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Marijuana News in Arizona and World

DEA

A federal court had decided that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cannot be held liable in the event a sting operation goes amiss, resulting in monetary loss, property damage and loss of life to American citizens. U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal issued the verdict, which essentially strips the DEA of any responsibility if any of their dimwitted drug war plans wreaks havoc on civil society.

In one case, a judge determined that Craig Patty, the owner of a small trucking company, was not entitled to any reparations over a botched DEA sting operation that caused more than $100,000 in damages to one of only two trucks in his fleet, as well as the tragic death of his employee.

The ruling comes just weeks before the case was set to be heard in federal court, which some are arguing is a feeble attempt by the government to prevent this horrific debacle from causing any further embarrassment.

The DEA’s decision to proceed with such an operation is “entirely discretionary, and not mandated by any statute, rule, or policy,” according to the ruling. Whether and how to conduct such an undercover investigation and operation is necessarily discretionary in nature. Agents “did not try to give advance notice to Patty that the Task Force would be using his truck because of the operation’s covert nature, the risks of injury and potential for damage if something went wrong, and the uncertainty about whether other individuals (including Patty) could be trusted.”

The verdict shocked Patty’s attorneys, who said it translates into citizens not being able to sue the federal government. What’s more is that it suggests that government agencies have the right to use citizens’ personal property and put citizens in harms way in order to conduct drug war missions without first obtaining permission or without being held accountable.

Seniors Marijuana

A recent study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that marijuana use has greatly increased among baby boomers in the past decade and is expected to continue to rise. The report showed that marijuana usage by baby boomers has doubled, and even quadrupled in some age blocks of individuals above 50 years of age.

The report also showed the combined medical and recreational marijuana industry is one of the fastest developing industries in the United States, partially because baby boomers’ marijuana use is expected to increase faster than any other demographic.

By the end of 2015, more than 110 million Americans over 50 are expected to be using marijuana, and that number could increase by seven percent in the following five years, according to a recent study by global research firm.

Many of these baby boomers are using marijuana for medical reasons such as relief from chronic pain, while others enjoy using marijuana recreationally, just like alcohol.

“I smoked for years before I had my kids then stopped, said a retired teacher and baby boomer. “Now they’re gone and I am free to do what I want again… And smoking pot is one of them.”

Puerto Rico Marijuana

Puerto Rico’s Governor signed an executive order that will immediately bring medical marijuana to thousands of patients in the U.S. territory.

Governor Alejandro García Padilla noted that several studies conducted in the United States have demonstrated the therapeutic value of marijuana and its derivatives, which led to the signing of Executive Order 2015-10. The island’s Secretary of Health can now authorize the medical use of substances derived from the cannabis plant.

“These studies support the use of the plant to relieve pain caused by multiple sclerosis, AIDS virus, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, migraine, Parkinson’s and other diseases that often do not respond to traditional treatments,” stated García Padilla.

Puerto Rico is the second U.S. territory to legalize marijuana for medical use. In November 2014, 56% of voters in Guam approved the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act, which will bring medical marijuana legalization to the island in late 2015.

Chronic Pain Marijuana

Marijuana use for the treatment of chronic pain has had a long history with many written references of its use dating back to around 2700 B.C.E. The first records from the nineteenth century were noted by an Irish doctor who described the use of marijuana in the treatment of cholera, rabies, tetanus, menstrual cramps and delirium tremens.

Recently, research has been done around marijuana therapy in the treatment of chronic pain with very promising results.

“Medical marijuana is a very effective therapy for chronic pain patients because it affects people’s perception of pain, has the ability to mitigate the inflammatory process, and has been shown to affect voltage-gated sodium channels in nerves in a way similar to lidocaine,” reports Dr. Mark Rabe, Medical Director of Centric Wellness.

The ability of marijuana to help relieve chronic pain rests in the cannabinoid receptors – cannabinoid receptor type-1 (CB1) and type-2 (CB2). Studies show that CB1 receptors are located all over the body, however they have particularly high concentration in the central nervous system in areas that control pain perception. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are primarily located in areas of the body that control immune function, such as the spleen, white blood cells, and tonsils.

The fact that these receptors are found in the two major body systems responsible for producing the sensation of pain, the immune system and the nervous system, is what gives marijuana its therapeutic relevance in the chronic pain space. Additionally, and importantly, there are a lack of cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem region, the area of the brain responsible for controlling breathing, thus the dangerous side effect of respiratory depression found with high dose opioid use, is not a factor with marijuana use.

Dr. Rabe reported that: “We have many patients who come in on higher doses of opioid medications. Through using cannabis, in conjunction with other therapies, they are able to lower their daily opioid requirement.”

Numerous studies support these findings, including a 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics which showed that vaporizing marijuana increased the patient-reported analgesic effect of opioids, without altering plasma opioid levels. Moreover, there is an emerging body of research whose findings suggest marijuana can be used as an effective substitution therapy for patients with opiate abuse issues.

Veterans Affairs Marijuana

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 213-210 Thursday to defeat an amendment that would allow doctors at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to discuss the use of medical marijuana with patients.

The Veterans Administration prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes, even in states where medical marijuana is legal. The defeated amendment would have prevented funds made available to the VA from being used to implement this prohibition, which would have, in effect, struck it down.

“While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans,” stated Rep. Blumenauer. “States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws. It is unacceptable for our wounded warriors to be forced out of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option.”

“Let’s lift the gag order. We owe it to our veterans to give them complete information when they ask for it, even if the means discussing medical marijuana,” noted Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA).

Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), illnesses typically suffered by veterans. A growing body of anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana offers relief when nothing else has and can be a more effective alternative to other and sometimes addictive prescription drugs.

NFL Marijuana

A portion of this year’s NFL draft class appears to be pro-marijuana. Of the draft class, a pair of highly regarded defensive prospects, Shane Ray and Randy Gregory, are prized for their abilities to get to opposing quarterbacks, and both have also admitted to marijuana use. Ray admitted just days before the draft.

NFL teams must now weigh their evaluations of the players’ abilities against their concerns about character issues and possible future suspensions for marijuana use because it is banned in the NFL. For some teams, decisions on Ray and/or Gregory, who failed a drug test at the NFL draft combine in February, will come down to how they feel about usage of the drug in question.

One unidentified general manager gave some insight into his team’s thinking: “My estimate is 30 to 40 percent of players in this draft class use marijuana regularly. That’s right in line with our league. Publicly teams act shocked, disappointed about marijuana. Privately we know a lot of guys smoke and we’re far from shocked.”

In fact, the GM’s “30 to 40 percent” estimate may be low. A former defensive lineman, whose 10-year career ended in 2006, told the Associated Press last year that half the players in the NFL use marijuana, at least occasionally.

Another former NFL player stated: “It’s not, let’s go smoke a joint. It’s, what if you could take something that helps you heal faster from a concussion, that prevents your equilibrium from being off for two weeks and your eyesight for being off for four weeks?”

Many NFL players use marijuana to help treat chronic pain and inflammation instead of painkillers which are addictive and have many other negative side effects.

NY Marijuana Info

The New York Department of Health announced it has opened the application process for businesses to register for a license to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana.

The state plans to award five licenses to private marijuana cultivators, who will each be permitted to open up to four medical marijuana dispensaries. State officials estimate it will take about nine months to cultivate the marijuana before it’s ready for sale.

Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the start of the application process is “an important step in implementing the medical-marijuana program. We have laid out an ambitious timeline in getting the program up and running and we are meeting our goals. Once the applications are in, we can begin our review and move to the next step of selecting the registered organizations this summer.”

Applicants for state’s medical marijuana licenses are required to provide detailed plans about their operations and must pay a $10,000 non-refundable application fee as well as a $200,000 registration fee. The $200,000 registration fee will be refunded to applicatnts that are not issued a license.

Presidential Candidates 2016 Marijuana

The 2016 presidential field is beginning to take shape, and some of the candidates have revealed their stance on marijuana legalization.

Below is a roundup of what some of the declared presidential candidates have said about marijuana. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Hillary Clinton (Democrat)

The former first lady, secretary of state, and U.S. senator has openly stated that marijuana has medical value and that she wants to see states move forward with their own laws. Her comments on marijuana include:
“I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”
“I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances.”
“On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

Ted Cruz (Republican)

The U.S. senator from Texas opposes any marijuana legalization because the substance is federally illegal. His comments on marijuana include:
 “The Obama administration’s approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is gonna stop enforcing certain drug laws. I think most disturbingly, watching President Obama’s approach to drug laws is that he hasn’t tried to start a discussion, a dialogue about changing the laws. He simply decreed he’s not gonna enforce laws he doesn’t agree with.”

Rand Paul (Republican)

The U.S. senator from Kentucky is one of the only current candidate who has actually worked to reform marijuana laws. For instance, he is an original sponsor of a bill that would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana, but opposes marijuana legalization.
 “I’m not really promoting legalization, but I am promoting making the penalties much less severe and not putting people in jail for 10, 20, 30 years.”
 On marijuana legalization: “I would let states choose. And I don’t know what’ll happen, whether it’s going to end up being good or bad. But I would let the states choose because I believe in federalism and states’ rights.”
 On marijuana in general: “Even though it may not kill you I don’t think it’s good for you. It’s not good for studies, it’s not good for showing up for work” and “people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points.”

Marco Rubio (Republican)

The U.S. senator and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives opposes legalization and decriminalization. His comments on marijuana include:
 “We live in a country that already has problems with substance abuse. We already see the impact that alcoholism is having on families, on drunk driving, on all sorts of things. And now we’re gonna add one more substance that people can use?”
 “When something is legal, implicitly what you’re saying, ‘it can’t be all that bad. Cuz if it’s legal it can’t be bad for you.’ The bottom line is I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that’s legal is not good for the country.”
 “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced. I understand that states have decided to legalize possession under state law, and the trafficking, the sale of these products. I mean, that’s a federal crime.”

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Big Pharma Marijuana

Before the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, Big Pharma companies like Eli Lilly and Parke-Davis and Squibb of Bristol-Myers Squibb were marketing marijuana medicines – such as extracts and tinctures – labeled as “uniformly effective at dose levels of 10 mg.”

Back then, most medicines had the same universal characteristics, so drug companies had to rely on marketing and brand recognition to sell products.

According to the Antique Cannabis Book, 6% of all manufactured drugs at the time contained marijuana in one form or another, whether in powder, tablets, fluid extracts or tinctures. Some call that period, from the turn of the century to 1937, the “Golden Age of Medical Cannabis” as marijuana products flourished with little to no stigma or legal ramifications.

Then, like now, marijuana was prescribed for a variety of ailments including migraines, epilepsy, stomach worms, mental illnesses and some addictions. It was also used by veterinaries for pets.

While smoking was not very common, tinctures and extracts were developed on a regular basis. The pharmaceutical companies had the benefit of their own expertise in standardizing and establishing dosing and responses. They initially used marijuana grown in India, but soon realized growing their own was more reliable. In doing so, they learned about sinsemilla (seedless) cultivation.

Parke-Davis (now owned by Pfizer) worked with Eli Lilly to create its own plant strain called Cannabis Americana, a domesticated Indica strain.

According to Forbes, Parke-Davis did not stop with weed. It sold various types of cocaine before it became illegal, developed ketamine and held the patent for PCP.