While Lawmakers Discourage Vaping In US, Doctors in The UK Promote It

LONDON (AP) — While the U.S. scrambles to crack down on vaping, Britain has embraced electronic cigarettes as a powerful tool to help smokers kick the habit.

The Royal College of Physicians explicitly tells doctors to promote e-cigarettes “as widely as possible” to people trying to quit. Public Health England’s advice is that vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking.

U.S. public health officials have taken a more wary approach, and have been slow to regulate e-cigarettes. That caution turned to alarm, though, with an explosion in teen vaping, prompting the federal government and some states to take steps to ban fruit and minty flavors that appeal to youths.

And now, with hundreds of U.S. cases of a mysterious lung illness among vapers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people consider not using e-cigarettes, especially those with THC, the compound that gives pot its high.

The U.S. reaction is “complete madness,” said Dr. John Britton, director of the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham. “The reality with smoking is, if you tell people to stop vaping, they will go back to tobacco and tobacco kills.”

Regulations about e-cigarettes vary by country, making for a patchwork of policies. More than 30 countries ban e-cigarettes outright; India halted sales this month. Many European countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany and Italy classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, subjecting them to strict controls. They are mostly sold as consumer products in Britain and France, under more lax rules.

The Issue With E-Cigs

Since arriving in the U.S. in
2007, e-cigarettes have been largely unregulated. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration didn’t get the power to do that until three years ago
and is still working out the details. Black market versions, meanwhile,
have flourished.

Appearing before Congress last week, the U.S. FDA’s acting commissioner was pressed to explain the agency’s position. Several lawmakers suggested e-cigarettes should be completely removed from the market.

“We do not consider these products safe, we think they have harm,” said Dr. Ned Sharpless. “We do not think really anyone should be using them other than people using them in place of combustible tobacco.”

In Britain, a review by Public Health England, an agency similar to the CDC, concluded that vaping is about 95% less dangerous than smoking. A leading British anti-tobacco charity, Ash, even called for e-cigarettes to be licensed as medicines and provided free to smokers trying to quit by Britain’s government-funded health system.

“We need radical solutions to stop smoking and one
option is providing smokers with e-cigarettes so they can get the
nicotine they need without the tobacco smoke,” said Britton. “We have a
much more relaxed attitude to people being addicted to nicotine on the
basis that nicotine itself isn’t particularly hazardous.”

E-cigarettes
and other vaping devices typically heat a solution containing nicotine
into a vapor that’s inhaled. The amount of nicotine varies widely: Some
countries set limits on the amount. There’s no cap in the U.S. And the
surge in U.S. teen vaping brought warnings from health officials that
nicotine can harm a teenager’s still developing brain.

“What’s
right for England might not be right for the U.S.,” said Ryan Kennedy of
the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.

Compared to the United States, England
has had historically higher rates of tobacco use and a “deeper comfort”
with the idea of substituting a less harmful habit for a dangerous one,
Kennedy said. British health officials have been able and willing to
strictly regulate e-cigarettes while promoting them as a stop-smoking
tool.

“It’s not very surprising that a place like England has
embraced e-cigarettes,” Kennedy said. “A lot of things lined up to make
sense to use these devices to help people transition away from
cigarettes.”

In the U.S., meanwhile, the rapid rise in
e-cigarettes’ popularity among teenagers, a thriving black market for
vapes containing marijuana extracts and the illness outbreak have
muddied the public health message recently, Kennedy said.

“Obviously there are a lot of moving parts with this,” he said.

Another
key difference is advertising. Unlike in the U.S., Britain has tight
regulations on advertising vaping; all TV, online and radio marketing is
banned, explained Linda Bauld, a public health professor at the
University of Edinburgh.

“E-cigarettes are promoted to middle-aged
smokers as a way to quit and the imaging from our annual quit campaign
is usually all men with beards, so it looks pretty boring,” she said.

On
Friday, the CDC said it appears THC vaping products are playing a role
in the puzzling U.S. outbreak of lung injuries and deaths. The agency
said many of the 800 people who got sick reported vaping THC. It said
more information was needed on whether a single product, substance or
brand is responsible. Some researchers suspect an ingredient used as a
thickener in vaping oils, particularly in black market products.

“It’s inconceivable that any legitimate vaping product would cause that degree of damage,” Britton said.

Some British e-cigarette users said, in the meantime, their own habits wouldn’t change.

“There
seems to be a bit of a panic over there, but that has nothing to do
with us,” said Lewis Niall, a personal trainer outside a north London
vaping store.

Niall said vaping as a whole shouldn’t be tarnished if the problem is illicit marijuana products.

“For me, I feel so much better since switching from cigarettes that I don’t think anything will change my mind,” he said.

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Take it to the Bank: Marijuana Businesses Are Playing it SAFE

Is this the writing on the wall? In what looks to be the biggest step forward toward the ultimate legalization of marijuana on the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives just passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act, or SAFE Banking Act, a critical step toward clearing the way for cannabis-related businesses to operate outside a cash-only world. Congresspeople voted in favor of the bill 321-103, which, remarkably, included nearly half of the Republicans that cast a vote.

Suffice it to say, this is great news for everyone aboard the “reform our nation’s marijuana laws” train. But the celebration should be kept in check. The legislation now moves on to the Senate, where those in the know suggest that passage appears to be much less likely, at least in its present form.

That being said, momentum is definitely trending in the right direction, and it certainly feels like the SAFE Banking Act—or something very much like it—actually becoming law is not an “if” but a “when” proposition. And its importance cannot be overstated.

The law as passed in the House seeks to create protections for depository institutions (such as banks and credit unions) that provide financial services to legitimate marijuana businesses (i.e., those acting within the auspices of state law). That would be a welcomed event for players in the cannabis industry who, until now, have been largely barred from opening bank accounts or obtaining loans because their financial institutions deemed the risk of penalties and federal enforcement actions for servicing them too high. While marijuana still remains illegal pursuant to federal law through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811), it seems increasingly likely that legalization—and big business—is just around the corner.

But What About the States?

In states that have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational use—a list that is ever expanding—cash is king. And that is because, up until now, federal banking laws have severely restricted access to financial services for companies, startup or otherwise, in the pot biz. This spells real trouble for several reasons, not least of which is that entities maintaining large amounts of cash on hand for payment of expenses, including employee salaries, are ground zero for crime (can you say theft and money laundering?). 

This is why passage of the SAFE Banking Act in the House and—hopefully, in the near future—a sister bill in the Senate is such a big deal. If the SAFE Banking Act becomes law, credit card processors can get in on the marijuana action, and with that the legal cannabis industry—operating despite the prohibitions of the CSA—would no longer endure on an all-cash island. But it gets even better. Opening up the banking system, as the SAFE Banking Act aspires to do, would allow what the pending legislation defines as “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” to avail themselves to lending (for both operational and real estate purposes), facilitate necessary anti-money laundering protections, and so much more.

SAFE but Not Sorry

As of this writing, more than 200,000 people work for state-legal marijuana concerns. Clearly, the business is booming, and by passing a law permitting depository institutions to legally interact with related companies, the sky would be the limit. If enacted, the SAFE Banking Act—or similar legislation—would reduce barriers to entry, thus expanding the cannabis sector even more. The move would also open the door to ancillary businesses that could benefit from what would be exponential growth in the marijuana space as a result of banking reform. One great example: owners and management of cannabis businesses could use outside vendors to handle employee payroll and other tasks that, to this day, continue to be processed in cash.

The Power of Legitimacy

The Senate’s embrace of the SAFE Banking Act would bring order and real legitimacy to an industry that, in the current landscape, finds itself in something akin to the Wild Wild West, having to skirt and work around applicable federal prohibitions. It is fair to say that with such a law on the books, cannabis-related businesses operating legally under state law could, to a large degree, breathe easy on the federal level to the extent banks and credit unions (and their officers, directors and employees) could offer and perform financial services that would no longer subject them to federal scrutiny. And with that, the needle would no doubt move in the direction of an eventual—maybe even imminent—change to federal drug laws, legalizing cannabis nationwide. We can only hope Republicans in the Senate follow the lower house’s lead.

Megan Penick is a partner and dynamic business lawyer at Michelman & Robinson, LLP, a national law firm with offices in Los Angeles, Orange County (California), San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. She handles commercial transactions, such as corporate and financing deals, for cannabis-related companies, small and mid-cap corporations and financial institutions. Megan can be contacted at mpenick@mrllp.com or (212) 730-7700.

Stephen Weiss is also an M&R partner. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, corporate and securities law, and capital markets financing transactions for a varied client base, including businesses in the cannabis space. Stephen can be contacted at sweiss@mrllp.com or 310-299-5500.

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Governor of Washington Announces Emergency Ban on Flavored Vapes

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington directed health officials on Friday to ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products in the state. In an executive order, the governor called on the state Board of Health to issue the ban, which is to include both nicotine and THC-based products, at its meeting scheduled for October 9. The ban would not go into effect until ordered by the board.

Inslee’s prohibition on vaping products along with several other measures were taken as a response to the nation’s ongoing rash of serious lung injuries and illnesses that have been tied to vaping and e-cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that more than 800 confirmed and probable cases of the mysterious lung condition and at least a dozen deaths have been tied to vaping.

“If I had a loved one, I would just tell them you’re playing dice with your lungs,” Inslee said at a press conference on Friday.

The governor also directed the state Department of Health and the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board to ban the use of any vaping ingredients that may be found to be the cause of the illnesses and to require that manufacturers disclose the ingredients that are used to process and produce vaping products.

“Everyone deserves to know what’s in these vaping liquids,” Inslee said.

Inslee’s order also calls on the two agencies to develop signs for retail stores that warn of the potential risks of e-cigarettes and vaping. The Department of Health and the Liquor and Cannabis Board were also directed to draft legislation for the regulation of vaping products, including a permanent ban on flavored offerings.

Inslee noted that he would have been more restrictive on vaping with his order if not for legislative limits on his authority, saying “I wanted to do more by this executive order.” He added that Friday’s action is only the beginning of a process.

“This is a floor, not a ceiling,” said the governor.

Washington will join New York, Michigan, and Rhode Island in at least temporarily banning flavored vape products. The Trump administration has announced plans to institute a similar ban, while Massachusetts has already enacted an emergency ban on all vape products.

Lawmaker Seeks Legislative Ban

Earlier this week, Washington Democratic state Rep. Gerry Pollet announced his intention to pursue a ban on flavored e-cigarettes during the legislature’s next session.

“We know there are toxic substances in these products, and they are mostly associated with flavors, and we need to ban them,” said Pollet.

Pollet, who is also a clinical instructor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, said that state officials plan to take other action including lawsuits to protect the public, particularly for young people.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm that there are toxic chemicals that are going to harm lungs and cause serious illnesses for several years, and it’s taking this bizarre outbreak with hundreds of people having a chemical pneumonia for people to realize this isn’t just steam vapor,” he said.

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Expert Lighting Advice For Taking Your Grow To The Next Level

Investing in the latest and greatest technology can help you take your grow to the next level. However, it can be difficult at times to know which lights are worth investing in. We speak to Martin Anker from SANlight to better understand what to look for in a grow light and how lighting can increase your yields.

How did you first get involved with horticultural lighting?

Almost 20 years ago I started as a hobby grower. I was growing on just a few square meters with HPS [high-pressure sodium] lights. As my grow setup had to be as stealthy as possible, I realized that temperatures in small cabinets are a big issue to control. A few years later I started mechatronic studies under a master’s program, where I decided to combine my hobby of growing with my technical knowledge, and eventually founded SANlight.

What’s most important when considering a grow lamp?

Many different points have to be considered, and the first question is where you want to use your grow-light system. For usage in big professional facilities or greenhouses, the protection of LEDs [light-emitting diodes] is important. So you need at least IP54 protection class. Especially if the grower is working with sulfur, the protection is very important, as sulfur can destroy your LEDs.

For sure, the PPF and PPFD [photosynthetic proton flux and photosynthetic proton flux density, respectively, which are measures of photons that contribute to photosynthesis] values are most important in general. A grower should have at least the same PPF and PPFD readings as with their old HPS system. A few percentage less PPFD can be compensated by the better spectrum, however over 15 percent less PPF/PPFD will lead to smaller crops. For example, a 600-watt HPS SE [single-ended] fixture has around 840μmol/s PPF, so your LED system should have the same or more PPF to be a good replacement.

Light spectrum is important also, and narrow-banded spectrums with just red and blue LEDs will lead to saturation effects on chlorophyll when used at high intensities greater than 500μmol/m2/s. Such PPFD values are typical for growing cannabis indoors. Last but not least, a grower has to check for passive-cooled fixtures and the lifetime of the whole fixture’s good secondary optics. As the LED technology is rapidly moving forward, a grower would benefit from an upgradeable fixture, saving the grower money in the long run.

What is the difference in the brightness of a lamp and the PAR output?

Brightness is measured in lumen and lux. On the other hand, the human eye can see green light best, which is the measurement of lumen—the sensitivity of the human eye. Due to the technology nowadays, most HPS bulbs have the same spectral output. Therefore, a grower can compare HPS bulbs by lumens even though it’s not the right measurement.

To evaluate light sources for horticultural applications, you have to know that you can look at light in two different ways. One perspective is to look at light as a wave—then we are talking about PAR watts. The other point of view is to look to light as particles [photons]—then the measure is μmol/s, which means we are counting the photons. If we are talking about PAR watts, you have to know that the energy of a light wave depends on the wavelength—the shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy from the light wave. Our internal research has shown that measuring photosynthetic active radiation is done most exact by measuring in photons [μmol/s for PPF and μmol/m2/s for PPFD].

Expert Lighting Advice
Anker’s lighting technology works for a variety of plants/ Courtesy of SANlight

Which spectrums of light do plants really use during their life cycle?

That’s not an easy question to answer, as the research for that is at an early stage. In general, my answer is the best spectrum for plants is emitted by the sun. It’s possible to design a sun-like spectrum with LEDs, but lifetime and efficacy are not good with today’s technology.

Whether or not a spectrum performs well or poorly should be the primary concern along with the intensity at the plant [PPFD]. For low intensities with 50μmol/m2/s to 200μmol/m2/s, narrowband spectrums with just red and blue work fine. Such intensities are used, for example, in greenhouses as a supplement to the natural daylight. If you want to grow short-day plants in an indoor facility, a grower needs high intensities, e.g., 500μmol/m2/s. For that application, a more broadband spectrum works better by preventing saturation effects. We are trailing different spectrums at different intensities continuously, and up to today our actual spectrum performs best for indoor cultivation at high PPFD readings.

How does red and far red influence flowering and why does this happen?

Having the right ratio of red and far-red light is important for rooting and the development of side branches. Without enough far-red light in the spectrum, side branches will stay very short, which leads to a reduction of yield at the end of your grow. Also, the root development of clones and seedlings is influenced by the red/far-red ratio.

Pure far-red light can be used to manipulate the maximum lighting time for flowering. Generally, short-day plants start flowering when the light cycle is 12/12. With additional far-red light at the end of the day, plants will start flowering even at 14 hours of light per day. So a grower has two hours per day more to power up the crop with light energy. But in my opinion, this is not the way to go, because it’s tricky to find the right amount of far-red light for different strains.

What are your thoughts on COB [chips on board] lighting and its overall efficacy?

COBs are good in terms of efficacy but are definitely not market-leading. It’s an easy way to build up DIY lamps. As COBs are silver-coated, they are not useful for professional horticulture lighting, because the silver coating will be destroyed by sulfur in a very short time period. The COB will still function, but the PPF will drop dramatically. In professional indoor farms, sulfur is used to prevent pests and fungal attack.

How exactly do lighting manufacturers test for PPF and PPFD readings, and how accurate will those readings be?

Measuring PPF can be done in an integrating sphere or in a goniometer. Once a manufacturer has this equipment in his facility, the measurements can be done easily. Of course, the measuring process itself has tolerances up to plus or minus 7 percent.

PPFD measurements are also easy to do if you have the right equipment. We have seen in the past that cheap PAR meters have measurement errors up to 30 percent; however, if you use the right equipment, the measurement can be done quickly. It’s important to measure over the whole area, and not just give a single value for a certain area, meaning it is best to have a PPFD plot over your growing area.

Do you think UV [ultraviolet] plays a role in the potency and terpene profile of plants?

Yes. With UV light, a grower can manipulate potency, but this is just one method of manipulation. Our standard indoor spectrum boosts the THC content more than 25 percent in comparison to a side-by-side HPS test. Without the use of UV, generating UV light with LEDs is not a good idea at the moment, as powerful UV LEDs are very expensive but not very efficient. UV light is also blocked by PMMA [acrylic] and PC [polycarbonate], which is the material for secondary optics.

Expert Lighting Advice
Cannabis plants get inspected in a massive garden lit by LEDs/ Courtesy of SANlight

Are LEDs more environmentally friendly, and can you describe the popularity of LED lights in Europe and how things have changed over the years?

Yes, on the one hand, the lifetime of LEDs is much longer than with HPS. This eliminates changing of the light source and, of course, reduces waste. Alternately, LEDs do not contain heavy metals like quicksilver. When I founded the company in 2012, it was hard to sell LEDs to the public. People doubted this technology, because a lot of cheap LED fixtures on the market produced bad yields in terms of quantity.

For SANlight, it was important to tell the people what’s possible with LEDs and what’s not possible. Today’s technology can save up to 40 percent energy while producing the same yields, with the quality of end product being better if you grow with LEDs. That means you have more THC and CBD in your harvest, and the terpene profile is better too, because of lower heat radiation. In German-speaking countries, growers have realized that. Home growers especially can benefit from using LEDs as lighting for their grows. Growing with LEDs means a grower can produce a larger yield in the same cultivation area.

How is the scene in Europe regarding CBD, as we saw you are involved with a large-scale project in Switzerland?

CBD production is a big industry in Switzerland, and many farms are equipped with SANlight LED fixtures. Using LEDs in professional growrooms reduces the need for air conditioning, makes it possible to grow cannabis in a vertical farm, and increases crop yield and quality. Many professionals believe that LED technology is a key factor to operating their farms more profitably.

Do you feel that more growers will turn to LEDs as laws start to become more relaxed around the world?

Yes, I believe in that. Also, as the LED technology has higher initial costs, people could be afraid to lose their lighting system if something goes wrong. As laws change in favor of legal growing, growers will not have to worry as much about their grows being in jeopardy and could be more willing to invest in the technology for the long haul.

What are your top tips for anyone who wants to get the most out of their grow light?

A couple things. In our research, we have seen the importance of VPD [vapor pressure deficit]. And, of course, checking for temperatures above 23°C in combination with the right humidity is a key factor for good results with LEDs. Feeding and any other factors that influence plant growth can stay the same as with HPS. The only thing that changes is the needed amount of nutrient solution per day.

Do you have any social-media platforms our readers can follow you on?

Yes, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram (@sanlight_led).

This feature was published in the July, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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Willie Nelson’s Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug

To look at Jim Allison, you wouldn’t immediately think that he’s a Nobel Prize-winning immunologist. He looks more like a harmonica player, which he is, too. In fact, you can occasionally catch him onstage playing with his longtime friend, Willie Nelson. But as a new feature-length documentary reveals, Jim Allison is actually the reason why certain people with melanoma have their lives back. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, Jim Allison: Breakthrough features interviews with Allison’s family, professors, reporters, and colleagues, as well as a cancer patient who tried every kind of therapy without any success—until she tried Allison’s breakthrough drug, Ipilimumab.

Allison was born in 1948 and grew up in Texas, the son of a housewife and doctor. His two older brothers called him “diamond-head” for how hardheaded he was, referring to a trait that eventually served in Allison’s favor as a scientist. When not wandering in the woods playing his harmonica, Allison played with a chemistry set in his garage, with encouragement from his father—having lost his mother to lymphoma when he was only 11 years old.

Willie Nelson's Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug
Jim Allison looks at T cells/ Courtesy Malinda Allison

Allison graduated high school at the tender age of 16, heading to the University of Texas in Austin to study biology. It was in college where he learned the importance of perseverance and developed an interest in T cells, which are a central part of the body’s immune response, carrying receptors that have the ability to zero in on a diseased cell and vanquish it. As Michael Curran, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says in the film, “[Allison] was the first one to actually purify the molecule by which T cells recognize everything.”

In 1974, Allison moved to San Diego to learn more about the immune system at Scripps. That’s when he met Willie Nelson and brought him to a local dive bar to play live, developing a friendship with him that led to Allison occasionally playing harmonica in Nelson’s band.

Willie Nelson's Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug
Willie Nelson and Jim Allison in concert/ C3 Presents

Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Cancer Research at MIT, says in the film, “Part of Jim’s success is that he’s an iconoclast. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that he’s not following convention. He’s following his own thoughts, his own motivations. He’s willing to do it in the face of his colleagues not necessarily believing him.”

Meanwhile, Allison successfully spoke against a Texas bill opposing the teaching of evolution in public schools and was offered a full professorship at Berkeley. He theorized that cancer cells highjack CTLA-4 protein receptors and trick T cells into stopping them from attacking tumors. The theory led to Allison developing his drug, Ipilimumab, or “Ipi,” as it came to be known. But watching the film, one question immediately comes to mind: Was it more difficult to actually develop the drug or to get it to people?

“I think getting it to people,” Allison tells High Times. “There was a lot of well-deserved skepticism. Nonetheless, at a certain point, that became irritating. I can argue the points of the science. If somebody says, ‘Here’s another explanation for what you’re telling me,’ I can buy that. What I can’t accept is somebody saying, ‘It’ll never work, just because.’ That just, to me, is unacceptable. And I went through a couple of years of that.”

Willie Nelson's Buddy Won A Nobel Prize For Developing A Cancer Drug
Jim Allison winning the Nobel Prize in 2018/ Nobel Media AB

Allison says that many people in the scientific community had the idea that “immunologists were just a bunch of voodoo agents selling snake oil,” which raises another question: Can Allison identify with cannabis researchers who are struggling to fight longstanding stigma, not to mention prohibitive laws against marijuana?

“Yeah, in some ways I can,” he says. “I mean, these are, in a lot of ways, difficult times to live in, with people thinking everybody’s entitled to their own facts. But you’re not. Facts are facts and data is data. I would just tell people, develop the data. The answer’s in the data. Having said that, I will add that you can look at it a number of different ways. Once you’ve got the data, take a step back and say, ‘OK, well, what does this tell me? Because my experiment may be telling me something else. That data that popped out may be telling me something about a question I didn’t even ask here.’ And the only way to find that out is just to look at it and think about it and view it as sort of a crystal. You hold it up to the light and look at it—how it refracts, how it changes as you look at it. Just keep an open mind and don’t just get limited to the narrow channels that most of us are trained to go down.”

Jim Allison: Breakthrough is in theaters September 27.

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Johnson & Johnson Appeals Oklahoma Judge’s $572 Million Order Against Them

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson is appealing an Oklahoma judge’s $572 million order against the company and its subsidiaries for helping fuel the state’s opioid crisis.

The
company filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday,
arguing the ruling was an “unprecedented interpretation of Oklahoma
public nuisance law.”

The judge’s decision that the marketing and
sale of a lawful product can constitute a public nuisance could have
grave implications for all businesses that operate in the state, the
company warned.

“That novel ruling has immense public-policy
implications, undermining product-liability law rules, which have always
governed disputes over the marketing and sales of goods, and
threatening wide-ranging liability for companies that do business in
Oklahoma,” attorneys wrote in the appeal.

In his ruling last
month, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman ordered the company
to pay $572 million to help address the damage the opioid crisis has
caused in the state. Attorneys for the company have said that figure was
grossly inflated.

The state had presented the judge with a plan
to abate the crisis that would have cost between $12.6 billion for 20
years to $17.5 billion over 30 years.

A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said their office is reviewing the appeal.

Oklahoma’s
case was closely watched because it was the first among more than 1,500
similar lawsuits against drugmakers and others involved in the sale of
opioids filed by state, local and tribal governments to proceed to
trial.

Before the trial began, Oklahoma reached settlements
totaling $355 million from two other groups of defendant drugmakers,
including Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma and Israeli-owned Teva
Pharmaceuticals.

Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection earlier
this month, the first step in a plan it says would provide $10 billion
to $12 billion to help reimburse state and local governments for the
costs associated with cleaning up the damage from the opioid crisis.

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Analytical Instruments You Need to Start a Cannabis Testing Laboratory

The cannabis industry is growing exponentially, and the use of cannabis for medical purposes is being adopted across the nation. With this boom in cannabis consumers, there has been an increasing need for knowledge about the product.

The role of testing labs has become crucial to the process, which makes owning and operating a lab more lucrative. Scientists testing for potency, heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents, moisture, terpene profile, microbial and fungal growth, and mycotoxins/aflatoxins are able to make meaningful contributions to the medical industry by making sure products are safe, while simultaneously generating profits and a return on investment.

Here are the key testing instruments you need to conduct these critical analyses. Note that cannabis analytical testing requirements may vary by state, so be sure to check the regulations applicable to the location of your laboratory.

Potency Testing

High-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) designed for quantitative determination of cannabinoid content.

The most important component of cannabis testing is the analysis of cannabinoid profiles, also known as potency. Cannabis plants naturally produce cannabinoids that determine the overall effect and strength of the cultivar, which is also referred to as the strain. There are many different cannabinoids that all have distinct medicinal effects. However, most states only require testing and reporting for the dry weight percentages of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). It should be noted that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Δ9-THCA) can be converted to THC through oxidation with heat or light.

For potency testing, traditional high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is recommended and has become the gold standard for analyzing cannabinoid profiles. Look for a turnkey HPLC analyzer that delivers a comprehensive package that integrates instrument hardware, software, consumables and proven HPLC methods.

Heavy Metal Testing

ICP-MS instrument for detecting heavy metals in cannabis.

Different types of metals can be found in soils and fertilizers, and as cannabis plants grow, they tend to draw in these metals from the soil. Heavy metals are a group of metals considered to be toxic, and the most common include lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. Most labs are required to test and confirm that samples are under the allowable toxic concentration limits for these four hazardous metals.

Heavy metal testing is performed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). ICP-MS uses the different masses of each element to determine which elements are present within a sample and at what concentrations. Make sure to include accompanying software that provides assistant functions to simplify analysis by developing analytical methods and automatically diagnosing spectral interference. This will provide easy operation and analytical results with exceptionally high reliability.

To reduce running costs, look for a supporting hardware system that reduces the consumption of argon gas and electricity. For example, use a plasma ignition sequence that is optimized for lower-purity argon gas (i.e., 99.9% argon as opposed to more expensive 99.9999%).

Pesticide Testing

The detection of pesticides in cannabis can be a challenge. There are many pesticides that are used in commercial cannabis grow operations to kill the pests that thrive on the plants and in greenhouses. These chemicals are toxic to humans, so confirming their absence from cannabis products is crucial. The number of pesticides that must be tested for varies from state to state, with Colorado requiring only 13 pesticides, whereas Oregon and California require 59 and 66 respectively. Canada has taken it a step further and must test for 96 pesticides, while AOAC International is developing methods for testing for 104 pesticides. The list of pesticides will continue to evolve as the industry evolves.

Testing for pesticides is one of the more problematic analyses, possibly resulting in the need for two different instruments depending on the state’s requirements. For a majority of pesticides, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS) is acceptable and operates much like HPLC but utilizes a different detector and sample preparation.

With excellent sensitivity and ultra-low detection limits, LC-MS/MS is an ideal technique for the analysis of pesticides.

Pesticides that do not ionize well in an LCMS source require the use of a gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) instrument. The principles of HPLC still apply – you inject a sample, separate it on a column and detect with a detector. However, in this case, a gas (typically helium) is used to carry the sample.

Look for a LC-MS/MS system or HPLC system with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer that provides ultra-low detection limits, high sensitivity and efficient throughput. Advanced systems can analyze more than 200 pesticides in 12 minutes.

For GCMS analysis, consider an instrument that utilizes a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer to help maximize the capabilities of your laboratory. Select an instrument that is designed with enhanced functionality, analysis software, databases and a sample introduction system. Also include a headspace autosampler, which can also be used for terpene profiles and residual solvent testing.

Residual Solvent Testing

Residual solvents are chemicals left over from the process of extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Common solvents for such extractions include ethanol, butane, propane and hexane. These solvents are evaporated to prepare high-concentration oils and waxes. However, it is sometimes necessary to use large quantities of solvent in order to increase extraction efficiency and to achieve higher levels of purity. Since these solvents are not safe for human consumption, most states require labs to verify that all traces of the substances have been removed.

Testing for residual solvents requires gas chromatography (GC). For this process, a small amount of extract is put into a vial and heated to mimic the natural evaporation process. The amount of solvent that is evaporated from the sample and into the air is referred to as the “headspace.” The headspace is then extracted with a syringe and placed in the injection port of the GC. This technique is called full-evaporated technique (FET) and utilizes the headspace autosampler for the GC.

Look for a GCMS instrument with a headspace autosampler, which can also be used for pesticide and terpene analysis.

Terpene Profile Testing

Terpenes are produced in the trichomes of the cannabis leaves, where THC is created, and are common constituents of the plant’s distinctive flavor and aroma. Terpenes also act as essential medicinal hydrocarbon building blocks, influencing the overall homeopathic and therapeutic effect of the product. The characterization of terpenes and their synergistic effect with cannabinoids are key for identifying the correct cannabis treatment plan for patients with pain, anxiety, epilepsy, depression, cancer and other illnesses. This test is not required by most states, but it is recommended.

The instrumentation that is used for analyzing terpene profiles is a GCMS with headspace autosampler with an appropriate spectral library. Since residual solvent testing is an analysis required by most states, all of the instrumentation required for terpene profiling will already be in your lab.

As with residual solvent testing, look for a GCMS instrument with a headspace autosampler (see above). 

Microbe, Fungus and Mycotoxin Testing

Most states mandate that cannabis testing labs analyze samples for any fungal or microbial growth resulting from production or handling, as well as for mycotoxins, which are toxins produced by fungi. With the potential to become lethal, continuous exposure to mycotoxins can lead to a buildup of progressively worse allergic reactions.

LCMS should be used to qualify and identify strains of mycotoxins. However, determining the amount of microorganisms present is another challenge. That testing can be done using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) or matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), with each having their advantages and disadvantages.

For mycotoxin analysis, select a high-sensitivity LC-MS/MS instrument. In addition to standard LC, using an MS/MS selective detector enables labs to obtain limits of detection up to 1000 times greater than conventional LC-UV instruments.

For qPCR and its associated needs, look for a real-time PCR amplification system that combines thermal cyclers with optical reaction modules for singleplex and multiplex detection of fluorophores. These real-time PCR detection systems range from economical two-target detection to sophisticated five-target or more detection systems. The real-time detection platform should offer reliable gradient-enabled thermal cyclers for rapid assay optimization. Accompanying software built to work with the system simplifies plate setup, data collection, data analysis and data visualization of real-time PCR results.

Moisture Content and Water Activity Testing

Moisture content testing is required in some states. Moisture can be extremely detrimental to the quality of stored cannabis products. Dried cannabis typically has a moisture content of 5% to 12%. A moisture content above 12% in dried cannabis is prone to fungal growth (mold). As medical users may be immune deficient and vulnerable to the effects of mold, constant monitoring of moisture is needed. Below a 5% moisture content, the cannabis will turn to a dust-like texture.

The best way to analyze the moisture content of any product is using the thermogravimetric method with a moisture balance instrument. This process involves placing the sample of cannabis into the sample chamber and taking an initial reading. Then the moisture balance instrument heats up until all the moisture has been evaporated out of the sample. A final reading is then taken to determine the percent weight of moisture that was contained in the original sample.

A moisture balance can provide accurate determination of moisture content in cannabis.

Look for a moisture balance that offers intuitive operation and quick, accurate determination of moisture content. The pan should be spacious enough to allow large samples to be spread thinly. The halogen heater and reflector plate should combine to enable precise, uniform heating. Advanced features can include preset, modifiable measurement modes like automated ending, timed ending, rapid drying, slow drying and step drying.

Another method for preventing mold is monitoring water activity (aW). Very simply, moisture content is the total amount of water available, while water activity is the “free water” that could produce mold. Water activityranges from 0 to 1. Pure water would have an aW of 1.0. ASTM methods D8196-18 and D8297-18 are methods for monitoring water activity in dry cannabis flower. The aW range recommended for storage is 0.55 to 0.65. Some states recommend moisture content to be monitored, other states monitor water activity, and some states such as California recommend monitoring both.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cannabis growers benefit tremendously from cannabis testing. Whether meeting state requirements or certifying a product, laboratory testing reduces growers’ risk and ensures delivery of a quality product. As medicinal and recreational cannabis markets continue to grow, analytical testing will ensure that consumers are receiving accurately

labeled products that are free from contamination. That’s why it is important to invest in the future of your cannabis testing lab by selecting the right analytical equipment at the start of your venture.

The post Analytical Instruments You Need to Start a Cannabis Testing Laboratory appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.


Flashback Friday: Cabala, Tasting The Forbidden Fruit Of The Tree Of Life

In the July, 1981 issue of High Times, Robert Anton Wilson, famed writer of the “Illuminatus” trilogy, leads us through a labyrinth of esoterica with his customary wit and style.


There’s a tale they tell at Military Intelligence in London, when the candles gutter low and the fog curls about the windows. It happened in 1914 (they say), when England was losing the first world war and it seemed only a miracle could save her. There was this writer bloke (they say), name of Arthur Machen, never popular or well known, a bloody Welshman in fact and a mystic to boot. Well (they say), this Welshman, this Machen, took it into his head to write a story about the kind of miracle England needed, so he imagined St. George himself leading a group of medieval archers to aid the English troops at Mons. And after the story was published in a magazine, some enterprising newspapers picked it up and reprinted it as fact. And (they say) the whole damned country was gullible enough to believe it. It did as much for national morale as the real miracle would have.

What is even weirder is the sequel—and the chaps at Military Intelligence only discuss this when the candles gutter quite low and the fog is very thick, of course. Soldiers at the front, in Mons, began claiming that they had actually seen the phantom archers created out of Machen’s imagination. They insisted on it. Some of them were still insisting on it 40 years later. They said they had won the battle because of this supernatural assistance.

Fair gives you a turn, doesn’t it?

Stranger still: Machen, the man with the contagious imagination, was a member of a secret society in London. This was known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and it claimed to know the long-hidden secrets of Cabalistic magic.

There were several other members of the Golden Dawn who made a bit of a name. Florence Farr, one of the great actresses of the period, was a member, and it was she who gave Bernard Shaw the ideas about life-energy and longevity dramatized in Back to Methuselah; those ideas are currently influencing life-extension research. Algernon Blackwood and Bram Stoker (Dracula’s creator) were members; so was the coroner of London; so was an electrical engineer named Alan Bennett who later, as Ananda Maitreya, played a key role in introducing Buddhist ideas to the West.

The egregious Aleister Crowley, who claimed to have come to earth to destroy Christianity, was a member for a while, and I know a good World War I story about him, too. It was Crowley’s habit to give his pupils a word to meditate on every year. In 1918, Crowley gave them a number instead of a word: 11. All year his pupils meditated on 11 for at least a half hour every day… And the war ended on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Did you feel another queer flash then?

The most famous Golden Dawn alumnus, however, was the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. In 1894 Yeats predicted that “the right pupils will be drawn to (the Golden Dawn) by dreams and visions and strange accidents…”

Cabala, the working philosophy behind the Golden Dawn, is the science of “strange accidents”—which are known as “mere coincidences” to the rationalist or “synchronicities” to Jungian psychologists.

Cabala (also spelled Qabala or Kaballah) was either taught by God to Adam in the Garden of Eden, according to its own tradition, or was invented by a group of rabbis c. A.D. 200 as a means of transmitting the esoteric inner teachings of Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem and the Dispersion. Among the prominent medieval and Renaissance philosophers who were Cabalists one can mention Raymond Lull, Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, Dr. John Dee, Pico della Mirandola and Isaac Newton. Cabala became unfashionable in the 18th century and did not begin to make a comeback until the Brain Explosion of the 1960s—the drug culture, the consciousness movement, the importation of Oriental mind-sciences, the popularity of Jung and Leary and Castaneda.

One way to get into the Cabalistic head space is to reflect long and hard on the singular fact that we could not live—could not breathe, in fact—without the trees busily pumping oxygen into the air. Yet the trees are not “thinking” about producing life-support for us. To the rationalist, it seems that our need for oxygen has no real connection with the trees’ production of that element; sheer chance (or, the more vehement rationalists will anthropomorphically say, “blind chance”) happens to have produced trees, through natural selection, over many aeons. The fact that we exist is, to this philosophy, a total accident, a very strange coincidence.

And, to the same rationalist, Arthur Machen’s imagination has no real connection with what was happening on the battlefield at Mons. The magical link between Machen’s imagination and the “collective hallucination” of the soldiers is just coincidence—like the magical link between us and the trees.

To the Cabalist, the rationalist sounds like a man found in a closet by a jealous husband, who hopefully explains, “Just by coincidence, while you were away on business I happened to wander into this closet without my clothes on…”

To the Cabalist, the whole universe is a network of meaningful connections. The seemingly coincidental is as full of meaning as anything else. To begin thinking like a Cabalist you must regard everything as being just as important as everything else. All that seems “accidental,” “meaningless,” “chaotic,” “weird,” “nonsensical,” et cetera is as significant as what seems lawful, orderly and comprehensible.

An elementary Cabalistic training technique is to try every day to “regard every incident and event as a direct communication between God and your soul.” Even the license plates on passing cars are such communications—or can be considered as such—by the devout Cabalist.

Some will be thinking of Freud at this point; and indeed Nathan Fodor points out in Freud, Jung and the Occult that Freud was heavily influenced by a friend who was a Cabalist. The “dreams, visions and strange accidents” that Yeats thought would bring people into the ambience of the Golden Dawn are all Freudian “unconscious material.”

A more modern metaphor is to be found in current neurology which points out that the brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is where we do most of our conscious thinking, and it is linear, it breaks things down into sequences of A-causes-B, B-causes-C, and so forth. The right hemisphere, on the contrary, thinks in gestalt—meaningful wholes, comprehensive systems.

Cabala, like dope, is a deliberate attempt to overthrow the linear left brain and allow the contents of the holistic right brain to flood the field of consciousness. When you are walking down the street and every license plate seems part of one continuous message—one endless narrative—you are thinking like a very advanced theoretical Cabalist. (Or else you’re stoned out of your gourd.)

Practical Cabala (or Cabalistic magic) is the art of utilizing such holistic perception to create effects that will seem like “strange accidents” to the non-Cabalist.

A legendary example concerns an incident when the king of Poland was being urged by his advisers to authorize a pogrom against the Jews. One old Hasidic rabbi—and the Hasidic rabbis spend most of their time studying Cabala—sat down, on hearing of this, and pretended to be writing something; but he did not write. Instead, he deliberately knocked his bottle over three times. His students, who saw this, thought the old man was getting a bit funny in the head. Then, a few days later, came news from the capital: The king had tried to sign the order for the pogrom three times, and each time he had—by “strange accident”—knocked over his ink bottle. “I can’t sign this,” the king finally exclaimed. “God is against it!”

Every oriental culture has some equivalent to Cabala—some neuroscience of meditations, visualizations and yogic contortions calculated to shift consciousness, or part of consciousness, from the usually overactive left hemisphere to the usually underactive right hemisphere. Cabala differs from all these Oriental disciplines in being as systematic as any natural science—although far weirder.

The system of Cabala is contained in a kind of ontological periodic table of elements (see illustration above). The purpose of this diagram has been nicely defined by the eminent contemporary Cabalist (and Jungian psychologist) Dr. Israel Regardie, who describes it as “a mnemonic system of psychology… to train the Will and Imagination.”

The tree, as you can see, is made up of ten circles, called lights, and 22 paths connecting the lights. Each light represents a separate level of consciousness, and hence a separate level of “reality.” That is, to the Cabalist, each perceived reality is a function of the level of consciousness which perceives it, and how much reality you can absorb depends on how rich your consciousness is.

The paths, which are more technical than the lights, are techniques for getting from one light (one level of awareness) to another.

The aim of the Cabala is to always know which “light” you are in, which is the level of consciousness that is creating what you are perceiving; and then to know the paths, or tricks, to get from one light (perceived reality) to another.

Dion Fortune, a Cabalist who also practiced psychoanalysis under her birth name, Violet Wirth, sums it all up by saying Cabala is “the art of causing change in consciousness by act of will.”

The Tree of Life may be regarded as a map of those parts of consciousness which (a) are active in everybody—the lower parts of the tree; and (b) those which are only active in various orders of adepts—the higher parts of the tree.

The pragmatic theory of Cabala is that each action creates a new “universe,” each experiment creates a new experimenter, each dance creates a new dancer. We are growing and evolving all the time, without noticing it usually; but at certain crucial points we can make a mental quantum jump to a level of awareness that puts us in a new reality we have never noticed before. Each of the lights on the Tree of Life represents such a quantum jump.

Flashback Friday: Cabala, Tasting The Forbidden Fruit Of The Tree Of Life
High Times

Concretely, we all start out in Malkuth, at the bottom of the tree, which represents the lowest level of awareness. This is what Freud called the oral stage: We simply drift and wait to be fed. Alcoholics, opiate addicts and most of the people on welfare for “psychological” reasons represent this state in its pure form, but we all contain it and relapse into it under sufficient stress. “I can’t cope; somebody come help me.” Hear the infant’s shrill cry “Maaa-Maaa!” and you know what Malkuth is all about.

Above this is Yesod, the area of strong ego-awareness and what Gurdjieff called conscious suffering. This is where you struggle to be a real mensch, to be honorable, responsible, and self-sufficient. If you never get beyond this, you become what doctors called Type A and are a good bet for an early heart attack.

There are two ways to transcend Yesod’s struggles. One takes you to Hod, which can be called the tactic of the rationalist (Dr. Carl Sagan will serve as a model for this), and the other to Netzach, which is the strategy of the ordinary religionist (Jerry Falwell, say).

According to Cabala, both the rationalist and the vulgar religionist are unbalanced; in modern neurological language, the rationalist leans too much on the left brain and the religionist too much on the right brain. The synthesis, or balancing, brings you to the Middle Pillar and is represented by the light called Tiphareth—which charmingly enough means “beauty” in English.

Looking at the tree, you can see that the rationalist has a different path to Tiphareth from that of the religionist. The rationalist must go the path of nun (“fish”) and the religionist the path of ayin (“eye”). Any book on Cabala will tell you what nun and ayin imply in terms of the psychological transformation involved. Fortunately the tarot cards were either created or revised by a Cabalist and the meanings of nun and ayin are vividly conveyed to the unconscious by the two cards called, respectively, Death and the Devil. Anybody with even a rudimentary knowledge of psychology can grasp part of what is meant here—the rationalist must “make friends with” Death and the religionist with the Devil. This is what Jung means when he says each man must face his own shadow.

(Every path on the tree has a tarot card illustrating it, and the quickest way to make the tree clear to your unconscious is to lay out the cards representing the paths between each light. The next step is to redesign the cards in terms of your own understanding. Some Cabalists redesign the tarot every two or three years, as their understanding grows.)

Tiphareth, the balanced center between and above both rationalism and religion, means beauty, as we said above. It is the first light that does not appear in normal, statistically average consciousness, and is identified with everything we mean by rebirth or awakening. It is dhyana in the Hindu system, “Buddha-mind” in Buddhism, the “New Adam” in St. Paul’s epistles, Cosmic Christ Consciousness to Christian Cabalists. It represents a total reorganization of the psyche for a higher level of functioning than most humans ever attain. When Dr. Timothy Leary says gnomically that “the nervous system sees no color, feels no pain” he means that the nervous system on this level sees no color, feels no pain. You are floating, and this is the first light on the tree that really feels like a light. Acidheads will know.

Above Tiphareth are two more unbalanced lights called Geburah and Chesed. Roughly, Geburah is the stage of Nietzsche’s superman: he who is much more conscious than ordinary people and knows it. In George Lucas’s symbolism, Geburah means “being seduced by the dark side of the Force.” It needs to be balanced by Chesed, which is humility in the deepest, more ego-destroying sense. In Castaneda’s lingo, Geburah is “taking responsibility” and Chesed is doing so while always remembering that “you are no more important than the coyote.”

Geburah says “I am God”; Chesed says, “And so is everybody else—and everything else!”

There are three more lights on the tree. These are known as the supernals and are much further from ordinary human consciousness than Tiphareth, Geburah or Chesed. Many Cabalists say that you cannot reach the supernals without the direct help of the Almighty. Even with such divine aid, reaching the supernals is known as “crossing the abyss” and is regarded as fraught with peril.

The first two supernals are Chokmah and Binah. You will note on the diagram that they are both unbalanced—off the Middle Pillar. Basically, Chokmah is direct contact with the masculine aspect of “God” and corresponds to whatever you associate with Jehovah, Jupiter, Brahma, Zeus, et cetera. Binah is direct contact with the female side of divinity and corresponds to Venus, Ishtar, Kali or the White Goddess that Robert Graves is always writing about. Cabala says that each of these Close Encounters has to be “balanced.” That is, you have to get beyond both Big Daddy and Big Mommy to arrive at the ultimate light, Kether, the balanced center of all consciousness, which is beyond gender, beyond space, beyond time, beyond words and beyond all categories. In short, Kether is exactly what all the Oriental mystics are seeking: pure consciousness without a blemish of emotion, idea or image, and therefore infinite and formless.

Cabala is very complicated and very very intricate; the above sketch is no more than a hint of what the Tree of Life contains, on about the level of a discussion of chemistry that tells you there are eight families of elements but does not go on to list the elements in each family. To discuss Cabala fully requires many books; and indeed there is one good-sized book, Liber 777, by Aleister Crowley, which consists only of listing the elements in each light and path of the tree, and Liber 777 consists of 155 pages with four columns on each page.

The purpose of such lists is to design rituals, and the purpose of rituals is to program your own experience as you navigate from one light to another. As Tim Leary once said, “Ritual is to the inner sciences what experiment is to the outer sciences.” Cabalists agree.

For instance, suppose you have had a very powerful experience of the Punishing Father aspect of God, such as John Calvin once had. Within the orthodox Judeo-Christian tradition, you might take this literally and proceed, as Calvin did, to establish a new religion. As a Cabalist, you will recognize it as a Chokmah experience and know that it needs to be balanced by a Binah experience.

You then look on the Tree of Life for a path from Chokmah to Binah. That turns out to be daleth (“door”), which corresponds to the Empress card in the tarot. If you look at the Empress you will immediately note that she happens to be a pregnant woman sitting in a field surrounded by vegetation. That should tell your unconscious what the path of daleth means. (By a “strange accident” or “mere coincidence” the Empress card, in most tarot decks, contains the women’s-liberation symbol and always has, long before there was a feminist movement. That should help jar your consciousness.)

Flashback Friday: Cabala, Tasting The Forbidden Fruit Of The Tree Of Life
High Times

If the Empress card doesn’t tell you enough, you look up daleth in any Cabalistic textbook, such as Crowley’s 777. You will find that daleth is “in correspondence with” such things as the planet Venus, the color emerald green, the swan, the rose, sandalwood incense, the heptagram (seven-sided polygon), et cetera, and is most powerful on Friday. Thus, to get from Chokmah to Binah, you construct a ritual—a dramatized mind-change operation—to be performed within a heptagram, on Friday evening as Venus is rising, using emerald green decorations, roses, swan feathers and sandalwood incense. If you follow all these correspondences, and know how to write rituals, and have had enough experiences with Cabala to have developed a powerful will and imagination, you should achieve Binah, the vision of the All-Loving Mother.

Similarly, there are favorable days, and perfumes, and geometric figures, and other accessories, for every type of brain change operation. Sunday is best for Tiphareth (Christ consciousness), Monday for Yesod (building a stronger ego), Tuesday for Geburah (accumulating power), Wednesday for Hod (wisdom), Thursday for Netzsch (moral strength), Friday for Binah and Saturday for Chokmah.

This is only the skeleton of Cabala, however. Real Cabalistic practice consists of so familiarizing yourself with all the correspondences on the Tree of Life that everything you experience is filed and indexed by your brain as a Cabalistic “message.” Thus, if you walk out the door and see a palm tree, you immediately (by self-conditioning with Cabala) think of Venus and Hermes—because door is daleth is Venus, and palm is beth is Hermes. If you see a license plate with 333 on it, you remember that that is the number of egotism and deception, and you must ask what egotism and deception remains in yourself. In short, nothing is trivial; nothing is insignificant; nothing is meaningless. The whole universe, as Crowley says, becomes a continuous ritual of initiation.

A Zen Master was once asked, “What is Zen?” “Attention,” he replied. “Is that all?” asked the inquirer. “Attention,” the Zen Master repeated. “Won’t you say anything else?” persisted the questioner. “Attention,” said the Master, one more time.

Cabala creates attention by using the Tree of Life to “key” every possible impression to one of the lights or paths and hence to a stage in the evolution of consciousness. The world becomes—as it was to Plato and Mary Baker Eddy and Sir Humphrey Davy when he tried nitrous oxide—nothing but ideas.

Theoretical cabala is much concerned with words and numbers, and indeed insists that every word is a number. This is literally true in Hebrew, because all Hebrew letters are numbers, and the number of a word is the number obtained by adding its separate letters together. Cabala claims that any words having the same number are in some sense identical or “in correspondence with” each other.

For instance, achad (I am writing the Hebrew as if it were English, for simplicity’s sake) has the value of 13. So does ahebah. What does this mean? Well, achad translates as “unity” and ahebah as “love,” so by the mathematical theorem that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, the Cabalist calculates that love (ahebeh) equals 13 and unity (achad) equals 13 and therefore love equals unity. And, of course, when you love somebody you are in union with them: You are happy when they are happy; you suffer when they suffer.

Better still, it works backwards, too, according to some Cabalists: 31 is 13 backwards and therefore 31 is mystically the same as 13. And Al, the oldest name of God in Hebrew, has the value 31. Therefore, God equals love equals unity.

Which is all very nice and cheerful, and it’s pleasant to have our first lesson in theoretical Cabala coming up with such pleasant information.

Unfortunately, la (nothing) also equals 31. Is God therefore nothing? Or is it unity that is nothing? or love?

The theoretical Cabalist is not abashed. God is nothing, he says firmly—no-thing. And in this he is in agreement with the Buddhists and Hindus and, indeed, the most advanced mystics of all traditions. It only sounds queer to those primitives down at the bottom of the Tree of Life in Hod (rationalism) or Netzach (conventional religion); if you persist in Cabala long enough, the divine no-thing will make perfect sense to you.

Unfortunately, before you arrive at Kether—”the Head without a Head,” the divine nothing—you will be sure to encounter even worse shocks in theoretical Cabala. Thus, neschek, the serpent in Genesis, the devil himself, has the value 358. You don’t have to look far to find another Hebrew word with the value 358. It jumps up at you, as soon as you start studying Cabala. It is messiah.

In what sense is the devil the messiah? Some Cabalists have gone quite batty working on that one.

The charm of Cabala is that the universe adjusts—or in your excited and overstimulated state, appears to adjust—in ways that heighten such perplexities. When I first discovered the 358-equals-devil-equals-messiah paradox, I had to go to Los Angeles on business. Arriving at my hotel I found I had been given room 358. That’s the sort of “strange accident” that Yeats was talking about, as one of the portals to Cabala…

For several years English biologist Lyall Watson has been collecting the products of Jung’s “collective unconsciousness”—dreams, hypnotic states, mediumistic phenomena, automatic writing, et cetera. In his book, Lifetide, Watson offers a tentative summary of the data: “…there is a sameness in the tone, the word structure, the feeling, and the delivery of almost all the material. It has a dreamlike quality, and my feeling is that the vast majority of all the evidence I am looking at is a series produced by one prodigious dreamer” (italics added).

William Butler Yeats, trying to justify his interest in Cabalastic magic to rationalistic friends, came up with the same metaphor: “The borders of our minds are ever shifting, and many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind … our memories are part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.”

This “one great dreamer” or “one great memory” can be accessed by Cabalistic practices, or by Zen meditation, or by LSD, or by a dozen other gimmicks. It has the quality of oneness in that it is the same no matter who accesses it or when—whether they are in India 500 B.C. or Florence A.D. 1300 or in New York City today. It seems to be “timeless” or unconnected to our conscious notions of sequential time, as even so materialistic an observer as Freud noticed. One of the benefits of the psychological investigations of our times—from Freud and Jung to the LSD research of the ’60s and the human-potential movement—has been to make most of us aware again, for the first time since the 17th century that this level of the psyche exists in all of us and cannot safely be repressed or ignored.

The Cabalist, scorned by the 19th century as a crank or a charlatan, seems to be having the last laugh after all. There may be only one person in 10,000—or in 100,000—who seriously studies Cabala, but the avant-garde third of the population understands Cabalistic logic very well. If you show them the Tree of Life, and explain it, they might say that it is an alternative map of the chakras—if they are into Oriental mind-science; or an anatomy of the collective unconscious—if they’re into Jung; or the circuits of the nervous system—if Tim Leary is their bag; but one way or another they will recognize it. It looked like gibberish to Yeats’s contemporaries.

Military Intelligence never could figure out how the “angelic archers” escaped from Arthur Machen’s imagination to the perceptions of the soldiers at Mons. But the readers of this magazine understand. Don’t you?

The post Flashback Friday: Cabala, Tasting The Forbidden Fruit Of The Tree Of Life appeared first on High Times.


Man On LSD Falls Into Lake At Disneyland Paris, Found Naked After Massive Search

Surely being the target of a 130-person Disneyland Paris manhunt is enough to expand one’s consciousness? Hopefully, a Swiss man who fell in one of the amusement park’s lakes on Friday night, shortly after ingesting LSD with his girlfriend, thinks so.

Pirate’s Beach in Adventureland was the site of the debacle, which began when a 32-year-old did not come back to the surface when his partner saw him fall into the water feature, which also houses Captain Hook’s ship and Peter Pan landmark Skull Rock. The girlfriend, understandably, freaked all the way out and alerted the authorities that the happiest place on earth was no longer feeling that way for her, having potentially witnessed her boyfriend’s death by hallucinogen-induced drowning.

A large search ensued for the poor, tripping soul, with 30 firefighters, 10 divers, 10 policemen, 80 park employees, and a police helicopter with a thermal-imaging camera enlisted to track the guy down. Disneyland Paris, you see, was also disinterested in being the site of a hallucinogen-induced drowning.

Happily, no one had perished, and the tripping man was found relatively quickly if not completely safe and sound. He was picked up by a driver, who found him completely naked and walking down the side of the road a mile away from Disneyland Paris at around 1 a.m. on Saturday.

“He had scratches on his legs and arms,” the driver told French newspaper Le Parisien. “He did not remember anything.” The driver kindly gave the nude man a ride back to the amusement park where his not-so-great trip had began.

Any Consequences for Tripping at the Happiest Place on Earth?

Will the man go to Disneyland Jail? Le Parisien says that he and his girlfriend were detained and subsequently released by the actual police. In France, drug policy dictates that people can technically be sentenced to up to a year of jail time, but also can be released with a caution and the directive to attend a drug awareness course.

Disney has been quite clear that they are not open to certain drugs being part of people’s theme park experience. In 2017, it announced a complete ban on all cannabis products, even after Florida instituted a medical marijuana program. Earlier this year, a 69-year-old woman was locked up for 12 hours when Disneyland security guards found that she was carrying a bottle of CBD oil.

How to avoid falling into a similar state as the hapless, near-drowned and naked Disneyland-goer? You may wish to consult Sophie Saint Thomas’ recent guide to taking LSD, which counsels one to “cultivate a space in which you feel happy and safe.” But it also—and this is key if you feel you’re prone to crowd-induced panic attacks—advises “starting slow” with the setting. That may not indicate tripping at one of the world’s best loved, most expensive, and least-friendly-to-drug-use places on earth.

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Kansas City Police Chief Believes Cannabis Is Behind City’s Rising Murder Rate

Chief Rick Smith of the Kansas City Police Department wrote in a blog on Wednesday that he believes that cannabis is responsible for his city’s higher than average murder rate. Kansas City, Missouri placed #26 on the list of U.S. cities with 100,000 or more residents with the highest murder rate, based on FBI data from 2015 to 2016, the most recent available.

To back his claim, Smith writes in his blog that 10 murders in the city this year have been directly motivated by marijuana, and include a fews details from a recent homicide.

“Most of these marijuana-related shootings start as robberies of marijuana or the money connected to it,” Smith wrote.

Smith attempts to head off arguments that legalizing cannabis would remove the criminal elements inherent in the illicit market by citing a report that shows that violent and property crimes increased in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington following the legalization of marijuana in those states.

Of course, correlation does not imply causation and Smith seems to acknowledge this fact.

“There is nothing to prove the rise in violent crime was caused by legalized recreational marijuana in the states that have experienced it,” he wrote.

However, this knowledge did not prevent him from asserting this unfounded conclusion only two sentences previously.

“Legalization is no panacea, and has in fact increased crime and drugged driving in the states where it has happened,” wrote Smith.

Smith also fails to mention that not one community from Oregon, Washington, or Colorado appears on the aforementioned list of the 30 most murderous cities in the U.S.

Smith ends his blog by encouraging readers to send comments to him via email at kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Proposed Ordinance Would Eliminate Penalties for Pot Possession

Smith wrote his blog post following testimony from Capt. Scott Simons of the Kansas City Police Department who testified before a meeting of the city council’s Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. The police captain was appearing to oppose a proposed ordinance that would eliminate penalties for possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.

“Marijuana is obviously a concern. In regards to the violent crime, we have 10 homicides,” Capt. Scott Simons said.

Approximately 15 people, including Justin Palmer, appeared at the committee to support the proposed ordinance, according to a report in local media.

“The people are speaking. They’d like to be heard, and this is very important for them to say the worst thing about marijuana is being caught with it,” said Palmer.

In 2017, Kansas City reduced the penalty for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana to a fine of $25. But Timothy Gilio, the founder of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement, said a conviction also carries significant collateral damage.

“You end up with a criminal record that prevents you from having a scholarship, prevents you from entering the military. There are all kinds of repercussions from this $25 fine,” said Gilio.

Christina Frommer, the co-founder of Canna Convict Project, noted that the ordinance would also have positive results for the community.

“This is going to benefit the public greatly. It is going to prevent a lot of police interaction,” Frommer said. “It’s going to cut down on probation and parole.”

The committee ended the meeting without putting the proposed ordinance up for a vote. The city council is expected to revisit the issue at a committee meeting scheduled for October 23.

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