Dispatches

The Situation in Florida

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By Fred Gardner / O’Shaughnessy’s News Service December 4, 2014  

The “Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative” —better known as Amendment 2— seemed very likely to pass as of July 2014, when 88 percent of prospective voters supported “allowing adults in Florida to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it,” according to the respected Quinnipiac University poll.

Amendment 2 was intended to legalize marijuana use by patients coping with any “conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks.” Also, to legalize “medical marijuana treatment centers,” otherwise known as dispensaries. 

How did it happen that a medical marijuana ballot initiative supported by almost 90% of Florida voters in the summer was defeated in the fall? Let us count the ways. read more

All Vape Pen Oils are not Created Equal

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A Quick and Easy User’s Guide to Pre-Filled Cartridges By Melinda Misuraca & Michael Hayes

Vaporizer pens are all the rage these days. Sarah Silverman flashed one on the red carpet (“This is my liquid pot,” she quipped). Whoopi Goldberg wrote a gushy love letter to hers, affectionately nicknaming it “Sippy.” Snoop Dogg has his own proprietary model, which comes cloaked in a map of his old Long Beach ‘hood. The Oxford English Dictionary recently crowned “vape” its Word of the Year.

It seems that everywhere you turn someone is sucking on a sleek, sexy, subversive little wand. People are vaping cannabis oil on the street, in restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes, even sporting events. You feel like you’re getting away with something sneaky when you vape in public. Being a stoner has never been so easy.

A vape pen — or “personal vaporizer,” as they are sometimes called — is a classy, high tech gizmo that heats cannabis oil to a temperature just short of combustion, releasing a smokeless, lightly-scented mist free of toxic tars and carbon. There are many vape pen brands, but the key factor, really, is what’s inside the disposable cartridge. How potent is the cannabis oil? How pure? What, if anything, is the oil cut with? How expensive per milligram is the THC content? Is the oil strain-specific or a psychoactive blend?

O’Shaughnessy’s looked at a total of 19 cannabis oil samples from 13 popular cartridge brands and did a side-by-side comparison based on analytical data from SC Labs in Santa Cruz. (Measured in milligrams per milliliter of concentrate, the data is posted on sclabs.com.) Regarding THC levels, Pure Cure and Absolute Xtracts topped the chart at 71 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Neither is cut with an additive. Absolute Xtracts features a line of strain-specific oils (OG Kush, Chem Dawg, Girl Scout Cookie, etc.), while Pure Cure is presumably a mixture of several unnamed cultivars as no strain designation is indicated. These two brands also rated highest in terms of bang for buck with Absolute Xtracts priced at 10 cents per milligram of THC and Pure Cure at 11 cents/mg. 

vape pen chart

Compare those numbers to O-Pen Vape Panama Sativa Red, for example, which contains only 26 percent THC at cost of 24 cents per milligram. Some vape pen cartridge oils rated even lower in terms of THC content, yet higher in price per milligram. The least potent sample, BD (Black Diamond) Vape Sour D, tested at 14 percent THC, while selling for 28 cents/mg of THC. Although they look golden and pretty, the weaker oils are typically diluted with propylene glycol, a relatively benign solvent that sometimes causes sore throat and dry mouth. Avoid vape pen cartridges that include ethylene glycol, an unhealthy compound used in antifreeze.

So buyer beware: Many vape cartridge brands are available in the unregulated cannabis market and it’s not always obvious what you’re getting. Deciding between vape cartridges is somewhat like choosing between a vintage scotch and a flask of moonshine, though in this case purchasing one of best whiskeys of the cartridge world might actually leave you with a few more greenbacks in your pocket.  

A Note on Methodology Used to Determine Value of Vape Pen Cartridges Based on Potency & Pricing

Samples of vape pen cartridges were purchased in October 2014 at random dispensaries in Northern and Southern California and submitted unopened to SC labs for testing. Hyperlinks to all test results posted on the SC Labs website are provided for verification of cannabinoid content.

All samples purchased were either labeled as or represented as being extracted by the Super Fluid Critical CO2 method.

To determine pricing information, two prices were found online for each product. When available the first listings on Weedmaps were used. If the price listings could not be found on Weedmaps, general Google searches were done to find price listings. The two prices found were then combined to find an average price per product. 

(Price searching was made somewhat problematic by the lack of a consistent naming nomenclature from dispensary to dispensary.)

Once a product listing was found, the size of the vape pen cartridge was multiplied by potency % to determine total THC content. For example a .5ml (500mg) vape pen cartridge at 50% THC level (per SC Labs) would contain 250 mg of THC. That is 50% x 500mg.

The amount of THC per product was then divided into the average retail price to determine cost per mg of THC. Using the example above a product with 250mg of THC that sold for an average retail price of $50 would represent a THC cost per mg of 20 cents.

Products that sell retail for under 15 cents / mg of THC were deemed as excellent value. Products that sell retail for between 15 to 20 cents / mg were labeled as good value. Products that sell retail for between 20 to 25 cents / mg were deemed fair value and products that sold for over 25 cents /mg of THC were labeled as poor value.  

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 Analysis was performed by Michael Hayes. He can be contacted at mhayes399@comcast.net. 

Tod Mikuriya, MD on the Scheduling Question

THM '99 in Acapulco

Doctors and activists frequently discuss the question of rescheduling or descheduling cannabis. Soon politicians and bureaucrats will be taking up the matter. Its “Schedule I” status is indefensible. 

One of Dr. Tod Mikuriya’s political goals was to see cannabis moved to a schedule of its own. “Given its unique therapeutic properties, cannabis should be categorized as an ‘Easement,’”  he wrote in a 2001 paper presented as a poster at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting. “Contemporary categorization of cannabis as a psychotropic drug has been largely incorrect. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies ‘Marihuana’ as a hallucinogen with high potential for abuse, lack of accepted safety, and no medicinal use… 

“The term ‘Easement’ most aptly characterizes the unique medicinal effects of cannabis. While usually associated with legal terminology dealing with property, the first meaning given for Easement in Webster’s 3rd New Unabridged Dictionary is ‘An act or means of easing or relieving (as from pain, discomfort, or burdens).’”

Mikuriya cites Roget’s Thesaurus, which lists  “easement” under “relief,” along with “deliverance, softening, mitigation, palliation, soothing, lullaby, cradle song, berceuse, solace, consolation, comfort, encouragement, lenitive, restorative, remedy, repair, refection, refocillation, refreshment, and regalement.”

Mikuriya notes that “Peter Mark Roget was a British physician and fellow of the Royal Society.”  

Bear in mind, as you read the following excerpts from his  paper, that Mikuriya had monitored cannabis use by thousands of patients and studied the pre-prohibition medical literature, whereas the authorities knew absolutely nothing about its effects. 

“Cannabis has properties that are unique and distinctly different from other categories of drugs, according to persons who have discovered its utility for the management of a wide range of chronic diseases both mental and physical. 

“Cannabis calms agitation, anger, and mania. Painful, disruptive, and frequently incapacitating symptoms are brought under control with minimal side effects and rapid relief when inhaled. Cannabis promotes sleep and permits relief from wakefulness without hangover.

“Cannabis relaxes both smooth and skeletal muscles. Obsessive and mood-driven cognitive patterns soften and can be put into emotional perspective.

“Appetite and bowel normalcy is restored, cognition is reconnected with somatic and affective awareness. Unlike sedatives, opioids, anxiolytics, stimulants, or antidepressants, cannabis is free from unwanted effects, save for ‘euphoria,’ which is not generally obtainable by those using the drug to achieve homeostasis and a sense of normalcy.

“N.B.: The therapeutic properties described above apply to experienced users managing chronic conditions, not naive subjects trying to treat acute problems. Cannabis exerts a complex spectrum of effects that defy categorization as narcotic, sedative, or hallucinogen (although an overdose of oral cannabis might qualify as the latter).  ‘Easement’ would be a more meaningful and accurate description based upon ethnographic, medical, and pharmaceutical literature, as well as clinical observations of patients making appropriate therapeutic use of inhaled or oral cannabis.

“Semantic characterizations are important in shaping not only personal experience but institutional policy as well.”

It was at the 2002 ICRS meeting that we first heard cannabinoids described as “retrograde messengers” that work by toning down signals. Even before the biochemists figured it out, Tod Mikuriya —an observant clinician— inferred from the effects cannabis has on people that its mode of action was unique and that it modulated multiple systems within the body. —Fred Gardner

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Marijuana and the Developing Brain

By Fred Gardner, August 2014

Because so many Prohibitionist mouthpieces are liars, it’s hard to take seriously their assertions about marijuana use harming “the developing brain” of young people. Much of the alleged evidence involves studies in which young rodents were given stupendously high doses of THC. Then there’s the flimsy, flawed study attributing an eight-point decline in IQ to heavy, early marijuana use. The politicians and the corporate media treat this IQ loss as a well-established and significant fact. To cite one of a thousand ready examples…

Earlier this month, after the New York Times editorial board came out for legalization, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Times columnist David Brooks for his expert opinion. “I have two basic issues,” Brooks pontificated with his evil-chipmunk grin. “One, the effects on the teenage brain really are pretty significant…” read more

Sophie’s Progress

From Tracy Ryan, June 24, 2014   Sophie has been on high concentrated THC and CBD cannabis oil at a gram a day since she started chemo in October of 2013. We worked her up to that dose slowly and the only side effects she ever had was a little sleepiness that completely went away as she acclimated to the oils.  Now her only side effect is hunger which is amazing since the chemo can affect her appetite.

When we give Sophie her medicine we separate them into 4 doses and give them 3 hours apart.  The experts that we work with believe that by separating the THC and CBD it allows the THC to attach to the CB1 receptors, and the CBD to attach to the CB2 receptors without competition which results in better absorption.  We truly believe that THC plays a huge part in killing her tumor, and she has continued to be on approximately a 2:1 ratio of THC to CBD.  The results we are seeing are just incredible!

Sophie’s tumor has surpassed everything that doctors told us was possible with chemo alone, and we are only at month 9 of a 13 month chemo protocol.  Because of the amount of shrinkage we are seeing we truly believe we’ll be able to quit chemo after her next set of scans in 2 months. read more

CBD for Epilepsy: Results From Dr. Goldstein’s Practice

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By Fred Gardner, June 17, 2014

Coincidentally, a British pharmaceutical company and a Los Angeles physician both reported data this week documenting significant seizure reduction afforded by CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of the Cannabis plant) in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. Unsurprisingly, the levels of effectiveness reported by GW Pharmaceuticals and Bonni Goldstein, MD, were quite similar.

Goldstein may be unique among medical cannabis specialists in that she is a pediatrician. This has made her the go-to doctor for many parents whose children have severe forms of epilepsy. “A seizing child doesn’t scare me,” she says matter-of-factly.

Goldstein graduated from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey and did her internship, residency and Chief Residency at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She worked in Critical Care Transport and Pediatric Emergency Medicine for 12 years before focusing on Cannabis Therapeutics. She sees patients in an office in Lawndale (Los Angeles County) and is the director of Canna-Centers, which has five offices in California.

On June 10 Goldstein, speaking at a benefit for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, provided some statistics from her practice. read more

First data promising: Epidiolex reduces seizure frequency

By O’Shaughnessy’s News Service, June 17 2014

Since the start of 2014, the British company GW Pharmaceuticals has been providing Epidiolex, a Cannabis extract that is 98% CBD, to pediatric epilepsy patients being treated by neurologists at medical centers in the U.S.  On June 17 the company announced efficacy and safety data on the first 27 patients to have been treated for 12 weeks by Orrin Devinsky at NYU School of Medicine and Roberta Cilio at UC San Francisco. Each patient’s frequency of seizures had been determined prior to treatment with Epidiolex to establish their baseline.

From GW’s  informative announcement:

• 48% of all patients obtained at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency compared to baseline seizure frequency.

• 41% of all patients obtained at least a 70% reduction in seizure frequency.

• 22% of all patients obtained at least a 90% reduction in seizures.

• At the end of 12 weeks, 15% of all patients were seizure-free.

read more

Correa in Context

THM '99 in Acapulco

We live in a twittery world. A state senator, a rightwing Democrat from Orange County named Lou Correa, introduces a bill at the behest of law enforcement lobbyists to “regulate” the medical cannabis industry. Some dispensary operators whose niches would be secured by the bill meet with the state senator and discuss modifications. At the urging of Don Duncan of ASA, The Society of Cannabis Clinicians drafts a letter to the senator, diplomatically expressing their members’ objections to the bill. The letter ends with a long list of suggested changes to the wording.

Because it’s a twittery world, the merits of the Correa bill are debated without reference to the relevant background. And because the SCC doctors have their credibility as professionals to uphold, their letter cannot simply say, “It is against the state constitution for you and your cronies to weaken an initiative passed by the voters. It’s too bad that we, the people, can’t sue legislators who intentionally waste our money with bills that please their lobbyist/backers but won’t pass muster legally. Your bill is the political equivalent of malpractice.” read more

Remembering Ringo

April 5, 2014 By Fred Gardner    Lawrence Ringo died yesterday. Cancer. Cigarettes. Not yet 60. 

He was a tough guy in love with life, fulfilled by what his own life contained: plants and music, friends and family.

I met him in the winter of 2008/09 through Samantha Miller of Pure Analytics lab, who’d heard we were on the lookout for CBD-rich plants. I interviewed him that day  for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Unlike most growers and plant breeders, who are understandably reticent when it comes to describing their work, Ringo was bold and forthright. He (and Samantha) gave Project CBD a great boost in those bygone days when we still felt it necessary to define cannabidiol for readers of the AVA. 

Sour Tsunami Stabilized! 

For the first time, a California plant breeder has “stabilized” a strain of Cannabis high in cannabidiol —CBD, the non-psychoactive cousin of THC that has medical benefits of its own. 

Lawrence Ringo, 54, runs the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective. He started growing marijuana at 15.  On his way to school one day he found a sapphire gold ring and a snub-nosed .38 and a film can of cocaine. He threw away the coke and returned the ring and the pistol to the local head of the Hell’s Angels.  “Come on in little brother,” said the grateful biker. When he asked what he could do by way of thanks, Lawrence pointed to a big Sativa plant he saw growing in the back yard and said, “I want to learn how to grow that!” read more

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Best newspaper in America Dr. Tod – The Movie The Society of Cannabis Clinicians was formed as a project of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group in the Autumn of 2004. Project CBD is a non-profit educational service dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical utility of cannabidiol (CBD) and other components of the Cannabis plant. News and political analysis Dr. Lester Grinspoon, M.D. is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Grinspoon was senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for 40 years. Moving Sustainable Medicines Forward Consultant VaporNation Newhead News Political allies CRAFT Law Office Omar CBD specialists
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose,
by any other name would smell as sweet."
—Juliet Capulet

The Second Column

Happy Hanukkah, Monica

  December 17, 2014    The looming effort by Congress to disallow marijuana legalization in Washington, D.C. —despite the citizens’ voting for legalization by a 2-1 margin in November— echoes events that …

Some of us have spent too much of our lives away from the world

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Cannabis Facilitates Giving Birth (we Infer)

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Fear makes labor last longer, according to a Norwegian study published in 2012.  A team led by Samantha Salvesen Adams at Altershus University Hospital constructed a fear-of-childbirth scale …

The Joy of Cooking With ‘Nonna Marijuana’

Aurora Leveroni

From David Bienenstock of Vice.com: Aurora Leveroni—better known as “Nonna Marijuana”—has two passions in life: cooking Italian food and taking care of her family. So when her daughter …

The Mystery of Edward Huntington Williams, MD

Sammie no text

December 11, 2014   This is a case for the legendary San Francisco detective Michael Aldrich.  Or a budding historian in need of a thesis topic.  In a file of “Maybe …

Report Identifies Dr. Mikuriya’s Accuser at NIMH

John Ehrlichman

Note to the SCC, December 3, 2014.  The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy (CASP), a Seattle based not-for-profit think tank, has issued a remarkable …

Oysters in Lake Merritt?

Mussels, barnacles  and other marine growth clog the grates at the Lake Merritt Flood Control Facility pump station on the West end of the lake in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Alameda County public works has hired a commercial dive team for an emergency job to clear the pumps before the rainy season. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

November 7, 2014   There is hope after all! A terrific piece by Matt O’Brien in the Oakland Tribune describes the return of marine life to Lake Merritt (an estuary …

Deputy AG Cole Threatens California Medical MJ Providers (and Users)

Deputy AG James M. Cole

From  O’Shaughnessy’s New Service, October 16, 2014       After Colorado and Washington state voters passed “legalization” initiatives in November, 2012, there was some doubt that the federal government would allow …

Warrantless Raids in Lake County Ruled Unconstitutional

Joe Elford a few years ago.

by the great Thelton Henderson, the federal judge who has held the Oakland Police Department to account for corrupt marauding. October 15, 2014   Federal District Court Judge Thelton Henderson …

California NORML: No on 46!

California NORML's Dale Gieringer

October 7, 2014  Dale Gieringer of California NORML has written to the Friends Committee on Legislation decrying their support for a proposition (46) placed on the November ballot …

CJCJ Study Exposes Under-21 Prohibition

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September 29    We hope the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice report released this week will start marijuana reformers questioning the wisdom of Under-21 Prohibition.   This is from …

California MDs Deplore Prop 46

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At the Society of Cannabis Clinicians meeting Sept. 21, Dale Gieringer of California NORML directed the doctors’ attention to a ballot measure to which he is strongly opposed …

That Benefit Was Not Unexpected

From graphic by Olimpia Zagnoli for the NY Times

August 30  To the New York Times Dr. Marcus Bachhuber and Colleen Barry, summarizing their important study in the Times, write that they asked “Could the availability of medical marijuana reduce …

The Latest Plague (Aculops cannabicola)

russet mites on leaf 2009 by Karl Hillig

From A.J., a “mom-and-pop” grower in Northern California, September 7, 2014 I saw that you wrote an article about a trimmer getting sick from Avid. Well I thought …

Dr. O’Shaughnessy in India

Line drawing of O’Shaughnessy and Dr. Gopal Chandra Roy from the History of Medical Science: Influence of Western Education in 19th Century Bengal. Roy, who attended Calcutta Medical College, published a paper ‘On the solvent action of Papaya juice on the nitrogenous articles of food’ in the Glasgow Medical Journal (1874) —thought to be the first article by a native Indian published in a foreign journal.

From the upcoming print edition:   It was William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, MD, sent to Bengal by the British East India Company in the 1830s, who informed European physicians …

DEA Moves Hydrocodone to Schedule II

Vicodin

  August 22, 2014   The Drug Enforcement Administraton has moved “all pharmaceuticals containing hydrocodone currently on the market in the United States”  from Schedule III to Schedule II …

Access to Medical Marijuana Leads to Fewer Opioid OD Deaths

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August 25 2014  JAMA Internal Medicine today published a study by Marcus A. Bachhuber, MD and colleagues documenting that states that have legalized marijuana for medical use have “significantly …

Seattle Hempfest Adding Over-21 Smoking Sections

George Van Patten, DJ Short and Martin Lee at the Project CBD booth.

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Public Health Service Approves Sisley’s PTSD Study

Sue Sisley

March 14, 2014      This is said to be a big, big breakthrough. Here’s the relevant background. And here’s the latest from Evan Halper (from Washington) and Cindy …

They’re Allowed to Shoot Children on the Street

Andy Lopez —photo by Bridgett Roque

From O’S News Service July 8, 2014 Last October a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy —an Iraq vet named Erick Gelhaus— fired seven rounds into a 13-year-old named Andy Lopez who was …