Debunking the White House’s Reefer Mad Reaction to the NYT

The New York Times has joined the majority of US citizens in the call for a more rational marijuana policy. The White House responded with an attempt to explain why a taxed and regulated market is no “silver bullet solution.” Alluding to The Lone Ranger probably wasn’t a great idea, but I think they mean that this isn’t a panacea for every problem related to cannabis.

Of course, all our other legislation is perfect, so we shouldn’t change this policy until we have a solution with all advantages and no disadvantages.

Our government says that this use of law enforcement and court time targets marijuana users because the plant alters brain development, impedes academic achievement, impairs driving, and creates addiction. The tacit assumption, that prohibition is going to prevent all of these problems, is tenable at best. (We’ve had police officers whip out the handcuffs over 18 million times since 1981. From 1995 until now, we’ve had at least one marijuana arrest per minute. The plant is more available than ever.) But let’s forget about how prohibition isn’t going to help and address the White House’s Furious Four Factors.

The first two (brain development and academic achievement) fall under the “what about the children” category. When all else fails, it’s great to play the baby card. NORML has condemned juvenile consumption for decades now. Of course, the underground market is notoriously bad at carding purchasers. When was the last time a dealer asked for ID? Licensed distributors who could lose their livelihood for underage sales would be markedly more motivated to keep the plant from children. But let’s address the claims.

Brain Development. Regular use early in life could alter brain development. But here’s the point no one is supposed to mention: we don’t really know for sure. It’s likely. It works in animals. But it’s not proven. The niftiest gizmos that take pictures of brains often can find differences between those who’ve used early and those who haven’t. But we don’t have a time machine. We don’t really know if these people had deviant brains before they ever saw the plant.

Investigators who run these expensive studies also have a hell of a time publishing results unless they find some differences. Many would rather leave the data in a drawer than battle editors and reviewers in an attempt to publish a paper that says that marijuana has no impact. What has been found is not always consistent. It’s one brain area showing differences in one study and another in the next. Reports that find nothing, or that the non-users actually have deviant brains (e.g. Block, O’Leary, Ehrhardt, et al., 2000, who found bigger ventricles in non-users), never get mentioned. Big reviews try to tell a coherent story, but effects are small. Binge drinking is markedly worse. (See Lisdahl et al.). Cigarette smoking leads to detectable changes in brain structure, too. I’d joke that we should make alcohol and tobacco illegal following this logic, but I’m afraid some people will actually try to do so.

Academic achievement. If the government genuinely cared about my academic achievement, I think I would have learned more in public school. But that’s another issue. We know that mastering new material immediately after using cannabis is extremely difficult. Going to class high is a dumb waste of time. It would certainly interfere with grades. But what’s the real issue here?

Decades ago, researchers showed that college students who used the plant had better grades than their peers who didn’t (Gergen, Gergen, & Morse, 1972; Goode, 1971). It’s not that marijuana’s a study aid. Students who liked the plant might have taken classes they enjoyed and flourished as a result. Subsequent studies didn’t always confirm these results, and investigators lost interest.

But high school kids who use the plant often bonk their exams. Most heavy users had earned lower grades prior to their marijuana consumption, suggesting cannabis could not have caused the poorer performance (Shedler & Block, 1990). Essentially, cannabis users with bad grades in high school also had low marks when they were in fourth grade. Cannabis might not lead to bad grades, but folks with bad grades often turn to cannabis. In addition, high school students who smoke cannabis heavily also tend to use alcohol and other illicit substances. Once these factors are taken into account, the link between cannabis and academic performance disappears. These results suggest that drugs other than marijuana might lower grades (Hall, Solowij, & Lennon, 1994).

In truth, if the government wants to see better achievement in school, the best answer would require schools with funding. Perhaps we could attract more of the energetic, enthusiastic, well-trained teachers who inspire learning if we offered better salaries. Students might find school more engaging when teachers are delighted and facilities are excellent. Busting teens for possession seems too indirect a strategy for improving education.

Driving. Paul Armentano has done such a superb job of summarizing the relevant data on this topic that I don’t want to belabor it.

A few points are worth emphasizing. NORML has always opposed impaired driving. People who can’t pass appropriate roadside sobriety tests should not operate a motor vehicle. Note that passing a sobriety test has little to do with the content of anyone’s blood or urine.

A recent meta-analytic review suggests that, at most, cannabis is no worse than antihistamines and probably on par with penicillin when it comes to culpability for accidents. If we’re going to make all drugs that impair driving illegal, we’re going to have a lot of runny noses and infections to handle.

Research from The Netherlands shows that folks who use cannabis in the laboratory lose their willingness to drive (source). When the experimenter forced them, they go slower, avoid trying to pass other cars, and start putting on the breaks earlier when they have to stop. These compensatory steps probably explain why a couple of studies have found cannabis users less culpable than drug-free drivers. Surprise surprise! This work never got any press. (Drummer, 1994, Bates & Blakely, 1999).

A study of over 300 drivers involved in fatal crashes in California focused on motorists who tested positive for cannabis but no other drug. Unexpectedly, they were half as likely to be responsible for accidents as those who were free of substances (Williams,,Peat, & Crouch, 1985). Another investigation of over 1,800 fatal crashes in the United States found that drivers who used only cannabis were only 70% as likely to have caused an accident as the drug-free group (Terhune, Ippolito, & Crouch, 1992). These are literally impossible to publish anymore, potentially suggesting the bias alluded to in the Elvik meta-analysis. So don’t drive high, but drive as if you were. Go slowly. Don’t try to pass. Leave room to stop.

Addiction. The new DSM V definition of addiction qualifies me for a caffeine disorder, so I’m obviously biased. Better take what I say with a grain of salt. But be careful, salt allegedly has addictive properties, too.

After five millennia and a series of moving definitions, researchers have finally identified something that they can call marijuana withdrawal and marijuana addiction. I’m guessing that prohibitionists really love this one. it conjures up images of sweaty heroin users snatching purses and plunging needles into infected arms. Have you met people who mug girl scouts to maintain their marijuana money? Neither have I. So what is marijuana addiction supposed to be? Among the most common symptoms are disturbed sleep and, I can barely say this with a straight face, loss of appetite. Anybody who uses every day and then gets irritated on a day without the plant could end up qualifying. If you tell anyone struggling with the opiates that these are the symptoms of your addiction, you’re likely to get a swift kick in the crotch. Expert opinions suggest that only the hallucinogens are less addictive than marijuana.

The most negative thing a government can do to its citizens is punish them. If we want to use punishment, we need outstanding reasons. These four simply do not qualify.

Block, R. I., O’Leary, D. S., Ehrhardt, J. C., Augustinack, J. C., Ghoneim, M. M., Arndt, S., et al. (2000). Effects of frequent marijuana use on brain tissue volume and composition. NeuroReport, 11, 491–496.

Drummer, O. H. (1994). Drugs in drivers killed in Australian road traffic accidents. (Report no. 0594). Melbourne, Australia: Monash University, Victorian Institute of Forensic Pathology

Gergen, M. K., Gergen, K. J., & Morse, S. J. (1972). Correlates of marijuana use among college students. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 2, 1–16.

Goode, E. (1971). Drug use and grades in college. Nature, 239, 225–227.
Hall, W., Solowij, N., & Lennon, J. (1994). The health and psychological consequences of cannabis use. Canberra: Australian Government Publication Services.

Shedler, J., & Block, J. (1990). Adolescent drug use and psychological health: A longitudinal inquiry. American Psychologist, 45, 612–630.

Terhune, K. W., Ippolito, C. A., & Crouch, D. J. (1992). The incidence and role of drugs in fatally injured drivers (DOT HS Report No. 808 065). Washington DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Williams, A. F., Peat, M. A., & Crouch, D. J. (1985). Drugs in fatally injured young male drivers. Public Health Reports, 100, 19–25.

75 thoughts

  1. “When I was a young man…”

    Obama and His Pot-Smoking ‘Choom Gang’
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    By Jonathan Karl
    Follow on Twitter
    May 25, 2012 12:54pm

    Young Barack Obama
    Unlike Bill Clinton, Barack Obama never tried to say he didn’t inhale.
    In his 1995 memoir “Dreams from My Father,” Obama writes about smoking pot almost like Dr. Seuss wrote about eating green eggs and ham. As a high school kid, Obama wrote, he would smoke “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” he would smoke “in the dorm room of some brother” and he would smoke “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”
    He would smoke it here and there. He would smoke it anywhere.
    Now a soon-to-be published biography by David Maraniss entitled “Barack Obama: The Story” gives more detail on Obama’s pot-smoking days, complete with testimonials from young Barry Obama’s high school buddies, a group that went by the name “the Choom Gang.” Choom was slang for smoking marijuana.
    Maraniss portrays the teenage Obama as not just a pot smoker, but a pot-smoking innovator.
    “As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”
    The first Obama-inspired trend: “Total Absorption” or “TA”.
    “TA was the opposite of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” explains Maraniss. Here’s how it worked: If you exhaled prematurely when you were with the Choom Gang, “you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”
    As one of Obama’s old high school buddies tells Maraniss: “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated.”
    Another Obama innovation: “Roof Hits.”
    “When they were chooming in a car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”
    Maraniss also says Obama was known for his “Interceptions”: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”
    Although Obama himself wrote that he and his pot smoking buddies were a “club of disaffection,” Maraniss says that’s not really true.
    “In fact, most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lawyers, writers and businessmen,” Maraniss writes. One notable exception was Ray, the group’s pot dealer who, known for his ability “to score quality bud,” would years later be killed by a scorned gay lover armed with a ball-peen hammer.
    Obama himself managed to be a pretty good student despite all the pot smoking and unconventional study habits.
    “He told his Choom Gang mates that the trick was if you put the textbook under your pillow the night before you would perform better on an exam,” Maraniss writes. No way, dude!
    Back to the pot smoking.
    Hawaii of the early 1970s was something of a pot-smoking Mecca.
    “It was sold and smoked right there in front of your nose; Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric, Puna Bud, Kona Gold, and other local variations of pakalolo were readily available,” writes Maraniss.
    Obama’s pal Mark Bendix had a Volkswagen microbus known as “the Choomwagon.” They would often drive up Honolulu’s Mount Tantalus where they parked “turned up their stereos playing Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult and Stevie Wonder, lit up some ‘sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds’ and washed it down with ‘green bottled beer’ (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Becks, and St. Pauli Girl). No shouting, no violence, no fights; they even cleaned up their beer bottles.”
    Of course, smoking, drinking and driving on mountain roads could also be a little dangerous. Especially the night they tried drag racing.
    The race to the top of Mount Tantalus pitted the “Choomwagon” against another friend’s Toyota. Obama was in the Toyota. The Choomwagon made it to the top first. When the other car didn’t show up, those in the Choomwagon drove back down to find them. Here’s how Maraniss describes what happened next:
    “On the way down, they saw a figure who appeared to be staggering up the road. It was Barry Obama. What was going on? As they drew closer, they noticed that he was laughing so hard he could barely stand up.”
    His friend had rolled the car. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. And, amazingly, they avoided trouble by leaving the driver alone to deal with the police by claiming it was just an unfortunate “mishap.”
    Maraniss concludes his chapter on Obama’s high school years by looking at a note Obama had written in his high school yearbook in a section reserved for students to give a line or two giving thanks to those who helped along the way.
    Obama had written this: “Thanks Tut [his grandmother], Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.”
    Maraniss notes: “Ray was the older guy who hung around the Choom Gang, selling them pot. A hippie drug dealer made his acknowledgements; his mother did not.”

    The White House told ABC News that it has no comment.

  2. Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System
    Dustin Sulak, DO
    Maine Integrative Healthcare

    As you read this review of the scientific literature regarding the therapeutic effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, one thing will become quickly evident: cannabis has a profound influence on the human body. This one herb and its variety of therapeutic compounds seem to affect every aspect of our bodies and minds. How is this possible?
    In my integrative medicine clinic in central Maine, we treat over a thousand patients with a huge diversity of diseases and symptoms. In one day I might see cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, Tourette’s syndrome and eczema, just to name a few. All of these conditions have different causes, different physiologic states, and vastly different symptoms. The patients are old and young. Some are undergoing conventional therapy. Others are on a decidedly alternative path. Yet despite their differences, almost all of my patients would agree on one point: cannabis helps their condition.
    As a physician, I am naturally wary of any medicine that purports to cure-all. Panaceas, snake-oil remedies, and expensive fads often come and go, with big claims but little scientific or clinical evidence to support their efficacy. As I explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis, however, I find no lack of evidence. In fact, I find an explosion of scientific research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis, more evidence than one can find on some of the most widely used therapies of conventional medicine.
    At the time of writing, a PubMed search for scientific journal articles published in the last 20 years containing the word “cannabis” revealed 7,704 results. Add the word “cannabinoid,” and the results increase to 15,899 articles. That’s an average of more than two scientific publications per day over the last 20 years! These numbers not only illustrate the present scientific interest and financial investment in understanding more about cannabis and its components, but they also emphasize the need for high quality reviews and summaries such as the document you are about to read.
    How can one herb help so many different conditions? How can it provide both palliative and curative actions? How can it be so safe while offering such powerful effects? The search to answer these questions has led scientists to the discovery of a previously unknown physiologic system, a central component of the health and healing of every human and almost every animal: the endocannabinoid system.
    What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
    The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
    Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological life, from the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond. Here’s one example: autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of its contents to be self-digested and recycled, is mediated by the cannabinoid system. While this process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumor cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide. The death of cancer cells, of course, promotes homeostasis and survival at the level of the entire organism.
    Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and damage caused by the injury.
    The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.
    In addition to regulating our internal and cellular homeostasis, cannabinoids influence a person’s relationship with the external environment. Socially, the administration of cannabinoids clearly alters human behavior, often promoting sharing, humor, and creativity. By mediating neurogenesis, neuronal plasticity, and learning, cannabinoids may directly influence a person’s open-mindedness and ability to move beyond limiting patterns of thought and behavior from past situations. Reformatting these old patterns is an essential part of health in our quickly changing environment.
    What Are Cannabinoid Receptors?
    Sea squirts, tiny nematodes, and all vertebrate species share the endocannabinoid system as an essential part of life and adaptation to environmental changes. By comparing the genetics of cannabinoid receptors in different species, scientists estimate that the endocannabinoid system evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago.
    While it may seem we know a lot about cannabinoids, the estimated twenty thousand scientific articles have just begun to shed light on the subject. Large gaps likely exist in our current understanding, and the complexity of interactions between various cannabinoids, cell types, systems and individual organisms challenges scientists to think about physiology and health in new ways. The following brief overview summarizes what we do know.
    Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action. Researchers speculate there may be a third cannabinoid receptor waiting to be discovered.
    Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesized on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
    Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs, such as echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well.
    Interestingly, the marijuana plant also uses THC and other cannabinoids to promote its own health and prevent disease. Cannabinoids have antioxidant properties that protect the leaves and flowering structures from ultraviolet radiation – cannabinoids neutralize the harmful free radicals generated by UV rays, protecting the cells. In humans, free radicals cause aging, cancer, and impaired healing. Antioxidants found in plants have long been promoted as natural supplements to prevent free radical harm.
    Laboratories can also produce cannabinoids. Synthetic THC, marketed as dronabinol (Marinol), and nabilone (Cesamet), a THC analog, are both FDA approved drugs for the treatment of severe nausea and wasting syndrome. Some clinicians have found them helpful in the off-label treatment of chronic pain, migraine, and other serious conditions. Many other synthetic cannabinoids are used in animal research, and some have potency up to 600 times that of THC.
    Cannabis, The Endocannabinoid System, And Good Health
    As we continue to sort through the emerging science of cannabis and cannabinoids, one thing remains clear: a functional cannabinoid system is essential for health. From embryonic implantation on the wall of our mother’s uterus, to nursing and growth, to responding to injuries, endocannabinoids help us survive in a quickly changing and increasingly hostile environment. As I realized this, I began to wonder: can an individual enhance his/her cannabinoid system by taking supplemental cannabis? Beyond treating symptoms, beyond even curing disease, can cannabis help us prevent disease and promote health by stimulating an ancient system that is hard-wired into all of us?
    I now believe the answer is yes. Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from marijuana can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This is why many first-time marijuana users don’t feel an effect, but by their second or third time using the herb they have built more cannabinoid receptors and are ready to respond. More receptors increase a person’s sensitivity to cannabinoids; smaller doses have larger effects, and the individual has an enhanced baseline of endocannabinoid activity. I believe that small, regular doses of marijuana might act as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.
    Many physicians cringe at the thought of recommending a botanical substance, and are outright mortified by the idea of smoking a medicine. Our medical system is more comfortable with single, isolated substances that can be swallowed or injected. Unfortunately, this model significantly limits the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids.
    Unlike synthetic derivatives, herbal marijuana may contain over one hundred different cannabinoids, including THC, which all work synergistically to produce better medical effects and less side effects than THC alone. While marijuana is safe and works well when smoked, many patients prefer to use a vaporizer or cannabis tincture. Scientific inquiry and patient testimonials both indicate that herbal marijuana has superior medical qualities to synthetic cannabinoids.
    In 1902 Thomas Edison said, “There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of disease as now, and all their discoveries are tending toward the simple truth that you can’t improve on nature.” Cannabinoid research has proven this statement is still valid.
    So, is it possible that medical marijuana could be the most useful remedy to treat the widest variety of human diseases and conditions, a component of preventative healthcare, and an adaptive support in our increasingly toxic, carcinogenic environment? Yes. This was well known to the indigenous medical systems of ancient India, China, and Tibet, and as you will find in this report, is becoming increasingly well known by Western science. Of course, we need more human-based research studying the effectiveness of marijuana, but the evidence base is already large and growing constantly, despite the DEA’s best efforts to discourage cannabis-related research.
    Does your doctor understand the benefit of medical cannabis? Can he or she advise you in the proper indications, dosage, and route of administration? Likely not. Despite the two largest physician associations (American Medical Association and American College of Physicians) calling for more research, the Obama administration promising not to arrest patients protected under state medical cannabis laws, a 5,000 year history of safe therapeutic use, and a huge amount of published research, most doctors know little or nothing about medical cannabis.
    This is changing, in part because the public is demanding it. People want safe, natural and inexpensive treatments that stimulate our bodies’ ability to self-heal and help our population improve its quality of life. Medical cannabis is one such solution. This summary is an excellent tool for spreading the knowledge and helping to educate patients and healthcare providers on the scientific evidence behind the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids.

  3. There may be a basis for a lawsuit against the government for making cannabis illegal, however; it would be met by all the underhanded and unethical ploys that make up our government. You have to remember — the lawsuit would be going up against the entity that is best versed on how to breach the writings of our Constitution.

    Many times, it is the very entity that is responsible for making the rules that will ultimately break those rules…

  4. @ llion article says: arachidonic acid derivates are endocannibinoid . I read Arachidonic acid is found in Natural Seed and Nut Oils such as Safflower Seed Oils and Sunflower Seed oils. The article also says;
    echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well. my comment: Echinaces purpura (Purple Cone Flower)is known to enhance Immune system
    perhaps this is the Endocanninoids “at work”.

    Article: Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. The two most well understood of these molecules are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are synthesized on-demand from cell membrane arachidonic acid derivatives, have a local effect and short half-life before being degraded by the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL). Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most famous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the interest of researchers due to a variety of healing properties. Most phytocannabinoids have been isolated from cannabis sativa, but other medical herbs, such as echinacea purpura, have been found to contain non-psychoactive cannabinoids as well. Interestingly, the marijuana plant also uses THC and other cannabinoids to promote its own health and prevent disease. Cannabinoids have antioxidant properties that protect the leaves and flowering structures from ultraviolet radiation – cannabinoids neutralize the harmful free radicals generated by UV rays, protecting the cells. –

  5. Arachidonic acid (AA, sometimes ARA) is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid 20:4(?-6). It is the counterpart to the saturated arachidic acid found in peanut oil, (L. arachis – peanut.)[2]

    Chocolate also “uptakes endocannibinoids”.

  6. Mangos Can Drastically Improve Your High If Consumed 90 Minutes Prior To Medicating

    Posted by Dankston Hughes on 07/10/2014 in Medical Marijuana News
    Although it hasn’t been proven by scientific fact, recent trends have discovered that there’s a fruit that might unlock marijuana’s true untapped potential — mangos. Again, while there hasn’t been any studies conducted regarding mangos and marijuana use, marijuana smokers have recently been consuming a mango just about an hour before lighting up in hopes of boosting their high.

    While I reiterate that this is not set in stone, apparently eating fresh mangos or even drinking a fresh mango smoothie one hour prior to smoking will have a dramatic effect on your high. This is because a chemical compound known as myrcene terpenes – which is most often used for fragrances as an essential oil – can be found within cannabis as well other plants such as lemon grass, hops and, of course, mangos. This compound is responsible for dramatically increasing the euphoric feelings felt by marijuana and could even play a beneficial role in allowing medical marijuana patients to ease their pain even more than they did before.

    Cannabis is known to already contain more than 100 terpene molecules, all of which are responsible for affecting THC’s effect on the brain. However most interesting is that marijuana contains the myrcene terpenes more than any other kind of molecule. So in turn, it does make sense that if you were to eat a mango that is rich in myrcenes, you would have the ability to potentially improve the high associated with low-quality buds or even enhance the high-quality bud that you already have with an extra kick.
    Note: I experienced this eating ripe Mango!!

  7. Thanks @Ilion for Dustin Sulak’s Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System clarifying that mystery why the first day I felt nothing and the second day it took three years to walk a city block.

    Thanks @Russ Hudson for your piece on co-evolution– some more thoughts on that can be found at

  8. I am just starting to read this, but I wanted to point out for the author that the silver bullet has nothing to do with the Lone Ranger. The silver bullet there is referring to using the silver bullet on the werewolf problem.

  9. I find the White House’s statement interesting for two reasons:

    1) The drug warriors are moving goalposts because they realize that they are on the losing side of this debate. Since when have they ever been concerned about “alternatives to incarceration?” They have only been concerned with throwing people in jail. Because of the changing in public opinion, they are changing their position in hopes of maintaining the status quo. It won’t work. Even Obama himself said that with public opinion on your side, there’s so much more you can do. Unfortunately, with the drug warriors firmly entrenched in DC, there will still be resistance. MJ arrests have gone up in many states because of this same resistance.

    If you want to get serious about treating addiction then end the Drug War. Stop advocating laws based on the minority of citizens who are addicts. Especially since these laws do every little to actually help addicts. Drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one. And despite the tone of the White House’s statement, the federal government, for the most part, still doesn’t get this.

    2) Legalization is not wishful thinking. Believing that marijuana should be completely unregulated is wishful thinking. This latter view has very little support not just among the general public, but also among mj advocates. Marijuana may be less harmful than alcohol, but it can still cause problems if there is no regulation in place. The irony of the White House’s position is that thanks it marijuana’s illegality, it is in fact, unregulated. And so what if illegal sales would continue? Illegal sales of prescription drugs and even alcohol go on and the government isn’t advocating that these substances be illegal altogether. It’s been proven that legalization will never eliminate illegal sales, but it can greatly reduce them.

    Despite my support for Obama, I disagree wholeheartedly here and well continue to make that known though my financial support and my vote. I have never been a one issue voter and see no reason to become one now. And for those who think voting doesn’t work, think again. We would have never gotten this far without it. Progress is always slow, but it does happen. And anyway, despite this WH statement, the final irony is that it’s under this current Administration that some of the biggest strives have been made. If we had to deal with a Republican administration, things would be more difficult. Yes, my politically apathetic friends, on this particular issue of marijuana, the two major parties are NOT the same. They are not the same on most issues, but here, with weed, the differences are at their most glaring.

    So, we keep fighting. Our opponents’ position is simply unsustainable and they know it. They are losing. It’s clear in this pathetic statement released by the White House which everybody knows was written by the drug czar (whose job is becoming more and more useless as the days go by, especially if the efforts to pursue “alternatives to incarceration” are sincere). Since when does any society that that claims to hold democratic values need a position as autocratic by its very nature as a “czar?” Even Russia (which is still a repressive regime long after the regime of its last czar, Nicholas II) found them to be useless so why do we need them here in America?

  10. Excellent posts. So far we have covered phtyocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, water and soil conservation using industrial hemp and Ray, President Obama’s hippy drug dealer from high school who was the only member of the Choom Gang not only to fail at his pursuit of a professional legal career but was murdered by his scorned gay lover with a ball-peen hammer.
    Well, that about covers it. I mean, how do you top that act?

    All ive got left is some old brownie recipe. Oh well.
    I would like to respond to a couple of points Lion brings up;
    1). Thank you for bringing up phytocannabinoids: If there’s a law suit floating around out there, it must be directed at the Department of Health and Human services patent 6630507 for cannabinoids as neuroprotectants. If owning this patent while simultaneously taking children into state custody for alleged parental marijuana consumption wasnt enough cause for legal action, the archaic, hypocritical patent itself defines ownership of the cannabinoids we require in our body to sustain ourselves. It would be a class action lawsuit represented by all humanity ( signed with petition) for the immoral patent and prohibition of vital cannabinoids required by the human body. Filed in a Federal Court with support from NORML, the ACLU and covered by the NYTimes prior to elections?
    2). Naturally, the Controlled Substances Act needs to be repealed by Congress and the President, the same institutions that created the unjust law. However, prohibitionists that own drug testing facilities, timber and petrochemical patents and pharmacuetical patents would love to see more watered down versions of legalization that create more of a “swiss cheese” semi prohibition that has the growing pro marijuana movement up in arms. Perhaps a largely publicized class action law suit against the major patents and permits of prohibition is just what our country needs?

  11. If Marinol is synthetic THC; and if Marinol is approved by the FDA as a “prescription”; this proves “THC has medicinal value.” imho.

  12. @ Julian; “Maybe we should file a class action lawsuit concerning “rescheduling MJ” demanding the IND begin the MMJ program again we the weed people have no time to lose

  13. Curious as to know if any of the states will be able to “use Medicaid; Medicare or private medical insurance to purchase M MJ ?

    Private grow co-ops would save a lot of money
    The Gov could begin to sell some decent herb.

  14. @Reefer Mango Madness, thanks for the reminder about terpenes which should be on everyone’s mind now. Check Ethan B. Russo’s pioneering 2011 article on “Taming THC: entourage effect” where he mentions that myrcene and two others, pinene and caryophyllene, all present in cannabis, can reduce nicotine craving. With 6,000,000 deaths a year from $igarette p$ycho$i$ that could mean a Nobel Prize to some cannabis researcher.

    @notfooled, thanks for challenging comments on regulation. This is where a DIY remedy exists: regulate your own use by eliminating HBOM (hot burning overdose monoxide) rolling papers and using only one or more 25-mg servings of sifted dry particulate budflower in a flexible drawtube one-hitter made from $1.29 worth of parts ( 12 Ways to Make Pipes from Everyday Objects).

    @Julian, we can honor Ray the Choom supplier by applying the name “CHOOMETTE” to a flexible drawtube one-hitter which has a bored (holey) decorated wood handlestick (about size and shape of a traditional CHILLUM) between the socket wrench or hose nipple craterpiece and the long flexible drawtube (see the article). Jamaica needs a domestic/export VAPE TOKE UTENSIL INDUSTRY and so do numerous other nations considering “regulated” cannabis use.

  15. Addiction does not have to be horrific or lead to stealing from Girl Scouts to be addiction. As someone who knows from personal experience, for some people pot can be extremely hard to control. I had problems with it, stayed away from it for 30 years, then recently tried it again. It didn’t take too long before I was smoking it every day, unable to stop. That’s addiction.

    That said, I still believe prohibition is harmful and, of course, doesn’t work. Soon (5-10 years) it will be as legal as alcohol in America, and I will need to learn how to control my use of it. I have the same problem with alcohol, so it’s nothing new, really.

    My point is that the truth (pot is addictive for some people) does not mean it should remain illegal. Your arguments for legalization should stick to the facts.

    [Editor’s note: The word ‘addictive’ is far too fungible to have serious meaning. For many the word invokes deep cravings (i.e., “I’m a chocolaholic!”), for others it is a scientific term.

    From a pharmacological viewpoint, cannabis, unlike nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, opiates (and even caffeine) does not appear to come close to a classic definition of a drug that causes ‘addiction’ (with a pronounced period of mental and physical cravings for the drug, physical withdrawals [symptoms often include vomiting, sweating, shaking, disruptive bowel movements; difficulty sleeping, eating, concentrating] after the drug use suddenly abates).

    Heavy cannabis users who suddenly stop using the herbal drug do not often exhibit these tell tale signs of ‘drug addiction’.

    Is cell phone use addictive? Apparently so as some of the symptoms listed above have now been reported among regular cell phone users (any partner or parent has probably experienced the pain of cell phone ‘addiction’ when separating their loved ones from these…’addictive’ devices).

    Like any drug that causes a psychotropic state cannabis can be misused and abused, and the population, notably young people, should be educated about such. But, some anti-cannabis public health officials and uninformed parents do young people no good by claiming that cannabis is ‘addictive like heroin, cocaine, meth, oxycontin, tobacco, etc…’ because it simply is not from a physiological and anatomical response, certainly compared to other licit and illicit drugs.]

  16. Anyone that thinks that Cannabis is addictive, has clearly never experienced opiate withdrawals, and that is exactly why it is dangerous to tell people Cannabis is just as addictive as heroin. Here is a simple example of what I’m trying to say… Some cannabis user smokes pot for a year and then stops without much trouble, and now they think, “Gee, if that is the same as heroin, maybe I will try heroin…I don’t see why they say addiction is soo bad…..” This is why having Cannabis listed in Schedule 1 is so far from reality, and actually can cause more harm making people believe that these drugs are actually equally as dangerous, let alone to say Methamphetamine and Cocaine are actually less dangerous than cannabis is just outrageous…

  17. Tony and Editor –
    The word “addictive” is an emotional trigger, and I can see why NORML would want to make sure the public knows it’s not in the same class as heroin and other opiates. It should not be a Category I drug, no question. And I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that many people, myself included, become dependent on it emotionally and physically. When it runs out, anxiety and depression set in. Whether it’s similar to cocaine withdrawal is not the point. It doesn’t have to be as bad as heroin withdrawal to be withdrawal. I gave up smoking cigarettes 30 years ago, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Former heroin users have stated cigarettes are more addictive. I’m familiar with withdrawal from a narcotic (nicotine), so I know whereof I speak. Marijuana withdrawal is not like that, but it’s no cakewalk either.
    To say that pot is harmless is misleading: that’s my point. It’s not. For MOST people, it’s benign. For some, it can lead to abuse, dependence, and needs to be handled with caution, if at all.
    I understand the need for NORML and others in the anti-prohibition movement to dress pot up and make it wear a suit and tie, so it fits in with the rest of consumer society. Good plan. But I think it would be more honest to say it has potential for harm. I don’t believe the government should be telling me what I can put into my body. But I want to be well-informed and not misled. Make sense?

    [Editor’s note: “To say that pot is harmless is misleading” This is true…and no where in NORML’s 44 year history of public advocacy are you going to find the words ‘harmless’ and ‘marijuana’ in the same sentence. In 1970 NORML began with a pretty simple mantra: marijuana can be abused, but prohibition is worse.

    You maybe confusing NORML with anyone of a dozen other pro-cannabis law reform organizations (most of whose work NORML’s familiar with also do not claim cannabis is harmless…ACLU, DPA, MPP, LEAP, etc…).

    “I don’t believe the government should be telling me what I can put into my body. But I want to be well-informed and not misled. Make sense?”

    Sure…makes very good sense from a consumer’s point of view. Self evidently prohibition will NEVER inform the consumer of what they’re consuming. That comes about through consumer expectations, government regulation and the plaintiffs bar (ie, someone markets and sells something they claim is ‘harmless’, and plaintiff lawyers can convince judge and/or jury otherwise, wins big monetary damages, this checks reckless marketing/distribution and helps establish industry standards).

    Some of the last straw man arguments advance by prohibitionists groups to justify the continued prohibition is that reformers claim cannabis is harmless, when they don’t.

    In conclusion, again, cannabis can be misused like all psychotropic drugs, and people can abuse the substance. But, as the Merck Manual used to conclude, in effect, ‘of all the known health problems associated with cannabis use, none are unhealthier and damaging to the individual than the effect of cannabis prohibition law enforcement itself.’]

  18. Should I give up my morning hot tea and hemp milk because if I do not have my Tea I feel irritable ? No of course not: Tea makes the day ! Sure Tea is addictive; so what? Weedlady

    Vitamin B12 is not addictive; however; if you do not get adequate Vitamin B12 you will have “symptoms(irritability; nervous prob.).

    I think you confuse the word addictive with “essential”; such as “essential vitamins”; essential Cannabinoids etc. my 2c !

  19. I use MMJ basically to “improve mood/appetite.” MMJ is an herbal medicine.

    I have been doing beautifully for over 30 y.
    “sober clean tobacco free for 15 yrs. Thank-u!
    ps Marinol helps wonderfully w/MJ withdrawal.”

  20. having said all that: I will do go through a lot to make sure I have my personal supply !@@
    I do better in life way better when I have MJ.

  21. @Bob, just sticking to the facts here, when you say “It didn’t take too long before I was smoking it every day, unable to stop. That’s addiction” you are admitting that the $moking (aside from the cannabis) had something to do with the addiction problem.

    Here’s a guess: the carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion toxins in $moke dumbs down the brain, erases the ability to perceive certain anxieties, the cannabis then enables the brain to embroider this relief experience with pleasant thoughts (“I feel mellowed out” etc.).

    Try non-CO vaporizing (and prepare yourself to face down and work on the roots of the anxiety problem, with an eventual solution as your objective– this may mean writing paper or keyboard work).

  22. Mexweed –
    Boy have things changed in 30 years! So much to learn. Vaping is something I have to look into, I suppose. I am journaling, trying to work through the issues, as you suggest. After a few days away, things are back to normal, but still. I guess what prompted me to comment was my experience as a n00b (which is what I am in this new age) has been that its not as simple and carefree as the proponents of legalization sometimes make it sound. I need to do my homework, in more ways than one. Thanks for the info.

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