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Marijuana News in Colorado and World

Marijuana Stress

Research has indicated that repeated stress can create and intensify cognitive impairment in memory and learning. But recent research reveals that cannabinoid (naturally occurring chemicals found in marijuana) treatments have been successful in preventing such effects. Because of this, researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel investigated the same interaction, but with chronic stress.

The two-week study used rats and a technique called chronic restraint stress in which researchers kept the rats from moving, which causes a stress reaction. After this daily process, half the rats (experimental group) were treated with a full agonist that activates the CB1 receptor of the cannabinoid system. The remaining rats represented the control group.

Data from the study reveals the many issues caused by chronic stress. These issues are not only expressed through a person’s mood; stress also seems to place a burden on a number of biological processes, such as impairing neuron functioning, which leads to difficulties with learning through reinforcement and with memory recall.

Thirty days after the treatment period, data suggested that the activation of the cannabinoid system prevented the cognitive deficits caused by chronic stress. The experimental group also performed better with object recognition. They were able to identify an object based on its physical properties more readily than the control group.

Marijuana Science

National Geographic’s June issue features an in-depth look at the science and medicine of marijuana that will certainly enlighten many minds.

NatGeo met with the discoverer of THC, Raphael Mechoulam, who reports: “We have just scratched the surface…we may well discover that cannabinoids are involved in some way in all human diseases.”

The magazine also went inside a 20,000-plant grow in Denver, and interviewed a biochemist who is studying the plant’s anti-tumor properties:

“‘…tumors in a third of the rats were eradicated and in another third, reduced. ‘The problem is,’ he says, ‘mice are not humans. We do not know if this can be extrapolated to humans at all.’”

The article concludes with a geneticist assembling the raw, unsorted code of cannabis DNA into its proper order:

“‘…with this cannabis work, the science will not be incremental. It will be transformative. Transformative not just in our understanding of the plant but also of ourselves—our brains, our neurology, our psychology. Transformative in terms of the biochemistry of its compounds. Transformative in terms of its impact across several different industries, including medicine, agriculture, and biofuels. It may even transform part of our diet—hemp seed is known to be a ready source of a very healthy, protein-rich oil.’”

Read the National Geographic article here

Coffee Marijuana

Scientists believe they’ve discovered why caffeine and marijuana go so well together while researching how marijuana interacts with other drugs in the brain. Researchers found that caffeine reinforces THC’s effects, potentially making it more pleasurable.

To study THC and caffeine, researchers gave monkeys the ability to get high from marijuana with the pull of a lever, which triggered an intravenous release of THC from a surgically implanted device.

After familiarizing the monkeys with the consequences of pulling the lever, they gave them doses of MSX-3, a water-soluble analog of caffeine. With 1 mg/kg of MSX-3 (equivalent to less than half a cup of coffee for the average person) the monkeys pulled the lever less often than they did without MSX-3. When given 3 mg/kg (equivalent to one or more cups of coffee) of MSX-3 the monkeys pulled the lever even less. The caffeine-analog made it so that the monkeys desired less THC, presumably implying that caffeine enhanced the effects from THC.

It appears that two natural substances (caffeine and THC) that humans have consumed for eons are not only reasonably safe, but actually compliment each other too.

Marijuana THC CBD

According to the results of a new test, the marijuana available today can be more than twice as potent as marijuana cultivated in the past.

THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, can contain about 10% THC or up to 30%; whereas, average THC levels from a few decades ago ranged at 10% or less.

Although, the most important recent findings in marijuana show that CBD (cannabidiol) is the real medicinal powerhouse found in marijuana. But, this powerhouse needs THC to fully provide all possible medicinal benefits.

“Cannabinoids are a single component of what is active in the medicinal properties of [the marijuana] plants,” said Anthony Fabrizio, a marijuana chemistry expert. Multiple other compounds contribute to these properties, working “synergistically together, almost like a football team,” he noted.

Most dispensaries provide a large array of marijuana, often times carrying over 40 marijuana strains in order to provide for all customers’ needs.

Drug Abuse

According to a research study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, persons using medical marijuana along with prescription pain medication do not appear to have a higher risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

The study used nearly 300 medical marijuana patients as participants and more than 60% of them had used prescription pain medication within the past month.

The study revealed that there was only a slight difference in use of alcohol or other drugs — such as cocaine, non-prescription opioids like heroin, sedatives, and amphetamines — between medical marijuana patients who used prescription pain medication and those who did not.

“We expected that persons receiving both cannabis and prescription opioids would have greater levels of involvement with alcohol and other drugs,” stated study coauthor Brian Perron, PhD, of the University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor. “However, that wasn’t the case — although persons who were receiving both medical cannabis and prescription opioids reported higher levels of pain, they showed very few differences in their use of alcohol and other drugs compared to those receiving medical cannabis only.”

Read the research study

Marijuana Taxes

Should state-legal marijuana businesses pay tax on net profits or gross profits? Basically every business in every country pays tax on net profits (after expenses). But the cockeyed and discriminatory rules for the marijuana industry seem to defy logic.

Colorado was the first state to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana. They have a 2.9% sales tax and a 10% marijuana sales tax. Plus, there is a 15% excise tax on the average market rate of retail marijuana. It adds up to 27.9%. The state of Colorado collected sales tax on medical marijuana and various fees for a total of about $76 million, and about $44 million for recreational marijuana.

IRS tax code denies even legal dispensaries tax deductions because marijuana remains a federally controlled substance. The IRS says it has no choice but to enforce the tax code.

2013′s proposed Marijuana Tax Equity Act would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow it to be taxed–at a whopping 50%. The bill would impose a 50% excise tax on marijuana sales, plus an annual occupational tax on employees in the marijuana industry.

All these taxes lead to one outcome: higher prices for marijuana.

Morgan Freeman Marijuana

In a recent interview, Morgan Freeman, the 77-year-old Oscar winner, spoke candidly about his marijuana use and his stance on legalization.

“Marijuana has many useful uses,” stated Freeman. “I have fibromyalgia pain in this arm, and the only thing that offers any relief is marijuana. They’re talking about kids who have grand mal seizures, and they’ve discovered that marijuana eases that down to where these children can have a life. That right there, to me, says, ‘Legalize it across the board!’”

In addition to touting all the medical benefits of marijuana, Freeman also pointed out that negative effects of marijuana are rare and other legal substances are much more dangerous to society.

“Now, the thrust is understanding that alcohol has no real medicinal use,” Freeman said. “Maybe if you have one drink it’ll quiet you down, but two or three and you’re fucked. Look at Woodstock 1969. They said, ‘We’re not going to bother them or say anything about smoking marijuana,’ and not one problem or fight. Then look at what happened in ’99.”

The actor’s own experience with marijuana dates back to 2008, when a car accident left him with shattered bones in his arm. He found that marijuana effectively alleviated his pain and has since been an outspoken advocate of legalization.

“They used to say, ‘You smoke that stuff, boy, you get hooked!’” Freeman chuckled. “My first wife got me into it many years ago. How do I take it? However it comes! I’ll eat it, drink it, smoke, snort it!”

Presidential Candidates Marijuana 2016

The 2016 presidential field is continuing to take shape and some of the candidates have revealed their stance on marijuana legalization.

Below is a roundup of what some of the declared presidential candidates have said about marijuana.

Ben Carson (Republican)

A retired neurosurgeon who has never held elected office and is against marijuana and its legalization. His comments on marijuana include:
Told ABC News that marijuana legalization “should be completely off the table” and that he has “no problem with medical marijuana usage, and there are ways that it can be done that are very appropriate.”
“Marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs – sometimes legal, sometimes illegal – and I don’t think this is something that we really want for our society. You know, we’re gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity.”

Carly Fiorina (Republican)

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who has never held elected office, opposes ending prohibition but supports the right of states to legalize marijuana without federal interference. Her comments on marijuana include:
“I respect Colorado’s right to do what they did. They are within their rights to legalize marijuana and they are conducting an experiment that I hope the rest of the nation is looking closely at. I believe in states’ rights. I would not, as president of the United States, enforce federal law in Colorado where Colorado voters have said they want to legalize marijuana.”
“I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, ‘Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?’” She stated, “I did not.”

Mike Huckabee (Republican)

The former Arkansas governor and Baptist pastor is against legalization and said he would not stop the DEA from raiding and arresting patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal. His comments on marijuana include:
“I’m going to leave it up to the DEA whether they feel like there is a person who is being arrested because they are suffering from AIDS or because they really are doing something to significantly violate drug laws.”

Bernie Sanders (Democrat/Independent)

The U.S. senator and former House member from Vermont is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and co-sponsored the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, a bill to reschedule marijuana and provide greater protections for medical patients. His comments on marijuana include:
“I’m going to look at the issue [marijuana legalization]. It’s not that I support it or don’t support it. To me it is not one of the major issues facing this country. I’ll look at it.”
“We have been engaged in [the war on drugs] for decades now with a huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities.”

Hillary Clinton (Democrat)

Marijuana IconThe former first lady, secretary of state, and U.S. senator has openly stated that marijuana has medical value and that she wants to see states move forward with their own laws. Her comments on marijuana include:
“I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”
“I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances.”
“On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

Ted Cruz (Republican)

The U.S. senator from Texas opposes any marijuana legalization because the substance is federally illegal. His comments on marijuana include:
 “The Obama administration’s approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is gonna stop enforcing certain drug laws. I think most disturbingly, watching President Obama’s approach to drug laws is that he hasn’t tried to start a discussion, a dialogue about changing the laws. He simply decreed he’s not gonna enforce laws he doesn’t agree with.”

Rand Paul (Republican)

Marijuana IconThe U.S. senator from Kentucky is one of the only current candidate who has actually worked to reform marijuana laws. For instance, he is an original sponsor of a bill that would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana, but opposes marijuana legalization.
 “I’m not really promoting legalization, but I am promoting making the penalties much less severe and not putting people in jail for 10, 20, 30 years.”
 On marijuana legalization: “I would let states choose. And I don’t know what’ll happen, whether it’s going to end up being good or bad. But I would let the states choose because I believe in federalism and states’ rights.”
 On marijuana in general: “Even though it may not kill you I don’t think it’s good for you. It’s not good for studies, it’s not good for showing up for work” and “people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points.”

Marco Rubio (Republican)

The U.S. senator and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives opposes legalization and decriminalization. His comments on marijuana include:
 “We live in a country that already has problems with substance abuse. We already see the impact that alcoholism is having on families, on drunk driving, on all sorts of things. And now we’re gonna add one more substance that people can use?”
 “When something is legal, implicitly what you’re saying, ‘it can’t be all that bad. Cuz if it’s legal it can’t be bad for you.’ The bottom line is I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that’s legal is not good for the country.”
 “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced. I understand that states have decided to legalize possession under state law, and the trafficking, the sale of these products. I mean, that’s a federal crime.”

Marijuana Least Harmful Drug DEA

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) latest annual National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) report, in which state and local law enforcement agencies assess the greatest drug threats, marijuana was ranked last among all other drugs.

In 2014, methamphetamine was ranked the greatest threat, closely followed by heroin and trailed by controlled prescription drugs. In both 2013 and 2014, these three drugs combined were ranked the greatest threat by over 80% of reporting law enforcement agencies, while marijuana was placed at only 7% for both years.

In the West Central United States, which includes marijuana legalization pioneer Colorado, methamphetamine was ranked the highest threat by 61% of reporting agencies, marijuana at just 4%. In the Pacific region, which includes the medical and recreational legalized marijuana state of Washington, the same pattern is present with meth at 67% and marijuana at 9%.

Chuck Rosenberg

President Obama has selected Chuck Rosenberg, a senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. attorney, as the interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Former DEA director Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month amidst accusations that DEA agents in Colombia had participated in sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels and for repeatedly clashing with the Obama administration on its more tolerant approach towards states that have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal use.

“The new DEA chief has a tough job ahead,” said the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Let’s hope he’s in line with the political consensus in favor of scaling back mass incarceration and the worst harms of the drug war.”

“Drug prohibition, like alcohol Prohibition, breeds crime, corruption, and violence – and creates a situation where law enforcement officers must risk their lives in a fight that can’t be won,” said executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s time to reform not just the DEA but broader U.S. and global drug policy. The optimal drug policy would reduce the role of criminalization and the criminal justice system in drug control to the greatest extent possible, while protecting public safety and health.”

In 2014, Congress passed a spending limitation amendment prohibiting the DEA from undermining state marijuana laws. It was signed into law by President Obama, but expires later this year. The U.S. House also approved two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.