Posts Tagged ‘big pharma’

Genetic Code of Cannabis Reported Unlocked

(CBS News)  A small Massachusetts-based company says it has successfully sequenced a marijuana plant, paving the way for more research into the therapeutic effects of Cannabis – including its potential for treating cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Medicinal Genomics published the raw sequence strings at midnight. The company’s findings have not yet undergone peer review. Medicinal Genomics put the data up on’s EC2 cloud- computing system.The more than 131 billion bases of sequence, which is believed to constitute the largest known gene collection of the Cannabis genomes so far, will be made available to the scientific public sometime this fall.
The breakthrough also raises the possibility that researchers will eventually be able to weed out – no pun intended – the psychoactive effects pot smoking has on people while enhancing the medicinal aspects of Cannabis.
It’s only happenstance but Medicinal Genomics is headquartered both in Marblehead, Mass. and Amsterdam, where the company’s research facilities are found.
“This is the beginning of a more scientific approach to the genetics of the species,” Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Bloomberg. “This is not really about marijuana; it’s about pharmacology.”

Top 11 Reasons America Doesn’t Want Marijuana Legalized

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Culture
Wednesday, June 29, 2011, at 12:57 pm
        Photo: NORML Blog
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent

11. Wars make money for a few and kill the rest…

The War On Drugs makes money for cartels, police, the government, prisons, politicians, crooks, and all those other people we can’t see, like the Glad Bag people and the grow-light industry.
This 100-year revenue stream could dry up if Americans couldn’t be arrested for a drug that has been proven to be less destructive than whole milk.

10. Doesn’t matter what we do?
Barney Frank and Ron Paul cross the aisle for a bi-huggable confabulous (I know, but let me have it) bill supporting the legalization of marijuana.
Lamar Smith (R-Texas, surprise!), drinking buddy of the alcoholic lobbyists everywhere, will single-handedly try to stop the demon weed so that beer, wine and booze will never have to suffer like it did for those 13 long years almost a hundred years ago.
Lamar, according to, makes around 20 grand a year to ensure that the only bud that American kids put to their lips, has an Anheuser-Busch label on it.
Photo: Joe Raedle
​9. Drinking went up during Prohibition.
I know — who cares? — but apparently when you can’t get something, you want it more.
Per capita consumption of alcohol had been declining in the U.S. right before Prohibition started. After alcohol consumption hit an all-time low in 1921, it began to increase starting in 1922.
Especially alarming is economist Mark Thorton’s research finding that the “homicide rate increased from 6 per 100,000 population in the pre-Prohibition period to nearly 10 per 100,000 in 1933.”
8. In 1937, the guy who started this whole fiasco said…
“No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a philosopher, a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer.” ~ Harry J. Anslinger
And people still believe this… Let me help you out, America. You get mellow when you smoke. Whatever was troubling you hurts less now.
Harry was right about it making music and stories better, but murderers and insensate? I haven’t insensate since high school. (Someone should tell me what “insensate” means.)
Arkansans for Compassionate Care
​7. Where are the doctors? The AMA?
When all the false information was produced to scare America into marijuana prohibition in 1937, only one doctor testified before the congressional hearings.
All “evidence” was contrived by a small clique of an American cartel that wanted to do away with industrial hemp.
Where are the doctors now? They’re trying to find a way to market marijuana so it profits just the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who play ball with a health care industry that is for profit, not for compassion.
6. We do not want to tarnish the memory of Richard Nixon.
The President that had to step down because he lied to America created the Drug Enforcement Administration, a vast network of white, short-sleeved worker bees who hated marijuana.
As of 2009, the DEA has a budget of around $2.6 billion with 83 offices worldwide. For 40 years this agency has destroyed lives and families, making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
Does it work? No! Can we stop it? Not unless we want to rethink our whole I-Love-Dick-Nixon-and-all-he-stands-for attitude. After Reagan, secretively, Nixon is the Right’s favorite son.
Graphic: American Patriot Friends Network
​5. Prisons, prisons, prisons!
In a September 2008 report, the Marijuana Policy Project found that between 1995 and 2008 nearly 9.5 million individuals had been arrested due to connections with marijuana (whether it is cultivation, possession, or distribution). In 2007, there were 872,7209 marijuana-related arrests, an all-time record, totaling more arrests than those for all violent crimes combined.

This means, on average, that one person is arrested on marijuana charges every 36 seconds.
Cultivating as little as one marijuana plant is a federal felony. Several states have interjected and slightly decriminalized certain aspects of marijuana policy, but the majority of U.S. states continue to echo federal marijuana laws.
It doesn’t matter that Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce was working with the for-profit prison industry, Corrections Corporation of America, when composing the anti-immigration bill that his state made into law. The bill was about putting butts in the beds and all Russell and his friends were doing was making sure that before they build those big new prisons, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others would make sure they came. But please, only your browns and blacks.
Every year as pro-medical marijuana legislation and other progressive measures are advanced throughout the country, the correctional officers unions — along with the liquor lobby — are the major contributors to squashing any pro-pot laws.
Why? ‘Cause it ain’t any good for business.
​4. Hemp.
Sorry, but the silent sister of weed is always at the dance, but hardly ever asked to dance. There is so much money to be saved with hemp, meaning there are so many fearful industries that could lose money if there was a cheap alternative available: they’re scared shitless.
A fascinating exploration into the possibilities of hemp can be seen in two issues of Popular Mechanics in 1938 and 1941. An interesting side note is that these issues, which contain extensive praise for the possibilities of hemp production, were written after cannabis was already criminalized in 1937 with the Marihuana Tax Act.
It’s hard to believe that even after a year of cannabis being outlawed in America, Popular Mechanics was still praising the value of hemp. The magazine proudly proclaimed “hemp will produce every grade of paper and government figures estimate than 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average pulp land.”
Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody “hurds” remaining after the fiber has been removed contain more than 77 percent cellulose, which can be used to produce more than 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane.
3. Too many Americans still have access to marijuana.
Even though I am an activist fighting for the right of patients to get the medication they need, with that being said, I still know about 40,000 people growing it.
It is America’s number one cash crop. Someone’s got to be growing it.
This pisses off the Powers That Be. Until they can figure out how to stop unregulated growers (in their eyes) from trying to do their thing, Big Money and Big Pharma won’t rest. It’s never been about the weed, it’s about freedom.
Graphic: 303 Magazine
​2. Big Pharma wants to own marijuana.
A study from Mohamed Ben Amar in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology researched the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in marijuana. The study monitored the effects that cannabinoids had on seriously ill patients in several countries. In this study, Amar concluded:
“[I]t [i]s possible to affirm that cannabinoids exhibit an interesting therapeutic potential as stopping vomiting and nausea, an appetite stimulant in debilitating diseases (cancer and AIDS), analgesic, as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy and glaucoma.”
It works and they know it!
1. The chief reason Marijuana is still illegal in this country…
Because Big Pharma — even with all their money, scientists and resources — still can’t figure out how to grow the Diggity-Dank like those stoners do!!
Photo: Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.


Weed Control

Weed control

Research on the medicinal benefits of marijuana may depend on good gardening–and some say Uncle Sam, the country’s only legal grower of the cannabis plant, isn’t much of a green thumb

A greenhouse in the Netherlands, where the cannabis grown for medicinal use is far more potent than that grown legally in the US.
A greenhouse in the Netherlands, where the cannabis grown for medicinal use is far more potent than that grown legally in the US. (The New York Times Photo)

By Jessica Winter  |  May 28, 2006

LYLE CRAKER HAS a number of plants on his mind. An agronomist and professor in the Department of Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he’s currently analyzing the active ingredients in black cohosh, which is used to alleviate symptoms of menopause. He is also studying goldenseal, a native American plant that shows promise as a treatment for some skin irritations, and exploring the possibility that certain Chinese medicinal plants could be cultivated in Massachusetts for research purposes.

There is another medicinal plant that Craker would like to grow and study, but in this instance, his prospects will be determined in a courtroom. Since 2001, Craker has been seeking a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration to establish a medical-marijuana growth facility at UMass-Amherst. It would be the second such facility in the US; at present, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency, produces the only legal supply of cannabis in the country at the University of Mississippi.

The DEA lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical uses. However, marijuana is unique on the Schedule I roster-which also includes cocaine, LSD, and MDMA (Ecstasy)-as the only substance that is not available from multiple independent producers for clinical research purposes.

“There are two issues here: quality and access,” says Rick Doblin, the Belmont-based founder and president of the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is sponsoring Craker’s suit against the DEA. The government holds that its Mississippi operation obviates the need for a second crop. Craker and MAPS counter that NIDA cultivates a product of poor quality and does not make it readily available to qualified researchers, and point to NIDA’s previous refusals to supply cannabis to two scientists with FDA-approved protocols as grounds for establishing an independent facility.

On April 20, the Food and Drug Administration released a controversial statement declaring that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The outcome of Craker’s case-especially if it reaches federal court, as is likely-could realign the terms of the national debate over medical marijuana. For now, the suit, which has the expressed support of Senators Edward Kenedy and John Kerry, as well as 38 members of the House of Representatives, is in the hands of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who’s expected to make her recommendation to the agency on the application sometime this summer. Final briefs were filed on May 8.

There is abundant anecdotal evidence and personal testimony to support myriad uses of cannabis to treat symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. As the FDA reiterated in its statement, however, scant clinical evidence exists to back these claims-or, for that matter, to contradict them. Paradoxically, the controls on official research of cannabis in America undermine both the medical-marijuana movement’s efforts to prove the drug’s benefits and the government’s assertions of its dangers. Strangely enough, the case for pharmaceutical cannabis may, in the end, come down to good gardening-and may depend on whether the government is willing to give up its monopoly on marijuana.

. . .

Cannabis sativa was once widely recommended by American physicians as a mild sedative, much as the popular herbal treatments valerian and camomile are used today. By 1937, however, the drug had been effectively outlawed by the Marihuana Tax Act. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics had aggressively pursued this ban with Congress, and cited marijuana’s perceived popularity as a smoked narcotic among Mexican farm laborers, hysterical tabloid reports on its deranging effects, and results from tests on canine subjects.

Punishments for pot-related offenses remained light into the 1980s, and President Carter favored decriminalization. It wasn’t until the War on Drugs gathered momentum midway through the Reagan administration that penalties became fearsome enough to drive marijuana growers indoors-which, it turned out, was the best possible place for a cannabis plant to thrive. In “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World” (2001), author Michael Pollan has an epiphany while visiting a “grow room” run by an acquaintance. “[I]t dawned on me,” he writes, “that this was what the best gardeners of my generation had been doing all these years: They had been underground, perfecting cannabis.”

From the standpoint of both the scientist and the connoisseur, perfect cannabis can be achieved with unseeded, genetically identical female plants. The original crop is harvested from seeds, and subsequent generations are bred from cuttings. Characterized by the “buds” from which marijuana derives one of its many slang names, these virgin female plants carry high levels of molecules unique to the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids. The two most well-understood cannabinoids are THC and CBD, which many physicians and patients believe can alleviate nausea, stimulate appetite, ease pain and anxiety, and lessen the muscle stiffness and spasms associated with MS.

In the UK, the GW Pharmaceuticals company has a government license to grow cannabis under highly regulated conditions. At a secret location in southern England, in greenhouses that are computer-controlled for temperature, humidity, and light, the GW research team has compiled a veritable library of plant strains, with precisely determined ratios of cannabinoid content.

The upshot is Sativex, a liquid extract of equal parts THC and CBD that is sprayed under the tongue to treat neuropathic pain. Britain permits the use of Sativex in MS patients, and the drug has been approved for marketing in Canada. Cannabinoids also have a presence on the US market, in the recently approved Cesamet, a synthetic cannabinoid, and in Marinol, a THC extract in pill form that the FDA approved back in 1985. But Marinol contains no CBD, and ingested THC is metabolized differently from smoked marijuana-the palliative effects take much longer to kick in, and the psychoactive effects are far stronger.

Craker’s intentions for a Massachusetts site are similar to the GW template: an indoor facility housing female clones, with strains made to order for researchers according to exact cannabinoid content. In contrast to the methods practiced by GW and by America’s outlaw gardeners, however, NIDA grows the majority of its marijuana outdoors, under conditions that result in unwanted pollination and, according to some users, a harsh product. The Institute harvested its most recent marijuana crop in Mississippi in 2002, and stockpiled the supply in vaults and freezers. Cannabinoid content of NIDA pot is highly variable, and a THC potency of 6 to 8 percent is about as high as researchers can hope for. By contrast, Canada distributes medical marijuana to patients at 12.5 percent, and medical marijuana in the Netherlands ranges from 13 to 18 percent potency.

“I’ve spoken to patients who have used [NIDA marijuana], and they’ve said it’s everything from worthless to other descriptions I should not use,” Craker says. “The patient has to smoke one cigarette after the other to get any effective relief from pain.” Ethan Russo, a neurologist and now a senior medical adviser to GW Pharmaceuticals, conducted patient studies with NIDA marijuana and reported, “A close inspection of the contents of NIDA-supplied cannabis cigarettes reveals them to be a crude mixture of leaf with abundant stem and seed components.. . .The resultant smoke is thick, acrid, and pervasive.”

Then again, it’s not in NIDA’s job description-or even, perhaps, in NIDA’s interests-to grow a world-class marijuana crop. The institute’s director, Nora Volkow, has stressed that it’s “not NIDA’s mission to study the medicinal use of marijuana or to advocate for the establishment of facilities to support this research.” Since NIDA’s stated mission “is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction,” federally supported marijuana research will logically tilt toward the potential harms, not benefits, of cannabis.

Under these circumstances, evidence in support of medical marijuana tends to materialize as a byproduct, not a primary goal, of official research. For example, Donald Tashkin of UCLA intended to demonstrate via a NIDA-supported study that marijuana smoke increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancer. But the findings of the study, announced this past week, indicate that heavy marijuana smokers actually show lower cancer rates than tobacco smokers, indirectly supporting claims by medical-marijuana proponents for the tumor-inhibiting properties of cannabinoids.

. . .

At the moment, federal law prohibits pot cultivation even in those states (11 at last count) that have passed medical-marijuana referenda. In 1996, Californians voted in favor of the Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215, which permitted the use and cultivation of marijuana by qualified patients. According to the act, patients with a referral from a physician can obtain medical marijuana from one of some 200 dispensaries or “buyers’ clubs,” which procure their high-grade stock from tucked-away farms and discreet greenhouses. Despite the ever present threat of a crackdown from the federal government, these companies are thriving-some clubs even offer their employees healthcare benefits and 401(k) plans-and have created a market for medical marijuana.

“For evidence in support of the healthy competition fostered by a marketplace economy, you need only to look at the quality of marijuana available in California,” says Mark Blumenthal, who directs the nonprofit American Botanical Council of Austin, Texas. “Pluralism and economic competition are good for the consumer. We generally don’t allow and empower monopolies in our culture-it’s contrary to the tenets of our economic system.”

The invocation of a government monopoly on marijuana helps to explain the strange bedfellows on the pro-cannabis side of this issue. The conservative historian Richard Brookhiser and the late Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger both spoke out in favor of medical marijuana, and supporters of Craker’s suit against the DEA include not only several nurses’ associations and the United Methodist Church but Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a staunch defender of small government and an unfettered free market.

“The use of controlled substances for legitimate research purposes is well-established, and has yielded a number of miracle medicines widely available to patients and doctors,” Norquist wrote in his letter of support. “This case should be no different. It’s in the public interest to end the government monopoly on marijuana legal for research.”

Given Norquist’s many successes on the lobbying circuit, perhaps all medical marijuana needs is a new pitch man.

Jessica Winter is a freelance journalist in New York. She writes for The Village Voice, the Guardian (UK), Time Out London, and other publications.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

Is Big Pharma set to corner the American market on medical marijuana?

Is Big Pharma set to corner the American market on medical marijuana?

Category: Culture | Posted on Tue, April, 19th 2011 by THCFinder
The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.
Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain. It’s on the market in those countries as a liquid that patients spray under the tongue and is prescribed primarily for sufferers of multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Sativex: Liquefied marijuana
If the name “Sativex” rings a distant bell, that’s because it’s derived from Cannabis sativa, the scientific name for the plant from which both hemp and marijuana are harvested. It’s an appropriate name because, unlike other cannabinoids produced for recreational and medicinal use (and plagued by side effects not present in natural cannabinoids), Sativex is not a synthetic concoction, but essentially liquefied marijuana. It’s an extract of whole-plant cannabis that includes the psychoactive agent THC as well as cannabidiol (CBD), the chemical thought to be responsible for some of the anti-nausea and cancer-cell-killing effects of medical marijuana.
While the official word from GW is that the THC and CBD balance each other out to provide marijuana’s medicinal effects without an accompanying high, cannabis expert and professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Dr. Lester Grinspoon has said just upping the dosage would provide the same effects as recreational marijuana.
Early in Sativex’s development, GW hired Dr. Andrea Barthwell as a consultant to sing the drug’s praises, although she’s no longer in the employ of GM. Barthwell was a deputy drug czar under George W. Bush and is the former president of the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM). In a recent ASAM press release, Barthwell denounced medical marijuana but — significantly — only because it was unregulated by the federal government.

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