Your brain on exercise: rewarded with dopamine by cannabinoid receptors.

Lack of enough physical activity is a huge problem in the obesity-plagued modern world. With much of physical activity removed from work and daily life, to be fit and not obese, we have to exercise for extended periods of time, in activities like jogging, fast walking, bike riding and other aerobic exercise. Our willingness to exercise in this way is really a cornerstone of our health, and our society’s health. Probably more than anything single factor, our health care system would benefit from people getting more exercise. New research now reports the crucial role of cannabinoid receptors and our endocannabinoid regulatory system in our motivation to keep moving.

Research out of France, reported in Biological Psychiatry shows how small protein cannabinoid receptors operating in the walls of nerve cells in the  brain reward exercise. This unlocks a key to voluntary exercise, and perhaps ways to promote it.  Also reported in ScienceDaily, the research reported that the endocannabinoid system, especially CB1 receptors in certain parts of the brain, reward our bodies and minds with pleasurable sensations. This research was with mice, not humans, but the physiology and responses are very similar. Lack (or blockage) of these receptors caused a sharp drop in the amount of exercise control mice were willing to do.

For us to continue to exercise, rather than stopping, depends a lot on how we feel. If tired and uncomfortable we might well stop; if exhilarated and “in the zone,” we continue. How we feel during exercise, it turns out, depends much on how much of the feel-good substance, dopamine, our brains produce and receive.  Our dopamine levels, this research shows, are controlled in part by our endocannabinoid systems and CB1 receptors in certain parts of the brain. CB1 receptors are activated by our natural endocannabinoids such as anandamide. They also fit like lock and key and are activated by plant cannabinoids, especially THC, from cannabis.

Dopamine is an organic chemical produced in several areas of the brain. Many brain functions involve dopamine, especially learning, voluntary movement, reward and motivation. We feel higher dopamine levels as enjoyment and are rewarded by the experience, making us want to continue or repeat. Drugs like cocaine increase and prolong dopamine levels. The Bordeaux, France researchers studied dopamine producing nerve cells in the brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA) known to play an important role in motivation. By working with mice with CB1 receptors present or absent or blocked, they found marked difference in how much running wheel time the rodents would spend.

The researchers had previously found “that the endogenous stimulation of cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptors is a prerequisite for voluntary running in mice,” but did not understand the mechanisms. In experiments involving “in vivo electrophysiology, the consequences of wheel running on VTA dopamine (DA) neuronal activity” on mice with combinations of CB1 blockage and GABA blockage. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces levels of dopamine produced by other neurons. Cannabinoid receptor activation in GABA neurons inhibits this inhibitory effect on dopamine. This “inhibition of inhibition” results in an increased level of dopamine produced in this motivation area of the brain.

Exercise promotes endocannabinoid activation of CB1 receptors and this activation encourages continued exercise. If we exercise enough to allow them, our bodies reward us for the physical activities that are so good for us.

Not mentioned in this research, the “runner’s high” is likely a function of endocannabinoids, along with the endorphins. For earlier evidence of the runner’s high association with the endocannabinoid system check Runner’s high – your body rewarding exercise.

President Barack Obama, please step up to federal change on cannabis.

Young Barack Obama

Young Barack Obama

As reported here and elsewhere, voter mandated state legalization of cannabis possession in US states Washington and Colorado, has brought about enormous pressure to change federal policy. Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire well expresses the quizzical drug war actions of the Obama presidency. Pierce notes, “the results in Colorado and in Washington state – and, to a lesser extent, in Massachusetts – indicate that the political salience of the “war on drugs,” as applied to marijuana, at least, almost has completely evaporated.”

So far in his presidency, Obama has brushed aside numerous questions about drug policy and marijuana decriminalization with bemused disdain. One of his first presidential acts was to renominate GW Bush appointee and marijuana hardliner Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. He chose as his vice president long time drug war villain, Joe Biden. He has watched silently while the DEA, federal attorneys and other “public safety” agencies with self-serving anti-cannabis agendas dismantle thriving, tax-paying dispensary businesses in California and subjecting southern Oregon farms to brutal federal forfeiture.

Finally, powerful and respected voices are calling him out on this key budgetary, medical and personal freedom issue:

Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most intelligent and wealthy men, is a passionate advocate of drug law reform and ending prohibition of cannabis. He advises that the will Washington and Colorado voters should be respected. Sir Richard is disgusted by the fact that, “The U.S. currently spends no less than $51 billion — per year — on the war on drugs. That’s double what Apple profited last year. It’s a horribly depressing number.” President Obama, you are looking for ways to cut useless federal spending, Hello, they are staring you in the face.

Politically, its, like, WTF? The 2012 election showed the overwhelming importance of the youth vote (or lack of it, in the case of Republicans). President Obama, marijuana legalization got more votes than you did in Colorado. American voters now favor marijuana legalization, overwhelmingly in the case of medical cannabis. Any action you take now to free Americans from these vicious and destructive Schedule I penalties will be leading from behind, far behind current American public opinion.

You should thank your lucky stars that you were not caught and caged when you enjoyed pot as a youth. If you had been caught, the highest White House employment you could have hoped for would have been janitor, although you would probably have been denied entrance for even that. With the simple stroke of a pen, you as president could reschedule cannabis, away from the current draconian Schedule I, hopefully away from the DEA altogether. Never could so much justice be accomplished, so easily.

Will you instead, Mr. President unleash the dogs of war, drug war,  to crush state infrastructures and private citizens? Actually, with draconian Schedule I in place, along with hardliners in power at the DEA and as federal prosecutors, the misdirected, counterproductive federal war on cannabis will continue on its own, unless specially reined in. Writing in Salon, posted on Alternet, Alex Pareene nails it, “Here’s what I know: The DEA is full of people who went to go work for the DEA, and the Justice Department is full of prosecutors. Professional drug warriors, shockingly, are drug warriors. The Pentagon, similarly, is staffed with a lot of people who like dropping bombs and firing missiles, and every postwar president has ended up doing quite a bit of both once in office, no matter what they said they’d do before they were elected. The American state’s brutal machinery of death and prosecution is difficult to slow or stop “. On this issue President Obama seems every bit as sharp as he did in the first debate. But, now he could go the other way.

Act now, Mr. President, for harm reduction. Free young men and women, black, brown and white from the crushing personal and legal blow of a useless, tragically counterproductive marijuana arrest. Reduce the drug war prison Gulag. Help balance the budget by defunding the drug war and disbanding the DEA. Gain young voters for your political party. Enter the 21st century. Soften the fiscal cliff. Strike Schedule I from cannabis and end the idiotic war on marijuana.

After 2012 election,cannabis prohibition teeters in the USA, and across the hemisphere.

“Game changer”, “tipping point”, “beginning of the end”, all the phrases this commenter wanted to use have already been used to describe the effects on cannabis prohibition of the 2012  momentous election.

The decision of Washington and Colorado voters to legalize marijuana in their states may well be a fatal blow to prohibition of cannabis in the USA. In the short time since these citizens of these states decided to end prohibition of cannabis possession, their votes have caused a major upheaval in cannabis and drug prohibition. These events may be among the most important in finally ending the moral wrong of cannabis prohibition.

The post-election realization is that now, for the first time, marijuana legalization is the will of the majority of American voters. This has to press the RESET button of politicians, as they contemplate legalization getting more votes than President Obama in Colorado. Republicans considering their unpopularity with young voters realize that repeal of cannabis prohibition is widely favored by the young.

Post election action on the state level has been impressive and encouraging. State legislators across the country have introduced legislation widening medical exemptions to state marijuana laws. Legislators in Maine and Rhode Island stepped beyond that with legislation to legalize for personal useAnd the states are pressuring the feds! In Colorado, US Representative Jared Polis (D) is clamoring for state exemption of federal cannabis law. Joining him are not just fellow democrats, but republicans too. Colorado politicians who worked against legalization now agree to work to see the will of Colorado voters respected and support Polis’ and Rep. Diana DeGette’s (D-CO)  “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act.”

Internationally, a host of countries currently saddled with enforcing hard-line US drug policy found hearty justification for their skepticism of the drug war. Check out Colorado, Washington Marijuana Legalization: Latin American Leaders Ask For A Review Of Drug Policies on The Huffington Post.  Mexico in particular questions why it has lost 6o,000 lives and considers legalization. Uruguay is on the verge of legalizing personal use. Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize are all questioning the current war on drugs and are looking at legalization as an alternative.

A final gift of the election of 2012 was the just announced defeat of Dan Lungren, House Republican from California and one of the very worst drug war villains. For 3 decades he has  been involved in crafting and enforcing some of the most Stalinistic aspects, such as the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, targeting cannabis devotees with forfeiture and mandatory minimum sentencing. See also, “Why 1984 WAS like 1984.”  Another huge election plus was the defeat of Prohibitionist Allen West (R) Florida!

Still, even with all this political, state and international swing towards ending cannabis prohibition, hugely formidable forces will seek to prevent change. So far in his presidency, Barak Obama has been a huge disappointment on the issue, ignoring all drug war and incarceration issues and allowing zealots in the justice department to attack medical cannabis with all the cruel tools at their disposal. The House and Senate are both rife with prohibitionist dinosaurs like Lamar Smith, Mitch McConnell, Diane Feinstein, and Jeff Sessions. Texas Representative Lamar Smith (R) was able last congress to, by himself, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee  (retch) to block Ron Paul and Barney Frank’s legislation to exempt medical cannabis from federal prosecution. He was the sole decider, the House did not even get to consider. He could probably do the same again this session. And in the house, Congress has lost three of its anti-drug war patriots, Ron Paul (R-Texas), Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

Ardent anti-cannabis foe Michele Leonhart directs much of the current federal assault on medical marijuana from her post at the head of the DEA.  This zealot was given carte blanc to proceed full bore by her nominator President Obama, and unanimous senate confirmation. US Attorneys, eager to expand power and careers are attacking medical marijuana for easy forfeiture and mandatory minimum charges.

A wildcard in this upcoming battle on cannabis prohibition is the current action underway in the US Court of Appeals to strip away its insidious and evil Schedule I status. Much of the cruelty in the war against cannabis has issued from this classification, first implemented by Richard Nixon to “tear the a** out of hippies.” The draconian Schedule I status for cannabis has been a legal cancer draining the USA for 40 years. It has turned America into a vast incarceration gulag, trashed the Bill of Rights, corrupted law enforcement and forever damaged the lives of 20 million citizens burdened with a marijuana arrest. If the court allows anything like a science-based review, then the fiction of the Schedule I classification (dangerous, addictive, no medical use) will be obvious and the plant will be rescheduled.

The next years will be dynamic for cannabis prohibition reform. Hold on to your hats!

 

Your lungs on cannabis. Major study in JAMA finds no damage!

A major new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA finds no reduction of lung function in cannabis smokers. The research followed a huge sample (5000) over 20 years, including data on consumption of marijuana and tobacco cigarettes. Cigarette smokers were found to lose lung function over the two decades. Smokers of marijuana lost no lung function; intriguingly, they had slightly greater lung capacity than subjects who smoked nothing! This effect was attributed to the smoking technique of the cannabis users.

This research is in line with other findings on the relative innocuous (even healthful!) effects of marijuana smoke. Dr. Donald Taskin of UCLA is one of the planet’s most respected researchers on the effects of marijuana smoking on the lungs. After decades of studying possible cancer causing effects on the lungs, Dr. Tashkin published his results in 2005. Surprisingly, he found no increase cancer risk, even in heavy, long term marijuana smokers.  His data even indicated a protective effect of THC against cancer.

The article reports that Tashkin’s “own study of heavy, habitual marijuana smokers — people who smoked the equivalent of a joint a day for 50 years —  found no harmful effect on lung function.” Still, Dr. Tashkin cautions,  “The smoke in marijuana contains thousands of ingredients, many of which are toxic and noxious and have the potential, at least, to cause airway injury,” Tashkin says. “In an ideal world, it would be preferable to take it in another form.”

The inhalation of any smoke, from Marlboro cigarettes to the fumes of wood stove, is less healthy than breathing fresh air. Although cannabis smoke may be safe from raising cancer risks and not reducing lung function, using a vaporizer may still be a safer alternative. Virtually nothing is burned in releasing medical cannabinoids from cannabis by vaporization.

Running speed and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Running speed a great indicator of health.

Running speed a great indicator of health.

The key role of cardiovascular exercise in keeping healthy and hearty has been confirmed in a couple of important studies. They point out the amount of time it takes you to run a mile is a great indicator of cardiovascular health and your danger of heart attack and stroke.

Reported in Red Orbit and elsewhere, two studies of this behavioral indicator of cardiovascular health, showed that for middle-aged men, the length of time required to run one mile (1,609 meters) predicted heart attack and stroke better than did blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Faster times predict fewer heart and brain attacks. A 55 year old male who requires 15 minutes to walk/run a mile (only 4 miles per hour) faces a 30% chance of suffering cardiovascular disease. A man of the same age who can run a mile in just 8 minutes (7.5 miles per hour) faces far lower danger of cardiovascular disease, less than 10 percent.

One way to increase running speed is with interval training, brief bursts at higher speed. After warm up jogging, a common interval is one minute slow jogging speed followed by one minute high intensity running, then repeating the sequence up to 10 times. This writer has been experimenting with slow jog/fast walk for 90 seconds, interspersed with 30 seconds high speed. This rhythm seems well suited for a non-punishing work-out made plenty intense with the periods at high speed. These high speed intervals quickly boost heart rate and sweating, both goals of a good conditioning, fat-burning workout.

High levels of physical activity such as running seem to correspond with activation of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, the receptor based system also activated by the THC in cannabis. Indeed, the fabled “runner’s high” might be the result of this system, rather than (or in addition to) to endorphins. More about this in a future post.

Caution: For those poorly conditioned, increasing activity and especially trying to push up maximum speed can present some dangers. A consultation with your (fit) medical practitioner and taking a stress EKG test is a good precaution.

Caution: Being poorly conditioned and not participating in physical activity presents an enormous risk of cardiovascular disease, along with obesity, diabetes and a host of other diseases.

Publicizing rational ranking of drug harms to show relative safety of cannabis.

Patriots interested in ending the tyranny that is the war on drugs have been given a powerful new tool.  From Britain comes a novel ranking of the dangers of various drugs to their consumers and harms to families and society. In a finding that tears at the foundation of drug prohibition, ranked the legal drug alcohol the most dangerous of all drugs, legal or illegal. The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, headed by the esteemed Professor David Nutt found highly illegal marijuana, by contrast, was to be far safer.

Many were shocked that alcohol was declared the most dangerous drug. But others were less surprised, as alcohol is by far the most abused drug, causes the most addiction and promotes behaviors damaging to family and society. It also directly causes disease and death, especially through liver disease. Heroin came in as the second most harmful drug, mainly from it highly addictive nature, although it is not any where near a cause of violence as alcohol. Crack, the most volatile form of cocaine, was ranked as the next most destructive drug. Far down the harm list came marijuana and even lower other psychoactive drugs such as ecstasy and LSD.

The ranking looked at 9 categories of drug harm. Harm-to-self categories are:

  • Drug-specific mortality
  • Drug-related mortality
  • Drug-specific damage
  • Drug-related damage
  • Dependence
  • Drug-specific impairment of mental function
  • Drug-related impairment of mental functioning
  • Loss of tangibles
  • Loss of relationships
  • Injury

Harms-to-others categories include:

  • Crime
  • Environmental damage
  • Family conflict
  • International damage
  • Economic cost
  • Decline in community cohesion.

Numeric rankings were assigned to the Overall Harm Score, the higher the score, the more harmful the drug.

  • Alcohol – 72 – This is a huge number far out pacing the rest.
  • Heroin – 55
  • Crack –   54
  • Crystal meth – 33
  • Cocaine – 27
  • Tobacco – 26  – This number seems low considering the 5 million yearly world-wide cigarette deaths.  1,200 Americans die from cigarettes every day. Tobacco is also the most highly addictive drug and 3,000 American teenagers become addicted to cigarettes each day.
  • Amphetamine/speed – 23
  • Cannabis – 20 – This seems a little high, considering that zero medical deaths are associated with marijuana, and use of cannabis tends to reduce violence.
  • Benzodiazepines – Valium -15
  • Ecstacy – 9
  • Anabolic steroids – 9
  • LSD – 7 – Powerful potential as a psychiatric drug
  • Mushrooms – 5 – Yet psilocybin mushrooms, which grow from cattle dung and may be spiritually beneficial, are persecuted as Schedule I by the DEA

Headlines blared the new rankings:

This is not news, of course. Over a decade ago a similar ranking looking a addictive potential, impairment, danger to health and other indicators had cannabis competing with coffee as the least dangerous drug. The fresh rankings are news, though, in that they diverge from much of the public’s distorted view of drug dangers, fed by decades of federal drug war propaganda. And the new rankings of drug dangers are in nearly a directly opposite ranking of the legality of the drugs in the US federal government. The most dangerous drug, alcohol, is legal (as is the most addictive and lethal drug, cigarettes) while the far safer cannabis is legally ranked as Schedule I. This labels it as among the most dangerous drugs, without medical value, deserving of the harshest prosecution in criminal codes.

Ecstasy, MMDA, LSD and even psilocybin mushrooms are also legally scheduled as terribly dangerous, and of no medical use.  It turns out they inflict little harm and many may well have great value, especially in treating war caused disorders such as PTSD. If only the psychiatrists could use them, but they cannot, because congress and the DEA, in their self-serving wisdom, have declared them Schedule I. Politicians and bureaucrats have set the drug’s schedules, science be damned, and harms not considered. Knee jerk scheduling remains decades later, after legally scourging millions of American lives.

This new, rational ranking of drug harms can be used effectively for those arguing to end the damage of drug wars. This has already been done, e.g. in letter to the Pot Shots at the Criminalization of a Soft Drug. The writer, Alan Shanoff, state, “The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in England recently rated marijuana with a harm score of 20 compared with alcohol at 72.” This numerical rating can be a real eye-opener and winning argument for reducing the only real harms from cannabis, those that come from its prohibition.

Diane Feinstein’s feeble-minded war(s) on drugs

Diana Feinstein

Senator Diane Feinstein

California Democrat and Senator Dianne Feinstein is advocating truly idiotic drug war policies. During her long senate career her neo-con leanings have been a disappointment. She was an enthusiastic participant in crafting punitive, ruinous drug war legislation and signed on to George W. Bush’s tragic international war recklessness. Two recent offenses to clear thinking and responsible legislation again show her to be dishonest and authoritarian, and unfit to be a US senator.

Doing Away With the Drugs in Afghanistan

Now, with Afghanistan becoming America’s longest war and its prospects dimming daily, Feinstein is ready to double up and forget about Obama’s promise to begin ending the war in 2011.  Senator Feinstein’s most ludicrous comments concerned the drug situation in Afghanistan. The last time this situation was favorable, from an anti-drug viewpoint, was when the Taliban were in power, prior to late 2001. This fundamentalist movement in 2000 banned the growing of opium and by 9/11 had greatly reduced the acreage of Afghanistan growing opium. UN drug office functionary Bernard Frahi, was amazed. “This is the first time that a country has decided to eliminate in one go – not gradually – these crops on its territory,” and called it “one of the most remarkable successes ever” in the UN drug fight.” As it turned out, these “successes” caused huge social turmoil by beggaring farmers and disrupting the credit system. Innumerable daughters were sold to pay off debts.

After the US invasion swept the Taliban out of control, opium growing boomed, expanded by 40-fold,  and easily makes Afghanistan the world’s largest producer of this heroin precursor. Interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News she said this:

  • WALLACE: And let me just quickly follow up on that. If Petraeus comes to the president in the spring of 2011 and says, “You know, this July deadline – I need six more months,” should that…
  • FEINSTEIN: I would say give it to him, absolutely. Now, let’s talk about the deadline. This is a transition point toward the beginning of a withdrawal or a draw down, as Petraeus said in his transcript before the armed services. And I think he has flexibility, realistically. Ten years is a long time to fight a war, particularly with what happened before the 10 years. And so we need to understand that to get the military trained, get the government online, secure and stabilize and, I think, do away with the drugs to a great extent – because the drugs are now fueling the Taliban.

Not only are her ramblings grammatically incorrect, but also logically ridiculous. Senator Feinstein sees doing away with drugs in Afghanistan as a doable, short-term goal. To achieve this simple task she advocates a major new drug war in Afghanistan. With her senate seniority she is unfortunately the chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control,chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Despite the fact that the Taliban nearly successfully eradicated opium production a decade ago, she tells us that now, “”The Taliban has morphed into one-part terrorist organization, one-part drug cartel,” and that their profits from the drug trade help finance their war against the NATO forces occupying the country. Her solution? A robust drug war in Afghanistan, including more drug agents, more helicopters, more eradication and more SWAT-style paramilitary training. Above all, her Senate report seeks to conflate terrorism with drug trade, and invokes 2006 revisions to the Patriot Act giving the DEA a free hand around the globe. I guess we will have to wait and see if the Senator’s new effort do away with drugs in Afghanistan in a year. On the tiny chance her new Afghan drug war proves to be anywhere near as effective as that of the Taliban, it will earn the enmity of the people. Well, at least those few Afghans who don’t already hate what they see as NATO invaders.

Maintaining Prohibition in the USA

Not content with extending drug war stupidity on the other side of the planet, Senator Feinstein seeks to reinvigorate the putrefying drug war back in the USA. She is actually campaigning for the continuation of cannabis prohibition and has signed up as co-chair (with a sheriff, of course) on the No on 19 against legalizing the herb in California. Rather than allow Californians the freedom of choice for a substance far safer than alcohol, she urges the continuation of the fatally flawed war on marijuana, including yearly CAMP eradication raids. Feinstein continues to promote legislation aimed at persecuting the tens of millions of Americans who find medical or other benefit from cannabis.

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!

American veterans denied cannabis, even when it is the medicine of choice.

In an excellent Huffington Post, “VA Docs Prohibited From Discussing Medical Marijuana With Returning Vets,” Bob Kerrey and Jason Flom document the VA is stifling treatment options for American Veterans. These veterans, many suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD, are denied prescriptions of cannabis, which may well be the safest, most effect treatment option for this malady.

But beyond that, the VA physicians themselves are denied the right to even discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option. How ironic that those supposedly fighting for American freedom are denied the basic freedom of choice regarding his or her own health. Medical freedom is denied to both the veterans and their physicians by vindictive bureaucrats.

Such a policy is terribly wrong, in several ways.

  • Withholds the best medicine for pain and PTSD. As the article mentioned, medical cannabis may be uniquely suited for safely treating PTSD.
  • Forces vets to use stronger, more dangerous drugs. Cannabis also synergizes with other, more dangerous pain relievers, allowing for smaller dosages of opiate and pharmaceutical pain relievers.
  • The authoritarian policy tramples the right of free speech of physicians working for the VA. Doctors are required to first, do no harm. The VA demands they do harm by silencing recommendations to veterans for the best and safest medication for many ails.

The arrest of a veteran, especially a combat veteran, on a marijuana charge is the ultimate betrayal of a country to is loyal citizen. The withholding of safe and effective treatment options to the veteran is not far behind.

President Obama, a federal judge urges you to end Schedule I for marijuana.

The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug for the past decades has been a disaster of immense proportions, and a massive American injustice. This evil taints the lives of millions of American citizens unjustly arrested and prosecuted. The draconian scheduling evokes punitive mandatory minimums and helped turn the land of the free into the world’s biggest jailer.

The Schedule I rating of cannabis is based on absolute lies. Schedule I drugs are supposed to be highly addictive and damaging and have no medical value. Because cannabis has immense medical value, now proven beyond doubt, and is one of the safest and least harmful drugs, its Schedule I classification is abhorrent and cruel, useful only to the bureaucratic benefit of drug warriors.

Few evils could be as easily eradicated as those caused by the deceitful Schedule I classification. Although the DEA should not have its bloody hands nor jack boots upon cannabis at all, the reality is that the DEA administrator is currently being legally forced to consider a petition (filed 8 years ago) to down-schedule marijuana. All that would be required to make this desperately needed change is a phone call from President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder.

Actually, the administrator’s decision will probably be made only after her Senate reconfirmation.  The fact that President Obama renominated a Bush appointee for DEA director is shameful. The fact that such a DEA bureaucrat holds the power to a decision of such importance to the country is nauseating. Michelle Leonhart should be grilled by the senators on this issue. Her confirmation should be rejected if she is reluctant to reclassify marijuana. Of course, given the authoritarian, neo-con, drug-war-monger make up of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the opposite is more likely.

Down-scheduling cannabis would provide an immense array of benefits to the USA and its people. Legal problems with the plant would be removed from the worst, most draconian penalties, their present status. Gestapo-like drug war tactics such as SWAT raids, asset forfeitures and mandatory minimum jail terms would no longer be supportable by less then Schedule I classification. Hemp agriculture would be jump-started in the USA if farmers did not have to worry about drug war thugs destroying their crops and bludgeoning their lives.

The federal government could begin catching up with its citizens and states on better drug policy and health care alternatives. Such a change would accommodate the increasing demand by the American people for access to cannabis-based medicine and a safer alternative to alcohol.  In nearly every case, when state voters have been given the option, they have elected to end prohibition of medical marijuana. In California, voters may soon elect end state prohibition of marijuana altogether. Already the state leads the country and the world in providing innovative forms of cannabis medication.

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Adding to the voices pleading for down-scheduling, Mr. President, add now a federal judge in California, on the front lines of trying to implement discredited federal marijuana policy with conflicting mandates from the state and its citizens. Federal Judge George H. Wu is still presiding over the lamentable case of Charles C. Lynch, covered in an earlier post. As reported in Drug War Rant and Salem-News,

  • The sentencing order states that Lynch was “caught in the middle of shifting positions” on the issue and that, “Much of the problems could be ameliorated…by the reclassification of marijuana from schedule I”

Actually many of this country’s most pressing problems could be ended by the reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I. Additionally, dozens of new solutions to problems of health, fuel, food, housing and prosperity would be accomplished by the liberation of cannabis so easily attainable by a simple down-regulation. While Schedule II would be preferable, it is still far to harsh and restrictive. Pure THC in the pill form Marinol was down scheduled to Schedule III, so cannabis, far less potent, should be scheduled no higher than this. Actually, the least restrictive category, Schedule V would best fit cannabis/hemp, although even this classification keeps it somewhat under the thumb of DEA bureaucrats. Still, the worst legal harshness and research roadblocks would be gone.

It would be tragic were the Obama administration end with marijuana still at Schedule I. Such a sad circumstance would be a huge victory for bureaucracy over reason, and would mark the America’s neo-con decline into prohibition, persecution, retribution and incarceration. Please Mr. President, do the right thing. Instruct your DEA administrator to down-schedule cannabis!