University of Maryland's School of Pharmacy creates program on medical marijuana

BALTIMORE (ABC7) — Medical marijuana training is now part of the curriculum at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

The School of Pharmacy in Baltimore has already signed up 24 people for online courses and hopes to signs thousands more.

 

"Let's educate these individuals to do it properly, says pharmacy Professor Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner. "The training is specifically geared toward the staff, that by the Maryland law, are going to be dispensing or cultivating the medical marijuana."

The school is partnering with the group Americans for Safe Access, a D.C.-based medical cannabis advocacy organization.

The Washington Post says ASA is providing instructors and the curriculum, which the school "vetted and adjusted," according to the paper.

"We here in Maryland, and a lot of other states now, are getting on board with really having a medical model," says Krissy Bernazani, the clinical director of 'Freestate Wellness', which hopes to open a medical cannabis cultivation and dispensary facility in Jessup by this fall.

The training comes as Maryland's medical marijuana industry is just beginning to take root.

Just last week, the state's first licensed dispensary, operated by the Wellness Institute of Maryland, opened in Frederick.

The company is already accepting patient referrals, although cannabis won't be available until September, perhaps later.

"I think that's perfectly acceptable," says Neil Perry, a Jessup resident. "Just like any other medicine that comes from plants... it should be used, and should be allowed."

Rodriguez de Bittner emphasizes the training is not geared toward medical providers, but for staffers working at medical marijuana facilities.

Thirty-hour certification courses will cost between $450 and $750.

Among the subjects: patient safety, cultivation, dispensing, and policies and procedures.

Some offerings sound like business school classes.

"It would be quality assurance, record keeping, what records you keep when you dispense, what process you use when you dispense," Rodriguez, also the executive director of the school's Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions, says.

Bernazani says Freestate Wellness wants to hire around 40 to 50 people by the end of 2018.

They will be taking the UMD course for help in understanding the law and the product.

"Most folks think about cannabis as pot, marijuana, something you're smoking in your dorm room," she says. "It's not that anymore."

A year ago, state officials issued 15 preliminary growing licenses and 15 preliminary processing licenses.

About 102 companies across Maryland are hoping to open dispensaries.

Published reports say as many as 9,000 people have signed up to register to take part in the medical marijuana program.

"It may relieve pain, it may relieve nausea, people who go through anxiety," says Barbara Guy, of Jessup. "There's so many conditions out there."

But don't look for a medical marijuana drive-thru.

There are no patient walk-ins.

First off, a doctor who is registered with the program must approve a patient's record for medical marijuana use.

If that's approved, a patient must show a "cannibis registration card" or have an ID that shows he or she is on the Maryland medical marijuana program.

Bernazani says her facility will have 'traditional flower products' but she says there are safer alternatives.

"They can use a vape pen, oral products, whether it's a capsule you can swallow or a tablet you can chew or dissolve," she says. "Topicals have proven to be extremely effective for painful conditions, arthritic conditions. Our dispensary will carry all those products."

Rodriguez de Bittner is hoping that thousands, including prospective workers from outside the Baltimore-Washington area will sign up for the courses.

"It would be like quality assurance," she says. "Safety is our number one priority."

Bernazani says her company has invested a lot of money to prepare the Jessup facility.

She believes the medical cannabis industry is turning a corner.

"When someone has a loved one who has cancer, or they have a child with intractable seizures... that's when it hits home and that stigma goes away pretty quick."

Charm City Medicus Begins Buildout

We have some exciting updates from Charm City Medicus, a dispensary opening this fall in Baltimore County, Maryland! Construction for the dispensary in Dundalk is to begin within the next two weeks and JP2 Architects has provided renderings of the beautiful CCM interior and exterior. The 3,600 square-foot space will include a beautiful and comfortable waiting room, as well as sales and consultation areas.

On Wednesday, CCM’s president Bryan Hill discussed the dispensary’s next steps and his personal reasons for getting into the cannabis industry in the Baltimore Business Journal this Wednesday. You can read the article online or in the print edition out today. We look forward to seeing this beautiful dispensary come to life in the next few months! To stay up to date on the buildout’s progress, sign up for the Charm City Medicus newsletter here.

Maryland approves first medical marijuana dispensary

Regulators approved Maryland's first medical marijuana dispensary on Wednesday, authorizing a Frederick company to open its doors immediately even though the drug will not be available for months.

The Wellness Institute of Maryland plans to start seeing patients Thursday and take what owner Michael Kline called "pre-orders" for cannabis.

"We are fully equipped to deliver medicine as soon as we have it," Kline said minutes after the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission approved his license.

Although Maryland legalized medical marijuana more than four years ago, just one firm is authorized to grow it. That first crop is not expected to be ready until after Labor Day. 

The commission also on Wednesday delayed a vote to authorize a second grower, Curio Wellness in Baltimore County. A commissioner said the panel has requested additional information from Curio, but would not discuss the issue publicly.

Curio CEO Michael Bronfein called the move "regrettable," and said the commission never made him aware of any missing information. He said state inspectors approved his facility on June 14. 

"Our state of the art facility is ready," Bronfein said in a statement. "Every day the commission fails to provide our stage two license delays patients access to safe, reliable, and effective medicine."

The remaining companies picked to launch Maryland's marijuana growing and processing industry have just six weeks to secure a final license or risk losing out on the state's lucrative market.

A year ago, the commission awarded 15 preliminary growing licenses and 15 preliminary processing licenses. If those firms are not granted final licenses by Aug. 15 — a year from when they were selected — the commission could revoke the companies' opportunities to work in Maryland's medical marijuana industry.

"The clock is ticking," said Patrick Jameson, the commission's executive director.

Jameson said the commission plans to meet more frequently in the coming weeks to approve those licenses after each applicant undergoes a final state inspection. The commission also picked 102 companies to open dispensaries across the state, but they do not face the same Aug. 15 deadline.

The state's medical marijuana program has been beset by controversy and lawsuits over how the state picked winning firms and whether minority-owned companies could fairly compete for the licenses. Some state lawmakers are pushing to remake the commission and award more licenses.

The limited supply of growers and the broad base of potential patients made Maryland a highly sought after market that attracted hundreds of applications to launch the program. Already, nearly 9,000 patients have signed up to register with the state, and that count does not include the out-of-state patients who are permitted by law to buy marijuana here.

Regulators, concerned about potential fraud, are reconsidering regulations governing how out-of-state patients are allowed to register with the cannabis commission. Jameson said they hope to have a resolution soon.

Meanwhile, fewer than 300 doctors have registered to recommend the drug — less than 2 percent of the state's 16,000 physicians.

Last month, a new law took effect that further broadened access to the drug — authorizing dentists, podiatrists, mid-wives and nurse practitioners to recommend marijuana. So far, fewer than 20 of those providers have signed up to do so.

In Frederick, Kline and his team plan to offer home delivery of medical marijuana to qualified patients once it is available.

Wellness Institute of Maryland, he said, will operate more like a doctor's office than a retail store. Patients' consultations with cannabis professionals will take about an hour and they will be asked to keep an electronic diary, he said. The company doesn't plan to advertise to the public.

"Many, if not most people, won't be interested in our model," Kline said. "They would like to go in like it's a strip mall or a 7-Eleven."

Kline said his niche is to appeal to patients who might be apprehensive about taking a federally controlled substance. The firm plans to counsel each patient on what strains might be best and how to administer the lowest dose that's effective.

"For example, is it appropriate to use a vape pen? How do you do that?" Kline said.

Patients can sign up for an appointment by visiting Kline's website or calling the company. Even though the drug won't be available until September at the earliest, Kline said his firm is ready to take on "all the paperwork that's doable."

ecox@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ErinatTheSun

(original post here)

Amy Mellen: How Medical Cannabis Saved My Life

Every person has their own unique story of how cannabis heals. For some, the journey is a brief one, but for others, the road is long and dark. Meet Amy Mellen, who shares her story of pain, hardship, dependence, healing, and hope.

Amy’s life before

Amy Mellen has been through more in her 47 years on earth than most. Born in Nebraska and raised in Oregon, she grew up in a family that espoused sports, activities, and the typical wholesome American image.

I did not smoke weed, drink alcohol, party, skip school, nada. None of it. There were certain expectations of me. I WAS going to college, I WOULD have a career. I think a lot of it was just the way it was in the 70’s and 80’s, it was a different world back then. I happened to looked down at anyone that smoked weed, they were considered lazy and worthless.

Marijuana was the Devil’s drug and was used to get high and ruin your life. Well isn’t that what Nancy Reagan was saying with the DARE program? We were brainwashed into thinking that nothing good could come of this plant and that’s what I believed until about 18 months ago.

Amy married in 1990 and graduated from college with her Bachelors in 1991. Her first child was born in 1997, and her second a year later. Hormonal migraines from her second daughter had her doctor give her Percocet for the first time in her life.

I always wanted to be a wife and a mom. I had what I thought was the American Dream.

Then a horrendous rollover crash on the way home from a vacation changed her life.

I spent the next four years going through surgeries, physical therapy, and hundreds of dressing changes. I still have some glass and road debris left in my body.

Medications and side effects

From the earliest moments, I was placed on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, blood thinners, muscle relaxers, opiates, ibuprofen, and more. Because of the trauma my body was going through, my blood sugars shot up and they sent me home on insulin November 2007; now I was a Type 2 diabetic.

Through the years, I took almost every opiate out there for pain. My body didn’t respond to morphine so they placed my on Oxycontin which is long-acting and time released; the strength varied depending on pain. I used Percocet for breakthru pain in between the Oxycontin.

From pain management to physical dependence

For 18 months, Oxycontin was a way of life, until she saw new stories of its dangers. To wean her off it, doctors placed her on methadone instead. Going from bad to worse, she was now a synthetic heroin addict, without even knowing. The side effects were so profound that she tried to quit.

After trying to detox off the methadone, her fits of emotional overload became so intense that they caused a crisis with her children, and she went back to Oxycontin.

A vicious cycle

Amy hated how the drugs changed who she was, even to her family, and began to attempt to detox every spring, as the nerve pain was the worst in the fall and winter. But opiates weren’t her only demon.

In 2009, I found myself in a detox of a different kind, one of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. A doctor that I spend 90 minutes with changed my Cymbalta to Prozac and Klonipin to Lorazepam. They work totally different in the body and I went into a serotonin overload.

The dramatic change threw her system into chaos, and for the first time in her life, she became suicidal to the point that she had to be admitted to an inpatient mental health hospital. It took months, but therapy helped her gat back on her feet.

It wouldn’t be easy. Her relationship with her husband had been so strained by her bouts with physical dependence and his medical issues that recuperating together in a small house became unbearable. They grew apart, and in 2010, they divorced.

A new life, and a final straw

Amy met her new husband, Todd, the next summer. His positivity helped her through more surgeries and infections, as well as some significant weight loss. In 2012, they married, and even with her medical complications, Amy’s life seemed to be looking up.

In October of 2014, her medications jarred her life again, in an unexpected way. She blacked out at the wheel while driving, with kids in the car. She was cited for the accident but found out later that her medication, Neurontin (Gabapentin), was the culprit. Other people had experienced the same side effect.

I lost my license and had to take public trans to all my physical therapy appointments. It was a 5 hour trip that was stressful and got my PTSD going. I was not in control when riding a bus, could not hold on with my left hand and my balance wasn’t so good. One day running for the bus I tripped, injured my good arm and ended up with a hematoma on my arm! That was it, no more pills!

Behold cannabis

Todd knew a gal whose husband had got his medical marijuana card and decreased the amount of opiates he was taking for chronic pain. So one day my husband texts me on his way home from work, says bring a lighter and meet him at the driveway. We drove out somewhere on backroads and he hands me a bag containing a new glass pink pipe and a little bag of weed.

That’s where it started. I began smoking Raspberry Kush in the beginning. The pipe was harsh so he surprised me with a bong that can take ice; much better for me back then. I began keeping my pain journal with the cannabis, just like I did with my pain meds for years. What did I take, how many milligrams, what kind of pain, etc.

So with the cannabis I recorded what strain, how much did I smoke, how long for the effects, what effects, how long did they last, etc. I wanted to figure out if this could really work.

The full spectrum of healing

Another friend of Amy’s new husband had opened a medical dispensary in Portland, and he introduced her to topicals. Nothing she had tried before worked like this.

I could literally feel my arm warming up, getting the blood circulating and touching my nerve pain. This was crazy, relief within minutes!

From PTSD and a facial tic developed after the accident, the sheer volume of her conditions demanded more. As she weaned off her meds, other conditions came to light, including Tourette’s. In May of 2015, after learning about Rick Simpson Oil, she bought her first dose.

Homeostasis

Things quickly began to turn around for Amy. The cannabis oil dropped her blood sugars, and in 2 months she was free from diabetes medication. Even her doctor was astounded.

The best way I can describe it…the cannabis just went in and found homeostasis in my body. One by one I was able to start cutting out other meds and supplements I was using to deal with the original side effects. Water pill, stool softener, laxative, liver and kidney detox supplements and so much more. They were gone! The more healing it did the better I felt.

The pain of withdrawals

Oh my, if you’ve never dealt with opiate withdrawals or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, you just can’t understand why other’s don’t get clean. It’s the darkest scariest place I have ever been in my life! This was my 27th detox, so I already knew what I was in for. But, I was not prepared for what my nerves were going to experience from going off the Neurontin.

To sum it up, the process was worse than hell. Her doctor had mentioned the potential addiction aspects of opioids but had never told her about PAWS, or what it would do to her.

Back to life

In this horrible time, it was cannabis, family, friends, and surprisingly a newfound interest in heavy metal music that helped her pull through the darkness. The aggressive, ‘been through hell but never give up’ sentiment struck a chord with her own life. She would sit in a rocking chair on the porch, bare feet in the grass and headphones cranked, and find serenity and strength.

I was able to return to the work force in July 2015. I would have to say this was MONUMENTAL to my healing! I realized I COULD be a productive member of society again, it was very self-empowering. Just two weeks into my job and I was able to take my last Percocet on July 31, 2015 at 9pm.

I am now opiate free. In fact my family has a hard time getting me to take a Tylenol or Ibuprofen now.

Cannabis lessons learned

Unlike prescription medications, cannabis is rarely covered by insurance, leaving the entire bill up to patients.

This whole process has taken a huge toll on our finances. Since I knew nobody who grew plants, made oil, medibles, etc. we did this all through dispensaries. We have invested over $15,000 in less than a year. Plus we maxed credit cards, skipped bills, got behind, all just to heal me.

When I went from my rx meds of approximately $100 a month to $100 a day on cannabis, it hit hard. At my highest I was consuming 3g a day of RSO; at $35 a gram that’s spendy. Add on the $50 tubs of rub I was using each week and the $20 a day I was eating in medibles. At one point I was purchasing almost $1,000 a week in oil, it was outrageous!

Tweaking to maximize efficiency

It wasn’t until Amy started going to seminars on cannabis oil that she realized she had been doing it all wrong. Her body wasn’t absorbing the medicine efficiently, causing her to use far more than necessary. Amy had always kept a journal of her medications, and could instantly see her mistakes.

She learned about the blood/brain barrier, the role of the liver, and how carrier oils help cannabis oil absorb more efficiently.

We started making capsules out of flaxseed oil and the RSO in August 2015. After learning of the blood barrier, I started making sure I had food in my stomach whenever ingesting my oil capsules; wow, what a difference. It was, and IS little things like this, that I have learned on my own along the way.

I listen to my body, I record, I reflect, I revaluate when necessary. People have to remember this is a plant, they are each unique.

Where Amy stands now

Now Amy pays around $1,500 a month in medical expenses, not including the oil. One issue she has is that her conditions respond better to indica strains, but most dispensaries carry sativa or sativa-dominant hybrids. Medibles have the medicine that works best, but the excess sugar is a concern for many patients.

Amy has recently moved to Washington state because of the rent wars in Portland and says the restrictions there are problematic, at the least. She wants people to know that voting for access is not the same as making medical cannabis accessible.

Amy Mellen: From apathist to activist

Amy’s mind and body are going to take years to recover from the damage of her accidents, and the medications she was put on by doctors that didn’t realize the potential of cannabis as a safer alternative. Cannabis is helping her heal faster, but the process continues. She takes cannabis oil with flaxseed in caplets twice a day and uses edibles for sudden increases in pain like she once did with Percocet.

Amy purchased her own Magical Butter machine and hopes to make most of her medicine at home or with a friend for a fraction of the cost. She has gone from thinking of cannabis as “The Devil’s Lettuce” to advocating for it in front of the Oregon Health Association, attending hearings at the State capitol, and reaching out to others to lend support.

Amy hopes to bring awareness to the healing powers of cannabis for substance addiction and chronic pain. She also strives to spread the word on the dangers of opiates and struggles of people dealing with PAWS.

Originally Posted by HERB.co http://herb.co/2016/08/09/amy-mellen/

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: https://www.cannainsider.com/reviews/what-is-cbd/ 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: https://medium.com/trykecultivator/if-youre-buying-your-weed-solely-based-on-the-thc-level-you-re-doing-it-wrong-ec5422d4ddfd

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: http://www.scarymommy.com/smoking-pot-doesnt-make-me-a-bad-mother/

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 https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/cannabis-and-skin-cancer/Content?oid=5598442

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.