Americans Get Pot From US Government

By NIGEL DUARA

EUGENE, Ore. — Sometime after midnight on a moonlit rural Oregon highway, a state trooper checking a car he had just pulled over found less than an ounce of pot on one passenger: A chatty 72-year-old woman blind in one eye.

She insisted the weed was legal and was approved by the U.S. government.

The trooper and his supervisor were doubtful. But after a series of calls to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Agency and her physician, the troopers handed her back the card – and her pot.

For the past three decades, Uncle Sam has been providing a handful of patients with some of the highest grade marijuana around. The program grew out of a 1976 court settlement that created the country’s first legal pot smoker.

Advocates for legalizing marijuana or treating it as a medicine say the program is a glaring contradiction in the nation’s 40-year war on drugs – maintaining the federal ban on pot while at the same time supplying it.

Government officials say there is no contradiction. The program is no longer accepting new patients, and public health authorities have concluded that there was no scientific value to it, Steven Gust of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse told The Associated Press.

At one point, 14 people were getting government pot. Now, there are four left.

The government has only continued to supply the marijuana “for compassionate reasons,” Gust said.

One of the recipients is Elvy Musikka, the chatty Oregon woman. A vocal marijuana advocate, Musikka relies on the pot to keep her glaucoma under control. She entered the program in 1988, and said that her experience with marijuana is proof that it works as a medicine.

They “won’t acknowledge the fact that I do not have even one aspirin in this house,” she said, leaning back on her couch, glass bong cradled in her hand. “I have no pain.”

Marijuana is getting a look from states around the country considering calls to repeal decades-old marijuana prohibition laws. There are 16 states that have medical marijuana programs. In the three West Coast states, advocates are readying tax-and-sell or other legalization programs.

Marijuana was legal for much of U.S. history and was recognized as a medicine in 1850. Opposition to it began to gather and, by 1936, 48 states had passed laws regulating pot, fearing it could lead to addiction.

Anti-marijuana literature and films, like the infamous “Reefer Madness,” helped fan those fears. Eventually, pot was classified among the most harmful of drugs, meaning it had no usefulness and a high potential for addiction.

In 1976, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must provide Robert Randall of Washington, D.C. with marijuana because of his glaucoma – no other drug could effectively combat his condition. Randall became the nation’s first legal pot smoker since the drug’s prohibition.

Eventually, the government created its program as part of a compromise over Randall’s care in 1978, long before a single state passed a medical marijuana law. What followed were a series of petitions from people like Musikka to join the program.

President George H.W. Bush’s administration, getting tough on crime and drugs, stopped accepting new patients in 1992. Many of the patients who had qualified had AIDS, and they were dying.

The AP asked the agency that administers the program, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, for documents showing how much marijuana has been sent to patients since the first patient in 1976.

The agency supplied full data for 2005-2011, which showed that during that period the federal government distributed more than 100 pounds of high-grade marijuana to patients.

Agency officials said records related to the program before 2005 had been destroyed, but were able to provide scattered records for a couple of years in the early 2000s.

The four patients remaining in the program estimate they have received a total of 584 pounds from the federal government over the years. On the street, that would be worth more than $500,000.

All of the marijuana comes from the University of Mississippi, where it is grown, harvested and stored.

Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, who directs the operation, said the marijuana was a small part of the crop the university has been growing since 1968 for all cannabis research in the U.S. Among the studies are the pharmaceutical uses for synthetic mimics of pot’s psychoactive ingredient, THC.

ElSohly said the four patients are getting pot with about 3 percent THC. He said 3 percent is about the range patients have preferred in blind tests.

The marijuana is then sent from Mississippi to a tightly controlled North Carolina lab, where they are rolled into cigarettes. And every month, steel tins with white labels are sent to Florida and Iowa. Packed inside each is a half-pound of marijuana rolled into 300 perfectly-wrapped joints.

With Musikka living in Oregon, she is entitled to more legal pot than anyone in the nation because she’s also enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program. Neither Iowa nor Florida has approved marijuana as a medicine, so the federal pot is the only legal access to the drug for the other three patients.

The three other people in the program range in ages and doses of marijuana provided to them, but all consider themselves an endangered species that, once extinct, can be brushed aside by a federal government that pretends they don’t exist.

All four have become crusaders for the marijuana-legalization movement. They’re rock stars at pro-marijuana conferences, sought-after speakers and recognizable celebrities in the movement.

Irv Rosenfeld, a financial adviser in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has been in the program since November 1982. His condition produces painful bone tumors, but he said marijuana has replaced prescription painkillers.

Rosenfeld likes to tell this story: In the mid-1980s, the federal government asked his doctor for an update on how Rosenfeld was doing. It was an update the doctor didn’t believe the government was truly interested in. He had earlier tried to get a copy of the previous update, and was told the government couldn’t find it, Rosenfeld said.

So instead of filling out the form, the doctor responded with a simple sentence written in large, red letters: “It’s working.”

Medical Cannabis Conference in Europe Highlights Science, Cannabinoid Medicines

 Naturopathic Doctor, Michelle Sexton, writes about the IACM 6th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicineand 5th European Workshop on Cannabinoid Research that took place this September 8-10 at the University of Bonn, Germany.Naturopathic Doctor, Michelle Sexton, writes about the IACM 6th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicineand 5th European Workshop on Cannabinoid Research that took place this September 8-10 at the University of Bonn, Germany.

 

 

 

Cannabinoid Conference 2011 in Bonn, Germany..Courtesy of medicalmarijuana411

Inflammation and neuro-excitation flared and were then calmed by the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system (eCBss) recently in the birthplace of Beethoven, Bonn, Germany.

This signaling is ubiquitous across systems including the brain, bulk, bone, bowel, blood, and bugs.

“Thus the exciting promenade from plant natural products to animalphysiology,” as Vincenzo di Marzo said, and which could be a theme, as pharmacology and pharmacognosy united, but I’ll get to that!

As a revolution in the re-emergence of plant compounds, Cannabis sativa has provided a wealth of ethnobotanical information on a molecular scale.

But let the brain lead the way, as it is a servant of it’s master, the peripheral systems.

The periphery to the CNS is a gateway, largely on an immune level, the two in close simpatico, communicating through the eCBss.

Program: Part 1

Brain Functions

 Small genetic alterations that lead to functional changes in cannabinoid receptor can lead to an enhanced eCBss, Ken Mackie reported.

He is just starting to inquire about what this means in the development of tolerance or for addictive tendencies.

Of course this is only in mice, however because of genetic similarities to humans, it is not entirely implausible that similar things may happen in a homosapien.

These findings do speak to the starring role of the eCBss, which is “biochemistry in balance” in the body.

Beat Lutz told of regulation of social behavior by CB1 expression on excitatory neurons.

Loss of this most highly-expressed protein in the brain apparently leads to a very nervous mouse (to the point of seizures, even).

Animals who lost this receptor on dopaminergic neurons, where the two receptors walk hand-in-hand, were a bit melancholy and easily startled Ana Luiza Terzain told us.

You might know someone like this, perhaps whose brain has been toyed with using modern pharmaceuticals. Maybe they need a eCBss tune-up?

On the other hand, the eCBss may be in orbit, as in schizophrenia, requiring a decrease in the eCBss cellular component.

The curious thing about Cannabis, the plant, is that it is considered to be an adaptogen.

So depending on ‘things,’ something that is agonism in one biochemical system may be antagonism in another (sort of like one man’s poison is another man’smedicine).

Apparently just the right amount of eCB ‘tone’ may lead you to be playful.

Maybe it was that a lack of playfulness led to enhanced CB1 receptor in the thalamus (which does, well lots of ‘things’… such as telling you where you are in space, what you feel, where your consciousness is)?

Damage to this part of the brain can lead to coma, which reminds me of a number of precious old people I saw recently who have been reduced this way by means of hyper-pharmaceutical-ization (Israel has a better model for this, however).

The thalamus really is a relay station, particularly for sensation on the gross and fine levels. Hypersensitivity in this part of the brain may lead to the experience of a lot of physical/visceral pain, at least in the human model of this rat borderline personality disorder.

To sum it up, if one ascribes to the hypothesis of the triune brain,  the thalamus is parcel of a very old division of the central nervous system.  It  regulates behavior that is a product of sensory input.

These components are purported to be the early structures of the limbic system associated with social and nurturing behavior, and reciprocity- just general benevolence. The eCBss has a starring role in these structures, indicating that there is a lot of tuning up to do out in the world!

Dr. Michelle Sexton is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Washington and is doing groundbreaking cannabinoid research through her lab, Phytalytics.org

White House Send Us Your Petitions

By MATT NEGRIN

The White House on Thursday announced a new way it will keep in touch with public concerns — by promising to consider online petitions that get at least 5,000 supporters.

The idea behind “We the People” — as the program will be called — is that anyone with an idea or cause can go to the White House website and make a public pitch for support. If the idea gets 5,000 backers within 30 days, said White House spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya, a “working group of policy officials” will respond.

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“This group will also make sure that relevant petitions are flagged for other appropriate administration officials,” she said in an email.

“Throughout our history, Americans have used petitions to unite around issues they care about” it says on the website. But will the administration give a fair shake to every single idea that reaches such a relatively low threshold of support?

NBC’s Chuck Todd asked White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer this morning if, for example, the administration would seriously consider eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency if that idea got 5,000 supporters.

Pfeiffer’s response: “If there are ideas that are ones that we fundamentally disagree with or are bad ideas and enough people come forward, we’ll respond to why we disagree with that idea and look for a way to work together on other ideas.”

Allen St. Pierre, the head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, vowed in an interview with POLITICO that he would submit a petition and said: “We can get 5,000 signatures in less than one hour. I promise you.”

Given Pfeiffer’s response to Todd, that’s a petition likely to go nowhere.

But Joe Newman, a spokesman for the Project On Government Oversight, was open to the White House initiative. “If they’re going to take it seriously and review it, it’s definitely a good thing on paper,” he said.

“Encouraging citizens’ participation is never a bad thing,” Newman added. “But part of me is very skeptical that they’ll be able to handle the number of petitions that come in and give it any sort of thorough review.”

Patrice McDermott, the director of Open The Government who in March gave President Barack Obama an anti-secrecy award, called it a “positive step” even as she said the administration should make public the petitions that don’t get enough signatures to break through.

“The other test is that range of issues,” she said. “Is it going to be only issues that are only of political benefit to the White House, or — who designs that, and how’s it going to be limited, and will it change over time?”

Republicans were immediately suspicious.

While Patrick Ruffini, a partner at the Republican-leaning digital media firm Engage, called the White House’s effort a “great move” to appear transparent, he questioned the motive.

“It’s just more people that they can communicate with,” he said of the people who will give the White House their contact information.

“The Obama campaign and the Obama White House are extremely metrics-driven in their online operation. … One thing we know works from an online perspective is petitions … particularly petitions that have a shot at getting in front of the president.”

“It’s the government equivalent of, ‘you may win an iPad,’” he added.

The Republican National Committee was even more skeptical. “The president is clearly in campaign mode from his fundraisers to his campaign bus tour and now more campaign tactics coming out from the official White House,” RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “This shouldn’t come as any surprise to Americans who have come to see him as the ultimate campaigner-in-chief.”