An Addictive Nut Could Hold the Key to Quitting Smoking

What would you say if we told you that an addictive, cancer-causing substance could help you safely stop using another addictive, cancer-causing substance? Sure, it sounds far-fetched. But it may be true. Chemicals found in the areca nut, which millions of people in Southeast Asia chew for its stimulant properties, could one day help people quit using tobacco.

According to ongoing research presented on Wednesday at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, chemists have identified alkaloids in the seed of the Areca catechu palm that may help smokers quit their unhealthy habit without the negative side effects caused by some of the commonly available smoking cessation drugs.

Nicole Horenstein, a chemist at the University of Florida, estimates that 600 million people use the areca nut regularly. The nut, known for its mild stimulant properties, is often wrapped with leaves from the betel vine to form what’s known as a “quid.” Areca chewers often add spices, calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), and sometimes tobacco to the quid. Users chew it and hold it in their mouths, in much the same way that people in the United States use smokeless tobacco products such as snuff or chewing tobacco.

The key to this possible new tool in the public health battle against nicotine addiction is the alkaloids found in areca nuts. Horenstein’s team has found that some of the nut’s alkaloids could be better at targeting the desired brain receptors to treat nicotine addiction than other smoking cessation drugs such as the popular drug Chantix (varenicline). While varenicline binds to nicotine receptors in a person’s brain to help them not crave a cigarette, it also binds to some unintended receptors, causing side effects like sleep walking and suicidal thoughts.

The researchers conducted this study on frog cells that contain the same receptors areca nut affects the human brain and body cells, and they found that the molecules they’re developing from areca alkaloids can target these receptors more precisely, accomplishing the same goal as Chantix without the negative side effects.

Inverse

Study Shows: Opioid Addicts who use Cannabis will do Poorly in Methadone Treatment

In light of Canada’s recent move towards the legalization of cannabis, authors of a new study published in Biology of Sex Differences, that investigated the association between cannabis use and methadone treatment outcome, discuss their findings and the implications.

Legalizing cannabis

There is a growing popular belief that cannabis is natural and therefore harmless to use. In fact, many people who are addicted to opioids believe that cannabis use is a substitute to methadone and can help them control opioid withdrawal symptoms. In addition, there are an increasing number of studies advocating for the use of cannabis instead of opioids for chronic pain. Is cannabis harmless for everyone as claimed? Will making cannabis legal and eventually more accessible do harm or good?

Public perception of cannabis is that it is a harmless substance, mainly because it is unlikely to lead to death due to overdose. While there are no documented reports of fatal overdoses from cannabis, other adverse consequences have been noted, including cognitive impairment, respiratory problems, and psychotic symptoms. Vulnerable populations, such as those with existing addictions, are at greater risk of experiencing these adverse events.

Opioid addiction

Opioid addiction (or opioid use disorder) has skyrocketed around the globe and is especially pervasive in Canada where it was declared a public health crisis. Deaths from opioid overdoses have become commonplace in Canada; the urgent need for adequate treatment options for those with opioid addictions has been emphasized by clinicians and the public.

Methadone maintenance treatment is currently the oldest and most widely used pharmacological treatment for opioid addiction. Those in treatment receive a daily dose of methadone, a long-acting synthetic opioid, to reduce cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms without producing the same euphoric effects of other opioids.

Current study

Previous research has found differences in clinical profile and treatment outcomes between men and women, and therefore our study aimed to explore sex differences in cannabis use.

777 participants in this study (414 men and 363 women). About 60% of men and 44% of women reported using cannabis. After controlling for age, methadone dose, and length of time in treatment, we found women were 82% more likely to also use illicit opioids while on methadone treatment if they were cannabis users.

A recent study found the motivation for using cannabis varied between men and women, whereby women tended to report the primary purpose for using it was for self-medication, whereas men more often reported using cannabis was for recreational purposes. However what we see in this study is that women who use cannabis are not faring well compared to men. Cannabis has not helped women and was associated with worse health outcomes for them.

BioMed Central

Swiss Cannabis Startups Crave Low-potency

Switzerland changed its laws in 2011 to let adults buy and use cannabis with up to 1 percent THC, the chemical compound that produces a high. But its money-making potential seems only to have been discovered late last year, officials said.

The number of retailers registered to sell low-THC cannabis has risen to 140 from just a handful last year, the agency says.

It expects revenue of around $US25 million on legal sales of $US100 million from cannabis in 2017, although the spokesman said the figure could be far higher if the boom continues.

KannaSwiss, a wholesaler that supplies shops with organically-grown low-THC cannabis to smoke or take orally, has quadrupled its staff to 20 since last year, but boss Corso Serra di Cassano says the company still can’t keep up with orders.

The company was founded by two scions of aristocratic families: di Cassano, whose lineage includes an Italian prince beheaded in 1799, and Boris Blatnik, whose sister married into the deposed royal family of Greece. They compare the high from low-potency pot to drinking a couple glasses of wine.

Switzerland’s experimentation with low-THC cannabis comes as several US states have decriminalized or legalized pot.

Europe has a patchwork of laws. The Netherlands is known for coffee shops where the authorities allow sales of small quantities of marijuana. In January, Germany’s lower house of parliament passed a law legalizing medical cannabis.

Several countries have explored changing the rules to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana or permit strains low in THC. But the Swiss were among the first to make recreational low-potency pot fully legal and tax it.

Yahoo News

Maryland Legislators Propose Treating Heroin Addiction with Medical Marijuana

Maryland legislators have proposed a new plan to treat the state’s growing number of opioid addicts with medical marijuana. The proposal is being added to a current bill that would completely rewrite the laws concerning the state’s medical marijuana program. The House Health and Government Operations Committee just approved an amendment to the bill, adding “opioid use disorder” to the list of eligible conditions that medical marijuana can be prescribed for.

The issue of using MMJ to treat opioid addiction is a controversial one, as there is little current research that either proves or disproves its effectiveness as a treatment. “There is evidence that cannabis may be effective in alleviating certain forms of pain, and may be useful therefore in reducing opioid use. But there is no evidence that cannabis may help reduce opioid addiction,” said Dr. Daniele Piomelli.

“We have looked at the medical evidence, and we thought it made sense,” Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, who led the team of legislators currently rewriting the bill, said. “We thought we should leave it up the doctors. We don’t legislate medical judgment.”

However, Republican legislators are not convinced. “Replacing one habit with another may not be a good idea,” said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, “Treating opioid addiction with pot is a not a clean-and-sober approach.”

Merry Jane

For Epilepsy Patients, New Cannabis Oil law in Virginia is a ‘step in the right direction’

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The state of Virginia is still a long way off from Colorado, but it is easing up on its laws against marijuana.

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB1027 into law, which will allow Virginia pharmacies to make and sell marijuana extract oils for treating intractable epilepsy.

In 2015, the General Assembly carved out one exception for people who suffer from intractable epilepsy, but patients and caregivers faced problems buying the medication.

The new law will allow “pharmaceutical processors,” or dispensary license holders, after obtaining a permit from the state Board of Pharmacy and under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, to grow low-THC cannabis, manufacture the oil, and then provide it to epilepsy patients who have a written certification from a doctor.

The only physicians that will be able to issue those certifications must specialize in the treatment of epilepsy and must also enroll in the program with the Board of Pharmacy.

They will only be able to issue a set number of certifications.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, patients must enroll in the program with the state Department of Health and are only permitted to do so with their physician’s authorization.

The Board of Pharmacy has until December 15, 2017 to issue their proposed regulations to govern the program.

Lee says they will be waiting to submit their application for a license until he sees those regulations.

WTKR

Lactuca Virosa: Another Plant Used as Alternative Painkillers

Known as the “poor man’s opium”, wild lettuce is an excellent and natural painkiller. Lactuca Virosa can be used as an alternative to traditional and often addictive prescription painkillers. The power of this vegetable – a cousin to the lettuce we buy at the grocery store – is found in the white substance produced in its leaves and stem. The Latin prefix “lac” means milk and is meant to describe the plant’s bitter white sap.

The pain-relieving properties of wild lettuce were already being utilized as early as the 19th century, however, it was only during the 1970s that it gained popularity.

There are two popular ways of enjoying wild lettuce. The first is to cook the plant in a sugar-water mix until it reaches a syrup-like consistency; the solution is then drunk as medicine. This has been found to be quite effective, although the bitter taste remains.

Looks can be deceiving

Wild lettuce is often overlooked because of its weed-like appearance. Still, several studies point to the numerous health benefits of the plant. Studies have also found that people with asthma respond better to the wild lettuce treatment than to opiates. This is because patients tend to undergo an opiate withdrawal which can be more challenging than their actual condition.

The need for pain relief

Pain is a major public health problem. In America, between $560 billion and $635 billion is spent on pain treatment annually; this translates to each American spending around $2,000 just for pain relief. The National Academy’s Institute of Medicine notes that 100 million Americans currently suffer from chronic pain.

There are two caveats to note: Since wild lettuce manipulates the function of the central nervous system, it should not be taken for at least two weeks prior to any major surgery.

Asia Cruise News

Poppy Seed Tea: Beware This Beverage

The opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) has been cultivated for centuries as a source of opium. The poppy plant produces seed pods. The pods produce a latex (milky sap that coagulates on exposure to air) that contains opiates; opiates also are found on the surface of the seeds inside the pods. Opium is harvested by slitting the unripe pod and allowing the latex to ooze through the slits onto the surface of the pod where the dried latex is collected.

The latex, seeds, stems and leaves contain opiate alkaloids, including morphine and codeine, and lower amounts of thebaine, noscapine, and papaverine. The highest concentrations of opiates are found in the latex. The opiate content is highly variable, depending on, among other factors, the growing location, harvesting, and processing. The amount of morphine in the seeds is substantially reduced after grinding (34%), baking (90%), or washing with hot water (70%). The seeds usually contain more morphine than codeine, but some seed varieties may contain significant amounts of codeine.

While poppy seeds are used in food, the amount of opiates found in food is highly variable, depending on the relative number of poppy seeds in or on the food and the exposure of the seeds to heat. Morphine loss during processing can be up to 90%.

Eating poppy seeds can lead to positive opiate tests in urine drug screening; opiates can be detected in blood, saliva, and hair as well. Opiates may be detected in the urine for 48 hours after poppy seed ingestion. Detection of unique metabolites is used to distinguish poppy seeds from heroin. The “poppy seed defense” has been used in cases of failed urine screening tests for employment and for sports drug testing, including the Olympics.

Poppy tea or poppy seed tea (also called opium tea) is made from the seed pods or the seeds of the opium poppy plant. Poppy teas are herbal beverages and are not true teas in that they do not contain the leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

The high variability of the morphine and codeine content of teas prepared from the poppy plant may lead to accidental overdose. The more restrictive use of prescription opioids for chronic pain may increase the use of these homemade remedies. Education of at-risk patients that poppy teas are not harmless herbal beverages could prevent morbidity or mortality.

Medscape

Absolution in a Judicial Case of Coca Leaf in Spain

BARCELONA – The unprecedented resolution of a court case for coca leaf imports took place yesterday at the Provincial Court of Girona. F.T., a Colombian citizen living in Spain was acquitted of charges of drug trafficking after a large display of evidence and arguments about the historical, cultural, social and medicinal value of the coca leaf.

The case began in 2014 when F.T. was arrested for mailing a package containing 2kg of ground coca leaf, used in millenarian practices in the Andean and Amazonian regions with different ceremonial, medicinal and nutritional purposes.

Accused of receiving “cocaine” and “moved for the purpose of distributing cocaine among third persons,” the Prosecutor’s Office requested 4 years of imprisonment, establishing at the same time that the amount of cocaine that was intended to be obtained was 6.3 grams (note that, according to the doctrine of the Spanish Supreme Court, the threshold for possession of cocaine for personal consumption is set at 7.5 grams).

After several years of extensive process, on March 15, 2017, the trial of F.T. finally took place, ending with the removal of the charges by the Public Prosecutor and the acquittal of the accused (the official sentence is still due). The F.T. defense team, led by Barcelona lawyer Roberto Castro, and integrated by ICEERS and TNI, has reached an unprecedented goal in a coca leaf case in Spain, with potential impact in other European countries.

The defense expert’s work focused on the legal status of the coca leaf, international debates on its classification in international drug treaties, its alleged health benefits and its role of social cohesion both in the original contexts and in the Andean diaspora around the world. Also, the revival of coca leaf use outside the limits of what would be considered traditional or indigenous in purist terms was emphasized. Finally, the experts argued the absurdity of importing two kilos of the ground leaf with the purpose to extract cocaine for later distribution, something that was evidenced during the trial after declaring the experts of both the defense and the National Institute of Toxicology.

During this process, not only the innocence and honor of F.T. has been demonstrated, but also the historical error of the prohibition of the coca leaf and of cultural practices that surround it.

TNI

Absolution in a Judicial Case of Coca Leaf in Spain

BARCELONA – The unprecedented resolution of a court case for coca leaf imports took place yesterday at the Provincial Court of Girona. F.T., a Colombian citizen living in Spain was acquitted of charges of drug trafficking after a large display of evidence and arguments about the historical, cultural, social and medicinal value of the coca leaf.

“This result represents a victory for human rights in relation to traditional plants victims of drug policies based on ignorance,” says Dr. Constanza Sánchez, Director of Law, Policy and Human Rights Area of ICEERS Foundation.

Accused of receiving “cocaine” and “moved for the purpose of distributing cocaine among third persons,” the Prosecutor’s Office requested 4 years of imprisonment, establishing at the same time that the amount of cocaine that was intended to be obtained was 6.3 grams (note that, according to the doctrine of the Spanish Supreme Court, the threshold for possession of cocaine for personal consumption is set at 7.5 grams).

“Currently, coca leaf use in its natural state is no longer restricted to indigenous territories and populations, but is expanding because of its stimulating, nutritional and medicinal properties,” says Pien Metaal of the Drugs and Democracy Programme of the Transnational Institute (TNI).

“The consumption of coca leaf is incomparable to the consumption of cocaine. There is no scientific evidence that chewing coca leaves is harmful to health. Rather, there is increasing evidence to the contrary, for example, its effect as a stabilizer of blood glucose levels, a benefit of paramount importance with numerous medical applications, “said Dr. José Carlos Bouso, Scientific Director of ICEERS Foundation.

During this process, not only the innocence and honor of F.T. has been demonstrated, but also the historical error of the prohibition of the coca leaf and of cultural practices that surround it.

TNI

Marijuana Could Be Legal In All 50 States by 2021

Marijuana could be legal across the entire United States by 2021, according to the latest research by GreenWave Advisors.

It is for this reason that GreenWave believes legal weed is on the cusp of expanding into a number of additional states within the next few years. There is momentum to put marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballots in 2018 and 2020, a series of events that could lead to all 50 states having some sort of legal weed within the next four years, reports the Motley Fool.

A similar report from Arcview Market Research and New Frontier Data shows the nationwide cannabis industry could be worth around $22 billion by 2020. It also suggests that the legal marijuana industry could resurrect the middle class — the lifeblood of the American economy – by creating more jobs than the culmination of the manufacturing and government sectors.

It makes sense why communities in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio are hoping that legal marijuana can fill the void left where more traditional industries failed them. Over the past couple of weeks, a number of reports have surfaced showing that blue-collar workers are looking toward the newfound marijuana industry to create thousands of jobs for those people previously employed by steel manufacturers and other vital producers.

Perhaps this is the reason more Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. The latest polls show around 60 percent of the population want weed handled no differently than alcohol or tobacco.

Merry Jane

Georgia Set to Expand Access to Cannabis Oil

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers have reached an agreement to expand a program that lets some patients use an oil derived from marijuana.

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, will present the compromise to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Friday morning, and it is expected to get a positive recommendation.
Under the new proposal, six new diagnoses will be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil including autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, anyone in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, will be allowed access to marijuana oil that’s low on THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

The proposal will set up reciprocity with other states so that visitors will be able to access medical cannabis oil for 45 days as long as they are permitted to do so in their home state. It also removes a requirement that patients live in the state for at least a year before qualifying for the program.

Both the reciprocity and the removal of the residency restrictions were included to try and cater to military families who may end up stationed in Georgia.
Under the proposal, prescribing physicians will only have to report to the state twice a year instead of the current quarterly requirement.

Under the proposal, prescribing physicians will only have to report to the state twice a year instead of the current quarterly requirement.
In a previous version of the bill, Watson proposed reducing the allowable percentage of THC from 5 percent to 3 percent, which drew sharp criticism from patient advocacy groups.

Leafly

Florida Lawmakers Push for Marijuana Decriminalization

Now that Florida has legalized marijuana for medicinal use, a couple of state lawmakers want to ensure that law enforcement doesn’t put more people in jail for pot possession.

Democratic Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith and Democratic Senator Jeff Clemens recently introduced bills in the state legislature aimed at eliminating the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession. These bills would allow anyone caught with up to an ounce of weed to simply repay their debt to civil society through a small fine and/or community service rather than through the criminal justice system.

Last year, a number of local jurisdictions across Florida passed decriminalization ordinances – giving police the freedom to issue citations for petty pot possession when the offense was not connected to violent crime. As it stands, 14 cities and counties in the Sunshine States have adopted these policies, including Miami-Dade County and Orlando.

There were almost 40,000 people busted in Florida for this offense in 2016, according to the West Orlando News.

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union shows that Florida spent $228 million in 2010 enforcing marijuana laws – a large majority of these arrests were for minor pot possession.

Merry Jane

DRI Seizes 115kg of Khat Leaves

AHMEDABAD: The Ahmedabad zonal unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Monday seized 115kg of khat, or Catha edulis leaves, valued at Rs 3 crore in the international market, which had been imported from Ethiopia as “Moringa leaves”. Some 96kg of khat leaves was seized in Ahmedabad and 19kg in Bharuch.

Khat is a psychotropic substance prohibited under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. It is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula. It contains a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone or cathine, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant.

DRI officials said the agency gathered intelligence that two courier companies, Skyking Express Parcel Service from Bharuch and Fast Track Express from Ahmedabad, were importing and exporting Khat leaves from the foreign post office in Ahmedabad and the courier cell at the air cargo complex in the city.

It was also found that the duo was exporting khat leaves to the USA, UK, and other countries, by declaring it as dried green tea, from the courier cell at the air cargo complex in Ahmedabad. In the last two or three months, they exported approximately 1,500kg of khat leaves.

Chirag and Ravi were arrested under the NDPS Act and produced before a special NDPS court which sent them to judicial custody. Further investigation is on in the case.

Times of India

Cannabis oil legislation: This makes sense how?

The state Legislature recently approved a bill that would give parents the ability to try a drug derived from marijuana to help children with severe seizures.It’s a good and important measure that got the support it deserved. It was approved unanimously in the Assembly and with only one no vote in the Senate (Duey Stroebel). Legislators justifiably patted themselves on the back with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) proclaiming that “Today is a day that I could not be prouder.”

“This is not the fix we are looking for,” said Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse). “You’re setting families up saying they can possess it but they can’t get it.” Good point.

Sen. Chris Larson’s office said he has a bill to allow manufacture of the drug, and Rep. Scott Krug’s office blamed it on the feds, saying all would be well if and when they reclassify cannabis oil; something the sponsors of the bill thought would happen months ago.

Journal Sentinel

Gardening Tips For Divine Blue Lotus

The sacred lily of the Nile is said to be very symbolic in the Egyptian art. The extracts are said to relieve stress and that is why they are used in abhyanga massage, basti treatments, the arts, and yoga. It is believed that these Blue lilies are drought tolerant and are most common landscaping plants. Here are some tips to grow divine blue lotus.

Tips to grow divine blue lotus are:

1. You will need: Blue Lotus seeds, rich clay soil mixed with black cow manure, pots, newspaper, sand, and water.

2. Climate: Best season to grow blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea flowers) is spring so plant them in sunny place in medium clay loam. (Note: the blue lilies grow well along the lakes and rivers in wet soil conditions so you can as well plant them at the sides of your garden pond.

3. Planting: Firstly, line all the clay pots with newspapers so that the soil doesn’t drain out while watering. Fill all the pots with clay black cow mixture. Plant the seeds in the soil. Spread an inch of sand on the soil layer so that the mud doesn’t get dirty. Submerge the soil layer completely in water (water temperature needs to be above 65-75 F).

4. Maintenance: The Bluewater lilies love high-quality fertilizers so they need to be fed once in every month. If there is the growth of green algae due to fertilizers, it is fine as the water lilies would have already absorbed the required nutrients. The growth of water lilies is very rapid and they soon develop rhizomes so it best to move them to larger pots once they start getting bigger. For Aphids, spraying water on the plants and flowers will keep them away. You can also use some organic pesticides.

Asianet India

Israel: It’s Official, Cannabis is not a crime

Israel’s Cabinet decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis, or marijuana, at its weekly meeting on Sunday in a move hailed by politicians from across the spectrum.

Under the new policy, first-time offenders caught using marijuana in public will be subject to a fine of approximately $250, but will not face criminal charges. The money will be used for drug rehabilitation and education. A second offense will be subject to a fine of approximately $500, while a third offense may require rehabilitation, education and a suspended driver’s license. A fourth offense will be subject to prosecution and a possible prison term.

Worldwide, many nations have already decriminalized cannabis in an attempt to combat societal problems associated with its use — including the Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Portugal.

Cannabis: Israel’s next big medical export?

Marijuana advocates hope the new policy encourages entrepreneurship and investment in Israel’s burgeoning cannabis industry.

Israel is one of the world leaders in medical marijuana, backed by the Ministry of Health, whose ultra-Orthodox leader has encouraged research and innovation. Numbering only a few dozen medical marijuana users a decade ago, Israel now has approximately 25,000 users. Cannabis companies estimate the industry could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars soon, even in such a small country.

“Decriminalizing cannabis in Israel is another step towards creating a Canna-Tech global industry, with Israel at the forefront,” said Saul Kaye, CEO of iCan, a cannabis entrepreneurship incubator. “This step, although not legitimizing use, is due to reduce the negative perception of the plant as ‘immoral or ‘criminal’, increasing openness to its outstanding medicinal and wellness properties.”

“The Cabinet approval is an important step on the way to implementing the new policy that will put emphasis on explaining and treating rather than on criminal enforcement,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

CNN International Edition

Cannabis Investors: Could the Opioid Crisis Derail the Recreational Marijuana Train?

Investors in Canadian medical marijuana producers are betting that Ottawa will deliver on its plan to legalize the sale of recreational pot and open a massive new market.

Is the plan at risk?

Canadians are generally perceived as having open minds when it comes to giving people the option to legally use cannabis for recreational purposes. Whether or not they are comfortable having dispensaries set up in their communities is another question.

While the discussion surrounding the legalization of marijuana continues, a surge in the use of opioids by Canadian teens is once again bringing the entire drug problem out into the open.

Reports continue to emerge of young teens overdosing and sometimes dying due to the use of drugs containing fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid. The death of a 14-year-old girl in an Ottawa suburb recently made national headlines.

Should you own cannabis stocks?

Medical marijuana suppliers, such as Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) are trading at extreme valuations right now based on investor expectations that a legal recreational marijuana market is coming soon.

The government may well see the plan through, but there is a risk that Ottawa could drag its feet, especially if MPs start to take heat from voters who think the Liberals should focus on stamping out the opioid problem first.

If Ottawa decides to backtrack on the marijuana file, cannabis stocks could get hit hard.

As such, I would avoid the sector today.

The Motley Fool

Feds ‘Just Say No’ to Marijuana at High Times Cup on Tribal Lands

Case in point: the 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup on the Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation in Nevada near Las Vegas. The most recent update on this particular Cup is that despite receiving two warning letters from U.S. Attorney David Bogden, the Tribe is moving forward this Saturday with the Cup as planned.

Given the Wilkinson statement regarding Tribal cannabis and the Cole Memo regarding federal enforcement of its cannabis laws, it’s easy to see why the Moapa Indians are trying their hand at hosting this Cup. Nonetheless, tribes that have tried to legalize or “medicalize” marijuana on their lands have been met with mixed reactions and enforcement by the federal government (see here, here, here, here, and here). The Moapa are no exception.

On February 16th and 23rd, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden sent “warning letters” to the Tribe concerning this upcoming cannabis cup, reiterating that marijuana remains federally illegal and that the Tribe has an “incorrect interpretation” of the Cole Memo and Wilkinson statement. Bogden’s letters also reminded the Tribe that neither the Cole Memo nor the Wilkinson statement alters the power of the federal government to enforce federal laws on tribal lands. At no point in his February 16th letter did Bogden threaten to shut down the Cup. But Bogden’s February 23rd letter states that his office communicated with tribal officials and his understanding is that no cannabis or cannabis products will be present at the Cup.

Since Bogden’s warning letters come on the heels of White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about the likelihood of increased federal enforcement in states with recreational marijuana programs, many are wondering if Bogden’s actions are the beginning of what “increased enforcement” may look like.

Above the Law

Medical Marijuana Can Help Reduce Opioid Abuse

A 2016 study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that states with legal medical marijuana had 25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths than states that still prohibit medical marijuana. Another study, published in Health Affairs, found that prescriptions for often-abused opioids dropped significantly in states with medical marijuana.

Last December, the New York Health Department approved medical marijuana treatment for some patients suffering from chronic pain. Doctors are also hopeful that the new treatment will allow some of these patients to wean themselves off of addictive and dangerous opioid medications.

This January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a review of over 10,000 medical marijuana studies published since 1999. The review found substantial evidence that supports the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, but the study also recommended further research into both positive and negative effects of long-term marijuana use.

Merry Jane

Just how mainstream is Marijuana? There’s now a “Congressional Cannabis Caucus.”

Earlier this month, Rohrabacher introduced a measure called the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would protect people from marijuana-related prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, provided that they were acting in compliance with state laws. The bill has drawn bipartisan co-sponsorship.

Voters and lawmakers in many states have been liberalizing their marijuana laws since the 1990s, sometimes drastically so. Most have opted to scale back the strict marijuana prohibitions of an earlier era, adopting regulatory structures that allow for everything from limited access to certain marijuana-derived chemicals for medical use all the way up to full-blown commercial legalization and regulation.

The disconnect between state and federal laws leaves many marijuana users, patients, businesses and researchers stuck in an uncomfortable gray area between the two. Federal authorities could technically sweep in at any minute, shutting down businesses and arresting marijuana users even in places where it’s legal under state law.

That this hasn’t happened on any significant scale since Colorado and Washington’s state legalized marijuana in 2012 is partly because federal authorities lack the manpower to do so. Most drug enforcement is handled at the state level, by state and local police. This fact was explicitly acknowledged by Obama’s Justice Department in what came to be known as the Cole Memo, which laid out a federal policy of noninterference with state marijuana laws provided certain guidelines, like preventing underage people from using marijuana, were adhered to.

But a memo is just a voluntary statement. It doesn’t have the force of law, and the new administration could choose to adhere to it or ignore it, depending on its own enforcement priorities.

The Washington Post