Marijuana was the best medicine for 3-year-old Cash Hyde of Missoula, Mont. At least that’s what his parents, Mike and Kalli Hyde, believe.
The couple said they defied doctor’s orders — and Montana law — to get their hands on the medicinal treatment their son needed after he was diagnosed with recurring brain tumors at 22 months old.
“I’ve had law enforcement threatening to kick my door down, but I would have done anything to keep Cashy alive,” Mike Hyde, who said he has long been a proponent of the drug, told ABCNews.com.
Hyde said police sought out the Hydes after they publicly spoke about how Cash’s health benefited from cannabis oil. Mike has not been arrested, although he said police have threatened to.
But Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh said he was unfamiliar with the Hydes’ case, and he assured that this is not a black and white situation.
“This is not a situation that we routinely run into,” Welsh told ABCNews.com. “There are a lot of different variables to consider in this situation. I can’t imagine we’d go out right away to arrest this dad for a drug offense. But there are other factors, including whether it’s appropriate for somebody to act independently of doctor’s orders and whether they are acting in the best interest in the child.”
“Obviously, this man’s intentions are for his child,” Welsh said.
The Hydes and doctors decided to wean the toddler off a cocktail of drugs that included, methadone, ketamine and morphine. Their son went through 30 rounds of radiation without one nausea or pain medication besides medical marijuana, according to his father.
Mike Hyde said doctors were unaware he was giving his son marijuana.
Doctors told the Hydes that Cash only had a 30 percent chance of surviving five years, and, at best, radiation could stop the tumor from spreading. But the toddler, whose second tumor was diagnosed in October, has not seen any recurrence. His parents chalk that up to the cannabis oi lthey administered to him twice a day since the second tumor diagnosis.
Mike Hyde said he traveled throughout Montana and California to obtain the cannabis oil for Cash. To figure out the proper dose to give to his son, he researched the suggested numbers for adults, “then gave the proportional dose for Cash’s weight.”
“Before he ever received any oil, I’d give myself 10 times the amount I was going to give him to be sure of the effects,” Hyde said. “I came to the conclusion that this drug was safer than any other drug for him.”
“No one can read this story without being happy for the child and his family; however, one cannot assume the cannabis oil is responsible for the remission or even the relief of pain,” said Dr. Donna Seger, associate professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “He may be one of the fortunate few in which remission would have occurred no matter what treatment had been administered.”
More than 14,000 Montana residents hold a license to use medical marijuana, according to the state’s department of public health and human services. Under Montana law, a person under 18 can become a medical marijuana patient, but their parent or legal guardian must agree to act as the minor-patient’s primary caregiver and control their use
The drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and to help increase appetite in people with cancer and AIDS, according to the American Cancer Society. The most potent ingredient of medical marijuana is THC. The product comes in the form of an inhaler, pills and oil, which Cash was given, and it can also be smoked.
There are no other drugs that work as well as cannabis for treating the nausea and anorexia associated with cancer and its treatments, said Seger.
Even with the pain-reducing qualities of medical marijuana, Dr. Allison Dering-Anderson, clinical assistant professor in the college of pharmacy at University of Nebraska, said most states’ medical marijuana laws likely would not cover a child as young as Cash.
And while Dering-Anderson said she is happy that the boy is recovering, she does not condone breaking the law in this way.
“It’s not acceptable to break the law,” said Dering-Anderson. “I’m sorry for this child and for this family and for all they’ve gone through, but….our licenses depend upon upholding the law.”
Dering-Anderson said she has deep concerns about children taking medication that is not specified by a doctor and without clear oversight of their care.
“This child wasn’t involved in a controlled study,” she continued. “It’s a good thing that this product didn’t harm him. Would this have been news if the parents had used cobra venom or poison sumac? I doubt it.”
Nevertheless, his parents are happy he is alive and well, and chalk it up to the marijuana as a major reason why Cash is “playing with Play-Doh,” and not confined in a hospital bed, without energy to do any of the things children normally do.
“Cancer is a terrible monster,” said Mike Hyde. “I was going to do anything to help my child.”
Cannabis on Prescription
Cannabis, a class-B drug available on prescription as a medicinal remedy for multiple sclerosis patients, could also be used to target cancer pain, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis and even schizophrenia if trials demonstrate its effectiveness.
What once seemed a controversial idea has now won widespread approval as Sativex, the first ever prescription cannabis-based medicine, is used in many parts of the world to help patients, though it is currently waiting approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cannabis is known to work on parts of the brain known as cannabinoid receptors.
The company behind its development, GW Pharmaceuticals, which was founded in 1998 by Dr Geoffrey Guy to develop cannabis as a medicine, has officially had the government’s seal of approval after Agriculture Minister James Paice officially opened their labs near Cambridge in January where their clinical research team will co-ordinate global trials. The company grows 30 tonnes of cannabis a year at a secret location.
Demonstrating true entrepreneurial flair, and with firm conviction, Dr Guy told Cambridge Business magazine:
“Most people in our industry said it was impossible to turn cannabis into a prescription medicine. We had to rewrite the rule book. We have the first approval of a plant extract drug in modern history. It has 420 molecules, whereas every other drug has just one.”
Congratulations to Dr Guy for thinking outside the box, and revolutionising plant drugs.
Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Committee is currently reviewing its drugs policy and will consider whether this is the right time to decriminalise drugs. Are we ready for that? No way, I’m not convinced.
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy DirectorFebruary 1, 2012
[Editor's note: This post is excerpted from this week's forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML's news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]
Some two-thirds of Israeli cancer patients authorized to use cannabis report long-term, symptomatic improvement from the plant, according to clinical data presented in late January at a conference of the Israeli Oncologists Union and reported this week in several international media outlets.
Investigators at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, in conjunction with the Israeli Cancer Association, assessed the efficacy of cannabis therapy over the course of one year in 264 patients with cancer. Israeli media reported the findings:
“Some 61 percent of the respondents reported a significant improvement in their quality of life as a result of the medical marijuana, while 56 percent noted an improvement in their ability to manage pain. In general, 67 percent were in favor of the treatment, while 65 percent said they would recommend it to other patients.”
The study concluded that cannabis is an “effective” treatment for certain symptoms of the disease cancer and recommended, “The treatment should be offered to the patients in earlier stages of cancer.”
In the trial, the most common types of cancer for which medical marijuana was authorized was lung cancer (21 percent ), breast cancer (12 percent ) and pancreatic cancer (10 percent ).
The study focused primarily on the use of cannabis to relieve various symptoms of cancer or cancer treatment, such as pain and nausea, but did not evaluate whether marijuana therapy could potentially suppress the proliferation of the disease. In preclinical trials, various cannabinoids – including THC and CBD (cannabidiol) – have been shown to selectively target and eliminate malignant cells and cancerous tumors.
To date, some 6,000 Israelis possess government authorization to use cannabis therapeutically. Patients authorized by the federal program may either cultivate cannabis at home or they may obtain marijuana from one of the nation’s 12 licensed cannabis farms.
Last summer, the Israeli Health Ministry formally acknowledged the therapeutic utility of cannabis and announced newly amended guidelines to more effectively govern the state-sponsored production and distribution of medical marijuana. The Ministry estimates that as many as 40,000 patients will eventually have access to medicinal cannabis once the Israeli program is fully implemented.
NORML’s literature review of the anti-cancer properties of cannabis and cannabinoids is available here.
Posted by William Dolphin
When people ask why I’m certain the federal laws preventing medical use of cannabis must change, my answer is simple: cancer. Curing it is the holy grail of modern medicine, and cannabinoids hold the most promise.
The latest study showing the cancer-fighting properties of one of the constituent components of the cannabis plant is out of Italy, where University of Naples researchers demonstrated that cannabidiol, better known as CBD, helps prevent the spread of colon cancer in an animal model of the human disease. Since colon cancer affects millions of people, this is a big deal.
But it’s not big news.
Many, many other studies have demonstrated that CBD’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, as well as its ability to inhibit the breakdown of the body’s own endocannabinoids, have a cancer-fighting effect. CBD has been shown to kill glioma cells (the most deadly form of brain cancer), reduce the growth of lung and breast cancer cells, and inhibit the spread of cancer. And that’s just CBD.
Add in THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis available by prescription in synthetic form as dronabinol or Marinol, and scientists have demonstrated that the plant holds the potential to fight or prevent cancers of the breast, prostate, skin, lung, uterus, cervix, pancreas, mouth and biliary track, as well as leukemia, neuroblastoma, thyroid epithelioma, and gastric adenocarcinoma. All by selectively targeting cancerous cells and leaving healthy cells alone.
That’s in contrast to conventional cancer treatments that largely work by creating a toxic environment in the body with the hope that it kills the cancer before it kills the patient. And as hard as chemotherapy and radiation treatments are to tolerate, cannabinoid treatments have exceptionally low impact.
Now, to be clear: we’re not talking about a patent-medicine approach that says cannabis will cure whatever ails you, and there have been no clinical studies done with cancer patients that would show us anything conclusive one way or another.
But there is a mountain of evidence that the immune-modulating function of cannabinoids has everything to do with regulating how our bodies respond to cancers of all varieties. And it’s worth noting the federal government’s own National Cancer Institute recently published a guide for physicians that noted the cancer-fighting properties of cannabinoids and stated that cannabis could be a tool for controlling the disease.
Five days of media attention later, the NCI removed that particular bit of guidance, but what we now know about the mechanisms of cannabinoids on cancers raises significant questions about when best to use cannabis therapeutics. Most wait until the disease reaches an advanced stage, and for them the role of cannabis or dronabinol is almost entirely palliative – a tool to ease the suffering and nausea. But we have compelling evidence that cannabinoids exercise a profound prophylactic effect – potentially preventing cancers from developing in the first place.
So will people with family histories of cancer or other risk factors benefit from cannabinoids? Maybe. There are population studies that suggest so, but general results cannot predict outcomes for a particular individual. In other words, consuming lots of cannabis won’t necessarily protect you. Bob Marley died of cancer, after all.
How much might help is a serious question. We know that many of the actions of cannabinoids are dose-specific, but without qualitatively different research, we can’t know how much might be optimal to achieve any particular biologic objective, even if we know categorically that cannabis is non-toxic and well-tolerated.
Will we see that research soon? Seems likely. There’s a Nobel prize in it for someone. Sure, there are political and economic barriers. But it’s a politics of fear and an economics of greed. Neither can survive with millions of lives in the balance.
Ironically, given the vast economic engine prohibition has wrought, cannabinoids are problematic for pharmaceutical company profits, since plants are not novel compounds they can patent for the purpose of extracting return on their research investment. That means real clinical research, the kind that can develop the cancer treatments current studies promise, requires massive public funding.
Devoting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to cannabis every year may seem daunting. But we already do.
We just spend it on eradication and incarceration instead of research and development.
Research study discussed:
Aviello G, et al. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2012 Jan 10.
ASA’s booklet on Cannabis and Cancer
This entry was posted on Monday, January 30th, 2012 at 9:37 pm and is filed underAmericans for Safe Access (ASA), FDA/HHS, Medical Cannabis, Rescheduling,Research. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
By Lisa Leff
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — A quarter-century after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first prescription drugs based on the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, additional medicines derived from or inspired by the cannabis plant itself could soon be making their way to pharmacy shelves, according to drug companies, small biotech firms and university scientists.
A British company, GW Pharma, is in advanced clinical trials for the world’s first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana instead of synthetic equivalents — a mouth spray it hopes to market in the U.S. as a treatment for cancer pain. And it hopes to see FDA approval by the end of 2013.
Sativex contains marijuana’s two best-known components — delta 9-THC and cannabidiol — and already has been approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries for a different usage, relieving muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.
FDA approval would represent an important milestone in the nation’s often uneasy relationship with marijuana, which 16 states and the District of Columbia already allow residents to use legally with doctors’ recommendations. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes pot as a dangerous drug with no medical value, but the availability of a chemically similar prescription drug could increase pressure on the federal government to revisit its position and encourage other drug companies to follow in GW Pharma’s footsteps.
In 1998, 69 percent of the citizens in Washington, D.C. voted to legalize medical marijuana. But the Republican Congress at that time blockedimplementation of the law by withholding funding to implement the program.
In an effort to revive the old law, on May 4, 2010, over a decade later, the D.C. Council approvedamendments to the old law. After a 30-day Congressional review period expired on the amended law, the amended law became law. With this law, Washington, D.C. joins 16 other states in the nation with laws allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes; an additional 12 states are considering adding similar laws in support of using the plant for medical treatment. Recent data shows that over 77 percent of Americans favor laws in support of medical marijuana.
Under the new D.C. law, D.C. doctors can write medical marijuana prescriptions for patients who suffer from conditions such as, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other serious conditions. One of the biggest promoters of the use of marijuana for medical treatment is TV personality Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 13 years ago and uses the plant for his condition.
Montel Williams has taken his pro marijuana crusade across the country. He was guest speaker of former Ward 5 D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas Jr. in November of last year, where he made his pitch to an audience at Israel Baptist Church in Ward 5. While his personal plight was moving for some, many Ward 5 residents weren’t quick to jump on board with the entertainer.
The new law in Washington calls for 10 sites that will be authorized to grow the plant (cultivation centers). 28 applicants applied to compete for one of these 10 sites; nearly all of the applicants are for sites in Ward 5. The law also calls for five distribution centers (dispensaries), where people can obtain medical marijuana with a D.C. doctor’s prescription. The public will know on March 2 the 10 sites that qualify to be cultivation centers, and on March 30 the five dispensaries. By mid to latespring, the program is expected to be in full operation in the nation’s capital.
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy DirectorJanuary 10, 2012
Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20 year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities.
Predictably, researchers “confirmed the expected reductions in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) and FVC (forced vital capacity)” in tobacco smokers. By contrast, “Marijuana use was associated with higher FEV1 and FVC at the low levels of exposure typical for most marijuana users. With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (eg, 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function.”
The study concludes, “Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”
To those familiar with the science of cannabis, JAMA’s findings should come as no great surprise. They are consistent with previous findings reporting no significant decrease in pulmonary function associated with moderate cannabis smoke exposure. For instance, according to a 2007 literature review conducted by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (and summarized by NORML here), cannabis smoke exposure is not associated airflow obstruction (emphysema), as measured by airway hyperreactivity, forced expiratory volume, or other measures.
Further, in 2006, the results of the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. (Read NORML’s summary of this study here.)
“We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr.Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles stated. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect” among marijuana smokers who had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users.
A previous 1997 retrospective cohort study consisting of 64,855 examinees in the Kaiser Permanente multiphasic health checkup in San Francisco and Oakland also reported, “[E]ver- and current use of marijuana were not associated with increased risk of cancer … of the following sites: colorectal, lung, melanoma, prostate, breast, cervix.”
Separate studies of cannabis smoke and pulmonary function have indicated that chronic exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain respiratory complications, including cough, bronchitis, phlegm. However, the ingestion of cannabis via alternative methods such as edibles, liquid tinctures, or via vaporization — a process whereby the plant’s cannabinoids are heated to the point of vaporization but below the point of combustion –- virtually eliminates consumers’ exposure to such unwanted risk factors and has been determined to be a ‘safe and effective’ method of ingestion in clinical trial settings.
Yesterday we revealed The Top Ten “Reefer Madness” Stories of 2011. Today we continue our Year-End Retrospective with a look at the biggest news stories of scientific research into cannabis, public opinion polls on legalization, and statistical research on cannabis consumers. We call it The Top Ten Cannabis Science Stories of 2011. Tomorrow we’ll continue with The Top Ten “Stupid Stoner Stories” of 2011 and Friday we conclude with the The Top Ten People in Cannabis of 2011.
The Top Ten Cannabis Science Stories of 2011
Cannabis Karri reported on a study that measured just how much electricity we’re using to grow cannabis indoors.
A new report conducted and published by Even Mills, PhD, a respected and long time energy analyst along with Staff Scientists at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory has concluded that Americans spend an amazing 1% of the entire national electricity consumption, or the equivalent of the output of seven large power plants on growing cannabis.
Since medical marijuana use has become so much more popular, and most of those states do not have a dispensary program, many more people are learning to grow marijuana indoors. The 20 terawatt-hours per year that marijuana growers use is due to the bright, often 24 hours a day lighting and an air change rate 60 times higher than a norml home. Even a modest indoor garden can have the same energy consumption rate of an entire data center. Since indoor cultivation of cannabis is a necessity to hide operations from authorities and others the energy bill to growers is about $5 billion each year. That extra energy to produce American cannabis is equal to the energy consumption of an extra 2 million average US homes. It also, unfortunately, produces greenhouse gas pollution equal to 3 million cars according to the new research.
We have all suffered through jokes about cannabis consumers being fat, stupid couch potatoes. So it was a joy in 2011 when two international studies found us to be thinner than our non-toking counterparts…
“We found that cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-users,” [researchers said]. “We were so surprised, we thought we had [made] a mistake. Or that our results were due to the sample we studied. So we turned to another completely independent sample and found exactly the same association.”
…and smarter, too!
A new British study finds … men with high childhood IQs were up to two times more likely to use illegal drugs than their lower-scoring counterparts. Girls with high IQs were up to three times more likely to use drugs as adults. A high IQ is defined as a score between 107 and 158. An average IQ is 100. The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
None of this means taking up pot smoking is going to shed points and boost IQ. It does mean that some popular stereotypes about us are completely unfounded.
Many a medical marijuana activist can tell anecdotes of patients who’ve reduced or eliminated their need for opiate pain killers by substituting cannabis. This year, Berkeley Patients Group surveyed their patients and found two-out-of-three had done just that.
In an anonymous survey, 66% of 350 clients at the Berkeley (Calif.) Patients Group, a medical marijuana dispensary, said that they use marijuana as a prescription drug substitute. Their reasons: Cannabis offered better symptom control with fewer side effects than did prescription drugs.
Those with pain symptoms said that marijuana has less addiction potential than do opioids. Others said marijuana helped to reduce the dose of other medications.
Speaking of the addiction potential of opioids…
Prohibitionists have been using the “Gateway Drug” scare for years to frighten the public about legalization. Despite every study blowing the concept out of the water, it still resonates with a large segment of the voters. So I decided to take a look at the data to find out which drug is really the one with the greatest correlation to hard drug use, and it definitely wasn’t cannabis!
We cross-referenced the NSDUH numbers based on whether someone had ever tried marijuana. We found that only 1.5% of people who have toked became monthly cocaine users. For ecstasy, crack, meth, heroin, LSD, and PCP, less than 1% of the people who’ve tried pot are using those drugs regularly. Meanwhile, 2.9% of the people who’ve ever tried an legal analgesic (pain reliever) are regular cocaine users. For ecstasy, crack, and meth, more than 1% of who tried analgesics are regular users. People who tried analgesics are more than twice as likely as people who tried pot to use heroin regularly and three times more likely to use LSD regularly.
But if opponents want to cling to the idea that we should do everything in our power to stop someone from smoking that first marijuana joint, lest they become illegal drug addicts, then it is time to prohibit Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, and Oxycontin, those powerful legal opioid pain killers. The first Vicodin/Lortab/Lorcet leads to almost three times the risk of becoming a non-pot illegal drug user than the first joint and almost the same risk as smoking a joint every month. That first Oxycontin is more than five times the risk for drug abuse than the first joint.
6. Drug testing is still unreliable, inaccurate, unnecessary,invasive, and counter-productive
We drug test our citizens when we suspect they’re committing a crime, when they’re applying for a job, when they’re going to school, and when they’re in an accident. Yet drug detection for marijuana is so unreliable and unscientific that its use is an affront to all free people.
First it is the “drug dog” that police and courts believe are akin to infallible scientific instruments instead of animals with instincts to please their human masters.
The accuracy of drug- and explosives-sniffing dogs is affected by human handlers’ beliefs, possibly in response to subtle, unintentional cues, UC Davis researchers have found.
The study, published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition, found that detection-dog teams erroneously “alerted,” or identified a scent, when there was no scent present more than 200 times — particularly when the handler believed that there was scent present.
Next it is the “drug lab” that may mishandle as many as one in ten tests.
An Indiana state lab wrongly reported 1 in 10 marijuana cases as positive, including some that were deliberately manipulated, an audit report indicated.
The audit’s findings showed errors in about 200 of 2,000 marijuana tests reported to law enforcement as having positive results, the Star said. This includes about 50 results the report said were consciously manipulated by lab workers.
Part of the justification for testing us for employment is workplace safety. Yet, in medical marijuana states where tens or hundreds of thousands of citizens are legally using cannabis, we’ve seen drastic declines in workplace danger.
Prior to the beginning of the medical marijuana program [in Oregon], workplace injuries and illnesses that contributed to a lost workday stood at 3.4 per 100 full-time workers; in 2009 that rate is 2.3 per 100, a decline of 32%. No-time-lost injuries and illnesses declined 40%, from 3.5 to 2.1 per 100. Fatalities are down from 3.3 to 1.9 per 100, a drop of 42%.
These declines occurred while the medical marijuana patient registry grew by an average of a little more than 50% per year.
Another egregious use of drug testing is to make it a requirement of citizens seeking welfare assistance. Florida’s law to do just that has been blocked while its (un-)constitutionality is determined, but in the time it was in effect, it cost Florida more than it saved. It also found that welfare recipients were less likely to turn up positive than the general public.
The Department of Central Florida’s (DCF) region tested 40 applicants and only two tested positive for drugs, officials said. One of the tests is being appealed.
DCF said it has been referring applicants to clinics where drug screenings cost between $30 and $35. The applicant pays for the test out of his or her own pocket and then the state reimburses him if they test comes back negative.
Therefore, the 38 applicants in the Central Florida area, who tested negative, were reimbursed at least $30 each and cost taxpayers $1,140.
Meanwhile, the state is saving less than $240 a month by refusing benefits to those two applicants who tested positive.
Finally, the unintended consequences of drug testing became more apparent. When marijuana is the drug that is the hardest to conceal on a drug test, people will turn to drugs that are easier to conceal.
As I looked at the data, I noticed that in the span from 2005 to 2011, the positive test rate for marijuana for all workplace drug tests (pre-employment, random, and post-accident) declined 20%, from 2.5% of approximately 2.4 million tests to 2.0%. That’s about 12,000 fewer cannabis consumers who were caught by a pee test.
Meanwhile, oxycodone positives have increased 96% for all urine testing, although these tests are administered about one tenth as often (280,000) for oxycodone as for cannabis (2,400,000). This despite the facts that while marijuana metabolites may be detected in urine for weeks, oxycodone metabolites are flushed from one’s system in two or three days. Furthermore, random positives for oxycodone (1.20%) are almost twice as great and post-accident positives for oxycodone (1.80%) are nearly three-times greater than pre-employment positives for oxycodone (0.65%), which suggests to me that the pre-employment screens don’t work very well at keeping oxycodone users out of the workplace.
5. For past two years, more Americans arrested for marijuana than all other drugs combined despite arrest protection for America’s One Million Legal Marijuana Users
When somebody mentions “The War on Drugs”, remind them what we’re really talking about is a “War on Marijuana”.
Nationally, there were 1,638,846 drug arrests reported to the FBI, with 52.1% of those arrests for marijuana charges. Last year, 51.6% of all drug arrests were for marijuana, showing a slight increase in marijuana as the majority of all drug arrests. The last time marijuana made up a majority of the “War on Drugs” was 1985, when 55.6% of all drug arrests were for marijuana.
Keep in mind that these annual marijuana arrests continue to climb even as we reduce the number of marijuana users eligible for arrest in the medical marijuana state, users who grow and use the most marijuana.
Between one to one-and-a-half million people are legally authorized by their state to use marijuana in the United States, according to data compiled by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates. Assuming usage of one-half to one gram of cannabis medicine per day per patient and an average retail price of $320 per ounce, these legal consumers represent a $2.3 to $6.2 billion dollar market annually.
4. Drug Czar claims medical marijuana makes more young people smoke pot, despite fewer teens smoking pot
A popular refrain of the Drug Czar is that by calling marijuana “medicine”, we lead young people to think it is less dangerous, and therefore, use goes up.
“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “In light of what we know regarding the serious harm of illegal drug use, I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”
Except that medical marijuana’s been around on the West Coast for over a dozen years. Between 2003 and 2009, as more states have adopted medical marijuana, nationally the rate of monthly teen use is on the decline.
In fact, eleven of the thirteen states that had medical marijuana as of 2009 saw declines in teen marijuana use, and the five that added it after 2003 saw double-digit declines.
From 2003 to 2009 in California, monthly teen use is up only 0.26%. In Colorado, teen use is up 3.77% in that time frame. Yet Wyoming, a state without medical marijuana, saw the greatest increase of 5.18%. Furthermore, looking back before 2003, to 1996 and 1998 when the West Coast legalized medical marijuana, teen use is lower now than then.
3. The people really, really want to ask the President about the legalization of marijuana that half of them support
This year, the esteemed Gallup Poll finally recorded half of the US population in support of legalizing marijuana.
Gallup reports that the 50% nationwide support for legalization also represents the first time support has outweighed opposition. Only 46% of Americans believe marijuana should remain criminalized, with 4% undecided.
Support for marijuana legalization remains greatest in the Western states (55%) and majorities support legalization in the Midwest (54%) and East (51%). Only voters in the South still oppose marijuana legalization (44%). Men still support legalization at a much greater rate than women (55% vs. 46%).
Support is also greatest among younger Americans (62%), Democrats (57%), and liberals (69%). However, support for legalization has increased even in demographics generally opposed to legalization. Compared to Gallup’s poll last year, support increased 4% points in the South, 12% points in the Midwest, and 6% points among 50-64, but fell 1% among 65+. Support rose 6% points among Republicans, and 4% points among conservatives. Marijuana legalization is becoming more popular with just about everyone.
President Obama, seeking input from the people on policy questions, was stunned once again to find…
On the “We the People” petitions site of Whitehouse.gov, as of this writing, NORML’s “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” petition is #1 by a long shot. It has garnered over 42,000 signatures. It needed 5,000 signatures in 30 days to generate an official response from the administration, a figure it had topped in just over three hours.
And when he asked for videos from citizens on policy issues, another stunning result…
The top question, submitted by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, garnered 13,842 votes – over 1% of all votes cast (people could vote for more than one question).
As a police officer, I saw how waging the war on drugs has cost a trillion dollars and thousands of lives but does nothing to reduce drug use. Should we discuss legalizing marijuana and other drugs, which would eliminate the violent criminal market?
Of the 193,060 people who voted more than 7% voted for the LEAP question. That’s about one in fourteen people who took the time to Ask Obama.
2. National Cancer Institute drama over anti-tumoral effects of cannabis
A very high-profile battle over scientific integrity played itself out on the webpage of Cancer.gov, the government’s site for the National Cancer Institute. It began when the site surprisingly updated its summary page on cannabis and cannabinoids.
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.
Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. [9-11] Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. These compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glioma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumors in mice and rats.
Then it appeared that somebody pressured NCI to revise its update to better align with the government’s prohibition of cannabis. The paragraphs above were removed and replaced with:
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Though no relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients who prescribe medicinal Cannabis predominantly do so for symptom management.
Then NCI updated the “clinical studies” portion of the website to again highlight the anti-tumoral effects:
One study in mice and rats suggested that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors.
Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.
1. Colorado’s 5ng/mL per se DUID bill dies again as new research backs higher thresholds for regular users
We tackled drug testing above in #6, but this story takes #1 for showing how science and the scientific method can actually beat back prohibition. Colorado had proposed a 5ng of THC per milliliter of blood (5ng/mL) per se DUID, meaning: if you test positive on a drug test above 5ng/mL, you’re automatically guilty of DUI, whether you were impaired or not.
Naturally, many medical marijuana patients in Colorado complained that they are such frequent and heavy users of cannabis that they would never be under such a threshold. Furthermore, most of them have developed a tolerance to cannabis’ effects that allows them to drive under its influence without impairment, much as we understand an “until you know how [Pill X] affects you, do not drive or operate heavy machinery” warning on a pharmaceutical.
The “pot critic” of Denver’s WestWord, William Breathes, decided to become the experiment by abstaining from cannabis use under controlled conditions. After sixteen hours and a night’s sleep, upon awakening, presumably clean and sober, Breathes was tested at 13ng/mL. This anecdotal report, splashed all over the Denver media, was also backed up by the latest scientific research:
It concludes: “A threshold of 2-3ng/ml THC as an indicator of recent drug use (i.e, smoking within the previous 6 hours) as recommended by Huestis et al appears to be valid only for occasional users. Heavy users might exhibit measurable cannabinoid concentrations in blood, even if the last cannabis use was more than 24 hours ago…. Therefore, cannabinoid concentrations in heavy users’ blood from a later elimination phase might not be distinguished from an acute use of an occasional user.”
Cross-posted from The NORML Daily Stash Blog
The scientists who sequenced the marijuana plant say they hope the next generation of pot will have stronger therapeutic compounds.
Published: August 19, 2011
by Eliza Barclay
Stoners and scientists alike may be stoked to learn that a startup biotech company has completed the DNA sequence of Cannabis sativa, or marijuana. But here’s something that could ruin a high: The company hopes the data will help scientists breed pot plants without much THC, the mind-altering chemical in the plant. The goal is instead to maximize other compounds that may have therapeutic benefits.
Kevin McKernan, founder and chief executive officer of the company, called Medicinal Genomics, says Cannabis sativa has 84 other compounds that could fight pain or possibly even shrink tumors. But anti-marijuana laws make it difficult for scientists to breed and study the plant in most countries. That’s one reason he decided to publish his data for free on Amazon’s EC2, a public data cloud.
McKernan, who has an office in Massachusetts and a lab in the Netherlands, where he can legally gather DNA from marijuana plants, has spent most of his career studying tumors in humans. But he tells Shots he had several friends with cancer who asked him about medical marijuana and whether it might do them some good. That got him interested in the emerging medical research on pot’s healing properties.
Then he heard about a drug called Sativex, a Cannabis-derived drug developed by a German pharmaceutical company to treat muscle stiffness from multiple sclerosis. Sativex contains THC and another cannabanoid called CBD, which the company says keeps the psychoactive effects of THC in check. The drug is now available in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, and it’s in trials to see if it works for cancer pain.
McKernan says Sativex might just be one of the first in a line of future pharmaceuticals using cannabis compounds for a variety of serious illnesses.
“We know which genes govern CBD and THC, but not the other 83 compounds,” McKernan tells Shots. “Now that we’ve sequenced this genome, we can sequence other strains, and then we can tie the differences in DNA to different traits.”
Opening up access to the data is especially important for a plant like Cannabis, McKernan says, because many scientists who’d like to study it in the U.S. and other countries can’t get a license to grow it.
“A lot of people who want to contribute to this field can’t, but now that this information is available, a lot of research can get done without growing any plants,” McKernan said. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]
By Raymond Cushing, AlterNet
The term medical marijuana took on dramatic new meaning in February, 2000 when researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
The Madrid study marks only the second time that THC has been administered to tumor-bearing animals; the first was a Virginia investigation 26 years ago. In both studies, the THC shrank or destroyed tumors in a majority of the test subjects.
Most Americans don’t know anything about the Madrid discovery. Virtually no major U.S. newspapers carried the story, which ran only once on the AP and UPI news wires, on Feb. 29, 2000.
The ominous part is that this isn’t the first time scientists have discovered that THC shrinks tumors. In 1974 researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institute of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice – lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia.
The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research, according to Jack Herer, who reports on the events in his book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” In 1976 President Gerald Ford put an end to all public cannabis research and granted exclusive research rights to major pharmaceutical companies, who set out – unsuccessfully – to develop synthetic forms of THC that would deliver all the medical benefits without the “high.”
The Madrid researchers reported in the March issue of “Nature Medicine” that they injected the brains of 45 rats with cancer cells, producing tumors whose presence they confirmed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). On the 12th day they injected 15 of the rats with THC and 15 with Win-55,212-2 a synthetic compound similar to THC. “All the rats left untreated uniformly died 12-18 days after glioma (brain cancer) cell inoculation … Cannabinoid (THC)-treated rats survived significantly longer than control rats. THC administration was ineffective in three rats, which died by days 16-18. Nine of the THC-treated rats surpassed the time of death of untreated rats, and survived up to 19-35 days. Moreover, the tumor was completely eradicated in three of the treated rats.” The rats treated with Win-55,212-2 showed similar results.
The Spanish researchers, led by Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutense University, also irrigated healthy rats’ brains with large doses of THC for seven days, to test for harmful biochemical or neurological effects. They found none.
“Careful MRI analysis of all those tumor-free rats showed no sign of damage related to necrosis, edema, infection or trauma … We also examined other potential side effects of cannabinoid administration. In both tumor-free and tumor-bearing rats, cannabinoid administration induced no substantial change in behavioral parameters such as motor coordination or physical activity. Food and water intake as well as body weight gain were unaffected during and after cannabinoid delivery. Likewise, the general hematological profiles of cannabinoid-treated rats were normal. Thus, neither biochemical parameters nor markers of tissue damage changed substantially during the 7-day delivery period or for at least 2 months after cannabinoid treatment ended.”
Guzman’s investigation is the only time since the 1974 Virginia study that THC has been administered to live tumor-bearing animals. (The Spanish researchers cite a 1998 study in which cannabinoids inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation, but that was a “petri dish” experiment that didn’t involve live subjects.)
In an email interview for this story, the Madrid researcher said he had heard of the Virginia study, but had never been able to locate literature on it. Hence, the Nature Medicine article characterizes the new study as the first on tumor-laden animals and doesn’t cite the 1974 Virginia investigation.
“I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by these people, but it has proven impossible.” Guzman said.
In 1983 the Reagan/Bush Administration tried to persuade American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966-76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries, reports Jack Herer, who states, “We know that large amounts of information have since disappeared.”
Guzman provided the title of the work – “Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids,” an article in a 1975 Journal of the National Cancer Institute – and this writer obtained a copy at the University of California medical school library in Davis and faxed it to Madrid.
The summary of the Virginia study begins, “Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded by the oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN)” – two types of cannabinoids, a family of active components in marijuana. “Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with THC and CBN had reduced primary tumor size.”
The 1975 journal article doesn’t mention breast cancer tumors, which featured in the only newspaper story ever to appear about the 1974 study – in the Local section of the Washington Post on August 18, 1974. Under the headline, “Cancer Curb Is Studied,” it read in part:
“The active chemical agent in marijuana curbs the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice and may also suppress the immunity reaction that causes rejection of organ transplants, a Medical College of Virginia team has discovered.” The researchers “found that THC slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”
Guzman, writing from Madrid, was eloquent in his response after this writer faxed him the clipping from the Washington Post of a quarter century ago. In translation, he wrote:
“It is extremely interesting to me, the hope that the project seemed to awaken at that moment, and the sad evolution of events during the years following the discovery, until now we once again Îdraw back the veilâ over the anti-tumoral power of THC, twenty-five years later. Unfortunately, the world bumps along between such moments of hope and long periods of intellectual castration.”
News coverage of the Madrid discovery has been virtually nonexistent in this country. The news broke quietly on Feb. 29, 2000 with a story that ran once on the UPI wire about the Nature Medicine article. This writer stumbled on it through a link that appeared briefly on the Drudge Report web page. The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times all ignored the story, even though its newsworthiness is indisputable: a benign substance occurring in nature destroys deadly brain tumors.
Raymond Cushing is a journalist, musician and filmmaker. This article was named by Project Censored as a “Top Censored Story of 2000.”