Dear fellow stoner: You’re right on cannabis but wrong on QAnon – Leafly

Dear fellow stoner: You’re right on cannabis but wrong on QAnon | Leafly











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I’m not here to scold you or to shame you. But we need to talk—stoner to stoner.

Conspiracy theories have long been an integral part of cannabis culture, for the very good reason that cannabis itself has been the target of one of the largest and most damaging conspiracies in modern history.

Social media is targeting stoners like us as likely QAnon conspiracy believers. Don’t fall for it.

How else to explain the way a plant with incredible medicinal benefits, no lethal dose, and total good vibes was labeled everything from “The Assassin of Youth” to “The Devil’s Lettuce” and then used to justify a racist, abusive, corrupt, and overtly cruel war on peaceful people?

For more than a century, the government, the medical establishment, and the media have all conspired together to prop up this terribly oppressive system, which has led to millions of arrests, torn families apart, and left cancer patients to puke their way through chemo when just a puff or two of weed could have changed everything.

Fortunately, the cannabis community—through tireless grass roots political action and advocacy—has pushed back against this massive conspiracy to the point where 11 states (plus Washington D.C.) have now fully legalized cannabis, 35 states have legalized medicinally, and this November five more states will vote to join their ranks.

In 1969, only 12% of Americans supported ending the War on Marijuana. Legalization was a fringe belief. That number now stands at over 60%.

We should be incredibly proud of this progress, because we are the ones who saw through all the lies. We had the courage and conviction to tell the truth—often at great personal cost.

But alas, my friends, not all conspiracies are created equally.

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Your friends want you back

I’m guessing that someone from your smoking circle sent you this article. They care about you, and they’re worried this whole QAnon thing is sending you down a bad road.

On the other hand, at some point in your life, you’ve likely had a loved one express their concern simply because you love cannabis. They might have told you anything from weed gives you lung cancer (it doesn’t), to weed leads to harder drugs (it doesn’t), weed will make you violent (it doesn’t), unmotivated (it doesn’t) or schizophrenic (it doesn’t).

Heck, people used to literally believe that hippies eat babies when they get the munchies.

Cannabis lies debunked by actual studies

Over the last century, the government’s lies about cannabis have been thoroughly debunked—again and again. In 1944, at the behest of the mayor of New York City, a blue ribbon panel of eminent physicians studied the issue for five years and definitively determined the following:

  • The practice of smoking marijuana does not lead to addiction in the medical sense of the word.
  • The use of marijuana does not lead to heroin or cocaine addiction.
  • Marijuana is not the determining factor in the commission of major crimes.
  • Fears over the catastrophic effects of marijuana smoking in New York City are unfounded.

In 1971, a Harvard Medical School professor wrote a book called Marihuana Reconsidered that referenced the most unimpeachable science available to make an irrefutable argument for legalization. Two years later a blue-ribbon commission, established by no less a drug warrior than Richard Nixon, reached the very same conclusion

And yet, in 2020, the War on Marijuana marches on.

More than 650,000 Americans will be arrested for cannabis this year, the overwhelming majority for simple possession. Meanwhile, neither candidate for President supports legalization.

qanon-protester
Who are you helping, dude? In this 2018 photo, a QAnon believer supports members of Patriot Prayer and other right-wing groups at a protest in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

You uncovered the truth about cannabis

Despite all of this official anti-pot propaganda, you somehow managed to uncover the hidden truth about cannabis. That process likely involved a combination of personal experience, independent research, and the discovery of a like-minded, supportive community providing mutual support.

At least, that’s been my experience with weed and weed culture.

And perhaps you now feel the same way about Q.

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Q is objectively not true

With so many people isolated and afraid right now, finding online message boards and chat groups that welcome you in and explain how to fight back against a massive evil conspiracy must be comforting and inspiring.

Ask yourself: Who benefits from these untrue accusations and theories?

I’ll admit that’s not a culture I have any experience with directly, but I’m willing to believe that many people involved in actively spreading QAnon have good intentions and believe they’re doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, they’re not doing the right thing.

I say that only after taking the time to study Q sufficiently to reach the following conclusion: What QAnon says is objectively not true.

The Q crowd will naturally tell you that if I deny the conspiracy, I must be in on it. That’s what’s called circular reasoning. Meaning that no matter what new evidence is introduced, you can only reach the same old conclusion.

Which, when you think about it, is the opposite of thinking for yourself.

Skepticism is my full-time job

As an author and a journalist, I’ve spent the past 20 years reporting on cannabis, including refuting an endless number of lies about this plant and those who consume it. So I know not to take official sources at face value. But I also know a bullshit sandwich when I’m handed one. 

And QAnon is a bullshit sandwich.

If you want to track the data and logic by which I reached that conclusion, please allow me to recommend this fact-based impartial debunking from Snopes.

Read it with an open mind and see what you think. For yourself.

Weed people are being targeted with Q bullshit

Like I said up top, I’m not here to scold or to shame—or to argue.

So please let me explain why I decided to write this article.

More so than any religious, ethnic or national identity, I consider weed people to be my people. As a chronicler of this culture over the past two decades, I’ve had the profound honor and pleasure of speaking and seshing with literally thousands of growers, dealers, healers, artists, activists, and entrepreneurs who love and honor this plant, from across the country and all around the world.

And so it makes me angry to see our wonderful, vibrant, revolutionary weed community targeted with dangerous disinformation. Which is exactly what’s happening, in large part because the algorithms of major social media networks irresponsibly connect QAnon with cannabis via broad categories like alternative health, yoga, and wellness.

Here’s how it works

One minute you’re reading a Facebook post about essential oils, and two clicks later you’re watching a YouTube video making unfounded, vile claims about an innocent person based upon evidence that on close inspection reveals itself to be a bunch of bullshit slapped between two pieces of bread.

And this same disinformation is now seeping into real life.

I’ve already heard from a statistically significant number of friends that someone they used to smoke weed with at Grateful Dead shows now believes that Tom Hanks eats babies at the behest of Satan.

Yes, that’s really what QAnon wants you to believe, among many other things.

Which is not only sad, it’s frightening.

Civil wars and genocides have started with the widespread adoption of such fever dreams.

Who benefits from these lies?

If I still haven’t convinced you to reconsider Q, and if the debunking resources provided haven’t convinced you, please consider one last question before we part ways.

Is it possible that instead of exposing a vast conspiracy, QAnon itself is the conspiracy?

The first question any investigator asks when trying to determine who committed a crime is “Who benefits?” 

Think for yourself. Demand evidence. Look into the research. Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.

When it comes to the conspiracy against cannabis, that includes everyone from Big Pharma to the prison-industrial-complex.

Now please ask yourself “Who benefits?” the next time you see a QAnon post casting your friends, family, and neighbors as complicit in some vast evil plot of unimaginable intricacy.        

Then ask yourself who is hurt by Q.

Be sure to count yourself among the victims, because if you keep going down this dark road you’re eventually going to lose the people you care about, and who care about you.

Read this heartbreaking VICE article where average citizens describe losing their spouses, parents, children, or grandparents to the cult of QAnon. And then get in touch with your stoner friend who sent you this article. Invite them to join you for a sesh and a heartfelt chat.

Inhale the good shit.

And exhale the bullshit.

David Bienenstock's Bio Image

David Bienenstock

Veteran cannabis journalist David Bienenstock is the author of „How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High” (2016 – Penguin/Random House), and the co-host and co-creator of the podcast „Great Moments in Weed History with Abdullah and Bean.” Follow him on Twitter @pot_handbook.

View David Bienenstock’s articles

Global Cannabidiol Oil (CBD Oil) Market Data Analysis 2020-2026: Whistler, CBD American Shaman, NuLeaf Naturals, Kazmira, Emblem Cannabis Oils, ENDOCA – re:Jerusalem

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Sydney news: Police seize $40m of cannabis, one of the largest hauls in Australian history – ABC News

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

13,000 cannabis plants destroyed

Fourteen men have been charged and cannabis worth more than $40 million has been seized on the state’s Mid North Coast in one of the largest busts in Australian history.

Police raided three properties in Minimbah, Melinga and Moorwood, seizing 13,353 cannabis plants.

The raids were part of Strike Force Harthouse, which has so far resulted in 33 arrests and the destruction of more than $100 million of cannabis.

26yo stabbed in chest and face

A man was stabbed in the chest and face at a home on the Central Coast overnight.

Paramedics treated the 26-year-old after being called to the house at Watanobbi about 11:30pm.

He was taken to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition.

A crime scene has been established and NSW Police are appealing for information.

Children evacuated from fire

Residents of a Western Sydney apartment block were evacuated overnight after a car caught fire in the basement carpark.

Emergency services were called to the two-storey block on Marian Street in Guildford about 11:50pm following reports of smoke.

Police evacuated about 20 people — many of them children — from their units while fire crews worked to contain the blaze.

Wet weather’s mixed response

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Manly Ferry battered by wild waves in Sydney Harbour

The wet weather predicted over the next seven days could be a mixed blessing in the state’s north west, with too much rain likely to affect what should be a bumper harvest.

For some regions, more rain has fallen in the past 48 hours than for all of 2019, which can make it difficult for combine harvesters to access sodden surfaces.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jordan Notaro said he hoped that farmers in the drier areas would be to be able to „help those people out”.

Calls for prison reform

Three Indigenous women hold a portrait of Tane Chatfield
Tane’s mother Nioka Chatfield (centre) wants the focus to shift to healing.(ABC News: Dayvis Heyne)

An Upper House inquiry into the high rate of incarceration and deaths in custody among First Nations people will hold its first hearing today.

There have been 120 submissions to the inquiry from the legal fraternity, Aboriginal community organisations, and the families of people who have died in custody.

Among them is a video message from Nioka Chatfield, whose son Tane died in custody in Tamworth in 2017, calling for a rethink of criminal justice in NSW.

„Change your policy and procedures. Build healing centres, not prisons,” she said.

The Cannabis Industry Is Not Created Equal (Podcast Transcript) – Seeking Alpha

Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast we published last Wednesday with Stormy Simon. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast, embedded below, if you need any clarification. We hope you enjoy!

Listen on the go! Subscribe to The Cannabis Investing Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Rena Sherbill: Welcome again to The Cannabis Investing Podcast, where we speak with C-level executives, scientists and law and sector experts to provide actionable investment insight and the context with which to understand the burgeoning cannabis industry. I’m your host, Rena Sherbill.

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the show. It’s great to have you listening with us. Today, we have Stormy Simon on the show, and anyone paying attention to the state of the world knows that we need all the positivity and hope we can muster, and all the energy we can muster to keep on fighting for the change that we’ve talked about so much on this podcast.

And Stormy Simon, who worked herself up from a temp to President of Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK), then left that business, became active in the cannabis industry, was a Board member of High Times, was CEO for a period of time at High Times talks to us about that today. And then her journey into politics, where she’s currently running for Utah’s State House of Representatives. And in this election season, it’s incumbent upon all citizens to be aware and informed and I hope this conversation builds some of that knowledge and furthers our knowledge and our understanding of cannabis as a plant, as a medicine, deepens our understanding of what plant based medicine can be as opposed to synthetics.

And Stormy also gets into a great topic, which is blockchain and the potential for disruption not only in the cannabis industry but in all industries really, and shares her insights, as she has some background in the blockchain field gives us a great explanation and some insight into what that can bring.

In general just a great timely conversation when I really enjoyed a fellow podcaster, so we had a fun conversation. I hope you guys enjoy it too. And I hope everybody is as always doing well out there, staying healthy, and of course, keeping well. Hope everybody’s well out there.

And before we begin a brief disclaimer. Nothing on this podcast should be taken as investment advice of any sort. And in my model cannabis portfolio I’m long, Trulieve, Khiron, GrowGeneration, Curaleaf, Vireo Health and Isracann BioSciences. You can subscribe to us on Libsyn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

Stormy welcome to The Cannabis Investing Podcast. Happy to have you on this show. Thanks so much for joining us.

Stormy Simon: Thank you for having me.

RS: So, talk to us, the first question that I typically ask guests is how they got to the cannabis world, but you’re a multi hyphenate. So, I don’t want to limit you to just the cannabis world. Talk to listeners about where you’re at and your journey here.

SS: Yeah, it’s been quite the ride. I left a very successful career in e-commerce at overstock.com, where I spent 15 years, literally starting at the bottom and climbing to the top for cannabis. Participating in an industry like e-commerce which had not really been done when I started at Overstock, but was just getting started and we defined it and how it worked and different procedures and policies and all of the things that it is today, way back when I started there in 2001.

So over the course of 15 years, a lot happened. In the beginning, it was people were afraid to put in their credit cards. And by the end, they were saving their cards and realized how safe it was. And it was an amazing journey. And what I loved about it was the idea of going in every day where something hadn’t been developed and you really didn’t know what the rules were going to be or what the rules really are. You made them as you went along.

And when cannabis started becoming medicinal illegal, and then, adult usage started hitting in and when Colorado approved that, I was so curious as to what that would look like. We all remember the history of the prohibition with alcohol and how the United States came out of that. And I saw something similar, and I couldn’t — I didn’t have any idea what would happen or how this journey would go.

Not just for me, but for the cannabis plant in the industry. And curiosity got me. I left overstock and moved to Denver to join a very small operation with medicinal only dispensaries and a pretty large cultivation warehouse to start learning about the plant. And that was the first step into cannabis was really at the ground level again.

So from there, I became familiar with the journey of a plant from seed to sale, till it lands into a patient’s hands. And that opened my eyes, it opened my eyes up to how important the plant might be in our medical world, in our medical field, which then opened my eyes to why hasn’t it been available the entire time? And why hasn’t science been moving this forward?

I started meeting patients and mothers of six children, and people who had been making oils in their basement and really spreading the medicine around the best that they could in an environment that was strictly illegal. And that changed my heart and changed my mind a little bit as to what I thought I would be doing in the cannabis industry.

RS: What did you think you would be doing?

SS: I thought I would be going for the box. There was a piece of me that thought, this is going to happen but in a state-by-state regulated union, there’s so many, there’s 50 different ways that cannabis can be legalized in the States right now, 51 counting DC.

The idea that we still federally haven’t made decisions or laws or had banking be accessible, is still quite surprising. The idea that science is being done in silos versus spread widely across the nation is also surprising. And very importantly, is the fact that we are selling this plant both adult use and medicinal while people are still in jail for non-violent uses or for cannabis.

RS: Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot to reckon with in this industry. The episode we just released talks, I mean, to your point about number one, your curiosity and the parallels you drew with prohibition. And the fact that prohibition was repealed after the Great Depression, which is kind of very similar to the times we’re finding ourselves in now when all of a sudden Cannabis even where it’s not legal is somehow or where it’s legal, but not federally, it’s essential and has just made such strides there.

And yet, at the same time, exactly what you’re saying, we had Kim Rivers talking about how cannabis is essential and yet, you can’t get access to normal banking procedure, which is insane and infuriating and heartbreaking is, all the talk about what’s happening in or what hasn’t happened in terms of the justice that hasn’t been handed down in the industry. So, you came in thinking that you were going to be going for the business side of things, and kind of slowly realized, there’s a lot of work to be done to fix some of these inequalities.

SS: Yeah, the industry is not created equal. And it’s not created equal, because 50 states don’t have access to it in the US, and people sit in jail, which is insane. We’ve deemed it essential. We are taxing these businesses outrageously. They’re jumping through loopholes that most industries don’t have to jump through. And we’re still paying taxes to keep people in prison over it.

So it’s complicated. There’s parts of it that are shameful. And it’s important that, we continue those of us who are advocates or activists for this plant and also social equality, continue to have the conversation and continue to push it forward. That’s how movements happened.

And the movement of acknowledging the damage that has been done as a nation has been done because of this plant, and the outrageousness that it was labeled as Schedule 1 drug, all has to be I think you said reckoned with and it really does, it has to be reckoned with. We have to continue to fight forward. There’s so much money in it right now.

And there’s a big scramble for that. I’ve spoken at events where I become quite unpopular, because of my statements regarding that. Those folks in the room that are building these organizations or creating extreme wealth, while their board of directors or their executive team has no women, no one of color is, it’s not acceptable in today’s day and age, and it’s absolutely not acceptable in regards to this plant.

RS: So talk to me about what you’re doing now?

SS: Well, right now it’s taken me, I’m on quite a spin. I have decided to run for Utah House — Utah State House of Representatives in the district I grew up in. Yes, I never thought I would be a politician. But I give credit to the plant for opening my eyes to some of the bureaucracy of our government, and also the way decisions have been made in the past.

I can sit back and complain about all of the things that I’d like to change, or what I decided to do is raise my hand and get involved at a level that I hope can make a difference. It’s a state government. And I live in a very republican state, where in my particular office, a Democrat, which I’ve recently affiliated with has not held the seat for 10 years, and it has been 30 years since a woman has.

So it’s quite an uphill battle. But it’s one I’m ready to take on. So that’s where what I’m focused on right now. I also recently released a podcast called Lunch with Stormy, where I have guests on that have reinvented themselves as I have, and chose to live many lives versus one long career, no matter how successful it was.

RS: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, my circle of friends and I talk about this a lot how in the past generations, it’s been that one long career, but we’re now looking at life I think from a different lens and exactly what you’re describing.

I mean, first of all, I’m reminded of to paraphrase what I think is a great Margaret Mead quote, „Never underestimate the power that a group of committed citizens can accomplish. That’s the only thing that’s ever changed anything”, that is a total paraphrasing. But I’ve always loved that. And so, kudos to you for kind of taking that and doing something with it and honoring kind of the place that we’re in, I think in the world, which is one of the ability to adapt and change.

And I think a lot of people in the cannabis world are coming from different sectors, different industries, entirely different professions, and finding something that resonates with them about the plant, and then pushes them to either be activist or in your case, taking to the political world, which is never an easy world to acclimate to. What are your main kind of points that you’re running on?

SS: Well, in the state of Utah, we rank number one, in regards to the gender pay gap. So we have the largest gender pay gap in the United States. That’s something that has to be looked at, addressed and changed. The second thing is, we spend the least amount per pupil of any states. That has to be looked at, and understood for me.

And I need to understand why that is to be score very well, but it’s something to pay attention to. Education is what’s going to get us through. 20 years from now, these are the people that are going to be running the country, or maybe 40, maybe 50 years from now. But it’s very important.

The other thing that happens in Utah is, we have a super majority. We have a very republican legislature and government. And it’s difficult, I believe there’s a 104 seats, could be a 106 seats in our legislature, 17 are held by women. It’s important that we as individuals and in this case, as a woman stepped forward and begin participating at a level.

Maybe I don’t win this election, but I could win next. Most importantly, I could inspire 10 women or people who may feel a stigma as I have in the State of Utah, because I’m such a cannabis activist and advocate. But I was a part of a change. I was a part of spreading a message that was considered a stigma to subculture. And being a part of that, and knowing how people can move it forward, we have to step up to move other things forward.

So I have issues regarding the State. And then overarching, would like to inspire people that didn’t identify as a politician. When I look at the Utah State Legislature, I’m not sure I look visually, while I am sure, I don’t look visually like them. But as a U.S. citizen, as a person with a voice, opinion, and I was going to say, aggressiveness to get things done, but maybe that’s the wrong word.

The attitude to get things done, I know that I can be a part of that. And the more we raise our hands for change, the more it changes, whether you win or whether you lose, but it’s very important right now to participate.

RS: Yeah, absolutely. How did you decided like, once you get to Colorado and you’re looking to be a part of the cannabis world, what made you — you could have, I guess, looked at trying to change just the cannabis world from within. What made you want to broaden your scope and take on more issues and get into politics?

SS: When I joined the cannabis industry, there wasn’t a lot of people like me at that time. It was in 2016, I believe I was one of the first public company executives to step down and step in. It wasn’t a popular idea amongst my peers and colleagues at that time. And that’s a tough question.

All I can say is, it opened my eyes. It opened my eyes to some of their bureaucracy or the captured pieces of government, where the 1% is actually created there and held there. The reasons for cannabis being taken out of the hands of citizens, and put in the hands of corporations, or taken out of the hands of certain corporations back in the ’30s, were all corporate political reasons.

It wasn’t because there was something bad that happened or somebody died from consumption of the plant, it wasn’t any of those things. It was absolutely for corporate reasons. Has all of that coughed out of our system as a government? I don’t think it has, I don’t think it has and that, that may not be a popular idea for some, but if we are living in a country that has been created for or founded for everyone to be equal, then those are things we have to address.

We can’t be doing favors for people. We have to be doing what’s best for the greater good. And even as I say things like that, I think, Oh my gosh, you now sound like a politician. However, I do believe that many people enter this arena with the idea of making something better. And I’m going to enter it for the same reasons, the idea of making something better, or get my hands bloody by trying.

Just you’ve got to dig in, we have to understand the way things work here and in the state of COVID and the state of everybody’s country. It’s really important that, citizens band together and starting at a local level is where I decided to start. There’s probably I should thank the cannabis plant, I should thank the industry for opening my eyes to the need for people like us to run for state government, run for your city council, run for federal government, if that’s something that you’re interested in.

But at the end of the day, if we all sit still, we’re just going to get more of the same.

RS: Could not agree more, Amen, Amen to that message. And yeah, I think if you feel compelled to serve, however you feel compelled to serve exactly what you’re saying at the local level, at the federal level, but even more local than local government, you can serve in other ways.

I think it’s very inspiring. And I like to echo that message as much as possible. And I find myself like, you’re talking about this COVID era that we find ourselves in I think it’s pushing a lot of people who were apathetic to a degree to kind of you have to wake up, open your eyes, and put your feet on the ground and do something because too much is happening around us that I think, a lot of people have known about to some degree.

But the things that are happening right now as we’re all sitting around screens I think affects more need for change. And I think what’s happening because of COVID and governments and police and all these laws that are being enacted while we’re sleeping, really important I think to stay awake. So, kudos to you for taking that leap.

So talk to me a little bit about Utah, I don’t know much about their relationship to cannabis. What is the cannabis kind of what is the community there look like or what’s the general consensus there?

SS: Well, it is medicinally legal, and that is a win for the State of Utah. Very happy our prop passed a couple years ago. The people voted for the proposition and afterwards the government, the church, and some organizations — lobbyist organizations got together and compromise the law just a little bit. I’m not going to complain about that.

The biggest step that we could take as a state was getting it available for patients. I would like to see the ailment list extended a little bit. I would like wish that, all of our licenses had gone to Utah Agriculturalists, were an amazing state for agriculture. We — yet some of the license went out of Staters, but I still can’t complain.

We’re a very conservative state. And cannabis has been painted for decades in as fear, something to be afraid of, something to be scared of. So I’m happy with baby steps. I believe in the civil use of the plant, it’s not part of my platform to run in Utah. I simply believe in that, that as we move this plant towards or cannabis towards plant medicine as a whole, right. And pharmaceutical companies begin looking at plants as a medicine.

There is danger and pushing this towards them, just in the sense that many plants have chirps, most plants. And we know by holistic doctors that, lavender can help you sleep. Basal has medicinal benefits. And cannabis is just a plant just like them. So as the stigma wears off, and it becomes more mainstream, hopefully that’ll push our nation and maybe the world into exploring plants as a medicine versus synthetics as a medicine.

RS: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned earlier the fact that corporate interest held cannabis back for so long. Do you feel like pharma is holding it back now?

SS: I do. It’s something under the covers, right? They — the big pharma companies weren’t ready for this. They couldn’t have been to Schedule 1 drug. So are they getting their ducks in a row in order to be able to own pieces or patents or formulas in order to prescribe them to us later?

I would imagine so, in the states that are I believe it’s recreational as well legal, in those states, opiate prescriptions have dropped by 25%. And there’s enough data over the years that that’s holding to be true. Call it 20% even, that is 20% per state of dollars out of a big farmer’s pocket. Now, I would say, Wow, that’s a win. That’s a beautiful thing. Because in the State of Utah, I think it was six people per week died of opiate use.

To me, that’s a win, to say, oh, my gosh, we’re writing less prescriptions, addictive pharmaceuticals, that’s a win. But in corporate America, that’s money out of a pocket, a company would get in trouble to say why or why did you not make as much money as you did last year? And they could be making $10 billion. But if they only made $9 billion, which is still pretty impressive, they would get the Wall Street or whoever would say, why did you not make $10 billion or $11 billion? That’s ridiculous, you’re failing.

It’s not a failure. It’s a win. So do I think that that’s part of the reason why it’s not federally recognized legally? Yes. There has to be something going on in the background.

RS: Yeah. Tell me, you’ve been through different sectors of different industries. And you’ve also had a bunch of different roles. And you started as a temp in Overstock, kind of just like, if you look at your journey as this like arc, do you think coming from the vantage point that you’re coming from gives you a different sort of perspective than most of the people that you encounter in the business world?

SS: Yes, yes, I do. I come from a blue collar family. Both my parents, my mom was a civil servant for the Engineering Army Depo. That’s where I grew up. And my dad was a mill right at a magnesium plant out here. So we — college wasn’t part of our conversation, it wasn’t we’re preparing you for college. That wasn’t it. I was also a very young mother at the age of 17.

And both of those things, and eventually being divorced and on welfare by 21 also makes me different. And I think it brings out a scrappy way to look at things, a scrappier way to get things done. And because I didn’t read the playbook that a lot of people play by, it does bring a different perspective.

I was on welfare as a young woman, and I was happy. I had a successful career at Overstock, and I found myself off welfare also was a young woman, but I was happy. So I’ve lived both sides of that spectrum. And I found happiness in each. I also have a pretty strong compass as far as ethics. And not that people don’t, but I do find that people will make sacrifices to get ahead financially in certain scenarios but I think having lived both sides, that’s less of a risk to me.

I know there’s happiness and being poor and scrappy and trying to get by, and there’s also happiness and less stress absolutely, and having enough money to pay the bills. But I’ll never — I don’t consider myself above anyone that has to utilize State funds to get by or get some assistance to get by. And we do glorify many people on Instagram by their photos, or their private jets, or whatever that is.

When the real, some of the real heroes or the folks that really have to scrape by in our country, don’t have a smartphone to get to post their Instagram pictures and if they did, they would be ashamed. And they shouldn’t be ashamed. The other 99% are really making things tick to.

RS: Do you think that, that kind of serves you as you enter politics? And I bet see a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t necessarily make you happy? Is that something like, do you have something that is able to kind of push you forward? Or are you energized by the process of it?

SS: Actually the process is very hard. And you’ve got to dig deep to push forward. The divide amongst the two parties, which I understand the two party system, I wish we would break out of it. It’s almost like they want to go to war with each other. And I’m feeling that right now.

I’ve been, I’m fiscally conservative. I have been a Republican, a libertarian and a Democrat. And I’ve held each of those proudly, because it aligns with where I am and where the parties were at that time. But the divide is real. I have had during my fundraising people that I love that I really thought loved and supported me say I would never support a Democrat, even if it’s you.

And that has been super surprising. I would hope you bet on the person, not the party, but the state that we’ve gotten to of almost like a war amongst ourselves is and the idea that we couldn’t diversify, I consider myself a pretty conservative Democrat. Our social issues and what we believe is what we have the right to do and believe as citizens.

And they shouldn’t define which side you’re on. And having to choose a side is a really interesting way to get things done. And yet you do, you start to choose a side. And people, again, I would say that’s been the hardest part is, knowing that the divide is really strong even amongst my friends. And, it’s saddening. It really is.

You would hope that you just want a group of people in that’ll get the job done, that means diversity. That means many voices in the room, not the same voice in the room. And most important, that’s when I say, everyone needs to participate, we all need to get involved at some level, when you feel like it’s not for you.

Like I said, I looked at the hill and went I’m just not like that. And now I think, well, that’s the benefit. That’s why you do it. Because you’ve got to get, I’ll always be in my mind, I always feel have ties to that welfare mother, that blue collar worker. And that is where, that’s where I come from. I love corporate America. I support capitalism, all of those things.

But the majority of Americans aren’t given the opportunities that I had. It just doesn’t come across their plate, without an Ivy League, education, or a college education for that matter. But I’m one of the few in our times that it worked out for me. Hard work paid off, determination paid off. Listening and then doing and creating and innovating paid off for me.

And I want that for everyone. But more importantly, I think just the idea that you can do what your heart desires. And you should be able to make a living with it. When I was in LA, and you go down the street, and you see literally Skid Row, a tent city of that’s their homes, people live there.

And we’re not addressing that fact. Jeff Bezos just became a trillionaire and I’m proud of him. I mean, Amazon’s amazing. That’s an incredible thing to do. And yet, folks that are working in our country for minimum wage are unable to make ends meet. And that’s a tragedy. So how do we find the balance? I wish I knew. But taking small steps and getting those voices in are important to figure out.

RS: Yeah, we’ve been talking recently about the Safe Banking Act and how I mean, we talked a little bit about it at the beginning. And how salient it is for cannabis companies to be able to bank responsibly and reasonably, and yet what seems like kind of a no brainer bipartisan issue is all tangled up in the partisanship.

Like do you have an opinion on the Safe Banking Act in particular or kind of why whether the divisiveness is going to be something that is able to that the cannabis industry can kind of fix that malady of the divisiveness around all the laws and the regulations?

SS: Yeah, it’s outrageous. These are tax paying businesses. The idea that we’re discouraging institutions are, we make it hard for institutions to take money from cannabis companies is outrageous. It’s almost comical and it does provide a little daylight to disrupt the banking institutions as they are today.

I knew these numbers with the Frank Dodd Act, it was I mean, I don’t know how many small banks were around America, but it very much consolidated to where five or six banks, maybe it’s four or five banks manage 45% of the wealth and the rest of the money is dispersed amongst about 6000 banks.

There is daylight to disrupt the system. And how did that consolidation happened? Well, it became too hard for the federal government to track everybody and get all the paperwork done. So they started making it harder. And a lot of small banks fell out. There’s room, the blockchain provides — the blockchain not cryptocurrency, but just the functionality of the blockchain provides the ability to track immutably in a ledger of where money goes and how it’s spent right?

Far more complicated than that. But simply it says that, as folks move forward within that technology, and banks continue to work within the confines of the federal government and bureaucracy there, this is a real opportunity for people. For people to come in and disrupt the system and they should. But when I was in Denver, there was one credit union that allowed us to put the money from a dispensaries and the growth in there.

And it was like $7500 a month, just to put your money in. And again, as these cannabis entrepreneurs are taxed, buried in paperwork, figuring out how to be in many states with dealing with each state’s laws. We’re also going to make these hurdles hard for them as far as where do you put your money?

It’s comical, and it goes back to taking history, making it right, and allowing these entrepreneurs a safe way to store their money that every business is allowed, except this essential one. So I have a lot of opinions on it.

RS: Do you think blockchain usurps regular banking eventually in this industry or not even eventually, but maybe soon?

SS: It could just do it in every industry. It really could. It’s what institutions built off other things, right, built off other technologies and really complicated architectures as to how they track things or how things flow through it. The blockchain can simplify a lot of that.

And it’s a matter of — the complications of the blockchain came out with cryptocurrency. When you associate Bitcoin with the blockchain, and all I can say is this, blockchain can go have its own apartment in New York City, and it can be the blockchain, and it can live alone.

Bitcoin cannot have its own apartment. It always has to have a roommate. And that roommate is the blockchain. And so they’re separate. They may have different functions. And there may not be reasons to always use the blockchain where people want to apply it to a business, but there are reasons to do so. And I believe, banking is one of those reasons.

RS: Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. How far away do you think we are from that kind of disruption?

SS: It still depends on the federal government. And they’re tied up with the current banking system. The way our dollars flow through the system is in a controlled way. And until the feds loosen up, we’ll use Elan Musk, right. So we have all these motors, all these cars and the way that they’re built on the old engines. And then he comes along and says, No, it’s to this electronic like, we’re going to disrupt gas, and we’re going to disrupt the car manufacturing.

And it took him a minute, he got beat up, said it wouldn’t work. He kept hammering at it, and hammering at it, and hammering on it until he broke through. And it’s going to be that same type of initiative and motivation to break through.

And then what happened? So, other people start saying, maybe there’s something to this, maybe we need to adjust the way that we make cars, and maybe there is a more efficient way. But someone breaks through the brick wall first. And someone with credibility, and I’m sure a lot of money will have to do that first and a lot of political connections.

RS: Yeah. I’m interested in hearing a little bit about you’re still on the board at High Times. Is that is that correct?

SS: No, that’s not. That was a — no, I stepped down.

RS: Do you want to talk about at all your time at High Times there, kind of like, I’m interested because to me, they mark a certain kind of passaging of the industry. I’m wondering what you took away from your time there?

SS: Well, High Times absolutely held the torch for 40 years spreading awareness about cannabis or there were articles years ago about the healing benefits or some of the consumptions that we have today. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but outside of just smoking it.

You know, they were talking about edibles, oils decades ago. They carried that torch. I was in Utah as a teenager or throughout my life that was the only place where you could get information that wasn’t as strict with and you’re a bad person. And so I absolutely adored the magazine, and found it to be informational for me.

Upon joining the industry, I joined the board of High Times in 2017, became CEO in January of 2020. And the messaging of the direction had changed a lot from where it had been. And I appreciate it. I appreciate the brand. I appreciate all that it’s done. And I hope the best for their next initiatives.

RS: Was part of the reason why you left the cannabis world was feeling kind of a little disenchanted with what you thought was what it was going to look like versus what it actually looks like?

SS: Right, I wouldn’t say I left the cannabis world. I have changed my attention to and yes, what I thought it would look like and what it looks like is what many other industries look like in corporate America. So is it a surprise? It was a surprise that happened so quickly. I would love to see the Mom and Pop shops take it a little further or take the message a little farther then you’re a little longer. I mean, when they were able to.

But I work with a group called Mission Green with Weldon Angelos, who is a gentleman that I forget the year, maybe 2001 was producing music with Snoop Dogg and hip hop artists and doing so successfully and sold some cannabis to a cop. Weldon was in his first offense, his first offense, not a violent guy contributing to society and did that.

He wasn’t really even, was not a cannabis dealer. He wasn’t selling cannabis on the street. He did this for a cop. Weldon was charged with 105 years. He was facing 105 years in federal prison. He was sentenced to 55. He was released after a lot of work by presidents and the government after 13. 13 years away from his family, 13 years away from his children… He was released in 2016 or ’18.

And we connected and I’m working with Weldon on helping to free federal prisoners. He has an amazing group, Mission Green. He has wonderful plans, and he has the experience of being someone that actually suffered from the war on drugs. The sentence was outrageous. And it was in this century 2001.

So I haven’t stepped out of the cannabis industry. I probably won’t. But for right now, I am focused on that to do my own heart good. I feel like it’s karmic duty in a sense, which seems silly, but it depends on how you live your life. And that’s where I’ve been focusing some energy along with the campaign and the podcast.

RS: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Good for you. No, not silly at all, I think really inspiring we should all in some way be trying to right the wrongs that we see and that we feel and what is your take on righting those wrongs? How kind of hopeful are you that real change there happens?

SS: I’m so hopeful. There hasn’t been a room that I’ve spoken in, when I go to cannabis place or conferences, where a black woman has approached. She has — I’ve always been approached by a black woman who tells me about someone in their family that has been victimized for non-violent cannabis crime, and victimized to the point where they were 19 when they had a quarter of weed and they’re 50 in prison.

It’s insane. And I do feel as I’ve spoken about, which is what starts the conversation that black and brown people have absolutely been the most targeted in regarding the prisoners of cannabis. And so I think that, what it’s going to take is similar to what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement right now. It’s going to take sunshine, it’s going to take a revolution and it’s going to take a lot of people to acknowledge the history, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and step forward making it better.

I am sorry for the participation that my family had in racism for over our generations. But I would be silly to say it didn’t happen. It really happened. My mom was really raised to drink out of a different water fountain. She really was a teenager when black people were asked to sit in the back of the bus, and all of those things are uncomfortable because they’re true.

And as a white person, I see it, I saw it widely upon entering the cannabis industry and doing my research. And now I think it’s important that we talk about it. We talked about it, we put a light on it, and we make sure it never happens again.

RS: Yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s interesting, what you’re saying about having uncomfortable conversations. During this time, I’ve had a number of them, I’m sure people listening and you yourself have had them too. I think, during this time, if you’re doing what you need to be doing, you’re having some uncomfortable conversations.

And I’ve talked to people who I thought I was expecting their answers to be one way. And they weren’t. And, it’s like exactly what you were saying, like our parents were raised in segregation in the States like, that’s a lot to get out from under on both sides. And it’s salient that we keep doing it. So yeah, here’s to that pursuit.

I want to ask you as a — you started a podcast as a fellow podcaster, how has that been and how did you decide to go the route of podcasting?

SS: Well, it’s — let’s see, this is the third week that things have been released. I just yesterday released the third episode. I had someone approached me about a year ago wanting to do a cannabis specific podcast. And I started down that path. But what I realized was my journey of life has been much more in cannabis. It’s definitely a piece of it and a very big piece right now.

But it’s not the only piece. So what I discovered is how much I enjoy listening to people’s stories. I really do. They inspire me with the reinvention of themselves. And they inspire me at the times that, I realized why people don’t leave 15 years careers, it’s really hard to develop another one. It’s really hard to add a label rather than shake a label.

And as I stumbled across people with these amazing stories, I pivoted the podcast to really be just in interview about other people’s lives and the reinventions of themselves, and getting to know them as an individual and what makes them special, because every single one of us are. And out of the billions of people in the world, you’ll be hard to find one that’s exactly the same.

Even identical twins have differences on the inside. And that’s what inspired me was the idea of meeting these people and giving them a way to tell their story and share inspiration over and over and over again. I haven’t met a person that I haven’t been inspired by, really, or that I haven’t learned a lesson from and I enjoy it. I really do love using the platform to share people’s stories.

RS: That’s great. Yeah, I saw that you interviewed my favorite Brady.

SS: How much do you love Peter?

RS: Did, always have.

SS: Always have. He was literally a poster on my wall and then grew up to be a man that I became friends with and really an honorable guy, like, worthy of every young girl’s room that that poster hung in. He grew up to be a guy that you want to know. Yeah, he’s the best.

RS: That’s cool. That’s fun that you’re out there talking to people and doing what you love. And I imagine it feeds everything that you’re kind of working on, everything feeds — it feeds each other, right?

SS: Yes, because the idea of only being one thing in your one lifetime, it scares me. I want to experience or get my toes wet in many different things. And my curiosity drives me in so many different directions. But, every one of them, even when it doesn’t work out has been an experience that makes me smile, or where I learned something I never would have learned before.

Joining the cannabis industry and taking the first job I did was literally like going to college in a course that hadn’t been invented. The same thing walking in Overstock, there was nowhere to find a Social Media Manager when social media came about or you were struggling to find developers that could work within e-commerce and do the things we needed it to do. And now it’s completely mainstream.

So now, I’m getting a course which, there are college courses in politics but I’m learning literally from the ground up again. It is self directed way. I refer to myself as an autodidact, which is just self taught learning. And I really find joy in that. I really do. I love learning from the ground up. And done it in e-commerce, done it in cannabis, and doing it in politics and I guess podcasting.

RS: Yeah, I’m always telling my daughter, there’s a lot of value to be had a mis-education not just formal education. But I think my — the knowledge that I most appreciate was mostly based off of my mis-education outside the four walls. So I’m right there, I’m right there with you.

What would you like to leave our listeners with before we go?

SS: Well, definitely, during this COVID crisis, stay strong, wear a mask. Hopefully, it’s only temporary. But as I have done throughout this, I used to get on airplanes all the time, I used to be running around and doing a lot of movement, a lot of movement. And I found it hard to be still. And there’s still days where I’m just struggling to be still and longing for what used to be.

But take a minute and appreciate these lessons. What we really need to survive, which is food and shelter, and water, right. Those are what you really need, and then everything outside of that is a benefit. And now I appreciate every single thing outside of that. I missed the time with my friends. But I’m so appreciative for what we used to be able to go and do.

And so finding peace and what we’re being forced to do, which is, connect with your family, connect with your space, get yourself grounded and hang in there. Realize how strong we are together. This idea of world being on a timeout has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. But it’s one of the only things we’ve ever had to do collectively.

This has affected every country and every human. And if that doesn’t connect us, and have us see similarities and start creating world peace instead of world wars, I’m not sure how much more of a sign we can get and just sending them love. As corny as that sounds, that’s what’s going to make us tick. And I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve received during this time.

RS: Yeah, it’s interesting. I was going to say, I call it COVID Silver Linings, the things that we’re being forced to face and the things that we’re taking away from it. I mean, it’s nothing I think anyone would obviously nobody would have predicted it, but certainly nobody would ask for it. But I think the things that come out of it are certainly lessons and very impactful and important ones.

Nonetheless, even if we don’t like the body of the message, the message is there for us. So…

SS: That’s right. And it is uncomfortable. It’s the hardest thing I think we’ll ever have to do as a very social society.

RS: Yeah, we’re — you’re exactly right with what you said about tapping back into your family, but also everybody is needing to tap into their space and where they’re based, and that was one of the first things that I found interesting. People that are peripatetic and always moving and a lot of people are being faced with Yo, we’re in one spot and this is it and but yeah, many, many lessons there to be picked up.

Stormy, I’m really happy to talk to you and I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

SS: Thank you so much. It was great and I appreciate it, and vote. And donate regardless of where you are. Let’s diversify the government.

Dr Joshua Rein Offers Insights on Cannabis Use for Chronic Kidney Disease – AJMC.com Managed Markets Network

Several symptoms patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) experience are approved indications for medical cannabis, said Joshua L Rein, DO, FASN, a nephrologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Several symptoms patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) experience are approved indications for medical cannabis, said Joshua L Rein, DO, FASN, a nephrologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Transcript:

What do we know so far regarding the effects of cannabis on kidney function?

We don’t know that much right now, especially compared to what we know regarding the effects on the brain, lungs and heart, for example. But research on the effects of cannabis on kidney functions is largely limited to a few retrospective cohort studies. Those studies have included smoked recreational cannabis, either in healthy people, or they’ve evaluated any lifetime use among people with kidney disease. There are some differences between recreational cannabis and medicinal cannabis such as the route of administration, the dose, the frequency of use, and all of these can have different effects on long term outcomes. These studies do not demonstrate any association between cannabis use and development or progression of kidney disease. Because of this, though, in order to answer this question, we conducted a study among people at high risk for kidney disease, and we did demonstrate an association between chronic cannabis use and more rapid decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) among people with kidney disease. We presented this research at Kidney Week 2018 and we’re planning to submit the manuscript for publication shortly.

What are the known benefits of this treatment for kidney disease?

Many people use cannabis to treat a variety of ailments. Among people living with kidney disease, it’s estimated that about one quarter to one half of patients experience chronic symptoms such as pain, nausea, anorexia, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression. Several of these are approved indications for medical cannabis across the United States in various states. Additionally, anxiety, depression, and insomnia are the most common psychiatric conditions that people self-treat with cannabis. There’s evidence supporting the use of cannabis in patient populations without kidney disease for treating several of these symptoms. Most of the evidence is focused on chronic pain, nausea, and anorexia or loss of appetite. Additionally, many patients living with kidney disease and those on dialysis experience substantial chronic pain. It’s estimated up to 50% of patients can experience chronic pain. Now, over 60% of dialysis patients have received at least one opioid prescription annually, and approximately 20% of dialysis patients take prescription opioids chronically. But we know that the short term and chronic use of opiates are associated with increased morbidity and mortality among people with kidney disease. So cannabis could have a potential therapeutic role in the pain management among these patients. In fact, the National Academies concluded that there’s substantial evidence for the use of cannabis and cannabinoids to treat chronic pain, while several meta-analyses and systematic reviews on cannabis use, including the prescription cannabinoids have given some mixed results for treating chronic pain.

What are some common misconceptions about cannabis use for kidney disease?

One thing that I can think of is that cannabis consumers are no longer the stereotypical lazy stoner. The prevalence of cannabis use in the United States and worldwide has increased considerably over the last decade, but particularly among people over the age of 50, and even more so over the age of 65. This patient population is enriched with chronic illness, including chronic kidney disease. We know that adults with chronic medical conditions are more likely to consume cannabis than healthy individuals. However, we don’t really know the long term health effects of cannabis use on some of these conditions. So it’s that much more important to understand its impact on kidney disease.

MMA Pro Elias Theodorou Keeps Fighting For Cannabis Rights – Benzinga

Professional MMA fighter Elias Theodorou recently spoke with Benzinga about his efforts to fight the stigma against cannabis use and the uphill battle that comes with it.

Related link: From Free Agent To Agent Of Change: Elias Theodorou’s Cannabis Advocacy Has Changed The Game For Professional Athletes Across The GlobeSetting Precedence For Himself and Other Cannabis Using Athletes
It was through martial arts that Theodorou, whose nickname is „The Mane Event”, first saw the benefits of medical cannabis. While traveling and training, the athlete watched his coach, who was a medical patient of ten years, apply treatments.

Theodorou also saw his coach struggle to legally possess medicine in certain parts of the world — namely the U.S.

In some instances, his coach resorted to opioid-based medications due to restrictions.

„That left a permanent place in my understanding of what opioids and painkillers would do to someone, especially when one knows what the actual right medicine is for themselves,” Theodorou said.

A few years later, Theodorou would find himself turning to cannabis to treat his own medical condition — bilateral neuropathy. His upper extremities’ nerve damage, particularly in his hands, eventually led to a change in fighting style and training schedule to better suit him.

As injuries mounted, he turned to his long-time family physician who recommended cannabis as his best option after assessing Theodorou’s condition, addiction concerns and the impact on his athletic career.

However, as a clean-competing athlete, and one who often fought in the U.S. and the strict-on-marijuana Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Theodorou had to receive the first Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for a professional athlete.

The Canadian middleweight (Theodorou is the 2014 winner of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia) and his team began a years-long process to validate his medication.

The process was „an uphill battle” with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Theodorou says. He would push for his TUE over the cource of four years. It included trying „every opioid, every painkiller under the sun,” on a six to nine-week cycle to prove that each medication wasn’t an adequate solution for his condition.
„I essentially have a laundry list of different prescription drugs and pills that I had to take over the course of my many years in the UFC,” he said. „It was the rinse and repeat of prescription pills.”

The athlete, who amassed a 16-3-0 record while in UFC, finally received the first-ever TUE for an athlete in February 2020.

Related link: How CBD Got Into The World Of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Moving Forward With A TUE
The TUE granting wasn’t just a momentous result for Theodorou, but for all Canadian competitors.

„Any MMA fighter or boxer, amateur or professional, can apply for a therapeutic use exemption moving forward,” Theodorou said.

The athlete and his legal team are moving forward with the ruling, now setting sights on U.S. and other international markets that may recognize his TUE.

For now, with borders remaining closed due to the pandemic, Theodorou’s focus is on his upcoming return to MMA this fall as well as film projects. Details are still being finalized on date and opponents, with final selections near, but no official announcements being made yet.

In addition to fighting, Theodorou will co-promote the event, which is being put on in tandem with new media brand ImagineBC.

ImagineBC is touted as a revolutionary app that provides an equitable platform to users. Theodorou said fair equity combined with the platform’s privacy options and its cannabis-friendly stance also factored into the decision.

Image: Screen Grab; „Anatomy of a Fighter” on YouTube  

Growing cannabis player Curaleaf poised to capitalize if legalization approved – Westfair Online

As Connecticut continues to wrestle with the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, a Massachusetts cannabis operator is positioning itself as a market leader.

Curaleaf medical marijuana dispensary in Queens, New York.

Curaleaf, headquartered in the Bay State town of Wakefield, is already the world’s largest cannabis company by sales, with expected annual revenue this year of roughly $1 billion. That valuation is driven mostly by its high-profile acquisitions of Chicago cannabis cultivator and retailer Grassroots for $830 million in July, and of Oregon’s Cura Partners for about $400 million in February.

In March, Curaleaf acquired three Arrow Alternative Care dispensaries in Connecticut, including the one at 814 E. Main St. in Stamford, for an undisclosed amount. On Oct. 12 it announced it was rebranding the Arrow facilities – as well as the Grassroots Herbology dispensary in Groton – as Curaleaf dispensaries.

According to CEO Joseph Lusardi, such moves have made Curaleaf the largest national retail dispensary brand in the U.S., with 92 dispensaries, 22 cultivation sites, and over 30 processing sites in 23 states, making it one of the largest multistate cannabis operators in the U.S.

“The rebranding of these locations directly aligns with our strategy of building strong, national brands that are renowned for high-quality products, backed by science, that deliver exceptional customer satisfaction,” Lusardi said. “Overall, we are extremely proud to be active partners within these local communities and we look forward to building long-lasting relationships with them.”

Expanding its medical marijuana presence in the state is very much front of mind, according to Patrik Jonsson, Regional President Northeast.

“Curaleaf is one of four licensed growers in Connecticut and operates a 60,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Simsbury,” he noted. “That provides high-quality cannabis products to over 9,000 patients statewide through our four dispensaries as well as wholesale channels.

“Our business continues to grow in the state, with both our cultivation and manufacturing operations having seen big increases in 2020,” Jonsson continued. “As we look towards the future, we will be evaluating all our options on how to expand in order to keep up with the expected demand in the state.”

The firm would appear to have the deep pockets to continue growing. It raised $400 million in its initial public offering in October 2018. In addition, its two largest stockholders are Executive Chairman Boris Jordan — an American native who made the bulk of his money as an investment banker in Russia and who Forbes called the “only pot billionaire” in 2019 – and Russian billionaire Andrei Blokh, who made his initial fortune in the oil and dairy sectors.

Meanwhile, according to an Oct. 15 Reuters story, CURLF stock, like that of U.S. competitors Cresco Labs Green Thumb Industries, has grown in value by more than 20% since the presidential debate on Sept. 29, which the report said was reflective of growing confidence of a Joe Biden victory in November. (Biden says he favors decriminalization of cannabis, but not legalization at the federal level.)

“Even if President Trump wins a second term,” Reuters noted, “changing views on marijuana laws among voters and lawmakers have brightened the outlook for the (cannabis) industry.”

On the ballot

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey will consider legalizing recreational marijuana next month, while those in South Dakota will decide on both medical and recreational cannabis and Mississippi will consider legalizing medical marijuana. If all of that comes to pass, there would be 15 states with some form of legalization; based on population, over a third of Americans would live in a state with legalized marijuana – although only Illinois and Vermont approved it through their state legislatures, as opposed to ballot measures.

Connecticut, famously, is not one of those states.

A Gallup poll conducted this month found that 66% of U.S. adults support legalization, while another conducted in September by Pew Research Center reported 62% in favor (“double what it was in 2000,” Pew noted) and a June poll conducted by the Hartford Courant and Sacred Heart University found 69.1% of residents in favor of legalization.

Additionally, a study published last month by the University of Connecticut estimates that aggregate new state tax revenues from legalization over five years would range from $784-$952 million; in addition, direct local tax revenue is projected at $71 million over five years, with $21 million in year five alone. New employment is projected to increase from 5,669-7,418 in year one to 10,424-17,462 in year five.

Connecticut legislators have debated legalization for the past several years – most state Democrats are in favor of it, while most Republicans oppose it – but everyone expects the issue to be raised again during the next regular General Assembly session, which convenes on Jan. 6.

Curaleaf is one of the U.S. marijuana sector’s largest lobbying companies, having spent $1.37 million on federal lobbying last year – the third-highest amount. Through June 30, it has spent $390,000 on federal lobbying.

“As a company, our mission is to make cannabis more accessible and inclusive,” Jonsson said. “Cannabis has become a mainstream health and wellness solution for people around the world, and we also believe that cannabis can help state budget shortfalls through additional tax revenue and job creation.

“As an industry leader, we’ll continue to work towards ensuring our industry can reach its full potential and bring its significant economic and societal benefits to bear,” he continued. “In Connecticut, we anticipate adult-use will be at the forefront of legislature next year. We will continue to monitor the laws in the state, abide by all regulations, and remain focused on continuing to meet the needs of our medical use patients.”

Meanwhile, Jordan indicated in an Oct. 15 interview with Benzinga his confidence that legalization is definitely coming to the Nutmeg State, following New Jersey’s expected passage next month; various surveys have said at least 61% of Garden State residents are in favor of the idea.

“New Jersey is a watershed for the East Coast,” Jordan said. “New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut will follow suit and become recreational.”

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Billionaire families back early stage medical cannabis company – The Australian Financial Review

Mr Gunning admitted it was not easy to tap investors for early stage companies in the COVID-19 environment.

„All these potential investors have other business interests, and maybe they have been really hammered in other industries,” he said.

„If the three big (families) get involved, others will follow, but we are certainly casting the net wider because we don’t want to leave this to chance.

„There is a lot of money sitting on the sidelines still. There is so much uncertainty right now.”

These medicines have a useful and definite role but we want them used properly.

Michael Fey, CannaPacific chief medical officer

Cornerstone investor Aleafia Health of Canada was also an early backer and controls 10 per cent of CannaPacific. Mr Gunning is expecting that Aleafia will follow its money by providing medical cannabis product such as oils and sprays to CannaPacific, which it then sells to patients through general practitioners.

The Melbourne-based Liberman family has been a key supporter through its privately controlled firm, JLIB Investments. Dean Kavanagh, JLIB’s portfolio manager, is also a CannaPacific non-executive director.

CannaPacific chief executive and founder Joshua Dennis said the Libermans were attracted to the company given its point of difference.

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„We have a path to revenue through off-take agreements with our extraction partners. We are one of the few Australian companies to have such off-takes,” he said.

„Our first stream is to cultivate and provide product to others, whilst developing our unique varieties (of plants) with our partnerships with Tasmanian Alkaloids, the University of Newcastle and Xing Technology.

„That is underpinning our pharmaceutical strategy. We are developing plant varieties that we want to feed back into our pharmaceutical strategy.”

The bulk of the funds raised so far has gone to paying licence fees, building blackout curtains, lighting and security for its new one hectare greenhouse located outside Byron Bay, NSW, which is part of its 18 hectare site.

CannaPacific is close to receiving its permit from the Office of Drug Control, which sits within the Department of Health.

Once the permit is granted, CannaPacific plans to hire 30 to 40 people, and 4000 cannabis plants will go into the greenhouse for the harvest slated in April.

Mr Dennis, who founded the company in 2016 and is a civil and structural engineer, has a lofty goal of becoming the next GW Pharmaceuticals – a British group listed in the US with a $US3 billion market capitalisation. It is a global leader in developing cannabinoid-based registered medicines.

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Michael Fey, chief medical officer and an oncologist who works part-time for GenesisCare, admitted the medical cannabis space was crowded, but CannaPacific was unlike other companies in the sector seeking to breed novel cannabis species.

„We are going from plant development biogenetics and plant propagation, to growing and extracting, right through to our clinical model,” he said.

CannaPacific is following a traditional model of drug development with pre-clinical trials. The two main areas of focus for pharmaceutical development are in palliative care and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr Fey said CannaPacific was also in tandem supporting GPs to use these medicines.

„These medicines have a useful and definite role but we want them used properly,” he said.

„We have written a bunch of software to enable that process and we are going out to GPs and getting them on board.”

The proprietary software helps streamline the application process for the patient to gain access to the medicine. The application must receive the tick of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Dr Fey and Mr Gunning control about 15 per cent of the company, while Mr Dennis still holds a 34 per cent stake.

Study suggests that cannabis can reduce OCD symptoms by half in short term – Hindustan Times

A new Washington State University study suggests that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, report that the severity of their symptoms was reduced by about half within four hours of smoking cannabis.

The researchers analysed data inputted into the Strainprint app by people who self-identified as having OCD, a condition characterised by intrusive, persistent thoughts and repetitive behaviours such as compulsively checking if a door is locked. After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reported it reduced their compulsions by 60%, intrusions, or unwanted thoughts, by 49% and anxiety by 52 per cent.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, also found that higher doses and cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD, or cannabidiol, were associated with larger reductions in compulsions.

“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, the study’s corresponding author and WSU assistant professor of psychology. “To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with pure CBD.”

The WSU study drew from data of more than 1,800 cannabis sessions that 87 individuals logged into the Strainprint app over 31 months. The long time period allowed the researchers to assess whether users developed tolerance to cannabis, but those effects were mixed. As people continued to use cannabis, the associated reductions in intrusions became slightly smaller suggesting they were building tolerance, but the relationship between cannabis and reductions in compulsions and anxiety remained fairly constant.

Traditional treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder include exposure and response prevention therapy where people’s irrational thoughts around their behaviours are directly challenged, and prescribing antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce symptoms. While these treatments have positive effects for many patients, they do not cure the disorder nor do they work well for every person with OCD.

“We’re trying to build knowledge about the relationship of cannabis use and OCD because it’s an area that is really understudied,” said Dakota Mauzay, a doctoral student in Cuttler’s lab and first author on the paper.

Aside from their own research, the researchers found only one other human study on the topic: a small clinical trial with 12 participants that revealed that there were reductions in OCD symptoms after cannabis use, but these were not much larger than the reductions associated with the placebo.

The WSU researchers noted that one of the limitations of their study was the inability to use a placebo control and an “expectancy effect” may play a role in the results, meaning when people expect to feel better from something they generally do. The data was also from a self-selected sample of cannabis users, and there was variability in the results which means that not everyone experienced the same reductions in symptoms after using cannabis.

However, Cuttler said this analysis of user-provided information via the Strainprint app was especially valuable because it provides a large data set and the participants were using market cannabis in their home environment, as opposed to federally grown cannabis in a lab which may affect their responses. Strainprint’s app is intended to help users determine which types of cannabis work the best for them, but the company provided the WSU researchers free access to users’ anonymized data for research purposes.

Cuttler said this study points out that further research, particularly clinical trials on the cannabis constituent CBD, may reveal a therapeutic potential for people with OCD.

This is the fourth study Cuttler and her colleagues have conducted examining the effects of cannabis on various mental health conditions using the data provided by the app created by the Canadian company Strainprint. Others include studies on how cannabis impacts PTSD symptoms, reduces headache pain and affects emotional well-being.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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