A Response to “Going to Pot” by Roxanne Khamsi

By Clint Werner, author of “Marijuana Gateway to Health”

In the June 2013 issue of Scientific American, “Science of Health” columnist Roxanne Khamsi wrote a surprisingly unscientific and biased piece on the health ramifications of legalizing marijuana that was sadly tainted with residue from last century’s reefer madness campaign. The title of the piece itself, “Going to Pot” is a loaded term that confers a negative association on the subject via cultural symbolism having nothing to do with the reality of what science is telling us about marijuana and how it affects the human organism and society. First, Ms. Khamsi is mistaken when she writes that doctors “may prescribe marijuana to treat or manage ailments.” In states with medical marijuana provisions, physicians write recommendations for their patients that allow access to dispensaries or cultivation cooperatives. Ms. Khamsi then asserts that “the safety of recreational use is poorly understood” and that “researchers worry that both short- and long-term use of the drug may harm the body and mind.” Researchers who are up-to-date on the science of marijuana have no such concerns regarding adult use. In terms of harming the body, recent research has revealed that regular use of marijuana actually seems to improve physical health. Population studies have shown that regular marijuana users have a reduced risk for developing lung cancer (Hashibe, Cancer Epidemiological, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2006), head and neck cancers (Liang, Cancer Prevention Research, 2009), bladder cancer (Thomas, American Urological Association meeting, 2013), lymphomas (Holly, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1999), as well as diabetes (Rajavashisth, BMJ Open, 2012). The diabetes protection data from the enormous NHANES report also revealed that subjects who smoked marijuana three times per week had a profound (> 50%) reduction in their blood levels of C reactive protein, a inflammation marker for heart disease, indicating that they experienced significant protection from developing cardiac disease. Research also revealed that regular, moderate marijuana smokers have improved lung function compared to non-marijuana smokers with no risk for developing COPD (Pletcher, JAMA, 2012). National Institute of Drug Abuse pulmonary researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin has said that he now endorses legalization since there is no basis for concern about the substance’s negative effects on lung function. Given the nearly century-long reefer madness campaign waged with untold billions of government dollars, it is hard for people to grasp that a denigrated and criminalized substance could have such positive health effects, especially when smoked, but science trumps myth and superstition with evidence. In terms of mental health, a just-published paper reports that “marijuana use consistently buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion” (Deckman, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2013), which could be one of the reasons that researchers found a truly startling drop in suicides, especially among young adult men, following the enactment of state medical marijuana laws (Anderson, IDEAS, 2012). Other research has shown that marijuana’s anti-depressant effects could be the result of neurogenesis, the production of healthy and functional new brain cells, which is promoted by the cannabinoids in marijuana (Jiang, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005). Another recently-published study found that “mortality risk was lower in cannabis users than in non-cannabis users with psychotic disorders” (Koola, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2013), indicating that marijuana is a beneficial treatment for mental problems rather than, as increasingly inferred, a causative agent. In attempting to explain the activity of marijuana’s cannabinoid molecules on the endocannabinoid receptors, Ms. Khamsi once again employs loaded language to imply a negative effect, writing that THC “triggers domino chains” which implies a collapse of order and function rather than an alteration in order and function, which is what is truly occurring. Ms. Khamsi then frets that using marijuana impairs “working memory.” Yes marijuana alters mental functioning; it shifts the mind into a blissful euphoria that redirects thought from the ordered and analytical to the relaxed and free-association style of thought that characterizes relaxation and insight. And unlike alcohol, which serves a similar function of quieting the work day mental noise, marijuana is not carcinogenic or lethal. Ms. Khamsi expresses the understandable concern that marijuana users will make our roadways more dangerous but this is not supported by data that shows us what actually happens when legal restrictions are eased. A comprehensive review of data from states with medical marijuana laws found that enactment of the laws led to a significant drop in traffic accident deaths by allowing for marijuana to substitute for alcohol, a far more impairing substance. Traffic accident fatalities dropped by 9 percent in medical marijuana states. (Anderson, pending publication in the Journal of Law and Economics, 2013). That is essentially the same level of protection afforded by the passage of mandatory sea belt laws and by increasing the age for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 years. According to research conducted by the automobile insurance company 4autoinsurance.com, marijuana users are safe drivers because, unlike alcohol drinkers, they are aware of their level of impairment and either refuse to drive, delay driving or drive more carefully than normal by reducing speed and not changing lanes. Regular marijuana users showed far less evidence of impairment than did novice and occasional users. Impairment testing is the only way to effectively police for marijuana-impaired drivers without ruining the lives of people who pose no threat on the roadways. The cannabinoid CBD steers THC away from the CB1 receptor, thus dulling or nullifying the mind-altering effects, but CBD does not reduce THC levels in the blood. Therefore, a driver using a high CBD strain of marijuana could test over the THC limit while experiencing no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Consequently, effective and fair impairment assessment techniques will need to be developed. Ms. Khamsi then returns to the health effects of marijuana, but ignores the previously cited benefits of reduced risks for developing numerous cancers, diabetes and other inflammation- and oxidation-based degenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. She then refers to the recent study of data from New Zealand that indicates that teenagers who use marijuana heavily have up to an 8 percent drop in IQ points. Those results were called into question upon review but still indicate a disturbing effect of heavy marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain. Neurologist Dr. Gary Wenk, who has written “a puff is enough” to protect the adult brain from age-related dementia, says that the effect of marijuana on a developing brain, especially in those under 15 years of age, is impairing. Regular use of marijuana by teens may also interfere with social and professional skill development by monopolizing the time and consciousness of teens that enjoy it. Ms. Khamsi correctly notes that black market marijuana is sometimes contaminated with “sand or glass beads” which are far more harmful to the user than cannabis itself. Black market marijuana is also frequently contaminated with insecticides not intended for use on plants that are consumed. Some of these products are neurotoxic and, ironically, may induce neurodegenerative illnesses by interfering with the functions of the endocannabinoid system. (Casida, Annual Review of Entomolgy, 2013) Smuggled marijuana is also stale and often riddled with mold. Given these threats to heavy teenage users, the question needs to be asked: How do we best reduce access to marijuana, especially the most harmful forms of marijuana, by teenagers? One study suggests that multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is the most effective approach for treating teenagers with what is termed “cannabis use disorder” (Rigter, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2012). MDFT essentially reestablishes parental authority and time management in teens’ lives. If parents remain involved in all aspects of their teenage children’s lives, MDFT would not be necessary to correct a deficit in parenting. The best way to prevent teenage substance abuse is for parents to rigorously monitor and guide their children’s activities. By doing this, parents might not prevent experimentation but they can create an environment where regular access to and use of marijuana is impossible. Shrinking and killing off the black market via legalization and regulation can assist parents in this task, by making marijuana more difficult for teens to obtain. Dealers do not card and taking marijuana away from the illicit drug black market will also protect teens from the multiple drug offerings of those dealers. If teens do obtain marijuana on the sly, at least, having been diverted from legal and tested supplies, it will be less likely to be contaminated with more harmful substances. Commercial medical marijuana venders such as Harborside Health Center, which Khamsi mentioned, contract with growers and test their marijuana for safety and potency. Legalization transforms marijuana cultivators from shady criminals into proud artisans. And despite the possible risk of heavy marijuana use to teenagers’ cognition, a study of adolescent binge drinkers found that those who used marijuana suffered significantly less alcohol-related brain damage than the booze-only drinkers (Jacobus, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2009). Consider the irony: Marijuana protects the brains of booze binge drinkers. Ms. Khamsi also mentions increases in emergency room visits and those seeking treatment for marijuana use. The emergency room statistic most frequently cited by opponents of legalization involve the detection of marijuana use via urinalysis, a method that only indicates if marijuana has been used within the last two to four weeks, therefore the data does not indicate that marijuana use caused the emergency room visit. It merely indicates that more people seem to be using marijuana overall (DAWN Drug Abuse Warning Network, HHS, 2008). In fact, two studies have found direct associations between marijuana use and a decrease in emergency room visits (Vinson, Missouri Medicine, 2006 and Gmel, BMC Public Health 9, 2009). The BMC study found that “relative risks decreased with increasing levels of use,” in other words, when more marijuana was used, fewer injuries occurred. This might seem odd until one recalls that a cannabinoid-blocking drug (rimonabant) was rejected for approval by the FDA due to its side-effects, which included an increase in accidents and injuries. Given that smoking marijuana reduces our risks for developing various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-based illnesses along with depression, suicidal tendencies and alcohol-caused traffic accidents, shouldn’t it’s use by adults be encouraged and safe, legal outlets be established? Science has spoken.

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A Response to “Going to Pot” by Roxanne Khamsi

By Clint Werner, author of “Marijuana Gateway to Health” In the June 2013 issue of Scientific American, “Science of Health” columnist Roxanne Khamsi wrote a surprisingly unscientific and biased piece on the health ramifications of legalizing marijuana that was sadly tainted with residue from last century’s reefer madness campaign. The title of the piece itself, “Going to Pot” is a loaded term that confers a negative association on the subject via cultural symbolism having nothing to do with the reality of what science is telling us about marijuana and how it affects the human organism and society. First, Ms. Khamsi is mistaken when she writes that doctors “may prescribe marijuana to treat or manage ailments.” In states with medical marijuana provisions, physicians write recommendations for their patients that allow access to dispensaries or cultivation cooperatives. Ms. Khamsi then asserts that “the safety of recreational use is poorly understood” and that “researchers worry that both short- and long-term use of the drug may harm the body and mind.” Researchers who are up-to-date on the science of marijuana have no such concerns regarding adult use. In terms of harming the body, recent research has revealed that regular use of marijuana actually seems to improve physical health. Population studies have shown that regular marijuana users have a reduced risk for developing lung cancer (Hashibe, Cancer Epidemiological, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2006), head and neck cancers (Liang, Cancer Prevention Research, 2009), bladder cancer (Thomas, American Urological Association meeting, 2013), lymphomas (Holly, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1999), as well as diabetes (Rajavashisth, BMJ Open, 2012). The diabetes protection data from the enormous NHANES report also revealed that subjects who smoked marijuana three times per week had a profound (> 50%) reduction in their blood levels of C reactive protein, a inflammation marker for heart disease, indicating that they experienced significant protection from developing cardiac disease. Research also revealed that regular, moderate marijuana smokers have improved lung function compared to non-marijuana smokers with no risk for developing COPD (Pletcher, JAMA, 2012). National Institute of Drug Abuse pulmonary researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin has said that he now endorses legalization since there is no basis for concern about the substance’s negative effects on lung function. Given the nearly century-long reefer madness campaign waged with untold billions of government dollars, it is hard for people to grasp that a denigrated and criminalized substance could have such positive health effects, especially when smoked, but science trumps myth and superstition with evidence. In terms of mental health, a just-published paper reports that “marijuana use consistently buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion” (Deckman, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2013), which could be one of the reasons that researchers found a truly startling drop in suicides, especially among young adult men, following the enactment of state medical marijuana laws (Anderson, IDEAS, 2012). Other research has shown that marijuana’s anti-depressant effects could be the result of neurogenesis, the production of healthy and functional new brain cells, which is promoted by the cannabinoids in marijuana (Jiang, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005). Another recently-published study found that “mortality risk was lower in cannabis users than in non-cannabis users with psychotic disorders” (Koola, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2013), indicating that marijuana is a beneficial treatment for mental problems rather than, as increasingly inferred, a causative agent. In attempting to explain the activity of marijuana’s cannabinoid molecules on the endocannabinoid receptors, Ms. Khamsi once again employs loaded language to imply a negative effect, writing that THC “triggers domino chains” which implies a collapse of order and function rather than an alteration in order and function, which is what is truly occurring. Ms. Khamsi then frets that using marijuana impairs “working memory.” Yes marijuana alters mental functioning; it shifts the mind into a blissful euphoria that redirects thought from the ordered and analytical to the relaxed and free-association style of thought that characterizes relaxation and insight. And unlike alcohol, which serves a similar function of quieting the work day mental noise, marijuana is not carcinogenic or lethal. Ms. Khamsi expresses the understandable concern that marijuana users will make our roadways more dangerous but this is not supported by data that shows us what actually happens when legal restrictions are eased. A comprehensive review of data from states with medical marijuana laws found that enactment of the laws led to a significant drop in traffic accident deaths by allowing for marijuana to substitute for alcohol, a far more impairing substance. Traffic accident fatalities dropped by 9 percent in medical marijuana states. (Anderson, pending publication in the Journal of Law and Economics, 2013). That is essentially the same level of protection afforded by the passage of mandatory sea belt laws and by increasing the age for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 years. According to research conducted by the automobile insurance company 4autoinsurance.com, marijuana users are safe drivers because, unlike alcohol drinkers, they are aware of their level of impairment and either refuse to drive, delay driving or drive more carefully than normal by reducing speed and not changing lanes. Regular marijuana users showed far less evidence of impairment than did novice and occasional users. Impairment testing is the only way to effectively police for marijuana-impaired drivers without ruining the lives of people who pose no threat on the roadways. The cannabinoid CBD steers THC away from the CB1 receptor, thus dulling or nullifying the mind-altering effects, but CBD does not reduce THC levels in the blood. Therefore, a driver using a high CBD strain of marijuana could test over the THC limit while experiencing no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Consequently, effective and fair impairment assessment techniques will need to be developed. Ms. Khamsi then returns to the health effects of marijuana, but ignores the previously cited benefits of reduced risks for developing numerous cancers, diabetes and other inflammation- and oxidation-based degenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. She then refers to the recent study of data from New Zealand that indicates that teenagers who use marijuana heavily have up to an 8 percent drop in IQ points. Those results were called into question upon review but still indicate a disturbing effect of heavy marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain. Neurologist Dr. Gary Wenk, who has written “a puff is enough” to protect the adult brain from age-related dementia, says that the effect of marijuana on a developing brain, especially in those under 15 years of age, is impairing. Regular use of marijuana by teens may also interfere with social and professional skill development by monopolizing the time and consciousness of teens that enjoy it. Ms. Khamsi correctly notes that black market marijuana is sometimes contaminated with “sand or glass beads” which are far more harmful to the user than cannabis itself. Black market marijuana is also frequently contaminated with insecticides not intended for use on plants that are consumed. Some of these products are neurotoxic and, ironically, may induce neurodegenerative illnesses by interfering with the functions of the endocannabinoid system. (Casida, Annual Review of Entomolgy, 2013) Smuggled marijuana is also stale and often riddled with mold. Given these threats to heavy teenage users, the question needs to be asked: How do we best reduce access to marijuana, especially the most harmful forms of marijuana, by teenagers? One study suggests that multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is the most effective approach for treating teenagers with what is termed “cannabis use disorder” (Rigter, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2012). MDFT essentially reestablishes parental authority and time management in teens’ lives. If parents remain involved in all aspects of their teenage children’s lives, MDFT would not be necessary to correct a deficit in parenting. The best way to prevent teenage substance abuse is for parents to rigorously monitor and guide their children’s activities. By doing this, parents might not prevent experimentation but they can create an environment where regular access to and use of marijuana is impossible. Shrinking and killing off the black market via legalization and regulation can assist parents in this task, by making marijuana more difficult for teens to obtain. Dealers do not card and taking marijuana away from the illicit drug black market will also protect teens from the multiple drug offerings of those dealers. If teens do obtain marijuana on the sly, at least, having been diverted from legal and tested supplies, it will be less likely to be contaminated with more harmful substances. Commercial medical marijuana venders such as Harborside Health Center, which Khamsi mentioned, contract with growers and test their marijuana for safety and potency. Legalization transforms marijuana cultivators from shady criminals into proud artisans. And despite the possible risk of heavy marijuana use to teenagers’ cognition, a study of adolescent binge drinkers found that those who used marijuana suffered significantly less alcohol-related brain damage than the booze-only drinkers (Jacobus, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2009). Consider the irony: Marijuana protects the brains of booze binge drinkers. Ms. Khamsi also mentions increases in emergency room visits and those seeking treatment for marijuana use. The emergency room statistic most frequently cited by opponents of legalization involve the detection of marijuana use via urinalysis, a method that only indicates if marijuana has been used within the last two to four weeks, therefore the data does not indicate that marijuana use caused the emergency room visit. It merely indicates that more people seem to be using marijuana overall (DAWN Drug Abuse Warning Network, HHS, 2008). In fact, two studies have found direct associations between marijuana use and a decrease in emergency room visits (Vinson, Missouri Medicine, 2006 and Gmel, BMC Public Health 9, 2009). The BMC study found that “relative risks decreased with increasing levels of use,” in other words, when more marijuana was used, fewer injuries occurred. This might seem odd until one recalls that a cannabinoid-blocking drug (rimonabant) was rejected for approval by the FDA due to its side-effects, which included an increase in accidents and injuries. Given that smoking marijuana reduces our risks for developing various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-based illnesses along with depression, suicidal tendencies and alcohol-caused traffic accidents, shouldn’t it’s use by adults be encouraged and safe, legal outlets be established? Science has spoken.

Marijuana protects the brain from Alzheimer's disease better than any available drugs

News Release

Marijuana's Active Ingredient Shown to Inhibit Primary Marker of Alzheimer's Disease

Discovery Could Lead to More Effective Treatments

LA JOLLA, CA, August 9, 2006 - Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the study said, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.

The study was published online August 9 in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

According to the new Scripps Research study, which used both computer modeling and biochemical assays, THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which acts as a "molecular chaperone" to accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer victims. Although experts disagree on whether the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in those areas critical to memory and cognition is a symptom or cause, it remains a significant hallmark of the disease. With its strong inhibitory abilities, the study said, THC "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease" that would treat "both the symptoms and progression" of the disease.

"While we are certainly not advocating the use of illegal drugs, these findings offer convincing evidence that THC possesses remarkable inhibitory qualities, especially when compared to AChE inhibitors currently available to patients," said Kim Janda, Ph.D., who is Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, and director of the Worm Institute of Research and Medicine. "In a test against propidium, one of the most effective inhibitors reported to date, THC blocked AChE-induced aggregation completely, while the propidium did not. Although our study is far from final, it does show that there is a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer's disease."

As the new study points out, any new treatment that could halt or even slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease would have a major impact on the quality of life for patients, as well as reducing the staggering health care costs associated with the disease.

Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and the numbers are growing. The Alzheimer's Association estimates 4.5 million Americans have the disease, a figure that could reach as high as 16 million by 2050. A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics noted that half of all nursing home residents have Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder. The costs of caring for Alzheimer's patients are at least $100 billion annually, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Over the last two decades, the causes of Alzheimer's disease have been clarified through extensive biochemical and neurobiological studies, leading to an assortment of possible therapeutic strategies including interference with beta amyloid metabolism, the focus of the Scripps Research study.

The cholinergic system - the nerve cell system in the brain that uses acetylcholine (Ach) as a neurotransmitter - is the most dramatic of the neurotransmitter systems affected by Alzheimer's disease. Levels of acetylcholine, which was first identified in 1914, are abnormally low in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Currently, there are four FDA-approved drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by inhibiting the active site of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the degradation of acetylcholine.

"When we investigated the power of THC to inhibit the aggregation of beta-amyloid," Janda said, "we found that THC was a very effective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. In addition to propidium, we also found that THC was considerably more effective than two of the approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease treatment, donepezil (Aricept ®) and tacrine (Cognex ®), which reduced amyloid aggregation by only 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively, at twice the concentration used in our studies. Our results are conclusive enough to warrant further investigation."

A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology

Using marijuana is your best bet for avoiding the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. And you don't have to use enough to get stoned, used as a preventative, one puff is enough to protect the brain from the inflammation and changes that lead to Alzheimer's dementia. A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology                                                       Lisa M. Eubanks,† Claude J. Rogers,† Albert E. Beuscher, IV,‡ George F. Koob,§ Arthur J. Olson,‡ Tobin J. Dickerson,† and Kim D. Janda corresponding author†

:Abstract: Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer's disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years. Consequently, the development of treatments that slow or halt the disease progression have become imperative to both improve the quality of life for patients as well as reduce the health care costs attributable to Alzheimer's disease. Here, we demonstrate that the active component of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC, competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase AChE as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid β-peptide Aβ aggregation, the key pathological marker of Alzheimer's disease. Computational modeling of the THC-AChE interaction revealed that THC binds in the peripheral anionic site of AChE, the critical region involved in amyloidgenesis. Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.Keywords: Cannabinoids, Alzheimer's disease, Acetylcholinesterase

via A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology.

zp8497586rq

A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology

Using marijuana is your best bet for avoiding the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. And you don't have to use enough to get stoned, used as a preventative, one puff is enough to protect the brain from the inflammation and changes that lead to Alzheimer's dementia. A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology                                                       Lisa M. Eubanks,† Claude J. Rogers,† Albert E. Beuscher, IV,‡ George F. Koob,§ Arthur J. Olson,‡ Tobin J. Dickerson,† and Kim D. Janda corresponding author†

:Abstract: Alzheimer's disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer's disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years. Consequently, the development of treatments that slow or halt the disease progression have become imperative to both improve the quality of life for patients as well as reduce the health care costs attributable to Alzheimer's disease. Here, we demonstrate that the active component of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC, competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase AChE as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid β-peptide Aβ aggregation, the key pathological marker of Alzheimer's disease. Computational modeling of the THC-AChE interaction revealed that THC binds in the peripheral anionic site of AChE, the critical region involved in amyloidgenesis. Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.Keywords: Cannabinoids, Alzheimer's disease, Acetylcholinesterase

via A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology.

Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation ... [J Neurooncol. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI

This is an important study because it shows that the naturally-occurring cannabinoid molecule THC was safer, and more effective against cancer cells than was a synthetic cannabinoid, WIN 55,212-2. Yet researchers are discouraged from using cannabinoids from marijuana in lieu of the synthetic ones, because good findings about THC might "send the wrong message to young people." So now young people are getting a hold of far more dangerous synthetic cannabinoids and using them recreationally...the Law of Unintended Consequences. Neurooncol. 2005 Aug;741:31-40.Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells.McAllister SD, Chan C, Taft RJ, Luu T, Abood ME, Moore DH, Aldape K, Yount G.  Abstract: Normal tissue toxicity limits the efficacy of current treatment modalities for glioblastoma multiforme GBM. We evaluated the influence of cannabinoids on cell proliferation, death, and morphology of human GBM cell lines and in primary human glial cultures, the normal cells from which GBM tumors arise. The influence of a plant derived cannabinoid agonist, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol Delta9-THC, and a potent synthetic cannabinoid agonist, WIN 55,212-2, were compared using time lapse microscopy. We discovered that Delta9-THC decreases cell proliferation and increases cell death of human GBM cells more rapidly than WIN 55,212-2. Delta9-THC was also more potent at inhibiting the proliferation of GBM cells compared to WIN 55,212-2. The effects of Delta9-THC and WIN 55,212-2 on the GBM cells were partially the result of cannabinoid receptor activation. The same concentration of Delta9-THC that significantly inhibits proliferation and increases death of human GBM cells has no significant impact on human primary glial cultures. Evidence of selective efficacy with WIN 55,212-2 was also observed but the selectivity was less profound, and the synthetic agonist produced a greater disruption of normal cell morphology compared to Delta9-THC.PMID: 16078104 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

via Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation ... [J Neurooncol. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI.

Is Cannabis Really That Bad?

Here is a fairly well-balanced look at what marijuana does and what, if any, risks there are from using it. Of course the author is a bit conservative when addressing the possible benefits, downplaying or dismissing them somewhat, but the evidence is solid, regular use of marijuana improves health more than it harms health. The Scientist Is Cannabis Really That Bad? Though some studies point to negative consequences of pot use in adolescents, data on marijuana’s dangers are mixed.

By Sabrina Richards | January 23, 2013

Marijuana is a tricky drug, alternately demonized as a gateway drug and lionized for its medical promise. And while the juries remain out on both sides of the coin, one thing is clear: its use is on the rise. According to the US Department of Human Health and Services, the number of people in the United States who admit to smoking pot in the last month climbed from 14.4 million in 2007 to over 18 million in 2011.

This increase may in part be due to the lack of strong evidence supporting the suspected risks of cannabis use. Indeed, though marijuana smoke carries carcinogens and tar just as tobacco smoke does, definitive data linking marijuana to lung damage is lacking. And a recent long-term study that seemed to conclusively link chronic marijuana initiated in adolescence to a lowered IQ in New Zealanders was quickly challenged by a counter-analysis that pointed to socioeconomic status as a confounding factor. According to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cannabis use increases in teenagers as marijuana’s perceived risks decline, and researchers—and undoubtedly some parents—are anxious to get to the bottom of the matter.

Take a deep breath

In 2012, a study at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) calculated that even smoking a single joint every day for 20 years might be benign, though most participants only smoked two or three joints each month. “I was surprised we didn’t see effects [of marijuana use],” said UCSF epidemiologist Mark Pletcher, who led the study.

One assessment of various epidemiological studies points to small sample size and poor study design as reasons for scientists’ inability to nail down a link between cannabis and cancer risk. But some suspect that such a link doesn’t exist, and that marijuana may even have cancer-preventive effects. A 2008 study, for example, suggested that smoking marijuana may reduce the risk of tobacco-associated lung cancer, calculating that people who smoke both marijuana and tobacco have a lower risk of cancer than those who smoke only tobacco (though still a higher risk than non-smokers).

But even Pletcher isn’t sanguine about marijuana’s effects on the lungs, and suspects that there may still be long-term lung damage that can be hard to detect. “We really can’t reassure ourselves about heavy use,” he explained.

Your brain on drugs

There is some evidence to suggest that stoned subjects exhibit increased risk-taking and impaired decision-making, and score worse on memory tasks—and residual impairments have been detected days or even weeks after use. Some studies also link years of regular marijuana use to deficits in memory, learning, and concentration. A recent and widely discussed report on the IQs of New Zealanders followed since birth found that cannabis users who’d started their habit in adolescence had lower IQs than non-users.

In this study, led by researchers at Duke University, “you could clearly see as a consequence of cannabis use, IQ goes down,” said Derik Hermann, a clinical neuroscientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany who was not involved in the research.

But not 4 months later, a re-analysis and computer simulation at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo countered the Duke findings. Ole Rogeberg contended that socioeconomic factors, not marijuana use, contributed to the lower IQs seen in cannabis users.

Rogeberg’s conclusion counters a sizeable literature, however, which supports a link between pot use and neurophysiological decline. Studies in both humans and animals suggest that people who acquiring a marijuana habit in adolescence face long-term negative impacts on brain function, with some users finding it difficult to concentrate and learn new tasks.

Notably, most studies on the subject suggest that while there may be negative consequences of smoking as a teen, users who begin in adulthood are generally unaffected. This may be due to endocannabinoid-directed reorganization of the brain during puberty, Hermann explained. The intake of cannabinoids that comes with pot use may cause irreversible “misleading of the neural growth,” he said.

In addition to the consequences for intelligence, many studies suggest that smoking marijuana raises the risk of schizophrenia, and may have similar effects on the brain. Hermann’s group used MRI to detect cannabis-associated neuron damage in the pre-frontal cortex and found that it was similar to brain changes seen in schizophrenia patients. Other studies further suggest that weed-smoking schizophrenics have greater disease-associated brain changes and perform worse on cognitive tests than their non-smoking counterparts.

But much of this research can’t distinguish between brain changes resulting from marijuana use and symptoms associated with the disease. It’s possible that cannabis-smoking schizophrenics “might have unpleasant symptoms [that precede full-blown schizophrenia] and are self-medicating” with the psychotropic drug, said Roland Lamarine, a professor of community health at California State University, Chico. “We haven’t seen an increase in schizophrenics, even with a lot more marijuana use.”

In fact, other research suggests that cannabis-using schizophrenics score better on cognitive tests than non-using schizophrenics. Such conflicting reports may be due to the varying concentrations—and varying effects—of cannabinoids in marijuana. In addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a neurotoxic cannabinoid that is responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering properties, the drug also contains a variety of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), which can protect against neuron damage. Hermann found that the volume of the hippocampus—a brain area important for memory processing—is slightly smaller in cannabis users than in non-users, but more CBD-rich marijuana countered this effect.

A deadly cocktail?

While data supporting the harmful effects of marijuana on its own are weak, some researchers are more worried about the drug in conjunction with other substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine. Some studies suggest, for example, that marijuana may increase cravings for other drugs, leading to its infamous tag as a “gateway drug.” A study published earlier this month supported this theory when it found that, at least in rats, THC exposure increases tobacco’s addictive effects. Furthermore, marijuana may not mix well with prescription drugs, as cannabis causes the liver to metabolize drugs more slowly, raising the risk of drug toxicity.

Despite these concerns, however, Lamarine thinks it’s unlikely that the consequences of cannabis use are dire, given the amount of research that has focused on the subject. “We’re not going to wake up tomorrow to the big discovery that marijuana causes major brain damage,” he said. “We would have seen that by now.”

NIDA capitulates to science

I just visited the National Institute on Drug Abuse's web site for Drug Fact Awareness Week in order to find out what "facts" they are citing about marijuana. I have to say I'm fairly impressed that, unlike the vast bulk of the prohibitionist activists and institutions, NIDA has incorporated some of the undeniable science into its presentation. Gone are the warnings of lung cancer and emphysema as well as the dire warnings about brain damage and other degenerative maladies. This is big news, for years the agency has promulgated to notion that using marijuana triggers a sort of chain reaction of physical and mental degeneration, but now science has shown that in fact, the opposite is true. Ingesting marijuana actually triggers a chain reaction of health enhancement--physical and mental by supplementing our natural health-building compounds, the endocannabinoids. In terms of steering teens away from marijuana (which is a good idea for reasons I discuss in Chapter 19 of Marijuana Gateway to Health) NIDA now " Emphasizes three essential messages about smoking marijuana: it is addictive, it can lead to school failure, and it impairs driving." I agree with the last two and take issue with the claim that marijuana is "addictive." This depends on how one defines addiction. If one looks at how cocaine, alcohol and heroin addict users, marijuana does not conform to this model. In fact what are cited as symptoms of marijuana withdrawal in some chronic users who cease ingesting cannabis sound suspiciously like the adverse symptoms experienced by subjects in a clinical trial of a CB1 cannabinoid receptor-blocking drug--rimonabant. When this cannabinoid receptor antagonist (blocking agent) was administered to the test subjects, they experienced significant increases in anxiety, insomnia, depression, panic attacks, anorexia, suicides, accidents and other problems. So if you have a person who has an endocannabinoid deficiency, due to a lack of production of endocannabinoids or due to their too rapid deterioration and they are benefiting from supplemental cannabinoids through smoking or otherwise ingesting the plant or its extracts and they are suddenly deprived of those supplemental compounds, are they addicted in what has unfortunately become the criminal nature of the term? The physical symptoms cited as marijuana withdrawal sound very much like subtle versions of the ailments caused by blocking the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor. Is it possible that the body is therefore reacting negatively to a decrease in healthful levels of a beneficial compound?Certainly in teens, marijuana use can result in undesirable habituation. I earlier discussed how the wonderful effects of marijuana on relieving the sense of the mundane and heightening novelty can create a harmful, limiting obsession with using it in teens whose brains are intensely primed to seek out novelty and how these effects can interfere with the evolutionary/cultural goals of continuing to seek novelty which is part of the maturation and developmental process. In other words, since marijuana so easily provides novelty, it can thus short circuit novelty-seeking behavior which expands social circles and moves the teen away from the family home. Prohibition amplifies this stunting effect by pushing teen users into outlaw cliques which tend to attenuate broader social contacts. This is a psychological habituation rather than the type of gripping physical addiction one finds with tobacco, coffee, cocaine and opiates. The effects of marijuana can indeed impair learning and lead to school failure. Of course being arrested for marijuana and taken to juvenile hall or jail could also create an impediment to learning and achievement, one far more harmful than using cannabis. And as far as driving impaired is concerned, it is definitely more dangerous for teens because: a) they have had less time to become skilled users of marijuana (regular users of marijuana show little to no impairment on most tasks while high) b) their driving skills are still inadequate for the same reason, not enough time behind the wheel to be effective in challenging and unexpected situations. Combine these two deficits and there could be trouble. The amplified risk-taking behavior can encourage a teen to drive while too high whereas an adult would know when to say "no." This is one principal way in which driving high differs from driving drunk. Marijuana smokers tend to know when they are too impaired to drive and refuse to take the wheel or they drive with far more caution than normal, where as drunks suffer from a serious impairment in judgement that masks their self-awareness of impairment. This is not the case with teens whose brains are geared toward the emotional and exciting rather than the rational and sensible. It is good to see the death throws of official reefer madness policy, now as more science is generated, perhaps NIDA will continue to edit its message to reflect reality and realize that it is no longer necessary to preserve the inhumane policy of destroying the lives of those who enjoy using and or growing marijuana. A logical question an opponent might pose is: But isn't there an opiate receptor system and does that mean that junkies have an opiate deficiency such as you mention for marijuana? The difference is that the endocannabinoid system has a much broader scope of activity than does the opiate receptor system and I am unaware of any data indicating that supplemental opiates help to discourage the rise of numerous degenerative illnesses as cannabinoids do. It seems that opiate addiction results from an overloading of the system with these compounds, which recall can ultimately result in death. Excess cannabinoids just seem to make most things better in terms of health.

Correlations between cannabis use a... [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI

Now we see that the so-called research that the opponents of marijuana legalization were touting as "definitive proof" that marijuana use damages teen brains has been revealed as bogus with flawed methodology and deceptive causal inference drawn from premature evidence. The review of the pseudo-scientific deceit found that "the true effect (of marijuana on teen cognition) could be zero." So how did the original research team come up with such flawed results? By tailoring the study's parameters and subject population and protocol to give them the results they wanted. Why? Because bad science on marijuana gets excellent funding. With the turn in public opinion and the move by the first two states to legalize marijuana, be prepared to hear more and more desperate assertions drawn from bogus research in a pitiful effort to hide the truth about marijuana and how it benefits human health. 2013 Jan 14. [Epub ahead of print]

Correlations between cannabis use and IQ change in the Dunedin cohort are consistent with confounding from socioeconomic status.

Rogeberg O.

Abstract

Does cannabis use have substantial and permanent effects on neuropsychological functioning? Renewed and intense attention to the issue has followed recent research on the Dunedin cohort, which found a positive association between, on the one hand, adolescent-onset cannabis use and dependence and, on the other hand, a decline in IQ from childhood to adulthood [Meier et al. (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(40):E2657-E2664]. The association is given a causal interpretation by the authors, but existing research suggests an alternative confounding model based on time-varying effects of socioeconomic status on IQ. A simulation of the confounding model reproduces the reported associations from the Dunedin cohort, suggesting that the causal effects estimated in Meier et al. are likely to be overestimates, and that the true effect could be zero. Further analyses of the Dunedin cohort are proposed to distinguish between the competing interpretations. Although it would be too strong to say that the results have been discredited, the methodology is flawed and the causal inference drawn from the results premature.

via Correlations between cannabis use a... [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI.

Marijuana may help binge-drinking brain - News - The Independent Collegian - University of Toledo student newspaper

A study was done to find out how much worse it is to smoke marijuana while binge drinking than to just binge drink alone. The government constantly funds such studies in a desperate attempt to prove that there is SOMETHING dangerous about marijuana. But, guess what! Surprise! Marijuana shields the brains of binge drinkers from the damage that alcohol causes. This is why I assert that marijuana should be made available on college campuses at any event where alcohol is served. Let's move people away from the deadly scourge of booze and toward the healing bliss of cannabis! The Independent Collegian

Marijuana may help binge-drinking brain                                           By Kevin Moore                                                                             Binge drinkers who also smoke marijuana may suffer less brain damage than drinkers who do not smoke marijuana, according to a recent study done by researchers at the University of California, San Diego and published by Neurotoxicology and Teratology magazine.The study, which was performed and published in late July, analyzed brain scans of 16 to 19-year-old males and females to compare the amount of white brain matter damage. White brain matter contains nerve fibers and is one of the two components of the central nervous system, according to the National Institutes of Health's Web site.The study compared the damage to white brain matter between those who regularly engage in binge drinking and marijuana usage to those who solely participated in binge drinking and those who did neither. For the purpose of this study, binge drinking was defined as having five drinks during one sitting for males and four drinks during one sitting for females.The results of the study showed those who only participated in binge drinking had damage in all eight sections of the brain, while those who used marijuana regularly only showed damage in three out of the eight sections. "Clearly, the marijuana group did better," said Director of Communication for the Marijuana Policy Project Bruce Mirken. "The marijuana plant is a heavy carrier of cannabinoids, of which there is much evidence to suggest that they can serve as a neural protector.

via Marijuana may help binge-drinking brain - News - The Independent Collegian - University of Toledo student newspaper.

The Evil That Men Do

Busted in Manhattan by Bloomberg’s Anti-Pot GoonsTuesday, 01 January 2013                                                                                                                                            by  Anonymous

 

I’m 58 years old and have resided in my 220-year-old house in New England for the last 30 years. I live alone with my dog and cats. I’m a cancer survivor. I feel like I work hard, sometimes seven days a week, to make my small alternative energy company a success. I pay my taxes and when, many years ago, I ran into tax trouble, I did not declare bankruptcy and paid every dime I owed to the IRS. I don’t think I bother anybody. But yes, I smoke a little marijuana, have for around 40 years.

I grew up in New York City, was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx. I drove a cab in Manhattan in the '70s. I still have some friends in NYC. My old buddy of 50 years contacted me and asked if I’d like to come down to see one of the Phish shows at Madison Square Garden for their New Year’s run. He had tickets for Saturday night and I jumped at the chance to see old friends and catch Phish live.

On Saturday (Dec. 28), we drove to Manhattan, arriving around 6:30 pm, and decided to look for a parking garage and pay for parking rather than look for a free spot on the streets. We entered the Park 'N Lock garage on 30 St. between 7th and 8th Aves., a block away the Garden. We circled up to the fourth floor and parked. As we opened the door to my truck and stepped out, NYPD officers immediately surrounded us. They said they smelled marijuana. They pulled us away and proceeded to search my Chevy Tahoe. They found a small container of marijuana, a glass bowl and the roach.

We were handcuffed behind out backs, extremely tight and painful, and shoved into the elevator, taken downstairs and marched, like Taliban POWs, to a waiting police van on 31 St.. We were not read our Miranda Rights. There we saw many other concerts goers in the same situation. In front of many passersby, we were searched. Everything in our pockets was placed in manila envelopes. We were packed into an incredibly tight and narrow van with only room for our hunched-over bodies. They kept us sardined there for what seemed like forever. I was in horrible pain, the circulation being cut off by the handcuffs, my back hurting as well as my knee that had surgery. I really was in disbelief that this was happening to me, just days from 2013, because a cop smelled marijuana smoke when I opened my truck door on the fourth floor of a private parking garage. I was thinking, on one side of this country you can buy pot from a store, on the other side you get arrested and tortured. Was this really happening to me?

Eventually the van started moving and, after a short ride, we arrived at the 14th Precinct (Midtown South on 35 St.). They took all our belongings - coats, sweaters, hoodies, shoes and belts - and were left in just t-shirts, jeans and socks. When the handcuffs were finally removed, leaving deep marks on my wrists, I realized I had no feeling in part of my right hand. When I put my hands in front of me to move them around after being injured by the handcuffs, I was screamed at by the police officer to put my hands to my side, don’t move or we’ll put the cuffs back on. “They were not made for comfort,” the cop barked.

I was put in disgusting holding cell, and another poor dude in the same situation eventually joined me. The cell was about 6 x 8 feet with a gross toilet and a bench. It was cold. We were kept there for 10 hours. I'm diabetic and had had nothing to eat or drink since noon. At around 3 am I was escorted to get fingerprinted and have my picture taken. I told the officer that I was diabetic and was going to pass out. He fetched me some peanut butter crackers and a bottle of water. He said we would be getting out soon and that this was just a violation, a “slap on the wrist” and we would get dates to come back to court.

I’ve been charged with PL 220.10.01:

PL 221.10 01. That charge, in full form, reads as follows: 
§ 221.10 Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree. A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses: 1. marihuana in a public place, as defined in section 240.00 of this chapter, and such marihuana is burning or open to public view; or 2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than twenty-five grams. Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree is a class B misdemeanor.

This is called a “ticketable” offense. But, I was not in a public place; I had no marijuana burning or open to public view and even if someone was, what other “ticketable” offenses in New York are accompanied by torture? We got caught in a police “Phish Net" (it was like shooting Phish in a barrel). NYC police officers were hiding out on the fourth floor of a private parking garage looking for pot smokers to arrest and torture. Our guess is that they busted about 100 Phish heads that night.

As we were released with DATs (Desk Appearance Tickets) at 4:20 am, I noticed the memorials to the large number of police officer heroes from that precinct who died trying save people on 9/11 by rushing into those burning towers. Is this how they honor the memory of their fellow officers? Is this how the NYPD helps fight terrorism and keeps its citizens safe? Am I really one of the dangerous criminals they need to keep off the streets or was I just “low-hanging fruit” they can grab to bolster their staggering arrest numbers (50,000 marijuana busts a year in New York City alone) and take our money in fines? The police officers seemed to really enjoy this “operation," it being much more fun than stopping an actual armed, violent criminal.

I went to the hospital when I got back home and learned I have a nerve injury to my right hand. I still have no feeling in part of my hand. The doctor said it usually gets better, but not always.

Because I'm scheduled to go to court to face the "marihuana" charge next month, I’ve chosen to remain anonymous. But I want to share this story. This must stop. There is no legitimate reason for this persecution of marijuana smokers to continue.

New Hampshire Jury Acquits Pot-Growing Rastafarian - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Hooray for the jury! This is how the people fight back against an over-reaching, brutally corrupt government which criminalizes the use of a health-building, spiritually elevating plant: New Hampshire Jury Acquits Pot-Growing RastafarianJacob Sullum|Sep. 14, 2012 1:00 pmA few months ago, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill declaring that "in all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy." Although the new law does not take effect until next January, a case decided yesterday in Belknap County illustrates the importance of the nullification power it recognizes. A jury unanimously acquitted Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian charged with marijuana cultivation, after his lawyer, Mark Sisti, argued that a conviction would be unjust in light of the fact that Darrell was growing cannabis for his own religious and medicinal use. More remarkably, Judge James O'Neill instructed the jury that "even if you find that the State has proven each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find the defendant not guilty if you have a conscientious feeling that a not guilty verdict would be a fair result in this case."That is New Hampshire's model jury instruction on the nullification issue, but each judge has discretion whether to give it. In this case, since Sisti argued in favor of nullification and the prosecutor, Stacey Kaelin, argued against it, O'Neill agreed to clarify the law by giving an explicit instruction. The jury, which deliberated for six hours on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, twice asked to hear the instruction again. Sisti, who has been practicing law for 33 years, says this is the first time he has persuaded a judge to tell jurors they have the power to vote their consciences. He hopes the new law will make such instructions more common, if not standard.

via New Hampshire Jury Acquits Pot-Growing Rastafarian - Hit & Run : Reason.com.

No limits on medical pot, Calif. high court rules - Health - Health care - NBCNews.com

This is an important ruling because we are just learning about the impressive therapeutic effects of concentrated cannabis oil, used both internally and topically for anti-tumor activity. More and more pathology reports are turning up that seem to confirm that ingesting huge amounts of cannabinoids, concentrated into an oil, works to stunt and possibly kill off tumors. Without the freedom to produce massive amounts of cannabis, these remedies cannot be made. Also, more and more topical pain relief products are coming out that are infused with marijuana's cannabinoid oils. Try getting those from a street dealer! No limits on medical pot, Calif. high court rules

High court reverses mandate that patients can have maximum of 8 ounces

SAN FRANCISCO — A unanimous California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that sought to impose limits on the amount of marijuana a medical patient can legally possess.

The California Supreme Court ruled that state lawmakers were wrong to change provisions of the voter-approved Proposition 215. The 1996 measure allowed for patients with a doctor's recommendation to possess an unspecified amount of marijuana.

The Legislature, seeking to give law enforcement guidance on when to make marijuana possession arrests, mandated in 2003 that each patient could have a maximum of 8 ounces of dried marijuana.

The high court says only voters can change amendments that they've added to California's constitution through the initiative process. The ruling by Chief Justice Ron George left in place the portion of the new law that protects patients possessing a state-issue medical marijuana identification card from arrest. George did note, though, that police were still authorized to make arrests if they believe the cards to be forgeries or reasonably suspects a crime has been committed.

Left open to interpretation: What amount of marijuana is for legitimate personal medical consumption and how much constitutes illegal trafficking?

"The California Supreme Court did the right thing by abolishing limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation," said Joe Elford, the top lawyer for the marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. "At the same time, the Court may have left too much discretion to law enforcement in deciding what are reasonable amounts of medicine for patients to possess and cultivate."

The Supreme Court's decision upholds a lower court ruling that tossed out the conviction of Patrick Kelly, a Southern California man who was arrested for possession of 12 ounces of dried marijuana and seven plants. A "confidential informant" called Lakewood Police to report Kelly's possession in October 2005.

Experts testified that the amount of marijuana Kelly had on hand would last him just a few weeks for treatment of hepatitis C, chronic back pain, and cirrhosis.

The ruling was widely expected because the California Attorney General's office largely agreed with the position of Kelly's court-appointed attorney Gerald Uelman, a Santa Clara University law professor.

Also Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a doctor's permission to use medical marijuana doesn't preclude police from arresting a patient or searching a home. The court upheld the conviction of Jason Fry, a Stevens County man busted with 2 pounds of marijuana in 2004.

Justices said sheriff's officers who smelled marijuana smoke at his home had probable cause to believe a crime was committed — even after the man presented them with an authorization from his doctor.

Justice Richard Sanders disagreed, arguing that under the ruling, a patient could be searched, arrested and hauled to court every time an officer smelled marijuana at his or her home, even absent any evidence the patient is breaking the medical marijuana law.

via No limits on medical pot, Calif. high court rules - Health - Health care - NBCNews.com.