Cannabidiol may help reverse dementia

This substance found in pot may help IMPROVE memory.

Cannabidiol is just one of the many active ingredients in marijuana. THC may be the chemical compound that gets all the attention, but researchers are finding some interesting properties of cannabidiol, too. In addition to having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cannabidiol may be beneficial to the brain in certain cases.

The research is still in the earliest stages, but the findings so far have been encouraging. In one phase of the study, researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia started with a batch of mice which had been bred to show the same signs of memory loss as found in Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Some of the mice were then administered regular doses of cannabidiol, while others just lived their regular mouse lives. 
What the researchers have found is that the mice which have been exposed to cannabidiol "showed drastic improvement on parts of the tests that were related to recognizing and remembering objects and other mice."
In another phase of the study, the researchers examined what happened when they added cannabidiol to animal brain cells that help produce the plaques found in Alzheimer's patients. These plaques are one of the main culprits in the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. They essentially gum up the brain cells, collecting in the gaps between synapses, and preventing the cells from communicating with each other. 
The process that causes the formation of the plaques is complicated, but it starts when the brain cells produce a specific protein called "amyloid precursor protein." (Incidentally, using aluminum cookware has nothing to do with Alzheimer's. That's just a myth.) When exposed to cannabidiol, however, the cells reduced the amount of harmful proteins they produced. 
And this is all on top of cannabidiol's known anti-inflammatory effects. Many researchers believe that chronic inflammation in the body is one contributing factor to the development of Alzheimer's disease later in life.
Taken on the whole, this research is not likely to reverse the belief that marijuana usage is bad for your short-term memory and overall cognitive performance. After all, it is only one small component out of many active ingredients in the plant's cells. But it is encouraging news for Alzheimer's patients, those who have been promoting the cause of medical marijuana, and research teams which have been advocating for funds to try and study possible therapeutic uses for the various compounds found in marijuana.

How will WA keep pot grown here in-state?

No one wants to see WA become the nation's pot supplier


With Washington State ramping up the licensing requirements for the newly legal practice of growing marijuana, state and federal officials are debating the best ways to keep Washington's pot inside Washington's state boundaries. Washington already has a huge problem with the brisk trade in smuggling marijuana into the state across the Canadian border. Some are worrying that we could see a problem a thousand times bigger than that, when you consider that Washington's boundaries are not actively being policed through border crossings.
Governor Jay Inslee has pledged to make sure that Washington continues to "be a good neighbor" to the rest of the country. (At least until the other 48 states legalize pot.) The stringent licensing requirements will be one of the primary ways that Washington will keep its marijuana local. Growers will be closely watched and regulated, just as they are in states (like California) where medical marijuana is legal.
In Colorado, our "legal marijuana buddy," the state has been coping with medical marijuana grow houses for quite some time. Their system includes bar codes attached to each plant, digital tracking, and intense scrutiny of shipping manifests, and is considered one of the most closely regulated markets in the world. That being said, Colorado pot grown for medical use often finds its way onto the recreational market, and "the head of the Colorado agency charged with tracking the medical pot industry suggests no one should copy its measures."
Many believe that this issue may be what makes or breaks Washington's marijuana legalization. If the federal authorities are convinced that Washington will be able to keep its pot inside its borders, they will be a lot less likely to try and overturn I-502. But if Washington pot starts showing up on the market outside the state, even though Obama has signaled that he has bigger fish to fry, he may be pressured into suing the state on the grounds that Washington's new law directly conflicts with federal legislation.
The licensing board is also going to be depending on the cutthroat nature of the marijuana growing business to help regulate the problem. Incentives will be high to snitch on a grower who is diverting part of their crop to the black market outside Washington. Not to mention the bonus of being able to get a leg up on your competition by throwing them to the wolves. It's ugly, but it will probably also be very effective. 

Farmers leery of growing pot in WA and CO

Too many unanswered questions.

About a month after marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado, many people are still leery of starting up the production side. In Washington, the state has announced plans to create three different licenses: for growing, processing, and selling pot. Of the three, the "growing" license may turn out to be the most complicated.

The supply side of the equation is tricky. All of the pot which will be legally sold in Washington will also need to have been grown in Washington by a licensed grower. Because marijuana is still illegal in the other 48 states, it will not be legal to import it from outside the state. 
You might think that everyone who is currently running a grow operation could just fling open their windows, let the light in, get a legal license, and carry on what they have been doing. But it's not that simple. 
First of all, the state will probably enforce zoning regulations. The same way that you can't raise hogs inside the Seattle city limits, you will probably not be able to grow pot in any random basement. Second of all, because it is currently illegal to grow pot, you can't just say "I'm growing it now, so give me a license." And finally, most grow operations' neighbors are unaware of the grow operation, and might not be too happy to learn about it. 
The next logical choice would be for Washington's existing farmers to start growing marijuana. But here, too, things get complicated. Because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug at the federal level, farmers cannot get their crops insured. Nor will they be able to borrow money from a bank in order to finance their operation. Those two clauses alone will make most professional farmers back right off the idea.
Even if those hurdles could be overcome (say by a farmer's collective, or a multinational agricultural company with deep pockets), security and safety is a huge issue. 
Cannabis News interviewed an eastern Washington farmer who said that she might be interested in dedicating one of her hoop houses to growing marijuana, but she is "concerned about druggies invading my property." Cash crops like apples and corn are already subject to roadside theft. Imagine trying to protect an entire greenhouse of marijuana. And because of marijuana's effects, the state will need to create a new set of rules for farm workers involved in its production. 

North Korea: Pot smoker's paradise

Come for the marijuana, stay for the tyranny!

Welcome to sunny North Korea, where the Auspicious Leader cares for everyone equally, and there is no poverty or starvation! Just marijuana aplenty!

In North Korea, marijuana literally grows like a weed, in roadside ditches across the country. It is not classified as illegal, and is not regulated in any way. In North Korea, the marijuana is cheap and freely available, and the North Koreans treat it like a little down-time relax-o-matic. 
Marijuana is often smoked as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, which (aside from being addictive) are filled with tar and other horrible chemicals, even worse than the cigarettes sold here in the West. It is also smoked by laborers at the end of a hard day, in order to help relax their aching muscles and as an analgesic for their aches and pains.
Because North Korea lacks traditional rolling papers (as well as infrastructure, an economy, and any joy whatsoever), North Koreans have had to be inventive when it comes to smoking their cheap farmstand ditchweed. North Koreans are legally prohibited from folding their newspapers in half, in case they accidentally fold up a picture of the country's leaders. But the newspaper's safer sections (like sports and weather) are fair game. Many North Koreans will tear off a square of newspaper and use it to roll a cone-shaped spliff.
One interesting side effect of the marijuana situation in North Korea is that it is not particularly potent. Because it is only being cultivated haphazardly (if at all), little attention has been paid to the plants' THC levels and genetic heritage. As opposed to the West, where growers have been meticulously keeping records and developing stronger and stronger strains in order to maximize profit and reduce their risk. There's no point to going to all that trouble for something that sells for a pittance. Many people don't even buy marijuana, they just pick it themselves. 
The other down side to smoking marijuana in North Korea is that you will be in North Korea. The country which is generally recognized as being one of the worst, most dismal, most totalitarian regimes in the world. Among other things, North Korea currently houses about 200,000 political prisoners and their families sentenced to slave labor in concentration camps, babies born with disabilities are killed at birth, the state forces girls as young as 14 to work as prostitutes, public executions are common… the list of "ways in which North Korea is terrible" is endless. At least they can get high?

Hawaii could be next to legalize marijuana


I have to admit, when I clicked through this article and learned that Hawaii is showing strong support for marijuana legalization, I snickered. Because of course Hawaii! Right or wrong, our country's 50th state has earned a reputation for being, shall we say, extremely pot-friendly.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana way back in 2000, and a new survey shows that the state's residents are leaning strongly towards supporting total legalization. 57 percent of Hawaiians were in favor of legalization, and only 40 percent were opposed. This is a 20 percent increase in support since the last similar poll was conducted in 2005.
The economic impact of legalizing and taxing marijuana would be significant for Hawaii. It would save the state about $12 million in not having to police, prosecute, and jail marijuana offenders. While at the same time it would bring in an additional $11 million in sales tax. Thus effectively adding an extra $23 million to the cash-strapped state's budget. 
That's a substantial amount, for a state that currently carries the highest total state debt per capita (approximately $33,000 per person) in the nation. One of Hawaii's biggest issues, financially speaking, is the state's tiny tax base: with only 1.3 million residents, there's only so much tax you can collect. And while the tourist and pineapple industries are thriving, that's still not enough to overcome the state's huge cost of living overhead, given that nearly everything has to be shipped in thousands of miles from the mainland. The state government is deeply in debt, and legalizing marijuana could basically amount to a Gold Rush: uncovering a sudden resource of funding, as if by magic.
Perhaps best of all, unlike Washington and Colorado, Hawaii is already fully equipped to strip tourists of cash. I mean, to serve as a tourist destination. Hawaii has been a popular tourist destination for decades, and it has the tourist centers, hotels, and puka shell vendors ready to go.
Faced with having to decide between visiting Washington, Colorado, or Hawaii in order to enjoy legal marijuana on a pot vacation, I strongly suspect most people would choose Hawaii. Thus, until marijuana legalization has become the norm, Hawaii is perfectly poised to win this particular form of marijuana-related arbitrage. 
If marijuana tourism will be big bucks, a lot of those bucks would certainly be winging their way across the Pacific to Hawaii. In fact, it may be a "careful what you wish for" scenario for Hawaiian residents, who are already pretty tired of dealing with stoned tourists every day! But that's the price for living in paradise.

More attacks on marijuana

CNN contributor offers same old BS arguments.

CNN has a big opinion piece up from David Frum, a CNN contributor who recently joined "a new organization to oppose marijuana legalization." Frum trots out the same tired old arguments: marijuana "damages brain development in young people." Heavy users "become socially isolated." The smoke is bad for your lungs. And the evidence "suggests" that it can trigger psychotic episodes.

Frum's time would probably be better spent opposing alcohol. Alcohol, after all, is also extremely damaging to the brain development of young people. And while we still aren't sure if cannabis usage during pregnancy can damage a fetus (or how), it is very clear that alcohol usage during pregnancy damages the fetus in very clear, long-lasting ways. Alcohol abuse also causes its users to become socially isolated (and how). And if marijuana is bad for your lungs, it's nothing like the damage alcohol wreaks on your liver. Alcohol is fatal in both the short term and the long term, and is fatal to non-users (like the victims of drunk drivers) as well. The jury's still out on whether marijuana is addictive, but the addictive powers of alcohol are undisputed. 
In fact, on every possible metric, alcohol is orders of magnitude worse than marijuana. And yet it is legal, freely sold to adults everywhere. Why? Because we as a nation have decided that people should have the right to choose their poison. And in small, responsible doses - like that enjoyed by the vast majority of casual drinkers - it's both fun and safe.
Alcohol is also legal because it is a financial powerhouse. Distilleries, distribution networks, stores, and bars all benefit greatly from the legal sale of alcohol. Not to mention the tax revenues that states earn from the sales. 
If Frum is (as he explains) worried about "the children," then he should teach them to use marijuana responsibly or not at all. Just as I assume he does about alcohol. Frum argues that it's easier to ban marijuana than to teach people to use it properly. But the same is true of alcohol, surely. In fact, we have agreed as a nation that you shouldn't drink alcohol when you are under the age of 21, which is why we have age limits for booze, just as we do (in Washington and Colorado) for marijuana.
No, it's just a lot of the same old scaremongering from the same old white conservative dudes. Luckily, American voters seem to be wising up to this kind of double-talk and choosing to make their own decisions instead.

Colorado sees first private marijuana clubs

Club 64 a huge success

The new year is bringing innovation everywhere, even to Colorado's pot scene. In the wake of Amendment 64 in Colorado, an enterprising businessman has started a roving monthly club for smoking pot. Colorado's rules say that you cannot sell pot, nor can you smoke it in public. And Colorado's anti-smoking laws may prevent you from smoking indoors in a public establishment.

One way to work around those rules is to charge admission for a night of entertainment at a private club. For $29.95 you can get entry at Club 64 (named after the ballot amendment that legalized marijuana in Colorado). They provide free soda and snacks, and entertainment as the venue permits. It's BYOP (Bring Your Own Pot), but many people are finding it an excellent way to smoke without angering their landlords. 
The club's first meeting was a rousing success. The organizers limited entry to 200 people, and maxed out the venue. (At $30 a head, that's a pretty good take!) The first meeting began at 4:20 p.m. in an industrial space north of Denver, and featured disco lights and reggae music. 
Each meeting will take place at a different location. (The second meeting happened at a hemp clothing store in downtown Denver.) Called "private pot dens," this is one of the earliest successful methods for accommodating the ballot initiatives, as this small sports bar in Olympia, Washington has also found. Like a wacky new egalitarian take on the classic "gentlemen's clubs" of upper class England, these marijuana clubs have found an excellent way to earn a living while obeying the law.
One problem these clubs face is that many commercial property landlords are skittish about the prospect. One club has already been shut down in Del Norte, Colorado because the landlord objected. Aside from the reputation and the smell, landlords may be worrying about other associated illegal activities. Too many people still believe in the "Reefer Madness" old wive's tales. 
Luckily it looks like the truth will out. These marijuana smoking clubs have been a joyful occasion all around, with lots of happy people toking up and eating snacks. Pretty great! And in this difficult real estate climate, I expect a lot of commercial property owners will realize that it's better to lease property to pot smokers than to let it continue to sit empty and idle on a market already glutted with empty storefronts.


SPD loosening marijuana restrictions for new recruits

Had been considering easing up even before I-502 passed

Until I-502 passed, the Seattle Police Department required that recruits be clean of marijuana usage for the last three years. The SPD is still beholden to federal laws, so they can't drop the requirement altogether. However, they are going to drop it to one year.

This is another way in which I-502 is actually going to benefit law enforcement. Not only will officers be able to stop picking people up and jailing them for marijuana possession (which many police officers found silly and a waste of their time and jail space), but it will also make it easier for the SPD to get good qualified recruits.
Law enforcement is a job sector that is growing steadily across the country, but several factors have made it difficult to find qualified recruits. Law enforcement is dangerous, thankless work. It's a difficult job mentally, emotionally and physically. And many people who might otherwise have gone into law enforcement have chosen to enter the military instead, with its greater hiring bonuses and lower chance of being shot.
In fact, the Huffington Post reports that the SPD's former marijuana policy meant that they had to regretfully pass on two excellent recruits. "One was a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who had briefly been prescribed marijuana by a doctor for pain. Another was a former high-level college athlete who had smoked marijuana 20 months before applying."
Now, I know that a lot of marijuana fans are not exactly super-keen on the police. And I get that, I really do. However, if I-502 is going to stand, then it needs to have law enforcement behind it, not working against it. And not to point out the obvious, but the police aren't just annoying power-trip junkies out to harass you and your friends on a Friday night; they are also the first responders who might literally save your life one day. 
The cops get a bad rap in some circles, but they are also the ones who rushed up into the Twin Towers on 9/11, and the ones who ran into Sandy Hook elementary school. It's okay to be a watchdog for police abuse, while still giving our first responders the respect that they deserve.
At this point, only the Seattle Police Department is loosening their marijuana restrictions. It remains to be seen whether other local police agencies across the state will follow suit.

Olympia sports bar welcomes pot smokers

I-502 may save this local business.

Times have been tough for small businesses all across Washington State. In Olympia, Frank Schnarr, owner of Frankie's Sports Bar & Grill, used to lie in bed awake at nights wondering how much longer he would be able to keep his bar open. On the verge of losing his business, Schnarr now sees a new opportunity in the wake of I-502.

Schnarr allows cigarette smoking on the second floor of his business, thanks to a loophole in the law. In 2006, Washington banned cigarette smoking in all public establishments. Schnarr turned his second floor into a private clubhouse, circumventing the law. It costs $10/year to enroll with "Friends of Frankie's," which entitles you to alcoholic beverages served by a volunteer staff (they work solely on tips). 
Schnarr is not a pot-smoker himself. But he doesn't hold it against anyone. And as of this week, Schnarr is allowing marijuana to be smoked upstairs along with cigarettes. He has already seen an uptick in business, and he predicts a great deal more as word spreads.
Frankie's Sports Bar is even offering daily specials to help draw in the marijuana smoking crowd. (Which, in a college town famed for its liberal hippie college [which I attended myself for two years before transferring to UW], is a substantial crowd indeed, trust me.) Schnarr is offering a special $4.20 appetizer menu, featuring deep fried cheese sticks, shrimp and breaded mushrooms. 
Schnarr is also looking into the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary on the adjacent property. If he is lucky, the state Liquor Control Board will open a recreational marijuana store nearby. Unfortunately, the new law requires all pot to be sold through a state owned storefront, which means that Schnarr will not be able to sell marijuana directly. Nor will his customers be able to sell to each other.
"If I wasn't a friend of Frankie's already I'd be one now because you can come here and smoke and feel free," said one patron, who equated Frankie's to a little taste of Amsterdam right in Olympia.
The Liquor Control Board is reportedly looking into the legality of Frankie's Sports Bar and Grill's new marijuana policy. But if Schnarr was able to successfully circumvent the cigarette smoking ban, there seems to be no reason to think he won't be able to allow his patrons to smoke pot as well. The marijuana-related small business revolution continues!

When I talk about something I love

Marijuana and politics do not mix well.

There’s always controversy, and I’m tired of it.  Why don’t we keep the conversation surrounding pot meaningful?  Especially with the recent legalizations in Colorado and Washington, I’m loving the increasing amounts of thoughtful, mindful, and intellectual discussions about marijuana within cannabis culture.

Since more and more of us regularly light up the ganja while maintaining functional, “normal” lives as students, office workers, artists, etc., an increasing diversity of stories will emerge since everyone has their own experience with it.  Some grew up around weed, with their parents letting them discover it for themselves when appropriate.  Others started smoking during a devious phase surrounding adolescence.  Those that started smoking during the 60s might have kept up the habit, or decided to revisit it in retirement.

I was not exposed to weed until college really.  It was not a rebellious thing, or an abusive thing.  My best girlfriend offered it to me, and I never looked back.  In hindsight, I think college might have really beat me up without it.  I found quiet when I smoked marijuana.  Before I first lit up, I was going in all directions at a thousand miles per hour all the time and had not yet stopped to reconsider what I was doing, reevaluate my routine, or remind myself of my priorities. 

And smoking weed did that for me.  It forced me to slow down and reprioritize.  Take care of yourself.  Get enough sleep.  Eat good meals regularly.  Go play outside.  It was all so obvious, but I needed to get high to remember what my body needs, and I still do sometimes.  Smoking weed is not just a recreational habit or a medicinal habit for me though.  It is also very social.  Sharing the love of weed in a group helped me find the other people who also took the time to slow down for a second and smell the roses, which can be harder than it should be when you live or work in a very past-paced context.  Meeting a new friend in a smoking circle, or finally connecting with a new acquaintance after sharing a bowl together, is one of my favorite things.

So when the only media I see about marijuana is a political controversy, I lament the fact that hardly anyone acknowledges the way it connects people, or gives them peace of mind, or is really really meaningful to some of us.

To the day when a toast can be given over a joint just as easily as it can be given over a glass of wine or champagne—here here.