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June 30, 2008

Letter in WI State Journal: Why reluctance to research cannabis?

Posted by Gary Storck
Monday, June 30, 2008

As a heart patient, I know that cannabis can be very beneficial for many heart patients. The following letter expounds on that awareness.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal click here
Pubdate: 30 June 2008

WHY RELUCTANCE TO RESEARCH CANNABIS?

"Heart troubles," the State Journal's Wednesday piece on Tim Russert's abrupt passing despite treatment with the best Western medicine could offer, points out a need for more alternatives.

In a 2004 study published in the journal Nature, "Low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces progression of atherosclerosis in mice," click here, Swiss scientists observed that cannabinoids, chemical compounds found in marijuana, protect against heart disease by blocking the blood vessel inflammation that causes plaque to form.

The cannabinoid used was delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), already approved by the FDA as a schedule 3 drug. Although approved to stimulate appetite in cancer and AIDS patients, doctors hypothetically could prescribe it "off-label," meaning this treatment is available today nationwide.

But since the media tends to overlook studies showing medical benefits from cannabis, few are aware that cannabis or its constituent cannabinoids may be a lifesaving alternative.

Why must we look abroad to learn more about the medical uses of cannabis, and how did America get to the point where withholding this potential lifesaver from patients is good public policy?

-- Gary Storck, Madison, director of communications, Is My Medicine Legal Yet?


Posted by Gary at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2008

GM Today reports search warrant in Waukesha pot store case stated Salvia was illegal in Wisconsin

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Last session, a bill to ban the herb, salvia divinorum, a member of the mint family, was introduced into the state legislature click here. The bill received a hearing, but died on March 21, according to the state legislature website.

GM Today, an online site for the Waukesha Freeman and other papers, reported today that the man arrested for running a pot store inside a candle store in downtown Waukesha click here, was found with "...salvia divinorum, a substance deemed illegal earlier this year in Wisconsin, the search warrant indicated." One small problem though, the ban did not pass. The state legislature website’s history of the bill, AB 277, concludes with, “03-21-08. A. Failed to pass pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 1”.

It’s pretty strange to see law enforcement eager to enforce laws that haven’t even been passed. Meanwhile County officials recently stated that if state DUI penalties were increased, it would create the need for at least 3 new courtrooms, additional jail space and other huge expenditures. How much would a salvia ban cost and why the rush to criminalize a substance much less harmful and toxic than alcohol or tobacco?

Source: GM Today click here

Waukesha store owner charged with selling pot

Undercover cop allegedly made three drug deals at Candles For You

By BRIAN HUBER - GM Today Staff

June 24, 2008

Photo caption: A sign taped to the front door of Candles For You, 744 N. Grand Ave., declares that the store is closed Monday due to a "drugs delivery." A search warrant indicates that marijuana was found in the shop.

WAUKESHA -

A Waukesha store owner has been charged with selling marijuana out of his downtown candle shop.

James Juhay, 46, was ordered held on a $10,000 cash bond Monday after being charged with three counts of delivering marijuana, a count of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, three counts of felony bail jumping and maintaining a drug place. If convicted, he faces up to 38 years in custody.

According to Waukesha police, a criminal complaint and other court records, Juhay was the target of an undercover investigation after police received tips he was selling pot at his Candles For You store, 744 N. Grand Ave. On June 5, an undercover officer went into the store, where Juhay told him, "I got bud for sale," an affidavit said.

The officer bought $20 worth of pot that day, and returned June 11 and June 17 for more transactions, worth $20 and $25, the affidavit said.

Police searched the store Thursday and found more than one pound of marijuana in a safe and other locations, as well as plastic bags with drug residue, drug paraphernalia, suspected hashish - though it did not test positive for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient of marijuana - and salvia divinorum, a substance deemed illegal earlier this year in Wisconsin, the search warrant indicated. It added police found what was believed - but not proven to be - ecstasy residue.

(snip)

Posted by Gary at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2008

Downtown Waukesha candle store busted for allegedly dispensing cannabis

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, June 21, 2008

As a Waukesha native, I was a bit surprised to read allegations a couple of locals decided to take on marijuana prohibition head on by selling pot out of their downtown storefront, along with candles. Today and when I last lived in Waukesha over 25 years ago, the largest drug dealer downtown was and is a large liquor/tobacco store in a former Sears department store building. The store hums with business all day every day. Dozens of smoky downtown bars round things out by keeping the suds and drinks flowing.

A pot store in Waukesha seems like a welcome change of scene. But, the real drug dealers, the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical lobbies, continue to make sure that it will likely be a long time before a cannabis store in Waukesha is anything more than a pipe dream.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel click here
Published June 21, 2008
Author: Darryl Enriquez

AFTER DRUG TIP, POLICE RAID WAUKESHA STORE

Candle shop owner taken into custody

Waukesha - Another downtown store owner stands accused by police of conducting illicit activity through his business.

Police are seeking three counts of delivery of marijuana against the 46-year-old owner of a downtown candle shop. The merchant, James A. Juhay, who was named in a search warrant returned Friday to Waukesha County Circuit Court, likely will remain in jail over the weekend, and the case will be referred to the district attorney Monday, police Capt. Mark Stigler said.

Police say undercover officers purchased marijuana at the store, Candles for You, 744 N. Grand Ave., prompting them to execute a search warrant there late Thursday.

Police had received a tip that more drugs than candles were being sold there, and that the owner was sleeping in a closet there, Stigler said.

Police found over a pound of marijuana in the store during the raid, during which a 45-year-old man came up from the basement with 10 bags of marijuana and a scale on him, Stigler said.

That man, identified in a court record as Michael Freed, is facing a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver. The store owner is facing charges for felony bail jumping. Juhay had been free on bail in connection with charges filed in May of battery and possession of marijuana, Stigler said.

Victoria Hekkers, president of the Business Improvement District, praised the police action, saying it was quick and decisive.

(snip)


Posted by Gary at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2008

Dutch to exempt cannabis coffee shops from workplace smoking ban: A template for post-prohibition Madison?

Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dutch authorities acted wisely in exempting cannabis from the nation’s upcoming smoking ban. Science has pretty much debunked any cancer connection from smoking the herb, while establishing cannabis and its cannabinoid constituents are actually potent cancer fighters click here.

Madison has been a cannabis friendly city for decades, and has always seemed like a place where cannabis coffeeshops would not only be a good fit, but also offer a safer alternative to alcohol, click here. But what of the smoking ban? The Dutch solution seems like the rational way to proceed.

Now, if we could only jettison cannabis prohibition and let Madsterdam blossom!

Dutch health minister says marijuana to be exempt from July 1 smoking ban
Source: Forbes.com click here

AMSTERDAM (Thomson Financial) - Dutch health minister Ab Klink said visitors to coffee shops will be free to smoke marijuana as long as it is not mixed with tobacco, after a smoking ban affecting all restaurants and bars goes into effect on July 1.

The minister was replying to questions tabled by parliamentary colleagues on whether coffee shops will become completely smoke free when the ban goes into effect.

Current tobacco laws in the Netherlands do not cover the smoking of pure marijuana or cannabis in coffee shops, he said.

Coffee shops also will be allowed to set up separate smoking areas for customers who want to smoke marijuana and tobacco, although staff will not be allowed to serve or do other work inside those areas.

Minister Klink said he would look into the ban's effect on coffee shops at the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009, including what percentage of coffee shops have opened a separate smoking area.

Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2008

2005 study showed low-dose oral THC reduced progression of atherosclerosis in mice: Was journalist Tim Russert another victim of marijuana prohibition?

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On May 20, NORML’s Paul Armentano posted an article on NORML’s blog, “Is Senator Kennedy A Victim Of Pot Prohibition?” click here.

The article discussed how the federal government suppressed evidence that marijuana could be a vital weapon against gliomas, and how this marijuana-prohibition related suppression could mean and has meant the difference between life and death for brain cancer patients like Sen. Kennedy.

The recent sudden death of NBC television’s Tim Russert from a heart attack at only 58 reminded me of Paul’s post. While news reports indicated Russert was being treated with conventional medications, his abrupt demise suggests they weren’t working. As one who has endured a lifetime of heart problems due to a congenital condition, I’m very aware of the medical value of cannabis for cardiac patients firsthand.

There is science to back it up too. In 2004, a study by a group of Swiss and German researchers, “Low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces progression of atherosclerosis in mice,” detailed how cannabinoids protects against heart attack, stroke and other heart disease. It’s interesting that the dosage required to attain the protective effect was less than the amount required for a psychoactive effect. So, cannabinoids could offer a heart medication that not only works, but has few side effects, certainly much fewer than the toxic standard pharmaceuticals commonly used to treat heart disease.

Here’s the study, as published in the Journal Nature, followed by a BBC article about the findings, which like most studies finding benefit from cannabis, did not receive much play in mainstream media.

Letters to Nature click here Nature 434, 782-786 (7 April 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03389; Received 26 October 2004; Accepted 21 January 2005

There is a Corrigendum (26 May 2005) associated with this document.
Low dose oral cannabinoid therapy reduces progression of atherosclerosis in mice

Sabine Steffens1, Niels R. Veillard1,5, Claire Arnaud1,5, Graziano Pelli1, Fabienne Burger1, Christian Staub3, Andreas Zimmer4, Jean-Louis Frossard2 and François Mach1
1. Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Foundation for Medical Research, University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
2. Division of Gastroenterology, University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
3. Institute of Legal Medicine, University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
4. Laboratory for Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany
5. These authors contributed equally to this work
Correspondence to: François Mach1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to F.M. (Email: Francois.Mach@medecine.unige.ch).

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease, and is the primary cause of heart disease and stroke in Western countries1. Derivatives of cannabinoids such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) modulate immune functions2 and therefore have potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. We investigated the effects of THC in a murine model of established atherosclerosis. Oral administration of THC (1 mg kg-1 per day) resulted in significant inhibition of disease progression. This effective dose is lower than the dose usually associated with psychotropic effects of THC. Furthermore, we detected the CB2 receptor (the main cannabinoid receptor expressed on immune cells2, 3) in both human and mouse atherosclerotic plaques. Lymphoid cells isolated from THC-treated mice showed diminished proliferation capacity and decreased interferon- secretion. Macrophage chemotaxis, which is a crucial step for the development of atherosclerosis1, was also inhibited in vitro by THC. All these effects were completely blocked by a specific CB2 receptor antagonist4. Our data demonstrate that oral treatment with a low dose of THC inhibits atherosclerosis progression in the apolipoprotein E knockout mouse model, through pleiotropic immunomodulatory effects on lymphoid and myeloid cells. Thus, THC or cannabinoids with activity at the CB2 receptor may be valuable targets for treating atherosclerosis.

BBC article on study:

Cannabis chemical 'helps heart' click here

A chemical in cannabis can help ward off strokes and heart disease, scientists believe.

Swiss researchers found THC, one of 60 cannabinoids in the drug, helped stop the narrowing of arteries to the brain and heart in a study of mice.

But the team, from Geneva University Hospital, said smoking cannabis did not produce the same effect.

However UK experts warned more research was needed before firm conclusions could be drawn.

Deaths

Blocked arteries - a condition known as atherosclerosis - are estimated to be responsible for up to 50% stroke and heart disease deaths in developing countries each year.

In the study, published in the Nature journal, mice were fed a high cholesterol diet to make them develop atherosclerosis and then given THC, which causes the high during cannabis use.

The Swiss researchers found THC stopped inflammation of blood vessels, which is largely responsible for blocking arteries.

The chemical worked by suppressing the immune system's response to a protein which is responsible for inflammation.

We certainly hasten to advise against people smoking cannabis to protect their heart health Professor Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation

Lead researcher Francois Mach said while drugs such as statins which lower blood pressure and cholesterol had proved extremely effective the findings were still of "great medical interest".

And he added: "The dose [used] is lower than the dose usually associated with psychotropic effects of THC."


Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2008

New Hinchey amendment vote offers Wisconsin Congressman Steve Kagen a medical marijuana do-over

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, June 14, 2008

In a few weeks, Congress will again be voting on the Hinchey Amendment. The annual vote is on a federal budget amendment that would prohibit the use of federal funds to subvert state medical cannabis laws and target patients and providers in the 12 states where it is now legal.

Last year, while Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), Ron Kind (D-La Crosse), David Obey (D-Wausau) and Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) all voted for it, their new Democratic colleague Steve Kagen (D-Appleton) did not. Instead, Rep. Kagen followed in the footsteps of his predecessor GOP Rep. Mark Green and joined forces with Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation: Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Elm Grove), Tom Petri (R-Fond du Lac) and Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) to help defeat the amendment. To read my July 2007 post about it, “Steve Kagen votes to arrest medical marijuana patients: John Gard would approve” click here.

Kagen’s vote outraged Wisconsinites who support compassionate access to medical cannabis for our state’s sick, disabled and dying. For his constituents, it was as if the man Kagen narrowly beat, ex-Wisconsin Assembly Speaker John Gard, a serial blocker of state medical marijuana legislation, had cast the vote, not the alleged liberal Democrat Kagen.

Soon, we’ll see whether Congressman Kagen will once again vote to use our tax dollars, and I guess, the money we borrow from China and other countries to run our government, to arrest medical marijuana patients and providers in the 12 states where it is now legal. That number will likely become 13 when the votes are counted in Michigan this November. That also means Kagen’s very congressional district will abut portions of a state where medical marijuana will be legal. Can he retain the district by continuing to alienate medical marijuana supporters, a group that includes over 80% of state residents? If he won’t make his tent larger, he may end up having to fold it instead.

Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2008

WI native Dr. Dave Bearman’s candidacy for Santa Barbara County CA supervisor ends with third place finish in primary

Posted by Gary Storck
Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rice Lake WI native Dr. David Bearman’s candidacy for Santa Barbara CA county supervisor ended with a loss with a record low turnout in the June 3 primary. Readers may recall Dr. Bearman spent several days back in Wisconsin last November spreading the word about medical cannabis, holding a book signing, lecturing at the UW Medical School click here, and testifying before the State Senate’s Health Committee click here.

Dr. Bearman, well known in Santa Barbara County and expecting a larger voter turnout, received almost 10 percent of the vote, taking third place in a race with four candidates. Bearman ran stronger in Isla Vista and on the UC-Santa Barbara campus, taking second place with about 22.5 percent of the vote in those areas, according to local news sources.


Video of Dr. Bearman’s campaign ad, filmed in a dispensary.

Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2008

Ask Congressman Ron Kind to support medical marijuana, receive the same vague form letter year after year after year

Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, June 6, 2008

A Wisconsin medical cannabis patient suffering from intractable pain from adhesive arachnoiditis recently sent Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) an emotional letter asking that he cosponsor current medical marijuana legislation in Congress, HR 5842 click here.

While Kind has joined fellow WI Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin, David Obey and Gwen Moore in voting for the Hinchey Amendment, which would defund federal raids on medical cannabis patients and providers in states where it is legal, he has never cosponsored federal medical cannabis legislation despite repeated requests. Kind’s never-changing written response cites his past experience as a prosecutor and the need to satisfy law enforcement concerns, while ignoring his own votes defunding law enforcement while refusing to cosponsor a bill that would instead change federal law. Kind’s response not only blew off his constituent’s plea, but the wording also seemed a bit too familiar. Soon, I had fished out a nearly 5-year-old letter I’d received from Congressman Kind that was mostly word for word the same as the letter his constituent received just recently.

I told my friend, then he found his own 5-year old letter from Kind with mostly identical wording as the one from 2008.

2008 Letter: Of the 365 words in the body of the letter, three paragraphs containing 197 words were identical to a section from Kind’s 2003 letters (repeated section in bold text below).

Dear redacted:

Thank you for contacting me about the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate hearing from you.

While I appreciate the points you make regarding legalization, I do not believe that marijuana should be legalized. As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the detrimental effects of marijuana use and how it often escalates to the use of more serious drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Studies show that the harmful effects of long-term marijuana use are many and varied. Effects include lung and asthma problems, loss of ability to set long-term goals, and a propensity to graduate to other, more powerful drugs.

The use of marijuana for medical purposes is a contentious issue filled with conflicting scientific evidence, and I remain willing to listen to both sides of the debate. I understand that marijuana was once popularly recommended for various illnesses, although in recent years its medical use has declined. This decline is due to the increased availability of alternative medicines and the federal government's increasing role in curbing international drug importation and fighting domestic substance abuse.

I have heard from several medical professionals and citizens that, in a controlled environment, the benefits of the drug outweigh the possible risks to the patient. They present evidence that marijuana's chemical properties increase the quality of comfort and care afforded to patients suffering from illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

Data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, however, raises legitimate concerns as well. While illegal substance use has declined since the 1970s, marijuana has remained the most common drug among illicit users. If marijuana is to become a legal form of medication, further research and consideration must be given to both sides of the issue and a consensus must be reached between the health care and law enforcement professions. Please be assured that should legislation regarding this issue be introduced, I will keep your views in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Should you have further questions or comments, I hope you will not hesitate to be in touch with my office. Also, I encourage you to visit my website, www.house.gov/kind, where you kind find updated information, send me e-mail, and signup for my e-newsletter.

Sincerely,

Ron Kind Member of Congress

(snip)

Kind’s failure to update a medical marijuana position that seems right out of 1997 or worse to begin with, is mystifying. Another of Kind’s constituents is Jacki Rickert, whom Kind has excelled at ignoring and breaking appointments with at his DC offices. Jacki, myself and Jim Miller had a meeting with a Kind staffer in 2004 that ended up with the staffer crying in empathy with Jacki’s plight, and then first Jim, then myself and Jacki walking out. In 2004, we found it easier to talk to Congressman Kind at a Madison fundraiser than his Washington DC offices.

When is Kind going to wake up and really stand behind patients and their loved ones who need medical cannabis, or at the very least, devise some new wording for his medical marijuana form letter gone so stale it’s downright moldy?

Urge Your Representative to Support the federal medical cannabis bill H.R. 5842! click here. If that happens to be Congressman Ron Kind, while you've probably already seen his response above, please try anyway.

Posted by Gary at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2008

A letter from 29 years ago today

Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two year ago. click here, I wrote post titled, “A letter from 27 years ago today”. Having just endured another long afternoon at the eye doctor, it seems good to take a look back.

As I noted then, since 1979, June 4 has been a day of personal significance for me. My then-ophthalmologist wrote me a letter dated June 4, 1979, that stated, "I am familiar that reports that marijuana lowers intraocular pressure in many people who have glaucoma. If marijuana were available for me to prescribe to this patient, I would be willing to do so, in the hope it would adequately control his condition with fewer side effects than the medications currently available."

The letter was meaningful to me in that it represented the first time a doctor had recognized, in writing, that cannabis would benefit me and that it should be available like any other medication. Seven years earlier, October 3, 1972, I had stumbled upon pot as a treatment for the congenital glaucoma that had steadily stolen my sight all through childhood. I had smoked some pot with friends after school and headed off to see my then-eye doctor. He found my normally highly elevated intraocular pressures normal. Since that day I have continued to medicate with cannabis every day I could obtain it, through the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and today much of the way through the 00's.

So, once again with feeling, If America truly is the land of liberty and justice for all, the Berlin wall of cannabis prohibition must fall, like the lies and myths that have been perpetrated in the name of keeping this gentle herb from patients in need. The sky is blue not green, and its time to stop the lies and the war and let the healing begin.

Posted by Gary at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)