Posts Tagged ‘toke of the town’

Seattle Hempfest All Weekend!

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Photo: Jack Rikess
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent (From Seattle)
Seattle’s Hempfest opens today. For 20 years, political activists, social progressives, cannabis enthusiasts and the curious has been making the trek out to the Northwest’s longest running cannabis klatch. The festival occupies a twist of land that stretches on the East edge of the sound for a little better than a mile and half.  Really, just a hefty salmon toss down from Pike Place Market.
Expanding from two to three days, with a new Friday opening instead of the usual Saturday beginnings, from what I saw Thursday as the crews were setting up, it’s only getting bigger and better. For three days, there will be knowledgeable speakers talking about issues intrinsic to Washington State, plus non-stop music, great looking food booths and of course, about two hundred thousand attendees, looking for info, music, exotic munchies and a precipitous good time.

Being a veteran of a few of these festivals, as pot leaves are being glued to fences and outside shops and all things marijuana were being erected, I kinda wondered where the “Patient’s Tent” was going to be or as we say in California, the “215 Area.” That place where a festival goer can go when the cotton candy because too much and you’re looking for some cotton mouth now. Y’know, that place where we go to medicate. That place where the heads traditionally gather communally passing around the good Karma. You know, where we go to smoke.
That’s when I was told that there is no marijuana smoking at Hempfest. This may seem a little incongruous but this is also the reason the event has been able to exist for two decades operating during Republican administrations and now our own turncoat, President Obama. Operating a cannabis happening is at best a mountain climb with the uphill politics, a changing climate daily and with only your trusted guide to rely on, an overnight landside can stop you in your tracks.
Even this year’s Hempfest has to jump through hoops brought on by the City of Seattle, mostly a paperwork smokescreen intended on delaying the promoters from opening. But the Pot Gods favored the righteous, and here we are today.
Putting on an event of this nature must come fraught with hassles and unforeseen calamities. At the entrances and exits, rent-a-cops maintain security and control. The local Seattle’s finest, not the coffee, the cops, secure a position above the fray allowing the event’s own security to handle any interior occurrences.
When you think of rock concert security, the Hell’s Angels is what first pops in my head. Bearded fatso’s who favor pool cues as their means for communication. Or maybe ex-cops or old guys from World War II that ran security for hotels or corporations, now retired from that are in charge. I imagine pot-bellies, low slung pistols in a drooping holster, maybe a southern accent. Guys who are more comfortable working a state fair and now have been begrudgingly brought in to “work” with the hippies.
Two hundred thousand guests can be a handful to say the least. I had to meet who was in charge of the safety of the two hundred grand. I mean, the water right there! What could go wrong?
I walked over to the security tent. There was a kid out front with khaki shorts, security team t-shirt with a peaceful smile and a radio about to be keyed. Before he could get to his job, I interrupted him, asking if I could speak to who is in charge.
He said, “That be me.”
Really.
“Really.”
Meet Mitch Draper, the 24-year old, who’s in charge of yours and my good time.
My first question was, c’mon, Mitch, you’re the boss?
Then my ageism is snubbed out like Mexican swag.
“Well, this is my 10th year of working the festival. I started out doing this and that, but in the last years, I started with security, and now…I’m the boss.”
Right away his even keel demeanor tells you how partly he got this job. But there are details. So I asked Mitch my “burning” question.
What do you do about people smoking pot on the grounds?
“Most people are really cool and considerate. We give them a choice if they’re caught smoking on the Hempfest’s grounds. You can either dump out your stuff right now into this barrel that we bring to them, or we call in SPD.
The barrel?
“We have a huge barrel that we keep inside the perimeter. Once we catch someone and they choose the barrel. They dumped their stuff out and them before their eyes, we pour chlorine bleach all over everything.”
Is it mostly marijuana?
The 24-year old Army reservist went on, “We get acid, ecstasy, pills and other junk. But it all goes into the barrel.”
Just then some of the other members of the security team came out to where we were.
Not trying to be a smart ass, I asked these obvious older than 24 guys, what it was like to take orders from Mitch.
“So what’s it like being in security with Mitch? Taking orders from a kid?”
A big guy logging in at over a couple of bills corrected me right away. “We are the safety team; we don’t like being called security. That’s for the Seattle cops or TSA that handles some of our external posts. And that’s a stupid question. Mitch is great and a great boss. His age has nothing to do with his ability.”
Another gentleman, who looks like he could be your cousin William from Indiana, second the Big Guy’s opinion that Mitch is in control and sets the right tone for this kind of event.
All of Safety Team seems so mellow and youthfully exuberant that the three day festival may happen possibly with sun and not the expected rain, belittles the fact that Cousin Willy is actually ex-special forces and most of the rest of the team, even in their twenties
So guys, what does the Safety Team look out for. What are your biggest headaches?
Mitch said right away, “Distribution. People doing business or smoking or even giving some away. It’s all a no-no.”
Then comes the barrel?
Mitch nods his head yes. “There’s always someone who shows up thinking he can make some bucks selling here. Sorry, no.”
The Big Guy says crowds can be a challenged. “With this many people, some of them get a little crazy. We just do basic crowd control and it always seems to work out.”
One of the guys who hadn’t spoken yet said, “I hate the drunks. Even Seattle Police will tell you that they rather deal with the stoners at Hempfest. Their mellow and listen. The drunks are drunks. They want to fight or just cause trouble.”
Cousin Willy also mentioned dehydration. “Dehydration is a huge problem. People forget to drink water at these things. Got to stay hydrated. That goes for staff too. People working hard, we remind the staff to keep refreshing. We try to stay proactive.”
Any problems from past years stand out?
“We had a drunken naked guy swim out to the channel one year,” Mitch stated matter-of-factly. “We called the Coast Guard right away. They got him. He became their problem.”
At that point, my girlfriend, who I’ll call ‘Yoko,’ asked Mitch if the compound that the Safety Team is housed in, the Draper Compound. Is it named after you?”
Mitch answered humbly. “No, the compound is named after my Dad, Merle Draper. He was a long time cannabis activist in Washington before he passed.”
A second generation cannabis kid.
Mitch’s Dad is famous up here in these parts but Mitch didn’t expound and I didn’t pry. But I knew if he was my kid, I’d be sure as damn proud of him as I’m sure his father is.
While talking to them a call came on the radio about some street people on the outside of the gate harassing some people. I decided to tag along.
Four face-tattooed hobos, two inches away from the front main gate were smoking the ends of street-flatten cigarettes while trying to sell whatever they had on a blanket to the walkers going by.
Right away the hobos got their dandruff flying, accusing everyone but themselves that the others were the source of causing problems, not them.
Mitch and the Safety Team reasoned with them. Talked to them in low gentle tones. In five minutes they were gone.
Mitch and his guys are pros.
Have a great and safe Hempfest!

 
Photo: Jack Rikess

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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 jackrikess.com.

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.
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

‘Marijuana Is Sexy’: Talking Pot with Mendo Sheriff Tom Allman

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Photo: Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman:
“We are, of course, supportive of legitimate medical marijuana here.”
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent

The Coming of the New Prophet
Rikess: Last time we spoke in August of last year… (See Toke of the Town’s 2010 interview with Sheriff Allman here.)
Sheriff: Seems like yesterday…
Rikess: (laughs) I know and still…you don’t write and you don’t call…
Sheriff: (laughs) Okay…
Rikess: So last time I was here, you said something that was incredibly right on. You said that there was going to be very little difference between George Bush’s administration and Obama’s, when it came to medical marijuana. You said that someone big in the attorney general’s office sat in the chair I’m sitting in and said, and I’m paraphrasing, “He guaranteed me that it was going to be the same under Obama as it was with George Bush. In the end, Eric Holder will handle medical marijuana the same way [the] George Bush [Administration] did.” 
Sheriff: It wasn’t Eric Holder. It was a U.S. attorney. The chronological order was, the U.S. attorney came up here and said, (this is definitely under George W.), saying, “ummm, the U.S. government will not get involved with any marijuana cultivation, distribution, what-ever-you-want-to-call-it, that falls within the boundaries of California’s medical marijuana.”
Okay, thank you very much. And, you know, he took his dog and pony show and went somewhere else.
Then the presidential election happened, okay. Then in the primary or maybe it was before the general election, Obama just mentioned something about medical marijuana.

Rikess: I have the quote. [Regarding federal raids on medical marijuana facilities in states which have approved its use, Candidate Obama said,] I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.
Sheriff: Then all the people started, “Oh my gawd, the prophet has arrived. Y’know, he’s here!” And then after he won the election and took office, Eric Holder came out and said, “The U.S. government will not get involved in any violations that fall within the state guidelines.” People are going  “That’s brilliant, that’s wonderful! Thank you sooo muuuuch!”
And those of us in law enforcement are going, “Huh?” It wasn’t even any different wording [than the George Bush people used too], it was the same, um, so I tell people that on a regular basis, not to be criticizing Obama at all, because…
Rikess:  When I was here last, a little positive that things were going to change surrounding medical marijuana and you set me straight with…again I’m paraphrasing, you said to me, “Whatever you think is going to happen with Obama, there’s going to be very little change between George Bush’s administration and Obama’s, when it comes to medical marijuana.” 

And at the time, I thought you were wrong. And you were…1000 percent correct.
Sheriff: Only because…honestly…What I really try to do is get down to the root…no pun intended… of where we’re going on this.
Y’know… I’ve heard many times in my career that our United States constitution is a living breathing document. Y’know, when you’re a kid you go, “Really? Well, I’ve been watching it for five years and it just sits there.” And you don’t understand the depths of a living, breathing [document, then it changes] …such as, what happen to the second amendment a few weeks ago.
Guns and Cannabis
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Photo: Herald Democrat
Rikess: What’s new with the 2nd amendment?
Sheriff: Well, what happen was there were some pro-gun people in the Bay Area. They were going to Starbuck’s with unloaded guns on their hip, fully exposed, because it wasn’t a violation of carrying a concealed firearm, because it was exposed. And it wasn’t a violation of carrying a loaded firearm in public because it was empty. And because they were pushing the envelope so much, yesterday the California Legislature said, “Ixnay, no, you can’t do that.”
And one of the things the 9th district just said was, and I don’t agree with…is…Sheriffs absolutely have the right to say, ‘no,’ to concealed weapons.
Rikess: Does that mean, you judge who has the right to carry a concealed weapon or not?
Sheriff: Yeah. But now the law allows the sheriff of the county or the chief of police, to issue concealed weapons permits. In Mendocino County we’re really weird…Okay?
Rikess: You’re preaching to the choir brother.
Sheriff: [Laughs] Monty Python was…uh…born here, okay, maybe not born here but conceived here.
We are, of course, supportive of legitimate medical marijuana here. But we’re also very supportive of concealed weapons here. Due to the recent population shift, I’m down to 87,000 people and I have 2,400 concealed weapons.
Rikess: How many?
Sheriff: 2400. Here’s the best news…25% of those 2400…are females. Jack, that’s great stuff right there.
Rikess: Because they’re not threatening like men?
Sheriff: No, because I want women to be able to protect themselves. The former sheriff said, “Tom, as sheriff of the county, you have the legal ability to empower someone to take care of their own personal safety.” Wow, that’s some pretty heavy words there.
Rikess: Okay my next question is…it seems like violence has increased here in the last year…
Sheriff: A very specific type of violence… Other violence hasn’t, road rage hasn’t, child abuse hasn’t [increased.]…
Rikess: But why would you want to introduce more guns into the community? What benefits you by doing that? [I say] the more guns [you introduce] into the community, some of those guns don’t find their way back to where they’re supposed to.
Sheriff: Right. So I have 2,500 concealed weapons approximately out there with people who have gone through the 16 hour course, they’ve been finger-printed; they’ve paid a total of about $300. They’ve been interviewed by my command staff.  I’ve reviewed their file. Now out of those 2,500, seriously Jack, I want you to really think about this one, on an annual basis, how many people with concealed weapons get in the eyes of law enforcement because of they’re carrying a concealed weapon.
Rikess: I would say a very small percent.
Sheriff:  Three a year, when I say they come on the radar of law enforcement, it’s not because they’re brandishing a fire arm. When they come up on the radar [it is usually because of what’s written] on the bottom of the concealed weapons permit. It says, “Not valid if under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” We have probably about three people per year who get arrested for DUI that have their concealed weapon and we say, you were illegally carrying a concealed weapon.
Rikess: Do you feel, are you supportive of the use of concealed weapons in America?  Let’s say in Arizona? Arizona where they can bring ’em into bars and such.
Sheriff: Well, I disagree with Arizona’s policies, because their screening is not as serious as what I just said we go through.
Rikess:  So you’re saying guns in your point of view is a little like medical marijuana, it’s up to the states and the locale to work out the  . . .
Sheriff:  Concealed weapons, fire arms, are a states’ rights issue, so much so, that right now, this is scary, Utah is saying, if we manufacture guns in Utah, if we sell guns in Utah, ATF has no legal authority to restrict what is made and sold in Utah because there’s no state borders that are crossed.  You know what? They’re right!  Oh my god, it’s pushing the states rights issue all the way up the line!
I got off topic. Because you’re here to talk about Medical Marijuana.
Rikess: And also, I’m here to talk about violence.
Sheriff: Ok, let’s talk about violence.
Rikess: What are your thoughts on a 31-bullet clip and amour-piercing bullets? 
Sheriff:  Well, I mean there are limitations.  Do I believe there is a need to prevent armor piercing rounds from entering the public? Of course I do.
My question for the average NRA member is, and I’m a very pro Second Amendment person: “Tell me where the line is.” I say, we start with a bb gun and we go to a nuclear bomb of weapons. Where is the line of what a citizen can have? Is it a nuclear bomb?”
Of course not, that’s crazy. Alright, well, we’re getting somewhere, you know, Let’s get down to a grenade, what about a grenade? And then we get to machine guns, what other…
Rikess: Their fear is that, and just like the marijuana people, if you take away their 31 [bullet] clip, you’re going to come after something else next.
Sheriff:  Is there a slippery slope?  The difference between gun ownership, I believe, and medical marijuana, is gun ownership is clearly defined in law.  When I send a deputy out on the street, and he finds a gun that could be illegal, he can look in his book and say, what’s the law, it is illegal. And I’m taking you to jail. However, when he goes out and stops a car with 20 pounds of marijuana in it and the guy has a recommendation from a doctor that says he can have 20 lbs of marijuana, he goes, “Oh”.
Rikess: Well my response to that is we [as a society] understand guns but we don’t understand marijuana.
Sheriff: Okay, I’m gonna change that…in my opinion…We as a society have grown up with guns since the Revolutionary War…
Rikess: …[You’re saying] Incorporated guns into our lifestyle…
Sheriff: …Since you know we beat the British. And marijuana has always been…Shhhh.  It is only in the last few years we’ve been able to talk about it openly.
Da Feds and Those Damn Black Helicopters
Rikess: In the last three weeks, the Federal Government has really amped up their busts and how they are treating the medical marijuana industry…
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Photo: The Fix
Sheriff: …Where?
Rikess: San Francisco. San Jose. The state of California. The weird thing is north of Cloverdale, all of a sudden, you guys are getting your stuff together. You’re doing cooperatives, dispensaries, and paperwork. [Still] A lot of people are not feeling good because they don’t trust the Feds.
Sheriff: Sure, okay. Whatever. And let me make sure I read this to you…
[The Sheriff reads the agreement of the collectives, ending with the phrase, “This does not give me [the collective] immunity from prosecution under Federal law.”
Rikess: Yes, we get it.
Sheriff: We have to say that.
Rikess: Sure, we can say that here. Even joke about it. We want to bring more people into your permitted zip-tie program. We’re trying to get people out of the shadows and say, “The time is right to come out.”
Sheriff: Sure, that’s what we’ve been saying too.
Rikess: Well, the same thing goes for your people. Your people are freaking us out.Your people are raising the bar with what it takes to come out. You’ve asked the growers to let go of 40 years of bad blood between the law enforcement and the growers. We know you’re a cop and you answer to authorities higher than us. 
Sheriff: No, I don’t. Please don’t say that. The voters are my boss.
Rikess: My point is, you just don’t answer to the growers but all the citizens of Mendocino. With that being said, this ‘Operation Full-Court Press,’ The War on Drugs,…The war…
Sheriff: …Please don’t use the War on Drugs, it’s not a good analogy…
Rikess: I disagree, what is it then?
Sheriff: The War on abusers of public land.
Rikess: Or how about another way to spin it, this a revenue stream for you guys…
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Photo: Democratic Underground
Sheriff: What???
Rikess: This is a revenue stream for you guys to create a false war on drugs by saying there are cartels in these national forest when they may be just the same as the other opportunist who are heading to Mendocino to get in on the ‘Green Rush,’ just like the Russians, Israelis…
Sheriff: Bulgarians, Germans…
Rikess: Right, so I’m saying that these Mexican growers in the forest might be just like those people, and not necessarily a cartel, but more in the vein of the other opportunists who come here. We also know when you find 10,000 seedlings in the National Forest; there is some organized syndicate behind it. Those grows take a lot of people to run. Whether it is a cartel, disorganized crime, or a group of gangsters, we’re not saying they are angels, but they might not necessarily be the Mexican mafia cartels as they are being painted in the papers and news. 
Sheriff: Okay, okay…Let me boil this down for you…Number one, you’ve never heard me use the word, ‘cartel,’ other than to correct people to never use the word, cartel. ‘Cause I’ve never said the word ‘cartel,’ in that sentence. What I say is…organized crime.
Rikess: Okay, we know there is …a certain build-up going on in Mendocino…
Sheriff: Okay, let’s talk about those black helicopters…The Blackhawks…
Rikess: Okay…
Sheriff: The Blackhawks… Why are they here?
Rikess: Okay, let’s start there. Were they here?
Sheriff: They were here, two of them.
Rikess: Okay…
Sheriff: They were here. Why were they here?
Rikess: Should I tell you what my people say? 
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Photo: Ganja Farmer’s Emerald Triangle News
Sheriff: We did a press release on this but go ahead…
Rikess: I tell you what my people say…Homeland Security is here and they’re not leaving.
Sheriff: Oh well…wait, your people are right.
Rikess: Huh? Really?
Sheriff: So, why are they here?
Rikess: ?
Sheriff: You didn’t answer my question.
Rikess: Cause they got their foot in the door…
Sheriff: …Really? Of what?
Rikess: …I tell you what…What they are doing here is….They are equating what is going on here, with terrorism. And if they can equate it with terrorism, then they got Homeland Security. And if Homeland Security can get a foothold…
Sheriff: C’mon, Jack. [Laughs at Jack’s logic, shaking his head] The drugs of the Sixties were too good.
Rikess: …Let me finish…Then you can tell me where I’m wrong…
Sheriff: …You’re wrong already…
Rikess: Okay, when you can equate the organized crime going on in our national forest with terrorism, once you can do that…You can win the hearts and the minds of the people and then you guys can get as much money as you need to do your job. It starts getting to be about money. And this is a smokescreen to amp up the war on drugs, which we are trying to deflate and change, and you guys are doing business as usual. And this is a revenue stream. The war on drugs doesn’t work, and you guys don’t know it.
Sheriff: I’ll send you a bill for counseling…’Cause you got a lot of stuff off your chest… And the three words I’ve heard from my wife many times — I’ve been married 26 years — You are wrong.
And it’s very basic. You are wrong.
Rikess: To be very clear, tell me exactly what I’m wrong about.
Sheriff: Do you know what revenue we’re getting? Do you know what money we’re getting?
Rikess: Yes, I read about it…I got it here. [Jack pulls out article detailing the Sheriff’s budget.]
Sheriff: No, no, stop. Don’t have a preconceived notion of what my budget is…
Rikess: I have the answer here… 
Sheriff: No you don’t, because you don’t know the question.
Rikess: Sorry to cut you off, [checks notes] but you guys received $236,000…
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Photo: StoptheDrugWar.org
Sheriff: That money is only going to be used to reimburse Mendocino County for the cost associated with overtime and logistics for this operation.
Rikess: So was I right?
Sheriff: If the Federal government said, “Tom, we have $236,000,” and I don’t know if that is the correct figure…
Rikess: It is, roughly.
Sheriff: “…We have $236,000 and it is yours, but are you going to use it for marijuana or methamphetamine? I would be out of that office in a thirty second because I would answer one word, “Methamphetamine.”
Rikess: That’s what we want too! To change the focus…
Sheriff: First of all, Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were not transporting soldiers or law enforcement other than the pilot was a military guy. They were transporting biologists to Lake County, and environmentalists, because they were doing reclamation of some of the older gardens that were not covered with snow…
Rikess: Couldn’t you say, “Boys, couldn’t we get a couple of nondescript helicopters in here because of as soon as you bring in black helicopters, my people are going to get paranoid.” 
Sheriff: Oh Jack. Tell me what the price of a helicopter is? Tell me what the price is? I can I tell you? If I got a helicopter the size of a Blackhawk that can transport stuff and lift up stuff. I’d have to pay around $2,000 per hour. Y’know the price that military helicopter cost me?
Rikess: You’re talking logic. I’m talking about Mendocino people. When you have these Blackhawk military helicopters landing, people are going to talk. 
Sheriff: As far as Blackhawk helicopters go, I can’t afford other helicopters. I can’t afford them.
Those helicopters were doing reclamation in Lake County and the national forests. They were really and truly improving the quality of land when a Lake County sheriff’s sergeant, two weeks ago…didn’t even know the Blackhawk helicopters were there. He’s driving up to the national forest to do good, sees a van on the side of the road. Gets out of his car, watches three Mexicans with guns run into the bushes. Gets one Mexican with a gun and takes him into custody. Finds probably a thousand dollars worth of water fittings. I don’t know if I could fit a thousand dollars of water fittings in this room? Okay?
And so…was the Blackhawk helicopter involved? Were they involved with the enforcement action that day? Of course they were! But we can’t predict what is going to happen? Are there going…
Rikess: …Tom…
Sheriff: Hold on; let me ask the question you’re going to ask…
Rikess: Okay.
Sheriff: Are there going to be Blackhawks this summer in Mendocino? Absolutely there are… [Editor’s note: This was about a month before this year’s eradication effort, Operation Full Court Press began.]
Rikess: Are there going to be Blackhawks in Covelo?
Sheriff: Of course there are. I cannot afford other helicopters.
Rikess: Are you saying this is a government thing? That in the rental pool, all you got to choose from is those darn Blackhawks? 
Sheriff: Yeah, Air National Guard. This is what they got.
Rikess: So you’re saying if there was another helicopter to choose from, you would? That you don’t have another choice.
Sheriff: I don’t have choice. Air National Guard. This is it.
Rikess: So that’s your answer. 
Sheriff: That’s it. They are taxi cabs. They’ll be used for transport of some of the Federal officers…
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Photo: In The Pines
Rikess: One more question. I have reports of drones being seen in Covelo.
Sheriff: Those reports are wrong.
Rikess: Just one more time. The people who reported this to me, didn’t have pictures, [so I don’t have proof] but there are all these people worried, and part of the reason I’m here is to defuse paranoia, and I trust you, Tom Allman.
[Sheriff Tom Allman stands and retrieves a picture of wife and kids.]
Sheriff: This is a picture of my family. I’m going to put my right hand on the picture and say, “From the bottom of my heart, nobody on god’s green earth has given my any information that there is unmanned aircraft patrolling any part of this county.
Rikess: Okay, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask this question. Would they keep you out of the loop so you wouldn’t have to answer questions like this? 
Sheriff: No, that would seriously damage the relationship between local and federal government.
Rikess: Third thing…then I’ll leave it. Would you tell them [the federal government] that you are adamantly against drones being used anywhere in my county?
Sheriff: Okay, let’s talk about that before I say that…
Rikess: Okay.
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Photo: Business Insider
Sheriff: When this program first started, I asked about drones. Because the purpose of intelligence gathering, is to find out where in the national forest…there’s a hotbed of activity. Okay? In other words, where people are? So…drones may be the right answer. And I thought it was a legitimate question and then I was clearly told by the FAA. Drones inside the political boundaries of the United States of America, are illegal, except for on the American-Mexican border. I can’t fly drones even if I wanted to.
Rikess: That’s great. That is the most concrete logical answer. So we can say if there ever was actually a drone within this area…that would be illegal activity. So it wouldn’t happen.
Sheriff: Period. End of statement.
Trust
Rikess: We want people coming out. We want to be able to trust, I don’t know if that’s the best choice of words…to trust the Sheriff’s Department…That when they [the growers who will register] come forward…it’s going to be okay for them…
Sheriff: …And all of that’s true right there…All of that’s true.
Rikess: That’s not true [for some]. Some people said, “I came out in 2008 [registering and doing the paperwork for the zip-tie program, e.g. giving the police department my name and that I’m growing] and when it didn’t happen in 2009 (the program was suspended for that one year and has functioned every year since), I got very scared.” And I’m crossing my fingers for 2010, and now, 2011, and hopefully, 2012.
Sheriff: We didn’t bust any of those people, did we?
Rikess: Right.
Sheriff: Sounds to me like its working, huh?
Marketing Tools
Sheriff: The Five Percenters…
Rikess: What? 
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The Pot Republic
Sheriff: Here’s the Tom Allman’s unofficial survey. Five percent of the population believes…if you have a marijuana cigarette, marijuana seed, marijuana plant, you should go to federal prison for the rest of your life. Okay, five percent of the population on the other side believe… You can do anything you want with marijuana, heroin, any natural drug… Smoke it until your head caves in.
I have learned through my 29 years of law enforcement, there’s nothing I can say to those two outlets at this point to get them to change anything. All they want to do is try to change me and harden my stance, one way or another. So I’ve come to the conclusion… I hardly listen to these people. [But] The 90 percent in the middle…The ones who want to make change, all right.
Rikess: And that’s what I’m doing here today, representing the 90 percent… Y’know…We…
Sheriff: …Can’t we all get along?
Rikess: Well, more so than that is…We’ve stuck our necks out supporting you…
Sheriff: Whoa…
Rikess: You don’t owe us anything for that…
Sheriff: (Shakes his head)
Rikess: But, we want things in return…And…and…we understand as the Big Cop, you can’t always give us things we want, like when we say, we don’t want you to smash the Mom and Pop’s on the way to the big grows….
Sheriff: …Right…
Rikess: That can’t be guaranteed. 
Sheriff: Here’s what I will guarantee…
Rikess: Okay. I think I got a scoop.
Sheriff: No.
Rikess: Oh…
Sheriff: There will be no 25-plant gardens eradicated this summer. I think that’s a really, reasonable guarantee.
Rikess: I had this conversation with somebody last night and I was unclear with this…with 25 plants, they don’t need to get it permitted. [Editor’s note: You still need a medical marijuana card in order to grow.]
Sheriff: No.
Rikess: Right…So what they told me is…They can be hassled by your deputies for up to three hours to determine [if they have a doctor’s recommendation]…So I said to someone…is it beneficial for you…someone to get the permits…the zip-ties on your 25-plant garden? 
Sheriff: You’re confusing permits and zip-ties…Just to let you know. You don’t need a permit to get 25 zip-ties.
Rikess: Right.
Sheriff: You just need cash.
Rikess: Sorry. And I said, is it worth it for you to get zip-ties on your 25 plants for peace of mind?
Sheriff: Yep, that’s it.
Rikess: They said yes because lot of times, these helicopters will come into our compounds, they look around, if they see the zip-ties, they just take-off. 
Sheriff: Isn’t that amazing?
Rikess: I say that is incredibly amazing. 
Sheriff: Yep.
Rikess: That is just amazing. And it’s progress. 
Sheriff: Last year probably the biggest marking tool we had is when a guy got stopped by one of our law enforcement officers, who is one of the most aggressive against marijuana going…[this guy] was stopped with thirty thousand cash [on-board and he told the officer that he was part of a permitted cooperative.] On his cell phone, the officer called Sergeant J. to inquire if the stopped gentleman was indeed part of a legitimate cooperative? Sergeant J. said, “Yes, he’s permitted.” And the guy and his cash were allowed to continue southbound. And that word got out… One step further.
Marijuana Is Sexy
Rikess: Alright. I’m going to end with this…
Sheriff: All right. The hardest question of the day. (Tom in an announcer’s voice)  “Ladies and gentlemen, could you please stand-by for the hardest question of the day.”
Rikess: This isn’t even the hardest…this is…Why is…Why is this thing so god-damn confusing?
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Photo: Stop Pop Culture
Sheriff: Let me tell you why… One of my goals has been to take marijuana off the front page. So now the question is…Who wants to take it off the front page?
Because…Or… How about this? Who doesn’t want it taken off the front page? And who doesn’t is… is a longer list than who does. Because the media does not want it off the front page. Marijuana is sexy. Marijuana is just… everyone wants to read about marijuana. Whether you’re pro, con or whatever…
It is on the front page. You want to read it. It is on 60 Minutes. You want to look at it.
All these things — it’s sexy.
Second thing of why it is confusing… In my humble opinion, there are so many nuances to 9.31, that we had radicals, and that’s a strong term I rarely use, from both sides…Those five-percenters, okay? [And they] pick and choose what they’re talking points are…and they use those talking points… And 90 percent of the middle says, “What about this?” When they’re trying to have an educated argument.
And the five percent who say, “You shouldn’t ever have anything.” Here are their talking points: Number one, “Because the Federal Government says it is illegal.” [And above these growers] “These people don’t pay taxes. You and I pay taxes. These people should pay taxes.”
For the other five percent… [The Sheriff uses his holier than thou voice] “It’s a God-given herb. Why can’t you let us have it?” Then they’ll start to use the alcohol thing. You know what? Radiation is God-given element on this Earth. So I’m surely not going to agree with what their talking points are. If these people keep throwing their talking points out there to confuse the mix, and all I say…and all these 90 in the middle says, “You know what? I think we can come up with a happy medium. So we are. We’re coming up with a happy medium.
Find Your Own Solutions
Rikess: A person has asked me to ask you this. Someone is growing 25 plants on a parcel…
Sheriff: And they end up with 100 pounds…
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Photo: Science Daily
Rikess: No, just the opposite. This person is growing with a collective because he or she can’t grow on their property or cannot be part of a 99-plant grow, and is under the umbrella or part of cooperative that is growing 25 plants. There’s 12 people part of this collective.
At the end of the season because of bugs, mildew, theft, what have you, and for my readers, this is a legitimate operation. At the end of the season things don’t go right for these people. Now then there are 10 plants for 12 people.
The people who are trying to grow their own marijuana are down to one and half plants each. And in six months’ time, they’re searching out for other…means to grow marijuana. It isn’t realistic…
Sheriff: Well, it is actually…If they’re from the northern part of the county it’s realistic because the plants we eradicated out of Laytonville were seven pound plants. But go ahead…
Rikess: Okay. We want to understand that you do realize 25 plants for 10 people is unrealistic. We understand it is advancement. We understand it is a first step. Then there is this Kelly law which I don’t understand because it seems it directs the answer to that question but it never answers that question directly. Tom, do you know what I mean…
Sheriff: Keep talking. I know exactly what you are saying…
Rikess: So, you’re doing the best you can. Some people can’t get into the 99 plant because of water, electricity, blah, blah, blah. Some can’t grow for whatever the reason, so they grow with a collective. So like I said, they are forced to seek out other means to grow this medicine.   
So the plan has a hole in it. If the plan is to be realistic, and we’re not with that five percent that says, let me grow as much as I need, for as many people…There has to be regulations…But do you understand where we’re coming from…
Sheriff: Number one, let’s get off straight. You ask me a question. Don’t I realize that 25 may not be enough? Well… Listen, if it was up to me, a lot of things would change in this world. But the world according to Tom is not what fills up law books. Okay? So… Do I realize that? I realize that…however; let me tell you why I’d throw the bullshit flag on this if someone wanted to challenge me in public on this.
Okay, there’s 12 of you. I want to make sure there’s 12 of you. Yeah. This is 25 plants per parcel. This is per parcel. Are you saying between the other 11 of you, there is no other place to grow it?
Rikess: Yes…
Sheriff: Because I would follow by saying…Remember when I told you about the one-percenters? The single digit percentage of people who are legitimate? That means there is a double-digit high percentage of people who are illegitimate. And they just waiting for someone to come to them and say, I have a recommendation, I have cancer. And I don’t have a place to grow.
And they go, hallelujah. I’ve legitimized my marijuana. Please come on in! And they welcome them in. And they take care of it.
All you have to do in a marijuana community is talk to other people and you can take care of your problem. But if you want to lay awake at night and find a kink in the system, hell, you can do it. These 12 people, I’m going to say, have not ventured out to find out what they can do. I don’t know of any real situation that you just said, unless the people cannot venture out and cannot figure out what to do…
Why Permits Work
Rikess: When it comes to the purchasing of permits and zip-ties, I’ve encountered two schools of thought from growers who are coming forward. One belief is they do it for civic pride and peace of mind. That once they’re permitted and legit: they’ve done away with the local law enforcement intangible. There’s another school of thought that’s more cynical, that calls it blood money. They believe it’s what they have to pay to law enforcement to grow their medicine. What do you do with the money you make from permits and zip-ties?
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Photo: News Junkie Post
Sheriff Tom Allman has been supportive of medical marijuana patients who go by the rules.
Sheriff: My business shows that if I have a hundred of these files, I’ve collected $600,000 from these people. The rules state that the money I take in can only be used for what impacts this office. People think that this money goes to just keeping on deputies or that it is some kind of revenue stream. By law, I can only use this money for what impacts this office. I could give you a lot of figures, real numbers that would stagger your mind. Okay?
Marijuana impacts Mendocino County. And we’re just not talking medicinal, okay? So from April 20th to October, marijuana impacts this county greatly, not to mention the rest of the year, but spikes during this period. That’s what this money is used for. To try to keep up with the bad guys and do right for the good guys, okay? Again, we support legitimate medical marijuana. Everything costs money.
The money I’ve taken in so far only reimburses about a third of my expenses. Again, I’m operating on the same size budget that the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office had during the LBJ era.
Remember, some of the most vocal opponents to marijuana in Mendocino County complain that these marijuana growers don’t pay taxes like the rest of us good folk do. The money from permits and zip-ties silences that argument.
So I have this business plan, you take money in and you also understand that with the money comes that obligation… We’re trying to do the right thing for all residents of Mendocino County. So far we’ve found a pragmatic solution that seems to be working. And what we’re going to do is… everything we can do… to protect the legitimacy of the operation.
Packaged Marijuana Good, Live Marijuana Bad
Rikess: I don’t know if you know about this…What am I saying? You know everything.
Sheriff: You mean that ticket you didn’t pay in ’88? I know all about it…
Rikess: Wow, you’re good.
Sheriff: I know it…
Rikess: I had to change my name to get out of that…So…Joy Greenfield. 
Sheriff: Oh, yeah, okay.
Rikess: I want to hear it from the cop’s mouth. 
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Photo: Fark
Sheriff: ‘Kay.
Rikess: This is what my people tell me…
Sheriff: (laughs) My people? My peeps?
Rikess: Sorry, I just love saying that. (Both laugh) And again, I want to be really clear. I represent no one. 
Sheriff: Okay…Joy Greenfield…
Rikess: Okay, here’s the deal up here…is Joy Greenfield got busted.
Sheriff: Yes…By? Finish the sentence…
Rikess: DEA. 
Sheriff: DEA.
Rikess: And she got her crop taken…
Sheriff: Yep…
Rikess: Not returned…
Sheriff: Well…
Rikess: Hey, hey, hey.
Sheriff: How can you return grown marijuana?
Rikess: It was told that it was a bad bust and it should be returned. And the people up here say, “What we do is, because we do not want to accrue legal expenses, we take the loss with the weed…”  
Sheriff: Cost of doing business.
Rikess: Cost of doing business, right? They say she should have got her medicine back. 
Sheriff: …By the federal government?
Rikess: Yes. 
Sheriff: I’m not aware of the federal government ever returning marijuana.
Rikess: They do.
Sheriff: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
Rikess: The federal government. 
Sheriff: Happens all the time?
Rikess: Not all the time…but on busts…that are inappropriate…
Sheriff: I’m assuming… when they return it…they’re returning the package processed product, not the live plant. Because we take those out and destroy them.
Rikess: I didn’t know that…
Sheriff: And its unknown how we destroy them…No one knows that…It’s unknow
Rikess: What do you mean?
Sheriff: Well…I’m not telling you…
Rikess: You mean besides for burning them in the backyard?
Sheriff: We don’t burn them…
Rikess: Okay…Can we do 20 questions? Number one, do they go into a container?
Sheriff: No. We destroy them.
Rikess: How do you destroy them? 
Sheriff: In the accordance of law.
Rikess: C’mon tell me…
Sheriff: C’MON, JACK!
Rikess: No, this is cool. How do you destroy marijuana? What could you possibly do different than incinerate it? 
Sheriff: Okay, you’re talking to Tom Allman. So how would Tom Allman…?
Rikess: Encase all that seized marijuana in a thick glass box with glue all over it… So you can have those… those hippies look at stuff that they could never touch… And catch the ones that do touch it.
Sheriff: This isn’t for public dissemination. Stop the tape recorder and I’ll tell you…
(tape recorders stops)
[The Sheriff tells Jack one of Mendo’s biggest secrets.]
[Tape recorder comes back on.]
Rikess: You were worried about me writing about allowing the Vets in your jail to celebrate Veteran’s Day with a BBQ while dressed in their uniforms. Nothing happened with that and that was published…So why I don’t come out with how you get rid of marijuana?
Sheriff: I can’t.
Rikess: But Tom, you do so many good programs here. You should come out about them.
Sheriff: BREAD’S my favorite.
Rikess: What’s that?
Sheriff: When I took office, I was walking through the jail …And I went into the kitchen…I created a baker’s program. The inmates learn how to make breads, cakes, pastries, mostly their learning a trade. So now we’re up to 16 [accredited bakers] and we had one guy come back, but we put him right back into the Bread program, because…he’s a good inmate.
Rikess: Alright. I’m going to end with that…Thanks a lot.

White House Continues To Push Anti Marijuana Agenda In Latest Report

Not This Shit Again!

“Who ever heard of curing a health problem with handcuffs?”

~ Neill Franklin, LEAP

By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

On Monday the Obama Administration released its new National Drug Control Strategy for 2011 and, instead of coming through with its much-touted “shift” in drug control resources toward prevention and away from punishment, the document spends several pages disparaging the idea of legalizing and regulating substances like marijuana.

“It’s sad that the drug czar decided to insert a multi-page rant against legalizing and regulating drugs into the National Drug Control Strategy instead of actually doing his job and shifting limited resources to combat the public health problem of drug abuse,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a former Baltimore narcotics cop.

“Obama administration officials continually talk about the fact that addiction is a medical problem, but when our budgets are so strained I cannot understand why they’re dumping more money into arrests, punishment and prisons than the Bush administration ever did,” Franklin said. “The fact is, once we legalize and regulate drugs, we will not only allow police to focus on stopping violent crime instead of being distracted by arresting drug users, but we will also be able to put the resources that are saved into building treatment and prevention programs that actually work.

“Who ever heard of curing a health problem with handcuffs?” Franklin asked.

obama pot

The White House report goes on to slam the idea of medical marijuana specifically, even though many prominent medical organizations have pointed out that cannabis has medical value.

This comes less than a week after the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice put out a memo effectively reneging on the President’s campaign promise not to spend limited federal resources interfering in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

“With polls showing that 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana one wonders how this reversal fits into the president’s re-election strategy,” said Tom Angell, media relations director at LEAP.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

Top 11 Reasons America Doesn’t Want Marijuana Legalized

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Culture
Wednesday, June 29, 2011, at 12:57 pm
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        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 Opensecrets.com, 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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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Graphic: Rense.com
​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.
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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!!
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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 jackrikess.com.

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.

 

A Pot Taster Speaks: Does ‘The Cough’ Really Mean It’s Good?

toke until you choke.jpg
Graphic: 187CHUY
By Jed Midnight
Special to Toke of the Town
​ For the past few years I’ve had the privilege and responsibility to be a Cannabis Assessor. It is my task or duty to sample medical marijuana for projective buyers. Thousands of dollars change hands based on my opinion of the herb.
My expertise is based on many decades of research and the ability to say what is good in one sitting. I’ve been a judge in a few cannabis cups and there are some who know me as an intelligent, sophisticated snob with a strong sense of separating the diggity-dank from the swag on the spot.
And just like Peter Parker found out from Spidey, I know that with great power comes great responsibility.

Today a regular customer enlisted my services. As always, I am brought blindfolded to someplace in the city where anxious gentlemen with dreadlocks imprisoned in wool caps sit with bulging military duffle bags at their sandals as they wait with prospective dispensary buyers for me, the Ganja Taster to arrive.
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Photo: Ganjaology.org
Permafrost
​ Years ago when I started assisting nervous buyers who were unsure of their senses when so much hinges on snap judgments, I dealt with growers more my age. Now the average seller is in his thirties or younger, the grandson of the typical Northern Cali farmer. They hate me. The looks on their faces say right away, “Why in the fuck do we have to get this old geezer’s opinion. We know we got the Shit!”
While most dispensaries have their own people, there’s a lot of shit floating through the City and let’s just say one’s taste buds can get over run by the quantity and quality of buds we’re seeing. That’s where I come in.
Today was different. Today I looked at some of the best bud I’ve ever seen. From the moment the twisties came off the turkey bags, I could tell I was looking at something different.
It was gnarly. It was crispy. I didn’t need anything extraneous like a magnifying glass or light to see that the trichomes glistened like stacked glass balls on a moonlit night. The coloring was perfect with dark reds wrapped tight around lime-green dense tops. Trimmed and manicured in an asymmetrical pattern allowed the buds to jut out like baby Matterhorn Mountains.
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Photo: brainz
AK-47
​I took a hit. I coughed.
One of the seller dudes said the classic hippie retorts, “Smooth, huh?”
That’s what us stoners used to say in the old days when smoking that Mexican rope that we first had in Sixties. After taking a hellacious hit and virtually spitting up a lung, your buddies would taunt you with, ‘Smooth,” while you tried not to lose your cookies.
Today was different. I coughed because I was smoking indoor grown marijuana. After the first drag I said, “This is indoor, right boys?”
I got nothing but big smiles and nodding heads acknowledging validating that the Old Guy might know something after all.
For the most part because of my affection for the part of California called the Emerald Triangle and the philosophies that are involved with that kind of lifestyle, I prefer and have partaken in mostly outdoor grown medicine. More to the point, lately I’ve been partial to rainwater-fed, clean-green grown cannabis. Its part of the slow crawl to the world of organic living that I’m trying to reach. For me, alongside of the food I put into my body, I worry about what I’m smoking.
I am not against indoor marijuana; I grew up in a place where it is winter for nine months out of the year. People will find a way.
All I’m saying that in the last five years, my taste buds have changed and I now can tell the difference between indoor and outdoor. Until today.
The stuff I smoked today was definitely indoor grown, but only the most experience palette is going to be able to tell that. If the sellers were to say it was grown outdoors, by the appearance, density and smell, most buyers would be all over this shit like it came in directly from a field somewhere in Mendo.
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Photo: marijuana-seeds.weed.com
Early Misty, grown outdoors
​ But there was that cough. The tell-tale cough that some saw as a sign of its awesomeness. The Cough that becomes like a rodeo ride and you’re a pussy if you fall or try to get off before the bell goes rings. The Cough that says it takes a real man to handle to this shit.
Then after a couple of tokes, I could feel the real ride begin. The roller-coaster ups and downs that many take as being really, really stoned; I took for additives. The juice they add in their gardens to give the buds these days that power-lift that the young connoisseurs are beginning to expect from what they call, boutique bud. The high-end medicine that does exactly what it is supposed to do. Which is to get you higher, more stoned than you’ve ever been.
‘Cause that’s what you want to tell your friends. How good your bud is.
Buds these days are high in THC and will get you higher than anything in the Day did. But is it good?
Do people really know what they’re smoking besides for that fact that they’re getting ripped?
What happens if all stuff that makes you go zoom-zoom is from the deep labs of Monsanto and DuPont and Gro-Master? What if the Ganja Scientists of Green Dank Industries discovered how to make Johnny higher in order to sell that bud?
What happens when you don’t need the Sun anymore?
I will state again. I am not against indoor. I am boycotting the High Times Cannabis Cup this month because it allows only indoor grown pot or else, last year’s not so fresh harvest. I digress about High Times. I make that point because I favor the harvest cups that happen in winter that allow for the outdoor growers. You know the ones that have been supplying the country for the last fifty years.
After today, I think I could be for nuclear energy. I might even be able to be talked into voting Republican. I’ve been converted to believe that indoor marijuana is just as good as outdoor.
The only drawback for me is that carcinogenic thing that comes with even the most “organic”sounding chemicals and that subtle cough that feels like brandy going down the wrong pipe.
The young guns who were selling the beautiful bud guaranteed me that one sure-fire way you can tell if the medicine is good, is that it will make you cough.
All good weed makes you cough. Yeah, right.
I think we’re heading to the Age of the McBud.

A Pot Taster Speaks: Does The ‘Cough’ Really Mean It’s Good?

toke until you choke.jpg
Graphic: 187CHUY
By Jed Midnight
Special to Toke of the Town
​ For the past few years I’ve had the privilege and responsibility to be a Cannabis Assessor. It is my task or duty to sample medical marijuana for projective buyers. Thousands of dollars change hands based on my opinion of the herb.
My expertise is based on many decades of research and the ability to say what is good in one sitting. I’ve been a judge in a few cannabis cups and there are some who know me as an intelligent, sophisticated snob with a strong sense of separating the diggity-dank from the swag on the spot.
And just like Peter Parker found out from Spidey, I know that with great power comes great responsibility.

Today a regular customer enlisted my services. As always, I am brought blindfolded to someplace in the city where anxious gentlemen with dreadlocks imprisoned in wool caps sit with bulging military duffle bags at their sandals as they wait with prospective dispensary buyers for me, the Ganja Taster to arrive.
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Photo: Ganjaology.org
Permafrost
​ Years ago when I started assisting nervous buyers who were unsure of their senses when so much hinges on snap judgments, I dealt with growers more my age. Now the average seller is in his thirties or younger, the grandson of the typical Northern Cali farmer. They hate me. The looks on their faces say right away, “Why in the fuck do we have to get this old geezer’s opinion. We know we got the Shit!”
While most dispensaries have their own people, there’s a lot of shit floating through the City and let’s just say one’s taste buds can get over run by the quantity and quality of buds we’re seeing. That’s where I come in.
Today was different. Today I looked at some of the best bud I’ve ever seen. From the moment the twisties came off the turkey bags, I could tell I was looking at something different.
It was gnarly. It was crispy. I didn’t need anything extraneous like a magnifying glass or light to see that the trichomes glistened like stacked glass balls on a moonlit night. The coloring was perfect with dark reds wrapped tight around lime-green dense tops. Trimmed and manicured in an asymmetrical pattern allowed the buds to jut out like baby Matterhorn Mountains.
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Photo: brainz
AK-47
I took a hit. I coughed.
One of the seller dudes said the classic hippie retorts, “Smooth, huh?”
That’s what us stoners used to say in the old days when smoking that Mexican rope that we first had in Sixties. After taking a hellacious hit and virtually spitting up a lung, your buddies would taunt you with, ‘Smooth,” while you tried not to lose your cookies.
Today was different. I coughed because I was smoking indoor grown marijuana. After the first drag I said, “This is indoor, right boys?”
I got nothing but big smiles and nodding heads acknowledging validating that the Old Guy might know something after all.
For the most part because of my affection for the part of California called the Emerald Triangle and the philosophies that are involved with that kind of lifestyle, I prefer and have partaken in mostly outdoor grown medicine. More to the point, lately I’ve been partial to rainwater-fed, clean-green grown cannabis. Its part of the slow crawl to the world of organic living that I’m trying to reach. For me, alongside of the food I put into my body, I worry about what I’m smoking.
I am not against indoor marijuana; I grew up in a place where it is winter for nine months out of the year. People will find a way.
All I’m saying that in the last five years, my taste buds have changed and I now can tell the difference between indoor and outdoor. Until today.
The stuff I smoked today was definitely indoor grown, but only the most experience palette is going to be able to tell that. If the sellers were to say it was grown outdoors, by the appearance, density and smell, most buyers would be all over this shit like it came in directly from a field somewhere in Mendo.
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Photo: marijuana-seeds.weed.com
Early Misty, grown outdoors
But there was that cough. The tell-tale cough that some saw as a sign of its awesomeness. The Cough that becomes like a rodeo ride and you’re a pussy if you fall or try to get off before the bell goes rings. The Cough that says it takes a real man to handle to this shit.
Then after a couple of tokes, I could feel the real ride begin. The roller-coaster ups and downs that many take as being really, really stoned; I took for additives. The juice they add in their gardens to give the buds these days that power-lift that the young connoisseurs are beginning to expect from what they call, boutique bud. The high-end medicine that does exactly what it is supposed to do. Which is to get you higher, more stoned than you’ve ever been.
‘Cause that’s what you want to tell your friends. How good your bud is.
Buds these days are high in THC and will get you higher than anything in the Day did. But is it good?
Do people really know what they’re smoking besides for that fact that they’re getting ripped?
What happens if all stuff that makes you go zoom-zoom is from the deep labs of Monsanto and DuPont and Gro-Master? What if the Ganja Scientists of Green Dank Industries discovered how to make Johnny higher in order to sell that bud?
What happens when you don’t need the Sun anymore?
I will state again. I am not against indoor. I am boycotting the High Times Cannabis Cup this month because it allows only indoor grown pot or else, last year’s not so fresh harvest. I digress about High Times. I make that point because I favor the harvest cups that happen in winter that allow for the outdoor growers. You know the ones that have been supplying the country for the last fifty years.
After today, I think I could be for nuclear energy. I might even be able to be talked into voting Republican. I’ve been converted to believe that indoor marijuana is just as good as outdoor.
The only drawback for me is that carcinogenic thing that comes with even the most “organic”sounding chemicals and that subtle cough that feels like brandy going down the wrong pipe.
The young guns who were selling the beautiful bud guaranteed me that one sure-fire way you can tell if the medicine is good, is that it will make you cough.
All good weed makes you cough. Yeah, right.
I think we’re heading to the Age of the McBud.

– tokeofthetown.com

Worth Repeating: Cannabis May Help Combat Aging Of Brain

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Graphic: BudFacts.com
Cannabis may help combat the effects of aging on the brain,
and may even help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
​​ Welcome to Room 420, where your instructor is Mr. Ron Marczyk and your subjects are wellness, disease prevention, self actualization, and chillin’.

Worth Repeating
​By Ron Marczyk, R.N.
Health Education Teacher (Retired)
Can THC along with whole family of other phytochemical cannabinoids found in marijuana prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative brain diseases, including the effects of aging?
Could cannabinoids be as important to neuro-brain health as we age as other foods, supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and aerobic exercise are?
In the near future will at-risk populations be encouraged to consume an RDA  for cannabinoids?
Will blood levels of cannabinoids correlate with protection against brain inflammation, similar to taking an aspirin a day to prevent cardiovascular disease?

Phytochemicals are plant chemicals, and cannabinoids are phytochemicals. It is of interest to note that other than being dried, cannabis is not refined in any way in a laboratory. It is consumed in its original organic natural state, like eating a fresh uncooked vegetable or piece of fruit.
Could regular THC ingestion, with the whole family of other cannabinoids found in the plant prevent neurodegenerative brain diseases as people age?
Here I present 12 medical research abstracts as evidence to support this hypothesis, I urge you to discuss this information with your family doctor, especially if Alzheimer’s disease runs in your family genetics.
Medical evidence is mounting that THC may not only prevent, but also treat neurodegeneration in general. The following abstract is an example of this.
Findings:
“Endocannabinoids are bioactive lipids. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine; AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the best studied endocannabinoids, and act as agonists (what turns the CB1 receptor on) of cannabinoid receptors.”
“Thus, AEA and 2-AG mimic several pharmacological effects of the exogenous cannabinoid delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive principle of hashish and marijuana.”
“This new system will be briefly presented in this review, in order to put in a better perspective the role of the endocannabinoid pathway in neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis as next-generation therapeutics will be discussed.”
Also see:
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Graphic: Health Net
Current Molecular Med– 2006 Sep – Dept of Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Findings:
The endogenous cannabinoid system has revealed potential avenues to treat many disease states. Medicinal indications of cannabinoid drugs including compounds that result in enhanced endocannabinoid responses (EER) have expanded markedly in recent years.
The wide range of indications covers chemotherapy complications, tumor growth, addiction, pain, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, inflammation, eating disorders, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, as well as epileptic seizures, traumatic brain injury, cerebral ischemia, and other excitotoxic insults.
Indeed, a great effort has led to the discovery of agents that selectively activate the cannabinoid system or that enhance the endogenous pathways of cannabinergic signaling.
The two known endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), are lipid molecules that are greatly elevated in response to a variety of pathological events.
This increase in endocannabinoid levels is suggested to be part of an on-demand compensatory response. Furthermore, activation of signaling pathways mediated by the endogenous cannabinoid system promotes repair and cell survival.
The therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system has yet to be fully determined, and the number of medical maladies that may be treated will likely continue to grow.
The decade of endocannbinoid therapeutics using cannabinergic medicines will be the new breakout medicine treatments of the near future.
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Graphic: Marijuana and the Human Brain
Many next-generation drug treatments will come from this plant. Think of different strains of the cannabis plant as having different cannabinergic effects that are controlled and fine-tuned by the patients themselves. Standard for all new meds: titration through patient feedback.
Since 2000, research is starting to gather for yet another surprising possible THC/cannabinergic medical treatment, that being for neuro-inflammation of the brain.
The empirical research cited below suggests that THC offers neuroprotection to the aging brain by controlling neuroinflammation.
As the science supporting the validity of endocannabinoid therapeutics progresses, the criminalization of marijuana and the repressive position of the U.S. government is becoming increasingly absurd.
Big Pharma generally developed many new, very expensive drugs to treat conditions that, when studied over time, find that the original, inexpensive, generic older first-generation drugs many times outperform the new drugs, with fewer side effects, at a fraction of the cost. This is the case with cannabis: it’s hard to improve on evolutionary perfection.
Remember: You can’t spell “healthcare” without “THC.”
Cannabis is the first and original medicine that has been the front line standard of care for more than 10,000 years!
​How’s that for a first generation medicine that has never caused a death due to its use? Safety and effective treatment for a wide spectrum for many illnesses, all in one plant! Since CB1 and CB2 receptors respond so perfectly to THC, and since humans and this plant have co-evolved for the past 10,000 years plus, cannabinoid molecules and receptors may both be woven into our DNA. They may run our biology as medicinal science is starting to discover. CB1 and CB2 receptors seem to located throughout our bodies, regulating our overall homeostasis.
My 85-year-old mother has been living in a nursing home for the last seven years with dementia. It is always very emotional when I go to visit her. She no longer speaks coherently and does not know who I am, but she always reaches out to kiss my hand and face, as if her emotional memory is still working on some level. I talk to her but she doesn’t understand. I can only smile at her and comb her hair, and it always makes for a sad day.
As I learned of this current research I had a flashback that my mother is the same woman who found my first stash in my sock drawer when I was sixteen, and she and my father went ballistic on me. Now, more than four decades later, this is same substance that could possibly have prevented and treated her advanced, slow, fatal brain deterioration.
Both of my maternal grandmothers died from this disease, as will my mother. I have three genetic red flags in my immediate family. Shouldn’t we have an option to prevent this disease using THC?
It’s time for an “exit strategy” for the failed War on Drugs.
So what goes wrong in the aging brain? And can marijuana prevent it?
There are three main breakdowns due to misspelled code in your family genetics that cause Alzheimers Disease:
1. Neuroinflammation caused by a brain autoimmune disease
The job of your immune system, which is made up of your white blood cells, is to destroy pathogens and malignant body cells–we all know this basic biology fact.
But did you know that you have a second, dedicated immune system that only patrols in and around the brain and spinal cord?
Why is this? The brain protects itself against the environment, your brain and CNS are encased by a blood-brain barrier that doesn’t allow many to pass in or out of, including white blood cells.
The brain is made up about 50 percent neurons and about 50 percent glial cells, with 20 percent of these cells being microglia attack cells.
These microglial cells have a different name, different shape, but same the job: distinguish self from non-self, then search and destroy.
An autoimmune disease occurs when this system of self identification  breaks down, and the white blood cell now attacks its host. The same pathology happens in the brain, but now the microglial cells attack brain neurons, destroying them. As you lose brain cells your brain shrinks.
Evidence points to THC acting as an anti-inflammation medicine. Apparently this “stand down” signal is connected to THC activating CB1/2 receptors This down-regulation of the microglial seems to stop the neuroinflammation and loss of brain cells.
2. Scar tissue develops in the brain, called beta amyloidal plaque  
Beta amyloidal plaque is a “protein misfolding disease.” As long strands of your brain cells uncoil to make copies of proteins they code for, the strand of DNA doesn’t fold open correctly, just like trying to open a broken umbrella. They assemble new proteins that are abnormal, unfunctioning, and that turn into the plaque. The wrong protein they make is the plaque.  Your DNA is now coding for scar tissue.
This is a micograph showing amyloid beta (brown) in senile plaques of the cerebral cortex.
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Evidence points to the action of THC acting as an anti-inflammation medicine. Again apparently this “stand down signal” is connected to THC activating CB 1/2 receptors, but in this case seems to shut down this process. Apparently the neuroinflamation and the plaque development are connected.
3. The over-destruction of acetylcholine 
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that encodes new memories into neurons, and also retrieves recent and old memories. After the signal is sent, acetylcholine is deactivated  by acetylcholinesterase, setting it open for the next signal.
In this genetic breakdown your brain makes way more acetylcholinesterase, which deactivates your short- and long-term memory. No acetylcholine–no memories.
What if there were a drug that would inhibit acetylcholinesterase?
This is how Aricept works.  However, THC is a superior medication in this regard.
In addition to acting as an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, it stops neuroinflammation and plaque formation. Three treatments, one drug. Amazing.
Please note the dates of this current research: 2005-2009.
Here, then, is a “mini-meta” analysis of the most current research on this subject .
Dept of Chemistry and Immunology, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA. Mol Pharm. 2006 Nov.
Findings:
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years.
Consequently, the development of treatments that slow or halt the disease progression have become imperative to both improve the quality of life for patients and reduce the health care costs attributable to Alzheimer’s disease.
Below is the chemical structure of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
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And here is that same THC molecule blocking the action of acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme breaks down acetylcholinesterase, the neurotransmitter needed to form new memories and retrieve old ones.
Predicted binding mode of THC (gray) to AChE (orange ribbon). The catalytic triad residues of AChE (green) and water molecules included in the docking calculations (light blue spheres) are shown.
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“Here, we demonstrate that the active component of marijuana, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE)……as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) aggregation, the key pathological marker of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Abeta aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.”
Cannabidiol: a promising drug for neurodegenerative disorders?
Findings:
Neurodegenerative diseases represent, nowadays, one of the main causes of death in the industrialized country. They are characterized by a loss of neurons in particular regions of the nervous system. It is believed that this nerve cell loss underlies the subsequent decline in cognitive and motor function that patients experience in these diseases. A range of mutant genes and environmental toxins have been implicated in the cause of neurodegenerative disorders but the mechanism remains largely unknown.
At present, inflammation, a common denominator among the diverse list of neurodegenerative diseases, has been implicated as a critical mechanism that is responsible for the progressive nature of neurodegeneration. 
Since, at present, there are few therapies for the wide range of neurodegenerative diseases, scientists are still in search of new therapeutic approaches to the problem. An early contribution of neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory strategies for these disorders seems particularly desirable because isolated treatments cannot be effective.
In this contest, marijuana derivatives have attracted special interest, although these compounds have always raised several practical and ethical problems for their potential abuse. Nevertheless, among Cannabis compounds, cannabidiol (CBD), which lacks any unwanted psychotropic effect, may represent a very promising agent with the highest prospect for therapeutic use.
Cannabinoid receptors and their role in neuroprotection.
Findings:
“Two G protein-coupled receptors for marijuana’s psychoactive component, Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, have been cloned to date, the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors.”
Evidence has accumulated over the last few years suggesting that endocannabinoid-based drugs may potentially be useful to reduce the effects of neurodegeneration. In fact, exogenous  (taken in from the outside) and endogenous cannabinoids were shown to exert neuroprotection in a variety of in vitro and in vivo models of neuronal injury via different mechanisms.
“The release of endocannabinoids during neuronal injury may constitute a protective response. If this neuroprotective function of cannabinoid receptor activation can be transferred to the clinic, it might represent an interesting target to develop neuroprotective agents.”
Alzheimer’s disease; taking the edge off with cannabinoids?

Findings:
Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related neurodegenerative condition associated with cognitive decline. The pathological hallmarks of the disease are the deposition of beta-amyloid protein.
In recent years the proclivity of cannabinoids to exert a neuroprotective influence has received substantial interest as a means to mitigate the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions.
In brains obtained from Alzheimer’s patients alterations in components of the cannabinoid system have been reported, suggesting that the cannabinoid system either contributes to, or is altered by, the pathophysiology of the disease.
Certain cannabinoids can protect neurons from the deleterious effects of beta-amyloid and are capable of reducing tau phosphorylation.
The propensity of cannabinoids to reduce beta-amyloid-evoked oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, whilst stimulating neurotrophin expression neurogenesis, are interesting properties that may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol can also inhibit acetylcholinesterase activity and limit amyloidogenesis which may improve cholinergic transmission and delay disease progression.
Targeting cannabinoid receptors on microglia may reduce the neuroinflammation that is a feature of Alzheimer’s disease, without causing psychoactive effects. Thus, cannabinoids offer a multi-faceted approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by providing neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation, whilst simultaneously supporting the brain’s intrinsic repair mechanisms by augmenting neurotrophin expression and enhancing neurogenesis.
The evidence supporting a potential role for the cannabinoid system as a therapeutic target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease will be reviewed herewith.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease pathology by cannabinoids: neuroprotection mediated by blockade of microglial activation.
Findings:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by enhanced beta-amyloid peptide (betaA) deposition along with glial activation in senile plaques, selective neuronal loss, and cognitive deficits. Cannabinoids are neuroprotective agents against excitotoxicity in vitro and acute brain damage in vivo.
This background prompted us to study the localization, expression, and function of cannabinoid receptors in AD and the possible protective role of cannabinoids after betaA treatment, both in vivo and in vitro.
Here, we show that senile plaques in AD patients express cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, together with markers of microglial activation, and that CB1-positive neurons, present in high numbers in control cases, are greatly reduced in areas of microglial activation.
Our results indicate that cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of AD and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease.

Inflammation and Aging: Can endocannabinoids help?

Department of Psychology, Psychology Building, The Ohio State University,Columbus, OH
March 2008
Findings:
Aging often leads to cognitive decline due to neurodegenerative process in the brain. As people live longer, there exists a growing concern linked to long-term, slowly debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease for which a cure has not yet been found.
Recently, the role of neuroinflammation has attracted attention due to its slow onset, chronic nature and its possible role in the development of many different neurodegenerative diseases.
In the future, treatment of chronic neuroinflammation may help counteract aspects of neurodegenerative disease.
Our recent studies have focused upon the endocannabinoid system for its unique effects on the expression of neuroinflammation.
The basis for the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system in the brain in combination with existing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease will be discussed in this review.
The Endocannabinoid System in Ageing:  A New Target for Drug Development
Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Teramo, Italy
Findings:
Endocannabinoids are a new class of lipids, which include amides, esters and ethers of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine; AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol are the main endogenous agonists of cannabinoid receptorsable to mimic several pharmacological effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active principle of Cannabis sativa preparations like hashish and marijuana.
AEA is released “on demand” from membrane lipids, and its activity at the receptors is limited by cellular uptake followed by intracellular hydrolysis. Together with AEA and congeners, the proteins which bind, synthesize, transport and hydrolyze AEA form the “endocannabinoid system”. Endogenous cannabinoids are present in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissues, suggesting a physiological role as broad spectrum modulators. 

This review summarizes the main features of the endocannabinoid system, and the latest advances on its involvement in ageing of central and peripheral cells.
In addition, the therapeutic potential of recently developed drugs able to modulate the endocannabinoid tone for the treatment of ageing and age-related human pathologies will be reviewed.
Endocannabinoid system: emerging role from neurodevelopment to neurodegeneration.
Findings:
The endocannabinoid system, including endogenous ligands (‘endocannabinoids’ ECs), their receptors, synthesizing and degrading enzymes, as well as transporter molecules, has been detected from the earliest stages of embryonic development and throughout pre- and postnatal development.
ECs are bioactive lipids, which comprise amides, esters and ethers of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine; AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the best studied ECs, and act as agonists of cannabinoid receptors.
Thus, AEA and 2-AG mimic several pharmacological effects of the exogenous cannabinoid delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the psychoactive principle of cannabis sativa preparations like hashish and marijuana.
Recently, however, several lines of evidence have suggested that the EC system may play an important role in early neuronal development as well as a widespread role in neurodegeneration disorders.
Many of the effects of cannabinoids and ECs are mediated by two G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), CB1 and CB2, although additional receptors may be implicated. Both CB1 and CB2 couple primarily to inhibitory G proteins and are subject to the same pharmacological influences as other GPCRs. This new system is briefly presented in this review, in order to put in a better perspective the role of the EC pathway from neurodevelopment to neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Endocannabinoids and their involvement in the neurovascular system.
Current Neurovasc Res, Apr. 2004  Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Italy.
Findings:
Endocannabinoids are a new class of lipids, Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine; AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol are the main endogenous agonists of cannabinoid receptors, able to mimic several pharmacological effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active principle of Cannabis sativa preparations like hashish and marijuana.
It is known that the activity of AEA is limited by cellular uptake through a specific membrane transporter, followed by intracellular degradation by a fatty acid amide hydrolase. Together with AEA and congeners these proteins form the “endocannabinoid system”. The endogenous cannabinoids were identified in brain, and also in neuronal and endothelial cells, suggesting a potential role as modulators in the central nervous system and in the periphery. This review summarises the metabolic routes for the synthesis and degradation of AEA, and the latest advances in the involvement of this lipid in neurovascular biology. In addition, the therapeutic potential of the modulation of endocannabinoid metabolism for neuronal and vascular system will be also reviewed.
Mini Rev Med Chem. 2006 Mar;6(3):257-68.
New insights into endocannabinoid degradation and its therapeutic potential

Bari M, Battista N, Fezza F, Gasperi V, Maccarrone M.
Source: Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Teramo, Italy.
Findings:
Endocannabinoids are amides, esters and ethers of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which act as new lipidic mediators. Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine; AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the main endogenous agonists of cannabinoid receptors, able to mimic several pharmacological effects of (-)-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active principle of Cannabis sativa preparations like hashish and marijuana.
The activity of AEA and 2-AG at their receptors is limited by cellular uptake through an anandamide membrane transporter (AMT), followed by intracellular degradation. A fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is the main AEA hydrolase, whereas a monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) is critical in degrading 2-AG. Here, we will review growing evidence that demonstrates that these hydrolases are pivotal regulators of the endogenous levels of AEA and 2-AG in vivo, overall suggesting that specific inhibitors of AMT, FAAH or MAGL may serve as attractive therapeutic targets for the treatment of human disorders.
Recently, the N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), which synthesizes AEA from N-arachidonoylphosphatidylethanolamine (NArPE), and the diacylglycerol lipase (DAGL), which generates 2-AG from diacylglycerol (DAG) substrates, have been characterized. The role of these synthetic routes in maintaining the endocannabinoid tone in vivo will be discussed. Finally, the effects of inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation in animal models of human disease will be reviewed, with an emphasis on their ongoing applications in anxiety, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.
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