Science Says: Lungs Love Weed

Breathe easy, tokers. Smoking marijuana in moderate amounts may not be so bad for your lungs, after all.

A new study, published in last month’s Journal of the American Medical Association, tested the lung function of over 5,000 young adults between 18 and 30. After 20 years of testing, researchers found some buzzworthy results: regular marijuana smokers (defined by up to a joint a day for seven years) had no discernable impairment in lung activity from non-smokers.

In fact, researchers were surprised to find marijuana smokers performed slightly better than both smokers and non-smokers on the lung performance test. Why? The most likely explanation seems to be that the act of inhaling marijuana—holding each puff in for as long as possible—is a lot like a pulmonary function test, giving marijuana smokers an edge over their cigarette smoking counterparts.

For most of human existence, cannabis has been considered a medicine. Queen Victoria used it to alleviate her menstrual cramps. Extracts were prescribed by doctors and available at every pharmacy in the U.S. According to Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, attitudes toward cannabis only shifted when Americans began to notice and object to its use by immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. Said Schlosser in a PBS interview:

“What’s interesting is if you look at origins of the marijuana prohibition in this country, it coincides with a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment. . . really since the early years of this century, the war on marijuana has been much more a war on the sort of people who smoke it, be they Mexicans or blacks or jazz musicians or beatniks or hippies or hip-hop artists. It’s really been a war on nonconformists and the laws against marijuana have been used as a way of reasserting what are seen as traditional American values.”

Attitudes are changing, however. Sixteen states now offer medicinal weed legally for patients, and the number is growing. More students are now smoking marijuana than binge drinking or smoking cigarettes. Weed-friendly communities like Oaksterdam, unthinkable a decade or two ago, are sprouting up and campaigning to have marijuana revenue regulated and taxed like alcohol.

As marijuana enters the mainstream, studies like the one published in JAMA might dispel false assertions about the plant’s deleterious health hazards and promote its medicinal benefits. According to Dr. Donald P. Tashkin, a marijuana researcher at UCLA medical school, THC is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may prevent lung irritation from developing into the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that frequently devastates the lungs of tobacco smokers. Since inhaling the unfiltered smoke of a combusted marijuana plant isn’t exactly the best delivery system for this panacea, he suggests that those who want to unlock its chemical potential find lower impact ways to get high.

“The smoke in marijuana contains thousands of ingredients, many of which are toxic and noxious and have the potential, at least, to cause airway injury,” said Tashkin in TIME. “In an ideal world, it would be preferable to take it in another form.” Vaporizer, anyone?

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[Infographic] Medical Uses of Recreational Drugs

Medical Uses of Abused Drugs
Sent to us by: Medical Billing and Coding Guide

42 state lawmakers ask DEA to reclassify marijuana

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – More than three dozen Washington state lawmakers sent a letter to the federal government on Monday, asking for marijuana to be reclassified as a drug that can be prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists.

Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug would allow it to be prescribed by doctors and handled by pharmacists. Marijuana is currently classified a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it’s not accepted for medical treatment and can’t be prescribed, administered or dispensed.

In the letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the lawmakers said they supported Gov. Chris Gregoire’s previous request on the issue. Seven Republican lawmakers were among the 42 in both the House and the Senate who signed the letter.

In addition to the letter, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced Senate Joint Memorial 8017 making the same request to reclassify medical marijuana. The joint memorial was scheduled for a hearing in the Health & Long Term Care Committee on Thursday.

Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee filed the petition with the DEA last November. Washington and Rhode Island are two of 16 states and the District of Columbia that have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana.

Washington voters approved a medical marijuana law in 1998 that gives doctors the right to recommend – but not prescribe – marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause “intractable pain.”

Last year, Gregoire vetoed most of a bill that made major reforms to the state’s medical marijuana law, saying state workers could be prosecuted under federal law the way the measure was written.

A separate bill this year is attempting to provide medical marijuana patients with easier access to the drug. The new proposal would allow local governments to regulate nonprofit patient cooperatives, which could grow up to 99 plants.

Under the latest proposal, nonprofit patient cooperatives would be prohibited in counties with fewer than 200,000 residents – mostly rural areas – unless local jurisdictions enact ordinances allowing them. The cooperatives would be allowed in counties with a population of more than 200,000 unless local jurisdictions opt out through an ordinance.

The plan would create a voluntary registry for patients.

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Canadians Agree It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana

A new poll suggests Canada may have reached the tipping point and a 66-per-cent majority favours legalizing marijuana.

Hallelujah! Finally we might get a sensible public policy discussion in this country about what to do about a relatively benign substance that has been demonized and outlawed for a century yet is as readily available in schoolyards as cigarettes.

The prohibition and a 40-year-long “War on Drugs” have led to pot being more widely accessible, taxpayers considerably poorer, gangs richer and thousands upon thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens branded “criminal.”

Another 50,000 or so Canadians are busted every year for possession; throw in 20,000 or so traffickers and producers and this so-called war is costing us as much as $400 million annually in law enforcement, court and corrections.

Bearing in mind a million dollars a year buys roughly 12 new cops, 14 teachers or public health nurses, ask yourself: Couldn’t all that money be better spent?

The federal Liberal party obviously thinks so – 77 per cent of delegates at the weekend convention voted to legalize the herb, echoing the Senate special committee on illegal drugs (chaired by a Conservative), which 10 years ago urged the government to free the weed. Four decades ago, the LeDain Commission similarly called for an end to the criminal prohibition of cannabis.

Across the country today, more and more people agree.

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from I Love Weed!

Modern Uses for the Cannabis Plant

Modern uses for cannabis

There are VERY many uses for cannabis.

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