Misconceptions About Cannabis And Health In New Mexico


Photo Credit: MedicalJane


As the cannabis movement continues to cultivate itself in New Mexico, awareness of cannabis grows specifically for lawmakers at the Roundhouse in 2017. Legislation being debated ranges from; Medical Cannabis Program improvements & research for patients, Hemp legislation, and three proposals for the legalization of cannabis for adult use.  Yes, there is a lot of amazing progress being made and people are becoming more educated on the positive qualities of cannabis. As New Mexico works to define a model for cannabis legalization that protects and improves the state’s medical cannabis program and puts patients first as well, lawmakers have a lot of history to contend with. New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978 (After public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis). However, frustrations persist due to some basic misconceptions about cannabis and the medical cannabis program…below are some highlights that will make some rethink their theory that cannabis is bad for a person’s health.


“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”— DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young Docket No. 86-22. 1988.

Here is one such proposed law that is clearly developed under misconceptions and undermines the LECUA law. HB-334 would be in direct violation of Section 2 and the Purpose of the LECUA, 2007 law. HB-334 puts the State of New Mexico in a liable situation as over 35,000 patients in the current medical program who could lose Safe Access to life-saving medicine.

LOCAL APPROVAL OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOCATIONS
Read more about HB-334 here.
House Labor & Economic Development CommitteeMonday, February 27, 2017 – 1:30 PM – Room 315

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“Marijuana Is Dangerous And Isn’t Safe”- Cannabis vs Prescriptions.

Prescription Pills: Each year, about 4.5 million Americans visit their doctor’s office or the emergency room because of adverse prescription drug side effects. A startling 2 million other patients who are already hospitalized suffer the ill effects of prescription medications annually, and this when they should be under the watchful eye of medical professionals. The most common non-severe or mild side effects from taking drugs include (there are many more, these are the most common): Constipation, Dermatitis, Diarrhea,  Dizziness, Drowsiness, Dry mouth, Headache, and Insomnia.
What are the short and long term effects of prescription drugs? Short-term effects: Alertness, focus, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, increased blood pressure and heart rate, high body temperature.
Long-term effects: Addiction, paranoia and long-term insomnia, extreme weight change.
What are the effects of prescription drugs? Physical symptoms: Increased or decreased need for sleep, Appearing unusually energetic, or overly fatigued, Increased or decreased appetite.


These drugs come with side effects that range from birth defects and liver damage to suicidal behavior, blood clots, bladder cancer, Crohn’s disease, heart attacks, strokes, uncontrollable bleeding, heart failure and death: Chronic Pain Treatment drug Fentanyl (opioid). Type 2 diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos. Antidepressants Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft and Lexapro. Mood stabilizer Depakote. Birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin. Acne medication Accutane. Blood thinners Pradaxa and Xarelto Osteoporosis treatment Fosamax. GranuFlo and NaturaLyte, which are used in dialysis.
Hair loss pill Propecia. Stop smoking cigarettes drug Chantix.


In article in American-Statesman staff writer Jeremy Schwartz in 2012 noted that in 2011, “the Pentagon spent more on pills, injections and vaccines than it did on Black Hawk helicopters, Abrams tanks, Hercules C-130 cargo planes and Patriot missiles — combined.” The military spent at least $2.7 billion on antidepressants and more than $1.6 billion on opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone over the past decade. More than $507 million was spent on the sleeping pill Ambien and its generic equivalents.”  the pharmaceutical industry spent about $1.7 million for more than 1,400 trips for Defense Department doctors and pharmacists to places such as Paris, Las Vegas and New Orleans between 1998 and 2007.  All those Pills killed a lot of Veterans, Cannabis has a 5000 year history with zero deaths associated with it.


“Its margin of safety is immense and underscores the lack of any meaningful danger in using not only daily doses in the 3.5 – 9 gram range, but also considerably higher doses.”David Bearman, M.D.
Physician, researcher, court-qualified cannabis expert


Cannabis Is Safe & The Federal Government Has A Patent For It.  

The U.S. Patent Office issued patent #6630507 to the U.S.Health and Human Services filed on 2/2/2001. The patent lists the use of cannabinoids found within the plant cannabis sativa plant as useful in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and HIV dementia. Since cannabis sativa (marijuana) contains compounds recognized and endorsed by an agency of the U.S. government- Why is it that cannabis remains on the Federal Schedule One list of drugs? The issuance of patent #6630507 is a direct contradiction of the Government’s own definition for classification of a Schedule 1 drug. The U.S. government’s own National Institutes of Health researchers even concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that Information on safety is lacking.”


“The American Medical Association has no objection to any reasonable regulation of the medicinal use of cannabis and its preparations and derivatives. It does pretest, however, against being called upon to pay a special tax, to use special order forms in order to procure the drug, to keep special records concerning its professional use and to make special returns to the Treasury Department officials, as a condition precedent to the use of cannabis in the practice of medicine.”                     
~Wm. C. Woodward, Legislative Counsel – 11:37 AM Monday, July 12, 1937


For over 5000 years, various strains of the green herb Cannabis sativa, or true hemp, have been among the most widely used of medicinal plants. This includes civilizations in China, India, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Cannabis was used in the US from 1800’s to 1937 to treat more than 100 distinct diseases or conditions.


Cannabis is a NON-TOXIC substance. No one has ever died from taking cannabis.  One hundred per cent of the scores of studies by American universities and research facilities show that toxicity does not exist in cannabis. (U.C.L.A, Harvard, Temple, etc.) All the in-depth medico-scientific clinical studies conducted (for example, US-Jamaican, US-Costa Rican, LaGuardia Report, etc) have revealed that cannabis contains no addictive properties in any part of the plant or its smoke, so, unlike and in contrast to tobacco, alcohol, and all the legal or illegal ‘recreational’ substances cannabis is both non-habit-forming and non-toxic.


Therefore cannabis is uniquely safe when compared to modern FDA approved prescriptions.


Cannabis stimulate CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors on the brain and other tissues that affect body systems, triggering a chain of temporary psychological and physiological effects. Initially it has a stimulant effect, followed by relaxation and overall reduction in stress. Analgesic effect. Blocks migraine or seizures. Helps mitigate or control symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal injury, epilepsy. Lifts mood and enhances sense of well-being. Relieves chronic and neuropathic pain. Has synergistic effects with opiates and other drugs. Not all cannabis has the same potency or effect. May cause drowsiness, distraction, paranoia or anxiety (due to type of cannabis strain)  and dry mouth – that”s it.


Myth that “Stoned” driving is as bad as drunk driving. Drunk driving kills 28 people a day in America, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Studies have not found similar results for driving “while high”, and it’s not even clear that cannabis even increases the number of traffic accidents. That’s not to say that cannabis doesn’t affect driving ability—for many people it does. However, cannabis use is as likely as anything to make people more cautious than usual, which is an asset while driving. This same cautiousness makes some high people opt not to drive at all. Furthermore, as Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in his medical documentary “Weed”, daily cannabis smokers seem to be less impaired on the road after smoking than occasional users.

The Cannabis Plant Compared To Common Plants In New Mexico.

Did you know that household plants are one of the leading causes of poisoning in children?
Some plants have substances that can cause symptoms ranging from a mild stomachache to
serious illness or even death. That is why it is important to know what kind of plants are in and around your home and whether they will cause serious illness if touched or eaten. According to UNM- College of Pharmacy, these plants are commonly found in New Mexico and are highly toxic (can cause very serious illness & even death). Poisonous Plants in New Mexico: jimson weed, oleander, foxglove, and poison oak. The complete list of common poisonous plants in New Mexico has over 50 different plant species on it. Cannabis in general and the strain, hemp, is not on any such list anywhere.
Photo Credit: UNM


How much of the cannabis plant is useable medicine? (The flower or bud)
Chris Conrad, former director of Safe Access Now, author and court-qualified cannabis expert did a research study “Cannabis Yields and Dosage: A Guide to the Production and Use of Medical Marijuana”. This information is current as of April 15, 2015.
Cannabis takes root as either seedlings or cuttings (clones). Later, male plants are cut out of the garden to prevent pollination. Female plants grow to full maturity before being cut and harvested. About 75% of the fresh weight is moisture that is lost in the drying process. Almost half the dry plant matter is stem; only about a quarter (18% to 28%) remains after the herb is cured and manicured into medical-grade flower that has a coating of resin glands with cannabinoids, the active compounds. Contrary to cannabis’ reputation as a weed, it is not so easy to grow quality medicine. Not all gardens have ideal conditions and few patients are trained botanists.



Hemp Cleans Air, Eats Radiation, And Cleans Toxic Metals From Soil. New Mexico sues EPA, mine owners over massive gold mine waste spill. … The Gold King Mine rupture, which was “accidentally” triggered by an EPA inspection team called there to inspect seepage, unleashed a torrent of yellow sludge that contained high concentrations of heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead –3 million gallons of heavy metal sludge from the shuttered Gold King Mine gushed into a tributary of the Animas River, the Navajo Nation is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for what it sees as negligence in cleaning up the disaster. Many Navajo and New Mexicans are worried about potential long-term health effects from the heavy metals that have settled into the river sediment upstream from the Navajo Nation. Snowmelt and heavy rains can dredge up that sediment and send it coursing downstream once again.In other words, not only does hemp provide humans with innumerable products, it also helps to clean the environment of the mistakes we have made in the past. It has already been discovered that hemp may be extremely useful in the removal of cadmium from the soil and other toxic metals, as well as radiation. As cannabis journalist and researcher Seshata notes in her article “Hemp and the Decontamination of Radioactive Soil” – a number of studies that demonstrate hemp’s durability in the face of pollutants as well as its ability to remove metals from the soil. The concentration of this type of soil pollution has increased greatly in many locations across the world since the start of the industrial revolution, Claire Moore, plant biologist and laboratory manager at Michigan-based cannabis testing facility Iron Labs, told Extract in an email.

“Phytoremediation describes the treatment of environmental problems, often contamination with heavy metals, through the use of plants that help mitigate the contamination without the need to excavate the offending contaminant(s) and dispose of it elsewhere,” she explains.


It’s a relatively new technology that’s gaining international attention due to its cost-effective, non-intrusive method of “exploiting the ability of certain species of plants to remediate pollutants from contaminated sites,” Moore said.Researchers at Nova Institute, an ecology R&D group based in Germany, found that hemp has a “favorable influence on the soil structure” because it curtails the presence of nematodes and fungi, and it has a high shading capacity that suppresses weed growth. In one study cited by the researchers, a hemp rotation was found to increase wheat yields by 10 to 20 percent. Hemp can also grow in the most inhospitable and otherwise useless soils, such as those polluted by heavy metals. Grown alone, used in rotation or planted on abandoned farmland, hemp is an environmental win.


According to the National Conference of State Legislators,  total of 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs and 17 more states allow use of “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products for medical reasons. Eight states and the District of Columbia now have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use. State cannabis policy reform surged forward on Nov. 8, 2016, with voters in four states, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, approving adult-use recreational cannabis; Colorado and Washington measures passed in 2012, and Alaska, Oregon and District of Columbia in the fall of 2014.  That is 45 states with legal cannabis laws and 8 of those states have complete legal adult use of cannabis.


At least 30 states passed legislation related to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches: (1) establish industrial hemp research and/or pilot programs, (2) authorize studies of the industrial hemp industry, or (3) establish commercial industrial hemp programs. At least 16 states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes and 20 states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs. Seven states—Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Virginia—have approved the creation of both pilot/research and commercial programs.


Providing funding for a paid legislature and state budget reform can be achieved with cannabis and hemp legalization; in conjunction with the utilization of solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources. Hemp is refined into products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil medicine, wax, resin/plastics, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, and fuel. This will create jobs, has vast potential for the state universities to benefit, and creates a new business market to keep college graduates in New Mexico.


Colorado cannabis tax revenues now greatly exceeds original estimates of $70 million per year. Canada has had industrial hemp since 1998, and farmers there have reported net profits of $200 to $250 per acre. Most Canadian hemp is exported to the United States. The Colorado Tourism Office reports that 12% are visiting Colorado dispensaries and 5% specifically due to cannabis legalization there. The activities that cannabis tourist reported engaging in included: sightseeing and wine tours, historical sites, hiking, camping, mountain biking, winter snow sports, nightlife, festivals and farmers’ markets, according to the survey.  All great activities in New Mexico with a Balloon Fiesta to boot.
New Mexico can be a leader and pioneer in the sciences of medical cannabis, cannabis and hemp. New Mexico needs to define a new policy model for cannabis legalization; by regulating and taxing cannabis under the high standards of alcohol regulation- specific to the craft brewery industry regulations in New Mexico, and by combining regulation and policy standards used in New Mexico for herbal and nutritional supplements.  As all use of cannabis has true therapeutic and medical benefits and the state budget can benefit from it under proper regulation.

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