New York State Accepts PTSD as Medical Cannabis Qualifying Condition

On Veterans’ Day 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo celebrated the day by demonstrating the state’s support and appreciation for the service provided by military veterans from New York. Among other bills that he signed into law that day, he authorized a bill allowing post traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for treatment with medical marijuana in the state. According to Governor Cuomo, “Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon, and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home.”

Medical Cannabis Qualifying Condition

Legislation which had gone through both houses of the State Legislature earlier in 2017 made it clear that there was bipartisan support for the measure, and that making it the law of the land would be a foregone conclusion. The measure passed the Assembly in May by a count of 131-8, and in June it passed through the Senate by a count of 50-13. It is thought that approximately 20,000 New York state residents would qualify for medical marijuana on PTSD grounds, since the bill also includes police officers and survivors of domestic violence, crimes, and severe accidents.

Sign of Medical Marijuana’s Effectiveness

Passage of the bill is seen as an acknowledgment of how effective medical marijuana can be in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions, with PTSD being the latest in New York. The head of the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations, Mr. Bob Becker, applauded the Governor for the approval, noting that this would make medical cannabis one more tool in the arsenal which could be used to combat the effects of post traumatic stress. Without this legal approval, it has been conjectured that many suffering veterans would have had to turn to the illicit black market to obtain cannabis for relief of PTSD symptoms.

This approval makes New York state the 28th in the U.S. to recognize PTSD as a condition which qualifies a person for medical cannabis, leaving only Alaska among the 29 states allowing medical marijuana, as the lone state to not recognize PTSD as a qualifying condition. However, approval in Alaska is not really necessary, since the state has already legalized adult use marijuana, so anyone who wants to buy cannabis as an adult is free to do so legally.

How Medical Marijuana Helps PTSD Patients

Those who suffer from PTSD often experience symptoms ranging from anxiety, insomnia, and hyperactivity, to an inability to cope with ordinary day-to-day activities of life. The profound stress associated with either a single event or prolonged exposure to multiple events causing psychological trauma, can appear long after the sources of stress have been removed, and these symptoms must then be managed in order for the patient to have some level of quality of life. A federally sanctioned study is currently underway to research the effects that smoking cannabis has on managing PTSD symptoms, to add to the body of available information on the effectiveness of medical marijuana.

What’s Coming in 2018 for California’s Legalized Cannabis Industry

Consumers and businesses now have a look ahead into what it will be like in California next year, when the state’s legalized cannabis industry takes the next giant step forward. The industry is expected to have a value in the neighborhood of $7 billion, making it one of the biggest commercial industries in the state, but you shouldn’t expect everything to be in place right during that first minute of January 1st, 2018. Anyone who has been hoping to usher in the New Year by enjoying some recreational cannabis at the stroke of midnight, might be well advised to have a fallback plan ready.

Legalized Cannabis Industry

Will you be able to buy Cannabis on January 1st?

In most California cities, cannabis will not be available for sale on the first day of January. State officials have probably not been as prompt as they could have been, and it was only recently that regulations were even issued regarding legalization. A representative from the California Bureau of License Control confirms that licenses will be issued as of January 1st, but that doesn’t mean that sales will be possible on that date.

The fact is that before a grower or retail outlet can even apply for a state license, it must have a local permit, meaning from the city of residence – and cities are still struggling to get ready for the changeover. There are also varying legal views for local governments, and some of these will not allow legalized cannabis activity of any kind, for instance all of Kern County. Two local areas that do expect to be ready are the city of San Diego and Palm Springs, so if you’re looking for a place to be early in January, one of those two might be a good choice.

Off to a Slow Start 

Expect most areas of the state to get off to a fairly slow start in the legalized cannabis business. The state understands that everything will not be in place on Day 1, and has therefore indicated a willingness to tolerate some degree of non-compliance with listed regulations, while various entities work toward compliance, and toward establishing their businesses on a sound footing. For instance, businesses which have applied for licenses but have not yet received them, will not be prohibited from conducting business in the interim.

It is expected that distribution components will not be fully implemented until well into 2018, because all the logistics of getting cannabis from field to testing lab to retail outlet have simply not been worked out yet. In fact, it is very likely that bottlenecks will occur until there is time to evaluate the entire statewide distribution network, and relieve areas of high stress.

A Big Question

One of the biggest questions related to legalization is what will happen to the booming black market for cannabis, when sales become legal in 2018. State officials are optimistic that most of the black market growers and sellers will join in on the legalized industry, but others aren’t so sure. One big hangup to this would be the potential rate of taxation. If the state taxes cannabis sales at a very high rate – and some are talking about 45% – that could be enough to turn off black market entrepreneurs, and cause them to eschew legalization in favor of their own, more lucrative operations.

How to Find Great Hiding Places for Your Cannabis Stash

It’s not so much that you really need to hide your cannabis stash these days, since it has certainly gotten a much better reputation than at any time in the past, but you may want to keep it squirreled out of sight, just to avoid conversations with less enlightened individuals than yourself. That being the case, think about some of these ingenious hide-in-plain-sight ideas for keeping your cannabis stash under wraps.

Cannabis Stash

Stash Underwear

Some of the newest underwear these days actually has a small pocket where you can conceal your cannabis, and keep it close by at all times for safe keeping. You’ll never have to worry about someone finding it in your bedroom or hidden in a desk somewhere, because you’ll be able to feel it close to your skin, just by thinking of it.

Lipstick Pipe

Women need a place to conceal things too, and this is absolutely perfect. To the untrained eye, this ingenious little device looks exactly like a tube of your favorite lip gloss, but it has a hollow space inside where you can hold something much better than highlights for your lips. 

The Cigarette One-Hitter

This thing looks just like a cigarette until you get pretty close to it – then it looks like a device which might conceal something – which it is. You can roll up one of your favorite cannabis cigarettes and carry it in this one-hitter container, with no one being the wiser.

Smuggler Belt

This just might be the most popular item on the list for concealing several cigarettes in the lining, and retrieving them before you discard your pants for the night. One of the best characteristics about the Smuggler Belt is that it stays tightly wrapped around you all night, until you’re ready to start partying with someone.

Golf Combo Pack

Believe it or not, Golf Combo Packs are sold in stores where cannabis products are offered to the public, and these can be the perfect concealment for your cannabis stash. You get one small cube that looks like it can hold a single golf ball, and a taller rectangular container which has the room to hold about 3-4 tees. Together, you might not be able to get a hole in one these two, but at least you’ll enjoy the heck out of being wherever you are on the golf course.

What Makes Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Successful?

Investors eager to cash in on the booming cannabis market are sometimes disappointed to find that despite their enormous general popularity, not all medical dispensaries achieve the same kind of success. Some investors have been left wondering why dispensaries which are geographically close may not experience a decent level of success, and simply don’t provide financial return. This article will explore some of the reasons that one medical cannabis program will succeed while another one may fail, and how investors can predict the difference between the two scenarios.Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

Legal restrictions

The biggest factor by far are the legal restrictions which apply within a given state, and how they affect the composition and sale of medical cannabis products. You might be surprised to learn that 48 of the 50 states have at least some kind of law on the books regarding medical cannabis, even though it’s currently only legal in 29 of those states, plus the District of Columbia. It’s what’s written into those state laws that has an enormous impact on whether or not a given cannabis dispensary will be successful.

Key issues under the law 

The first, and most important question, addressed by state cannabis laws is whether or not commercial sales are to be legal. If not, then no medical dispensary will succeed within that state. Next is whether or not the law allows for full-strength THC in cannabis products. Since THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis which produces euphoria-like feelings, the actual content in legally sold cannabis is important to many buyers. 

Another very important question revolves around qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. If chronic pain is accepted as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, then dispensaries are likely to be more successful, since chronic pain is the number one most prevalent condition used by patients. When more serious medical conditions are required to qualify for the program, enrollment is generally considerably lower.

The other major issue regarding legal restrictions is how many dispensaries or distribution points will be available to patients in any given location. When there are many dispensaries throughout a state, they all tend to do well, as is the case in Arizona, Oregon, Washington, etc. If dispensaries are relatively rare, as in the state of Minnesota (which has only two), both are likely to be financial busts, because most patients cannot get to them.

Best predictors of success

The best formula for success within a state is having all those legal factors above operating in favor of medical cannabis. The states where medical cannabis dispensaries are enjoying tremendous success are all those states which permit commercial sales, allow full-strength THC content, permit chronic pain as a qualifying condition, and have numerous distribution points. In short, medical cannabis dispensaries will enjoy the greatest success in those states where the law imposes the fewest restrictions on sales and on qualifying conditions.

Ex-Surgeon General Urges Federal Government to Legalize Cannabis

A new group called the Doctors for Cannabis Regulation has been formed, and is comprised of a number of respected physicians who are currently urging the federal government to legalize cannabis, and to become involved in its regulation. Former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, as well as the former head of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Wesley Clark, are lending their time, effort, and professional credibility to the movement. They feel that the benefits of medical cannabis have been amply demonstrated, and that it’s time for the government to remove restrictions which have tended to inhibit research and medical usage.

Legalize Cannabis

In a remarkable paper published online in the American Journal of Public Health, the new group called on the country’s most powerful advocacy organizations, e.g. the American Medical Association, to throw their full weight behind medical cannabis, and push for broad legalization. This paper marks the very first time that any major medical publication has run a pro-cannabis article authored by highly prominent physicians. 

Contents of the paper

The first point stressed in the paper is that the federal government should become involved in all phases of marijuana production, testing, distribution, and sales, and that all commercially sold product should be accurately labeled, relative to THC and CBD content, inclusion of other ingredients, and dosage instructions. 

The next issue made abundantly clear in the paper is a call to all medical groups to participate in lobbying Congress, because such medical groups made up of knowledgeable physicians are best qualified to advise lawmakers about the medical properties of cannabis. Language in the article urges physicians to take the leap into the 21st century, and acknowledge the tremendous benefits demonstrated by medical cannabis, and to abandon the tired, grossly inaccurate thinking of the 1930’s which acted to prohibit marijuana.

An end to cannabis prohibition is powerfully advocated as well, since as the authors make clear, even children know that medical cannabis can be very effective in treating many kinds of conditions. And in ending the prohibition on cannabis, the authors call for federal government to impose taxes which can raise money for extensive new research, education, and regulatory efforts. 

Time for change

If the paper can be summed up in a single thought, it’s that the time for change regarding legalization of cannabis is now. The leader of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, David Nathan, says “The unjust prohibition of marijuana has done more damage to public health than has marijuana itself. The prohibition of alcohol was a success compared with our war on marijuana.”

Dr. Nathan is not only the board president of this new group, but is also a well-respected psychiatrist based in New Jersey, and he voices the opinion of the group in saying, “Fundamentally, prohibition was always a bad idea.” Hopefully, other medical groups called upon in this ground-breaking publication are listening, and will add their support to the movement.

How to Breed Your Own Cannabis Strains

While it may be true that learning everything about cannabis breeding might take years to accomplish, and real expertise might take even longer, it is still possible to conduct small-scale breeding operations on your own, with just a basic understanding of the process. This discussion will center on how that can be accomplished, and why you would want to breed your own strains of cannabis in the first place.

Cannabis Strains

Why breeding your own is advantageous

In a market where just a dozen cannabis seeds might cost more than $100, it makes great sense to save the seeds from desirable strains you have discovered, so they can be used to grow new plants, and possibly to cross with other strains. Most cannabis growers eventually come across strains which become particular favorites, and it’s only natural to combine the beneficial properties of two or more strains to collect all those desirable properties in one favored strain.

Basic technique for cannabis plant breeding

To do this, you’ll need mature male and female cannabis plants, both of which must be two to three weeks into their bloom phase. The equipment needed includes a small grow tent, gloves, a paint brush, and plastic baggies with ties. The procedure itself involves four relatively simple steps: sanitizing, collecting pollen, propagating selected seeds, and harvesting.

The sanitization phase is necessary so as to provide a safe and clean environment for the female plant, and to prevent the possibility of cross-contamination. Your grow tent should be cleansed with bleach or alcohol mixed with water, and all tools used in the process should be cleansed as well to prevent unwanted influences.

Within two weeks of their bloom phase, male cannabis plants will exhibit pollen sacs, which will soon open to display abundant pollen. This male plant should be kept isolated, and after collecting all the pollen, the plant should be discarded. Pollen collection should be carefully accomplished with a small paint brush, and should be stored in a glass jar or plastic bag. This pollen should be stored in a cold, dark area, especially if you don’t intend to use it right away. A freezer or refrigerator is best for preserving your pollen.

A blooming female plant is ready to receive pollen when hair-like stigma become evident on the flowers. When you observe this condition, the time is right for you to paint the male pollen on to selected branches of the female plant. From one cannabis bud which has been properly pollinated, as many as 30 cannabis seeds may result. The pollination process can be repeated two or three times, until  the female plant enters the fourth week of bloom, at which time pollination should be suspended.

Once the female plant completes the senescence phase, the seeds should  be fully mature, and can be identified as such by the dark, striped patterns on the casing. With your plant dried and harvested, all seeds can be collected, and you have your basic seed stock for growing your very own strain of cannabis.

Iceland May Legalize Cannabis Usage

A bill has been put forth by a member of Iceland’s Reform Party, MP Pawel Bartoszek, which would put in place the foundation of a recreational cannabis program in that country. The bill covers various aspects of adult usage, including the production and sales, and most importantly, the decriminalization of cannabis possession and consumption. The main points of the bill came directly from a guide issued by the UK advocacy group Transform, the guide being entitled “How to Regulate Cannabis: A Practical Guide”.

Iceland May Legalize Cannabis Usage

Who would be affected? 

Under the provisions of the bill, Iceland adults aged 20 and above would be affected, with cannabis usage, production, and sales becoming legal for that entire age group. At the same time, it would require a ban on all advertising of cannabis, presumably so as to prevent pitches from reaching under-age ears, and it would be packaged in plain gray containers, devoid of excitement or appeal. Sales to minors would remain illegal and carry a heavy fine for anyone caught.

According to MP Bartoszek, the aim of his bill is to spark needed discussion and debate about legalization and about how to regulate sales and production of cannabis, so the government can share in tax revenues. “If the production and sale remains illegal, we miss the opportunity to control access, protect children and minors, and to tax consumption”, says Bartoszek, adding ”I hope that the bill will be an icebreaker that spurs debate, and that it will ultimately lead to us ceasing the punishment of people for consuming this specific substance.”

Supporters and opponents

Bartoszek’s comments to the Iceland Review, and similar comments posted on his website have gained popular support in the country thus far, and with other members of his Reform Party. The bill will likely be reviewed sometime after October 28th, when Iceland will have a general election. Three co-sponsors have added their support to the bill, all members of the Reform Party, but of course there are also opponents who are loudly voicing their opposition, and insisting on a more conservative approach.

It’s hard to say at this point what the real level of support for the bill might be, but that will probably become more obvious in November. Bartoszek himself feels that the bill has strong support, but is worried that the first wave of reform might only embrace decriminalization rather than full legalization. In his mind, this would be a mistake, since it misses the opportunity to control access, pricing, and tax revenues which would be generated by regulation.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via CC-By-2.0

How to Determine the Sex of Your Cannabis Plants

The first thing you might be wondering is, “Why does it matter?” What’s the difference whether you have male or female plants in your growing field or greenhouse? Any serious grower can tell you it matters very much. If male and female plants are mixed together in your growing area, the buds produced will have seeds in them. Depending on the grower, this may be good or bad.

It is good if the desire is to use the seeds to grow more plants, but in terms of its appeal for smoking, it’s a bad. Buds from female plants, called sensimilla, are more potent, whereas plants with seeds are often harsh and far less appealing to afficionados; so they are generally classified as lower-grade cannabis. The sex of your cannabis plants matters depending on your goal. Are you trying to grow sensimilla, develop a new strain, or just gathering seeds for a next crop?

Determining gender

The most reliable way to determine the gender of a cannabis plant is by examining a growth called the ‘pre-flower’. This begins to appear about four weeks into growth, and becomes fairly prominent after six weeks. Look for this pre-flower near the plant’s stalk, where leaves and branches extend outward (a.k.a. the nodes). While very small at this stage, you can see them well through a magnifying glass to make an accurate assessment.

Identify whether you see small, roundish sacs (male plants), or tiny bracts with hair-like stigma (female plants). The small sacs of a male plant will eventually become spreaders of pollen, while the fibrous stigma will serve to receive that pollen, achieving fertilization. This is exactly what you don’t want, if you’re a grower trying to cultivate sensimilla buds which are prized for their smoothness and potency.

How to Determine the Sex of Your Cannabis Plants

As soon as you can reliably identify male plants, remove them from your crop to prevent pollination of the females. This will leave more growing capacity for the all-important female plants.

A third possibility

Just when you thought it was too easy to manage males and females, along come hermaphrodites, plants that exhibit both male and female characteristics. Hermaphrodites have both pollen sacs and stigma, or growths called anthers, which look like tiny bananas.

Hermaphrodites usually only develop in stressed colonies, e.g. weather factors and subpar growing conditions. You will also need to weed these out as they are capable of pollinating your female plants.

Photo credit: Green Rush Daily

NIH Funds the First Long-Term Study into Cannabis Effectiveness for Pain Relief

NIH Funds the First Long-Term Study into Cannabis Effectiveness for Pain ReliefThe National Institute of Health (NIH) has put up almost $4 million to fund a 5-year study into whether or not medical cannabis can be an effective replacement for opioids in managing chronic pain. This is an official federal grant which has been awarded to researchers at the and Montefiore Health System, and the stated mission of the study is to determine if cannabis can truly be a step-down method for weaning patients away from opioids.

Parameters of the study

To conduct this study, only high-quality medical dispensary cannabis from NY state will be used, as opposed to the typically low-grade cannabis generally available for current research projects. The study group will consist of 250 patients currently experiencing chronic pain, many of whom will be HIV-positive, and all of whom have already been approved for using medical marijuana to relieve pain. Since HIV-positive patients are well known to be chronic pain sufferers, the inclusion of a number of such patients will provide very useful data over the life of the study.

Every two weeks, participants will be asked to complete online questionnaires which focus on their level of pain, and their usage of cannabis for relief. Urine and blood samples will also be taken from participants every three months to provide firm medical and scientific backing, and to ensure that opioids are not being taken in tandem with cannabis. Interviews will also be conducted among chosen members of the study group to obtain their perspectives on the effectiveness of cannabis vs. opioid usage.

Unchartered territory

No study of this kind has ever been conducted, so the information it provides can be extremely useful, particularly if there are strong indications that cannabis can be effective as an opioid replacement. There have been localized, on-the-spot observations of course, but no prolonged research has ever been performed over such a long period of time. The duration of this study is one of the aspects which lends greater legitimacy and credibility to its findings, since they would have the advantage of being demonstrated in a pattern of consistency.

No long-term studies have ever been conducted on how the active chemical compounds of cannabis, i.e. THC and CBD, impact the health, pain levels, or quality of life for patients regularly ingesting them. As the study’s chief investigator, Chinazo Cunningham states, “As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies.”

Former Prohibitionist Congressman Introduces Bill for Medical Marijuana Research

Former Prohibitionist Congressman Introduces Bill for Medical Marijuana Research
In a move that can only be described as stunning, former Republican marijuana prohibitionist, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced a bill in Congress which would encourage far greater research into the medical benefits of cannabis. On September 13, 2017, Sen. Hatch stood before his peers and delivered an impassioned speech about how cannabis has already demonstrated some very profound healing properties, as well as the ability to improve quality of life for people suffering from various kinds of chronic pain.

An abrupt philosophical change

In his words, “The federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” So what is responsible for this seeming about-face in Sen. Hatch’s philosophy? Apparently, the plight of a close friend figured strongly into his thinking, and even though he still opposes recreational use, his thinking about medical marijuana has indeed been drastically altered.

Sen. Hatch has an unnamed friend who had been forced to ingest nearly 20 pills a day to manage pain, and some of these were fairly powerful opioids. After trying medical cannabis, this friend was able to discard all the pills, including the opioids, and rely solely on the medical cannabis for full relief. Right before his own eyes, Hatch witnessed the near-miraculous effects of pain relief, as well as the extremely effective substitution of cannabis for opioids.

What’s included in the MEDS Act 

This is no lightweight, half-hearted bill introduced by Sen. Hatch – these are the highlights of the features included in the bill:

  • Requires the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota as soon as is practicable, in order to meet the changing medical needs of our society
  • Requires the National Institute on Drug Abuse to put forth ‘best practices’ recommendations for the growing and overall production of marijuana, with the expectation that crops would be then used for medical research
  • Make marijuana much more accessible for groups involved with legitimate research into medical marijuana, and for the production of marijuana derivative drugs which have FDA approval
  • Encourage more medical research into the uses of marijuana, specifically by streamlining the registration process and removing barriers to research. This would not be dependent on having marijuana re-classified from its current Schedule I status as a ‘dangerous drug’.
  • Prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from instituting any new requirements or protocols which would tend to inhibit research into the usage of medical marijuana.

Impact of the speech and the bill

The impact of Sen. Hatch’s bill could be far-reaching indeed. If passed, sorely needed research into medical marijuana should proceed at a much faster and less inhibited pace. It would also represent a concession by the federal government that medical cannabis can be an effective tool for many health conditions, and for fighting the opioid crisis. Lastly, it will be seen as one stark example of the changing attitude in our society over the unjust stigma formerly attached to the amazing cannabis plant.

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