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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      Smoking gun: should you be able to use a firearm while stoned?

      As legalization reaches the red states, the conflict between federal gun and marijuana laws becomes an issue

      In November 2018, a Pennsylvania doctor who both used and prescribed medical marijuana sued the US government. He had attempted to buy a revolver for self-defense, but he had been denied at the store because he uses a federally illegal drug. Dr Matthew Roman claimed his inability to buy a gun violated his rights under the US constitutions second amendment and the fifth amendments equal protection clause.

      Roman subsequently lost his medical license because of his problematic cannabis use. His lawsuit was dismissed, but not before a government lawyer weighed in: The second amendment does not protect those who choose to illegally take mind-altering drugs, and who commit to continuing to do so.

      In fact, its not so clearcut. At least one state has made it legal for medical marijuana users to own guns. But the move sidesteps the bigger question: is allowing the combination of high-powered pot and gun use a good idea? Legalization has reached the conservative heartland. Oklahoma, as pro-gun a state as there is, has a fast-growing medical marijuana industry, and this spring the governor signed a law to protect the right of medical marijuana-using Oklahomans to buy and own guns.

      In Texas, which has been slower to change its marijuana laws, the issue is on the horizon. The Dallas Morning News recently quoted a veteran who acquires his medical marijuana illegally, so he can continue to buy guns. Why am I going to give up one of my rights because I found an organic plant that some are uncomfortable with? Joshua Raines said. Im not going to do that. Im not going to trade my rights like baseball cards.

      Thanks to the hippies, marijuana is sometimes perceived as a liberals drug. Merle Haggards 1969 culture war anthem Okie from Muskogee released weeks after Woodstock begins, We dont smoke marijuana in Muskogee.

      Weapons of war had not yet became totems of American rightwing identity. But its fair to assume even then there were a fair number of illegal pot patches in deep red Oklahoma. Theres still significant support for marijuana legalization on the libertarian right, which is a force in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and other early states to legalize marijuana. At times Haggard himself was a prodigious toker.

      Oklahomas law is one way to paper over the conflict between federal gun and marijuana laws. Medical weed legalization might even be seen as a blow to the stigma which still surrounds marijuana: the state says law-abiding adults can be trusted with both firearms and pot.

      Illustration: George Wylesol/The Guardian

      Meanwhile, strong support for medical marijuana research among veterans has accelerated legalization faster than anyone might have reasonably expected. Many veterans claim cannabis has helped them cope with PTSD, opioid addiction and related symptoms. Thus far the evidence of medical marijuanas benefits in this area are largely anecdotal.

      But veterans groups say 20 veterans commit suicide daily and research suggests access to guns increases the risk of suicide. Many within the marijuana industry suggest access to medical marijuana can help reduce veteran suicides, although much more research is necessary. Either way, marijuana adds another volatile element to this already combustible mix.

      Earlier this year, the former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson published a book Tell Your Children which attempts to link marijuana use with acts of extreme violence. The book has been widely criticized, but one need not fully subscribe to Berensons alarmism to recognize the potential hazards of pot and guns. In one notorious 2014 incident, which Berenson details at length, a Denver man who ingested too many edibles, got into the gun safe and fatally shot his wife.

      Americans have also adjusted to a world where random mass shootings have become commonplace. Some of these shooters have been users of cannabis and other drugs. In the politics of the moment, cannabis has not received much of the blame as it relates to these massacres. Berensons book is not notable for its restraint, but even he gives this question a wide berth.

      Of course, a great many cannabis users almost certainly are capable of responsible gun ownership. But the weapons currently available in much of the US foster the possibility that any slight misunderstanding or grudge can escalate instantly into horrific carnage. Adding marijuana into the mix doesnt change, and perhaps exacerbates, that basic equation.

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      Daily or high-potency cannabis increases risk of psychotic disorder, study finds

      (CNN)Legalization of marijuana, both for medical and recreational use, continues to spread across the globe even as the possible health risks (or benefits) are not fully known. Case in point, according to new research, people who use cannabis daily, as well as those who use high-potency weed, may be three times more likely to develop psychotic disorder than never-users.

      Published Tuesday in the journal the Lancet Psychiatry, the new evidence is consistent with previous experiments that suggest heavy use and high THC concentration cannabis — a 10% concentration of THC (the psychoactive substance within cannabis) or higher — can be harmful to mental health.
      “Psychotic disorder,” precisely, is what was studied, said Dr. Marta Di Forti, lead author and a clinician scientist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. “We are talking about people who meet diagnostic criteria [and] come to the attention of mental health services to receive treatment for psychosis. So they have to have symptoms of psychosis across the spectrum — so hallucination, delusion — that have lasted at least for a week.”

        Daily use of cannabis

        Currently, medical cannabis is legal in most European countries, though recreational use is only legal in the Netherlands, Spain (under certain conditions), and Czech Republic. Many countries, though, are discussing legalization. In the United States, 10 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational sales of marijuana, while 34 states allow medical marijuana use.
        To understand whether there’s a connection between cannabis and psychosis, Di Forti and her co-authors looked at data from five countries in Europe — the UK, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy — and Brazil, where cannabis is illegal. They found 901 patients with a first-time episode of psychosis over a five-year period and compared them to 1,237 matched non-patients.
        Daily use of cannabis was more common among patients with psychosis compared to the controls, they found. About 30% of patients reported using cannabis daily compared to just 7% of non-patient controls. And use of high potency cannabis was also more common among patients than controls: 37% compared to 19%.
        Overall, people who used marijuana on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a first episode psychosis compared with people who never used weed, the researchers estimated. And this increased to five times more likely for those who daily used high-potency cannabis.
        “High-potency cannabis contributes to incidence of psychotic disorder but doesn’t explain it completely,” explained Di Forti, noting that only some users develop a psychotic disorder and the reasons why not all cannabis users are equally susceptible is unclear. Still, the new study may be helpful with regard to medicinal cannabis, since some of those products may include small amounts of THC. For example, maybe psychosis should be listed among the potential side effects, she said.
        The study results do not provide enough information for her to say “use only this amount, only this often” to remain safe. Still, she and her co-authors estimated that one in five new cases of psychosis may be linked to daily cannabis use, and one in 10 cases linked to use of high potency cannabis.
        Dr. Robin Murray, senior author of the study and a professor of psychiatric research at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, said that “15 years ago nobody thought cannabis increased the risk for psychosis.”
        Only gradually has evidence come out and shown that to be true, he said. Gradually, too, other explanations have been chipped away, he said: For example, some people might say that perhaps a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia led some people to use cannabis and this is the reason for higher rates of psychosis. But a study from Finland rules this out, said Murray: “There may be some genetic component but it’s not the major reason.”
        In light of the new results, is legalized cannabis a good idea? “Personally, I think it’s much more important that people are educated,” said Murray. “Tobacco is legal, but we’ve seen the consumption plummet because there’s been a sustained educational campaign.”

        ‘The results need to be taken seriously’

        Dr. Michael Bloomfield, head of the Translational Psychiatry Research Group and a psychiatrist at University College London, told Science Media Centre that the new study is both “important and well conducted research” that “adds weight to the advice that people who use cannabis recreationally should avoid high-THC cannabis.”
        Bloomfield was not involved in the new study. Nor was Dr. Adrian James, registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who told Science Media Centre that the research is “good quality” and “the results need to be taken seriously.”
        “Cannabis carries severe health risks and users have a higher chance of developing psychosis,” said James. “The risks are increased when the drug is high in potency, used by children and young people and when taken frequently.”
        Dr. Philip McGuire, a professor of Psychiatry & Cognitive Neuroscience at King’s College London, told CNN that the study’s finding that cannabis use is higher among patients with psychosis is “not itself new.” Still the study “involves relatively large numbers of subjects and has controlled for other risk factors that might have accounted for the results” and in that way adds to what is known about marijuana, said McGuire, who played no part in the new research.
        Cannabis contains two ingredients that have opposite effects on psychosis: THC induces psychotic symptoms and cannabidiol, known as CBD, reduces them, he explained.
        His own research has shown that “if healthy volunteers are given THC this induces transient psychotic symptoms like paranoia. However, if volunteers are given CBD beforehand, this blocks the induction of psychotic symptoms by THC,” said McGuire.
        McGuire and his co-researchers found that adding CBD to regular antipsychotic medication reduced psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. “When we used brain scanning to measure the effects of CBD and THC on brain function, we found that they have opposite effects on brain activity, which may explain why they have opposite effects on psychotic symptoms,” he said.

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

          “The net effect of cannabis that contains both THC and CBD depends on the relative amounts of each,” he explained. “The cannabis that was available in the 1960s was relatively low in THC and high in CBD. However, these days illicit cannabis is often ‘high potency,’ with a high THC content and a low CBD content.”
          “We are currently conducting research to define the ratio of CBD:THC in cannabis that is optimal for minimizing its psychotic effects,” he said.

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          Theres no opposition now: how a quiet Canada town became a world leader in growing weed

          In an abandoned chocolate factory in Ontario, Canopy Growth is nurturing global ambitions. But could it thrive in Britain?

          The musky aroma hits you from the car park at the headquarters of Canopy Growth, the worlds largest cannabis company.

          Inside this nondescript warehouse an abandoned Hersheys chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, Canada awaits the stuff of a stoners wildest dreams. Myriad rooms teem with row upon row of bushy marijuana plants at various stages of maturity, under intense lamplight, swaying in the breeze of dozens of fans.

          A staff member wheels past crates full of pre-rolled joints in their hundreds. Another trolley holds 25 large bags of high-grade dried cannabis bud, a kilogram each, with a combined value of roughly C$250,000 (150,000).

          If anyone is the Willy Wonka of weed, its Canopy Growths co-chief executive, Bruce Linton.


          Talking a mile a minute, his eyes gleam as he walks the halls of a facility that cost C$150m to build. When I started it was officially the worlds worst idea, because there was no market, he said. There were no regulations and there were officially no patients. I was reluctant to tell my mother I was starting a cannabis business. Now shes a cannabis patient, shes like a drug dealer advising all her friends.

          In a timely illustration of how far the business and the image of cannabis has come, he takes a call from Americas home economics queen, Martha Stewart. Canopy has a deal with Stewart that envisages cannabis-infused chews for anxious pets. Martha, youre gonna hate this, I have to call you back. Canada legalised medical marijuana in 2001, but the recent weed boom was fuelled by a regulatory change in 2013 that effectively created a commercial market. Dozens of countries, including Germany, have brought forward their own medical marijuana legislation.

          In 2018 Canada became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalise recreational use.

          By catching the green wave, Linton has built, in under six years, a company valued by the stock market at 11.5bn, positioned to be the number one global player.

          Though Canopy has yet to make a profit, revenues reached C$225m last year. More than half comes from its recreational cannabis brand Tweed, even though legalisation only took hold halfway through the year.

          Its success is also transforming Smiths Falls, a former manufacturing town about 50 miles south-east of Ottawa in eastern Ontario, that was down on its luck. Smiths Falls is very conservative, says Tracy, who runs a taxi business. The devil himself could be running as a conservative candidate and hed win. Some people thought, Oh my God, were gonna be growing pot? Its employing so many people that theres no opposition now.

          Built by the same Ontario folk who laid railroads and dug canals, Smiths Falls had lost big employers such as RCA, which pressed the first Beatles albums sold in North America. The Ontario Hospital School, a Stanley tools plant and a metalworks all followed suit, with Hersheys dealing the final blow by upping sticks in 2008.

          The deputy mayor, Wendy Alford, used to work at Hersheys on the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup production line. She says that Canopy Growth taking over the site has been life-changing for the town.

          The company employs 1,300 people, about 800 of them Smiths Falls residents, close to 10% of the population. There are indirect economic benefits, Alford says. Their security trucks needed new tyres, so they all go over to Hanks Tyres and thats just made his year. Hes hiring new people.

          Some of the early staff have been enriched by stock options granted when its shares were worth one hundredth of todays price. Its like the Silicon Valley tech boom, albeit on a smaller scale.

          Bruce Linton, the founder and co-CEO of Canopy Growth, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in March. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

          Alford admits that weed wealth has gentrified Smiths Falls to a degree, pricing lower-income residents out of homes they might once have been able to afford. But there appears to be precious little obvious dissent about Canopys presence. The ongoing debate over whether the town should have angled or parallel parking is a far more divisive topic.

          Linton would like to replicate the Smiths Falls revival in Britain, where the firm has a foothold. Canopy owns a UK subsidiary, Spectrum Biomedical UK, and recently spent 43m on the beauty firm This Works, with an eye on a range of products infused with CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has become a global health trend.

          Canopy also has a partnership with the Beckley Foundation, the campaign group that has long promoted drug policy reform and engaged in pioneering research into psychedelic substances.

          One thing Canopy hasnt done is serve many prescriptions in the UK. In November last year, after a long-running campaign fronted by the parents of children with severe epilepsy, the law changed to permit medical cannabis, albeit in very tightly controlled conditions that campaigners and the industry say are unduly restrictive. A specialist must write a prescription before the product can even be imported. There are a handful of patients and Canopy has supplied one of them.

          A worker collects cuttings from a marijuana plant at Canopy Growth in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

          Some of Canopys smaller rivals have made donations to the MP-run Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group to spur change. Canopy says it hasnt spent a penny to shift politicians mindsets in the UK, but it has talked to them.

          Like many in the industry, Linton also touts cannabis as an alternative to opioids, the heroin-related prescription painkillers that have spawned legions of addicts and caused overdose deaths, particularly in the prescription-happy US and Canada. While there is anecdotal evidence that cannabis can treat pain, insomnia, anxiety and nausea among other conditions there is limited information from clinical trials to prove its benefits. One reason is that pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to test products they cannot patent.

          It was never taught in medical school and didnt come through a process of inventing a molecule and testing if it kills people, says Linton. The objections are always the same, that we need studies. We reference 71 peer-reviewed studies, were doing our own studies, we have now data from 80,000 patients that have been with us up to six years. People find that they get relief.

          Canopys customer network presents a golden opportunity to collect data about its patients and product.

          The growing operation uses state-of-the-art technology to trace every product back to its mother plant. Artificial Intelligence plays a part in keeping the high-powered lights on at the right time and ensuring even temperatures.

          Promoting Tweed, Canopy Growths recreational cannabis brand, in the lobby at Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

          Security is tight, too. There is a vault licensed to carry C$150m of product, to which just seven people have the code.

          The 150,000kg of cannabis produced every year, here and in its other vast greenhouses, goes out in armoured trucks manned by security guards with guns. Each truck could be carrying a load worth up to C$25m, ranging from the traditional dried bud similar to that found on the street to cannabis oil and pharmaceutical-style gel caps.

          Legislation is expected to come into force this December that will permit expansion to include cannabis-infused drinks, vaping pens and edibles such as gummy bears and chocolate. These products will end up in Canadas growing network of cannabis shops, pristine retail spots more reminiscent of the Apple store or high-end parfumiers than dens of iniquity.

          But breaking America is the biggest prize in the near future. Canopy recently signed a C$4.5bn deal giving it an option to buy the US cannabis firm Acreage, putting it in pole position to grab a slice of the US if it opens up further.

          While many American states now permit both medical and recreational cannabis use, federal law still prohibits it. And thats an impediment to raising money through the tightly regulated banks, not to mention building a presence that crosses state lines.

          The importance of the US to Canopys future is one reason that Linton wont say whether he is the type to get high on his own supply. Hes a frequent visitor to the US, where acknowledging the use of cannabis can still cause friction with border officials. If you go to the south, youve never heard of cannabis, thats my advice.

          A water tower in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, where legally-grown cannabis is reviving job prospects. Photograph: Getty Images

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          adminTheres no opposition now: how a quiet Canada town became a world leader in growing weed
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          Is it OK to post about weed on your Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook?

          420 BLAZEIT SEND TWETE !!!
          Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

          It’s 4/20 baby!!! It’s Saturday, you’re lit, brain perfectly calibrated to toasted, sparking your joy, blowing smoke rings so on point it feels criminal not to share on your Instagram story.

          But something stops you from posting. And it probably sounds like the voice of your D.A.R.E. teacher yelling about how posting pictures of pot online can get you arrested and ruin your career.

          “Even if you just post one picture, it comes back,” said Anjela, who is very much not a D.A.R.E. teacher. Preferring to keep her full name separate from her online weed-sona, she’s better known as Koala Puffs, a weedfluencer with over half a million Instagram followers. 

          “You gotta be sure that’s where you wanna take your life before you post. Because you have to be able to take on the judgement that’s gonna come with expressing yourself.”

          You’d think that in the year of our lord 2019 we’d have moved past the taboo of being 420 friendly on main. Cannabis decriminalization across the U.S. is at an all-time high, along with the general population’s support for further legalization.

          Yet while many of us are passing the blunt (or at least not harshing people’s buzz) IRL, the stigma around talking openly about cannabis online remains. 

          Elon Musk got the not-so-dank wake up call when he started posting vague (awful) 420 jokes on Twitter, culminating in a smoke sesh no one wanted or asked for that landed him and his company in hot water. Musk also drank alcohol on the same podcast, though, and no one cared two shits about that part.

          And if Musk, a person with endless Fuck You Money and fame, doesn’t have enough privilege to protect himself from online pot-shaming, who among us mortals does? Not even weed influencers can post to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook without facing repercussions that feel like we’re stuck in 1998.

          The cost of a pot-sona 

          In early 2018, YouTube went on what appeared to be a marijuana-based purge, deleting and giving strikes to swaths of weed influencers’ channels. Soon after, it started happening on Instagram. While both companies cited community and user policies about depicting, smoking, and selling drugs on their platforms, others theorized that the crackdown pertained more to advertisers’ trepidation after a litany of unrelated scandals from big names like Pewdiepie and Logan Paul. 

          But by and large, the fear of being publicly weed-friendly on social media isn’t about getting banned. It relates to the unique stigma of making cannabis part of your online persona.

          Koala Puffs said the nine months after she quit her corporate job to pursue cannabis influencing was the hardest in her life. Her family, friends, boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s family couldn’t get behind her pro-bud rebranding.

          “Nobody changed their minds until I was 200,000 followers deep,” she said. But to this day her mom still thinks she’s just outgrowing a college phase.

          “I 100 percent still experience stigma from within my family,” said Arend Richard, who went from 420 YouTuber to cannabis CEO after launching The Weedtube, a weed-friendly alternative to YouTube that’s releasing a new app Saturday in response to the crackdowns. Granted, the weed stigma in his family is only exacerbated by their larger difficulty in accepting another aspect of his identity as a gay man. 

          “But I will say, if you want your family to not judge you for using cannabis, just start a cannabis company, and get it written up in Forbes,” he joked.

          Since taking on the business side recently, though, even Richard went back and deleted over 200 posts from his Instagram. Because legitimate cannabis businessmen also need to avoid the stereotypes associated with the stoner label, which seems to stick like glue in an age when social media signifiers define so much of how other people perceive you.

          Reefer gladness

          Particularly, Richard doesn’t like to post himself in the actual act of smoking, even though a tutorial video teaching people how to smoke was what first began his path into cannabis influencing. That conscious curation is part of a larger shift in how people are expressing their cannabis use online.

          “At first, over-consumption was kind of the game in the cannabis industry to get a following. You just did The Most,” said Richard. 

          When total prohibition was the law of the land in America, seeing copious amounts of weed, bongs, and blunts was an exciting novelty. But now it’s possible for just about anyone with enough money in certain states. 

          “We’re in the biggest change in trends for online cannabis communities right now, moving more toward positivity and less toward over-consumption,” said Richard.

          Cannabis/beauty/wellness influencer and yoga instructor Brittany Tatiana (or sweettatas) quite literally embodies this positivity movement, by normalizing weed as a lifestyle choice on social media.

          “We’re in the biggest change in trends for online cannabis communities right now.”

          She got into weed influencing after a car accident left her with chronic pain. Unable to go back to her corporate job for six months, weed became her best alternative to the opioids doctors prescribed. At the time she’d already began dabbling with modeling and beauty influencing, building a following and doing promotion with a few brands.

          But then she made the fateful decision to take the leap into letting her 420 flag fly. “I guarantee you I lost jobs and contracts because of it. Immediately,” she said.

          “It’s been hard for me to represent my full self and not have people judge me based on what they see in one post,” Tatiana said. Straddling the more commercial beauty industry and the cannabis-friendly world is like walking a tight rope.

          “It’s been a real battle with friends and brands. It’s a fine line to cross. So I just try to be conscious about what I post.”

          Tatiana hesitates to post herself smoking too, for example. But overall, “it basically comes down to a day-to-day, case-by-case basis. Am I OK with how this post represents me? Do I believe in it? Would I want my younger self to post it? Is this true to who I am?”

          She decides whether or not to post by thinking of her weed habits almost like a diet, or any other wellness lifestyle activity. Would she post a picture of a smoothie because it feels good and is part of her wellness regimen? Is that also the case for her marijuana-related post? 

          “It comes down to choosing how you’re gonna show it, and what cannabis means to you,” she said.

          But the risk is always there, especially since the stoner label seems to dominate any other way you define yourself. 

          “I worry in general that it’ll put me in some sort of box that I don’t want to be in. Even though these days, it’s becoming a way bigger box.”

          That caution should be part of everyday people’s process for posting 420-friendly stuff on personal social media channels, too — regardless of whether or not they live in legalized states like the influencers we talked to.

          The legal case against legalized marijuana

          Because any career development expert will warn you that companies do look at your social media before hiring. There have also been a few cases of people getting fired in legalized states like Colorado for using medical marijuana even when they’re not on the job.

          A 2015 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that a vast majority (94 percent) of HR professionals with employees in legalized states still have formal policies against cannabis, with 73 percent in medical marijuana states and 82 percent in recreational states characterizing them as zero tolerance.

          This strict approach might be showing signs of changing since 2015, though. More recent suggestions from the HR group advise companies to handle weed in the workplace with more nuance and care. 

          It me.

          Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

          “We’ve yet to see robust employment protections be adopted across legal markets regarding an individual’s cannabis consumption,” said Justin Strekal, federal lobbyist at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But there are some emerging cases, like a recent ruling in Massachusetts that sided with an employee suing his company for wrongful termination over medical marijuana.

          Still, posting about weed is far more penalized in the workplace than, say, a post about happy hour with your coworkers.

          When it comes to criminal persecution, aside from the occasional headline-worthy case, “there’s not an epidemic of law enforcement arresting individuals for posting about marijuana online,” said Strekal. 

          “But that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s their legal right to arrest an individual for smoking cannabis, especially in criminalized jurisdictions. And if you post evidence publicly that could be used against you in a court of law, you are volunteering evidence against yourself,” he said. 

          Even if the police aren’t out to get you, those kinds of posts can add fodder to other legal battles, like child custody. And looking at the racial divides for how marijuana is prosecuted in the real world, it’s likely that some of those biases translate into who’s more likely to get away with posting about weed, too.

          The answer to whether or not it’s OK to be open about weed in your online persona depends on who you are.

          “The application of law enforcement when it comes to cannabis is clearly racist. Full stop,” said Strekal, pointing to the ACLU’s famous report on how the war on marijuana is racially biased. The 2015 report found, “marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.”

          That also tracks with the general demographics of 420-friendly influencers which, at a cursory glance, tend to be disproportionately white and often female. 

          Largely, the answer to whether you should be open about weed through your online persona depends on who you are. Beyond profession, local marijuana rules, and your age, your IRL community is another major factor in determining whether or not it’s OK. Because, as Strekal pointed out, social media is mostly regulated by algorithms and abuse reports. 

          “So the biggest question an individual needs to ask themselves is how are my friends going to respond to this? Is my social bubble going to report this as abuse to these platforms?”

          Tatiana agreed, saying that, “If you live in a community of churchgoers, they won’t respond well. And it’s going to get around. So it’s really a question of who you are, what you’re willing to stand up for.”

          Taking the hit, for a cause

          Interestingly, though, despite all these risks, repercussions, and cautions, lots of people still do get 420 friendly on main anyway. Just search 420 on your preferred social media platform. You’ll find plenty of weed content.

          Let the good vibes roll.

          Image: vicky leta / mashable art team

          And an overwhelming majority of those posts will be positive, much like what researchers found when they tracked attitudes towards marijuana on Twitter between 2013 and 2016. 

          Anecdotally, it feels as if we all live under the hazy threat of social media leading to pot-shaming or worse in the real world. But statistically, positive social media chatter around bud just keeps getting danker.

          That is the fundamental tension with cautioning people against sharing their weed consumption. While people should remain mindful of the repercussions, the truth is that fighting the stigma largely takes place in social spheres like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. At least that’s what some recent studies found, suggesting a link between positive social media and support for legalization.

          Let’s be real

          “People are making a point to be more open about it because they’re done with that shit. We can all see it for a lie now. And posting, like, ‘I’m smoking this joint,’ or ‘my mom takes CBD pills’ — that’s people taking back their power. That’s sending a message in and of itself,” Tatiana said.

          As we all know, social media is never a perfect reflection of the world as it is. Like the #FOMO travel pics that dominate your Insta feed, posting is about creating a collective ideal.

          Until marijuana is legalized on the federal level, no one can tell you it’s perfectly OK to be 420-friendly on main. At the same time, changing public perception by normalizing weed online just might be how we keep the wave of support for decriminalization and legalization alive.

          Solving the issues around being weed-friendly online is a chicken and egg problem — or rather, a bud and the flower problem. Because in the world of social media, pretending we all don’t smoke weed is so damn tired — but wishing everyone on your feed a happy holidaze is totally wired.

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          Can marijuana help end the opioids crisis?

          In states where medical marijuana is legal, doctors write fewer opioid prescriptions and patients consume lower doses

          Legalization opponents call marijuana a gateway drug that leads users to more dangerous substances. But could it also be an exit drug that helps ease the opioids crisis?

          The data is scarce, but the anecdotes are plentiful.

          After more than a decade in the US air force, Jennifer Baxter needed foot surgery. It wasnt successful, and she had to have two more procedures to correct her severely disfigured, painful and mechanically incorrect foot.

          Baxter had had surgeries before, and had taken opioids to recover. But, as she tells it, this time she connected with a civilian doctor known for his generosity with pain medication.

          After receiving a medical retirement, Baxter was prescribed her 600 pills a month, including 480 oxycodone (a generic version of the opioid OxyContin), she said.

          Soon the months oxycodone lasted only 21 days. She lost her career, gained an unhealthy amount of weight and contemplated suicide. I was watching the clock all day every day for three and a half years, she said.

          She heard medical marijuana might be helpful and began using it in spring 2016. Balancing it with the slow-release morphine to stave off the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, she quit pills entirely in several months.

          Today Baxter, 40, has a new life. She is engaged to be married. She volunteers with rescue animals and is involved in her church. She has lost weight and lives in Arizona, where she can legally obtain medical marijuana for her pain, PTSD and insomnia. She takes it nightly and sometimes during the day.

          In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grim tally represents an increase of more than 10% from 2016, the previous record year. More Americans die from opioid overdoses than car crashes or gunshots.

          In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illustration: George Wyleso/The Guardian

          Almost no one considers marijuana to be as ruinous for individuals or society. But legalization activists and the industry have marshalled anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies to support the notion that cannabis can help people wean themselves off opioids.

          As with all issues surrounding medical marijuana, theres not much good data. Despite encouraging stories like Baxters Ive heard lots of them there have been no formal clinical trials to determine whether cannabis is an effective treatment for opioid addiction. And cannabis remains unproven as an adequate substitute for opioids in treating chronic pain, which is how many addictions begin, sometimes after car or work-related accidents. Despite public perceptions, the evidence for cannabis as a painkiller is actually weak and riddled with limitations, the psychologist Jonathan M Stea wrote recently in Scientific American.

          However, studies have consistently shown that in states where medical marijuana is legal, doctors write fewer opioid prescriptions and patients consume lower doses of opioids. (One study released in 2018 found evidence that states with legal medical marijuana saw fewer prescriptions for weaker schedule III opioids but not the more addictive and powerful schedule II drugs.)

          Despite the paucity of data, the exit drug theory has led to overwhelming support for medical marijuana research among veterans. Several US states allow anyone with an opioid prescription to obtain a medical marijuana card.

          The interest in cannabis as a substitute for opioids comes as opioid makers face escalating scrutiny and legal trouble. In March, a group of more 600 US cities, counties and Native American tribes filed a lawsuit alleging that eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic. The family, the Sacklers, control Connecticut-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which introduced OxyContin in 1996.

          The family denied the allegations in a statement.

          Last week, Purdue and the Sackler family agreed to pay $275m to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Oklahoma. (The family was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.)

          Whatever caused the opioid crisis, it is a deeply complex problem, one that few if any credible observers think will be relieved by cannabis alone. And some reject the idea of employing a drug as an appropriate response to a drug crisis.

          When we are dealing with opioids as the single biggest health crisis this state has ever had, you are going to tell me legalizing more drugs is the answer? New Hampshires Republican governor Chris Sununu said last fall. Absolutely not.

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          An Illinois man is sentenced to prison for ordering 42 pounds of marijuana-infused chocolate

          (CNN)A man from suburban Chicago was sentenced to four years in prison after he ordered 42 pounds of marijuana-infused chocolate from California with the intention of selling it, the Kane County state’s attorney’s office said in a statement.

          In February 2014, postal workers noticed a pattern of suspicious packages being delivered to Franzen’s home in Montgomery, Illinois, the state’s attorney’s office said. After obtaining a search warrant to open a package, they found more than 19,000 grams of chocolate infused with THC.
          Authorities then got a warrant to search Franzen’s home and found cocaine and more than 100 additional grams of marijuana, along with items that are “known to be evidence of drug dealing,” the state’s attorney’s office said. Those items included a digital scale, more than $2,000 in cash and postal receipts for packages he had mailed to locations across the US and Canada.
            Franzen’s attorney, David Camic, said his client has had testicular cancer and was undergoing treatment for it at the time that he ordered the marijuana.
            “In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition, our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to 4 years, of which he is required to serve only 2 years,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in the statement. “We did this in spite of evidence that proves that Mr. Franzen is a drug dealer.”
            Court records show prosecutors dismissed several more serious charges of marijuana trafficking, a felony that is punishable by six to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
            “He got the best disposition that was available given the constraints of Illinois law,” Camic told CNN.
            Franzen’s sentence came just one day before the Illinois legislature voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Gov. J. B. Pritzker has pledged to sign the law, which would take effect January 1, 2020.
            Medical marijuana is currently legal in Illinois, though the state’s attorney’s office said it had no evidence that Franzen had attempted to purchase marijuana legally in the state.
              “The marijuana-laced product found at Mr. Franzen’s home was not purchased from a medical marijuana business, and the amount he purchased far exceeds what would be used for personal consumption and is evidence that he is a drug dealer,” McMahon said.
              Franzen is due in court for a hearing on June 14, when he will present medical test results to a judge who will decide when he begins his prison sentence.

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              adminAn Illinois man is sentenced to prison for ordering 42 pounds of marijuana-infused chocolate
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