Can Marijuana Help with Lung Disease?

Let’s talk about it.

The use of medical marijuana is a controversial topic. Now medically legal in 23 states and Washington D.C., the subject of medical marijuana will be a continuing issue with each election cycle. Today, Colorado, Washington, and now Oregon allow for the provision of recreational marijuana usage in addition to medical treatment. Although, there are quite a number of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, such as cancer, glaucoma and even HIV/AIDS, the real question is: Can marijuana help lung disease?

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to dive deep into the effectiveness of medical marijuana, and how it can affect those with chronic lung disease.

Whether you are short of breath, coughing or consistently wheezing, lung disease can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your life. You might have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)emphysemachronic bronchitispulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease, any of which can vary in symptoms and severity. A common link among these lung diseases are their inflammatory natures which promote a constant struggle to breathe easily. And unfortunately, many people with lung disease are told by their physician that treatment options are limited, leaving them looking for alternatives.

According to the American Lung Association, there are 33 known cancer-causing chemicals within marijuana smoke, making marijuana just as harmful to respiratory health as tobacco smoke. As opposed to traditional cigarettes, when someone smokes marijuana, they are actively placing up to four times more tar into their lungs. Contrary to cigarettes, Marijuana ‘joints’ are not filtered, and the method in which they are smoked is vastly different. Marijuana is typically inhaled more deeply with a tendency to hold the smoke in the lungs longer. These variations work to compound the negative effects inherent in smoking.

Although it’s well-established that smoking of any kind can lead to the development of COPD, there seems to be more to the chemicals within marijuana than once considered. In the Journal of the American Medical Association,  researchers discovered that in participants who only smoked marijuana occasionally (1-2 joints a month), pulmonary function improved rather than diminished. Habitual marijuana smokers on the other hand (smoked 25 a month) were found to have diminished lung function.

So What Does This Mean?

Due to the fact that diseases like COPD are generally inflammatory in nature, anti-inflammatory treatments and medications are often effective. In a recent study, researchers discovered that the active ingredient within marijuana, THC, possesses anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to account for the improvement in pulmonary function amongst marijuana users. However, it remains an irrefutable fact that smoking is known to cause damage to the lungs themselves.

Change the way you consume the drug.

Although researchers have found that water filters (bongs, pipes, etc.) have been shown to involve equivalent amounts of tar without reducing the risks of inhalation, methods of consumption such as low-temperature vaporizers, and ‘edibles’ which can be eaten without combustion can provide the anti-inflammatory benefits of THC without the respiratory risk.

Medical marijuana can serve as a temporary method of treatment, but the inability to avoid the side effects (being ‘high’) and its mixed legality leaves its use as a future form of medication uncertain. Although COPD currently has no cure, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research. As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems and complications of the human body, the Lung Institute will continue to bring these advancements to the public with the hope of bettering quality of life for those who need it most.

(Original Source: Lung Institute)

VIDEO - What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 80 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain and body and are responsible for the effects of cannabis, like feeling high, relaxed, or euphoric. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most widely studied cannabinoid, known for its psychoactive effects and the reason you feel high.

However, demand is increasing for CBD after it was popularized in 2013 by the CNN special, Weed. In Weed, five-year-old Charlotte Figi treats her severe form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome with CBD, reducing her seizures from 300 a week to just one a day. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high and it even counteracts the effects of THC. So what is this miracle compound and how does it work?

Cannabinoids bind to receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system was discovered in 1990 by Dr. Ralph Mechoulam. Mechoulam discovered two main receptors in the body — cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2).

CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and when activated, play a role in memory processing, motor control, and pain regulation. THC binds to CB1 receptors – where the high feeling comes from.

CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system. CBD binds to these receptors and produces anti-inflammatory effects. CBD has gained much attention because of its promise as a medicine. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess antiemetic (reduces nausea), anticonvulsant (suppresses seizures), antipsychotic, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties. CBD provides relief from an array of maladies including inflammation, anxiety, pain, seizures, spasms, cancer, nausea, PTSD, depression, and infections.

You will not get high from CBD alone. Many cannabis strains contain both THC and CBD, among other cannabinoids, but the psychoactive effects come from THC. On the other hand, the therapeutic effects of CBD are more pronounced when combined with other cannabinoids and chemical compounds in what is coined, the entourage effect. The entourage effect states that the synergy of different compounds produce effects that would not be felt by the individual compounds alone.

THCA and CBN are lesser known cannabinoids that play significant roles. Raw cannabis is non-psychoactive. In order to feel the high, cannabis must be dried, cured, and heated. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that converts to THC when heated. The heating process is known as decarboxylation. Decarboxylation is sometimes called “decarbing” or “activating.”

Cannabinol (CBN) is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its sedative effects. According to SteepHill Labs, low doses of CBN produce sleep aid effects comparable to 5mg to 10mg of the pharmaceutical drug, Valium.

In the United States, CBD is considered a dietary supplement if it’s made from industrial hemp plants. Industrial hemp is defined as a plant of the genus cannabis having .3% THC or less by dry weight. CBD products are legal in all 50 states if they are derived from an industrial hemp. In states where medical cannabis is legal, CBD products can be derived from the cannabis flower.

CBD Uses and Applications

CBD is gaining popularity among our four-legged friends. More companies are producing pet-specific products to address pain, seizures, inflammation, and appetite issues in cats and dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not have an official position on cannabis and pets, for it is still illegal for veterinarians to recommend cannabis to treat patients. This has not stopped pet owners across the country, who are using the hemp-derived CBD treats on the market to treat pain and cancer symptoms in their animal companions. CBD is not approved as a treatment for pets according to the FDA, so companies need to be careful in how they market their products. The FDA has warned companies to change the language of their marketing away from promoting an “unapproved new animal drug.”

You might also enjoy Where To Buy CBD Oil

CBD is also gaining attention in alternative and mainstream medical circles. One year after Weed aired, the waiting list for the CBD products that treated Charlotte Figi’s Dravet Syndrome was more than 12,000 families. Researchers in Israel found that 89% of children studied with treatment-resistant pediatric epilepsy saw a reduction in seizure frequency.

Studies have also shown that CBD can be an effective treatment for autoimmune disorders. A study on mice with rheumatoid arthritis found that CBD reduced the mice’s inflammation by 50% at the right doses. CBD has also shown promise in treating fibromyalgia, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

One of the most exciting benefits of CBD could be its role in treating cancer. The American Association for Cancer Research found that CBD destroys breast cancer cells through programmed cell death. CBD has also demonstrated to inhibit or stop the growth of cancers in the liver, brain, skin, and adrenal glands. In addition, CBD is effective at treating many cancer and treatment-related side effects like nausea, pain, loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, depression. There are numerous, hopeful personal accounts of people who have treated their cancer symptoms with cannabis, and while promising, the science is still early. Research has largely been limited to preclinical studies carried out on animals. Rigorous clinical studies need to be done in order to push the science forward and further the role of cannabis in the medical mainstream.

CBD is Found in Both Hemp and Cannabis

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis Sativa plant that is grown for the industrial use of its fiber. It’s history dates back over 10,000 years and is used to provide the raw material for textiles, biodegradable plastics, rope, nutraceuticals, construction materials, biofuel, food and more. Hemp is a tall, non-psychoactive plant, containing low levels of THC. CBD oil derived from hemp is legal in all 50 states under specific conditions.

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it is illegal to grow industrial hemp in the United States. However, hemp products can be legally sold in the US as long as they meet three criteria: 1) the hemp cannot originate in the U.S. 2) it must be lawfully imported and 3) the material must be derived from the “mature stalks and seeds” or “oil and cake made from seeds” of industrial hemp plants.

Hemp production is controlled and regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and it is illegal to grow hemp without a DEA permit. Several states, including Kentucky and Colorado, have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp with permission from the DEA. CBD products sold in states where medical marijuana is legal can extract CBD from either industrial hemp or a CBD-rich strain of cannabis. However, there are notable differences between CBD derived from cannabis or hemp.

The synergy of the different compounds in cannabis work together to produce therapeutic effects on the body that are not achieved by the compounds individually. Essentially, the compounds work better together in what is known as the ‘entourage effect’. Because of this, CBD derived from cannabis can be more effective when administered with higher levels of THC and terpenes. The mixture of the compounds accentuates the desired effects of cannabinoids on the body. Clinical research has shown that a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC is effective for neuropathic pain.

As a whole, industrial hemp still contains less CBD than CBD-rich cannabis strains and lacks the robust terpene and cannabinoid profile that cannabis provides. Large amounts of industrial hemp are required to extract a small amount of CBD, raising questions about contaminants. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it draws toxins from the soil that could potentially end up in the extracted oil.

CBD from hemp must also be derived from the seeds and stalk of the plant. Any production from the resin of the plant, located in the flowers and leaves, is illegal. This is where the issue of quality control comes in. CBD is best extracted from the flower and leaves and only to a minor extent, the stalk of the hemp plant.

It is important to understand how CBD works in the body to make an informed decision when purchasing products. ProjectCBD, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of CBD, suggests purchasing CBD made from whole plant cannabis in order to get the best effects.

CBD is rapidly gaining popularity as a safe wellness and medical aid that offers similar benefits to prescription drugs, without the negative side effects. There are an array of CBD products on the market, so how do you go about finding what’s best for you? There are a few things to consider.

Where is the CBD oil coming from? Knowing the type of plant that the CBD is derived from and where it was grown can be helpful in assessing the quality of the product.

Original Source: Read More

VIDEO - What's in Your Weed?

If You’re Buying Your Weed Solely Based on the THC Level, You’re Doing it Wrong.

The entourage effect of the terpene and cannabinoid content plays a far greater role in determining your experience

Picture this. You are preparing an elegant dinner for yourself and your significant other. You head into a liquor store looking for the perfect alcoholic beverage to complement the flavors of your meal. Do you walk up to the counter and ask the shopkeeper for the bottle with the highest alcohol percentage? Most likely not, as Everclear doesn’t really have the most appetizing taste.

But with the advent of state legal marijuana, many dispensaries in the United States report that medical patients or recreational users tend to do just that when selecting their strains. “Which one has the highest THC content,” is a question often heard by the ears of budtenders, suggesting that anything with a lower count isn’t worth their dollar. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, what is the reason that sometimes one drinks a beer, another time one enjoys a glass of wine, and yet another night one savors a smooth whiskey on the rocks?

The problem with selecting cannabis strains based solely on the THC content is much like stomaching the worst swill at the bar just because it has a high alcoholic percentage. By doing this, the consumer is robbing themselves of not only the rich scents and flavors of the strain, but also missing out on the beneficial effects that can be delivered through a strain’s specific terpene profile.

Terpenes are essential oils that determine all of these factors and make each strain unique. Together with the cannabinoid content — compounds such THC or CBD — we get what’s often referred to as an “entourage effect,” which ultimately has the final say in what kind of benefits you can receive from a particular strain. In fact, it has almost gotten to the point where one can zero in on what exactly they would like a strain to do for them, and by studying the effects of the individual terpenes, with a little trial-and-error, they can find the perfect strain to suit their needs.

But because of the limited scientific research done inside the United States on marijuana, many of these discoveries have been made “in the field” by the underground cannabis users.

“It’s almost as if the rest of the scientific community is in the present, but as far as marijuana is concerned, we are sitting at the forefront of the scientific revolution,” says Adam Laikin, Director of Marketing for Tryke companies.

Darin Carpenter, Director of Cultivation at Tryke, feels passionately about the science of terpenes. We spoke to him to get a better idea about the fascinating discoveries happening in this space. 

Read more - Original Source:

VIDEO - Cannabis & Parenting

Smoking Pot Doesn’t Make Me a Bad Mother

Motherhood and wine go together like… motherhood and whining.

There are wine sippy cupswines made just for moms and countless onsies illustrating an acceptance that, sometimes, moms just need to take the edge off and a glass (or several) of wine is the ticket. And amen to that, sisters. Whatever gets you through the day.

But what about us moms who choose another vice instead? Why can’t we openly talk about that without being judged?

So here goes: Almost every night after I tuck my kids in, I smoke pot. Sometimes it’s a joint, sometimes it’s in lollipop form (yes, I lock those babies up!) and sometimes it’s out of a bong. But at the end of an endless day, that’s my chosen way to unwind as it has been for 15 years. And I’m sick of feeling ashamed over it. Smoking pot doesn’t make me a bad mother.

I don’t need to get stoned. I have no medical condition that warrants seeking out a prescription for the herbal cure all. I simply enjoy the relaxation and comfort that accompanies a nice, mellow high after a long day of wrangling kids, work, basketball practice, dance lessons, homework and chores. Just like a glass of wine would do.

I don’t drink to excess. I don’t abuse medication. I don’t lay around eating Cheetos and snack cakes all day sporting my faded vintage tie dye. I’m not uneducated or ignorant or misinformed.

In fact, I’m involved in the PTA (which actually might necessitate a medical reason for prescription green, but I digress), have a well established career, a happy marriage and I only occasionally forget that my kid has dance on Wednesdays AND Fridays. But for the most part, I am a fully functional and contributing member of society… who just happens to be a pot-head. What’s wrong with that?

I’m not compromising my morals or values or damning my kids to a life of delinquency by choosing this lifestyle. Pot is not some gateway drug that will lead me shooting up in some dark alley somewhere. In fact, it’s by far the healthiest way I’ve found to unwind.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasion when I’ve been open about this with fellow mothers, I’ve been met with judgement and disbelief. I even had one mother refuse to let her kid play at my house because she didn’t “trust my judgment.” (This coming from a woman with a well known Percocet addiction and an open marriage.)

So I’ve learned to laugh along with the mommy-wine jokes and pretend to be a part of their club. Because, really, I am… just in a slightly different way.

Now please pass the Cheetos; it’s almost lights out time.

Original Source:

Cannabis and Skin Cancer

Cannabis and skin cancer 

By Baynard Woods

'I've been preaching about [how] cannabis cures cancer since 2008," Laurie Gaddis says. And she's been preaching it because it works.

Gaddis moved to Colorado from Arizona after she was diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer she says comes from her father's exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. She says she's been a medical marijuana refugee for nearly a decade.

The patchwork of state laws under a federal ambiguity that has gotten worse with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' anti-pot statements has created hundreds of medical marijuana refugees who have to move to a state where they can get the kind of medicine either they or their doctor feel is necessary.

Gaddis has never had to undergo chemo or radiation therapy. She still has problems, but she is alive. And relatively well.

"I am in a blessed position," she says of her life in Colorado. "I'm glad I am, but I think everybody should have that opportunity. It upsets me that other people are suffering every day and don't know what to do."

She says she can remember what it felt like with the choice of being "illegally alive or legally dead."

Gaddis treated her cancer with a homemade cannabis oil similar to that made famous by Rick Simpson.

Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma in 2003. When no other treatments seemed to work, he applied a cannabis oil to his skin. Simpson says that within four days, his cancer was cured.

Simpson has written books and tells people how to make the oil — using a super high-potency THC indica — but does not sell it, though others do.

Gaddis, who has used oil topically and also ingests it, hasn't had quite the success of a total cure in four days. She still struggles. But as she experiments with her own oils, she's discovered a lotion that she says seems to also work for arthritis. And, unlike oils or other topicals, it is not greasy. "I'm not bonding the cannabis to the fat, so it's not a greasy formula at all," she says. "It absorbs beautifully and gets right into where it needs to go."

This, she says, could be revolutionary for conditions like hers. Cannabis could be in sunscreen lotion, potentially helping to keep people from developing skin cancer.

"We're just now starting to realize how effective this medicine is and how many people's lives it's changing," she said.

Dr. Stuart Titus, the CEO of the first publicly traded medical cannabis company, Medical Marijuana Inc., has been involved with various studies overseas, where it is legal to study the medical effects of cannabis. He says that Gaddis is not alone.

"Currently there is a study underway in Australia, where the incidence of melanoma cancer is quite rampant," he says. "They're looking at a topical as well as ingestible application."

MMI makes an oil similar to the Rick Simpson Oil, except it has a high concentration of CBD instead of THC, and while they have not been able to study the results as thoroughly as they would like, he says he has anecdotal stories about its success for skin cancer. But he says that the body has numerous cannabinoid receptors, and large doses of CBD such as are legal in Florida, even without any intoxicating effect, can have tremendous benefit.

It was easy to hear stories of success at a recent medical marijuana conference in Washington, D.C. Christine Stenquist, who came to the capital from Utah, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1996. "During surgery a blood vessel was hit; when I awoke I had left side paralysis, I had chronic pain and a litany of issues. For 16 years I've been bedridden and housebound. Four years ago, I discovered cannabis and it's changed my life," she said in front of a couple dozen people at a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

Her state won't take action on medical pot until the feds do.

Nicole Snow is from Massachusetts, which just legalized recreational marijuana, which is far better. But because there is no federal protection there are still issues, say, for children who need cannabis as medicine. Patients, Snow says, "have very different needs than adult users."

"We need our home rights, residential protection, discrimination protection, protections from losing our jobs, protection from losing our kids, protection from losing our health care," she says. "Which is absurd."

Gaddis says such laws are "so disrespectful to the millions of lives" like hers that have been changed and perhaps saved by cannabis. "People are changing their lives," she said. "They're becoming free from prescription drugs, they're able to interact with their families and it's changing the quality of their life."

Originally published here

Maryland just got its first licensed grower of medical marijuana

By Aaron Gregg May 17 at 5:47 PM 

The commission that oversees Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis program voted Wednesday to award the state’s first full license to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The Stage 2 license, awarded to ForwardGro LLC, is a final sign-off from regulators for putting plants in the ground. The company will still have to wait for dispensaries to be fully inspected and licensed before it can sell cannabis products to approved patients, which it hopes to do by late summer or early fall.

Gail Rand, chief financial officer and patient advocate for ForwardGro, said “the patients of Maryland will finally have an opportunity to try this medicine that could help tens of thousands of people.”

The vote by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is a milestone for a program that has been beset by repeated delays and questions about the fairness of the licensing process.

“A new industry in Maryland has been officially launched,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission, in a statement. “Medical cannabis production will change the face of Maryland and will have a profound economic and health impact on the entire region.”

In August, the commission awarded “preapproval” licenses to 15 companies after receiving a crush of applications. Businesses that failed to win licenses brought lawsuits seeking to open the program to more firms.

One lawsuit takes issue with the commission’s decision to reshuffle the list of winning firms in the name of geographic diversity. Another alleges that the commission failed to properly account for racial diversity in awarding licenses.

A legislative effort to expand the number of licenses to include minority businesses and the companies suing the state over geographic diversity failed in the General Assembly last month. And as recently as Monday, a jilted license applicant filed an injunction seeking an emergency ruling to halt the issuing of licenses.

Like many of its competitors, ForwardGro’s investors include well-connected political donors and former government officials. A partial owner of the firm is Gary Mangum, the chief executive of flower wholesaler Bell Nursery and a top donor to Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

(full story from Washington Post)

Daily dose of cannabis extract could reverse brain's decline in old age, study suggests

The Guardian

Researchers have come up with an unusual proposal to slow, or even reverse, the cognitive decline that comes with old age: small, daily doses of cannabis extract.

The idea emerged from tests on mice which found that regular, low doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – impaired memory and learning in young animals, but boosted the performance of old ones.

The discovery has raised hopes for a treatment that improves brain function in old age without inducing the behavioural effects well known to recreational users of the drug. To investigate whether it works in humans, the scientists plan to launch a clinical trial later this year.

“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care then that is more than we could have imagined,” said Andras Bilkei-Gorzo at the University of Bonn.

Research on cannabis use by adolescents has found compelling evidence that regular, heavy use can impair the memory. But the impact of the drug on older people’s brains has been far less well studied.

Writing in the journal Nature Medicine, the scientists describe how they gave a month-long course of daily THC to mice aged two months, one year, and 18 months. The mice were then tested to see how fast they solved a water maze, and how quickly they recognised familiar objects such as mice they had met before.

Without the drug, the younger mice aced the tests, while the older ones struggled. But infusions of THC had a dramatic impact on both groups. The performance of the younger mice plummeted on THC, while older mice improved so much that their scores matched those of healthy drug-free young mice. The benefits lasted for weeks after the infusions ended. None of the mice displayed the strange effects one might expect from doses of THC. (full article)

Medical Cannabis and Your Second Amendment Right to Bare Arms

Under our current legal system, medical marijuana and guns do not mix. This was made very clear in a Federal Appeals Court ruling last year, which decided not to extend 2nd Amendment gun rights to medical marijuana patients.

This stems from a case originating in October of 2011, when Rowan Wilson made an unsuccessful attempt at purchasing a gun from a Nevada firearms shop. The shop refused the sale, stating that they were prohibited under the law from doing so, the dealer knowing Wilson possessed a medical marijuana license, had to consider her an “unlawful drug user” under the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”) regulations.

Looking at federal firearms statutes, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) no person “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” may “possess... or… receive any firearm or ammunition.” In addition, it is unlawful for “any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person… is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Id. § 922(d)(3).

In September of 2011, ATF, the agency charged with enforcing gun laws, issued an Open Letter to all federal firearms licensees which stated the following:

[A]ny person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition… and you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to them. Further, if you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana under State law, then you have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance. As such, you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to the person…

Applying the federal statute and the ATF directive, the Nevada dealer was prohibited from selling a gun to Wilson, and Wilson was prohibited from making a purchase. Wilson subsequently sued the Federal government, challenging the statute, ATF regulations, and the ATF Open Letter as unconstitutional infringements on her 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Ultimately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal government, and in doing so, limited the rights of medical marijuana license holders to own or purchase a gun. In Wilson’s case, the court used a two-prong test to determine the constitutionality of the challenged laws. First, the court looked to whether the government’s stated objective is significant, substantial, or important. Then, it examined if there is a reasonable fit between the challenged regulation and its asserted objective.

The government’s objective in the firearms regulations was for public safety and the prevention of gun violence – long established as an important government interest. Secondly, the court determined that there was a reasonable fit between prohibiting illegal drug users from obtaining guns, and the objective of preventing gun violence.

The court determined that individuals who firearms dealers have reasonable cause to believe are illegal drug users are more likely actually to be illegal drug users (who, in turn, are more likely to be involved with violent crimes). With respect to marijuana cardholders, it is reasonable for federal regulators to assume that such a cardholder is much more likely to be a marijuana user than an individual who does not hold a registry card.

These laws will sometimes burden (albeit minimally and only incidentally) the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are reasonably, but erroneously, suspected of being unlawful drug users. However, the Constitution tolerates these modest collateral burdens in various contexts, and does so here as well.

What does this all mean for medical marijuana patients? The federal government sees you as an illegal drug user, and indeed, under federal law, marijuana (medical or otherwise) is an illegal Schedule I substance. Although the majority of states to date have passed some form of marijuana policy reform, it has fallen on the federal government’s deaf ears. And until marijuana is descheduled or rescheduled, medical marijuana patients will continue to have their Constitutional rights limited when it comes to gun ownership.

Alex Pe is an attorney based in Baltimore, Maryland. Former general counsel for Medical Marijuana Advocates Group, he concentrated his practice in marijuana policy, licensing, and compliance. His firm, Hensley Pe Law represents clients on a range of issues, from business matters, civil litigation, immigration and criminal defense.

This article isn’t meant to be construed as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. If you need to seek legal counsel and/or require representation on a certain matter, feel free to contact us for a for a free consultation.

Cannabis’ Crafty Cousin: the Wonders of Industrial Hemp

The most versatile plant on the planet is illegal to grow in large parts of the United States. However, that fact may change quickly as lawmakers in both parties are rediscovering the amazing benefits and potential uses of industrial hemp.

Botanically speaking, hemp is marijuana’s close cousin. However, it does not contain THC, which is pot’s psychoactive ingredient. As a result, you can’t get high from consuming hemp. Nevertheless, industrial hemp, which was a fixture in the American economy up through WWII, has been a casualty in the War on Weed.

State and national leaders, perhaps recognizing their folly, are moving to legalize industrial hemp. In fact, many economic experts believe the commodity is so promising that it could supplant coal and revive other dying industries.

Here are 10 amazing things you can do with industrial hemp:

1). Hemp Oil is rich in omega fatty oils, which can help lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, and promote cardiovascular health.

2). Hemp can be used to make microbe-resistant bedding for horses and small animals

3). Moisturizers and body lotions can be made from hemp.

4). Hemp can be used to make one of the most efficient and environmentally-friendly ethanol type fuels.

5). Cereals and granola bars made with hemp are rich in dietary fiber.

6). Hemp can be used to make non-allergenic and non-polluting detergents.

7). Industrial hemp can actually be used to make biodegradable plastics, which can be fashioned into a variety of objects by utilizing 3D printing technology. Indeed, cellulose plastic made from hemp can be used in aircraft and cars

8). Hempcrete is a form of building material made from lime, water, and hemp. It is strong, durable, flame-retardant, and very bio-friendly.

9). Hemp fiber furniture. Yes, you can make sturdy chairs solely from hemp.

10). Hemp and recyclables. It’s possible to make consumer electronic items — such as speakers — from Zeoform, which is a mixture of hemp and recycled water bottles.

The possibilities of industrial hemp are almost as unlimited as the human imagination. Our forefathers recognized how important hemp was. For example, Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, wrote, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”

Indeed, experts say that more than 25,000 useful products can be made from this environmentally friendly and sustainable crop. It’s pretty obvious that allowing U.S. farmers to grow hemp will be a win-win for the consumer, the economy, and hard-hit industrial regions across the country.

Does Marijuana Reform Lower Your Deportation Risk?

By: Alexander X. Pe, Esq.

The public perception of marijuana, has experienced a dramatic shift from the days of “Reefer Madness” to general acceptance as a medicine or even a recreational substance less harmful than alcohol.

From cannabis decriminalization, legalization, recreational sales, and medical programs, the majority of US States have greatly reformed marijuana policies and punishments. In Maryland, possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalized. This means that if you get caught with less than 10 grams of flower, you are no longer considered a criminal, and the maximum punishment is equivalent to receiving a parking ticket.

For many cannabis enthusiasts this is a significant improvement.

On the Federal level however, it’s still a totally different story. Cannabis remains an illegal substance. For cannabis consumers and patients, there is some level of protection provided by the states with reformed drug policies, and our legal system is such that the Federal Government cannot compel states to enforce Federal law.

This allows for patients and recreational consumers to carry on with their treatments or usage with minimal risk of being thrown in a Federal prison because the fact is, the Feds are going after the suppliers; those crossing international and state borders, and they simply don’t have the time or resources to go after individual consumers… if you are an American Citizen, that is.

If you are not an American citizen, the picture is much less clear.

Immigrants and non-immigrant visa holders, being subject to the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), a Federal law, are given no protection by progressive states, and marijuana-related offenses can land them in an immigration detention center and ultimately deported.

The fastest way for something this unfortunate to happen is through an arrest record.

Although states cannot be forced to enforce federal law, state law enforcement agencies share fingerprinting data with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) for individuals taken into custody. This automatically triggers the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) to begin what are called removal proceedings, commonly referred to as deportation.

When ICE is informed of an immigrant’s criminal arrest, they may choose to detain the individual pending their removal, so they won’t have the chance to flee if they are released on bond. Even if ICE decides not to detain the alleged criminal immigrant immediately, the violation of state criminal law, is a violation of the INA, and removal proceedings will be initiated against the immigrant upon conviction.

But what happens when there is no arrest to begin with?

For example in the case of Maryland, where, as previously stated, possession is now considered a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense? The fact is, all offenses both civil and criminal remain on an individual’s record. This is true for speeding tickets and its definitely true for marijuana citations.

Those who get pulled over for speeding, and additionally get cited for marijuana possession because of a visible baggie or device, will be let go by local law enforcement. However, the incident still lingers on their record and may very well come back to haunt them later, sometimes years after the event occurred.

Will these infractions pass under the radar?

Often in these cases, the triggering event alerting USCIS and ICE to the immigrant’s past violations of the INA typically occur when the visa holder either applies for an extension, adjusts status to permanent residency, or applies to become a citizen.

There are many pending cases involving exactly this, where a marijuana offense occurred years ago, and the immigrant now faces the threat of being uprooted from a life built in the U.S. and sent to a place they no longer consider home.

This may seem unfair to many readers out there, and it is.

The stated purpose of this strict immigration policy is to protect the American public and protect communities from the violence and crime caused by serious drug offenders and traffickers. However, the broad application of these rules end up separating families and harshly punishing non-violent individuals whose only crime was smoking a joint.

It's sad, but it's the truth.

If you think you may be in this situation, have a friend or family member who is, the best thing to do is consult with an experienced attorney in both immigration and criminal law.

Individuals should be proactive in seeking legal counsel, not waiting until they receive a notice to appear in immigration court for removal proceedings.

Many times, the risk of deportation for non-violent marijuana possession offenses can be avoided or at least reduced with the help of a lawyer.

Lucky for you all, I happen to know just the right guy! :-)


Alex Pe is an attorney based in Baltimore, Maryland. Former general counsel for Medical Marijuana Advocates Group, he concentrated his practice in marijuana policy, licensing, and compliance. His firm, Hensley Pe Law represents clients on a range of issues, from business matters, civil litigation, immigration and criminal defense.

This article isn’t meant to be construed as legal advice and is for informational purposes only. If you need to seek legal counsel and/or require representation on a certain matter, feel free to contact us for a for a free consultation.

Should legalizing recreational marijuana be on the ballot in Maryland?

Maryland could put the power to legalize marijuana in the hands of voters.

State lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide in 2018 whether to tax and regulate marijuana in the same manner as alcohol — potentially making Maryland the first state in the region with a full-fledged legal marijuana market.

The legislation, which is still being drafted, faces an uphill battle in Annapolis. But it draws from the same political playbook that lawmakers used a decade ago to legalize casinos, and some powerful legislative leaders say they will not stand in the way.

Public opinion on marijuana has moved toward legalization so swiftly — by double-digit percentage points in just two years, according to some polls — that adult-use marijuana advocates in the General Assembly believe it is no longer a question of whether the state will legalize it.

It’s a matter of when..It’s become very clear that this is no longer a fringe issue. It’s totally mainstream.
— Del. David Moon, a Montgomery County Democrat

Some predict putting marijuana legalization on the ballot could drive up Democratic turnout in 2018, when the party is hoping to unseat popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The governor declined to take a position on the referendum.

Bills to legalize marijuana have failed in committee for the past several years. Passing a constitutional amendment to allow the drug would require significantly more support than ordinary legislation — three-fifths of the Democrat-dominated legislature, rather than a simple majority.

Many lawmakers see sending an issue to voters as a different choice.

Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer, for instance, said he would vote against any legalization plan. But letting the voters decide?

"I don't have a problem with that," the Baltimore County Democrat said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Southern Maryland Democrat, has said he "has no objection" to a constitutional amendment allowing a referendum on recreational marijuana. But he plans to focus first on revamping the state's fledgling medical marijuana program, which has been criticized for having too little minority participation.

Republican leaders did not reject a constitutional amendment outright but questioned whether it should be a top priority.

"I'm all for the expansion of citizens initiatives, but I really think we should we start with the ability to petition any new budget matters — such as newly imposed taxes," said Senate Minority Whip Stephen S. Hershey of the Eastern Shore.

The referendum initiative is part of a multi-prong push by marijuana legalization advocates to capitalize on the growing popularity of legal pot — and the millions of dollars it has generated for other states.

Del. Curt Anderson, the Democrat who chairs the Baltimore delegation, will again be one of the sponsors of legislation that would legalize marijuana and dedicate most of the tax money to schools.

The debate, he said, has shifted as advocates have more data from states that have legalized marijuana — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — to back up their case and as the state again faces a structural budget deficit.

Four more states — California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — voted in November to legalize pot. Congress has blocked the District of Columbia's referendum to sell and tax marijuana.

Anderson and the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group are putting their energy into passing bills to legalize marijuana and tax it.

They hope emphasizing the big financial windfall will apply pressure to those resistant to legalization.

But Anderson said there's an obvious political advantage to sending the matter to voters instead.

"Certainly it's an easier vote," he said. "But is it an easier vote for enough people?"

A decade ago, lawmakers were at an impasse over whether to legalize casinos. Despite the division, three-fifths of the legislature agreed to let voters decide if they wanted to amend the state's constitution to allow it. The measure passed in 2008.

Then, however, Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch advocated for a public referendum. Busch, a Democrat who represents Anne Arundel County, said last week he has not been persuaded the timing is right to ask voters to legalize recreational marijuana.

"It would be unwise for us to go down that path at this time, even before we have medical marijuana up and running," he said.

A referendum could have implications for Hogan's re-election bid. Polls show support for legalizing marijuana tends to be strongest among Democrats and young people. Hogan's surprise 2014 victory in deep-blue Maryland came amid particularly low turnout.

"If this is on the ballot, it should bring out some people who otherwise would not have showed up," said Michael Hanmer, research director at the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland.

Sixty-one percent of Maryland residents support legalizing marijuana, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll that Hanmer helped direct in October. Support had increased 12 percentage points from 2014.

Based on current polls, Hanmer said, Maryland would likely vote to legalize marijuana.

Unlike the other states that legalized pot by popular vote, Maryland lacks a ballot initiative process that can be launched by citizens. There are only two ways to put laws before voters. Residents can petition to overturn a law passed by the General Assembly, or the General Assembly can propose a change to the state constitution.

Legalizing marijuana by ballot initiative would make it cumbersome to tweak the program or solve problems later. Lawmakers would need to return to the voters for every change.

Sen. Michael Hough, a Frederick County Republican, said he objects to a referendum because it's unwieldy and violates the principles of representative democracy.

"You could take every high-profile issue and throw it on the ballot just to get people to come out," he said. "It's really cute, but that's not the way that you're supposed to do this stuff."

Several other lawmakers declined to take a position.

"It's never a bad idea to take things to the voter," said Del. Jay Walker, the Democrat who chairs the Prince George's County delegation. "But, yeah, in terms of how I'd vote on that, I really don't know."

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said he thought if gambling was in the state constitution, "it's not too strange, then, to put marijuana in there."

But the Baltimore County Democrat was hesitant to stake out a position.

"I don't want to come out and give an answer on that definitively," he said. "I do believe at some point the voters should have their say on this. I don't know if that point is now."

Meet The Expert Who Says Cannabis Is The Secret To Better Sex

The connection between marijuana and great sex may seem relatively trendy, but as Joe Dolce writes in his new book Brave New Weed: Adventures Into the Uncharted World of Cannabiscannabis has actually been praised for its aphrodisiac properties for at least three thousand years, ever since it entered India and was applied to Tantra. 

Dolce, the former editor-in-chief of Details and Star magazine, spent the past few years researching and reacquainting himself with marijuana, after a relative started growing and introduced him to Super Lemon Haze, a Sativa strain, which Dolce fell in love with. And thanks to more weed-friendly laws, Dolce says that now's the time to reevaluate the way we look at the plant's potential effects on our lives, particularly our sex lives. (Cannabis is currently legal in eight states for both medical and recreational use, and available for forms of medical use in 23 states. In Washington D.C., it’s legal for personal use but not commercial sale.) 

"As we approach the world of post-prohibition, it’s time to open that conversation up to different thoughts, different people, and different ways of using the plant," Dolce says. 

One way the game is already changing? Cannabis-based intimacy oils and lubes for people with vaginas, like Foria Pleasure and Apothecanna Sexy Time, which are being created to heighten arousal and increase orgasm. Products like these are showing people a new way to experience the ancient aphrodisiac. Of course, enjoying more classic methods, like a joint or a cannabis edible, with a lover can be just as intimate. 

Ahead, I spoke with Dolce about two of the most fun things on Earth (in my opinion, at least): weed and sex. If you're an avid cannabist (the preferred term to "stoner") or curious consumer, I recommend that you read Brave New Weed in its entirety — it covers much more ground than the sex aspect, including what's in store for the weed industry in general. In the meantime, read on to learn what Dolce has to say about how cannabis can transform sex for the better. 

As you mention in Brave New Weed, cannabis has been praised for its aphrodisiac properties for thousands of years. Speaking currently, how did you learn of it as an arousal tool? 

"I have to be honest: For the first 30 years of me using cannabis, I never found it to be very effective [erotically]. It used to make me tired and not sexually aroused. What I use [now] is this concept of micro-dosing [ingesting very low doses], using less to do more. That works super effectively. Then, I learned other things, like mixing delivery systems. You can play with a low-dose edible, and a couple of vape hits or puffs. However, you want to inhale it; that yields a nice effect."

Yes, especially in regards to edibles, consuming the proper dosage is essential. 

"If you're in a legal state, it’s really easy to buy edibles that are dosed, so you can find out [what works for you]. Am I good at 10 milligrams, or am I good at 50 milligrams? I know I like between 5 and 10 milligrams. Fifty to 100 milligrams is just not going to make me a fun partner in bed. I’m going to be zoned out, and I’m not going to be connected. Like all things with cannabis, you really have to explore on your own body, and then with your partner’s body, too. There are new interesting [cannabis intimacy oil] products, like Apothecanna Sexy Time or Foria. Have you tried them?"

Yes. I’m a fan. 

"It’s quite interesting; everybody has a different response. I know some women who said it’s amazing and that it recharged their entire sex lives, but then I know other women who are real [cannabis] enthusiasts who said, 'I used it five, six, seven times, and nothing. Zip.' What is interesting is that older women I know have said it is so useful to them. I know some women after menopause who have said it has absolutely reawakened their sexuality. It’s an incredible thing. If it gives someone another 10 years of a sex life, with no side effects, how great is that? That’s a miracle product, basically.


"Also, you don’t have to use it vaginally or anally, if it’s made with a good base [like cannabis and coconut oil]. You can put it under your tongue and in the oral tissue of your mouth. You get the same effect, the same uptake, and it’s quick. For a woman to use this on a man, he’s not going to get this from applying it to his cock."

Well, Foria makes anal suppositories

"Anal suppositories sound like no fun [to most straight men]. So for a guy, you have to be willing to use it on their mouth or explore areas that are not typically or initially explored [during heterosexual sex]. That’s how it works. It’s not going to work by putting it on their cock. If you're a woman [dating someone with a penis], you need to know that. Talk about opening up to your partner, like, 'Hey, we’re going to try this out together — are you willing, buddy?' That’s important! Certain men are really afraid of that stuff. They’ve got to get over themselves; it’s well worth the exploration."

It can create a better experience if both parties are enjoying. 

"If your partner is inexperienced, it’s nice to say, 'I want to enjoy this with you. Are you willing? Will you go there with me? I’ll be your guide. It will be safe; it will be fun. I’ll make sure that we’re here together. It’s quite nice. It’s better than nice; it’s sexy." I like the fact that Apothecanna calls Sexy Time an intimacy oil. I think that’s accurate. To call it a Viagra or a female version of Viagra would be inaccurate, and it would be setting you up for disappointment. This is not about the organs. It’s about your feelings. I have found that cannabis, in general, does remove a barrier or layer of resistance."

Aside from cannabis intimacy oils, how can using cannabis with a partner in more traditional forms (smoking, vaping, etc.) increase intimacy?

"It’s not aggressive-inducing; cannabis is known for its benevolence. When it comes to being with a partner, not only can it help you communicate, but it can slow you down a little bit. I tend to be a type A person, so I think and I speak quickly. Sometimes, it's really useful just to shut up a little. I’ve learned the hard way; it’s better to take it down a notch and relax sometimes. In a sexual situation, the same idea can be applied; it seems to align me or point me in tune with my partner more. Also, it enhances your sexual being. You feel your partner and you feel their response. If you’re pleasantly high, you can get lost in a kiss, or god knows where we go — we go to Mars sometimes and come back in the span of two seconds. But it’s a beautiful journey to Mars."


In the 1970s and '80s, a few promising studies suggested that cannabis could work as an aphrodisiac and aid in intimacy, but there hasn’t been much research since then, due to federal laws that affect funding. How do you think the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug prevents further research on intimacy? 

"These soft areas that are hard to scientifically prove, but these are things that I’ve known and [other] people have known. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of law. I think it’s more: How do you study intimacy? It’s such a personal, human, thing. It’s something that comes from experience. I don’t know how science is going to be able to define that. And by the way, not everybody has that experience. Some people just don’t enjoy it. So I think it is a matter of sampling and testing, and I don’t think science is really going to get us there. This is outside the realm of science." 

Are there any other benefits of legalization? 

"Legalization gives you education, and that’s the main goal. The more you know, the smarter you are about how to use it, and the less fearful you are. We need the basic facts: 'Here is the amount I am comfortable with, here’s when it’s going to cross the threshold, here’s what I can expect.' You need to teach yourself these things. In a legal state, you can go into a dispensary, have a conversation, with a budtender, who is often quite knowledgeable about the basics, and really have a foundation for exploration. When you're in the black market, you’re still reliant on the guy who brings you stuff or your friends who have their own. But look, the good news is that, with cannabis, it’s never permanent, and it’s never fatal. There are some uncomfortable moments you’re going to have if you’re not educated, but you’re always going to come down, and you’re always going to be okay. That’s the great news."

What advice would you give to first timers looking to use cannabis as an aphrodisiac and intimacy tool? 

"Learn about what you’re using. Dose matters, delivery matters, and intention matters, too. Let’s talk about how having a partner that you trust matters. It may not be the best to try this with somebody you just met or at a first date or a hook up. You want to be where, if you do get paranoid, they can hold you and make you feel good. We want to be loved. We’re talking about intimacy and love. Give it a little experimentation, and find your comfortable place."


Study Links Medical Marijuana to Fewer Traffic Fatalities

The health and public safety concerns that kept marijuana illegal for generations are proving unfounded where it is now legal.

A new study from Columbia University found that traffic fatalities have fallen in seven states where medicinal cannabis is legal and that, overall, states where medical marijuana is legal have lower traffic fatality rates than states were medical marijuna remains illegal.

The study found that “medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states.

Study details

Seven researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health worked on the study, with two more researchers from the University of California at Davis and Boston University. They published the study in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers used traffic accident data from 1985 to 2014, about 1.2 million accidents. They focused on the relationship between medical marijuana laws and the number of fatal traffic accidents, examining each state with legalized medical marijuana separately.

They also looked at the relationship between the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and traffic accidents, finding a reduction in the number of fatal accidents among those ages 25 to 44 in areas where dispensaries were open.

Report conclusions

The researchers concluded that both medical marijuana legalization and dispensaries were, on average, associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among drivers 25 to 44-years-old.

They suggested a few possibilities for this conclusion.

  • Those under the influence of marijuana are more aware of their impaired condition than those under the influence of alcohol and may more often make the choice not to drive.
  • More people have replaced going out to drink in bars with partaking of marijuana at home, reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.
  • An increased police presence in areas where medical marijuana is legal could have led to fewer people attempting to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters.

Findings varied by state. Rhode Island and Connecticut saw increases in traffic fatalities after medical marijuana became legal. California and New Mexico saw double-digit drops immediately after legalization, followed by increases.

The varying statistics point to the need for further study into each state’s laws and how they have been implemented, Santaella-Tenorio said. (continue)