Archive for the ‘pot’ Category

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By Fredrick Kunkle
The Washington Post

Annapolis Police Chief Michael A. Pristoop thought he came prepared when he testified before a Maryland state Senate panel on Tuesday about the perils of legalizing marijuana.

In researching his testimony against two bills before the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Pristoop said, he had found a news article to illustrate the risks of legalization: 37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.
“When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) said in an e-mail.

Trouble is, the facts were about as close to the truth as oregano is to pot. After a quick Google search on his laptop, Raskin — the sponsor of the legalization bill that was the subject of the Senate hearing — advised the chief that the Colorado overdose story, despite its deadpan delivery, had been made up for laughs by The Daily Currant, an online comedy magazine.

“I had not seen the spoof before, but it was self-evidently a parody,” Raskin said. “In the absence of real data, Internet hoaxes are becoming marijuana Prohibition’s last stand.”

Pristoop was among more than 100 people who testified at the hearing to give their views about legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Most witnesses said they were in favor of Raskin’s bill, which would legalize marijuana and tax and regulate its distribution and use. A separate bill, sponsored by Sens. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard), would impose a civil fine of $100 for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Late Tuesday, the chief apologized for the mistake, admitting in a news release that he had been duped.

“I apologize for the information I provided concerning the deaths. I believed the information I obtained was accurate, but I now know the story is nothing more than an urban legend,” Pristoop said. “This does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization or the good work of the Maryland Chiefs and Maryland Sheriffs Associations.”

Maj. Scott Baker said the chief and the department regretted the erroneous testimony but were also trying to take the mistake in stride, with a bit of humor.

“His numbers are up in smoke,” Baker acknowledged Wednesday — a sly tip of the hat to Cheech & Chong’s 1978 stoner movie.

Here’s an excerpt from the satirical — and totally fictional — Daily Currant article that duped Pristoop:

Colorado is reconsidering its decision to legalize recreational pot following the deaths of dozens due to marijuana overdoses.

According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, 37 people were killed across the state on Jan. 1, the first day the drug became legal for all adults to purchase. Several more are clinging onto life in local emergency rooms and are not expected to survive.

“It’s complete chaos here,” says Dr. Jack Shepard, chief of surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver. “I’ve put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute.

“We are seeing cardiac arrests, hypospadias, acquired trimethylaminuria and multiple organ failures. By next week the death toll could go as high as 200, maybe 300. Someone needs to step in and stop this madness. My god, why did we legalize marijuana? What were we thinking?” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/like-wow-police-chief-is-hoaxed-on-pot-perils/2014/02/25/42bd0592-9e94-11e3-9ba6-800d1192d08b_story.html

Thanks to Da Brayn for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

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pot

by Jon Hamilton

Veterans who smoke marijuana to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder may be onto something. There’s growing evidence that pot can affect brain circuits involved in PTSD.

Experiments in animals show that tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that gives marijuana its feel-good qualities, acts on a system in the brain that is “critical for fear and anxiety modulation,” says Andrew Holmes, a researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. But he and other brain scientists caution that marijuana has serious drawbacks as a potential treatment for PTSD.

The use of marijuana for PTSD has gained national attention in the past few years as thousands of traumatized veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have asked the federal government to give them access to the drug. Also, Maine and a handful of other states have passed laws giving people with PTSD access to medical marijuana.

But there’s never been a rigorous scientific study to find out whether marijuana actually helps people with PTSD. So lawmakers and veterans groups have relied on anecdotes from people with the disorder and new research on how both pot and PTSD works in the brain.

An Overactive Fear System

When a typical person encounters something scary, the brain’s fear system goes into overdrive, says Dr. Kerry Ressler of Emory University. The heart pounds, muscles tighten. Then, once the danger is past, everything goes back to normal, he says.

But Ressler says that’s not what happens in the brain of someone with PTSD. “One way of thinking about PTSD is an overactivation of the fear system that can’t be inhibited, can’t be normally modulated,” he says.

For decades, researchers have suspected that marijuana might help people with PTSD by quieting an overactive fear system. But they didn’t understand how this might work until 2002, when scientists in Germany published a mouse study showing that the brain uses chemicals called cannabinoids to modulate the fear system, Ressler says.

There are two common sources of cannabinoids. One is the brain itself, which uses the chemicals to regulate a variety of brain cells. The other common source is Cannabis sativa, the marijuana plant.

So in recent years, researchers have done lots of experiments that involved treating traumatized mice with the active ingredient in pot, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Ressler says. And in general, he says, the mice who get THC look “less anxious, more calm, you know, many of the things that you might imagine.”

Problems with Pot

Unfortunately, THC’s effect on fear doesn’t seem to last, Ressler says, because prolonged exposure seems to make brain cells less sensitive to the chemical.

Another downside to using marijuana for PTSD is side effects, says Andrew Holmes at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “You may indeed get a reduction in anxiety,” Holmes says. “But you’re also going to get all of these unwanted effects,” including short-term memory loss, increased appetite and impaired motor skills.

So for several years now, Holmes and other scientists have been testing drugs that appear to work like marijuana, but with fewer drawbacks. Some of the most promising drugs amplify the effect of the brain’s own cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids, he says. “What’s encouraging about the effects of these endocannabinoid-acting drugs is that they may allow for long-term reductions in anxiety, in other words weeks if not months.”

The drugs work well in mice, Holmes says. But tests in people are just beginning and will take years to complete. In the meantime, researchers are learning more about how marijuana and THC affect the fear system in people.

At least one team has had success giving a single dose of THC to people during something called extinction therapy. The therapy is designed to teach the brain to stop reacting to something that previously triggered a fearful response.

The team’s study found that people who got THC during the therapy had “long-lasting reductions in anxiety, very similar to what we were seeing in our animal models,” Holmes says. So THC may be most useful when used for a short time in combination with other therapy, he says.

As studies continue to suggest that marijuana can help people with PTSD, it may be unrealistic to expect people with the disorder to wait for something better than marijuana and THC, Ressler says. “I’m a pragmatist,” he says. “I think if there are medications including drugs like marijuana that can be used in the right way, there’s an opportunity there, potentially.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/12/23/256610483/could-pot-help-veterans-with-ptsd-brain-scientists-say-maybe

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Authorities in Ohio say a man who ordered a gun safe online opened it up only to discover 280 pounds of marijuana inside.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart in western Ohio says the safe was made in Nogales, Mexico and that it was sent by truck to Ohio.

He says the marijuana has a street value of $420,000.

Federal authorities who are investigating say the truck driver who brought the shipment into the United States is now missing.

The Ohio sheriff says that truck was carrying a full shipment of safes, but none of the others contained any drugs.

He says the safe with the marijuana was delivered to Ohio in June, but authorities have kept quiet about it while they looked into how the safe got into the U.S.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/gun-safe-ohio-man-filled-marijuana-19995543