Cannabis Politics

O’Shaughnessy’s (Winter 2015/16)

O’Shaughnessy’s
By on January 04, 2016

The Winter 2015/16 issue of O’Shaughnessy’s—the journal that was instrumental in launching Project CBD six years ago—is now available.

There are too many highlights to highlight in this 72-page publication, which chronicles the recent history of medical marijuana as a dynamic social movement from the perspective of cannabis health specialists and their patients.

The lead story tracks the paths by which CBD-rich products are reaching medical patients. Both Bonni Goldstein, MD, in California and Margaret Gedde, MD, in Colorado have monitored the progress of hundreds of pediatric epilepsy patients utilizing unregulated high CBD/low THC cannabis oils (extracted from strains such as ACDC and Charlotte’s Web) with results similar to what doctors are seeing in FDA-approved treatment programs using GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex.

More than half the children who are given CBD-rich oil experience significantly fewer and less-severe seizures. For a small group at one end of the curve, seizures are eliminated. For a small group at the other end, cannabis doesn’t help at all, or exacerbates symptoms. Medical scientists are investigating why CBD-rich oil works for some patients but not for others. Most pediatric epilepsy cases involve genetic mutations. Some but not all gene-based epilepsies are amenable to treatment with CBD. Some are proving amenable to treatment with CBD plus THC and other cannabinoids.

O’Shaughnessy’s was conceived by Tod Mikuriya, MD, as a journal in which doctors monitoring cannabis use by patients could share their findings and observations and be kept up to date on the relevant science and politics. Dr. Mikuriya wanted physicians in the emerging specialty to share O’Shaughnessy’s with patients “by way of thanks, because almost all we know about cannabis as medicine comes from patients.”

Order O’Shaughnessy’s          

Open Letter to NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell

Lester Grinspoon and Project CBD, cannabis and NFL
By on January 04, 2016

Originally published by O'Shaughnessy's (BeyondTHC.com)

I am among the millions of people who enjoy football as a spectator sport. However, I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the growing specter that many of these athletes will pay the price of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) to a greater or lesser extent as they grow older. I believe that any change in the rules of the game which would accommodate these concerns would also diminish its popularity. I also believe that attempts to improve protective equipment can only go so far without seriously diminishing the skills and capacities of the player. Football is a violent game and every one involved in it knows that there will certainly be injuries. However, most injuries manifest themselves immediately, are orthopedic, not life-threatening, and with the help of nature and orthopedic medicine, will sooner or later heal. Injury to the brain is another matter.

The skull is nature’s way of protecting this most important organ, the brain. However, strong as this container is, it cannot protect the contents from concussion. And most assuredly it offers no protection against the consequences of repeated concussions which can lead to the development of CTE. And unlike orthopedic injuries, the effects of this syndrome only manifest themselves over the course of years and they are always irreversible and often devastating. The piece of equipment meant to protect the head is the helmet, which is excellent at protecting the container but not the contents. Furthermore, given the limitations imposed by physics, anatomy and neurophysiology, I question whether there is any helmet design which can do much more to limit the frequency or severity of concussions. It is for this reason that I believe it is important to look for internal protection against this kind of devastation.

Over the last two decades interest, knowledge and use of marijuana as a medicine has grown exponentially. People who are knowledgeable about cannabinopathic medicine believe that marijuana is neuroprotective. This understanding has grown from both clinical experience and animal research. It is also well known that it is remarkably free of toxicity. Furthermore, it is been learned relatively recently that one of the constituents of marijuana is a cannabinoid known as cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive properties; in other words, no amount of it would lead to a “high.” Increasingly, it is being sought as a medicine because it is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant and it is free of psychoactivity. It is a very promising development, but the kind of research that will be necessary to establish this as a general medicine useful preventively in patients who are more likely to develop strokes because they suffer from heart arrhythmias or with patients who are subjected to other kinds of brain trauma will have to await the funding of this research. Funding for this kind of research is usually provided by a pharmaceutical company which wants to develop a new medicine for the market and, in order to do so, has to provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the research data which establishes both efficacy and safety. It is highly unlikely that a pharmaceutical company will get involved in this expensive research in this instance because a high ratio CBD/THC is now available in those states which have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. The only other source of funding would be the US government which is not likely to provide it.

I would propose two actions for the NFL which have a good chance of decreasing the devastation of CTE. The NFL pockets are deep enough to support a crash research program to determine that this combination of cannabinoids is effective in preventing the consequences of concussion so that we will know for sure whether or not it will protect against this threat to the players. Secondly, I would also urge the NFL to drop its urine testing marijuana program so that players who believe that a high ratio CBD/THC substance may be useful to them in this regard will be free to use it without objection by the NFL.

Sincerely,

Lester Grinspoon M.D.
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
Author of Marihuana Reconsidered (Harvard University Press, 1971) and Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine (Yale University Press, 1993, 1997)

Veterans Drop Hundreds of Empty Pill Bottles at the White House

Veterans call for medical marijuana
By on November 12, 2015

Published in full on the Washington Post.

A couple dozen servicemen and women marched to the White House this Veterans Day and dumped a large box of empty pill containers, calling on the president and other federal officials to make medical marijuana accessible to veterans.

“Here’s what the over-medication of our veterans looks like,” they said as they spilled the canisters onto the floor. “We don’t want it.”

The veterans and protesters—affiliated with various veteran and marijuana advocacy organizations—argued that Veterans Affairs hospitals are over-medicating veterans, prescribing them a large number of psychoactive medications to treat PTSD. They marched from McPherson Square to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, then to the White House, some smoking joints along the way, which is illegal in D.C.

Read full article


See the report on the Care By Design survey on cannabis in the treatment of PTSD.

READ REPORT

CBD Legislative Update: Federal Developments

CBD legislation
By on September 11, 2015

Several cannabis-related bills have been introduced by the U.S. Congress in the current 114th Session. Three of these bills relate specifically to the isolate cannabidiol (CBD), while anotherthe Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015could significantly impact the legal status of low-THC varieties of Cannabis and whole plant preparations in general.

These bills are discussed below in order of their filing dates.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (S.134 & H.R. 525).

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 was officially re-filed in both the U.S. Senate (S.134) and the U.S. House (H.R. 525), and is thus now the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

This short and simple Act seeks to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (“CSA”) by supplementing the CSA definition of “marihuana” (21 U.S.C. 802(16)) so that “the term ‘marihuana’ does not include industrial hemp.” The Act adopts the definition of “industrial hemp” encoded in the §7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the “Farm Bill”) as follows:

“[T]he term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

It is noteworthy that unlike the definition of “marihuana,” the definition of industrial hemp does not exclude plant resins, a legislative nuance that could prove to be very significant with respect to CBD-rich oil extraction.

The Senate version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act was filed in January by Sen. R. Wyden (D-OR) on behalf of himself and prime co-sponsors Sen. Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. McConnell (R-KY) and Paul (R-KY). The House version, also introduced in January, was filed by Rep. T. Massie (R-KY) on behalf of himself and numerous bipartisan co-sponsors.

The only difference between these sister bills is located in Section 3 of each. Both bills seek to amend §201 of the CSA by including the following:

“(i) Industrial hemp determination.—If a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa (sic) L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law, the Cannabis sativa (sic) L. shall be deemed to meet the concentration limitation under section 102(57).” However, the Senate version adds this qualifier to the aforementioned final sentence: “unless the Attorney General determines that the State law is not reasonably calculated to comply with section 102(57).”

As of Labor Day 2015, only nine U.S. senators have co-sponsored S.134. If you support the legalization of industrial hemp, contact your senator by phone, mail and/or email to request that they co-sponsor S.134. For more information or to communicate to your senator, go to www.VoteHemp.com and click the “Take Action” tab.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion & Respect States Act (S.683)

Known as the CARERS Act, this legislation has gained support from multiple drug policy and Cannabis organizations. It is an important bill, a significant step forward for medical marijuana patients in many respects, with the arguable exception that the CARERS Act would remove marihuana from Schedule I (dangerous with no medical value) and re-categorize it as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II is reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse leading to severe psychological or physical dependence (oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, methadone, and amphetamine, among others). Project CBD maintains that herbal Cannabis should be entirely de-scheduled.

Filed by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in March, the CARERS Act specifically seeks to remove cannabidiol from the CSA by stating that the term “marihuana” does not include “cannabidiol,” and by further defining “cannabidiol” as meaning “the substance cannabidiol, as derived from marihuana or the synthetic formulation, that contains not greater than 0.3 percent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis.”

The CARERS Act does not require states to implement a medical marijuana program or change their existing marijuana laws. Rather, the Act seeks to accomplish four main goals:

  • It affirms the right of states to form and enforce their own medical marijuana laws by amending the CSA to exempt state-compliant individuals from federal prosecution under the CSA;
  • It allows Veterans Affairs physicians operating in legal states to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans;
  • It allows financial services and banking for marijuana outlets operating in legal states by providing a safe harbor to banks and credit unions (and their officers and employees) that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses engaged in activities in compliance with state law; and
  • It removes unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to research and ends NIDA’s research monopoly.  

For more information, contact Americans for Safe Access, which has championed the CARERS Act on Capital Hill.

The Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015 and the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015.

These are quasi-sister bills—with some notable differences. Both seek to remove “cannabidiol” and “cannabidiol-rich plants” from the CSA by changing the CSA’s definition of “marihuana” so that CBD and CBD-rich plants “shall not be treated as controlled substances.” Both bills amend the definition of “marihuana” by stating the term does not include “cannabidiol” or “cannabidiol-rich plants.” Both bills define “cannabidiol” as “the substance cannabidiol, as derived from a cannabidiol-rich plant.” Finally, both declare that nothing in the bill(s) “shall prohibit or otherwise restrict any activities related to the use, production, or distribution of marihuana in a state in which such activities are legal under state law.”

The Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act, promoted by Realm of Caring lobbyists, was filed by Rep. S. Perry (R-PA) in March. Two months later Sen. C. Gardner (R-OR) filed the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015.

Here’s where the two bills differ:

The Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015 (H.R. 1635):

  • Supplements the CSA definition of “marihuana” by duplicating the definition of “industrial hemp” historically distinguished in §7606 of the Farm Bill mentioned above, but instead uses that definition to define “cannabidiol-rich plant.” That definition is: “[T]he term ‘cannabidiol-rich plant’ means the plant Cannabis sativa (sic) L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” (Emphasis added in bold.)
  • Further exempts “cannabidiol” and “cannabidiol-rich plants” from the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301, et seq).
  • Includes a three-year sunset provision that states “[T]he provisions of this Act, and the provisions inserted into the Controlled Substances Act by this Act, shall cease to apply on the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act.”

The Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015 (S.1333):

  • Supplements the CSA definition of “marihuana” by almost duplicating the definition of “industrial hemp” historically distinguished in §7606 of the Farm Bill. That definition is: “[T]he term ‘cannabidiol-rich plant’ means the plant Cannabis sativa (sic) L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” (Emphasis added due to the omission of the “delta-9” qualifier.)
  • Includes a flawed definition of “tetrahydrocannabinol con­cen­tra­tion” that is ripe for confusion and misinterpretation. That definition is: “(A) the percent of the delta-9 te­tra­hy­dro­can­nabinol content per dry weight of any part of the plant Cannabis sativa (sic) L. or per volume of weight of marihuana product; or (B) the combined percent of the delta-9 tet­ra­hy­dro­can­nab­i­nol and tet­ra­hy­dro­can­nab­i­nol­ic acid in any part of the plant Cannabis sativa (sic) L., regardless of moisture content.” (Emphasis added due to the inclusion of THCA, the raw non-psychoactive version of THC, which, when heated, converts to psychoactive THC. Merging THC and THCA content may distort the measured percentages; moreover, non-psychoactive cannabinoids do not appear to be included in the testing protocol, which could also skew the results.)
  • Does not include a sunset clause or an exemption from the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

It is beyond the scope of this legislative sumary to predict when or whether any of these particular bills will get enacted during the current Congressional session. Nor does this summary address H.R. 1940 (the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015), which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and will, if passed, protect state marijuana legalization laws from federal interference. This measure does not specifically mention CBD. There are also three Cannabis-related amendments to H.R. 2578 (the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016) that do not reference CBD. The passage of any of these measures would be a positive development for medical marijuana patients.

Joy Beckerman is president of Hemp Ace International. She serves as a legal analyst for the Hemp Industry Association’s Cannabinoids Safety Committee.

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

Dubious Diagnostics: APA, Official Sponsor of ‘Cannabis Abuse’

Cannabis in the DSM-5
By on September 01, 2015

Originally published in O’Shaughnessy’s.

The new O’Shaughnessy’s has a piece about Zenia Gilg’s lawsuit challenging the validity of marijuana being on Schedule 1. The federal government’s rationale was explicitly stated—it all comes down to potential for “abuse” as defined by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is often called “The Bible” of the profession. It assigns a definition and a number to every ailment of the mind and spirit for which psychotherapists provide treatment, MDs prescribe medication, and insurance companies reimburse. The double purpose of the DSM is to endow the field of Psychiatry with a facade of rigor while facilitating billing.

The first DSM, published in 1952, listed 106 disorders, including homosexuality (which was removed from the DSM list in 1975). By increasing the number of disorders and the broadness of the definitions over the years, the DSM authors—establishment psychiatrists with drug-company funding—have increased the number of Americans who qualify for prescription drugs (and, fortuitously, for medical marijuana). 

The revised third edition, published in 1987, listed 292 conditions. The DSM-IV made more inclusive the definition for Clinical Depression, just as Eli Lilly and Pfizer were preparing Prozac and Zoloft for the market. DSM-IV also created a handy checklist of symptoms for each disorder, enabling the harried practitioner to make a quick, easy diagnosis.

“Cannabis Abuse” is one of many conditions defined by the DSM under “Substance Use Disorder.” Gilg elicited testimony from Drs. Philip Denney and Carl Hart that based on the DSM-V exempted medical users from an “abuse” diagnosis. These are the words that gave them hope: “Symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal occuring during appropriate medical treatment with prescribed medication (e.g., opioid analgesic, sedative, stiumlants) are specifically not counted when diagnosing a substance use disorder.”

Unfortunately, tolerance and withdrawal are not the only responses to marijuana that condemn the herb to Schedule I status. “Prescription medications can be used inappropriately, and a substance use disorder can be correctly diagnosed when there are other symptoms of compulsive, drug-seeking behavior,” states the DSM.

So how do doctors distinguish a Substance Use Disorder from medical use of a drug? DSM-V says, “The diagnosis of a substance use disorder is based on a pathological pattern of behaviors related to use of the substance.” Nine such behaviors are listed:

Criterion 1: “The individual may take the substance in larger amounts or over a longer period than was originally intended.”
If you try marijuana and find that it agrees with you, you’re likely to use it more frequently than originally intended. How is that evidence of pathology? 

Criterion 2: “The individual may express a persistent desire to cut down or regulate substance use and may report multiple unsuccessful efforts to decrease or discontinue use.”
If a parent (or boss, counselor, or other authority figure) says marijuana is dangerous and you must stop using it, you may promise to stop. But then you’re with your friends and you’re re-convinced that it’s harmless (and even helpful), so you resume. That is evidence of pathology, according to the psychiatrists’ Bible. An unslanted definition would be disobedience. 

Criterion 3: “The individual may spend a great deal of time obtaining the substance…”
That is clearly a result of prohibition.

Criterion 4: Craving is manifested by an intense desire or urge for the drug… more likely when in an environment where the drug previously was obtained or used.”
The DSM authors sneak intense into the sentence like a virus. Craving (according to the English language) can be intense or mild. The craving for cannabinoids is very mild compared to the craving for, say, opiates. For many people it’s milder than the craving for coffee. And of course you’ll be “craving” more when you’re around people who are indulging. Duh. 

Criterion 5: “Recurrent substance use may result in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.”
This makes sense if the failure to fuilfill is due to impairment, but almost invariably it’s due to punishment

Criterion 6: The individual may continue substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance.”
Meaning: if people who disapprove of your cannabis use decide to distance from you, it’s your fault and evidence of pathology.

Criterion 7: “Important social, occupational, or recreational activities may be given up or reduced because of substance use.”
Who decides that a given extra-curricular is “important?” Not the patient, obviously. Some people are like Ferdinand the Bull, they’d rather smell the flowers than play football.

Criterion 8: “Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.”
Definitely a sign of stupidity. 

Criterion 9: “The individual may continue substance use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.”
A drug can simultaneously exacerbate a problem and produce benefit. Let’s say you have chronic bronchitis, PTSD, and insomnia. You have a nightmare and wake up in a sweat. You smoke some marijuana, which makes you cough—but restores equanimity and makes sleep possible. Reasonable choice or evidence of pathology?

Study: Chronic marijuana use by teens not linked to later health issues

teens and marijuana
By on August 21, 2015

Published in full on The Oregonian/OregonLive

Chronic marijuana use by young teens was not linked with mental or physical disorders more than two decades later, a new study found.

Researchers looked at the health records of 400 boys who were followed from seventh-grade to the age of 36 in the Pittsburgh Youth Study. They included both African Americans and whites and were grouped into four categories according to their marijuana use: little or no use, early chronic users, those who only smoked marijuana during adolescence and those who began using marijuana in their late teens and continued into their adulthood.

After controlling for risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol and hard drug use or socioeconomic status and health insurance, they found no significant difference in those suffering from asthma, allergies, high blood pressure and mood disorders as adults.

The results run contrary to other studies.

"What we found was a little surprising," Jordan Bechtold, the lead researcher, said in a news release. "There were no differences in any of the mental or physical health outcomes that we measured regardless of the amount or frequency of marijuana used during adolescence,"

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Ex-Board Members Say Medical Marijuana Inc. Acquired Through Fraud

Medical Marijuana Inc. accused of fraud
By on May 01, 2015

Published in full by Courthouse News Service.

SAN DIEGO: The new owners of Medical Marijuana Inc. acquired it through fraud, former board members say in a state court suit.

William Martin and David Tobias say the Hemp Deposit and Distribution Corp.—doing business as CannaBank—and its president and founder, Michael Llamas, lied to them to acquire a controlling interest in Medical Marijuana Inc. in 2010.

CannaBank is a private equity firm that "specializes in capital allocation thru [sic] mergers and acquisitions in several core industries," according to its website.

Martin and Tobias in 2010 were board members of Medical Marijuana Inc., which is organized in Oregon, based in San Diego and is the "first publicly held company vested in the medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries," the suit says.

As board members, each was a "large" shareholder in Medical Marijuana Inc., Martin and Tobias say.

In May 2010, Martin says Llamas sent an unsolicited email proposing to merge CannaBank with Medical Marijuana Inc. Llamas and CannaBank would exchange debt-free assets for a "controlling amount of common stock" in Medical Marijuana Inc., Martin says.

Those assets included 10 properties plus "various patents, technology, intellectual property, and products in exchange for 260 million shares" in Medical Marijuana Inc., Martin and Tobias claim in the lawsuit.

Both sides agreed to the deal in March 2011, CannaBank also agreed to issue 30 million shares in Medical Marijuana Inc. to Martin and another 30 million to Tobias, the men claim.

But after CannaBank obtained the 260 million shares in Medical Marijuana Inc., they say CannaBank never issued the agreed-upon 60 million in combined shares to Martin and Tobias.

Read full article

Prohibition’s Last Gasp: “CBD Only”

Cannabis Prohibition
By on March 26, 2015

"What is falling, we must still push."—Nietzsche

Industrial hemp oil marketers tried to put a positive spin on the Food and Drug Administration’s recent slap-down of companies that pitch CBD products as legal in all 50 states.

In late February and early March, the FDA sent warning letters to 11 companies for making unproven medical claims about their CBD-infused products.

The FDA also tested some of the commodities peddled by these companies and found that in many cases the products contained little or no cannabidiol.

The FDA warning letters did not address other mislabeling red flags, such as assertions that CBD is extracted from the stalk and seed of the hemp plant, not the leaves and flowers.

Nor did the FDA directly address CBD’s legal status. CBD hemp oil boosters were heartened because the FDA didn’t say CBD-infused oil per se is illegal.

But the fact that the FDA sidestepped the issue of CBD’s legality does not necessarily mean that the FDA signed off on it. The FDA has yet to approve CBD either as a dietary supplement or a drug.

Nutraceutical merchants, meanwhile, are chomping at the bit for CBD. They yearn for clarity regarding the legal status of CBD oil derived from industrial hemp with less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cannabidiol extracted from CBD-rich cannabis remains illegal under federal law, despite the fact that it is not an inebriant, is nonlethal, and has no known adverse side effects (though drug interactions can be problematic).

State legislatures aren’t waiting for a signal from the Feds. Thirteen states in recent months have enacted so-called “CBD-only” laws, or better put, “Low THC laws,” though a cynic might call them “Keep marijuana illegal” laws.

Backed by conservative Republicans and blue dog Democrats who have long opposed medical marijuana, most of these CBD-only bills ostensibly provide an affirmative defense that allow certain people to use cannabidiol-rich oil derived from hemp or cannabis that measures below or near 0.3 percent THC, the federal guideline. But each state government sets its own rules. Some limit the sources of CBD-rich products and specify a narrow range of conditions for which CBD can be used; others do not.

Will CBD-only laws prove to be a key first step toward full-fledged medical marijuana legislation in Red State America? Or is “CBD-only” a cul-de-sac that delays and thwarts safe access to a broader range of cannabis therapies?

To date, it is difficult for residents of CBD-only states to obtain CBD-rich oil legally. And even if they could, many would be disappointed to find that low-THC oil doesn’t work for everyone. Most medical marijuana patients are not adequately served by CBD-only laws. They need access to a wide spectrum of whole plant cannabis remedies, not just low THC medicine.

Parents of children with seizure disorders and other serious illnesses have been at the forefront of lobbying state officials to enact laws to protect families seeking access to CBD-rich oils. In February, politicians in Virginia—where hemp growing was once mandatory by colonial decree—enacted low THC legislation in response to pleas from parents and other patient advocates.

The Virginia parents had learned through online discussion groups and illicit, hands-on experimentation that augmenting CBD-rich oil by adding some THC—or better yet, THCA, the raw unheated version of THC—helps with seizure control in many instances.

THCA, like CBD, is a non-psychotropic marijuana compound. If ingested, THCA doesn’t make a person feel “high.” THCA turns into THC, The High Causer, after the dried marijuana flower-tops are “activated” by exposure to heat via combustion or cooking.

So the Virginia pols “legalized” THCA, as well as CBD, thereby providing an affirmative defense for some patients who need safe access to medicinal cannabis.

For years, elected officials and government bureaucrats have slandered this plant, demonized it, demeaned it, and denied its therapeutic value. And now, after decades of hyperbolizing the evil weed and trivializing the funny stuff, policymakers are chopping the herb into bits and pieces, legalizing some marijuana molecules while shunning other parts of the still forbidden Schedule I botanical.

And if all else fails our fearless leaders, who have long since forfeited any claim to credibility with respect to marijuana, have one last trick up their sleeve. They can consign the plant to Schedule II and restrict patient access by needlessly insisting that doctors write prescriptions in triplicate for those who might benefit from cannabis therapeutics.

Rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II substance should smooth the way for long-suppressed clinical research. That would be a positive development. Placing cannabis in Schedule II would be a significant advancement in other ways, as well. But Schedule II doesn’t go nearly far enough. Cannabis—high THC, CBD rich, and any variation thereof—should be de-scheduled and regulated as a medicinal herb, not as a single-molecule pharmaceutical or a street drug.

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

CBD Misconceptions

Cannabis misconceptions, marijuana misinformation
By on February 18, 2015

Updated: August 2, 2015

It doesn’t get you high, but it’s causing quite a buzz among medical scientists and patients. The past year has seen a surge of interest in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound with significant therapeutic properties. Numerous commercial start-ups and internet retailers have jumped on the CBD bandwagon, touting CBD derived from industrial hemp as the next big thing, a miracle oil that can shrink tumors, quell seizures, and ease chronic pain—without making people feel “stoned.” But along with a growing awareness of cannabidiol as a potential health aid there has been a proliferation of misconceptions about CBD.

  1. “CBD is medical. THC is recreational.” Project CBD receives many inquiries from around the world and oftentimes people say they are seeking “CBD, the medical part” of the plant, “not THC, the recreational part” that gets you high. Actually, THC, “The High Causer,” has awesome therapeutic properties. Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego reported that THC inhibits an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia. The federal government recognizes single-molecule THC (Marinol) as an anti-nausea compound and appetite booster, deeming it a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medicinal substances with little abuse potential. But whole plant marijuana, the only natural source of THC, continues to be classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical value.
  2. “THC is the bad cannabinoid. CBD is the good cannabinoid.” The drug warrior’s strategic retreat: Give ground on CBD while continuing to demonize THC. Diehard marijuana prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting tetrahydrocannabinol as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you high like THC does. Project CBD categorically rejects this moralistic, reefer madness dichotomy in favor of whole plant cannabis therapeutics. (Read the foundational science paper: A Tale of Two Cannabinoids.)
  3. “CBD is most effective without THC.” THC and CBD are the power couple of cannabis compounds—they work best together. Scientific studies have established that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects. British researchers have shown that CBD potentiates THC’s anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model of colitis. Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco determined that a combination of CBD and THC has a more potent anti-tumoral effect than either compound alone when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines. And extensive clinical research has demonstrated that CBD combined with THC is more beneficial for neuropathic pain than either compound as a single molecule.
  4. “Single-molecule pharmaceuticals are superior to ‘crude’ whole plant medicinals.” According to the federal government, specific components of the marijuana plant (THC, CBD) have medical value, but the plant itself does not have medical value. Uncle Sam’s single-molecule blinders reflect a cultural and political bias that privileges Big Pharma products. Single-molecule medicine is the predominant corporate way, the FDA-approved way, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the optimal way to benefit from cannabis therapeutics. Cannabis contains several hundred compounds, including various flavonoids, aromatic terpenes, and many minor cannabinoids in addition to THC and CBD. Each of these compounds has specific healing attributes, but when combined they create what scientists refer to as a holistic “entourage effect,” so that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts. The Food and Drug Administration, however, isn’t in the business of approving plants as medicine. (See the scientific evidence.)
  5. “Psychoactivity is inherently an adverse side effect.” According to politically correct drug war catechism, the marijuana high is an unwanted side effect. Big Pharma is keen on synthesizing medically active marijuana-like molecules that don’t make people high—although it’s not obvious why mild euphoric feelings are intrinsically negative for a sick person or a healthy person, for that matter. In ancient Greece, the word euphoria meant “having health,” a state of well-being. The euphoric qualities of cannabis, far from being an unwholesome side effect, are deeply implicated in the therapeutic value of the plant. “We should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first,” said Dr. Tod Mikuriya, “that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties on the side.”
  6. “CBD is legal in all 50 states.” Purveyors of imported, CBD-infused hemp oil claim it’s legal to market their wares anywhere in the United States as long as the oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Actually, it’s not so simple. Federal law prohibits U.S. farmers from growing hemp as a commercial crop, but the sale of imported, low-THC, industrial hemp products is permitted in the United States as long as these products are derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers. Here’s the catch: Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hempseed. CBD can be extracted from the flower, leaves, and, only to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp oil start-ups lack credibility when they say their CBD comes from hempseed and stalk. Congress may soon vote to exempt industrial hemp and CBD from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Such legislation would not be necessary if CBD derived from foreign-grown hemp was already legal throughout the United States. 
  7. “'CBD-only’ laws adequately serve the patient population.” Fifteen U.S. state legislatures have passed “CBD only” (or, more accurately, “low THC”) laws, and other states are poised to follow suit. Some states restrict the sources of CBD-rich products and specify the diseases for which CBD can be accessed; others do not. Ostensibly these laws allow the use of CBD-infused oil derived from hemp or cannabis that measures less than 0.3 percent THC. But a CBD-rich remedy with little THC doesn’t work for everyone. Parents of epileptic children have found that adding some THC (or THCA, the raw unheated version of THC) helps with seizure control in many instances. For some epileptics, THC-dominant strains are more effective than CBD-rich products. The vast majority of patients are not well served by CBD-only laws. They need access to a broad spectrum of whole plant cannabis remedies, not just the low THC medicine. One size doesn’t fit all with respect to cannabis therapeutics, and neither does one compound or one product or one strain. (Read more: Prohibition’s Last Gasp: “CBD Only.”)
  8. “CBD is CBD—It doesn’t matter where it comes from.” Yes it does matter. The flower-tops and leaves of some industrial hemp strains may be a viable source of CBD (legal issues notwithstanding), but hemp is by no means an optimal source of cannabidiol. Industrial hemp typically contains far less cannabidiol than CBD-rich cannabis. Huge amounts of industrial hemp are required to extract a small amount of CBD, thereby raising the risk of toxic contaminants because hemp is a “bio-accumulator” that draws heavy metals from the soil. Single-molecule CBD synthesized in a lab or extracted and refined from industrial hemp lacks critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis strains. These compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their therapeutic benefits. (See also: Sourcing CBD: Marijuana, Industrial Hemp & the Vagaries of Federal Law.)

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

Florida Fiasco: Did ‘CBD-Only’ Subvert Medical Marijuana Measure?

Florida's medical marijuana fiasco
By on December 04, 2014

The “Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative”—better known as Amendment 2—seemed very likely to pass as of July 2014, when 88 percent of prospective voters supported “allowing adults in Florida to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it,” according to the respected Quinnipiac University poll.

Amendment 2’s intent was to legalize marijuana use for patients coping with any “conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks.” Also, to legalize “medical marijuana treatment centers,” otherwise known as dispensaries.

How did it happen that a medical marijuana ballot initiative supported by almost 90% of Florida voters in the spring was defeated in November? Let us count the ways.

1. The “supermajority” requirement

Because the Florida legislature has voted down medical marijuana bills in recent years, reformers took their case directly to the voters in 2014 with a ballot initiative.

And because the Florida legislature can weaken or even throw out a law passed by the voters, the reformers framed their initiative as an Amendment to the state constitution (which legislators beholden to lobbyists wouldn’t be able to mess with).

However, an Amendment requires not a “simple” majority of voters (as in democracy) but a 60% “super” majority (as in maintain the status quo).

Florida’s medical marijuana initiative garnered 58% of the vote on Election Day. Meaning it lost.

Until 2006 an Amendment to the Florida constitution required only a “simple” majority. Then, as explained by Alan Farago on Counterpunch.org, “the GOP legislature and its patrons, Big Sugar, the Florida Homebuilders, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, began demonizing a ballot initiative called ‘Hometown Democracy.’”

Hometown Democracy would have allowed citizens to vote on changes to community and municipal master development plans (which affect the environment and everybody’s quality of life). To defeat it (and an initiative raising the minimum wage), the Florida legislature placed on the ballot an initiative establishing the 60% requirement on constitutional amendments. (The ballot initiative to require a super-majority required a simple majority.)

The well-funded campaign against Hometown Democracy, writes Farago, “was managed by a Jeb Bush lieutenant, John Thrasher—a former speaker of the Florida House—who was recently appointed president of a major Florida university despite lacking any academic qualifications for the role.”

Supermajority = pseudodemocracy.

2. Charlie Crist, Democrat

Amendment 2 was promoted by a prominent Orlando personal-injury lawyer named John Morgan. He was the face of the campaign. In talks and TV ads Morgan said that his father’s final months had been made bearable by marijuana, and that his brother Tim, a quadriplegic, needs and uses marijuana and should be able to do so legally. John Morgan gave $4 million to a PAC called “United for Care” to push Amendment 2. Much of it went towards getting the measure on the ballot.

The Democrats’ candidate for governor, Charlie Crist, a lawyer employed by Morgan’s firm, emphasized his support for Amendment 2. Crist had been elected governor of Florida as a Republican in 2007. In 2010, aspiring to run for the Senate, he lost to Marco Rubio in the primary and lost again in the general election after filing to run as an Independent.

In 2012 Crist endorsed Barack Obama. When he ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014 Crist’s detractors called him “a chameleon.” His defenders said, “The Republicans have been taken over by the far right, one has to change with the times.”

The link between the Democratic candidate for governor and Amendment 2 undoubtedly alienated many Republicans who might otherwise have voted ‘yes.’

3. Square Strategists

Even last spring, when Amendment 2 looked like a sure winner, savvy Irvin Rosenfeld had misgivings. He had been involved in many medical marijuana campaigns and seen big early leads in the polls go way down when the attack ads commenced.

The Amendment 2 campaign wanted little to do with Rosenfeld’s friend Robert Platshorn, a 70-something pitchman whose “Silver Tour” had been carrying the pro-marijuana message to senior citizens across the state and beyond. Platshorn was unwelcome because he had done time in federal prison for smuggling marijuana into the U.S. in the 1970s. And though he had paid his debt to society (29 years!), and though most people hearing his story find him likable and admirable, the Amendment 2 strategists “did not want Bobby Platshorn associated with the campaign,” says Rosenfeld.

Nor did the campaign make full use of Rosenfeld himself. A stockbroker based in Fort Lauderdale, Rosenfeld, 61, is one of the best known and most persuasive proponents of medical cannabis. “I don’t care that the campaign didn’t use me that much,” he says. “I care that they didn’t use my story enough.”

In 1982, with guidance from Alice O’Leary and Robert Randall (the first “federal patient” to get cannabis from the government), Rosenfeld had convinced the Food and Drug Administration that only marijuana countered the tumorous growths on his bones and enabled him to lead a normal life. Rosenfeld in turn helped other Floridians—glaucoma patient Elvy Musikka, and AIDS patients Barbara and Kenny Jenks—to enter the FDA’s so-called “Compassionate Investigational New Drug” program.

The Amendment 2 strategists “wouldn’t even use the image of a cannabis leaf in any of their materials.”

Rosenfeld requested in vain that the campaign focus on the fact that he and other Floridians had been using marijuana provided by the federal government, safely and beneficially, for many years.

The campaign strategists, according to a reliable source, thought “it was too difficult to explain Irv’s story in a 30-second commercial. Also, the marijuana Irv gets is in the form of joints, and the campaign didn’t want to show anybody smoking. They wouldn’t even use the image of a cannabis leaf in any of their materials.”

Your correspondent is confident that Rosenfeld can tell his story and make the relevant points in 30 seconds.

4. The “medical necessity” alternative

Kenny Jenks was a hemophiliac who had contracted the HIV virus from a blood transfusion in the early 1980s. His wife Barbara became ill, too. It was before the advent of protease inhibitors, and the Jenkses were fading fast. When they learned that marijuana restored their appetites, Kenny began growing. He was arrested for cultivation in 1990 and his defense in court was “medical necessity.”

It was to stave off AIDS wasting syndrome and death, he claimed, that he committed the crimes of marijuana cultivation and possession. Jenks was acquitted and a Florida statute was enacted acknowledging a citizen’s right to a “medical necessity” defense.

(Barbara Jenks died in 1992 at age 25, Kenny the following year at age 31. He was the first AIDS patient to get cannabis from the government, and the last. With hundreds of AIDS patients applying to the FDA, the George H.W. Bush Administration closed the “Compassionate Use” program. Rosenfeld and 12 others were “grandfathered in” to avoid the public-relations disaster that would ensue if the government stopped providing the herb to patients likely to die without it.)

Florida’s statute recognizing “medical necessity” would have an impact on the 2014 election after it was rediscovered by attorney Ian Christiansen of Health Law Services, who made it the basis for a campaign to recruit clients. “Medical marijuana is already legal in Florida,” Christian proclaimed to the media and on the law firm’s website.

“A patient with a debilitating medical condition has a right to use cannabis just like any other prescription medication, as long as a physician deems cannabis ‘medically necessary’ and orders its use, pursuant to Fla. Stat. 381.026(d)(3), 456.41, 893.13 (6) (a)...

“Florida Courts have held patients may cultivate their own medicine… Our firm specializes in understanding the intricacies of the application and law of this medicine, and therefore we provide legal guidance to patients, physicians, hospitals, authorized agents, law enforcement, Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Health and more…

“Our firm assists patients in establishing this medical necessity, then work closely with law enforcement to ensure the patients rights and compliance with all applicable law.” Sic.

The prospect of immediate access to legal cannabis drew many desperate people to sign up with Health Law Services. Among them was Moriah Barnhart, 30, mother of a little girl named Dahlia who was afflicted with brain cancer. When John Morgan gave a talk in Jacksonville, Barnhart said she would vote “no” because she intended to grow cannabis for her daughter based on “medical necessity.” Morgan, grandstanding, offered to pay for her daughter’s medicine for the rest of her life. Barnhart said thanks but no thanks—her goal was a political solution for all, not a private one for her kid.

In a debate with Morgan two weeks before the election, Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell said that a doctor could “already prescribe marijuana, and since statute 893.13(6)(a) built on the medical necessity doctrine, a patient can grow it themselves, and under this amendment that will go away.”

The Health Law Services website gleefully posted video of Bell’s pronouncement with the comment, “No on 2 is Yes on Medical Marijuana!”

5. The “low-THC” bill

In February 2014 a bill was introduced in the Florida house of representatives to legalize the sale of oil made from “low-THC cannabis”—defined as plants whose flowers don’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC.

The prime movers had been Holley and Peyton Moseley of Gulf Breeze, parents of an daughter named Rayann, 11, who has a severe form of epilepsy. (Holley Moseley had been a nurse on a ward where Rayann, then a baby, was receiving treatment prior to being sent to a foster home. The Moseleys adopted her.)

After seeing the Sanjay Gupta special on CNN in August 2013, the Moseleys contacted Realm of Caring in Colorado and were advised to push for legislation in their home state that would enable them to get access to Charlotte’s Web.

The Moseleys knew Matt Gaetz, a young state representative whose father, Don Gaetz, was president of the Florida senate. Matt Gaetz drafted HB 843 with input from Realm of Caring.

Hyman informed the legislators and the media that they should stop calling it “the Charlotte’s Web bill,” because there were other CBD-dominant plants from which effective cannabis extracts were being made.

The parallel bill in the state senate, SB 1030, was introduced by Sen. Rob Bradley, who also was getting input from the parent of an epileptic child—Seth Hyman. At the ensuing subcomittee hearings, Hyman informed the legislators and the media that they should stop calling it “the Charlotte’s Web bill,” because there were other CBD-dominant plants from which effective cannabis extracts were being made. He also explained that THC in amounts greater than 0.3% was a crucial ingredient for many children getting benefit from cannabis extracts.

When the house bill was incorporated into SB 1030, the name was changed to “the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act” and the limit of allowable THC was set at 0.8%   Cancer and AIDS were added as qualifying conditions, and Level 2 background checks were required for dispensary proprietors and employees—excluding people like Robert Platshorn, whose felonies involved making marijuana available long before its medical benefits were acknowledged by the government.

The Act passed the House (111 to 7) and the Senate (30-9). The all-important details of production and distribution were left entirely to the Department of Health to devise.

In August the Department of Health issued a “Notice of Proposed Rule” to implement SB 1030. It would allow five nurseries, spread across the state, to grow and distribute low-THC cannabis. Cultivation, processing, and dispensing would have to be done on the same or contiguous property. In other words, the dispensaries would be nurseries, and vice versa.

The proprietors would be chosen by lottery from among applicants who had been in business for 30 consecutive years and were tending at least 400,000 plants. There were 43 such nurseries in the state, and no cost to apply. The lucky winners were supposed to pay a $150,000 application fee (retrospectively), post a $5 million performance bond (supposedly to cover the cost of destroying their crop if their license was revoked or not renewed), and provide “low-THC cannabis” extracts 150 days after being licensed.

SB 1030 also established a “research registry” listing all physician-approved patients. All purchases and health outcomes would be tracked.

Governor Rick Scott had stated emphatically that he would never allow any kind of medical marijuana bill to be enacted in the Sunshine State. But he was convinced by strategists that signing SB 1030 would make his opposition to Amendment 2 seem less inhumane. With a stroke of the pen, Scott transformed his image from arch foe of medical marijuana to pro-CBD centrist.

A cartoon by Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal depicted Scott sitting at his desk with a document that says “Charlotte’s Web Act,” to which he has affixed his signature. A spider has woven “God bless you” on a huge web, and Scott is beaming with self-satisfaction.

“As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer,” Scott said (as if aunts and uncles just might). “Charlotte’s Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life.”

Scott reiterated his opposition to Amendment 2 with similar blither: “I’ve watched drug use; I’ve watched alcoholism. I’ve seen how it affects families; I can’t support that.” The reporters quoting him did not point out that Amendment 2 had nothing to do with alcohol, or that alcoholism declines when cannabis is available as an alternative to booze.

Rick Scott became a multimillionaire running Columbia/HCA, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain. According to polite Wikipedia, Scott “resigned as Chief Executive of Columbia/HCA in 1997 amid a controversy over the company’s business and Medicare billing practices; the company ultimately admitted to 14 felonies and agreed to pay the federal government over $600 million, which was the largest fraud settlement in US history. Scott was not implicated and no charges were raised against him personally.”

Irvin Rosenfeld is convinced that the passage of the so-called “low-THC” measure was the single biggest factor undermining support for Amendment 2. “It enabled the opposition to say ‘We already have a bill that will take care of the people who really need medical marijuana.’ That became one of their soundbites.”

During one TV debate, Rosenfeld recalls, “the sheriff of Pinellas County kept saying, ‘We don’t need Amendment 2, we have a CDB bill.’ He must have said it four or five times. ‘We have a CDB bill.’” Sic.

Sepulchral, sanctimonious Rick Scott may owe his re-election to that CDB bill, which legalizes the production of low-THC cannabis oil and its sale at five retail outlets.

6. The Casino Magnate’s Millions

“The amount of money poured into the ‘No-on-2’ campaign from out of state by Sheldon Adelson was obscene,” says Pat M., a Gainesville caregiver. Adelson is a Vegas-based casino owner, a great friend of Israel and the Republican Party. He gave more than $5 million to the No-on-2 campaign.

Gainesville Pat says that a few days after the election the Miami Herald ran an exposé about Adelson. “Finally they explained who this guy really is. He gets behind Republican candidates for governor when Indian tribes’ casino licenses are up for renegotiation. Ours are next year.”

Most of the “No-on-2” ads were in the name of the Florida Sheriffs Association. Pat summarizes their messages: “‘Kids can walk into a doctor’s office and get a prescription and go get pot.’ ‘There will be pill mills on every corner.’

“They showed pictures of Venice Beach, [where some potdoc has an office and flyers are distributed by women on roller blades]. They showed a girl with a candy bar in her back pocket and a boy with his arm around her, and said ‘Marijuana will be the new date-rape drug.’”

Adelson also funded ads in which persons in white coats representing the Florida Medical Association said (as summarized by Pat) “There’s no evidence… We don’t want anything that’s not FDA-approved.”

Irv Rosenfeld thinks that the medical association’s opposition was another big factor in the outcome. “It was more than disappointing, it was appalling,” he says. “After all these years of marijuana use in all these states without any observable harm… their opposition was political, not medical.” The No-on-2 campaign manager, Tre´ Evers, wrote a self-congratulatory analysis after the election that the Tampa Bay Times published. “Nearly every elected Sheriff in Florida took to the public forum to educate their constituents on the problems with Amendment 2,” Evers crowed. “Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County in particular became one of the main spokespersons for the opposition. He seemed omnipresent at meetings, debates and press interviews across Florida. Sheriff Gualatieri of Pinellas County debated John Morgan on a statewide NBC telecast while Sheriff Don Eslinger of Seminole County held numerous press conferences in Tallahassee. Likewise, many other Sheriffs visited their local newspapers, spoke to churches and community groups, and elevated the discussion of this important issue.´

The ‘Yes-on-2’ ads seemed few and far between in late October as the Adelson-funded barrage hit the airwaves. “Their ads featured John Morgan talking about his father and his brother,” says Anneliese Clark, the politically active mother of a girl with Dravet syndrome who spent much of 2014 desperately seeking CBD. “The average Floridian can’t identify with a super-successful lawyer who they see on TV all the time advertising his law firm’s success at suing people. There were way more ads for his firm than for Amendment 2.”

“I want my daughter to have medicine from the best producer, not the luckiest.”—Seth Hyman

SB 1030 Implementation stalled

In passing SB1030, the legislature allocated $1 million to Florida universities to study CBD in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy; but they allocated zero to enable the Department of Health to set up the program to grow and dispense. The Department estimated it would need between $750,000 to $1,500,000 to create the “robust regulatory structure” required by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nevertheless, the Department of Health devised an implementation plan for SB 1030, which was made public in August. Four legal challenges were promptly filed by nurseries with various objections. They were consolidated and heard by Administrative Law Judge David Watkins in Tallahassee October 14-15.

Watkins’ conclusions, issued November 14, put the selection of dispensaries on hold. The Department of Health was instructed to correct the plan’s flaws, most basic of which is the lottery mechanism itself, which left the matter to chance rather than the applicants’ merit. Watkins quoted Seth Hyman’s poignant statement, “I want my daughter to have medicine from the best possible source, not the luckiest.”

Watkins also rejected the requirement that cultivation, processing, and dispensing must be done on the same or contiguous property. This will save a lot of driving, because most big nurseries are outside the urban areas where most people live. Watkins sensibly allows plants grown in the country to be sold in the city.

Watkins also rejected Level 2 background screening for employees (as opposed to owners and managers). And he rejected the requirement in the Health Department plan that a dispensary medical director be a physician who does not authorize patients to use low-THC cannabis.

According to a source in Gainesville who requests anonymity, “The arguments against the lottery seemed logical: ‘We don’t want some guy who has a tree farm and doesn’t know anything about cannabis to put his name in a hat and get chosen…’ But that was never going to happen, because the nurseries could not have gotten ready without partners who knew about cannabis. They had all been contacted by big players from California and Colorado who told them, ‘If you win the lottery, we’ll back you, we’ll provide everything you need. For a piece of your business.’”

The Department of Health would have allowed license holders to sell an interest in their business—up to 75%—and to create partnerships shielding them from risk if the federal government declared the Florida program illegal. But the judge specified that each application would have to be in a qualified nursery’s name.

SB 1030 states that the low-THC products it legalizes will have to originate in Florida—but doesn’t address the question of how CBD-dominant seeds and cuttings will come into the nurseries’ possession!

An attorney for the Department of Health, formally queried, replied that the Department didn’t design the program it was directed to implement. Apparently, everyone is supposed to look the other way. Holley Moseley says “It’s like the military with ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

Keepin’ on keepin’ on

Amendment 2 did not pass, but on Election Day Floridians expressed support for safe access to medical marijuana by a 58 to 42 margin. “The politicians in Tallahassee took note of that,” says Anneliese Clark.

Clark is now involved with “a group that will draft a bill and lobby. It is a collaboration of non-partisan medical, law enforcement and business people along with parents and patients. We had our first meeting [in late November] and are just in the planning stages.”

Soon after Election Day, Holley and Peyton Moseley hosted a “meet-and-greet” at which the stalled implementation of SB 1030 was discussed. Paige Figi spoke, as did Mrs. Moseley. About 80 people attended. Their children are suffering and the situation is confusing. For example, some people assumed that signing up for the Realm of Caring waiting list automatically put them on the state’s research registry. (Holley Moseley explained otherwise.) No one could give a date when CBD-dominant cannabis extracts will be available in Florida. Six months if all goes well, was one speaker’s guesstimate.

There are 700 people on the RoC Florida waiting list, 90 percent with in-state addresses, others from Alabama, Georgia, “and as far away as New Jersey,” according to Mrs. Moseley.

Now that the dispensaries will be chosen based on the applicants’ qualifications instead of a lottery, Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises have offered their products and services to one nursery. We assume it has an excellent chance of becoming an authorized dispensary. Although the Stanleys are not making money on Charlotte’s Web, their brand has a sterling reputation and they will have post position when the time comes for selling THC-dominant cannabis in Florida.

Paige Figi foresees the day when Realm of Caring will support the use of “CWHO and… other products that are sure to arise and meet our standards of safety, lab testing, efficacy, supply, and price.”

Steve DeAngelo was in Florida in May, and met mothers desperate for access to medical cannabis. Two—Moriah Barnhart and Anneliese Clark—were giving it to their children with the knowledge of the local sheriff. Two—Jacel Delgadillo and Renee Petro—were waiting for state law to change.

The women had found one another through the internet. They attended hearings on SB 1030 and Amendment 2 debates in t-shirts that said “CannaMoms.”

DeAngelo said that if they came to California, Harborside Health Center would provide CBD-rich medicine from plants other than Charlotte’s Web. Delgadillo and Petro could find out if cannabis actually would help their kids—at least in the short-term. And all could test the effects of THC and THCA, too.

The CannaMoms took up the offer and arrived in the East Bay in early November. They were lodged for a week at the Coral Reef Motel in Alameda. (We don’t have Coral Reefs off Alameda, but they do in Florida.)

Harborside staffer Kelly Quirke squired the entourage, first on a visit to the Berkeley office Frank Lucido, MD, for letters of approval, and then to the dispensary for products to try during their stay. This is where your correspondent first met them. A producer from MSNBC was there with a cameraman, and she wanted to get a shot of the moms administering to their children the medicaments that they hadn’t even had time to read the labels on. Diplomatic Kelly Quirke nixed the idea on legal grounds.

Was the trip beneficial?

Back in Florida, Anneliese Clark says, her daughter Christina “was very alert, better posture and very interactive with me and the other children.

“During the first eight days, she had improvements during the day, her nocturnal seizures continued. Changing the dosing a little on day nine resulted in five seizure-free days and nights. The trip back set her back a little. We all got sick with colds which is a trigger for her. One day she’s great one day she’s not… I’ve got to figure out the pattern of what’s going on and what works best.”

Moriah Barnhart reported at Thanksgiving: “Jacel is in the process of preparing to move to California. Upon our return home, Bruno was hospitalized and suffered several grand mal seizures in addition to the hundreds of head drops he suffers regularly. She feels that if she had options and a variety of medications to utilize, she would be able to offset his suffering. She had this in California, saw improvement and felt empowered. Returning home was a harsh reminder that the antiquated legislation in Florida is causing all of us great harm.

“Renee has considered moving to California as well. Branden has seen such great results from cannabis, and has such an improved quality of life. Renee feels that she has greater protection from law and CPS alike in California, and wishes to grant her children the most normal childhood possible, which includes not having to look over her shoulder in fear.

She cannot do without cannabis, nor can she do without family and friends.

As for me, Dahlia has been on different strains of cannabis since last November. [The sheriff knows.] I feel it is within my right under medical necessity to treat my daughter in the most compassionate way possible. We have seen great results in Dahlia’s condition and quality of life. She also deserves to be home with the love of her family and friends. She can not do without cannabis, nor can she do without family and friends. Therefore, it is in her best interest to utilize cannabis at home in Florida. If things do not progress, I, too, may have to consider moving.

“Being in California opened my eyes to the wide array of products available to help Dahlia and other critically ill children. I need and want the freedom we had there. I still hope to see that freedom in my home state.

“Dahlia’s most recent scan showed continued tumor shrinkage, despite the fact that she has been off of chemo for six months. I have no doubt that cannabis has played more than a large role in getting her onto the path of healing.”

Renee Petro’s son Branden was helped most by a spray from Care By Design that was half-CBD, half-THC. He had 14 seizure free days. His mom reports, “For the first time in four years, Branden was able to enjoy going to the mall and feel in control of his emotions. He was happy!” She is recently divorced and is planning a move to California, as is Jacel Delgadillo.

Jacel adds that if she tried to claim “medical necessity” and treated Bruno with cannabis, “Miami is one of the cities I believe would prosecute me first as we don’t even have a sheriff to guarantee I would be protected: I feel safer being in a legal state! I might be making the move as early as mid January as Bruno’s condition has gotten worse. Financially I can’t, and I’m solely depending on SSI, child support and donations [as I] risk being on my own with my two kids. Unfortunately this is what Florida is making us do.”

PS from Anneliese: “I feel like the others—that our state is not providing the structure and safe access that we need to help our children. It is very frustrating. I am not in a position to pick up and move at this time. My only option is to stay and hope things move forward quickly.”

 

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