THC Vape Cartridges, Cocaine Seized In Toms River: Prosecutor – Toms River, NJ Patch

TOMS RIVER, NJ — Cocaine, marijuana, THC-laced vaping cartridges and $38,500 in cash were seized from a Toms River home following a lengthy investigation, the Ocean County prosecutor’s office announced.

Robert Aparicio, 34, of Toms River, was arrested Nov. 21, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said.

A two-month investigation into drug distribution in the area led to the search of the home, and authorities found about 80 grams of cocaine, 216 grams of marijuana, 62 THC vape cartridges, $38,500 in cash and a high-end security system that could monitor traffic around the home.

Aparicio was charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute; possession of cocaine; possession of marijuana; possession of MDMA pills; maintaining a fortified structure as a distribution facility; financial facilitation of criminal activity; and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was held in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

The the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Toms River Emergency Services Unit and the Toms River Police Department K-9 Unit collaborated in the investigation.

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CBD Isn’t Supposed to Get You High, Readers Advise | Westword – Westword

The CBD business has exploded across Colorado, but one reader doesn’t get it. He’d tried drinks and gummies, he complained to our Stoner, and didn’t feel anything. „CBD doesn’t do jack for me,” he said.

Our Stoner’s reply: „Maybe because you didn’t read jack. Other than a potential difference in energy, the sign of CBD doing its thing is more about what you don’t feel…. Most people who use CBD simply use it to feel 'normal’ again, at least for brief moments of time.”

Commenters were quick to offer more advice. Notes Kim:

CBD is not meant to get you high, people. It’s to help relax and with anxiety.

Adds Austin: 

Also good for pain and inflammation.

Says Sara Lynn Crow: 

CBD is extremely helpful for my daughter’s brain tumor.

Adds Karen: 

Works to prevent migraines for me.

Advises Johanna:

I’m a skeptical person, but CBD is helping to manage my chronic anxiety. Whether it’s psychosomatic or not, it’s working.

Counters Sasha: 

I have some CBD gummies I got from a dispensary for anxiety, and I’ve gradually gone up in doses and still don’t feel like it does anything to calm me down.

Replies Sher: 

Good for you, so stop using it then, bonehead!!

Suggests David: 

Make sure it’s lab-tested first, then also find a legit nano CBD maybe so you get better absorption. Not saying it’s a cure-all, but a lot of people don’t know where to start or they give up to early as well.

As our Stoner notes, „While it certainly isn’t a savior for everyone, CBD is largely used to curb pain, inflammation, anxiety and several serious conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease and epileptic seizures — all of which can be very painful and even life-threatening if untreated.”

And then he went a bit further: „Remember, ya dingus: CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning you’re not supposed to get high from it (though some of these shady-ass CBD products might have THC or lord knows what else in them — but I digress). If you’re not feeling desired relief after a CBD gummy or coffee, maybe the 5 milligrams you paid $8 for just wasn’t enough.”

Have you tried a CBD product? How did it work for you? Post a comment or email

Want to buy CBD? Here’s what to watch out for. – Mashable

There may only be 12 days of Christmas, but there are approximately 12 million CBD products trying to capture your attention. And most of them you shouldn’t buy.

It’s hard enough to get a handle on what CBD will actually do for you. Picking which product to buy amid the plethora of options — which face little to no regulation — adds an extra layer of difficulty. Then there’s the wrinkle of buying CBD as a gift. Any time you use a CBD product, you’re basically acting as a guinea pig. When you buy CBD for your mom for Christmas, you’re treating her as one, too. 

As Martin Lee, the director of CBD advocacy group Project CBD says, „There’s good-quality products, and there’s a lot of crap out there.”

Here are eight things to keep in mind while shopping for CBD this holiday season. 

1. Consider what you want the CBD to do

Before buying CBD as a present, consider why you think your mom should use it. Children experiencing debilitating seizures have gotten relief thanks to CBD, but will it help your mom with her arthritis or insomnia? That depends on who you ask. 

Researchers have found CBD, a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, shows promise when it comes to treating inflammation, specifically when it’s caused by arthritis, but plenty of scientists and health professionals warn more evidence is needed. It’s the same case for treating sleeplessness and anxiety. 

When Colorado-based clinicians gave it to mental health patients and Brazilian researchers tested it separately on people with social anxiety tasked with public speaking, they both found it reduced anxiety. A majority of the mental health patients who took CBD also slept better. The FDA, which put out a new advisory about CBD earlier this week, lists drowsiness as a side effect. However, when given to healthy volunteers, University of Chicago researchers found CBD had „minimal behavioral and subjective effects.”

While research is being done on CBD’s effectiveness for a variety of symptoms, there’s room for much more. A lot of what you’ll hear about CBD’s prowess will be anecdotal or marketing hype.

2. Pay attention to where the plant is grown

With that said, if you still want to buy a loved one CBD, one of the first things you should look for is where the plant that the CBD came from is grown. 

CBD products can be made from both marijuana and hemp, but hemp seems to be especially popular due to federal regulations. (Marijuana is legal in some states, but not federally. Confusingly, hemp is legal under federal law, but it’s not in all states.)  Hemp is often used to clean soil; it was even tapped to suck contaminants out of the ground at Chernobyl. You don’t want the CBD you give as a gift to come from hemp grown in poor-quality soil. Look for CBD that was sourced organically, without pesticides, for the same reason. 

If the product doesn’t say where the hemp was grown, ask a store clerk or email the website selling the products for more information. If they don’t know, or don’t provide a way to contact a human being for answers, shop elsewhere.

It’s also advisable to seek out CBD companies that get their hemp from states where marijuana is legal, either recreationally or medically. Those states are likely to employ more regulatory oversight than say, countries like China, which is a hemp juggernaut moving quickly to export CBD. In Colorado, for example, agricultural officials field-test hemp farms and work to curb the use of illegal pesticides.

„Pesticides, avoid that at all costs,” says Dr. Mitch Earleywine, author of Understanding Marijuana and psychology professor at the University at Albany, SUNY. 

Companies that painstakingly decide where to source their hemp usually note in marketing materials that it’s grown in a certain state and is certified organic. Those are the ones you should gravitate towards, but it won’t be cheap. High-quality CBD oil can easily cost more than $100 a bottle.

3. Inspect the label and ask for third-party test results

If the product’s label doesn’t have ingredients, don’t buy it. If the product doesn’t say how much CBD is in a serving, don’t buy it. 

If the product makes outlandish health claims, avoid it. 

Ask to see third-party test results if they’re not immediately available. Some products will include QR codes that direct you to the tests (this is mandatory in Indiana, for example). If a company won’t provide you with lab results, move on to another that will. Once you get the lab results, check if the amount of CBD found in each serving matches what’s on the label and whether any solvents, contaminants, or heavy metals were detected.

4. Don’t buy CBD at a gas station

Not only is this a good rule of thumb for any gift for mom, but it’s especially so for CBD. It’s safest to buy CBD at a dispensary, if you’re in a state where marijuana is legal. If you’re not, you can buy it online or in CBD-specific stores. Get a feel for the place you’re shopping at; if it feels sketchy, back away. Same goes for the packaging. If it looks off, put it down. If the product makes outlandish health claims, avoid it. „It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement,” according to the FDA. 

„One has to be a discriminating shopper just as one would be in the supermarket or at the health food store or at the farmers’ market,” Lee says. 

5. Think about dosage

When it comes to how much CBD to take at a time, well that’s something you, or your mom, will have to figure out with some trial and error. Most CBD proponents advise to start low and increase the dosage over time. I’ve seen some CBD tinctures suggest using only 2.5 mg for your first dose. 

For the scientific research mentioned earlier, the mental health clinic gave patients at least 25 mg of CBD a day, the Brazilian researchers gave participants 600 mg an hour and a half before the public speaking test, and the Chicago researchers used between 300 mg and 900 mg doses. That’s a lot of CBD. Vials of CBD oil tend to contain anywhere from roughly 500 mg of CBD to 1500 mg. Meanwhile, CBD gummies mostly range from 5 mg to 25 mg per serving. Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, told the New York Times, one needs 300 mg to treat anxiety. (Lee of Project CBD, who also wrote Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana, discounts her assertion.) 

The negative effects of taking too much CBD may include upset stomach and diarrhea, according to the FDA, which also warns that CBD may potentially cause liver injury or negatively interact with other medications. 

6. Vape pens vs. lotions vs. tinctures vs. edibles

The amount one takes may also depend on how the CBD is consumed.

For example, vaping 25 mg of CBD may have a different impact than eating a 25 mg gummy. CBD edibles pass through your liver before going to your bloodstream and lose some strength along the way. How much of those 25 mg become activated in your body after that journey is hard to say, according to a review of studies on the subject. 

Vaping has a more direct route to your bloodstream, which speeds up the effects, but it’s not immune to diminishing returns. Importantly, you should avoid vape products that contain MCT oil, vitamin E acetate, vegetable glycerin, or propylene glycol. These oils can be dangerous to inhale, especially when heated. Vitamin E acetate particularly has been linked to the lung crisis rocking the vape industry. 

Moreover, it tends to be easier to take a consistent amount of CBD when you consume it versus smoke it, according to researchers at the University of Turin in Italy. 

Tinctures are generally known for speedily entering the bloodstream, but only when applied under the tongue. If you plop a few drops in a smoothie, for example, it’ll pass through your liver just like an edible. 

Lee suggests avoiding edibles made with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. They’re signs of an inferior product in his mind. 

Topical products like salves, lotions, and transdermal patches may be helpful for specific areas of the body you want to treat for inflammation, the Turin researchers wrote. But it’s possible that some products won’t even get past your skin to get to the muscle that’s aching. Or if you do feel some relief, it may be because of other ingredients in the salve, such as menthol or camphor. To top it off, you may also need lots of CBD for a topical product to work, which can drive up the cost. 

Nanotechnology, basically shrinking the molecules to absorb more efficiently, has become a trendy buzzword in the CBD world. It’s being used to make products like CBD water, which Lee describes as bunk.  

„If it’s water don’t even bother,” Lee says. „Buy the water to drink the water, but don’t buy it for the CBD.”

At the end of the day, though, which form of CBD you buy is a personal preference, says Earleywine.

7. Avoid brands caught cheating

Some CBD producers will lie about how much CBD is in their product. They can also be intentionally shady about what’s inside. 

Cannabis reviewer Leafly recently tested 47 products and found that nearly half delivered within 20 percent of the advertised amount of CBD (getting within the 20 percent range is somewhat of an industry standard). Four, including Platinum X CBD Cherry Lollipops and CBD Living Water, delivered none at all.

„If a company promises 300 mg of CBD and actually delivers 300 mg, it’s probably not cutting corners in other areas,” according to Leafly. 

Last year, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University unexpectedly found synthetic cannabis, which may cause psychoactive effects, anxiety, and confusion in CBD e-cigarettes made by manufacturer Diamond CBD. They also detected a cough suppressant, which acts as a sedative. A few months ago, The Associated Press tested 30 vape products sold as CBD both legitimately and on the black market and found a third included synthetic cannabis, commonly known as the dangerous street drugs K2 or spice

While CBD proponents have called for more FDA regulation, the agency is slowly gathering data on the subject. It keeps a depository of warning letters sent to CBD marketers mislabeling products as health supplements and test results on its website. 

8. Full-spectrum or isolate

A lot of the CBD products out there use something called CBD isolate, which means the compound has been removed from the plant and is flying solo. That’s because several states require less than 0.3 percent THC in a CBD product, and it’s easier to follow that rule when you avoid the THC altogether (or just use hemp rather than marijuana).

Plenty of cannabis advocates scorn isolate and trumpet full-spectrum. (Although there’s no industry-wide definition of full-spectrum beyond it contains more than one cannabinoid.) The CBD works best when interacting with other elements in the plant, they claim. Terpenes and flavonoids found naturally in cannabis (the compounds that impact smell and flavor) can also have other effects, like making one feel relaxed or tired. Again, more research needs to be done to provide greater clarity here, but evangelists of the so-called entourage effect point to this 2011 study to bolster their arguments. 

The bottom line

When it comes to buying CBD, there’s a lot to learn. And none of it may work for your giftee at all. That’s why it’s worth your time to do the research before deciding to spend $45 on CBD gummies. 

Earleywine suggests considering other less expensive items that may help with sleeplessness, arthritis, and anxiety before going the CBD route. 

For sleep, he advises not looking at screens an hour before bed or going to bed at a regular time every night before „shelling out for any alleged sleep aid.” As for anxiety, he quips, „12 sessions of psychotherapy may be cheaper than a lifetime of CBD.” 

That said, getting your mom a card that says stop looking at your phone before bed or a psychotherapy appointment may not go over well at Christmas dinner. 

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for, or alternative to information from a healthcare practitioner. Please consult a healthcare professional before using any product and check your local laws before making any purchasing decisions.

California pot industry calls for help from state leaders – The Mercury News

By Alicia Wallace | CNN

About 170 years after California’s gold rush came the promise of the green rush.

California’s legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use was expected to be massive. In 2016, industry investors claimed sales could top $6.5 billion by 2020.

And as 2019 comes to a close, California is indeed home to the world’s largest cannabis market, totaling close to $12 billion in estimated sales. But here’s the rub: $8.7 billion of that is changing hands in the illicit market.

Now, members of California’s cannabis industry are sending an S.O.S. to the state capitol, saying they’re struggling to compete against black market operators who don’t have to meet stringent regulations or pay taxes and fees. They’re urging leaders to make swift regulatory changes or risk the collapse of their emerging industry.

“The hard truth is that until legislative changes are made, our industry will continue to wither away,” said Michael Steinmetz, CEO of cannabis distributor Flow Kana, which recently joined a growing list of California cannabis firms that have cut their workforces.

Following the job cuts, which were first reported by the Sacramento Bee and described as an an “epidemic” of layoffs, Steinmetz cobbled together an informal coalition of more than a dozen leading companies and business associations to lobby the state.

California cannabis businesses that have cut their workforces or scaled back growth plans say their woes aren’t limited to the capital markets turbulence and the growing pains ricocheting through the broader cannabis industry. Their challenges, they say, are homegrown: California has too few licensed cannabis businesses, too much taxation and overly onerous regulation.

The group is calling for an emergency summit between industry leaders, state regulators and Governor Gavin Newsom to address those three key concerns.

“This is a massive opportunity for the state,” Steinmetz said. “I think it could dwarf the size of the wine industry.”

Although California wasn’t the first state to legalize and start adult-use cannabis sales, it’s quickly become home to the largest recreational cannabis industry in the world, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, which track and analyze cannabis points-of-sale transactions.

In 2019, California’s sales are expected to top $3 billion, which is more than the combined output of the more mature markets of Colorado ($1.6 billion) and Washington state ($1.1 billion). By comparison, Canada’s recreational cannabis industry is expected to hit $1.1 billion this year.

But those sales pale in comparison to the estimated $8.7 billion illicit market in California, according to Arcview and BDS Analytics projections for 2019. In 2018, California’s illicit sales were an estimated $8.99 billion.

California has a deeply rooted cannabis culture and legacy, and cultivation and retail operations became more sophisticated following the passage of medical cannabis laws in 1996.

However, not all legacy businesses transitioned to licensed operations under the new laws. While some have no intention to become regulated, others believe it’s cost-prohibitive or currently operate in municipalities where cannabis sales are banned, said Josh Drayton, spokesperson for the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Fewer than 40% of California’s municipalities have cannabis regulations in place, and only one in four of those allow for regulated retail operations, Drayton said. Earlier this year, lawmakers struck down a bill that would have required municipalities to allow recreational cannabis programs if a majority of their residents voted for the 2016 measure that legalized cannabis.

State lawmakers and businesses originally anticipated that legalization would make a much bigger dent in unregulated sales than it did, said Dennis Hunter, co-founder of CannaCraft, a seed-to-shelf producer of sun-grown cannabis. CannaCraft recently laid off 20% of its 240-person workforce.

“They didn’t realize how strong this illicit market was going to stay,” Hunter said. “I think people really thought that it was just going to stop [after legalization]. And actually, the opposite has happened. It almost feels like the illicit market is getting stronger.

An entrenched black market creates more than just headaches for licensed operators, it’s also a potential public health issue, said Jake Heimark, co-founder and CEO of CBD edibles maker Plus Products, who compared it to the recent illnesses and deaths linked to illicit vaping devices.

“I’m hoping the state will step in and take some action to correct some of this,” he said. “If we don’t solve it here in California, I think it’s difficult to make a case for a national rollout.”

The cannabis industry’s concerns hit a fever pitch late last week when the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration announced an increase in cultivation taxes and a higher mark-up rate — from 60% to 80% — used in the calculation of excise taxes paid by retailers to distributors.

The adjustments weren’t discretionary but rather mandated by law to reflect what’s already occurring in the market, said Nicolas Maduros, director of the CDTFA.

State officials are working closely with the industry to address challenges and concerns, said Nicole Elliott, the governor’s senior advisor for cannabis. But creating an industry from whole cloth won’t happen overnight.

“It’s not an event that happened with one election,” she said. “It’s a process that unravels over the course of time.”

Farmers Rushed Into Hemp. Now They Face a Glut. – The Wall Street Journal

CYNTHIANA, Ky.—Tony Ockerman, a fourth-generation farmer hoping to diversify his crops by adding hemp, said his first harvest this year turned out well after plenty of trial and error. But he is struggling in one key respect: finding buyers.

Hoping to capitalize on surging demand for cannabidiol, or CBD—a derivative of hemp or marijuana that proponents say has numerous medical benefits—Mr. Ockerman invested about $100,000 to grow 30 acres of the plant. Unlike some farmers who secured contracts with buyers ahead of the growing…

Cannabis as a sacrament raises some questions, concerns – NWAOnline

LOS ANGELES — Every Sunday, about two dozen people gather at a green cabin along the main drag of Big Bear, Calif., a small mountain town known for its namesake lake. They go there for Jah Healing Church services, where joints are passed around.

April Mancini, a founder of the church, said she was drawn to the idea of cannabis as a religious sacrament back in 2013 after she met a Rastafarian who was running the place as an unlicensed medicinal dispensary.

„I’m a Christian, so I wasn’t sure in the beginning,” Mancini said. „I didn’t want to go against God.”

But she said she studied the Bible for references to cannabis and believed she found them in scriptures that mentioned kaneh bosem oil. (English-language Bibles usually render the term „kaneh bosem,” a component of an anointing oil mentioned in Exodus, as „fragrant cane” or „sweet calamus.”)

In October 2017, Mancini filed paperwork with the state to incorporate the Jah Healing Kemetic Temple of the Divine. The newly registered church stopped requiring medical cards for marijuana for people 21 and over. Its teachings are largely Christian but borrow from a grab bag of religious traditions as varied as Rastafarianism, Buddhism and Judaism.

But before the year was up, the county sent the church a notice, accusing it of operating a dispensary. In April 2018, the county raided the church, confiscating the congregation’s sacrament in all its forms.

The resulting and continuing legal battle led Jah to increase its efforts to establish itself as a church in the eyes of the law. Frances Valerie Rodriguez, who was ordained online through the Universal Life Church, was brought on as minister.

The church has begun a food pantry, started clothing drives and started its Sunday services (plus Bible studies every Wednesday).

At the heart of this matter is a question: What is religion? And how do you prove faith?


At many cannabis churches, which are scattered across the state, people do not technically pay for marijuana. But they do tithe, or donate money, in exchange for it. And many cannabis churches show up on Weedmaps and other dispensary listing sites, often with prices attached to their offerings.

Some, like Agora Temple in Los Angeles, offer a paid membership that allows people to smoke for free in a designated common area. (Members donate to the church to take marijuana home.)

Jah Healing Church, which stocks edibles, tinctures, pre-rolls and loose marijuana, has recently changed its funding method from mandatory donations, handed to a minister, to voluntary donations placed in an envelope and dropped into a box.

Cities, law enforcement and the hundreds of licensed and regulated marijuana dispensaries tend to view this as part of the black market.

In California, legal sellers face long and expensive licensing processes, quality control standards and high taxes. But 80% of California municipalities do not allow dispensaries, said Robert Solomon, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine and chairman of the Center for the Study of Cannabis there.

This means that illegal weed sales proliferate. A recent audit by a cannabis trade organization found approximately 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries, versus 873 licensed sellers in the state.

„It’s one thing to say, 'Why would I buy black market milk from a guy I don’t know when I could get good healthy milk from the supermarket?'” Solomon said. But if there’s no supermarket around, he said, the „black market looks pretty good.”


Near the center of the legal battle between cannabis churches and law enforcement in California is Matthew Pappas, a lawyer who has made a name for himself fighting to protect marijuana distribution.

In 2010, Pappas represented a group of disabled patients who said closures of medical marijuana collectives in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them.

In 2015, Pappas represented a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Ana that was raided by the police, during which officers destroyed surveillance systems. Pappas argued that video footage showed them eating marijuana edibles during the raid. The city eventually settled with the dispensary for $100,000.

Pappas has also served as legal counsel to the Oklevueha Native American Church, which asserts that cannabis is a Native American sacrament, similar to peyote.

The Oklevueha church is not tied to a federally recognized tribe and is at odds with American Indian religious leaders, including the National Council of Native American Churches, which rejects the idea that cannabis is an American Indian sacrament. (The 9th Circuit rejected Oklevueha’s request for a religious exemption for cannabis use in 2016.)

Now, Pappas is taking on the cause of cannabis churches, representing them in numerous cases across the state. His task is to prove that his clients’ beliefs are sincere and religious in nature and that those beliefs are being burdened by the law in a discriminatory manner.

In recent years, Pappas has taken on a new role: religious leader. In 2016, he and a childhood friend started Sacramental Life Church, a religious umbrella organization that works with about a dozen cannabis churches in California. (These include Jah Healing Church and Sacramental Life Church in Redondo Beach.)

In addition to serving as legal counsel, Pappas holds the title of Steward of the Word for all churches that are members of the umbrella organization.


Defining what counts as a religion under the law „has been a notoriously difficult question for the courts ever since the founding,” said James Sonne, a Stanford Law School professor and the director of the Religious Liberty Clinic at the university.

The addition of drugs has made that question more complicated. A 1990 Supreme Court ruling against two members of the Native American Church who were fired after taking peyote during a religious ceremony prompted bipartisan backlash in Congress.

It led to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. This was used by the Supreme Court in 2006 to rule in favor of a church that used ayahuasca, a sacramental tea made from two plants found in the Amazonian rainforest.

But those cases deal with federal laws. In California, where recreational (and before that, medicinal) marijuana is legal, cannabis churches cannot seek protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law also only applies in states that have passed their own versions of it; California has not.

Lawyers for cannabis churches are arguing that marijuana is a sacrament that must be dispensed by religious institutions to ensure that the sourcing and the blessing of the product meets their standards. The courts must determine whether those practices are „analogous to mainstream faiths in terms of moral duty, ultimate concern, comprehensiveness, that sort of thing,” Sonne said. The court also must determine whether the belief system in question is „sincerely held.”

Jah has had success proving the sincerity of its religious beliefs in court, but not in proving that California’s marijuana laws are discriminatory.

In May, San Bernardino County filed contempt charges against Jah for violating an order to stop dispensing cannabis. An undercover officer testified that he had visited the church twice in one day and paid for marijuana without any religious ceremony.

In a hearing in August, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge David Cohn ruled in the city’s favor. He said he found the officer’s testimony credible. But he had also found Rodriguez, who testified on the sincerity of her religious beliefs, to be a credible witness.

„Does that mean everybody in the church holds those beliefs? Of course not,” Cohn said in court. „I think probably in every religion, every church, synagogue, mosque and temple throughout the nation there are members and attendees who are sincere believers in the religious doctrine and others who attend for a variety of reasons. Those ulterior motives of individual members of a congregation don’t in any way undermine the legitimacy or sincerity of religious doctrine.”

Photo by The New York Times/ILONA SZWARC
Monique Fregoso, joint and Bible in hand, worships at a Jah Healing Church service.

Religion on 11/30/2019

Hemp stakeholders, lawmakers call for flexibility on THC – HempToday

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Hemp stakeholders and lawmakers supporting hemp in the USA have labeled proposed hemp rules from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as too restrictive, and called for tolerance up to a full 1% THC.

The U.S. Farm Bill, which became law last December, sets the THC level for hemp at no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, but USDA rules allow for tolerance levels up to 0.5 percent THC. Any hemp crop with amounts of THC over that limit would violate the regulations. Proponents say that level should be increased to 1%.

Range of concerns

In a recent letter to the USDA, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley suggested several changes to USDA’s proposed rules, noting the problematic THC level, and suggesting changes to other specific regulations. 

The Senators called for alternative testing methods that only assess delta-9 THC levels rather than the full spectrum of THC, and argued that private and other laboratories should be approved to test hemp. Under the USDA proposal only Drug Enforcement Administration registered laboratories could carry out such tests.

They also backed the argument of many farmers who’ve noted that USDA’s proposal that hemp be tested within 15 days before harvest makes for an “impossible obstacle for growers to overcome,” urging that period be increased to 28 days.

Senate leader calls for extension

Another lawmaker, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, last week told The (New York) Daily News: “Some people believe the [THC] level they set is way too low, because it’s way below the harmful level.” 

“They need to look at these rules and re-examine them,” Schumer said in calling for an extension of the 60-day public comment period for USDA’s proposed hemp rules, which were made public at the end of October. That means the comment period would end just before the new year. 

“This (hemp) has tremendous, tremendous potential, and all the excitement about growing and processing hemp, and creating lots of jobs, could go away if these rules are done in too narrow and restrictive a way,” Schumer said.

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FDA Warning Letters Highlight CBD Industry’s Wild West Attitude – Forbes

CBD Confusion

Gus Dabais stands outside his Sidewalk Wellness store in San Francisco, last March. CBD oil-infused … [+] food, drinks and dietary supplements are popular even though the U.S. government says they’re illegal and some local authorities have forced retailers to pull products. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)


The Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA also released a revised Consumer Update detailing its new safety concerns about CBD products, in particular the safety of CBD in food. The FDA said it couldn’t conclude that CBD is safe for use in human or animal food.

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a compound in the cannabis plant that is used for anxiety, pain, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

The CBD market exploded after hemp was legalized in the annual Farm Bill last year. Hemp is a cannabis plant that does not have the psychoactive cannabanoid THC, which gets people high. The warning letter and the new consumer update could deal a blow to the CBD market, which has become the largest component of the growing U.S. cannabis market. CBD is marketed in a variety of product types, such as oil drops, capsules, syrups, food products such as chocolate bars and gummy bears, and topical lotions and creams.  

The FDA said it was working quickly to further clarify its regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD. It said it would continue to monitor the marketplace and take action against companies that violate the law in ways that raise public health concerns.

„In line with our mission to protect the public, foster innovation, and promote consumer confidence, this overarching approach regarding CBD is the same as the FDA would take for any other substance that we regulate,” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D. in the written statement. “We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market, many of which are illegal, have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt’.”

Cannabis Convention

Muscle Joint & Relief Cream is displayed at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition trade … [+] show in New York, May 30, 2019. The non-prescription cream is marketed by Green Roads. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)


As soon as the farm bill passed a lot of companies that wanted to make edibles and drinkables started creating products using hemp-derived CBD.

„A lot are saying, 'CBD is good for you, look the FDA approved it and it’s good for childhood epilepsy’,” said Jason Wilson, research and banking expert for ETFMG, which runs the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ). „These companies also came out with marketing ads saying its good for pain, anxiety, sleep disorder, and muscle pain. They market it this way because CBD is legal. However, the FDA is pointing out that you can’t advertise it as a cure-all and it doesn’t mean you can start putting it in food either.” So far the FDA has approved only one prescription drug with CBD, Epidiolex, which treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) makes it There has been massive proliferation of CBD companies that are not following any sort of standards or certifications. And the FDA has been testing CBD products to root out fake health claims. „These new warning letters say, 'we tested your products and they don’t have what you say they have in them.” said Nic Easley, the CEO of Denver-based Multiverse Capital, which runs three cannabis venture funds. „So people started to realize these are fraudulent products.” 

Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil whole food products

Real Scientific Hemp Oil [RSHO] launches new cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil whole food products. (GLOBE … [+] NEWSWIRE)/

Globe Newswire

Easley said that 90% to 95% of CBD companies are fraudulent companies, because they have no testing, no authorizations, and no certifications.

„It’s one of the biggest snake oil sectors to emerge,” he said.

He added that many of these companies just popped up overnight and many of them don’t use hemp seed oil, or any cannabinoids.

„Granted there are some good companies, but the only CBD companies we are involved with is if they are medically licensed and producing it under a regulated authority,” said Easley. However, he added the warning letters could be a good thing as it was getting more people to talk about CBD.

The FDA said much was still unknown about CBD toxicity and some available data raised serious concerns about potential harm from the substance. The revised Consumer Update mentioned safety concerns related to CBD products, including potential liver injury, interactions with other drugs, drowsiness, diarrhea, and changes in mood.

“The FDA has mistakenly substituted the adverse effects of Epidiolex, a refined, isolated and semi-synthetic form of CBD, as being the same form of CBD that is being sold by those in the nutritional supplement industry,” said Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, which has created a CBD product pipeline throughout the U.S. „Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no evidence to show that botanical forms of CBD have more much „drug interaction” than normal foods or that the natural botanical form of CBD confers the “toxic liver effects” that the FDA mentions in its statement.”

Titus added that the CBD industry, the Hemp Roundtable and the U.S. Hemp Authority have been diligently working to increase their standards and industry-wide vigilance toward the quality of manufacturing, and other regulations regarding the production of a safe and well-tested form of CBD. 

Michael Harinen, chief brand officer at Bluebird Botanicals, which makes hemp-derived CBD, said that the FDA brought up valid concerns about companies that are selling products with unverified medical claims or are unsafe for human consumption. Some of the products are tainted with pesticides or herbicides, he said, while other have little to no CBD in them.

„It’s affected our business because whenever the FDA comes out with an announcement, including this one, customers call us up,” said Harinen. „They are very wary and scrutinizing us. And they are concerned about the legal status of CBD.”

The companies receiving warning letters are:

Using CBD for pain management: Is it the right move? – Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Scented Leaf on University advertising their new CBD Tea. CBD is a natural remedy that is meant to calm you.

The use of cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, in the medical world has been greeted with debate in the past few years.

Throughout history, cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes, even by some historical figures like Queen Victoria, who reportedly used it for menstrual cramps. However, with the rise of modern medicine and a lack of hard-grounded scientific evidence, CBD has been at the center of some controversy recently.

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At the intersection of medicine and law, CBD prescriptions are not commonplace in hospitals due to many reasons, one of which is the cloudy legality that goes with it.

In the state of Arizona, CBD oil derived from imported hemp does not require a prescription, as it can be bought over the counter at stores and dispensaries. In 2014, a court ruling determined that CBD can be used for treating certain ailments. However, CBD derived from marijuana is prohibited, as purchasing cannabis is still illegal in the state of Arizona.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] recognizes the medical benefits of CBD,” said Dr. Mohab Ibrahim, a pain management physician and an anesthesiologist  at Banner — University Medical Center Tucson. “However, the [Drug Enforcement Administration] is the one that can give legal status. The DEA doesn’t consider CBD by itself to be legal, but drugs that contain CBD, up to a certain percentage, are legal.”

Both CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for its psychological effects, act on the body’s cannabinoid receptors, which are responsible for bodily processes such as appetite, pain and memory.

The difference between CBD and THC boils down to less psychoactive properties in CBD compared to THC, according to Ibrahim.

“It takes higher doses of CBD to get what we call the psychoactive side effects,” Ibrahim said.

As with most other drugs, the dosage is the most crucial aspect in determining its safety and efficacy. Currently, CBD has a wide variety of uses in the medical world. It can be used to treat pain, seizures, depression, anxiety and insomnia.

There is conflicting data as to whether or not CBD is an effective means to relieve pain and what line of therapy it should be classified under. Physicians are free to inform their patients of what CBD is and what it can be used for, but ultimately the decision to use it comes down to the patient.

“[CBD] works for some people and doesn’t work for others,” Ibrahim said. „There might be some chronic pain conditions that might be responsive to CBD and some others that are not. We just need to do more research to find out which conditions will be responsive.”

A wide variety of drugs, including anti-depressants and anti-seizure medications, are used to alleviate pain conditions in some patients. However, more interventional techniques may be used to treat pain, too. Injections and surgery are two possibilities to help patients with chronic pain be treated.

“Most physicians will be comfortable trying something else first. It comes down to the patient’s preferences, their level of comfort and the location [of the pain],” Ibrahim said. “Until there is a consistent policy, CBD will not be the first line of treatment. Physicians will still educate their patients about it, but it may not be the number one choice [for treatment].”

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The murky waters of legality and the conflicting data are two reasons as to why CBD is not the first line of treatment when it comes to pain management amongst the majority of physicians.

“In the future, when the political situation improves and the legal situation becomes less murky, then there could potentially be a bigger push towards CBD,” Ibrahim said. “CBD use is also not very highly regulated. Depending on the conditions of growing the plant, you might get different constitution of what is in it.”

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