Among the cannabinoids in cannabis, the main psychoactive compound, THC, often outshines the one that provides a natural anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic effect.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, lacks the colorful high commonly associated with your traditional marijuana high and doesn’t have much of a noticeable effect when isolated. When combined with THC, the relaxing effect combats any feelings of paranoia or panic that can sometimes be felt under the influence.
While lauded for it’s effect on epilepsy, recent cannabis research has identified CBD as the component responsible for a great deal of marijuana’s medical benefits.
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Here are 10 medical use for CBD that you might not have known about:
1. Cigarette Addiction
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 24 smokers were randomly chosen to receive either an inhaler of CBD or a placebo. Participants were asked to take a puff every time they had an urge to puff a cigarette. Over the week, those with placebo inhalers saw no change in their total number of cigarettes consumed, while those who were taking CBD saw a nearly 40 percent drop in their intake. Using the inhaler decreased the number of cigarettes without increasing their craving for nicotine, pointing towards a purpose for cannabidiol in the withdrawal process.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the National Institute of Health discovered that CBD can provide treatment for acne. Researchers used cannabis-derived cannabidiol on the human sebaceous glands and came to the conclusion that CBD acts as a highly effective sebostatic and anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting lipid synthesis.
In a study using CBD, the development of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice was prevented. Although there wasn’t a direct effect of cannabidiol on glucose levels, the treatment prevented the production of IL-12 by splenocytes. Preventing this cytokine is important because it plays a huge role in many autoimmune diseases.
Common treatments for fibromyalgia are anti-inflammatory medications, opioid pain medications and corticosteroids. A 2011 study that focused on CBD treatment for fibromyalgia produced very promising results for future uses in treatment. Half of the 56 participants used CBD, while the other half used traditional methods to treat their condition. Those that used cannabis saw a great reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods didn’t see much of an improvement.
5. Prion/Mad Cow Disease
Cannabidiol has been shown to halt prions, the proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow. The formation and accumulation of prions was prevented with the aide of cannabidiol during a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2007. For mice that were infected, CBD increased their survival time by about a week.
6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
CBD is known to produce anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects when ingested by slowing everything down and calming the user. Those with PTSD are often overcome with anxiety and stress, so patients frequently find relief by using cannabidiol. The antipsychotic benefits provide a stable mental environment for those that need it most.
In 2012, a group of German researchers published a study in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The potent antipsychotic Amisulpride and CBD were compared between 42 schizophrenia patients. The two treatments were deemed effective, but the short side-effect profile of CBD out shined the pharmaceutical option.
8. Crohn’s Disease
Some scientists say CBD could be an effective treatment for bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease. THC and CBD interact with the system that controls gut function in the body, something that Crohn’s patients suffer issues with. The component of cannabis’ anti-inflammatory ability brings a lot of relief to those suffering from this condition.
9. Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists at the Cajal Institute used animal models and cell cultures to find that CBD reversed inflammatory responses and served as durable protection from the effects of multiple sclerosis. Mice with 10 days of CBD treatment had superior motor skills and showed progression in their condition. Using this information, researchers concluded that CBD has the potential ability to reduce various aspects of MS.
One of the few side effects of CBD is tiredness, but for many, it’s what they seek out in the natural herb. Since pharmaceuticals for aiding sleep pose risk for addiction and leave you feeling groggy the next day, it’s best to go the safe route with non-habit forming CBD. When searching for strains to combat insomnia, try staying with Indica and CBD-heavy strains to knock you out when you need it most.
Link to article here.
By: Martin A. Lee
It doesn’t get you high, but it’s causing quite a buzz among medical scientists and patients. The past year has seen a surge of interest in marijuana’s CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabis compound with significant therapeutic properties. Numerous commercial start-ups and internet retailers have jumped on the CBD bandwagon, touting CBD derived from industrial hemp as the next big thing, a miracle oil that can shrink tumors, quell seizures, and ease chronic pain — without making people feel “stoned.” But along with a growing awareness of cannabidiol as a potential health aid there has been a proliferation of misconceptions about CBD.
“CBD Is Medical. THC Is Recreational.”
Project CBD receives many inquiries from around the world and oftentimes people say they are seeking “CBD, the medical part” of the plant, “not THC, the recreational part” that gets you high. Actually, THC, “The High Causer,” has awesome therapeutic properties. Scientists at the Scripps Research Center in San Diego reported that THC inhibits an enzyme implicated in the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
The federal government recognizes single-molecule THC (Marinol) as an anti-nausea compound and appetite booster, deeming it a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medicinal substances with little abuse potential. But whole plant marijuana, the only natural source of THC, continues to be classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical value.
“THC Is The Bad Cannabinoid. CBD Is The Good Cannabinoid.”
The drug warrior’s strategic retreat: Give ground on CBD while continuing to demonize THC. Diehard marijuana prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting tetrahydrocannabinol as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you high like THC does.
Project CBD categorically rejects this moralistic, reefer madness dichotomy in favor of whole plant cannabis therapeutics. (Read the foundational science paper: A Tale of Two Cannabinoids.)
“CBD Is Most Effective Without THC.”
THC and CBD are the power couple of cannabis compounds — they work best together. Scientific studies have established that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects. British researchers have shown that CBD potentiates THC’s anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model of colitis.
Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco determined that a combination of CBD and THC has a more potent anti-tumoral effect than either compound alone when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines. And extensive clinical research has demonstrated that CBD combined with THC is more beneficial for neuropathic pain than either compound as a single molecule.
“Single-Molecule Pharmaceuticals Are Superior To ‘Crude’ Whole-Plant Medicinals.”
According to the federal government, specific components of the marijuana plant (THC, CBD) have medical value, but the plant itself does not have medical value. Uncle Sam’s single-molecule blinders reflect a cultural and political bias that privileges Big Pharma products. Single-molecule medicine is the predominant corporate way, the FDA-approved way, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the optimal way to benefit from cannabis therapeutics.
Cannabis contains several hundred compounds, including various flavonoids, aromatic terpenes, and many minor cannabinoids in addition to THC and CBD. Each of these compounds has specific healing attributes, but when combined they create what scientists refer to as a holistic “entourage effect,” so that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts. The Food and Drug Administration, however, isn’t in the business of approving plants as medicine. (See the scientific evidence.)
“Psychoactivity Is Inherently An Adverse Side Effect.”
According to politically correct drug war catechism, the marijuana high is an unwanted side effect. Big Pharma is keen on synthesizing medically active marijuana-like molecules that don’t make people high — although it’s not obvious why mild euphoric feelings are intrinsically negative for a sick person or a healthy person, for that matter.
In ancient Greece, the word euphoria meant “having health,” a state of well-being. The euphoric qualities of cannabis, far from being an unwholesome side effect, are deeply implicated in the therapeutic value of the plant.
“We should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first,” said Dr. Tod Mikuriya, “that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties on the side.”
“CBD Is Legal In All 50 States.”
Purveyors of imported, CBD-infused hemp oil claim it’s legal to market their wares anywhere in the United States as long as the oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Actually, it’s not so simple.
Federal law prohibits U.S. farmers from growing hemp as a commercial crop, but the sale of imported, low-THC, industrial hemp products is permitted in the United States as long as these products are derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers. Here’s the catch: Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hempseed. CBD can be extracted from the flower, leaves, and, only to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp oil start-ups lack credibility when they say their CBD comes from hempseed and stalk.
“CBD-Only’ Laws Adequately Serve The Patient Population.”
Some U.S. state legislatures have passed “CBD only” (or, more accurately, “low THC”) laws, and other states are poised to follow suit. Some states restrict the sources of CBD-rich products and specify the diseases for which CBD can be accessed; others do not. Ostensibly these laws allow the use of CBD-infused oil derived from hemp or cannabis that measures less than 0.3 percent THC.
But a CBD-rich remedy with little THC doesn’t work for everyone. Parents of epileptic children have found that adding some THC (or THCA, the raw unheated version of THC) helps with seizure control in many instances. For some epileptics, THC-dominant strains are more effective than CBD-rich products.
The vast majority of patients are not well served by CBD-only laws. They need access to a broad spectrum of whole plant cannabis remedies, not just the low THC medicine. One size doesn’t fit all with respect to cannabis therapeutics, and neither does one compound or one product or one strain. (Read more: Prohibition’s Last Gasp: “CBD Only.”)
“CBD Is CBD—It Doesn’t Matter Where It Comes From.”
Yes it does matter. The flower-tops and leaves of some industrial hemp strains may be a viable source of CBD (legal issues notwithstanding), but hemp is by no means an optimal source of cannabidiol. Industrial hemp typically contains far less cannabidiol than CBD-rich cannabis. Huge amounts of industrial hemp are required to extract a small amount of CBD, thereby raising the risk of toxic contaminants because hemp is a “bio-accumulator” that draws heavy metals from the soil.
Single-molecule CBD synthesized in a lab or extracted and refined from industrial hemp lacks critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis strains. These compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their therapeutic benefits.
Link to Article here.
By Nat Stein
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) wants to hear from you.
In a notice published to the federal register this week, the agency, which regulates pretty much anything that goes into your body, announced that it's "requesting interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of 17 drug substances."
FDA will then funnel those comments up the chain and out of the country, though they could come to impact domestic drug policy.
Some context: the United States is party to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a United Nations (UN) treaty meant to curb drug trafficking and abuse by restricting imports/exports, limiting use to scientific and medical settings, and compelling member nations to punish infractions of the treaty. It's like the international version of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). So, ahead of an upcoming meeting scheduled for Nov. 6-10 in Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization (WHO)'s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is gathering input from member nations' health departments to prepare recommendations for the U.N. Secretary-General, subject to a vote by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). If the UN ends up changing its drug controls, it's likely that member nations, including the U.S., would follow suit.
OK, so here are all the substances under consideration: Ocfentanil; Furanyl fentanyl (Fu-F); Acryloylfentanyl (Acrylfentanyl); Carfentanil; 4-fluoroisobutyrfentanyl (4-FIBF); Tetrahydrofuranylfentanyl (THF-F); 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA); AB-PINACA; AB-CHMINACA; 5F-PB-22; UR-144; 5F-ADB; Etizolam; Pregabalin; Tramadol; Cannabidiol; Ketamine.
Good for you if you know what half those substances are. About that last one, Time Magazine just ran an illuminating cover story on Ketamine, the party drug that's showing promise as an anti-depressant.
What jumped out to us is the FDA's description of Cannabidiol (CBD):
"Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States. CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA. At the 37th (2015) meeting of the ECDD, the committee requested that the Secretariat prepare relevant documentation to conduct pre-reviews for several substances, including CBD."
That little phrase is a big deal, since it puts the FDA at odds with another executive branch agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which (possibly illegally) considers CBD to have no medical benefit. (Medical benefit is, of course, a defining characteristic of drug scheduling that, consequently, has a major effect on criminality, health applications and scientific research.)
Many people, here in Colorado and nationwide, can attest to the therapeutic properties of CBD. If you're one of those people, and you want FDA and WHO to hear about it, you can submit a comment up until September 13.
You can do so online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail addressed to Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Apparently, all submissions must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-N-4515 for “International Drug Scheduling; Convention on Psychotropic Substances; Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; Ocfentanil; Furanyl fentanyl (Fu-F); Acryloylfentanyl (Acrylfentanyl); Carfentanil; 4-fluoroisobutyrfentanyl (4-FIBF); Tetrahydrofuranylfentanyl (THF-F); 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA); AB-PINACA; AB-CHMINACA; 5F-PB-22; UR-144; 5F-ADB; Etizolam; Pregabalin; Tramadol; Cannabidiol; Ketamine; Request for Comments.”
A government health agency is funding the first-ever study on medical marijuana’s impact on opioid abuse
By Trey Williams
Researchers hope to provide evidence-based recommendations on medical marijuana that will help shape health care practices and public policies
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the first-ever, long-term study to research the impacts of medical marijuana on opioid use.
The NIH has awarded a five-year $3.8 million grant to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System to study whether medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain, including people with HIV.
“There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain,” said Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore, in a statement. “We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much needed guidance.”
The study comes in the midst of a rising opioid epidemic and increased interest in legal medical and recreational marijuana. There has been debate over the possible use of medical marijuana as a substitute for opioids, as well as whether the drug should be legal at all.
President Donald Trump has stated his intent to tackle the country’s opioid crisis, on Thursday saying the White House would declare it a national emergency.
Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions, while vehemently opposing marijuana legalization, also rejects the idea that medical marijuana could solve the opioid crisis.
In prepared remarks for a speech back in March, Sessions said: “I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”
Albert Einstein College of Medicine says researchers have never studied whether using medical marijuana over time reduces the use of opioids, and that there are no studies on how the specific chemical compounds of marijuana—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)—affect health outcomes like pain, function and quality of life. Most studies have focused on illicit, rather than medical, marijuana, and have reported negative effects.
There are a multitude of cannabinoids that make up cannabis, the most prominent being THC and CBD. While the effects of THC are highly psychoactive, CBDs have little to no psychoactive effect. Some researchers and companies have been exploring the effects of individual cannabinoids in an effort to better understand them. Denver-based company Ebbu LLC is seeking to produce cannabis products that by extracting certain cannabinoids would give users the same result every time—whether its something to make them laugh, stay up late or put them to sleep.
Some U.S. senators took a step earlier in the summer toward easing up on medical marijuana. U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana and take steps to improve research.
“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective health care practices and public policies,” Dr. Cunningham said in a statement.
Link to article here.
Cannabidiol, which is found in marijuana plants, reduced the number of convulsive seizures in children with a severe and often fatal epilepsy disorder, according to research published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among children taking cannabidiol, the decrease in the frequency of convulsive seizures -- which involve a loss of consciousness, stiffened muscles and jerking movements -- was 23 percentage points greater than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.
The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial, which is considered the gold standard test for any new medicine.
Cannabidiol, also called CBD, is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant, which is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.
GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that is developing cannabidiol medicines, helped subsidize the study.
"After 3,800 years of cannabis use for epilepsy ... we finally have solid evidence," said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, lead author of the study and director of NYU Langone's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. His own previous research indicates that cannabis was used as early as 1800 B.C. in Sumeria to treat epilepsy; neurologists of the Victorian period used Indian hemp, which is rich in cannabidiol, for the same purpose.
Despite the generally positive results, most study participants reported side effects that included vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea and some liver issues.
"CBD is an effective drug for this type of rare epilepsy but was not a panacea (or cure-all) for these children," Devinsky said.
What is Dravet syndrome?
A total of 120 patients with Dravet syndrome, ranging in age from nearly 2 to 18 years old, were randomly assigned to receive either an oral solution of cannabidiol or a placebo for a 14-week period.
"Dravet syndrome is a severe childhood-onset epilepsy that causes multiple kinds of seizures, developmental delays, speech and language problems, behavioral issues and movement and balance problems," said Brandy Fureman, vice president of research and new therapies at the Epilepsy Foundation. She was not involved in the new study.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that disrupts electrical communication between neurons in the brain. Considered a spectrum disorder, different epilepsy syndromes are defined by clusters of symptoms or features and treated accordingly.
Existing epilepsy medications usually don't work for patients with Dravet, so "up to 20% of these children die from seizures before age 20 years," Devinsky explained.
Within the study, individual participants experienced convulsive seizures at a rate ranging from four per month, on average, to 1,717 per month.
During the 14-week study, frequency of convulsive seizures decreased from an average of 12.4 to 5.9 per month in the cannabidiol group, compared with 14.9 to 14.1 in the placebo group. On average, the change in seizure frequency amounted to a 39% decrease for the cannabidiol group patients, compared with a roughly 13% decrease among the placebo group.
Five percent of the children became entirely seizure-free during the 14-week study. Overall, parents in the cannabidiol group felt that they witnessed "significantly greater" positive changes in their children than parents in the placebo group.
However, there was a downside. Most (93%) of the cannabidiol patients reported side effects, though three-quarters of the placebo group patients did as well. Nine out of 61 cannabidiol group patients dropped out of the study, eight of them because of side effects, compared with just three of the 59 placebo group patients.
"Tiredness (somnolence or fatigue) was most common; others were decreased appetite, diarrhea and vomiting," Devinsky explained.
Based on the overall results, Devinsky believes CBD should be evaluated for epilepsy types beyond Dravet syndrome, which is caused by a genetic mutation and affects about one in 20,000 to 40,000 children in the United States.
Wayne Hall, professor and director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland in Australia, also believes the findings are "sufficiently encouraging" to warrant further research of cannabidiol that focuses on "related forms of epilepsy."
'Critically important' for the epilepsy community
"No one study decides an issue; the sample size is still relatively small (because this is a rare syndrome and so hard to study large numbers of cases) and the duration of treatment so far has been relatively short," Hall, who was not involved in the research, wrote in an email.
Still, Hall said the research, which carefully measured safety and efficacy for a "substantial" number of children, showed "clear evidence of benefits in reducing seizure frequency and severity over the duration of the trial."
Dr. Brenda Porter, associate professor of neurology at Stanford School of Medicine, said she's "glad to see" data coming out. Porter is not one of the researchers behind this study, though she too has published papers on cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy.
"Interestingly, it looks similar to our other seizure medications in terms of efficacy and tolerability," Porter said. "So, sadly, not a home run for most patients but another tool in our treatment regimen."
The marijuana plant is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Scientific researchers studying cannabidiol must meet federal security requirements and follow federal practices. Some scientists have said these federal requirements have slowed research supporting medicinal benefits of the plant.
Porter believes the study may open the door to having "more thoughtful discussions with our patients about the efficacy and the side effects" of cannabidiol. "Hopefully, the FDA will see this as a sign it should be moved off of Schedule I. If it stays on Schedule I, we will have trouble getting it to our patients when it does become available."
The 1970 Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."
Changing the schedule of a drug falls to the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Department of Health and Human Services. An interested party, such as a drug company, may also petition for the process to begin. The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse provide guidance to the DEA when reviewing scientific evidence on which to base a schedule change.
Dr. David Gloss, director of clinical neurophysiology at CAMC Health System in Charleston, West Virginia, believes the new study is "very important" because "there's a lot of people using cannabidiol for all kinds of stuff." Gloss co-authored a review of cannabinoids for the Cochrane Library, which publishes systematic reviews of medical research. He was not involved in the new research.
He noted that generating more evidence of effective use is "a good thing." Already, there is existing "medical evidence of efficacy for narrow neurologic conditions," said Gloss, who hopes that when enough evidence is available, the classification of cannabidiol as a Schedule I drug might be reconsidered and changed.
The University of Queensland's Hall believes that boundaries between medical use of cannabinoids and the recreational use of cannabis by adults should not be blurred. "If future clinical trials confirm these promising results, then appropriate regulation will enable the drug to be safely used for medical purposes," he said.
The Epilepsy Foundation's Fureman said, "before publication of this trial, much of the clinical evidence about CBD's effects on people's seizures was uncontrolled and anecdotal." She added that the new study is "critically important" for the epilepsy community, which believes a CBD-based medical product would be a first-in-class therapeutic option.
On the need for more scientific research, all these experts agree.
As Devinsky said, "natural substances are not necessarily safe and effective. They need to be evaluated rigorously."
Link to article here.
Young cannabis plants grow at a Desert Hot Springs greenhouse owned by marijuana cultivator Canndescent, one of the few cannabis firms that's found a bank willing to take its deposits. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
By James Rufus KorenContact Reporter
With recreational marijuana sales set to become legal in California next year and most banks unwilling to open accounts for cannabis companies, pot entrepreneurs are desperate to figure out what to do with their piles of cash. Now, some want the state or cities to get involved.
Over the last year, there has been increasing interest among cannabis businesses and public officials in the idea of public banks: government-owned institutions that would take deposits, make loans and, in California at least, be willing to work with marijuana companies.
Gubernatorial candidate and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for the creation of a public bank and has discussed the idea with members of the cannabis industry. This week, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson said he wants to look into creating a city-owned bank that might serve cannabis businesses.
But would it work?
Maybe, said Matt Stannard, who has been an advocate of public banking long before California residents voted to legalize recreational pot use last year.
He’s optimistic, but also warns that there are plenty of potential pitfalls.
“I’m not going to say that if you create a public bank, it's going to solve all of the marijuana industry's banking problems,” he said. “But it’s worth a try.”
Why a public bank?
A public bank is much like a private one, taking deposits and making loans. There are a few big differences:
Owned by shareholders.
Run by a board of directors selected by shareholders.
Run to generate profit and return profit to shareholders.
Owned by the public.
Run by elected or government-appointed officials.
Run to support public priorities and return profit to the public.
Stannard, policy director for Sonoma, Calif.-based advocacy group Commonomics USA, said there are a handful of potential benefits of public banks, some economic and some social, irrespective of their use by the marijuana industry.
If California had a public bank, the state could deposit tax revenue there rather than at a private bank. Those deposits would then be used to make loans.
But unlike at a private bank, those loans could be used to support state needs — such as affordable housing — and profits could be returned to the state coffers.
The Bank of North Dakota, the only publicly owned bank in the country, has paid $85 million into various state government funds over the last four years, according to its most recent annual report. It makes low-interest student loans and farm loans and helps finance local public-works projects, all priorities set by state leaders.
Newsom, in a series of tweets in May during the California Democratic Party convention, said California should develop a state bank to offer student loans and finance the construction of healthcare facilities and housing.
Stannard said the state could also make cannabis banking a priority, if for no other reason than to address the public safety concerns presented by the industry’s current reliance on cash.
“The voters of California have voted to allow recreational marijuana but, given the status quo, that’s a huge mess, and it’s dangerous,” he said. “A public bank may be the best way to clean up that mess and the best way to provide financial and physical security to the industry.”
But what about federal drug laws?
Most banks won’t knowingly work with marijuana companies because marijuana is an illegal substance under federal law. Banks are overseen and insured by federal agencies, so federal rules, not state ones, are key.
State- or city-owned banks could get around at least some of that federal oversight. At the Bank of North Dakota, deposits are insured by the state itself, not by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., taking one federal agency out of the mix.
The bank is overseen by the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions, not by federal bank examiners. Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s noted in a 2014 report that Bank of North Dakota “has no oversight from U.S. government authorities or banking regulatory bodies.”
But there’s still at least one way federal rules could block public banks from working with pot businesses: by shutting them out of the Federal Reserve system.
To be able to process checks, wire transfers and electronic payments — in other words, to interact with the rest of the financial system — banks must have an account with one of the nation’s 12 regional Federal Reserve banks. Without such an account, a bank is “nothing but a huge cash vault,” said Mark Mason, one of the founders of Fourth Corner Credit Union, a Colorado institution that aimed to serve that state’s cannabis industry.
When Fourth Corner applied for an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 2014, the application was denied, in part because of its plans to focus on the marijuana businesses. The credit union sued, arguing it was entitled to an account, but a federal district judge sided with the Kansas City Fed.
The credit union appealed and it now appears Fourth Corner will be able to get an account — but only if it pledges not to work with cannabis businesses. Mason said the credit union’s plan for now is to serve marijuana advocacy groups and perhaps businesses that are connected to the industry but that don't grow or sell cannabis.
There has been no firm ruling on the key issue in the case: whether a financial institution that plans to work with cannabis companies will be able to get a Fed account. Stannard said public officials and cannabis entrepreneurs pushing for public banks should be aware of this, though it shouldn’t stop them from proceeding.
“It is not a settled question,” he said. “There are legal barriers still. But our position is it’s a battle worth fighting.”
He also suggested that the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the central bank for California and eight other western states, may take a different approach than its counterpart in Kansas City. What’s more, he suggested California’s size could allow it to succeed where Fourth Corner failed.
“There’s a big difference between an application from a tiny credit union and an application from the sixth-largest economy in the world,” he said.
How long are the odds?
If California, Los Angeles, Oakland or any other jurisdiction in the state successfully creates a public bank, it would be the first to do so in the United States in nearly a century.
A handful of states had their own public banks in the 1800s, but now the Bank of North Dakota is the only one remaining — and its origins have a parallel in the current public-bank movement.
The Midwestern bank was created in 1919 at the behest of wheat farmers who felt they were being overcharged by banks in Chicago and Minneapolis. Today, the cannabis industry feels mistreated and is pushing for a public option.
“This industry has been shut out of traditional banking systems in California, creating a catalyst for us to take up the public-banking question,” said gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer John Chiang, who has said he is interested in public banks but has not endorsed the idea.
He leads a group of regulators and cannabis industry representatives trying to bring the industry into the mainstream. Public banking will be the focus of the group’s next meeting, to be held in Los Angeles next month.
There’s also the notion that a public bank could provide loans that private banks are less interested in making.
“Imagine … a bank where its vision statement is to finance the building of affordable housing,” Wesson said in a speech Tuesday. “Imagine if we had a bank that is focused on working with small business entrepreneurs to give them loans.”
There have been campaigns for public banks for years in other states and cities, especially in the wake of the financial crisis, but they haven’t gone anywhere. A 2012 California Assembly bill calling for the creation of something approaching a state bank never made it to a vote.
In Massachusetts, the state Legislature in 2010 called for a study on the feasibility of creating a state bank. The resulting report recommended against such an institution, finding that the state would have to borrow billions of dollars to set up the bank and that depositing public funds in such a bank could put taxpayers at risk.
That, Stannard said, is how most public banking campaigns die.
“It’s always a question of political will,” he said. “You have public officials who are risk averse, and the safest thing to do is nothing.”
Even if the idea moves forward, creating a public bank could take years.
Dan Newman, a spokesman for Newsom’s campaign, said the lieutenant governor is open to the idea of a public bank that would work with cannabis companies, but said such an institution is not “a short-term answer or an immediately scalable option.”
And, of course, there’s the banking lobby. Private banks and their trade groups would probably fight the creation of a public bank, on the grounds that a public institution could have an unfair competitive advantage, said Simone Lagomarsino, chief executive of the California Bankers Assn.
“Who’s going to regulate the bank? Who’s going to examine it? If it loses money, are taxpayers OK with absorbing a loss? These are questions our bankers would be asking,” she said.
Link to article here.
By Steve Birr
The future of marijuana treatment for America’s veterans rests on an upcoming vote in the House of Representatives that will determine if they can be granted medical access.
The House Rules Committee will convene Monday to determine whether the Veterans Equal Access amendment can be offered for inclusion in the appropriations bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon is hoping bipartisan support for the amendment, which opens up access to medical marijuana for veterans through VA hospitals, can help get it out of the committee and onto the House floor for full debate, reports Military.com.
The amendment successfully passed in the House last year after failing to garner enough support in 2014 and 2015, however budget negotiations in the Senate stripped the measure from the final appropriations bill. The amendment allows VA doctors to recommend marijuana as a treatment option in states with medical legalization and sign the necessary paperwork to ensure the patient can get access.
“All we’re trying to do is make conversations between veterans and their VA providers about all treatment options more accessible,” Blumenauer told Military.com. “We have Republicans, Democrats, and veterans behind this effort. Our hope is that the Rules Committee will take note of the overwhelming bipartisan support for this amendment, show compassion for our veterans, and give us a vote.”
Proposals to loosen federal restrictions on marijuana and open up access to cannabis products for veterans are also gaining bipartisan traction in the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Veterans Equal Access amendment for the VA appropriations bill July 13.
Building bipartisan momentum for marijuana issues concerning veterans comes on the heels of American Legion, a veterans group with more than 2 million members, formally launching a campaign in May advocating the government open access to the substance for returning service members. It is unclear if the Trump administration, which has been adversarial towards legal pot, will support these efforts.
The current federal classification of marijuana greatly restricts the ability of researchers to study the medical application of cannabis with federal funding. It also prevents doctors at the VA from discussing marijuana for treatment, even if it can cut down or replace a patients daily intake of opioid painkillers.
Link to original article here.
Marijuana plants in a grow house and dispensary in Quincy, Mass. Voters in the state approved a law to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Credit Adam Glanzman for The New York Times
By AVANTIKA CHILKOTIJULY 15, 2017
In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for conservatives, last year’s elections also yielded a win for liberals in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.
A task force Mr. Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.
That has pitted the attorney general against members of Congress across the political spectrum — from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey — who are determined to defend states’ rights and provide some certainty for the multibillion-dollar pot industry.
“Our attorney general is giving everyone whiplash by trying to take us back to the 1960s,” said Representative Jared Huffman, Democrat of California, whose district includes the so-called Emerald Triangle that produces much of America’s marijuana.
“Prosecutorial discretion is everything given the current conflict between the federal law and the law of many states,” he said in an interview last month.
In February, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said the Trump administration would look into enforcing federal law against recreational marijuana businesses. Some states are considering tougher stands: In Massachusetts, for example, the Legislature is trying to rewrite a law to legalize recreational marijuana that voters passed in November.
Around one-fifth of Americans now live in states where marijuana is legal for adult use, according to the Brookings Institution, and an estimated 200 million live in places where medicinal marijuana is legal. Cannabis retailing has moved from street corners to state-of-the-art dispensaries and stores, with California entrepreneurs producing rose gold vaporizers and businesses in Colorado selling infused drinks.
Mr. Sessions is backed by a minority of Americans who view cannabis as a “gateway” drug that drives social problems, like the recent rise in opioid addiction.
“We love Jeff Sessions’s position on marijuana because he is thinking about it clearly,” said Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman for Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.
He dismissed the idea of recreational drug use. “‘Recreational’ is a bike ride, a swim, going to the beach,” he said. “Using a drug to put your brain in an altered state is not recreation. That is self-destructive behavior and escapism.”
Marijuana merchants are protected by a provision in the federal budget that prohibits the Justice Department from spending money to block state laws that allow medicinal cannabis. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department did not interfere with state laws that legalize marijuana and instead focused on prosecuting drug cartels and the transport of pot across state lines.
In March, a group of senators that included Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, asked Mr. Sessions to stick with existing policies. Some lawmakers also want to allow banks to work with the marijuana industry and to allow tax deductions for business expenses.
Lawmakers who support legalizing marijuana contend that it leads to greater regulation, curbs the black market and stops money laundering. They point to studies showing that the war on drugs, which began under President Richard M. Nixon, had disastrous impacts on national incarceration rates and racial divides.
In a statement, Mr. Booker said the Trump administration’s crackdown against marijuana “will not make our communities safer or reduce the use of illegal drugs.”
“Instead, they will worsen an already broken system,” he said, noting that marijuana-related arrests are disproportionately high for black Americans.
Consumers spent $5.9 billion on legal cannabis in the United States last year, according to the Arcview Group, which studies and invests in the industry. That figure is expected to reach $19 billion by 2021.
A Quinnipiac University poll in February concluded that 59 percent of American voters believe cannabis should be legal. Additionally, the poll found, 71 percent say the federal government should not prosecute marijuana use in states that have legalized it.
“This is part of a larger set of issues that the country is wrestling with right now, where a very strong-willed minority is trying to impose its value system on the country as a whole,” said Roger McNamee, an industry investor.
But marijuana businesses are bracing for a possible clampdown.
“People that were sort of on the fence — a family office, a high-net-worth individual thinking of privately financing a licensed opportunity — it has swayed them to go the other way and think: not just yet,” said Randy Maslow, a founder of iAnthus Capital Holdings. The public company raises money in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon and a co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, is urging marijuana businesses not to be “unduly concerned.”
“We have watched where the politicians have consistently failed to be able to fashion rational policy and show a little backbone,” he said. “This issue has been driven by the people.”
Link to article here.
By Lisa Rough
Most people who are familiar with cannabis recognize 4/20, either via its definitive history or the myths surrounding it. The number "420" has roots in cannabis more than 30 years deep, but a more recent cannabis holiday is taking the cannabis community by storm: 7/10, also known as Oil Day or, more affectionately, Dab Day.
A customer pays for cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary on July 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
By Daniel Politi of Slate
Hundreds of people lined up in the middle of the night to be among the first to buy legal marijuana in Nevada, which became the fifth state to allow recreational sales on Saturday morning. Tourists and locals alike were in the often-long lines celebrating the first sales that came after voters in Nevada approved legalization in November.
Now anyone who is 21 and older can buy up to an ounce of marijuana in Nevada. And while tourists are expected to make up a big percentage of the customers, marijuana can only be consumed in a private home. That’s why dispensaries seem to be banking on the popularity of edibles, particularly in Las Vegas.
Customers line up outside Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary as they wait for the midnight start of recreational marijuana sales to begin on June 30, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada is now the fifth state—after Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska—to fully regulate and tax the recreational marijuana market. Three other states—California, Maine, and Massachusetts—also approved legalization of marijuana last year but they have yet to implement the legal sales.
Supporters of legalization say Nevada is set to take in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue on the sales. “The shows, the gambling, the drinks … now legal pot,” a 26-year-old visitor from Chicago who bought marijuana at a dispensary a block away from the Strip told the Los Angeles Times. “Who wouldn’t want to come visit?”
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