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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Fifth Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, April 3, 2008  – This bi-annual medical conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, is a gathering of medical doctors and researchers specializing in medicinal Cannabis (marijuana) and the workings of the Endo-Cannabinoid system – the regulator of many organ systems and processes of the human body.  This year the conference was held in Pacific Grove, California, by the ocean on the Monterrey Peninsula. The enduring sea seemed to underscore the emergence of new science from an old medicine.

The entire conference is currently being edited for posting on the net. In the meantime, I’ve been editing interviews that I conducted with some of the presenters. These can be seen on the Patients Out of Time You Tube Channel.

Today, the sad news of Senator Edward Kennedy’s diagnosis of Glioma, a cancer of the brain that is very hard to treat, compelled me to edit one interview in particular. It was with Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Paul has done a lot of research on medical Cannabis, having compiled a booklet, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Evidence:2000 – 2008” (available as a PDF) on several diseases that are successfully treated with Cannabis, including promising research on Glioma cancer cell lines (See Below) . This job has made Paul one of the few Americans with direct knowledge of some of the cutting edge science emerging out of Europe, Israel and other countries, so people with sick loved ones often call him, after hearing of possible help from Cannabis research. He has to tell these desperate families that few human trials of medical Cannabis therapies have been allowed in this country, with none on the horizon for the likes of exciting research from Spain, where Dr. Manuel Guzman has slowed the growth of brain cancer tumors using THC – a principle Cannabinoid in marijuana. In this video, Paul observes that many of the callers are asking about alternative treatments for Glioma, often incredulous that our government would block research into such an important area. Also, Dr. David Bearman offers observations on fears of patients facing devastating illness:THC Kills Glioma Cancer Cells – Medical Miracles from Europe

Anti-Cancer Properties of THC – Research in Print:
[1] Guzman et al. 1998. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol induces apoptosis in C6 glioma cells. FEBS Letters 436: 6-10.
[2] Guzman et al. 2000. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids: involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation. Nature Medicine 6: 313-319.

[3] Guzman et al. 2003. Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis by cannabinoids. The FASEB Journal 17: 529-531.

 [4] Massi et al. 2004. Antitumor effects of cannabidiol on human glioma cell lines. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Fast Forward 308: 838-845.

[5] Guzman et al. 2004. Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathways in gliomas. Cancer Research 64: 5617-5623.

 [6] Allister et al. 2005. Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Journal of Neurooncology 74: 31-40.

[7] Guzman et al. 2006. A pilot clinical study of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer.

[8] Parolaro and Massi. 2008. Cannabinoids as a potential new drug therapy for the treatment of gliomas. Expert Reviews of Neurotherapeutics 8: 37-49
[9] Galanti et al. 2007. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits cell cycle progression in human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Acta Oncologica 12: 1-9.

[10] Calatozzolo et al. 2007. Expression of cannabinoid receptors and neurotrophins in human gliomas. Neurological Sciences 28: 304-310.
 References courtesy of Paul Armentano. You can read more on this subject in his booklet, which also covers MS; Hypertension; GI Disorders; Arthritis; Alzheimer’s; Fibromyalgia; Hepatitus C; ALS; Diabetes; Osteoporosis; and more: 

“Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis: A Review of the Scientific Evidence” (2008, NORML Foundation).

Dr. Guzman was scheduled to present his research at the Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, but a family medical emergency prevented his attendance. *** A PDF of Dr. Guzman’s Research *** However, one of the Cannabis Therapeutics’ faculty members, Robert Melamede, PhD eloquently explained the principles involved in the “Global Homeostatic Regulation”of many bodily functions by the Endo-Cannabinoid system, including re-balancing of conditions like auto-immune disorders and cancers, in an interview in his office at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs:Cancer Cure – Cannabis & Cannabinoids,by Robert Melamede,PhD

In the documentary to which I referred during Paul’s interview – “Surviving ALS“, Cathy Jordan experiences the neuroprotective effects of cannabis first hand, as it helps her over-taxed Endo-Cannabinoid system bring her auto-immune disorder (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) under control – moderating “excitotoxicity” and over production of glutamate. Dr. Melamede continues his interview in this chapter, explaining how neuropathic conditions are balanced by Cannabinoids.Surviving ALS with Cannabis, Chapter 3 – with Dr. Melamede

One fascinating aspect of Dr. Manuel Guzman’s work is that, as the tumors being treated are in brain (nerve) tissue, the neuroprotective properties of THC become extremely important. Whereas most cancer treatments cause damage to surrounding tissue (especially crucial in the brain), THC treatments actually protect adjacent non-cancerous nerve tissue. 

In this video from the 3rd Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, Charlottesville, VA, in May of 2004, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, looks closely at the science of Cannabinoids in Neuroprotection. Professor Mechoulam was on the team that first isolated THC in 1964.Cannabinoid System in Neuroprotection, Raphael Mechoulam,PhD

 It turns out that the first research into THC’s actions on cancer tumors was done in the U.S., back in 1974 during a government sponsored study seeking to prove the dangers of marijuana. When the results instead showed the promise of THC as a medicinal agent, our government suppressed the results and quietly gave a pharmaceutical company permission to develop a THC pill – now known as Marinol. And the crusade against marijuana continued…

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell



Barak Obama was at a town hall meeting today in South Dakota today, talking about U.S. farm policy, hard economic times and buying American.  I hoped one of the questioners would be Alex Whiteplume, from the Pine Ridge Reservation – a land that’s hard to grow anything on and a people desperately needing viable industry close to home. 

Since 2000, Alex and his family have tried to grow Industrial Hemp on their land, first as a seed crop to build the stock of low-THC hemp seed, then as a fiber, oil and cellulose crop. Hemp is one of few crops that can do well in the harsh, arid land. Interestingly, the Lakota Sioux at Pine Ridge had contracts with the U.S. government during World War 2, to produce the strong, versatile fibers badly needed for parachute webbing, ropes, etc.

I hoped Alex could ask Barak if he would support a return to hemp farming in America, like his rival for president, Rep. Ron Paul (R) TX, who introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007. And I wished he could have time to tell his story – of betrayal by the U.S. government, which has come in repeatedly and destroyed the hemp crops, trampling on the sovereignty of the Lakota Sioux Nation. Here is a trailer of the film, “Standing Silent Nation“, which aired on the PBS, produced by Prairie Dust Films.Standing Silent Nation (Preview)

The hemp project at Pine Ridge was assisted by the Hemp Industries Association, the premier grassroots organization promoting industrial hemp to save the family farm and the Kentucky Hemp Grower’s Cooperative, who bought hemp bales from Canadian farmers and gifted it to the Native Americans at Pineridge. Soon, a house built of “Hempcrete” blocks, lightweight and resilient due to the long hemp fibers and hurds, and hemp insulation stood as proof that hemp could work at Pineridge. There were even prospects for sales of the Hempcrete blocks off of the Reservation. 

Cannabis TV has produced a  ten minute video giving the background to this story, including an interview with John Trudell, Native American musician, artist and activist. Long a supporter of Cannabis Hemp in its’ many manifestations, John Trudell clearly sees the benefits for the people of Pine Ridge and the motives of the government.Pine Ridge Hemp Project, with John Trudell

Well, you can’t keep a good people or a good plant down, even if they do stand silent. Alex Whitplume, his family and others have continued experimenting with industrial hemp at Pine Ridge, from making soaps and salves to homemade paper. And just yesterday, another You Tube producer posted a video series showing a building renovation with a  “Hempcrete” stucco, imported from England, where products like this have been in development for years.Hempcrete Construction – USA, SD

Here is a video featuring the patriotic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who co-sponsored the 2007 Industrial Hemp Farming Act, plus some of the products now made from hemp.Industrial Hemp Farming Act

As Hemp needs little fertilizer, herbicide or pesticide applications and needs far less water than corn, eco-friendly industries like Cellulosic Ethanol (see April.24th post) , biodiesel from hemp seed and products ranging from food to car parts become feasible, given the prolific production of this versatile plant. Rather than fighting the Sioux Nation  with my tax money, I would prefer that our government learn from Alex’s example and follow a path back to our past for sustainability in the future.

“Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” -President George Washington, 1794


“Cannabis has become the football in a contest between evidence and passion”

Headline: May 8, 2008UK: Cannabis Upgrade Made Official – Britain has moved Cannabis back to “Class B” – the culmination of months of debate and propaganda regarding the relative safety of Cannabis (marijuana), especially in the area of mental health among the young.  In January 2004, under Tony Blair’s administration, Cannabis was downgraded to “Class C” – along with tranquilizers and the like, possession of which is a non-arrestable offence.

Here is a TV show in Britain from last week that frames the debate, with additional annotation from from the You Tube producer:Question Time – 5.5.2008 Reclassification of Cannabis

Much has been made of “Skunk” – a generic name for the “new, powerful” Cannabis– blamed for many evils, including triggering of psychosis. Government and media concentrated on reports of a supposed 40% rise of schizophrenia cases among young people experimenting with the new marijuana. (Note that alcohol and other drugs cause a much higher incidence of mental illness – see below.) Much debate continues concerning the relative strength of today’s Cannabis compared with Cannabis of the past. One thing is certain, though – Prohibition always causes an escalation of concentrated substances, as bulky smelly items are difficult to smuggle and conceal. (Remember “Bathtub Gin & “Moonshine”? – they trumped beer & wine.) Therefore, pills and powders are favored while producers and traffickers of Cannabis are forced to concentrate their product, by using more potent varieties.

 There are always markets for high and low grade Cannabis (swag), just as was the case in the 1970’s – remember “Maui-Wowi”, “Thai Stick”, “Panama Red”, “Alculpoco Gold” – the list goes on. As smuggling across international borders has become very risky, it is true that the milder Sativa varieties indigenous to South America (“Columbian”) are largely unavailable, as indoor farming has favored Indica varieties and crosses, enabling a quicker harvest and more potent product.  The Modern Prohibitionists (Drug War proponents) can take credit for that one.

UK: OPED: Hysteria Over Cannabis Is Getting in the Way of Truth – “Cannabis has become the football in a contest between evidence and passion“. All this comes after an expert panel, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ( ACMD ), tasked with recommending the best approach to the Cannabis “problem”, came to the conclusion that the classification should not to changed. Among the reasons: The supposed rise in mental illness is not reflected in the population during the rise in Cannabis potency, other factors than official classification influence young people to try Cannabis; and the saddling of these young people with criminal records and the resulting sanctions is detrimental to their futures.

At the 2007 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) conference in California, Mitchell Earleywine, PhD, addresses the comparative risks of marijuana and other drugs for mental illness:2007 NORML Conference – Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D

Headline: July 30, 2007U.S. Reefer Inanity: Never trust the Media on Pot – Last summer, at the start of this debate, mental health experts tried to defuse the hysteria, as cited in this article by the Huffington Post. “One study found that alcohol has been found to increase the risk of psychosis by 800% for men and 300% for women.”

Headline: May 10, 2008US: Pot May Worsen Depression, Drug Czar Says – While acknowledging that he had no proof for what he was saying, America’s “Drug CzarJohn Waters warned parents of teens who are depressed and medicating themselves with Cannabis that pot may may the situation worse.  Experts, including one from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), pointed out that many young people smoke marijuana and never develop mental illness and that the evidence had been “stretched”.White House Report on Teen Marijuana Use

Blog: May 12, 2008 – How To Tell If The Drug Czar Is Lying? His Lips Are Moving – Paul Armantono, Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws) has an in depth analysis of this story.

Headline: May 13, 2008US: Heavy Marijuana Use Linked to Risk of Heart Attacks78 to 350 Joints per Week – Are you kidding?

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
– Samuel Adams

            On Saturday, May 3rd, I traveled to the Capitol grounds of my home state of North Carolina (a “Decrim“, but “No Medical Necessity Defense” state, for those versed in the inequitable hodgepodge of laws regarding Cannabis across the country) to attend our annual Raleigh Marijuana Rally & Music Festival, hosted by the North Carolina Cannabis Association. It was a beautiful day, a pleasant, yet energized gathering of many ages, races and hair styles – all declaring their support for the Cannabis Hemp plant, advocating for change in the laws and enjoying the music and culture associated with this versatile gift from Nature. In Colonial times, North Carolina was famous for the quality of its’ hemp,  so it seems appropriate that we celebrated among statues of our forebearers. Global Marijuana Freedom March 2008 – Raleigh, NC, USA

Under the watchful Assyrian gaze of Hammurabi’s statue high atop the Law & Justice building across the street ( Undoubtedly a Hashish user like his fellows, Hammurabi was responsible for the first written laws – set down on clay tablets. Cannabis Hemp was not prohibited by the Code of Hammurabi.), the different speakers at the rally brought out several important issues that the prohibition of Cannabis has complicated – access to herbal medicine; environmental benefits of hemp; and the enjoyment of personal freedoms guaranteed under the U. S. and NC Constitutions.

The same issues that face us in North Carolina are experienced in cities around the world, as fellow compatriots join the Global Marijuana March, still coordinated by long time activist Dana Beal and Cures-Not-Wars in New York. In a show that aired just before the marches, Dana discusses Cannabis politics in Europe and America; problems with the United Nations Drug Policies and the admission by the U.N. Drug Czar that prohibition does have unintended consequences; harm reduction; reform of the Rockefeller-era drug laws; medical marijuana science and more.Dana Beal on the Marijuana March in New York City

Dana calls on the United Nations to Change Drug War to Drug Peace.” On Saturday, marchers around the world shared the same visions of hope and unity. Here are a few of the marches, beginning with New YorkMarijuana March May 3 2008 NYC UN Tompkins Square Pot Pt.2/7

In Canada, emotions are running high as the new “Conservative” (sic) government is preparing to throw Marc Emory to the DEA/White House wolves to serve time in a U. S. prison for an activity that was legal in Canada. You can help Marc out of this travesty of justice by visiting Marc appeared at the Toronto Marijuana March Saturday and cheerfully exhorted everyone to talk to everyone about marijuana and to “Get ’em High!”Marc Emery, Prince of Pot, May 3, 2008 – 1

In Marc’s home town of “Vansterdam” (Vancouver, British Columbia), the people will soon be even more up in arms, as the Canadian federal government is planning to end the licencing of medical marijuana “grows” by individuals, after it works out problems with it’s own program to supply medical grade Cannabis to Canadian patients. Pot-TV, founded by Marc Emory (along with Cannabis Culture magazine) posted this coverage of the Vancouver march.Global Marijuana March Vancouver BC 2008

When in Rome, Italy, do what these people did! Here’s a highly creative video that lets us experience the excitement of this march:Street Parade Roma 2008

Oslo, Norway The Global Cannabis March in Oslo garnered two nights of news coverage and looks like a good time was had by all. Could someone tell me the current status of Cannabis laws in Scandanavia?MarihuanaMarsjen i Oslo 2008

Back in the U. S., several hundred marchers took to the streets of Seattle, Washington– one of the legal medical marijuana states. Certainly on everyone’s mind was the recent death of Tim Garon (See Post Below), who was denied a liver transplant due to his legal prescription for medical Cannabis.Seattle Marijuana March 2008

All over America, everyone is seeking support for legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives:

H.R. 5842 – “The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act“, which would allow possession of 100 grams and money-free transfer of one ounce.

H.R. 5843 – “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults“, which would end DEA “raids” on buyer’s cooperatives and patients in states that have legalized Cannabis for medicine.

In Denver, where citizens have voted to legalize small amounts of Cannabis, medical marijuana patients and other supporters of the herb gathered on the Capitol steps – temporarily.Marijuana Patients Kicked off Capital Steps! Marijuana March

In Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” and the home of the Liberty Bell, the enthusiastic marchers invoked freedoms cherished by the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.PhillyNORML GCM 2008

Headline: May 6, 2008 – US: Reports Find Racial Gap in Drug Arrests This news story verifies what the young African-American man at our North Carolina rally was saying – that, because of his color, he would be more likely to be arrested and jailed than others as we left our festive event. The arbitrary nature of marijuana laws and their enforcement is one good reason to end our modern prohibition of a God-given plant.

Rights come from GOD not the state. You have rights antecedent to any earthly governments, rights that can not be repealed or restrained by human laws – Rights derived from the great
legislator, God.
– John Adams


Headline: April 27.2008Patients Using Medical Marijuana Can Be Denied Transplants – A legal medical marijuana patient in Seattle, Washington has been denied a liver transplant, due to understandably stringent standards that individual hospitals use to allocate organs available for transplant.  Alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug users are considered likely to continue abusing drugs after transplant – thus, unworthy of such a precious gift. However, the inclusion of Cannabis in this roster raises some pertinent questions.

Here is a TV broadcast on this story:Medical Marijuana Patient Dying After Dr’s Denied Transplant

“Marijuana, unlike alcohol, has no direct effect on the liver.  It is however a concern …  in that it’s a potential indicator of an addictive personality.”, said Dr.  Robert Sade, director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care.  This position results from marijuana’s status as an illegal drug, as science does not classify Cannabis as a physically addictive.  Even if Cannabis were considered therapeutic after transplant, vaporized Cannabis does not carry risk of mold ingestion that can cause a reaction to the anti-rejection drugs after transplant.

“I’m not angry, I’m not mad, I’m just confused,” said Timothy Garon, surprised that his legal prescription for Cannabis had prevented him from receiving a liver to replace his own – ravaged by Hepatitus C, which he likely contracted as a teenager.  Although edible Cannabis compounds are not recommended for a compromised liver, smoked marijuana is not metabolized by the liver and can actually improve its’ function.

In this video of a patient with an inherited liver condition that mimics Hepatitus C, her doctor theorizes how Cannabis helps her liver to function normally – “By calming vascular (blood vessel) spasms, vascular dilation and “micro-capillary circulation” stimulation, Cannabis helps oxygen-rich blood to flow better through the liver and its’ processes.”Medical Marijuana in NC – Jean Marlowe Story, Part 1

This February, the American College of Physicians put out a position paper calling for the federal government to reschedule Cannabis to allow for medical use; to allow research with medical grade Cannabis in the U.S. and to allow the state’s to implement medical marijuana programs without interference from the federal government. This would go a long way towards diffusing situations like Tim Garon’s exclusion from life-saving treatment. In the meantime, doctors will have to grapple with the ethics so crucial to their profession.

In the following video, Professor Richard Bonnie, of the University of Virginia Law School and co-author of “The Marijuana Conviction“, addresses  Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, on the concept of medical necessity and questions faced by doctors when a medicine is prohibited.Medical Ethics and Cannabis Prohibition, by Richard Bonnie, JD

April 30, 2008 – Editorial: Pot Costs Man Shot at a Liver

May 1, 2008Timothy Garon died last night. May he rest in peace and may his family and loved ones be strong in his memory.

Here is a video of Tim’s music, posted by his friends: Goodbye Baby