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The science of the munchies


A team of European neuroscientists led by Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux has found that, in mice, THC fits into receptors in the brain's olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals' ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it. A big part of the reason why you might eat more food after using marijuana, the research indicates, is simply that you can smell and taste it more acutely.

This effect of THC has to do with the underlying reason why the chemical affects the human brain so potently in the first place. Likely produced by the marijuana plant as a self-defense against herbivores who might feel disorientated after eating the plant and avoid it in the future, THC fits into receptors that are part of the brain's natural endocannabinoid system, which helps to control emotions, memory, pain sensitivity and appetite. Our brains typically produce their own chemicals (called cannabinoids) that fit into these same receptors, so by mimicking their activity, THC can artificially alter the same factors in dramatic ways.

Because scent and taste are so closely related, it (THC) likely allows us to better taste flavors as well.

(The article also notes that our own bodies increase the level of endocannabinoids in the olfactory region when we fast.)

This new finding is likely just a piece of the THC-and-appetite puzzle. Previous research has found that the drug also acts on receptors in a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, increasing the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine—and the sensation of pleasure—that comes as a result of eating while high. Other work has found that THC additionally interacts with the same sorts of receptors in the hypothalamus, leading to release of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger.

Marijuana is now mainstream


Not long ago, Allen St. Pierre couldn’t get an audience with many politicians. When he tried to send them campaign contributions, the checks were returned. His efforts to persuade the political establishment to take seriously the legalization of marijuana were met with blank stares, or worse.

But now lawmakers are beating a path to his door for meetings and advice, hoping to harness this new energy behind an issue that had been on the fringe of American politics. The once-quixotic goal of St. Pierre’s group — NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws — is now one of Washington’s most-discussed issues.

...He would not reveal which prospective presidential candidates have contacted his organization, but he did note that no one from Hillary Clinton’s network has reached out — though he suspects they will as public opinion continues to move in his direction.

...A movement once seen as fringe is now seen as something historic. As a result, the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at University of Massachusetts Amherst has started archiving NORML’s files, including many of St. Pierre’s personal papers. They have moved 200 cartons, 7,500 pounds, and thousands of videos.

and and to the legislators and voters in Washington State and Colorado for their pathbreaking votes!

American Herbal Pharmacopoeia monograph to establish marijuana as botanical medicine


December 11, 2013 | Kris Hermes

Washington, DC -- In an historic move, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) released the first installation of a two-part Cannabis monograph yesterday that classifies cannabis (marijuana) as a botanical medicine, alongside many other widely accepted Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Written and reviewed by the world's leading experts, the Cannabis monograph brings together an authoritative compendium of scientific data, including long-awaited standards for the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties. The monograph provides a foundation for health care professionals to integrate cannabis therapy into their practices on the basis of a full scientific understanding of the plant, its constituent components, and its biologic effects.

"The inclusion of cannabis in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia returns the plant to its place alongside as a proven botanical medicine, which has been used for centuries by countries and cultures around the world," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, which helped support the development of the Cannabis monograph. "Health care professionals, researchers and regulators now have the tools to develop effective public health programs for medical marijuana and to further explore its therapeutic benefits." ASA will host a Google Hangout on Thursday, December 12th at 5:30pm PT, featuring a panel of experts discussing the ramifications of the Cannabis monograph and a new Cannabis certification program.

The first Cannabis monograph was introduced in the 3rd edition of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1851, where it remained until the 12th edition in 1942, making the AHP monograph the first of its kind in more than 70 years. Cannabis medicines were produced by Eli Lilly and other American pharmaceutical companies until the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 sharply reduced U.S. cannabis production and prescriptions.

AHP began development of a Cannabis monograph in 2011 in part because of a need for validated standards to guide laboratory analysis for quality control of cannabis and related products. However, AHP also recognized that the expanding use of medical marijuana makes accurate information regarding appropriate use and safety important for health care decisions. Patients, providers, and regulators will also benefit from proven testing standards that can quantify the key chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, that are tied to the plant's therapeutic effects, as well as identify potentially harmful pesticides, metals, and microbes.

What Would Rescheduling Marijuana Accomplish?

In response to the recent New Yorker magazine article in which Obama placed marijuana in the same category of substances as alcohol and cigarettes, and Mark Kleiman's statement that rescheduling would have little to no effect, the author notes it was incorrect to claim rescheduling marijuana is only possible through an act of Congress, and notes there are significant benefits to placing marijuana as a Schedule III - V substance.

As Kleiman points out, removing marijuana from Schedule I would not automatically make it legal for medical use, since any cannabis product still would have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “For a doctor to prescribe it,” notes Aaron Houston, a Marijuana Majority board member and WeedMaps lobbyist, “there would have to be an FDA-approved formulation of it.”

Since marijuana itself cannot be patented, a pharmaceutical company would not have much incentive to go through the arduous, time-consuming, and expensive process required to gain FDA approval. Furthermore, drug regulators tend to look askance at herbal medicine, preferring isolated chemicals. “They’re never going to approve a whole-plant organic product,” says Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

But Riffle adds that rescheduling marijuana would make it easier to conduct research on the plant’s medical utility, which could lead to cannabis-derived medications that would pass muster with the FDA. “The biggest obstacle, at least historically, to doing research on marijuana to prove its medical benefit is that it’s in Schedule I,” Riffle says. “So you had that Catch-22, where marijuana is a Schedule I drug because there’s no evidence, and there’s no evidence because marijuana is a Schedule I drug.”

Beyond the ability to do research is the ability to even consider the research because of "burdensome registration requirements and regulations" for Schedule I substances that do not exist for research into Schedule III or lower substances.

There are other research obstacles, unique to marijuana. In 1998, responding to the legalization of medical marijuana in California, the Clinton administration imposed an additional layer of review on research involving cannabis, requiring approval by the Public Health Service as well as the FDA, the DEA, and the relevant institutional review board. And even after they get all the other necessary approvals, researchers have to obtain marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a monopoly on the legal supply—something that is not true of other Schedule I drugs. NIDA, an agency whose mission focuses on marijuana’s hazards, has not been keen to assist research aimed at measuring its benefits. Although neither of these requirements is a necessary consequence of marijuana’s Schedule I status, they would be harder to defend if marijuana were reclassified, which would mean acknowledging that it has medical value and can be used safely.

In addition, Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the deduction of business expenses related to “trafficking in controlled substances,” only for Schedule I or II substances.

Removing marijuana as a Schedule I substance would make it possible for the Drug Czar's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to be more honest, since they are required by law to oppose the legalization of any Schedule I substance. As Blumenauer recently noted, this inability to speak honestly about marijuana undermines any statement such organizations make when they cannot admit marijuana is less harmful than meth, while every mother and her child know this is reality.

Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is barred from using any of its funds to promote the legalization of Schedule I substances, but this ban does not exist for substances below Schedule I.

Rescheduling would be a powerful message that science and evidence are more important than the tangle of laws that have resisted this same science and evidence.


Uruguay President José Mujica Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for Legalising Marijuana

Uruguay's president, José “Pepe” Mujica, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by the Dutch activist organization, the Drugs Peace Institute. Thanks to Mujica, in April, his country will be the first to completely legalize marijuana.
"It is a promise to bridge the gap between defiant marijuana consumers and the prohibiting society," the Institute wrote to the Nobel committee about the legislation when nominating Mujica.

"Hopefully, the start of the acceptance of this consumption by society and the concomitant development of understanding of its use as a natural medicine, historically used for spiritual liberation, might initiate a process of healing in a world confused and deeply divided over its religious legacy."

The institute can nominate President Mujica under the statutes of the Nobel Foundation as it qualifies due to its status as a peace research institute. The Drugs Peace Institute believes that ending the prohibition of marijuana will lead to easier access to the drug for medical purposes and that legalizing marijuana will be a tool leading to greater "peace and understanding" in the world.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/uruguay-pres-up-for-nobel-peace-prize-for-marijuana-legalization/article/369344#ixzz2scZQn2aU

Eat The Document (Dylan 1966 UK Tour, by D. A. Pennebaker)

Eat the Document includes footage from the infamous Manchester Free Trade Hall concert, wherein an audience member shouted "Judas!" during the electric half of Dylan's set. Dylan's band during these shows were The Hawks (later to become The Band). Songs from various shows throughout the tour featured in the film include "Tell Me, Momma", "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)", "Ballad of a Thin Man", and "One Too Many Mornings."

Other scenes include Dylan and Robbie Robertson in hotel rooms writing and working through new songs, most of which remain unreleased and unpublished. Among these songs are "I Can't Leave Her Behind", which was later covered by Stephen Malkmus for the I'm Not There soundtrack.

The film also includes a piano duet with Johnny Cash performing Cash's "I Still Miss Someone".

C-SPAN video: Marijuana Policy

Michael Botticelli testified on the Obama administration’s marijuana policy. The hearing occurred as a number of states had decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession, which were at odds with current federal laws. Chairman John Mica called the policy “schizophrenic,” a reference to President Obama, who recently said marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol. Committee Democrats meanwhile asked how the administration could keep canabis on the DEA’s list of most dangerous drugs in the face of changing public opinion and moves by states to decriminalize and even legalize the drug.


U.S. Drug Addiction rate: 1970-2010

compared to spending on the War on Drugs during this same time.

The rate of addiction stays relatively stable. Rates of addiction average about 1.3%.

Different drugs become fads and then fade as another takes its place. But addiction, overall, doesn't show much of a change, even with more than a trillion dollars spent to stop the sale of addictive substances that are not legal. Those that are legal, of course, are regulated and taxed.

This chart comes from documentary film maker Matt Groff. He compared the rate of addiction to illicit drugs from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pairing it with federal drug control budget spending numbers from the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.

The numbers on this chart alone don't add up to $1.5 trillion, which represents a more inclusive count of drug control spending, with prison costs and state level costs determined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, but instead to $800 billion. Groff included that $1.5 trillion because the chart appears in the documentary as a source discusses that more complete amount.

"Drug use and abuse exists on a spectrum and as a society we must accept that some portion of the population will be addicted to drugs even if we don’t like it," Groff says.


Pot buyers add more than $1M to Colorado tax coffers


In the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, retailers who shared their proprietary data with NBC News say they have collected $1.24 million in tax revenue.

In a back-of-the-napkin calculation, those who shared the data say they figure February’s tax collections in Colorado likely will exceed a quarter of a million dollars a day, putting it on pace to near $100 million annually.

When Colorado first considered legalizing recreational marijuana, it was estimated the first year’s tax take would be $67 million.

By comparison, Colorado took in about $39.9 million in sales, use and excise taxes from alcoholic beverages in fiscal 2013, according to the state Department of Revenue. Cigarettes generated $165.5 million in taxes, and tobacco products $31.6 million in the same fiscal year, July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013.

Petition: Remove Marijuana from the drugs schedule


via MPP: Recently we asked you to sign our petition to President Obama, urging him to remove marijuana from the DEA’s list of scheduled drugs. More than 90,000 of you have, and now Congress is taking notice. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is circulating a letter he plans to send to President Obama asking him to reconsider marijuana’s “Schedule I” status.

Please write your member of Congress and urge them to sign on to this letter.

Just yesterday the president was asked about rescheduling and said it’s “a job for Congress.” This is the same president who promised during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech to take executive action when Congress stalls, as it has on marijuana for 40 years. We need as many members of Congress in our coalition as possible, so please write yours today.
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