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Olympic medalist Ross Rebagliati becomes marijuana entrepreneur

Marijuana gave Olympic medalist snowboarder Ross Rebagliati a measure of notoriety. Now the budding Canadian entrepreneur is betting the same drug will give him a shot at redemption.

Mr. Rebagliati, who briefly lost his snowboarding gold at the 1998 Winter Games in Japan after testing positive for marijuana, is building up a weed “branding and licensing” company he hopes will rise on a wave of demand for legal pot investments.

Mr. Rebagliati is tapping into a surge in interest in medical marijuana, which spiked in April when the Canadian government moved to commercialize production. That’s sparked a “dot-bong” boom, or “green rush,” reminiscent of the late ’90s dot-com era or the gold rush in the Klondike a century earlier.

“It’s gone from non-existent in the legitimate market to one that could be potentially worth several billion dollars in a span of 12 to 24 months,” said Khurram Malik, the Toronto-based co-head of research at Jacob Securities Inc., which is seeking business from weed companies looking to go public.


Meanwhile, Congress dawdles, picks the dirt under its fingernails, and wonders why Americans think they're useless. Even former Cabinet Members of the Canadian government are starting businesses as commercial growers.

America is the laughingstock of the world on this issue - well, Putin probably thinks the drug warriors are the cool kids... but he would.

Israel and Canada Join To Study and Implement Medical Marijuana Uses

Israel has been at the forefront of marijuana research since Raphael Mechoulam isolated and identified the THC molecule in the 1960s.

The Israeli government distributes medical marijuana through MECHAR, a tax-supported cannabis provider network. Funding for research comes from the Israeli Ministry of Health, and from private contributions. Israel has a flourishing $40 million dollar medical cannabis industry.

While research efforts have been constantly, obnoxiously hindered in the states by federal agencies (as well as petty religious zealots like Arizona's Kimberly Yee), the Israeli government is funding and supporting breakthrough research on the many healing potentials of the cannabis plant. Doctors from around the world look to Israel for their path-breaking studies in the use of cannabis to treat basal-cell carcinoma, PTSD, Crohn's disease, fibromyaliga, Parkinsons' Disease and, now, pediatric epilepsy.

The patient-approval process is much more rigorous than California, America's originator of legal medical cannabis for states, and is often aimed at end of life issues.

While Israel has a historically strict drug policy, it does not share the U.S.’s lengthy and tumultuous history with the cannabis plant. ...(and) doesn't have a “stoner” stereotype—while Israelis are often wary of trying the new drug, there is no serious stigma surrounding the use of the cannabis herb for medical purposes. So... there was “never any question” that cannabis would be viewed as “strictly medical” when it was introduced to Israeli patients.

Instead of marijuana, however, Israel does has a hash subculture. Hash is the traditional form of cannabis in the region. Mechoulam obtained his first cannabis for research from hashish seizures. He and his research partners first tested the hashish themselves before conducting their research, as Mechoulam has related many times when telling this history.

Boaz Wachtel, and his participation in Israel’s Ale Yarok political party, is credited with the effort to decriminalize cannabis in Israel.

Wachtel said Israel—which has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world and produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation—has become a world leader in cannabis research as a result of the U.S.’s continued blockade of cannabis research. He says this is wonderful for Israel, but not for society at large.

“By denying people access to medical cannabis the U.S. has criminalized patients,” he said.


So, because of America's religious zealots, scientific research finds friendlier environs outside of their reach. The Republican Party needs to jettison this faction because they are harming this nation by their anti-science, hair-on-fire zealotry. While other nations are operating multi-million dollar research projects, collaborating across nations to supply data looking at what may be the most important medical breakthrough of the late twentieth century - the discovery and study of the endocannabinoid system and the interaction with cannabis to maintain homeostasis - the U.S. has to deal with reactionaries like Kimberly Yee, Chris Christie, and groups like SAM.

If these reactionaries would simply acknowledge that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and best managed outside of the black market for things other than medical uses, we could move forward, rather than remain a nation that gives Nixon high fives in his grave every time a drug warrior opens his or her mouth.

(Patrick Kennedy, at the SAM site, has a big picture and quote about cannabis causing mental illness, when this has recently, yet again, been rebuked by science. We now have Kennedys on record as an anti-vaccination crusader and drug war liar. If anyone wants to know why I despise political dynasties, those are prime examples... but I digress.)

Cynic that I am, I have to wonder how much the alcohol industry lobby plays into the concerns about cannabis...


Neil Closner, the former vice president of Business Development for Toronto’s world-renowned Mount Sinai Hospital, is now CEO of MedReleaf, a licensed producer and supplier of medical cannabis which works out of a 55,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Markham, Ontario, just minutes east of Toronto.

As Closner noted, Israel and Canada are coming together to combine the growing skills of Canadian marijuana growers (one of three areas in the world, since Ronald Reagan, that focused on hybridization of marijuana, along with Amsterdam and Northern California.)

As of January 2014, both Israel and Canada, along with other nations, have contacted Uruguay, the first nation to legalize cannabis since the U.S. demanded worldwide illegal status in the Uniform Narcotics Act(s), to grow cannabis for their nations. In Uruguay, the marijuana industry is entirely nationalized. Production, sale and distribution of cannabis is all contained within a governing entity that allows consumers to purchase 40 grams (1.4 oz) per month for $1.00/gram.

Uruguay, Canada and Israel have all decided to ignore the (largely ceremonial, or cover for nations) United Nations International Narcotic Control Board, which refuses to recognize the medical value of cannabis because this board follows the will of federal agencies in the U.S. who do not recognize the medical value of cannabis. Uruguay's President, in response to INCB criticism, said his government aims to take the marijuana market out of the hands of cartels and put it into the hands of the people of the nation...and into the hands of people in the nation of Israel, and the researchers there looking at marijuana as a palliative for many health issues related to aging.

...“Tikun Olam,” (Hebrew for “repairing the world”) is in partnership with, MedReleaf, (and) is also currently collaborating on nearly two dozen cannabis-related research studies with doctors and professors at eight leading hospitals in Israel including the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon, Sheba Medical Center at Tel hashomer, Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Centre.

...“Our partnership with Tikun Olam gives us a significant scientific advantage,” says Closner. “We have access to treatment data from more than 7,000 of their patients, that will give us great insight into the effectiveness and efficacy of various strains and, in turn, an advanced ability to work with patients and physicians to create the most beneficial treatment protocols. The partnership also provides us with exclusive access to an array of proprietary medical cannabis varieties.”

Two of the varieties to which Closner refers are Erez, the best-selling variety in Israel, and AviDekel. Erez, with its high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, is well known for treating sleep disorders and managing pain, nausea, inflammation, and indigestion. AviDekel, a sativa-dominant strain, contains very high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), and virtually no THC, which, by the way, means no “getting high.” CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis that has been shown to have a positive impact on disorders such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and epilepsy, amongst other ailments.

If Canada and Israel combine with Uruguay to obtain cannabis for research, no doubt Uruguay will also become a leading nation in the production of cannabis strains chosen for medical purposes.

In the meantime, MedReleaf projects they will up their capacity to grow 150,000 plants at any one time to supply medical cannabis for Canadians and Israelis.

And in the meantime, small-time, small-minded state and federal Senators hold up or deny medical research, federal agencies deny federal research, Congress refuses to address the issue of cannabis scheduling, and the world goes on without them, leaving them to their places, in the dustbin of history, as footnotes to explain how the U.S. gave up its place as a world-class research nation because...reefer madness.

Maybe the drug warriors would like to look at the new-fangled use of leeches to draw bad humors out of the body.

Let freedom ring

...somewhere. In the U.S., here's the toll on freedom from the drug war.

via Mark Perry: More than 100k and ~50% of federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses

http://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_offenses.jsp … pic.twitter.com/0kWBHGSJwg

"Substance-involved people have come to compose a large portion of the prison population. Substance use may play a role in the commission of certain crimes: approximately 16 percent of people in state prison and 18 percent of people in federal prison reported committing their crimes to obtain money for drugs.21 Treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent such crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year.22 A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime. In comparison, prisons only yield $.37 in public safety benefit per dollar spent. Releasing people to supervision and making treatment accessible is an effective way of reducing problematic drug use, reducing crime associated with drug use and reducing the number of people in prison."

Source: Justice Policy Institute, "How to safely reduce prison populations and support people returning to their communities," (Washington, DC: June 2010), p. 8.http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/10-06_FAC_ForImmediateRelease...

Former Drug Czar Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey "We must have law enforcement authorities address the issue because if we do not, prevention, education, and treatment messages will not work very well. But having said that, I also believe that we have created an American gulag."

Source: Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey (USA, Ret.), Director, ONDCP, Keynote Address, Opening Plenary Session, National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, September 19, 1996, Washington, DC.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Drugs#sthash.U4B45FaQ.dpuf

Univ. of Arizona Professor FIRED after receiving approval to study PTSD and mmj.


The University of Arizona has abruptly fired a prominent marijuana researcher who only months ago received rare approval from federal drug officials to study the effects of pot on patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The firing of Suzanne A. Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, puts her research in jeopardy and has sparked indignation from medical marijuana advocates.

Sisley charges she was fired after her research – and her personal political crusading – created unwanted attention for the university from legislative Republicans who control its purse strings.

“This is a clear political retaliation for the advocacy and education I have been providing the public and lawmakers,” Sisley said. “I pulled all my evaluations and this is not about my job performance.”

The University denied political pressure was the reason for Sisley's abrupt firing. They provided no information to Sisley, other than to note the university's ability to fire contract employees at will. (iow, she's not a tenure track professor.)

Speculation is that a powerful Republican Senator is behind the firing. So much for university research integrity, Arizona - what an embarrassment you are to the educational/research community if this is the reason Sisley was fired WITHOUT ANY CAUSE. Who is this Senator? Most likely the same one who has tried to block medical marijuana for the state: Kimberly Yee (Phoenix).

Here's what she did in April:

After 22 years of hard-fought efforts, the non-profit pharmaceutical company MAPS has finally obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a FDA clinical trial to examine the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana. The trial would study military veterans suffering from treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet the study’s ability to receive Arizona state funding is in jeopardy due to State Senator Kimberly Yee.

Arizona has collected millions of dollars from its medical marijuana program. Under Arizona’s medical marijuana law, that money is reserved for furthering the provisions of the law and should include research and education – but none of it has been spent. A bill being considered by lawmakers would give the Arizona Department of Health Services discretion to use some of this surplus funding to study the medical benefits of marijuana. On Mach 10th, the bill HB 2333, sponsored by State Representative Ethan Orr of Tucson, passed the Arizona House 52-5, with strong bi-partisan support. But State Senator Kimberly Yee (Phoenix), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, refused to put the bill on her committee’s agenda before the March 20th deadline – saying only that she wanted the funds to be directed for drug abuse prevention.

Veterans like Ricardo Pereyda of Tucson, who fought in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2, are angry that Senator Yee wouldn’t allow the bill to be heard in her committee. “Being able to treat multiple symptoms from post-traumatic stress with cannabis has been instrumental in my ability to lead a full and productive life,” said Pereyda, “Senator Yee is placing politics before science, and doing so at the expense of our combat veterans.” Pereyda served in the U.S. Army and Military Police Corps, and is the Veterans Liaison for Arizona NORML.


WHAT A SCUMBAG. Yee is trying to halt studies into the efficacy of medical marijuana for Vets. PTSD is really, really difficult to treat. While it shares symptoms with depression and anxiety, PTSD has a lower rate of relief of symptoms from any currently known medication for either anxiety or depression, and some of these medicines may be used to commit suicide. Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide.

Yee is SUCH A REPUBLICAN SCUMBAG to obstruct medical marijuana for veterans. I am, honestly, disgusted.

If you live in Arizona and would like to support research for Vets suffering from PTSD, you can contact Yee here: http://www.azleg.gov/MembersPage.asp?Member_ID=90&Legislature=50&Session_ID=107

...While older veterans saw a slight decrease in suicides, male veterans under 30 saw a 44 percent increase in the rate of suicides. That’s roughly two young veterans a day who take their own life, most just a few years after leaving the service.

“Their rates are astronomically high and climbing,” said Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention. “That’s concerning to us.”

Reasons for the increase are unclear, but Kemp said the pressures of leaving military careers, readjusting to civilian life and combat injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder all play a role in the problems facing young male vets.

Female veterans saw an 11 percent increase in their suicide rate over the same span. Overall, suicide rates for all veterans remain significantly above their civilian counterparts.


This nation needs to get rid of these drug warriors at EVERY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT, IN EVERY STATE.

Yee is also a reactionary anti-woman Republican who sought to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, no matter the medical situation or recommendation of a doctor. WTF is the matter with women in Arizona? How can women vote for someone like this?

When Yee tried to block funding for this research, colleagues of Sisley's started a recall effort. Sisley was not involved, but, obviously, Yee is such a (word I can't say here) that she has taken another route to interfere with research into the health benefits of marijuana for veterans with PTSD.

Yee demonstrates what happens when religious assholes have power. The ACLU is looking into options to fight Sisley's firing.

Kimberly Yee is a scumbag. I hope we can help google know what a total scumbag Kimberly Yee really is. Veterans who defend this nation don't need scumbags like Kimberly Yee in office to further harm them.

Libertarian Politicians move to marijuana industry

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has been named the CEO of a Nevada-based company that hopes to make medical and recreational marijuana products.

Johnson said Tuesday he was recently named CEO and president of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., and intends to work out of New Mexico to help develop products that are legal in states like Colorado and Washington.

In addition, of Cannabis Sativa announced Tuesday it has acquired marijuana research company Kush and named that company's founder, Steve Kubby, as its chairman.

Kubby was the 1998 Libertarian Party nominee for California governor.


Democrats - take note. If you have people like Cuomo fighting against even medical marijuana, you're not going to win independent votes in places where the liquor lobby (and the drug warriors who defend it - c.f. Kevin Sabet) doesn't have the social power that it does in the northeast.

Western state voters, both Democratic and libertarian, made legalization happen in Colorado. It looks like New Mexico and Nevada may be the next states, after Alaska and Oregon.

...and the northeast just keeps playing those same old tired tunes about reefer madness.
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