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Two Marijuana Bills Introduced in Iowa Show Post Election Momentum

iowa rally

Over the course of the past year, there have been polls conducted on a daily basis in order to gauge the mindset of the American public.  Most of these polls ended up being accurate but only the actual vote of the people provides the final word.  The victories in Washington, Colorado, Michigan, and Massachusetts show a changing electorate, an electorate that no longer wants to continue our failed marijuana policy.

In Iowa, we are seeing the momentum from the election spill over.  Iowa is known for its impact on presidential elections, as it is the first event to kick off the campaigns.  President Obama credits Iowa as a main reason for his initial 2008 election, as she shocked the political world at the time and defeated Hilary Clinton.  Even this year, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama fought very hard for its 6 swing electoral votes and the president made it his final campaign stop.

Lawmakers have now introduced two bills that would drastically reform Iowa’s marijuana laws.  Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession for personal use.  The law would not protect those selling cannabis.  Additionally, Rep. Hunter also plans to bring back a medical marijuana bill that has not previously been passed.  Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has threatened to veto any bill that would legalize marijuana in any capacity.  It is unclear if decriminalization or a compromise on that front would be something the governor would consider.

Even as Governor Branstad displays his reluctance to adjust with the times, momentum around the country has clearly shifted.  Steve Morrow, president of Iowa’s NORML chapter agrees.  He said the recent votes in Colorado and Washington “helped the cause”.   Iowa may be small state from population standpoint, but it has a tremendous impact on American politics.  Even if Iowa does not pass new legislation now, change certainly appears to be on the horizon.  Presidential politics now encompass the almost entire four year period between elections, and if Iowa changes, those seeking the White House will also have to change.

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Uruguay Moving Forward With Plan To Legalize Marijuana and Combat Drug Violence



As noted yesterday, the escalating drug cartel violence received no mention during Monday’s presidential debate.  While many of our fellow Western Hemisphere countries look to The United States for leadership on the issue, we continue to maintain our failed drug policy.  Fortunately, other countries in Central and South America are considering their own alternative to the 40 year failed War on drugs.

For the last several months the Uruguay government has been discussing legalizing, regulating, and distributing marijuana.  While there has been some opposition to legalization, the plan appears to be moving forward.  Several government officials have made recent comments regarding the program.   Uruguay Interior Minister, Eduardo Bonomi recently said “We have a progressive tradition… The negative effects of consuming marijuana are far less harmful than the outbreak of violence associated with the black market.”

Uruguay may be far along the process of altering their approach toward reducing drug war violence but they are not the only one.  As the United States continues fighting the cartels in the traditional way, which involves gunfire and bloodshed, other countries now realize they will be responsible for their own safety and legislative direction.  Columbia has recently decriminalized personal possession for marijuana and cocaine.  Bolivia has also been attempting to decriminalize cocoa leaves.

The people of the United States are war weary after a decade of The Afghanistan conflict and the recently ended Iraq operations.  In this region America has taken note of our previous mistakes and has decided on a new direction in its approach toward dealing with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Instead, as we saw both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney agree to during Monday’s debate, economic sanctions have been used to put the pressure on Iran to come to the table and talk disarmament.  In the modern world, economics can also be an effective weapon.  While we applaud a progressive approach toward Iran, when will see the United States utilize and economic approach to stem the daily violence occurring close to home, not thousands of miles across the world.  Legalization and regulation would reduce the drug cartel’s power, influence, and purpose in the western hemisphere.  If marijuana were regulated and available domestically, this could crush the cartels economically.

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Colorado Medical Marijuana Makes it To 60 Minutes

60 minutes

With two weeks to go until the presidential election it is no surprise that the race is dominating the news cycle.  Other topics have been anxiously awaiting their turn in the limelight but have taken a backseat as the media has left little room for other news.  Surprisingly, medical marijuana was able to make it to one of the rare free time slots on major prime time network news.

Last night 60 minutes described what is being called the “Colorado Green Rush”.  The coverage highlighted several key areas of the marijuana reform movement.  For one, the enormous tax dollars that can be collected score big points with even those who are not passionate about reforming marijuana laws.  Additionally, 60 minutes highlighted another key area that shows a cultural shift.  Medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado outnumber McDonalds and Starbucks combined. This is why federal intervention is becoming more difficult as 60 minutes suggested.  The will of the people is becoming clear and Colorado residents are increasingly supporting marijuana reform.  Colorado has a high number of independent voters who are not keen on federal bullying.

While some of this may be familiar to patients, activists, and those in the industry, national prime time stories regarding medical marijuana help the issue to reach people who are not as familiar with the medical marijuana movement.  Social media and the internet may cover this topic daily, but the mainstream news is only finally realizing the social and economic impact of the “green rush”.   Additionally, while perhaps not perfect, the reporting does seem to shifting toward much fairer and open minded coverage.  There is less snickering and scare tactics in most mainstream news coverage of marijuana reform.  A second Obama term or a Romney presidency will almost certainly have to deal with medical marijuana, so even more major news coverage is to be expected after the November election.

Many of the political pundits have called the upcoming vote as a “pocketbook election” as the state of the economy is still the number one issue on voter’s minds.  If that is the case then it may only be a matter of time and awareness before the American people decide against marijuana incarcerations and leaving tax dollars on the table.  Inevitably we seem to be moving toward “pocketbook green laws”.

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Will Recent Federal Raids On Los Angeles Marijuana Dispensaries Be Swept Under the Political Rug?


The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be held next week on October 3rd.  This debate will focus on domestic policy so we are sure to hear about plans for cost savings and stimulating the economy.  Of course, for activists there is always that economic pink elephant in the room that politicians never want to acknowledge.

However, it remains highly unlikely that debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS will question the candidates as to exactly why the failed war on drugs is persisting.  Earlier this week, there were three raids on marijuana dispensaries located in the downtown area of Los Angeles.  Additionally, 68 other warning letters were issued.  The efforts build on what is almost a year long target on dispensaries by the federal government.  While the raids catch headlines, the collateral damage is rarely covered.  Besides compromising safe access to patients, many jobs have been either put in jeopardy or eliminated totally.

We have yet to hear a coherent plan as to how either candidate will put Americans back to work.  We do know that our government is perfectly constructed to destroy jobs, as thousands of jobs have been eliminated this year alone due to medical marijuana dispensary raids.  However, it may require a new approach to creating jobs in the new age economy.

If other state laws were being targeted by federal authorities, political advocates would come out of the woodwork.  With the vast majority of Americans supporting a physician’s right to prescribe medical marijuana one would think a discussion would even be advantageous to lawmakers.  This is where the state of politics are.  This is a serious issue with economic, safety, and healthcare concerns at stake and we cannot even rely on a full discussion, rather, we are resigned to hoping that a debate moderator asks a single question.

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Marijuana Like Compound in Brain Shows Fragile X Syndrome May Be Treatable


The federal government has shown an unwillingness to entertain operational changes.  In particular, federal authorities still prefer to suppress the monumental potential of medical marijuana as it is an uncomfortable topic because it may require regulation, rescheduling, and the admission of an almost 100 year mistake.

Medical marijuana breakthroughs are occurring at a frequent rate.  Last week alone, reported on a breakthrough that showed cannabis had the potential to fight epilepsy.  Perhaps even more groundbreaking was a study that showed components of marijuana had the ability to slow the spreading of cancer cells.  Of course this builds on years research that have shown marijuana to be a miracle of sorts, and has demonstrated promise in fighting chronic pain, muscle conditions, MS, complications related to chemotherapy, glaucoma, the spreading of HIV/AIDS, nausea, PTSD etc (it would take too much time to list them all).

Fragile X Syndrome now joins the constantly growing list of medical conditions that may benefit from marijuana research.  This complex condition is associated with autism and mental retardation in men and considered the most common cause of both.  Fragile X syndrome is a mutation of the FMR1 gene in the X chromosome that is passed on by the mother.  This mutation can result in mental disability, hyperactivity, physical disability, and language deficiencies.

The main problem has to do with messages and receptors in the brain.    Researchers have now found that 2-AG, a marijuana like compound and endocannabinoid transmitter is showing considerable promise in reducing fragile x syndrome symptoms.  Daniele Piomelli, a professor at UC Irvine was the lead researcher of the study and recently said “This compound is so important in regulating neural transmission in the brain that it seemed possible that it might be involved in a disease that is so devastating on brain function.”   When the 2-AG signal is boosted, it appears the brain will relay the correct messages, at least in lab mice.  Proffessor Piomelli explained  “We asked, ‘If we boost a little bit of that 2-AG signal, will it be enough to correct the problems that occur in fragile X mice? The answer was a resounding, Yes.  We corrected the physiology, but most importantly, we corrected their behavior.  The animals behaved just like normal animals.  They didn’t have the fears and movement problems of those with fragile X.”

We are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg as decades of potential research have been lost due to senseless marijuana regulations.  However, as groundbreaking discoveries that have eluded modern medicine for decades are coming through marijuana research, how long can we truly afford to look the other way.  As politicians are desperate not to admit mistakes (see Mitt Romney Campaign), there is something admirable about those who stand up, admit fault, and reverse a century long problem.

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Med Marijuana Advocates Rally in Front of Many Obama Campaign Headquarters


With the exception of Paul Ryan’s declaration that marijuana should be a state level issue (which was quickly recanted by Team Romney), marijuana reform has not garnered much attention this race.  Only Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has embraced the issue and vowed to legalize marijuana if elected president.  Unfortunately he is having a hard time breaking through the two party system and his appearance at the debates seems unlikely.  President Obama has certainly disappointed  many medical marijuana patients and activists.  Mitt Romney has vowed to “fight medical marijuana tooth and nail”, leaving patients with few options.  Recent campaign stumbles, including a controversial statement accusing President Obama of “apologizing for American values” immediately following the Libya embassy attacks and a video where Romney claimed he was not targeting 47% of the country in his campaign make it increasingly likely that Barack Obama will remain the president of the United States.  Marijuana activists launched a nation wide protest outside of the President’s campaign offices in 15 states.  Americans for Safe Access have been helping to organize the rallies.  Steph Sherer of the group said “There have been more raids under Obama in three-and-a-half years than eight years of Bush.”  Even if President Obama wins, advocates are hopeful that he would reconsider his positions for a second term.


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British Discovery May Explain Why Boy With Epilepsy Benefits From Marijuana

epilepsy in the brain

Earlier this week we at were pleased to report findings on the newest marijuana initiative polls.  The polls have been mostly favorable and show the public is ready to drastically change America’s approach to marijuana law.  However, for those tired of numbers, the election, and Mitt Romney’s view on moochers and 47% of the country, we have some exciting news on a medical cannabis breakthrough.

Patient testimonials have shown for some time that marijuana can be an effective remedy for epileptic seizures.  A recent L.A. Times article describes the findings researchers at Britain’s University of Reading.  They found that a cannabinoid named cannabidivarin (CBDV) “strongly suppressed seizures” without causing the commonly associated side effects such as uncontrollable shaking during a test on lab rats.  Dr. Ben Whalley, who was the lead researcher of the study was pleased to find a potential new path to combating epilepsy.  He recently said “There is a pressing need for better treatments for epilepsy.  It’s a chronic condition with no cure and currently, in around one third of cases, the currently available treatments do not work, cause serious side-effects and increase fatalities.”

The research findings, published this week in British Journal of Pharmacology may shed light on why  California father, Jason David, has found that marijuana is the only effective treatment in trying to provide relief for his ailing son Jayden.  Think Progress has posted an article describing Jason’s moving words regarding his son’s situation.  In short, Jason stated that his son has uncontrollable seizures that so far were only treated with ineffective prescription drugs.  Jason asked his physician if medical marijuana would be worth trying, and his doctor informed him that anything would be worth a try as doing nothing would likely result in Jayden’s death.  The seizures were taking a toll on Jayden’s body and it became clear that something had to be done immediately, even if controversial.  Jason turned to marijuana, but instead of smoking Jayden actually is given a solution comprised of mostly cannabidiol (CBD).  Jayden’s condition was improved almost immediately.  Jason described what happened when they started the treatment by saying “That was the first day, thank god, Jayden ever went seizure-free in his life. The prescription drugs, I feel like they made my son a zombie. Every time I take off another pill, the better he gets.”

Both the findings at the University of Reading and the situation.  As authorities still try to assert that marijuana ‘has no acceptable medical uses” research is obliterating this outdated argument.  More research and regulation may even be able to provide Jayden with tailored medicine to combat his epilepsy with even greater results.  While Jason David is pleased to see his son doing better, he is now confronted with the possibility that his son’s medication may be compromised by federal authorities targeting the world’s largest marijuana dispensary, Harborside Health Center.  Poll numbers and politics have a habit of melting in the true faces that policy impacts.  Perhaps the feds should try to explain their platform on medical marijuana to young Jayden.

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Rough Election For Paul Ryan

paul ryan

The race for the U.S. presidency can consume and spit out candidates.  The young boy wonder Paul Ryan has been a rising star in the GOP and Congress for almost 14 years.  However, joining Mitt Romney in the race for the White House may drive down his stock considerably.  Already responding to criticisms of misstatements after his address at the RNC regarding welfare and Medicare, the news just has not been great for Ryan.

Clearly Ryan and Romney are not on the same page.  Romney selected a man known as a budget hawk, but has not embraced what Ryan believes.  In fact Mitt Romney seems to be running from his record.  Recently Mitt Romeny told “Meet The Press” that President Obama and the GOP (lead by Ryan on the issue) were wrong to vote to cut military spending.  The lack of unity was on display recently as Paul Ryan told a group of voters in Colorado that he felt marijuana laws should be left up to the states to decide.  This was soon followed by a statement from the Romney campaign that indicated that Ryan agreed with Mitt Romney 100% and that marijuana should never be legalized.

We do not want to pick on Paul Ryan specifically, but so far he is the only one who has dared engage on the issue of marijuana.  Even though marijuana legalization offers the potential to satisfy Paul Ryan’s desire to cut spending and the size of government, we were still surprised to hear him support the issue.  We were NOT surprised to see the Romney campaign recant a statement.  They seem to have made an art of this.

The Paul Ryan statement that seemed to come from left field motivated to dig a little deeper into Paul Ryan’s view on marijuana.  The digging did not require much effort and we were able to figure out that as recently as May of this year, Paul Ryan voted against a bill that would have defunded the DEA’s ability conduct medical marijuana raids.  Not exactly a pro state rights view is it?

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Colorado Study Shows Need For Regulation and Marijuana Testing

marijuana mold spores

As the election season continues we are pretty much ensured that the political conversation will remain within the narrow scope of only a handful of issues being discussed until January.  While healthcare will be part of the next two months, it will only likely find its way in the campaign through the lens of Obamacare vs. Romneycare.

For many patients who only find relief with marijuana, this will be yet another election where their concerns will not be addressed.  Ignoring and tolerating medical marijuana to some extent is no longer going to be acceptable.  Medication needs to be safe and with a far less rate of addiction and side effects in comparison to opiates and other medication, cannabis already satisfies much of the criteria for useful medicine.  However, with it’s legal status constantly in limbo, cannabis has suffered from a lack of regulation and required testing as many elected officials hope that 75% of the country soon changes its mind and stops supporting medical marijuana.  That seems highly unlikely and our elected officials have chosen to ignore the safety of Americans in favor of outdated talking points and rhetoric.  Simply put, marijuana is here to stay, and providing safe medicine must be a concern.

Shedding more light on the problem is a recent study conducted in Colorado.  Dr. John Martyny of the National Jewish Health studied the findings from 30 grow operations in the Larimer and Denver areas.  The research indicated that certain grows had mold levels about 100 times higher than what is considered safe.  In some growing operations, the mold levels were too high to for their instruments to properly measure.  Dr. Martyny said “These are extremely high levels that we would consider dangerous.”  Fortunately, none of the growing operations studied were legal, giving at least some hope that Colorado medical marijuana patients are not breathing in high levels of mold.

However, there is evidence that even legal growers are not taking the proper precautions in preventing high levels of mold.  The Werc Shop also finds similar problems when conducting laboratory analysis, but unlike Dr. Martyny they DO test cannabis from legal dispensaries.  In a recent conversation with, Dr. Jeffrey C. Raber of the Los Angeles area lab said “We have had numerous secret shoppers find instances of mold and bacteria present at unacceptable, sometimes alarmingly high levels.”  The Werc Shop is one of the most well regarded testing laboratories and was responsible for much of the screening for the 2012 High Times Los Angeles Cannabis Cup.

Research shows that we may only be hitting the tip of the iceberg in regards to just how much potential medical marijuana holds.  However, as with any consumable product, improper testing and screening invites devastating side effects.  The high levels of mold found by both Dr. Martyny and Dr. Raber only highlight the need for regulation and testing.  The products created by large Pharmaceutical companies have to abide by FDA standards and a lack of regulation would not be accepted even for over the counter medicines.  As the national campaigns ignores this problem, it is up to patients and activists to demand for regulation, testing, and safety.

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Paul Ryan Almost Gives Hope For Reform Advocates

paul ryan

The prospects of marijuana becoming a campaign issue seemed dim for most of the presidential race.  President Obama has avoided the issue when engaging in online forums and Mitt Romney had recently told a college crowd he would fight medical marijuana “tooth and nail”.  Whether intentional or not, medical marijuana was front and center, even if for a brief time.

Mitt Romney has been running for president since 2007 with Biden and Obama now holding office for almost 4 years.  Paul Ryan represents the only fresh face Americans may not be as familiar with.  In a move that most likely upset Romney campaign organizers, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan recently stated that he felt marijuana should be a state issue.  He told a local television network in Colorado, KRDO TV, that “it’s up to Coloradans to decide.”  Before activists get their hopes up he also added that medical marijuana “is something that is not a high priority of ours.” The stance makes sense as a growing wing of the Republican Party is seeking to promote state rights, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility.

Campaign officials for Romney/Ryan were quick to change the tone.  They later released a statement that Paul Ryan agrees with Mitt Romney that marijuana should never be legalized.  This is not the first time the two have not seen eye to eye.  Mitt Romney has been attacked on many items in Paul Ryan’s controversial  proposed budget which would make deep cuts to many social programs.  The two also differ on abortion as Paul Ryan does not believe in exceptions even for incest, rape, or when a mother’s health is compromised.  Additionally, last night on “Meet The Press” Mitt Romney said Republicans were wrong to vote to cut defense spending, even as it was brought to Mr. Romney’s attention that GOP leadership (including Ryan) voted for the cuts.  This has seriously brought into question by analysts as to exactly why Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate being that the two seem to differ substantially on issues.

Perhaps they are worried about their conservative base, a base that has not fully embraced Mitt Romney.  However, it is always interesting when a candidate says something in plain language only to have a spokesperson take it back later.  Are they trying to have their cake and eat it too by having Ryan curry favor with reform advocates, then turning around and appeasing the “tough on drugs” crowd?  Even if Paul Ryan truly does support state rights in this instance, just putting toe in the water is not good enough.  Patients have felt mislead by the President so a simple statement alone will not win over this community.  The Romney/Ryan ticket had a chance to win over disenfranchised patients, but instead chose to do what Romney has been famous for, sending conflicting messages.

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