June 2018

How a farming nonprofit helps veterans reintegrate into civilian life and recover from PTSD

An average of 20 veterans commit suicide each year—a statistic that weighs on the mind of Rich Murphy.

Murphy, 38, is executive director of Veterans to Farmers, an organization he joined after suffering a devastating injury and bout with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in December 2007. Murphy, who had escaped injury during a five-year deployment as a corporal with the U.S. Air Force, was struck in his car at 70 mph by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel, leaving him with a horrible back injury.

“One of the number one reactions to PTSD is isolation. People just withdraw, out of fear or that they don’t fit in,” Murphy said. “I had a guy who did the program last year, his wife came up to me and gave me a hug and said, ‘thank you, he hasn’t left the house since winter.’ [Veterans to Farmers] is just opening the doorway for these men and women.”

After his accident, Murphy quit nursing school and found employment as a social worker. It was during a stint working for the City of Denver when he met veterans who he wished had gotten the care and intervention they needed much sooner.

A Marine Corps veteran by the name of Buck Adams had formed Veterans to Farmers in 2013 and Murphy met him in the fall of that year after his wife became aware of the program. The following year, Murphy began to develop a curriculum for the VTF training program. He also crisscrossed Colorado, telling everyone about the nascent nonprofit’s merits, and forging partnerships with Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University.

In 2017, after he’d spent many hours as an instructor, Murphy took over as executive director of the organization when Buck stepped down.

Rich Murphy, left, discusses Veterans to Farmers at Rebel Farm in Denver, Colorado. At right, a plague honoring U.S. military veterans at Chatfield Farms in Denver Botanic Gardens.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

Murphy recalled a full circle moment: During the first two years of VTF, his veteran farmers sold fresh produce they’d grown to his previous clients at the Denver Human Services building—thanks to a grant that Denver Botanic Garden received to set up a food stand in the building.

VTF aims to fill the void between veterans’ skills and the more lackluster jobs the economy produces by training them to work in agriculture. As he explains it, there are also less tangible benefits.

“When you get ten veterans in a greenhouse or out in the field and they start working on plants together, digging in the soil and growing things, you see therapy happen,” he said, noting that traditional therapy is more of taboo word in the military.

Murphy gave Fox News a full tour of Rebel Farm, a hydroponic greenhouse where hundreds of pounds of greens and herbs are grown and harvested each month by former service members. The persistent hum of fans and the sound of rock music filled the temperature-controlled, 15,000-square-foot space. Fellow veterans dutifully checked on the health of kale, arugula and Bok choy that will be harvested and sold primarily to restaurants.

“Eight weeks later, you have ten veterans that are all new friends who never would’ve talked to each other had they not been put in a space together. That’s the process,” Murphy, whose father, uncle and grandparents also served in the military, said. “We see a lot of veterans maintain those friendships afterwards.”

Vets who participated in the program talked about the significance of its impact.

Fresh greens and herbs tended and grown by U.S. military vets at Rebel Farm in Denver, Colorado.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

“Students form a bond very quickly,” Tara O’Brien, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who took the hydroponics course last year and is taking the soil course this year, told Fox News.

O’Brien, 41, said the type of teamwork and problem-solving skills that come naturally to military veterans are ideal for the country’s food production system, which is undergoing a transformation as consumers demand healthier options and the availability of organic produce increases.

“This bond is what we need among the farming community because it’s a unification of strategy and building something great together that far surpasses the need for competition and secrecy,” O’Brien, who traveled to over 30 countries during her time in the military, told Fox News. “To the core, these men and women are helpers and magnificent leaders and problem solvers—we need this in our food system.”

Marine Corps veteran Dominic Muranyi came across Veterans to Farmers after being unable to enroll in a booked up horticulture course at a community college in Fort Collins.

Muranyi took both courses, finding them to be “immeasurably helpful,” and he’s been working on Murphy’s family farm in Fort Collins, helping out with labor and miscellaneous—including the planned build out of Murphy’s new greenhouse this summer.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: CAN VETERANS GROW THEIR OWN MEDICINE?

A portion of Chatfield Farms at Denver Botanic Gardens where Veterans to Farmers participants learn agriculture skills.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

“I was able to connect with some really awesome individuals who are all working toward something similar. You meet so many other veterans who have skill sets and knowledge you didn’t even know existed, then come to find out you need to know it!” Muranyi, 27, told Fox News.

The Marine Corps veteran, who’s known as the “quiet one” of the vets who have taken the courses, has been studying mycology (fungi). He likened the Veterans to Farmers experience to how some civilians may think about the military.

“When you are in the military, no one back home thinks, ‘Oh, I get to go to the movies, better thank a veteran.’ We do our job in silent professionalism and take comfort knowing it makes a difference,” Muranyi, who deployed to Cuba and Japan during his service, explained.

“It’s kind of the same thing as a farmer: How often do you go to the grocery store and look at what farm produced your food? But everyone is grateful to have something to eat. Instead of defending life, we provide life-sustaining food,” he said.

The Veterans to Farmers’ hydroponics course has been taught for the last three years at Rebel Farm’s sprawling greenhouse in southwest Denver, which is owned by Lauren Brettschneider and Jack Olson. During the course, which takes place four times a year and runs for eight weeks, veterans learn the ins and outs of controlled agriculture.

“Farming can be very soothing. You are growing something, creating,” said Brettschneider, who worked in the hospitality and telecom industries before turning her passion for farming into a business. “The class really inspires and motivates [the veterans].”

“How often do you go to the grocery store and look at what farm produced your food? But everyone is grateful to have something to eat. Instead of defending life, we provide life-sustaining food.”

– Dominik Muranyi, a Veterans to Farmers graduate

The seedlings are housed in tiny sponge-like cubes to preserve their structural integrity—but they live inside nutrient film technique (NTF) channels, which are long, white plastic tubes that sort of look like gutters on a house. There’s a little drip with a small hose that exposes the roots to oxygen and they’re able to absorb nutrients from the water. The entire system uses very little water and, because it’s indoors, the plants aren’t subjected to the elements and are less likely to have major pest infestations.

According to Murphy, the greenhouse is much easier on the environment in terms of water usage, a real concern during Denver’s dry, hot summers. It takes approximately 10 gallons of water to produce a head of lettuce outdoors, but inside the greenhouse it takes just one gallon.

Veterans who take the course at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms work in a 7.5-acre, picture-perfect space with the Rocky Mountains as their backdrop and the bright, powerful Western sun as their balm while they learn everything about the day-to-day operation of an organic farm—planting, harvesting, crop rotations as well as licensing, recordkeeping, marketing and selling. This class runs for 10 weeks and there are only two per year due to Denver’s 22-week outdoor growing season.

On a sun-kissed, windy day in late April, two landscaped areas that were built by veterans from the program—complete with a paved sections, winding paths, flower beds and a bench—were easy to find. In the growing area, several raised beds were prepped and covered for strawberries, which are a tough crop to grow anywhere because many different animals and pests love them. A red Norman Rockwell-looking barn on the property has hosted Veterans to Farmers events.

Jamie Wickler, farm education coordinator at Denver Botanic Gardens, is starting his fourth season teaching the veterans’ course at Chatfield. He said the biggest benefit for participants is a sense of community.

“This is a group that deeply cares about sustainable food production,” Wickler said. “Farming is hard work that they love, so to find other veterans and farmers that share that gives them a lot of encouragement and support.”

Military veterans, accustomed to the rigors of discipline, hard work and getting their hands dirty, are well-suited to agriculture careers.

“They can reconnect to their community in a capacity where it feels like they’re contributing, and that’s huge,” said Murphy. “When you give someone food and get to watch their eyes light up and you grew that. It’s a similar feeling to, ‘you honored our country, thank you for your service.’

Rich Murphy, at left, with a range of past and current participants in the Veterans to Farmers program at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.  (Christopher Carbone/Fox News)

Muranyi recently started working at Hazel Dell Mushrooms Farm in Fort Collins. He helps out at the farmer’s market and spends three days per week assisting with growing and harvesting shitake, lion’s mane and other mushrooms.

“I love the work and it’s given me an opportunity to learn more about fungi,” he said.

O’Brien, who was the first military journalist on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, said she wants to further her own agricultural education, find work in the industry and perhaps homestead on her own farm one day.

“Programs like VTF provide amazing opportunities for veterans to do what they are best at: creating, problem-solving, project managing and leading people in a direction that is holistically best for everyone involved,” she said.

The vets in the program take a survey about topics including mental health at the program’s beginning and end to measure its success, but Murphy said the most powerful feedback he gets is when vets pull him aside at the end to explain why it mattered so much to them.  

“If you don’t ever become a farmer, that’s okay. But if you find three or four really good veteran friends and you hang out and talk about plants and maybe grow some tomatoes—that’s f—king awesome. That’s a win,” said Murphy.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter covering global affairs, technology and national news for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at christopher.carbone@foxnews.com or on Twitter @christocarbone.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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A marijuana-based medicine has been approved by the FDA. It’s a sign of hope.

The FDA has just approved the first marijuana-based medicine in America.

The medication, called Epidiolex, is a form of cannabidiol (CBD) and has been approved for patients ages 2 and older to treat two types of rare epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.  The medication is not only the first of its kind, it’s also the first FDA-approved treatment for Dravet syndrome.

For many years, marijuana has been seen only as an illicit drug. But that’s changing.

Not all substances derived from marijuana are created equal. Most people are familiar (some intimately so) with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the psychoactive chemical that provides the “high” that the plant is best known for. CBD, however, doesn’t create those same effects, allowing people to reap the benefits without having to slow down their day-to-day lives.

Research has shown that CBD oil has been particularly helpful for those who experience epileptic seizures — reducing symptoms by 40% in clinical trials.

Outside of these trials, there’s also evidence that CBD can be effective in treating pain, anxiety, and, according to recent reports, even some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. A study, funded by the National Institutes of Health is underway to determine whether CBD can help those living with post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, marijuana has been shown to be effective in treating the pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy. And new evidence suggests that it can be a powerful tool when combating the opioid crisis.

In order to develop the best treatments, society’s views of marijuana need to evolve.

All of this research is still very new and more must be done. Scientific breakthroughs, however, are hampered by the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance by the government — meaning that it’s considered to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Those factors make getting treatment near-impossible for those who aren’t living in states where it’s been legalized. Some families have even had to consider moving in order to get their children treatment that’s been called life-saving.

It’s already understood that marijuana has medical benefits, but its legal status and the stigma that this status engenders have gotten in the way of both research and safety.

The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex is the first step to changing that, starting with removing CBD from the list of Schedule I substances. And the FDA is prepared to support “rigorous scientific research” that shows evidence of marijuana’s benefits. For those living with illnesses that marijuana can mitigate, that’s an important sign of hope.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/

Mary JaneA marijuana-based medicine has been approved by the FDA. It’s a sign of hope.
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Oklahoma voters approve medical marijuana despite opposition

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday backed the medicinal use of marijuana, overcoming a late opposition campaign from law enforcement and business, faith and political leaders.

State Question 788 , the result of an activist-led signature drive launched more than two years ago, makes it legal to grow, sell and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. The proposed law outlines no qualifying conditions, which would allow physicians to authorize its use for a broad range of ailments — a fact that sparked bitter opposition, particularly from law enforcement.

Under the proposed law, a two-year medical marijuana license would allow someone to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana, six mature plants and six seedlings, along with edibles and concentrated forms of the drug.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she feared the proposal would essentially legalize recreational pot and said if it passed she would likely call on lawmakers to return for a special session to set up a regulatory framework for medicinal pot.

Oklahoma’s is the first marijuana question on a state ballot in 2018, with elections scheduled for later this year in Michigan and Utah. Voters in neighboring Arkansas legalized the drug for medical use in 2016, but Oklahoma is among the most conservative states to approve its use.

In Oklahoma City, Robert Pemberton, 58, said he supported the measure because he believed it’s been beneficial in other states that have legalized medical marijuana.

“They’ve got excess money, and we need that, especially for our teachers,” Pemberton said. “I think we need the revenue from it. I think we need the money. Our state’s in trouble financially and I think it would really help.”

A group called SQ 788 is Not Medical launched a late $500,000 media blitz that painted the proposal as a plan to legalize recreational use of the drug under the guise of medical care.

“This is a bad public health policy that does not resemble a legitimate medical treatment program,” said Dr. Kevin Taubman, former president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and chairman of the opposition group.

Connie Givens, 67, said she voted against the measure because she believes it’s written too broadly and could permit recreational use of the drug.

“I think it’s not written right. I think it’s just so people can get marijuana,” said Givens, a Republican in Oklahoma City.

Although Oklahoma has a reputation for being a conservative state, attitudes have shifted sharply on marijuana in recent decades, especially among young people, said Bill Shapard, a pollster who has surveyed Oklahomans on the issue for more than five years.

“I’ve found almost half of all Republicans support it, so that’s going to take an awful lot of money and an awful lot of organized opposition for this to lose on Election Day,” Shapard said.

Oklahoma’s tough-on-crime ideology also has come at a cost, with the state’s skyrocketing prison population consuming a larger share of the state’s limited funding. In 2016, voters approved a state question to make any drug possession crime a misdemeanor, despite opposition to that proposal from law enforcement and prosecutors.

___

Associated Press writer Tim Talley contributed to this report from Oklahoma City.

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

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What’s coming to (and going from) Netflix in May

Spring can be a blessed time for the entertainment fan’s TV and movie backlog. Sure, you can catch new stuff at the movies or go outside or whatever, but we say let’s treat spring like any other season and relish it as an opportunity to bond with Netflix. Dear White People returns at the beginning of the month, as do several CW shows that just ended their on-air seasons. And come Memorial Day Weekend, there’s a perfect family film waiting for you.

Here’s what’s coming to Netflix in May.

Top pick: Coco

If you made the egregious mistake of missing Disney and Pixar’s breathtaking family film in theaters, your redemption is at hand. You may choose to watch on a mobile device, but for the full effect, we recommend watching on the biggest screen possible to take in the stunning visuals of Miguel’s (Anthony Gonzalez) heartwarming journey.

Movies

27: Gone Too Soon (5/1)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (5/16)
89 (5/16)
A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana (5/1)
Amelie (5/1)
Anon (5/4)
Beautiful Girls (5/1)
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (5/31)
The Bourne Ultimatum (5/1)
Bridge to Terabithia (5/19)
Cargo (5/18)
The Carter Effect (5/1)
Catching Feelings (5/18)
The Clapper (5/1)
Disney·Pixar’s Coco (5/29)
Darc (5/1)
Desolation (5/8)
Dirty Girl (5/9)
End Game (5/4)
Evil Genius: the True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (5/11)
Explained  (5/23)
Faces Places (5/5)
Forgive Us Our Debts (5/4)
God’s Own Country (5/1)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (5/1)
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (5/1)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (5/1)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (5/1)
Ibiza (5/25)
Jailbreak (5/2)
The Kingdom (5/16)
The Kissing Booth (5/11)
A Little Help with Carol Burnett (5/4)
Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo (5/4)
Mamma Mia! (5/16)
Manhunt (5/4)
Mr. Woodcock (5/1)
My Perfect Romance (5/1)
No Estoy Loca (5/4)
Only God Forgives (5/15)
The Phantom of the Opera (5/14)
Pocoyo & Cars (5/1)
Pocoyo & The Space Circus (5/1)
The Reaping (5/1)
Reasonable Doubt (5/1)
Red Dragon (5/1)
Sara’s Notebook  (5/26)
Scream 2 (5/1)
Shrek (5/1)
Sliding Doors (5/1)
Small Town Crime (5/19)
Some Kind of Beautiful (5/20)
Sometimes (5/1)
The Strange Name Movie (5/1)
Survivors Guide to Prison (5/24)
Wanted (5/16)

TV

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (5/13)
Arrow: Season 6
Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1 (5/1)
Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3 (5/11)
The Break with Michelle Wolf (5/27)
Busted!: Season 1 (5/4)
Dear White People: Volume 2 (5/4)
Dynasty: Season 1
Fauda: Season 2 (5/24)
The Flash: Season 4
The Game 365: Seasons 15 – 16 (5/15)
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: Season 4 (5/15)
Grand Designs: Seasons 13 – 14 (5/15)
Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives (5/8)
Inspector Gadget: Season 4 (5/18)
The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (Streaming every Sunday until May 13) (5/6 – 5/13)
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City (5/1)
Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2 (5/4)
Mob Psycho 100: Season 1 (5/22)
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey (5/4)
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern  (5/31)
Queens of Comedy: Season 1 (5/1)
The Rain: Season 1 (5/4)
Riverdale: Season 2
Disney’s Scandal: Season 7 (5/19)
Señora Acero: Season 4 (5/21)
Shooter: Season 2 (5/22)
Simon: Season 1 (5/1)
Spirit Riding Free: Season 5 (5/11)
Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (5/25)
Supernatural: Season 1
Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2 (5/22)
Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here (5/22)
The Toys That Made Us: Season 2 (5/25)
Trollhunters: Part 3 (5/25)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 (5/30)
The Who Was? Show: Season 1 (5/11)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2 (5/1)

Expiring

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Casper
Chappie
Charlotte’s Web
Field of Dreams
GoodFellas
Ocean’s Eleven
Sahara
Silent Hill
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Hurt Locker
To Rome With Love
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
12 Dates of Christmas
Beauty & the Briefcase
Cadet Kelly
Camp Rock
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Cow Belles
Cyberbully
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
Frenemies
Geek Charming
Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas
Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
High School Musical
High School Musical 2
Jump In!
Lemonade Mouth
Little Einsteins:
Seasons 1 – 2
My Fake Fiancé
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Phineas and Ferb:
Seasons 1 – 4
Princess Protection Program
Princess: A Modern Fairytale
Read It and Weep
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure
Special Agent Oso:
Seasons 1 – 2
StarStruck
Teen Spirit
The Secret Life of the American Teenager:
Seasons 1 – 5
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
The Host
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Disney’s The Jungle Book

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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The FDA Approved its First Cannabis Drug. What Next?

Five years ago, I bought a safe for my son’s doctor to store drugs. It was blue, about three feet square, and weighed 965 pounds—like the Acme safes Wile E. Coyote used to try to drop on Road Runner. My family and I had evidence the drugs might cure our 11-year-old son of his relentless seizures. But because the drugs contained a derivative of a cannabis plant known as cannabidiol, or CBD, the drugs had to be handled like they were heroin, or any other so-called Schedule 1 drugs. Every few months when a new shipment arrived, I or my wife Evelyn would appear at UCSF doctor Roberta Cilio’s office door. She’d open the safe, make us sign some papers, and give us Sam’s medicine in a brown paper bag to take home.

The medicine did help our son, and a whole lot more. Sam’s seizures dropped from 100 a day to about five a day—and GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer, was so encouraged by his response that it started talking to epilepsy doctors about clinical trials. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, now known as Epidiolex, for sale in the US. It will likely be available via prescription at pharmacies in the fall.

Like any new drug, we won’t know whether it lives up to its hype for a while. What’s clear is that it will permanently change the way we talk about cannabis in America. Cannabis is as legal as alcohol in Washington, DC and eight states, including the entire West Coast. But doctors, scientists, and hospital administrators are governed by federal, not state law, which makes studying cannabis a risky, time-consuming endeavor. That’s about to permanently change.

Early evidence suggests CBD could be useful not just for epilepsy, but a broad spectrum of neurological diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and some brain cancers. “There are neuroscientists who are drooling to work on this,” said Elizabeth Thiele, director of the pediatric epilepsy program at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the lead investigators in the GW trials. Once the DEA reschedules Epidiolex, they finally will be able to.

The approval also enables GW itself to accelerate its own internal cannabis research. GW is already testing Epidiolex for the treatment of tubular sclerosis, a disease other than epilepsy that often causes seizures. Beyond that, GW now has political capital with US regulators that it plans to use to get approval for Sativex, a THC and CBD mouth spray for cancer pain and multiple sclerosis, which has been available in the UK since 2010 and in other European countries like Germany since 2011. If that product is approved, American scientists will finally have a relatively easy, legal way to test the effects of dosed THC for many disorders.

For the moment, the biggest unknown is how insurance companies will decide to cover Epidiolex. The double blind, placebo-controlled trials required for FDA approval only covered two rare brain-destroying pediatric types of epilepsy—Dravet Syndrome and Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. About 50,000 patients are affected by these two illnesses. But there is already evidence that Epidiolex could help with dozens of different types of seizures and epilepsy syndromes.

Indeed, two-thirds of the 1,756 patients who have tried Epidiolex in the past five years didn’t have Dravet or LGS—including Sam. Demand for Epidiolex was so high among drug-unresponsive patients like Sam that GW allowed neurologists at more than four dozen hospitals that weren’t part of the formal trials to conduct their own so-called open label trials. It helped GW learn more about how Epidiolex worked in a broader population, and it allowed a lot of sick patients to get access to medicine that might help them.

That parallel research should make it easier for doctors to prescribe the drug for other illnesses, a practice known as “prescribing off label.” It just means that in a doctor’s professional opinion a certain drug is worth trying, and it happens a lot with epilepsy drugs, Thiele says.

The reason that pharmaceutical firms focus on rare diseases like Dravet and LGS—at least for seizure drugs—is driven as much by business and bureaucratic considerations as medical ones, doctors and pharmaceutical executives have told me. It’s difficult to get permission to do drug trials in children unless those kids have illnesses like Dravet and LGS. In addition, companies can get FDA approval faster and have patent protection for longer if they develop drugs for rare diseases like Dravet or LGS.

What all this means is that GW will need to ensure that patients already taking Epidiolex for other forms of epilepsy don’t suddenly wake up in the fall and become compelled to pay full price for medications that work for them. It also means that doctors will need to marshal their expertise and the data that already exist.

Thiele says that insurance companies eventually decide to cover epilepsy drugs for many more kinds of seizures than they were originally prescribed. The only question in her mind is how long that will take. The one thing she does know is that the public pressure for insurance companies to cover Epidiolex broadly will be intense. “Every epileptologist I know says that patients have been asking when they can get Epidiolex for a year now,” she adds.

As for Sam, he wants to be a neurologist when he grows up. Two and a half years ago, when we combined Epidiolex with another drug, Sam’s seizures stopped completely. Sam, now 17, has medical permission to drive a car, something along with—well, everything—that seemed impossible to imagine five years ago.


More Great WIRED Stories

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This feels like a tipping point on marijuana legalization

(CNN)Voters on Tuesday in Oklahoma — Oklahoma! — became the latest in the US to approve broad access to marijuana when they approved one of the most permissive medical marijuana initiatives in the country.

That will make 30 states with some kind of legalized marijuana. Nine of those states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized the drug. Vermont becomes the ninth when its legal pot law becomes effective July 1. Voters in Michigan will vote on legal pot this November. In Utah, they’ll weigh in on medical marijuana.
The entire West Coast of the United States has legalized the drug. The entire northern US border abuts a country (Canada) that has legalized marijuana for recreational use.
    Candidates and Democrats, in particular, are taking note and trying to use the issue to their advantage.
    New York Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday introduced his own bill to effectively decriminalize marijuana and regulate it at the federal level.
    There are other proposals to fully legalize the drug at the federal level, including one by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, an oft-mentioned potential 2020 presidential candidate.
    Other potential presidential candidates in the Senate, including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have signed on as co-sponsors to Booker’s effort.
    A Democratic strategist — Guy Cecil, who has worked for super PACs — said in May that Democrats see pot as a motivating issue for young voters:
    “I don’t think there’s any question that in the places we’ve seen legalization on the ballot, that it has increased interest in the election on the part of young voters in particular, that it has increased turnout in those states — that’s not the reason somebody should be for it! — but I certainly think it’s a winner just in terms of the pure politics of it.”
    In Virginia in 2017, Ralph Northam used a call for marijuana decriminalization in tandem with arguments about criminal justice reform. Northam’s efforts stalled in the state legislature. Other states’ efforts have contended with courts and hostile governors. Arkansas is inching toward implementing the medical marijuana initiative they approved in 2016.
    Support for legalized marijuana has been growing at a sustained clip for years.
    In 2000, 31% of Americans supported legalization, according to Gallup. By 2009, support had grown to 44% in their polling and in October of 2017 it was at 61%. Recent polls by Pew and Quinnipiac have similarly shown support to be over 60%. Polls have routinely shown more than 50% support since 2013.
    Support for medical marijuana is nearly ubiquitous. Quinnipiac found 94% support for medical marijuana in their most recent poll.
    Gallup drew a parallel between the growth in support for legalized marijuana and for same-sex marriage, both of which grew exponentially over the past two decades. The Supreme Court made marriage a right in 2015. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Supreme Court gives anyone a right to marijuana.
    The Justice Department, meanwhile, is moving in the opposite direction. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has thrown out the Obama-era guidance to not interfere with states experimenting with legalization, which may have had the inverse effect of galvanizing supporters.
    It was a Republican, Sen. Cory Gardner of trailblazing Colorado, that held up Justice Department nominees until the administration relented and President Donald Trump said he’d work with Congress to protect marijuana states.
    None of that suggests an imminent bipartisan effort to decriminalize the drug or even that the government is any closer to removing marijuana from the DEA’s list of Schedule 1 drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
    But boy does it feel like things are moving fast.
    This piece has been updated.

    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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    Mum wants to treat epileptic son at home

    Media playback is unsupported on your device
    Media captionCharlotte Caldwell said the medication ordeal had been ‘horrific and cruel’

    The mum of a boy with severe epilepsy who had cannabis oil medication confiscated wants to meet the home secretary to discuss reforming the law.

    Charlotte Caldwell’s son Billy, 12, uses the oil as his anti-seizure medication and she wants to be able to treat him with it at home.

    The Home Office has granted a limited licence for the drug to be administered to the child in hospital for 20 days.

    Billy is being treated at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

    Ms Caldwell says her son’s seizures dramatically reduce when he takes the oil, which contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is illegal in the UK.

    On Monday Heathrow airport officials confiscated Billy’s supply – which Ms Caldwell had tried to bring in from Canada – and he was admitted to hospital after his seizures “intensified”.

    Home Secretary Sajid Javid later approved the use of cannabis oil after doctors made clear it was a medical emergency. The situation is under review.

    Ms Caldwell, from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, wants to meet Mr Javid to discuss the matter and said: “I will not stand by and let any other family in our country endure this experience. It’s horrific and cruel.”

    Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, said the existing law was “frankly absurd”.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device
    Media captionTake a look inside the world’s largest legal cannabis farm in Canada

    Dr Amir Englund, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said an exemption should be made in Billy’s case “so that he does not come to further harm”.

    But UCL’s Dr Michael Bloomfield said the use of medical marijuana is “far from straightforward”. He said in some jurisdictions the drug’s use for medical conditions is “a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door”.

    The Home Office’s initial decision, and then its reversal, prompted calls for drug law reform from MPs on all sides.

    Image caption Billy was admitted to hospital in London on Friday

    Mr Blunt, a Conservative, said the existing law was based on an “outdated” claim that cannabis had no medicinal value.

    “We need to get serious now about getting the benefits of these medicines, and move to change the frankly absurd position we are in,” he said.

    Ex-Tory health minister Dan Poulter said the current situation was “ridiculous” and pledged to push for a change in the law.

    He said: “I genuinely don’t understand why we see… medicinal cannabis through the prism of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs legislation, when actually this is a medical issue, it’s not a prohibition of drugs issue, and that’s what’s got to change.”

    In 2017, Billy was prescribed the medication on the NHS but last month his GP was told he could no longer prescribe it.

    At the time the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said cannabis had not yet been licensed in the UK as a medicine.


    Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

    CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

    A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

    Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

    MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

    Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

    Source: NHS Choices


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    Mary JaneMum wants to treat epileptic son at home
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    Marijuana’s effects on young brains diminish 72 hours after use, research says

    (CNN)Marijuana is notorious for slowing certain cognitive functions such as learning, memory and attention span (maybe that’s why they call it “dope”?). But new research in young people suggests that these cognitive effects, while significant, may not persist for very long, even among chronic users.

    The meta-analysis, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, combines data from 69 previous studies that look at the effects of heavy cannabis use on cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults. It found that those young people who identified as heavy marijuana users scored significantly lower than non-users in a variety of cognitive domains such as learning, abstraction, speed of processing, delayed memory, inhibition and attention.
    “There have been a couple of meta-analyses done in adult samples, but this is the first one to be done specifically in adolescent and young adult samples,” said Cobb Scott, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a lead author of the study.
      “We looked at everything from learning and memory to different aspects of executive functioning such as abstraction ability,” Scott said. “And we basically showed that the largest effects — which was around a third of a standard deviation — was in the learning of new information and some aspects of executive functioning, memory and speed of processing.”
      But when the researchers separated the studies based on length of abstinence from marijuana use, the difference in cognitive functioning between marijuana users and non-users was no longer apparent after 72 hours of marijuana abstinence. That could be an indication “that some of the effects found in previous studies may be due to the residual effects of cannabis or potentially from withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users,” Scott said.
      The study comes as America continues to debate the merits of marijuana legalization. Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana use, with at least three additional states potentially deciding on the issue in the upcoming November election, according to Melissa Moore, New York deputy state director for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance.
      Studies on the long-term cognitive effects of marijuana use among adolescents and young adults have shown inconsistent results. A 2008 study reported that frequent or early-onset cannabis use among adolescents was associated with poorer cognitive performance in tasks requiring executive functioning, attention and episodic memory.
      A 2014 study also warned against the use of marijuana during adolescence, when certain parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning — such as the prefrontal cortex — are still developing.
      “There have been very important studies showing evidence for irreversible damage (from marijuana use), and so there needs to be more research in this area,” said Kevin Sabet, assistant adjunct professor at the Yale School of Medicine and president of the nonprofit Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was not involved in the new study.
      “I hope they’re right. We want there to be little effect after 72 hours. But given the other studies that have had very large sample sizes that have been published over the past five years in prominent journals, I think we need to look into that more,” added Sabet, whose group is focused on the harms of marijuana legalization.
      But a number of recent studies have also shown that the association between marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning disappears after controlling for factors such as psychiatric illness and substance use disorders, according to Scott.
      In an attempt to make sense of these discordant results, the new research combined data from 69 previous studies, resulting in a comparison of 2,152 frequent marijuana users with 6,575 non-users. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 50, with an average age of 21.
      The researchers found that, overall, the cognitive functioning of frequent marijuana users was reduced by one-third of a standard deviation compared with non-frequent marijuana users — a relatively small effect size, according to Scott.
      “It surprised, I think, all of us doing this analysis that the effects were not bigger than we found,” Scott said. “But I would say that the clinical significance of a quarter of a standard deviation is somewhat questionable.”
      But according to Sabet, even a relatively small effect size could be important, especially in a large meta-analysis such as this one.
      “The small effect size may be meaningful in a large population, and again, all (cognitive) measures are worse for those using marijuana,” Sabet said.
      “The study is pretty bad news for marijuana users,” he added. “Overall, I think this is consistent with the literature that marijuana use shows worse cognitive outcomes among users versus non-users.”
      In an effort to identify other potential factors that could have affected the relationship between marijuana use and cognition,the researchers also separated the studies based on the length of marijuana abstinence, age of first cannabis use, sociodemographic characteristics and clinical characteristics such as depression.
      Of these, only the length of marijuana abstinence was found to significantly affect the association between chronic marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning. Specifically, cognitive functioning appeared to return to normal after about 72 hours of marijuana abstinence — a threshold identified in previous studies, according to Scott.
      “The reason we chose the 72-hour mark is that in looking at the data on cannabis withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users, 72 hours seems to be past the peak of most withdrawal effects that occur,” he said.
      However, the 69 studies included in the review did not have a uniform definition for “chronic” or “frequent” marijuana use, one of the study’s main limitations, according to Sabet.
      “When you put all of these studies together that have different definitions of marijuana users and are from different times, it’s not surprising that you’d get a smaller effect size,” Sabet said.
      The studies also relied on a variety of tests to determine cognitive functioning, including the Trail Making Test, the Digital Span Memory Test and the California Verbal Learning test, according to Scott.
      “The other thing that’s important to highlight is that we’re only looking at cognitive functioning. We’re not looking at risks for other adverse outcomes with cannabis use, like risk for psychosis, risks for cannabis use problems or other medical issues like lung functioning outcomes,” Scott said.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      But the results still suggest that the negative cognitive effects of marijuana use, while significant in the short-term, probably diminish with time. They also shed light on the need for more research in this area, particularly as cannabis policy in the United States continues to change at a rapid pace.
      “As attitudes change about cannabis use and cannabis use becomes a little bit more accepted in terms of policy and government regulation and medical cannabis use increases, I think we need to have a real understanding of the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use,” Scott said.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

      Mary JaneMarijuana’s effects on young brains diminish 72 hours after use, research says
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      Canada becomes second country to legalise cannabis use

      Cannabis Act passes, with the legislation expected to take effect in a few months

      Canada is to become the second country in the world to fully legalise marijuana, after the senate approved legislation paving the way for recreational cannabis to be legally bought and sold within the next two or three months.

      Weve just witnessed a very historic vote that ends 90 years of prohibition, senator Tony Dean told reporters on Tuesday after the vote to pass the Cannabis Act.

      It ends 90 years of needless criminalisation, it ends a prohibition model that inhibited and discouraged public health and community health in favour of just-say-no approaches that simply failed young people miserably.

      The federal government has said it would give provinces and territories which are responsible for deciding how recreational cannabis will be distributed and sold eight to 12 weeks after the legislation is passed to get ready for sales, but the exact date that sales begin will be set by the federal government.

      Justin Trudeaus Liberal government introduced the legislation last year in a bid to make Canada the second country in the world to legalise cannabis, after Uruguay. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada.

      On Tuesday, the prime minister welcomed the legislation being passed. Its been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits, he wrote on Twitter. Today, we change that.

      Initially, the government planned to begin retail sales by 1 July, but the timeline was delayed as the senate debated the legislation. Canadas upper chamber voted 52 to 29 on Tuesday to make marijuana fully legal in the country.

      Some Conservative MPs and senators voiced their disappointment as the bill passed on Tuesday. Sad day for Canadas kids, senator Linda Frum wrote on Twitter.

      Conservative senator Leo Housakos said: When you normalise the use of marijuana and youre a young person and you had certain reservations because of the simple fact that it was illegal, theres, I believe, a propensity to have somebody be more inclined to use it.

      Once legalisation goes into effect, Canadians will be able grow up to four plants in their own home and carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis for personal use. Those caught with more than this amount, or who supply marijuana to minors will face penalties.

      Sales of cannabis which analysts estimate could eventually be worth somewhere between C$5bn and C$7bn annually will vary widely across the country. In Alberta, recreational cannabis will be available at more than 200 private retailers while in New Brunswick, the provincial government will operate a chain of stores called Cannabis NB.

      The minimum age of consumption will fluctuate between 18 or 19 years depending on the province.

      On Tuesday, supporters of the legislation stressed the cautious, prudent approach to the landmark change. What the governments approach has been is, yes, legalisation but also strict control, said Peter Harder, the governments representative in the Senate. That does not in any way suggest that its now party time.

      The historic vote comes with its own set of challenges for the government; it has promised it will now explore the idea of clearing the criminal records of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians with past convictions for simple possession and will have to address the concerns of some Indigenous leaders who said they werent adequately consulted on the legislation.

      Canadas softer approach to cannabis could also exacerbate the countrys already turbulent relationship with Donald Trumps administration. While nine US states and the District of Columbia have legalised recreational marijuana, the White House has previously suggested that the Department of Justice will do more to enforce federal laws prohibiting recreational marijuana, raising concerns over how Canadas approach will coexist with a potential US crackdown.

      Nearly 400,000 people a day cross the border between Canada and the US. Since 2016, Canada has been pushing the US to change a policy that bans Canadians who admit to having used marijuana from travelling to the United States.

      Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

      Mary JaneCanada becomes second country to legalise cannabis use
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      Medical cannabis ban ‘bizarre and cruel’

      Media playback is unsupported on your device
      Media captionCharlotte Caldwell said the medication ordeal had been ‘horrific and cruel’

      A senior MP leading an all-party group looking at medical cannabis has called the existing laws “bizarre and cruel”.

      Sir Mike Penning MP has called for “fundamental reform” of the system.

      “Medical cannabis is a health issue, not a misuse of drugs issue,” Sir Mike said in a statement. “It’s about patients and relieving suffering.”

      It follows the home secretary’s decision to grant 12-year-old Billy Caldwell temporary access to cannabis oil medication to treat his epilepsy.

      Mr Penning, who is the proposed chairman of the new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Cannabis Under Prescription, said: “It’s bizarre and cruel that we have a system that allows the medical use of strong opiates, but bars the medical use of cannabis.

      “The current structures within government on this issue are not fit for purpose. We need to move this from criminal justice to health.”

      He said he supported reclassifying cannabis under the law so it would be regarded as having a medicinal use.

      Last Monday officials at Heathrow airport confiscated Billy’s cannabis oil, which his mother Charlotte uses to treat his severe epileptic seizures.

      She had been attempting to bring a supply into the UK from Canada.

      Ms Caldwell says her son’s seizures dramatically reduce when he takes the oil, which contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is illegal in the UK.

      Following the confiscation, Billy was admitted to hospital in London after his seizures “intensified”.

      His condition led to Home Secretary Sajid Javid later approving the return of some of the cannabis oil, after doctors made clear it was a medical emergency.

      Image caption Billy was admitted to Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London on Friday

      The Home Office has granted a limited licence for the drug to be administered to the child in hospital for 20 days.

      Billy’s case has prompted a renewed debate on the legislation surrounding medical cannabis.

      Sir Mike said many more families needed “urgent” access to medical cannabis, adding that the medical use of cannabis was “totally separate from recreational use”.


      Does cannabis have medicinal benefits?

      CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.

      A cannabis-based drug called Sativex has been licensed in the UK to treat MS. It contains THC and CBD.

      Doctors could, in theory, prescribe it for other things outside of this licence, but at their own risk.

      MS patients prescribed Sativex, who resupply it to other people, also face prosecution.

      Another licensed treatment is Nabilone. It contains an artificial version of THC and can be given to cancer patients to help relieve nausea during chemotherapy.

      Source: NHS Choices


      Sir Mike is one of a growing number of MPs from all parties who support the reform of the laws regarding the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis products.

      Fellow Conservative Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, said the existing law was “frankly absurd”.

      Ex-Tory health minister Dan Poulter said the current situation was “ridiculous” and pledged to push for a change in the law.

      Former drugs minister Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat, has described the confiscation as “cruel and inhumane”, and renewed calls for a law change citing cannabis’s “useful medical properties”.

      But UCL’s Dr Michael Bloomfield said the use of medical marijuana is “far from straightforward”. He said in some jurisdictions the drug’s use for medical conditions is “a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door”.

      Many other countries, including much of the US, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, have legalised the substance’s use medicinally.

      Media playback is unsupported on your device
      Media captionTake a look inside the world’s largest legal cannabis farm in Canada

      Related Topics

      Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

      Mary JaneMedical cannabis ban ‘bizarre and cruel’
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