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Marijuana Science
For years, the federal government has subsidized studies designed to find negative effects from marijuana while blocking inquiry into its potential benefits. Ironically, their adamant search for downsides has created remarkable scientific insights that explain why marijuana is such a versatile remedy for many medical conditions and why it is the most sought-after “illegal” substance on earth.

There are over 100 unique cannabinoids identified in marijuana; of them, the best known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s principal psychoactive component, and cannabidiol (CBD), marijuana’s anti-inflammatory component that can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. In addition to the phytocannabinoids produced only by the cannabis (marijuana) plant, there are endogenous cannabinoids that occur naturally in the human brain and body.

Some highlights from the exploding field of cannabinoid science:

1. THC, CBD and other plant cannabinoids are not only effective for the management of cancer symptoms (nausea, pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, etc.), but they also aided a direct anti-tumoral effect, according to peer-reviewed studies by the Complutense University in Spain and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

2. The Scripps Research Institute in California found that THC inhibits an enzyme involved in the accumulation of beta amyloid plaque that disrupts communication between brain cells, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

3. At Kings College in London, cannabinoid receptor signaling assisted neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells) in adult mammals and helped regulate the migration and differentiation of stem cells.

4. In China, scientists have shown that the pain-releiving effects of acupuncture are mediated by the same cannabinoid receptors that are activated by THC.

5. Pharmaceutical companies are attempting to induce therapeutic outcomes by manipulating levels of the body’s own cannabinoids. Animal studies indicate that it is possible to dissipate a wide range of pathological conditions (such as neuropathic pain, hypertension, colitis, and opiate withdrawal) by preventing/delaying the enzymatic breakdown of endogenous cannabinoids.

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Teen Marijuana Use
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts – found that adolescents are not more likely to use marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The Journal of Adolescent Health’s study on adolescents and marijuana use came to a similar conclusion: “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to [the] legalization of medical marijuana.”

In another study, investigators from the University of Colorado at Denver, Montana State University, and the University of Oregon analyzed federal data on adolescent marijuana use and treatment episodes during the years of 1993 to 2011, when 16 states authorized medical marijuana use, and the investigators concluded that “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students.”

Findings such as these help to confirm that the legalization of marijuana for medical use does not mean that adolescents are more likely to use marijuana, a common concern among lawmakers.

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MA Dispensary
After multiple delays for Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensaries, advocates are outraged about the most recent news coming from the statehouse. Two more of the eleven currently approved licensed dispensaries are on hold and might be shutdown by the state after finding that the company’s CEO lied on his application about having a college degree.

“When the state released a list of 11 dispensaries we were immediately concerned because it comes short of the amount that we need for safe and easy patient access,” said Matthew Allen, Executive Director of Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance. “Now that there are additional licenses that are on hold and potentially denied, we are becoming very concerned. We want to reiterate that this is a process that needs to be all about the patients.”

Currently, the likeliest dispensary location to receive a license for Central Massachusetts residents is Milford. The state will not grant another dispensary license in Worcester County until each county in the Commonwealth has one approved and officially licensed dispensary, meaning that Worcester or a more centralized medical marijuana dispensary won’t be opened until 2015 at the earliest.

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Banks Marijuana
Over 100 US financial institutions are now working directly with marijuana-related businesses in states that have legal marijuana markets, according to the US Department of Treasury.

Financial Crimes Enforcement Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery acknowledged that US financial institutions have filed over 1,000 reports with the Treasury Department in regards to businesses engaged in the sale of marijuana and marijuana-related goods and services.

“Currently 105 individual financial institutions from states in more than one third of the country engaged in banking relationships with marijuana-related businesses,” stated Calvery.

The Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued two memos in February providing limited guidance to financial institutions that wish to engage in transactions with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

In July, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation restricting the Treasury Department’s ability to take punitive actions against financial institutions that provide assistance to state-authorized marijuana businesses.

However, the US Senate has yet to take any action on the measure.

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Medical Marijuana States
Currently, 35 states in America have reformed their laws via legislation or voter ballot initiatives to allow qualifying patients access to marijuana and/or marijuana-infused products for medical purposes.

This time last year, 21 states and the District of Columbia had medical marijuana laws – a sixty percent increase in one year.

A majority of these medical marijuana states allow for certain persons to grow marijuana and/or for dispensaries to sell marijuana. A few states have limited medical marijuana programs where patients are only allowed to purchase and use marijuana-infused or CBD-only products, such as oils or concentrates, which can be vaporized or consumed.

A few of the current medical marijuana states will be voting this November to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Many other states are looking into legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in the near future.

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