Dispatches

Simon Grinspoon

Simon Grinspoon

A Remembrance by Lester Grinspoon

My father was born in Russia in 1898. There is some uncertainty about where in Russia; his death certificate lists Moscow as the place of birth, but there is some reason to believe that it was somewhere in the Pale. Apparently some months before his birth his father, Louis, left for America with the understanding that he would send for his wife, whom I called Bubbe, and the children to join him once he was settled. In 1900 Bubbe and her two children, Sarah who was four and Simon, now two, set out for the United States, and the family was reunited in West Newton where my grandfather now owned a dairy farm. read more

Med Board Update

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By Fred Gardner   January 30, 2015

Joe D. Goldstrich, MD, and I drove out to a meeting of the medical board’s Enforcement Committee in Sacramento yesterday. We had been alerted by Frank Lucido, MD, that medical marijuana was going to be on the agenda. At the previous meeting, the board discussed revising the guidelines concerning medical marijuana approvals it adopted in 2004 (eight years after the passage of Prop 215).

Read the proposed changes here. 

Also attending yesterday’s session was R. Stephen Ellis, MD, of San Francisco who has for years been urging the board to crack down on doctors who conduct only cursory exams before authorizing patients to use marijuana. read more

Teflon Bill Bennett Preaches Anti-Pot Gospel

Family Research Council Hosts Voter Values Summit

February 1, 2015  By Fred Gardner

Bill Bennett, who had been Secretary of Education under Reagan and Drug Czar under George H.W. Bush, is on the talk shows this morning plugging his new book, “Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America.” Co-author Robert White is a former federal prosecutor.

An obsequious piece about the book in the Washington Times refers to “Mr. Bennett’s research revealing that more Americans are admitted to treatment facilities for marijuana use than for any other illegal drug…”  As Bill Bennett well knows, almost everyone receiving “treatment” for marijuana is court-mandated or parent-mandated or job-mandated. In other words, forced.  Very few marijuana users consider themselves in need of treatment.  And  nobody gives up their drug of choice until they themselves really want to, according to the 12-steppers’ collective wisdom. read more

McPartland’s Correct(ed) Vernacular Nomenclature

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January 4, 2015  By O’S News Service

An ambitious call to standardize the names used by non-scientists in reference to Cannabis plants —to create an accurate vernacular nomenclature— was made by Dr. John McPartland at the 2014 meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and will be published in O’Shaughnessy’s upcoming print edition. McPartland’s ICRS paper, co-authored by Dr. Geoffrey Guy, used “DNA barcodes” to determine whether or not Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa are separate species. The answer was not. C. indica and C. sativa are subspecies —separate varieties of one Cannabis species. read more

Jim Clark Could Give Marijuana Smugglers a Bad Name

Sheriff Jim Clark

From O’Shaughnessy’s News Service January 5, 2014 

A new movie recreates the March 7, 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama that was violently suppressed by law enforcement and shamed Congress into passing a voters’ rights bill. 

Howard Zinn had spent time in Selma with SNCC organizers whose voter-registration drive led up  to the march. (SNCC, pronounced Snick, was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.) Their nemesis was Sheriff Jim Clark, the personification of racist law enforcement. A big man, 6’ 2”, 22o lbs, Clark was quick to use cattle prods on demonstrators and wore a button that said “Never” to express his position on integration.  read more

Anatomy of a CHP Pot Bust

From the Anderson Valley Advertiser, December 17, 2014

[Ed note: The bustee’s name has been changed since no charges were filed against him.]

Arrest/investigation report, August 8, 2014.

Location: Southbound Highway 101 North of Nelson Ranch Road near Hopland.

Arrestee: James B. Teknes, San Diego, a white male, age 27. Driving a rental car.

Report of Arresting CHP Officer: C. Ramsey

On August 8, 2014 at approximately 9:25 AM I was traveling northbound on US 101 north of Lake Mendocino Drive in the number two lane. I was driving a fully marked California Highway Patrol vehicle. The patrol car was equipped with an Applied Concepts Inc. DSR radar system unit #BS041956. I checked the function of the radar system prior to beginning my shift and it was working properly. The radar system was independently calibrated on August 12, 2013.

My attention was drawn to the suspect’s vehicle, a white Ford Focus. The Focus appeared to be traveling well over the maximum speed of 65 mph. I visually estimated the vehicle to be traveling approximately 85 mph. read more

The Meaning of Mistletoe

Seasons Greetings

By Fred Gardner

Why does the presence of mistletoe —a parasitic plant that roots in oaks and other host trees— confer the right to kiss whoever you’re with?mistletoe

The answer occurred to John Lee, MD, a family practitioner in Mill Valley, back in 1967. Lee was then editing the Marin Medical Society Bulletin and on the lookout for topics for his monthly column. He came across an article in a Harvard alumni publication describing the pagan rituals of the Celts who lived in the British Isles in the millennium before Christ. For their winter solstice celebration, the Celtic priests —Druids— would collect berries from trees bearing 

Coincidentally, Lee had just read an item in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that mistletoe contains a compound very similar to progesterone. He had an insight: “The berries were life in the middle of that cold European winter, when everything else was bleak and apparently lifeless. The Druids called mistletoe ‘a gift from the gods.’ They would take these berries and mix them with hot mead [an alcohol drink made from fermented honey] and they would all have a weeklong party where gifts were exchanged and they would celebrate that the sun was going to return and winter would not mean the end of the world.

 “When a woman takes progesterone and then quits, a period is induced. I realized the mead laced with mistletoe would decrease everyone’s inhibitions and increase everyone’s libido for their four- or five-day party. It was free sex! And after four or five days of celebration they would quit. All the women would have their periods, and no babies would occur. No wonder they called it ‘a gift from the Gods!”   

Lee compares the discovery that mistletoe prevented pregnancy to the discovery that limes prevented scurvy —a major advance in the annals of medicine. “The sailors didn’t know it was Vitamin C. The Celts didn’t know it was progesterone. They just knew it worked.” Lee hypothesized that kissing under the mistletoe is a form of “symbolic sexual promiscuity” going back to the days when the berries served as a birth-control device during pagan winter solstice parties (the persecuted Christians having scheduled their own holidays to coincide with existing celebrations).

read more

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.  

Placeholder vape chart

SCLabsCartridgeData

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

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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

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Infant Deaths in Alaska

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Note to the SCC February 19, 2015 An article in Counterpunch today suggests that a spike in infant deaths in Alaska might be attributable to fallout from Fukushima. I was …

California Assembly Planning MMJ Regulation

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Note to the SCC 2/17/2015     At its March 8 meeting in Huntington Beach the Society of Cannabis Clinicians will hear from Los Angeles Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (or …

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From O’S News Serve 2/15    During the NBA’s all-star weekend, the “USA” team of first- and second-year players lost to the “World” team. Basketball fans who once attributed the superiority …

How efficient is smoking a joint?

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Dr. Jeffrey Raber and colleagues at the Werc Shop in Pasadena have published a paper in the journal Natural Products Chemistry and Research showing that the average joint …

Bonta Touts His (Prospective) Medical Marijuana Bill

Rob Bonta photo by Rick Saez

By Eric Robinson  New measures aimed at improving the safety and legitimacy of medical marijuana might be hitting California in the future as state lawmakers consider a bill that would …

More on Cannabis Suppositories

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From Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, February 8, 2015 In my previous note, it would have been more accurate to say that there is very little data pertaining to the megadose use of …

How Efficient are Cannabis Suppositories?

Jeff Hergenrather

Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, in response to a question from a cancer patient’s caregiver,  February 7, 2015 I have checked the literature to see if there are any pharmacodynamic/pharmacokinetic …

Cannabis and Pregnancy

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Note to the SCC February 8   Here are responses to a question posed after Dale Gieringer, PhD, a close ally of the SCC’s and a trustworthy source of …

Medical Board Weighing Changes to Marijuana Guidelines

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From O’Shaughnessy’s News Service      At its Fall 2014 meeting in San Diego the Medical Board of California approved three recommendations of its Marijuana Task Force. Below are minutes …

The Entourage Effect Wins Again

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Ground-up artemisia plants, from which the anti-malaria drug artemisinin is derived, appear to work much better than the refined drug does by itself, according to a recent New York …

Black History Month Lesson Plan

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Are you a student looking for a topic on which to write a paper in connection with Black History Month?  O’Shaughnessy’s has published material you might find useful. When …

Lariam is to Artemisia as Accutane is to Cannabis

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By O’Shaughnessy’s News Service  An anti-malaria drug given to U.S. troops, Lariam (mefloquine), is a synthetic designed to mimic the effects of a plant compound (quinine). “Mefloquine has …

Arguments for a Harmfulness Tax

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An essay by Drs. Lester Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar, published in the Journal of Drug Issues in 1990, recently caught the eye of a tax-policy specialist named …

How the VA Deals With PTSD

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An article in yesterday’s NY Times by David Morris recounts his seeking help from the Veterans Administration to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here’s Morris’s very informative description of …

News Clips for the SCC 1/15/15

The news today oh boy

From O’S News Service Is Miralax Safe for Children? The laxative Miralax and its generic versions contain an active ingredient, polyethylene glycol (PEG 3350), that may be associated …

The Most Venerable Plants

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By O’S News Service January 14, 2015        Get thee to the library and reserve “The Oldest Living Plants in the World” by photographer Rachel Sussman …

We Hope We’re Wrong

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January 12, 2015   It’s a bad day for anyone commuting from Marin County —or Sonoma, or Mendocino, or Humboldt— to San Francisco, or vice versa. The Golden …

Go, Ducks!

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The University of Oregon football team will go into the national championship game tomorrow without ace receiver Darren Carrington, who had seven catches for 166 yards and two …

Feds ‘Justify’ Marijuana’s Sked 1 Status Again

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Lest anyone think that real change was achieved in 2014,  the U.S. Department of Justice reiterated its position on marijuana prohibition on the last day of the year.  Here’s the story by …