MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:38 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Legalize medical marijuana? Many doctors hesitant

There's no one view among doctors about whether Minnesota should legalize medical marijuana.

In one camp, there are physicians like Dr. Jacob Mirman, a primary care doctor in St. Louis Park who says a few patients have told him they use marijuana to cope with medical conditions.

Mirman hasn't personally recommended that patients use it, and he doesn't take a position on the specifics of a bill currently advancing at the Capitol. But he supports the idea of making medical marijuana legal -- in part because the risks seem small compared to those with some prescription painkillers.

"It's not fair to put (patients) in a position where they have to break the law to actually get relief from their condition," Mirman said.

But physicians like Dr. Carrie Borchardt, president of the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, say they're strongly against the idea. The experience in states that have legalized medical marijuana shows an increased risk of addiction, Borchardt said, plus usage by patients with pain and anxiety complaints that can be faked.

"It appears that there is a lot of recreational use under the guise of medical marijuana," she said.

As debate continues within the medical profession, the state's leading lobbying group for physicians is quickly trying to develop a position on medical marijuana legislation that's currently advancing at the Capitol.

A bill from Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, would give patients with certain debilitating health conditions access to medical marijuana as long as a doctor or designated health care professional certified that patients were likely to benefit.

With sponsors from both the Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican parties, the bill would make marijuana available to people with conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also could be an option for people with conditions that result in severe pain, nausea or seizures.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in a House committee Tuesday. It cleared its first legislative hurdle last week in the House's health policy committee after emotional testimony from patients and their family members.

Angie Weaver, 32, of Hibbing said that her family wants to stay in Minnesota, but they're considering moving elsewhere so Weaver's 7-year-old daughter can obtain medical marijuana. The girl has a rare form of epilepsy that causes 20 to 30 seizures per day.

With a form of medical marijuana that's available in other states, the girl might have a chance for controlling some seizures as well as recovering cognitive function, Weaver testified.

"It would be the best day of my life if I could hear my daughter say 'mommy' again," Weaver testified.

Maria Botker, 38, of Clinton said her husband has relocated from the family's primary home to a house in Colorado, one of about 20 states where medical marijuana is legal. The second home lets the couple's youngest daughter receive a liquid form of medical marijuana for a seizure disorder.

"I miss being a family," testified Botker, who lives in Minnesota with the couple's two older daughters.

During last week's House hearing, Melin said that use of medical marijuana for kids with seizure disorders wasn't part of the medical marijuana debate in 2009 when Minnesota lawmakers passed a bill on the subject.

That bill ultimately was vetoed by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said supporters of the current legislation must work to craft a version that could be accepted by law enforcement officials.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance along with drugs like heroin and LSD, so under the current bill, doctors wouldn't write prescriptions for it. Instead, a doctor's certification would allow a patient to obtain an ID card from the state Health Department, which would regulate a network of new marijuana dispensaries.

Patients could obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a dispensary. Patients who live more than 15 miles from a dispensary could be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes.

For some doctors, the medical marijuana issue is a dilemma, said Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester. Physicians are frustrated that the debate is moving forward without better research to guide it, Bostwick said.

"The federal government has imposed draconian restrictions on medical marijuana without scientific data to support that," Bostwick said during a Minnesota Medical Association forum last week in Eagan. "The states have caved to political expediency and have legalized medical marijuana -- again, in the absence of scientific data."

Bostwick stressed in an interview that he's neutral on the question of whether Minnesota or any state should legalize medical marijuana. He was invited to address physicians last week because he published a 2012 medical journal article on the history and science of medical marijuana, so that doctors can evaluate whether it is "panacea, scourge, or both," Bostwick wrote.

The designation of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance has made it difficult for doctors in the United States to research its possible medical usefulness, said Dr. Scott Schwantes of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.

Schwantes said he and Gillette Children's are neutral on the question of whether Minnesota should pass a medical marijuana law.

The prospect of legalized medical marijuana worries many doctors because they don't know the true risks, benefits or potential dosage, said Dr. Dave Thorson, chairman of the board at the Minnesota Medical Association.

During last week's forum in Eagan, several doctors said they believe the proposed state legislation is too broad, Thorson said. Physicians might prefer a bill that makes medical marijuana available only for patients who are receiving end-of-life or palliative care, he said.

Still, doctors worry about the public safety and public health implications.

Marijuana doesn't clear quickly from a patient's bloodstream, Thorson said, so there aren't tests that can show whether someone was under the influence of marijuana at the time of a traffic stop or a workplace accident. Plus, doctors say that smoking marijuana harms the lungs.

Set against all this, physicians recognize the emotional power of stories being told by patients who support legalization, Thorson said. Stories from parents of children with seizure disorders who are desperate for medical marijuana help crystallize the dilemma for physicians.

"How do we tell someone with a story like that that they shouldn't use it?" he asked, referring to testimony at the Capitol last week. "At the same time, we realize the pediatric brain is one of the most susceptible to the side effects from marijuana. It's just very difficult for us."

"It grips your heart. It's very powerful, emotional testimony," Thorson said. "But we are trying to be scientists about it."

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:42 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


State Oversight May Curb California Marijuana Industry

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Law and order may soon be coming to the Wild West of weed.

A California lawmaker has introduced legislation to regulate the state’s free-wheeling medical marijuana industry — the farmers that grow the drug, the hundreds of storefront shops that sell it and especially the doctors who write recommendations allowing people to use it.

California in 1996 was the first to authorize marijuana use for health purposes — there are now 20. But to this day no one knows how many dispensaries and patients the state has or what conditions pot is being used to treat because the loosely worded law did not give government agencies a role in tracking the information.

The bill introduced by state Sen. Lou Correa marks a milestone not only because it would provide significant state oversight of the multi-billion dollar industry for the first time, but because it is likely to get serious consideration in Sacramento after years of inaction.

SB1262 is the brainchild of the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities, two politically influential groups that have stood in the way of previous efforts to legitimize pot growers and dispensaries by subjecting them to state control and taxation.

“This legislation seems counterintuitive, but we polled our membership and over 90 percent of the chiefs felt that, regardless of how you felt about the marijuana issue itself, there needed to be a responsible public safety approach to this,” said Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, president of the chiefs association.

Medical marijuana advocates, who have lobbied unsuccessfully for a statewide regulatory scheme they hoped would make the industry less susceptible to federal raids and arrests, is taking a wait-and-see approach on Correa’s legislation.

They prefer a bill held over from last year, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Sens. Darryl Steinberg and Mark Leno, that calls for regulating and taxing medical marijuana like alcohol and places fewer restrictions on doctors than Correa’s measure does, but are prepared to hammer out a compromise, said Lynne Lyman, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

“We are very encouraged by law enforcement coming to the table with their proposals and we think we can all work together and come up with some model legislation in the state, finally, 18 years later,” Lyman said.

The police chiefs and cities are getting on the regulatory bandwagon now because they worry that if they don’t champion a plan of their own, marijuana advocates will succeed in getting the Legislature to pass one that aggravates the ongoing concerns of law enforcement and local governments instead of addressing them.

Last year alone, the groups beat back three bills that would have required pot shops to be licensed by the state but that the league feared would make it harder for cities and counties to ban or regulate them.

Meanwhile, public support for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, as voters in Colorado and Washington have done, is growing and the White House has softened its stance on the issue.

“We were very concerned about the legislation last year,” League of California Cities lobbyist Tim Cromartie said. “We thought it was unwise to purely play defense. We thought we needed to play offense.”

The bill co-sponsored by the league and the police chiefs’ association would require the California Department of Public Health to license dispensaries and cultivation sites but only if they first had secured operating permits from local jurisdictions. The department also would develop “quality assurance” procedures for testing marijuana for bacteria, mold and nonorganic pesticides, which growers would be prohibited from using.

The legislation also imposes substantial new requirements on doctors. If passed, it would allow medical marijuana recommendations to be given only by either a patient’s primary care doctor or a licensed specialist to whom the doctor has referred the patient. The doctor must have completed a certification course that covers substance abuse training.

The issuing doctor also would have to instruct the patient on dosage, whether the marijuana should be smoked, eaten or applied externally, and even what strain to use.

Certified doctors also would have to keep detailed records and to report how many recommendations they give and why to the California Medical Board, which would audit those who issue more than 100 in a year.

The mandates represent a significant departure from the status quo. Doctors currently can recommend marijuana to treat any ailment they choose and do not have to report to the state any information about their patients or the number of recommendations they issue and for what.

California Medical Association spokeswoman Molly Weedn said the organization has not had a chance to review Correa’s bill but would probably take a position on it in coming months.

Don Duncan, co-founder and California director of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, thinks the new requirements for doctors “go overboard,” but at this stage is trying to persuade Correa to amend the bill instead of working to defeat it.

“Nothing is perfect. If we get a good-enough bill, that’s better than no bill,” Duncan said.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:46 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Should Marijuana Require Warning Labels?

The true danger in marijuana legalization lies in the lack of knowledge about its side effects. If the state is going to profit from sales, the health risks can’t be half-baked.

Smoking marijuana poses which of the following health risks: A. Cancer; B. Birth defects; C. Lung damage; D. Brain damage; E. None of the above.

The correct answer is: It depends. And when I say, “It depends,” I mean you can find a medical study to support any of the above answers. It’s truly astounding that in 2014 there are still so many conflicting studies and opinions regarding whether marijuana is hazardous to your health.

For example, President Obama commented in January that marijuana is no, “more dangerous than alcohol." The White House’s own website tells a different tale, however, warning that marijuana has a “high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” The website further alerts readers that marijuana can cause mental disorders, respiratory illness and that in 2010 more than 460,000 people went to the emergency room for marijuana related incidents.

And that’s just the tip of the conflicting information iceberg on the issue of marijuana health risks. I reached out to groups on both sides of the marijuana legalization issue and the contradictory information I received was simply astonishing.

On the anti-legalization front, I connected with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Smart Approach to Marijuana (SAM.)

The DEA official I spoke to, who wanted to remain anonymous, passionately argued that marijuana is dangerous to your health. Both he and a spokesperson from NIDA forwarded me literature that set forth a litany of health hazards that marijuana smoking can allegedly cause, including lung damage, mental disorders and possible birth defects if consumed by a pregnant woman.
On the pro-legalization front, I contacted NORML and Drug Policy Alliance. They, too, provided me with various medical studies in support of their argument that marijuana smoking is essentially safe.

For example, Drug Policy Alliance provided me with a 2012 study featured in the AMA journal that found occasional use of marijuana will not lead to adverse pulmonary functioning and another that refutes the claim that marijuana will lower your IQ. And NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano sent me a WHO report that concluded, “Cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies.”

Drug Policy Alliance’s Executive Director Ethan Nadelman even urged me to view materials from DEA and NIDA critically because in his opinion, the DEA has “acted as an anti-marijuana propaganda arm since its origins” and the NIDA “has been highly politicized by Congress.”

My take away is that discussing the possible health risks caused by smoking marijuana with these groups is akin to speaking to Democrats and Republicans about a hotly contested political issue. Each side is ready with their own carefully crafted talking points that bolster their position and counter their opponents. You get the sense that this is less of a battle over science and more about winning over public opinion.

It’s reminiscent of when big tobacco companies in the 1950’s intentionally created doubt about the health risks posed by smoking cigarettes. The tobacco industry went as far as to bankroll purported independent medical studies that concluded cigarette smoking was safe in an effort to encourage Americans to keep buying their products.

Just to be clear, I’m in no way alleging that either side in this battle are the same as the tobacco industry. Although Kevin Sabet, who co-founded the anti-marijuana legalization group SAM with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, told me he does believe that the pro-legalization forces are “taking a page out of the tobacco industries’ playbook” and some are “trying to profit off of addiction.” My point is that just as in the 1950’s, there’s confusion today as to the true extent of the health risk posed by something Americans are smoking.

Keep in mind that the debate over whether cigarette smoking was unhealthy continued until 1964 when the United States Surgeon General released the findings of his Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. After an extensive review, this seminal report concluded that cigarette smoking did indeed cause cancer as well as pose other health risks. These findings also inspired Congress to enact a law in 1965 that required warning labels on cigarette packages to alert consumers of the potential health risks.

This is a great model for us to follow now. It’s time that the States profiting off marijuana, like Colorado which predicts it will reap $130 million in tax revenues this year from marijuana sales, spend the money to determine if what they are allowing to be sold is dangerous to its residents. And if these government sanctioned medical studies do determine there are health hazards, then in the same vein as cigarettes, warnings labels should be mandated on all State regulated marijuana sales advising consumers of these risks—even if it means less sales and tax revenue for these States.

We live in a nation where food products like Cheez-Its list the cholesterol per serving and drug companies give us a laundry list of side effects so that we can make an informed decision about what we put in our body. It’s time that the same rules apply to something that may, in fact, be even more hazardous to our health.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:53 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


Edibles’ THC claims versus lab results surprising

As one of the largest producers of marijuana-infused edibles in Colorado, Dr. J’s Hash Infusion makes chocolates, caramels and candies. But many of the company’s products contain only a minute fraction of the THC promised on Dr. J’s labels, according to independent tests organized by The Denver Post.

One Dr. J’s milk chocolate Star Barz labeled for 100 milligrams of THC had 0.37 milligrams of the valued psychoactive component, according to three tests conducted by Steep Hill Halent of Colorado, a state-licensed marijuana testing facility. Another popular Dr. J’s chocolate bar, the 100-milligram Winter Mint flavor, tested similarly in two experiments, showing 0.28 milligrams of THC.

“They need to work on their process,” said Joseph Evans, laboratory director at Steep Hill Halent. “I don’t know that it’s irresponsible, but it’s nonprofessional.”

Chart: See the results of The Denver Post’s tests on various marijuana edibles.

The evolving marijuana industry is still finding its way in Colorado, and one of the evolving aspects is the testing — or lack thereof — of products. The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division enacted new regulations last week, and more changes are to come in May, July and October.

But as the marijuana industry looks ahead to the potential of regular, mandatory testing, Dr. J’s problem seems deeper than a bad batch or two. The two bars that both tested for less than a half milligram of THC were purchased two months and 40 miles apart from each other, and they were separated by 282 batches — or roughly 70,000 units.

“I would be in shock (if those tests were accurate),” said Dr. J’s CEO Tom Sterlacci. “We’re one of the top businesses in Colorado. I wouldn’t be in business this long if we weren’t doing things right 99 percent of the time.”

Enter enforcement agency

Hundreds of customers have complained about Dr. J’s products. At least three recreational pot shops dropped the brand entirely; others said they won’t carry them. And the grousing has the attention of the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

An independent Post study of several products showed that THC levels in edibles are never exactly what the package reads. Mile High Candy’s watermelon drops are labeled at 100 milligrams of THC but actually contained 17. Incredibles’ Mile High Mint chocolate bar advertises 100 milligrams of THC but instead included 146. The Growing Kitchen’s chocolate chunk cookie tested at 101 milligrams on a product labeled for 100.

Colorado marijuana industry leader Dixie Elixirs tested at 60 milligrams of THC with its Dixie Rolls in The Post’s study, which are labeled at 100 milligrams.

“While we are disappointed to learn of The Post’s test results, we also know that testing can vary significantly from one lab to the next,” Dixie Elixirs CMO Joe Hodas said. “Regardless, we will continue to focus on our quality control to be sure all of our products, from edibles to tinctures and topicals, reflect the agreed-upon milligrams of THC.”

But of the 10 edibles tested in the exclusive Post report, no edible had the THC-level problems of Dr. J’s, Evans said.

“You’re talking less than a milligram of THC in a product that says 100,” Evans said. “If people have no confidence in this industry, then there could be a sort of backlash against the whole legal marijuana movement.”

How can these numbers be so disparate? While there’s been much discussion over testing guidelines, it’s still a voluntary action for the growers and makers of marijuana-infused products, or MIPs.

“Right now testing the product is permissive,” said Colorado Department of Revenue communications director Daria Serna. “Starting in May 2014, it could become mandatory for MIPs to test every production batch of edibles for potency.

“Potency testing measures the value of THC in a product, and it also determines if the THC is homogenized in the product.”

The MED investigates complaints, but until testing regulations become firmly standardized, a complaint like this would be addressed as “an advertising violation,” said Serna, “because the product packaging would be inaccurate with a label that read it contained 100 milligrams of THC.”

Just how popular are edibles? ArcView Market Research estimates that infused products make up 21 percent of total sales in Colorado, compared with cannabis flower’s 62 percent and concentrates’ 17 percent. But Dixie Elixirs’ Hodas estimates that number has grown since recreational sales opened Jan. 1.

“The number we’ve used is 40 percent of transactions are infused products,” said Hodas, who said his estimation is unscientific and based on anecdotal feedback from dispensary owners and colleagues. “Between December and January, we saw a five-times increase in our sales numbers. So it sounds right to us.”

BotanaCare owner Robin Hackett knew something was off at her Northglenn recreational pot shop when her customers started calling, reaching out on social media and coming into the store with complaints — all about Dr. J’s products, Hackett said. As of last week, Hackett had received nearly 450 individual complaints, she said.

“People kept coming in saying, ‘I ate 100 milligrams … 150 … 200 … 300 … and I didn’t feel anything.’ And you don’t eat 200 milligrams of activated THC and not feel anything,” said Hackett, who has sold 15,000 Dr. J’s edibles since Jan. 1. “Then somebody brought one back unopened, and I had it tested. There was nothing in there. No (THC) at all. The lab confirmed that Dr. J’s is selling chocolate. He duped me and every patient who bought one.”

“I called Dr. J’s and said, ‘You guys are ripping people off,’ ” she said.

Edibles THC content

Robin Hackett, co-owner of BotanaCare in Northglenn, looks over her selection of edibles on Thursday, March 6, 2014, while speaking about an order she recently placed for edible cannabis treats fom Dr. J’s. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

Hackett said she spoke with two Dr. J’s reps in the past month — and she reached out to other Colorado pot shops to see if they shared her concerns with the company’s products. Dr. J’s CEO Sterlacci said he’d first heard of Hackett’s bad experience on Thursday when he called her to discuss the matter — after his colleague sent a letter to Hackett threatening legal action.

“If she got a bad batch, she got a bad batch. It happens,” said Sterlacci, who said his batches yield 200-300 units each and that Dr. J’s makes about 30,000-45,000 units per month. “We don’t test every batch, because we’re still doing small enough batches that that would be economically unfeasible at this point. But we test every week or 10 days. We have a commitment to the MED to keep our product at that 100-milligram mark.”

Upon learning about The Post’s study, which showed one Dr. J’s product having less than one-300th the THC it should have had, Sterlacci at first questioned the testing process and Steep Hill Halent, which is one of only three state-licensed marijuana testing labs

“I have literally taken our hash, broken it up into two pieces, given it to different testing labs and they’ve been off by 50 percent,” Sterlacci said. “It comes down to standards. This is a perfect example of the need for the MED to get standard procedures.”

But he later admitted to a problem with Dr. J’s recipe, something his staff discovered a week ago — nearly two months after increasing their batch size by five to 10 times to accommodate the significantly larger recreational market and orders that were 20-30 times their regular size.

“We were making smaller batches prior to recreational, but the demand went so high that we are now making bigger batches,” Sterlacci said. “Because our hash is cold-water extracted, it’s particalized. It’s not an oil like butane or CO2. So if you have the medicine sitting, the particles could fall to the bottom. So somebody could get a high-potency product and somebody could get a low-potency product.

“We changed the recipe in the last week or 10 days. (Hackett) might have gotten it before we realized there was a problem.”

Dr. J’s is now offering refunds on a case-by-case basis to shops if packages are unopened.

Evans said the quality of marijuana testing in Colorado is significantly better now than it was a year ago. But until testing regulations are more stringent, he recommends consumers not put too much faith on the number on a package.

“A lot of confidence isn’t present on the number printed on the packages,” said Evans, who has been practicing environmental chemistry for 25 years. “This shows the importance of testing. I’m amazed that people are out there consuming these products based on the numbers that are printed on the package. It says it has 200 milligrams, but that number is based on what?”

A medical case study

Forty-five-year-old disabled customer Shaan Allen had never tried edibles before Jan. 1, when he started visiting BotanaCare to see if marijuana could help his restless legs syndrome. After working through 30 to 40 Dr. J’s items — about 95 percent of which didn’t provide the results he expected — he started reconsidering his experiment with pot.

“I just thought, ‘That’s what edibles do to you,’ ” said Allen, who lives in Arvada. “I went back (to BotanaCare) and they said, ‘No, let’s try something else out.’ I bought one of their new edibles to see how it worked, and I was taking the same amount of milligrams and was like, ‘Whoa, this is what it’s supposed to do?’ “

Some in the industry are concerned about customers relying too much on labels when they try different brands of edibles.

It’s certainly important to customers like Allen.

“I feel like I got ripped off,” said Allen, who is currently using edibles made by Edi-Pure, which tested for 45 milligrams of THC on a product labeled for 100 in The Post study. “If you’re selling a Twinkie, make sure it tastes like a Twinkie. If you’re selling pot, make sure it gets you high.”

Some dispensaries had similar experiences to BotanaCare. Mile High Medical Cannabis got about 10 complaints on Dr. J’s edibles, and the shop, situated across Federal Boulevard from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, was selling off its stock of Dr. J’s at a discounted price of $9 last week before pulling them entirely.

“You want to trust the companies you’re dealing with,” said Mile High manager Nichole West.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:57 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


How a marijuana ad went up in smoke

The press release in question was published Monday on behalf of MarijuanaDoctors.com, a company that says it helps connect patients with doctors who prescribe medical marijuana.

The release stated that MarijuanaDoctors.com was buying television ads through a division of Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500), marking -- its words here -- "the first time that any 'major' U.S. network has ever allowed the advertising of a medical marijuana service."

Turns out that was a false claim -- the ads never actually aired.

But reporters for news organizations, including ABC News, Time magazine and The Chicago Tribune, all published stories as if the press release was fact. A CNN newscast included a mention of the alleged pot ads, too. Even "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" covered the story, despite the fact that NBC is owned by Comcast, which explicitly denies that the ads ever ran on any of its cable systems.

Here's what happened, as best I can tell. The company commissioned a very creative ad that showed a shady-looking actor peddling sushi and asking the question, "You wouldn't buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?" The ad pitched its service as a better, safer way.

Once the ad was uploaded to YouTube, the company distributed a press release that proved hard for journalists to resist. It claimed a "first" — "first marijuana television commercial," even though other ads have aired in the past — and told a reporter-friendly tale of perseverance: Jason Draizin, the chief executive of MarijuanaDoctors.com, was quoted as saying that "securing the airtime for our commercial on a major network was extremely difficult and at the same time, extremely satisfying."

Comcast's Comcast Spotlight unit sells ad time on cable channels in local communities. (Cable channels like CNN typically reserve a portion of every hour for these kinds of ads.) The press release said the ad would run in New Jersey on A&E, AMC, CNN, ESPN, and a number of other channels. But Comcast Spotlight never gave the pot ads a final thumbs-up, so it never aired.

Unfortunately, though, the Comcast representative who initially fielded questions about the attempted ad buy didn't know that. "Comcast spokeswoman Melissa Kennedy today said the Monday night ad was the first of others that will only air in states where medical marijuana is legal," ABC's story about the ads said. "The ads will air between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., she added, but exclude children's and family programming."

Other reporters were given similar information, and stories started popping up all over the Web with variations of this very confident-sounding headline in the New York Daily News: "First medical marijuana commercial airs in New Jersey."

On Tuesday, I started to ask Comcast representatives about the ads. While I waited for answers, more inaccurate stories were published by more Web sites, hungry for the web traffic that a topic like marijuana provides.

But Wednesday, spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury confirmed what I'd suspected: "The ad has not appeared on Comcast Spotlight and media reports and press releases to the contrary are incorrect."

What happened here? It seems that MarijuanaDoctors.com jumped the gun, publishing its press release before it was sure the ad was going to air. "All commercials are subject to final review by Comcast Spotlight prior to airing and during that process it was determined that the spot did not meet our guidelines," Khoury said.

When I told Draizin this on Thursday, he disputed it. He told me that "the ads continue to be aired," adding "We are receiving phone calls from patients and doctors in New Jersey who have seen the ads." (My guess is the phone calls were from people who had seen the video on YouTube or in the media coverage that ensued.)

The media coverage, of course, put the Web site in front of far more eyeballs than the attempted ad buy ever would have. Thursday evening, the ad was even highlighted on "NBC Nightly News" with Brian Williams playing a clip from it and noting that "so far it's airing just in New Jersey."

On Friday, one of Draizin's representatives called and said what Comcast had said Wednesday — that the ads hadn't aired at all. That prompted MarijuanaDoctors.com to write a new press release. In it, the company acknowledged that "the campaign had not, in fact, launched," and said it would be speaking with Comcast executives Monday "in order to get to the bottom of this situation."

"For now, the campaign in New Jersey has ended," Draizin said Saturday in a statement. He went on to say that "we are very satisfied to have achieved our objective" — that is, informing people about its service. Presumably he meant through the news media, not through its ad.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:01 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Scroll up


RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:05 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points


(CO) First-ever sanctioned cannabis club set to open

NEDERLAND – When voters approved Amendment 64, Cheryl and David Fanelli began a journey of establishing a place where people can smoke marijuana legally together outside of their homes. They say their dream is finally becoming reality.

"It's been rough," Cheryl Fanelli, owner of Club Ned, said. "They were writing the laws as we were developing this."

The Fanelli's plan to open a private club called Club Ned in the town of Nederland located in the mountains of Boulder County. They believe this will be the first-ever sanctioned cannabis club in the nation.

"Is this history? This is history," David Fanelli, owner of Club Ned, said. "Are we pioneers? Maybe more than pioneers."

Other cannabis clubs have opened in Denver and around the state, but Club Ned is the only one to receive approval from several layers of government. Some of other clubs are currently engaged in legal battles and zoning issues.

"We went to the town. We went to the Marshal. We went to Jeff Gard, our attorney. He talked with the (district attorney) and we basically got everybody's approval," Cheryl Fanelli said.

The Fanellis said they wanted to make sure they jumped through every legal hoop to make sure that there are no legal snags in opening a club for people to socially smoke marijuana together.

"Having our attorney add marijuana to the Colorado Clean Air Indoor Act, that was really the key," Cheryl Fanelli said.

The Colorado Clean Air Indoor Act prohibits smoking of any kind inside of businesses. But, the Fanelli's say by adding marijuana specifically to the law, they now have a legal framework to operate. They are organizing their club much like the Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts or Elk's Clubs. These are private places where smoking is allowed inside.

"Because you don't have too many employees and because our food sales aren't over a certain amount," Cheryl Fanelli said.

The Fanellis believe by designing this club they are paving the way for other people to do the same.

"We can only take 30 people, there needs to be more clubs," Cheryl Fanelli said.

People will have to purchase memberships and schedule a time to come to Club Ned. Members will have to bring their own marijuana. Only food and drinks will be sold at Club Ned.

"This is all gonna be set up with tables," David Fanelli said. "And, this will be our acoustical stage area."

They believe that not only are they creating a social space for pot smokers. They are going to advocate for safety as well. The Fanelli's say no one will leave their establishment too stoned to drive or to be in public.

"We have a code of conduct that you have to agree to and sign before you ever come in and that's part of it," Cheryl Fanelli said. "If we feel that you shouldn't be out on the streets, you are not going to be out on the streets for a while."

She says without cannabis clubs, people will likely smoke pot in parks, in their cars, or other places where it is illegal to consume.

"Keep everybody safe in a nice place where someone can watch over them," Cheryl Fanelli said.

Club Ned will open in a few weeks. The Fanellis plan to engage in community service work while also educating the public about the effects of marijuana. They will also host private parties and even run a gift shop with Club Ned merchandise.

"We'll have cups, mugs, ashtrays," David Fanelli said. "Anything that can support that name."

Cheryl Fanellis says this has been a long 14-month journey, but she says it's worth it.

"We didn't know how many hoops of fire we were going to have to jump through, but we knew it would happen," Cheryl Fanelli said.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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RE: MJ News for 03/10/2014

in Marijuana in the News Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:07 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points



Cannabis madness is back once more. And this time it’s deadly. News reports on January 31 into the death of Gemma Moss, 31, from Boscombe, Bournemouth, said explicitly that cannabis had killed her.

"Devout Christian mother-of-three, 31, becomes first woman in Britain to DIE from cannabis poisoning" said the Daily Mail. "Tragic proof cannabis can really kill..." said the Metro, owned by Associated Newspapers, who also publish the Daily Mail.

Next, the Daily Mail reported news from Germany that researchers had identified two men who died, it said, purely as a result of using the drug. The cases involved two apparently healthy young men, aged 23 and 28, who died unexpectedly after smoking cannabis. Benno Hartung and his team at University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany said both had died of cardiac arrhythmia – when the heart beats too quickly or slowly, caused by cannabis. An open and shut case? Not quite.

"It's a diagnosis of exclusion so you have to rule out all other possibilities," Hartung told the New Scientist. In other words, he didn’t positively prove anything. What he did was to exclude all other possibilities. What if he missed one? Since the cause of death could not be established with complete confidence from examination or testing, the Dusseldorf team basically guessed. There is simply no hard, toxicological evidence that cannabis killed these men. Thee is no known mechanism of death for cannabis. The same flawed reasoning was used in Moss’s death: it was an assumption.

Adam Winstock, consultant in addictions psychiatry at King’s College London and director of the Global Drug Survey, said there is no lethal overdose level of cannabis and questioned reports that Moss’s death was due to cannabis toxicity.

“They could not explain the cause of her death, but they found cannabis in her system and so they blamed that. An overdose of cannabis will not kill you. It might leave you sick, paranoid and twitchy and wishing you hadn’t eaten the last cookie. The greatest risk from cannabis consumption is not toxic; it is behavioural – what you do and where you do it after you’ve smoked. People do drive stoned, and crash and die. It can, in very, very rare cases, trigger heart problems in people with pre-existing conditions,” he said.

Professor David Nutt said on his blog that connecting cannabis with these deaths was circumstantial and tenuous.

“Taking any amount of cannabis, like all drugs, like so many activities, puts some stresses on the body. Cannabis usually makes the heart work a little harder and subtly affects its rate and rhythm. Any minor stress on the body can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the butterfly’s wingbeat that triggers the storm. Ms Moss had suffered with depression, which itself increases the risk of sudden cardiac death. It is quite plausible that the additional small stress caused by that cannabis joint triggered a one-in-a-million cardiac event, just as has been more frequently recorded from sport, sex, saunas and even straining on the toilet.”

In the UK in 2011, the Department of Health, not the UK’s most renowned ganja stronghold, said, in its report: “A summary of the health harms of drugs’ that no cases of fatal overdose have ever been reported." And if cannabis is deadly, the government might want to stop doctors prescribing Sativex – which contains nothing but the green herb in a liquid spray form.

So why this sudden slew of anti-weed propaganda? Could it possibly be connected to the quickening bongo drums of legalisation? Colorado and Washington have just relaxed the laws on recreational use, joining many US states where the plant is used medicinally. Add to that Uruguay’s 2103 decision to sell weed legally from specialist shops, Jamaica’s goal of decriminalisation within a year, as well as Mexico’s announcement that it, too will soon free the weed. One by one, the prohibitionist dominos are falling, and the conservative fightback will surely only increase as laws are loosened in more and more countries.

Meanwhile, hideous herbal smoking blends containing untested, unknown research chemicals sold as 'legal weed' continue to be sold without legal impediment in hundreds of headshops across the UK. These drugs, such as AB-PINACA, AKB-4B and 23-WTF? (OK, I made the last one up) can definitely trigger psychotic episodes, strokes, and worse.

BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

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