October 2018

Manhattan to stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases in August

(CNN)Last year, cops in Manhattan arrested people for smoking or possessing small amounts of marijuana a little more than 5,500 times. A disproportionate number of those arrested were minorities.

“The dual mission of the Manhattan DA’s office is a safer New York and a more equal justice system,” Vance said. “The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals.”
Vance, a Democrat who is in his third term, said his office was discussing with New York City police and the mayor what exceptions there should be to the policy.
    New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill on Tuesday announced a working group will take the next 30 days to look at the enforcement measures by the department.
    He said that, while the department doesn’t target minorities, “there are differences in arrest rates, and they have persisted going back many years, long before this current administration. We need an honest assessment about why they exist … .”
    O’Neill said NYPD officers should not make arrests that don’t impact public safety.
    Under the DA’s office new policy, people who violate the law would be issued summonses. The NYPD does this in cases where possession is the most serious charge a person would face, O’Neill said.
    Under the current policy in Manhattan, people are arrested, fingerprinted and have to appear in court.
    The DA’s office said this creates enormous costs for the legal system and alienates too many people.
    “Such arrests can significantly impact job searches, schooling, family members, immigration status, and community involvement,” the DA said. There are often no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent purposes in these cases, the DA said.
    CNN reached out to the offices of district attorneys in other boroughs to see whether they are considering similar measures. Brooklyn already has a similar policy.
    Queens County wants to wait to comment until after the 30-day NYPD working group analysis.
    “It is our understanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio has directed the New York City Police Department to review its policy and practices. We will await the results of that review,” a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
    Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under federal law and is illegal. Some states, like New York, have decriminalized marijuana, making it a violation and not a crime to possess small amounts of cannabis.
    Medical marijuana is legal under New York law, but cannot be smoked.

    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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    Can You Fly With Weed You Bought Legally?

    Buds, oils, tea, brownies, cookies, gummies, lollipops ― today, you can get THC in just about any form. 

    What a time to be alive.

    Marijuana is legal in some capacity in 29 states and Washington, D.C. As long as you adhere to local laws, you don’t have to worry about the cops harshing your buzz. That is, unless you’re headed to the airport.

    Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost Photos: Getty

    The rules surrounding domestic air travel and marijuana possession can seem confusing and contradictory. For example, if you bought weed legally in Colorado, can you take your leftovers home to another legal state like California? The answer might surprise you.

    We talked to several experts in Los Angeles ― one of the largest weed-friendly U.S. cities and home to one of the busiest airports in the world ― about what you should know before attempting to fly with legally purchased marijuana.

    The tangle of laws is “total chaos.”

    On the federal level, marijuana is considered a controlled substance, just like cocaine or heroin. So even if marijuana is legalized in your state, it’s still technically illegal in the eyes of Uncle Sam.

    And though airports are owned by the city, “the feds are authorized to operate it … so federal law prevails,” said criminal defense attorney Jonathan Mandel. “Once you enter security, federal law trumps state law.”

    That means even if you purchased your weed legally, it becomes illegal as soon as you flash your boarding pass to a Transportation Security Administration agent.

    “It is total chaos in terms of congruence between federal law and state law,” said Irán Hopkins, an attorney in the cannabis industry group at the national law firmAkerman. Not only are federal and state laws contradictory, she said, but rules surrounding the possession and use of marijuana vary across states and even airports.

    But will you actually get in trouble?

    The TSA’s primary job is to make sure another 9/11 never happens. Agents are more concerned about whether there’s a bomb in your shoe than a little weed in your bag.

    “TSA’s focus is on terrorism and security threats to the aircraft and its passengers,” said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers in a statement to HuffPost. “TSA’s screening procedures, which are governed by federal law, are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers.”

    In other words, they’re not looking for drugs. That’s the job of local law enforcement and federal drug agents. You’re likely to cause more of an uproar with the TSA by leaving a water bottle in your backpack.

    That said, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

    “As has always been the case, if during the security screening process a TSA officer discovers an item that may violate the law, TSA refers the matter to law enforcement,” Dankers said. According to the TSA website, illegal items include marijuana and cannabis-infused products such as CBD oil.

    Nor does the TSA take into account your originating and destination airports, Dankers added. So if you run into a particularly grouchy TSA agent or attempt to get through security with an egregious amount of weed, you will likely be handed over to airport police no matter where you’re coming from or going.

    According to Dankers, however, what happens next is up to local law enforcement’s discretion.

    When you get busted…

    Once the police are involved, there are a number of possible outcomes. In some airports, such as McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas or Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Colorado, where recreational use is legal, you might be asked to dump your marijuana in an “amnesty box” or simply toss it in the trash, according to Mandel.

    In other cases, the officer might decide to allow you through security with your marijuana, especially if you have a prescription.

    It’s pretty clear it’s an extremely low priority. Jonathan Mandel

    Then again, you could be arrested.

    “It is still illegal under federal law,” said Akerman attorney Michelle Lee Flores. Although local law enforcement might not pursue any charges, “there is a possibility to be arrested and prosecuted under federal law.” 

    Even so, it’s unlikely you’d be charged with a federal crime unless you attempt something especially brazen.

    “Under California law, for example, it’s still a felony to transport for-sale marijuana out of state,” said Allison Margolin, one of the nation’s leading attorneys in cannabis law. “Usually, I can get the charge dismissed if I can persuade the DA that they were using it for personal use,” she said.

    Cases that do make it to court are typically tried on the state level, according to Margolin. “Usually, it can be resolved relatively favorably for [the defendant],” she said. 

    In most cases, law enforcement simply isn’t interested in prosecuting travelers carrying small amounts of marijuana, according to Mandel.

    “They’re not going to do anything unless there’s such huge poundage or money involved that they believe it’s … for profit rather than personal use,” he said. “It’s pretty clear it’s an extremely low priority.”

    Bottom line: Carry at your own risk.

    Even though catching travelers with marijuana is low on the TSA’s list of priorities, there’s no way to predict how TSA and local law enforcement will handle the situation.

    “It’s really a risk assessment and an assumption of that risk by the passenger,” said Hopkins. “Our conservative advice is to be super careful and don’t expose yourself unnecessarily to breaking the law.”

    If you do decide to take the risk of flying with legally purchased marijuana, the attorneys shared factors you should consider first.

    You’ll want to lie low.

    “Minimize anything that would get the attention of the TSA” while going through security, Flores said. That includes carrying bottled water, contact lens solution and other liquids. Don’t pack anything that could be considered a weapon. And it might go without saying, but being noticeably under the influence is another red flag.

    Edibles are less obvious.

    Rather than the plant or oils, edibles “would be harder to detect,” said Flores, since most products are discreetly packaged to look like everyday food items. Oils or other liquids will undoubtedly catch an agent’s eye, while marijuana in plant form will likely give off a scent. 

    Some moves could make you look like a dealer. That’s bad. 

    Many of the cases that end up in court do so because it appears the passenger intended to distribute. According to Margolin, you should avoid separating your stash into multiple packages or carrying a lot of cash. It’s also best if you’re carrying only a small amount of marijuana.  

    “The lowest amount [of marijuana] I’ve seen prosecuted is a pound,” she said, referring to airport arrests.

    There are legal options too.

    If you’re not interested in breaking the law but don’t want to travel without some form of relief, Margolin suggested talking to your doctor about Marinol, a drug containing synthetic (and therefore legal) THC.

    “It’s a Schedule III drug and you can get it prescribed by a doctor,” Margolin said. “It’s like eating an edible, but it doesn’t have all the other cannabinoids.”

    It’s best to stay quiet.

    If you do find yourself in hot water, simply keep your mouth shut and cooperate.

    “You should not try to talk your way out of the situation to the TSA, the police or anybody,” Margolin said. “There isn’t an actual defense for any interstate transportation.”

    Instead, she said, “hire an attorney.”

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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    Pot is now legal in Canada. These are the stocks to watch

    New York (CNN Business)Recreational marijuana is legal in Canada as of Wednesday. And investors seem to have the munchies for cannabis stocks.

    But they have all been extremely volatile and they plunged Wednesday too, a classic case of investors buying the rumor and selling the news.
    The stocks of two other Canadian companies — Aurora Cannabis (ACBFF) and Aphria (APHQF) — have been on a roller coaster ride lately as well,mainly due to speculation that big consumer products companies may be looking to invest in them.
      There has been chatter that Coca-Cola (KO) has looked at Aurora and that Marlboro maker Altria (MO) has looked at Aphria.
      The rumors make sense. Beer and wine giant Constellation Brands (STZ) has already agreed to take a more than $4 billion stake in Canopy. Some think that big pharmaceutical companies may eventually want to invest in cannabis companies too.

      ‘Watershed moment’ for marijuana

      Michael Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos, wouldn’t comment when asked by CNN’s Julia Chatterley on the First Move show Wednesday about whether Cronos was looking to partner with a larger company.

        Cronos CEO: ‘Watershed moment’ for marijuana

      But he said that legalization in Canada is a “watershed moment” for the industry and he expects that there will be more interest in legalizing marijuana worldwide.
      “This is so meaningful. It just gets the ball rolling. We see regulatory tailwinds globally,” Gorenstein said.
      Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings (KSHB), which makes packaging and marketing materials for marijuana companies, told CNN Business that there is a significant opportunity in the United States.

        Elon Musk smokes weed during interview

      Others think that the pot hype is getting overdone.
      Andrew Left, founder of Citron Research, also appeared on CNN’s First Move Wednesday and said he’s betting against many cannabis stocks because he thinks marijuana will not be the multi-billion dollar industry that many expect.
      “There’s a huge difference between being excited about an idea and it being investable,” Left said. “Yes, there will be money made in cannabis. But it’s not the tech boom. It’s a much smaller pie.”
      Ken Mahoney, the CEO of Mahoney Asset Management, agreed. He compared marijuana mania to what happened with dot-com stocks in the late 1990s. That didn’t end well for many, speculative stocks just trying to latch on to the internet wave.
      But Mahoney said that finding the so-called “picks and shovels” in the industry — companies that benefit from the cannabis trend but aren’t growers themselves –makes more sense.
      “It’s crazy to pick individual companies selling marijuana. Stick to companies that can benefit from the overarching trend of legal cannabis but have diversification,” he said. Mahoney likes KushCo, for example.
      He is also bullish on fertilizer giant Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), which recently acquired Sunlight Supply, a leading maker of hydroponic products that help people grow cannabis indoors.
      And Mahoney likes GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) — which has a FDA-approved cannabis-based drug to treat some forms of epilepsy — and Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR), a real estate firm that leases properties to medical cannabis growers.

      Be wary of the ‘green rush’

      Paul Rosen, a co-founder of Cronos who is now the CEO of Tidal Royalty, a company that invests in US-based cannabis firms, agreed that there will be good investment opportunities.
      But he told CNN Business that investors have to look carefully at the balance sheets of cannabis companies.
      Rosen said the cannabis cultivation industry requires a lot capital and that the so-called “green rush” of excitement about pot stocks has led to valuations that are extremely high and unsustainable. Some companies will inevitably crash and burn.
      He joked that not every company can become the Google of cannabis. Some will wind up being Ask Jeeves.
      Brady Cobb, CEO of Scythian Biosciences (SCCYF), a Canadian medical cannabis company working on treatments for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, took issue with the comparisons to the internet stock craze.
        Cobb told CNN Business the company plans on opening several medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida in early 2019.
        “We’re actually selling a product that people want to buy. It’s not selling domain names,” Cobb said.

        Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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        In VA secretary scandals, it’s veterans who suffer

        (CNN)Over the last week, the national media turned its attention to our veterans. Unfortunately, it was not because of new studies about the problem of veteran suicide, or to draw attention to the national movement to legalize medical marijuana to safely treat injuries of war. It was because President Trump nominated his personal doctor, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.

        Even before the scandal unfolded, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) surveyed veterans nationwide and found that only a small group of post-9/11 veterans supported Dr. Jackson’s nomination. The drama may have died down in the media, but it’s still front and center for millions of veterans and hundreds of thousands of dedicated VA employees nationwide, who now face the prospect of a stunning eighth nominee for VA secretary since 9/11.
        This painful and tumultuous Ronny Jackson chapter for VA and our nation’s veterans has come to an end. But the volatile, damaging saga continues. After Secretary David Shulkin’s controversies –– including allegations of misusing taxpayer funds — and eventual exit consumed weeks of headlines, Jackson’s controversies consumed still more. It’s been an unprecedented two months of chaos, political agendas and uncertainty. And millions of veterans and their families have paid the price.
          In the few weeks since Dr. Jackson was first nominated by President Trump, an estimated 333,502 veterans were waiting for disability claims with the VA, 11,000 veterans started using the GI Bill to pay for college, 60,000 veterans in suicidal crisis called the Veterans Crisis Line, and 600 veterans died by suicide.
          The secretary of the VA is responsible for the second largest department in the federal government — one with a budget of more than $180 billion and over 300,000 staff, the welfare of millions of our brother and sister veterans, and critical programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and cemeteries nationwide. And the VA secretary is one of the single most important voices in America for all veterans.
          But instead of stability, leadership and solutions, veterans once again face uncertainty. Our community is exhausted by the unnecessary and seemingly never-ending reality show-type drama. VA’s reputation is damaged, staff is demoralized, momentum is stalled and the future is shockingly unclear.
          This year of failures and debacles has been exhausting, and veterans nationwide still have grueling challenges ahead of us to ensure we get the care and resources we were promised. And yet again, our energy is drained by another senseless political scandal — one that could have easily been avoided.
          Our veterans deserve better. We are simply looking for a competent, proven and dynamic leader with integrity that can lead our nation forward out of this storm of darkness and into a brighter future. Hundreds of thousands of IAVA members nationwide are standing by to help the President find and vet a man or woman who is up to this historic leadership challenge.
          More than ever before, we need someone who can ensure VA stands most of all, for Veterans Advocate. And we need the President to do the same. In the meantime, we will continue to share our voices, unite our community and fill in the gaps as best we can.

          Join us on Twitter and Facebook

          We call on all Americans now to answer the call in this time of need and support our VA staff, our non-profit service providers and our veterans service organizations across America. Read the questions asked by hundreds of veterans and active military nationwide. Demand answers. All of us on the frontlines of veterans support, healthcare and empowerment need reinforcements now more than ever.

          Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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          Farming nonprofit helps vets with PTSD reintegrate into civilian life

          An average of 20 veterans commit suicide each day—a statistic that weighs on the mind of Rich Murphy.

          Murphy, 38, is executive director of Veterans to Farmers, an organization he joined after suffering a devastating injury and bout with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in December 2007. Murphy, who had escaped injury during a five-year deployment as a senior airman with the U.S. Air Force, was struck in his car at 70 mph by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel, leaving him with a horrible back injury.

          “One of the number one reactions to PTSD is isolation. People just withdraw, out of fear or that they don’t fit in,” Murphy said. “I had a guy who did the program last year, his wife came up to me and gave me a hug and said, ‘thank you, he hasn’t left the house since winter.’ [Veterans to Farmers] is just opening the doorway for these men and women.”

          After his accident, Murphy quit nursing school and found employment as a social worker. It was during a stint working for the city of Denver when he met veterans who he wished had gotten the care and intervention they needed much sooner.

          A Marine Corps veteran by the name of Buck Adams had formed Veterans to Farmers in 2011, and Murphy met him in the fall of 2013. The following year, Murphy began to develop a curriculum for the VTF training program.

          He also crisscrossed Colorado, telling everyone about the nascent non-profit’s merits, and forging partnerships with Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University. Murphy took over as executive director of the organization last year, when Buck stepped down.

          Rich Murphy, left, discusses Veterans to Farmers at Rebel Farm in Denver, Colorado. At right, a plaque honoring U.S. military veterans at Chatfield Farms in Denver Botanic Gardens.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

          Murphy recalled his full-circle moment: During the first two years of VTF, his veteran farmers sold fresh produce they’d grown to his previous clients at the Denver Human Services building—thanks to a grant that Denver Botanic Garden received to set up a food stand in the building.

          VTF aims to fill the void between veterans’ skills and the more lackluster jobs the economy produces by training them to work in agriculture. As he explains it, there are also less tangible benefits.

          “When you get 10 veterans in a greenhouse or out in the field and they start working on plants together, digging in the soil and growing things, you see therapy happen,” he said, noting traditional therapy is more of taboo word in the military.

          Murphy gave Fox News a full tour of Rebel Farm, a hydroponic greenhouse where hundreds of pounds of greens and herbs are grown and harvested each month by former service members.

          The persistent hum of fans and the sound of rock music filled the temperature-controlled, 15,000-square-foot space. Fellow veterans dutifully checked on the health of kale, arugula and Bok choy that will be harvested and sold primarily to restaurants.

          “Eight weeks later, you have ten veterans that are all new friends who never would’ve talked to each other had they not been put in a space together. That’s the process,” said Murphy.

          Fresh greens and herbs tended and grown by U.S. military vets at Rebel Farm in Denver, Colorado.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

          Vets who participated in the program talked about the significance of its impact.

          “Students form a bond very quickly,” Tara O’Brien, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who took the hydroponics course last year and is taking the soil course this year, told Fox News.

          O’Brien, 41, said the type of teamwork and problem-solving skills that come naturally to military veterans are ideal for the country’s food production system, which is undergoing a transformation as consumers demand healthier options and the availability of organic produce increases.

          “This bond is what we need among the farming community because it’s a unification of strategy and building something great together that far surpasses the need for competition and secrecy,” O’Brien, who traveled to over 30 countries during her time in the military, told Fox News. “To the core, these men and women are helpers and magnificent leaders and problem solvers—we need this in our food system.”

          Marine Corps veteran Dominic Muranyi came across VTF after being unable to enroll in a booked up horticulture course at a community college in Fort Collins.

          Muranyi took both courses, finding them to be “immeasurably helpful,” and he’s been working on Murphy’s family farm in Fort Collins, helping out with labor and miscellaneous—including the planned build out of Murphy’s new greenhouse this summer.

          A portion of Chatfield Farms at Denver Botanic Gardens where Veterans to Farmers participants learn agriculture skills.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)


          “I was able to connect with some really awesome individuals who are all working toward something similar. You meet so many other veterans who have skill sets and knowledge you didn’t even know existed, then come to find out you need to know it!” Muranyi, 27, told Fox News.

          The Marine Corps veteran, who’s known as the “quiet one” of the vets who have taken the courses, has been studying mycology (fungi). He likened the Veterans to Farmers experience to how some civilians may think about the military.

          “When you are in the military, no one back home thinks, ‘Oh, I get to go to the movies, better thank a veteran.’ We do our job in silent professionalism and take comfort knowing it makes a difference,” Muranyi, who deployed to Cuba and Japan during his service, explained.

          “It’s kind of the same thing as a farmer: How often do you go to the grocery store and look at what farm produced your food? But everyone is grateful to have something to eat. Instead of defending life, we provide life-sustaining food,” he said.

          The Veterans to Farmers’ hydroponics course has been taught for the last three years at Rebel Farm’s sprawling greenhouse in southwest Denver, which is owned by Lauren Brettschneider and Jack Olson. During the course, veterans learn the ins and outs of controlled agriculture.

          “How often do you go to the grocery store and look at what farm produced your food? But everyone is grateful to have something to eat. Instead of defending life, we provide life-sustaining food.”

          – Dominik Muranyi, a Veterans to Farmers graduate

          “Farming can be very soothing. You are growing something, creating,” said Brettschneider, who worked in the hospitality and telecom industries before turning her passion for farming into a business. “The class really inspires and motivates [the veterans].”

          The seedlings are housed in tiny sponge-like cubes to preserve their structural integrity—but they live inside nutrient film technique (NTF) channels, which are long, white plastic tubes that sort of look like gutters on a house. There’s a little drip with a small hose that exposes the roots to oxygen and they’re able to absorb nutrients from the water. The entire system uses very little water and, because it’s indoors, the plants aren’t subjected to the elements and are less likely to have major pest infestations.

          According to Murphy, the greenhouse is much easier on the environment in terms of water usage, a real concern during Denver’s dry, hot summers. It takes approximately 10 gallons of water to produce a head of lettuce outdoors, but inside the greenhouse it takes just one gallon.

          Veterans who take the course at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms work in a 7.5-acre, picture-perfect space with the Rocky Mountains as their backdrop and the bright, powerful Western sun as their balm while they learn everything about the day-to-day operation of an organic farm—planting, harvesting, crop rotations as well as licensing, recordkeeping, marketing and selling. The class runs for 10 weeks, and there are only two per year due to Denver’s 22-week outdoor growing season.

          On a sun-kissed, windy day in late April, two landscaped areas that were built by veterans from the program—complete with a paved sections, winding paths, flower beds and a bench—were easy to find. In the growing area, several raised beds were prepped and covered for strawberries, which are a tough crop to grow anywhere because many different animals and pests love them. A red Norman Rockwell-looking barn on the property has hosted Veterans to Farmers events.

          Jamie Wickler, farm education coordinator at Denver Botanic Gardens, is starting her fourth season teaching the veterans’ course at Chatfield. She said the biggest benefit for participants is a sense of community.

          “This is a group that deeply cares about sustainable food production,” Wickler said. “Farming is hard work that they love, so to find other veterans and farmers that share that gives them a lot of encouragement and support.”

          Military veterans, accustomed to the rigors of discipline, hard work and getting their hands dirty, are well-suited to agriculture careers.

          Rich Murphy, at left, with a range of past and current participants in the Veterans to Farmers program at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

          “They can reconnect to their community in a capacity where it feels like they’re contributing, and that’s huge,” said Murphy. “When you give someone food and get to watch their eyes light up and you grew that. It’s a similar feeling to, ‘you honored our country, thank you for your service.’

          Muranyi recently started working at Hazel Dell Mushrooms Farm in Fort Collins. He helps out at the farmer’s market and spends three days per week assisting with growing and harvesting shitake, lion’s mane and other mushrooms.

          “I love the work and it’s given me an opportunity to learn more about fungi,” he said.

          O’Brien, who was the first military journalist on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, said she wants to further her own agricultural education, find work in the industry and perhaps homestead on her own farm one day.

          “Programs like VTF provide amazing opportunities for veterans to do what they are best at: creating, problem-solving, project managing and leading people in a direction that is holistically best for everyone involved,” she said.

          The vets in the program take a survey about topics including mental health at the program’s beginning and end to measure its success, but Murphy said the most powerful feedback he gets is when vets pull him aside at the end to explain why it mattered so much to them.  

          “If you don’t ever become a farmer, that’s okay. But if you find three or four really good veteran friends and you hang out and talk about plants and maybe grow some tomatoes—that’s f—king awesome. That’s a win,” said Murphy.

          Christopher Carbone is a reporter covering science, technology and national news for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

          Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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          Lots of Doctors Recommend Weed Without Understanding It

          If you go to a doctor and ask them to recommend you medical marijuana, don’t expect them to fully understand how the drug works, both for you as an individual patient and in general as a therapy. Because no one really does.

          With more and more states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, cannabis is shedding its stigma and entering the mainstream. That means folks who’ve shied away from the stuff are getting better access, and exploring cannabis as a non-addictive treatment for ailments like pain. But that new interest is running smack dab into a big problem plaguing medical cannabis: The research on what marijuana can actually treat, what components of the plant matter, and how different patients respond to them, is severely lacking.

          Just how much doctors are struggling with it becomes clear today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. A study reveals that half of surveyed oncologists say they recommended marijuana to patients in the last year. But half of those didn’t think they actually had sufficient knowledge to make those recommendations.

          The biggest question for oncologists is what cancer symptoms cannabis can really treat. The survey found respondents split when it comes to the treatment of pain: A third of oncologists said cannabis is equally or more effective than standard pain treatments, a third said it was less effective, and a third didn’t know. “But there seemed to be clear consensus that medical marijuana is a good adjunct to standard pain treatment, so a good add-on medication,” says Ilana Braun, lead author and chief of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Division of Adult Psychosocial Oncology. In fact, two-thirds of respondents said it’d be a good supplemental treatment.

          According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine—which last year published a massive, big-deal review of cannabis research—“there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” It’s also been shown to help control nausea and vomiting.

          Now, doctors have long prescribed a synthetic THC called dronabinol, aka marinol, for the treatment of nausea and weight loss. Problem is, side effects include paranoia and “thinking abnormal.” Beyond that, you wouldn’t want to try to get high on it because it’s missing the galaxy of other active compounds in cannabis. “If it worked—it rarely does work—but if it really did work it would be abused on the streets,” says physician Allan Frankel, a pioneer in medical cannabis. “For 15 cents a pill? That's how bad marinol is.”

          The reason, Frankel says, is the so-called entourage effect, the interaction of dozens of other cannabinoids in marijuana like CBD (which is an extremely effective treatment for seizures, by the way) that may produce different therapeutic effects. So by that logic, with marinol, patients aren’t getting the full effect of the cannabis plant.

          And that full effect would be? Well, nobody really knows—in part because the US government makes the stuff very, very difficult to study. In the eyes of the feds, it’s still a very illegal schedule I drug, the most tightly controlled category, and the DEA decides who gets crop to research. Researchers don’t have access to a variety of strains that might produce a variety of benefits, given different levels of CBD and THC and other compounds.

          Even if you could study lots of different strains, it’s not always possible to tell what a patient is going to get at the dispensary. Flowers can be mislabeled, and the THC content of oils doesn’t always match what’s on the label. “Composition standardization is a giant mess,” says Jeff Raber, CEO of the Werc Shop, a lab that tests cannabis. “So for an ultra traditional doctor, I can understand where they're like, Man, we don't really know what that is, is that OK? It's not standardized like a pharmaceutical product.”

          A doctor can’t just say, Take two marijuana pills and call me in the morning. And on a physiological level, we all handle cannabis differently. “Even if I tell everybody, go inhale a tenth of a gram, their inhalation depths and absorption rates are going to be different,” says Raber.

          “Unfortunately, we are going a little bit blind,” says physician Bonni Goldstein, medical director of the Canna-Centers, which provides cannabis consultations for patients. “But what I'm finding in clinical experience is I learn from every patient, and so we try to use the scientific research that we do have.”

          So doctors like Goldstein try to tailor cannabis as best they can for a patient’s needs. Her patients have the luxury of attentive, personalized cannabis consultations. “Someone retired who has cancer who doesn't have to get up in the morning and get somewhere may be able to take bigger doses during the day,” says Goldstein, “versus a mom of four who has kids in and out of activities, who has breast cancer.”

          But your typical oncologist isn’t going to sit down with a patient for an hour to walk through their lifestyle and needs. So patients are left to experiment with dosages on their own, or consult with their local dispensary.

          Because it turns out that dispensaries have some experience dosing cannabis. “Some of the top dispensaries that have been doing this for a while know this better than anybody else,” says Rob Adelson, president and CEO of Resolve Digital Health, which makes a smart inhaler for medical marijuana patients. “There's still so much about the pharmacokinetics of this plant that we just don't know yet. So asking a doctor to come in to try to solve the problem without any more data than the dispensary has is hard.”

          What Adelson sees cannabis promoting is a new paradigm of medical care. “We've heard this from many doctors, that they might not know about medical cannabis, might not want to promote it, and that a patient comes in and says, ‘I'd like to try it,’” he says. “And patients bring studies with them." That inversion of responsibility has its downsides: An elderly patient might not be aware of side effects like dizziness, for example. But at the same time, it's impossible to overdose. For better or worse, if doctors don't feel they have the knowledge to appropriately prescribe a drug, patients will fill that void.

          More cannabis science

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          Blazing a trail: as legal cannabis goes global, will Britain be next?

          New laws in California and Canada, plus a high-profile UK medical case, have made it safer for nations to come out of the green closet

          Three major developments in June, including the case of a British boy with severe epilepsy, are likely to accelerate international acceptance of marijuana.

          On 11 June, Charlotte Caldwell landed at Heathrow airport with her 12-year-old son, Billy, with a six-month supply of cannabis oil, the most effective medicine shed found for her young childs epilepsy. She declared the medicine, which shed legally bought in Canada, to British border officials, who confiscated it, despite Caldwells pleas.

          Unable to take his medicine, Billy was admitted just a few days later to hospital in life threatening condition. Sajid Javid, the home minister, was forced to issue an emergency license to allow doctors to treat Billy with cannabis oil.

          The case sparked an outcry, and Javid called for a review of the UKs medical marijuana policy which recommended that clinicians should be able to prescribe medical marijuana. Inevitably, talk about full legalization has followed. According to recent polls, 82% of Britons support legalizing medical marijuana and 51% support full legalization.

          Then on 19 June, Canadas parliament voted to become the first G7 nation to fully legalize, with legalization day scheduled for 17 October.

          Afterwards, the senator Tony Dean told reporters: Weve just witnessed a very historic vote that ends 90 years of prohibition.

          In an email, Peter Reynolds, the president of UK cannabis reform group Clear, called Billys situation has led to the most dramatic shift in drugs policy probably since [the Dangerous Drugs Act] of 1925.

          Rounding out the month, on 25 June the US Food and Drug Administration approved, for the first time, a drug derived from the marijuana plant. The UK firm GW Pharmaceuticals invented the drug, Epidiolex, to treat two kinds of severe childhood epilepsy.

          Relaxing attitudes in the US, and legalization in several states have made it safer for other nations to come out of the green closet. Despite the drugs goofy reputation, the subsequent shows of of interest demonstrate deep affinity for this plant in much of the world.

          Marijuana plants at a facility in Alberta, Canada. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

          Canadian medical marijuana companies now export product to countries including Australia, Argentina, South Africa and Germany. Canadian exports also supplement Italys only legal supply, cultivated by the military.

          Israel, a leader in bio and agricultural technology, could emerge as a research hub. But the government has been slow to allow export permits, forcing companies to look elsewhere. According to an unconfirmed report in Israeli media, Donald Trump called the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to object to the industry.

          Colombia, a nation ravaged by decades of drug-related wars, now seeks to become a growing center.

          Two cafes opened in Paris to sell CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in Epidiolex, which many users believe has other healthful properties. Police raided the cafes and shuttered them.

          In China, there is deep suspicion of psychoactive drugs. Opium addiction is associated with the countrys century of humiliation, the period which began in 1839 with the loss of the first opium war and lasted until Chairman Mao declared the Peoples Republic in 1949.

          But the country is emerging as a hemp superpower, with Chinese farmers cashing in on the non-psychoactive cannabis crop, which textile factories buy for its fiber. (Meanwhile, Chinese communities in several North American cities have vocally opposed dispensaries.)

          Greece and Jamaica have both legalized medical cannabis and are considering cannabis tourism to boost their economies. Jamaica has also legalized it for Rastafarians, the only recent cannabis law Im aware of which references religious use.

          Developments like these around the world point to a renaissance, a chance to exploit this very exploitable plant as never before.And despite warnings from opponents, legalization has not provoked a crisis of stoned driving or led to more use by teenagers. By contrast it has proven to have extraordinary benefits. Just ask Charlotte Caldwell.

          I suspect however, its too early to declare victory. Marijuana is a known entity. But mass-market marijuana is far more potent and accessible than anything most parts of the world have encountered before.

          A relaxing of attitudes toward cannabis is taking place around the world. Illustration: George Wylesol

          Marijuana is famously well-tolerated, but thats not the same thing as safe. Legalization is a massive experiment, like the introduction of social media, on the human brain. And as with social media, were only going to begin to understand the consequences after a few years.

          Cannabis could yet provoke an acute public health crisis. If there is one, my guess is it will involve dangerous pesticides or use by pregnant women.

          But even if theres no emergency, widespread access to cannabis will alter life in ways we dont yet understand. To realize this, one only has to spend a night getting high with a few friends.

          Today countries all over the world are canna-curious, but so far its only in a few US states where a customer can legally enter a store and choose between a wide array of legal products. Simultaneously, it remains very difficult for US scientists to pursue marijuana research.

          The US combination of permissiveness for consumers and restrictions on research, seems designed to maximize the potential harms of legalization and minimize the benefit to society.

          So watch closely. Its a chance there have been a few recently for other nations to capitalize on Americas mistakes.

          Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

          adminBlazing a trail: as legal cannabis goes global, will Britain be next?
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          Canada Votes To Legalize Cannabis For Recreational Use

          Canada is now set to become only the second country worldwide to legalize the recreational use of cannabis after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to change the laws. The new legislation could see marijuana sold legally in shops as early as September.

          The new bill, known as The Cannabis Act, controls and regulates how the drug is grown, distributed and sold. It means that Canadians can now legally grow up to four plants in their own household, and carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis for personal use. Anyone found to be carrying more than this amount, or providing it to minors – anyone under the age of 18 or 19 depending on the province – will be breaking the law.

          Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, and in response to popular opinion, the Liberal Party committed to legalizing it for personal use during the elections of 2015. Now, the Cannabis Act has finally been voted through in the nation’s upper chamber by 52 to 29 votes on Tuesday.

          “We’ve just witnessed a very historic vote that ends 90 years of prohibition,” Senator Tony Dean told the press following the vote. “It ends 90 years of needless criminalization, it ends a prohibition model that inhibited and discouraged public health and community health in favor of just-say-no approaches that simply failed young people miserably.”

          It means that Canada now joins Uruguay as the only two countries in the world where recreational cannabis is now legal, as technically it is still illegal in the Netherlands although the law is not actually upheld. In Portugal, which famously relaxed its drug laws, the possession and use of the drug is decriminalized, but not legal.

          The move by Canada is likely to cause a headache south of the border, and twist an already strained relationship with the current US government. Currently, 29 states have legalized medical marijuana, with nine of those going the whole way and opening it up to personal use. But there have been previous suggestions that the White House may try and stem the recreational use by enforcing federal laws to override individual states.

          The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been tweeting his support of the successful vote, writing: “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that.” It has been estimated that the legal sale of the drug could eventually be worth up to C$7 billion annually.

          Clearly, there are those members of parliament who are dismayed by the move, but these were massively outweighed by others happy to see the end of cannabis prohibition, and the relaxing of the laws.

          Read more: http://www.iflscience.com

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          I served 20 years for cannabis. Now the police are cashing in on it | Rosie Rowbotham

          The same authorities who hounded dealers are now investors in cannabis and theres still no amnesty for past convictions. The hypocrisy is staggering, says Rosie Rowbotham, a former producer at CBC Radio

          Over the course of my life, I have been convicted in four separate trials, sentenced to a total of 69 years in prison, and after many appeals served just over 20 of them the first two in maximum security. I was finally released on parole in 1997.

          Given the length of time I was incarcerated, you might be thinking that I was involved in hard drugs or violence. After all, some murderers do less time than I did.

          But my crime? Conspiracy to import, possess and sell cannabis.

          I brought in tons of hash from the Middle East and tons of pot from Jamaica, Mexico and Colombia. Torontos infamous Rochdale College was my home base. After my first trial, I told the judge: Im going to do it again and I did but I can assure you I never got involved with any harder drugs, let alone anything violent. I was strictly a pot guy: a hippy capitalist from Belleville, Ontario, who wanted as big a piece of the North American market as he could get.

          In jail, I saw myself as a prisoner of the war on drugs one of the thousands of others who lost part of their future in the long, cruel and ultimately futile attempt to stop people from buying, selling and smoking weed.

          Norman Mailer testified on my behalf at my first trial, Neil Young at my second. Young told the court that he took exception to the prevailing stereotype of deadbeat pot smokers who could never make a positive contribution to society, pointing out that he was a prodigious toker and yet he still likely paid more taxes than everyone else in the court room combined.

          Now a new day is dawning in Canada or so it seems. Possession of pot for recreational use is about to be legalized. Canadians will be able to possess up to 30 grams, buy it, share it, put it into edibles and grow a few plants.

          To be honest, Ive never considered myself to be a marijuana activist. I wasnt a campaigner for legalization: I was making big money, and legalization would have been bad for my business.

          I also dont trust or respect politicians, especially when it comes to pot. In 1969, the prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, set up the LeDain Commission to study the pot scene in Canada. After hearing from thousands of Canadians, the report recommended cannabis possession be legalized. I was 18 at the time, a pot smoker and hopeful. Nothing happened.

          Fifty years later, however, the war on pot is finally over, and my side has won. So why am I not celebrating?

          Lets start with the movement to grant amnesty to people with past cannabis convictions. Im glad that the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has said he plans to move forward in a thoughtful way on fixing past wrongs that happened because of this erroneous law.

          If the law is so erroneous, however, why is his government continuing to bust people for possession? In 2016, more than 17,000 Canadians were charged with a law that will soon disappear. Offering them amnesty would be a nice gesture, but the damage will have already been done. Why charge them in the first place?

          A simple amnesty from the Canadian government is not enough. Photograph: Simon Webster/Rex Shutterstock

          And how would amnesty work? After legalization in their states, several US cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego, moved to expunge all records of felony convictions for cannabis possession. Will Canada do the same? If not, amnesty will be a hollow gesture. Even then, Canadians with pot convictions may still not be allowed to travel to the US because American authorities have their conviction records on file.

          Im also bothered by the fact that the governments current plan is to bar people with pot convictions from participating in the huge marijuana economy that is now emerging. We have the expertise. We know how to grow high-quality plants. We have the distribution networks. The governments policy is unfair, punitive and discriminatory: if it really believed in amnesty, it would let people with non-violent records for possession lead the way.

          Instead, the government has turned the pot economy over to the people who lost the drug war: the cops and politicians who were responsible for destroying so many lives by turning pot smokers into criminals. Theyve been given the keys to the vault. Theyll be profiting from the same activities they used to prosecute. The hypocrisy is staggering.

          Look at Julian Fantino, the former chief of the Toronto police service. In 2015, then a Conservative MP, Fantino declared his complete opposition to legalization, likening the decriminalization of marijuana to legalizing murder.

          Fantino receives a salute from Officer Pat Troll, a mascot from a series shown to Catholic schoolchildren. Photograph: Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images

          Today, hes on the board of directors of Aleafia, a company that connects patients to medical marijuana. When asked about his change of heart on pot, Fantino replied that he had embarked on a fact-finding mission and discovered that marijuana was not the demon drug he once thought it was. Perhaps he should have done some fact-finding before he started tossing people in jail.

          Also on the Aleafia board is Gary Goodyear, who held several cabinet positions in Stephen Harpers government the same government that proposed mandatory minimum sentences for anyone convicted of growing at least six marijuana plants. So is Raf Souccar, a former deputy commissioner of the RCMP whose portfolio included drug and organized crime enforcement. Former deputy Toronto police chief Kim Derry and ex-Ontario premier Ernie Eves are also members of the old law-and-order crowd who have rushed to cash in on the legalization of marijuana.

          On its website, Aleafia describes Fantino as a leading expert on drug enforcement. Theyve got that right. Ive never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but shortly after joining the Toronto police department in 1969 he became a member of the drug squad, one of the hundreds of Toronto cops who pursued me relentlessly throughout the 1970s. Now he gets to cash in on the legalization of marijuana, while people with criminal records for something that is soon to become legal languish on the sidelines or, in many cases, still in jail. If Im a criminal, what word would you use to describe Fantino and all the other ex-cops and politicians who are now looking to get rich by switching to the other side?

          A simple amnesty is not enough. It should include an apology for ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for no legitimate reason. They should be asking us to forgive them. I sentence them to have to live with themselves for the rest of their lives.

          • Rosie Rowbotham is a former producer at CBC Radio

          Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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