Vol. 6, Number 2
cheryl riley, editor & writer
Dr. David Bearman,
Gradi Jordan, Ed Glick,
Sunil K Aggarwal,
Jim Greig, Joan Bello,
AAMC El Dorado County CA
AAMC Rhode Island
Project CBD responds to SAM’s CBDisinformation - Martin A. Lee
January 28, 2014
The misnamed Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) recently produced a “fact sheet” entitled, Everything You Need to Know About CBD, that seeks to justify the continued prohibition of cannabis by misinforming the public about cannabidiol and THC.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a “nonpsychoactive” component of marijuana, is a hot ticket right now among medical scientists and heath professionals. A growing number of physicians are recommending CBD-rich cannabis oil extracts for patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. CBD has been shown to shrink malignant tumors, improve insulin sensitivity, quell anxiety, and ease chronic pain – without making people feel high. Extensive preclinical (and some clinical) research validates the experience of many patients, including children with catastrophic seizure disorders, who successfully medicate with CBD-rich products.
Kevin Sabet, cofounder and director of SAM, stated in a letter to the Boston Globe: “Medical marijuana is a big fat headache that serves no one but people who want to get high.” But the clamor for non-psychoactive CBD-rich cannabis proves Sabet is wrong. Medical marijuana is not – and never was – just a front for stoners.
An anti-marijuana ideologue who served as an advisor to the drug czar’s office under Obama and George W. Bush, Sabet takes pride in Rolling Stone’s description of him as “Legalization Enemy #1.” Salon called him “the quarterback of the new anti-drug movement.” If Sabet is the quarterback, then what’s the game plan?
Not long after Project CBD was formed in 2010, we predicted that recalcitrant drug warriors would attempt to coopt the news about CBD to advance a prohibitionist agenda. As we note on www.projectcbd.org: “Marijuana prohibitionists will try to exploit the news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting The High Causer, THC, as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is pegged as the good cannabinoid. Project CBD categorically rejects this dichotomy in defense of whole plant cannabis therapeutics.”
SAM’s CBD polemic essentially boils down to this:
SAM’s latest missive asserts: “We should find a way to get CBD to patients who need it, but we owe those who suffer a product with safety assurances. Many products on the current ‘medical’ marijuana market have no such assurances, are never tested in FDA-registered labs, and have no guarantees of quality and content or information on dosing or side effects.”
True enough. CBD-rich products should be made from organically grown cannabis, lab-tested for potency, mold and pesticides, and labeled for content and dosage. Certain CBD-products meet these criteria; others do not. Measurable doses of high quality, CBD-rich oil extracts, initially introduced in California, are currently available in some medical marijuana states. But cannabis products, including CBD-rich varieties, can’t be tested by “FDA-registered labs” because of the prohibitionist policies that SAM supports. Marijuana’s illicit status makes it impossible for analytical labs to handle such products with the FDA’s blessing.
In the world according to SAM, a product can’t be a medicine unless the FDA approves it as safe and effective. The FDA, however, is not in the business of approving plants as medicines. And the FDA approval process ensures neither safety nor efficacy. There are numerous examples of the FDA approving lethal Big Pharma meds that cure no better than a placebo. Pharmaceutical companies routinely hide clinical trial data about adverse side effects, falsify studies to win approval, and then rely on bribery, fraud, and deception to market dangerous drugs to unsuspecting patients, including children – all with a wink and a nod from the FDA, which treats corporate criminals like royalty. Big Pharma pays the FDA to fast-track cursory reviews, and the FDA enables widespread corruption within the pharmaceutical industry by routinely accepting drug company claims at face value while ignoring pertinent safety data. FDA scientists and whistleblowers risk retaliation by FDA management when they challenge Big Pharma prerogatives.
SAM is silent about FDA and Big Pharma malfeasance, while perpetually demonizing marijuana and THC. SAM warns that products infused with CBD, the good cannabinoid, are tainted with varying amounts of THC, The Horrible Cannabinoid. SAM alludes to unnamed physicians who “report instances of THC toxicity in children taking ‘high CBD’ preparations” and parents who “are horrified that their children become ‘high.’”
SAM contends that the best course of action “would be to remove THC entirely from a CBD product.” Pure CBD is the only legitimate option, according to the non-medical experts at SAM, which claims there is “no reliable scientific evidence that THC is necessary to synergize the effects of CBD.”
Actually, there is solid scientific evidence that CBD and THC potentiate each other’s therapeutic effects. The California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco studied the effects of CBD and THC on breast cancer cells and found that both compounds have significant antitumoral properties, but the combination of CBD and THC had a more potent antitumoral effect on human cell lines than either compound when tested alone.
In another experiment, CPMC scientists found that CBD enhances the inhibitory effect of THC on human glioblastoma cells, a deadly form of brain cancer. “THC’s anti-cancer benefits were derived largely from activating cannabinoid receptors, something CBD is not known to do,” explained Dr. Jahan Marcu, lead author of the glioblastoma study. “CBD works through other molecular pathways. It enhances the benefits of THC while reducing side effects.”
The painkilling properties of THC were initially documented in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 1975. Subsequent clinical studies in Europe demonstrated that whole plant THC combined with whole plant CBD work better than THC alone for treating chronic pain.
U.S. government-sponsored research at the National Institute of Mental Health determined that THC and CBD both protect brain cells from the effects of stroke and acute head injuries. Drawing upon this research, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secured a patent, titled “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” in 2003. The patent asserted that THC and CBD “are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
Other scientific findings that SAM prefers to ignore:
The notion that high THC marijuana could be anything but terrible for children is anathema to SAM, which maintains that “chronic use of THC can impair IQ in adolescents.” This oft-repeated canard is based on a single study (later repudiated in the same journal) that failed to establish a causal link between juvenile marijuana smoking and lower IQ. Scientists have identified many factors that contribute to impaired IQ – and cannabis isn’t one of them. A junk food diet lowers IQ and damages memory. Children who regularly skip breakfast – poor kids – have lower IQs than other children.
SAM’s chronic fear-mongering about THC and brain damage is at odds with a 2012 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, which found that a teenager who consumes alcohol is likely to have reduced brain tissue health, but teen marijuana use shows no effect on brain tissue.
Single-molecule THC is classified as a Schedule III drug, a category reserved for medically valuable substances with low abuse potential that are unlikely to lead to physical dependence. Whole plant marijuana, meanwhile, continues to be classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical utility.
SAM tries to reconcile Uncle Sam’s illogical, incoherent, and unscientific marijuana policy by emphasizing the supposed superiority of single-molecule medicine over “crude” whole plant remedies. SAM’s single-molecule fetish reflects a cultural and political bias that privileges corporate pharmaceuticals. Single-molecule medicine is the predominant corporate way, the Big Pharma way, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the best way to benefit from cannabis therapeutics.
Marijuana contains several hundred compounds, including various flavonoids, aromatic terpenes, and dozens of 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 synergistic “entourage effect,” so that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts.
SAM says it’s working on “a long-term solution to expand and accelerate the current research so that every patient who might benefit from CBD can obtain it.” But SAM’s belated promise to help bring CBD to the masses rings hollow given its ongoing support for cannabis prohibition, a dishonest, venal, and destructive policy that has thwarted clinical research and impeded medical progress for decades to everyone’s detriment. For this SAM owes America an apology.
Since the passage of Proposition 215, California’s landmark 1996 ballot measure that legalized marijuana for therapeutic use, a unique laboratory experiment in democracy has unfolded in the Golden State and elsewhere with positive results. Thanks to the rediscovery of CBD-rich cannabis strains by outlaw plant breeders and growers in Northern California five years ago, cannabis clinicians and medical marijuana patients can avail themselves of additional therapeutic options today.
Successful CBD-rich treatment regimens have extended the lives of advanced cancer patients and others suffering from a wide range of diseases. Most remarkable of all is the dramatic improvement in numerous cases of pediatric epilepsy attributable to CBD-rich oil extracts, which stop seizures when nothing else is effective.
But CBD-rich remedies with little THC don’t always work. Parents of epileptic children have found that adding some THC helps with seizure control in many instances. For some epileptics, THC-dominant strains are more effective than CBD-rich products.
Physicians and patients are finding that different ratios of CBD and THC are optimal for different conditions and individuals. A CBD-rich strain or product with little THC is not necessarily a superior treatment option compared to a balanced CBD-rich remedy with an equal amount of CBD and THC. A CBD-rich extract or strain with little THC might be optimal for treating anxiety and many seizure disorders, whereas pain syndromes, cancers, and neurodegenerative conditions could benefit from an appropriate amount of THC. One size doesn’t fit all with respect to cannabis therapeutics, and neither does one compound or one product or one strain.
Martin A. Lee is the director of Project CBD, a medical science information service, and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational, and Scientific.
For the Sake of the Children - Jay R. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
The Message of Medical Cannabis
There is a belief system in the United States nurtured by decades of simplistic thinking that says to everyone we must ban cannabis for the sake of the children. Recently, speaking of the DEA raid on the Santa Cruz, California Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, DEA agent Richard Meyers stated, "what type of message are we sending to our children"? The Alliance, more commonly known as WAMM, is a nonprofit patient cooperative that literally gives medicine away to the sick and dying who qualify for medical cannabis under California State Law. Some of the patients are, in fact, children and a message is most certainly being sent to all of the children of the community and to the rest of us.
The message is that sick people, with their physicians’ approval, need real nontoxic medicine and programs like WAMM are going to see that they get what they need regardless of their ability to pay. Children are being taught that cannabis is a legitimate medicine that is to be used in the context of an overall medical plan designed to relieve suffering. The children are being taught to love one another and that there is all the difference in the world between legitimate medicine and drug abuse.
Furthermore, some in the medical cannabis community are brave enough to speak out publicly, stating that cannabis can provide unique help with some childhood disorders including cancer but also attention deficit disorder and autism. These latter disorders are currently treated with powerful stimulants such as amphetamine in the first case and with brain numbing toxic preparations such as Haldol in the case of autism. Parents of autistic children and children with severe ADHD often are desperate for help with seemingly insurmountable problems. Behavioral therapies while very helpful often fail to relieve the aggressive, indeed violent, behavior and lack of impulse control sometimes associated with these disorders.
Out of sheer desperation, a number of parents have begun trying adjunctive therapy with cannabis for their children. Most activists within the medical cannabis community are frightened by this development for the very real reason that they believe the use of cannabis with children will only increase the efforts of law enforcement to crush the movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some childhood behavioral brain disorders are so resistant to traditional treatment and that treatment is often so toxic that virtually any new method that provides real relief is going to result in a groundswell of support for medical cannabis. This is already happening in the autism community.
Imagine a child being given half a dozen psychotropic drugs from Prozac to Haldol to Valium and who continues to break down doors and assault others seemingly without provocation who now responds to therapy with medical cannabis. Imagine the parents of such children contemplating a lock up for their beloved child who now sees that child calm and functional. Loving parents will demand that cannabis be provided to the arsenal their pediatricians and pediatric neurologists already have.
The message to our sick and suffering children is that we love them. The love is greater than any blind acceptance of the existing wrongful beliefs about cannabis that are merely the propaganda of cultural elitists. As loving parents, these folks are willing to risk the wrath of Child Protective Services, the actions of the DEA, and the ignorance of their own physicians.
Over the past year, thousands of parents and professionals involved in the treatment of children have been reaching out for education on the possible role of cannabis in treating the devastating disorders of their kids. In the words of one parent of a formerly violent autistic boy, "autism took our son away from us and the love of the Lord and cannabis cookies have brought him back". The stories, one might say, are "merely" anecdotal but they are heart wrenching and true.
Brain disorders often involve an imbalance in the brain of key neurotransmitters and/or defects in their receptors. The exact cause of childhood brain disorders is still unknown but seems to involve the way in which brain cells (neurons) communicate with one another. Proper brain function requires an intricate "dance" of just the right concentrations of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and other chemicals. It is now established that in the human body natural "cannabis", called Endocannabinoids, are active in the brain and play a vital role in regulating brain function. In fact, Endocannabinoids may be the most important chemicals of all in establishing and maintaining homeostasis or balance in key brain systems and other systems elsewhere in the body. Cannabinoids are active in determining when cells die (apoptosis) and when they live. The cannabinoids are neuroprotective. They are powerful anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-seizure, and control the production and metabolism of key hormones including psychohormones.
In the decades to come it is certain that pharmaceutical companies will develop and test synthetic medicines based on the naturally occurring cannabinoids. They have already started. These medicines will be very expensive and it will be many decades before they are perfected and in general use. For the sake of the children we can’t wait that long. Nor do we need to. Cannabis has been used safely and medically for thousands of years. Based on the 12,000 year old track record of medical cannabis preparations we can treat our sick children now in the context of comprehensive treatment overseen by qualified physicians.
Currently, we have a virtual epidemic of behavioral problems with children. These problems propel children into self destructive behaviors including drug experimentation, alcoholism, and addiction. These problems destroy our families and fill our institutions and prisons. For the sake of the children we need to more effectively diagnose, intervene, and treat our sick kids. No medicine should be withheld from the effort to treat sick kids based on cultural prejudice and misinformation. For the sake of the children, their parents will not stand for nontoxic and efficacious treatments being denied their babies.
In the near future the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis will be publishing detailed articles on the use of cannabis in the treatment of autism and attention deficit disorders. We have already published articles demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis with other brain disorders such as Tourette’s Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. These are terrible illnesses that bring great suffering to many thousands and anguish to a legion of parents. For the sake of the children let’s try medical cannabis.
Note: This article was written in 2002 by the founding director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. The message Dr. Jay wrote about is finding a new groundswell of support from parents of children with uncontrollable seizures. Parents move to Colorado for 'miracle' pot for children
Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Maryland: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Minnesota: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
New York: Considering a medical marijuana law.
North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
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.
Featured Recipe - Basic Bud Brownies by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD
The brownie has to go down in history as the classic Cannabis yummy. Anyone remember "I Love You Alice B. Toklas"? Yikes, we’re showing our age again. During my student days at Berkeley in the 60’s, I was introduced to brownies and chocolate chip cookies that frankly were dreadful. These were the days when one simply dropped half a bag of the local leaf into the brownie mix. Ugh! I know some readers like the taste of Cannabis and while there are some strains that are a bit tasty most Cannabis tastes pretty rotten in an unprocessed state. Patients who require Cannabis food products are often already having a tough time keeping things down so the food should be appetizing, tasty, and go easy on the stomach. Here’s a powerful basic brownie recipe where you won’t be picking stems from your teeth. Proceed with caution. Diabetics beware! Ingredients: Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour dust an eight-inch baking pan. Melt the chocolate and butters together in a saucepan using low heat and constant stirring. Once smooth set the chocolate aside to completely cool. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a mixer while slowly adding the sugar. Mix until clear and pale in color. Pour in the chocolate/butter and vanilla with constant stirring. Slowly blend in the flour and the liquor. Last, but not least, add the nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (less time is chewier and more time is drier). Heck, some of us just eat the mix. After baking, cool the brownies and cut into 12-16 squares (personally, I like triangles). Each brownie is going to contain approximately 1\4 to 1\3 tablespoon of better bud butter. This is potent. It’s also very delicious. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive. Recommended beverage: Morning time tea or coffee is a great accompaniment. I prefer Earl Grey tea or Guatemalan Antigua coffee. If the brownies are served after dinner, then once again coffee can be served or a desert wine like a good tawny Port. Be careful mixing alcohol with these potent brownies though, it can make ones stomach a bit upset. From this basic recipe you can create literally hundreds of variations. Try glazing the brownies or sprinkling powdered sugar and raspberries on top.
The brownie has to go down in history as the classic Cannabis yummy. Anyone remember "I Love You Alice B. Toklas"? Yikes, we’re showing our age again.
During my student days at Berkeley in the 60’s, I was introduced to brownies and chocolate chip cookies that frankly were dreadful. These were the days when one simply dropped half a bag of the local leaf into the brownie mix. Ugh! I know some readers like the taste of Cannabis and while there are some strains that are a bit tasty most Cannabis tastes pretty rotten in an unprocessed state. Patients who require Cannabis food products are often already having a tough time keeping things down so the food should be appetizing, tasty, and go easy on the stomach. Here’s a powerful basic brownie recipe where you won’t be picking stems from your teeth. Proceed with caution. Diabetics beware!
Ingredients:3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour dust an eight-inch baking pan. Melt the chocolate and butters together in a saucepan using low heat and constant stirring. Once smooth set the chocolate aside to completely cool.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a mixer while slowly adding the sugar. Mix until clear and pale in color. Pour in the chocolate/butter and vanilla with constant stirring. Slowly blend in the flour and the liquor. Last, but not least, add the nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (less time is chewier and more time is drier). Heck, some of us just eat the mix. After baking, cool the brownies and cut into 12-16 squares (personally, I like triangles).
Each brownie is going to contain approximately 1\4 to 1\3 tablespoon of better bud butter. This is potent. It’s also very delicious. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive.
Recommended beverage: Morning time tea or coffee is a great accompaniment. I prefer Earl Grey tea or Guatemalan Antigua coffee. If the brownies are served after dinner, then once again coffee can be served or a desert wine like a good tawny Port. Be careful mixing alcohol with these potent brownies though, it can make ones stomach a bit upset.
From this basic recipe you can create literally hundreds of variations. Try glazing the brownies or sprinkling powdered sugar and raspberries on top.
May 8, 9, 10, 2014
Portland, Oregon USA
Contribute to the AAMC
Legal Fund here:
Medical Marijuana States
District of Columbia
Rhode Island *
* States with reciprocity law