All posts tagged: Health

Medical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions’ guidance

(CNN)January 19 is when more than 1.2 million patients legally using medical marijuana will be watching Congress with great concern.

That’s when the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment will expire. The amendment essentially stops the Justice Department from spending any federal dollars on prosecuting cannabis-related activities if those activities are allowed under state medical marijuana laws.
The amendment was extended in the spending bill in December, but unless Congress slips it into another federal spending bill and can pass it before the law expires, the legislative action that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions took Thursday may have a real impact on people who sell or buy medical marijuana.
    Sessions rescinded three memos that relate to federal law enforcement of marijuana laws, the last of which, popularly known as the Cole memo, was 2013 guidance that essentially told the government to back off federal prosecutions of people operating within state marijuana laws.
    In the majority of states — 29 — medical marijuana is legal to varying degrees, and eight states allow recreational sales.
    Raids of medical marijuana establishments continued after the memos went out, but the amendment put an end to those raidsand to other federal efforts to shut down licensed medical dispensaries.
    In rescinding the three memos Thursday, Sessions advised prosecutors to “follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions.” He viewed “previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement (as) unnecessary.”
    Sessions’ memo didn’t specifically mention prosecuting anyone involved with medical marijuana, but if the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment expires, nothing will stop them, experts said. And Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders in May arguing against the continued restriction of Justice Department funds for prosecutions, suggesting that such a policy was “unwise,” “particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic.” That letter concluded that marijuana “has significant negative health effects.”
    Congress has maintained that marijuana is a dangerous drug. The DEA has kept it as a Schedule I controlled substance, putting it in the same category as LSD and heroin, with “no current acceptable medical use.” Medical marijuana and CBD oil, which comes from hemp but on the molecular level is the same as CBD from marijuana, are both in this category.
    “I knew the risk. I knew we were breaking the federal law when I started giving it to my daughter Charlotte, but the risk was worth it because it was a matter of life or death,” said Paige Figi of Colorado, whose daughter has a rare form of epilepsy that gives her hundreds of seizures a week that at one point kept her from being able to walk, talk or eat. Charlotte started using CBD oil when she was 5, and it transformed her life.
    “She’s 11 now, and she’s doing great and running around,” Figi said. “This is usually fatal, and she is doing awesome, and for years and years, this is all she has had to take.”
    Figi said she wasn’t surprised by the Sessions move — “nothing surprises me anymore” — but she hopes it may motivate Congress to enact legislation that would at least deschedule CBD, meaning people could use it without breaking federal law. A billto that affectis under consideration in the Senate.
    Though the scientific research on marijuana is still considered limited, users say it helps with chronic pain and sleep problems, among other health benefits. Some studies have shown that it helps with post-traumatic stress disorder.
    Research by Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, has showed some negative consequences of the drug. Long-term use can negatively impact memory and brain development, particularly in younger users. But he too wants more decriminalization, not less.
    Breiter, who describes himself as conservative, said he would like to remind Sessions that “there is much more consistency in the scientific literature of findings about the detrimental effects of alcohol, which is legal within a strong regulatory framework.” He thinks there needs to be more research on the topic and a more logical legal framework applied to the drug.
    Some states are pushing back against Sessions’ latest guidance, including Colorado and Washington, where medical and recreational marijuana are allowed. Both have said they will continue to defend their laws in court.
    In Michigan, which only began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses in December, it’s business as usual despite the Sessions memo. Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said it will “continue to move forward in accepting and processing applications for state operating licenses,” according to a statement from David Harns, the department’s public information officer.

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    Medical marijuana dispensaries have been calling Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit working to ensure safe and legal access to marijuana for therapeutic uses and research,for help in figuring out what their next steps will be.
    Steph Sherer, the organization’s executive director, said she had nearly deleted the program it offered to guide dispensaries about raids as the Obama administration relaxed its rules. Now, she’s glad she didn’t, and she said dispensaries should be prepared for anything.
    “I’m very nervous,” she said. The Drug Enforcement Administration “is run out of Washington, and while they are supposed to serve states’ attorneys general, the DEA doesn’t need their permission to do anything in those districts.”
    Polls have shown that the greater majority of Americans do favor medical marijuana. “If we can stay focused, maybe the silver lining is, Congress remembers how important this amendment is and that we need Congress to come up with a permanent solution,” Sherer said.

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    Mary JaneMedical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions’ guidance
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    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

    Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

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

    Mary JaneIs marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know
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    More pregnant women are using pot, study finds

    (CNN)More pregnant women seem to be using pot — sometimes to ease the nausea of morning sickness or heightened anxiety — and a new study suggests that this slight rise in marijuana use is most pronounced among those younger in age.

    The prevalence of marijuana use among a sample of moms-to-be in California climbed from 4.2% to 7.1% from 2009 through 2016, according to a research letter published in the journal JAMA on Tuesday.
    Among pregnant teens younger than 18, marijuana use climbed from 12.5% to 21.8%, and among women 18 to 24, marijuana use climbed from 9.8% to 19%, the researchers found.
      That research involved only certain women in California, but a separate study of pregnant women across the United States, published in JAMA in January, found that those who reported using marijuana in the previous month grew from 2.37% in 2002 to 3.85% in 2014. The women were 18 to 44.

        This is your body on weed

      Doctors caution that the health effects of marijuana on a fetus remain unclear but could include low birth weight and developmental problems, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the chemicals in marijuana, like tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, could pass through a mother’s system to her baby.
      The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that “women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use” and “to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy.”
      Additionally, “there are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged,” according to the recommendations.

      Why more pregnant women are using weed

      The new research involved 279,457 mothers-to-be, 12 and older, who were in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system. The study participants completed questionnaires about their marijuana use and took a cannabis toxicology test during their standard prenatal care visits from 2009 through 2016.
      The women were screened for marijuana use at approximately eight weeks’ gestation.
      The researchers found that the prevalence of marijuana use, based on self-reports or toxicology results, soared among all age groups, but the biggest rise was among those 24 and younger.
      “We were concerned to find that the prevalence of marijuana use in pregnancy is increasing more quickly among younger females, aged 24 and younger, and to see the high prevalence of use in this age group,” the study’s lead author, Kelly Young-Wolff, licensed clinical psychologist and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, wrote in an email.
      For other age groups, the researchers found that marijuana use rose from 3.4% to 5.1% among women 25 to 34 and from 2.1% to 3.3% among women older than 34.

        Getting clean while pregnant

      Pregnancy in adolescents has been linked to increases in behaviors such as drinking and marijuana use, and pot use could have a disproportionate effect on the increase seen among teens in the study because the adolescent participant group had fewer members than the adult groups.
      For instance, moms-to-be younger than 18 years were only 1.4% of the overall sample in the study, but 18 to 24 were 15.8%, 25 to 34 were 61.6%, and older than 34 were 21.2%.
      Additionally, “we were unable to distinguish prenatal use before versus after women realized they were pregnant,” Young-Wolff wrote.
      “Marijuana is detectable in urine approximately 30 days after last use and this varies with heaviness of use and marijuana potency,” she said. “it is possible, but unlikely, that some toxicology tests identified prepregnancy use.”
      The findings also were limited to data on pregnant women within one health care system in a limited geographic area of California.
      All in all, “the paper is not surprising, and the findings of a rise in marijuana use during pregnancy is consistent with recent attention to marijuana and legalization in various states,” said Dr. Haywood Brown, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new study.
      An advantage of the study, he added, was that women not only self-reported marijuana use but also were screened for marijuana — and he thinks the study findings are age-related, as the largest increase in marijuana use was among adolescents and young adults.
      As the study showed the highest increase in marijuana use among women 24 and younger, that age group might hold clues as to why there has been an overall increase, said Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, professor and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.
      “Think about marijuana use from their perspective, especially in Northern California. California legalized medical marijuana use in 1996, so they have grown up with the idea of it not only not being illegal but being a medical therapy,” said Horsager-Boehrer, who was not involved in the study.
      “With the proximity to Oregon and Washington, they also have experience with any use being legal,” she said. “So I think the idea that use is rising is just because of the greater legal exposure to marijuana that women have today versus 20 years ago.”
      Young-Wolff noted in her email that the study itself did not investigate reasons for the rise in marijuana use among pregnant women.

      Doctors warn against drinking, too

      Along with advising against marijuana use, doctors have long advised pregnant women to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
      As it turns out, the research remains unclear as to just how little a pregnant woman could drink without harming her child.
      But doctors in the US warn that drinking any alcohol while pregnant could come with medical risks, such as the possibility of miscarriage, stillbirth, or physical and behavioral problems in the baby.
      Guidelines in the United Kingdom also note that if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, the safest approach would be not to drink alcohol at all.

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      “I have found that women frequently fall into two groups during pregnancy. There are those who want to reduce risks of bad things happening to as close to zero as possible and improve outcomes any way they can. These women start folic acid, lose weight and reduce medication exposure of any kind before becoming pregnant. They absolutely don’t smoke, drink or use any drugs during pregnancy,” said Horsager-Boehrer, who is an editor of the Your Pregnancy Matters blog.
      “Then there’s the other group who take a more pragmatic view of pregnancy. They know there are potential risks involved with many decisions they make involving medication exposure, alcohol use and smoking, but they decide those risks are acceptable, especially if the risks are not well-defined or conclusive,” she said.
      “For individual patients, I think they need to ask themselves what their goals are for the pregnancy and how they are going to achieve them — essentially make a decision on which camp they are going to be in,” she said.

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

      Mary JaneMore pregnant women are using pot, study finds
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      Overall teen drug use stable, but marijuana edging up, survey finds

      (CNN)Teen drinking, smoking and drug use overall are stable, but the percentage of teens using marijuana is increasing, according to a new report from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

      This year’s edition of the Monitoring the Future report, an annual survey of drug and alcohol use and attitudes among Americaneighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders, found that the percentage of students who had used pot in the previous year increased to 24%, up 1.3% from 2016.
      Nearly 40% of all 12th-graders surveyed had used some sort of illicit drug in the past year, while 55.7% of them had used alcohol. Nearly 28% of 10th-graders had used an illicit drug, and 37.7% of them had alcohol in the past year. For eighth-graders, the percentage who had used illicit drugs in the previous year was just 12.9%, while 18.2% had had a drink.
        The study, which is in its 43rd year, assesses about 45,000 students from 380 public and private secondary schools across the country.

        Fewer teens see pot as dangerous

        The increase in marijuana use was enough to boost the percentage of teens who used illicit drugs overall. This is the first time in seven years that there has been a statistically significant increase in marijuana use, said Richard Miech, lead author of the studyand a research professor who studies drug use trends at the University of Michigan.
        However, rates for both marijuana and illicit drug use overall are still lower than their peak in 1997, when 42.7% of 12th-graders had used any illicit drug and 38.5% had used marijuana in the previous year. In fact, overall drug use has generally been trending downward for all three grades since 2013.
        Miech said the increases in marijuana use aren’t surprising.
        “Typically, as adolescents see less risk of marijuana use, the prevalence (of use) increases,” he said. “And today, levels of perceived risk from marijuana use are at the lowest levels we’ve ever seen in decades. “
        Last year’s survey found that 68.5% of 12th-graders disapproved of regular marijuana use. This year, that percentage dropped to 64.7%. Miech and his colleagues also found that high school seniors from states with medical marijuana laws were more likely to have vaped marijuana and consumed marijuana edibles than those in states that had more restrictive laws.
        Eight states and the District of Columbia have loosened laws on recreational marijuana use, according to NORML, a nonprofit geared toward marijuana law reform.
        The perception that marijuana is not dangerous has been driven in part by society, said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health. Volkow’s group funded the study.”Certainly, that leads to the idea that the marijuana can not be so harmful.”
        In fact, more high school seniors now use marijuana on a daily basis than smoke cigarettes. When asked how frequently they had used in the past month, just 4.2% of 12th-graders said they smoked cigarettes every day, but 5.9% said they used marijuana.
        Both Miech and Volkow said increased marijuana use was somethingto be on the lookout for. “My fear is that we may be seeing the start of a long-term increase in marijuana use among youth,” Miech said.

        Vaping trends

        The survey also noted that while cigarette use continued to decline, nearly one in three 12th-graders had vaped over the past year. Vaping involves using an electronic cigarette, hookah or similar device and inhaling the vapors or aerosols. When asked what they had inhaled, over half of the seniors surveyed (51.8%) said they had used only flavored vaping liquids.
        What was even more striking was that 11.1% of high school seniors said they had vaped with marijuana or hash oil, and nearly a third had vaped with nicotine.
        “We are especially concerned, because the survey shows that some of the teens using these devices are first-time nicotine users,” Volkow said.
        Miech agreed: “There is considerable concern that vaping can led to use of cigarettes.” He pointed to a recent analysis published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics of nine studies that found that even when controlling for factors like impulse and perceived risk of smoking, teens who vaped were more likely to experiment with cigarettes in the future.

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        The rate of students vaping overall remained relatively the same as in 2016. However, 2017 was the first year the survey asked detailed questions about what substances students vaped.
        Though much of the larger national conversation about drugs has focused on opioid overdoses, teen use of heroin and prescription narcotics like oxycodone remains low, the survey found.

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

        Mary JaneOverall teen drug use stable, but marijuana edging up, survey finds
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        Heavy marijuana use linked to rare vomiting illness

        For 17 years, Chalfonte LeNee Queen suffered periodic episodes of violent retching and abdominal pain that would knock her off her feet for days, sometimes leaving her writhing on the floor in pain.

        “I’ve screamed out for death,” said Queen, 48, who lives in San Diego. “I’ve cried out for my mom who’s been dead for 20 years, mentally not realizing she can’t come to me.”
        Queen lost a modeling job after being mistaken for an alcoholic. She racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and her nausea interrupted her sex life. Toward the end of her illness, Queen, who stands 5-foot-9, weighed in at a frail 109 pounds.
          Throughout the nearly two decades of pain, vomiting and mental fog, she visited the hospital about three times a year, but doctors never got to the bottom of what was ailing her. By 2016, she thought she was dying, that she “must have some sort of cancer or something they can’t detect,” Queen said.
          But she didn’t have cancer. She had an obscure syndrome called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition only recently acknowledged by the medical community. It affects a small population — namely, a subset of marijuana users who smoke multiple times a day for months, years or even decades.
          There’s no hard data on the prevalence of the illness. But in California and Colorado, which have loosened marijuana laws in recent years, emergency physicians say they’re seeing it more often. One study in Colorado suggests there may be a link.
          Dr. Aimee Moulin, an emergency room physician at UC-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, said she has seen a rise in the number of cases since California voters legalized recreational marijuana last November. She expects to see another increase after commercial sales are permitted starting in January.
          Doctors say it’s difficult to treat the condition. There is no cure other than to quit using marijuana, and many patients are skeptical that cannabis is making them sick, so they keep using it and their vomiting episodes continue.
          Doctors can do little to relieve the symptoms, since traditional anti-nausea medications often don’t work and there are no pills to prevent the onset of an episode. Patients may need intravenous hydration and hospital stays until the symptoms subside.
          “That’s really frustrating as an emergency physician,” said Moulin. “I really like to make people feel better.”
          Diagnosing the syndrome can also be frustrating — and expensive. There is no blood test to link the stomach ailment with marijuana use, so physicians often order pricey CT scans and lab tests to rule out other medical problems.
          Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome was first documented in Australia in 2004. Physicians have historically misdiagnosed it as the more generic cyclic vomiting syndrome, which has no identifiable cause or, as in Queen’s case, acute intermittent porphyria (AIP).
          “Five years ago, this wasn’t something that [doctors] had on their radar,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency physician at the University of Colorado in Aurora, who co-authored the Colorado study showing a possible tie between the liberalization of marijuana and a surge of the vomiting illness. “We’re at least making the diagnosis more now.”
          One surefire sign of the illness is when patients find relief in hot showers and baths. Queen said she would vomit repeatedly unless she was in a hot shower — so she’d stay in there for hours. Toxicologists say the heat may distract the brain from pain receptors in the abdomen but, like the syndrome itself, that phenomenon is not well understood.
          The exact cause of the condition is still a mystery. Toxicologists say the chemical compounds in marijuana may throw off the normal function of the body’s cannabinoid receptors, which help regulate the nervous system.
          Some people may be genetically predisposed to the syndrome, or marijuana’s potency or chemical makeup may have changed over time, said Dr. Craig Smollin, medical director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System, who also works as an emergency physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
          The vomiting link to cannabis is counterintuitive to many, because of its widely known reputation as an anti-nausea remedy for cancer patients.
          “A lot of times, people just don’t believe you,” said Dr. John Coburn, an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente in south Sacramento. Even after being told that quitting may help, some patients will visit the hospital multiple times before they stop smoking marijuana, Coburn said. “I can’t really tell you why. I mean, why do people ride motorcycles without helmets on?”
          Cameron Nicole Beard, 19, of East Moline, Ill., said she struggled to believe her doctors about the link between pot and severe vomiting.
          “Who wants to be told you can’t smoke marijuana, when you think marijuana can help?” said Beard, while recovering from a marijuana-related vomiting episode at a University of Iowa hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, last month. She said she had lost 20 pounds in 10 days.
          Although there’s still no magic cure for a patient’s marijuana-related hyperemesis, Moulin and other doctors say they’re getting better at treating the symptoms, using old anti-psychotic medications and cream for muscle aches.
          Dr. Heard said the cases in Colorado seem to have leveled off. But without hard data, and because the overall numbers are small, it’s hard to say for sure. Heard said he doesn’t believe cases of the pot syndrome increased after recreational use was legalized in 2012, because chronic users probably already had medical marijuana cards.

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          Chalfonte LeNee Queen is still struggling to completely quit marijuana, but her symptoms are down to a dull stomachache. She now smokes a couple of times a day, compared with her near-constant use in the past. She said it’s the only thing that works for her depression and anxiety.
          Queen is back to a healthy weight and hasn’t been to the hospital in a year. She said she wouldn’t want to discourage anybody from smoking weed; she just wants people to know heavy use can bring them some serious misery.
          “Now, if I get sick, as sad as I’ll be and as upset and disappointed with myself as I would be, at least it’s a freaking choice,” she said.

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

          Mary JaneHeavy marijuana use linked to rare vomiting illness
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          Why No Gadget Can Prove How Stoned You Are

          If you’ve spent time with marijuana—any time at all, really—you know that the high can be rather unpredictable. It depends on the strain, its level of THC and hundreds of other compounds, and the interaction between all these elements. Oh, and how much you ate that day. And how you took the cannabis. And the position of the North Star at the moment of ingestion.

          OK, maybe not that last one. But as medical and recreational marijuana use spreads across the United States, how on Earth can law enforcement tell if someone they’ve pulled over is too high to be driving, given all these factors? Marijuana is such a confounding drug that scientists and law enforcement are struggling to create an objective standard for marijuana intoxication. (Also, I’ll say this early and only once: For the love of Pete, do not under any circumstances drive stoned.)

          Sure, the cops can take you back to the station and draw a blood sample and determine exactly how much THC is in your system. “It's not a problem of accurately measuring it,” says Marilyn Huestis, coauthor of a new review paper in Trends in Molecular Medicine about cannabis intoxication. “We can accurately measure cannabinoids in blood and urine and sweat and oral fluid. It's interpretation that is the more difficult problem.”

          You see, different people handle marijuana differently. It depends on your genetics, for one. And how often you consume cannabis, because if you take it enough, you can develop a tolerance to it. A dose of cannabis that may knock amateurs on their butts could have zero effect on seasoned users—patients who use marijuana consistently to treat pain, for instance.

          The issue is that THC—what’s thought to be the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana—interacts with the human body in a fundamentally different way than alcohol. “Alcohol is a water-loving, hydrophilic compound,” says Huestis. “Whereas THC is a very fat-loving compound. It's a hydrophobic compound. It goes and stays in the tissues.” The molecule can linger for up to a month, while alcohol clears out right quick.

          But while THC may hang around in tissues, it starts diminishing in the blood quickly—really quickly. “It's 74 percent in the first 30 minutes, and 90 percent by 1.4 hours,” says Huestis. “And the reason that's important is because in the US, the average time to get blood drawn [after arrest] is between 1.4 and 4 hours.” By the time you get to the station to get your blood taken, there may not be much THC left to find. (THC tends to linger longer in the brain because it’s fatty in there. That’s why the effects of marijuana can last longer than THC is detectable in breath or blood.)

          So law enforcement can measure THC, sure enough, but not always immediately. And they’re fully aware that marijuana intoxication is an entirely different beast than drunk driving. “How a drug affects someone might depend on the person, how they used the drug, the type of drug (e.g., for cannabis, you can have varying levels of THC between different products), and how often they use the drug,” California Highway Patrol spokesperson Mike Martis writes in an email to WIRED.

          Accordingly, in California, where recreational marijuana just became legal, the CHP relies on other observable measurements of intoxication. If an officer does field sobriety tests like the classic walk-and-turn maneuver, and suspects someone may be under the influence of drugs, they can request a specialist called a drug recognition evaluator. The DRE administers additional field sobriety tests—analyzing the suspect’s eyes and blood pressure to try to figure out what drug may be in play.

          The CHP says it’s also evaluating the use of oral fluid screening gadgets to assist in these drug investigations. (Which devices exactly, the CHP declines to say.) “However, we want to ensure any technology we use is reliable and accurate before using it out in the field and as evidence in a criminal proceeding,” says Martis.

          Another option would be to test a suspect’s breath with a breathalyzer for THC, which startups like Hound Labs are chasing. While THC sticks around in tissues, it’s no longer present in your breath after about two or three hours. So if a breathalyzer picks up THC, that would suggest the stuff isn’t lingering from a joint smoked last night, but one smoked before the driver got in a car.

          This could be an objective measurement of the presence of THC, but not much more. “We are not measuring impairment, and I want to be really clear about that,” says Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs. “Our breathalyzer is going to provide objective data that potentially confirms what the officer already thinks.” That is, if the driver was doing 25 in a 40 zone and they blow positive for THC, evidence points to them being stoned.

          But you might argue that even using THC to confirm inebriation goes too far. The root of the problem isn’t really about measuring THC, it’s about understanding the galaxy of active compounds in cannabis and their effects on the human body. “If you want to gauge intoxication, pull the driver out and have him drive a simulator on an iPad,” says Kevin McKernan, chief scientific officer at Medicinal Genomics, which does genetic testing of cannabis. “That'll tell ya. The chemistry is too fraught with problems in terms of people's individual genetics and their tolerance levels.”

          Scientists are just beginning to understand the dozens of other compounds in cannabis. CBD, for instance, may dampen the psychoactive effects of THC. So what happens if you get dragged into court after testing positive for THC, but the marijuana you consumed was also a high-CBD strain?

          “It significantly compounds your argument in court with that one,” says Jeff Raber, CEO of the Werc Shop, a cannabis lab. “I saw this much THC, you're intoxicated. Really, well I also had twice as much CBD, doesn't that cancel it out? I don't know, when did you take that CBD? Did you take it afterwards, did you take it before?

          “If you go through all this effort and spend all the time and money and drag people through court and spend taxpayer dollars, we shouldn't be in there with tons of question marks,” Raber says.

          But maybe one day marijuana roadside testing won’t really matter. “I really think we're probably going to see automated cars before we're going to see this problem solved in a scientific sense,” says Raber. Don’t hold your breath, then, for a magical device that tells you you’re stoned.

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

          Mary JaneWhy No Gadget Can Prove How Stoned You Are
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          Only one-third of marijuana extracts accurately labeled, researchers say

          (CNN)Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. But the law is not quite as black and white regarding marijuana extracts such as cannabidiol. CBD is one of the active ingredients in cannabis, increasingly thought to offer wide-ranging health benefits, with few side effects and little risk of addiction or abuse.

          “More and more evidence is coming out that CBD can be helpful for a variety of conditions, from anxiety to inflammation to seizures and epilepsy,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.
          No surprise, dozens of companies are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon, peddling these products to consumers who have high hopes that they will help treat myriad ailments, from chronic pain to PTSD.
            Even though medical marijuana is legal in more than half of US states, it remains illegal under federal law. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate derivatives of the plant, including CBD extracts.
            Bonn-Miller believed that a “systematic evaluation” of the products on the market was needed so consumers would know exactly what they were buying. Today, “It’s the Wild West,” he said.
            For a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Bonn-Miller and his team bought 84 commercially available CBD products on the internet and had them chemically analyzed by an independent lab.
            The researchers found that only 31% of the products tested contained the precise amount of CBD advertised on the label (within the acceptable margin of error), while 26% contained less CBD than the label indicated and 43% contained more.
            Accuracy of labeling, it turned out, was also associated with product type. About half of the CBD extract oils were labeled inaccurately. Nearly 90% of the vaporization liquids were labeled inaccurately. Tinctures (alcoholic extracts) were roughly equally likely to be over-, under- or accurately labeled.

              The quick hit history of medical marijuana

            “Was I shocked? No,” Bonn-Miller said. “Was I disappointed? Yeah. It just got me thinking, we need oversight of this industry. … (It’s) one thing on the recreational side, but here we’re talking about something that people are using almost exclusively medicinally. You don’t get high off of CBD.”
            That’s what made another finding from the study stand out: “Concentration of unlabeled cannabinoids was generally low; however, THC was detected in 18 of the 84 samples tested,” according to the paper.
            THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, has its own medical applications but, unlike CBD, is psychoactive and can cause a “high.”
            Unknowingly ingesting THC, Bonn-Miller said, could result in side effects such as trouble sleeping and cognitive impairment. It could also have unintended consequences, such as positive drug tests.
            “As things stand now, the supplement industry overall is not regulated,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. “You don’t always know what you’re getting, how much you’re getting or even if the active ingredients are in there at all. With medical marijuana, it is almost the opposite situation at the federal level. It is highly regulated.”
            Bonn-Miller said increased regulation is exactly the kind of change he hopes his study will initiate.
            “If the FDA regulated this industry, we would be way better off,” he said. “They’re good at regulating things. When you go and buy a prescription at a pharmacy, you know what you’re getting. … (It’s the) same thing for food. When you get a pack of Doritos or a Hershey bar, you know what it is.”
            Perhaps in a sign of what’s to come, last week the FDA issued warning letters to four companies that the agency said are “illegally selling products (derived from marijuana) online that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes.”

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            Until these products are officially regulated, it’s buyer beware.
            Before purchasing any pot pills, potions or lotions, first check the laws where you live. Then, make sure you’re ordering from a reputable dealer. Don’t be fooled by bogus offers or sham celebrity endorsements.
            Unless you’re fully confident in the ingredients of the product, Bonn-Miller suggests following the adage “start low, go slow” — referring to dosage. Of course, your best bet is to always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medications or supplements, including CBD.

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

            Mary JaneOnly one-third of marijuana extracts accurately labeled, researchers say
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            Groundbreaking medical marijuana case lets little girl go back to school

            (CNN)A little girl was back in a school she loves in Schaumburg, Illinois, last week, but only after a federal judge said it was OK for her to bring her prescription medication with her.

            Eleven-year-old Ashley Surin was not allowed to attend class because she wears a medical marijuana patch and uses cannabis oil and lotion to manage seizures. The medical marijuana and a special diet have worked wonders for her health, according to her parents.
            “The two together are a golden cure for her,” her mother, Maureen Surin, said through tears after an emergency hearing in Chicago earlier this month. “She can think better, walk better, talk better. Her brain used to be like in a cloud. Now she can think better and is more alert and she can interact.”
              Ashley was a toddler in December 2008, when she was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her doctors gave the little girl several rounds of chemotherapy and spinal injections to fight the cancer. The treatment sent her cancer into remission, but one of the spinal injections triggered seizures. She’s been plagued by debilitating seizures since the age of 2, and remained on a number of medications with several serious side effects. The prescriptions helped, but they weren’t a cure.
              Her father said her health deteriorated and Ashley was not herself. The medicine left her with extreme mood swings, memory loss and limited energy — and she still had seizures.
              One full body seizure at a grocery store last year sent her to the hospital. She hit her head on the cement floor with such force doctors had to drain the blood from her brain. “It was the most helpless feeling in the world to see her go down and not be able to help,” Jim Surin said. Recovery was slow.
              When doctors wanted to try a fourth drug last August, Jim Surin said, “We drew a line in the sand.” Instead, they found a doctor who suggested a change in diet and cannabis would be a better alternative. The Surins got their medical marijuana license in December.
              To the Surins, the patch and the oil seemed simple and straight forward. Ashley gets what looks like a small bandage on her foot twice a day. They rub lotion on her wrist from a tube that looks like lip balm, her dad said. If she does have a seizure, she gets a small drop of oil on her tongue.
              It’s the cannabidiol in the cannabis that keeps seizures at bay, nottetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC–the marijuana drug that gets people high. But the law in Illinois, at least when it comes to schools, doesn’t allow even the prescription version at school.
              Unlike with a diabetic child who needs help from an adult at school to administer insulin, a nurse or teacher could lose his or her license if they helped Ashley with her prescription. And if Ashley wore her patch to school, she or her parents could technically face criminal prosecution. Marijuana of any kind, including medical, is not allowed on school grounds, school buses or at school-related events.
              While sympathetic, and a criminal prosecution would be unlikely, the district said it felt it had to follow the law the way it was written. That meant Ashley’s parents would have had to keep her out of class or take the school to court. In the mean time, she had to stay out of school, missing a couple of weeks of class.
              The parents sued Schaumburg School District 54 early this year. “This is a case of great importance,” said the Surins’ lawyer, Steven Glink. Both the parents’ lawyer and the school district’s were determined to do whatever they could to help Ashley, according to the district’s lawyer.
              “We, unfortunately, in some cases, have to abide by state and federal law that contradicts what the school’s job is for students and what our obligations are to serve medically fragile and ill students,” said Darcy Kriha, the district’s attorney. The morning before the hearing, Kriha said she got a call from the district superintendent and the school board president who told her the mission was to do whatever she could to make sure Ashley could come back to school. Kriha said she applauded the Surins “courage” for bringing the lawsuit against the district.
              The Illinois attorney general agreed not to prosecute and said there should be no negative legal ramifications for staff who help Ashley with the medicine. The federal judge issued an emergency order to allow Ashley to go back to school.
              “They’ve changed Ashley’s life today and they may’ve also changed the lives for other children for the better,” Kriha said. It’s believed this is the first case of its kind and could potentially impact other schools and the way in which they deal with children who have prescriptions for medical marijuana.
              The emergency ruling technically only applies to the Surins’ case. It does not yet provide legal cover for other children in Illinois in her circumstances. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to determine where the case will go in the future. Colorado, Maine, New Jersey and Washington state allow students to use medical marijuana at school.

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              And on Tuesday last week, Ashley did return to school. Her father said it felt a little “surreal.”
              “There were about a dozen people there to welcome her, everyone from her aids and teachers to the principal and assistant superintendent. They were amazing and super supportive,” Surin said.
              The ruling and the warm reception have left the Surin family even more determined to create change.
              “I hope that we can help the state change the law to not only let our daughter get the medicine she needs, but that other students will be helped as well,” Jim Surin said.

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

              Mary JaneGroundbreaking medical marijuana case lets little girl go back to school
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              Medical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions’ guidance

              (CNN)January 19 is when more than 1.2 million patients legally using medical marijuana will be watching Congress with great concern.

              That’s when the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment will expire. The amendment essentially stops the Justice Department from spending any federal dollars on prosecuting cannabis-related activities if those activities are allowed under state medical marijuana laws.
              The amendment was extended in the spending bill in December, but unless Congress slips it into another federal spending bill and can pass it before the law expires, the legislative action that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions took Thursday may have a real impact on people who sell or buy medical marijuana.
                Sessions rescinded three memos that relate to federal law enforcement of marijuana laws, the last of which, popularly known as the Cole memo, was 2013 guidance that essentially told the government to back off federal prosecutions of people operating within state marijuana laws.
                In the majority of states — 29 — medical marijuana is legal to varying degrees, and eight states allow recreational sales.
                Raids of medical marijuana establishments continued after the memos went out, but the amendment put an end to those raidsand to other federal efforts to shut down licensed medical dispensaries.
                In rescinding the three memos Thursday, Sessions advised prosecutors to “follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions.” He viewed “previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement (as) unnecessary.”
                Sessions’ memo didn’t specifically mention prosecuting anyone involved with medical marijuana, but if the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment expires, nothing will stop them, experts said. And Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders in May arguing against the continued restriction of Justice Department funds for prosecutions, suggesting that such a policy was “unwise,” “particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic.” That letter concluded that marijuana “has significant negative health effects.”
                Congress has maintained that marijuana is a dangerous drug. The DEA has kept it as a Schedule I controlled substance, putting it in the same category as LSD and heroin, with “no current acceptable medical use.” Medical marijuana and CBD oil, which comes from hemp but on the molecular level is the same as CBD from marijuana, are both in this category.
                “I knew the risk. I knew we were breaking the federal law when I started giving it to my daughter Charlotte, but the risk was worth it because it was a matter of life or death,” said Paige Figi of Colorado, whose daughter has a rare form of epilepsy that gives her hundreds of seizures a week that at one point kept her from being able to walk, talk or eat. Charlotte started using CBD oil when she was 5, and it transformed her life.
                “She’s 11 now, and she’s doing great and running around,” Figi said. “This is usually fatal, and she is doing awesome, and for years and years, this is all she has had to take.”
                Figi said she wasn’t surprised by the Sessions move — “nothing surprises me anymore” — but she hopes it may motivate Congress to enact legislation that would at least deschedule CBD, meaning people could use it without breaking federal law. A billto that affectis under consideration in the Senate.
                Though the scientific research on marijuana is still considered limited, users say it helps with chronic pain and sleep problems, among other health benefits. Some studies have shown that it helps with post-traumatic stress disorder.
                Research by Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, has showed some negative consequences of the drug. Long-term use can negatively impact memory and brain development, particularly in younger users. But he too wants more decriminalization, not less.
                Breiter, who describes himself as conservative, said he would like to remind Sessions that “there is much more consistency in the scientific literature of findings about the detrimental effects of alcohol, which is legal within a strong regulatory framework.” He thinks there needs to be more research on the topic and a more logical legal framework applied to the drug.
                Some states are pushing back against Sessions’ latest guidance, including Colorado and Washington, where medical and recreational marijuana are allowed. Both have said they will continue to defend their laws in court.
                In Michigan, which only began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses in December, it’s business as usual despite the Sessions memo. Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said it will “continue to move forward in accepting and processing applications for state operating licenses,” according to a statement from David Harns, the department’s public information officer.

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                Medical marijuana dispensaries have been calling Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit working to ensure safe and legal access to marijuana for therapeutic uses and research,for help in figuring out what their next steps will be.
                Steph Sherer, the organization’s executive director, said she had nearly deleted the program it offered to guide dispensaries about raids as the Obama administration relaxed its rules. Now, she’s glad she didn’t, and she said dispensaries should be prepared for anything.
                “I’m very nervous,” she said. The Drug Enforcement Administration “is run out of Washington, and while they are supposed to serve states’ attorneys general, the DEA doesn’t need their permission to do anything in those districts.”
                Polls have shown that the greater majority of Americans do favor medical marijuana. “If we can stay focused, maybe the silver lining is, Congress remembers how important this amendment is and that we need Congress to come up with a permanent solution,” Sherer said.

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                Mary JaneMedical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions’ guidance
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                Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

                Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

                Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

                Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

                Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

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

                Mary JaneIs marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know
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