Alabama Lawmakers Pushing to Legalize Medical Marijuana

A bi-partisan coalition of 20 Alabama House lawmakers, including Republican House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, have co-sponsored a bill to legalize and regulate medical cannabis. Republican State Rep. Mike Ball introduced the bill, HB 243, on Wednesday. But Ball, who is a former agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, also wants lawmakers to re-up a pair of laws authorizing cannabidiol research and permitting patients with severe seizure disorders to access certain medical cannabis products.

Politician Behind CBD Laws Proposes Bill to Legalize, Regulate Medical Cannabis Industry

In 2014, Alabama took its first steps toward the broader legalization of medical cannabis by passing Carly’s Law. Carly’s Law, which Rep. Ball sponsored, authorized a University of Alabama, Birmingham study on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a treatment for seizures. “The research is paying off,” Ball said. The UAB study focused exclusively on conducting clinical trials on children suffering from debilitating seizures. So while Carly’s Law did not include any wider legalization of CBD oil or cannabis, it did provide children participating in the study with access to non-psychoactive CBD oil.

In 2016, after some failed attempts to legalize medical cannabis the previous year, Alabama passed Leni’s Law. Leni’s Law decriminalized cannabis-derived CBD (as opposed to hemp-derived) for patients with a limited set of medical conditions. The bill, named after an Alabama child whose family moved to Oregon to access legal CBD oil, came on the heels of data UAB reported in March 2016 showing 50 percent of the Carly’s Law study participants saw improvement in seizure control.

House Bill 243, introduced Wednesday, would extend Carly’s Law, which expires in July, to Jan. 1, 2021. It would also revise Leni’s Law to include anyone over age 19 who is diagnosed with a qualifying condition.

Prohibition Hurts People With Legitimate Medical Needs, AL Lawmaker Says

Beyond renewing the state’s existing medical cannabis legislation, House Bill 243 would flesh out Alabama’s nascent industry with a regulatory and licensing program similar to those in other medical-use states. Rep. Ball says he has received input from doctors who want Alabama to adopt a medical card approach. HB 243 would do exactly that, while also making sure physicians have a key role in the patient registration process. “We want to give doctors latitude on this,” Ball said.

Accordingly, HB 243 would set up the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commissions. The Commission would establish and oversee a patient registry for those with qualifying medical conditions diagnosed by their doctor. In addition to issuing cards to registered patients, the commission would begin the process of licensing a production industry in Alabama. The bill specifies the commission would handle licenses for cultivators, processors, transporters, manufacturers and dispensary operators.

Given it’s 20 bi-partisan co-sponsors, Rep. Ball’s bill hit the House floor with significant momentum. But there are still some lawmakers who worry any cannabis-friendly stance jeopardizes their political careers. For those legislators, Rep. Ball has a clear message: “We don’t need to let fear stop us from helping people.”

Ball said it was “a shame” that Alabama has moved so slowly to provide patients with effective medicine. He also said that failing to act because of concerns about the risk of drug abuse—CBD, of course, is non-psychoactive and non-addictive—does nothing to prevent abuse and everything to hurt patients. “The only people we’re hurting is people who have legitimate medical needs,” Ball said.

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Survey Finds Majority of Montana Residents Want Legal Marijuana

A new survey has found that a majority of Montana residents favors the legalization of marijuana in their state. Results of the Big Sky Poll were released by the University of Montana on Thursday. A bare-bones majority of 51 percent of registered voters replied “yes” when asked the question, “Do you think marijuana should be legalized in Montana?” Only 37 percent of respondents said that they were opposed to the legalization of cannabis.

Support for legalization by political affiliation varied widely, with 80 percent of Democrats but only 33 percent of Republicans saying that pot should be legal. Responses also differed markedly by age. 67 percent of voters aged 18-26 and 64 percent of 27-46-year-olds favoring legalization; for those aged 47-66, support dropped to 56 percent, while only 29 percent of those 67 and older favored the legalization of cannabis in Montana.

Cannabis Has Montana Residents Seeing Green

Andrea Effertz of Kalispell, Montana told local media that she supported the legalization of marijuana because cannabis sales could be a source of new tax revenue for the state.

“I think it could be really helpful for our roads, maybe, our school systems, whatever it could go toward,” she said.

Another Montana resident, Karen Nichols, also cited the funds that could be raised from taxes on marijuana sales as a reason to support legalization.

“The state needs tax revenue,” said Nichols. “We’ve made huge cuts in social services, and any way we can restore some of that funding I think is great.”

She added that she is in favor of legalization provided that tight regulations are enacted to ensure public safety.

“I do support it, if it’s done well,” Nichols said.

The UM Big Sky Poll was conducted online between February 21 and March 1 with 293 Montana registered voters. The poll collects and reports the views of Montana residents on a variety of local, state, and federal issues. It is commissioned with the support of the University of Montana Social Research Laboratory. The ongoing survey will next be conducted in the fall of 2019. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.72 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

National Support for Legalization Rising

Another poll released this week showed that support for the legalization of cannabis continues to grow nationwide. The 2018 General Social Survey found that 61 percent of Americans now favor the legalization of marijuana. That figure is the highest ever in the history of the survey, which has been following the views on cannabis legalization in the United States since 1973. Support for legalization today is almost four times higher than the lowest level of 16 percent, recorded in 1987 and 1990.

Support for cannabis legalization in the 2018 survey was also the highest level recorded for all age groups, U.S. regions, and political affiliations. For young adults aged 18-34, 72 percent favored the legalization of marijuana.

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What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir

Bob Weir was a founding member of legendary rock band the Grateful Dead. I ran into Bob the other night at an eatery in Northern California. A mutual friend had e-troduced us about a year ago, and we’d been exchanging emails about getting together ever since. But we could never manage to get our schedules to line up. I had already eaten, but he was just starting so I introduced myself and he invited me to join him for a chat while he ate.

Bob was everything I hoped he’d be: curious, engaged, and interesting. We talked about the Perseids meteor shower, the tastiness of the food at the restaurant, new immunotherapy developments in cancer, world music. We also talked about the Redwood trees surrounding us, and the Native Americans who lived on the land before us. Unlike other rock stars I’ve met, he wasn’t trying to posture — he was just being himself. And his self is very likable.

When his steak arrived, he asked me if I wanted some. “I just had it,” I said, “it’s delicious.”

“What’s your next book?” he asked.

“I’m writing about the aging brain. The neuroscience of it, and what we can do to stay mentally active and healthy.”

“That’s an important topic,” he said.  

Given his well-known hearty ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs for the past fifty years, I was curious to know what he was doing to stay mentally fit, He described some medicinal mushrooms that he’d been taking. “They contain a neurotropic growth factor. After dinner, come back to my place and we can take some if you want to.”

I’ve never been a big drug user. While the people around me were experimenting with all kinds of chemical substances, I was learning to play the guitar, and working hard to become a neuroscientist. I’ve spent my life around people who were smarter than me, and I wanted to be sure I could keep up.

I did smoke marijuana with Joni Mitchell a few years ago when I was helping her put together her Shine CD. For one warm L.A. evening, I put my apprehensions aside and just enjoyed the ride. Taking mushrooms with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead? Hmmm. He seemed intelligent and rational. I decided this might be an experience I could look back on and savor. I said yes.

We began the fifteen minute walk back to his place. “You know, I kind of worked for you about 30 years ago,” I said.

“Really?”

“I had a job in 1977 at A. Brown Electronics.”

“In San Rafael…”

“Right, repairing speakers that you and the Dead had blown out.”

“There was no shortage of those.” he said.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

Shutterstock

We both laughed. A. Brown Electronics had been a small-time hi-fi repair shop that barely eked by until the Dead discovered them. Re-coning speakers became about 95 percent of the company’s business. In those days, a concert stage speaker consisted of a powerful magnet with a thick, black cone-shaped paper radiating outwards, held in a metal frame. The output of an amplifier — an AC electrical signal — modulated the magnet, which caused the paper to vibrate and create sound. Send in too much power and the paper would blow apart under the strain. Re-coning involved shaping and inserting new paper between the magnet and metal frame. It was an eco-friendly alternative to buying new ones.

“You play guitar, don’t you?” he asked me.

“Yes.”

“Maybe we can play together later.”

I worked to control my exuberance. I tried to sound cool — like sitting in with Bob Weir was the kind of thing I did every day.

“Sure,” I said.

But if I get really high on mushrooms, I wondered, would I be able to play the guitar? Would my fingers do what I wanted them to do?

We got to Bob’s place and he started rummaging around a drawer in the kitchen. Was I really going to do this? What if I got too disconnected from reality? Quiet, I told myself. If anyone has experience with drugs, it’s Bob Weir. He’ll know what to do. Trust him.

He took out a plastic bag of a very fine brown powder, and a small bamboo spoon. He angled the spoon at about 45 degrees, put it in the powder, and carefully withdrew a large mound of the stuff. He then expertly tapped the side of the spoon with his index finger, letting some of the powder fall back in the bag. Realizing he had tapped too much,  he put the spoon back in for just a little bit more. With his other hand, Bob lifted a cup, and put the powder in it, then repeated the same measurement for a second cup.

“Here,” he said, “I’m going to give you a few days’ supply so that if you like it you can take it until you have a chance to get your own.” He measured out eight more portions and put them into a sealable plastic sandwich bag. Eight?! I wondered. What if I never came down?

He picked up the two cups with mushroom powder in them and brought them to the stove. “We’ll use hot water,” he said. “It dissolves better and doesn’t get clumpy.”

“Cool,” I said. He seemed to be thinking very clearly. Bob boiled the water, mixed the powder carefully with the bamboo spoon, handed me a cup, and together we brought the cups to our lips and took our first sip. It tasted like mushroom soup.

I felt a strange sensation on my tongue. Must be the umami receptors, I thought. In addition to the four basic taste receptor cells located on the human tongue (salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), Japanese scientists have discovered that we have a fifth group — umami receptors — that are stimulated by certain meat broths, soy sauce, and mushrooms. The western diet is lighter on these flavors than the Asian or Native American diet, and we rarely get a pure umami flavor in the food we eat. The inside of my cheeks, the roof of my mouth, and the sides of my tongue were tingling as these rarely used receptors woke up and started signaling the gustatory cortex in my brain. Either that or I was hallucinating.

Bob started talking about consciousness and meditation, and I found myself discussing neural synchrony. I noticed that patterns on the wall seemed to dance about. Not vividly, not cartoon-like, no images from Fantasia, just a mild impression, a kind of imagination. I knew the patterns weren’t really dancing.

Bob spoke about the shamanic tradition. “Much of the wisdom of the Native Americans has been lost,” he said. “Plant-based medicines, conservation practices. And the understanding that we really are all one.”

“Like mushrooms,” I added. “Fungi are connected underground via a subterranean web of mycelium.”

“Yes,” he said. “And they help other plants communicate with each other by attaching themselves to their roots — especially trees like these.” He gestured with his hands towards the Redwoods out his window.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

Shutterstock

In my mind’s eye, I could see the vast fungal internet underneath the ground below us. I felt connected— to Bob, to the trees, to plants in general, and to myself. Yes! Here I was in me. Happy. Secure.

Time seemed like a circle rather than a line; as though part of my consciousness experienced this feeling long ago, and I was just remembering it now. Bob’s voice sounded far away for a moment, and then very close. My education as a neuroscientist seemed to be circling my consciousness, as if I stood in the middle of a merry-go-round of different research findings, gently moving up and down, up and down.

Mushrooms are a mixture of proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, and a variety of trace elements. One of the active ingredients in the mushrooms we took is called Hericium Erinaceus Polysaccharides, commonly referred to as HEP. HEP leads to the secretion of neurotropic growth factor. That, in turn, increases levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which is normally secreted in great quantities during Stage IV sleep. The dreamy quality we associate with sleep, or being in certain altered states, is mediated by this neurochemical. HEP rapidly increases gene expression of neurotropic growth factor in the hippocampus–the seat of memory. This could simultaneously improve the storage of new memories, and the retrieval of old ones, even long lost memories that heretofore seemed to be forgotten.

HEP also has neuroprotective and neuroregenerative qualities, allowing for the repair of damaged nerves and the growth of new ones. It has been shown to improve overall cognitive performance and is even effective in people up to 80-years-old who are suffering from mild cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that it reduces depression and anxiety. At that moment, I was certainly feeling contented and unstressed.

Another ingredient in the mushrooms we took is Cordyceps Militaris, which has been shown to diminish anxiety while boosting energy levels. Think about that for a moment: more energy but also less anxious. Coffee tends to boost energy levels but at the cost of increased nervousness and anxiety.

We grew quiet. I couldn’t say how much time had passed. We looked at the bottom of our empty cups and then at each other.

“The effect is subtle,” Bob said, “but I feels like it makes my day a little bit lighter and my focus a little bit better.”

My mouth was still tingling with stimulation of the umami sensors. I was filled with the overwhelming sense of my connection to nature, to Bob, to an ant that was moving across the floor. I was one with the insects. My tongue seemed to be vibrating at the spiritual frequency of the universe.

Bob turned to me as I was studying the wood grain in the table. “You realize of course that these are not hallucinogenic mushrooms — they’re purely medicinal, perfectly legal. I bought them on Amazon.com.”

I looked up. “What?”

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DeltaGate: Richard Nixon’s Sneaky Fight Against Delta-8 THC

It sounds like a wacky conspiracy theory: The government found a promising treatment for cancer, then banned further research. Yet it happened in the Nixon era!

Decades ago, a government-sponsored report linked THC to smaller lung tumors. It also found that a rare form of THC called delta-8 didn’t cause dopeyness.

Nixon didn’t like the data. He was waging war on cannabis and hippies… and his war needed alternative facts! It’s because of Nixon that medical research about delta-8 and delta-9 is restricted today. Here’s how it all went down.

DeltaGate: Richard Nixon’s Sneaky Fight Against Delta-8 THC

Demonstrators for Nixon’s impeachment in Washington, D.C., 1973

An Anti-Hippie Strategy

When Nixon took office in January 1969, the hippie counterculture was in full swing against his party’s war in Vietnam. With teach-ins, sit-ins, marches, and other forms of activism, peaceniks were a powerful political force.

Tricky Dick noticed that wherever hippies gathered, pot clouds tended to follow. He reasoned that if he kept cannabis criminalized, he could criminalize the left. And so he did.

His former adviser admitted the strategy in 1994. John Ehrlichman told Harper’s Magazine:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.

You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Addressing Congress in 1969, Nixon shared scary statistics about heroin and health. He didn’t actually have stats about cannabis, but deft speechwriting managed to muddle cannabis with heroin in lawmakers’ minds.

Soon Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug. This means that officially the substance lacks any medical value and is considered highly addictive. Federal law prohibits prescriptions.

The Commission

Along with hippie youth, doctors in the early 1970s opposed marijuana’s Schedule I status. Nixon consented to a study by the Schafer Commission. This group was led by the Republican lawmaker Raymond Schafer. It included other politicians, medical leaders, and, with kids in mind, the producer of Sesame Workshop.

In 1972 they concluded that cannabis shouldn’t be a Schedule I drug. Furthermore, they advised that it shouldn’t be restricted at all.

“Responsible behavior, through individual choice, is both the guarantor and the objective of a free society,” they wrote.

Nixon sought a second opinion.

The Government Study of Cannabis

For awhile at least, Nixon truly believed that cannabis was harmful to health. In 1972 he set out to prove it. Under his direction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse offered a research grant. This led to a scientific study of cannabinoids at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

  • Basic question: “Does cannabis damage immune systems?”
  • Research setup: Mice were given different cancers, then treated with cannabis extracts: CBD, CBN, delta-8 and delta-9 THC.
  • Results: In both THC groups, treatment seemed to inhibit tumor growth by 40 to 60 percent.

Delta-8 THC emerged as an apparent cancer-fighting star. Besides boosting immunity and extending lives, it seemed to improve mental function. In comparison, delta-9 mice seemed to show confusion when observed in a maze.

Around this time, Nixon resigned from office. The Washington Post publicized the study in 1974 under the headline “Cancer Curb Is Studied.”

America’s new leader, President Ford, soon passed a law preventing public cannabis research. It remains in effect. Meanwhile, researchers overseas consistently confirm that delta-8 brings benefits without making mice lose track of their cheese.

The Situation Today

In early 2019 the US government still categorizes cannabis as Schedule I. Still, most states and Washington, DC recognize its medical value. State by state ‒ and molecule by molecule ‒ the plant may soon attain the federal status it deserves.

Last year the DEA changed CBD’s status. It had been grouped as more addictive than cocaine… yet CBD is now classified in the lowest-risk category along with Robitussin.

In a logical democracy, delta-8-THC should be close behind.

DeltaGate: Richard Nixon’s Sneaky Fight Against Delta-8 THC

Courtesy of dr.delights

dr.delights Checks In

Who makes delta-8 THC oil? California’s dr.delights laboratory is among the few specializing in delta-8 distillation. Their process yields oil for the Delta 8 disposable vape pen… and it has a kick.

“Our Delta 8 vape is about 70 percent delta-8 THC,” explains brand co-founder Rose Burnett, “And the distillate retains some delta-9. The pen caters to people who want some psychoactivity along with potential body benefits.”

Further research about delta-8 THC is posted at drdelights.com.

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Meet Your New Instagram Crush: 420 Old Fat Lesbians

Are these your cannabis internet heroines? Instagram has answered with a resounding yes when it comes to Lee and Sue, a.k.a. the 420 Old Fat Lesbians. The retired duo started their account on March 3 on a lark, a fun way to entertain themselves, having moved from Florida to Maine after 10 years of coupledom. On the power of around 30 short, goofy, majority cannabis-themed clips, their follower count has swelled to 71 thousand in under a month. Lee and Sue now field their followers’ admiration and occasional adoption requests with grace and aplomb as they navigate their newfound virality.

“We are humbled and have nothing but gratitude for the kind words coming our way,” the pair told High Times.

What’s the secret to this wild popularity? Some may chalk it up to the pleasure of sharing the couple’s small moments of queer love, woefully lacking in the hetero-centric world of online marijuana personality. Take for example, a March 5th post from when Lee was in the hospital (recovering from a heart attack, it would be explained to a worried fan). Sue stole her away for a cannabis break in the hospital bathroom. The pair set up their phone’s camera, readied their medicated cannabis lollipops, and queued a Chicken Dance Elmo doll positioned between them on a windowsill. The doll flaps his arms and Sue and Lee follow his lead, sucking away happily on the canna-pops in what seems like a moment of real tenderness. Cue viral swoon.

But trust that the pair are hardly one-dimensional love bugs. Sue has a talent for fashioning smoking instruments from the unexpected — a mermaid doll’s crotch, a plastic unicorn, KY jelly container, and a green transparent gas mask have all been fodder for her cannabis creativity.

And of course, there’s the account’s light choreography to classic queer party tracks. A post featuring Friday night Sister Sledge session makes it impossible not to bop along. One shot of the two swaying to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”, in which hard hat-clad Sue hoists said accoutrement, is a deadpan dream.

Not to mention their sweetly and clunky scripted lesbian puns. “About to tap this sweet lady,” Sue says, lighting up a DIY bowl-equipped Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup container. A certain self awareness runs throughout the bits. Not for nothing have the woman chosen an IG handle perfectly constructed to elicit both guffaws and a knee-jerk follow for queer marijuana consumers starved for relatable content (their IG profile’s subtitle: “The Likes of Dykes”).

We’re thrilled to witness the birth of two LGBT cannabis icons in their pre-blue check flush. Such was the ocean of our affection that High Times had to reach out to the pair to learn more about their thoughts on life, love, and dank herb. By the way, potential sponsors, Lee and Sue await your DM.

Meet Your New Instagram Crush: 420 Old Fat Lesbians

Courtesy of Sue and Lee

HT: Hi, friends. First things first — what are your favorite strains? Preferred ways to consume cannabis?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: White Widow, Blueberry Kush, Northern Lights, Purple Train Wreck … too many to list. We both like vaping and edibles, but alternate with bong rips and joints. Seems to work for us.

HT: Will weed will lose its outlaw cache should it become legalized on a federal level in the United States?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: We think it depends on the permit fees, taxes, etc. behind all of it! Smaller businesses may not be able to afford filling the government’s pockets, so we’re sure there will still be a black market.

HT: What has been the reaction among your friends and family to your newfound cannabis fame?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Some of our friends and family are surprised, maybe a little shocked, but all care for us deeply and want the best for us.

HT: You’re both medical marijuana users who gave you followers the chance to check in with the two of you on Lee’s recent hospital stay. Has cannabis been aiding in her recovery process?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Yes, some forms of indica keep Lee relaxed and we both use it for pain. It’s so much better than opioids that don’t work as well and cause addiction. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana.

HT: If I’m not mistaken, a lot of your fans are reacting to a queer relationship that seems to be thriving. What are your tips for reaching old fat lesbian status with a loved one?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: Accept each other without trying to change them, and if you’re lucky enough to find your twin soul like we have, the journey is just that much sweeter.

HT: Love is great, but sex … that KY jelly smoke sesh, I hear, was a fan favorite. Does cannabis plays a role in your sexual relationship? (When doctor’s orders allow, of course.)

420 Old Fat Lesbians: It helps relax our minds.

HT: What are your plans and goals for the future of 420 Old Fat Lesbians? Will you be doing more product reviews? DIY paraphernalia inspo posts?

420 Old Fat Lesbians: We will keep our options open. We are new to this and our minds welcome whatever possibilities come our way.

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