana-advocate-laid-rest-37708703

thThe second story comes from Cyprus.  Too often we think of medical cannabis only in U.S. terms but the fight to secure the natural medicine is being fought around the globe.  Cyprus is a small, island nation off the coast of Syria and Turkey.  A 19-year old Cypriot with cancer petitioned the Health Ministry for two years for permission to use cannabis in his therapy.  In a move that is all too familiar to long-time medical cannabis advocates, the government only gave in when the boy was near death.  His petition was granted three days before his death.  For more details read here: http://in-cyprus.com/medical-cannabis-drug-approval-too-late-for-teenager/

Always Searching

In this modern age of ours it seems that some of us are constantly fiddling with our social connections, trying to find the “right” way of doing things.  For a long time I thought there must be a “right” way and I have been down a lot of different roads with roadsigns like Facebook, Linkedin, HootSuite, Wix, and, of course, our old trusty WordPress.  Now I have realized there is no right way, only a way.

So now I am returned to my medical marijuana WordPress page because, honestly, I have grown so weary of Facebook and I don’t much like going there to post things to you, my faithful readers.  Besides, I have many friends who have so wearied of Facebook they have left it behind.  I want to reach them too.

So this is my first post in two years on my WordPress medical marijuana pioneer page.  I’ll see if I can upload it to Facebook (among others) and if that works I will begin posting here.  I have been working more with WordPress in recent months and have come to appreciate its flexibility and ease of use.

So, please bear with me.  This will be a process because we are always searching….

CBD Only Laws – Cruel Hoax

cannabinoidsTwo decades ago, in 1989, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected the findings of his agency’s chief administrative law judge who had ruled that marijuana has accepted medical value in the U.S. and should be rescheduled. In dismissing the judge’s decision the administrator stated that anyone who supported medical marijuana was perpetrating a “cruel hoax” on the American public.

Those words came back to me as I read the news of North Carolina’s medical marijuana law that was signed on July 3, 2014. North Carolina became the tenth state to enact the so-called “CBD only” medical marijuana law. (The other nine states are Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.) While the intent of lawmakers may have been compassionate the result is, in my opinion, a cruel hoax.

These laws have tremendous appeal to the lawmakers. Pressure for passage of such laws has come from the parents of young children who are stricken with rare forms of epilepsy. When all conventional medications fail, and they often do, parents have found success with CBD oil, derived from the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. The results can be breathtakingly dramatic as you can see in this video. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=721753387847681&set=o.1423068877953424&type=3&theater

So in passing these bills lawmakers are showing their compassion for seriously ill, especially the young, while tackling the tricky political question of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. “But wait,” the lawmakers say, “we aren’t legalizing ‘pot’ we are legalizing CBD, one of the ingredients in marijuana. And CBD doesn’t get you ‘high’ so drug abuse is impossible.”

Sigh …

Okay, CBD doesn’t get the patient ‘high’ but CBD is just one of the ingredients in the cannabis plant and the North Carolina law, like several others, still prohibits  growing  marijuana to obtain the CBD. So, just how exactly are the North Carolina patients going to obtain this needy medication?

You might think these states could simply turn to those states which have legalized the entire plant for medicinal purposes and buy the needed medicine.  Simple, right?

Wrong. Marijuana, on the federal level, is still illegal, still a Schedule I drug. That’s what the DEA administrator decided it should be when he over-ruled his chief administrative law judge back in 1989,  calling anyone who promoted the medical use of marijuana a “snake oil salesman.” As long as marijuana remains in Schedule I it cannot be shipped inter-state.  So the ten CBD-only states cannot simply import marijuana from states where it is already legal for medical purposes.

So, just where do those ten states propose to get their CBD-only supplies? Well, I’m not privy to all their plans but I think a little hint was dropped in the coverage of WBTV in Raleigh.

 “For now, it’s not sure how natural CBD oils made from actual marijuana plants in Colorado will get to North Carolina. Until that’s figured out, legislators say a pharmaceutical company making a trial CBD oil, called Epidiolex, will be rolled out immediately. ‘

Oh, I see. We’re going to “immediately” roll out a new pharmaceutical drug that has not yet been approved by federal officials so that we do not have to grow a plant that has a 5,000 year history of medical use or adjust its current standing in the federal drug hierarchy.

But wait, there’s more.

“All kids who sign up for this trial will be part of a study.  That data will then be used to learn more about how the medicine works best.”

Okay, so your child also needs to be part of a research study. Well, that may not have been what the parents’ wanted when they started lobbying for the bill but it looks like that may be the only way to obtain the legal CBD trial drug. Does this mean the children may be exposed to placebo doses of CBD? Will there be double-blind, randomized testing which guarantees that some children will not receive the real CBD?

Do you see why the expression “cruel hoax” may have come to mind?

 

 

Postscript: To the parents in these states — I am very happy that your state has enacted a law that recognizes your child’s need but the battle is not yet won. You cannot let your guard down or expect that bureaucrats will resolve all the problems. It was your voice and those of friends and activists that passed this law and you cannot go silent now.

 

Recommended Reading – A New Leaf

A New LeafRecently I read A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition by Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian. I was initially puzzled by the title. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of cannabis prohibition have been greatly exaggerated. During a recent trip to several of the states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes I heard plenty of reports that confirmed to me the cannabis prohibition is still alive and very well in the U.S.A. But title nit-picking aside this is really an excellent book that every cannabis activist should read.

I’ve been involved in the cannabis reform issue for almost forty years. I am not unique in that regard. There are many fine people who have been slogging away at this issue for quite some time. Martin and Rashidian do an excellent job of paying homage to the “pioneers” while skillfully taking the reader rather quickly to the current scene, a period of time that covers the past fifteen years. It has been a terrifically exciting time as more than twenty states enacted medical marijuana laws and two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized adult, social use of cannabis.

But legalizing cannabis—either for medical or social use—is not a simple matter of clicking your ruby heels and making the bad old prohibition disappear. It has taken a tremendous amount of hard work, lots of money and there have been some failures. The authors do a fine job of dissecting the failures as well as the victories. For anyone even remotely involved in cannabis reform this information is critical. Just as the ruby heels do not make prohibition disappear neither will Andy-Hardy-enthusiasm and a-barn-for-the-play make the ballot initiatives pass. Everyone knows the prohibition violates numerous civil liberties but screaming as much on a street corner doesn’t cut it. Meticulously learning the issue, being ready to compromise, and creating a well-thought out plan are the essentials. And passing a law is only the first step. The real trick is implementing the will of the people. The result may be a utopia like Colorado or a political quagmire like New Jersey.

There are twenty-two state laws recognizing marijuana’s medical value. The genie is way out of the bottle at this point but the issue is far from being resolved. The patchwork of different approaches in each state is unsettling, offering an erratic level of patient care. The maddening interference of the federal government is particularly well characterized in The New Leaf. The refusal of federal officials to honestly confront the legitimacy of cannabis as medicine is a particularly dark blight on our government. Explaining the duplicity is not an easy task but Martin and Rashidian do a commendable job.

I recommend this book to anyone with the slightest interest in the cannabis issue. For those already engaged it is mandatory reading.

8th National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics

photoThe 8th National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics convened in Portland, Oregon on May 8-10. It was a standing-room only crowd in the City of Roses as healthcare professionals from around the globe gathered to learn the latest about the fascinating endocannabinoid system.

If you don’t know what the “endocannabinoid system” is that is okay.  It’s a relatively new discovery, dating back just 22 years, to 1992.  Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

The endocannabinoid system is a group of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors in the brain that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetitepain-sensation,mood, and memory; it mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis …

Listen, if your head is  spinning at this point you are not alone. That type of jargon is a lot of what I listened to for three days in Portland. Even Wikipedia has a notation before the definition stating “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand.” But if you can just stay with me for a little bit longer you might find your head spinning for entirely different reasons.

Dr. David Sulak of Maine Integrative Healthcare was one of the speakers in Portland and his explanation of the endocannabinoid system is much easier:

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.

You might want to take a moment to re-read that paragraph because, honestly, this is important. Make all the jokes that you wish about stoners and pot-heads, this newly discovered aspect of cannabis and its role in our health and general well-being demands a societal shift in attitudes.  We must move beyond the cultural wars that have marked the cannabis issue over the past seventy years and approach the naturally occurring substance with a new spirit.

That spirit is what I saw in Portland. At times the presentations bordered on the type of droll, professorial reports that every college student knows too well. My eyes would glaze over trying to read the charts that clicked by in endless PowerPoint presentation. I was often lost, I confess it. But those moments were very short-lived. The sponsoring organization, Patients Out of Time, wisely limit speakers to twenty minutes. My brain quickly learned that if the middle of the presentation became a muddle of chemical names and lilliputian charts the summary was not too distant and the the summary was where the real news resided. Researchers and scientists who calmly and professionally presented their data became different people as they summarized their data because the implications for the future are just so darned exciting.

2577a2_c1ea99e632bcf18d31191ceaa3c6c779.jpg_srz_965_695_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzThe theme was “The Endocannabinoid System and Age-Related Illnesses.” There were at least thirty presentations with most focused on modern day applications of the drug. Many of these applications are well known — pain control, lessening of muscle spasms, use as an appetite stimulant — and some are just emerging. The use of cannabis as an anti-tumor treatment is one area that is particularly exciting. Individuals with various cancers are reporting remarkable results from using oils made from various strains of cannabis.

For me, however, the most remarkable presentations were concerned with using cannabis in the elderly to treat dementia and end-of-life.  Dementia is the scourge of the elderly and many retreat into a world of isolation because they are unable to communicate. In California, where medical marijuana is legal, some doctors are recommending cannabis for their patients with dementia and the results are often more successful than conventional medications. Sadly these treatments can only be conducted in private pay nursing homes because the federal government will not allow medical marijuana in facilities that accept federal funds. This effectively eliminates all hospice organizations from openly using cannabis which is too bad. In Israel they have been using cannabis in nursing homes since 1988.  In the United States, according to the federal government, we need more research.

The 8th National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics is over and several hundred people like me have streamed out into the world wanting to tell everyone about the wonders of this plant we have denigrated for so long.  I believe we have not even seen the tip of the iceberg yet, just an ice cube floating on a huge sea. The next decade will bring discoveries that we never imagined.

 

Mary’s Medicinals

 

A few of Mary's Medicinals products.

A few of Mary’s Medicinals products.

 

It was another fun day touring Denver’s legal marijuana scene. My guide, the wonderful Marcie Cooper, took me to Mary’s Medicinals where entrepreneurship is once again paving some wonderful new directions.  Mary (not her real name) has figured out how to make transdermal patches with a variety of different ingredients, all from the cannabis plant, of course. A transdermal patch, for those non-nurses in the audience, is like a nicotine or fentanyl patch. The medicine is in the patch and releases over time to the body. For many people it is an optimum delivery agent. For many medical cannabis patients I believe it will become the delivery method of choice.

In the picture above you can see the packaging for three of her products. There are the transdermal patches, in this case a THC Sativa and a CBD patch. Mary can also provide CBN, THCa, THC Indica, and THC Hybrid.  If you are wondering what all those different types of patches might be used for I suggest you visit the www.marysmedicinal.com website where she has provided a very helpful anatomy map.

Above the patches you’ll see the CBD topical application pen.  Click on it and you receive a dose of 2mg THC or CBD in topical lotion form. Rub the lotion into the skin and you have medication.

Coming from a nursing background I found this application protocol to be very exciting.  No smoking or ingesting, a simple and dose-regulated administration system. Baby, we have come a long way.

Denver – Sanity Prevails

Alice at River Rock

Alice in one of the many grow rooms at River Rock.

This week I have the extreme pleasure to be visiting Denver, Colorado.  Weather aside (it has been windy and cold) it has been a great visit thus far.  I’ve been touring the marijuana dispensaries and clinics including a great visit at River Rock founded by Tony Verzura.  River Rock is not just a grow center and dispensary, it is a philosophy and the future.

The picture accompanying this piece shows me in one of the many grow rooms at River Rock. Tony was very impressive in rattling off the statistics about his growing facility. Unfortunately I was still in a shock at what I was seeing so most of the stats went through my head. Take my word for it, there is a lot of cannabis growing. All the major varieties (sativa and indica) were there, many of them in brilliant flower.

What impressed me even more was Tony’s commitment to the medical marijuana issue, including a new project he is launching called Advanced Cannabinoid Therapy Guide or A.C.T. Now.  It is a wonderful piece of software. Its goal is to standardize patient enrollment and collect information on the cannabis therapies that River Rock and the patient’s doctor recommend.  Look upon it as the first EMR (electronic medical record) for medical marijuana patients. What excited me about A.C.T. Now was the possibility of collecting enough data to actually write scientific papers. They will be poo-pooed by federal agencies but, truth be told, the feds squandered their capital in medical marijuana a long time ago.  They no longer have standing in the issue–only power to wreck more lives as they have for decades. The future is in companies and organizations like River Rock.  The future is now.