Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Overdosing on Cannabis Would Require a Superhuman Effort

I've just been reading a report about cannabis on the 'Schaffer Library of Drug Policy' entitled:
Acute Effects of Marihuana.

This report contains some excellent information on various effects of cannabis. It covers a wide variety of subjects, including physical effects on body organs, cognitive effects, social effects and sections that explain psychosis episodes etc. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about what they are smoking or eating. Here is a small sample of what's covered.


You've probably heard of stories about how much it would take to overdose on THC. Stories like "You'd have to eat a pound to OD" etc. Well, here are some figures from the report, based on research conducted around 1971 using two synthetic THC chemicals and an extract of THC from marijuana. The studies were conducted on rats, dogs and monkeys. These resulting figures gave them an estimate of how much a 70kg(154lb) human would need to take to match the doses administered to the animals:

The non-fatal consumption of 3000 mg/kg A THC by the dog and monkey would be comparable to a 154-pound human eating approximately 46 pounds (21 kilograms) of 1%-marihuana or 10 pounds of 5% hashish at one time. In addition, 92 mg/kg THC intravenously produced no fatalities in monkeys. These doses would be comparable to a 154-pound human smoking at one time almost three pounds (1.28 kg) of 1%-marihuana or 250,000 times the usual smoked dose and over a million times the minimal effective dose assuming 50% destruction of the THC by smoking.
In other words, it would be impossible for humans to ingest enough cannabis by eating or smoking to kill themselves with a THC overdose.

Deaths From THC

I've never heard of nor read, up until I read this report, of any THC related deaths. However, there appears to be some anecdotal reports of deaths from overdosing, but not in the standard sense (links added by Indica Man):

There is no conclusive evidence that short-term marihuana use alone directly results in any physical damage to man. A few scattered fatalities associated with marihuana use are occasionally reported. Most are from 19th century Indian experiences with large oral doses of charas (Deakin, 1880; Bouquet, 1951; Ewens, 1904, Walton, 1938; Indian Hemp Drugs, 1893). Brill et al. (1970) and Smith (1968) have noted that there have not been any reliable reports of human fatalities attributable purely to marihuana, although very high doses have been administered by users.

A frequently cited recent report from Belgium by Heyndrickx et al. (1970) describes an essentially negative pathological and toxicological study of a 23-year-old man found dead in the presence of marihuana, and hashish. A cannabinoid was detected in his urine. However, this finding in no way inculpates marihuana as the responsible agent. There are many possible causes of sudden death which are not toxins and do not produce observable pathology; e.g. anaphylactic reactions, insulin shock, cardiac arhythmias, etc.

A case report (Nahas, 1971) of an attempted suicide by smoking hashish, recently in France is even more anecdotal. An individual was reported to have smoked consecutively ten pipes of hashish containing approximately 200 mg of Delta 9 THC each before losing consciousness. But recovery occurred after supportive treatment.

Another case report (Hughes et al., 1970) relates severe diabetic coma with ketoacidosis after the ingestion of huge amounts of marihuana by a mental patient. However, it appears that the pronounced vomiting secondary to the marihuana ingestion caused a severe electrolyte imbalance and alkalosis. Possibly a vulnerable glucose-regulating system responded to the severe stress inappropriately. Retrospectively, there was no history of diabetes noted previously but this was not confirmed or ruled out by lab tests prior to the episode.

Several case reports (Henderson and Pugsley, 1968 King and Cowen, 1970; King et al., 1970; Lundberg et al., 1971; Gary and Keylon, 1970) noted acute severe, physiological disturbances and acute collapse (shock, chills and fever) subsequent to intravenous injection of suspensions of marihuana. These symptoms may have been due to an allergic reaction to injected foreign plant material, to a bacteremia and/or to the injection of insoluble particles which are filtered by the organs. The symptoms may be considered a complication of the mode of use, rather than results of the drug.

Go on, take the time to check this report out. It'll be time well spent.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

UK Prime Minister Shows Political Arrogance

Despite recommendations to keep cannabis a Class C drug in the UK, Gordon Brown will apparently be upgrading the plant to a Class B drug. One wonders why he bothered asking the advisory council to review the policy in the first place.

If this man refuses to accept the findings of a panel of 23 experts in their field, does he deserve the position he holds as leader of a country? But then, that's politics isn't it? Once in power, it doesn't matter what the People or the experts say, they, as in political leaders of most nations, will do as they please, so long as they stay on the side of the corporate giants.

I tend to think that the pharmaceutical industry is behind Brown's decision on cannabis. What other industry stands to lose the more money if cannabis laws are changed to a point where medicinal users can obtain or grow their own medicine without having to worry about being arrested? There are plenty of blogs and sites out there that have reported on the 'money trail' when it comes to cannabis illegality. I may expand that list in the near future. But then, maybe I'm just paranoid or mentally ill from smoking too much wacky weed. Maybe I should have listened to the Daily Mail.

Links to news about the Brown decision here:

Google News

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nerve Gas in Place of Cannabis? Scary.

OK, this possibility is a long way off according to the experts. However, it's a damn scary prospect in my opinion.

Organophosphorus Nerve Agents are those things that were developed in World War 2 and have been used in warfare, pesticides and terrorism ever since; tabun, sarin, soman, GF, and VX are just a few.

Thankfully, the discovery that OGs affect cannabinoid receptors in the brain was just something that scientists thought about as possible and then tested their theories on mice recently (as reported in US News Health section):

"This has great potential but it's years away from human application," said one expert, Dr. Dennis J. Patin, associate professor of clinical anesthesiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "I expect that some drug company will research further," he said.

And John Casida, senior author of the paper in the April 27 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, stressed that his team "report new fundamental mechanistic discoveries on the cannabinoid system, rather than proposing a medicine or treatment."

Well, thank your preferred god for that methinks.

I'm no scientist, but from what I could decipher in the report at NCB, certain organophosphate compounds act directly on the brains cannabinoid receptors, resulting in effects that are the same as cannabis, leading some to think that there could be a future in using some derivative of these compounds as a pain relief substitute for cannabis. That is, pot like pain relief but without the high.

For the medicotech geeks among you, here is the Abstract:

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, has useful medicinal properties but also undesirable side effects. The brain receptor for THC, CB1, is also activated by the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG). Augmentation of endocannabinoid signaling by blockade of their metabolism may offer a more selective pharmacological approach compared with CB1 agonists. Consistent with this premise, inhibitors of the anandamide-degrading enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) produce analgesic and anxiolytic effects without cognitive defects. In contrast, we show that dual blockade of the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and FAAH by selected organophosphorus agents leads to greater than ten-fold elevations in brain levels of both 2-AG and anandamide and to robust CB1-dependent behavioral effects that mirror those observed with CB1 agonists. Arachidonic acid levels are decreased by the organophosphorus agents in amounts equivalent to elevations in 2-AG, which indicates that endocannabinoid and eicosanoid signaling pathways may be coordinately regulated in the brain.

Is The Daily Mail Seriously Biased Against Marijuana/Cannabis?

The latest headline from the British 'Daily Mail' tells us that 'cannabis is making teenagers impotent'.

I had originally intended to post some facts about impotence on this post in relation to Marijuana and prescription drugs. However, I have always believed that the British Daily Mail has a serious bias against cannabis and anyone who might question that bias. So I did an experiment.

First, I posted a comment about the above article in the negative:

Has this new finding been reported in any medical journals? Has it been confirmed that cannabis use IS causing impotence in teenagers?
How many is 'most' in terms of a history of heavy cannabis use?
All I've seen in this article is conjecture. Terms like 'potential', 'potentially', and 'possibly'. Then we have a professor stating that she doesn't know if any research has been done on the subject, yet the professor is touted as one of the 'leading experts on male reproduction'!
Surely someone with those accolades would be aware of any research done on the subject.
It appears to me that this is just another propaganda piece designed to scare mums and dads into thinking their progeny could become infertile from smoking the 'evil weed'.

I then posted another comment in their version of a positive:

I am shocked at this finding. However, it doesn't surprise me in the least really. Marihuana has long been known to cause brain damage in people, so it's no surprise really that it can also make young people impotent. It's about time this drug was reclassified to a Class B drug. It is insidious in the way it works on peoples' minds. No wonder pot heads sit around all day doing nothing, they have no desire to do anything constructive, even procreate.

Both comments were posted using different names that are readily identifiable to me. Guess which one made the cut and got published and which one didn't. Check the comments here.

I have attempted to post critical comments about the Daily Mail's inaccurate reporting when it comes to cannabis before and have never seen these comments published. So, after this experiment I think I'd be justified in saying that they are biased against anything that might expose their shoddy, negative reporting about marijuana.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Danger! Aspergillus in Cannabis can kill you.

This is a warning for cannabis users and growers of the dangers of burying, or incorrectly drying/curing of your buds. This post is not intended to teach you the details of how to dry or cure, it'll just point out the fungi that can grow on badly processed marijuana and the dangers of these fungal growths, especially Aspergillus. It will also offer advice on how to prevent your weed becoming a host for these nasty fungi.

Most people will have heard stories about buying moldy weed, or buried weed that is supposed to be wicked smoke. Anecdotal evidence suggests there is only one fungus that will make you higher when it grows on weed. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the fungus that does grow on badly cured or stored weed can not only ruin your stash or make you sick, but in some cases, it can kill you.

The reason I'm making this post is because many people use cannabis to treat a variety of diseases that lower the bodies immune systems, which makes them more vulnerable to infections from these fungi.

What Causes a 'Bad Dry/Cure?'

A 'bad dry' is when your buds haven't dried properly. That is, the optimum moisture content for correctly dried bud should be more than 10 - 15%. Fresh cannabis generally has a moisture content of around 80%, so it is extremely important to get this moisture away from the crop. If not dried properly, the excess moisture in the cannabis will encourage growth of these pathogens.


Some growers recommend leaving the plants without water until just before you would normally water them again. This lowers the moisture content of the plants to help speed the drying process. To ensure that the plants reach their full potential, leave them in the dark for around 24 hours before harvesting. Experienced growers suggest that this will ensure optimum THC content. For medicinal cannabis users, this is important.

Drying and Curing to help prevent mould.

Drying should be done in a relatively cool, dark area. Heat and light tends to break down, or oxidize THC, lowering the quality of the final product. So, it is best to allow the drying bud to hang for a day or so, then introduce gentle air circulation to assist the moisture reduction process. It may also pay to rotate the harvest to ensure an even dry. It is also important to allow air circulation between your hanging crop. This discourages uneven drying and further prevents mould infestation. The drying process can take from threee to ten days, depending on temperature and air flow. The age old test for correctly dried material is to snap a stem. If it snaps, it's dry enough. If it still bends, it's still too moist. Monitor your drying crop daily.

Curing to prevent mould.

Most long time growers will take their dried buds and store them loosely in large sealable jars. Remember, air circulation is important. The jars should be checked daily and allowed to air with the lids open to release any moisture or ammonia build-up from the chlorophyll breaking down.
Curing can take from a week to a month, so keep an eye on them and do the odd smoke and/or squeeze test. You don't want over-dry buds because they'll end up tasting too harsh.

The Dangers of Aspergillus

Aspergillus fungus is found almost everywhere; compost, soil, other plants etc. In normal circumstances, the body can compete with this fungus and people suffer no ill effects. However, if you are susceptible to, or suffer from resperatory conditions such as asthma, or you have a disease that lowers you bodies immunity like Hepatitus or HIV, the risks of contracting an Aspergoillosis affliction increase dramatically.

Cases have been reported of deaths and near deaths of people who have smoked aspergillus contaminated cannabis.

The Lycaeum website has an excellent article that goes into more detail and I recommend you check it out.

One of the reasons why Timothy Garon has had problems obtaining a Liver transplant is due to many hospitals rejecting patients based on their past drug use. Timothy was prescribed Marijuana by his GP, but it still made no difference to the advisory boards of two hospitals. One of the reasons for the rejection was:

Many doctors agree that using marijuana — smoking it, especially — is out of the question post-transplant.

The drugs patients take to help their bodies accept a new organ increase the risk of aspergillosis, a frequently fatal infection caused by a common mold found in marijuana and tobacco.

More information on Aspergillus can found at The Aspergillus/Aspergillosis web site.

I have only covered one dangerous fungus that can found on badly cured cannabis. There are many more. The sites below can offer more information on both the fungi that attacks cannabis, and more detailed information about successful drying and curing...

A Pro medical cannabis submission to the NSW Govt.

Drying Marijuana Plants

Thanks for reading folks.
Preserving Marijuana Potency

Could Cannabis Derived Sativex have Killed a Trial Patient?

Could cannabis derived Sativex have killed a trial patient? Or was it the Ethanol carrier?

This is a tragic story. On the 3rd of March 2004, 69 year old Rene Anderson passed away as a result of a combination of complications, six months after ceasing a three week trial of the drug Sativex.

Sativex is a cannabis derived drug that contains the cannabinoid components delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). It is administered through a spray pump under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek.

Mrs Anderson developed symptoms of confusion and intoxication effects three days into the trial and eventually, after 23 days, stopped taking Sativex. Four months after ceasing the trial, a urine test showed no signs of the drug in her body. Sadly, her condition worsened to the point where she suffered numerous serious complications and eventually passed away in hospital.

The coroner, Christopher Dorries, who examined Mrs Anderson made a number of findings:

(Mrs Anderson died from) 'acute renal failure, acute tubular necrosis, ARDS following resolving pneumonia due to immoblility arising from "toxic brain syndrome", and diabetes mellitus'.

He went on to state that (the) 'initial drug reaction, whether in combination or singly, must have been a significant contributory factor in at least the initiation of the illness'.

The 'Manufacturing Chemist' website carries a report on the inquest which says in part:

'Mrs Anderson's immobility was unresolved despite over four months of hospital care and complicated by a wide range of other drugs,' stated GW* following the verdict. The company reported the other medications to have included tramadol, haloperidol, nitrazepam, simvastin, citalopram, losartan, frusemide, atenolol and doxazosin, a number of which specifically name 'confusion' as a side-effect, and Dorries did raise the possibility of 'serotonin syndrome', in which the interaction of drugs leads to an excess of serotonin in the brain, before saying that he 'found little reason to believe that this syndrome alone has brought about Mrs Anderson's death'.

*GW refers to GW Pharmaceuticals, the company manufacturing Sativex.

Mrs Anderson had a history of diabetes mellitus for 25 years and suffered from resistant hypertension, clinically significant depression and hyperlipidaemia (excess lipids in the blood).

A number of articles about this case appeared in newspapers and journals in 2005. However, there seems that another significant factor was never mentioned in any of the reports.

Sativex contains Ethanol.

The leaflet that comes with Sativex carries this warning:


This product contains approximately 50% v/v ethanol. Each spray contains approximately O.04g of alcohol. The usual daily dose will be greater than one spray. It may be harmful for those suffering from alcoholism. However, this should be taken into account if you have a condition which may be affected by alcohol, such as liver disease, or epilepsy.

Another problem with this is that alcohol is bad for diabetics. Long term consumption of alcohol will lead to low blood sugar levels (Hypoglycemia).

The MedicineNet site states:

If a person does not or cannot respond by eating something to raise blood glucose, the levels of glucose continue to drop. Somewhere in the 45 mg/dl range, most patients progress to neuro-glyco-penic ranges (the brain is not getting enough glucose). At this point, symptoms progress to confusion, drowsiness, changes in behavior, coma and seizure.

Now, given that some studies have shown that THC can increase the effects of ethanol, could it be possible that this combination resulted in exacerbating Mrs Anderson's Diabetes condition to a point where she developed further complications, ultimately leading to her death? Is it possible that a non-ethanol based form of Sativex may have prevented her death? I don't know, but it would be interesting to hear from some experts who may be able to study this theory further.

Thanks to Max at the 'Sports Blog' for piquing my interest in this story.

I'll leave the final comment to 'Schmoo', whose blog entry prompted me to follow this story up:

Ironically there is no record of anyone ever dying from cannabis - until a drug company tried to 'make it safe'.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cannabis - more on the 'Gateway' Argument and Decriminalization Opposition

Yep, it's long, but worth a look...
'Cannabis is a Gateway Drug and therefore should not be legalized' is a common argument used by anti-cannabis proponents. The argument is usually put forward by people who believe that if you start smoking pot, you are more likely to end up using harder drugs such as LSD, Cocaine, Crack, Heroin and other chemical narcotics. Some more extreme anti-cannabis campaigners believe that the evil weed always leads to harder drug use and other crimes such as assaults burglary and even murder.

When the issue is looked at properly, the inevitable path to 'drug addicted destruction from smoking pot' argument starts to fall apart pretty quickly . So it's time look at some more (referenced) facts.

Before we get into the science, here is a quick overview of how the 'Gateway' myth started. Interestingly, this article shows that in the early days of Marijuana prohibition, the fear was that Heroin addicts would move on to Cannabis, not the other way around:

How Did The Marijuana Gateway Myth Get Started?

Quick excerpt:

The reason marijuana had to be outlawed, he said (Harry Ainslinger in 1937), was because it caused insanity, criminality, and death. One example he gave was of two young lovers who became so crazed after smoking a joint that they eloped and got married. Marijuana causes people to become so crazy that they get married. The other reasons he gave were no more sensible. The hemp industry representatives who testified were uniformly surprised and mystified to hear that a dangerous drug could be made from this widespread and common crop. The American Medical Association testified that they knew of no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug...

...In 1951, the story changed. Harry Anslinger was testifying for the Boggs Act about why he needed more money and men to enforce the marijuana laws. Just before he testified, the head of the Federal addiction research program testified that they knew for certain that all of the reasons that had been given for outlawing marijuana in 1937 were entirely bogus. They knew for certain that marijuana did not cause insanity, criminality and death. Anslinger was left with no reason for tougher laws so he made up -- on the spot, with not a shred of evidence -- the assertion that marijuana is the certain stepping stone to heroin addiction. He directly contradicted his own testimony from 1937. It has been the basis of US marijuana policy ever since.

Time for some science.

An article written by John P. Morgan, M.D. (d) and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D (d), entitled 'The Myth of Marijuana's Gateway Effect' states in part:

The primary basis for this "gateway hypothesis" is a recent report by the center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), claiming that marijuana users are 85 times more likely than non-marijuana users to try cocaine. This figure, using data from NIDA's 1991 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, is close to being meaningless. It was calculated by dividing the proportion of marijuana users who have ever used cocaine (17%) by the proportion of cocaine users who have never used marijuana (.2%). The high risk-factor obtained is a product not of the fact that so many marijuana users use cocaine but that so many cocaine users used marijuana previously.

It is hardly a revelation that people who use one of the least popular drugs are likely to use the more popular ones -- not only marijuana, but also alcohol and tobacco cigarettes. The obvious statistic not publicized by CASA is that most marijuana users -- 83 percent -- never use cocaine. Indeed, for the nearly 70 million Americans who have tried marijuana, it is clearly a "terminus" rather than a "gateway" drug.

The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), the principal advisory body to the Australian Federal Government on drug policy, states in its document 'Cannabis: Answers to Your Questions' (PDF file link):

Question 12
What is the Current Evidence For Cannabis as a Gateway Drug?

Cannabis use, particularly regular use at a young age, increases the risk of other drug use. The link between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs is usually due to personal traits that make it more likely for the person to take part in risky behaviour.

Most people who use illegal drugs, like heroin or amphetamines, first used drugs like alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. These substances, but most usually cannabis, are seen as a “gateway” to the use of other drugs. The vast majority of people who do use cigarettes, alcohol or cannabis never use other illicit drugs. For example, while the majority of heroin users have used cannabis, only around 4% of cannabis users have used heroin.

The risk of using other drugs is greater for cannabis users who start regularly using at a young age and those who become dependent.The link between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs is usually due to personal traits(possibly even genetic) that make it more likely for the person to take part in risky behaviour. Mixing with people who use illicit drugs also means there are more opportunities to experiment.

Approximately 18 months ago, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a study led by Ralph E. Tarter, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy. A quote from the article reads:

"It runs counter to about six decades of current drug policy in the country, where we believe that if we can't stop kids from using marijuana, then they're going to go on and become addicts to hard drugs."

The full text of this research is available on the Psychiatry Online website here.

For those who don't want to read the full text, here are the results and conclusions of the study as stated in the Abstract:

RESULTS: Twenty-eight (22.4%)of the participants who used marijuana did not exhibit the gateway sequence, thereby demonstrating that this pattern is not invariant in drug-using youths. Among youths who did exhibit the gateway pattern, only delinquency was more strongly related to marijuana use than licit drug use. Specific risk factors associated with transition from licit to illicit drugs were not revealed. The alternative sequence had the same accuracy for predicting substance use disorder as the gateway sequence.

CONCLUSIONS: Proneness to deviancy and drug availability in the neighborhood promote marijuana use. These findings support the common liability model of substance use behavior and substance use disorder.

In yet another study (available here in HTML, or here as a Microsoft Word Document), the findings were that although cannabis may have a gateway effect on a small number of (and I quote) "troubled youths", in the majority, there is no evidence to support cannabis as a drug that leads to narcotic use. The study states that a number of different factors contribute to further hard drug use, rather than cannabis being a cause.

Now, on to the DSM-IV.
This is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. The main reference used around the world by psychiatrists, clinicians and researchers as well as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers.

In the section titled 'NCP Hallucinogen Phencyclidine and Cannabis Related Disorders' it gives the following information (Etilology:-The cause of a disease, the philosophical study of causation):



Individuals who abuse substances fail to complete tasks of separation-individuation, resulting in underdeveloped egos. The person is thought to have a highly dependent nature, with characteristics of poor impulse control, low frustration tolerance, and low self-esteem. The superego is weak, resulting in absence of guilt feelings for behavior.

Certain personality traits may play an important part in the development and maintenance of dependence. Characteristics that have been identified include impulsivity, negative self-concept, weak ego, low social conformity, neuroticism, and introversion. Substance abuse has also been associated with antisocial personality and depressive response styles.


A genetic link is thought to be involved in the development of substance abuse disorders. Although statistics are currently inconclusive, hereditary factors are generally accepted to be a factor in the abuse of substances. Research is currently being done into the role biochemical factors play in the problems of substance abuse.

Family Dynamics

A predisposition to substance use disorders is found in the dysfunctional family system. Often one parent is absent or is an overpowering tyrant, and/or another parent is weak and ineffectual. Substance abuse may be evident as the primary method of relieving stress. The child has negative role models and learns to respond to stressful situations in like manner. However, parents may be average, normal individuals with children who succumb to overwhelming peer pressure and become involved with drugs.

In the family the effects of modeling, imitation, and identification on behavior can be observed from early childhood onward. Peer influence may exert a great deal of influence also. Cultural factors may help to establish patterns of substance use by attitudes of acceptance of such use as a part of daily or recreational life.

So, we can argue that cannabis can lead to further drug use. However, it is in no way a primary cause of going on to harder drugs. In fact, it is probably easier to argue that cannabis is a terminus drug, meaning that the majority of people who use cannabis will never go on to use harder drugs.

On a final note, let's look at what has happened in The Netherlands since cannabis was decriminalized in 1976. One would expect that if the mainstream perceptions of the 'Gateway' theory were correct, then this country would be full of Heroin addicted kids and adults. From what I've read so far, this is far from the case.

First, in a study I have mentioned previously that is reported in the UCSC in 2004:

The study found no evidence that lawfully regulated cannabis provides a “gateway” to other illicit drug use. In fact, marijuana users in San Francisco were far more likely to have used other illicit drugs--cocaine, crack, amphetamines, ecstasy, and opiates--than users in Amsterdam, said Reinarman.
“The results of this study shift the burden of proof now to those who would arrest hundreds of thousands of Americans each year on the grounds that it deters use,” said Reinarman.

More on this study is available on the 'News-Medical' website here.

Another study, available here in full, found the following:

In Amsterdam, the access to cannabis type drugs developed from highly suppressed to almost universal and hassle free in the period between 1965 and 1980. We tested the theory that cannabis use will - almost automatically - result in (heavy) use of other drugs. Indeed, we found among almost 9,000 respondents out of 2 large household surveys in 1990 and 1994, that in Amsterdam cannabis use is an almost necessary condition for developing other drug use. However, most cannabis users in Amsterdam (75%) do not report other drug use. Also the 'never cannabis users' in Amsterdam do not consume other illicit drugs. Curiosity inasmuch as it develops in cannabis users to use other drugs is confined to cocaine and ecstasy, while heroin is almost excluded.

In order to test the 'stepping stone hypothesis' we formulated a testable series of such hypotheses, varying the terms but keeping the criterion stable. We arbitrarily stated that any of our stepping stone hypotheses would be confirmed if we could find 75% of the cannabis users to behave according to the hypothesis. None of the stepping stone hypotheses could be confirmed although data that approached confirmation could be found for a minority of users with the highest levels of cannabis involvement. Some statistical / epidemiological evidence for a stepping stone phenomenon that associates cannabis use to some type of use of other drugs is available for a small minority of cannabis users only.

Apparently, in Amsterdam where use of illicit drugs is made possible due to of hassle free (illicit) availability of that type of drug, the use of cannabis satisfies almost all curiosity. Small numbers of experienced cannabis users try other illicit substances, mostly cocaine and ecstasy. This is true for cannabis users who never experienced active law enforcement against individual drug use (the 'young' age cohort born in 1985 or later) as well as for cannabis users who were raised during the then existing regime of active law enforcement against cannabis and other individual drug use (the 'old' age cohort born before 1958). We confirmed that, if it occurs, other drug use always succeeds use of cannabis. We did not try to explain why this is so, nor why the large majority of cannabis users do not develop curiosity to use other drugs.

Levels of experience with other drugs than cannabis are very similar between different cannabis users in age cohorts raised during different regimes of law enforcement in relation to drugs.

Will Decriminalization Lead To Rampant Marijuana Use?

For those who wish to argue that cannabis decriminalization will lead to a marked increase in the use of the drug, you should read this report.

In summary:

Conflicting predictions have been made to the influence of decriminalisation on cannabis use. Prohibitionists forecast that decriminalisation will lead to an increase in consumption of cannabis, while their opponents hypothesise that cannabis use will decline after decriminalisation.

Most probably cannabis use among youth in the Netherlands so far evolved in two waves, with a first peak around 1970, a low during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and a second peak in the mid 1990s.

It is striking that the trend in cannabis use among youth in the Netherlands rather parallels the four stages in the availability of cannabis identified above. The number of adolescent cannabis users peaked when the cannabis was distributed through an underground market (late 1960s and early 1970s). Then the number decreased as house dealers were superseding the underground market (1970s), and went up again after coffee shops took over the sale of cannabis (1980s), and stabilised or slightly decreased by the end of the 1990s when the number of coffee shops was reduced.

However, cannabis use also developed in waves in other European countries. Apparently, general national trends in cannabis use are relatively independent of cannabis policy. To date, cannabis use in the Netherlands takes a middle position within the European Union. Apparently most cannabis use is experimental and recreational. The vast majority quits using cannabis after some time. Only a very small proportion of current cannabis users is in treatment. From international comparison, it is concluded that trends in cannabis use in the Netherlands are rather similar to those in other European countries, and Dutch figures on cannabis use are not out of line with those from countries that did not decriminalise cannabis. Consequently, it appears unlikely that decriminalisation of cannabis will cause an increase in cannabis use.

Can Cannabis Help Ease Depression? It May Depend On The Dosage.

For those of us who use cannabis to treat depression, the following should be of great interest, especially when considering how much we smoke or ingest. Dosage may have a significant impact on how marijuana affects depression.

A study published in the 'Journal of Neuroscience' last year has found that THC (one of the active ingredients in cannabis) may have a beneficial effect for Depression sufferers in low doses. However, higher doses can have a reverse effect.
The study was conducted on rats by doctors from the Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, and the Department of Psychiatry, Centre de Recherche Fernand Seguin, Hôpital L.H. Lafontaine, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada :

"Low doses had a potent anti-depressant effect, but when we increased the dose, the serotonin in the rats' brains actually dropped below the level of those in the control group. So we actually demonstrated a double effect: At low doses it increases serotonin, but at higher doses the effect is devastating, completely reversed."

The news article is available at

The full text of the research is available here.

More Evidence That Cannabis Reduces Neuropathic Pain

A study conducted last year suggests that smoking cannabis is an effective pain reliever. The majority of cannabis users most likely already know this, as did cannabis users over the past thousands of years. However, it will take more scientific research to convince decision makers of its effectiveness.
A summary of the study is available here.

Here is an excerpt:

The study used capsaicin, an alkaloid derived from hot chili peppers that is an irritant to the skin, to mimic the type of neuropathic pain experienced by patients with HIV/AIDS, diabetes or shingles – brief, intense pain following by a longer-lasting secondary pain. The subjects were healthy volunteers who inhaled either medical cannabis or a placebo after pain was induced. The marijuana cigarettes were formulated under NIH supervision to contain either zero, two, four or eight percent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.)

“Subjects reported a decrease in pain at the medium dose, and there was also a significant correlation between plasma levels of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, and decreased pain,” said Igor Grant, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), professor and Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, the director of the CMCR. “Interestingly, the analgesic effect wasn’t immediate; it took about 45 minutes for the cannabis to have an impact on the pain,” he said.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Response To 'Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana'

Ted Knapp, co-author of the 'FLC Law and Society, Science Health and Environment' blog posted an opinion piece on why cannabis should not be legalized. I took the opportunity to respond and have copied my comment below. The full post by Ted is available here.

Hello Ted

I would like to take the opportunity to respond to this post. I have been researching the effects of cannabis and its medicinal uses for around 30 years now, and continue to do so. Due to the length of this comment, I may also post the response on my blog.

Your first few statements:

"I think it is safe to say that marijuana is a gateway drug. Not many marijuana users decide to just stick with marijuana-most who do smoke cannabis lack even that kind of rational decission making. I believe that Marijuana leads to the adventurous travel to other drugs, since their drug provider sells multiple drugs, and the "highs" are not as satisfying after awhile of using marijuana."

Past research suggesting that cannabis is a 'gateway drug', has been superseded by research that suggests that drug use in general is based on a propensity to use drugs. That is, it doesn't matter whether your first experience with drug use is cannabis, alcohol or even cocaine. If you are of a particular mindset, you will most likely try other drugs. Most research papers, even those that do suggest cannabis is a 'gateway drug', summarize their finding by suggesting that even though cannabis is often the first illegal drug a person tries, it is not necessarily the cause of harder drug use. You should also realise that cannabis is the fourth most used drug in the United States, behind Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine. Using these fatcs, it could be concluded that coffee is a gateway drug as well. Research conducted in Amsterdam (one of the first countries to decriminalize cannabis) has found that users of cannabis in the main, do not move on to harder drugs.
There is no evidence to support your opinion that drug 'providers' sell other stronger drugs. Generally, you will find that cannabis dealers avoid selling harder drugs on moral grounds (as strange as that may seem). Further, dealers of harder drugs tend not to sell cannabis as the drug is harder to conceal than those such as cocaine or heroin.
There is no evidence to suggest that the 'high' associated with cannabis does becomes less satisfying through continued use.
"I do sympathize with those who truley need cannabis for it's medicinal properties, however even patients proclaim to enjoy smoking marijuana for the "high" rather than taking a pill with the same medicinal affects without the high."

Perhaps you should have clarified this by stating 'some' patients. The medicinal uses for cannabis are many and varied. The majority of pharmaceutical pain killers get people 'high'. These include Diazapam, Temazapam, Morphine, Serapax, Mogodon etc. Ask any person addicted to these prescription drugs and they will acknowledge that the 'high' is part of their addiction. The addictiveness of the legally available drugs that I have mentioned are far worse than cannabis, and the withdrawal effects from mid to long term use of these drugs are far more serious than those associated with chronic use cannabis withdrawal. Cannabis withdrawal for long time users is considered less problematic than that of caffeine withdrawal.

"...users who start smoking cannabis at a young age, even in mid-adult years, change into different people without the mental and comprehensive abilities that they had before smoking the drug."

There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis causes the effects you suggest. However, there is proof that whilst under the influence, short term memory is affected. Studies conducted have never shown that long term use results in cognitive impairment.
"Individuals who think that legalizing marijuana is "not a big deal", do not understand that people only smoke marijuana to truely escape from reality, and legalizing it only promotes the pathetic lifestyle."

Firstly, all recreational psychotropic/active drugs, including alcohol are used by some people as a form of 'escape'. Others use these drugs as a relaxant.
Secondly, I don't understand what you mean by 'pathetic lifestyle'. Are you suggesting that all cannabis users lead pathetic lives? Perhaps you should discuss that with the likes of Carl Sagan, Willie Nelson, Al Gore, Art Garfunkel, Dame Margo Fonteyn, Carrie Fischer, Dan Quayle, Dr Francis Crick, Hunter.S.Thompson, Jesse Ventura, John Kerry, Pablo Picasso and in fact, George Bush. This is a very short list of the hundreds of famous and/or successful people who have smoke, or currently do smoke cannabis.
"Yes, marijuana has been used for medicinal properties throughout thousands of years by numerous civilizations, but they did not have the technology to examine the true after affects of the drug...
...We have the information now that others long ago did not have, so we should follow what the brain scans print out-not the mistakes of history."

One of the most recent studies conducted on the medicinal benefits of cannabis has shown (through brain scans) that cannabis is very effective in reducing anxiety in people suffering from this psychological condition. Another study by SETH ( has shown that DELTA-9_THC kills GBH brain cancer cells whilst leaving healthy brain cells intact.
There are no studies currently in use that show any brain damage as a result of cannabis use, even in chronic users.
"However, if times get hard enough, legalizing it and throwing outrageous taxes on it would not be so much of a bad idea, since denial is sometimes unmatched."

I'm unsure of your point here. However, you would most likely find that cannabis sales would indeed decrease after legalization and outrageous taxation on same.Unlike Tobaco, cannabis is not physically adictive. Therefore, people would either discontinue use, or start growing it in their backyards. Or perhaps even go back to buying it on the blackmarket, the same as people do in places where tobacco is taxed at a high rate.

Thanks for taking the time to read my response to your post. I hope I have not offended you, as that is not my intention. I merely wanted to draw your attention to some facts, and hope that you might do some further research on the subject.

Kind regards,
Indica Man

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cannabis used in Biblical Annointing Oil? Maybe, Maybe Not.

I've been reading quite a number of articles lately claiming that cannabis was one of the ingredients of Holy Anointing Oil that is described in the First Testament (Exodus 30:23).

On the one hand, pro cannabis groups claim that the translation of Sweet Cane (Acorus camalus) was a mis-translation and that it was actually kineboisim, the Hebrew word for cannabis. The explanations are expanded to show that 'Jesus' used the oil and the arguments go on to state that Jesus and his mates were stoners (not the rock throwing type) and used the oil to get their visions etc. Personally, I'd love to believe this theory for two reasons. One, it would give more weight to the argument for removing pot prohibition, especially amongst the god fearing politicians around the world. Secondly, I kind of like the idea that a major religious figure in Western society might have been using cannabis as a healing herb.

On the other hand, some Christian groups claim that it is all poppycock and that Acorus camalus was indeed the herb used in the anointing oil mix, and that the only reason the cannabis argument is being pushed is so that 'drugees' and 'pot-head stoners' have another excuse to push for legalization.

Unfortunately, it is hard to prove one way or the other whether cannabis was used.

I'll list some extracts and links from the pro 'camalus was cannabis' arguments first. Please note that many of these links lead to Christian and non-Christian discussion forums. If you want to read further, please follow the links as I don't want to start ripping selected passages from each link, lest I be accused of pulling paragraphs out of context.

One of the more compelling arguments, and the one that most pro groups rely on is that the 'Sweet Camalus' referred to in the Exodus description of the Annointing Oil was mis-translated and actually means 'kineboisin'. In fact, in 1980, the Hebrew University made this translation official.

Links that argue the Hebrew University ruling:

A Post on 'Debating Christianity'

The Green Earth Ministries

The Book of Thoth site

Cannabis Culture covered this theory in detail:

Now, let's look at some of the sites that denounce the theory:

Wayne Blank, the author of the Daily Bible Study pulls the theory apart:

Chris Tilling does similar:

An argument on 'Talk' that turns nasty:

Jesus is also denounces the theory

What I find a little disconcerting about the anti-'camalus is pot' arguments is that there seems to be a general trend to make abusive statements about those that agree with the idea that the anointing oil contained cannabis. I won't enter into the argument, because I don't really care what was in the oil. However, if the folks who vehemently argue that cannabis was NOT used in the oil and say that it must have been 'Sweet Camalus' or Sweet Cane, they may be shocked to know that Acorus camalus is a well known hallucinogenic plant:

Have a little look at this page:
Here is an extract:

"ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Asarone and beta-Asarone

"EFFECT: A piece of 5cm (thick as a pen) is stimulating and evokes cheerful mood. A 25cm piece may lead to altered perception and hallucinations. Calamus is also an aphrodisiac, especially when used as an additive in your bathing-water

The most balanced description of calamus as used in Exodus' description of anointing oil is this:

fragrant cane
Keneh bosem in Hebrew. Ancient sources identify this with the sweet calmus (Septuagint; Rambam on Kerithoth 1:1; Saadia; Ibn Janach). This is the sweetflag or flag-root, Acoras calamus which grows in Europe. It appears that a similar species grew in the Holy Land, in the Hula region in ancient times (Theophrastus, History of Plants 9:7). Other sources apparently indicate that it was the Indian plant, Cympopogan martini, which has the form of red straw (Yad, Kley HaMikdash 1:3). On the basis of cognate pronunciation and Septuagint readings, some identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis, the hemp plant. There are, however, some authorities who identify the 'sweet cane' with cinnamon bark (Radak, Sherashim). Some say that kinman is the wood, and keneh bosem is the bark (Abarbanel).

This information is available at the Navigating The Bible site where it describes much of the bible in a matter of fact way.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More archaic anti-cannabis propaganda

Does stuff like this do anything to educate people about cannabis? Or does it just perpetuate the age old myths that started in the twenties?

The Retriever Weekly describes the ads currently running in the US that shows how out of touch some government departments are:

Flipping through the channels, a man in a pith helmet and a white mustache flashes onto the screen, asking you to join him in his hunt for the “mature stoner.” It is yet another anti-drug commercial in the government-sponsored ad campaign “Above the Influence.” Filled with propaganda and falsified information, the series of four commercials chronicles the adventures of “Dr. Puck” and his assistant, Baldric. They watch “stoners” in their natural habitat: relaxing, going to school, and even driving. This series of ads perpetuates many of the myths associated with marijuana use.
Read the full discussion here.

U-M Looking for Anxiety Volunteers After THC Trial

The University of Michigan Research Clinic recently completed a study on the effects of THC in relation to anxiety:

In a paper last month in the Journal of Neuroscience, K. Luan Phan, M.D., and his former University of Chicago colleagues reported intriguing findings from a brain imaging study in occasional, non-dependent, marijuana users.

In a placebo-controlled design, they made the findings after giving the volunteers delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, and exposing them to photographs of emotional faces, which served as signals of social communication. The study results, which showed that THC reduces the response to threat in a brain region called the amygdala, allowed the researchers to zero in on an area of the brain that might serve as a good target for new anti-anxiety drugs.

Now, with a new clinical trial that is currently seeking participants, Phan is searching for more clues as to how anxiety treatment could be tailored to the individual patient, to give the best chance that a treatment will work for him or her.

Now they are looking for people with Anxiety disorders to test the effects of sertraline, better known as Zoloft, to see what effects this selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor has on the human brain. U-M is looking for volunteers, so if you are in their area, and suffer an anxiety disorder, why not contact them.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Get Your Captain Joint Bobble-Head Today!

From the 24/7 Press Release site:

Captain Joint in co-operation with the John C. Bunn Trust is pleased to announce the release of the worlds first Educational "Legalize Medical Marijuana Bobble-Head".

The Figure has been sculpted from a stage photo of High Times Freedom Fighter, Captain Joint in action. This photo was taken at the Maine Vocals Harvestfest of 2007, as the Starks Growers dumped over eight pounds of Medical Marijuana on the public stage as an act of Civil Disobedience. The Growers were upset that Don Christen, leader of the Maine Vocals was arrested just the Day Before the Show!

With his loaded four foot glass bong, green bud hanging out, his scale around his neck, and his lighter leash, Freedom Fighter Captain Joint is ready to party with you.

The full Press Release is here.

Advance Orders & Dealers/Retailers requests should be sent to:
Captain Joint Bobble-Head
John C. Bunn Trust
30 Front St.
Me. 04414

Phone: 207-965-2341

Captain Joint on MySpace

John C. Bunn Trust has exclusive marketing rights to the name, image, and character of Captain Joint and uses this personality and image to market educational items to inform people of the plight of medical marijuana patients in America.

Ecotechnology Australia and 'Mop Crops'

Ecotechnology Australia is using industrial Hemp as a 'Mop Crop' to absorb effluent waste with the added bonus of producing a valuable by-product crop:

Here is an excerpt from the site:

It was no surprise that all crops had exceptional growth rates, especially hemp, which produced 23 tonnes dry material per hectare in just 110 days!
Check out Ecotechnology here.

Image is Copyright of Ecotechnology Australia.

Californian Medicinal Hemp Laws

The UK Cannazine site has a good article explaining Californian Medicinal cannabis laws.

Read the article here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NSW Green Light For Hemp Nearly Finalized

New South Wales is set to smooth the path for farmers wanting to trial Hemp as a commercial crop. New measures to be put in place will allow farmers to trial Hemp without getting approval from the Health Department. A comprehensive article in the 'Northern Rivers Echo' explains the new rules and also provides an informative read about the many positives of commercial Hemp.

Unlike the cannabis smoked by 1 in 3 Australians, industrial Hemp has extremely low THC levels, but has a myriad of uses, including oil, paper and biofuel. The seed is highly nutritious and contains high levels of Omega - 3 and Omega-6 oils.

Happy Planet products has a good description. Here is an excerpt:

So omega-3 and omega-6 are essential to health. But why? Omega-3 (LNA) has been shown to protect against certain types of cancers and positively modify immune and inflammatory reactions. It has been demonstrated that renal, respiratory, cardiovascular, and dermatological conditions are improved by including omega-3 in the diet. Omega-6 (LA) can help protect against acne, loss of hair, poor blood circulation, and cardiovascular disease as well as liver, kidney and gallbladder problems. EFAs are also necessary for maintaining the structure of cell membranes and the permeability of the skin. Health Canada recommends that pregnant and lactating women increase their omega-3 intake as found in the equivalent of approximately 1 tablespoon of hemp oil per day.

EFAs actually assist in the most basic of bodily operations, such as helping with the transfer of bioelectric currents from cell to cell and contributing to brain function and development. EFAs convert lactic acid (often responsible for aching muscles during heavy exercise) to harmless water and carbon dioxide.

EFAs are important precursors to eicosanoids that are required by energy and oxygen demanding tissues such as the brain, retina, adrenal and testicular tissues.

The metabolism of all these fats occurs in the liver. Fats must be converted into substances the body needs, used as energy, or ejected as waste. Enzymes, found only in raw and mainly unprocessed foods are used to change the structure of fatty-acids.

EFAs, because they become part of the structural components of cell membranes, also play an important role in the transfer of nutrients and wastes to and from the cell. The ability of EFAs to hold oxygen in our cell membranes helps to protect cells from toxins.

For the full story about NSW's new Hemp industry, check out the Northern Rivers Echo article.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Study Confirms Neuropathic Pain Eased by Cannabis

A study by scientists at the University of California has found that Neuropathic pain can be eased by medicinal doses of Cannabis. The abstract for the report (available by subscription at reads:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) report that no sound scientific studies support the medicinal use of cannabis. Despite this lack of scientific validation, many patients routinely use ”medical marijuana,” and in many cases this use is for pain related to nerve injury.

We conducted a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the analgesic efficacy of smoking cannabis for neuropathic pain. Thirty-eight patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for smoking either high-dose (7%), low-dose (3.5%), or placebo cannabis. In addition to the primary outcome of pain intensity, secondary outcome measures included evoked pain using heat-pain threshold, sensitivity to light touch, psychoactive side effects, and neuropsychological performance.

A mixed linear model demonstrated an analgesic response to smoking cannabis. No effect on evoked pain was seen. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well-tolerated, but neuropsychological impairment was problematic, particularly with the higher concentration of study medication.


This article presents the findings from a clinical trial examining the effect of smoking cannabis on neuropathic pain. Although this herbal medicine has analgesic properties, neuropsychological impairment was problematic and methods should be sought to diminish cognitive impairment before recommending medical marijuana to patients with neuropathic pain.

The case for legalizing cannabis for medicinal use gets stronger and stronger. Let's hope the studies continue to show positive results.
More information about this report can be found at the Marijuana Policy Project website.

More Misleading Headlines from The Daily Mail

Here we go again:

Teenager high on cannabis stabs girlfriend 32 times during bondage game after being wrongly told she had Aids

This is the British 'Daily Mail' latest scaremongering headline.

I'm not making light of the crime. It's a horrendous thing that this girl went through. In late 1996, she was taken to a quiet area and convinced to be blindfolded and whipped with a stick as a mobile phone prank. Bondage or somesuch. Then, while his friend held a mobile phone up to provide some light, Edward Bell, then 17, proceeded to stab her. He had been told by friends that she had HIV, a lie.

What irks me is that The Daily Mail had to use cannabis as a scapegoat. Further reading of the article shows that yes, Bell had smoked pot on the night of the stabbing. However, he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with a long history of 'substance' abuse. What the substances were weren't mentioned by the Mail. Further, in a Police interview, Bell claimed that voices told him to stab her.

The BBC reported on the case and didn't see the need to mention the cannabis use, but did note that he was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.

Herts 24 carried the story and didn't mention anything about cannabis, drug abuse or schizophrenia.

It was Bell himself who presented to Police on the night of the attack, confessing to the attempted murder. He has been locked away indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital.

Monday, April 14, 2008

So, where did '420' originate and What Does it Mean?

The 20th of April is fast approaching, which means a whole lot of people will be getting high at around 4:20pm on Sunday arvo.
But where did the whole '420' phenomenon originate?

Jason De Thomas from The UNC Connection did some hunting:

The Haze Cleared About Marijuana-Related "420"

In 1971, a group of friends calling themselves "the Waldos" simply made it up. Corroborated by both (Shaun) Hubler and (Steven) Hager, apparently the friends had another friend who had heard of a cannabis patch in the hills of Marin County. During those days at San Rafael High School, the "Waldos" planned to meet at a statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 p.m. This was the most reasonable time for everyone to meet after school, to hunt for the hidden cannabis patch.

However, as one of the "Waldos" told Hubler, they never found the patch. What they did do was get high a lot and drive around.

They have proof, in the form of letters and postcards, indicating that they coined the term.

(Shaun Hubler works for the LA Times and Steven Hager is Editor of High Times magazine).

So there you go, no need to wonder anymore.

Here are some more pages that back up the origin:

More from High Times Magazine

420 is not so much a time or place as it is a state of mind. A stoned state of mind, to be specific. In the past, HIGH TIMES has reported on various competing theories surrounding the appearance of this unique bit of smoker slang, but as the following timeline clearly shows, the controversy has been resolved. The original story of 420 begins with five fellow students - all of whom assumed the nom de pot Waldo - who met after school at the appointed hour to smoke some of Californias finest, and occasionally searched for a hidden pot field they'd heard about in the hills outside town.

FBI Steals $400k from medicinal Cannabis user

The 'Plain Dealer' of Cleveland reports that the FBI has used a Federal law to steal the life savings from a family in Lima.

Basically, the story goes like this:

Last summer, two violent intruders broke into the Rickses' house. Luther and his son fought with the burglars. After his son was stabbed, Luther broke free, got his gun and saved the family by shooting one of the intruders and scaring the other off.

When Lima police arrived, the Ricks' nightmare should have been over - but it was just beginning.

The police entered the house and discovered the family safe. Because a small amount of marijuana was inside the home - used by Luther to ease his painful arthritis, hip replacement and shingles - the officers decided to confiscate Meredith and Luther's entire life savings, more than $400,000.

Shortly afterward, the FBI got involved - not to help the stricken family, but to claim the money for the federal government.

Such is the result of civil forfeiture laws, which represent one of the most profound assaults on our rights today.

If you live in the US and you have some cannabis around the house, you are urged to read the full story here.

Going Cheap - 110 grams of Cannabis Leaf - $2200

Sometimes I get a little frustrated at how the law values the crops that they bust.

A bloke in Bathurst NSW (Australia) was done last year for growing 43 cannabis plants in his backyard. They valued the crop at AUD 86000, which works out to $2000 per plant. I guess that's an arbitrary figure they place on a plant's value. However, they also found 110 grams of leaf. That's about three and a half ounces, and valued it at $2200.

Now seriously, would anyone in their right mind pay $20 for a gram of leaf? Would anyone pay anything for leaf? The average home grower smokes a bit of leaf while waiting for their bud to mature. Commercial growers might use it as mulch or give it away. Other folks might 'value add' by passing it through an 'iceolator' or cook it into a 'canna butter'. But no-one pays that sort of money for cannabis leaf.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Possession justification 'nonsense'.

Peter Till, a medicinal cannabis user from Nimbin in New South Wales, Australia, has had his appeal over a conviction for possession last year thrown out of court.

Mr Till has been fighting the Queensland Government for the right to use cannabis to treat pain and headaches that he suffers as a result of a motorcycle accident in 1996.

Peter has been busted a number of times over the years, twice while attempting to take mature plants into court as evidence in his case/s. In his latest appeal over a two month suspended sentence received last year for bringing cannabis plants to court, he claimed immunity from the law because:

'I am a sovereign being living in a sovereign estate in the greater universe continuum. ... Sovereignty is not subject to law, it is the law, and its greatest claim to power is that IT and nothing else is the law...'

The judge rejected this as incoherent and unintelligible.

In an earlier appeal on March 11 this year, an unindentified person appealed on Peter's behalf. In reference to that appeal, the judge stated:

"Whoever it was said some things which were broadly consistent with the content of the outline of argument: that he was a sovereign being, that the prohibition on possession of cannabis did not apply to him, and that he had authorised himself to possess cannabis. After a time he announced he was going for a walk, and left the courtroom."
I spent some time in the early eighties living 'off the land' and still identify as a bit of a hippy. However, if I ever intend to defend myself in court, I think I'll try another tactic, rather than come across as a moon unit to the world in general. Sorry Peter, but the general populous just doesn't tolerate what is considered normal in alternative circles.

S.A. Government 'Bans The Bong'

Australia has some pretty archaic cannabis laws in the eight states and territories that make up the country. Until a short time ago, South Australia had some pretty progressive legislation when it came to pot. The drug was still illegal, but it was a case of on the spot fines, and many people found that a blind eye was turned toward them when growing a few plants in the back yard, or when found in possession of a little bit of weed.

The laws in the S.A. differentiated between 'bush' weed and hydroponically grown weed as well. The law was heavy on hydro, yet quite lax when it came to bit of home grown bush bud. It seems now that things are changing for the worse. The latest news is that the Rann Government has made it illegal to sell any kind of drug taking implement, be it 'Ice' pipes, cocaine kits, or even the humble 'billy'. For non-Aussies, a billy is one of our colloquial terms for a bong.

Fines for retailers of bongs can now be as high (no pun intended) as $50000 or Two years in jail.

Who will this affect? Not the smoker. Most will just go back to the old juice bottle and garden hose variety, or bucket bongs, or whatever else is available around the kitchen to fashion a billy from. It is the retailers that will suffer. One shop has already shut its doors. 'Smoke Signals' in Hindley Street, which has been trading for sixteen years will no longer be there. Others are either closing, or looking at new ways to earn a crust.

Laws such as this are just a complete waste of time and effort. Governments will invariably say "We need to send the right message to the community". The only message that comes from this is that the South Australian Govt wants to restrict free enterprise and contribute to the demise of the health of the average cannabis smoker. After all, we all know that a bong reduces the harshness of the smoke we toke and reduces tar levels entering our lungs as well.

Good on ya Premier Rann...1 step forward, three back.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dear Annie - cannabis 101

Anne Benjamin from 'The Tripod', the online edition of the Trinity College (Hartford CT) campus newspaper has a good intro to cannabis for the curious:

Dear Annie,

Please tell me a little about the effects of marijuana on the body.

-- Suspicious Smoker

Dear Suspicious Smoker,

Marijuana is a hot issue today because of its debated legalization and widespread use. It is the third most popular recreational drug in the country, behind alcohol and tobacco. Most specifically, there are three different species of Cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. Cannabis has been around for ages in various forms as a naturally growing plant around the world. Since it is literally a weed, it grows abundantly in many different climate conditions.

The full article can be found on 'The Tripod' website here.

More 'whisper' type anti-pot Headlines

The following headline appears in the British Daily Mail:

Five stag party friends died in M25 tow-truck crash after driver had smoked cannabis, inquest hears

At first look, it appears that the driver was wasted and drove into the back of another truck. However, if you read the full article (most casual readers would only read the first few lines and draw a conclusion from that), we find the following:

The inquest in Woking heard that although Mr Hutchinson had taken cannabis, he was not thought to be under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

Forensic scientist Alan Hiscutt said he found small traces of cannabis in Mr Hutchinson's body. But he said the class C drug would not have been used in the time immediately before the crash.

He added: "It must have been taken at the very least many hours before or more likely days before. I would be as certain as I could be that he could not have been under the influence of cannabis."

I bet the headline sold a shitload more papers though. This sort of irresponsible reporting annoys the hell out of me.

Man, This is Heavy Weed

This story is being reported around the globe at present.

Apparently some big time German dealers are adding Lead to their weed in an attempt to get some extra cash. German doctors are saying that up to 10 percent by weight of some peoples scores have been contaminated.

The Age in Australia has a piece here.

The New England Journal of Medicine has a full report here.

My first thought is that this is another reason why the drug should be either legalized or decriminalized. At least then people can buy from a reputable dealer, or grow their own so they know exactly what is in their weed.

Who Is the Misguided one, Mr Mancini?

This letter was sent to The Daily Triplicate, Crescent City, California:

This letter is in response to Earl Commins' letter ("A change to medical pot would affect the ill," April 8).

I applaud Mr. Commins for writing his letter, but I believe he is misguided. There are far too many people who are physically addicted to marijuana, and many further their addictions by getting less-than-reputable physicians to write a prescription for the drug.

Mr. Commins should not confuse real medications with tangible benefits to marijuana. Marijuana is nothing more than a street drug ... I will say that when I worked at convenience stores in Eureka I was never worried about the average pot smoker running out of Bud and robbing my store. That reality is saved for the tweakers ... which Del Norte has its share of.

Even though pot smokers might be a "gentler" abuser, it is still drug abuse. What happens when the elderly people Mr. Commins speaks of nod off from smoking too many bong hits? Their grandkids come on by and pinch a bud or two and then the next generation of abusers hits the streets of Del Norte. It is time to regulate and help break the chain of abuse. Marijuana does not provide pain relief, it provides a type of comatose effect that is confused as genuine relief of pain.

I am thankful for the proposed change in the ordinance. Medical marijuana users should consider switching to pharmaceutical marijuana to get through the off-season. Marinol comes in pill form, tried and tested, available from a pharmacy, under the control of a physician.

Chris Mancini

Grover Beach

C'mon Mr Mancini, I would challenge you to provide some real world proof of physical Marijuana addiction. In all the research, reading and anecdotal evidence that I've found in my thirty years of smoking, there is only one reference to physical addiction. The reference to 'mild physical addiction can be found on the risk chart here.

It states:

'A mild physical dependence on cannabis might possibly occur in patients using cannabis in high doses, on a regular basis, over a long period of time. However, acute withdrawal from Cannabis produces only mild discomfort (less problematic than caffiene[sic] withdrawal) rather than life threatening symptoms as seen with many other medicines. Addiction to cannabis is not common, but if a person becomes addicted to cannabis, treatment is available.'

Mary Lynne Mathre, RN, MSN, CARN

The risk chart is available at the Medical Marijuana website.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Deadly Drug Flys Under the Radar

I was looking for this blog post a while back so that I could help spread the word. However, I got side-tracked and have only just found this important piece of news.

420 Guy broke the news in March of an insidious drug, closely related to Cannabis, that has crept under the radar of Law enforcement officials for too long. You owe it to yourself to read this article and start taking action today to prevent its further spread.

The article states the following statistics and evidence based research on its effects:

* In 2006, 45.1% of students in grades 9-12 consumed Humulus infused beverages
* 35.3% of 8th-graders and 70.2% of 12-graders reported that humulus is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.

  • lower graduation rates, higher drop-out rates
  • lower GPAs, lower academic achievement, higher school failures
  • higher incidents of unplanned sex, sexual assaults, and unprotected sex
  • trouble with community and campus police
  • lower wage potential
  • higher chances of alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities

Thankyou 420 Guy. You've done a good thing by revealing this menace to the world.

Rhode Island may Legalise Cannabis Sales to Chronically Ill

The Associated Press is reporting that Rhode Island may soon allow non-profit businesses to sell Cannabis to chronically ill patients:

The bills would allow so-called "compassion centers" to sell up to 2.5 ounces of the drug every 15 days to a patient or his caregiver if they are enrolled in an existing medical marijuana program overseen by the state Health Department. Rhode Island became the eleventh state in the country in 2006 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, although the drug remains illegal under federal law.
This is probably a smart move considering that even though Cannabis is legal in the State for medicinal purposes, it is still illegal to deal there.

Details of the story can be found at

Newborn Rats Shouldn't Mix Their Drugs

According to a scientific study conducted by two German Universities, THC can increase the toxic effects of Alcohol and other drugs.

Researchers at the Neuroscience Research Center of the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Department of Pediatric Neurology, University of Technology Dresden, Germany conducted tests on rats between one and fourteen days old:

The results showed that THC and its synthetic form did not cause neurodegeneration when administered alone but did cause cell death when given with lower than toxic amounts of ethanol. This combined effect increased according to the dose of THC that was administered and was strongest when the rats were 7 days old. THC also enhanced the neurotoxic effect of phenobarbital and MK-801 (ethanol combines the mechanism of action used by these two drugs). In addition, marijuana activates CB1 receptor levels, which causes the psychomotor, memory, cognition and pain perception changes seen with this substance in adult humans and animals. In the current study, THC combined with ethanol increased these levels...

So the lesson here is, don't let your newborns mix their drugs folks.

Seriously though, this study is probably a good reason to stop mixing your drugs. In my younger Pot smoking days, I learnt the same lesson. I could be guaranteed to throw up if I tried having a scoob after a gutful of beer. Strangely though, if I smoked first, I didn't get the same effect. But that's probably because I drank far less if I was stoned first.

More Sensationalism From UK Press

The Headline screams:

Cannabis Linked to Mans Suicide

Coroner Stanley Hooper entered the controversy about the reclassification of the drug after hearing how a young man committed suicide while suffering from schizophrenia brought on by cannabis use.

Mr Hooper said politicians should reflect on the case of the 21-year-old Stuart Lester when considering whether to upgrade cannabis to a class B drug.

I would have hoped that the coroner would have said something along the lines of:

"Politicians should reflect on the case of this man and start some real education on the effects of Cannabis abuse amongst young people."

I'll say it again. There is a HUGE difference between Cannabis USE and Cannabis ABUSE. It is time to start a large scale education campaign on what effects abuse can have on people, especially those suffering, or those predisposed to Schizophrenia.

Reclassifying Cannabis in the UK to a Class B substance will do absolutely nothing to lower Cannabis use or abuse amongst young British kids.

Throwing up stories like this without clarifying the differences clouds the issues involved and only serves to hinder further steps toward legalisation for medicinal use of the drug.
It is also interesting to note that the headline conveniently omits the fact that this poor bloke had taken Ecstasy before suiciding.

It's About Time!!

New South Wales (capital Australia) is about to pass legislation to allow Hemp to be grown on an industrial scale. This is a huge leap forward for a country whose all round Cannabis/Hemp laws have been in stuck somewhere in the thirties for so long:

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Industrial hemp fibre produced here in NSW could pave the way for the establishment of a new viable industry that creates and sells textiles, cloth and building products made from locally grown industrial hemp," said the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, who will oversee the licences for the new crop.

"There is growing support from the agricultural sector for the development of such a new industry. This is a direct result of the environmentally friendly nature of industrial hemp and a perceived interest for hemp products in the market."

Trials in the state's west had yielded 10 to 12 tonnes of dry stem per hectare, which was similar to yields reported from crops in other states and in Europe, Mr Macdonald said.

Honestly, as an Aussie who has been a pro hemp/ pro Cannabis person for most of my life, this is the BEST news I've heard for a long, long time. I just hope other states follow suit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

GW Pharmaceutical Reports on Preliminary Sativex Trial

GB Pharmaceuticals has reported that preliminary trials of Sativex, the Cannabis derived pain relief spray, have narrowly missed 'statistical significance' due to unusually high placebo responses:

The placebo response in the study reported today appears related to dosing design, whereby patients were able to self-administer the oral spray at will. This was intended to reflect as far as possible the “real world” use of Sativex whereby patients initially experiment with dosing of Sativex to find their optimum dose level and which, once established, is usually maintained thereafter. Analysis of the efficacy data at fixed dose levels demonstrates a highly significant difference between Sativex and placebo. However, a consequence of allowing patients to determine their own dose was that patients on placebo took significantly more doses than patients on Sativex, thus confounding the overall comparison. This validates the decision by GW last year to adopt a fixed target dose approach in both the ongoing studies of Sativex in MS Spasticity and Cancer Pain.
Further details can be found at the GW Pharma site here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

LA City Council: "Feds, please respect our laws"

California Faultline reports that the Los Angeles City Council has officially asked the US Federal Govt to respect their Cannabis laws:

Last week, the L.A. City Council passed what will likely be another symbolic local measure, this time asking the Federal government to respect California’s “compassionate” medical marijuana laws, “and to return all assets seized from medical marijuana dispensaries to the states from which they were confiscated.”

Whether the Feds listen is another story altogether...

Grandmother Wants Pot In Hospital

Patricia Tabram, 69, is going to hospital soon for a kidney operation. She is apparently allowed to take her own food into hospital. Problem is, she laces hers with Cannabis to treat chronic neck and back pain. The hospital has stated that if she does bring her tainted food in with her, they'll call the Police.

Read the story by Neil McKay of The Journal here.

Give the woman a break! I think she is old enough and wise enough to know what works for her and what doesn't. What's she gunna do? Suffer Pot Psychosis? I had a psychologist warn me last week that I might suffer a psychotic episode if I continue to smoke. He also told me that he was against drugs of any kind, then in the next breath said he was making me an appointment with a GP so that I could be prescribed anti-depressants. Hypocrisy?

How strange. I've been suffering depression for a number of years and have kept the demon under control for all that time with minimal daily doses of Cannabis. Due to a sudden move some 500 kilometres from home, I have no local place to obtain my medicine of choice to treat my condition/s. After four weeks, I have sought treatment from a professional because I cannot get the medicine that works. They ignore everything I've told them about how Cannabis works for me and try to push a prescription drug (Lovan - fluoxetine) on me. The common side effects of fluoxetine are worse than the symptoms I am suffering.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Strain Review Dot Com

If you're a Medicinal user and are looking for some more information on particular Marijuana strains and how they can help you, have a look at Strain Review.

From the site:

'The reason was created, is to create a community of Medical Marijuana patients who need information of strains and thier choice of medicine.Please do not hesitate to give comments or suggestions. After all this site is for the people, so we want to hear from you and what you think we can do to make more informative or better!'

Cannazine: British Website to 'Tell It Like It Is'

The UK Cannazine website is set to start an education campaign targeted at the general public to try and show exactly what happens 'behind the scenes' in a typical citizen's grow room. The website has challenged the mainstream British press to come on board and start publishing the positive side of the Cannabis debate, rather than focusing on the 'anti-cannabis' stories that currently populate newspapers today.

Check the press release here.

Misinformation and Fearmongering

Why is it that otherwise intelligent people have to create an aura of fear when it comes to the Cannabis debate?

The following is a prime example of misinformation and fear mongering:

Cannabis and Schizophrenia: The Links

Eleven studies dating back as far as 1972, no references or mention of what studies, but enough to make the ignorant associate Cannabis as a 'cause' of Schizophrenia. Yes, we all know that people pre-disposed to Schizophrenia can have this disease manifest with Marijuana abuse. However, Alcohol and other drugs can also bring on this disease or exacerbate the symptoms.

The problem with the majority of 'anti-cannabis' articles is that they do not differentiate between use and abuse. Until such time as these people do make the distinction, the fight to legalize Cannabis for medicinal purposes will continue to be a hard fought battle.

As Paul Flynn, British MP states:

'It has always been known that cannabis can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness. It’s rare but serious. Cannabis should not be used by those who are vulnerable. But is has never been shown to be a cause of mental problems.'