FDA APPROVES EXPENSIVE ALZHEIMER’S DRUG AND CONTINUES TO IGNORE CANNABIS

It is easy to understand why everyone is desperate for anything that will help with Alzheimer’s Disease. Patients and their families dread its relentless onslaught. Consequently, there was tremendous pressure for the FDA to approve Aduhelm (aducanumab), by Biogen and Eisai.

However, it’s approval was met with widespread criticism because it is both expensive, with an expected annual price tag of $56,000, but of limited effectiveness.  

Aducanumab is taken as an infusion administered in a doctor’s office for one hour every four weeks. That might be difficult for a patients suffering from agitation who might not understand why they are there.

See “Doctors Shouldn’t Get Rich From an Unproven Alzheimer’s Drug

The high cost of Biogen’s newly approved and controversial treatment will be compounded by a misguided Medicare policy that incentivizes doctors to prescribe the priciest medicines.

And “If the FDA approves Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment, I won’t prescribe it

And “3 Experts Have Resigned From An FDA Committee Over Alzheimer’s Drug Approval

Given the level of disagreement among experts, we can only wonder about the process. What is the appropriate role for the FDA?

See “Abolish the FDA. The role of the state is to protect rights and guard against fraud, not to prevent people from making risky choices

Of course the FDA – like every government agency – has been subverted to support the Drug War

See “The FDA and Me: Medical Cannabis and Regulatory Capture

And “SENIORS HAVE EVEN MORE REASON TO DEMAND END TO CANNABIS PROHIBITION

I have been critical of The American Alzheimer’s Association before, see Does The Alzheimer’s Association Hope We Will Just Forget About CBD?

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WHY THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES IS THE ONLY LAW THAT ALWAYS WORKS

I remember a letter to the editor in a California newspaper circa 1973 during Nixon’s gasoline “shortage” from a man who told of sitting in his car waiting in line at what was ironically called a “filling station.” He said that when he looked in his rearview mirror he saw the driver behind him was smoking a joint. He quipped that we could solve two problems if we just legalized marijuana and outlawed gasoline.

Fifty years later, we have almost solved the marijuana “problem” by almost legalizing it. I say we have almost solved that problem, not just because the Feds and a few states are lagging, but because most of the states have made a mess of it by over-regulating and over-taxing it, so the black market persists. Good intentions are not enough.

I have cited what I call the Iron Law of Prohibition demonstrating how the economics of contraband actually makes “drugs” stronger and more dangerous. Actually, I’m certain that this is not always “unintended.”

Obviously, the frustrated motorist was joking about banning gasoline, but there really wasn’t an actual gas shortage. Nixon had panicked and slammed price controls on it which kept the market from functioning. In a free market, there are never long-term shortages because the prices will rise, angering consumers (voters), but eliminating lines, pleasing voters. Unintended?

See: Trump’s War on Postal Service Harms His Base, Seniors, Rural Communities, Veterans and Small Businesses

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IS VAPING CANNABIS REALLY WORSE THAN VAPING TOBACCO FOR TEENS’ LUNGS?

Whenever I critique a study that purports to show some danger related to marijuana, I always make it clear that the arguments against marijuana prohibition are not based on the assumption that marijuana is harmless. Nothing is harmless for everyone under all circumstances, and harmlessness cannot be a criterion for anything to be legal.

Nonetheless, here we go again.

This U.S. News & World Report headline was typical: “Vaping Pot Worse Than Vaping Tobacco for Teens’ Lungs: Study.”

The first problem is simply that the teens were not vaping “pot.” They were vaping some unknown liquids that supposedly contained THC and perhaps other cannabinoids.

Second, the sample for the study was based on national data, which would normally be a good thing, but in much of the country, marijuana was, and still is, illegal, so the vaping devices and their content may well have been contraband.

Third, the data was based on sampling from “between December 2016 and January 2018 – prior to the wave of lung injuries among young people that occurred in 2019. It was given the name EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury.”

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MARIJUANA IS REPLACING ALCOHOL DURING THE PANDEMIC AND MAY HAVE LONG TERM BENEFITS

The pandemic has produced a number of social changes that we hope may last. An online Harris Poll sponsored by Curaleaf, a marijuana company, found that 45% of cannabis consumers age 21 and up have replaced or reduced their alcohol consumption with marijuana since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and one-third of those who use cannabis recreationally prefer cannabis to drinking alcohol.

Half of the respondents (50%) said they increased their use because cannabis helped them relax, and 48% said they did so to help them sleep. Of those who said they use marijuana recreationally, a third (33%) said that they prefer cannabis over alcohol.

Interestingly, parents are actually turning to cannabis at higher rates than those without children. Think of the children!

Really. “Parents struggling with alcoholism may be surprised or concerned after reading about the impact their addiction can have on their children now and through adulthood.”

See: The Effects of Parental Alcoholism on Children

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WE NEED MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR AMERICA’S ENORMOUS PRISON POPULATION

The Associated Press reports, “A state district judge in Albuquerque has ruled this week that the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center should not penalize medical marijuana patients under its custody or supervision for using the drug.”

It is unclear whether other New Mexico jurisdictions will concur with the ruling, but it will inevitably be litigated nationally.

First, try to let’s understand the scope of our criminal justice problems.

‘The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,833 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,134 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.’

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WHY DO THE BRITISH INSIST ON CONFUSING CANNABIS WITH TOBACCO?

When I became the National Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws back in the early 1990s, I felt that it was my duty to go to the High Times Cannabis Cup, which was held annually in Amsterdam during the American Thanksgiving week. Work, work, work.

As part of my research I found out — the hard way — that Europeans almost always smoked a cannabis “joint” with tobacco. Until the late 1980s most of the cannabis in the Netherlands, and in the rest of Europe, was smuggled hashish, which can be really harsh to smoke, and since almost everyone smoked tobacco in those dark days, it was only natural to break up the hash and mix it with tobacco, often from a cigarette.

See: What Americans Can Learn From A British Study On Hashish Potency

I grew up in a cloud of cigarette smoke, but unusual for my generation, I had never smoked tobacco, so taking a deep drag on a Dutch joint left me a little wobbly until I learned to ask. Fortunately, a few years experience with American cannabis enthusiasts (Stoners) taught our Dutch hosts to warn us if it was not “Pure” or “American.”

In the meantime, thanks in part to American exiles, the Dutch were starting to grow “Nederwiet,” Dutch grown weed that could be more easily smoked without tobacco, but Europeans still liked to mix Wiet with tobacco. However, the Dutch government joined the international effort to discourage tobacco use. In the coffeeshops and other venues where cannabis smoking is “tolerated” smokers can no longer mix it with tobacco, so they provide other herbs with no psychoactive effects. No thanks. I am still “pure.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian, Britain’s best left-of-center newspaper (the Telegraph is the best right-of-center paper) ran an article on December 19,2020 titled “Cannabis users ‘fail to grasp health risks of smoking,’ study says.”

Reefer Madness from a paper that is usually anti-prohibitionist?

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WHY THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS PERFECT FOR SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTORS

It would appear that the gradual legalization of cannabis is leading big investment funds, pensions, mutual funds, etc., to recognize that cannabis is a compelling area for investment.

However, institutional investors may find themselves uncomfortable with an industry that has been so “controversial” (pardon the understatement) for so long. And at first blush (pardon the expression), they may have doubts about its suitability.

Should the “marijuana” segment be viewed like tobacco as a “sin” industry which various groups will shun for religious or moral reasons?

See: Tobacco Companies and Cannabis – Should They Be Allowed In?

In the highly segmented investment industries, many institutions may have boards that limit their endowments’ investments to companies and industries that meet certain ethical criteria.

However, I strongly believe that the cannabis industries (note the plural) are not only suitable for ethical investors, they are compelling. And let’s start with Marijuana. Weed. Pot. Grass. Ganja. Etc.

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LATIN AMERICA MOVES TOWARD LEGALIZATION FROM ARGENTINA TO MEXICO, WITH SOME ABSURD EXCEPTIONS

Latin America has been very hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Argentina and other countries continue with their chronic economic problems. Now the New York Times is reporting that President Alberto Fernández has issued a decree that allows pharmacies to sell cannabis-based oils, creams and other products, and “orders public and private insurance systems to cover these medications for patients who obtain a prescription.”

Before he was elected, Fernandez said that “the war on drugs has failed” and “the solution isn’t to go around persecuting people for smoking a joint.”

The new decree also allows patients to grow their own medicine. Not that they were waiting for permission. The new rules also state that cannabis products should be made available for free in the country’s public health system for patients who don’t have health insurance. Obviously, any country with public health insurance should include medical cannabis in its coverage. It would probably save the government money.

See: Richard’s Tips to Latin American Countries on the Cusp of Legalization of Cannabis and Medical Marijuana

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CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TALK ABOUT USING CANNABIS TO RELIEVE PANDEMIC STRESS DISORDER & SUICIDE?

The most stunning moments in my years of involvement in the marijuana legalization movement were when someone told me, “I haven’t tried to kill myself since I started using marijuana.”

I am not a doctor, a psychologist, or even a counselor, so I was really unprepared for that. I have had cancer patients tell me that if they had not had a few tokes of marijuana to help them with the extreme nausea from chemotherapy, they would have chosen to die from the cancer rather than endure the hellish side effects from the chemo. The pharmaceutical antiemetics had stopped working. Even in 1991, “More than 44% of the respondents report recommending the (illegal) use of marijuana for the control of emesis to at least one cancer chemotherapy patient. Almost one-half (48%) would prescribe marijuana to some of their patients if it were legal. As a group, respondents considered smoked marijuana to be somewhat more effective than the legally available oral synthetic dronabinol ([THC] Marinol).”

See: Marijuana as antiemetic medicine: A survey of oncologists’ experiences and attitudes

And I have known patients who did kill themselves rather than go to prison and be tortured to death by a regime that would watch them die in pain rather than allow them to use that plant.

But now … it’s a bigger picture.

See: If Studies Show Cannabis Is Effective In Treating Depression, & Improving Mental Health Then We Really, Really Need It

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THE RESETTING TWENTIES: WHAT THE 1920S CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE 2020S

Last month, the New York Post published an essay, “New York City is dead forever” by James Altucher.

Altucher is a New Yorker who loves his city, so this was not the slightest bit of schadenfreude. Of course, many New Yorkers were outraged, but his points were based on real numbers that paint a very grim picture, especially for Manhattan, the heart of the metropolis.

Although the pandemic is the immediate cause of the city’s problems, the fundamental threat is simply “bandwidth.”

THE BIG PROBLEM WITH THE “BIG MARIJUANA” BOGEYMAN

Guerrilla Marketing Makes Prohibition Counterproductive

Project Sam (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) may be the most successful side hustle in marijuana prohibition. They have evolved from opposing medical marijuana to supporting the medical use of cannabinoids as developed by the pharmaceutical industry and approved by the FDA. They have also evolved so that they are opposed to jailing marijuana users, so long as they comply with mandatory treatment.

Right now SAM has a new campaign aimed at the African American community called “Decriminalize Don’t Legalize,” which is done “In Partnership with the NAACP of Illinois.”

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