Mum wants to treat epileptic son at home

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCharlotte Caldwell said the medication ordeal had been ‘horrific and cruel’

The mum of a boy with severe epilepsy who had cannabis oil medication confiscated wants to meet the home secretary to discuss reforming the law.

Charlotte Caldwell’s son Billy, 12, uses the oil as his anti-seizure medication and she wants to be able to treat him with it at home.

The Home Office has granted a limited licence for the drug to be administered to the child in hospital for 20 days.

Billy is being treated at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

Ms Caldwell says her son’s seizures dramatically reduce when he takes the oil, which contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is illegal in the UK.

On Monday Heathrow airport officials confiscated Billy’s supply – which Ms Caldwell had tried to bring in from Canada – and he was admitted to hospital after his seizures “intensified”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid later approved the use of cannabis oil after doctors made clear it was a medical emergency. The situation is under review.

Ms Caldwell, from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, wants to meet Mr Javid to discuss the matter and said: “I will not stand by and let any other family in our country endure this experience. It’s horrific and cruel.”

Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, said the existing law was “frankly absurd”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTake a look inside the world’s largest legal cannabis farm in Canada

Dr Amir Englund, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said an exemption should be made in Billy’s case “so that he does not come to further harm”.

But UCL’s Dr Michael Bloomfield said the use of medical marijuana is “far from straightforward”. He said in some jurisdictions the drug’s use for medical conditions is “a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door”.

The Home Office’s initial decision, and then its reversal, prompted calls for drug law reform from MPs on all sides.

Image caption Billy was admitted to hospital in London on Friday

Mr Blunt, a Conservative, said the existing law was based on an “outdated” claim that cannabis had no medicinal value.

“We need to get serious now about getting the benefits of these medicines, and move to change the frankly absurd position we are in,” he said.

Ex-Tory health minister Dan Poulter said the current situation was “ridiculous” and pledged to push for a change in the law.

He said: “I genuinely don’t understand why we see… medicinal cannabis through the prism of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs legislation, when actually this is a medical issue, it’s not a prohibition of drugs issue, and that’s what’s got to change.”

In 2017, Billy was prescribed the medication on the NHS but last month his GP was told he could no longer prescribe it.

At the time the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said cannabis had not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.

Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

Source: NHS Choices

Related Topics

Read more:

adminMum wants to treat epileptic son at home
read more

What’s coming to (and going from) Netflix in May

Spring can be a blessed time for the entertainment fan’s TV and movie backlog. Sure, you can catch new stuff at the movies or go outside or whatever, but we say let’s treat spring like any other season and relish it as an opportunity to bond with Netflix. Dear White People returns at the beginning of the month, as do several CW shows that just ended their on-air seasons. And come Memorial Day Weekend, there’s a perfect family film waiting for you.

Here’s what’s coming to Netflix in May.

Top pick: Coco

If you made the egregious mistake of missing Disney and Pixar’s breathtaking family film in theaters, your redemption is at hand. You may choose to watch on a mobile device, but for the full effect, we recommend watching on the biggest screen possible to take in the stunning visuals of Miguel’s (Anthony Gonzalez) heartwarming journey.


27: Gone Too Soon (5/1)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (5/16)
89 (5/16)
A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana (5/1)
Amelie (5/1)
Anon (5/4)
Beautiful Girls (5/1)
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (5/31)
The Bourne Ultimatum (5/1)
Bridge to Terabithia (5/19)
Cargo (5/18)
The Carter Effect (5/1)
Catching Feelings (5/18)
The Clapper (5/1)
Disney·Pixar’s Coco (5/29)
Darc (5/1)
Desolation (5/8)
Dirty Girl (5/9)
End Game (5/4)
Evil Genius: the True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (5/11)
Explained  (5/23)
Faces Places (5/5)
Forgive Us Our Debts (5/4)
God’s Own Country (5/1)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (5/1)
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (5/1)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (5/1)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (5/1)
Ibiza (5/25)
Jailbreak (5/2)
The Kingdom (5/16)
The Kissing Booth (5/11)
A Little Help with Carol Burnett (5/4)
Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo (5/4)
Mamma Mia! (5/16)
Manhunt (5/4)
Mr. Woodcock (5/1)
My Perfect Romance (5/1)
No Estoy Loca (5/4)
Only God Forgives (5/15)
The Phantom of the Opera (5/14)
Pocoyo & Cars (5/1)
Pocoyo & The Space Circus (5/1)
The Reaping (5/1)
Reasonable Doubt (5/1)
Red Dragon (5/1)
Sara’s Notebook  (5/26)
Scream 2 (5/1)
Shrek (5/1)
Sliding Doors (5/1)
Small Town Crime (5/19)
Some Kind of Beautiful (5/20)
Sometimes (5/1)
The Strange Name Movie (5/1)
Survivors Guide to Prison (5/24)
Wanted (5/16)


Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (5/13)
Arrow: Season 6
Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1 (5/1)
Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3 (5/11)
The Break with Michelle Wolf (5/27)
Busted!: Season 1 (5/4)
Dear White People: Volume 2 (5/4)
Dynasty: Season 1
Fauda: Season 2 (5/24)
The Flash: Season 4
The Game 365: Seasons 15 – 16 (5/15)
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: Season 4 (5/15)
Grand Designs: Seasons 13 – 14 (5/15)
Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives (5/8)
Inspector Gadget: Season 4 (5/18)
The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (Streaming every Sunday until May 13) (5/6 – 5/13)
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City (5/1)
Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2 (5/4)
Mob Psycho 100: Season 1 (5/22)
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey (5/4)
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern  (5/31)
Queens of Comedy: Season 1 (5/1)
The Rain: Season 1 (5/4)
Riverdale: Season 2
Disney’s Scandal: Season 7 (5/19)
Señora Acero: Season 4 (5/21)
Shooter: Season 2 (5/22)
Simon: Season 1 (5/1)
Spirit Riding Free: Season 5 (5/11)
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (5/25)
Supernatural: Season 1
Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2 (5/22)
Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here (5/22)
The Toys That Made Us: Season 2 (5/25)
Trollhunters: Part 3 (5/25)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 (5/30)
The Who Was? Show: Season 1 (5/11)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2 (5/1)


Bridget Jones’s Diary
Charlotte’s Web
Field of Dreams
Ocean’s Eleven
Silent Hill
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Hurt Locker
To Rome With Love
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
12 Dates of Christmas
Beauty & the Briefcase
Cadet Kelly
Camp Rock
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Cow Belles
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
Geek Charming
Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas
Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
High School Musical
High School Musical 2
Jump In!
Lemonade Mouth
Little Einsteins:
Seasons 1 – 2
My Fake Fiancé
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Phineas and Ferb:
Seasons 1 – 4
Princess Protection Program
Princess: A Modern Fairytale
Read It and Weep
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure
Special Agent Oso:
Seasons 1 – 2
Teen Spirit
The Secret Life of the American Teenager:
Seasons 1 – 5
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
The Host
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Disney’s The Jungle Book

Read more:

adminWhat’s coming to (and going from) Netflix in May
read more

A Marijuana-Based Drug Is On Track For FDA Approval For The First Time Ever

A 13-person expert panel unanimously recommended the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a new drug derived from cannabis as a treatment for two severe and rare types of childhood epilepsy, making drugs containing cannabinoids (CBD) one step closer to federal approval.

If the FDA follows the group’s recommendation, UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals’ syrup will be the first drug made from cannabis to win federal approval.

The recommendation comes after the company presented to an independent panel of experts a three-phase series of clinical trials showing the experimental medication – which does not get the user high – significantly reduced seizures in children with severe and early-onset forms of epilepsy. Both Lennox-Gastaut (LGS) and Dravet syndromes begin in infancy and cause sudden stiffening of the body, arms, and legs. More than 90 percent of patients with LGS or Dravet Syndrom have multiple seizures a day, according to GW Pharmaceuticals

It’s not clear how the medicine, Epidioleax, reduces seizures, but a briefing document published April 19 suggests CBD is “clinically meaningful and statistically significant” in doing so. The company advises parents to monitor children for potential liver damage and lists common side effects as diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and sleep problems. In the report, the drugmakers concluded CBD has a negligible abuse potential.

More than two dozen states allow medical marijuana, but federal approval has not been granted for any medical use. Despite its prohibition, some parents have been using cannabidiol, or CBD oil, to treat children with the condition. CBD is one of more than 100 chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It doesn’t contain the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingredient. Earlier this year, a 36-study review confirmed evidence for the effectiveness of cannabinoids in managing epileptic seizures, showing consistent evidence that compounds from cannabis “often reduce the average frequency of epileptic seizures” where conventional drugs have failed.

As much as 10 percent of the world’s population live with active seizures, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, 60 percent of whom don’t know the cause.  

A decision is expected from FDA regulators by the end of June. If approved, Epidiolex would be available for prescription in child patients two years and older with hard-to-treat forms of epilepsy. Doctors could have the option to prescribe the oil for other uses, potentially spurring new pharmaceutical research and interest in other cannabis-based products.

The kicker, as always, is the price. The company declined to comment on the price of the drug, reports USA Today. The publication says Wall Street analysts estimate it could cost more than $25,000 per year.

Read more:

adminA Marijuana-Based Drug Is On Track For FDA Approval For The First Time Ever
read more

American expat fights for his life after falling off roof in Bali while chasing monkey who stole his Pittsburgh Steelers cap

A Florida man living in Indonesia is fighting for his life after he plunged 33 feet off a rooftop while chasing a monkey that had snatched his favorite Pittsburgh Steelers cap, according to a report out Saturday.

Jeff “Swede” Swedenhjelm, 40, reportedly was diagnosed with severe spinal damage by hospital officials in Bali, and is paralyzed from the chest down.

“Our utmost concern is to get Swede out of Bali and into a country with a spinal specialist” such as Singapore, his daughter, college student Lyric Swedenhjelm, told Northwest Florida Daily News.

His daughter also said her dad is in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator.

The family has started raising money through GoFundMe to cover the estimated costs of the travel and medical care, which Lyric said could amount to $60,000.


Relatives said the man was chasing a money that had stolen his Pittsburgh Steelers cap.  (AP, File)

She added that her father moved to Bali years ago and has neither money nor medical insurance. 

Their fundraising effort has already pulled in over $58,000. It depicts Swedenhjelm at the hospital and includes quotes attributed to him:

“A few nights ago, in Bali, I had an accident that has crippled me from the chest down, and has only allowed me to feel a tingling sensation in hands and arms. Obviously this is going to incur a great deal of medical expenses.”

The message adds, “I am hopeful that the time we shared on this wonderful planet has given me enough love and respect in your heart to make you want to help. I have never been the one to ask for help, especially in monetary form, but any help will be taken to heart. Thank you all in advance. One Love. <3 Swede.”

Read more:

adminAmerican expat fights for his life after falling off roof in Bali while chasing monkey who stole his Pittsburgh Steelers cap
read more

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:

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

Type Of Synthetic Pot Linked To Severe Bleeding From The Eyes, Ears, Nose And Mouth

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is currently reporting that, since early March, 38 people have been bleeding from various orifices and soft tissues after using a form of synthetic cannabinoids. One person has died.

According to the IDPH, the subjects are suffering from severe bleeding from their nose, eyes, ears, and gums, as well as experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, and the ejection of bloody remnants through vomiting, coughing, defecating, and urination.

The majority of these cases have cropped up in Tazewell County (12), with Chicago (10) coming in second, as of March 30. Individuals have reported using a range of synthetic cannabinoid products, including K2, a notorious synthetic whose detrimental health effects have made headlines around the world.

Back in 2016, 33 people in Brooklyn died of a suspected overdose of K2. Despite being banned in 2014, K2 is still easily obtainable in New Zealand, and as of 2017, people were still dying after using it.

In this latest case, it’s not clear what specific ingredient – or indeed brand of synthetic cannabinoid – is causing the excessive bleeding, but authorities are looking into it.

According to the Chicago Tribune, however, three people hospitalized after using the substance have tested positive for brodifacoum, which is more commonly known as rat poison. This triggers the body to stop using Vitamin K, which assists in the coagulation and clotting of blood, which could explain the severe bleeding.

According to a 2017 review of K2’s synthetic cannabinoids, they are known to “produce a variety of dangerous acute and chronic adverse effects, including psychosis, seizures, tolerance, dependence, and death.” The CDC notes that “people who smoke these products can react with rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations.”

Bleeding doesn’t appear to be mentioned in the literature, which suggests this is a new side effect, one that’s currently specific to this Illinois variant.

Hundreds of synthetic cannabinoids currently exist, and each year, new ones become available. They’re sold and distributed in numerous ways, with plenty being sold as packages of leaf-like material and others being vaporized, sprayed onto plant material and then smoked.

As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these drugs replicate the feeling of using the real deal because they act on the same brain cell receptors as cannabis’ tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) using different compounds. Unlike bona fide marijuana, however – whose availability, legality and common forms also vary all over the world – research into the health effects of synthetic cannabinoids is, at present, far less comprehensive.

Depending on where you are, synthetics aren’t necessarily banned, although plenty are. In some parts of the US, general categories of ingredients relating to synthetics, rather than specific chemicals, are outlawed. In fact, part of their popularity stems from the fact that they are not necessarily banned in certain places, or they’re perceived to be legal – or even safe – by those that use them.

The IDPH noted that such synthetics “are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug,” before stressing that “they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana.

“Their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.”

Read more:

adminType Of Synthetic Pot Linked To Severe Bleeding From The Eyes, Ears, Nose And Mouth
read more

NYC Mayor de Blasio tells police to end arrests for marijuana smoking

NEW YORK (CNN)New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has told top brass at the city’s police department to stop arresting people who are caught smoking marijuana in public, according to a City Hall aide.

This weekend, the mayor told the NYPD to issue summonses for smoking pot in public, instead of making arrests.
The NYPD has already begun a working group to evaluate its marijuana enforcement procedures and present its recommendations within 30 days, at the mayor’s request. The mayor made it clear this weekend that ending public marijuana smoking arrests is one of the changes he wants.
    Any changes to NYPD’s policy on smoking in public would not take effect until the end of the summer.
    NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak told CNN that the 30-day working group is already underway, and that the issue is “certainly part of that review.”
    “The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns,” Walzak said.

    Manhattan to end prosecution

    De Blasio’s call to end arrests comes after both the the mayor and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance made big announcements about marijuana enforcement on May 15.
    The mayor publicly called on the NYPD to come up with a plan to make changes to its marijuana enforcement policies in the next month, and Vance said he would end prosecution of marijuana possession and smoking cases, starting August 1.
    Under the current policy in Manhattan, people are arrested, fingerprinted and have to appear in court.
    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 Tuesday. “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 de Blasio what exceptions there should be to the policy.
    New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill 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 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.
    According to the New York State courts system, police officers issue a criminal court summons when certain laws have been violated. “Most people who receive a summons are not arrested and fingerprinted unless they fail to show identification,” its website says.
    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:

    adminNYC Mayor de Blasio tells police to end arrests for marijuana smoking
    read more

    With new year, California’s recreational pot laws take effect

    The new year in California brings broad legalization of recreational marijuana – a much-anticipated move two decades after the state was the first to allow the use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

    California joins states such as Colorado — as well as Washington, D.C. — where pot is permitted for recreational purposes even as the federal government continues to regard the drug as a controlled dangerous substance, like LSD and heroin.

    Legalized marijuana is expected to become a $3.7 billion business in California in 2018 and grow to $5.1 billion in 2019 — comparable to the revenue generated by beer sales, Business Insider reported.

    The boost to California’s economy could generate more than $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year, the Hill reported.

    National trend

    Twenty-nine states have adopted medical marijuana laws, while seven other states have legalized recreational use of pot.

    Marijuana will now be legal in California for adults age 21 and older, and people will be permitted to grow up to six plants and possess an ounce of pot.

    The new state laws — approved by voters in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 64 — were met with joy by some Californians who swapped their champagne glasses for blunts of pot on New Year’s Eve.

    “This is something we’ve all been waiting for,” said Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist, who celebrated the arrival of 2018 by smoking “Happy New Year blunts” with his family members.

    “It is something that can help so many people and there’s no reason why we should not be sharing that,” he added, hoping that the new laws will remove the stigma surrounding the marijuana use.

    “People might actually realize weed isn’t bad. It helps a lot of people,” he said.

    Unintended consequences?

    But authorities remain tense amid the legalization, saying the more liberal attitude toward the drug might bring about problems such as stoned drivers, negatively impact young people, increase the cost of policing and prop up the existing black market – as taxes and fees could raise the retail pot price by as much as 70 percent.

    “There’s going to be a public-health cost and a public-safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the California Police Chiefs Association. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”

    Despite the legalization, it will take time until non-medical pot will be widely available across California. Only 90 businesses so far have acquired a state license to sell pot, most located in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

    License lag

    Residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco will not be able to find recreational pot Jan. 1 as local regulations were not approved in time, so neither city has issued the licenses needed to get state permits for selling recreational pot.

    Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, meanwhile, have banned the sale of recreational pot.

    As part of regulations paving the way to recreational pot in California, other strict laws will take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

    Some business owners are also concerned that once the state starts fully regulating the industry, there could be a shortage of state-approved cannabis in California.

    Jamie Garzot, founder of a cannabis shop in Northern California’s Shasta Lake, said she is worried that once the current cannabis crop dries up, there will be a shortage of pot that meets the regulations.

    ”Playing in the gray market is not an option,” she said. “California produces more cannabis than any state in the nation, but going forward, if it’s not from a state-licensed source, I can’t put it on my shelf. If I choose to do so, I run the risk of losing my license.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

    Read more:

    adminWith new year, California’s recreational pot laws take effect
    read more

    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

    Read more:

    adminLots of Doctors Recommend Weed Without Understanding It
    read more

    Colorado Senate Dems make a hilariously great case for legal pot.

    Earlier today, real-life “Dukes of Hazzard” villain Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced plans to crack down on marijuana in states that have legalized it.

    In a three-paragraph Justice Department memo, Sessions directed U.S. attorneys to disregard past policy about turning a somewhat blind eye to pot when it came to the more than two dozen states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use, saying, “Today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

    Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    The official Twitter account for the Colorado state Senate Democrats took aim at Sessions’ push in a thread equal parts informative and amusing.

    Legal weed has been around in Colorado for quite awhile, with voters approving a medical marijuana ballot measure way back in 2000, and giving the thumbs up to recreational use in 2012.

    By most accounts, legal weed in Colorado has been a pretty big hit  — which Colorado’s Senate Democrats laid out in excruciating detail.

    Hearing news about Sessions’ plan to fight the states on this, they kicked off an epic Twitter thread with what’s just a clearly great joke: “We’ll give Jeff Sessions our legal pot when he pries it from our warm, extremely interesting to look at hands.”

    With that one-liner out of the way, they laid out a really strong case for letting states handle this. For one, it’s really, really been great for the economy. “Since legalization, marijuana has generated $617,767,334 in tax revenue,” read one of the tweets. “Instead of going to drug cartels, that money helps fund our schools and addiction treatment programs for more dangerous drugs.”

    They went on to list a number of projects funded by the state’s “Build Excellent Schools Today Act” program, which gets some of its funding from marijuana taxes.

    “Is your school’s roof TOO NICE?” another tweet read. “Jeff Sessions is on the case.”

    They concluded as they started: with a joke. “If only there was some way we could mellow him out,” they pondered.

    Public opinion on marijuana legalization continues to steadily climb, marking Sessions for the political anachronism that he is.

    According to an October poll from Gallup, 64% of Americans think it’s time to legalize pot. The truth is that most people simply don’t care what others decide to do with their body and their free time. By and large, it’s not dangerous — at least no more than alcohol or cigarettes — and its reputation as a “gateway” to harder drugs has been mostly debunked.

    Sessions’ vendetta against marijuana is widely known. He’s said “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and in the 80s remarked, “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot,” and as recently as last March, suggested that it’s just as dangerous as heroin. We get it, Jeff. You don’t like pot.

    Even Donald Trump seems to know that public opinion isn’t on the side of regressive Drug War-era enforcement, going so far as to say that his attorney general wouldn’t do what his attorney general is doing right now (Trump lies a lot, guys).

    Even Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator, understands that beefing up federal enforcement of anti-pot laws isn’t what the country needs right now, threatening to use his power to grind Justice Department nominees to a halt. Gardner votes in line with the Trump’s and Sessions’ agendas nearly 95% of the time, so this type of fierce opposition should send a strong message.

    If there’s one thing we can all learn from this, it’s how hollow the convictions of those who champion “states’ rights” and “small government” can be.

    Whether it’s in fighting states’ abilities to enact their own laws around pot, micromanaging what a woman can do with her uterus, demanding to know what a trans person’s genitals look like, or dictating who has the right to protest for racial justice and how they should do it, “small government” often means complete authoritarian control. Perhaps these politicians should heed a bit of their own rhetoric. “Don’t tread on me,” right?

    Read more:

    adminColorado Senate Dems make a hilariously great case for legal pot.
    read more