Studying Marijuana and Its Loftier Purpose

Tikkun Olam, a medical marijuana farm in Israel, blends the high-tech and the spiritual.

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: January 1, 2013

 

SAFED, Israel — Among the rows of plants growing at a government-approved medical marijuana farm in the Galilee hills in northern Israel, one strain is said to have the strongest psychoactive effect of any cannabis in the world. Another, rich in anti-inflammatory properties, will not get you high at all.

Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but farms like this one, at a secret location near the city of Safed, are at the cutting edge of the debate on the legality, benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. Its staff members wear white lab coats, its growing facilities are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for controlling light and humidity, and its grounds are protected by security cameras and guards.

But in addition to the high-tech atmosphere, there is a spiritual one. The plantation, Israel’s largest and most established medical marijuana farm — and now a thriving commercial enterprise — is imbued with a higher sense of purpose, reflected by the aura of Safed, an age-old center of Jewish mysticism, as well as by its name, Tikkun Olam, a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world.

There is an on-site synagogue in a trailer, a sweet aroma of freshly harvested cannabis that infuses the atmosphere and, halfway up a wooded hillside overlooking the farm, a blue-domed tomb of a rabbinic sage and his wife.

In the United States, medical marijuana programs exist in 18 states but remain illegal under federal law. In Israel, the law defines marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug, and there is still no legislation regulating its use for medicinal purposes.

Yet Israel’s Ministry of Health issues special licenses that allow thousands of patients to receive medical marijuana, and some government officials are now promoting the country’s advances in the field as an example of its pioneering and innovation.

“I hope we will overcome the legal obstacles for Tikkun Olam and other companies,” Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, told journalists during a recent government-sponsored tour of the farm, part of Israel’s effort to brand itself as something beyond a conflict zone. In addition to helping the sick, he said, the effort “could be helpful for explaining what we are about in this country.”

Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades.

In the 1960s, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Later, Professor Mechoulam deciphered the cannabinoids native to the brain. Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied another main constituent of cannabis — cannabidiol, or CBD — considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent.

When Zach Klein, a former filmmaker, made a documentary on medical marijuana that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2009, about 400 Israelis were licensed to receive the substance. Today, the number has risen to about 11,000.

Mr. Klein became devoted to the subject and went to work for Tikkun Olam in research and development. “Cannabis was used as medicine for centuries,” he said. “Now science is telling us how it works.”

Israeli researchers say cannabis can be beneficial for a variety of illnesses and conditions, from helping cancer patients relieve pain and ease loss of appetite to improving the quality of life for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and neuropsychological conditions. The natural ingredients in the plant, they say, can help with digestive function, infections and recovery after a heart attack.

The marijuana harvest, from plants that can grow over six feet tall, is processed into bags of flowers and ready-rolled cigarettes. There are also cannabis-laced cakes, cookies, candy, gum, honey, ointments and oil drops. The strain known as Eran Almog, which has the highest concentration of THC, is recommended for severe pain. Avidekel, a strain rich in CBD and with hardly any psychoactive ingredient, allows patients to benefit from the drug while being able to drive and to function at work.

Working with Hebrew University researchers, the farm has also developed a version in capsule form, which would make exporting the drug more practical, should the law allow it.

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Miracle marijuana? 6-year-old California boy’s violent seizures dramatically subside with help of liquid marijuana

Child’s father said seizures were a daily nightmare before the medical marijuana treatment. But medical experts question risks of treating children with the drug.

Comments (10)

By Victoria Cavaliere / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 8:57 AM

Jayden David’s seizures have been reduced, and his life is far more normal, now that he’s medicated with a form of liquid marijuana, his father Jason said.

 

A six-year-old California boy who suffers severe seizures that leave him shaking on the ground and crying for help has finally found some relief, his family says.

Jayden David now takes a dose of medical marijuana.

"He’s in pain and suffering and crying," father Jason David said. "You can’t help him no matter what. What are you supposed to do? You have to do whatever it takes to save their life."

Jayden’s seizures were an almost daily nightmare, David told CNN. His son’s life was so crippled by the violent shaking caused by Dravet’s syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, he couldn’t walk or eat solid food and he had been rushed to the hospital in their hometown of Oakland more than 40 times.

Jayden was even taking 22 pills a day, though nothing improved his condition.

So last year, David gave his son a liquid form of marijuana, which is legal for some medical purposes in California. The results were dramatic, David said.

For the first time since he was four-months-old, Jayden can now make it through a day without a seizure, his father said.

In the past year he has been able to walk, run, swim and play with other children.

His father has also begun to take Jayden off the two dozen anti-seizure pills he had been prescribed, believing they might have kept the boy from developing properly, CNN reported.

Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Oakland, California, said Jayden isn’t the only child patient they help.

Children with severe autism, epilepsy, ADHD and cancer can be helped by medicinal marijuana, executive director Steven DeAngelo said.

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Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/boy-6-takes-medical-marijuana-seizures-article-1.1217519#ixzz2ElJZytRX

Kentucky’s 2013 Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act

Jacob JonesPublished:October 15, 2012 6:52PM

 

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Kentuckians!

The states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, have removed state-level criminal penalties from the medical use and cultivation of marijuana. Kentucky joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.

The above text is from the first section of the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act, this bills fate will be determined during our 2013 General Assembly. Also within the first section of the Act is the text below:

Marijuana’s recorded use as a medicine goes back nearly five thousand (5,000) years. Modern medical research has confirmed the beneficial uses for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, as found by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in March 1999;

Studies published since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report have continued to show the therapeutic value of marijuana in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions. These include relief of the neuropathic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, other illnesses and injuries that often fail to respond to conventional treatments, and relief of nausea, vomiting, and other side effects of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, increasing the chances of patients continuing on life-saving treatment regimens.

Marijuana has many currently accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians to more than five hundred thousand (500,000) patients in states with medical marijuana laws. Marijuana’s medical utility has been recognized by a wide range of medical and public health organizations, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many others.

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports and the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics show that approximately ninety-nine (99) out of every one hundred (100) marijuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill patients who have a medical need to use marijuana

States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with Sections 1 to 24 of this Act does not put the state of Kentucky in violation of federal law; and

State law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical uses of marijuana. Therefore, the purpose of Sections 1 to 24 of the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.

You’ve just read most of section 1 from the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act. Thank you. The next sections of this Act define this crucial medical program and are followed by needed protections along with guiding restrictions. The enacting of this bill benefits our loved ones and people we all know, who need medical marijuana to improve the quality of their lives.

The following are debilitating medical conditions which may qualify one to become a Kentucky medical marijuana patient:

Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions;

A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one (1) or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

Please inform your districts congressmen of your support for the Gatewood Galbraith Medical Marijuana Memorial Act and urge their co-sponsor for the 2013 General Assembly.

Official record of the bill can be found at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/13rs/SB11.htm

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Court To Review Marijuana’s Medical Benefits

Lucia Graves

lucia@huffingtonpost.com

 

 

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It started with a coalition of disgruntled Americans, then a handful of governors took up the cause last year, and now — for the first time in nearly 20 years — a federal court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug without medical benefits.

In the case, Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, the court will be presented with scientific evidence regarding the medicinal effects of marijuana, and is expected to rule on whether or not the Drug Enforcement Administration acted appropriately in denying a petition to reclassify cannabis, filed by a collection of public interest organizations back in 2002.

"Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court," Joe Elford, chief counsel with ASA, said in a recent statement. "This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy."

Under federal law, a schedule I prohibited substance is defined as having “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” Heroine and LSD are classified alongside marijuana as schedule I, while cocaine, opium and methamphetamine are classified as schedule II, meaning they have "some accepted medical use."

Other groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, support medical access to the drug or its reclassification, while the California Medical Association has called for full legalization.

Donald Abrams, chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, recently described the effectiveness of medical marijuana in the treatment regimens of cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. "I see patients who have loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting from their chemotherapy, pain on and off of opiates, anxiety, depression, and insomnia," he said in a press briefing last week, adding that these are just some of the conditions that can be alleviated by the use of medical marijuana.

In its rejection of the ASA’s rescheduling petition in 2011, the DEA cited a 4-year-old Department of Health and Human Services paper that found no consensus on medical uses for marijuana, but it did not take into account studies showing the medical benefits of marijuana on the grounds the studies did not meet the standard of double-blind FDA approval trials.

"[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts…" wrote DEA administrator Michele Leonhart in a July 8, 2011 letter. "At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy."

A similar petition calling for marijuana to be reclassified as a schedule II drug was filed with the DEA in 1972, and in 1988, following a federal hearing, Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana should indeed be reclassified. But that verdict was rejected by then-DEA administrator John Lawn and in 1994, his rejection was upheld by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The current case will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Oct. 16.

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CA scientists prove marijuana fights aggressive cancers, human trials soon

Cancer survivor says medical marijuana saved her

A pair of scientists at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute are preparing to release research data which proves cannabidiol (CBD) – a marijuana compound – has the ability to "turn off" the activity of a gene which causes cancers to metastasize.

"The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there’s no toxicity. There’s really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana – called cannabinoids – as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Marijuana is already proven to alleviate nausea and pain related to cancer therapies, but these recent findings indicate a much more vast use for the natural plant which has been vilified by politicians and U.S. laws for decades.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Marijuana a vital tool in fighting many cancers.

Photo credit: 

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

McAllister’s previous research has shown marijuana has anti-cancer properties as well.

The implications of further scientific research are staggering, yet severely limited, given current federal prohibition of the cannabis plant.

After seeing the initial results of testing cancer cells with the CBD compounds found in marijuana, Desprez and McAllister wondered if they’d made an error, so they repeated the tests again and again, each time receiving the same result: the cancer cells not only stopped acting "crazy" but reverted to a normal, healthy state.

"It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited," said Desprez to The Huffington Post. "We want to get started with trials as soon as possible."

Desprez hopes the human clinical trials will start without delay.

In an article posted on NBC Bay Area website, "‘If this plant were discovered in the Amazon today, scientists would be falling all over each other to be the first to bring it to market,’ said Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of oncology at the University of California San Francisco, which has also found science behind marijuana’s efficacy."

Marijuana advocates have suspected these truths for decades but have found themselves widely shunned or ignored by U.S. lawmakers.

Dr. T.G., an oncologist who wishes to remain anonymous, told Examiner.com that her practice encourages early-stage cancer patients to use marijuana in an effort to slow cancer progression.

"I’ve treated patients dealing with cancers for nearly thirty years and I am convinced even consuming cannabis-laced edibles can have a noticeable effect in reduction of cancer cell growth over the long-term. Although cannabis flowers themselves don’t contain enough of the CBD component to have the same effects as those in the California study, it is clear intensive research and human trials are warranted," said Dr. T.G. "But it would be much more efficient if all cancer research laboratories could test cannabis and, with federal restrictions on cannabis cultivation, that level of research is not viable."

With healthcare occupying a large segment of the 2012 election focus, President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney may want to consider the continued wisdom of marijuana prohibition.

By publicly calling for marijuana/cannabis to be rescheduled as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana will be recognized as having medicinal efficacy and would then be available not only for those 17 states which already have medical marijuana laws in place, but would make the plant available for further clinical research.

Dr. T.G. stated, "In light of emerging evidence and millions of patients who’ve received benefit from cannabis, there is no logical reason to avoid a federal reversal of prohibition."

It may irritate politicians and prohibitionists nationwide, but it turns out the potheads of the world were right all along…

Why Do Clinics Deny Painkillers To Medical Marijuana Patients?

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~

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Should health care facilities have the power to make lifestyle decisions for you — and punish you when your choices don’t measure up to their ideals? More and more hospitals are making exactly those kinds of decisions when it comes to people who choose to use marijuana — even legal patients in medical marijuana states. Apparently, these places don’t mind looking exactly as if they have more loyalty to their Big Pharma benefactors than they do to their own patients.

A new policy at one Alaska clinic — requiring patients taking painkilling medications to be marijuana free — serves to highlight the hypocrisy and cruelty of such rules, which are used at more and more health care facilities, particularly the big corporate chains (the clinic in question is a member of the Banner Health chain).

Tanana Valley Clinic, in Fairbanks, started handing out prepared statements to all chronic pain patients on Monday, said Corinne Leistikow, assistant medical director for family practice at TVC, reports Dorothy Chomicz at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.


“We will no longer prescribe controlled substances, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, to patients who are using marijuana (THC),” the statement reads in part. “These drugs are psychoactive substances and it is not safe for you to take them together.” (This statement is patently false; marijuana has no known dangerous reactions with any other drugs, and in fact, since marijuana relieves chronic pain, it often makes it possible for pain patients to take smaller, safer doses of opiates and other drugs.)

LIAR, LIAR: Corinne Leistikow, M.D. says “patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death.” We’d love to see the study you’re talking about, Corinne.

“Your urine will be tested for marijuana,” patients are sternly warned. “If you test positive you will have two months to get it out of your system. You will be retested in two months. If you still have THC in your urine, we will no longer prescribe controlled substances for you.”

TVC patient Scott Ide, who takes methadone to control chronic back pain, also uses medical marijuana to ease the nausea and vomiting caused by gastroparesis. He believes TVC decided to change its policy after an Anchorage-based medical marijuana authorization clinic spend three days in Fairbanks in June, helping patients get the necessary documentation to get a state medical marijuana card.

“I’m a victim of circumstance because of what occurred,” Ide said. “I was already a patient with her — I was already on this regimen. We already knew what we were doing to get me better and work things out for me. I think it’s wrong.”

Ide, a former Alaska State Trooper, said he was addicted to painkillers, but medical marijuana helped him wean himself off all medications except methadone.

Leistikow admitted that the new policy may force some patients to drive all the way to Anchorage, because there are only a few chronic pain specialists in Fairbanks. Still, she claimed the strict new policy was “necessary.”

The assistant medical director is so eager to defend the clinic’s new policy that she took a significant departure from the facts in so doing.

“What we have decided as a clinic — we’re setting policy for which patients we can take care of and which ones we can’t — patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death, abuse and misuse of medications, of having side effects from their medications, and recommendations are generally that patients on those should be followed by a pain specialist,” Leistikow lied.

Patients who use opiates and marijuana together are NOT in fact at higher risk of death, abuse, misuse and side effects; I invite Ms. Leistikow to produce any studies which indicate they are. As mentioned earlier, pain patients who also use marijuana are usually able to use smaller, safer doses of painkillers than would be the case without cannabis supplementation.

CONTINUE READING HERE…