Category Archives: health

Can’t pay for your medical marijuana? A new fund might help.

potThe Washington CannaBusiness Association said on Tuesday that the new charitable effort will expand patient access to medical marijuana. Steve Bloom Staff file, 2016

 

Marijuana industry brought to a standstill by new pesticide testing regulations

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Molly Harbarger | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Once packed with marijuana concentrates and extracts, the Human Collective’s shelves are nearly empty.

Some pot leaf-patterned socks and glass pipes sit scattered among what’s left. A static screen with just 13 flower options has replaced a digital “bud list” that used to scroll through the shop’s options for people waiting in line. The lines are gone, too. Only one or two budtenders work at a time – cut in half from before.

Within months of Oregon’s full recreational marijuana market coming online, the industry has come to a standstill with low supplies and big price jumps for consumers.

Don Morse, owner of the Human Collective in Southeast Portland, and other retailers, growers and processors blame Oregon’s strict pesticide rules for the problem.

The regulations – the first mandatory pre-emptive testing in the country for marijuana – went into effect Oct. 1. But the state has so far licensed only a handful of laboratories to do the tests on thousands of products, including flowers, edibles, concentrates, oils and extracts.

And the tests are expensive – in some cases more than six times what companies used to pay, they report. Then they must wait weeks to get their products back and find out if they passed or failed.

Morse has laid off five budtenders since last month. He’s down to about 10 percent of the concentrate inventory he had before October. He can’t find anyone to sell him enough marijuana to fully restock.

That’s happening in most of the more than 400 marijuana dispensaries around the state.

For Morse, the gridlock is ironic because he pushed for the rules. He helped convince growers and processors that reasonable pesticide limits and testing regulations would be better for them and consumers. But now the fledgling businesses are in jeopardy, he said.

“We don’t want to come off like it’s boohoo and we’re only in it for ourselves,” Morse said. “The people of the state said they wanted this both medically and recreationally. They left it to the state to set the rules and the state has set the rules to the point where it’s no longer available to them. It’s this roundabout way of making cannabis illegal again.”

Megan Hatfield bought a vape pen cartridge of Sour Diesel for $45 at Morse’s store. It’s usually around $30 there, but she still considered it a bargain. She tried two other pot stores earlier in the week, finding only two other options, both at $80 for a gram.

“Honestly, I have been to a couple of places that didn’t have a selection nearly as big as this,” Hatfield said.

The Governor’s Office is expected this week to announce some temporary fixes to address the testing backlog, while the Oregon Health Authority has borrowed inspectors from other divisions to help license labs.

The slowdown is the price of safety, said Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for the  health authority.

“Our goal is to protect public health,” he said, “by making sure that all marijuana products are tested for pesticides and other compounds by an accredited lab and that marijuana products that fail pesticide testing don’t reach consumers.”

***

Starting a year ago, anyone 21 and older could buy a limited amount of marijuana flowers, starter plants and seeds. Edibles and extracts were added in June. The state expects to issue 850 recreational licenses for everything from retail outlets to growers by the end of the year.

The state has debated how to handle pesticides for more than a year and came up with the nation’s most stringent rules for chemicals used in legal marijuana cultivation and the amounts that can show up in finished products, be it flowers or edibles.

While other marijuana states such as Washington have pesticide limits on crops, Oregon is the only state to require testing of each product before it hits shelves.

Labs here must test for a longer list of chemicals with stricter limits and in larger batches than before Oct. 1, when the rules didn’t say how to do the tests, who could do them and what happened if products failed. Today, labs must follow state-specified protocol and then state agencies follow up with growers and processors to make sure any products that fail are retested or destroyed.

So far, the state has issued two recalls for tainted marijuana flowers that made it to retail shelves.

The health authority has certified six labs for pesticide testing. It’s a long process that requires extensive proof that the labs are using the correct methods and that the results are consistent before a state assessor shows up to double check the work.

Through the end of the year, the state has three permanent full-time assessors and one full-time temporary assessor working. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has loaned three extra assessors – one full time and two part time – to help with the assessments and administrative tasks.

More labs will be certified through the state’s general lab-accreditation program, ORELAP, in the future, Modie said. There are eight more labs that have applied for accreditation, but none are ready for inspection yet.

“ORELAP’s role is to offer lab accreditation services, not to ensure that labs succeed in getting accredited or that there is sufficient supply of accredited labs in the for-profit market,” Modie said.

Rodger Voelker, lab director of one of the pesticide testing laboratories, Eugene’s OG Analytical, said that while some of the pesticide limits might be stricter than necessary, the delays are a temporary growing pain of a new industry.

“I hear this constantly — people saying this is totally unfair, that they don’t expect this of anybody else,” Voelker said. “That’s actually completely wrong. These things are expected of any industry where people are putting things in their mouth.”

Both state and federal agencies oversee food safety regulations that can be rigorous and expensive. Some of the health authority’s cannabis guidelines go above what’s required of food items, including a bigger sample that must be tested from each batch. But there’s also less scientific evidence about the effects of heating and inhaling marijuana products treated with pesticides, so the limits may evolve as research reveals new information.

Voelker was instrumental in pushing the state for the first comprehensive marijuana pesticide testing guidelines.

He acknowledged that the exacting new process created problems that the state and marijuana companies could have foreseen and are now causing pain. For instance, companies that take marijuana flowers and turn them into extracts and then infuse the extracts into other products are dealing with ingredients that are tested at each stage of the process. In the short-term, it brings those companies to a halt while that extract undergoes the lengthy process to get approval.

But Voelker predicted enough supply will soon be available and the system will be running smoothly a year from now.

“The bottom line is regulations are not perfect,” Voelker said. “They are made by humans for humans. In my opinion, although this isn’t fun to go through right now, we should be proud as Oregonians to put in place a system that is arguably better than any out there in regards to cannabis.”

***

The uncertainty is causing processors to reconsider their investments.

Sara Lessar and her husband have two plans for the future. The first is to wait until Oregon loosens its rules on pesticide limits for marijuana concentrates so their oils can get back onto dispensary shelves.

Across Oregon, processors and shop owners are saying they can’t get any concentrates through the testing process. Lessar buys marijuana flowers that are tested by state-certified labs and pass. But during processing, the pesticide traces are packed together and creep above the .20 parts per million maximum.

They can keep testing their oils to see if they can get them below the allowable limit, but the cost of testing is straining their ability to keep prices low, Lessar said. Before Oct. 1, they spent about $2,000 every six months on testing, but now they must pay $20,000, she said.

That’s tough because they just bought a new property in Coos Bay to produce Bandit Oils but have no revenue coming in and laid off three full-time employees and five part-time employees.

They’re considering their second option: Moving to California or one of the other states with legal recreational marijuana that doesn’t impose such strict pesticide limits.

Lessar isn’t against testing, she said, but the rules for concentrates seem almost impossible to overcome.

Others are hitting similar barriers.

“I have very few vendors who will sell me any extracts whatsoever and I have two vendors who will sell me edibles,” said Matt Walstetter at Portland dispensary Pure Green. “We used to have hundreds of products and tons of vendors.”

He said he usually has 15 varieties of shatter and five to 10 wax options — both types of concentrates. Now he has six shatters and one wax.

Walstetter stocked up before the transition date and like Morse relied on that to carry him for a while. But that will soon run out, he said.

The only edibles in Brad Zusman’s Cannadaddy’s dispensary are his own product. He created a marijuana-infused chocolate bar that he sold to retail stores around the state. But he decided to close the company, Blaze, when the bars couldn’t pass the pesticide tests.

He laid off his Blaze staff – 12 people — but he was still stuck with $80,000 worth of the bars made before the new testing rules. He was allowed him to “grandfather” the bars into his own inventory. But, because they weren’t state-approved, he couldn’t distribute them to other retail stores to sell to customers.

“That should have gone into all these other dispensaries, but people didn’t have cash to buy product,” Zusman said. “It’ll all be gone probably by the first of the year.”

The bars are almost a blessing in disguise, though, because he is struggling to find any other edible suppliers to sell to him. He lost $40,000 in October alone between slow business at his dispensary and the loss of sales for his edibles, he said, and told his 33 Cannadaddy’s employees that he might have to lay off 30 of them after the holidays.

“I predict you’re going to see 70 to 80 percent of the dispensaries you see today, you won’t see next year,” Zusman said. “If there’s not an emergency way to get products on the shelf, there’s no way to sustain leases or rent or equipment leases.”

***

Zusman’s prediction shouldn’t surprise anyone. Industry leaders warned state agencies that the new rules would create chaos.

Yet many were still surprised at the scale.

“We first started the conversation with the Legislature and Governor’s Office in August,” said Amy Margolis, an attorney who represents marijuana businesses. “And in that time we’ve lost good actors, people who have invested their lives and their livelihoods in this.”

The health authority’s accreditation program already had a large caseload before marijuana testing was added. The division also accredits labs that do environmental and water quality testing, as well as air toxics and industrial waste. It works with labs in more than a dozen states and three countries.

The administrator for the program warned that most marijuana labs need significant help shaping up and it can take months to get them there.

A new report says that the delay could cost the state millions.

The state collected $25.5 million in taxes from marijuana businesses by April and projected $44.4 million by the end of the year.

Beau Whitney, an economist for a national cannabis analytics company, doubts those projections will hold up now. He opened an online survey this month that so far is reporting that 80 percent of the responding Oregon businesses report that their bottom line is “severely impacted” by the market’s stall.

More than 22 percent of the 72 businesses that responded as of last week said they were going out of business or in danger of it and nearly all planned to raise prices for consumers if they hadn’t already.

Whitney said the survey shows nearly half of the businesses are losing $20,000 a month or more on average, some with their revenue cut in half. While Portland’s market is often considered oversaturated, Whitney said what’s happening isn’t explained by natural industry fluctuations.

“This is not just settling of the dust of the market,” Whitney said. “This is apparently policies that were put in place that have essentially devastated a market.”

He estimates the state stands to lose as much as $10 million of the projected tax revenue by the end of the year.

— Molly Harbarger

mharbarger@oregonian.com
503-294-5923
@MollyHarbarger

Cannabis Found to Shield the Brain from Alzheimer’s Disease

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Bad news for Alzheimer’s disease: THC (the active chemical compound in marijuana) is officially acknowledged to remove the toxic bundle of amyloid beta protein that onsets the evolution of the disease, ultimately damaging the brain beyond repair.

This late discovery is backed up by previous studies revealing the effective and protective qualities of cannabinoids and THC over patients suffering from this neurodegenerative disease.

Little is known about what exactly causes Alzheimer’ disease, but so far it’s believed to be caused by two types of lesions: neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. The amyloid plaques form dense groups between the neurons, and the neurofibrillary tangles are produced by defective tau proteins that bundle up into a thick, insoluble mass in neurons.

The biological mechanism behind the formation of these lesions is yet a mystery, but recent studies have linked the inflammation in brain tissue to the spread of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” said Antonio Currais, member of Scripps Research Institute.

When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” he concluded.

David Schubert and his colleagues from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, tested the impact of THC over the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said David Schubert.

For those unfamiliar with THC, this compound is responsible for the psychedelic effects and pain relief experienced as a result of smoking or ingesting cannabis buds. It is important to know that cannabis does not offer the state of mind and/or body high if consumed raw, requiring heat to release the THC that gives that unique tingling. Besides all these, most important is THC’s influence over HIV symptoms, chronic pain related to chemotherapy, post-traumatic stress disorder and stroke.

Scientists are so impressed with THC’s therapeutic properties that they initiated a program to breed genetically modified yeast that would yield more THC than any other method of synthesizing the compound.

On the cell surfaces all over our body can be found the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors that extract the THC directly from the bloodstream, after it passes from the lungs. In the brain, the cannabinoid receptors are found in the neurons associated with time perception, coordination, memory, thinking and pleasure, regularly binding with endocannabinoids, known to be a class of lipid molecules created by our organism during physical activities, in order to stimulate cell-to-cell signaling in the brain.

Due to tetrahydrocannabinol’s tendency to bind to lipid molecues, it interferes with brain’s ability to communicate with itself. This means that you may not be able to fully perform complex physical actitivites, but your state of mind could be at its fullest, compensating one for another.

Since THC is great for removing the harmful accumulations of amyloid beta proteins, this could mean something big for most, if not all the symptoms related to aging. So far, THC has proved itself to be very promising in reducing inflammation and plaque build-up, according to newest lab test results.

However, the government is still getting in the way of progress, despite cannabis’s potential has been clearly proved and confirmed, so the good news are that the researchers have found a backdoor in the form of a new drug called J147 that mimics identically the effects of THC, that will allow conducting further research for the sake of humanity and well-being.

The results of the study can be found HERE.

Woman Rids Body of Cancer in 4 Months Using Cannabis Oil

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MEDICALMARIJUANA.CO.UK – News, information and discussion on the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis extracts.

Woman Rids Body of Cancer in 4 Months Using Cannabis Oil

Medical doctors and healthcare personnel alike are stymied by the miraculous cure which recently occurred to Michelle Aldrich who suffered from a deadly form of lung cancer.

Michelle was sixty-six years old at the time. Initially she developed a low-grade fever and cough which she couldn’t shake. Several months later it worsened; she developed signs of a pneumonia which prompted her to seek medical care. Her doctor ordered a CT scan trying to determine what the problem was. The scan revealed a large mass in the central region of the chest consistent with lung cancer.

NON-SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER (NSCLC)

Unfortunately the biopsy and staging of the tumor revealed it to be poorly differentiated, non-small cell lung cancer (adenocarcinoma) or NSCLC for short, stage three. All lung cancers carry a poor prognosis but this form is particularly aggressive. From the National Cancer Institute:

General Information About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

NSCLC is any type of epithelial lung cancer other than small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The most common types of NSCLC are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma, but there are several other types that occur less frequently, and all types can occur in unusual histologic variants. Although NSCLCs are associated with cigarette smoke, adenocarcinomas may be found in patients who have never smoked. As a class, NSCLCs are relatively insensitive to chemotherapy and radiation therapy compared with SCLC. Patients with resectable disease may be cured by surgery or surgery followed by chemotherapy. Local control can be achieved with radiation therapy in a large number of patients with unresectable disease, but cure is seen only in a small number of patients. Patients with locally advanced unresectable disease may achieve long-term survival with radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. Patients with advanced metastatic disease may achieve improved survival and palliation of symptoms with chemotherapy, targeted agents, and other supportive measures.

Incidence and Mortality

Estimated new cases and deaths from lung cancer (NSCLC and SCLC combined) in the United States in 2015 1:

• New cases: 221,200.

• Deaths: 158,040.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. 2 The 5-year relative survival rate from 1995 to 2001 for patients with lung cancer was 15.7%. The 5-year relative survival rate varies markedly depending on the stage at diagnosis, from 49% to 16% to 2% for patients with local, regional, and distant-stage disease, respectively. 3

Michelle was classified with having stage three or T3, involving a number of regional lymph nodes in the chest. A T4 staging means distant nodes were found to be positive for tumor metastasis. Five-year survival vastly decreases from T3 to T4.

Surgically resectable disease is generally stage I, stage II and selected stage III tumors. Generally T3 and T4 use combination modalities since surgery cannot be used solo for cure. One must also use chemotherapy and or radiation.

But let’s face it, survival for this type of cancer hasn’t improved since the war on cancer began in the seventies as Dr Abramson reminds us. In his pivotal book “Overdosed America,” he explains that the age-adjusted death rate for all cancers has actually increased since the “war” began. Put simply: you are no better off today with most cancers than you were 45 years ago. Unless you have the courage to venture outside the conventional medical “box.”

ASTONISHING CURE IN LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS

At best using conventional medicine Michelle had an approximately 49% five year survival and that’s with only local tumor involvement. It drops quickly as you can see from above down to 2% five year survival with distant stage disease.

“I thought I was going to die,” Aldrich says from her Marina District apartment. But she didn’t. And now, she is busy telling anyone who will listen that, along with diet and chemotherapy, a concoction of highly concentrated cannabis oil eliminated her cancer in less than four months. 4

Initially diagnosed in January of 2012 and by April 2013 a repeat CT scan showed a reduction in tumor size by 50%. What tumor remained was surgically removed. Repeat CT scan showed no tumor involvement anywhere in the chest.

Her doctors — one of whom noted the effect of “homeopathic treatments, including hemp oil” to reprogram the cancer cells to kill themselves — “are floored,” she says. “They’ve never seen anything like it.” 5

CONFUSED?

See how confusing the nomenclature is? To clarify, Michelle did not use “hemp oil” she used cannabis oil which is completely different. Specifically she used Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), AKA Phoenix Tears. It is also not homeopathic in any sense of the word. RSO is allopathic all the way; it acts much like a powerful drug, as powerful as any pharmaceutical. In fact, it appears to be much more effective than any chemotherapeutic currently on the formulary.

Using “hemp oil” which is the essential oil extracted from industrial hemp, to treat ANY disease is a fool’s errand. Only authentic cannabis oil can cure cancers. Please be aware of that fact. Industrial hemp is good for food-grade seeds, its bright green oil can be used in salads. It’s also good for textiles and paper but when you want to cure disease you need the big guns that real cannabis employs.

MEET CONSTANCE FINLEY

In the East Bay area of San Francisco where I had my medical practice lives a woman who is very well known to the cancer community. She is a very busy person. While the webpages of the NCI claim that there is no evidence that cannabis cures cancers, we have plenty of real-time and anecdotal case reports of numerous cures of “incurable” late stage, highly aggressive tumors. Some of those reports come from Constance Finley.

Employing the same manufacturing techniques seen on Rick Simpson’s website, she takes a pound of cannabis and reduces it into one ounce of pure medical magic.

This cannabis reduction sauce (essential oil) in its thickened final stage is called Rick Simpson Oil (RSO).

Most oncologists would guffaw over the idea that the sap of a common weed could defy the realm of possibility and outperform the best that Big Pharma can deliver. But it can and it does. The internet is overflowing with anecdotal cures of virtually any cancer regardless of cell type. Doctors and laypersons alike would never believe it was possible were it were not for the scores of bona fide, documented, cases seen by this woman and many others.

She was quoted as saying that there is a world-class oncologist in San Francisco who has already referred 26 “deaths door” patients to her in 2013. All 26 of Finley’s referrals had stage 4 cancers. The patient population included brain tumors, colon cancers, and lung cancers to name a few. Stage four is a death sentence since it means the malignant cells had escaped the primary tumor and metastasized to other organs. Most had only a few months to live, some had less than six weeks. All patients received modern medical treatments such as chemotherapy with the concentrated oil. She reportedly has “cured” all but one of them. That’s a 96% cure rate, the best in the business if it’s true. And it’s not just in San Francisco.

These survival stories are becoming more common. One of the most high-profile was the case of Montana toddler Cash Hyde, diagnosed with a brain tumor at 20 months, whose family credits cannabis oil for keeping the tumor at bay and keeping him alive — until a change in Montana state law cut off his access to oil for a few months. The tumor returned and he died in November, at age four. 6

A LOW PROFILE

Understandably this San Francisco oncologist prefers to keep his name private when being quoted. Even when a powerful remedy like this mops up cancer cells like a Pickwickian tween in a pie-eating contest, academics still prefer to remain hidden lest they succumb to the predictable harassment and ridicule of their peers. Some could easily lose their jobs should they become overzealous reporting the truth that a simple plant extract outperforms the best chemo by an unbelievably wide margin.

One question. When will these oncologists start referring patients to Finley before the system nearly kills them? Imagine how helpful it could be then.

WIDE SAFETY MARGIN

Remember also that RSO is NON-TOXIC. There is no devastating blowback from using it. Contrast this to your typical chemotherapy course which causes blood cancers years later in up to 15% of patients who received chemo at some point earlier in their disease course. Furthermore, chemotherapy is an efficient immune system destroyer. Just what you don’t need when fighting for your life.

Meanwhile, by definition late stage cancer is incurable and always leads to 100% mortality. This makes RSO even more astonishing. That’s because these people are written off by modern medicine as failures where nothing could help them. Sick, emaciated from chemo and radiation, cachectic and nearly dead she revives them like a modern day Lazarus factory.

Take a moment to reflect on this humble fact. It reveals to us the absolute beauty of this incredible, health-regenerating, symphony of phytocannabinoids. A true gift from God.

If it’s all true. And that’s a big if. We need controlled studies now more than ever before. But don’t hold your breath. Clinical trials are ten years away, minimum.

EASY AS BOILING WATER
To make this unpretentious oil is actually very easy. Simply go to Rick Simpson’s website for instructions. The most important of all is that you use a safe solvent for extraction. Aldrich’s providers use Everclear in making what they call “Milagro oil” which is the same as RSO, at Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, CA. Finley’s operation uses isopropyl alcohol which can be toxic in large doses. Theoretically you will boil off all of the isopropyl alcohol but personally I think it’s far better to use ethanol the only truly safe alcohol (in small doses).

Once they have procured the precious oil patients with end-stage disease need to ramp up to an anti-cancer blood level as soon as humanly possible. But the material is extremely potent: a concentrated extract clocking in at around 70% active THC or higher. The oil is a reduction using heat so all of the acidiccannabinoids are converted to psychoactive decarboxylated forms of which THC is a major component.

THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT

But it’s not just the THC that they need. All of the 60 phytocannabinoids, decarboxylated and ingested along with the terpenes, and thousands of other mysterious chemicals found in the oil, produce the “entourage effect.” Scientists have speculated that this synergy is the real reason why RSO is so strangely effective. You need whole plant extracts of real cannabis to knock cancer cells into next week. The potent psychoactivity is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

That’s why patients need to start out with a dose that will not pound them into submission the first day which may discourage its use. Practitioners who use the drug regularly recommend starting out with a small rice grain sample of the sticky oil, rub it inside your mouth along the gum line. After that you simply swallow it. From there you quickly work your way up to dosing four times a day or more. For those familiar with the high of cannabis they can accelerate the dosing very quickly if they like the way they feel. You’ll be doing a lot of sleeping since the preparation normally comes from an indica only species. No sativas are used since the preparation becomes too speedy for most patients especially at high dosages. Sleep induces healing. It’s all part of the process: eat, sleep, relax, protect, and don’t forget…forget.

With perseverance one can increase the dose rapidly to full-strength in one week. You’ll want to increase the dosing of a “rice grain” to four time a day or more to achieve a total of one gram per day. So each dose is about ¼ gram. At that point blood levels are high, we start to see the magical entourage effect take place. Tumors shrink and finally disappear to be replaced with healthy cells.

HOW MUCH?

The cost? At a gram per day one needs to take it until the cancer is gone which is at least four months. A pound of quality (organic) Indica which is what they prefer to use to help you sleep and heal, runs about $2,500 to $3,000 in the Bay Area. Aldrich says a three-month regimen costs her $1,200 a month; Finley charges $5,500 for a two-month cycle. 7 That’s pricey but compared to what?

A typical cancer patient caught in the Commercial Sick Care System (CSCS) could buy a (used) Bentley with the money they need for chemotherapy and radiation. In the US they will on average spend eighty thousand dollars toward chemotherapeutics during the last two years of life and often die in spite of “cutting edge” therapy. When viewed this way cannabis oil looks exceedingly cheap and very worthwhile. With the added bonus-you get to live.

The statistics tell us either you pay eighty thousand over two years for the right to die in pain, anguish, and loss of dignity; or you shell out eleven thousand on RSO and possibly receive a new lease on life. I don’t know that’s a tough choice.

Furthermore, patients with NSCLC who have survived their ordeal often develop secondary lung cancers years later as a matter of course.

Not so with RSO. Taking a lower maintenance dose of RSO after the tumors disappear is highly recommended since it will help prevent the ignoble recurrence of tumors.

 

Notes:

  1. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2015. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2015. ↩
  2. American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2015. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2015. ↩
  3. Ries L, Eisner M, Kosary C, et al., eds.: Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2002. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute, 2005. ↩
  4. (http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/miracle-cannabis-oil-may-treat-cancer-but-money-and-the-law-stand-in-the-way-of-finding-out/Content?oid=2825695) 09/22/2015 ↩
  5. IBID ↩
  6. (http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/miracle-cannabis-oil-may-treat-cancer-but-money-and-the-law-stand-in-the-way-of-finding-out/Content?oid=2825695) 09/24/2015 ↩
  7. IBID ↩

New Research Reveals Why You Can Never Overdose on Cannabis

Medical-Marijuana-Regina-Bed-buds-ReginaResearchers have found a hormone that’s being produced naturally by the brain whenever THC levels tend to rise over the limit. In other words, marijuana has a ‘self-limiting’ effect triggered by the brain whenever cannabis users smoke or ingests too much of the herb, thus making overdosing on cannabis virtually impossible.

No matter how much cannabis you smoke or ingest, chances of dying from an overdose are extremely unlikely. Intrigued by this ‘defense mechanism’, a team of French researchers decided to furtherly investigate the phenomenon, and they came across a natural hormone that’s reversing marijuana intoxication in rats.

Author of the study, Dr. Pier Vincenzo Piazza, gave more details about their little experiment. Whenever they exposed rats to a high dose of THC, they released a hormone called pregnenolone which acts as a shield for marijuana’s intoxicating effects.

When the brain is stimulated by high doses of THC, it produces pregnenolonea 3,000 percent increase – that inhibits the effects of THC.”

In other words, cannabis has its own ways of taking care of you. How is that for a plant that’s still seen as a risk drug worldwide?

The study was originally intended at developing a treatment for cannabis addiction, but the results evolved in a different and surprising way. The authors of the study conceive using pregenolone as a possible treatment for addiction, and the recent research on rats succeeded in identifying the auto-defense mechanism used by the brain to deal with an otherwise deadly cannabis overdose.

How Cannabis Clubs Provide Support And Community To War Veterans

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Underneath a billboard advertising premium cannabis is one of Portland’s only operating cannabis lounges, and on any given day at the Northwest Cannabis Club the bar is full of U.S. military veterans.

Thomas Cashman is a veteran and vice president of the Oregon chapter of Grow For Vets, a non-profit organization headquartered in Colorado. He says he feels more comfortable there than at Veterans of Foreign Wars (VTF) clubs.

“Self-isolation is a huge symptom of PTSD and for me it was the most challenging one to break,” says Cashman. “Not every veteran wants to go to the VFW and drink whiskey and tell war stories. I don’t like to tell war stories and I don’t even like hearing them anymore. We have had a decade of that, I have heard them and I am done. I want to talk about how we can help more veterans and how we can get more veterans involved in helping more veterans.”

Grow for Vets supplies veterans with cannabis

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Grow For Vets provides any U.S. military veteran over the age of 21 with a regular supply of free cannabis, regardless of formal medical marijuana program status. Their mission is to “save more than 50 veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose” by providing veterans with a “safe alternative to deadly prescription drugs…and resources necessary to obtain or grow their own cannabis for treatment of their medical conditions.”

There are currently 21 million living U.S. veterans of all wars. Nearly 50,000 of them are homeless. Median incomes are low, around $30,000 and between 15 and 30 percent have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with higher rates among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Many veterans are undiagnosed. Those who are diagnosed usually are prescribed combinations of psychotropic prescription drugs, and many self-medicate with illegal drugs. Many have turned to alcohol abuse. Every day, about 22 (or more) veterans will take their own lives. A growing movement of veterans are using cannabis to treat both the physical and mental wounds of war.

“This is basically our unofficial clubhouse, it’s our basecamp,” Cashman says of the NW Cannabis Club.

Cashman says the club, which is private and “BYOC” (bring your own cannabis), allows Grow For Vets to host events and the club also hosts events in their honor. Veterans receive discounted membership and collection jars for the organization are displayed prominently at the register.

“This has become a gathering place for veterans who don’t drink,” Cashman says.

Retired soldier uses cannabis to treat PTSD980x1

One of those veterans is K. Patton, a retired army soldier working in Oregon’s new legal cannabis industry. Patton is a conservative and a registered Republican, who believes safe access to cannabis is a bipartisan issue. He is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, diagnosed with PTSD and using cannabis in place of pharmaceutical drugs to help combat the symptoms.

After returning from a tour of duty in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan, Patton has had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. He didn’t have much of a support system and was having trouble sleeping, keeping a job and maintaining relationships.

“If I heard a loud noise, I wouldn’t hit the floor but I would tense up, ready for a strike. My life was in the shitter and somebody told me I needed to get help,” says Patton.

He decided to seek professional help but instead he waited for months to be seen at his local VA hospital in Atlanta, which was ill prepared for the flood of new veterans created by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and caught up in bureaucratic scandal over secret waitlists.

He says he went nearly homeless for months to save up the money to relocate to Portland, where he was able to see a VA doctor without a long wait. He says although he had a great doctor, the drugs he was prescribed didn’t work.

“The only tools the government lets [my doctor] have are pharmaceuticals,” Patton says.

He was prescribed Citalopram, an SSRI anti-depressant drug.

“I tried to take it for awhile. I felt like something added was in my brain, it wasn’t stopping anything, it was just there. It was unsettling,” he says.

He was anti-drug before using cannabis980x2

Photo credit: Thomas Cashman

Prior to trying cannabis he says he was very anti-drug. He grew up watching drugs and the war against them destroy his community and his own family. He says his military service combined with extensive world travels have changed his perception of the War on Drugs and cannabis specifically.

“I got to see [the international drug war] from several different perspectives. I have been smart enough to study it. I could have been a statistic – any wrong move and I could have fallen into the system. Anything from having a kid or having no money to going into selling drugs, taking the easy way out,” says Patton.

Patton was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the late 80s and early 90s. He never knew his father and because his mother had a substance abuse problem he became the primary caretaker for his younger siblings. He refers to the era when he grew up in the New York City suburb as the “crack wars.”

As a kid, he read science fiction to escape and knew he wanted to travel when he grew up, which inspired him to enlist.

“There were always people on the corner using kids to sell drugs. The drug dealers would use everybody and anybody around them to sell drugs, including their own family,” he says. “One day, the police – the good guys – ran up on all the kids and other minors coming out of school and had us against the wall, patting us down – all that stuff. I didn’t have anything to do with it and I am getting pat down like I am the guy on the corner. I didn’t hate them for it but it pissed me off, I knew it wasn’t right. I didn’t know at the time they were taking my civil liberties away.”

Patton says the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t compare to the war he grew up in; the foreign wars were more dangerous but the one at home is more frustrating.

“It’s war-like, but it’s war against America, it’s a war against ourselves. We kill each other, we throw each other in jail, waste money – it’s a war on ourselves.”

He says witnessing the corruption on the streets and the governmental corruption led by Democratic state administrations in New Jersey led him to register Republican. Shortly after graduating high school, Patton enlisted in the U.S. army in August 2001. He was planning to be a career officer.

“I knew I wasn’t going to have enough money for school… I wanted to be a solider because it’s an honorable profession. I just knew it was what I wanted to do and was grateful to be doing it.”

Patton fought in two wars980x3

Photo credit: Thomas Cashman

A month later the September 11 attacks happened. He says he knew he would fight in a war, but didn’t imagine he would fight in two. After being stationed in Korea, he was deployed to Iraq in 2005.

In Iraq, Patton was part of an artillery unit, Convoy Logistics Patrol, that delivered ammunition to bases around the country, in addition to being on active duty guarding bases in Baghdad.

“If you didn’t get mortared the night before, then you would wake up in the morning,” he says. “We would get our mission, check vehicles and do maintenance.”

The deliveries were usually carried out overnight, when it was slightly safer to travel.

“It still wasn’t safe – far from it,” he says.

After 13 months in Iraq, Patton left the military, moved to Georgia and joined the Georgia National Guard. He says one of the motivations for leaving active duty was because he had become more politically aware and no longer agreed with the wars. Before going to war he says he primarily watched Fox News and had general faith in the government.

“My whole belief system was questioned.”

Shortly after the presidential election in 2008, he was called back to active duty in Afghanistan. When he found out he was going back he says he was frustrated at first – he was just coming out of his shell, making friends and had stopped carrying a gun with him everywhere. He says, however, he was ultimately honored to serve again.

Afghanistan was far more dangerous for him than Iraq. “Afghanistan was a whole different type of war we were fighting. Here we were a handful of men for hundreds of hundred of miles, fighting an unseen enemy. It was kinda like Vietnam – they knew where we were at all times and we just wait to get attacked.”

Afghanistan changed his views on drugs980x4

Photo credit: Thomas Cashman

He says his views on drugs really shifted during his time in Afghanistan. In much of the country both cannabis and poppies used to cultivate opium are grown in the open. He says the U.S. military tried to encourage the farmers to grow other agricultural crops, but no longer tries to eradicate the fields.

“It’s a part of life, we could destroy all the poppy we want, but they [the Afghani farmers] have nothing, if we destroyed their crops they would go after us. It wasn’t worth it to U.S. commanders on the ground.”

Patton says his exposure to cannabis culture, and international drug culture generally, has really altered his perception of it. He wishes it was taken more seriously by the government so it can be studied and properly administered by medical professionals.

“I just saw the toll of the drug war first hand. I saw addiction in my family, the amount of money we [the United States] have spent fighting it, seeing minorities and the poor people in America that are targeted by the War on Drugs. We need to have smart decriminalization and rehabilitation – we need to say we are going to stop it now, today.”

Since leaving active duty and relocating to Portland, Patton met and became active with Grow For Vets and frequents the NW Cannabis Club informally with many of the other local members.

Cannabis lounge gives them a sense of community980x5

Photo credit: Thomas Cashman

Thomas Cashman says so many vets have been drawn to Portland’s cannabis lounge because fighting in wars bonded them to their fellow soldiers. They crave the sense of community, unity and family cultivated by service to their country and each other but are often isolated in civilian society, which further exacerbates PTSD.

Cashman says the Oregon chapter now has about 150 members they serve with free cannabis provided through donations from local growers and cannabis companies. Many of the growers are often veterans themselves.

“There are a good number of veterans that are growers,” he says. “There is crossover in those communities. It’s people who are used to standing on the edge and looking over. They understand that freedom is inherently unsafe and they accept and assume that risk.”

Cashman joined the military in 1989 and fought in both the first Gulf War in the 90s and the Iraq war in the 2000s. He was discharged in 2013 after a traumatic brain injury he suffered from a motorcycle accident while he was off-duty. He drank heavily to cope with his symptoms of PTSD.

After his discharge a friend whose parents were growers started providing him with free cannabis. He said having the regular supply changed his life. He stopped drinking, enrolled in school and started working through his PTSD.

“The biggest thing cannabis does for me is helps me sleep, sleep is so key to health,” says Thomas Cashman.

They also host educational events to bring more veterans into the fold, he says.

“My hope is the more veterans who successfully use cannabis, the more veterans will successfully use cannabis to treat their symptoms and as an alternative recreation to alcohol as well.”

Photos by Thomas Cashman

A Civilian Perspective on Veterans & Cannabis

by Jennifer Shewellgfv1Left to right: Mandyjoe De la Torre, Teddy Montoya and Kim West. Photo by Thomas Cashman

Perception

When you go college, as I do, you tend to develop a system of labels and stereotypes for just about every group of people you might encounter, it’s just human nature to define things.

When you go to a school with a whole lot of veterans (about 30% of the student body) they are just another group group of students with a label. However, the unintended side effects of such a stereotype creates yet another obstacle for veterans already dealing with re-assimilating to civilian life often while dealing with issues such as PTSD, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and/or chronic pain of some kind.

One veteran, Thomas Cashman, had this to say; “People would thank me for my service right before slowly backing away.”

That quote is actually referring to a story Cashman relates about his own personal experience at The Art Institute of Portland. Cashman, who is now vice president for the Grow for Vets, Portland Oregon Chapter, does not seem to have that problem anymore.

When asked what made the difference his response was; “I realized that my intensity, my demeanor was off putting. I had to lighten up. I had to open up. Cannabis helped with both of those things”.

Veterans Take on Cannabis

While most people would not typically relate cannabis and veterans there are many who want that to see that change. Grow for Vets is an organization that advocates for cannabis use among veterans. They focus on educating veterans and providing them with medicine. The Portland, OR chapter is even working towards solutions to create opportunities for veterans to work and learn to grow their own medicine.

Cannabis can be a powerful tool to ease pain, anxieties and improve mood, but it does not happen in a vacuum. Isolation is a common side effect of many conditions that veterans are faced with with daily. Cannabis cultivation is a community effort that frequently brings grower, processors and patients together.

As it turns out if you put veterans to work in an environment where they can make a difference, while being able to use cannabis, you can actually see them start to heal right in front of your eyes.

A Civilian Perspective on Veterans & Cannabis

There are many who may have a difficult time accepting cannabis as a viable medical treatment, but I have to say; after spending time with Grow for Vets it is apparent to me that veterans and cannabis just go together.

I am a civilian. As a civilian, I can tell you that it can be awkward to sit and watch a group of veterans bonding over cannabis. Awkward but not uncomfortable. The awkwardness is not because they are unapproachable, rather it is because it is very obvious when you aren’t one of them.

Still, amidst the awkwardness, what you see is beautiful.

A newly discharged veteran approaches the group and there is instant camaraderie. A ‘knowing’ of what it is to serve, strengthened through a common love of cannabis. Laughter, and human connection…an extended family that is always growing and changing. That is what I see when I watch Kim and Teddy and Thomas and the other veterans-A continued love and desire to serve, to give back to this military family that has seen so much death, and destruction.

“I made it through some of the hardest days and nights of my life because of these folks” says Thomas, “I know we can get through any challenge the same way: together.”

These veterans aren’t just healing themselves, they are showing us how it’s done;

One step at a time, one boot in front of the other. Together.

 

Tracking chips will follow Oregon marijuana products

Nina Mehlhaf, KGW 6:46 PM. PDT April 19, 2016

tracking_oregon_pot_1461113172857_1763362_ver1-0PORTLAND, Ore. — Tracking pot from seed to sale.

The state of Oregon is starting to train marijuana growers, processors and store on new technology to make sure marijuana stays legally in our borders. This uses the same kind of chip that pets get from the humane society.

It’s the software that will put Oregon’s pot market on the same level as any corporation-organized inventory, tracked delivery and point of sale records.

It’s from a company called Metrc. Colorado uses it as well. Washington uses something similar.

A blue barcode starts in the soil. Inside the tag is a chip with a serial number that is read by an RFID scanner.

As the plant grows, the same numbered tag moves to a branch, then a sticker for pot products that head to stores where customers will buy it. The state keeps track of every move.

“One, it keeps everything that’s grown and produced in the regulated market, in the market so we can see if there are any diversions to the illegal market, it also prevents illegal product from entering the legal market,” said Mark Pettinger, spokesperson for the OLCC Recreational Marijuana Division.

That’s important because every legal weed product is lab tested at least once for pesticides, mold and THC levels. It can’t be sold if it’s not clean.

The state paid $1.6 million for the software, but each grower and marijuana store will use it for free.

Casey Rivero is a grower in Hillsboro. He says the tracking system legitimizes the cannabis industry and gives piece of mind.

“Having that accountability from the beginning, I feel is really important,” Rivero said.

If Oregon pot ends up illegally across state lines before it’s sold to the public, the state can track down who had possession of it last, and their license might go up for review. It’ll be helpful on the road too.

“If someone takes it out of the system for transport, from A to B, it shows it’s in transit. They can show that document to a law enforcer and it’ll have our mark on it, and it will show that it’s legal and verifiable,” said Rivero.

Up until now, medical marijuana growers have been providing the recreational product. Starting April 29, licenses just for recreational growing will start to be handed out. Then store licenses will start in the fall.

Want to Extract Cannabis in Oregon? You’ll Need a License For That

It’s safety first for cannabis extractors in Oregon’s legal weed scene.

8218860_why-marijuana-concentrates-are-cause-for_a0daaa83_m

For those that aren’t careful, the side effects from bad quality extracts can include chemical poisoning, brain and lung damage.

That’s why the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) began instituting manufacturing licensing rules to minimize home extractions with butane, co2, and propane to create hash oil.

The OHA’s original plan was that extract manufacturers would need to be licensed, and that any extracts sold from non-licensed manufacturers after October 1st would be considered illegal.

While these new restrictions were put in place to prevent unsafe hash from being sold and consumed to and by the public, the measures legally prevented extractors from working while simultaneously leaving the public without medicine.

Since the effect would be much too great to ignore, the policy was updated to grant applicants a grace period.

In order to be a licensed manufacturer, extraction processors must meet specific requirements. Extractions must take place in an enclosed room that is spark proof and equipped with lower explosive limit detectors and evacuation fans.

To prevent malfunctions, processors must use commercially manufactured closed-loop extraction services that recover the solvent that’s used.

Additionally, the equipment and facility has to be approved for use by the local fire code official; meet all safety, building and fire codes, have an emergency eye-wash station in all rooms that process extracts, and have all applicable material safety data sheets available at all times.

Even though the application process didn’t begin until April 1, the policy started being enforced exactly a month prior; leaving companies like Elephant Extracts, who operate according to the OHA’s guidelines, without work.

“We were forced to close our lab for two weeks and counting, putting 12 people out of work,” Elephant Extracts’ Operations Manager, Nick Bradley, explains.

“The extract processors were hurt from the policy, but they weren’t the only people feeling the pain. “We had multiple stores return products to us because they were informed they could not even have products from unlicensed processors on the premises. So on top of the 12 people that are out of work, hundreds if not thousands of patients are forced to go without their meds,” he added.

The original plan to halt processing was reversed because of its effect on safe extract manufacturers, so now applicants can operate under a provisional license until their application gets approved. These temporary passes to produce hash are being granted to compliant companies that produce healthy material for consumption, but are currently legally prevented from doing so otherwise.

Even with the obstacles created by the OHA’s new guidelines, Bradley says that he still supports forcing processors to be licensed.

“We are not opposed to regulations, we are all for them. We have gone through all the hoops to remain operational through all the changes,” he explains.

In order to assure that extracts are safe, it’s best to search out processors that are applying to be licensed, since they are already complying with the regulations. Although it’s hard to tell if your oil is healthy just by looking at it, researching the source is a recommended way to protect yourself.

Written on May 09, 2016 by Tyler Terps

STUDY: CANNABIS IS THE BEST MEDICINE FOR FIBROMYALGIA

10781-birman-cross-kittens-white-background-759x360It was discovered during a recent survey that cannabis was the most effective treatment against fibromyalgia, with an efficiency exceeding all existing medications.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is accompanied by chronic fatigue, deep muscle pain, headaches and depression. Although patients with this disorder have a choice of three drugs, the good old cannabis has proven that his action exceeded that of all drugs synthesized in the laboratory. In a recent online survey conducted by the National Pain Foundation, more than 1,300 patients with fibromyalgia were interviewed. The result is that cannabis has been designated as the most effective in treating the symptoms.

Most patients with fibromyalgia who participated in the survey reported that they had tried all three drugs available, including Lyrica, Cymbalta and Savella, but none of these drugs were as effective as cannabis to eliminate or relieve the debilitating and troublesome symptoms. It is estimated that the US alone, at least 5 million people suffer from fibromyalgia to some degree. Nine out of ten patients are women.

Currently there is no cure for this proven very embarrassing disorder and many patients struggle to maintain their quality of life due to their constant painful condition, and lack of energy. The president of the National Pain Foundation, Dr. Dan Bennett, said he supported patients using what he considers an “outside the box” solution.

Fibromyalgia 1

The figures are quite impressive: according to the survey, less than one in ten patients using Cymbalta said the drug was effective. Three patients with fibromyalgia and five using Lyrica to their troubles were also reported to have felt any positive effects with the drug. Savella has been described as the least effective of the three drugs approved by the FDA, nearly 7 out of 10 patients reported that the drug was of no help. In contrast, over 60% of patients who responded to the survey reported that cannabis was very effective to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

From Pain Physician Journal April 28, 2016