Cannitrol – Cannabis Control Agent

Marijuana news from around the world


For the Female Patients out there


There are very few acronyms that effect our lives as much as the one that torments women monthly, PMS.  Premenstrual Syndrome is something that will effect most women at some point throughout their lives.  On a far lesser scale, men can also be impacted by PMS, especially if they are concerned with providing relief for their loved ones.  So how is it that this syndrome which can cause such discomfort and pain to so many people is still left to pharmaceutical treatments with such mixed results that many women often don’t know where to turn?  The problem is  for over a century doctors have turned a blind eye to the herbal remedy which has helped so many women.  For hundreds, if not thousands of years women have used the cannabis plant to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS.  It varies in symptoms and intensity from patient to patient, but often includes headaches (even migraines), cramping, bloating, pelvic pain, breast pain, sleep difficulty, irritability, anxiety, depression, and inability to concentrate.  Most men have difficulty understanding it, and just opt to keep their distance.  Perhaps giving herbal-infused chocolates as a gift would be a more helpful approach.

As doctors’ understanding of the female biology has increased, they have prescribed numerous pills to help ease women’s suffering.  For those who endure mood swings, irritability, depression or anxiety they have offered Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) as antidepressants.  These may include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil or many others.  Unfortunately they do not always work and carry a long list of side effects that can be much worse than the PMS itself.  Also, these drugs take time to come to full strength in the body, so they must be taken over periods of time. So, patients must take a potentially dangerous drug for long term, even though it is only to treat symptoms that effect them for just a few days per month. For pain relief, doctors offer Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil and Midol.  These are better because women need only take them as symptoms occur.  But these also have a potential to cause harm, from intestinal bleeding or renal damage.  They may also interact with other drugs for other dangerous effects.  For those with trouble sleeping, physicians recommend Ambien, but that leaves users very groggy, and has instigated many scary sleep-walking stories.  Once again, modern science offers a glimmer of hope, but casts a long shadow uncertainty.

Luckily, for all the women there exists a natural-occurring remedy that can treat any or all of their symptoms with minimal side effects, none of which can be called dangerous.  Before marijuana prohibition went into effect, cannabis was a standard item in doctor’s tool bags, and often prescribed to females.  One doctor answered to the highest (pun not intended) woman in the world.  In the 19th century Sir Russell Reynolds was the Royal Physician for Queen Victoria of England.  As many women before her, she suffered from painful menstrual cramps.  So he dug into his black bag and offered tincture of the Indian Hemp plant for her relief.  He even included it in the first issue of The Lancet (a foremost medical journal) writing, “When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” As many states have passed compassionate use laws, doctors are willing to again utilize this plant for treatment.

Dr. Breen, of Medical Cannabis of Southern California, sees many women everyday who come to him for help with their PMS suffering.  Many have tried pharmaceuticals for years without satisfactory treatment.  He prescribes cannabis because it is safe and effective.  He counsels his patients that while it may not be the right fit for every woman, it is worth trying out.  It can treat the headaches and pains, bloating and cramping.  It helps mellow out those mood swings, and can assist with sleeplessness.  It also can aid flagging libido (exactly opposite to the effects of SSRIs).  And finally, it is safe and has short term effects.  When it works for a patient, she can self-medicate as she sees fit.  For those who do not receive any benefit from it, or if they don’t agree with the “high” feelings associated with smoking, they can discontinue its use without any fears.

So, for all the female patients out there who are dealing with such discomfort, there is something out there that can help with the pain.  Next time you are sifting through ineffective pills at the pharmacy, remember the remedy that has been used for far longer and with greater success.

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Marijuana and MS, a true story


This past week has been an exciting one for medical news on the marijuana front.  The Canadian Medical Association Journal published the results of a small study on the effects of marijuana for people who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.  Overall, the study shows that there is some benefit for patients. However, there are several drawbacks to the study. Its small sample size, 30 patients, as well as the inability to fully “blind” the patients.  A blind study relies on patients not knowing if they are getting actual treatment or a placebo.  Because of the “high” gained from cannabis use, most patients correctly guessed when they were given the real thing.  Drawbacks aside, this is a very important study because it moves forward the idea that cannabis has legitimate medical use.  For the most part, evidence in favor of marijuana use has been strictly anecdotal.  While those stories can help sway public opinion, it does little to change the minds of the medical and political community. They want incontrovertible evidence, methodically gathered and rigorously tested. This is understandable, but it does nobody any good when these studies have difficulty obtaining funding and patients because Federal laws prohibiting its (schedule 1 substances have no medical value, and that is cannabis’ official classification) use and study are hard to overcome.  Despite this, the anecdotes abound, especially in our networked era. As the stories spread, people who suffer will hear them and try marijuana for themselves.  Hopefully it helps them and then they become one more reason to change a law and undertake another study.

Claire Hodges is one patient who has MS and opted to try marijuana, despite the legal and medical uncertainties.  Claire had no symptoms until her late 20’s.  At this point, stress from her job mounted and her symptoms started to manifest slowly and steadily.  This was in the early 1980’s and detection techniques were not as advanced as they are now.  So, Claire was unaware of her disease because of several misdiagnoses.  Having traveled through Bangladesh, doctors initially thought she suffered from a rare form of malaria.  But it took them over another year to isolate the disease. It was not until after she started showing classic brain tumor symptoms (and had a brain scan) that neurologists were able to diagnose her with Multiple Sclerosis.

There is no cure for MS, only treatments. Some of those are more effective than others, all with varying side effects. Claire’s doctors first steered her to steroid therapy ACTH, Acthar (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone) which stimulates the adrenal cortex gland to secrete cortisol, corticosterone and aldosterone.  She was suffering heavily at this point, unable to walk, and still believes that the effects of ACTH were far worse than the disease.  It caused acute acne breakouts, weight gain, and irrationality and paranoia (steroid psychosis).  She discontinued the ACTH regimen, and after having two children the disease progressed and her symptoms continued to grow worse. As the disease effected her more heavily she began suffering even more. She experienced muscle spasticity and pain, incontinence and other bladder issues followed, as well as vision degradation, poor balance, fatigue and more. As she succumbed to more troubles, doctors could only treat the symptoms by offering more prescriptions.  She tried Valium and Temazepam for sleeping and muscle pains. Also, as her body became susceptible to infection she was on numerous courses of antibiotics treatment.  She found the narcotics to be less than effective and their side effects only served to increase her gloom and depression.

Finally, after exhausting orthodox treatments, Claire looked in to other ways of medicating.  Other friends with MS recommended she try cannabis to help with her discomfort.  Initially she was uncomfortable with trying it out, so she asked her doctors.  None of them were able to give her any promises to its effectiveness, but did calm her fears and said moderate use would most likely not be dangerous.  That had to be better than all the dangerous pharmaceuticals she had tried before.  Using her network of friends, Claire was forced to illegally obtain marijuana and tried it out.  “The physical effects were almost immediate and extremely liberating.  I felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted from me.  The tension and discomfort in my spine and bladder melted away.  I was comfortable with my body for the first time in years, and I slept soundly that night.  The next day I was happy, knowing that there was something that would help me with my MS.”  Since then, Claire has been medicating with cannabis regularly, and has been able to rely much less on pharmaceuticals.  She grew her own medicine for some time, but stopped because of the fear of being caught with it.  So she must continue to purchase her medication illegally unless she moves to a state with a compassionate use laws and proper dispensary system.

Claire’s testimony, and others like her, help to open the minds of otherwise skeptical people.  If it can help her, than it can help other people. These stories are what we need to change the minds of politicians.  They need to be convinced that there is strength in compassion, not found in zero tolerance laws.  Claire is a strong human being. In spite of her affliction, she has not given up on life; she fights to stay active and productive for herself and her family.  Her cause is the cause against superstition and old prejudices, the cause for progress.

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Marijuana and Sports News


Sports are looking up.

In the past month the marijuana community has heard some great news from the world of sports.  And this news comes from around the world.  The National Basketball Association (USA) has decided to soften its approach to marijuana testing.  The Australian Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) has also decided to take a new look at what constitutes “performance enhancing drugs” as opposed to simply “banned substances” and all of this is causing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to also review its rules.  Furthermore, UFC fighter Nick Diaz’s recent drug suspension and legal rebuttals are forcing the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and the UFC to also address their stance on marijuana.  Also, Martin Mayhew, GM of the Detroit Lions, has also spoken of his views on marijuana usage by NFL players and draftees.  As these incidents move forward, the sports world is poised to make decisions that can and will have ripple effects outside of sports into the social and political fabric of the world.  Although nothing has been set in stone yet, the best part is that all these associations are taking the time to look at marijuana in a methodical and scientifically informed manner to reach a proper decision.  It appears that old prejudices and scare stories may be set aside with old arbitrary rulings.

The latest thunder from down under comes with quite a bang as the COMPPS has said that it believes marijuana should not be grouped with performance enhancers such as Human Growth Hormone and Anabolic steroids.  Under current WADA rules a substance is placed on the banned list if it meets the following criteria: “It’s proven to be performance enhancing, it goes against the spirit of the sport, or it’s dangerous to the health of athletes.”  Under those rules, anyone who tests positive for marijuana faces a two-year ban.  With COMPPS’ declaration it seems that things are going to relax a bit for Australian athletes.  Although, if any compete on an international level they are still subject to WADA rules.  However, WADA President John Fahey had this to say, “There are those who believe our current criteria needs to be amended and that will be given appropriate consideration through this review process…Specifically to cannabis, I can only say to those, particularly in the football codes who have expressed concern that we’re focusing on an area that really isn’t about cheating in sport, I urge them to put a request up to WADA, which will be given to our list committee, who will examine it…I won’t express a view I’ll simply say it will be thoroughly examined. There are some substances today that are banned in some sports, but not in others. That may well be an option they [the WADA banned-list committee] may wish to come to the board with in due course. But I won’t pre-empt that, I’ll let them decide without any influence from me.”  The sports world will have to wait a while for any final determination, as WADA’s new drug codes will not be released until November 2013.

American sports commissions are also moving in a positive direction.  When the NBA restructured its labor agreement they altered their drug testing policy.  As it now stands, players will only be tested for performance-enhancing drugs during the off-season.  Marijuana is no longer on that list.  Although illegal during the season, it means that players who use marijuana for pain or anxiety will get to medicate without fear of suspensions once that final buzzer has sounded.  Inside the NFL it seems that cannabis is causing quite a stir.  The Detroit Lions have made headlines as several of this year’s draft picks have been arrested for marijuana-related charges.  The Lions are not the only team whose players have had troubles in the recent past (The New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals also made the news for their players). But it seems that the league is thinking less of this controversy as its toxicity has waned to the public eye.  The Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew recently spoke out about players’ off-field actions and concerns.  Although contracts will still have morality clauses, and players should think before breaking the law, it appears that league penalties may reduce in severity and clubs will have more flexibility in handling these affairs.

From the Ultimate Fighting Championship comes news concerning contender Nick Diaz.  After fighting at UFC 143 in February he tested positive for marijuana metabolites, the residual compounds indicative of marijuana use.  Nick has tested positive once before and this may lead to sterner reprimands for the second charge.  Nick is a California native and holds a medical marijuana card from the state.  However, the fight and test were conducted in Nevada, and under NSAC rules he is immediately suspended for 45 days pending a hearing.  At this time, the 45 day limit has expired and Nick is suing for violation of his due process rights, concerning his rights to make a living.  NSAC executive director Keith Kizer spoke about the suspension and an in-court statement that failing his drug test posed a “threat to public safety.” Kizer took the stance that marijuana is not on the NSAC approved substance list and therefore Nick is in violation.  His statement did seem to leave an opening for a debate on whether or not marijuana should continue to be on the banned substance list.  Diaz has stated that he medicates in order to control his ADHD which would impair his ability to focus on training, as well as for pain management.  And furthermore, he does not medicate in the week prior to his fights to keep his head clear and reflexes sharp.  This certainly seems unjust considering that professional ballplayers can get a shot of cortisone and take a few pain killers so they can pitch in an ALCS game, and not to be able to recall the game later.

The case for marijuana has never been stronger.  It’s presence abounds in state’s politics, as it jockeys for position in the national spotlight.  The horrors of the failed Drug War in Mexico make headlines every week.  And now it is taking over the spotlight in global sports.  Many have called for national talks concerning its legality. But believes now is the right time for a worldwide reckoning concerning the future of humanity and the cannabis plant.  It offers so much to help mankind, and asks for so little in return; it only needs a plot of land, steady sunshine, and some water.  Hey ref, put down the red card.

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The India Hemp Drugs Commission

India hemp drugs commission

By the late 1800’s, the British Empire though no longer ruling the New World, was still firmly entrenched to the East and still held sway over the Middle East and India.  The major reason for this was, of course, trade.  The Indian subcontinent, highly populated, was both a source and a consumer of massive amounts of British resources and products.  In order to exact as much revenue as possible from their colonial subjects, the British taxed many products.  This included alcohol and other intoxicants.  In 1790, the British crown started collecting those duties, expanding to Cannabis products in 1793, “No person shall manufacture or vend any such drugs (bhang, ganja, charas, and other intoxicating drugs) without a license from the collector of the zillah.”  For many years the cannabis plant and its products were legally bought and sold throughout the Empire. As time marched on, various laws were passed limiting the scope of their sales.  This stemmed from the unknown nature and effects of the plant.  Even today scientists, doctors, and politicians seem baffled by everything that is known, and unknown about cannabis.

It was with little surprise in 1893 that the British House of Commons raised a formal inquisition into the truth of this plant and the preparations made from it.  At this time, the British undertook perhaps the most exhaustive and scientific research of the cannabis plant of all time.  Nixon’s Shafer Report of 1972, and even modern studies may come close, in scope, to the size of this undertaking.  Over the course of nine months, many members of the medical and scientific community, stationed initially in Bengal but eventually encompassing all of India, looked into all cases of marijuana-induced disease, of mental, physical and moral concerns.  This was a thorough investigation, involving testimony from civil and military sources, as well as merchants, commoners and professionals.  Almost 1200 individuals were interviewed, their testimonies closely scrutinized and questioned in an effort to sort truth from opinion and superstition, so that the India Hemp Drugs Commission might gain an actual understanding of the benefits and threats posed by the hemp plant.  The main thrust of the inquiries were designed to ferret out the consequences of the drug in terms of “adverse physical consequences, insanity, and the causation of crime.”

The British were particularly worried about the physical effects of cannabis preparations on their soldiers (Napoleon even outlawed hash amongst his own soldiers in Egypt). It was a very easy habit to get started on, especially with so many troops stationed throughout India.  In India there were several popular ways to imbibe marijuana.  It was often smoked out of a pipe or cigarette, or as charas (sticks or balls of hash).  Also it could be prepared as a drink, called bhang, which was mixed with milk and other herbs and spices, occasionally with poppy as well.  Also, it could be smoked with herbs of the Datura plant to induce strong hallucinations.  This was mentioned several times in the report, with doctors commenting that it should be given separate investigation because its effects were far less beneficent in that preparation.

The inquiries were thorough in nature.  Doctors sought to compare the effects of single use with that of moderate, consistent and heavy users.  They were concerned with its effects on digestion, causation of dysentery, asthma, bronchitis and insanity.  One thing became clear as the investigation continued; there was no consensus on the benefits or detriments of the plant.  Some doctors touted its medicinal properties, while others decried it as a poisoner of mind and body. Some things don’t change.  In the year 1894, 2344 patients were admitted to insane asylums.  Of those, 222 were alleged to be caused by hemp. Carefully whittling down those numbers to 61 cases it was still unclear, “even in regard to the remaining 61 cases, it must be borne in mind that it is impossible to say that the use of hemp drugs was in all the sole cause of insanity, or indeed any part of the cause. The following considerations combine to demand caution and reserve in pronouncing an opinion on this point.”  Statistically, less than 2% of the purported cases of insanity could be blamed on hemp, and even that two percent were suspect. The report’s conclusion, “The careful inquiry which has been made by the commission into all the alleged hemp drug cases admitted in one year into asylums in British India demonstrates conclusively that the usual mode of differentiating between hemp drug insanity and ordinary mania was in the highest degree uncertain, and therefore fallacious. Even after the inquiry which has been conducted, it cannot be denied that in some of the cases at least the connection between hemp drugs and insanity has not been conclusively established.”

Even in the field of physical effects the results were uncertain.  No doctor could claim without a doubt that dysentery was caused by the herb, because there were so many other factors that attributed to the afflictions of people in India.  Today, we know marijuana does not have that effect on the digestive system. We also know that unclean water sources are the major cause of most dysentery cases.  In the case of asthma, most doctors were against the notion that cannabis was a cause. Although many agreed that smoking preparations could lead to asthma inflammation as well as other bronchial troubles. That is still a valid concern on the part of physicians today, and a logical point of debate in the field of medical marijuana.  Doctors of the time relied heavily on cannabis preparations for medical benefits; even Queen Victoria was known to medicate with cannabis for relief from cramping and other menstrual discomforts.

In two of the three fields of the investigation, marijuana turned out to be beneficial, or at the least non-malignant.  The final inquiries turned toward the effects of cannabis on the moral health of an individual.  Is this plant responsible for turning otherwise healthy members of society into criminals?  The report’s conclusion, “In respect to this relation to society, however, even the excessive consumer of hemp drugs is ordinarily inoffensive. His excesses may indeed bring him to degraded poverty which may lead him to dishonest practices; and occasionally, but apparently very rarely indeed, excessive indulgence in hemp drugs may lead to violent crime. But for all practical purposes it may be laid down that there is little or no connection between the use of hemp drugs and crime.”

Overall, many of the report’s authors were somewhat dissatisfied, not with the positive results (in our eyes) but with the lack of concreteness to the results.  “Viewing the subject generally, it may be added that the moderate use of these drugs is the rule, and that the excessive use is comparatively exceptional. The moderate use practically produces no ill effects. In all but the most exceptional cases, the injury from habitual moderate use is not appreciable. The excessive use may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not clearly marked. The injury done by the excessive use is, however, confined almost exclusively to the consumer himself; the effect on society is rarely appreciable. It has been the most striking feature in this inquiry to find how little the effects of hemp drugs have obtruded themselves on observation. The large number of witnesses of all classes who professed never to have seen these effects, the vague statements made by many who professed to have observed them, the very few witnesses who could so recall a case as to give any definite account of it, and the manner in which a large proportion of these cases broke down on the first attempt to examine them, are facts which combine to show most clearly how little injury society has hitherto sustained from hemp drugs.”  After a sustained effort, it was shown that most of the negative stories that pertained to cannabis use were the result of opinion, superstition and exaggeration.  Anecdotal evidence rarely held up to scrutiny.

A more thorough scientific inquiry into the nature and effects of cannabis would have been a logical next step, but the science of the time was greatly lacking.  Even with modern resources, doctors and scientists still are woefully ignorant of the scope of this plant.  It would be beneficial to the medical marijuana cause if the results of this study were more widely known by today’s critics.  This report has been buried, mostly by time.  As opposed the Nixon-Shafer report of the 1970’s, which was deliberately hidden away because its results were exactly opposite to the political ends of its commissioners.  It is most interesting that these studies are undertaken and then forgotten. As Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Here stands the world, more than 100 years after this commission’s report and still without any clear answers to the questions they asked.

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History of the Cups

Denver Cannabis CUp

[caption id="attachment_14659" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Denver Cannabis CUp"][/caption]

It is finally time for the Denver Medical Cannabis cup.  If you are in Denver this weekend, please come and visit us as we will be one of the sponsors of the event!  We are sure patients will gather for another safe event as they have in the past.  But first, a quick look on how we got here…

The first Cannabis cup was organized by Steven Hager, of High Times Magazine.  In 1987 Amsterdam was the most famous of cities for legalized consumption of marijuana. So it was held there, in a great smoke-off to find the finest marijuana that a person could smoke.  In 25 years the contest has matured; there are multiple categories, seeking the best strains, hybrids, consumables, seeds and so forth.  It has also developed into a massive trade show, where builders of bongs can showcase their latest pipes, vaporizers, and novelty papers.  Vendors also bring in t-shirts and other apparel and all other kinds of accessories.  As the Cup has grown, it has incorporated other elements that have accompanied marijuana use.  It has embraced spirituality and the counterculture ideas of the late 60’s and 70’s.  Also, as politics have shifted across the world, so have the ideas espoused by the Cup’s sponsors and attendees.


Today, the United States is host to four of High Times’s Medical Marijuana Cups.  In Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The First one was the San Francisco Cup in 2010.  Last year saw the inaugural events for Denver and Los Angeles also.  These are not just pothead toke-fests as conservative demagogues would paint them; they’re not dens of sin, iniquity and crime, or doorways to destruction.  These are modern affairs, full of people with honorable agendas seeking to help people who are suffering from various ailments. For many of these patients, cannabis holds the best treatments they can hope to receive.  New categories include judging for high CBD (cannabidiol) strains, which the medical community now agrees hold the key to treating many neuromuscular disorders.  One of the largest growing segments of the Cup community is for political activism.  Most major events now have devoted sections to increasing political awareness.  On a national stage most politicians won’t touch the topic of marijuana; there are few candidates, like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, who are willing to discuss it.  But on state and local levels, many politicians are eagerly discussing with their constituents.  Also, there are many active groups like NORML, LEAP and ASA who attend these gatherings and try to increase awareness and activism.  For years the pro-marijuana lobby was small and quietly ignored.  Now attitudes are turning from universal recreational use (like alcohol and tobacco)  to a focus more on compassionate care and medical use, at least in enough cases now to be taken more seriously.    Also, by highlighting the many failures of the 40 year-old “War on Drugs” people have realized that change, on a federal level, is necessary for the health of the Union and its people.  All of this has helped the Cups to grow from crowds of hundreds to tens of thousands of supporters.

The Seattle HempFest is another event that has grown from very humble roots.  The first one was held in Seattle in 1991, with only 500 people in attendance; last year’s event estimated close to 300,000 attendees!  At each of these events people have gathered peacefully for several days.  Recently, Cannabis use, in public, has been tolerated with no ill effects.  Alcohol sales are banned at Hemp Fest, too.  And in that wake, there have been no riots, no fights, no dangerous crimes committed.  This is a far cry from the mighty fears that Henry J Anslinger stirred up when he pushed to have marijuana made illegal in the 1930’s.  In 1991, there were no laws anywhere for compassionate use.  Then, in 1998 Washington State passed their medical marijuana legislation.  In 2003, Seattle made marijuana its lowest police priority and in 2008 the city stated it “would no longer prosecute simple possession cases.”  This year, the state legislation approved patient cannabis gardens and an ordinance for cannabis collectives.  With perseverance and patience, even the smallest of groups can hope to accomplish great deeds.

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1956, a Grave Injustice


One of the more infamous events in drug law history was the passage of the Narcotic Control Act in July of 1956.  One of its many effects was the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for possession, distribution and trafficking of drugs, particularly Marijuana.  At this time, Marijuana was still highly castigated by the majority of the US population, especially those eager-to-please, power-hungry politicians.  Henry J Anslinger (the man behind the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937) was still the drug czar of the era, and although this bill was not his brain-child, he certainly championed it as it gave enormous power to his organization (the Federal Bureau of Narcotics).  Interestingly enough, some members of the Federal bureaucracy (those in law enforcement) were against this because it gave so much power to a sub-department of the Treasury Department.  Some of its provisions wanted bureau agents to carry firearms and serve warrants.  It also allowed them to make arrests and obtain wiretaps without warrants.

In the 1950’s, “narcotic” drug use was ramping up in the United States.  Also, it was a time where the first congressional hearings were broadcast on television.  These Senate hearings discussed organized crime and its continued rise in power.  Where was this stemming from? More money = more power, and the crime lords were making vast swaths of money in drug trafficking, specifically heroin, cocaine and marijuana.  For a quick tutorial on this, take a few minutes to check out The Godfather.  There’s a great scene where the Dons of the Five Families get together and discuss how they will make peace between themselves and carve out their empires by building on drug revenue.  Some were against drug sales due to moral objections (although they had no problem with gambling, prostitution and protection rackets) while others saw an untapped market just waiting to explode.  Well, the entrepreneurs were right and drugs were indeed the wave of the future.  It only takes a little taste to get most users hooked.  So, a lot of society’s members were legitimately worried about this rising tide.  It was a pity that Marijuana got caught up with the much more dangerous drugs, but alcohol and tobacco were once again ignored.

Let’s get to the meat-and-potatoes of this bill.  It “increased the minimum and maximum penalties for all drug offenses to 1-10 years, 5-25 years, and 10-40 years for succeeding convictions; increased the fine in an categories to $20,000; and imposed 5-20 years upon first conviction for any smuggling or sale violation, and 10-40 years thereafter, with a separate penalty of 10-40 years for any sale or distribution by a person over eighteen to a minor, and from ten years to life, or death when a jury so recommended, if the drug was heroin.  All discretion to suspend sentences or grant probation, and all parole eligibility-generally available to anyone convicted under any other federal criminal law-were prohibited except for first offenders convicted of possession only.”  By removing the chance for parole, inmates had no incentive to reform their behavior and become functional members of society.  Furthermore, the law required that anyone convicted of drug crimes must register and receive special licenses to exit and enter any borders of the United States. Failure to comply with this provision led to fines and further imprisonment.  There are a few more caveats to this piece of legislation; if there are any interested people, that information can be found here.

This law stood until it was thankfully overturned in 1970.  It led to many thousands of arrests and incarcerations.  Many of the convicted were young offenders and served the majority of their lives in jail, if they lived long enough to be released.  There were a lucky few who were pardoned by President Kennedy in 1962, but there were very few.

Surprised, horrified, and/or upset by this tidbit of history? Well, there’s plenty more where that came from. Luckily this law is gone, but the Marijuana community has many more battles to fight before they can declare victory.

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A Touch of the Vapors


For the majority of cannabis patients, smoking is the most common and easiest way to medicate.  Herb, pipe and fire are all that is needed.  Some people however, are unable to handle the smoke delivery method. There are those with weakened pulmonary systems, or are prone to infection.  There are many other ways of bringing cannabinoids into the body.  Today a patient can get edibles, tinctures, or use a vaporizer.  These marvels of modern technology are capable of delivering all of the good chemicals from cannabis, without any of the junk that comes with smoking.

Vaporizers, as the name says, brings the chemicals to their just below their flashpoint (when a chemical ignites) without combustion.  That means that tar, CO, CO2 and other toxic compounds are neither produced, nor inhaled.  Only the desired chemicals, THC, CBD, CBN and other cannabinoids, are delivered to the lungs and absorbed into the body.  So, it’s a purer delivery and safer for the user. While on the topic of safety, no combustion means no fire. And no fire means no accidentally burning down the house.   Most vaporizers operate best between 170°C and 190°C.  THC vaporizes at 150°C and other cannabinoids at slightly higher temperatures.  Cannabis and its component chemicals have flashpoints just above 200°C, so try to avoid any machines that operate at that temperature, or else it will be just like smoking.

There are numerous machines are the market, from little portable devices, such as the iolite, to the king of them all, the Volcano.  Some are activate and inhale, while others have a variety of settings allowing the user to customize to their preference.  The more complex devices allow users the choice of setting the temperature so they can use it for other herbs such as sage and clove (which have their own therapeutic benefits).  Iolite‘s portable devices are very easy to operate; they require only herbs and butane as a fuel.  Volcano Vaporizers have require a little bit more work.  They have adjustable temperature settings and numerous attachments.  Theirs is an interesting setup.  The machine works by vaporizing the herbs and expelling the vapor into a big plastic bag (similar in size to bags on the Sunday newspaper), which stores the gas and can be inhaled through a valve.  That’s very convenient because the bag is portable, and can be passed around.  However, the longer the vapor sits, the lower the quality is.  As it cools, the cannabinoids condense onto the lining of the bag so potency will decrease over time.

There are a few rules that people should know about vaporizers.  First of all, herbs must be broken up finely, preferably ground up, to maximize surface area for a clean burn (well, not really burning but don’t drop a whole nug into the chamber)  Second, herbs should be properly dried.  If it is still moist than water will vaporize to steam and that can damage sinus, esophageal and lung tissue. Nobody wants to medicate only to find themselves the victim of a steam burn.  Also, higher moisture contents lead to stickier remains and more difficulty while cleaning the equipment.
Most of these devices are not cheap.  Some users prefer to spend the same amount of money on a large pipe or a classy bong, but they won’t deliver the medication as kindly to the body.   Third, remember to clean the device after use.

There are lots of vaporizers on the market so take time to look into your own requirements, whether for ease of use or level build quality.  Some can be costly but well worth it so make sure it fits your needs.  You can also check out vapornation for an excellent selection and prices on quality products.

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Marijuana in Music


“See I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe that drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor and go home tonight and take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. Because you know what, the musicians that have made all that great music that’s
enhanced your life throughout all the years were reeaaaal f*cking high on drugs.” -Bill Hicks

Music and Marijuana, it’s like peanut butter and jelly. Some things just go great together.  Musicians have been writing songs about cannabis for years. And it transcends all genres, too. Country, rap, rock, metal, blues, there are fans to be found everywhere, except maybe opera (although it may enhance the fan experience).  Why does this matter?  Some of the most outspoken members of society who are in favor of legalizing marijuana are musicians.  The most famous event for music and cannabis was, of course, Woodstock.  That began a grand tradition of music festivals that continue to this day. The most recent event was the San Bernadino SmokeOut, sponsored by Cypress Hill, and featuring many other bands who believe in the power of the leaf.  But what do these bands have to say about it? Pop on an album and listen to them.

Cypress Hill has written numerous songs about marijuana, how much they love it, when they smoke it, and why they smoke it.  One track, “K.U.S.H.” off their latest album Rise Up is all about a specific strain, and why they like that one more than the others.
K.U.S.H keeps us so high
the more I smoke, the higher I get
the better I feel, I can’t quit
One reason they love it, it brings people together.  Everybody is down with Cypress Hill, “Snoop Dogg and Dre are down with us/ Cheech and Chong they’re down with us.”  And so are Willie Nelson, Bruce Willis, Halle Berry, Dave Chapelle, and Dionne Warwick.  It is a uniter, not a divider; how could smoking it be wrong?

Sublime’s “Smoke Two Joints” (written by The Toyes in 1983, not Bob Marley) is one of the most famous pro-marijuana songs of all time.  Why not, “I smoke two joints in the afternoon, it makes me feel alright.”  Some will argue, it can’t be good because drugs killed Bradley Nowell, Sublime’s original lead singer.  It wasn’t marijuana that killed him; it was heroin.  Hard drugs have killed many musicians, but not one has overdosed on cannabis.

Bands from the SmokeOut weren’t the first ones on the block singing about marijuana.  Black Sabbath, the godfather’s of Heavy Metal, were all about the “Sweet Leaf.”  That song really gets the introspective properties of smoking. 
When I first met you, didn’t realize
I can’t forget you, for your surprise
you introduced me, to my mind
And left me wanting, you and your kind

I love you, Oh you know it

My life was empty, forever on a down
Until you took me, showed me around
My life is free now, my life is clear
I love you sweet leaf, though you can’t hear

Come on now, try it out

Straight people don’t know, what you’re about
They put you down and shut you out
you gave to me a new belief
and soon the world will love you sweet leaf

Ozzy vocals capture all the positive aspects that people look for when medicating with marijuana.  It brings clarity of mind, and surety of self.  A life once so negative is now euphoric. And then he invites all the non-believers to try it out too.  Maybe it is something that the world could do with more of, open minds.

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Anti-Marijuana Propaganda from the Mid-20th Century

marijuana propaganda

For over 70 years Marijuana has been illegal in the United States.  In that time, the powers-that-be have used many forms of propaganda to maintain their control over people’s fear of cannabis in order to prevent the reforms happening today.  Initially, the fear and hatred of marijuana was stirred up by Henry J. Anslinger and his cunning use of racism and bigotry.  Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst (Hearst publishing) preyed upon the feelings of the white majority and ideas of miscegenation (white women + not-white men).  They also made sure people feared a minority uprising, led by unstoppable drugged-out berserker pot-heads.  To this day there are still people who fear this, and push for continuing anti-marijuana legislation.  However, one fear cannot be stoked continuously for 70 years.  As time went by new fears were co-opted and put to use for the war on drugs.

Cannabis and hemp were made illegal in the 1930’s, but hemp was then re-allowed in World War 2 because of its industrial use.  After the war ended the ban was reinstated and something else was needed to enforce it.  Enter the threat to National Security.  That’s right, after the Nazis were defeated and ideas of Superior Races were less popular the country needed something else to unify it.  America had a new enemy… Communism!  After the war, Anslinger continued to consolidate power into the government apparatus that would eventually become the DEA.  With Senator Hale Boggs as his partner, President Harry Truman was convinced that drugs were being utilized by Communist China to subvert Americans and undermine our democracy.  In 1951 Truman signed the Boggs Act which imposed strict penalties for violating the import/export laws pertaining to drugs. Part of these penalties were tough mandatory minimum prison sentences.  In 1961, Anslinger had JFK used the US influence at the UN to push for an anti-drug convention that eventually saw over 100 countries agree to make marijuana illegal.  It would not be the last time that national security would be used as a scapegoat for anti-drug sentiment.  All of this helped build the reaction to the counterculture of the 1960’s and 70’s.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, most anti-drug PSA’s (Public Service Announcement) were focused on the negative effects of drugs on the mind, body and social ties.  Anybody remember the “This is your brain on drugs” video with the smashed egg?  Well, after the terror attacks of September 11, that type of ad moved to the back burner in favor of a terror and drugs cocktail.  Many drugs are produced and exported by terror-supporting organizations (not going to debate that here) but once again cannabis was also targeted in these ads.  So the teenager buying a bag from his dealer (which was probably grown domestically, in some backwood) is now helping Al-Qaeda to blow up airplanes and shoot marines.  One particular PSA shows two men debating the truth of this.  The skeptic says he doesn’t believe it, and the other guy says “It’s true,” repeatedly until the other man is convinced. There’s no evidence offered, or even a counterargument. He maintains his position and eventually the other guy is converted.  As a 30-second tv spot makes a strong emotional impression, which is the crux of most propaganda.  Facts are distorted in order to evoke an emotional response, which has been proven to create a stronger impression than just a factual argument… so far.

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Calling All Activists!

tommy Chong

When the 2008 election was still up in the air, Barack Obama was campaigning as a medical marijuana-friendly candidate.  In that time, we have seen numerous states struggle towards legalizing medicinal marijuana, and still others that have already passed their legislation are finding constant resistance in the forms of unconstitutional bans and arbitrary paperwork that continually holds up the process of getting safe medicine to patients.

California has seen more dispensary raids from the IRS and DOJ during Obama’s reign than during all of GW Bush’s eight years.  Why is this happening?   We need to raise our voices, louder and more unified than ever.  America stands at a crossroads, but now more than ever patients and all citizens must stand behind what they believe in. In this modern era of instant communication, our country can have a stronger, more powerful voice, if only we are willing to use it.

For people who care about the laws of our land and the future it endows, there is so much that can be done.  Stand up and make your vote count!  Become active in your community.  Join a protest at city hall, help spread education and awareness about all the benefits of medical marijuana, or maybe even go as far as to head to D.C. and march on the state capital. Show them who we are by making our presence known through peaceful protests.  For those who are less inclined to leave the home, or who simply cannot, there is still much that can be done.  Concerned citizens should call their legislators, write a letter to your congressmen, sign petitions, send emails, start a blog and rile up some additional supporters and encourage them to get involved.

Dispensaries have flourished in recent times and have grown some of the finest medication in the world.  Colorado, California and other states have led by example, but make no mistake,we still have a long road ahead.  The medical marijuana system may not be perfect yet, but it is working in the right direction.  Other states, like New Jersey and Hawaii, have passed laws that allow for programs, yet their laws were poorly constructed and they remain unusable.  In Hawaii you can get a card to allow you to medicate legally, but there contain no provisions for legally procuring medicine.  It is legal to grow and own up to seven plants, but it is still illegal to purchase marijuana plants or seeds to begin a personal grow operation.  Also, many employers utilize zero tolerance drug policies that make no exceptions for people who are otherwise abiding by state laws.  How does a patient grow their own plants if they can’t hold down a job, therefore they have no income for a home to grow in, or even have money to feed themselves?

Americans need to stand up now and tell all the power-hungry naysayers that we will no longer tolerate the abuse of power and stifling of freedoms.  We the people have no more excuses for being lazy.  If you can’t figure out how to get involved, then look no further. will spell it out for you.

Are you in California?  Cypress Hill’s San Bernadino SmokeOut was Saturday March 3rd, and two days earlier was the March on LA’s City Hall to demonstrate unhappiness with how laws are being carried out.  Thank you to those who made it out. There is more for us to do.  Those near San Francisco will also have their opportunity to ensure Safe Access.  March will see several County Board Meetings that need people to help out.

Maryland is another state seeking to pass laws in favor of medical marijuana.  They need help to guarantee it passes. Furthermore, the right law needs to be passed so that Maryland does not become another New Jersey or Hawaii.  Want to help? Check this out.

Michigan is reviewing its current laws and is looking to alter them with several bills that will give its program a chance to grow into something as grand as California, and not stumble where the Golden state has.  Concerned citizens near Lansing are holding a forum on March 4th to coordinate a uniform front as they approach legislators and hope to pass a proper set of laws.

We can’t list what every state is doing right here, but we encourage you to find out and help wherever you are. has been covering developments for some time so please check our archives to find what is relevant.  Here are a few other resources for anyone who wants to help.

Americans for Safe Access

Marijuana Policy Project

Drug Policy Alliance

New Approach Washington

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

One more thing.  For those who find that political activism is the right thing to do, don’t stop with marijuana laws.  This country needs more people to help it be the best it can be.  As more people stand up for what they believe in, America will find itself less dominated by the interests of corporations and power-grabbing politicians.  It is our country, fight for it.

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