Releaf Magazine
23Aug/160

Canna Tech Innovation Booming

lacontes-100677471-largeHigh technology: How tech innovation is fueling the budding cannabis industry

PC World - Katherine Noyes - 08/22/16

The cannabis industry is growing up, and it would be tough to imagine more convincing proof than Microsoft’s recent announcement that it’s getting involved.

Though the software giant will stay very much in the background—its role will focus primarily on providing Azure cloud services for a compliance-focused software push—the move is still widely viewed as a telling sign.

“Having them come out and say, ‘we’re willing to have our name in the same sentence as the word cannabis,’ adds to the legitimacy of our industry,” said Kyle Sherman, cofounder and CEO of software maker Flowhub.

Stigma is a longstanding problem for those trying to run a legitimate business in the cannabis industry, thanks largely to the fact that marijuana remains illegal in the U.S. federal government’s eyes. Twenty-five states have already passed laws that allow for some degree of medical or legal use, but that can be cold comfort for entrepreneurs unable to get a bank account because of lingering concern.

Yet there’s no doubt of the profit potential. Legal cannabis sales brought in $5.4 billion in 2015, and $6.7 billion are expected this year, according to a February report. By 2020, the forecast is $21.8 billion.

Startups are now jumping in to help make that happen, and technology is playing a central role.

Historically, technology has been used minimally in the production and sale of cannabis, largely because of legal concerns.

“It has been not just minimal but actively avoided,” said Mike Bologna, founder and CEO of Green Lion Partners, a business strategy firm focused on the regulated cannabis industry.

Bologna predicts that technology’s growth in the industry will eventually outpace the growth of the industry itself, and over the past year he’s started to see signs that things are picking up.

Today, there are not only a raft of agricultural and security technologies used on the growing end, but also tools ranging from dispensary robots to APIs to help sell cannabis in a way that’s convenient, transparent, and compliant with regulations.

Flowhub, for instance, offers a seed-to-sale tracking platform for growers and retailers, with a particular focus on compliance. Founded in 2015, the Denver-based startup offers a mobile device for scanning RFID plant tags, a point-of-sale (POS) system for dispensaries, and a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that’s accessible via web or iOS. It currently serves customers in Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon.

Essentially, the goal is to track every plant, product and person associated with the production and sale of marijuana and maintain legal compliance.

Flowhub’s POS system reports to states’ compliance tracking systems automatically using application programming interfaces (APIs), replacing what used to be a laborious manual process. The company has also opened up its platform’s APIs to other entrepreneurs, giving them a way to write apps that use Flowhub data, such as for loyalty programs.

“Our goal as a company is to legalize cannabis responsibly in North America and eventually the globe through technology,” Sherman said. “Regulators need to see that it’s better to keep cannabis off the black market by making it traceable. We want to show the world this can be done responsibly.”

La Conte’s Clone Bar and Dispensary in Denver saves countless hours by using Flowhub to maintain compliance with Colorado regulations.

“Before Flowhub we had to manually upload data to the state every night,” said Zach Howell, supply chain manager for the store. “That meant taking screenshots of spreadsheets and cutting and pasting. It was a lot of work.”

Today, all sales data for the day can be uploaded automatically into the state’s database in a single step. The system also gives La Conte’s a live, real-time view of its inventory.

Upon entering the dispensary, customers have their ID scanned both for their date of birth and for their state of residency. That process checks them into La Conte’s system, so that when they’re ready to make a purchase, there’s no uncertainty about what they can buy.

In Colorado, out-of-state residents are not allowed to buy more than an ounce of marijuana, for instance. It used to be up to employees to quickly figure out what combination of products—flowers, edibles, and so on—adds up to that much. Now Flowhub’s system does it automatically.

“If we know your ID is from out of state, it locks the transaction if you go over an ounce,” Howell said. “They’ve basically put the regulations into a system that forces users to play by the rules.”

Howell, meanwhile, can tap into Flowhub’s system and handle any problems remotely. “If I’m on a plane and a manager calls to say we’re out of something but have it in back stock, I can move it into their inventory for them to sell.”

The technology is enabling many of the same processes and capabilities that have long been standard in other parts of the retail world but adapted with an industry-specific twist. As the cannabis industry grows and matures, that trend promises to continue.

“When I first started in this industry, it was a bunch of people who knew how to grow weed but had no business sense whatsoever,” Howell said. “Today the big companies out there are starting to get accountants and HR departments. The companies that are surviving are saying, ‘we need a CEO, we need a business model, we need a plan. We need technologies to streamline our processes and make sure we’re compliant.’”

Those are important steps because eventually, cannabis will become a commodity, said Green Lion’s Bologna. When that happens, success will favor those tapping efficiency-boosting best practices and tools already commonplace in the rest of the business world.

“A lot of people like to put us in our own bucket, but we are starting to use all the standard tools,” Bologna said.

That’s definitely the case at GreenRush, an e-commerce platform for medical marijuana delivery. GreenRush partners with local U.S. dispensaries and delivery services and helps them acquire customers through its online platform.

“We’re like the GrubHub of the medical marijuana industry,” said Paul Warshaw, GreenRush’s founder and CEO.

Customers who land on the site can browse dispensaries and products; with a verified medical marijuana card, they can order products for delivery by a dispensary near them. California-based shoppers who don’t have a medical marijuana card can even consult with a doctor via GreenRush’s telemedicine platform and get approved for one on the spot.

Though much of GreenRush’s technology was built in-house, the company has tapped a number of common tools to propel its business. A partnership with Salesforce, for instance, helps with sales management and customer support.

“We’re a sales organization,” Warshaw explained. “Everything starts with outreach to the dispensaries.”

The company has also integrated with DocuSign for its membership agreements, MailChimp for email marketing, and Slack for communication with dispensary partners.

“It’s great that people are building technologies specifically for cannabis, but there are awesome platforms already out there that can help make your business so much more efficient and transparent,” Warshaw said.

As the industry matures, that kind of fine-tuning may become an imperative.

Owing in part to the high prices set during the industry’s black-market days, more than 80 percent of the businesses that get started in the legal cannabis industry break even within a year, said Leslie Bocskor, founder and president of Electrum Partners, an advisory firm focused on the industry.

Such rapid profitability is “unheard of,” Bocskor said.

It also poses what may be one of the industry’s biggest challenges in the days ahead.

“High margins can cover up a lot of mistakes,” Bocskor said. “Businesses can’t get comfortable—they need to start using best practices regardless of their profitability, and technology is a big part of that.”

Banking remains another obstacle for many in the industry, as financial services firms remain skittish about serving cannabis-based businesses.

“The average cannabis business can’t bank like a normal one would,” GreenRush’s Warshaw said. “Not everybody wants to work with you.”

There can even be issues for cannabis companies trying to advertise on sites like Google or Facebook, or to make apps available online. “Things you wouldn’t think of are challenges that we have to overcome,” Warshaw said.

Looking ahead, the effort and funds now being poured into the cannabis industry could create jobs and tax revenue and fuel innovation for years to come.

“It’s no longer some guy in a warehouse where they roast coffee to cover up the smell,” Electrum’s Bocskor said. “All this money is driving innovation that will affect agriculture around the globe.”

Said Howell, “We’re not just growing weed to sell weed anymore—it’s a business.”

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23Aug/160

Those Who Use It-How Do You Like LED

heliospectraUsing LED Lighting Tech in Commercial Grows

Cannabis Now - By. Dave Carpenter - 08/21/16

Indoor-grown marijuana is an energy-hungry leviathan. A national study released by the U.S. Department of Energy reports that a full one percent of the U.S. electric grid is now dedicated to growing cannabis. Equivalent to the energy output of 1.7 million American homes (and counting) the emerging industry is putting a significant strain on the national power grid and is the country’s most energy-intensive crop at a cost of nearly $6 billion annually.

For decades, the traditional indoor grow light of choice has been high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The same sodium lamps that illuminate a majority of world’s city streets have for years been lighting grow rooms from San Diego to Syracuse. Meant to mimic the intense rays of the sun, flowering rooms equipped with HIDs —  typically outfitted with multiple lamps burning for 12 hours at a time — require continuous air conditioning and de-humidification. And all that usage translates to excessive power waste. LED lighting, on the other hand, consumes less power and emits far less heat, which means greater return to the grower’s bottom line.

Because common cultivator wisdom follows the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ there’s a pervasive reticence to switch to new tech and invite the high cost of re-outfitting a grow room. But with the ever-expanding evidence around global warming, and subsequent soaring cost of electricity, LEDs are in the limelight as a more sustainable approach to indoor cultivation.

Head grower Kevin Biernacki at The Grove Nevada’s 50,000-sqft. cultivation facility was interested in LED and looking for low-heat, cost-saving lights during the manufacture of their vertical-grow site in Las Vegas. “We really needed a multi-tiered system that wouldn’t cook the roots above,” he says.

Stacking grow racks in tiers means the Grove can double or triple their square footage — and vastly increase profits at the same time. Biernacki says he went through a host of LED companies, putting each to the test with side-by-side independent lamp tests. He explains why, after an exhaustive search, they ended up purchasing 650 LED grow lights from the company Heliospectra.

“It really came down to grams per watt,” he says. “Also, we liked that Heliospectra [LED] lights allow you to customize light recipes, which other people simply don’t have.”

The Grove is now able to design light combinations that mimic sunrise, mid-day and sunset, combined with a “far red push” during the last few weeks of flowering. “The last three weeks of harvest we are able to push the light spectrum a little differently,” says Biernacki. “At the very end, we are getting that far red and we are able to speed up the product to harvest.”

Affecting harvest times by as much as one full week shaved from a 10-week flowering period, the dollars saved speak for themselves. Biernacki says it was also important to the Grove to consult other commercial cultivators who use Heliospectra’s LED lights, like Pink House in Colorado, and found that the growers were “continually expanding their number of Heliospectra lights. We obviously looked at that as very positive,” he says.

“It was a little daunting at first to learn how to manipulate lighting,” says Biernacki, “but we soon learned that with the click of a button we could change the light recipes.” He adds that the Grove’s first harvest with LEDs yielded a strain with a whopping 10 percent myrcene cannabinoid level and another boasting a powerhouse 31.4 percent of THC.

The unprecedented level of control over grow rooms that LED lights give cultivators is a giant leap forward for cannabis tech. Rapid return on investment, cutting down on wasteful energy bills and increased control over cannabinoid levels could very well change the entire cannabis growing paradigm as we know it.

Would you switch from HID to LED lights in your grow room?

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22Aug/160

Gambling & The Marijuana Legalization Movement

marijuana_congress (1)What Gambling Can Tell Us About Legalizing Marijuana

ATTN: - Keith Stroup - 08/19/16

I am old enough to remember when Nevada was the only state where gambling was legal. In 1931, during the Great Depression, the state legislature had legalized casino gambling as a way to stimulate their economy, create new jobs, and entice more people to the state.

For decades Nevada had a monopoly on casino gambling — that, along with legalizing “no fault” divorces, and later legalizing prostitution — when most states did not offer those options. These factors combined to give Nevada a reputation as a maverick state where people could visit to engage in naughty behavior without legal consequences. “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.”

The state is expected to legalize the recreational use of marijuana via voter initiative (Question 2) this November, which will further enhance that reputation.

Other states obviously knew that legal gambling was an alternative that might provide an economic boost to their states as well, but the prevailing morality at the time was far too negative towards gambling for elected officials in other states to pursue. It was a time when the religious communities had successfully convinced most Americans that a life of virtue, not vices, was the path to happiness.

But social mores change over time, and as gambling began to be seen as a legitimate form of entertainment, instead of a moral sin, the tax revenue and economic benefits from legal gambling were more attractive. In 1977, by voter initiative, New Jersey legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, offering an east coast version of Nevada, where gambling hedonists could legally do what they could not yet do in their own states.

And gradually the barriers banning legal gambling began to crumble nationwide, leading to a situation today in which every state has some form of legal gambling, such as state-run lotteries, albeit with strange limitations in some states (e.g., in Missouri it is illegal to gamble on land, but perfectly legal to have casinos on riverboats on the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, although the boats never leave the shore).

Which leads to the question of why behavior thought by many to be inappropriate (or even morally offensive), can nonetheless sometimes be legalized? Or put another way, when is conduct with the tinge of sinfulness out-weighted by the potential for economic benefits to the states?

I raise that question because of the increasingly profitable side of legal marijuana in the states that have elected to regulate and tax marijuana. As the latest revenue data make clear, legalizing marijuana has been an enormous benefit for the few states that have taken that step, and that fact will be more and more difficult for neighboring states to ignore over the coming years. As we saw with gambling, once the economic benefits of legal marijuana are obvious, the moral opposition will fade and the economic arguments will prevail.

The Latest Data from Colorado and Washington.

In Colorado, the first state to get their legal retail outlets up and running on January 1, 2014, the gross sales of marijuana, and the tax revenue to the state, have continued to rise each year. For 2015, licensed marijuana stores in the state totaled an astounding $996,184,788 – just shy of $1 billion dollars, up from $669 million in sales in 2014.

Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees last year (including $35 million dedicated to school construction), up from $76 million in 2014 (when $13.3 million was raised for schools).

In Washington state, marijuana retail sales reached $322,823,639 in 2015, up from only $30,783,880 in 2014, when retail outlets were open for only a portion of the year. That 2015 sales figure has already been eclipsed in the first seven months of 2016.

The state retail tax revenue for fiscal year 2016 from recreational marijuana sales totaled $30,017,823, while state retail sales taxes from the sale of medical marijuana totaled $5,236,536. Local retail sales tax totaled $11,228,861 from recreational sales, and local retail tax totaled $2,084,323 for medical sales.

These, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might say, are “yugee” numbers, and they are continuing to increase each year, making them more and more difficult to ignore by other states.

Which brings me to my main point. At a time when several national polls confirm that between 55 and 61 percent of the entire country now favor full legalization, it is difficult to argue that marijuana smoking is, any longer, considered immoral behavior. Sure, there are pockets of fundamental moralists to whom anything pleasurable will always be suspect behavior, including sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. But this puritanical perspective is finding less and less support each year, and when balanced with the economic windfall that results when a state legalizes marijuana, it simply cannot prevail.

Today a majority of Americans under 65 support marijuana legalization, particularly younger adults: 71 percent of adults under 35 think marijuana use should be legal, a jump of 10 points since last year. The demographics are clear and unstoppable, as younger voters replace those over 65.

Just as all states now have some form of legal gambling, within a few short years, all states will offer some form of legal marijuana. It’s the smart thing to do; it’s the right thing to do; and it’s inevitable in a democracy, when most people want it.

Keith Stroup is a Washington, D.C. public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970.

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22Aug/160

An Upscale Cannabis Country Club Opens In San Fransisco

Stoner-Club-San-Francisco-STONER0816San Francisco Now Has a Cannabis Country Club

Travel + Leisure - By. Cailey Rizzo - 08/20/2016

If a drug den isn’t your preferred venue for toking, elevate your marijuana experience at San Francisco’s very first private cannabis club.

Harvest, a San Francisco dispensary, announced the opening of its members-only club last week. Already, the lounge is being compared to a cannabis country club for its steep fees, exclusive membership, and tasteful decor—brown leather couches, oriental rugs, and glass ashtrays (duh).

While anyone can buy pot from the dispensary, only members can get access to the smoking room in back. Other perks of membership include a locker for storing goods, invites to educational events and, of course, the ability to puff, puff, pass with the city’s other well-heeled pot aficionados.

Those who aspire to membership have to go through an application process and, if accepted, “pay monthly fees comparable to the cost of an Equinox gym membership,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (An Equinox memberships runs about $200 per month, for those wondering.)

Thousands of people are in Harvest’s collective (basically a list of people who have registered to buy pot from the dispensary), but founders envision the private club only having a couple hundred members. Applicants have to pass a criminal background check and be personally approved by Harvest’s founders.

Although Harvest isn’t the first dispensary to allow use of their product in the back, it’s the only dispensary in California that charges membership fees to do so. There are a few private club options for the discerning stoner (with cash to throw around) in Denver, however they’re not exactly legal and are occasionally raided by the police.

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21Aug/160

Cheers to Portugal!

portugal-1024x661Celebrating 15 Years of Decriminalization In Portugal

Cannabis Now - Janika Takats - 08/18/16

Last month Portugal commemorated the 15th anniversary of its 30/2000 law – the law that decriminalized the use of all drugs in the country. The law dictates that the possession for personal use is no longer considered a crime but a regulatory offense. With this step, the Southern-European country waved goodbye to the War On Drugs that had been dominating Portugal’s drug policy for decades and dared to take a whole new approach.

Instead of prosecuting and convicting drug users and people who suffer from addiction, the Portuguese health system focuses on education and prevention of addiction. Every person can carry up to 25 grams of marijuana buds or five grams of hashish, two grams of cocaine and one gram of heroine, MDMA, amphetamine or methamphetamine without having to fear being arrested.

Portugal suffered from a heroin-epidemic in the mid-1990s before the 30/2000 law came into effect. During this period, roughly 100,000 people were addicted to heroin, which was approximately one percent of the population. The number of people dying from overdoses and HIV transmission via shared needle usage was also increasing. This led the government to form an anti-drug commission to tackle the problem.

One of 11 experts in the commission was Joao Goulão, a family physician from Faro, located on Portugal’s Algarve Coast, who is now chairman of Portugal’s Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction.

“Drug users aren’t criminals, they’re sick” Goulão is convinced.

He has been the chief of Portugal’s national anti-drug program since 1997 and helped to shape the new law significantly. What started as a brave experiment has proved to be an effective approach to combating rising drug addiction rates and infections that arise from drug use. Since 2001, the number of heroin addicts has dropped by more two thirds. The majority of the remaining persons are accommodated in government programs to treat their addiction. Additionally, the number of people dying through drug abuse decreased by 75 percent. Both drug use among adolescents as well as the number of people who tried drugs for the first time in their life dropped.

While addicts are offered the support they need, drug dealer and traffickers still have to fear stiff penalties. This includes people who grow cannabis. Even if growers own just a small number of plants it is often difficult to prove that those are intended for personal use only. Therefore, people are still convicted for cannabis cultivation.

Besides all these positive effects Portugal’s drug policy in not without its flaws. Unlike other European countries such as Czech Republic, Finland, Spain, Germany or Austria, Portugal has no formalized programs for medical marijuana. While drug users are no longer prosecuted as criminals, decriminalization does not offer a solution for the drug trafficking that has continued unabated during the last 15 years. In 2012 the left-wing party Bloco de Esquerda drafted a bill that would have legalized and regulated cannabis in the country. Unfortunately, the proposal has never been discussed by the parliament and the plant remained illegal.

Although Portugal’s drug laws make it one of the most progressive countries to regulate drugs in the world —and for the last few years statistics have shown that Portugal’s decision to decriminalize the use of drugs has been a step in the right direction — there is still much work to be done. While more and more countries debating new laws concerning cannabis regulation, Portugal’s drug laws have not changed over the last 15 years.

Cannabis users, patients and activists still have a long way to go until the legalization and regulation of cannabis will be implemented. Nevertheless, the steps taken by the Portuguese government highlight the fact that there are effective alternatives to criminalization and the prosecution of drug-users that are far less harmful for individuals and society in general.

Do you think Portugal’s decriminalization strategy could be applied elsewhere?

 

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20Aug/160

Cannabis Effects Men and Women Differently?

prescription-cannabisMarijuana a better pain reliever for men than women

Medical News Today    By: Honor Whiteman   8/19/16

With legalization of marijuana increasing across the United States, there is more focus than ever on identifying the risks and benefits of the drug. A new study provides further insight, after finding men experience greater pain relief with marijuana use than women.

Study co-author Dr. Ziva Cooper, of the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), and colleagues report their findings in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

As of June 2015, marijuana - or cannabis - has been legalized for medical use in 25 U.S. states and Washington, DC. In these states, marijuana can be prescribed to relieve pain, nausea and vomiting, and to stimulate appetite.

These effects are believed to be driven by the two main cannabinoids in marijuana: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

When it comes to pain relief, however, animal studies have suggested that marijuana's effects many differ between sexes, though Dr. Cooper notes that no studies have looked at whether this is the case for humans.

To address this research gap, the team set out to investigate the pain-relieving effects of marijuana use among 42 adults - 21 male and 21 female - who smoked the drug recreationally.

Marijuana posed no significant reduction in pain sensitivity for women

Participants were part of two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, in which they were required to smoke either active marijuana - containing 3.56-5.60 percent THC - or a placebo form of the drug, which contained no THC.

Immediately after, subjects were required to take part in a pain response test, known as the Cold-Pressor Test (CPT). This involved each participant placing one hand in cold water - around 4°C - until they could no longer stand the pain.

Pain tolerance was measured by how long subjects were able to keep their hand in the water, and pain sensitivity was self-reported.

The researchers found that men who smoked active marijuana experienced a significant reduction in pain sensitivity, compared with men who smoked the placebo. However, no significant decrease in pain sensitivity was identified among women who smoked active marijuana, compared with women who smoked the placebo.

Both men and women showed an increase in pain tolerance with active marijuana use, though this effect was more prominent for men than women.

The team identified no differences in abuse liability - such as intoxication and drug enjoyment - between men and women who smoked the active marijuana.

Commenting on their findings, the authors say:

"These results indicate that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater cannabis-induced analgesia relative to women. As such, sex-dependent differences in cannabis's analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief."

Dr. Cooper says these findings emphasize the importance of including both men and women in clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana use, as the effects could vary between sexes.

Future studies should assess the underlying mechanisms by which cannabinoids affect pain in men and women, say the authors.

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19Aug/160

Clearwater Welcomes Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Florida-MMJ-Results-2Medical cannabis dispensary opens in Clearwater

WFLA By: Peter Bernard 8/18/16

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay area’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened Thursday in Clearwater.

The Truelieve facility opened at 24761 US 19 North. The facility sells low-THC, and, what is described as “whole plant, high-THC” medical cannabis. Patients need a doctor’s permission and to suffer from certain medical conditions to receive the THC.

Patients can find a variety of products in the cannabis dispensary. There are a variety of products infused with oil from pot plants, including capsules, droppers, an oral syringe and a vaporizer.

It’s illegal to smoke these products.

Renee Petro’s son Brandon has found certain kinds of marijuana help stop seizures, which are caused by a rare disease. Renee Petro is hopeful this dispensary is just a start in the movement supporting medical marijuana. While they won’t be placing an order because of the types of products that have helped him, this mom is glad to see the dispensary opening.

“I think its quite historical. And for Florida, I think it’s amazing,” she said.

At Thursday’s grand opening patients, with doctor approval, bought medical cannabis for various ailments.

Pat Caudill has serious tremors. “I’ve been taking this for two weeks now and (it has) about cut it in half,” Caudill said.

Bonnie, who did not provide her last name, hopes it will help treat her skin cancer. “I will try anything at this point (because) I’m tired of being like zapped at the dermatologist and then it comes back,” she said.

Renee Petro did express a concern police might arrest customers. “There’s a disconnect. They don’t know that this is available. They have no clue,” she warned.

8 On Your Side checked with the CEO of Trulieve about that concern.

Kim Rivers said the company has reached out to law enforcement and invited them to tour the facility. Plus, it has invited members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to see the cultivation facilities in order to better understand the process.

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18Aug/160

Cannabis and Parkinson’s Disease

parkweedCANNABIS TREATMENT FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Green Rush Daily By: Casey Riley     8/18/16

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder in which sufferers lose most control of their motor skills. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, more than 10 million people across the globe are affected by Parkinson’s. We’ll give you the rundown on the disease, how it’s typically treated, and the shocking effectiveness of cannabis on those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease Explained

Parkinson’s is an incurable disease which affects the central nervous system. The disorder causes cell death in a part of the brain that is responsible for motor control. As a result, movement becomes slow and rigid, and sufferers experience tremor and instability. This frequently results in an increase in falls, which are a source of danger for sufferers of the disease.

While the cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, experts believe that a combination of genetics and environment play a role in its development. For example, those with a family member with Parkinson’s Disease are more likely to have the disease themselves. Additionally, those who are in contact with certain pesticides, and those who have suffered head injuries, are also at increased risk.

Along with less motor control, Parkinson’s Disease can also manifest neurological symptoms. These may include:

  • Speech disorders
  • Impaired cognition
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Psychosis

Traditional Treatment

Because Parkinson’s Disease is incurable, treatment revolves around managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s to make life as normal as possible for sufferers. The ways in which this is achieved are varied. Levodopa is a medication commonly used to alleviate motor symptoms of Parkinson’s but comes with numerous serious side effects, including nausea, tics, joint stiffness, and “punding” (compulsive infatuation with repetitive tasks).

Brain surgery is another option, though less used, in treating Parkinson’s. It involves stimulating the brain with surgical devices to improve symptoms. Unsurprisingly, brain surgery is avoided unless necessary due to the risks associated with the procedure.

Lastly, exercise is seen as particularly important for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease, as there issome evidence that it can improve the symptoms of the disease. Regardless, the serious risks of both standard medication and brain surgery mean finding a safer alternative is imperative for people who have Parkinson’s Disease.

Cannabis Relieves Symptoms and Treats Parkinson’s Disease

One study conducted a survey on sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease. They found that many of the subjects found relief from general Parkinson’s symptoms, improvement of tremors, reduction in slow movement, reduction in muscle rigidity, and fewer involuntary movements. Of note, fewer than 5% questioned felt that cannabis worsened their symptoms! This survey suggests that while cannabis may not alleviate all sufferers’ symptoms, it shows promise for the majority in treating their disease.

Researchers examining cannabinoids and their effects found that the chemicals in cannabis have neuroprotective qualities, particularly of a specific set of neurons in the brain. They note that this protective benefit may be relevant in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease specifically. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, being able to protect those neurons that the disease affects is of obvious benefit.

Another study conducted in 2014 showed even more startlingly positive results. Subjects with Parkinson’s were given cannabis to treat their symptoms. They found that motor function, reduction in tremors, and reduction in rigidity improved significantly. Additionally, quality of sleep was improved, as well as a reduction in Parkinson’s-related pain. While they note that larger studies ought to be conducted, this shows that most symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are alleviated by cannabis.

Looking Toward the Future

Cannabis as both a treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and for a treatment of the disease itself shows great promise. Researchers agree that more testing ought to be done for cannabis and its therapeutic benefit for Parkinson’s Disease. As it stands now, the results of further studies may very well set cannabis-based medication as a staple in treating the disease.

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17Aug/160

Thoughts On Legal Cannabis Taxes

rsz-are-cannabis-taxes-excessive-or-exactly-right-640x401Are Legal Cannabis Taxes Excessive or Exactly Right?

The Marijuana Times - By. Jason Sander - 08/14/16

Colorado legal cannabis and related products totaled almost $1 billion in 2015, up from $700 million in 2014. Colorado raked in over $70 million in cannabis taxes in the last fiscal year, a figure which is almost double the $42 million received from taxes on alcohol. This is elating state officials and bringing a huge boom to the Colorado state economy. Other states seem to be following suit, impressed by the tax figures on Colorado cannabis and the decrease in arrest rates and incarceration.

Three types of state taxes on recreational cannabis exist to date. There’s a standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers. In 2014, total marijuana revenue was $76.2 million.

There’s been so much tax money coming in, last year Colorado saw excess. Voters rejected a tax refund in November 2015, deciding to let the state spend the excess of cannabis taxes. The secretary of state website incorrectly reported the first returns, causing an excess of $66 million. The measure sent $40 million to schools, $12 million to law enforcement and substance-abuse programs and $14.1 million into discretionary accounts controlled by lawmakers.

Obviously the $40 million going to schools was great, but what about the other $26 million dedicated to law enforcement, abuse programs and state discretionary spending? Are these treatment programs based on facts, or trotting out debunked D.A.R.E. rhetoric and scare tactics? Would the excess in tax money have been better off going back to the taxpayers, growers and customers? These are important questions that Colorado residents should be asking themselves, as it seems there hasn’t been much media coverage of budget spending accountability since the vote to let the state keep the tax money.

“It’s crazy how much revenue our state used to flush down the drain by forcing marijuana sales into the underground market,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for theMarijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “It’s even crazier that so many states are still doing it. Tax revenue is just one of many good reasons to replace marijuana prohibition with a system of regulation.”

Tvert was also a co-director of the campaign in support of the 2012 initiative to regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol in Colorado.

The legal cannabis industry is still emerging in Colorado and in the U.S. as a whole. Hopefully moving forward, lawmakers will continue efforts to be as transparent as possible with tax collection, budgets and discretionary spending. The future of many business owners and cannabis professionals depends on it.

What do you think? Are cannabis taxes too high or just right? What could be done instead?

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16Aug/160

Medical Cannabis Ads On Google

rsz-why-google-should-revise-policies-about-cannabis-ads-640x401 (1)Why Google Should Revise Policies Preventing Medical Cannabis Ads

The Marijuana Times - By. Jason Sander - 8/15/16

Google’s advertising policy prohibits the promotion of mind-altering substances, but pharmaceutical manufacturers in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand may promote some of their prescription drugs. A lot of cannabis related products are now designed for strict medical purposes. So why aren’t some medical cannabis advertisements allowed by Google? Why does Google deem some healthcare drugs okay and others not okay to advertise?

Even though we’ve seen a lot of advancements in legalization and removal of the stigmatization related to cannabis, many uninformed people still maintain the prohibitionist notion that there are an abundance of medical users that ingest cannabis strictly to get high. This could be part of the reason why Google is still reluctant to allow medical cannabis advertisements, as they could be fearful of losing shareholders that still steadfastly stick to the prohibitionist delusion. The fact of the matter remains, though – Google is losing out on a large chunk of medical cannabis-related ad revenue by upholding these anti-cannabis policies.

Due to cannabis illegality at the federal level, doctors and hospitals have concerns about the risks of allowing their patients to be prescribed medical cannabis. In this unfortunate interim, thousands of critically ill patients need access to medical cannabis to help heal what ails them.

Google is a private company and obviously has the right to set its own advertising policy based on their principles and values and that of their shareholders. But it doesn’t take long to see the hypocrisy of allowing the advertisement of some pharmaceutical drugs but banning that of medical cannabis. Because of these prohibitive policies, medical cannabis businesses have developed their own innovative ways to promote their products that don’t rely on Google ads. As we’ve discussed before, most cannabis entrepreneurs are forward thinkers that are able to develop solutions those in other industries might be unable to.

Google is not the only tech giant that blocks medical cannabis-related advertisements. As per a June report from USA Today, social media conglomerate Facebook also prevented some ads related to medical cannabis. Facebook’s advertising policy does not allow promotion of drug use, tobacco products or firearms.

As long as tech companies like Google and Facebook continue to prevent medical cannabis ads, they are shooting themselves in the foot and potentially losing millions of dollars in would be ad revenue.

What do you think about medical cannabis ads being prevented by Google? Is it a big issue or doesn’t it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

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