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Dr. Sanjay Gupta on medical marijuana: We are in an age of wisdom, but also an age of foolishness

(CNN)When we released “Weed” in 2013, few people had ever heard of cannabidiol, or CBD. Now, two-thirds of Americans are familiar with the compound, and 1 in 7 have tried it. Most of the country, 93%, are in favor of medical marijuana and hemp-derived CBD itself, which has less than 0.3% THC, has been legalized in every state.

It’s not just public perception. The science over the last six years has grown by leaps and bounds, as well. Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil, went through clinical trials and is being prescribed for thousands of patients with seizures. The founder of GW Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Epidiolex, told me they are now developing cannabis medications for everything from autism to anxiety.
The lives of characters we introduced you to in “Weed” have completely changed, as well. The Stanley brothers of Colorado — who literally bet the farm on CBD and couldn’t even afford a reliable car six years ago — now grow CBD on 800 acres in three states and have a marijuana empire worth an estimated $2 billion.
And Charlotte, sweet Charlotte Figi. Soon after birth, she started having seizures. By age 3, she was having 300 seizures a week, despite having tried more than half a dozen medications. Her mother, Paige, worried her daughter would stop breathing one day or go into cardiac arrest. Charlotte was not expected to live past her 8th birthday. Today, she’s 12, and has only two or three seizures a month, despite being off all of her other seizure medications. The only thing she takes is a CBD oil, called Charlotte’s Web. She represents countless patients who are alive today because of this plant, and this plant alone.
    For many in the medical marijuana community, these last few years have been the realization of a dream they never really believed was possible. But, there is a funny thing about dreams. As beautiful as they are, they are often fragile and ready to tear at the seams.
    Here is where the cannabis story took an awkward, ill-conceived and sometimes ugly turn.

    A bold promise, hijacked

    Last year, in a single moment, the legislation around CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, changed. With the passage of the Farm Bill, hemp, defined as any cannabis plant with 0.3% THC or less, became legal to grow, sell, and consume. For the cannabis community, it was like suddenly drinking from a fire hose in the middle of a drought. One day, it was taboo wrapped in decades of stigma, and now it is sold at the corner store.
    There are CBD-infused oils, mints, cheeseburgers, vitamin waters, shampoos and even sportswear. Most of this stuff couldn’t possibly offer the human body any benefit. Without the respect of being treated like the medicine it is, or reasonable regulation when it is purchased as a supplement, CBD has been hijacked by unscrupulous actors peddling crooked, corrupt and contaminated products. They’re making a quick buck and disappearing into the ether without a trace.
    It was really discouraging to see the results of a recent study in the medical journal JAMA where researchers analyzed 84 CBD products from 31 companies and found 69% were mislabeled. Some of the products had no CBD at all, some had too much CBD, some too much THC.
    Others studies showed that some CBD products contained dangerous synthetics that have been responsible for outbreaks of illness all over the country. The legitimate vendors of CBD, who took the time to ensure consistency, safety and quality, are now sadly lumped together with the dishonest and dodgy ones, leaving the consumer confused about where to turn.
    The general attitude we have long heard from CBD consumers is they think the product “might help, can’t hurt, why not.” But, when you can’t even count on the authenticity or safety of the product you are buying, that is no longer the case.
    In our latest investigation, “Weed 5: The CBD Craze,” we take you on board the cannabis rocket ship, that shot us from a barren wasteland of prohibition to the Wild West of the CBD craze, and we reveal exactly how we got here. We also provide a roadmap to help you navigate the landscape of CBD, including understanding how to read a “certificate of analysis” and determining what is legal and what isn’t.

    A story of facts, not faith

    With the release of my first “Weed” documentary and op-ed in 2013, some say I became an advocate for medical marijuana. At first I recoiled. To me and my journalist friends and colleagues, “advocacy” can be a dirty word. No doubt, it is sometimes necessary, to champion causes that would otherwise get little attention. To some, however, advocacy implies a certain lack of objectivity, a blind faith. Is that what happened with “Weed”?
    There’s one thing I can’t stress enough: The core story of cannabis has never required me or anyone else to follow blindly. With medical marijuana, you aren’t asked to sacrifice your objectivity or your skepticism. You too will discover it if you diligently study the evidence from all over the world, spend days in the lab to really understand the cannabis molecules — and visit patients whose lives truly depend on it.
    The real story of cannabis has always been rooted in facts, not faith.
    With the series of “Weed,” films, I wanted to shine a light on what would have been obvious, if people had taken the time to look. Echo chambers exist, even in the world of science. I wanted to show you that these chambers can grow bigger and louder with each generation that neglects to challenge them. For too long, the real story of cannabis was drowned out in those echo chambers. Marijuana was preordained as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. My team and I wanted you to hear the other side, the voices that had been drowned out by decades of this noise.

    Let science lead the way

    Over the last six years, I have continued to read constantly, discuss the latest scientific developments with researchers and spend hours with patients to really understand their experience with cannabis as a medication. Through it all, however, there has been something else nagging at me.
    I realized that CBD has become such a convenient political narrative, so easy to rally behind. Maybe too easy.

      Your brain on marijuana

    Indeed, CBD alone doesn’t make you high. You don’t have to smoke it. And the people it has helped the most are little kids like Charlotte. But that was never supposed to be the entire story. After all, “Weed” wasn’t just about CBD, it was about weed, the entire cannabis plant, comprised of hundreds of potentially therapeutic ingredients. And yes, one of those is THC, which to this day remains demonized with the rest of the cannabis plant as a federally illegal (Schedule 1) substance, even though it too has shown promise as an effective medicine.
    We are in an age of wisdom, but also an age of foolishness. We have made great strides with medical marijuana, but we’ve also repeated some of the same mistakes that led cannabis to be vilified and misunderstood in the first place. Hype and echo chambers are never a friend to science or clear-eyed thinking.
      Make no mistake: Cannabis is a medicine. Over the last six years, through countless articles and essays, and now five documentary films, my team and I have made that case and we have provided the proof. At times, it can heal when nothing else can. Denying people this substance represents a moral issue just as much as a medical one.

      Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

      I have always let science and facts lead the way. That isn’t advocacy; that is speaking truth to power. But yes, when you are certain of the evidence and people’s lives depend on it, then shout it from the rooftops, trumpet it loudly in medical conferences and make sure the world knows. If being called an advocate means you took the time to faithfully learn the issues, allowed yourself to change and even admit where you were wrong, then I will proudly own the title and honorably wear the badge.

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      Vaping-related deaths in United States rise to 17

      (CNN)Alabama on Wednesday announced the state’s first death due to lung disease associated with vaping — bringing the nationwide total of confirmed deaths to 17.

      The Alabama Department of Public Health said the death was an adult man in the eastern part of the state.
      “While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said in a statement Wednesday.
        The Virginia death, an adult from the state’s southwest region, was initially reported by Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina, on September 26. The New Jersey death, an adult from the northern part of the state, was reported to its health department in August.
        “I am deeply saddened to announce the first death of a Virginia resident related to this outbreak,” Virginia’s state health commissioner, Dr. M. Norman Oliver, said in a statement on Tuesday.
        Fourteen other deaths have been identified nationwide as part of the multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping: two in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Nebraska.
        The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the agency is aware of 805 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use in 46 states and the US Virgin Islands.

        Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

          A specific cause of the nationwide outbreak remains unknown, but health officials are zeroing in on potential clues — including the prevalence of THC-containing products among cases.
          New Jersey’s health department noted that, “to date, there have been no reports of serious lung illness associated with products sold in dispensaries permitted by the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program.”

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          Beto O’Rourke Details His Plan To Legalize Marijuana In The U.S.

          Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced a broad plan Thursday for legalizing marijuana nationwide and repairing some of the injustices the so-called war on drugs has wrought in Black and brown communities.

          The Democratic Party has increasingly moved toward a consensus that Congress should legalize weed. But O’Rourke’s marijuana plan, the most detailed one yet issued by a 2020 candidate, goes further, listing a spate of demands aimed at correcting a century’s worth of prohibition-driven injustices. 

          “We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” O’Rourke said in a news release. “These inequalities have compounded for decades, as predominantly white communities have been given the vast majority of lucrative business opportunities, while communities of color still face over-policing and criminalization.” 

          The former El Paso congressman’s plan would grant clemency to people currently in prison for marijuana possession and would expunge the records of those with previous possession convictions. He would also regulate marijuana much like alcohol, limiting the drug’s sale to adults and prohibiting smoking in public spaces.

          O’Rourke is also calling for a federal tax on the marijuana industry, which would be used to fund a monthly “drug war justice grant” to give people formerly incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses. His plan would require that the majority of licenses for marijuana businesses go to minority-owned shops and people with previous weed convictions, and would waive licensing fees for low-income people with such convictions.

          Black people across the nation were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, according to a 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union ― despite data that suggested the groups use the drug at about the same rate.

          All of the leading Democratic candidates for president have come out in support of federal marijuana legalization, except former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has stopped short of nationwide legalization, having said in the past that the issue should be left up to states. (When HuffPost reached out to Biden’s team for more clarity on Thursday, it said Biden would not be “going beyond” his existing criminal justice plan, which calls for legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing the use of recreational marijuana, as well as expunging prior marijuana-related convictions.) 

          O’Rourke has questioned the logic guiding the drug war for years, penning a resolution in 2009 as an El Paso city councilman calling for a debate on whether to legalize drugs. 

          In 2011, he co-wrote a book with fellow El Paso activist Susie Byrd titled “Dealing Death and Drugs… An Argument for Ending the Prohibition of Marijuana.” They argued that marijuana prohibition fueled the violence that had turned their Mexican sister city of Ciudad Juárez into one of the world’s most violent while simultaneously driving mass incarceration in the United States. 

          O’Rourke, who served on the House Veterans Committee as a congressman, has also argued that the federal government should make marijuana available to combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.  

          Other candidates have also focused their support for legalization on seeking justice for people incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses during the U.S. government’s war on drugs. 

          When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he’d support legalizing weed as a presidential candidate in 2015 ― becoming the first major-party candidate for president to do so ― he lamented the “many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses.” And earlier this year, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said at a forum in Texas that young men of color who’d been jailed under marijuana charges “should be first in line” to get jobs in the growing weed industry.  

          Later Thursday morning, O’Rourke ― who has been campaigning in California ― was expected to attend a roundtable with community leaders in Oakland about equity and justice in the marijuana industry. The event was to be held at Blunts and Moore, a marijuana dispensary that opened as part of the city’s equity permit program, which grants permits for marijuana sales to people with previous weed-related convictions or those who have lived for at least a decade in a neighborhood with disproportionate weed-related arrests.

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          Start your Monday smart: Assault weapons, United Nations, Emmys, whistleblower, ‘SNL’

          (CNN)Here’s what you need to know toStart Your Week Smart.

          (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. You give us five minutes, and we give you five things you must know for your weekday, plus a Sunday edition to get your week started smart. Sign up here.)


            • The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards arrives. Will “Game of Thrones” rule, or could the “Bodyguard,” “Better Call Saul” or “Killing Eve” thwart its dominance? Review nominees in major categories, then tune in at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

              ‘Game of Thrones’ leading the way in Emmy nominations

            • A lot more than done-me-wrong songs. Ken Burns’ new epic, “Country Music,” traces the American mainstay from its birth in the 1920s. The latest installments of the eight-part, 16-hour series air nightly through Wednesday at 8 ET on PBS.

              Nashville is the hot new place for bachelorette parties

            • The Rugby World Cup is in full scrum. New Zealand returns to defend its back-to-back titles against 19 teams, including a US squad (though event host Japan may already be distracted by Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics). The final is November 2. Here’s how to watch.

              Rugby players advised to cover tattoos in Japan


            • The world comes to New York. The United Nations General Assembly convenes this week, kicking off with a climate summit. President Trump is expected to speak Tuesday ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who’s still awash in Brexit woes. Also on the week’s docket are recent developments in Iran, Venezuela and Israel.

              On GPS: Are Saudi Arabia and Iran on the brink of war?

            • Ex-Dallas officer’s trial starts. Amber Guyger is due to go on trial for the murder of Botham Jean. Guyger, who is white, was off-duty when she went into what she says she thought was her apartment and fatally shot Jean, an unarmed black man, in his own home. Guyger was fired shortly after the incident.

              Police officer indicted in Botham Jean’s death

            • Fall into fall. The season of pumpkin spice and endless leaf-bagging begins around 4 a.m. ET.
            • Happy birthday to The Boss. Bruce Springsteen turns 70.

              How Springsteen OK’d ‘Blinded By The Light’


            • NTSB reviews fatal Massachusetts fires. A year after a series of fires and explosions rocked cities north of Boston, the National Transportation Safety Board is due to meet to determine what caused the blasts. A teenager was killed and others were hurt when more than 60 suspected gas fires broke out, forcing thousands to evacuate.

              Several suspected gas explosions caused fires in Massachusetts

            • 1st US cannabis café opens. You’ve heard of wine pairings; how about weed pairings? Lowell Café is set to open near Los Angeles, aiming to reduce the stigma around marijuana.

              Possible cannabis plants found at state Capitol building

            • 1st down, Congress! This is no sports metaphor. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle team up with ex-NFL players to face off against the US Capitol Police in the 10th annual charity football game.

              Sights and sounds from the congressional game


            • ‘Military-style assault weapons’ up for debate. The House Judiciary Committee is due to hold a hearing on “military-style assault weapons,” which some Democrats want to ban. The firearms have been used in mass attacks in Las VegasEl Paso, Texas, and elsewhere. Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke highlighted the issue at a recent debate, saying, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” 

              Beto O’Rourke: We should stop selling weapons of war


            • Whistleblower complaint takes center stage. The acting director of national intelligence has agreed to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee. Joseph Maguire has blocked the panel from seeing a whistleblower complaint about communications between President Trump and a foreign leader.

              Cooper breaks down whistleblower complaint revelations

            • Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ marks 50 years. The last album recorded by the Fab Four was released a half-century ago. Fans last month flocked to the London street crossing featured on the record’s cover.

              50th anniversary edition of ‘Abbey Road’


            • Racing returns to beleaguered Santa Anita. The autumn meet is scheduled to open at the California race course where 31 horses have died since December. Investigations are underway and stricter rules have been implemented following the deaths.

              Horse trainers and track investigated after Santa Anita deaths


              • A memorial service honors a teen killed in a brawl. Mourners are due to gather to honor Khaseen Morris, the 16-year-old student who was attacked and killed in New York as a group of teens looked on, some recording the assault on their phones but none stepping in to help.

                Teen fatally stabbed while onlookers took video

              • ‘Saturday Night Live’ opens another season. The comedy classic has run into some controversy in the run-up to its 45th season. Woody Harrelson will try to forge ahead when he hosts the premiere with musical guest Billie Eilish. Tune in at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

                Comedian fired from ‘SNL’ for making bigoted comments

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              Ken Burns’ new documentary ‘Country Music’ is essential viewing

              (CNN)We’re divided by culture as much as politics. The roots of red state vs. blue state tribalism reflect the different ways we live in rural and urban America. But while these divides run deep, they are also simplistic stereotypes that are reinforced by ignorance and insults.

              Country music comes from the heart of rural America. But it is both a cruel and stupid mistake to dismiss it as hillbilly music. It is a cross-pollination of different traditions that has evolved over more than a century. It’s the sound of Saturday night and Sunday morning, a music of love and loss. And like jazz, the subject of an earlier series from Burns, country music is an authentic American art form.
              The series is arguably the best documentary series Burns has made since his initial epics on the Civil War and baseball. Burns weaves a coherent story from disparate parts, using iconic characters like Hank Williams, the self-destructive “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” and Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black” who managed to be both a traditionalist and counter-culture icon, as narrative anchors.
                But it’s the interweaving stories that make the series an eye-opening journey. If you’re only an occasional listener of country music or someone who dismisses the genre entirely, you’ll be fascinated to hear the hardscrabble origin stories of early stars like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. All American music is a cross-cultural gumbo, but you might still be surprised to learn about the black musical influences on country’s earliest evolutions.
                If that seems too Sepia-toned, there are lessons about the power of authenticity in art and life to be taken from Willie Nelson, who ditched the star-making assembly line of Nashville for Austin, where he stirred up a new scene and a popular subgenre, Outlaw Country. There is a slice of redemption in the racism that Charlie Pride, one of the few black country stars, confronts and then transcends through the power of his voice and unlikely advocates at the Grand Ole Opry.
                Dolly Parton is a study in self-creation, overcoming snickers and doubts to become an iconic singer songwriter. Dolly not only got the joke, but flipped it on her critics when she said, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. And I’m not blonde either.”
                Country music is about relationships and so it’s fitting that the series includes the great love story between Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, the father-daughter relationship between Johnny and Rosanne Cash and the doomed love of George Jones and Tammy Wynette that produced enduring songs out of the wreckage.
                Ultimately, the music is the medium. And if you think you know country music through a passing acquaintance with honky-tonk bars and whatever comes up on the radio during long drives, you’ll quickly realize what you’ve been missing.
                The defiant dirge of Waylon Jennings “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” is the essence of punk rock. Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and even Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA” are proto-feminist anthems. Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Townes Van Zandt’s much-covered “Pancho and Lefty” are pure poetry. Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s reimagining of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” fuse gospel and country into the equivalent of four-minute symphonies with their precision and ambition.
                Country music’s reputation as a reactionary soundtrack doesn’t hold up on close scrutiny either. Sure, anthems like Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” may have resonated with crewcut audiences with lyrics like “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee,” or “We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street.” But they did not represent the artists’ own reality: the ex-con later expressed his regret for writing the song, and turned to weed and grew medical marijuana in California in his later life. Bluegrass musicians joined rockers in playing Vietnam war protests, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s intergenerational country sessions were a metaphor for healing from the late 60s.
                But as always, it was Johnny Cash who walked the line most effectively, opposing Vietnam while playing for the troops overseas, bringing Bob Dylan to a country audience and accepting an invitation to the White House to play for Richard Nixon while rejecting his request that he perform a cynical conservative song called “Welfare Cadillac.”
                Instead, Cash played his tune “What is Truth” which honored the rebellious questioning of the younger generation against the conservative confines of their parents. The President had to accept the defiance with a grin plastered across his face.
                As with any distillation of a major theme in American life, there will be debates and quibbles as well as questions of inclusion. With hundreds of interviews, the story stops at the turn of the century and brushes over some of my personal favorites like Lyle Lovett. But then part of the purpose of a documentary like this is to establish the tributaries of tradition that get expanded and combined when a new crop of American originals like Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves or Sturgill Simpson come along.
                There will be other inevitable complaints from the self-appointed culture police. A new version of looking down at country music as being the music of poor white folks is to dismiss it as a soundtrack to white privilege. Among other things, this willfully ignores the painful and relatable role of class in American life, choosing to focus primarily on the wound of race, which has been a core theme of Burns’ work.
                That’s why I was gratified to see a tweet by none other than Chuck D of Public Enemy calling the documentary “amazing” and saying “for those MCs and fanatics in hip-hop that relish the power of lyrics…this is a can’t miss in the knowledge of music.”

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                  And that’s the thing: for all the interesting differences and dramatic details of various musical traditions in America, we’re all part of the broader song. Understanding requires empathy. And by reaching out beyond our respective divides we not only bridge differences, we create something new and vibrant, mirroring the creative leaps that characterize American music.
                  That’s the American alchemy that Ken Burns brings alive in this latest chapter of his American epic. He is one of our greatest historians, illuminating the past and present while guiding us to a shared future.

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                  Marijuana Business Leaders Meet With Beto ORourke On His Legalization Plan

                  OAKLAND, Calif. ― Hours after Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke unveiled a sweeping plan to legalize marijuana and repair the racist injustices of the war on drugs, weed industry leaders met with him here on Thursday to discuss the merits and limits of such proposals.

                  The former Texas congressman hosted a roundtable gathering with about a dozen participants ― mostly people of color ― that included business owners, local officials and community organizers. The discussion touched upon the challenges in creating a legalized marijuana industry nationwide while avoiding America’s ongoing history of racism and the injustices of the capitalist system.

                  “When [weed is legal] at the federal level, and the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries come in, where is the protection for the small businesses and the people of color?” asked Phae Moore, co-founder of Blunts and Moore, an Oakland dispensary where the event was held. 

                  The shop was the first “social equity” dispensary to open as part of a city program that grants permits to people with previous weed-related convictions or from neighborhoods with disproportionate arrests. 

                  Moore expressed concern about the federal taxes O’Rourke’s plan would impose on the marijuana industry, which she said is already heavily taxed. Businesses like hers would have to pass on those extra costs to consumers, she said, at the risk of losing out to competitors in the ongoing illicit market. 

                  “You’re overtaxing and (customers) can get it at a better rate on the street,” she said, as a marijuana plant glowed green on a screen behind her on a wall.  

                  O’Rourke’s detailed legalization proposal includes expunging the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana possession, as well as requiring the majority of licenses for marijuana businesses go to minority-owned shops and people with previous weed convictions. 

                  Black people across the nation were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, according to a 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union ― this despite data that suggested the groups use the drug at about the same rate.

                  O’Rourke kicked off the conversation at the roundtable by saying he was “here to listen.”

                  “As a white guy it was never really a fear of mine that I’d be stopped or arrested for marijuana,” O’Rourke said. “How do we ensure those that are the most harmed by the war on drugs have the greatest chance to succeed moving forward? And I want your guidance and help doing that.”

                  Beto O’Rourke (fourth from right) listens at the roundtable discussion he held Thursday in Oakland, California on issues surrounding his plan to legalize marijuana nationwide.

                  All of the leading Democratic presidential candidates support federal marijuana legalization except for former Vice President Joe Biden, who has stopped short of backing such a move for recreational use. He has instead called for legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing the use of marijuana, as well as expunging prior marijuana-related convictions.

                  Leaders in the room in Oakland discussed how legalization in the weed industry must be tied to lifting up the communities surrounding it, particularly those most harmed by criminalization.

                  “The bread and butter comes from community ― how can you make millions, and not give that back into community? And not through beautification of parks,” said Christine De La Rosa, co-founder of the People’s Dispensary, which is 100% LGBTQ-owned and operates in Oakland and Portland, Oregon. Her company dedicates 10% of profits to a rapid response fund that helps finance donations to homeless neighbors and “micro-investments” in business ideas by community members who may not have access to venture capital or other funding, she said.

                  Others brought up the challenges of having policies with good intentions that can go awry when applied in practice.

                  Lanese Martin, co-founder of the Hood Incubator, pointed to Oakland’s own equity program that gives priority for permits to marijuana businesses that “incubate” applicants with previous convictions ― meaning they provide them with three years’ free rent on at least 1,000 square feet of space to develop their outlets. But then some applicants need more than just space.

                  “Growing up in communities that have been underserved ― why would they have the skillset now to run a company?” Martin said. “Most businesses are handing over the space so they can get through the hoops, then you have ‘equity’ people who have no ability to run a business.”

                  Many of the speakers insisted on the importance of giving a strong voice on federal policies toward the marijuana industry to people from the communities most affected by decades-long punitive drug policies.

                  “How do we create development without displacement?” asked Oakland City Council member Loren Taylor. “And make sure those anchored here are benefiting from improvement?” 

                  O’Rourke ended the session by saying he wanted to ensure his legalization proposal was “informed by people who have lived this.” He pointed to Alphonso Blunt, who now co-owns the Blunts and Moore dispensary but in 2004 was among the many black men who’d been arrested for selling weed. 

                  “These challenges are systemic, endemic, foundational ― we can’t look at just one industry apart from the rest of the country,” O’Rourke said. “It makes the solutions that much more challenging but it’s more honest … I certainly have not figured all this out, but I feel many steps closer thanks to what you shared today.” 

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                  With pancreatic cancer, what Stephen needs is legalised cannabis

                  A year into his cancer treatment, Stephen heard about the benefits of medical marijuana and CBD oil, but it has proven difficult to get

                  I was lying face down when I first heard about Stephen Schulman. Id been feeling sorry for myself, complaining of an aching wrist and back the vestiges of an age-inappropriate roller-skating accident – while my massage therapist Elisa worked to soothe my pain.

                  Eventually, our conversation turned to her friend Stephen. At only 41, just months after marrying the love of his life, Stephen had gone to the doctor complaining of stomach pains and the inability to keep anything down. He re-emerged with a diagnosis: stage-3 pancreatic cancer, inoperable due to a very large tumor wrapping itself around a major artery in his abdomen.

                  In essence, a death sentence.

                  Elisa had been buying Stephen sublingual CBD oil $89 for one ounce because it proved to be the only thing effectively alleviating the tingling and numbness that had recently consumed his fingers and toes. He and his husband Wades savings had been bled dry by their $2,400-a-month insurance premium plus general expenses. Stephen is unable to work since his life has become a blur of excruciating pain, treatments, hope, fear and heavy doses of opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone.


                  Stephen first heard about the reported pain relief benefits of medical marijuana and CBD oil for cancer patients a year into his treatment. When he asked his doctors about applying for a medical marijuana card, their reluctance confused him. Still, he persisted and when he started using both, he found they controlled his symptoms as well or, in some cases, better than opioids. He also found out that no insurance company covers their high costs.

                  As Elisa told me Stephens story, I considered how the small discomforts Id come in with made it harder for me to get around in the day or to sleep well at night. How they made me feel irritable and fragile. And how I could pay a negligible amount of money to a lovely woman to help soothe them for me. My ailments were absolutely nothing by comparison with Stephens, yet what he needs is elusive at best, prohibited at worst.

                  Politicians have been embroiled in contentious debates for years about the morality and logistics of legalizing medical marijuana despite reputable studies, like the Rand study, which supports its efficacy. In the meantime, people like Stephen suffer.

                  I decided to document Stephens life because his story had something valuable to remind us all about the gap between the abstract moralizing of politicians and the needs of the people they represent.

                  These pictures were taken between January and August 2019.


                  Wade is a freelance hairstylist. Once in a while, he sits Stephen down in the chair in his home salon and treats him to a haircut, shave and facial mask.


                  Stephen remembers clearly what it felt like to be diagnosed: It just hits you like a ton of bricks: Everything is about to change. Your life is going to be about doing chemo, radiation, things you wouldnt normally do and its going to be a hard, uphill battle.



                  Wade adds Osmolite formula, a therapeutic nutrition for patients with increased calorie and protein needs, to a drip every other night to help Stephen maintain a healthy weight. The procedure takes eight hours and is very uncomfortable. Lack of appetite and nausea leading to unhealthy weight loss are common for pancreatic patients. The use of medical marijuana has helped Stephen greatly with these symptoms.


                  Artist Jason Naylor, whose self-described mission is to spread color and positivity across the globe, heard about Stephens plight through social media and made him the Love painting, which he hand-delivered to the couple, that hangs above Stephen and Wades bed.

                  Overwhelmed by medical expenses, Stephen and Wade accepted the offer of a friend to set up a GoFundMe page for them.

                  We have to lean on each other, trust one another, and be up front about how were doing and feeling every single day, Stephen says of his relationship. Theres no way I would have been able to get through this diagnosis without Wade. I appreciate him more every day. I know that sounds corny, but its true.


                  Clyde, one of the couples two cats, the other is Bonnie (both male), watches as Stephen tries on his kickboxing gloves. Kickboxing was something Stephen enjoyed with friends before his diagnoses when he was 40 pounds heavier. Now, there are some days hes too weak to get out of bed.


                  Stephen describes the current state of his disease; Stage 3-pancreatic cancer without the possibility of the Whipple procedure because of the placement of the tumor. They do a CT scan every three months and determine the next steps based on those results. A very risky surgery I believe its only performed by one doctor in the US at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is my only option and were hoping to make that happen. But insurance has, so far, refused to pay for it or the chemotherapy Ill need beforehand, and it is astronomically expensive.


                  It makes me smile a little to wear fun, colorful socks, Stephen says in reference to the cock socks he wears to physical therapy.


                  I think its funny, Stephen remarks, that in America youre able to buy alcohol, which is known to cause all these problems, but CBD oil and medical marijuana are more regulated and looked down upon. Its sad because theyve definitely helped me immensely.

                  In New York state, medication comes primarily in the form of pills, vapes, oils and lotions. Dispensaries cant distribute edibles because its much harder to control the doses a patient receives in them. Every dose at Columbia Care New York is consistent and titrated, meaning its increased, if need be, slowly over time.

                  dr reed

                  Tricia Reed, PharmD, Columbia Care New Yorks lead pharmacist, describes the purported benefits of some of their products.

                  High THC products are good for nausea, vomiting and severe pain, giving more of an opiate-type pain relief. THC is a good muscle relaxer and helps with sleep. CBD is a great anti-inflammatory, works well for nerve pain, and is an anti-convulsant so its good for seizures.

                  Every dose has to deliver the exact milligram per milliliter as prescribed. Each time you take an inhalation from the vapor, it gives you a specific mg.


                  When a patient visits Columbia Care for the first time, they meet with a pharmacist who takes them through a full consultation to determine what products they may respond to best.

                  In the higher-THC products, Reed explains, there can be a euphoric feeling which might not be so bad for patients going through a hard time. Its similar to the side-effects youd get from other meds like Valium. I encourage patients to think of it that way. Its just a side-effect similar to those of other medications they may have already taken. There is still that sense of taboo or stigma that goes along with marijuana. A lot of what weve been trying to do is to de-stigmatize it.

                  Rosemary Mazanet, an oncologist by original training, is chief scientific officer for Columbia Care. When I think about the disconnect between the enormous promise that cannabis products bring and the fact that theres such an air about it that makes it tawdry, it comes down to the fact that its federally illegal.

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                  Breaking Down The 5 Most Common CBD Myths Betches

                  Lately, it seems like people can’t stop talking about CBD. There has been a huge surge in all things CBD, from beauty products to dietary supplements—some companies even sell CBD-infused lubricant.  When it isn’t already integrated into a product, CBD often comes in the form of an oil. The compound supposedly helps to alleviate a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and inflammationWhile cannabidiol (CBD) is safe and beneficial for treating these conditions and more, there are still a lot of misconceptions surrounding this versatile compound. Increased interest in CBD has led to a surplus of CBD-related products hitting the market—which also means a surplus of misinformation. Let’s take a look at some of the most common CBD myths:

                  1. CBD Is “Non-Psychoactive”

                  When someone says CBD is non-psychoactive, they’re referring to the fact that CBD does not get users intoxicated, or high, like THC from the same cannabis plant does.

                  But to call CBD non-psychoactive is incorrect, since a psychoactive substance is simply one that affects the brain—not necessarily one that causes intoxication. A psychoactive substance can affect mood, cognition, and behavior. CBD has been shown to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, so it is psychoactive because it affects mood and mental processes.

                  2. CBD Is Used For Medicine And THC Is Used for Recreation

                  The human body has an endocannabinoid system, meaning it produces its own cannabinoids. External cannabinoids from plants (called phytocannabinoids) can also influence the endocannabinoid system, where pain, inflammation, and other processes are regulated.

                  THC and CBD both work on the endocannabinoid system, THC directly and CBD indirectly, to unleash their effects. Both compounds are medically recognized to alleviate a number of conditions.

                  To call CBD the medicinal part of the plant and THC the fun part of the plant is far from the truth. Anecdotal and scientific evidence has long suggested that CBD works better with some THC present. Many medical marijuana patients use THC on a regular basis for conditions like chronic pain, glaucoma, nausea, and more. To ignore the years of medically verified uses for THC while embracing CBD would be ill-informed.

                  CBD has gained popularity because it has therapeutic effects without intoxicating the user, which appeals to many people hesitant to use cannabis. That doesn’t mean CBD is the only medicinal compound in the plant.

                  3. CBD Works Best When Isolated

                  The bulk of the CBD market is made up of either isolates or whole-plant extracts. Many mistakenly believe that isolating cannabidiol from the rest of the plant is the best way to get therapeutic effects, but evidence suggests that the opposite is true.

                  When using whole-plant extracts, all compounds of the plant are able to work synergistically with one another to boost their effects. Terpenes, the organic compounds that make up the taste and smell of cannabis, create a symbiosis with CBD and other cannabinoids in the plant, resulting in a stronger therapeutic effect.

                  CBD in its isolated form can still provide relief, but using full-plant CBD is more effective. This was shown in a 2015 study that stated, “Other components in the extract synergize with CBD to achieve the desired anti-inflammatory action.” The study also found that isolated CBD only worked in limited dosage ranges.

                  4. CBD Is A sedative

                  This is a confusing one, because a lot of people claim to use CBD to help them sleep. It can help with insomnia, as CBD relaxes the body, which can help you fall asleep faster. One study has even shown that CBD increases overall sleep time.

                  This does not make it a sedative, however. In fact, it’s been found to promote wakefulness, and many people consider their CBD dose to be energizing.

                  Those experiencing sedative effects from CBD may be able to attribute it to myrcene, a terpene found in high concentrations in many CBD strains. Myrcene is known for its sedation-inducing effects.

                  5. CBD Is Legal Everywhere In The United States

                  With CBD’s mainstream uprising, you might think that it must be legal everywhere. But the compound is still in a gray area when it comes to the law. Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is recognized as an agricultural tool and is no longer considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance. CBD derived from hemp is now legally in the clear anywhere in the country. However, marijuana-derived CBD’s legality depends on the state where it is being sold, and that state’s own cannabis laws.

                  To sum up, CBD extracted from cannabis (rather than hemp) is federally illegal, but may be legal at the state level. Hemp-derived CBD is legal everywhere in the United States.

                  This murky legality hasn’t had much effect on availability. CBD can be found just about anywhere these days, and it’s only growing in popularity. That makes it all the more important that you know fact from fiction when it comes to common CBD myths.

                  Images: Caleb Simpson / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

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                  Paris Jackson Steps In After 50 Cent Shades Michael Jackson In Chris Brown Comparison Post – Perez Hilton

                  Paris Jackson stepped in on social media after 50 Cent made a dig at her late father Michael Jackson.

                  It all got started when the Candy Shop rapper threw shade at Mr. Jackson via Instagram on Thursday, captioning a video of Chris Brown doing back flips on stage:

                  “👀All I’m saying is I never seen MJ come out like this 🤷🏽‍♂️”

                  The 21-year-old wrote a response to the shady post:

                  “superbowl 1993. true legends don’t need to exert outrageous amounts of energy just to grasp your attention. stillness, my friend. stillness. more power in stillness than you can probably understand.”

                  In a follow-up comment, Paris penned:

                  “And I say this with zero shade to Chris. I love him dearly. This is just for you 50.”

                  Despite the serious allegations made against both Brown and Jackson, many commenters sided with Paris, agreeing the comparison between the two was unnecessary. See some of the responses (below):

                  “👀And I didn’t watch Michael criticize or cursing another famous singer in this way like what you do🤷🏻‍♀️”


                  “Leave already”

                  Ch-ch-check out the post in question for yourself (below):

                  As if that wasn’t enough, as a follow-up on Friday afternoon, 50 posted a photo of a news headline about the initial social media interaction, which he captioned:

                  “Why am I the bad guy,I understand how you feel Paris,but does anyone care about how the little boys butts feels 🤷🏽‍♂️ #lecheminduroi #bransoncognac”

                  It was just last Saturday morning the 44-year-old made a point to shout out Breezy; the No Guidance musician had just become the 7th highest selling artist for singles in the US.

                  Per The Blast, in a now-deleted tweet the rapper wrote:

                  “@chrisbrown has now sold 69.5M singles in the US, making him the 7th best selling singles artists of all time. He has now [totaled] 100M RIAA certified units.”

                  Congratulating him on his accomplishment is one thing, but he reportedly also added some shade toward MJ:

                  “CB better [than] MJ to me now. I can’t believe mike wanted to touch the little boys booty.”

                  How can you go after Michael Jackson for his accusations in the same breath you’re heaping praise on Chris Brown of all people? It’s almost impressive.

                  MJ isn’t the first person the In Da Club rapper has gone after on social media as of late; he also sunk to new levels when attacking Wendy Williams in a petty feud, calling the daytime show host an “ugly motherf**ker.”

                  What do U make of all of this, Perezcious readers? Sound OFF (below) in the comments with all your thoughts!!

                  [Image via WENN/Avalon & Rob Grabowski/Apega/WENN.]

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                  Georgia on cusp of legalizing medical marijuana

                  Washington (CNN)Georgia is on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana after the state assembly passed a bill that would allow for the in-state sale and production of the drug for medicinal purposes.

                  The legislation, HB 324, closes loopholes created from a 2015 act that legalized the use of low-THC cannabis oil for certain medical conditions but did not allow for the growing, selling or possession of the oil in the state.
                  The new bill would allow for the “production, manufacturing, and dispensing” as well as the possession of low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia. It would also set up a state commission to oversee the industry and license universities and private companies that could produce the oil. The bill would also allow the state to license pharmacies and private companies that would sell low-THC cannabis oil to medical marijuana patients.
                    The bill does not legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the state, nor does it allow smoking or consuming marijuana.
                    According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kemp helped broker a deal between the Senate and House to guard against illegal distribution, which eventually led to the bill’s passage.
                    “Over the years, I’ve met with children who are battling chronic, debilitating diseases. I’ve heard from parents who are struggling with access and losing hope,” Kemp said, according to the paper. “This compromise legislation is carefully crafted to provide access to medical cannabis oil to those in need. This is simply the right thing to do.”
                      The state currently allows those suffering from serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer and Parkinson’s disease to use and possess low-THC cannabis oil.
                      Should it adopt the new regulations, Georgia would join a growing number of states that have passed similar laws setting up medical marijuana programs. So far, 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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