Trump Wants A New War On Drugs

President Trump’s opioid response plan might have multiple prongs, but when he unveiled it Monday, he clearly was most interested in the prong that gets “very tough” on drug dealers. We know this because he said so approximately 5,000 times during a speech announcing the new plan in New Hampshire, a state chosen as the backdrop because it is one of those hardest hit by opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Trump’s get-tough approach is little more than a reboot of the failed “War on Drugs” from the 1980s, in which the federal government spent enormous sums trying — and failing — to stop the crack cocaine crisis by throwing people in prison, a disproportionate amount of whom were African American and Latino.

His first speech on the topic in October, while vague, promised action on this “public health emergency.” A few days later the commission he convened to study the problem and come up with evidence-based solutions released a 131-page report with 56 recommendations, none of which suggested killing people.

Read the full article in Los Angeles Times

Research Says: Magic Mushroom Could Lead To Help For Addicts

“Getting drugs to the brain can be so difficult, but fungi have already figured out how to do that,” said Hannah Reynolds, assistant professor of biology at Western Connecticut State University and co-author of the new study.

Magic mushrooms owe their mind-bending properties to the production of psilocybin, a brain-altering compound that mimics the neurotransmitter serotonin.

In 1970, national laws swept psilocybin into the category of banned Schedule I drugs, which also includes other psychoactive substances such as LSD, ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana. Federal restrictions also extended to the use psilocybin in laboratories and clinical trials, which meant that for decades researchers have had extremely limited opportunity to explore its therapeutic potential.

But science is on the cusp of a psychedelic research renaissance, Slot said.

“It’s been a sea change,” he said.

Understanding what environmental conditions cause the natural evolution of mind-altering substances such as psilocybin opens up the possibility of discovering more of them and harnessing them for human use, she said.

Continue Reading at The Alliance Review

Bill To Refine West Virginia’s Medical Marijuana Rules Fails

A bill that would have made several changes to West Virginia’s medical marijuana law failed when the state’s legislative session ended last weekend.

West Virginia’s medical marijuana program was set to launch in 2019, but the bill’s failure Saturday night and an opinion from the state treasurer have put the rollout on shaky ground, reported.

Democrat Mike Pushkin, a sponsor of HB 4345, believes issues with the bill can be resolved quickly.

Here’s what you need to know:

• The bill didn’t return to the House floor after the Senate made significant amendments to the first version that passed Feb. 28. The Senate voted to approve it Saturday night.

• Before being altered by the Senate, the original bill would have allowed dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to patients. It would have also made a push to allow the sale of smokable marijuana, which isn’t allowed under the current law. And the Bureau of Public Health would have been required to issue 100 dispensary licenses throughout the state.

• By the time the Senate passed the amended version, much of those stipulations had been stripped away and the dispensary number was cut in half.

• State Treasurer John Perdue wrote a letter to the governor and other state leaders on March 1 expressing concerns about the state’s MMJ program in context of the federal illegality of cannabis, particularly marijuana businesses’ difficulty finding banking services.

Marijuana Business Daily

Marijuana Legalization Becomes Issue In Democratic Race

Attorney General candidate Patrick Miles, an Obama-appointed official who served six and a half years as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, has taken a position on legalization of marijuana in Michigan. He said last week, upon further reflection, he’s for it.

Conversely, fellow Democratic candidate Dana Nessel, has been very pro-marijuana from the get-go. Attorney Nessel is a hero of the LGBT rights movement for her work to legalize same-sex marriage, although she’s also feuded with elements of her own movement. Last week, she won the endorsement of the group pushing to legalize marijuana in the state.

Until now, the attorney general race has largely been a battle of resumes. But, it appears the issue of marijuana is now on the map as the landscape has changed. Support for legalization is growing.

The pro-legalization movement is organized and well-funded. Petition signatures have been turned in to put the question of marijuana legalization on the November ballot.

In Democratic politics, marijuana is a bit of a proxy for progressive bona fides in a state won two years ago by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

Read the complete article at Michigan Radio

The Trippy Reason ‘Magic’ Mushrooms Evolved to Get You High

“Magic” mushrooms seem to have passed their genes for mind-altering substances around among distant species as a survival mechanism: By making fungus-eating insects “trip,” the bugs become less hungry — and less likely to feast on mushrooms.

The researchers studied a group of mushrooms that all produce psilocybin — the chemical agent that causes altered states of consciousness in human beings — but aren’t closely related. The scientists found that the clusters of genes that caused the ‘shrooms to fill themselves with psilocybin were very similar to one another, more similar even than clusters of genes found in closely related species of mushrooms.

That’s a sign, the researchers wrote, that the genes weren’t inherited from a common ancestor, but instead were passed directly between distant species in a phenomenon known as “horizontal gene transfer” or HGT.

However, HGT is believed to be pretty uncommon in complex, mushroom-forming fungi, turning up much more often in single-celled organisms.

When a horizontally transferred gene takes hold and spreads after landing in a new species, the paper’s authors wrote, scientists believe that’s a sign that the gene offered a solution to some crisis the organism’s old genetic code couldn’t solve on its own.

The researchers suggested — but didn’t claim to prove — that the crisis, in this case, was droves of insects feasting on the defenseless mushrooms. Most of the species the scientists studied grew on animal dung and rotting wood — insect-rich environments (and environments full of opportunities to perform HGT). Psilocybin, the scientists wrote, might suppress insects’ appetites or otherwise induce the bugs to stop munching quite so much mush’.

Live Science

Doctors Warn Against Rush To Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis

Doctors have been warned against rushing to prescribe medical cannabis despite Australians’ acceptance of its use.

To date, the evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis remains “limited”, said Jennifer Martin and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo in an editorial for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the editorial says the usual regulatory processes designed to protect patients from potential serious harms caused by medicinal cannabinoids must be adhered to.

In Australia, medicinal cannabis is legal but patient access is still very difficult.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme (SAS) provides patient access to cannabis on compassionate grounds without the usual quality and safety data requirements.

This means approval is granted on a case-by-case basis provided the correct documentation is given by the prescribing doctor, says Dr. John Lawson, a pediatric neurologist and conjoint senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales.

A recent trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, led by Australian neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer, found cannabidiol – one of at least 113 compounds found in the cannabis plant – significantly reduced the severity and frequency of seizures in children with a rare, yet devastating form of epilepsy known as a Dravet syndrome.

Last year, the Medical Cannabis Council called for more robust research to be done to ensure patients greater access in the future.

Read the full article in The Guardian

Inside The Mexican Towns That Produce America’s Heroin

MEXICO CITY — Journalists in Mexico, foreign and domestic, tend to keep drug cartels at arm’s length. Narco bosses like to stay out of the news. Several Mexican reporters have been killed by drug gangs for trying to expose organized crime. Firsthand reporting from inside the Mexican underworld is rare.

Myles Estey, a Canadian documentary producer, is establishing himself as an exception. Estey has helped produce two documentaries that take viewers deeper into Mexico’s gun-littered badlands: the 2015 film “Cartel Land,” which was nominated for an Academy Award, and “The Trade,” a Showtime series about heroin that premiered this month. Both of these projects were directed by Matthew Heineman.

Estey said the goal of those making “The Trade” was to “show the human side of this crisis, beyond the stats and numbers.” He talked to The Washington Post about his experience.

“What was involved in getting this close to the drug business in “The Trade”? How were you able to document heroin producers like this?”

It took months and months and months, probably about six months, before we started getting footage that was useful and started to have the trust and respect of the people where we were working.

Read more at The Washington Post

Can Government-approved Pot Beat Street Weed?

A key goal of legalizing recreational cannabis is squeezing out illegal suppliers. But how competitive will legal cannabis retail be against established black markets?

That’s a key question for federal and provincial politicians. Governments don’t like pot consumers funding organized crime.

That question may also interest investors. They’ve pushed up cannabis stock prices and created demand for four cannabis exchange-traded funds. Alcohol and tobacco companies have bought stakes in cannabis growers. Suppliers of hydroponic equipment and online retailing software could benefit too.

Price is the competitive element politicians mention most. In Colorado, cheap legal cannabis means black markets control only 20 percent of state sales. But in Washington state, where prices are higher, black markets capture 50 percent.

In Canada, governments agree cannabis prices must be competitive. They’ve suggested $10 per gram, including excise and sales taxes.

But Statistics Canada estimates market prices fell below $7.50 last year, and farther since then. Vancouver street prices reportedly are near $5. And street vendors don’t charge tax.

Read the full article at the National Post

Tillerson Says U.S. Must See Decline in Colombia’s Coca Output

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. expects Colombia to start reversing sharp increases in production of coca this year, pointedly declining to guarantee continued aid if those efforts fail.

Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant.

“Our expectation is that Colombia is going to make significant progress this year in reversing these trends and we want to support that reversal,” Tillerson said at a briefing in Bogota alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. “In the end, we need to see results.”

“One of the things that’s important about this relationship is because we are so close in terms of the bilateral partnership, is that we can speak very openly and very frankly about the things that are of concern to both of us,” Tillerson said.

“I don’t think that President Trump is referring to Colombia because Colombia is not laughing at the U.S.,” Santos said at the briefing. “On the contrary, we think we are working together on a problem and a challenge that needs cooperation from both countries.”

“There is no supply without demand and no demand without supply,” Santos said.

Continue Reading at Bloomberg

The Uncertain Future Of Arecanut Market

Konkodi Padmanabha, former president of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., said on Monday that arecanut growers need to think seriously about switching over to an alternative crop as arecanut is facing the threat of being banned.

He suggested that oil palm growers form a cooperative and create a brand for its products to capture the market.

G N Ratnakar, a leading oil palm grower from Chikkamagaluru district and a member of the government’s price fixation committee for oil palms, said now he gets an average monthly income of ₹40,000 from oil palms on his five-acre plot. Mr. Ratnakar said he also cultivated arecanut on 10 acres. He took up oil palm cultivation when the ban on gutka was looming large. He said farmers could no longer depend only on arecanut cultivation as the arecanut market is facing a number of threats.

Vasanth Bhat Todikana, an oil palm grower from near Sullia who switched to oil palm after his arecanut plantation was hit by yellow leaf disease, said region-specific cultivation technology was needed for growing oil palm.

Full article at The Hindu

California’s Race to the Top on Cannabis

In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War on Drugs, at least for cannabis. The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California.

As incredibly progressive as that ordinance is, San Francisco is not alone in attempting to work racial equity into the new legalized cannabis landscape. Cities across California and other states are upping the racial equity quotient in various ways, in what looks like a race to the top for seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes. As city leaders scratch their heads over how to realize real racial equity in policymaking, the legalized weed experiment is acting as the test case and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke.

It’s not just the historically uber-liberal Bay Area that’s embarking on this. Los Angeles also has a cannabis social equity program that prioritizes business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in an area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents. Both Oakland and L.A. are also prioritizing permits for people who don’t personally fall under this criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who do.

Despite the heavy regulation of the cannabis market at both the city and state level (and maybe the federal level if Senator Cory Booker has it his way), there has still been immense growth in revenue and profits in this field. According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report, from New Frontier Data, “The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.” And that’s only based on the states where weed is currently legal.

Read the full article at CityLab

Kava, The Drink Soothing The Stress of New York Millennials

It has been a mainstay in the South Pacific for thousands of years. Now, stressed-out millennial New Yorkers are kissing goodbye to alcohol and gulping down a mildly narcotic drink to ease the pain of long hours and bottleneck commutes.

Kava – a root ground to powder, mixed with water and then strained – might taste like muddy water, but it is the mood enhancer taking the edge off for those struggling to cope with hectic modern life.

Effects include a mild numbing of the tongue and lips, relaxation, and euphoria – feelings in short supply in New York.

“If any city needs to relax a little bit and calm down, slow down, it is New York,” said Mr. Harding Stowe, the 31-year-old owner of Brooklyn Kava in the neighborhood of Bushwick.

An initial kava boom in the West in the 1990s fuelled low-quality exports, which – combined with little understanding of the plant – led to health concerns and prohibitions in Europe. That led to a bust.

But while the United States Food and Drug Administration warned in 2002 of a “rare” potential risk of severe liver injury associated with kava-containing products, kava is now seeing another boom, and exports from Fiji alone more than doubled from 2012 to 2016.

Read the full article in The New Paper

Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in Netherlands Linked To Opiates

Between 2014 and 2016 the number of recorded deaths caused by a drug overdose nearly doubled, according to the National Drug Monitor by the Trimbos Institute and research and documentation center WODC, NOS reports.

In 2014 a total of 123 people died of a drug overdose in the Netherlands. In 2016 there were 235 registered overdose deaths. The researchers add that the increase may be partly attributable to improved registration. Just over half of 2016’s overdose deaths were accidental. The rest involved suicide, or an overdose as the result of psychiatric or behavioral problems, according to the researchers.

The researchers found that the use of ecstasy, amphetamine, and cocaine increased slightly between 2014 and 2016. Cannabis is still the most commonly used drug, though cannabis use did not increase in this period. Over 1 percent of Dutch adults smoke cannabis daily, and 6.6 percent have used the drug at least once.

NL Times NL

Psychedelics Stop Oppression? Magic Mushroom Compound Shown To Soften Authoritarian Views

A new experimental research program has provided the first evidence that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, might decrease authoritarian views.

“Magic” mushrooms have become inextricably linked to the nature-loving, political counterculture that often seeks them out. But what if psilocybin was actually what led people to exhibit those traits, rather than the other way around?

Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London conducted a study using seven participants with treatment-resistant depression, which refers to chronic depression that doesn’t respond to therapy or medication, or most likely a combination of the two.

The psilocybin group experienced a significant reduction in authoritarian leanings, with noticeable changes holding up even at the seven- to 12-month mark. The control group exhibited no such change. “These results suggest that psilocybin therapy may persistently decrease authoritarian attitudes post-treatment with psilocybin,” the team wrote in a new paper describing their research, which was published in the scientific journal Psychopharmacology.

There are substantial caveats to this study, the first being its sample size—seven people is an unusually small number for this sort of thing. Another is that it’s possible the reduction in depression the participants reported is what caused any ideological changes.


Cannabis will be a major food trend in 2018. Here’s why.

Spoiler alert for those attending the Winter Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday in San Francisco: There are no cannabis edibles on the trade-show floor. Cannabis cuisine is not the subject of any plenary panel.

In November, the Fancy Food Show’s parent, the Specialty Food Association (SPA), ranked cannabis number eight of the top-10 food trends to watch in 2018.

“As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage will increase,” the SPA’s Trendspotter Panel wrote last November. “Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats and beverages with a little something extra.”

Nielsen is vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Innovation, an Emeryville food, and beverage development agency. She’s attending the Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday at Moscone Center. As a member of the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotters — an expert panel comprised of marketers, journalists, and other tastemakers — she’ll roam the Fancy Food Show trade-show floor looking for new and innovative products. There are no cannabis edibles at this year’s Fancy Food Show, but the SPA’s Trendspotters won’t have to go far to find them.

There are five retail cannabis stores reachable via short walk, taxi or rideshare. And many of the edibles on sale in these stores look like they might have sneaked over from the show.

Read more at GreenState

Ayahuasca: The Hallucinogen That Blows Your Mind

The first thing you should know about drinking ayahuasca is that it’s going to make you puke your brains out. That’s usually the first thing that anyone who has ever taken it will tell you. But once you get past that, they say, you will experience a high so deep and emotionally enlightening that your outlook on the universe will change forever.

Ayahuasca comes from two words from the Quechua, a South American tribe based primarily in the Andes: “Aya,” meaning spirit, and “Huasca,” meaning vine or rope. The Quechua call it the “vine of the soul” or “creeping spirits of the dead.” When you drink ayahuasca tea, you see the kind of powerful hallucinations akin to what one would see on LSD. Those who have taken ayahuasca report experiencing out-of-body experiences, “spiritual flights,” and powerful hallucinations. In some cases, they swear they’ve even experienced telepathy.

While some researchers have suggested that ayahuasca could potentially be used to treat those struggling with PTSD or substance abuse, there’s not much evidence to support its therapeutic benefits. In fact, ayahuasca has also been shown to have adverse effects for those struggling with mental health issues, particularly if they’re undiagnosed, as it could potentially trigger psychosis. Following the death of 24-year-old New Zealand student Matthew Dawson-Clarke last year, ayahuasca retreats have also garnered their fair share of negative media attention.

Read more at Mens Health

Magic Mushrooms: Treating Depression Without Dulling Emotions

Treating depression can be challenging not only because some depression types are treatment-resistant, but also because existing therapies have a range of unwanted side effects.

A new study — which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) in the United Kingdom — suggests that magic mushrooms could treat depression while avoiding these side effects.

Participants felt ’emotionally reconnected’

In the first study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, 20 people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression that conventional treatment had not alleviated participated in two dosing sessions with the magic mushroom compound.

“Based on the present results, we propose that psilocybin with psychological support is a treatment approach that potentially revives emotional responsiveness in depression, enabling patients to reconnect with their emotions.”

‘Mystical experience’ improves efficacy

The second paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, examined whether or not the quality of the psychedelic experience was linked with the success of the treatment.

The study revealed that the more strongly the participants felt this experience, the better was their mental health in the long-term.

Depressive symptoms subsided, and the mental benefits lasted for weeks after the treatment of participants who reported a strong mystical experience.

Read more at Medical News Today

Kush Bottles: Meet One of the Hottest Marijuana Stocks

Kush Bottles derives its revenue primarily from the sale of marijuana packaging and ancillary products like vaporizers, rather than the sale of marijuana. The company’s main customers are marijuana dispensaries and distributors, who purchase its products in bulk for retail sale. The company currently sells products in four major categories: bags, tubes, containers, and vaporizers.

According to commentary from a July 2017 presentation, Kush Bottles was selling more than one million pre-rolled tubes each month. The company has a patent on the child-resistant mechanism on its tubes, a potential point of differentiation in the marketplace, though there are currently several different types of child-resistant tubes competing for market share.

To expand its offerings and footprint, the company has completed three major acquisitions over its history.

1. Dank Bottles — Acquired on April 10, 2015, Dank Bottles was the exclusive distributor of Kush Bottles’ products in Colorado. Kush Bottles paid for the acquisition with $373,725 in cash and 3.5 million shares of stock.

2. CMP Wellness — Kush Bottles acquired CMP Wellness on May 1, 2017. CMP Wellness’ primary products are portable vaporizers, cartridges, and accessories. Kush Bottles paid for the acquisition with $2.3 million of cash and promissory notes, plus 7.8 million shares of restricted stock. The deal also included earn-outs of $1.9 million in cash and up to 4.74 million more shares of Kush Bottles to be paid out based on the company’s performance.

3. Roll-Uh-Bowl — On May 3, 2017, Kush Bottles acquired Roll-Uh-Bowl, which sells portable, silicone water pipes. Kush paid for the acquisition with $150,000 of cash and 200,000 shares of stock.

Continue Reading at The Motley Fool

The Plant Used To Make Cocaine Could Become The Next Superfood

Henry Ruiz rubs the small green leaves between the fingers of his right hand – and then looks out across the valley where one of the world’s most reviled crops is ruffled by a warm breeze.

“We have been caught up in the mistaken belief that we are part of the cocaine manufacture process when we are not,” he says. “We have our own natural plant, but the man has found another use for it and we have lost out as a result.”

The Colombian government’s determination to obliterate coca is not in doubt, particularly in the wake of US pressure to address the recent boom in cocaine production. Despite efforts to tackle the problem, there was an increase of 52 percent in coca growth from 2015 to 2016.

“Coca is very rich in nutrients,” says Ruiz. “It’s important to see how we can use it for other uses than cocaine. We can prepare organic liquid fertilizers, insecticides, and we can use it to make flour. We know the magical and beneficial properties of coca, and it’s about applying this to your family and communities. We are guardians of the coca leaf.”

Research by Harvard University scientists into the coca leaf’s beneficial properties, suggests that compared to 50 other Latin American vegetables, coca leaves are higher in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and riboflavin. In the summer of 2016, the Colombian government issued, for the first time ever, a permit in Cauca that allows the purchase, transport, and stocking of coca leaves, with the objective of industrializing the product.

Read more at The Essential Daily Briefing

Marijuana Sales Begin In San Francisco

Marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco have begun selling recreational pot for the first time, joining many other cities in California.

Six dispensaries confirmed Saturday that they’re selling recreational marijuana. They all received their state licenses to sell on Friday.

One of them, Apothecarium, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local politicians and even offered a 20% discount for people who brought their mothers.

Sales began nearly a week ago in other parts of the state including West Hollywood, Santa Ana, San Diego and Berkeley.

Los Angeles Times