Marijuana Under Microscope

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  Marijuana Under Microscope

Posted by CN Staff on October 04, 2009 at 05:28:52 PT
By Dale Rodebaugh, Herald Staff Writer 
Source: Durango Herald 

Colorado -- The last 11 years for a Durango man haven’t been heaven, but they could have been hell without marijuana to suppress the painful muscle spasms associated with his multiple sclerosis.The 62-year-old disabled veteran who asked to be identified only by his initials, A.R., said he grows marijuana to extract cannabis oil to treat his disability, which was diagnosed in 1998.
A Veterans Administration doctor vouched in 2000 that A.R. possibly could benefit from marijuana, allowing him to get on the state health department’s registry of medical marijuana users.“Cannabis keeps me upright and mobile,” A.R. said. “It also keeps my mind sound and my head clear.”A.R., who also receives a weekly injection of Interferon beta-1a, is soured on the negative view society in general holds for marijuana.“I was evicted from federally subsidized housing in March when they found I was using marijuana,” A.R. said. “I don’t complain about people who abuse prescription drugs like Oxycontin or illegal drugs.”Multiple sclerosis-type spasms was one of several medical conditions approved for marijuana therapy when 54 percent of Colorado voters added Amendment 20 to the constitution in November 2000.The number of marijuana users and their suppliers – called caregivers – erupted in July this year when the state Board of Health said caregivers no longer would be limited to five patients. Concern About Abuse While Amendment 20 brought medical marijuana into the open and allowed users to relax, it heightened anxiety among law-enforcement, health and municipal officials who fear the system is being abused. While the state decides who can use pot for health reasons, it doesn’t regulate or keep track of who is providing the medicine.Doctors don’t prescribe or recommend marijuana but can find that an applicant’s condition could benefit from marijuana therapy. People who hold a medical marijuana card may possess no more than 2 ounces of usable marijuana. If they grow their own, they may have no more than six marijuana plants, three or fewer of which are producing usable marijuana. Caregivers can have six plants for each client.The state Medical Marijuana Registry can issue an identification card if the applicant is at least 18 years old and lives in Colorado. He or she must submit an application supplied by the department that must be notarized and lists name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. The application must be accompanied by a statement from a physician noting a debilitating condition and that the patient could benefit from marijuana.Durango, which found itself with four marijuana dispensaries in seemingly little more time than it takes to toke up, imposed a 60-day moratorium on the issuance of business licenses for dispensaries Sept. 1. In the interim, a committee has proposed amendments to the business license code addressing location, hours of operation and security measures for dispensaries.City councilors are scheduled to consider the revisions Tuesday at their regular meeting. The 20-member committee included a representative each from the police department, City Council and Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, two lawyers, representatives of three dispensaries (the fourth is in unincorporated La Plata County) and community members. Questions About Regulation  Health, law-enforcement and municipal officials across the state are scrambling to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana which, while legal, has taken them by surprise by its rapid spread. Even Mancos has ceased issuing business licenses for marijuana outlets until officials can decide what to do.The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment worries about the swelling rolls of its Medical Marijuana Registry. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, in July cited the disproportionate number of men ages 18 to 30 who claimed chronic debilitating pain to obtain a registry identification card. Jim Martin, executive director of the state health department, echoed Calonge’s concern.“The number of young people who received an identification card because of severe pain is not what would be expected in that demographic,” Martin said. “It’s remarkable.”Martin said the health department and the office of the state attorney general are “reviewing a number of issues,” which he didn’t specify.“We’re trying to get a sense of how to work through a complex legal environment while staying within what the voters approved,” he said.Mike Saccone, director of communications for the attorney general’s office, said his boss would like the state Board of Medical Examiners to review how physicians sign off on applications for medical marijuana.Marijuana dispensaries are another gray area, Saccone said, because they aren’t defined in Amendment 20.The Boulder Daily Camera reported Tuesday that D.A. Stan Garnett told Boulder County commissioners that uncertain guidelines governing dispensaries, marijuana cultivation and the use of medicinal pot by people on probation should be clarified.Durango police Capt. Micki Browning agreed there are unsettled issues surrounding medical marijuana.“Law-enforcement agencies around the state each have their own requirements,” Browning said. “But the closer we can define issues, the more specific we can be, the better we can strike a balance between ensuring safety and serving dispensary clients.”The sale of marijuana, even in dispensaries, is illegal under federal law.Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a Washington-based organization, said if the range of ailments covered by medical-marijuana laws or the number of people given access to cannabis raises a red flag, it’s logical for authorities to consider their options.Although he’s a gung-ho advocate of marijuana-law reform, St. Pierre said, “No responsible person in the drug-reform movement would stand in the way of such review.”An edition of Westword, a weekly paper in Denver, carried 10 display ads by medical-marijuana dispensaries under the banner of alternative healing.Mark Busnardo, a partner in the Durango Health Center, one of the four dispensaries in Durango, said being designated a primary caregiver helps dispensaries justify the amount of marijuana they control in case of an investigation.He said the distribution of medical marijuana is in its infancy.“If done right, dispensaries can work for everyone,” Busnardo said. “Marijuana has been demonized unfairly.”Dispensaries can sell smaller quantities than street dealers, Busnardo said. It’s often take-it-or-leave-it with dealers who have prepackaged amounts, ¼ of an ounce, typically, he said. Dispensaries also can offer marijuana tinctures, sprays, vaporizers or edibles for patients who don’t want to smoke pot. American Medical Association Policy  The official policy of the American Medical Association regarding medical marijuana recommends further study of its efficacy, keeping cannabis a Schedule 1 (restricted) drug pending outcome of study, development of a nonsmoking delivery method and encourages the free exchange between physicians and patients about marijuana without fear of criminal sanctions.The AMA policy doesn’t reflect unanimity.The pro side cites the safe and effective use of medical marijuana and says thousands of deaths from prescription drugs could be prevented.The con side says prescription drugs can handle the chore and marijuana is addictive, leading to hard-drug use. Opponents also say marijuana impairs the brain and immune system and interferes with fertility.Busnardo and his partner are going to sponsor presentations by health practitioners on the value of nutrition, exercise and sleep. Also, they plan to start a fund to help people who can’t afford upfront or ongoing costs of marijuana treatment by hiring a band and charging nominal admission, such as $5, Busnardo said.Cannabis was cultivated in China as early as 5000 B.C. There are three varieties – sativa, indica and ruderalis. Now, hybrid strains carry names such as Mexican true blue, trainwreck, white widow, werewolf, sour diesel and cherry bomb.While people with chronic and life-threatening health problems swear by cannabis, the catchy names don’t make the treatment option acceptable to health-insurance companies.Kayla Arnesan, a spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which covers 160,000 people exclusively in the state, said: “Medical marijuana is not covered under the Rocky Mountain health benefit plan.”Casey Hanneman with Denman Consulting Services, an Aurora-based adviser to health benefit providers (including The Durango Herald), said in an e-mail because medical doctors can’t prescribe marijuana, his firm recommends against including marijuana therapy in health plans.He added: “Other considerations would include that there is no Food and Drug Administration approval for marijuana for medical treatment, and it is an illegal substance/drug under most state and federal laws. Also the IRS publication 502 specifically disallows deductions for controlled substances.”Court verdicts, too, in which medical marijuana use is detected by an employer’s drug testing usually go against the user, St. Pierre said. He cited the case of Ross vs. RagingWire that went to the California Supreme Court last year in which the employer prevailed.A.R., the disabled veteran, knows where he stands.“I’ve bounced around in my years,” A.R. said. “Marijuana works for me.”Source: Durango Herald, The (CO)Author: Dale Rodebaugh, Herald Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, October 04, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Durango HeraldWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #15 posted by Hope on October 05, 2009 at 17:53:36 PT
BGreen "The hysteria over cannabis"
It most definitely is hysteria. A very widespread and destructive hysteria.I'll be so glad when it's over.People need to calm down.
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Comment #14 posted by BGreen on October 05, 2009 at 16:58:55 PT
You're right, Hope
Of course hemp will be the winner in this fight. The only reason growing hemp is illegal is because of the hysteria over cannabis, the only reason it's illegal to grow to this day is because of the hysteria over cannabis and the only way to re-legalize growing hemp is to end .... wait for it ..... the hysteria over cannabis.Don't worry, tintala, we're all going to be the winners in the hemp battle. I can presently wear hemp and eat hemp so right there we're a whole helluvalot better off than with cannabis.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on October 05, 2009 at 12:09:14 PT
Seems to me like
once the high thc cannabis plant is legal, the low, or no thc strains should be in the clear and ready to go, too.Imagine. Affordable hemp fabric. Sheets. All sorts of linens. Clothing. The stuff usually gets better with age instead of flat wearing out.Sounds so good in this age of planned obsolescence. I'm sure everyone is as sick of planned obsolescence as I am.But then again... since there will likely be all sorts of rules about growing the high thc plant... there will be issues getting the hemp growing in open fields.
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Comment #12 posted by The GCW on October 05, 2009 at 05:37:00 PT
Hemp is not getting it's movement going. Earth NEEDS hemp.
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Comment #11 posted by tintala on October 04, 2009 at 21:53:57 PT:
Hemp hasn't even been mentioned
The lobbyist must be really busy in the flury of cannabis movement, either they have been succesfull pumping $$$ into congressional pockets or HEMP isn't on the AGENDA for alot states still, Colorado leads in mmj policies and reform, but, HEMP lags way behind.Personally,If I could grow hemp, my farm would be renewed to a working farm with fields of cannabis.I wish hemp was as far along as mmj is. I would be debt free.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by Hope on October 04, 2009 at 18:23:04 PT
Congratulations!I've seen it, too. Big, big joint! 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by FoM on October 04, 2009 at 17:57:41 PT
It's good to see you. I remember that video. Congrats on the hits!
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Comment #8 posted by mykeyb420 on October 04, 2009 at 17:14:01 PT

my video
my video of a half pound joint that I shot this past May,,just passed 25,000 hits on youtube !!!
 whoo hooo !!
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 04, 2009 at 16:47:37 PT

You're very welcome. It has been great so far. Our new rottie was in the living room with us and we had the speakers cranked up and he felt the air poof out of the bass and he tried to bite the air. He had no idea what it was. It was really funny. On a serious note this is the best Farm-Aid that I have ever seen! Enjoy!
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Comment #6 posted by RevRayGreen on October 04, 2009 at 16:29:37 PT

thanks 4 the 
Farm Aid hook up FoM.....
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 04, 2009 at 14:30:21 PT

OT: Webcast For Farm-Aid
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Comment #4 posted by EAH on October 04, 2009 at 12:24:25 PT:

prohib intransigence
"If possible they have to be assured that things will be OK and to not worry so much."They refuse to listen to assurances. This is a never ending circle of futility.
Advocates can't prove there won't be problems, prohibs keep on insisting there will be problems. These are also people that feel entitled to interfere in the lives of others.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 04, 2009 at 10:34:03 PT

Colorado MMJ Dispensers Consider Alliance

By John Ingold, The Denver PostOctober 4, 2009LONGMONT — Even for a roomful of people in the nascent medical marijuana industry, what Larry Hill was proposing was a little unusual. Standing before a meeting of cannabis dispensary owners here last week, Hill said the time has come to form a trade association."People, let's help ourselves," said Hill, who operates The Apothecary dispensary in Longmont. "It's time we become the shining light in the community, so that people aren't afraid of us anymore."URL:
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on October 04, 2009 at 08:22:52 PT

honest negotiation
We see this kind of situation all the time. The details can be worked out by honest negotiation. The problem is, the prohibitionists are not being honest with themselves or the public. They cannot accept the fact that the public has accepted the concept of medical cannabis. The fact is the prohibitionists have a bad attitude with regard to cannabis. It’s emotional, illogical and is not based on fact. They are fearful mostly for the fact that if they are wrong on this, one of, what has wrongly become a major part of their belief system will be shot down and that will be a big blow to their ego, singular and plural. That is why their arguments, rules and regulations seem so arbitrary, capricious and illogical (or stupid if you prefer.) The pro-cannabis group is arguing from a position of logic and science, while the prohibitionist are arguing from a position of attitude, superstition, and ignorance. If possible they have to be assured that things will be OK and to not worry so much.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 04, 2009 at 05:50:30 PT

OT: Farm-Aid Schedule for St. Louis, Missouri
Every year we look forward to watching Farm-Aid. I hope others might like to check it out. Have a great day everyone.Watch the Concert - Live!There's no doubt that the best way to experience live music is to be there in person, but while over 20,000 music fans will be celebrating family farmers and enjoying performances by our excellent lineup, not everyone can make it to St. Louis. Luckily there are a few ways to enjoy the show live from your home (or even the office - we won't tell your boss!).Live on DIRECTVDIRECTV's The 101 Network will be broadcasting Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic live in HD, commercial-free, and in surround sound. The show starts at 5pm EDT on Sunday, October 4.Live on's Webcast brought to you by EternaGreen™We'll be playing the concert live on this website starting at 5pm EDT on Sunday, October 4 in a webcast brought to you by EternaGreen™. We'll also be featuring exclusive photos from the show and featuring your comments from Twitter on our webcast page. Come back to this page on Sunday for a link to the webcast!Live on Sirius XM RadioSirius XM Radio will broadcast the concert live starting at 2pm EDT on Sunday, October 4. Tune into Willie's Place, Sirius Channel 64 or XM Channel 13, to hear the show!
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