Thursday, January 3, 2013


Prohibition is ending. One can feel it in the air. The elections in Colorado and Washington show that "the cork is starting to move." In the metaphor from the ending of our earlier Prohibition of alcohol, the champagne bottle's cork is slowly but steadily getting ready to pop. Soon we will be looking back at our current policies with the same level of disbelief, as we do with the witch hunts of the Middle Ages.
  This breath of fresh air, so long in coming, gives hope that our society can rise above the desire for scapegoats, the need for politicians who pander to our most hateful instincts, and our urge to use force and violence against those we disagree with -- for that is what we authorize when we make something a matter of criminal law. Richard Nixon's "War on Drugs," which began as a thinly-veiled assault on political adversaries, has now resulted in over 30,000,000 arrests for marijuana, over 40,000,000 arrests if you include all "controlled substances." At any given time, as many black men are -- largely for marijuana -- under the control of the Criminal Justice Industry -- prison, parole, and probation -- as were slaves at the time of the Civil War.

  Our federal government is in the same position vis-a-vis the states as it was with the Fugitive Slave Act. Colorado, Washington, and the 18 medical marijuana states are in direct confrontation with the Feds over fundamental principles of Liberty.

  How repressive will the Feds be in this? What is Mr. Obama planning to do? His record last year was terrible, an acquiescence in policies designed to create enormous human misery. But he is faced with a unique opportunity to change his ways. It's a new day, and the leadership role on this issue is sitting there, open for his use.

  The most hopeful thing he could do, would be to expend some political capital, and work with Congress to bring a complete end to Prohibition. Short of that however, there is one thing he can do today with a stroke of his pen. Mr. Obama can issue pardons to those in federal prison, and to those previously convicted whose lives have been so negatively impacted by their criminal record.

  It is true that his clemency powers cover only the federal system, while many of this War's victims suffer at the state level. Here too though, his leadership can be effective, setting an example for governors, encouraging them to follow the right path. On January 1st, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. January 1st, this year, marked the sesquicentennial. What finer tribute, and show of decency could there be, than to act now?

  Free the drug prisoners, Mr. President.

~Thanks Terry Franklin, for this timely meme and article. I'm feelin' it. Aren't you feeling it?!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mixed Messages About Medical Marijuana in Oregon

September 24, 2011
Both federal law and Oregon state law on medical marijuana should be clarified.

September 24, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Medical marijuana is legal in Oregon -- or at least it's supposed to be. After all, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act permits marijuana to be grown, possessed and used for medical purposes.
Why, then, did prosecutors in Washington County bring charges against the owner of a marijuana dispensary who was, essentially, just doing her job? In August 2011, Kathleen O'Shea Cambron pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of marijuana and received a sentence of three years on probation.
This article will examine the issue of medical marijuana in Oregon. The issues to be discussed will include not only the state law regarding dispensaries, but also the question of federal enforcement of laws prohibiting the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
Oregon Medical Marijuana Act
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act has been in place for over a decade. Voters originally passed it by ballot measure in 1998. It allows for the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. People who participate in the program must have a prescription from a physician and obtain a card from the state.
Over 40,000 patients are in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. In practice, however, medical marijuana is difficult to obtain for many people, even for those who have valid cards.
Although someone can grow his or her own medical marijuana, there is no reliable supply system. If you don't grow it yourself, you have to hope that another cardholder will donate some to a licensed caregiver.
In November 2010, Oregon voters defeated Measure 74, which would have allowed the state to set up dispensaries for medical marijuana. Debate about the proposal got bogged down in over-heated rhetoric about the supposed prospect of criminal gang involvement in dispensaries.
Even with this defeat, however, it's important to remember that medical marijuana remains legal in Oregon. Including Oregon, the number of states where it is legal stands at 16, plus the District of Columbia.
Medical Marijuana and Federal Law
Federal law still officially prohibits cultivation and distribution of marijuana. But many informed commentators and legislators believe that the federal prohibition of marijuana has been a colossal mistake.
Prohibition of marijuana has diverted law enforcement resources away from serious public safety challenges -- all in the name of cracking down on a substance that substantial segments of the American public do not consider harmful. "One toke over the line," went the song lyric from the early 70s. By almost any measure, federal policy in pursuit of that toke has been over the top.
That over-the-top, rigid policy was evident during the George W. Bush administration, when medical marijuana dispensaries were at risk of raids and federal drug charges. The Obama administration initially seemed ready to change course and restrict federal marijuana enforcement to large-scale traffickers. More recently, however, federal authorities have signaled the possibility of a renewed federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries and "cannabis clubs."
There is also a bill in Congress sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Ron Paul that would end the federal marijuana prohibition entirely. Such are the mixed messages that marijuana continues to elicit among policymakers and the public.
The Washington County Dispensary Case
Kathleen O'Shea Cambron is a 44-year-old woman who operated a business in Washington County that she described as a "cannabis exchange." It was called the Wake 'n Bake Cannabis Lounge.
The business charged a membership fee of $20 to medical marijuana cardholders. It also sold small quantities of legally grown marijuana, in sizes of up to one ounce.
Cambron's motives in starting the business grew out of her own experience as a medical marijuana cardholder who found it difficult to obtain the drug. Her doctor had prescribed medical marijuana to provide relief from the intense, often debilitating pain she suffered after an ATV accident.
Cambron consulted with attorneys before launching the business about how to stay within the law. She thought she was doing the right thing in trying to help other patients. Indeed, that is just what she told the judge at her sentencing. "I believed I was doing the right thing," she said.
The judge sentenced Cambron to three years of probation. She also is no longer allowed to participate in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
Law Needs to be Clarified
Both federal and state laws on medical marijuana need to be clarified. At the federal level, the questions should include whether the old prohibition policy should even continue. Federal efforts could, instead, focus on controlling marijuana movement over U.S. borders or between states with differing marijuana laws.
In Oregon, the ambivalence in state policy over medical marijuana should give way to recognition of the practical realities of creating a legitimate, reliable supply source for medical cardholders. As things stand, cardholders who don't grow their own supply often have difficulty obtaining medical marijuana.
It doesn't take a Ph.D. in economics to see why this is the case. Although cardholders can conceivably get medical marijuana from an authorized grower, there aren't enough growers to keep up with the demand. And there aren't enough growers because they can only be reimbursed for the cost of growing the product -- not actually paid for it.
In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns about the legality of medical marijuana, contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.
Article provided by Raivio Kohlmetz & Steen PC
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rep Smizik asks us to support medical marijuana by communicating with Jeff Sanchez and Susan Fargo

Frank Smizik

From Terry Franklin:

Dear Folks,

Here is a letter I got from Rep Smizik in the (MA) State Legislature. (Trimmed for conciseness). Sounds like pressure is warranted on Sanchez especially, and Fargo as well.

As I have said before, if we can pass this bill through the legislature, it will avoid the necessity of running a Ballot Question next year, and thus freeing up a large amount of Movement donations, which can be better spent on legalization efforts in other states. Keep those letters to your Reps and Senators going out!



Thank you for your support of my bill to establish a medical marijuana program here in Massachsuetts. I have met with dozens of patients whom this bill will help that have encouraged and inspired me to make this bill one of my top priorities this legislative session.

That said, we still have a long way to go and much work to do. Despite the enormous public support (about 81%), the politics of the issue continue to remain an obstacle. It is very important that those in support reach out to Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez and Chairwoman Susan Fargo on the Joint Committee on Public Health to encourage them to report the bill favorably out of their committee.

If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the bill, please feel free to contact my Staff Director, Amanda Rositano at

Please know I will be doing all I can to move this bill to a vote.

Best Wishes,

Frank I. Smizik
15th Norfolk

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RESEARCH UPDATES from Americans for safe Access

Cancer Research Shows How Cannabinoids Fight Tumors

Brain Cancer. The effectiveness of cannabinoids in fighting glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a form of brain cancer that is highly resistant to current treatments, has been demonstrated in numerous preclinical studies. New research shows that a combination of THC, CBD, and temozolomide (TMZ) "remarkably reduces the growth of glioma." The study revealed tumor growth is inhibited in part through "the stimulation of autophagy-mediated apoptosis," the biologic degradation of cells that leads to them dying off. The Spanish researchers conclude that "the combined administration of TMZ and cannabinoids could be therapeutically exploited for the management of GBM."

Torres S, et al. 2011. A combined preclinical therapy of cannabinoids and temozolomide against glioma. Mol Cancer Ther. 2011 Jan;10(1):90-103.

Oral Cancer. Medical researchers at the University of California report cannabinoids alleviate oral cancer pain and slow the spread of the disease both in vitro and in vivo. They also identified CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in human oral cancer cells. They suggest the endocannabinoid system may play "a direct role" in pain and proliferation. Noting proliferation of cancer cells was "significantly attenuated in a dose-dependent manner" by cannabinoids, they conclude "the systemic administration" of cannabinoids "may reduce morbidity and mortality of oral cancer."

Saghafi N, et al. 2011. Cannabinoids attenuate cancer pain and proliferation in a mouse model. Neurosci Lett. 488(3):247-51.

Gastric Cancer. Previous studies have shown cannabinoids significantly decrease the spread of gastric cancer tumors and kill off malignant cells. South Korean researchers have recently discovered some of the biologic mechanisms for those tumor-fighting properties. The new research on cellular mediators indicates cannabinoids play a role in halting cell cycles that cause the cancer to spread.

Park JM, et al. 2011. Antiproliferative mechanism of a cannabinoid agonist by cell cycle arrest in human gastric cancer cells. J Cell Biochem. Feb 10.

Cannabinoids Help MS Symptoms, Progression

Italian researchers used an animal model of multiple sclerosis to investigate the efficacy of cannabis extracts on motor symptoms. They found that treating with a THC-rich extract over time "resulted in a significant reduction of neurological deficits," that treatment with CBD affected only the relapse phase, and that combined THC-CBD treatment was ineffective. They suggest further investigation on each cannabinoid's action but conclude that cannabis extracts have potential for managing MS.

Another Italian research team reviewed studies on cannabinoid receptors in the lower urinary tract and their role in controlling urinary tract function, including the treatment of bladder dysfunction resulting from MS, finding that systemic cannabinoids may be clinically useful.
British scientists reviewing the clinical data on treating MS with cannabinoids note patient reports of symptomatic relief are confirmed by data showing cannabinoids improve muscle stiffness and spasms, neuropathic pain, and sleep and bladder disturbance. They note new evidence suggests that cannabinoids may affect "fundamental processes" in the progression of MS. They suggest "cannabinoids may have a longer term role in reducing disability and progression in MS."

Scientists who examined brain samples of deceased MS patients for CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as an enzyme related to the synthesis of endocannabinoids, found differences in receptor concentration that correlated to MS damage. Their findings support animal studies that suggest the endocannabinoid system has a role in MS progression and cellular response to injuries from the disease.

Buccellato E, et al. 2011. Acute and chronic cannabinoid extracts administration affects motor function in a CREAE model of multiple sclerosis. J Ethnopharmacol. 133(3):1033-8.
Zajicek JP, Apostu VI. 2011. Role of cannabinoids in multiple sclerosis. CNS Drugs. 1;25(3):187-201.
Zhang H,et al. 2011. Cannabinoid Receptor and N-acyl Phosphatidylethanolamine Phospholipase D-Evidence for Altered Expression in Multiple Sclerosis. Brain Pathol.
Ruggieri MR Sr. 2011. Cannabinoids: potential targets for bladder dysfunction. Handb Exp Pharmacol. (202):425-51.

Studies Show Endocannabinoids Role in Anxiety Disorders

The anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, properties of cannabis have been reported by sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and others. Two new studies suggest that inhibiting the natural enzymes that break down endogenous cannabinoids may produce similar effects. Using a mouse model of obsessive compulsive behavior, they were able to show that increasing the natural cannabinoids by blocking the chemicals that degrade them decreased the behavior similar to THC but without the side effect of depressed motor activity. Similarly, Brazilian researchers published a review of the role of endocannabinoids in anxiety, noting that enhancement of endogenous cannabinoids avoids the dosage sensitivity to plant and synthetic cannabinoids such as THC, which frequently reduces anxiety in low doses but can trigger it in larger ones.

Kinsey SG, et al. 2011. Inhibition of endocannabinoid catabolic enzymes elicits anxiolytic-like effects in the marble burying assay. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 98(1):21-7.
Gomes FV, et al. 2010. Facilitation of CB1 receptor-mediated neurotransmission decreases marble burying behavior in mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry.
Moreira FA, Wotjak CT. 2010. Cannabinoids and anxiety. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2:429-50.

Cannabinoids May Regulate Diabetes

Many people with diabetes turn to cannabis to treat their neuropathic pain. But recent research reveals that the endocannabinoid system is implicated in the regulation of insulin production and blood glucose. The majority of studies indicate that endocannabinoids in the pancreas decrease insulin secretion, but other studies have shown the opposite. As a Johns Hopkins researcher notes, "the exact nature of the effects of endocannabinoids on insulin secretion require rigorous study examining both acute and long-term effects at physiologically relevant doses employing both whole animal and clinically relevant models such as human islets in vitro and explanted in vivo, in rodent models of diabetes." What is clear is that the regulatory role of endocannabinoids in many of the body's most complex physiologic systems suggests a target for cannabinoid-based therapies.

Kim W, et al. 2011. Cannabinoids Inhibit Insulin Receptor Signaling in Pancreatic {beta}-Cells. Diabetes. Feb 23.
Doyle ME. 2011. The role of the endocannabinoid system in islet biology. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. Feb 9.

Cannabinoids May Provide Treatment for Endometriosis

Scientists at Florida State University investigated the role of the endocannabinoid system in endometriosis, a disease common in women that is associated with severe pain and is difficult to treat. Using a rat model, they discovered CB1 cannabinoid receptors throughout the abnormal growths that characterize endometriosis. Blocking those CB1 receptors increased pain sensitivity, while stimulating them reduced it. They conclude that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in the development of the abnormal growths and pain associated with endometriosis, suggesting cannabinoids may provide "badly-needed new treatments."
Dmitrieva N,et al. 2010. Endocannabinoid involvement in endometriosis. Pain. Dec;151(3):703-10.

Cannabinoid Analgesic Action Studied

While the ability of cannabis and cannabinoids to control chronic pain is well known and amply demonstrated by a variety of historical, anecdotal, and clinical reports, the effect of different dosages, individual cannabinoids, and the mechanisms of action on different types of pain are still being investigated.
A review by German researchers notes that while "an increasing number of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have shown the efficacy of cannabinoids" for treating chronic pain and painful spasticity, cannabinoids have not shown "convincing reduction of acute pain." Because patients who have problems adapting to stress and for whom other pain treatments have failed are the most likely to be helped by treatment with cannabinoids, they suggest exploring different modes of administration and new types of "endocannbinoid modulators."
Karst M, et al. 2010. Role of cannabinoids in the treatment of pain and (painful) spasticity. Drugs. 70(18):2409-38.
The pain-control mechanisms for two non-psychoactive cannabinoids -- cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabichromene (CBC) -- have been demonstrated in an animal study conducted by Italian researchers. By monitoring the electrical activity of neurons in the brainstem, they found that both acted in a dose-dependent manner on the activity of proteins involved in a key pain pathway, though twice as much CBC as CBD was necessary to achieve maximum pain relief. Treating with CBC and CBD was also found to elevate endocannabinoid levels. The researchers conclude that "these compounds might represent useful therapeutic agents with multiple mechanisms of action."
Maione S, et al. 2011. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action. Br J Pharmacol. 162(3):584-96.

Cannabinoid Control of Nausea Explored

Researchers have recently revealed more about how cannabinoids control nausea. The anti-emetic properties of cannabis is one of its more well-established therapeutic uses, and is also one of the primary indications for prescribing marinol, the synthetic THC pill. A team of Canadian scientists using an animal study have now located an area of the brainstem that may be responsible for the effect. They also demonstrated that not just THC but CBD, the second most prevalent cannabinoid in the plant, has powerful anti-nausea effects within a limited dose range.