Marijuana Use Associated With Increased Survival In Brain Injury Patients

Cannabis Use Increases TBI Survival Rates

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with a history of cannabis use possess increased survival rates compared to non-users, according data published this month in the scientific journal The American Surgeon.

marijuana helps TBI patients

Can marijuana help patients with TBI? Hope may be on the horizon.

UCLA Medical Center investigators conducted a three-year retrospective review of brain trauma patients. Data from 446 separate cases of similarly injured patients was assessed. Of those patients who tested positive for the presence of marijuana, 97.6 percent survived surgery. By contrast, patients who tested negative for the presence of pot prior to surgery possessed only an 88.5 percent survival rate.

“[O]ur data suggest an important link between the presence of a positive THC screen and improved survival after TBI,” the authors concluded. “This finding has support in previous literature because the neurological protective effects of cannabinoids have been implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. … With continued research, more information will be uncovered regarding the therapeutic potential of THC, and further therapeutic interventions may be established.”

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Several studies have demonstrated neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids. The objective of this study was to establish a relationship between the presence of a positive toxicology screen for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and mortality after TBI. A 3-year retrospective review of registry data at a Level I center of patients sustaining TBI having a toxicology screen was performed. Pediatric patients (younger than 15 years) and patients with a suspected nonsurvivable injury were excluded. The THC(+) group was compared with the THC(-) group with respect to injury mechanism, severity, disposition, and mortality. Logistic regression was used to determine independent associations with mortality. There were 446 cases meeting all inclusion criteria. The incidence of a positive THC screen was 18.4 per cent (82). Overall mortality was 9.9 per cent (44); however, mortality in the THC(+) group (2.4% [two]) was significantly decreased compared with the THC(-) group (11.5% [42]; P = 0.012). After adjusting for differences between the study cohorts on logistic regression, a THC(+) screen was independently associated with survival after TBI (odds ratio, 0.224; 95% confidence interval, 0.051 to 0.991; P = 0.049). A positive THC screen is associated with decreased mortality in adult patients sustaining TBI.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2014/10/07/marijuana-use-is-associated-with-increased-survival-in-brain-injury-patients/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Marijuana+Use+Is+Associated+With+Increased+Survival+In+Brain+Injury+Patients#sthash.Bqjd9Izi.dpuf

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Colorado’s Marijuana Market Expanding

Competition Heating Up Among Colorado’s Pot Providers

The state gave medical marijuana dispensaries and growers a nine-month exclusive on the new recreational pot business, fearing an unmanageable explosion of new businesses.

The grandfathering period expires Wednesday, meaning pot shops and growers who weren’t in business before voters approved recreational pot in 2012 are just now able to enter the market.

marijuana growing and selling in Colorado

Colorado industries are springing up around the state to support upstart marijuana businesses. More opened up on October 1.

“There’s going to a price war coming. It’s inevitable,” predicted Toni Fox, a marijuana grower and owner of a Denver pot shop. Fox has received a license for a second shop opening Wednesday in Salida.

Colorado is issuing licenses for 46 more pot shops, in addition to about 200 already in place. Colorado is also licensing 37 more growing facilities and 13 new product manufacturers who make marijuana-infused products.

The expansion means pot prices for consumers could soon drop. Recreational marijuana in Colorado currently wholesales for about $1,800 to $2,500 a pound, depending on quality. The addition of new growers starting Wednesday could push the price below $1,000 a pound once those plants mature.

Until now, Colorado’s pot prices have been steep — with customers paying up to $400 an ounce before taxes — because of production caps tied to the pre-existing medical marijuana market. Colorado regulators feared an unmanageable proliferation of new pot shops and growers. Now, the market is for the first time getting bigger.

“Allowing for new entrants into the market will better facilitate a free-market determination of price,” Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for Gov. John Hickenlooper, said in a statement.

But some warn Colorado needs to watch for overproduction, which could give growers an incentive to sell pot illegally, either out of state or to people under 21.

“We need to produce in Colorado what’s being legally consumed, and no more,” said Mike Elliott, head of the Marijuana Industry Group.

Also Wednesday, Colorado’s pot industry sees the end of the state’s so-called “70/30 Rule,” which stipulated that pot shops had to grow 70 percent of what they sold. The rule was instituted in 2010, to address concerns that medical marijuana shops were acquiring marijuana from the black market. The rule was extended into the recreational market for the first few months, also to reduce volatility.

The end of the “70/30 Rule” means pot retailers don’t necessarily have to grow anything they’re selling. For now, though, retailers say they’ll wait and see how the market changes before considering letting others grow their inventory.

“There’s still an efficiency that exists when you do it all,” said Chris Woods, owner of two dispensaries in Boulder and the recipient of a new retail license.

Woods plans to be one of 21 shops planning to open in Aurora, a Denver suburb which is allowing marijuana sales of any kind for the first time Wednesday. Colorado’s third-largest city did not allow medical marijuana sales, and the grandfathering period meant no stores could open there until Oct. 1.

The industry expansion happens the same day a raft of new marijuana regulations take effect. Many of the changes have already been adopted by producers, so it’s doubtful consumers will notice many of them. But the new regulations include:

—Requiring edible marijuana products to be easier for consumers to divide into “servings” of 10 milligrams of THC, pot’s active ingredient.

—New packaging requirements for products that can’t easily be divided or perforated, such as liquids or granolas.

—Requiring edible marijuana products to undergo testing for common food contaminants such as E. coli and salmonella.

—A requirement that marijuana producers show they’re legally selling 85 percent of their product before getting permission to add plants.

—Lower licensing fees for growers and retailers, as the pot-regulating agency adjusts how much it needs to oversee the industry.

Read more at http://gazette.com/colorados-marijuana-market-getting-new-competition/article/1538584#H8TJtSBDFGLzvA5C.99

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Cooking With Marijuana

Boulder Or Bust For Vogue Reporter

By Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue

As we circled the Denver airport, I could see the haze of cannabis smoke floating over the city—and almost smell it. But the Denver haze was certainly not marijuana smoke. As we would soon learn, although Colorado has legalized the recreational use of cannabis—smoking, eating, drinking, and absorbing (sublingually or transdermally)—it has also tightly regulated it. For one thing, you’re not allowed to smoke marijuana or hashish in public. Or in your car. Or use it in the same place where you buy the stuff—which effectively rules out cannabis restaurants and bars.

cook with marijuana

The joy of cooking with cannabis–Colorado style.

Our destination was Boulder, Colorado, a scant hour’s drive northwest from the Denver airport. And our goal was to experience, or re-experience, the joy of cooking with cannabis. I had been wary of the entire project because, for one thing, I had not smoked or ingested marijuana or hashish for at least 25 years (although before that, I would have considered myself an experienced user with some personal knowledge of other psychotropic substances), and I didn’t look forward to starting up again. For another, my two experiments with cannabis cooking in those long-lost times had been less than brilliant. We were graduate students in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we melted a pound of supermarket butter in a saucepan, chopped up a half-ounce of the cheap marijuana typical of that era, stirred it into the butter, and simmered it softly for nearly an hour until the butter turned green. Then we baked brownies and cookies with it and ate a few, having calculated that one marijuana cigarette, also known as a joint, would be equal to one brownie plus one cookie, or three cookies.

The taste and texture were repulsive, but we put up with them in honor of the scientific method and because we hated the idea of wasting an entire half-ounce of cheap marijuana. As we had anticipated, we felt no immediate effect. Most of us resisted the urge to eat more cookies. And then, after less than an hour’s delay, we all gradually became pleasantly high.

People who prefer eating cannabis to smoking it cite several advantages. For one, you can eat cannabis in public or in private, and nobody will know you’re not chewing on a Milky Way bar. Also, most people these days seem to recoil at the thought of inhaling huge gusts of thick smoke, regardless of their source. I suspect that cooking is part of Nature’s Plan for cannabis, which has very little effect until you heat it above 200° F. As for its indelicate taste, that may be ancient history. From what I have read, today’s cannabis growers have bred strains so potent that very little is needed to “medicate,” as the current expression goes, a muffin or a scone.

marijuana and food

Marijuana patients who buy too much, too frequently raising eyebrows.

The drive to Boulder was easy and flat, affording me ample time to worry about five problems: Where would I cook? What would I cook? How would I get marijuana or hashish into it? How would I be able to calculate the correct dose? And how would I react to marijuana after all these years?

Boulder is a small city of about 100,000, built in the mid-1800s right where the Great Plains stop at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado. My wife, Caron, and I once spent part of several summers using Boulder as a staging area for what was then viewed as extreme backpacking (35 years and 45 pounds ago, speaking just for myself) and to visit a Buddhist study center that interested us. Boulder was a major hippie hub, and people smoked cannabis pretty freely in the streets. As we were to discover, that Boulder is gone.

We reached the St. Julien Hotel and settled into our room. Friends had told us the St. Julien is the best hotel in town (we didn’t inspect all the others, but I wouldn’t be surprised), and it was a handsome place with sophisticated service, a good restaurant, fine bar, and large, airy, comfortable public areas inside and out. Its one flaw is perhaps an excess of what one might call New Boulder Attitude or NBA: No smoking of any kind is permitted anywhere on the property, which I learned when I telephoned the hotel from home. I spoke with a cordial hotel official, explained my project to him, and asked whether I might arrange to borrow the kitchen in occasional off-hours to carry out myVogue assignment—to cook with cannabis, all absolutely perfectly legal under state and local law. “It’s up to the executive chef, Laurent Méchin,” he said.

Chef Méchin told me that it was not up to him. It was up to the hotel management, who wanted nothing to do with cannabis, raw or cooked. (As I explained it to myself, prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada—yet not everybody there is expected to engage in it.) But Chef Méchin (let’s call him Laurent from here on), who trained in France and came to this country when he was 25, which was 25 years ago, and who was neither interested in cannabis cooking nor appalled by it, graciously offered to search for a commercial kitchen near the hotel and to telephone two other chefs who he thought knew much more about marijuana and hashish than he did. One of these was Pieter Dijkstra, chef de cuisine at the Spice of Life catering company. When I telephoned Pieter, he was enthusiastic about the project and said that, depending on his catering schedule, a kitchen might be free for our experiments. With that, one heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

The word cannabis comes from the Greek for hemp. For thousands of years, the fibers of the hemp plant have been made into rope, fabric, and paper, or burned as fuel; its seeds have been eaten as a highly nutritious food or pressed to expel an oil for lighting and cooking. These useful products of the hemp plant must be imported into the U.S. because it is a violation of federal law to grow any kind of hemp here without a permit from the DEA. The flowers of the female hemp plant contain psychoactive substances, resins, and are classified as a dangerous drug—more dangerous than cocaine or methamphetamine.

People who enjoy smoking or eating cannabis report a range of sensations, going from a mellow mood all the way to a sense of exaltation. It is common to hear a happy user report that he or she has heard the inner voices of music for the first time. J. S. Bach is often mentioned.

Eating cannabis in excessive doses, especially when one is anxious or depressed, can result in an agonizing period of fear, paranoia, self-deprecation, and frightening hallucinations—what used to be known as a bad trip, a “bum trip,” or a “bummer,” lasting between one and several hours. That’s why when you cook or eat cannabis, you pay lots of attention to the size of the dose. A star columnist atThe New York Times, Maureen Dowd, wrote a piece at the beginning of June about a trip to Denver, where she bought a legal chocolate-caramel cannabis candy bar that reminded her of the Sky Bars she had loved as a child. Alone in her hotel room, she ate the whole thing, even though it contained sixteen moderate doses of cannabis. Not surprisingly, she had a harrowing, terrifying experience. For some reason, she wrote about it, and for some reason, the paper published what she wrote. Even to some of Dowd’s longtime fans, this did not seem fundamentally different from drinking a quart of bourbon, getting behind the wheel of an unfamiliar sports car, and totaling it.

It is true that 23 states, and D.C., have legalized the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis for medical purposes, and two states—Colorado and Washington—have legalized it for recreational use, but all these activities are still violations of federal law. A federal marshal can arrest medical marijuana patients or recreational users, lock them up, and throw away the key. The U.S. Department of Justice has never given a free pass to cannabis fanciers—medical or recreational—but in 2013, the U.S. deputy attorney general, in an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, issued what came to be known as the Cole Memorandum, which relegated strict enforcement of the federal law against possession, sale, and so forth, to the bottom of the department’s drug-enforcement priorities. You can read and interpret the Cole Memorandum for yourself; the Web address is so long that it will be easier for you to Google it.

The following day we slept in, trying to recover from three domestic flights, which had required each of us to stand in 30 lines in four days. (In prehistory, our natural state, did humans ever stand in line?)

This would be a grueling day of exploration and research. I had brought four cannabis cookbooks with me and read them throughout the late morning, trying to figure out whether a cannabis cuisine exists and what the term could possibly mean. Then we drove to the Farm.

The Farm is probably the best-known and best-stocked cannabis shop in Boulder. The one-story building with a little clock tower on the roof and a huge, well-executed mural of a farm covering one wall, stands by itself in the corner of a parking lot that serves a small shopping area. There are two sizable public rooms inside, one with easy chairs and a couch, on which you can browse through local alternative newspapers and cannabis magazines and books while you wait to be admitted to the “flower room.”

The “flower room” is where everything for sale that can get you high is on display. There are the buds themselves, straight (75 percent) THC oil, hash oil, and various extracts and tinctures. (For hashish itself, we were directed to another excellent shop called Terrapin Care Station.) Before venturing into the more mysterious world of buds, we chose: (1) a long, elegant clear plastic tube containing ⅓ gram of liquid hash oil; (2) a small brown glass bottle labeled Dixie Elixirs Dew Drops Vanilla 100 mg; (3) Canyon Cultivation Vanilla Mint Liquid; (4) Dixie Elixirs Pain Relief Salve 1 oz. (for Caron’s fractured thumb); (5) two perfectly packed marijuana cigarettes; and (6) a few “edibles,” as they are universally known—medicated candies and candy bars, cookies, and brownies.

Everybody seems to agree that a mild or starting dose would contain five to ten milligrams of THC, short for “tetrahydrocannabinol.” And the labels on most edibles let you know the precise amount of THC in each portion, or at the very least, how much you’d have to eat to ingest one dose. Caron shared a love of hard-candy lemon drops with her late mother, Marjorie, and so we bought several packages of medicated lemon drops. Each one, the label told us, contained one dose of 10 mg of THC. When a label is not so explicit and precise as this, then you should just say no. After all, in a place like Boulder or in a shop like the Farm there are so many ways to get high that there’s no reason to risk having a bad trip, a bummer.

And now it was time to select our buds. These were kept in clear little pill bottles in a locked case. (Buds are priced at $300 or more an ounce, the most costly cannabis item for sale.) They were a medium dusty green with highlights of gold or red or lavender. How could we possibly choose? First off, each bottle of buds was labeled as an eighth or a quarter or a half, which refers to the fractions of an ounce that the buds inside weighed. Some of their names were Mad Cow, Sunset Haze, Silver Crown, Blue Dream, Buddha’s Sister, Blackberry Kush, and Alpha Blue. There were 21 separate strains the day we were shopping; The Farm’s daily menu can always be found on its Web site. Each one was classified as Cannabis Sativa or Indica (the two species), or as a hybrid of the two. The Farm grows its own plants and has the buds analyzed in a laboratory, and its menus and labels list the percentage by weight in each strain made up by the three most common active ingredients, or cannabinoids.

Our bill came to $225, and everything we bought was loaded into a heavy, zippered, white plastic envelope, whose purpose was to avoid public display of cannabis. Back at the hotel, I needed to maintain a precise and sober mental state because I had lots of reading to do. Caron didn’t, because she had just finished planning an exhibition back in New York. I wondered whether performing amateur medical experiments on one’s wife violates any moral, ethical, social, legal, patriarchal, or aesthetic principles. Caron’s response was “When will we finally stop beating around the bush and actually get high?”

So I proposed to undertake my first act of cannabis cooking—really, cannabis food preparation. I would take one of the yogurt packages that Caron incessantly buys, squirt in the proper amount of THC extract, and stir until well-combined. I knew that Caron would finish all the yogurt, because she always does, and so I needed to add one dose containing between five and ten milligrams of THC to the entire cup.

The label on the little brown glass bottle said that it contained ten doses of ten milligrams each, all dissolved in three ounces of alcohol. If only I had brought my finely calibrated scale, accurate to within one hundredth of a gram—this is my wife we’re talking about!—or even a set of kitchen measuring spoons. I would use the eyedropper. But how many drops? Caron was growing impatient. I looked up the size of an official drop. Problem is, there are several official drops. I chose 20 drops to one milliliter and ended up squeezing 90 of them into Caron’s yogurt. This was the most convoluted dose calculation I had to make, and it was the fault of whoever labeled the bottle. Why include an eyedropper if you don’t tell people how many drops to use?

As expected, Caron quickly finished her cup of medicated yogurt. Forty minutes later, she began to feel its effects, which mounted pleasantly for the following 90 minutes and then faded away. The regrettable part is that Caron has now remembered all too clearly how much she had enjoyed cannabis 25 years ago. Have I inadvertently aroused a slumbering demon? In every other respect, my first bit of cannabis food preparation was a rousing success, and I can announce that no wives were harmed in the making of this article.

I immediately put aside my concern for Caron’s welfare and turned to something more pressing. I had spent the previous two hours combing through my cannabis cookbooks and ended up with a serious intellectual dilemma that could torpedo my entire assignment for Vogue.

The yogurt experiment had taught me that: (1) adding a psychoactive ingredient into any food is child’s play; (2) figuring out the proper dose usually requires only middle school math, or even less than that, or nothing at all; (3) I had discovered nothing of gastronomic interest in cannabis cuisine; and (4) I would have nothing to write about.

Cannabis recipes seem to fall into four types. By far the most common involves simply adding one form of cannabis or another to a standard dish: a pan of lasagna, a sheet of brownies, a loaf of banana bread. Whether a cannabis-lasagna recipe is worth cooking depends entirely on the gastronomic virtues of the lasagna itself. The second type of recipe is just like the first except it boasts that it’s a “healthy” recipe. These belong in the same circle of hell crowded with many self-consciously “healthy” cookbooks.

The third type represents the central idea of Jessica Catalano’s The Ganja Kitchen Revolution—that marijuana is an herb, that each strain has its own aroma and taste, and that in cooking it should play its part in creating the flavor of the dish, just like sage or tarragon. Catalano’s recipes endeavor to do this, and she has compiled a chart that lists 57 strains and their personalities. I was unable to test out her theory, because I had not yet sniffed a cannabis bud that I found pleasant enough to enhance a dish. Second and even more crucial, I wasn’t rich enough to purchase a wide enough variety of buds. Still, there’s no doubt that if Catalano’s theory works, it would lead to a true cannabis cuisine.

The High Times cookbook is in a category of its own—intelligent, savvy, and knowledgeable about food, with excellent general information about cannabis and cooking with it. Yes, some of the recipes are of the getting-high-on-apple-pie variety. But the folks at High Times magazine know something about the role cannabis has played in the world’s history and culture, and my favorite recipes are those for iconic dishes, such as hash brownies, or those that cannot exist without cannabis, such as bhang. The original recipe for hash brownies is often attributed to Alice B. Toklas and her famous cookbook of 1954; but Toklas’s recipe is for “Haschich Fudge,” less a fudge than a dried-fruit-and-nut ball with chopped marijuana mixed in. As it involves no cooking, no heat, its cannabis does not get activated. I love Alice B. Toklas, but her fudge tastes unpleasant and won’t do anything for you.

The High Times recipe for bhang got me thinking. Bhang is a widely known medicated beverage from the Hindu scriptures and a great favorite of Lord Shiva. Although it is probably 3,000 years old, I had never tasted bhang. I was eager to try it.

That evening I outlined plans on my yellow legal pad, after which we visited an old friend, a native Californian whom we knew in New York several decades prior. (She later moved to L.A. and wrote for Hollywood, and twelve years ago moved to Boulder, to teach.) She had bought a house perched over a valley fifteen minutes from the center of Boulder and our hotel. Her name is Sara, and in the way it sometimes is with old friends, we picked up our conversation of 40 years just where we had left off.

Sara had become troubled by a severe pain in both knees, and then became afflicted with undiagnosable vertigo. She experienced some relief when she smoked cannabis and was granted a medical-marijuana card, which gave her the right to grow six plants of her own. She offered us a commercially rolled cigarette of Alpha Blue, the really high THC strain we had encountered that afternoon. Working myself to the bone over the previous few days in Boulder, I had still not smoked or eaten any cannabis, and so after 25 abstemious years, I took two deep puffs. A full five seconds later I became incomprehensibly high, then higher, and by the time another minute had passed, anxious, paranoid, self-critical, harshly negative about everything I could think of, including myself and my pets. As it would have been extremely uncool to share my internal state with others, I tried to remember how to smile and then attempted to, with apparent success.

We drove back into Boulder, where we had a restaurant reservation. We ordered a nice meal. For just a moment, I felt great sympathy for what Maureen Dowd had gone through, but only for a moment, because I knew that if you’re anxious about work, fretful that your plans will fall apart, you understand that these thoughts are caused by cannabis but simultaneously that they may be true and you wonder why you would ever smoke cannabis. . . . And then, as suddenly as it had begun, this maze of paranoia completely dissipated, and I was left with an extreme, enjoyable high, bubbling over with hilarious, irrational thoughts and intimations of actual happiness.

Had I made an important medical discovery—that the cure for a bad trip is a plateful of French fries? Maybe they weren’t French fries. Maybe they were oven-crisped kale sticks. Who can possibly remember?

Late on the following afternoon, our entire team met on the terrace of the St. Julien Hotel. Chef Laurent had arranged for an evening cooking session in the kitchen of a small restaurant ten minutes’ drive away. Chef Pieter told us that we could use an ample modern kitchen in a friend’s house 45 minutes into the mountains for our second cooking session. Caron (a curator of Asian art) had assembled a variety of ancient instructions for making bhang. It was a lovely evening, and the hotel’s terrace was popular and crowded. I kidded Laurent that he seemed embarrassed to be seen with us; in reality, he was afraid that the people around us would hear us talking so openly about marijuana. “But it’s perfectly legal,” I said. He Gallically shrugged.

In no time at all, we were ranging through a huge supermarket, then getting lost in the parking lot that served our little restaurant. The kitchen was all stainless steel, small and battered but quite serviceable. Chef Laurent and Chef Pieter immediately got down to work. Following my plan, we baked two packages of medicated cookie dough we had bought at Terrapin, peanut butter and snickerdoodle. The twelve or sixteen cookies had been preformed and needed simply to be peeled off their shiny backing, laid on a cookie sheet, baked until brown, cooled, tasted, and judged awful. Just because a cookie dough contains THC is no excuse for making bad cookies.

Next we turned to oil and butter. The idea is that the psychoactive oils in marijuana and hashish are soluble in fats. We needed to dissolve the THC from our cannabis buds into our butter and oil. At the supermarket, I had bought many pounds of good butter.

And then came the bhang. I chopped very finely a half-ounce of buds and made a tea with it in hot water. We poured the tea into the food processor that Laurent had brought from home and added a quart of warm whole milk, and a quarter-cup of chopped almonds. Now we added a cup of sugar, a good chunk of fresh ginger, and generous pinches of cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon, and let the processor run for a minute or two. We strained the liquid, stirred in a teaspoon of rosewater, and tasted the completed bhang. It was incredibly, wonderfully delicious! Now we knew why Lord Shiva loved it so.

It was time to go home. Pieter and Laurent went into action, washing the pots and pans and cleaning the kitchen in ten minutes. Each of us took either one pound of butter or a quart-and-a-half of bhang. It was after midnight. Pieter, who had abstained from ingesting anything but a little sip of the bhang, drove us all back to the heart of Boulder. Caron and I squeezed plastic bags of medicated butter and the bhang into our minibar, and so to bed.

On the next evening—our last in greater Boulder—I had no plans to cook anything new, but when we returned to the huge supermarket, each chef seemed to have something in mind. Again Pieter was the designated driver. It was 45 minutes to his friend Kip’s striking modern house. On the way, as the road deteriorated with each mile, we passed the funky bars and stores that reminded us of the old ungentrified Boulder. As we drove through the town of Nederland, Pieter or Laurent told us that the music scene here regularly attracted thousands of people. Our host, Kip, and a few of his friends greeted us. The kitchen was enviable, lacking nothing. There were even two stone mortars and two stone pestles for the cannabis. More friends drifted in for the next few hours while, using the medicated oil and butter we had brought, Pieter prepared a hundred or so savory gnocchi with rosemary, and Laurent pan-fried fresh local trout and made a sabayon for dessert. One friend of Kip’s who makes cannabis edibles for sale in Boulder, brought a tray of scrumptious medicated chocolate fudge. Kip supplied bottles of good wine. Somebody suggested that the bhang would make a lighter, more delicious substitute for eggnog at New Year’s. A few guests smoked joints. Unlike the folks in downtown Boulder, nobody recoiled from the smoke.

The 50 guests thus had a wide choice of intoxicants, and nearly everybody seemed mellow and happy and chill. Nobody fell asleep or acted out or had a bad trip. The newly legalized cannabis was simply another option. For all the ambivalence we had found on the gentrified streets of Boulder, I remembered that years ago the Colorado legislature added a new coequal state song to the classic, “Where the Columbines Grow.” It was John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.”

Source: http://www.vogue.com/946472/cooking-with-marijuana/?utm_content=buffer98c6a&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Marijuana Possible Treatment For Alzheimer’s

Compounds Offer Promise In Lab Research

Extremely low levels of the compound in marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, may slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a recent study from neuroscientists at the University of South Florida shows. Findings from the experiments, using a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease, were reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

marijuana prevents Alzheimer's

Can marijuana prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Hope may be on the horizon.

Researchers from the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute showed that extremely low doses of THC reduce the production of amyloid beta, found in a soluble form in most aging brains, and prevent abnormal accumulation of this protein — a process considered one of the pathological hallmarks evident early in the memory-robbing disease. These low concentrations of THC also selectively enhanced mitochondrial function, which is needed to help supply energy, transmit signals, and maintain a healthy brain.

“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,” said study lead author Chuanhai Cao, PhD and a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy. “Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”

The researchers point out that at the low doses studied, the therapeutic benefits of THC appear to prevail over the associated risks of THC toxicity and memory impairment. Neel Nabar, a study co-author and MD/PhD candidate, recognized the rapidly changing political climate surrounding the debate over medical marijuana.

“While we are still far from a consensus, this study indicates that THC and THC-related compounds may be of therapeutic value in Alzheimer’s disease,” Nabar said. “Are we advocating that people use illicit drugs to prevent the disease? No. It’s important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn’t mean it can be safely used by anyone. However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The body’s own system of cannabinoid receptors interacts with naturally-occurring cannabinoid molecules, and these molecules function similarly to the THC isolated from the cannabis (marijuana) plant.

Dr. Cao’s laboratory at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is currently investigating the effects of a drug cocktail that includes THC, caffeine as well as other natural compounds in a cellular model of Alzheimer’s disease, and will advance to a genetically-engineered mouse model of Alzheimer’s shortly.

“The dose and target population are critically important for any drug, so careful monitoring and control of drug levels in the blood and system are very important for therapeutic use, especially for a compound such as THC,” Dr. Cao said. Source; http://alzheimerdisease.tv/marijuana-possible-treatment-for-alzheimers/

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Colorado The Capital Of Marijuana Technology

My oh my, what Colorado has done to turn the tables on America’s “war” on drugs.

Having approved marijuana for legal sale, distribution, and cultivation, Colorado is leading the way in attracting all kinds of investors and luminaries who seek to cash in on this nascent industry, not just with dollars but also with disruptive technology that’s being developed by professionals of all stripes and colors.

marijuana growing technology Colorado

Colorado industries are springing up around the state to support upstart marijuana businesses.

Think of agricultural engineers, technicians, food and science specialists; the marijuana industry casts a wide net, capturing different types who can contribute their expertise on the growing of a cash crop for which the sky’s the limit. Marijuana remains a Scheduled 1 drug, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from developing in all sorts of new directions thanks to the majority voters who have approved medical and/or recreational pot in their respective states.

Since retail sales began in January, the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) estimates about 10,000 people are employed in Colorado’s marijuana industry, with thousands more being added each month. Behind marijuana production lies technology. Companies like Boulder-based Surna, a manufacturer of disruptive equipment for the cannabis industry, are developing patents to facilitate the aggregation of the industry, leading the way with their own proprietary services.

“The approach is more synchronistic than people would imagine, and, as a result of that, we’ve been able to get some provisional patents filed that we think are incredibly disruptive and will be the technology that drives the growth of this industry,” said Tae Darnell, VP and General Council of Surna.

Led by CEO Tom Bollich, a robotics engineer and co-founder of online gaming company Zynga, Surna has developed its own patented water-chilled climate control system designed for large marijuana production facilities. Darnell told me that Surna’s ultimate goal is to push the boundaries of the industry itself, maximizing yield and experimenting with different potencies and their health benefits.

Cultivation of cannabis in the 21st century just might take off the way industrial hemp did before its production was shut down by the federal government. The times are a-changing, indeed. With more states on track to legalize cannabis for medical use, companies like Surna are looking to take advantage of this expansion and set the standard on such key issues as consistency, including food safety and the burgeoning edibles marketplace.

If the federal government continues to take a hands-off approach towards states that choose to legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana, this could very well go global, creating new business opportunities for U.S. firms. Uruguay stepped up to the plate having recently become the first country to legalize marijuana possession, use, and sales. Canada recently opened up its medical marijuana market to improve upon the production of quality-controlled marijuana.

“There is no doubt that the international and domestic markets are exploding, ” said Darnell. “Surna plans to do for cannabis what General Electric has done for the medical industry and other sectors.” Colorado wants to serve as a beacon for other states interested in embracing both marijuana regulation and the technology that is being developed to manage it.

The U.S. is still fragmented in its policies towards marijuana with 23 states now openly challenging federal laws that have approved it for medical use. But the potential remains huge, hence the excitement surrounding this fledgling industry. I have no doubt that if and when the federal government finally comes down on the side of regulating marijuana that we will one day see commercially available cannabis products nationwide.

Some of these brands will assuredly begin trading on the stock exchange, and before you know it, you’ll be standing in line waiting to order your Blackberry Kush-infused latte, or Purple Urkle smoothie.

Source; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-paul-neil/marijuana-and-tech-colora_b_5715319.html?utm_hp_ref=technology&ir=Technology

Posted in Economic Development, Growing Marijuana, Investment | Tagged | Leave a comment

Colorado Employers Review Drug Policies Since Marijuana’s Legalization

Getting High and Hired Still Up To Employers

Summer in Aspen not only means warm weather and crowds, it also means businesses are hiring. The resort has a seasonal economy and, some companies are reviewing their drug and alcohol policies now that marijuana is legal in Colorado. It’s causing some confusion for employers and raising questions for human resources departments. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Colorado employers drug policies

Pot in the workplace still up in the air.

Since marijuana became legal for adults in Colorado, Alicia Miller has been getting a lot of questions from employees at Aspen Valley Hospital.

“They’re kind of, I don’t want to say hyper-sensitive, but they’re very sensitive to the changes in the community and in the state. People have asked more questions, which is a good thing because it’s good to know how to notify people and what to look for,” she says.

Miller is the Human Resources Director and she says the hospital’s policy regarding drug use has not changed because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The hospital’s 400 employees, including the nurses, administrators and cafeteria workers, get a drug screening when they’re hired and the hospital will order a test “for cause.”

“So, if somebody appeared impaired or showed any type of impairment like red eyes or judgement issues, or if we had concerns of any type,” says Miller.

Now hospitals in Colorado are considering implementing random drug testing. AVH doesn’t plan to follow suit. Kimberlie Ryan is a Denver attorney specializing in employment and civil rights.

“I’ve really seen probably three different types of employers, or types of responses,” she says.

Many of her clients have been fired for violating drug policies at their jobs. Even now that marijuana is legal, she says a number of employers are keeping the same policy. Most are in a gray area, exploring what’s best for their company and workers. Others are strengthening their policies.

“So, some of those are entrenching and it’s almost like a backlash – I’m noticing those people are becoming more inflamed about it and maybe more aggressive with their employees.”

She says Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, carries more protections for employees than the medical marijuana measure Amendment 20, which passed in 2000. As a general rule, Ryan recommends workers not test their employer’s policy.

“I don’t think that it’s really necessarily safe for someone to say, ‘okay, I’m going to use it on Friday knowing that my employer has a very strict, zero tolerance policy,’ because really at this point, while I believe that the law recognizes their constitutional rights to do this, they would still have to establish that by filing a lawsuit against their employer when they get fired.”

One large, statewide employer – the Colorado Department of Transportation – is responding to legal pot by tweaking its employee drug and alcohol policy. Nancy Shanks is a CDOT Communications Manager.

“There might be some minor changes in language but the core policy fundamentals will stay the same,” she says.

So-called “safety sensitive” CDOT employees like snowplow drivers are subject to a host of drug screenings, including pre-employment, random, post-accident and possibly, follow-up tests. Desk job workers face reasonable suspicion testing. Shanks says the new law brings up new questions.

“It’s like, what constitutes reasonable suspicion? What does that look like now for someone who is impaired by marijuana versus someone who is drunk. I think it’s just new territory for many employers.”

The Aspen Skiing Company, is one of the Valley’s biggest employers, with 600 year-round workers and 150 summer employees. Spokesman Jeff Hanle says the company’s drug and alcohol policy hasn’t changed. There are random pre-employment drug tests and post-accident screenings.

“Really what it’s about is looking for impairment on the job. So, we have and still do use the U.S. Department of Transportation thresholds for impairment and that’s across the board for alcohol, marijuana or any drug you have.”

Last year a Colorado Appeals Court ruled employees who use medical marijuana can be fired even if they’re not impaired on the job. Now the State Supreme Court is reviewing the case called Coates versus Dish Network. Their decision, which could set a precedent, is expected later this year.

Source: http://aspenpublicradio.org/post/colorado-employers-review-drug-policies-light-marijuanas-legalization

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Taxes From Marijuana Sales in Denver Not Wasted

Millions Of Dollars In Extra Tax Revenue

As the entire nation sits back and watches the legalization situation in Colorado,  millions of dollars of tax revenue generated by recreational marijuana sales continue to roll in to the state. From the single month of January 2014, the city of Denver is expected to receive 3.5 million in tax money generated from recreational and medicinal marijuana sales that will not be wasted.  Many are speculating on what the city will choose to do with the several millions of dollars in extra tax revenue created by the marijuana industry in just a few months.

Taxes From Marijuana Revenue Colorado

Denver cashing in on taxes from marijuana sales.

When Colorado passed Amendment 64 in November of 2012, it was not known what type of taxes would be imposed on the sale of recreational marijuana. Voters in the state recently passed a 15 percent excise tax on top of regular sales taxes. Needless to say, when someone purchases marijuana in Colorado the normal price can skyrocket as high as 22 percent. That is not easy on the wallet, but obviously consumers in Colorado are willing to pay these taxes without second thought. After all, they are the ones who enacted the high taxes to begin with.

By the end of 2014, the city of Denver could see upwards of forty million dollars in tax revenue generated by the sales of recreational marijuana, so it is no wonder that folks are concerned about their hard earned  money being wasted. There is flat out fear that abundance of tax revenue could be wasted on measures such as increasing the incarceration rates or banning large sized sodas like New York City did earlier this year. When Coloradans voted yes on Amendment 64 it was understood by all that the first forty million dollars of tax revenue generated by the state in recreational marijuana sales would go school construction. Do the math. That first forty million has come and gone extremely quickly. Rest assured, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has responsible plans for spending the excess of tax revenue.

One area that is in need of immediate, unwavering attention is the ongoing regulation of the marijuana industry in Colorado. In a proposal last week, Denver Mayor Hancock suggested that this is where over half of the extra tax money will go. Just because it is legalized, does not mean that the market for marijuana sales is now an entrepreneurial free-for-all that wastes Denver tax dollars.  Funds reserved for regulating recreational marijuana sales would go towards hiring administration for the marijuana industry such as tax auditors, fire safety experts and health inspectors to oversee the manufacture of edible marijuana.

Legalization of recreational marijuana sales also means hiring more law enforcement agents and forensic scientists. In light of the recent ethical problems that the Denver Police Department has had, using a quarter of this generated tax money to hire more qualified law enforcement officials would be highly revered by Denver citizens and not considered to be wasteful. The remaining quarter of the tax revenue budget is reserved for education, but there is some debate over what areas of education are most in need of funding. Officials want to make sure that money put in to education finance is effective. “We don’t want to just add money to education and hope there is an impact,” said City Budget Manager Brendan Hanlon. Youth marijuana prevention is one of the most important efforts for the state. The last thing Colorado wants is for legalization to be associated with increased usage among youth, or any age group for that matter.

Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/taxes-generated-from-marijuana-sales-in-denver-will-not-be-wasted/#eYZsLtrLH4bJJ4LB.99

Posted in Economic Development, Politicians, Taxes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hershey Sues Over Marijuana Candy In Colorado

Company Paranoid About Pot Parody

The Hershey Co., the giant candy maker, this week filed a federal lawsuit against a Colorado company selling marijuana-infused chocolates with names too similar for comfort to its own products. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver against TinctureBelle LLC and an affiliated company, TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC,  in Pueblo West.

pot candy in Colorado

Hershey suing over pot parody of candy in Colorado.

Hershey alleges trademark infringement and for dilution of its trademark. Specifically, Hershey claims TinctureBelle is selling knock-offs of its Reese’s, Health, Almond Joy and York trademarks.

Hershey wants an injunction against the sale of TinctureBell’s products — Hashees, which has a look similar to the packaging on Reese’s peanut butter cups; Ganja Joy, Hasheath and Dabby Patty, which has a resemblance to a York peppermint patty.

The owner of TinctureBelle could not be reached for comment Friday. The company’s website was offline as well.

Hershey is also asking for compensatory and punitive damages. The candy maker alleged in its lawsuit TinctureBelle was using the knock-offs to increase the sale of its marijuana-infused candy, “draw additional attention to their products, confuse consumers as to the source of their products, call to consumers’ minds Hershey’s famous and beloved brands, and otherwise to trade on the goodwill of Hershey and its brands.”

The lawsuit also was filed by a Wheat Ridge-based Hershey subsidiary, Hershey Chocolate & Confectionery Corp. Carl Manthei, of the Ollilia Law Group LLC in Boulder, is representing Hershey in the lawsuit. His co-counsels are Paul Llewellyn and Kyle Gooch of the New York firm Kaye Scholher LLP.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2014/06/06/hershey-sues-over-marijuana-candy-in-colorado.html?ana=e_du_pap&s=article_du&ed=2014-06-06&u=on2EocHhZoHAo8c3hX2y9/uTmtD&t=1402093224

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NORML Opens Colorado Office

Marijuana Advocates Paving Ways For Best Practices 

Another indication of Colorado’s importance in the cannabis-reform movement: Today, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, better known as NORML, opened a satellite office in Denver.

We spoke to NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre about the reasons NORML wanted to have a permanent base of operations in Colorado. “It works on a lot of different levels,” St. Pierre says of the new operation, located at 3888 East Mexico Avenue in what he jokingly refers to as the “Cannabis Commerce Building” due to tenants that include WeedMaps, The Clinic and Steep Hill Halent laboratory. First among them, he believes, is the opportunity for staffers to “represent consumer interests.

NORML moves to Colorado

NORML opens a Colorado office.

“We’re already part of the current governor’s working group,” he points out. “The group includes people from industry, people from law enforcement, people from the health-care community — so why not people representing consumers? Consumers make up an important part of the discussion, and NORML is one of the few organizations out there that says, ‘Yeah, we’re marijuana consumers.'”

As such, St. Pierre continues, NORML has taken the opportunity to weigh in on a slew of cannabis-related topics, including “taxation, over-regulation, access and flash points like drug testing of employees, DUID laws and making sure child-protective services doesn’t immediately take children out of homes just because cannabis is present.”

In the meantime, he looks forward to more engagement on the question of where and when a person can consume.

“I don’t think the model of people buying cannabis but only being able to use it in a totally private space is sustainable,” he allows. “We envision having the kind of place where people can use cannabis in a recreational setting that looks very similar to what we use for alcohol — where there’s implied consent, so that if you go into one of these establishments, you know what you’re getting into.”

St. Pierre feels that what he refers to as “the Amsterdam model” has “a lot of attraction to a consumer — particularly someone like me, who’s a tourist in Denver. After I’ve purchased legal cannabis, I can’t legally use it in my hotel room, I can’t use it walking down the road, I can’t use it in an automobile. So where can I use it? This is a totally dysfunctional system, and even though some people think establishing places where people can consume encourages more use, I don’t think it does. It just says adults want to use cannabis legally in a social, quasi-public setting.”

Additionally, St. Pierre feels NORML “is in the best position to educate the public about responsible use. I’m not against some of the public-service announcements about cannabisI’ve seen here — I think they’re reasonably practical — but the government doesn’t hold a lot of sway on cannabis consumers. And we can reach people because we have credibility on this subject.”

Additionally, St. Pierre sees it as important to fight against legalization backlash — a phenomenon fueled in part by national media outlets looking for a new angle on the story (a weekend piece in the New York Times looked at the “downside of a legal high”), as well as anti-legalization groups such as Project SAM.

“To use a military term, we want to hold the ground,” St. Pierre says. He doubts that Project SAM and its ilk “are going to be very successful in moving America back to marijuana prohibition. But they want to use any missteps, any hysterical or sensationalistic things that might happen here or, soon, in Washington, to try to make their case nationally that prohibition should be kept in place for decades to come. I don’t think they can make much of an argument, but we want to make sure we hold the ground and build on it.”

To that end, NORML is teaming up with Oaksterdam University, based in Oakland, to present cannabis courses at its new headquarters with an eye toward better informing people about marijuana; he would like to see such offerings available by the fall. “And we’re also setting up a NORML business network so that we can work with the industry to try to get them to make sure they’re putting out the safest possible products: well-labeled, well-tested, in proper dosages.”

One area of concern cited by St. Pierre involves some of the CBD oils flooding the market. The attention garnered by parents moving to Colorado in order to gain access to the treatment, which has had great success in improving the conditions of children with seizure conditions, has inspired entrepreneurs selling supposedly similar products online. But St. Pierre sees as many risks as benefits in this development.

“Nobody knows what’s in these products or where they come from,” he says, “but people are paying top dollar for them — thousands of dollars for ten grams — and using them for what they hope are health purposes. So we’d like to work with some of the labs, which we hope we can get legally cleared to do, so that we can put out a report in the next six months on what is known about these CBD oils.”

At the same time, St. Pierre says the new office is looking to support policy makers to NORML’s liking with more than just praise, The organization has established its own political action committee, NORML PAC, which “permits us to provide campaign contributions to office holders and candidates for public office who support NORML-friendly public policy and legislation,” according to its website. And he says there’s no shortage of politicians here who would be game to accept such funds.

“The last time I was in town, a candidate for sheriff took me aside and said, ‘Could I get some NORML PAC money?'” St. Pierre recalls. “And I’ve met dozens of other people — aspiring politicians and those already in state and federal government — who’ve been interested. So we feel Colorado is a place where the NORML PAC could be extraordinarily effective.”

With Washington state having passed its own cannabis-legalization measure in 2012, NORML would like to open a beachhead in Seattle, too. But until that happens, he sees the Colorado office as a great first step — one that will allow NORML to “be on the ground to see how things are really working. And to help them work better.”

Source: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/06/marijuana_norml_colorado_office.php?page=2

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Alzheimer’s Prevention Starts With Marijuana

Active Ingredient Prevents Protein Plaque Formation In Brain

A paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that the chemical compounds in marijuana likely prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and age-related dementia.

Chronic brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and intra-cellular dysfunction are the primary reasons why people develop these debilitating neurological diseases. The study found that both THC and CBD (the primary chemical compounds found in marijuana) positively affect nerve cell function in consumers, significantly reducing these harmful neurological conditions.

marijuana prevents Alzheimer's

Can marijuana prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

THC and CBD (called cannabinoids) tap into a primal, chemical signaling system in cells called “the endocannabinoid system.” The paper shows cannabinoids dampen inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage, and promote cell health on a number of levels.

This paper echoes claims made in January by Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology, and medical genetics at Ohio State University, that “if you do anything, such as smoke a bunch of marijuana in your 20s and 30s, you may wipe out all of the inflammation in your brain and then things start over again. And you simply die of old age before inflammation becomes an issue for you.”

The implications of marijuana’s medicinal effects on our brains are monumental, from not just a health perspective, but a financial one as well, for more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s.

One in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation, costing the country about $203 billion in 2013.

Source: http://www.thedailychronic.net/2014/32224/alzheimers-prevention-starts-with-marijuana-according-to-british-journal/

Posted in Disease Management, Medicinal Uses | Tagged , | Leave a comment