Cannabis treats PTSD

Soldiers on patrol

Soldiers on patrol

Even more evidence now points to cannabis as an effective treatment for PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. Confirming research showing PTSD may be particularly responsive to cannabinoids, this new Israeli rat study refines the timeline of effective cannabinoid treatment for the debilitating condition. Long before this important research, though, the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoids in treating PTSD was becoming well known. Again, much of the research is Israeli. American researchers are denied permission by the DEA to study medical cannabis.

Although events and conditions that can cause PTSD are diverse, including auto accident. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common following significant orthopedic trauma. But war experiences are key triggers for PTSD and now nearly two million Americans have served America’s in its two longest wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. A search of Science Daily finds:

How ironic, and troubling, that those who have served their country, and now suffer from combat exposure-caused PTSD do not have the freedom to use this effective medication back home, at least in most US states. Even states with medical marijuana laws do not all include PTSD as a qualifying condition. Instead, those who theoretically fought for freedom, ours and their own, now have their own freedom of medical choice denied. Some will suffer the antithesis of freedom, incarceration, for choosing a natural and safe (zero deaths) medication for their PTSD symptoms. Federally, all are criminals, felons. Sadly, with its war on cannabis, America violates it basic tenets of personal choice and the core right of American citizens to be left alone by their government.

Instead of enjoying to freedom of medical choice, Iraq and Afghanistan PTSD-wounded are commonly prescribed powerful pharmaceutical anti-depressant and even anti-psychotic drugs. One of the many possible negative results of anti-depressant use is thickening of the arteries. In this latest study showing the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating PTSD, CB1 receptor antagonists were shown to block this protective effect. This demonstrates the key role of CB1 receptors, also activated by cannabis, in treating PTSD.

Related to PTSD is TBI, or traumatic brain injury. Often coming from IED blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan, TBI afflicts thousands of veterans. Israeli research shows that TBI also is responsive to cannabinoid treatment. But that is topic of another post.

Cannabinoids in glaucoma prevention and treatment.

Glaucoma is a major blinding disease, the second leading cause of loss of sight in the USA. The chief mechanism is excessive pressure inside the eyeball. Treatments focus on reducing this pressure, often through trying to reduce production of the intraocular liquid, aqueous humor, or to increase its drainage

Imagine inflating a basketball to twice its recommended pressure. Not only would it bounce and handle poorly, it would also be in some danger of exploding. In the eye, excess pressure can deform the back of the eyeball where the optic nerve leads deep into the brain. The pressure can cause “cupping,” and with it, irreversible optic nerve damage. The crushing effect causes excitotoxicity in the damaged retinal ganglion cells, and further injury results from this oxidation stress.

The function of cannabinoids in lowering this damaging interocular pressure is well known; the treatment of glaucoma with cannabis is one of the most readily identified medical uses of marijuana.

Now it is clear that the benefits go far beyond this crucial lowering of intraocular pressure. Activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system also now appears to provide robust neuroprotective effects. Not only does cannabis lower eye pressures, it also serves to help protect the visual nerve cells from damage.

Our eyes are well endowed with endocannabinoid receptors of both types, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors have been shown to flourish in  the human anterior eye, where the excess pressure is generated, and the retina, where the damage of glaucoma takes place.

Research, reported in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, found CB1 receptors in all the frontal eye anatomy thought important in controlling IOP (intraocular pressure). These include Schlemm’s canal and “ciliary epithelium, trabecular meshwork, and in the blood vessels of the ciliary body.”  The authors surmised that evidence of CB1 receptors in the “ciliary pigment epithelium suggests that cannabinoids may have an effect on aqueous humor production.”  CB1 presence in the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal “suggests that cannabinoids may influence conventional outflow.” Evidence of effects on uveoscleral outflow are inferred by CB1in the ciliary muscle.

CB1 receptors are also present on the other (back) end of the eye, the all important retina and its attachment to the optic nerve with retinal ganglion cells. Here, the neuroprotective effects of activation of cannabinoid receptors may prevent and reduce damage caused by high IOP.  Research out of Finland concluded that “at least some cannabinoids may ameliorate optic neuronal damage through suppression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor hyperexcitability, stimulation of neural microcirculation, and the suppression of both apoptosis and damaging free radical reactions, among other mechanisms.”

Research our of University of Aberdeen, UK remind that not all neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids come from their activation of the endocannabinoid system; cannabinoids are powerful antioxidants in their own right. Writing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the researchers note that “Classic cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC, HU-211, and CBD have antioxidant properties that are not mediated by the CB1 receptor. As a result, they can prevent neuronal death by scavenging toxic reactive oxygen species produced by overstimulation of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamic acid.” The British researchers also note that regarding the CB2 receptor, “The anti-inflammatory properties of CB2 receptor agonists might also prove to be of therapeutic relevance in different forms of inflammatory eye disease.”

Tragically, little of this research has been done in the USA. Even though glaucoma blinds hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, the anti-cannabis bias of the controlling agencies (DEA, NIDA ) has not allowed research with this natural plant substance that can prevent these blindings. They cling to the fiction (and blatant lie) that marijuana has no medical value and disallow all research even while their countrymen and women needlessly lose precious, precious sight.

So strong is this prejudice that even so-called advocacy groups such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation appear uninterested in a natural substance that helps prevent glaucoma. “Information” on medical marijuana at this site appears to have been written by the propaganda officers of the DEA.

Meanwhile, across the globe, research moves forward identifying evermore ways humans can gain health benefits from the cannabis plant. At the forefront are the IOP lowering, optic nerve-protecting effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

Bureaucrats successfully stifle medical cannabis research.

Last week, Dr. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts, after a decade of trying to gain permission to grow or procure cannabis for research on its medical value, finally gave up. Unlike any other substance, the government maintains a total monopoly on growing and distributing cannabis for research purposes. Essentially the government allows no research on cannabis, especially investigations into its medical benefits, the focus of Dr. Craker’s research.

For more history of University of Massachusetts professor’s 9 year struggle, see the AP report here.  This dismal tale of bureaucratic injustice seemed more hopeful in 2007, when a federal judge ruled in Professor’s Craker’s favor and recommended the DEA grant the request. But then this judgment was overruled by the DEA‘s acting director Michele Leonhart in the waning days of the Bush administration. Obama’s response back-stabbed those who voted for change when he then nominated this DEA hack as director, a position which she now holds after unanimous Senate confirmation. Gag.

The government’s actions, and decades of stalling inaction, are crimes against humanity.  Dr. Craker says this is only the first battle and the struggle will continue for many decades. Problem is, those who need the new medications the most, the Baby Boomers, don’t have a lot of decades left to wait while bureaucracies stall research that would further undermine their palace of lies. Lies such as  the Schedule I assertion that cannabis has no medical value. Baby Boomers will be consumed by cancer, blinded by glaucoma, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, racked by  Crohn’s disease and suffer other dire maladies for which cannabis medications show great promise while self-serving government bureaus continue to lie, to stall and to stifle research.  Such despicable behavior and horrendous consequences, especially when the anti-cancer promises of cannabinoids remain uninvestigated,  truly qualify as crimes against against humanity.

The Obama administration promised a science-based approach. Instead, Obama has allowed politics and bureaucracy to stifle what may well be one of the most productive veins of medical research this century. What if all the tens of billions of dollars wasted on cannabis prohibition and eradication were instead invested in researching medical benefits of cannabinoids? How many jobs could be created? How much suffering could be avoided?  For now, Dr. Craker has lost, along with the American people and scientific inquiry. The bureaucrat prohibitionists and their massive budgets have won. Thankfully, this vital cannabis medical research continues on in other countries.

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.

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.

Dispensary closures are bureaucratic anti-business blunders.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Los Angeles recently ordered closed all but 70 medical cannabis clinics. Upwards of 1,000 medical cannabis dispensaries had filled storefronts and opened in malls across the county, a flurry of business activity in these times of recession.

Although these clinics did not in any way contribute to crime and provided legal access to their medicine by state legal medical consumers, dispensaries ran afoul of the special interests of police, prosecutors and prisons. A cadre of tax-paid parasites has apparently succeeded in most of goal of getting dispensaries closed, and resuming the arrest-prosecute-imprison regimen that has so boosted their careers and pensions.

California is in recession and is totally broke, in desperate need of every job and tax dollar. And yet in this environment, tax-paid bureaucrats like city attorneys are making policy that severely restricts closes down storefronts, puts working people into unemployment lines and ends a lucrative sales tax revenue stream. Go figure.

Most dispensaries will close; the 70 or so remaining will be relegated to “industrial areas” and must be farm from schools and churches. While this may serve as an economic stimulus to the industrial areas, such restrictions present difficulties to medical users in getting their medicine. Such harassing zoning also creates additional car trips and increases carbon footprint. Does LA really need more cars on its roads? Why should medical cannabis consumers have to drive to a remote area instead of picking up their medicine by walking to the corner dispensary operated by their neighbor?

Whether LA needed nearly 1,000 dispensaries is unclear. As in normal competition, the number would probably sort itself out through the law of supply and demand, consumer choice and the management of the dispensaries. What is clear is the the proliferation of dispensaries hurt or injured no one and caused no increase in crime. Indeed, the crime rate in LA Country was at historic lows as the clinics grew. The only cost or injury was the giant crack in the wall of marijuana prohibition the clinics represent. The stakeholders in the present system of arrest-prosecute-imprison include police, prosecutors, prison guards, narcotics officers, and urine testers. Other winners in this harm-maximization prohibitionist policy include dug dealers, street gangs, Mexican cartels and various other criminals.

The clinic closures come just months after bureaucrats profiting from marijuana prohibition planned their demise. The group sponsoring the action to subvert the will of California voters was the California Narcotics Officer’s Association. Obviously the drug war has been very good for narcotics officers as law enforcement has become mainly drug enforcement. Consider the career of New York City narcotics officer Bernard Kerik. He rode from obscurity on his narcotic’s cop cred to appointment by Rudolph Giuliani as New York’s top cop.  He came just a few lies away from being appointed George W. Bush’s Chief of Homeland Security. That was shortly before being indicted and then convicted as a felon by the feds, and now serving 4 years in federal prison. The California Narcotics Officers seek to continue the hard line on marijuana prohibition that so expanded their own careers and pensions.

  • A good example of the benefit of harsh marijuana laws to law enforcement is CAMP, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. Astonishingly, CAMP’s own website brags: “With more than 110 agencies having participated, CAMP is the largest law enforcement task force in the United States.” It would seem that the largest law enforcement task force in the United States would have something better to do than persecute a harmless, medicinal plant. Perhaps this 110 agency task force should be investigating crimes of violence and crimes with victims rather than wasting their time and our money with military SWAT raids on hapless farmers. Any plants destroyed in this vast operation only serve as price stabilization for the cannabis crops they miss. As with all marijuana law enforcement, it is a waste of resources causing huge collateral damage without benefit to society, except to the job security of the enforcers.
  • The California prison guards union is one of the main groups sponsoring the continuation of repressive and draconian laws against cannabis. Union membership and benefits have grown explosively during the decades of the drug war. In 1980 the state imprisoned just 22,500 people and a prison guard’s salary was $14,400. Today the state imprisons 170,000 Californians, guarded by some of the best paid public employees in the state. Eligible to early retirements (at 75% of salary), the guards enjoy lush benefits and a bloated overtime system that pays many over $100,000 tax dollars per year. The union is one of the most powerful political groups in the state and effectively fights tooth and nail against any drug law reform that might result in fewer prisoners.

The California Narcotic’s Officers event was entitled “The Eradication of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.” As reported by Americans for Safe Access, both LA city attorney and Los Angeles District Attorney were in attendance at the event and soon afterward both began claiming dispensaries were illegal and working for their closure. Regrettably, they have succeeded in closing most of the dispensaries.

If city bureaucrats and the DA really wanted to improve the health of their city and its citizens by imposing business restrictions, they would clamp down on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. Cannabis is far SAFER; unlike alcohol, it cannot cause death and does not cause violence or domestic abuse.

Most of the dwindling number of Americans who support more drug war are, paradoxically, supporters of private enterprise and supposedly abhor big government. Hopefully they will come to see that the drug war is a perversion of market-oriented free enterprise, a war against the law of supply and demand, destined to fail. The war on drugs is itself a bloated and parasitic expansion of big government run amuck. The specter of city attorneys and district attorneys interfering with the personal health care decisions of Los Angelenos is almost Stalinistic.

A double dose of United Nations drug war tyranny.

Yet again, the United Nation’s Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board has disgraced itself by forcing harm maximization drug policies upon the world. The latest outrages came when the board again overstepped its bounds and sought to dictate the drug policies of sovereign Latin American states. This bureaucratic meddling doubled, when the same office schemed to curtail in Canada’s medical marijuana program, and trample the rights of Canadians to their cannabis medicine.

The United Nations should be an organization that values human rights and promotes harm reduction.  policies. Instead, the UN, especially in the form of a shadowy office in Vienna, should never assume a dictating role, especially when promoting policies that cause great evils. The UN office, by its statements, thinks in the most authoritarian terms and seeks to further institute hard-line, punitive policies across the globe. Any swerving from the harshest of policies by sovereign states is declared a threat to the drug war.

In the latest case the UN office worried aloud about the drug policy reforms underway in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin countries are beginning to experiment with various drug policies. The current prohibitionist policies have lead to the the formation of criminal enterprises to exploit the supply and demand opportunities caused by drug prohibition and the drug war. Yet the UN office calls for continuation of these tired policies that promote drug crime and violence, police state policies, destroyed individual liberty, the death of thousands and the incarceration of millions.

In Canada, the UN bureaucrats feel free to usurp the government’s sovererignty and Canada citizen’s medical liberty by demanding the country kow-tow to the 1961 Single Convention on Drugs. Supposedly, signatories such as Canada and the US no longer have the sovereign power to change their drug policies.

Long past due is the day when the UN needs to promote humanitarian and harm reduction policies, not foisting off more failed, harm-maximization drug policies on the countries and people of the world.

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.

Cannabis Prohibition: Schedule I idiocy extended 20 years ago today.

20 years ago today, an unelected bureaucrat extended the restrictive Schedule I status of cannabis. On December 30, 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overlooked the evidence from every valid investigation of cannabis and decreed that it would remain on the DEA’s Schedule I, the most restricted status. Despite ample evidence for its medical value, the DEA left it in the only category declared without medical use.

In making his decision, the DEA administrator had the recent opinion of his own DEA law Judge Francis L. Young. Judge Young had investigated the scheduling of marijuana by the DEA. His extensive study reached remarkable conclusions:

  • The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
  • Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.
  • It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Twenty years ago the DEA administrator acted in just such an unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious manner and refused to down-schedule marijuana, retaining total control of all medical research and quashing any industrial hemp applications. For this next 20 years, cannabis has retained its erroneous federal status as a dangerous drug without medical use.

Millions of Americans had their lives damaged, their property confiscated and their selves imprisoned by unjust laws based on this Schedule I falsehood. For the DEA as a bureaucracy, though, the ruse has been effective. The agency has grown cancerously as law-makers threw money at what they perceived a political asset, the war on drugs. Ten million marijuana arrests in those two decades fueled an enormous drug war industrial complex.

Cannabis remains Schedule I today. President Obama seems unwilling to lift a finger to change this great injustice. Indeed, Obama seems paralyzed in taking even the smallest steps for reform of this cruel and counterproductive policy. He has even failed to replace the current DEA administrator, leaving in place an authoritarian neo-con appointed by George Bush.

Either Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder could begin to right this historic evil by ordering the down regulation of cannabis and all cannabinoids. A Schedule V rating would free cannabis from the DEA boot on its neck. So too, it would free the American people from criminalization and repression by drug war bureaucrats and allow medical cannabis research to flourish.

By the way, a second drug war evil took place on this day. On December 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized a federal attack on recent gains by medical marijuana proponents, specifically California’s Proposition 215, voted in a month and a half earlier. Already overseer of a hugely expanded Justice Department with big jumps in marijuana arrests, prosecutions and jailings, Bill Clinton now sought to specifically override the choice of California voters and prepared an attack on American medical rights that culminated in one of the most egregious modern attacks on the American Freedom of Speech.

Specifically, Clinton and henchmen Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey and representative Rahm Emanuel sought to deny the rights of physicians to speak of the possible utility of medical marijuana. Doctors were threatened with denial to pharmaceutical drugs if they counseled glaucoma victims about the eye pressure-lowering power of marijuana. They were told they might lose their right to practice medicine if they mentioned to the retching patients undergoing chemotherapy that some find nausea relief with cannabis.

Fortunately the courts saw the grievous unconstitutionality of such restrictions and ended this government thought control for doctors and their patients. Despite this setback, every government bureaucracy benefiting from the drug war has continued this attack on the medical rights of their fellow American citizens, rights about which medication they choose with their doctors.

Thanks to StopTheDrugWar.org ‘s Drug War Chronicle’s This Week in History for noting the dates of the above misdeeds.

George Will gets it wrong: Cannabis laws make a mockery of justice.

George Will

George Will

This writer knew something was wrong when conservative pundit George Will wrote two opinion pieces with which I could agree. The first was regarding Afghanistan where, regrettably, Will makes more sense for leaving than Obama does for escalating. The other was for his recent criticism of the war on drugs. However, in a November 29 Washington Post column, Rocky Mountain high, Will returns to his authoritarian, neocon roots with criticisms of Colorado’s medical marijuana program.

Those wishing to disdain the medical value of marijuana typically put the term “medical” in quotation marks when the word is followed by marijuana. George Will goes further, when belittling the conditions for which medical cannabis may be used, he includes “chronic pain” (quotation marks his). It may be news to George, but pain is the primary reason people go to the doctor, and indeed was the core reason the medical profession came into being! Yes George, pain, especially chronic pain, is a good reason for seeking medical care and medication.

Cannabis has been used for pain relief for at least 5,000 years and is proving in new studies to be highly effective in lessening many types of pain. It is also the least toxic of any pain relieving substance. Indeed, cannabis is the safer choice for pain relief, far safer than Oxycontin, far safer than Vicodin, safer even than aspirin. Aspirin causes several hundred deaths each year, marijuana causes zero deaths. Typically, use of dangerous, mind-altering opioid pain relievers is greatly reduced when cannabis is added as an adjunct analgesic.

Yet George Will and the authoritarian wing of the Republican party would deny Americans their personal freedom of medical choice for pain relief, if that choice happened to be marijuana.

  • How did the Republican party, supposedly the party of small government, transform itself into a tyranny that controls and punishes American citizens needlessly?
  • How did the Republican party, supposed for keeping the government out of people’s lives, still seeks to deny Americans the freedom to make their own safer medical choices?

Will gets off on the wrong foot by lauding prohibitionist Colorado attorney general, John Suthers, calling him honest and thoughtful. Actually he is a bureaucrat protecting his turf, a law enforcement official extending his domain over the medical choices of his fellow Coloradans. Because of his prohibitionist efforts, Coloradans may be forced to give up the right to choose safer, cheaper medications. Hopefully, Colorado citizen Mason Tvert of SAFER will educate the authoritarian George Will on the “thoughtfulness” of the hardline AG.

Americans should rightly bristle when self-serving bureaucrats deny them medical choices. The police should not be lobbying against the medical freedoms and choices of their fellow citizens, just because costs them enforcement turf, as is the case with medical cannabis. George Will allowed Suthers to feed him age-old platitudes about current marijuana being “seven, eight times as concentrated” as pot used to be. Even if this old saw were true, it would only make it “seven, eight” times safer, requiring less consumption for equal medical benefit.

George almost misted up when revealing that Suthers claimed that in a recent survey, “non-using young people revealed that health concerns did not explain nonuse. The main explanation was the law: We underestimate the number of people who care that something is illegal.” Great rationale for continuing the current marijuana laws devastate the lives of the 800,000 people arrested each year in the USA! Such reasoning is contradicted by the Dutch who have a much higher level of “nonuse” of cannabis than Americans, but have much more lenient laws against the plant substance.

Will concludes, “by mocking the idea of lawful behavior, legalization of medical marijuana may be more socially destructive than full legalization.” Gee, George, the arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious laws against marijuana have been dissed and disobeyed for more than 40 years now by Americans who knew the restrictions were unjust. These laws have been willfully broken by tens of millions of Americans for decades, mocking the law, flaunting legislators who passed them and viewing as enemies the police that enforced them. Respect for the law demands laws deserving respect.

As far as legalization of marijuana being socially destructive? Not in the least. The recent experience of Portugal proves that. The social destruction of the last 40 years of failed drug war has been the 20 million cannabis arrest casulties inflicted upon Americans by their government. The unneeded, counterproductive and failed war on marijuana users has produced maximum harm and is the mockery of American justice George Will should be protesting.