420 Day: Popular Marijuana Myths Go Up in Smoke

Category: Culture | Posted on Wed, April, 20th 2011 by THCFinder

Happy 420, or as you may call it, National Marijuana Day! Oh, that crazy drug that appeals to aging hippie Baby Boomers and today's college kids alike. Although it seems to bring different generations and types of people together, public perception of pot seems to be extremely polarized, too. Staunch supporters see it as a miracle drug, while those who oppose its use and legalization condemn it as an addictive and harmful substance. The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.

So, in honor of the popular plant plenty of pot smokers will be honoring today, I thought I'd come up with some of the most widely-spread misconceptions about weed's effect on health ...

MYTH: Marijuana causes cancer. Not sure where this myth came from, being that pot is actually effective for relief in people trying to cope with harsh cancer treatments. But someone (maybe those DARE folks?) has been spreading the rumor that smoking pot can lead to lung cancer, just like cigarettes.

TRUTH: Various independent studies have disproved that smoking pot causes lung cancer. What's more, some actually found that marijuana decreased tumor growth by as much as 50 percent!

MYTH: Marijuana causes brain damage. This one seems to be as old as the day is long. The common stereotype that even pot smokers themselves will laugh about. "All that weed killed my brain cells, man!"

TRUTH: Now, a couple of old hippie potheads I know very well may be a little slow on the uptake at times, but for that, I blame personality tics, astrology (you know Pisces can be all over the place), and senility -- not pot. Science has proven as well that even heavy (long-term and even daily) marijuana usedoesn't lead to brain damage. Researchers found only a "very small" impairment in memory and learning among long-term marijuana users. Score.

MYTH: Pot is a "gateway drug." Toke up one day, shoot up the next. That's what naysayers may say. Guess what else is a gateway drug? Coffee. It leads to harder stuff, like Red Bull. 

TRUTH: Again, this seems like it was a cockamamie fable made up to make sure youngins don't get stoned. A study that analyzed data from the U.S. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that teens who tried hard drugs were predisposed to do so whether or not they tried marijuana. I've never heard of anyone who tried pot and that's why he or she moved on to harder stuff. For the most part, it seems pot smokers stick with pot.

MYTH: Smoking pot is addictive. This frequently trotted-out-to-teens myth makes me think of those old-timey black and white anti-"Mary Jane" propaganda movies like Reefer Madness!

TRUTH: "Addictive" is the wrong word here. "Dependence" may be more fitting. And that, experts know, is not the result of anything in the marijuana itself. In other words, it doesn't have a compound that is similar to nicotine, and there are little to no withdrawal symptoms. If someone seems "hooked" on the herb, it's because he or she has an addictive personality or leans on pot to self-medicate.

MYTH: Marijuana impairs the immune system. As with any drug, there are rumors floating around that smoking up will inevitably wreck your ability to fight off illness.

TRUTH: No one really knows for sure what, if any, effect pot has on immunity. Studies have shown it affects the immune system in some way, but researchers couldn't tell you what. And there are no human studies to date that connect that effect with increased infection. So, I wouldn't worry about it too much, man.



UCSC plans increased security for unsanctioned pot party

Category: Culture | Posted on Tue, April, 19th 2011 by THCFinder
SANTA CRUZ -- Adding to UCSC's logistical headache in dealing with the thousands of people expected to flood campus for the annual 4/20 cannabis-culture festivities Wednesday, graffiti found on campus in March threatened violence on the same day.
The event celebrating marijuana, similar to parties held across the country on April 20 every year, is not sanctioned by the university but continues to draw large crowds each year nonetheless.
In March, UCSC officials were informed of several swastikas scrawled in men's restrooms in the McHenry Library and Porter College. The Porter College graffiti also included a message that read: "Blood will be shed @ UCSC, 4/20/11."
UCSC officials, citing security concerns, declined to offer details about how the campus will be policed Wednesday.
"Given that the 4/20' event regrettably brings many extra people to campus that afternoon, I can say we routinely bring in extra officers in an effort to minimize the impact of that event on the campus. That will be the case again on Wednesday," UCSC spokesman Jim Burns said.
A letter from UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal issued to the campus shortly after the graffiti was discovered said that it was being investigated by UCSC police as a potential hate crime.
It is unclear if the chosen date has any connection to the crowds expected on campus. Pointing out the swastikas accompanying the message, some have noted April 20 also is Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's
In December, graffiti was found in a Social Sciences 2 men's bathroom that threatened violence Jan. 18. The campus was alerted to the threat, some teachers canceled classes, police presence was augmented and then the day passed without incident.
Many students on campus said Monday they were unaware of the most recent threat, and, even when informed of the specifics, would not change their plans for Wednesday.
"Last year on 4/20 there were a ton of cops around everywhere, so I don't know how much safer it could get," UCSC sophomore Julian Rifkin said. "I'm not at all worried. I feel safe on this campus."


MMD's prepare for "420" rush

Category: Culture | Posted on Tue, April, 19th 2011 by THCFinder
Tomorrow marijuana users unite in cloud of hazy smoke to celebrate "420," or April 20, in what has become a smoking holiday for marijuana users, and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, or MMD's, are stoked to capitalize with special prices and deals.
From Barbecues to cash giveaways and buy one get one offers, MMD's across Fort Collins are anticipating big crowds tomorrow.
Cannabis Care, 227 Jefferson St., is anticipating a 50 percent increase in sales today as they offer "Old School" prices on grams, ounces, eighths and quarters of its medicinal marijuana.
Stephen Lewchuk, manager Cannabis Care Wellness Center in Garden City who helped launch the Fort Collins MMD, said sales on "420" last year were phenomenal.
In Garden City, Lewchuk said they are hosting a Barbeque to celebrate "420" and are expecting to see every card-carrying medical marijuana user buying product.
"It's not so much just getting high, but what it (medical marijuana) actually does right now how much it is blowing up right now," Lewchuk said. "It's more of a protest than a celebration because we are protesting for our rights."


Is Big Pharma set to corner the American market on medical marijuana?

Category: Culture | Posted on Tue, April, 19th 2011 by THCFinder
The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.
Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain. It’s on the market in those countries as a liquid that patients spray under the tongue and is prescribed primarily for sufferers of multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Sativex: Liquefied marijuana
If the name “Sativex” rings a distant bell, that’s because it’s derived from Cannabis sativa, the scientific name for the plant from which both hemp and marijuana are harvested. It’s an appropriate name because, unlike other cannabinoids produced for recreational and medicinal use (and plagued by side effects not present in natural cannabinoids), Sativex is not a synthetic concoction, but essentially liquefied marijuana. It’s an extract of whole-plant cannabis that includes the psychoactive agent THC as well as cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical thought to be responsible for some of the anti-nausea and cancer-cell-killing effects of medical marijuana.
While the official word from GW is that the THC and CBD balance each other out to provide marijuana’s medicinal effects without an accompanying high, cannabis expert and professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Dr. Lester Grinspoon has said just upping the dosage would provide the same effects as recreational marijuana.
Early in Sativex’s development, GW hired Dr. Andrea Barthwell as a consultant to sing the drug’s praises, although she’s no longer in the employ of GM. Barthwell was a deputy drug czar under George W. Bush and is the former president of the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM). In a recent ASAM press release, Barthwell denounced medical marijuana but — significantly — only because it was unregulated by the federal government.


No Weed-Out Classes: Marijuana State University Opens

Category: Culture | Posted on Tue, April, 12th 2011 by THCFinder
Look no further, cannabis lovers. We've found your institution of higher learning.
Ray Logan, 56, a native of Portland, Maine who has grown his own weed for 30 years, held the first class at Marijuana State University earlier this month. He's registered under his state's medical marijuana law, which allows him to turn his formerly illegal hobby into an educational service.
Fifteen men attended Logan's first class in Portland, a three-hour workshop that teaches students how to cultivate the plant properly for medicinal purposes. He told the Portland Press Herald that he was happy with his first session's turnout but would like to double the class size at future workshops. Most of the men who attended were patients registered to use medicinal marijuana who wanted a cost-effective alternative to the expensive treatment.
The class, which according to Logan is not profitable or even self-supporting, costs $79, or $59 for students, senior citizens and veterans. There's still no verdict on who's eligible for in-state tuition.


Marijuana State University Unveiled in Maine

Category: Culture | Posted on Thu, April, 7th 2011 by THCFinder
Calling all "green" thumbs: A Maine man wants to teach you how to grow pot at Marijuana State University.
Ray Logan, 56, said he launched an instructional three-hour course to help friends and acquaintances who, like himself, use marijuana to cope with illness. Logan suffered a spinal injury during a skydiving accident in 1996 and later acquired a medical marijuana card in 2010.
"A lot of people just want to learn how to grow and it's not an easy plant to grow," Logan told "It's not just sticking a seed in soil and that's it."
Logan, of Wells, Maine, held his first class on marijuana cultivation at a hotel in Portland on April 2. Roughly 15 people attended the session, which included germination tips and instructions on correct levels for humidity, temperature and lighting.
"I get right into every technical aspect of it that's possible," Logan said. "I'm still studying it. I love the biology of the plant."
The classes also include information on the history of marijuana, details on various strains and instructions on how to grow marijuana using hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral solutions without water.



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