Posts Tagged ‘medical marijuana’
Legalizing marijuana would generate more than $450 million annually for the Israeli economy, according to a new study released by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.
The black market for cannabis in Israel currently is worth $707 million annually, and legalizing the sale of grass, if taxed like cigarettes, would blow $268 million into the government’s money pot. In addition, it would save law enforcement agencies $198 million since they would not have to spend money to smokers of weed.
The study found that approximately 275,000 Israelis, 4 percent of the population, used marijuana in the past year, only 26 percent of Israelis support legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposes it.
In the United States, slightly more than half go those surveyed support legalizing grass. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 20 states to allow the use of medical marijuana. However, the Obama administration last week gave the green light for Colorado and Washington to carry out their laws to permit recreational use of marijuana.
The Justice Department said it would bring charges on marijuana only in certain cases, such as distributing it to minors.
The announcement “demonstrates the sort of political vision and foresight from the White House we’ve been seeking for a long time,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group.
The Justice Department added that it is watching Colorado and Washington closely to see if they can properly control marijuana use.
President Barack Obama has said he smoked grass when he was young, and a federal survey has found that 42 percent of Americans age 12 and older have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives.
The financial gains for states – and Israel is not being ignored,
“Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines,” said Yarden Gazit, who co-authored the study in Israel. “There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time.”
News of the survey coincided with Canada’s launch of controlled medical marijuana, an industry that is expected to be worth more than $1 billion in the next 10 years. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years but has been highly regulated. Now it is available by mail-order with a doctor’s approval.
Besides all of the arguments over whether marijuana is a drug that can lead to addiction, the underlying desire for governments to legalize it is money.
“We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior Health Canada official told the Canadian Press.
The Green Leaf party in Israel has been trying to get into the Knesset for years to push its agenda to legalize pot. In early pre-election polls, it usually receives support that puts it on the brink of winning the minimum number of votes to win Knesset seats, but when the real ballots are counted, it always loses out.
The pro-marijuana campaigns in the United States may generate new enthusiasm to legalize marijuana in Israel, where liberal leaders almost always turn to American for cultural guidance.
Portland, Maine media reported Wednesday that supports of legalizing recreation marijuana will start promoting their agenda on city buses, with a message that grass is a better and safer alternative to alcohol.
Critics have complained that the campaign should not be on buses because children ride them to school.
Portland’s voter will go the ballot box in November to decide on a proposal to legalize marijuana by 2016. I
The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project has targeted Maine and nine other states in its campaign to legalize grass within three years.
The JTA contributed to this report.
An Israeli Orthodox rabbi ruled that distributing and smoking medicinal marijuana is kosher, but using weed for fun is forbidden.
Ephraim Zalmanovich, the rabbi of Mazkeret Batia, a town south of Tel Aviv, made the distinction in a recent halachic ruling, NRG, the news site of the Maariv daily reported on Friday. Leading rabbis frequently weigh in on matters of reconciling halacha, or Jewish law, with modern living.
Rabbi Zalmanovich’s ruling modifies an opinion by Rabbi Chaggai Bar Giora, who in March told Israel’s Magazin Canabis, “If you smoke it, there is no problem whatsoever.”
Rabbi Zalmanovich, the author of a book on alcoholism in Judaism, said, “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”
However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is “performing a mitzvah,” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.”
Approximately 11,000 Israelis use medicinal marijuana, including people with post-traumatic disorders and Parkinson’s disease, according to the Israeli health ministry.
Extremely low doses of marijuana’s psychoactive component can protect the brain before and after injury, according to Tel Aviv University Prof. Yosef Sarne.
Medical cannabis is often used by sufferers of chronic ailments, including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, to combat pain, insomnia, lack of appetite, and other symptoms but has not been identified as being able to prevent damage to the body.
Prof. Sarne of the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases says that the drug has neuroprotective qualities and that extremely low doses of THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – protects the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from lack of oxygen, seizures, or toxic drugs. Brain damage can have consequences ranging from mild cognitive deficits to severe neurological damage.
Previous studies focused on injecting high doses of THC within a very short time frame of approximately 30 minutes before or after injury. Prof. Sarne’s current research, published in the journals Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, demonstrates that even extremely low doses of THC around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette and administered over a wide window of up to seven days before or one to three days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.
This treatment, especially in light of the long time frame for administration and the low dosage, could be applicable to many cases of brain injury and be safer over time, Prof. Sarne says.
In the lab, the researchers injected mice with a single low dose of THC either before or after exposing them to brain trauma. A control group of mice sustained brain injury but did not receive the THC treatment. When the mice were examined three to seven weeks after initial injury, recipients of the THC treatment performed better in behavioral tests measuring learning and memory. Additionally, biochemical studies showed heightened amounts of neuroprotective chemicals in the treatment group compared to the control group.
The use of THC can prevent long-term cognitive damage that results from brain injury, the researchers conclude. One explanation for this effect is pre- and post-conditioning, whereby the drug causes minute damage to the brain to build resistance and trigger protective measures in the face of much more severe injury, explains Prof. Sarne. The low dosage of THC is crucial to initiating this process without causing too much initial damage.
According to Prof. Sarne, there are several practical benefits to this treatment plan.
Due to the long therapeutic time window, this treatment can be used not only to treat injury after the fact, but also to prevent injury that might occur in the future.
For example, cardiopulmonary heart-lung machines used in open heart surgery carry the risk of interrupting the blood supply to the brain, and the drug can be delivered beforehand as a preventive measure. In addition, the low dosage makes it safe for regular use in patients at constant risk of brain injury, such as epileptics or people at a high risk of heart attack.
Prof. Sarne is now working in collaboration with Prof. Edith Hochhauser of the Rabin Medical Center to test the ability of low doses of THC to prevent damage to the heart.
Preliminary results indicate that they will find the same protective phenomenon in relation to cardiac ischemia, in which the heart muscle receives insufficient blood flow.