Cannabis and Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, equally likely to affect men and women, causes a person’s mood, energy, and mental clarity to vary wildly. Such fluctuation leads the person to experience waves of mania and depression. Most patients experience the onset of bipolar disorder around age 25, although teens and children can develop bipolar disorder at lesser rates than adults. In all, 2.6% of the U.S. population has bipolar disorder. 

Four types of bipolar disorder exist, with symptoms ranging from feeling incredibly positive and energized, to depressed and lacking energy. Depending on the type of bipolar a person has, symptoms can include increased activity, sleep troubles, feeling agitated, fast-thinking, rapid speech patterns, and risky behavior. Others may find themselves feeling low on energy, unable to find happiness, unable to concentrate, experiencing a loss of appetite, and possibly considering self-harm.

Melissa Vitale runs a New York-based cannabis publicity firm. After struggling with her emotions her entire life, she was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “My uncontrollable mood would often let me feel like I was on top of the world. I was the happiest and most helpful child. When my mood turned, however, I felt a wall of emotion that kept me from seeing straight. I would be boiling with anger and wanting to punch, kick, hit, or insult anyone who wasn’t telling me everything was alright.” 

By twelve, she turned to self-harm, which made her suspect that she had bipolar disorder.

With millions of people in America alone dealing with bipolar disorder, patients and physicians alike are always looking for the right course of treatment that can help a person. Some turn to marijuana to treat themselves. This is often done through illegal means—bipolar disorder is not a common qualifying condition for states’ medical cannabis programs. Despite this, a portion of people living with bipolar disorder insists on including cannabis in their treatment. 

Some studies suggest this is not a viable method. A June 2017 University of Washington study on the Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health found that “marijuana use and cannabis use disorders are markedly more prevalent among those with bipolar spectrum disorders compared to the general population and those with any mental illness.”

The analysis noted reports stating the contrary, its study found several adverse associations. It said:

“With regard to bipolar spectrum disorders, marijuana use or use disorder is associated with worsened affective episodes, psychotic symptoms, rapid cycling, suicide attempts, decreased long-term remission, poorer global functioning, and increased disability. Bipolar patients who stop using marijuana during manic/mixed episode have similar clinical and functional outcomes to those who never use marijuana, while continued use is associated with higher risk of recurrence and poorer functioning.”

Dr. Paul Song is an authority on medical cannabis, in addition to serving on the national board of Physicians for Health. He pointed towards additional studies that suggest cannabis use is not recommended for people with bipolar disorder. 

“Research has found that patients with bipolar disorder who use cannabis have increased manic and depressive episodes, poorer treatment outcomes and compliance, and present with their first manic episode at a younger age,” he said in a written response, also including the study linked here. 

Despite the suggestions of some of the medical field, many people have turned to cannabis anyway. In some cases, people began using cannabis to treat the symptoms they wouldn’t discover to be bipolar disorder until much later. In others, patients turned to cannabis as a medical option when they were diagnosed. 

Jeff Allen is a 27-year-old Cannabis patient from Ontario, Canada. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder nine years ago and began using cannabis two years after, at the age of 20. The musical theatre performer said his symptoms were so severe he couldn’t interact in public for nearly two years. 

In a written response, Allen said that cannabis saved his life and changed his world. “During the extremes, high or low, it’s as if my brain is a car, and the gas pedal is being pushed to the floor. After medicating, it’s as if that pedal comes off the floor, and brings my brain back under the speed limit.”

Vitale found herself struggling in her early twenties before seeking help at the suggestion of her then-boyfriend. Even then, the confirmation of her condition was not welcomed. “It was a long hard road to get there, but once I did at age 22, I immediately detested the bipolar diagnosis, forgetting that I had properly diagnosed myself a decade earlier. My doctor, at the day of my diagnosis, told me that I had been self-medicating with cannabis all through college.”

She said her drive home from the doctor was filled with anger, but that would change after taking a hit from her bowl before leaving home for class. She was no longer incensed. “In 10 minutes and one packed bowl, my mood had done a complete 180. I knew the doctors and 12-yr-old Melissa were right: I was bipolar.”

Cannabis advocate and patient Mickey Nulf began using pot as early as 11 but was not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until roughly 13 years later. That said, the now-29-year-old feels like he knew something about himself much before the diagnosis. “I feel even when I was that young, I was using cannabis to help with something but didn’t quite understand.” 

Nulf explained that for many years, his use would be in conjunction with prescribed pharmaceutical medications. However, he would choose to go with only cannabis around his diagnosis. 

“I have chosen to continue using cannabis because pills have always been temporary fixes or numbing to life where cannabis has allowed me to experience life. For the first time. I am happier overall. My dips aren’t as low, and my ups aren’t as scary. I’m able to regulate and able to enjoy what is around me instead of letting the world pass me by.”

Cannabis business owner Olivia Alexander is another to swear off meds. She did so using CBD. 

The founder of Kush Queen CBD products spent seven years combining pharmaceuticals to treat her bipolar disorder. She said this cycle left her immune system shot. Eventually, she’d begin using 100mg of CBD orally each day. She wrote how CBD plays a part in her care plan. “It was not as simple as pouring CBD on it, but with the combination of therapy, diet, exercise, and oral/topical CBD, I was able to come off medication.”

While Alexander and Nulf both chose not to use any pharmaceuticals, others have opted to keep both in their treatment plan. Alexander explained, “It’s important for me to note that in my experience, getting off meds is not the right choice for everyone. I have seen family members benefit from CBD in combination with prescription medications, overseen by a doctor.”

She added, “Mental health is not one size fits all and neither is CBD; however, it did work for me and change my life in the process.” 

The bottom line is to be sure to speak with medical professionals before making any decisions yourself. Some may struggle to find answers through their physicians, thanks in large part to ongoing U.S. regulations. This problem can lead to a person not trying cannabis as a treatment. Or, they could end up trying it in a less-than-legal way. 

“What I do is not sanctioned by the state that I live in,” says Vitale. “I purchase all my cannabis illegally, but the way I consume cannabis is not criminal. It saved my life and gave me the ability to be a normal human being.”

While that may sound fine, Vitale also emphasized that this won’t always be the case. She calls it “a beautiful allegory for life.” 

“There are some days when my mood, no matter what I do, will be depressed. Just like sometimes no matter how much you plan, life just throws shit at you all at once. You have to wade through hell sometimes, but it will always, always get better.”

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Ohio Lawmakers Advance Measure to Legalize Hemp Farming and CBD Oil

Lawmakers in Ohio’s House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that would legalize hemp agriculture and CBD products in the state. The measure, Senate Bill 57, was approved by a vote of 88-3 after being passed by the state Senate in March.

Changes to the bill made by the House were also approved on Wednesday. The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for his consideration. If he approves the measure, it will go into effect immediately, giving farmers in Ohio a new option for their operations.

“This is the best news that’s going to hit farm country this year,” said Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township.

New Option for Ohio Farmers

House Speaker Larry Householder said that in a year that has been tough on Ohio farmers, it was important that the bill was passed before lawmakers went on their upcoming summer recess.

“Farmers are getting hit pretty hard right now with tariffs and weather, I think that it can help them plan a little bit,” Householder said. “Now they know that there’s a path for us to have hemp in the state of Ohio.”

Under current state law, hemp is a schedule I controlled substance like all other varieties of the cannabis plant. Senate Bill 57 changes Ohio law so that it conforms with the federal legalization of hemp passed by Congress with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Under the measure, hemp would be excluded from the definition of marijuana used to enforce drug laws and prohibit the state Board of Pharmacy from listing hemp and hemp products as controlled substances. The bill also requires that CBD oil previously confiscated be returned to the seller, provided that the product conforms with federal law.

In August of last year, the pharmacy board released a statement requiring CBD products to be sold only at state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. That decision led many retailers to pull CBD products from their shelves while others openly flaunted the ruling.

Bill Sets Regulations for Hemp Agriculture

Senate Bill 57 also sets regulations for hemp agriculture, requiring that crops be no more than 0.3 percent THC and that farmers be licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. No cap on licenses has been set by lawmakers.

An amendment from Democratic Rep. Stephanie Howse that would have removed a regulation that prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a controlled substance-related felony in the last 10 years from being licensed to grow hemp was not approved by the body.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Kyle Koehler, a Republican representative from Springfield, said that Senate Bill 57 brings Ohio law into accordance with the federal Farm Bill.

“We feel that the bill does what the federal government needs while creating as few regulations as possible,” Koehler said.

But Tim Johnson, the co-founder of the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, said that he fears that the newly legal hemp industry will be regulated too tightly.

“For the farmers and small businesses alike, let the market work…(for) a successful program for all Ohioans,” Johnson said.

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Pardon the Past: The Last Prisoner Project

Last week, many of the brightest minds in cannabis assembled in Brentwood to discuss one of the largest gaps left by the growing spread of legalization across the country—the tens of thousands of citizens still locked behind bars for non-violent offenses stemming from the marijuana plant—a now legal substance in most states. While we can all appreciate the growing accessibility to cannabis, many of those who were the most negatively impacted by the failed war on drugs are still suffering, and this event was a perfect reminder of the work that still remains unfinished.

Hosted in Jim Belushi’s elegant manor, and organized by the Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit founded by cannabis icon Steve DeAngelo, his brother Andrew, and Dean Raise, the evening sought to raise money to aid in the release of these prisoners, and to provide resources for their reentry into society post-incarceration. Run by powerhouses Sarah Gersten and Mary Bailey, the organization’s first fundraiser featured a who’s-who of cannabis’ most influential individuals, touching speeches, an infused dinner from Hosted, an acoustic performance by Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany & Kyle Ahern (a VERY rare treat!), and a silent auction of Michael Pelletier’s (one of the unfortunate souls serving a life sentence that the group is looking to save) artwork, in which all proceeds were deposited directly into his commissary.

Jon Cappetta

Once everyone had arrived, Sarah Gersten, the team’s Executive Director & General Counsel, kicked off the night with a touching speech about just how much could be done without extensive legal reform—such as informing the population of the new expungement and pardon laws which could clear the records of thousands who have been negatively impacted by these since-reformed laws of the past—and her persistent desire to utilize her Harvard Law degree for good. Next, Mr. DeAngelo took the floor, and noted how the idea for the nonprofit was originally conceived after he received a phone call from a friend who’d just been incarcerated in Pennsylvania, while Steve himself was in a meeting raising money for a legal weed operation here in California. 

Perhaps the most moving speech of the night, however, came from Deedee Kirkwood, the Last Prisoner Project’s resident advocate and a wonderful soul whose free time is spent writing letters to these nonviolent ‘offenders’ to keep them company. Deedee, who herself could’ve been busted dozens of times but has never had an actual altercation with police in the past, is impassioned about assisting this noble mission. In her own words, “these people will die in prison over a miracle plant”—and that’s something we can not tolerate. 

One persistent thought I had that night was how lucky we all were to be here—many of us happened to be at the right place at the right time as this green rush boomed, and many of us are much better off because of it. That said, many of these same individuals were involved in the industry before it’s rise to fandom, and thanks mostly to either good luck, or in many cases, the color of our skin, most of us survived relatively unscathed. For all our good fortune, there are countless others who were not so lucky, or were simply born a slightly darker shade, and while it’s important for all of us to see this community grow and prosper, it’s paramount to remember where we came from, and those who fell before we could stand. The mostly pale-faced event raised over $30,000 towards the groups mission that night, and while it’s just a small step towards what’s needed, I’m certain all attendees left the event informed and ready to make a difference. In that regard, the Last Prisoner Project is already making waves.

Jon Cappetta

I’m told we’re still a bit of a way’s off from formally introducing the Last Prisoner Project to the world, but keep an eye out for a very special feature coming to our print magazine this November on the mission’s founders. In the meantime, please text ‘FREEDOM’ to 24365, follow them @lastprisonerproject or visit lastprisonerproject.org to make a donation and get involved!

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Notorious Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Sentenced to Life in Prison

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the notorious drug kingpin known as El Chapo, was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison for his convictions on federal drug, murder, and money laundering charges earlier this year. The sentence marks the end of a 30-year drug trafficking career that saw Guzmán rise to the top of Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa drug cartel.

Addressing the court at his sentencing hearing at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, Guzmán said he had not been given a fair trial and complained about being held in solitary confinement at Manhattan’s federal correctional facility before and during his three-month trial. He characterized his incarceration there as “psychological, emotional and mental torture 24 hours a day.”

“Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where my name will never be heard again, I take advantage of this opportunity to say there was no justice here,” he said.

Judge Brian M. Cogan then imposed the life sentence, mandatory under federal law due to the nature of the “overwhelmingly evil” crimes, plus 30 years. Although Cogan did not specify where Guzmán will serve his sentence, he is expected to be incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or ADX, in Florence, Colo.

Guzmán was also ordered to pay an astronomical $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture, the estimated value of the drugs he smuggled into the United States, according to federal prosecutors.

El Chapo Captured Three Times

Guzmán spent decades eluding both Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies, including two escapes from custody in Mexico. He was captured for the third time in 2016 by a binational coalition of law enforcement personnel and military troops and extradited to the U.S. the following year to face criminal charges in federal court. Guzmán had been indicted in separate cases in Tucson and San Diego in the early 1990s.

At his trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence against Guzmán that had been collected through years of surveillance and investigative work. Witnesses for the prosecution included 14 members of El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel who testified against him.

Raymond P. Donovan, the agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was involved in two of Guzmán’s captures by law enforcement, said that his sentencing marks the end of his reign, which was aided by bribery and corruption in the Mexican government.

“It’s justice not only for the Mexican government, but for all of Guzmán’s victims in Mexico,” said Donovan.

Attorney Says Prosecution a ‘Show Trial’

Guzmán’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, repeated the claim that
Guzmán had not received a fair trial while addressing reporters outside the Brooklyn courthouse.

“All he wanted was justice and at the end of the day, he didn’t get it,” Lichtman said, adding, “It was a show trial, and it’s been so since Day 1.”

Lichtman also said that the $12.6 billion judgment against Guzmán was part of the government’s charade.

“It’s a fiction. It’s part of the show trial that we’re here for,” Lichtman said. “They’ve been looking for his assets for how long, decades?”

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Un estudio encuentra que el cannabis legal reduce el cultivo ilícito en los bosques nacionales

Los investigadores argumentan que si quieren que los cultivos ilícitos en los bosques nacionales de los Estados Unidos desaparezcan, se debe legalizar el cannabis en todo el país.

Las conversaciones sobre los efectos de la legalización del cannabis a menudo se centran en algunas cuestiones claves: oportunidad económica, justicia social, el potencial de nuevos tratamientos médicos y otros beneficios para la salud. 

Sin embargo, de lo que se habla menos es cómo la legalización del cannabis afecta el medio ambiente. Los investigadores han documentado durante mucho tiempo las formas en que el cultivo de cannabis en exteriores sin control puede afectar los recursos e impactar negativamente al medio ambiente. Y los datos del Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos muestran que una cantidad significativa de cannabis producida ilegalmente se cultiva en tierras federales, especialmente en bosques nacionales.

Entonces ¿la legalización está haciendo alguna una diferencia? Esa es exactamente la pregunta que un estudio nuevo, primero en su clase, se propuso responder. ¿Las políticas relacionadas con el cannabis tienen algún efecto en las operaciones de cultivo ilícito en los bosques nacionales de los Estados Unidos? La respuesta parece ser que sí, la legalización tiene un gran impacto. De hecho, reduce significativamente su crecimiento.

La expansión de la legalización reduce el crecimiento ilícito en los bosques nacionales en una quinta parte o más, concluye el estudio.

A medida que la industria legal del cannabis en los Estados Unidos se expande, la demanda de productos de cannabis crece. Pero en el mercado estadounidense, la oferta y la demanda aún tienen que encontrar su equilibrio. Entonces, a pesar de los grandes cambios en la producción y el consumo de cannabis legal durante la última década, el mercado ilícito no regulado aún domina. En 2018, los expertos estimaron que las ventas legales representaron más de $ 10 mil millones del total de $ 50 mil millones en ventas de cannabis ese año. En pocas palabras, el mercado ilícito de marihuana no desaparecerá pronto, al menos a corto plazo.

Por supuesto, abastecer a ese mercado requiere un número significativo de operaciones de cultivo ilícitas. Y sobre la base de los datos sobre las incautaciones de las autoridades policiales en las plantas cultivadas en el exterior, los bosques nacionales parecen ser los bienes raíces principales para los cultivadores sin licencia. Los crecimientos ilícitos en Oregon, Colorado y California alimentan la mayor parte del suministro del mercado ilegal. Los bosques nacionales cubren el 24 por ciento de la tierra en Oregon y el 21 por ciento en Colorado. California tiene más bosques nacionales, 20, que cualquier otro estado. No por casualidad, los cultivos ilícitos son muy frecuentes en los bosques nacionales de esos estados (y otros estados legales de cannabis) a pesar de sus cambios hacia la producción comercial regulada.

Sin embargo, incluso en un entorno económico que continúa incentivando el cultivo ilícito, la legalización está reduciendo el número de cultivos en los bosques nacionales. “La legalización recreativa del cannabis se asocia con una disminución en los informes de operaciones de cultivo ilegal en bosques nacionales”, según la “legalización del cannabis por parte de los estados reduce el crecimiento ilegal en los bosques nacionales de EE. UU.”, Un estudio que se acaba de publicar en Ecological Economics. Y esas son buenas noticias, no solo para la industria legal, sino también para la flora y fauna de los bosques de Estados Unidos.

Dos formas de reducir los cultivos ilícitos en los bosques nacionales: legalización o encarcelamiento.

Hay mucha información que documenta la escala y el alcance del cannabis ilícito que se cultiva en los bosques nacionales de los Estados Unidos. Pero no se ha publicado ninguna investigación empírica sobre cómo los cambios en la política de cannabis y los esfuerzos de aplicación de la ley están afectando el cultivo ilícito.

Para abordar esa brecha, los investigadores del Servicio Forestal del USDA recopilaron datos sobre el número de sitios de cultivo informados en 111 bosques nacionales entre 2004 y 2016. Luego, analizaron esos datos junto con los cambios en las leyes estatales de cannabis. Los investigadores también utilizaron su conjunto de datos para ejecutar simulaciones que les permitieran probar cómo los diferentes escenarios de políticas impactarían en los bosques nacionales. Así que además de probar cómo crece la legalización recreativa reportada, los investigadores también simularon cambios en los códigos impositivos del cannabis e incluso cambios en la aplicación de la ley. Esto es lo que encontraron.

En primer lugar, la legalización recreativa redujo significativamente el número de crecimientos ilícitos reportados en los bosques nacionales.

Del mismo modo, en una eliminación simulada de la legalización en todos los estados, el estudio estimó que el crecimiento ilícito aumentaría en porcentajes de dos dígitos. Por el contrario, los investigadores encontraron que la expansión simulada de la legalización reduciría el crecimiento en los bosques nacionales en una quinta parte o más. Además, la mayor parte de esa reducción ocurriría en California. Yendo más allá y simulando una legalización nacional del cannabis, el estudio estimó que el crecimiento de los bosques nacionales ilícitos podría reducirse a la mitad y finalmente eliminarse.

Pero las investigaciones también realizaron pruebas desde la dirección opuesta. En lugar de legalización, simularon aumentos a la presencia de la ley. Y aunque encontraron que aumentar la aplicación de la ley también reduciría los crecimientos ilícitos reportados, las ganancias fueron significativamente menores en comparación con la legalización. Por ejemplo, si los presupuestos de las fuerzas del orden público y los cargos de oficiales se duplicaran de sus números actuales, el crecimiento de los bosques nacionales ilícitos disminuiría en un 10 por ciento, como máximo.

Los impuestos al cannabis contribuyen al crecimiento ilícito en los bosques nacionales

Sobre la base de su análisis estadístico, los autores del estudio muestran que la legalización tendría un efecto mucho más positivo en la reducción del crecimiento ilícito que un aumento masivo en los gastos de aplicación de la ley. “Podría decirse que nuestros modelos insinúan que la legalización nacional del cannabis recreativo sería uno de los medios por los cuales el crecimiento ilegal en los bosques nacionales podría desaparecer”.

Pero aparte de los cambios en las políticas y la oferta y la demanda mejor calibradas, los investigadores también probaron cómo los impuestos al cannabis están afectando el crecimiento ilegal en los bosques nacionales. Y encontraron que los impuestos realmente están contribuyendo a esos crecimientos. “La imposición de impuestos a las ventas legales de cannabis […] parece hacer que el cannabis ilegal sea cada vez más frecuente en los bosques nacionales”, encontró el estudio. En otras palabras, siempre que el precio después de impuestos para el cannabis legal sea más alto que para los productos ilícitos, imponer impuestos al cannabis fomentará el cultivo ilícito.

La legalización del cannabis puede proteger los bosques nacionales

Los hallazgos del estudio son significativos por varias razones. Pero el potencial de la legalización para proteger los bosques nacionales es clave. El uso no regulado de pesticidas y fertilizantes, la tala, la colocación de terrazas y la caza furtiva de la vida silvestre por parte de los trabajadores de los sitios de cultivo crean daños ambientales reales y duraderos. Por lo tanto, reducir el crecimiento de bosques ilícitos es una victoria no solo para el medio ambiente. También es una victoria para todos los que visitan, gestionan y finalmente disfrutan de los bosques.

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The Face Of Cannabis Education In Europe

More than a few cannabis “education companies” – mostly from Canada and the U.S. but some with Israeli ties, plus German and British efforts have targeted Europe as the next logical expansion plan in their global roadmap.

These include most recently Cannvas Medtech Inc., and several initiatives funded by Canopy Growth, including teaching children about the drug. It also includes training programs for frontline staff, launched by Organigram (although in this case it appears to be geared towards “brand education.”)

There are also doctor training programs launching in the UK.

In Germany, there are several efforts underway, helmed by both doctors and cannabis advocates generally, in several cities around the country.

But how effective is all of this “education” in both preventing illegal use, and promoting legitimate sales?

Particularly if such “education” platforms are exported from a foreign market for use in Europe?Canopy_Growth_Corporation_logo

Education Is Desperately Needed, But So Is Channel Penetration

Nobody is arguing that “education,” as well as trials and more information for payers and doctors are not required. The problem is that some education is more effective than other campaigns. And most of the talk in most places is more a discussion of the need for further regulatory reform, more trials and more investigation.

That has to get paid for somewhere.

That, at least in Europe is also tricky, as both early educational movers Weedmaps and Leafly have both found out, especially in medical only markets in the EU. Why? There are also highly limited opportunities for advertising either a drug, or to doctors.

Different Regulatory Environments Cause Bigger Issues

Even in Canada and the United States, there is an ecosystem of supplying the demand that has very much grown up customized by the strange paths to reform if not the first mover discussion.

That is not going to be the case in Europe, which in effect creates a brand-new ecosystem to educate, with new players, and every ecosystem participant group has a different kind of educational needs.

Here is one example of where this shows up. So far, in most countries, doctors are still highly resistant to prescribing the drug. Nurses, on the other hand, in both the United States and Canada at least, have proven to be a much more reliable source of converts for the cannabis cause. That approach of course is not possible in places like Germany where only doctors may issue prescriptions, including of the cannabis (and narcotic) kind.

european union statesAccess issues also play a big role in just about every country- from cost to privacy. And on the privacy front, it is not just foreigners who are getting used to new rules. So are German doctors.

The pharmacy discussion is also very much in the room – and this is not “just like” approaching a “dispensary” from North America. They are regulated chemists. Which causes a whole new set of issues and a serious need for new kinds of educational materials.

In Germany, for example, pharmacists are being recruited and trained by not only staff recruiters specializing in the same, but also sent on special training courses funded by the big Canadian companies (Tilray being the noticeable one recently). The brick and mortar vs. online discussion is also a big topic across Europe. Notably, where it is allowed and where it is, as in Deutschland, verboten.

And, of course, the big green giant in the room everywhere in Europe, in particular, is payer/insurance approvals, which are based on a kind of education called proven medical efficacy.

And that, so far, is in markedly short supply.

In the UK, it is so far the main reason that NHS patients (for example) cannot access coverage for the drug to treat conditions like chronic pain.

In the meantime, the most widespread “education” that is going on, is still mostly at the patient level. Especially when patients sue their insurers, or lobby doctors to prescribe.

The cannabis industry may be maturing, in other words, to be able to answer these questions – but there is also clearly a long way to go.

The post The Face Of Cannabis Education In Europe appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.


Corporate CBD Production Gets Underway in UK

Any thought that established British and Canadian growers were not already cooperating and in the throes of establishing a UK cannabis production base was put to bed in early July.

Namely, the news that Sundial, an Alberta based Canadian company, is buying Bridge Farms, the winner of the Overall UK Grower of the Year Award in 2017, is a sign that the age of British cannabinoid production (and in bulk) is here. The agriculture group has a 75-acre production facility in Lincolnshire (strategically on the border with Norfolk) and a recent ₤18 million equity injection.

This also means that large-scale CBD production in the UK is now underway with authority.

What it also means, however, is that the winds of trade, even if historically, are already cultivating some interesting partners as the entire British cannabis discussion gets underway.

Sundial Growers also almost simultaneously filed documents to list on the Nasdaq in the U.S. In this, they look remarkably similar to Tilray.

British Sugar Is Now Not The Only Game In Town

The links to the cannabis industry in this part of the UK are not new. Namely, the county of Norfolk (the east-coast “bump” of the British coastline just south of Lincolnshire) is home to British Sugar, the cultivator for GW Pharmaceuticals cannabis crop.

GW logoThis part of the world is also historically associated not only with major international British trade, but in the past at least, of the German kind in particular. See the port of Kings Lynn and the Hanseatic trading route that put the eastern town on the global shipping map until the advent of the railroads in the UK leached its importance south, to London in the 19th century.

Foreign investment in agriculture, in other words, in this part of the world is not new. Nor is shipping the final product elsewhere.

What Does This Mean For The British Market?

That is an interesting question on the advent of a potential Brexit. Is this newly constructed agricultural centre designed, like Canopy’s newest hempire in New York State, for domestic consumption, and-or overseas trade?

For that reason, a fully automated CBD production facility in such a strategic and historic part of the country seems to indicate the commercial production of CBD has begun at a level virtually unseen in any other European country so far. And further, that its backers have an international, not just domestic market, in mind.

What Does This Mean For the European Market?

Unless the UK is planning on eviscerating all worker safety and pay regulations, it is unlikely that British-grown cannabis will be price competitive with what is going on in Europe right now. The German market, in fact, is a very good precursor to the kinds of growing pains the UK is likely to see in this regard.

european union statesExports, in other words, are highly unlikely, at least to Europe.

What this does mean however, is that licensed producers, with international roots and global financing, are clearly moving into the more or less corporate production market that is slowly getting going in Britain.

And just like elsewhere, post Canada, there is no chance, at this point at least, for any “mom and pop” industry to develop.

Given a lack of patient access at this point that is also not likely to fly politically for long.

Regardless, as of the summer of 2019, there are beginning to be the signs that large scale production of both THC and CBD, is getting going in Britain.

No matter where their customers are located.

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The High Priestess: Are Energy Healing and Plant Medicine a Match Made in Heaven?

As CBD and cannabis continue to enchant the mainstream with glamour and healing galore, the popularity of energy healing isn’t so far behind. Now you can walk into your coffee shop and get your CBD latte as easily as you can hit up your local spa for a reiki healing. The witch is alive and well, as evidence of this column and the popularity of esoteric topics like astrology, tarot, and magick.

Yes, honey, we’re waking up. We are reclaiming ancient traditions and healing modalities. And as mystics and stoners alike, there’s an appreciation for the experience itself. You can’t truly judge cannabis or healing without having tried it. And now, in the Age of Aquarius, we’re being not only to try, but to see these two experiences as interconnected. Will you join me down the rabbit hole?

As I write this, we’re in the midst of Cancer Season, with Eclipse season and retrograde season in full swing as well. Just this Tuesday we experienced a Full Moon and Partial Lunar Eclipse in Earth sign Capricorn.  There have been tears. There have been feelings. There has been plenty of CBD and cannabis use. And there has also been plenty of healing. And what I’m particularly interested in right now is how we can use both plant medicine and energy healing in tandem, so we can not only survive periods of intensity, but thrive in them.

Since this question can be pondered endlessly, I talked to Maggie Wilson- Reiki Master, Metaphysical Mastermind, and Ultimate Energy Networker- to understand how we can use cannabis as a supplement to our healing practices. Maggie offers reiki healing sessions, attunements, teacher training, and continuing education courses for reiki. She’s an all-around bad witch with so much knowledge to share on the metaphysical. For this installment of the High Priestess, we talked about what reiki is, why energy is everything and how we can start working with reiki regardless if we’ve been attuned.

Ivory Woods

Even if you’ve never heard the word Reiki, you’re probably familiar with the concept. During a Reiki healing, a practitioner uses their palms to guide healing life energy through the body. Starting at the top of the head, the practitioner will place their palms above or on the body they’re healing. You have to be taught how to practice reiki through what are called attunements, which acclimate you to this energy. There are levels 1, 2, and 3 of reiki and when you reach level 3 of reiki attunements, you become a Reiki Master and can teach others. 

“I like to refer to Reiki as the force like in Star Wars. It’s that undeniable energy that connects all and is limitlessly infinite,” Maggie says. “The only dark side to Reiki is our own shadow which isn’t always a bad thing. Rei means Spiritually guided life force and Ki is energy.

So Reiki is ‘All knowing energy guided by the force of life’ (the universe). We are all trying to heal the wounded Anakin in us so we don’t turn into Vader. Reiki encourages you to do that first before moving onto “healing others”.

Reiki was started in the late 19th or early 20th century by a Japanese monk named Mikao Usui, who drew on different techniques and styles of healing from different Asian traditions. The concept of Reiki is that disease (dis-ease) is actually caused by energetic imbalances in the body. Reiki healing uses a person as sort of channel for redirecting this energy to create balance and restore the energy body back to equilibrium.

Even if you can’t quite wrap your mind around this, it’s okay—reiki is still working! Just because you don’t understand how electricity happens doesn’t mean it doesn’t still turn on your lights. Maggie says some of her best clients have been skeptics who are open to new experiences. Regardless if you’re a skeptic or not attuned, you can still tap into reiki energy in your ritual practice or your next smoke session.

Ivory Woods

“Reiki is everywhere and can work through every one. There are symbols that call on the energy of Reiki just like a special prayer or item of devotion. I suggest calling in that you want to receive this energy and pay attention to how it comes up for you. It could come up in a Youtube video, a friend who knows a reiki facilitator, or even this article. There is no wrong way for Reiki to come into your life,” Maggie explains.

“Energy healing isn’t just someone waving their hands over you and saying you are healed. It is a detailed understanding that we are quantum vibrations and that we are affected by different frequencies in this world and throughout our lifetimes. Energy healing is using the field of quantum physics to change the way your particles are vibrating.”

Take a hit to that, and remember that there are many ways to shift your vibration. Meditation. Visualization. Sound Healing. We can even use psychedelics as a tool in shifting our perspective, or helping us reach deeper places in our healing. Just like CBD and Cancer season are a match made in the watery tears of heaven, it seems that reiki and plant medicine are an iconic duo; and being under the influence can actually further the experience.

Ivory Woods

“When I started doing Reiki for others I found that people who were on psychedelics or using plant medicine gained more from the experience of receiving Reiki,” Maggie says. ”It’s common for the ego to dissipate during psychedelic experiences and at those times people are more likely to accept energetic manifestations in and around their body.” 

If being in an altered state can help us when being healed by someone else, then it must be able to help us in our own healing journeys as well. When I asked Maggie for a simple healing ritual we can practice this Eclipse and Retrograde season, whether we’re reiki-attuned or not, she suggested listening to drums and working with the element of water. Drums take us back to the first thing we ever heard; the heartbeat of our mothers in the womb. Water washes away, rejuvenates, cleanses and clears.

For a simple ritual, you’ll need some music and a body of water like a pool, bathtub, river or ocean. Put on some drum-heavy music (Maggie suggests the Thunder Drum) and either in the body of water or next to it find a comfortable position and find your breath, taking the time to come back into your body.

Consume your cannabis and meditate for 11 minutes on the sound of the drums. If you’re not in the water, you’ll get in it and then you’ll “take the plunge” by dunking your head under the water three times. As you emerge each time, you take a moment to connect and feel the energy of the water cleansing you and the earth below supporting you.

“This is clearing yourself with intention and an added bonus is when the plant’s spirit has already chosen to work with you. Like a personal baptism!” Maggie says.

You can also work with mala beads, or prayer beads, as a module for energy healing to help find some reprise in these cosmically trying times. Lately in my own meditation practice, I’ve been working with mala beads and mantras, usually dedicated to a Goddess or intention, before I smoke some flower, pull tarot cards and journal. Maggie’s own practice is similar.

“Energy healing wise, I have been doing a lot of meditations and mirror energy talk with my mala and saying declarations on each bead,” Maggie explains. “I am currently working with Strawberry Quartz, Rhodochrosite, and Purple Fluorite with a flower of life at the center. Super heart centered and meditative. She is my latest companion when things start to get flared up!”  

Ivory Woods

You’re invited to join! Consume your cannabis, find a comfortable seat and then connect to your breath. Pass the mala through your hand, saying a declaration for each bead. You can do this with a rosary, or a pearl necklace, or you can just repeat your mantras to yourself 108 times (the sacred number in mala beads).

Some options for mantras: I am powerful. I am capable. I am abundant. Or you may wish to say I declare that I am powerful. I declare I am capable. I declare I am abundant. Do what feels right, listen to your intuition and give yourself permission to feel silly. Healing is serious but it’s also meant to be fun! Allow yourself to enjoy the ride, to follow the ever revolving door of restoration, whatever that means to you.

If you’re looking to incorporate energy healing into your life, invite it in. Look for the signs. Trust that the teacher, the healer, and the key is in you. The key IS you. You will simply call forth whatever you need in the moment. If you want some more guidance from Maggie, you can follow her on my favorite meditation app ever, Insight Timer, as Margaret Wilson. You can also find out about her many offerings including reiki retreats, one-on-one sessions, teacher training and more through her website. You can also follow her on Instagram here. 

As we continue processing all the lessons this eclipse season is teaching us, remember to honor your own healing no matter how non-linear it is. Drink water. Press your feet into the earth. Call back your light and your power and remember you got this. And so it is!

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Columbus, Ohio May Significantly Reduce Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The city council in Columbus, Ohio is considering cannabis policy reforms that would significantly reduce the penalties imposed for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The council has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed city ordinance to enact the reforms for Thursday evening.

Under the proposed ordinance, possession of up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of marijuana would be subject to a fine of up to $10. Those caught possessing between 100 and 200 grams (approximately seven ounces) of cannabis could be fined up to $25. Possession of more than 200 grams would still be a felony.

The fine for possession of marijuana paraphernalia would be reduced to $10. The ordinance would also increase funding to help those with previous convictions for marijuana possession offenses have their criminal records sealed.

The fines for cannabis possession would not apply to “any person who obtained the marihuana pursuant to a lawful prescription issued by a licensed health professional authorized to prescribe drugs,” according to the ordinance.

Punishments More Severe Under State Law

Under Ohio state law, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis can be punished with a fine of up to $150 while possessing 100 to 200 grams of pot could set you back $250 and land you in jail for up to 30 days.

Council President Shannon G. Hardin said in a written statement that the council has scheduled Thursday’s public hearing in an effort to receive feedback on the proposal from the community.

“We want to know what residents think about on proposed reforms,” said Hardin. “We are having serious conversations about inequalities in the criminal justice system.

“There are two key elements to the proposal: lowering fines for small amounts of marijuana possession and increasing funds for Legal Aid attorneys to help seal records for minor convictions so Columbus residents can get good-paying jobs.”

Racial Inequality of Cannabis Enforcement Cited

In a background paper attached to the proposed ordinance, it is noted that the racial inequality prevalent in the enforcement of marijuana laws has already led other Ohio cities to enact their own ordinances with more lenient penalties for possessing cannabis. The Columbus ordinance
“will further the city’s efforts to address criminal penalties that have disproportionate effects on communities of color,” reads the background paper.

“Given the racial inequities that exist with enforcement of marihuana laws locally and nationwide, the recent legalization of medical marihuana in the state of Ohio, and the number of recent ballot initiatives and ordinances liberalizing marihuana laws in municipalities such as Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati, (Columbus) Council has determined that the potential penalties for misdemeanor marihuana possession should be lowered from the standard set” by the state of Ohio, the background paper adds.

Last month, the Cincinnati City Council voted to eliminate all fines for possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis.

The public hearing on the ordinance will be held on Thursday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall. Residents of the city who cannot attend but would like to send feedback to the city council on the issue can take an online survey at www.columbus.gov/council/marijuanareform or send email messages to marijuanareform@columbus.gov.

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New Jersey Opens Major Expansion of Medical Marijuana Program

On Monday, New Jersey’s Department of Health announced plans to accept applications for individuals and entities interested in opening operational and cultivation facilities. The agency said that it is seeking applicants to operate as many as 24 Alternative Treatment Centers, with the aim to place eight in the northern part of the state, eight in the central region and seven in the south. An additional facility will be placed in a yet-to-be-determined region, the department said. 

Moreover, the department said it intends to grant licenses for an additional 15 dispensaries, five cultivation centers and four “vertically integrated permits,” which would involve a combination of cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary. The applications, which were made available on Monday, are due on August 22; it costs $20,000 to apply, though failed applicants will receive a reimbursement of $18,000. 

All applicants “must submit a security plan and an environmental impact statement,” and demonstrate “experience in cultivating, manufacturing or retailing marijuana and provide quality control and assurance plans,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

The permit expansion was put in motion earlier this month when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a bill to grant an additional 24 licenses. It’s part of an ongoing effort by Murphy to dramatically expand access to medical marijuana in the state. 

Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since early 2010, when outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine signed the measure into law on his final day in office. But for years, the program suffered from low enrollment due to the law’s strict requirements. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who succeeded Corzine, was a vocal opponent to medical marijuana, calling it a “front for legalization.” 

“What there’s a huge demand for is marijuana. Not medical marijuana,” Christie said in the summer of 2014. “Because when we run a medically based program, you don’t see the demand.”

But under Murphy, who was elected governor in 2017, the state has made an effort to expand the medical cannabis program, with growing calls to also legalize recreational use. Earlier this month, Murphy signed bill A20, also known as “Jake’s Law” after seven-year-old Jake Honig who died last year from brain cancer. The law brings a number of changes and expansions to the medical marijuana program, including raising the monthly limit for patients from two ounces to three ounces, and allowing edibles to be prescribed to adults (previously, they were only available to minors). 

“I am proud to stand with my legislative partners as we break down barriers to ensure this life-changing medical treatment is affordable and accessible for those who need it most,” Murphy said at the signing ceremony. 

But the effort to legalize recreational marijuana, which Murphy also supports, collapsed in the New Jersey legislature earlier this year. After that legislation fizzled, Murphy vowed that the fight was not over.
“History is rarely made at the first attempt,” he said in March. “But eventually barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down. Certainly I am disappointed, but we are not defeated.”

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