Cannabis Oil: A Medical Marvel For Your Skin?

Back massageAs medical and personal use of marijuana become increasingly legal, many new ways to intake cannabis are now available. In addition to inhaling smoke, people can benefit from the medical cannabinoids in cannabis by vaporizing, ingesting, and absorption via the skin.

Plant cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD,  are fat soluble and readily absorbed by the skin. These medicinal molecules may well be most perfectly administered, for many conditions, via topical products applied directly to the skin’s surface, such as cannabis-infused massage oil. To clarify, this is not “hemp oil” from the seeds of low cannabinoid hemp, but made from the flowers (buds) themselves, and filled with cannabinoids.

© freshidea - Fotolia.com

© freshidea – Fotolia.com

The importance of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to the healthy functioning of the skin is only now becoming clear, as the profound ways the ECS effects all our systems are continually discovered. This system,with natural receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in brain, immune and most types of cells, including those in the skin, and natural endocannabinoids our bodies produce, are perhaps the greatest discoveries in human physiology of the last 50 years.

During these same time, researchers discovered the ability for plant based cannabinoids from cannabis, including THC and  CBD, to activate the ECS.  These cannabinoids offer great potential for preventing, treating, and curing common skin diseases. Massages using cannabis infused oil may be an optimal way to address skin maladies. Cannabinoids may be very useful in treating skin cancer.

The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) has been found to play a key role in the health of the skin, prompting these Italian researchers to study cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and  cannabidivarin (CBDV) to study effects on skin cells. The Italian study skipped THC because of its psychoactivity, but THC has been shown to be powerfully therapeutic. THC is actually closer to AEA in function than is CBD, so it would have been interesting if it were included in the study.

Many skin conditions are inflammatory in nature and the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids on skin cells have been demonstrated. Both THC and CBD show anti-inflammatory effects.

Cannabinoids also act on the genetic level to help calm skin diseases. The field of Epigenetics studies how “molecular mechanisms in the environment control gene activity independently of DNA sequence.” Activities such as exercise and factors such as nutrition and stress can change how genes are expressed. Endocannabinoids made by your own cells and phytocannabiniods from cannabis sativa also can change genetic expression in medically useful ways, addressing diseases from psoriasis to cancer.

The report concluded: “These findings show that the phytocannabinoids cannabidiol and cannabigerol are transcriptional repressors that can control cell proliferation and differentiation. This indicates that they (especially cannabidiol) have the potential to be lead compounds for the development of novel therapeutics for skin diseases.”

THC infused oils may offer many benefits missing from potions without this main cannabinoid. One of these benefits might be the “psychoactivity” seemingly dreaded by cannabinoid researchers. Patients may well enjoy the blissful experience, and even consider it part of the cure.

Watch for Part 2 of this series for more on the science, on the new found epigenetic capabilities of cannabinoids, how marijuana’s amazing molecules adjust gene expression to protect skin.

Hemp And Cannabis in Southern Oregon Skirmish

As Oregon’s legal marijuana market goes official on July 1, 2015, two different aspects of cannabis agriculture are at odds.

Some of the world’s finest wines are produced from grapes grown in southern Oregon. In nearby fields, some of the planet’s choicest cannabis strains benefit from the same climate. The medical marijuana plants appear like small trees, protruding with arm-sized buds worth big money when harvested, dried and trimmed.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis Flower Without Seeds

The aromatic female cannabis flowers glisten as they await the wind-borne arrival of pollen from male cannabis so they can produce seeds and complete their reproductive cycle. But the pollen never arrives, as growers are quick to uproot any male plants. Pollination would ruin the monetary and medical value of the crop as surely as a late season hail storm. Sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) cannabis can sell for up to two thousand dollars a pound; seeded marijuana has no market value.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp crop.

Now a new player is entering the Oregon cannabis agriculture: hemp. Like medically valuable sinsemilla, hemp is also marijuana, cannabis sativa. Unlike sinsemilla, hemp is grown for the seeds; they are the most valuable part of the hemp crop, although the entire plant is useful in dozens of ways. Indeed, hemp seeds themselves and the oil produced from them are arguably the world’s most nutritious food. They are sources of essential oils and proteins that our bodies cannot produce themselves, and they provide perfectly balanced omega 3 fatty acids, excellent nutrition for brain and body. If you were abandoned on a desert island with the choice of one food, hemp seeds might be your single best pick. Continue reading

DEA tyranny robs personal choice of food and medicine.

In the year 1778 Thomas Jefferson said,

“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take,

their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as the souls who live under tyranny.”

  • Sadly, two centuries after this great patriot’s time, through the misguided drug war legislation of congress, the American people do live under the tyranny of which Jefferson warned. Their US federal government, in the form of the DEA – Drug Enforcement Agency –  has “arbitrarily and capriciously” coerced Americans out of the best of foods and medicines.

FOOD

Hemp seed (and oil from it) may well be nature’s single most nutritious food. Filled with essential fatty acids, with Omega-3s in perfect proportion, hemp seed provides in abundance exactly the nutrients most lacking and needed from modern diets.

With the rapidly increasing visibility of hemp food products, it is sobering to remember that American’s freedom to consume these nutritious foods were outlawed by the DEA until the court order righted this wrong, just eight years ago. The federal police agency claimed that the tiny amount of THC in hemp made it a Schedule I drug.  Americans have had the freedom to choose these astoundingly healthy foods for less than a decade. Even now, ludicrously, the DEA forbids any American farming and production of hemp seeds, all must be imported.

MEDICINE

Were the plant cannabis discovered today, it would be hailed as a major discovery of useful medicine, a cornucopia of new treatments for many of mankind’s afflictions.  Medical cannabis provides a huge array of preventive and curative benefits. Cannabis is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuro-protective.   Americans needing the blindness-preventing effects for glaucoma, the gift of pain relief for neuropathic pain,  and relief from inflammatory diseases have found these and other medical blessings legally in over a dozen US states. If not raided by federal police, dispensaries and medical marijuana providers are pioneering a new open source model for American health care, providing exactly the sort of non-smoked cannabis medication advocated by the 1999 Institute of Medicine report. Very commonly, extremely safe (zero medical deaths) cannabis medications reduce, even replace dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical drugs such as Oxycontin.

Although the DEA’s attempts to deprive Americans from the benefits of hemp foods was squashed by court decision, the DEA still grinds its boot on the neck of medical cannabis. Even in the states where voters expressed their clear desire that they be free to choose cannabis as a medication, the federal designation of Schedule I provide this federal police force all it needs to continue to wage its decade’s long persecution of the plant. The agency’s hard-line approach on cannabis has helped  it to expand wildly in the last 30 years. Eager to spend money and appear tough in the war on drugs, Congress has lavished the DEA massive budget increases every year, with marijuana enforcement being the a major share of the DEA’s pork pie. The hard-line on marijuana enforcement has rewarded DEA agents, US attorneys, prosecutors, police, and prison guards with easy arrests, long careers and lavish pensions.

Since GW Bush nominee and arch medical cannabis foe Michele Leonhart was renominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the senate (retch) to run the DEA, the agency has renewed its attacks. In conjunction with US attorneys and other beneficiaries of the prohibition of marijuana, these federal employees have ramped up major attacks on medical cannabis in the many states where it is protected by state law. The CSA designation of Schedule I gives these federal prosecutors all the cruel legal tools, such as decade’s long mandatory minimums prison terms and property forfeiture it needs to smash these thriving industries and health care services. Although these innovative services have caused no problems and provided major solutions in health care, employment and taxes paid to city and states, they are currently being raided and coerced out of business.

Indeed, if Thomas Jefferson alive today growing his beloved hemp crop at Monticello, screaming squads, arriving in urban tanks, would knock him to the floor and then push him into a cage. For decades. His great estate would be forfeited to seizure by his government. He would be ashamed that federal thugs indeed had stolen from his fellow citizens such basic choices of food, medicine, even which plants to grow in the garden, at pain of penalties inspired by the Inquisition.

At a time when the DEA/US Attorney attacks are effectively dismantling the thriving medical cannabis infrastructure in states with medical exemptions, the freedom of Americans to choose this alternative medication is dying, even though it is favored by a majority. The presidential candidates of both parties and nearly all of congress have no will to change the current aggressive destruction of medical cannabis alternatives by federal police. Indeed, congress is losing many of its few defenders of medical cannabis, including Ron Paul, Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich.

One small hope for the future of medical cannabis and open-source health care in the USA is an impending challenge of Schedule I status in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Washington DC . Finally the DEA will have to defends it faulty Schedule I claim in court, against “a mountain of evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of cannabis as medicine.”

Now both Oregon senators lead on bill promoting American hemp freedom, S 3501

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley

For a country that prides itself on being “land of the free,” the USA has some strange laws. American farmers, for example, lack the freedom of farmers in Canada and China to grow hemp, one of nature’s most ubiquitous and useful crops. American food processors lack the freedom to make food product from hemp seeds, perhaps nature’s most nutritious food. All such foods, now becoming hugely popular, must be imported.  But now, Oregon’s senior senator Ron Wyden has been joined by freshman senator Jeff Merkley, in c0-sponsoring the Hemp Farming Bill – S. 3501. This bill would amend the draconian Controlled Substance Act, exclude hemp from the definition of marijuana and end its absurd Schedule I status. Other co-sponsors span the political spectrum, even though there are only two of them, Socialist IndependentBernie Sanders from Vermont and Libertarian Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The state of Oregon has long pioneered essential legislation and change. The Oregon Bottle Bill was the nation’s first. In 1998, Oregon voter followed their California neighbors in amending state laws to allow for the freedom to use medical cannabis. In 2009, joining several other states, Oregon’s governor signed legislation passed by both Oregon House and Senate to allow the state’s farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to grow hemp and produce food, fuel and fiber products from the crop.

Currently Oregon’s leadership is taking place in the US Senate. The premier legislative body is mired with the likes of pathetic senators, e.g. Sessions, Grassley , Kyl , Lieberman, Feinstein and dozens of other denizens. Oregon’s two senators, veteran Ron Wyden and first-termer Jeff Merkley stand out as among the best in the Senate’s history.  Oregon senators lead on a bill to grow hemp in America.  For even though states such as Oregon have passed legislation allowing their citizens the freedom to prosper by farming hemp and from it producing made-in-Oregon products. But any Oregonian planting hemp would soon be forcibly arrested by jackboot squads and subjected to forfeiture of his land to the federal government. The USA, specifically, the DEA maintains an iron fist with federal statues severely criminalizing any production of hemp, cannabis sativa.

Dismally, the web site www.govtrack.us rates the chance of successful passage and enactment into law of this needed legislation at about 4%. Please urge your senators to support your state’s farmers and entrepreneurs by joining Oregon’s senators in co-sponsoring  the Hemp Farming Bill, S 3501. 

 

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden supports American’s right to grow hemp.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has introduced an amendment to the farm bill to allow American farmers to grow hemp. Currently all hemp raw materials must be imported. The DEA disallows Americans from growing the source plant cannabis sativa, even in the many states where voters, legislatures and governors have acted to allow their farmers and entrepreneurs to profit from hemp. Wyden’s home state of Oregon legalized hemp cultivation in 2009.  Currently, even in these states, planting hemp risks SWAT raids by DEA, forfeiture of land and long imprisonment. The accomplished Democrat Senator seeks to allow American citizens the freedom to help feed thriving markets for the plant’s nutritional and fiber products. The bill, S. 3240 is similar to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Ron Paul, R-Texas, H.R. 1831. Lucia Graves reports on Wyden’s bill in Huffington Post.

Ironically, this farm bill amendment finally allows Americans farmers to grow perhaps the world’s most nutritious food. The farm bill has been implicated as a prime cause of America’s obesity crisis by subsidizing some of the planet’s least nutritious food. The bill creates a flood of subsidized calories, primarily from corn, including high fructose corn syrup. These excess calories that have swollen the American waistline and have brought the country to a health care precipice. Finally, if this passes, the farm bill amendment S. 3240,  will encourage American farmers to grow and produce hemp seed and its oil, vital sources of essential fatty acids such as omega-3. New research just released shows the cognitive damage caused by excess fructose consumption on the brain and how such damage can be reduced by consumption of fatty acids such as omega-3s.

A better bill would have done more than simply excluding hemp from the definition of “marijuana,” but this is key reform and Senator Wyden (and Ron Paul) are to be commended. Hopefully, the US Congress, currently one of the country’s historically worst, will support American farmers and entrepreneurs by passing this job-creating amendment.

 

Cannabis dispensaries can be true wellness clinics.

Cannabis dispensaries and clinics are multiplying as citizens of ever-more American states vote to decriminalize medical marijuana. Many use the term “wellness” to describe their wider range of services. In fact, as medical cannabis becomes evermore accepted for the variety of conditions for which the herb provides benefit, dispensaries and clinics really can provide a mechanism for providing true wellness services.

The term “wellness” relates to a high level of health status, not simply the absence of disease, but the presence of behaviors that help prevent disease and cause the body to thrive. This behavioral perspective emphasizes the health practices that provide prevention effects from today’s causes of death and disability. High level wellness indicates a body not just disease-free, but strong, toned, nutritionally well fed, and free of excess tension. Wellness also refers to a relaxed but purposeful mental set, engaged with the world.

Several health behaviors are key determinants of our health status and our health future. A few of the physical activity behavioral goals may be beyond the capabilities of those with serious physical ailments, but serve as important guidelines to all. As a wellness center, the dispensary can communicate these basic practices and their importance to all patients in a variety of unobtrusive and complementary ways.

Virtually every person should:

  • Get sufficient exercise, especially walking.
  • Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.
  • Practice good nutrition, focused on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.
  • Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Cultivate a supportive social life.
  • Manage and reduce stress.

Open Source Health Care

Two huge problems, besides the obscene cost, beset the current state of health care in the USA. One is the general non-availability of cannabinoid medications for most Americans. The other is the lack of prevention perspective; in fact, current “health care” is mainly medical care, focusing on relieving and curing established diseases.   Despite the fact that most of the ailments and diseases afflicting Americans are related to health behaviors, there is very little true prevention effort. The open source health care alternative for the 21st Century will enable people to harness cannabis for pain relief, anti-inflammation, glaucoma prevention and a dozen other conditions for which medical marijuana provides results superior to the mainstream medical/pharmaceutical approach. It will also provide a harm reduction, health promotion, preventive alternative to the current curative medical approach. Both these two problems could be addressed by dispensaries providing cannabinoid-based medications and true wellness services. Such services would address the health behaviors above:

Get sufficient exercise, especially walking. Most Americans walk far to little, depriving themselves of muscle and burdening themselves with fat. Taking at least 10,000 steps each day is a key health behavior of huge value to your health, and a crucial foundation for a preventive, wellness lifestyle. Even better is when some of these steps, or additional steps, are taken a faster pace, such as jogging a mile a day. Dispensaries could encourage patients to aspire to such basic fitness guidelines in a variety of ways:

  • Pedometers retail for $5. Providing each patient with one for no cost as part of the wellness services would send a profound message a hugely useful tool. The pedometer would of course bear the clinic’s logo.
  • Posters at the dispensary could impart more awareness of the 10,000 steps per day guideline.
  • If the clinic does the medical evaluations for eligibility for medical cannabis, this presents a perfect opportunity to encourage physical fitness goals such as 10,000 steps per day.

Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.

America, and much of the world is suffering a crisis in body composition. Our bodies are composed evermore of excess fat. Plus we tend to carry too little muscle. Sufficient walking, see above, is key to building muscle tone and preventing fat, but additional muscle building is a healthy practice. A more muscular body composition helps burn calories, but more importantly provides a basic framework of physical strength that provides preventive and fitness dividends. Dispensaries could help patients gain the benefits of strength training with the same method as above, including posters and other messaging. The question of the obesity of its clients is important to a dispensary. Wanting to, “first, do no harm,” the clinic should confirm that its cannabis medication does not contribute to such problems. Cannabis is very effective at ending the wasting syndrome by helping people eat; its effect on people that are overweight may be less helpful. Obesity might even be seen as a contraindication in the prescription or recommendation of cannabis.

Practice good nutrition, especially nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.

  • The clinic or dispensary could educate on the quite incredible nutritional value of cannabis itself, in the form of hemp seed and hemp oil. Hemp seed is perhaps the most nutritious single food source, filled with essential fatty acids and proteins. The omega-3 profile of hemp seed is nearly optimal.
  • Good nutrition sets focus on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods, nearly the opposite of an American fast food meal.

Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. The smoke from cigarettes, inhaled directly or as second-hand smoke, is a deadly toxin that kills over 400,000 Americans each year. Avoiding such exposure is a key preventive behavior. The reduction of cigarette smoking and proliferation of non-smoking areas providing freedom from this toxin have been a major public health victory in the last generation (and it was accomplished with zero SWAT raids and no one going to jail.

Although cannabis smoke appears far safer than cigarette smoke (marijuana smoking is not associated with lung cancer nor emphysema, two of the great risks of cigarette smoking, it is still smoke and contains toxins such as carbon monoxide (CO). Vaporizers provide a safe way to gain the medical benefits of cannabinoids with no exposure to smoke, and should be encouraged, and sold in dispensaries. With vaporizers, medical users can titrate dosages nearly as well as with smoking. In California, clinics, dispensaries and collectives have helped pioneer other ways of medicating with cannabis in a smoke-free manner. Tinctures with alcohol and edibles offer yet other alternatives. Invention, or rather reinvention of these medications (tinctures of cannabis were available to Americans 100 years ago) has been a major contribution of dispensaries in California.

Cultivate a supportive social life. Isolation is detrimental to physical and especially, mental, health. Although most important social interactions occur with family and friends, the dispensaries themselves could help provide some of this social glue so important to health.

Manage and reduce stress. Cannabis itself, especially types rich with a variety of cannabinoids, is a natural stress reducer. Indeed, much of the so called “recreational” use of cannabis helps users maintain a relaxed and happy state of mind. Stress reduction is of course a huge topic and the steps a clinic or dispensary might take are virtually limitless, from yoga classes, to progressive relaxation to massage.

Wellness and open source health care are giant topics that will be revisited.

USA tortures Canadian with solitary confinement for promoting cannabis.

Demonstrating a new moral low, the USA has scored a new political prisoner, Canadian entrepreneur Marc Emery. Almost immediately this outspoken voice ending cannabis prohibition suffered solitary confinement. This is a form of torture; as anyone who has suffered this social and sensory deprivation can testify. The Instanbul Statement, a definitive international declaration, calls on

  • States to limit the use of solitary confinement to very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort.

How terribly twisted, then, that in 2010 in the United States of America, a citizen of Canada languishes in solitary confinement at Sea-Tac, in the state of Washington. The world’s largest jailing nation, the USA, gained one more prisoner to its 2,300,000 total when the federal government vindictively snagged this Vancouver BC, Canada entrepreneur.  Within days this political prisoner was plunged into solitary confinement. Not for a short a time as possible, but apparently as long a time as possible. And not as a last resort, but as a first resort.

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Marc Emery’s story is quite well known and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say his powerful entrepreneurial and philanthropic energies showed how prodigious cannabis consumption can correspond with enormous work accomplishment. He ran afoul of the DEA when his passions led him to work expose cannabis prohibitionist lies. When the ultimate prohibitionists, the DEA, finally arrested Marc Emery for selling seeds, Bush appointee Michele Leonhart gloatingly referenced his efforts at marijuana legalization. How tragic that Obama re-appointee (gag) Michele Leonhart may be responsible for Emery’s descent into the torture of sensory deprivation. He is one of the planet’s best people; she is one of the worst.

The War on Drugs has tragically wounded the USA. The land of the free, home of the brave now instead runs a massive prison gulag, boosting the careers and bloated pensions of drug war bureaucrats, cops, prosecutors, prison builders, jail guards and piss testers, while imprisoning more of its own people (by far) than any other country. As Senator Jim Webb has stated.

  • “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.”

As if being the world’s most prolific incarceration nation were not bad enough, the American prison system routinely makes use of solitary confinement, a condition in which tens of thousands of people are languishing at this very moment across the USA. Solitary confinement cells maximize the profits of prison builders, of course, a key industry in the four decade’s old war on drugs. The fact that this deprivation technique drives people insane does not seem to be much of a consideration. Neither the American people nor the current neo-con Supreme Court care much about the condition of prisoners.  Both would care more if they could see the monetary costs and building dangers of such a system. One day, most of these people will walk out of prison and rejoin society.

Marc will do better than most in this deprivation regimen and hopefully will soon be out of solitary if not confinement. If he is required to serve his whole five years, then American taxpayers will have to borrow another quarter million dollars from China to pay for this Canadian’s imprisonment costs. Does not the USA have better things to do with its money, (borrowed and repayable by grandchildren), than to legally kidnap and and imprison citizens of Canada for selling seeds?

Hopefully, much sooner than that, Marc Emery will return to his wonderful wife Jodie Emery and his country of Canada. And hopefully, the USA will return to senses. The war on drugs wastes money, wastes minds, wastes lives and is totally anathema to the true American values of freedom, life and liberty. Free Marc Emery!

A Cannabis Productivity Revolution

The liberation of cannabis from repressive laws around the globe will unleash a fountain of true human productivity. New foods, new fuels, new fibers and new medicines will issue forth when people are finally free to explore and expand the gifts of this plant. Americans in particular will be quick to exploit the multiple ways cannabis can serve to amplify human productivity when prohibition ends.

The most basic human needs are air, water and food. Regarding air, most of the physical structure of cannabis and other plants is made up of carbon atoms from carbon dioxide pulled out of the surrounding air. While the plant is consuming carbon from the atmosphere, it is also producing oxygen, each human’s most immediate need. The plant also transpires clean water vapor into the air, moisture that will return to earth as rain.

At its most elemental level, human productivity is about creating or gaining food to feed the family. The cannabis plant makes a stellar addition to humankind’s ability to produce nutritional plant foods. The seeds and oil of Cannabis Sativa are arguably nature’s most perfect foods. Cannabis hemp seeds and oil are filled with precious nutritional gems, including omega-3s, essential fatty acids and essential proteins. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

Shelled Hemp seed

Shelled Hemp seed

Currently, hemp seed and oil must be imported from China, where it is an ancient food, yet currently consumed each day. More hemp products come from Canada. None are grown in the USA, thanks to the DEA and cannabis’ Schedule I status.

So, let’s get this right, the so-called communist Chinese people have the personal liberty to grow and consume hemp, and to sell it to Americans. But the so-called free Americans are bludgeoned by our own government with long-prison terms and social and financial ruin if we plant this same crop?

Another basic aspect of human productivity is in providing clothing and shelter; people need clothes and they need places to live and to work. Again, hemp fibers from the cannabis plant offer bountiful resources. Hemp textiles are exploding in popularity. Part of their attraction is that cloth from hemp offers great environmental benefits, as compared to cotton.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication.

  • Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.
  • Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
  • Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.
  • Paper has been integral to mankind’s productivity ascent, as books and publications allowed idea sharing. But paper, when rendered from the wood of trees, exerts huge environmental costs. Hemp based paper, made from one year-old plants instead of centuries old trees could revolutionize, and clean up, the paper industry. Better paper products for less inputs equals true productivity.

Another aspect of the American economy in vast need of productivity improvements is health care. Huge cost increases in the American system have not resulted in superior health status. Other countries do far more for far less.

Cannabis, again, offers the American health care system a quantum leap from its pharmaceutical-based doldrums. The drug so outlawed by its Schedule I status as having no medical value now demonstrates its overwhelming medical, preventative and palliative benefits. As Americans demand their medical liberty in the coming years, the non-elected bureaucrats in the federal government will not much longer keep from its citizens this medication they demand.

True health care productivity is demonstrated when a patient can dispense with an entire array of debilitating pharmaceutical drugs after finding relief with medical cannabis. This is the actual case for many victims of disease, injury and pain. Relief is attained with far fewer narcotizing opioid drugs when supplemented (or even replaced) by phyto-cannabinoids, pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing, antioxidant molecules from the cannabis plant.

Even now in California, where voters have demanded cannabis medical liberty, health care innovation exploiting the plant is underway. New cannabis strains are being developed to best address the vast array of medical problems treatable with cannabis. Genetic mixtures of phyto-cannabinoids mix cannabinoid molecules such as THC, CBD, and THCV, to better treat different medical conditions. Novel harm-reducing ways of taking cannabis medicine have developed. Smoking has been replaced or supplemented with vaporization along with tinctures, teas, and edibles. The open-source nature of medical cannabis makes its economics exactly the opposite of pharmaceutical drugs it will, in many cases, replace.

Arguably, in a state in desperate need of jobs, innovation and prosperity, the most thriving new industry in California is the cannabis medicine sector.

Harm reduction is a term often associated with drug prohibition and enforcement.  This approach is diametrically opposite the American drug war harm maximization model that uses militarized police, private property forfeiture and decade’s long incarcerations for “crimes” involving nothing but a plant.

Harm minimization can also refer to productivity. Productivity gains made as a result of exploitative activities that cause environmental damage are false. A true productivity gain does not occur if the process of creating the product creates other, larger problems. Productivity is not true if it squanders resources and despoils surroundings. A mine that produces minerals for a few years, then despoils a stream for a century is not a productive resource.

Cannabis and hemp-based foods, fuels, fibers and medications do create opportunities for innovation, propel productivity increase, and gain prosperity in a way that minimizes harm. Every cannabis plant grown sequesters carbon dioxide. It is a local resource, open-source, available to everyone to grow, to innovate, to increase prosperity and to improve health.

The major impediment to these real world solutions are bureaucratic. Cannabis and hemp need to be freed from their dishonest and draconian Schedule I status. The jack-boot of the DEA needs to be removed from the necks of American citizens. Onerous international treaties, those that mandate prohibition of cannabis and its products, need be repudiated.

The planet and its people are in need of productivity and prosperity gains that don’t harm the biosphere. Americans, in this time of economic flux, need be able to explore and to use the huge productive resources of cannabis hemp. Much of this freedom could be attained from the rescheduling, by the President or Attorney General, of cannabis, hemp and cannabinoids from Schedule I to Schedule V.

Global warming as planetary inflammatory disease.

The biosphere of planet earth is in great peril from global warming. In many ways this on-rushing planetary disaster is like an inflammatory disease.

Red deserts of Africa

Red deserts of Africa

Inflammation was described 2,000 years ago in Roman medicine, recognizable as calor, rubor, tumor, and dolor, heat, redness, swelling and pain.  Later the historic physician Galen added loss of function. Although inflammation can be a healthy response to threats such a bacterial infections, it is always stressful and accompanied by cell damage.

Chronic inflammation is key to cellular damage caused by autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis. Inappropriate chronic inflammation is currently seen as basic to a host of modern diseases. Any source of long term inflammation, any condition ending in -itus, such as gingivitis, should be avoided. Obesity is some real ways an inflammatory disease.

The planet Earth now seems afflicted with an inflammatory-like disease.

  • Heat is a prime manifestation of inflammation. Excess heat is also the prime driver of the on-going climate change. The atmosphere of earth, plagued with historically high levels of carbon, is retaining more of the heat energy pouring in from the sun. The earth’s biosphere, the only sphere of life that we know to exist in the entire universe, is suffering from a dangerous warming. Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, are heating up like an injured limb.
  • Redness is a second manifestation of inflammation. Startlingly, new sources of redness have emerged on the earth’s surface and water. Red tides stain the oceans with zones of death. Great rivers carry red earth, eroded from dry hillsides, far out to sea. Dust storms visible from space carry red dust clouds from Africa to spread over Europe. Red dots of flame, visible from space, glow in oil producing areas as gas bi-products are burned off. Other areas of red flame issue from the remains of the world’s rain forests being torched in an equatorial zone of fire stretching around the globe.
  • Swelling is another inflammatory symptom that is reflected in the rising oceans. Sea levels climb not only as great glaciers melt, but also the oceans bulge with warmth. CO2 counts swell in ever higher parts per million of the atmosphere.
  • Pain is an unwelcome manifestation of inflammation. A human feels pain as an injury or autoimmune condition causes inflammatory pressure on nerves and release of pain biochemicals. Unfortunately, people and other lifeforms on the planet are in for a lot of pain as warming shrinks habitats, both from sea level rise and desertification. The melting of river-filling glaciers will cause the pain of great thirst across much of the globe.
  • Loss of function is the last symptom of inflammation. With a significant portion of the world’s human population and economy living and working near the oceans, rising sea levels will inflict incalculable damage and hardship. This at the same time as hundreds of millions displaced by drought seek refuge.

It is a bit startling to compare the inflammation symptoms of the planet with the function of inflammation in the human body. Acute inflammation is a life-saving response. Bacteria entering any small flesh wound would soon multiply enough to kill a human if the person’s body did not answer quickly with an immune response using inflammation. Invading bacteria are killed by this response before their number can rise to the point of danger to life.

Is the planet’s inflammation also a life-saving response, in this case the life of the biosphere? The result of global climate change may be end up reducing the number of carbon producing units on its surface. Six and a half billion people is probably far more than the biosphere can support; the nine billion predicted in 2040 will compete, and probably fight, for ever diminishing land and fresh water.

Continuation of his heating would/will result in catastrophes of colossal proportions. The Copenhagen conference has done little to change things.

Interestingly, the cure, or at least reduction for inflammation on the planetary level might be similar to an effective treatment for humans suffering inflammation. A subsequent post will explore how cannabis can moderate inflammation, not just in the human body, but also for the planet Earth.

Drug War Idiocy – Importing hemp from China

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp

China is currently the world’s largest producer of hemp and exports fiber and seed products to the USA. World trade opportunities are growing rapidly for hemp seed, hemp oil and fiber, textiles and other products of the plant cannabis. Only the USA is being left behind, a consumer, not a producer, of new green agricultural products that provide food, fuel and industrial and textile fibers.

American hemp entrepreneurs are crushed beneath the heels of tax-paid bureaucrats. Green, tax-paying jobs and products are being sacrificed to the whims of the DEA, a self-serving government agency working to maintain its power and enormous budgets.

Hemp seed is arguably the humankind’s single most nutritious food. To its shame, the DEA tried to ban Americans from all access to this food in the 1990’s. The agency, by administrative fatwa declared that because of THC content, no hemp product could be even imported, much less grown domestically. The federal bureaucrats were finally dissuaded from their dishonorable hack only by the courts. Their efforts to deprive their countrymen of nutritionally supreme products such as hulled hemp seeds were declared to be over-reaching by one of the few good court decisions of the drug war.  A federal court rejected the DEA’s strangle-hold on hemp food.

The current situation where Americans import hemp seeds and products from China (along with Canada and other countries) illustrates, in microcosm, the USA’s perilous economic situation. China sells 4 times more to the USA than it buys. American money and assets flow to China, now holder of nearly  a trillion $ of US debt. Chinese goods and products, including foodstuffs such as hemp seeds and fiber products, flow to the USA.  Dollars to pay for them flow to China. For Americans to be importers, not exporters, of such an agricultural product is ludicrous. American farmers are the most productive on earth, at least when not crippled by inane federal restrictions. The free market in the USA for the potentially highly valuable hemp crop has been crushed by the DEA. Like the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union telling farmers what to grow, the bureaucrats at the DEA exercise total control, backed by vast powers of punishment.

A dozen states, Oregon the latest, have passed laws specifically trying to give their farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to produce and profit from hemp. But there is a catch. No American can currently grow even one cannabis plant without breaking federal law and risking ruin by the DEA.

The success of the Canadian company, Manitoba Harvest, is impressive. It demonstrates the type of innovative, entrepreneurial and jobs-providing enterprise the natural resource of hemp can provide. FoodBizDaily reports:

  • Hemp foods are one of the hottest health food trends in North America, and a fast-growing Canadian company is demonstrating that there is a healthy appetite for nutritious hemp foods overseas.
  • Due to a vigorous international sales initiative over the past few years by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com), exports of their hemp foods beyond North America have skyrocketed more than 500% over the past year.  So far in 2009, the company has exported products to eight nations (in addition to the United States) including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

Good for Manitoba and Canada, but let us also have a Montana Harvest, and Oregon Harvest and Idaho Harvest of hemp. Such success could be emulated by American hemp farmers and entrepreneurs, were they free of the bureaucrats and ill-conceived laws that restrict them. Growing hemp for nutritious food, strong material, fine fabric and alternative fuel is the most basic kind of productive activity, adding value by feeding, clothing, sheltering, transporting and employing people. For Americans to be denied participation in this productive, innovative, worldwide hemp boom is a disgrace. This is a clear example of another way drug war idiocy is crippling the USA. Supposedly living in the land of the free, Americans are not free to grow, thrive and prosper this extraordinary plant resource.

A great resource for promoting hemp is Vote Hemp. The single issue advocacy group provides useful political tools, such as an automated way to write your congress person and request support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. Let American be growers, producers and entrepreneurs of hemp based products! We will export hemp foods, fibers, and fuels to the world!