In August 1990, researchers reported in the journal Naturethe discovery of receptors in the brain that specifically accommodate the cannabinoids in pot. Cannabinoids bind to particular neurological sites in the brain, as though the brain was specifically designed to utilize this plant. Did nature toss cannabinoid receptors into the brain by random chance? Are cannabinoid receptors part of an intelligent design for deriving maximum benefit from cannabis? Is cannabis a divine elixir of sacred communion for which we are ideally suited? Actually, a more sober answer seems likely. When there are receptors in the brain for a particular type of compound, that compound is made in the brain. This is true of many important agents that work to transmit brain messages of all types. So a hunt began to find such a compound.
In that vein, in 1992 researchers in Israel isolated the cannabinoid anandamide in the human brain. Unlike THC, anandamide is manufactured in the brain, and is therefore an endogenous cannabinoid. This agent, anandamide, is the compound that attaches to the built-in cannabinoid receptors in our brains. The name anandamide is based on the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. Anandamide is a bliss molcule, enhancing greater well being and emotional satisfaction.
Ever since the pioneering work of Dr. William O’Shaughnessy on cannabis and pain compiled in the 1840’s a growing body of science has shown that cannabis offers relief for various types of pain. In the brain, the endogenous agent anandamide also plays a role in mitigating inflammation and pain. So both cannabinoids from inside and outside the body play a role in pain reduction. More recent studies show pain relief among sufferers of multiple sclerosis when cannabis is consumed.
Anandamide also plays a role in proper appetite, feelings of pleasure and well-being, and memory. Interestingly, cannabis also affects these same functions. Cannabis has been used successfully to treat migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma. So here is the seventy-four thousand dollar question. Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient anandamide?
Dr. Manny and Chris Kilham, Medicine Hunter chat about all the fuss about legalizing medicinal marijuana
At least one author, medical doctor Ethan Russo, believes in the possibility of endocanabinoid deficiency, and suggests that such a deficiency might actually be a significant cause of the types of health problems listed above. His paper “Clinical Cannabinoid Deficiency,” published in Neuroendocrinology Lettersin 2004, delved deeply into the various ways that cannabinoids function in the body, and how a deficiency in cannabinoids can lead to a broad range of diseases. Since the publication of that paper, a number of studies have further confirmed the effectiveness of cannabis for many health disorders.
The idea of clinical cannabinoid deficiency opens the door to cannabis consumption as an effective medical approach to relief of various types of pain, restoration of appetite in cases in which appetite is compromised, improved visual health in cases of glaucoma, and improved sense of well being among patients suffering from a broad variety of mood disorders. As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find it’s proper place in the home medicine chest.
Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com.
The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.
They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.
THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.
Then, for three weeks, researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumors were reduced in size and weight by about 50 percent in treated animals compared to a control group. There was also about a 60 percent reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice as well as a significant reduction in protein markers associated with cancer progression, Preet says.
Although the researchers do not know why THC inhibits tumor growth, they say the substance could be activating molecules that arrest the cell cycle. They speculate that THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.
Massachusetts Court: Marijuana Smell Not Enough for Traffic Stop
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules a police officer may no longer search a motorist merely on the basis of smelling pot.
The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday that a police officer is not justified in stopping and searching an automobile merely because he smells the presence of marijuana. The Supreme Judicial Court took up the case of Benjamin Cruz to clarify the legal impact of a 2008 voter referendum that had decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of pot in the Bay State.
On June 24, 2009, Boston Police Officers Christopher Morgan and Richard Diaz were cruising the Hyde Square neighborhood in an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria in plain clothes. At around 5pm, the officers spotted Cruz in the passenger seat of a car parked on the side of the road in front of a fire hydrant. Cruz was smoking a small cigar with the windows rolled down. The officers got out of their car, approached Cruz and asked what he was doing. Officer Morgan claimed he smelled a “faint odor” of marijuana and Officer Diaz noted that Cruz appeared to be nervous. Cruz was ordered out of the car and searched. Police found 4 grams of crack cocaine and arrested Cruz.
A lower court judge ruled that the officers had no reasonable basis to order Cruz out of the car because there was no evidence that any crime had been committed. The supreme court majority agreed.
“Although we have held in the past that the odor of marijuana alone provides probable cause to believe criminal activity is underway, we now reconsider our jurisprudence in light of the change to our laws,” Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland wrote. “Our analysis must give effect to the clear intent of the people of the Commonwealth in accord with article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
The high court argued that the officers could have ticketed the vehicle’s driver for parking by a hydrant, but no more. The court cited arguments made in the official voter guide to explain that voters intended to have police focus on more serious crimes than marijuana possession.
“By mandating that possession of such a small quantity of marijuana become a civil violation, not a crime, the voters intended to treat offenders who possess one ounce or less of marijuana differently from perpetrators of drug crimes,” Ireland wrote. “Here, no facts were articulated to support probable cause to believe that a criminal amount of contraband was present in the car. We conclude, therefore, that in this set of circumstances a magistrate would not, and could not, issue a search warrant. Because the standard for obtaining a search warrant to search the car could not be met, we conclude that it was unreasonable for the police to order the defendant out of the car in order to facilitate a warrantless search of the car for criminal contraband under the automobile exception.”
Medical marijuana is becoming big business — racking up sales totals that rival those for Viagra, according to a new report.
The report, released by See Change LLC, a Colorado company that provides investment advice to businesses (See Change is selling an in-depth version of the report for $1,150), shows that medical marijuana sales have already reached $1.7 billion in states where it is legal — compared with annual Viagra sales of $1.9 billion. (More on Time.com: The ‘Gateway’ Myth that Will Not Die)
In a conference call with reporters this week, report editor Ted Rose noted that 1 in 4 Americans lives in a state in which medical marijuana is legal, and that nearly 25 million people in those states have medical problems for which the drug can be prescribed. Rose projects that medical marijuana sales will reach $8.9 billion in five years.
Of course, all of this depends on the federal government’s continued commitment to looking the other way (despite states’ laws allowing medical marijuana, the drug is still prohibited under federal law), or on action to legalize the medical or even recreational use of marijuana nationally. (More on Time.com: 7 Ways to Make Marijuana Legalization Smart)
It’s interesting to note that medical alcohol was one of the few exceptions to national Prohibition of that drug — and that Prohibition ended during the Great Depression.
AUBURN, Maine — In the cavernous confines of a long-vacant store in a standard-issue shopping plaza, an earnest couple are cultivating plans for what could be the first dispensary for medical marijuana east of the Mississippi River.
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Called the Remedy Compassion Center and expected to open this spring, the dispensary is one of eight that state health officials will allow in Maine after Jan. 1. In its 10,000 square feet, set next to a craft store, the center will grow, harvest, and sell marijuana.
“It’s a wonderful medicine I hope to share,’’ co-owner Jenna Smale said in the space where she and her husband, Tim, see the beginnings of a thriving business.
“I’m doing what I’m here on earth to do.’’
God, the Smales said, wants them to sell marijuana to the sick.
“We know we’re doing what we’re called to do, which is help patients who are suffering with a natural herb that was put on the earth,’’ said Jenna Smale, 43.
Her husband, a former corporate executive, concurred.
“I’m responding to a personal call in my life,’’ said Tim Smale, 51, dressed in a tweed jacket and casual business attire. “We have the guts to take our personal funds and follow the Lord.’’
Their personal investment so far is more than $100,000 and included savings, retirement money, and life insurance, Tim Smale said. But this commitment has been born of nearly three decades of battling migraine headaches that traditional remedies could not ease , he said.
“I didn’t have a life, OK?’’ he said. “I’m hugging the commode, I’m puking, I’m crying my eyes out.’’
Beta-blockers, antidepressants, and different narcotic medicines all failed, Smale said. He turned to marijuana in 2004. Now, through multiple daily doses of marijuana for which he has medical approval, Smale said, he can lower the intensity of his headaches from debilitating to moderate.
“It’s given me my life back,’’ said Smale, who worked as general manager at an Oakland, Calif., company that advised clients how to start marijuana dispensaries.
The use of marijuana for chronic medical conditions is increasing across the country. Maine, whose voters approved dispensaries in a 2009 binding referendum, is one of 15 states plus the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana, and one of seven states where more than 1,000 dispensaries have opened or are being implemented. The remaining states where medical marijuana is legal are allowing patients or caregivers to grow their own.
Rhode Island, where caregivers can grow marijuana for registered patients, is the only other New England state to approve dispensaries. Health officials there are expected to choose among applicants for three centers by early spring, but the dispensaries would not open until later.
In Maine, each of the state’s eight public health districts will have one dispensary selected through competitive applications. If the Smales’ dispensary, which topped eight other applicants, is not the first to open, the center is expected to trail only a facility in far-north Aroostook County. No dispensaries are up and running east of Colorado, according to medical marijuana advocates.
Maine would appear to be a good fit for pharmacy-style distribution of marijuana. Its libertarian streak and homegrown cultivation of the plant, a rural practice often winked at here, make the transition to dispensaries almost unsurprising in a state where 60 percent of voters approved the move.
In a break from the state’s previous system, where only a doctor’s letter was sufficient to grow and use marijuana, Maine patients who wish to partake of medical marijuana must register with the state by Jan. 1 to do business with the nonprofit dispensaries and use the drug legally.
About 200 residents have been approved, and 200 more have applications pending, said John Thiele, the state’s medical marijuana program manager. Applicants must produce a doctor’s letter and pay a fee of $75 or $100, Thiele said.
Illnesses for which marijuana can be used in Maine include HIV, hepatitis C, cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
How the dispensaries obtain their initial seeds or plant grafts, Thiele said, is “almost a don’t ask, don’t tell thing.’’
Marijuana purchases, at an unregulated price that Jenna Smale said will be as low as possible, will be available to any Maine resident who has registered, complete with home delivery if needed. Insurance will not cover the transactions.
Despite his position as the Maine program’s top administrator, Thiele said he has some misgivings about the drug.
“I think it creates more problems than maybe it solves for society,’’ said Thiele. “But if my mother had ALS or Alzheimer’s, I would want my loved ones to be able to use the program’’ if marijuana proved to be beneficial.
Sharing those benefits has become the life work of the Smales, who added that the literal process of seeding his business has not been determined.
“How I start the product, I don’t know yet,’’ Tim Smale said.
In Auburn, a city of 23,000 where half of the state’s population lives within 40 miles, Mayor Richard Gleason welcomes the dispensary.
“Anything that brings commerce to Auburn and is legal is fine with me,’’ Gleason said.
An extremely interesting, thought provoking article on children, autism, and cannabis. A mother gives her son marijuana medibles to help with his autism.
Why I Give My 9-year-old Pot
By: Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Posted: May 11, 2009 at 11:34 PM
Question: why are we giving our nine-year-old a marijuana cookie?
Answer: because he can’t figure out how to use a bong.
My son J has autism. He’s also had two serious surgeries for a spinal cord tumor and has an inflammatory bowel condition, all of which may be causing him pain, if he could tell us. He can say words, but many of them—”duck in the water, duck in the water”—don’t convey what he means. For a time, anti-inflammatory medication seemed to control his pain. But in the last year, it stopped working. He began to bite and to smack the glasses off my face. If you were in that much pain, you’d probably want to hit someone, too.
J’s school called my husband and me in for a meeting about J’s tantrums, which were affecting his ability to learn. The teachers were wearing tae kwon do arm pads to protect themselves against his biting. Their solution was to hand us a list of child psychiatrists. Since autistic children like J can’t exactly do talk therapy, this meant sedating, antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal—Thorazine for kids.
Last year, Risperdal was prescribed for more than 389,000 children—240,000 of them under the age of 12—for bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, and other disorders. Yet the drug has never been tested for long-term safety  in children and carries a severe warning of side effects. From 2000 to 2004, 45 pediatric deaths were attributed to Risperdal and five other popular drugs also classified as “atypical antipsychotics,” according to a review  of FDA data by USA Today. When I canvassed parents of autistic children who take Risperdal, I didn’t hear a single story of an improvement that seemed worth the risks. A 2002 study specifically looking at the use of Risperdal for autism, in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed moderate improvements in “autistic irritation”—but if you read more closely, the study followed only 49 children over eight weeks, which, researchers admitted, “limits inferences about adverse effects.”
We met with J’s doctor, who’d read the studies and agreed: No Risperdal or its kin.
The school called us in again. What were we going to do, they asked. As a sometimes health writer and blogger , I was intrigued when a homeopath suggested medical marijuana. Cannabis has long-documented effects as an analgesic and an anxiety modulator. Best of all, it is safe. The homeopath referred me to a publication  by the Autism Research Institute describing cases of reduced aggression, with no permanent side effects. Rats given 40 times the psychoactive level merely fall sleep. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has been researching cannabis for 40 years, says he has yet to encounter a case of marijuana causing a death, even from lung cancer.
A prescription drug called Marinol, which contains a synthetic cannabinoid, seemed mainstream enough to bring up with J’s doctor. I cannot say that with a few little pills, everything turned around. But after about a week of playing around with the dosage, J began garnering a few glowing school reports: “J was a pleasure have in speech class,” instead of “J had 300 aggressions today.”
But J tends to build tolerance to synthetics, and in a few months, we could see the aggressive behavior coming back. One night, I went to the meeting of a medical marijuana patient advocacy group on the campus of the college where I teach. The patients told me that Marinol couldn’t compare to marijuana, the plant, which has at least 60 cannabinoids to Marinol’s one.
Rhode Island, where we live, is one of 13 states where the use of medical marijuana is legal. But I was resistant. My late father was an anesthesiologist, and compared with the precise drugs he worked with, I know he would think marijuana to be ridiculously imprecise and unscientific. I looked at my son’s tie-dye socks (his avowed favorite). At his school, I was already the weirdo mom who packed lunches with organic kale and kimchi and wouldn’t let him eat any “fun” foods with artificial dyes. Now, I’d be the mom who shunned the standard operating procedure and gave her kid pot instead.
ABC News features marijuana
What Conservatives think about California Proposition 19
Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
This news article describes how dispensaries would operate in Arizona if their medical marijuana prop gets passed. There would be a limited number of dispensaries for the entire state.. There are some cons to a limited number of businesses being able to open up, and I hope that doesn’t trickle down to effect other less progressive states who havn’t passed medical marijuana ordinances yet. It should be up to a shop owner’s discretion (as it usually is in business) if they feel a market is too flooded to not take part.
I also hope that in the future, there’s not going to be a limit on the number of caregivers a state can have. In my opinion, there are more than enough people interested in cannabis that a limit on places and people providing it doesn’t need to be in effect.
However, if this is what it takes to get the ball rolling in Arizona, then at least they’re taking some positive steps in the right direction.
PHOENIX — It isn’t legal yet. And it won’t be unless voters approve.
But more than a dozen companies are setting up shop in Arizona in hopes of selling pot.
The initiative, if passed, will permit just 120 dispensaries in the entire state. That’s far different from California, where that state’s medical marijuana law has no limit. The Arizona law does require that the dispensaries be set up as nonprofit corporations. But that isn’t deterring would-be dealers who hope to get one of those licenses.
Among the first in line is Allan Sobol. He’s been hired by Medical Marijuana Dispensaries of Arizona, one of 15 firms that has filed the necessary paperwork with the Arizona Corporation Commission, to get the business up and running and help clear hurdles.
In fact, the company is already open for business, though there’s no marijuana to sell.
The firm’s Web site is signing up not only prospective buyers but also doctors who might be interested in referring their patients.
“We call it pre-emptive marketing,” he said.
Proposition 203, if approved, will allow those with a state-issued card to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But to get that card, a patient first needs a written recommendation from a doctor who, according to the measure, will have needed to do a “full assessment” of that person’s medical history.
Sobol said that should make Arizona’s operation different than California, where dispensaries actually advertise they can get a doctor’s certification on site.
So Sobol mailed information to about 10,000 Arizona doctors, giving them information about the initiative and about the company.
He said “several” already have responded.
How many potential patients are out there is unclear.
Legislative budget staffers predicted 39,600 Arizonans are likely to have the medical marijuana cards by 2013, with 26,400 people licensed by the state as caregivers — people who can buy the drug for someone else.
The pro-203 campaign is far better financed than any opposition.
Campaign finance reports show $640,523 in donations, with the lion’s share of that coming from the national Marijuana Policy Project. Foes operating as Keep Arizona Drug Free had collected just $6,685 as of the latest report.
Vocal opposition to the initiative is coming largely from law enforcement and prosecutors.