12 November 2012
As of January 10, 2012, a new study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association exonerating marijuana from the bad reputation of being as harmful to your lungs when smoked as tobacco cigarettes. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Alabama at Birmingham completed a twenty-year study between 1986 and 2006 on over 5,000 adults over the age of 21 in four American cities. Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz is a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He explained that the studies measured the pulmonary obstruction in individuals with up to seven joint-years of lifetime exposure (one joint per day for seven years or one joint per week for 49 years). "What this study clarifies," Kertesz explains in a released video, "is that the relationship to marijuana and lung function changes depending on how much a person has taken in over the course of a lifetime."
08 November 2012
In Washington it will no longer be illegal for adults aged 21 and over to possess a small amount of cannabis.
Colorado and Washington have enthusiastically leapt into history, becoming the first US states to reject federal drug-control policy and legalise recreational cannabis use.
The vote puts Washington and Colorado to the left of the Netherlands on cannabis law, and makes them the nexus of a new social experiment with uncertain consequences. National and international media watched as vote counts rolled into Initiative 502's election-night party in Seattle amid jubilant cheers.
"Today the state of Washington looked at 75 years of national marijuana prohibition and said it is time for a new approach," said Alison Holcomb, I-502's campaign manager and primary architect.
In both Washington and Colorado, voters backed legalising cannabis by a 55 per cent to 45 per cent margin. The third state with pot on its ballot - Oregon - turned a similar measure down by the same percentage.
In Washington, as of December 6, it will no longer be illegal for adults 21 and over to possess an ounce of marijuana. A new "drugged driving" law for marijuana impairment also kicks in then.
Tuesday's vote also begins a yearlong process for the state Liquor Control Board to set rules for heavily taxed and regulated sales at state-licensed cannabis stores, which are expected to raise $US1.9 billion ($A1.83 billion) in new revenue over five years.
Many legal experts expect the US Justice Department to push back and perhaps sue, but Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said Seattle's US Attorney Jenny Durkan told him on Tuesday the federal government "has no plans, except to talk."
Initiative 502 ran a disciplined campaign with a tightly focused message, criticising what it called the failed "war on drugs" without endorsing marijuana use itself.
I-502 spent heavily, raising more than $6 million, including more than $2 million from Peter B Lewis of Ohio, chairman of Progressive Insurance.
A broad group of mainstream leaders - including former top federal law-enforcement officials, the King County sheriff, the entire Seattle City Council, public-health experts, African-American leaders and the state labour council - backed the measure. John McKay, US attorney in Seattle under the George W Bush administration, became a public face of the campaign.
The initiative faced surprisingly little organised opposition. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and a state drug-treatment-prevention group were opposed, but did not raise money to counter I-502's $2.8 million TV-ad spending in October.
The loudest opposition came from some in the medical-marijuana industry, who said they feared being ensnared by I-502's DUI law, which does not exempt patients.
SBS World News Australia
8 NOV 2012, 9:09 AM - SOURCE: AAP
04 November 2012
"But after I found this, everything has been better," said the 80-year-old, as he gingerly packed a pipe with marijuana.
Rute, who lives at the Hadarim nursing home outside of Tel Aviv, is one of more than 10,000 patients who have official government permission to consume marijuana in Israel, a number that has swelled dramatically, up from serving just a few hundred patients in 2005.
The medical cannabis industry is expanding as well, fueled by Israel's strong research sector in medicine and technology — and notably, by government encouragement. Unlike in the United States and much of Europe, the issue inspires almost no controversy among the government and the country's leadership. Even influential senior rabbis do not voice any opposition to its spread, and secular Israelis have a liberal attitude on marijuana.
Now, Israel's Health Ministry is considering the distribution of medical marijuana through pharmacies beginning next year, a step taken by only a few countries, including Holland, which has traditionally led the way in Europe in legalizing medical uses of the drug.
Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but medical use has been permitted since the early 1990s for cancer patients and those with pain-related illnesses such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients can smoke the drug, ingest it in liquid form, or apply it to the skin as a balm.
A hot topic in America
In stark contrast, medical use is still hotly contested in the United States, with only 17 states and Washington, D.C., permitting medical marijuana for various approved conditions. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says smoked marijuana is not medicine, and "has not withstood the rigors of science." In Europe, Spain, Germany and Austria have allowed or decriminalized some degrees of medical marijuana use.
The numbers of patients authorized to use marijuana in Israel is still far lower than those in the U.S. states, where it is legal. Colorado, for example, has 82,000 registered users in a population of 5 million, compared the 10,000 in Israel, a country of 8 million people.
But Israelis seem enthusiastic about advancing the industry. "
When push comes to shove, and people see how suffering people are benefiting, I'm sure everyone will get behind it," said Yuli Edelstein, Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, as he toured Israel's largest marijuana growing farm, Tikun Olam, on Thursday and lauded the facility as an example of Israel's technological and medical advancements.
The Hadarim nursing home, which encourages medical marijuana use, gives its patients cannabis produced at Tikun Olam farm, tucked away on nearly 3 acres in the picturesque Galilee region.
The company, one of around eight government-sanctioned grow-operations in Israel, distributes cannabis for medical purposes to almost 2,000 Israeli patients who have a recommendation from a doctor. The cannabis can be picked up at the company's store in Tel Aviv, or administered in a medical center.
This year, the company also developed a marijuana strain used by a quarter of its customers, said to carry all the reported medical benefits of cannabis, but without THC, the psychoactive chemical component that causes a high. The cannabis is instead made with high quantities of CBD, a substance that is believed to be an anti-inflammatory ingredient, which helps alleviate pain.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's the future," says Zach Klein, head of research and development at Tikun Olam, whose logo reads "This is God's doing, and it's marvelous in our eyes."
Itay Goor Aryeh, director of the Pain Management Center at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, noted that THC was first isolated in marijuana by Israeli scientists in 1964. "So we are really on the cutting edge of not just the growing and distribution, but also on the basic science of cannabis," he said.
Legalization allows research
He said legalizing medical cannabis allows authorities to conduct more research and learn more about how to regulate its use.
"It has to be researched more, it has to be regulated more, so we know what exactly we're giving the patient, which strains are better," Aryeh said. "If you don't allow it, you will never know."
Aryeh and other proponents say medicinal marijuana is cost-effective and dramatically reduces patients' needs for other pain medications, like morphine, that can produce unwanted side effects.
Ruth Gallily, a professor of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been studying the supposed anti-inflammatory effects of CBD for the past few decades. "We're finally reaching the stage where it's becoming accepted, and not thought of as 'bad,' but we still have a ways to go," she said. "Now the next challenge may be the major drug companies accepting the plant."
Inbal Sikorin, the head nurse at Hadarim Nursing Home, said the benefits of cannabis for her patients are undeniable.
"We know how to extend life, but sometimes it's not pleasant and can cause a great deal of suffering, so we're looking to alleviate this, to add quality to longevity," she said, while administering cannabis to a patient using a vaporizer. "Cannabis meets this need. Almost all our patients are eating again, and their moods have improved tremendously."
Rute, the nursing home resident, said the cannabis may not change his reality, but makes it easier to accept.
His small room at the residence is adorned with pictures of his deceased wife and figurines of chickens, which he collects because he sees them as a symbol of pain and hope from his years in hiding during the Holocaust.
"I've been a Holocaust child all my life," says Rute, recalling how his father died at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Germany, and how nights were cold in the barn where his neighbor kept him and his several siblings safely hidden.
"I'm now 80 and I'm still a Holocaust child, but I'm finally able to better cope."
The Detroit News
4 November 2012