Cannabis

REPORT CARD: Grading the Candidates on Cannabis

With the next election fast approaching, we are once again asking ourselves, who is the most qualified to lead the free world? When it comes to the President of the United States, the ideal is someone who sees the world through a lens like our own, able to see the world as evolving, with a background and experiences we can relate to—who can relate to us.
 
Despite the overall lack of policy change, Obama has gradually expressed his support for a marijuana policy that's rooted in science and that doesn't unfairly punish users.1 In 2004 he stated his support for decriminalization, but made it clear he was not for legalization.2 Since 2008, 13 states have legalized medical marijuana, bringing the current total to 23, including the District of Colombia, with 7 more putting forth initiatives in 2016. In 2014 the Obama Administration directed federal prosecutors to stop enforcing drug laws that contradict state marijuana policies.3
 
Simply endorsing medical marijuana however is not enough. Many feel, including the chairman of the marijuana Majority, Tom Angell, that the President should use the executive powers to reschedule marijuana and protect dispensaries.4

REPORT CARD 5
 

THE REPUBLICAN ELEPHANT
Jeb Bush: C-
Ted Cruz: C+
Carly Fiorina: C+
John Kasich: C-
Rand Paul: A-
Marco Rubio: D
Donald Trump: C

 
THE DEMOCRATIC DONKEY

Hilary Clinton: B
Martin O'Malley: B-
Bernie Sanders: A

THE REPUBLICAN ELEPHANT

Jeb Bush (R)
•    Has a long history of supporting the War on Drugs and opposing marijuana legalization.
•    He and his wife are on the board of the Drug Free American Foundation—a primarily anti-marijuana organization.
•    In 2014 he opposed a medical marijuana initiative in Florida, and in a December 2015 interview, he said he supports decriminalization, but called marijuana "a gateway drug," and "highly toxic."
•    Has said he supports states' rights to set their own policies on marijuana.
 
Ted Cruz (R)
•    Has repeatedly opposed legalization.
•    Says he supports states' rights to set their own policies on marijuana legalization, but he criticized Obama for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.
 
Carly Fiorina (R)
•    Is against legalization for any purpose, medical or otherwise.
•    Has recently expressed support for decriminalization, as well as states' rights to establish their own marijuana policies.
 
John Kasich (R)
•    "Totally opposed" to the legalization of marijuana in any form, including medicinal.
•    Supports states' rights to set their own policies on marijuana legalization.
•    About medical marijuana, he has said, "we don't need that, there are other ways to [treat pain].”6
 
Rand Paul (R)
•    Has consistently supported states' rights to establish policy regarding marijuana.
•    Vocal supporter of decriminalization and reduced penalties for marijuana possession.
•    Sponsor of the CARERS Act - a bipartisan bill that would allow states to set their own policies regarding marijuana legalization, without interference from the federal government.
•    Co-sponsor of a bill that would allow marijuana-related businesses access to the banking system.
 
Marco Rubio (R)
•    Has shown some support for non-psychoactive forms of medical marijuana, but he is opposed to legalization.
•    Says he supports states' right to set policy, but he would enforce federal law in states that have repealed marijuana prohibition.
 
Donald Trump (R)
•    In 1990 he favored legalizing all drugs, but now he opposes legalizing, or even regulating marijuana for adult use.
•    Supports legal access to medical marijuana,
•    Supports states' right to establish policy regarding marijuana.

THE DEMOCRATIC DONKEY

Hilary Clinton (D)
•    Has expressed support for safe access.
•    Supports medical marijuana, and would like to see more research into its benefits.
•    Supports states' right to set policy.
•    In 2015 she said she supports reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug—allowing for more research into its medical benefits.
 
Martin O'Malley (D)
•    As governor of Maryland he spoke out against marijuana use.
•    Despite his personal opinions:
•    In 2014 he signed bills into law that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
•    Established a working medical marijuana program.
•    In 2015 he said he supports reclassifying marijuana to Schedule II drug.
 
Bernie Sanders (D)
•    Supports allowing states to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana.
•    Has been consistently critical of the War on Drugs.
•    Has said he would vote to legalize and regulate use in NV in 2016.
•    Intends to propose legislation that would remove marijuana entirely from the federal drug schedules. This would allow:
•    Access to banks by marijuana businesses.
•    Marijuana to be regulated, like alcohol—state by state.
•    Access to tax deductions not available because of federal regulations.
 
 
1 http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/04/19/3648671/obama-medical-marijuana-support/
 
2 http://2012.presidental-candidates.org
 
3 http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-medical-pot-20141216-story.html
 
4 http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/04/19/3648671/obama-medical-marijuana-support/
 
5 https://www.mpp.org/2016-presidential-candidates/#cfiorina

6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ubgad9h5v0

•    

What can be done–PTSD & Cannabis

To date, there are 2.5 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of whom have served multiple deployments, and return home to face the struggle of re-adjusting to their old lives. Doing the things that were sources of hope during battle, like being with family, going to the grocery store, watching tv, going for a walk, the things they reached for when the fight was hardest, have become a struggle instead.

For some, the scars are physical, but for many combat vets the return home brings with it long-lasting psychological trauma.

It has been estimated that more than half a million veterans struggle with the effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Defined by the American Psychiatric Association as an anxiety disorder triggered by an extremely stressful or traumatic event, sufferers continually re-experience their trauma, even years after it occurred. Vivid memories, auditory hallucinations, flashbacks, and nightmares disrupt their lives on a daily basis. Twenty-two percent of veterans commit suicide everyday–a frightening statistic, even more so when you learn it is only an estimate. (Cannabis Now; 2015)

Facing an overwhelming sense of fear and alienation, feeling disconnected from their friends and family, combat vets find themselves stuck, unable to relax to life outside the battlefield. Panic attacks, shortness of breath, a fear of being closed in, depression, and, unfortunately, violent outbursts are all too common. An array of treatment options is not. As a condition, the first case of PTSD was not treated until 1980, and because of this the research is limited.

What has been made clear though, is that along with flashbacks,  and unwanted memories, nightmares are one of the most common ways sufferers relive their trauma. Waking up feeling stressed and exhausted, returning combat soldiers spend their days agitated and anxious, in a constant state of combat readiness.

There are five stages of sleep. Stages 1 through 4, and a stage called rapid eye movement sleep, or REM. Each stage is progressively deeper and the complete cycle is repeated several times during the night. When awakened during REM sleep, subjects report dreaming. Why we dream during sleep is still unknown, there are many theories, but nothing definitive.

What someone with PTSD needs most is to sleep, a chance to rest, but more often than not, they can't do so. Dreams bring back harsh memories and often times, Veterans with PTSD are reliving the horrors of battle during the time that should be resting softly. Medication used to help patients sleep offer more sleep, but without the restfulness, and often accompanied by harsh side effects.

But what do know about cannabis and its effects on sleep?

Unfortunately, not much. Most of the research on cannabis and sleep was conducted in the 1970s. But what was found, and has continued to be reported amongst users, is that cannabis, even in low doses, reduced time spent in REM sleep. Cannabinoids, compounds active in cannabis, have been found to mimic chemicals found naturally in the brain. These chemicals and their biological pathways make up the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is,  among other things, responsible for regulating sleep.

Cannabis has been found to affect sleep in five distinct ways. To lessen the time it takes to fall asleep, while increasing the time spent asleep, providing deeper sleep while shortening REM sleep cycles, and helping patients to breathe more easily. And while research is restricted based on the legal status of cannabis, veterans have been fighting for their right to access medical marijuana from the very beginning. In February 1978, the first medical cannabis law was enacted thanks to the efforts of two men, a veteran, Lynn Pierson, and the very first medical cannabis patient and its strongest advocate, Robert C. Randall. (Cannabis Now; 2015)

Today returning combat vets  struggle with the complicated task of re-adjusting to civilian life. They dream not of the good things they did, or the people they saved but instead are haunted by the things they were unable to prevent, and by the violence they witnessed.

Veterans use cannabis for many of the same reasons as most patients: anxiety, chronic pain, depression, inflammation, insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, however, with no other condition has cannabis proven to be more helpful than it has with treating PTSD.

4th of July: Out Reach

The 4th of July is upon us, which of course means it’s time for the annual watching of Independence Day!

On a recent viewing, while getting choked up at Bill Pullman’s rousing presidential address, before the citizens of earth battle aliens for the fate of the world, (you know the one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoLywiaM6PA) something stuck with us here at Bloom Room, “we will be united in our common interest…”

Here in California, we were wise to have been early adopters of the amazing medicine that cannabis is. While there are still many struggles faced by the medical cannabis community within the state, we are very fortunate to have safe and dependable access to medical cannabis. Elsewhere, many Americans are still suffering.

Twenty-seven states still lack any form of access to medical cannabis, and many of the legalized twenty-three (and D.C.) lack actual infrastructure to support the laws that have passed.

In Illinois, for example, medical cannabis was passed into law “effective” January 1, 2014. In the year and a half that has followed, 2,500 patients have been approved for medical cannabis. While initial patient numbers were hopeful, applicant numbers have begun to trickle recently for some reason.

It might be that of the 2,500 approved patients in the state, not a single one has legal access to medicine yet.

This is because Illinois just approved its first growers and dispensaries for operation in February of this year. The matter was in bureaucratic gridlock for months (http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Rauner-Awards-Medical-Marijuana-Licenses-and-Permits-290584431.html), and it will be some time before dispensary doors open. No exact date is in sight, only hopefully “by the end of the year.”

And Illinois isn’t alone: earlier this month Rolling Stone profiled seven states (in addition to New York) where medical cannabis is technically legal, but far from a reality. (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/7-states-where-medical-marijuana-is-legal-but-barely-accessible-20150609)

So, this 4th of July, we’d like to urge the California medical cannabis community to reach out to the politicians of other states and show our support of our fellow ailing Americans, sharing some of our personal and state-wide success stories with cannabis treatment. The tide is already changing, and every little bit of support can help make that process faster and smoother.

If personal writing isn’t your cup of tea, The Marijuana Policy project has a good form letter, available here: https://secure2.convio.net/mpp/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=415

And of course, a list of our state senators, all of whom have a quick and easily accessible electronic contact: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

While we celebrate our independence, let’s also take a moment to express our solidarity. As medical cannabis patients, as Americans, and as human beings. 

Living Art Installation

Ask someone why they have a particular houseplant, or any houseplant for that matter, and the answer usually falls somewhere between, “someone gave it to me,” and “I thought it looked cool.”

It’s that gift you get for someone when you have no idea what to get them. Or maybe you get excited and buy one every time you move—lucky if you’re still remembering to water it six weeks later.

I choose something that isn’t terrible, and that doesn’t cost more than everything else, hope it doesn’t take too much responsibility, and figure it’s worth more than flowers, that it’ll last longer at least, since it isn’t dead to begin with.

In elementary school, middle school, high school, we learn about photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide, plants release oxygen—more nature means more breathable air. I had always thought we were talking about trees, redwoods, whole rainforests—the Amazon. Turns out though, a houseplant is more than just some pretty face, that these small attempts to green up the place are in fact making our lives happier and healthier.

According to the EPA we spend nearly all of our time indoors, almost 80% of it. We go from our homes to school, or work; to the library, and the coffee shop, and out to dinner, and to the movies; into stores and on public transportation, and then back home again—and bringing everything that we’ve picked up along the way right back inside. Everything from carbon dioxide to pesticides to something simply referred to as “volatile organic compounds.” If you really want to be grossed out, read the EPA’s Indoor Air Report.

So, NASA scientists did a study, as they’re known to do, and what did they find? What is it keeping all those toxins at bay?

Drumroll please…

Houseplants!

Houseplants filter out toxic air pollutants the same way any tree would. They’ve even been found to help fight the common cold. 

Being under their influence houseplants can reduce anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and can significantly reduce feelings of fear and anger by replacing them with a sense of calm and well-being.

But if you fill your apartment with potted plants and Ficus trees, there’s a good chance someone is going try to have you committed. Plus I’d have to figure out how to get a tree home on the bus.

What you can do though, is hang them from the ceiling and everyone will think it’s coolest thing ever.

And if you’ve been by Bloom Room recently you may have noticed our small attempt to add a little more green to the space. Having replaced the holiday snowflakes hanging just over reception with a whole array of plants that little, if any care.

You can use any type of low light houseplant. We used common ivy varieties, and Tillandsia air plants, but you can use anything that has a solid root system in place (not succulents though).

Air plants are great because they take hardly any attention at all. They absorb everything they need through their leaves—no soil, no potting,  no plant food. Instead of staying rooted in one place, they can grow just about anywhere, on rocks, in glass jars, or on dead branches, using their roots to keep themselves grounded wherever they might happen to be. And even better, they thrive on neglect! A little mist of water once a week, some circulation, and they’re good.

Ivy isn’t much work either. Once you get them set up they’ll get growing all on their own. You start by taking apart the plant and root systems. Remove the entire root soil bundle from the pot and spread it out on a larger surface to work the roots apart. Rinse the soil off of the roots before placing them in the jar, fill with enough water to submerge the roots. Make sure to keep the water filled, and that’s about it.

They’ll be cleaning up your air in no time. Or you can come by Bloom Room and breathe in some of ours.

Reception