Monday, February 22, 2010

Seniors and Marijuana

Check out this article about the rising use of marijuana among senior citizens in the United States. Very interesting, a great reminder that most marijuana users are not street punks or criminals, they're executives, entrepreneurs, co-workers, mothers, fathers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and grandparents, and you would be surprised which of your neighbors use marijuana.

It would do us all good to keep in mind that these are the people a Federal Drug War declares war on--your neighbors and friends, people you often know to be righteous, devoted citizens. It's time we treat these people for what they are: responsible, consenting adults making their own educated decisions independently, just as any adult chooses to have a glass of wine after work. I can't think of anything more American than allowing each person to pursue their own destiny, so long as they are not spreading violence, hatred or theft in our society.

We cannot allow or national government to prosecute people who have found real, considerable relief from their medical symptoms via using marijuana, particularly in cases where that state's Constitution (the true will of the people) sanctions such a use. Colorado is the only state currently with such an amendment to its constitution.

I find it shocking then that the DEA chose to raid a medical lab in Denver recently that was testing the potency of medicine. and also chose to raid a medical grower in Highland's Ranch recently. The legal implications of these raids for us all as free people are immense--if the government is no longer subject to our will as it is plainly stated in our Constitution, then Democracy is destroyed and the ultimate American ideal is decaying. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the courts--it could set a very dangerous national precedent.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Name Game: What's the real scoup on Medical Marijuana strains' genetic lineage?

With so many dispensaries popping up everywhere here in Denver and other parts of Colorado, the medical market is slowly falling prey to a problem that plagued the black market for decades: We're talking, of course, about the name game.

The name game is when a retailer of cannabis simply gives the commercial pot they are selling a famous name, such as "kush" or "skunk" and many varieties on these two names. It has been used on the black market for years to move mid grade buds off the shelves.

However, this practice becomes immediately more troubling in regard to Medical Marijuana. The reason for this is that many patients suffering from severe nausea or pain truly need particular strains or genetic lines [often pure Afghanis (Indicas) work wonders for pain, for instance] in order to experience relief from their symptoms. Dispensaries mislabeling their product might result in less than adequate medicine for many patients.

As a longtime cultivator of Cannabis I find myself constantly tracking down the lineage of strains in dispensaries I visit. The benefit of my experience here comes in being familiar with the true breeder of origin [or story of origin for clone-only strains such as Chem/Dawg] for many popular strains today. Many times I become immediately aware that a strain a dispensary is selling is not what they are touting it to be.

I don't want to get into too much finger-pointing, but I will give as an example here a recent visit I made to a local organic dispensary here in Denver. While in the waiting room of this dispensary, I decided to check out their clones, which were in rockwool [I generally expect organic clones to be in peat pellets or else rapid rooter plugs]. The clones were labeled on their respective plastic domes with signs about what strains were contained and their basic genetic lineage [Indica /Sativa].

Canabis Indica Leaf Canabis Sativa leaf

The first strain I viewed made me scratch my head. The sign advertised that it was Afghani #1, then labeled it as a pure Sativa. To provide a little background here, Afghani #1 was bred by Sensi Seeds by taking their finest landrace indica varieties and inbreeding them for many generations, until a very consistent, pure result was eventually distilled, which became Afghani #1.

In a sense, Afghani #1 is considered a Landarace Indica [Also known as an IBL or Inbred Line], which means it is one of the purest Indica's on the planet. [A cannabis Landrace is a marijuana plant that has been geographically isolated from the possibility of cross-breeding with any other marijuana strain of a similar plant species., and then selectively inbred for many generations for purity and potency.]

And yet what they had in the dome was clearly a sativa dominant strain, with longer, thin leaves and long internodes. Whatever it was, this strain was in no way related to Afghani #1, which has fat, stubby indica leaves, [and incidentally is excellent for pain, as where a pure sativa like what I saw in the dome is not likely to have nearly the desired effect for a patient suffering from chronic pain].

So how does the average consumer, not familiar with genetic lineages, ever verify their medicine's true identity? The answer is research. Shop around on the net, go to breeders' websites and really thumb through their information. Keep a list of the most respected breeders in the industry, and familiarize yourself with their strains. Most of all, ASK QUESTIONS of the dispensary employee selling you the medicine.

Simply put, if that employee seems unstable with their information, they are not fit to be providing you with care, and I suggest you take your caregiver status elsewhere, with true professionals and students of marijuana strains as medicine.

I wanted to give a bump here in this blog post today (the link is below in the next paragraph) to a post made on the forum of a very respected breeder, Sensi Seeds (Holland). The post was made by an administrator to the forum, and it very clearly lays out some of the hysteria associated with bunk strain names, and the bunk perception that marijuana is somehow more potent now in the medical world than it was 25-30 years ago. This belief is not founded in any form of reality, and here's why.

I mentioned Landrace strains earlier in my post. Many Landraces have been being cultivated for hundreds of years and passed down through families for generations, constantly selectively breeding the finest specimens together until a potent, uniform version can generally be distilled from nearly every seed phenotype.

The belief that we've somehow accomplished more in 20 years of selective breeding than was accomplished in hundreds is naive at best, manipulative at worst. Check out the forum post here, and find more information on Landraces and their use in creating many of the strains you know and love, here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dispensaries and crime? Nobody's blaming banks or liquor stores....

Good morning all! It's a snowy Saturday here in Denver, but we'll try to make the best of it with some intelligent discussion. Today's topic? Medical Marijuana dispensaries and crime.
There's been a lot of talk within the community about the locations of dispensaries, and whether their presence helps to draw a criminal element to the areas they are located in. It's been asserted by opponents of these dispensaries that they are "havens" for burglary and other potentially violent crimes. With all due respect to those opinions, I must point out that the data doesn't support such assertions.

A guest commentary article within the Denver post published on December 19, 2009 (just after one robbery on a Denver dispensary) contained the following stat: "According to the Colorado Bureau Investigation, Colorado saw 3,186 robberies and 26,597 burglaries reported to law enforcement agencies in 2008. If recent crime trends hold steady, we can easily conclude that dispensary-related crimes will amount to much less than one percent [there were 12 dispensary robberies and 13 grower burglaries in Denver] last year of all robberies and burglaries reported this year."

We must consider that Colorado averaged a bank robbery nearly every other day in 2009 statistically, a dramatically higher number than dispensary robberies, before we label these viable, safe businesses as crime havens. We must also consider that traditional pharmacies were also robbed at a much higher rate than dispensaries.

And yet we see city councils buying into the hysteria provoked by both opponents of medical marijuana, and of citizens who have simply not been given access to good information. I wonder if pharmacies, selling addictive substances such as Valium [incidentally anti-anxiety medications such as Valium and Xanax as well as ADD drugs like Ritalin are the most widly abused substances in the country, particularly among teenagers and twenty-somethings now] will ever be required to provide extensive security plans in order to get the license to distribute their product?

75 years of marijuana prohibition has left much of our populace confused, misinformed, and manipulated, to a point where their ability to digest real, solid information on marijuana has degraded into a deafening unwillingness to listen and comprehend. If you point out that there has never been a recorded death from overdose OR cancer related to marijuana, they say that there hasn't been enough testing to confirm this.

But there has been extensive testing, even under President Nixon back in the 70's there was ample evidence found as to the harmlessness of marijuana. That report was simply thrown in the trash when it didn't meet up with the president's preconceived notions on pot. Test after test since that time has reaffirmed the benefits of marijuana and debunked the myths of harmfulness, all to no avail.

Andy yet most of us feel comfortable quoting the tests on what methamphetamine does to the body [and it is toxic], but yet some of us believe that this same testing has not been done on marijuana or that conclusive results have just not been found, in spite of it's existence tens of thousands of years before chemical drugs.

The truth is that much more testing has been done on pot than any other psychoactive substance beyond alcohol [again, liquor stores in Colorado were robbed at a much higher rate last year than dispensaries], but as we often see in the war on drugs, information that contradicts the DEA policy is either swept under the table or blatantly disregarded.

We must remember that the funding these officers receive to prohibit marijuana is essentially departmental income, and that in many cases these officers continue to follow outdated policies because it is the best way to protect their income.

Recent incidents such as the DEA raid on a Highland's Ranch medical grower in which the agent involved, Jeffrey Sweeten, stated
“Four-hundred-thousand dollars a year goes beyond ‘I’m just a caregiver for sick people,'" simply prove that the DEA will do virtually anything it can to protect it's drug war income.

It was up to the courts to interpret Colorado's constitution--Law enforcement's job is simply to enforce that interpretation. Whatever happened to states rights?

It is not Agent Sweeten's job to decide how much income is too much [this is America, whatever happened to the free market?], nor is it his job to interpret Colorado's Constitution by stating his belief that the constitution doesn't allow for the sale or Medical Marijuana [actually, it makes a reverse reference to it by saying that the sale of marijuana for ANY OTHER use beyond medicine is illegal explicitly implying that sale will take place].

I wonder how much of an uproar we'd hear if law enforcement started regulating how much income is too much for pharmaceutical companies [who make BILLIONS each year], or for their representatives, who on average make nearly $100,000 a year and more in selling medicine, often with vicious side effects, to doctors and hospitals.

God [whichever version you subscribe to] help us the day that we decide to let law enforcement, who are hired privately do the job of our democratically elected judicial members. This may be seen as a direct violation of the separation of powers set up by our forefathers, who were afraid of EXACTLY this type of thing.

So are marijuana dispensaries really a problem for our communities at all, or are they viable businesses paying taxes to struggling city tax bases while working within the legal limits of the law? I believe the evidence is clear, though each is entitled to their own opinion, so I'd love to hear from you on your beliefs.

Marijuana dispensaries provide a safe, legal network for people using marijuana as a medicine, and in the process they beat back the black market and it's potential for violence / crime, keeping marijuana out of the hands of underage potential users, and giving the government it's due in tax revenue for sales that ten years ago were 100% black market and tax free. All while providing sick and dying people a viable option to the understandably dangerous black market [alcohol prohibition spawned the mafia, after all].

Deficit-strapped Colorado can no longer afford prohibition of the sale of this medicine. Dispensaries are necessary to this process- if too many pop up, the free market will decide who stays and who goes. Trying to regulate this market in a way that is not universally applied to other markets such as pharmaceuticals is beneath the dignity of our free society. I wish all the best to each and every one of you each and every day, and I hope this information is helpful to you in deciding where you stand on this issue--ShortySmalz.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome to COLORFUL Colorado

With so much going on these days in the Colorado Medical Marijuana community, we figured it was high time (no pun intended) that someone started covering it from the caregiver's point of view.

Throughout each post we (HC3) will attempt to add a voice of reason into the volatile conversation surrounding medical marijuana in Colorado and the United States as a whole.

We believe that everyone has something to add to the conversation, and we hope you will share your thoughts here in our blog (note: hostile or demeaning comments are not welcome and will be deleted out of respect to all community members).

HC3 brings over 10 years of experience to the table in dealing with marijuana and it's medicinal properties, both as patients and as care providers. We specialize in soil organic gardening and seek to provide the highest quality medicine to our patients at a reasonable, fair cost.

We also seek to provide the most extensive and understandable information to all patients.
Marijuana is not like other medicines-- like many plants, it has thousands of varieties, each with it's own specific taste, smell, growth characteristics, flowering time, and most of all its own effect. In future articles we will try to lay out the full spectrum of medical marijuana types (i.e. Indica's versus Sativas versus Hybrids), and will also feature strains that have specific medicinal traits that are appealing to various patients' conditions.

Follow our blog for more updates on the daily happenings around Colorado and also to learn much much more about marijuana without all the fear-mongered fiction that has dominated the conversation for the last 75 years or so. Peace :)