Vol. 5, Number 3
March 1, 2013
cheryl riley, editor & writer
Dr. David Bearman, writer
Gradi Jordan, writer
Ed Glick, writer
Paul Armentano, writer
Arthur Livermore, writer
Who's Who
What's New
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Medical Marijuana: A Perspective - Arthur Livermore

During the 1970's, when I was a medical student, I was told that marijuana (cannabis) was only a drug of abuse. The knowledge of medical uses of cannabis had been lost. Thirty years earlier, doctors were knowledgeable about medical marijuana, but now it was a forbidden plant. It took me years of research to discover the medical uses of marijuana.

My search through the medical school library was not helpful. I found some information in used book stores. There was a copy of a 1921 Therapeutic Handbook with medications made with cannabis. When I found Dr. Lester Grinspoon's book, Marihuana Reconsidered (Grinspoon 1971), it became clear that marijuana is medicine. How it works was still unknown. Many young people were using it in the 70's and some soldiers returning from Vietnam found that it helped them emotionally. My own experience showed that it is effective in treating bipolar mood disorder.

When I was learning how to control my emotional body, the psychiatric community didn't think that marijuana was helpful. I was given the most powerful prescription medicines available, but my episodic mania continued. I discovered that marijuana helped me avoid these episodes and I began using it instead of the standard medications.

When I discussed using marijuana with my psychiatrist, she was not able to prescribe cannabis because the law said it wasn't medicine. She saw that it was effective treatment for my symptoms and did not object to my use of marijuana.

During the 1980's, marijuana was demonized in the "Just Say No" campaign. At the same time the United States Federal Government was running an Investigational New Drug program that allows patients to use medical marijuana. Robert Randall was the first patient in this program after he sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now HHS). He won this suit in November, 1976, based on the medical necessity of marijuana in the treatment of his glaucoma.

The FDA's Compassionate IND program was expanded to include AIDS patients during the 1980's. When the George H. W. Bush administration closed the program in 1992, there were thirty patients receiving marijuana from the government. Twenty years later, four of these patients are still receiving marijuana from the federal government.

After the government stopped adding people to the legal medical marijuana list, patients who responded to cannabis therapy worked with political activists to pass medical marijuana laws in the States. In 1996, California passed the first medical marijuana law. As of 2012, seventeen States and the District of Columbia have made marijuana legal for medical use.

In spite of this support for recognizing marijuana as medicine, the DEA has refused to place marijuana in the medical use category. Repeated petitions to remove marijuana from the 'no medical use' category have been denied. In 1988, the court reviewed the science of medical marijuana and the Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, found that "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. … To conclude otherwise, on this record, would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious." Why does the DEA ignore the evidence that cannabis is a medicine? Quite simply, they are paid to say that all use of marijuana is abuse of marijuana.

The discovery of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the active ingredient in marijuana by Ralph Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni (Gaoni and Mechoulam 1964) in 1964 led to the identification of the endocannabinoid receptor system in 1988 (Devane, et al. 1988). In 1992, this previously unknown transmitter system was found to be activated by the endogenous neurotransmitter, anandamide (Devane, et al. 1992). Exercise stimulates the release of anandamide so the 'runner's high' associated with jogging is the result of elevated levels of endocannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors are found in higher concentrations than any other receptor in the brain. They are in areas associated with pain reduction, coordination of movement, memory, emotions, reward systems, and reproduction.

Clinical uses of marijuana are not limited to pain reduction, appetite enhancement, and controlling chemotherapy induced vomiting. Cannabis protects nerve cells from damage and is also effective in reducing tumor growth. Multiple sclerosis patients use cannabis to treat peripheral neuropathy. It is effective in the treatment of movement disorders, glaucoma, asthma, bipolar disorder, depression, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), arthritis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, alcohol abuse, insomnia, digestive diseases, gliomas, skin tumors, sleep apnea, and anorexia nervosa.

Cannabis is a very safe medicine. The side-effect of euphoria is one reason patients don't want to use marijuana, but most people like the feeling of well-being that cannabis provides. When patients get too high a dose, they may feel paranoid for a while and then fall asleep. Knowledgeable use of marijuana prevents these negative side-effects.

The irrational marijuana policy of the last 75 years needs to end. Fear of addiction has led to common misconceptions about marijuana. Marijuana laws that are based on the discredited "gateway theory" and "reefer madness" propaganda fail because the truth is hidden. We now know a great deal about brain chemistry. The endocannabinoid system is an important part of our body's regulatory mechanisms.

Marijuana is not going to go away. We must create legal channels for the sale of marijuana so that people can use this valuable medicinal herb without the threat of legal consequences.


Grinspoon, Lester. Marihuana Reconsidered. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.

Gaoni, Y. and R. Mechoulam. 1964. "Isolation, Structure and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish." Journal of the American Chemical Society. 86:1646-1647.

Devane, W. A., et al. 1988. "Determination and Characterization of a Cannabinoid Receptor in Rat Brain." Molecular Pharmacology. 34:605-613.

Devane, W. A., et al. 1992. "Isolation and Structure of a Brain Constituent That Binds to the Cannabinoid Receptor." Science. 258(5090): 1946-1949.

Arthur Livermore is National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, located in Arch Cape, Oregon.

This article is in the new book by David E. Newton Ph.D., "Marijuana: A Reference Handbook" (Contemporary World Issues) 2013

Click here to buy "Marijuana: A Reference Handbook" by David E. Newton Ph.D.

Clinical Trial Data Yet Again Affirms Cannabis’ Efficacy - Paul Armentano

Is it any wonder that the US government fights tooth-and-nail to hinder researchers’ attempts to conduct clinical trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabis as a medicine? After all, each and every time the federal government begrudgingly allows for such studies they’re faced with credibility-shattering results like this:

Marijuana relieves muscles tightness, pain of multiple sclerosis: Study
via the Toronto Star

Smoking marijuana can relieve muscle tightness, spasticity (contractions) and pain often experienced by those with multiple sclerosis, says research out of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The findings, just published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included a controlled trial with 30 participants to understand whether inhaled cannabis would help complicated cases where existing pharmaceuticals are ineffective or trigger adverse side effects.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.

The disease attacks the myelin, the protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system, and — among other symptoms — can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis.

The average age of the research participants was 50 years with 63 per cent of the study population female.

More than half the participants needed walking aids and 20 per cent used wheelchairs.

Rather than rely on self-reporting by patients regarding their muscle spasticity — a subjective measure — health professionals rated each patient’s joints on the modified Ashworth scale, a common objective tool to evaluate intensity of muscle tone.

The researchers found that the individuals in the group that smoked cannabis experienced an almost one-third decrease on the Ashworth scale — 2.74 points from a baseline score of 9.3 — meaning spasticity improved, compared to the placebo group.

As well, pain scores decreased by about 50 per cent.

We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants,” says Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom of the university’s department of neuroscience.

To those familiar with medicinal cannabis research, the results are hardly surprising. After all, Sativex — an oral spray containing plant cannabis extracts — is already legal by prescription to treat MS-related symptoms in over a dozen countries, including Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Spain. Further, long-term assessments of the drug indicate that in addition to symptom management, cannabinoids may also play a role in halting the course of the disease.

Nevertheless, the National MS Society — like the US government — shares little enthusiasm for cannabis medicine, stating, “Studies completed thus far have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana or its derivatives provide substantiated benefits for symptoms of MS.”

Patient advocacy organizations, like the MS Society, have a responsibility to represent the interests of their constituents and to advise practitioners regarding best treatment practices. Why then does this responsibility not extend to patients who use cannabis as an alternative treatment therapy or to those that might one day potentially benefit from its use?

Full text of original article

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What's New

Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama

Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Florida: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Illinois: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   Bill Status of SB1381

Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
   Marijuana Bill Reaches House
   Cannabis Compassion and Care Act

Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   Bill Status of SB 627

Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
   Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law

New Hampshire: Considering a medical marijuana law.

New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.

North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act

Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 214

Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 1393

South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.

South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Featured Recipe - Here Come de Fudge…Coma Quick Brownies by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD

Maybe our brownies made from scratch are the best in the world but let’s face it, they are neither so easy nor quick to make. As the Canny Bus gets a new air conditioning compressor in order to make yet another northern excursion, we decided to try a quick and dirty method of making great fudge brownies.

Our northern medical cannabis gardeners provide free trim for the sick and dying. We can’t tell you who they are for obvious reasons but believe me they are real life savers. What’s more they love my cooking!

So, Kermit the Canny Bus is gassed up, repaired, and ready to go. Buttons our bear is onboard and his seatbelt fastened. Visions of fresh bud crowd his little stuffed bear brain. New trim awaits the canny cooks! We’ve picked a bushel of lemons for our northern friends and are prepared for a spring visit. Now for the real present, here comes de fudge, here come coma quick brownies. The way Nurse Nancy wife drives, the brownies will still be warm when we arrive at our secret rendezvous in a forest glade somewhere in the Foothills of the great Sierra Nevada. Forget Humboldt, Santa Cruz, and Big Sur or Amsterdam for that matter because these fertile foothills (elevation 2,500 feet) grow some of the best cannabis on the planet.

Note: This recipe can be made from start to finish in only 40 minutes.

Nurse Nancy Wife discovered that Duncan Hines makes one super duper brownie mix. I never met Duncan but he knew what he was doing when he came up with this mix. All you need to add is a couple of eggs and our own Black Out Butter. Can it be this easy to make deadly brownies that rival our own?


One box of Duncan Hines Brownie Mix
2 large eggs
1 cup Black Out Butter

Optional: 1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla, one teaspoon fresh lemon zest, one tablespoon Grand Marnier


Bring your Black Out Butter to room temperature. Wisk the butter and the eggs in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add the brownie mix and blend with a wood spoon until smooth. If the mix is too thick (doubtful) you can add a couple of tablespoons of water. Pour mixture into a Pam coated baking pan (not a loaf pan, not a cookie sheet, just a 6X6x2). Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until slightly firm. Set aside and let them cool if you have that kind of patience.

That’s it! You’re done.

Note: Pure cannabutter cooks just like oil. The directions on the box of Duncan Hines call for one half cup of oil but we used a full cup of cannabutter instead. This means that the brownies are going be fudgier than normal.

Potency Warning: This recipe makes approximately 12 large brownies. The one cup of Black Out Butter was made with approximately 50 grams of trim. Assuming trim potency 50% of flowers and estimating an extraction efficiency of 75% that mean each brownie has the equivalent of about 2 grams of flowers. We didn’t name these guys “Quick Coma” for nothing.

Medical Applications:

We strongly recommend these brownies for:

Severe insomnia
Muscle spasticity from MS, diabetes, HCV, and other disorders
OCD associated with autism spectrum disorders
Maintaining cannabinoid blood levels in chronic pain syndromes

Do not drive, operate machinery, or, in fact do anything besides sleeping, listening to music, or watching the Sci-Fi channel for 8-12 hours following ingestion.

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7th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics
April 26-28, 2012
Tucson, AZ USA

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