Tag Archives: cannabis

‘Cannabis strengthened our bond’: can pot make you a better parent?

An Oregon mother posted a photo last year of herself breastfeeding her baby while she took a bong hit. Naturally, the image went viral.

Amid the expected backlash, some much milder criticism came from Jenn Lauder, an Oregon cannabis activist who co-founded Splimm, a newsletter on pot and parenting, with her husband. Lauder chided the breastfeeder for exposing the baby to smoke and for the “optics” of the image.

“That mom could have made better choices,” Lauder told me recently. The former teacher has said that while she did not use cannabis when pregnant with her daughter, she resumed shortly after giving birth, and while breastfeeding, to mitigate postpartum depression.

Lauder added: “I’ve yet to see compelling evidence that a lactating mother’s cannabis consumption produces any negative effects for a nursing child.”

Doctors would not agree. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is transmitted in breastmilk, according to a recent study. And while the effect on newborns hasn’t been intensely studied, the chemical is widely believed to impair brain development.

Yes, it’s jarring to see a woman in a quintessential act of motherhood, with her face in a bong. But the reality is some parents believe cannabis improves their child rearing. That number is bound to increase as cannabis use becomes more acceptable with legalization. And vape pens and edibles make it easy to do discreetly.

No cannabis brand I’m aware of directly markets to pregnant women, but scores promote themselves as health and “wellness” products, a message pregnant woman can absorb as easily as anyone else.

Aside from the more fraught area of breastfeeding, marijuana, as cannamoms and cannadads see it, relieves the tedium of parenting while helping them engage with their children. The phrase that keeps coming up is “being present”.

With marijuana, “I’m able to sit and play Legos for an extensive period of time or make dinner and make it more fun rather than something functional,” said April Pride, founder of Van der Pop, a line of stylish cannabis accessories for women.

She said it also helped break up the monotony of spending more time at home.

The drug’s complex legal status makes it difficult for researchers to study the phenomenon of parents who use cannabis or what it might mean for the children. As with so much else in the marijuana world, supporters see parenting and interactions with other parents as an opportunity to destigmatize weed and draw a favorable comparison with alcohol.

A New Jersey restaurant owner and dad, who asked that his name not be printed, said he had continued to use cannabis in moderation as a parent, but didn’t involve his “super well-adjusted” kids in it. “There’s too much taboo about it. It’s the equivalent of having a couple glasses of wine in my life.”

Pride said: “For me, alcohol feels more like an escape … And cannabis feels like something I participate in because I want to be more involved in what I’m doing.”

illustration of baby bag with bong


Marijuana, as cannamoms and cannadads see it, relieves the tedium of parenting. Illustration: George Wylesol

Living in Seattle, Washington, a liberal city in a legal state, Pride says it’s not especially awkward to discuss weed with the other parents. “People are more curious than judgmental,” she said. “I’ve found if people have opinions they keep it to themselves.”

As with many things marijuana related, one of the worst things that can happen when one combines responsible use while parenting is to get caught with it. Even in some legal states, evidence of pot smoking by parents is enough to call in child protective services. And when parents split, cannabis use can be used against them in custody hearings.

When a parent is an open cannabis user it can also change the tenor of conversations with kids about drug use. “Cannabis has strengthened the bond I have with my daughter because I’m honest about something that’s important to me,” Lauder said. “At age 10, she’s incredibly social justice minded.”

Lauder doesn’t give cannabis to her daughter because of the risks it poses to brain development, but she hopes when her daughter gets older she’ll consider marijuana as an alternative to alcohol. “For her, it’s just another kind of medicine.”

Garyn Angel, CEO of MagicalButter, a company which makes devices for infusing cannabis into cooking ingredients like butter and oil, said: “Parenting is about consciousness and cannabis makes you very conscious.” If nothing else, he said, it cut down on alcohol consumption, which he says improved his parenting.

As for what other parents think, he isn’t concerned. “If my kids were screw-ups that would be a different situation,” he said. “But my kids are amazing.”

For a different perspective, I reached out to an old friend whose father is a daily pot smoker. As a kid, he said, his father was unhappy with his work. He knew after dad came home and spent some time in the basement, he’d be in a better mood. “He was a lot chiller,” my friend said, and “more likely to give in to stuff.”

My friend saw other individuals use different drugs and suffer dire consequences but the only negative side-effect my friend noticed with his father was that he had a “memory like a Wiffle ball. I never knew if he was going to remember if we had a conversation or not.”

High-strength cannabis now dominates illegal market, study finds

Almost all cannabis seized by police now comprises high-strength varieties, with outdoor-grown herbal strains and hashish barely found, according to a new analysis.

In the first study of its kind for 10 years, researchers from GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes medicines derived from cannabis, and King’s College London found 94% of samples seized by police were varieties with a high psychoactive content, suggesting they dominate the illicit market. The researchers warned of “concerning implications for public health”.

“We are talking about a market where pretty much all the samples that the police come across are represented by this high-potency [product],” said Dr Marta Di Forti, one of the authors from King’s College London. “This is actually worrying because if we do believe that there are types of cannabis that can be used more safely – because of the presence of cannabidiol – well, at least in this country, these are disappearing.”

graphic showing rise in skunk usage
Illustration: Guardian design team

The research team defined high-potency strains as those with an average THC content of 14%, and practically no detectable traces of CBD (cannabidiol). Of the compounds in cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) gives users a high, but can impair attention, concentration and memory, and produce symptoms of psychosis. CBD has been shown to reduce symptoms of psychosis and ameliorate impairments caused by THC, but has no psychoactive effect.

The last time comparable research was carried out in 2005, high-potency strains accounted for 51% of seizures. A wider study carried out by the Home Office in 2008 found they accounted for 85%.

Sinsemilla


Sinsemilla cannabis analysed by King’s College London. Photograph: David Potter

For the latest research Di Forti and her colleagues asked police in Derbyshire, Kent, Merseyside, Sussex and London – the same forces researched in 2005 – to supply seized cannabis samples. From each, they analysed a 250mg subsample – “a typically generous weight of cannabis used in a single joint,” according to their paper, published in Drug Testing and Analysis.

Despite the predominance of high-strength strains, results showed there had been little increase in the average strength. However, hashish (resin) samples, which previously had 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, about 4% of each, had an average 6% THC and 2% CBD, a ratio of 3:1. The most potent samples discovered were trichome powders, often home-made by users in special grinders with a mesh to sieve off the trichomes from the buds, the strongest of which was 46% THC with 0.2% CBD.

The researchers claim that the increasing discrepancy between THC and CBD levels in cannabis could increase the number of users at risk of developing psychotic disorders – a view supported by a number of academics not involved in the research. However, members of the medical cannabis lobby suggested it was in the interests of researchers linked to GW Pharmaceuticals to talk up the links, since the company stood to benefit from having the only legal access to cannabis-derived medicine. Three of the five authors both work for and own shares in the firm.

blocks of cannabis resin


The use of resin has almost died out among UK cannabis users, found King’s College London researchers. Photograph: David Potter

“It’s certainly worth putting the real risk into context, which this doesn’t,” said Jon Liebling, the political director of the United Patients Alliance (UPA). “The risk of early onset psychosis due to long-term heavy use of cannabis is one in 26,000, while the risk with heavy use of street weed and starting from early age is one in 5,000.” The risk of a serious hospital admission from eating peanuts was one in 1,000, Liebling pointed out.

Clark French, also of the UPA, added: “I find that high THC cannabis aka ‘skunk’ is the only medicine that allows me function due to debilitating pain and spasms from MS. If a doctor can prescribe me this elsewhere in the world why are patients criminalised and demonised in the UK? Skunk is medicine too”

High-strength cannabis now dominates illegal market, study finds

Almost all cannabis seized by police now comprises high-strength varieties, with outdoor-grown herbal strains and hashish barely found, according to a new analysis.

In the first study of its kind for 10 years, researchers from GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes medicines derived from cannabis, and King’s College London found 94% of samples seized by police were varieties with a high psychoactive content, suggesting they dominate the illicit market. The researchers warned of “concerning implications for public health”.

“We are talking about a market where pretty much all the samples that the police come across are represented by this high-potency [product],” said Dr Marta Di Forti, one of the authors from King’s College London. “This is actually worrying because if we do believe that there are types of cannabis that can be used more safely – because of the presence of cannabidiol – well, at least in this country, these are disappearing.”

graphic showing rise in skunk usage
Illustration: Guardian design team

The research team defined high-potency strains as those with an average THC content of 14%, and practically no detectable traces of CBD (cannabidiol). Of the compounds in cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) gives users a high, but can impair attention, concentration and memory, and produce symptoms of psychosis. CBD has been shown to reduce symptoms of psychosis and ameliorate impairments caused by THC, but has no psychoactive effect.

The last time comparable research was carried out in 2005, high-potency strains accounted for 51% of seizures. A wider study carried out by the Home Office in 2008 found they accounted for 85%.

Sinsemilla


Sinsemilla cannabis analysed by King’s College London. Photograph: David Potter

For the latest research Di Forti and her colleagues asked police in Derbyshire, Kent, Merseyside, Sussex and London – the same forces researched in 2005 – to supply seized cannabis samples. From each, they analysed a 250mg subsample – “a typically generous weight of cannabis used in a single joint,” according to their paper, published in Drug Testing and Analysis.

Despite the predominance of high-strength strains, results showed there had been little increase in the average strength. However, hashish (resin) samples, which previously had 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, about 4% of each, had an average 6% THC and 2% CBD, a ratio of 3:1. The most potent samples discovered were trichome powders, often home-made by users in special grinders with a mesh to sieve off the trichomes from the buds, the strongest of which was 46% THC with 0.2% CBD.

The researchers claim that the increasing discrepancy between THC and CBD levels in cannabis could increase the number of users at risk of developing psychotic disorders – a view supported by a number of academics not involved in the research. However, members of the medical cannabis lobby suggested it was in the interests of researchers linked to GW Pharmaceuticals to talk up the links, since the company stood to benefit from having the only legal access to cannabis-derived medicine. Three of the five authors both work for and own shares in the firm.

blocks of cannabis resin


The use of resin has almost died out among UK cannabis users, found King’s College London researchers. Photograph: David Potter

“It’s certainly worth putting the real risk into context, which this doesn’t,” said Jon Liebling, the political director of the United Patients Alliance (UPA). “The risk of early onset psychosis due to long-term heavy use of cannabis is one in 26,000, while the risk with heavy use of street weed and starting from early age is one in 5,000.” The risk of a serious hospital admission from eating peanuts was one in 1,000, Liebling pointed out.

Clark French, also of the UPA, added: “I find that high THC cannabis aka ‘skunk’ is the only medicine that allows me function due to debilitating pain and spasms from MS. If a doctor can prescribe me this elsewhere in the world why are patients criminalised and demonised in the UK? Skunk is medicine too”

I shouldn’t be criminalised for using cannabis to ease my constant pain | James Coke

For much of my adult life I’ve had to rise each morning and battle multiple sclerosis. Sometimes it’s a thankless task – my legs scissored together, locked in spasm as I fight to break free of its stranglehold.

I’m convinced cannabis has allowed me to live more of a normal life than would have been possible with the constant pain. I’ve always smoked it. But in recent years I’ve been making cannabis oil and turning it into tinctures. A few drops of my special brew numbs any niggling aches, clear my mind and help me get a good night’s sleep, spasm-free.

But smoking a joint or making cannabis tinctures could land me in jail for five years under our current drug laws. For someone living with MS or any other affliction that can be soothed by cannabis – including Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder or cancer – the stigma of a criminal record is not ethical or fair. 

Since the “war on drugs” was launched in the early 1970s millions of people with medical problems have been getting a bum deal. Cannabis, for centuries lauded for its therapeutic benefits, was unjustly demonised, tossed in with the likes of heroin and cocaine, to be expunged from the reach of society. However, the war was lost long ago. It is estimated that the illegal global drug market is worth about $ 400bn a year. The figure represents the total failure of the policy and excludes the billions wasted fighting it.

Several UK police forces, including Durham, effectively decriminalised the personal use of cannabis to prioritise resources. And public opinion supports a change in the law, especially when it comes to medical cannabis. That is only likely to increase after the fight by the mother of a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy who has been refused a licence to be treated with cannabis oil.


People are just being held to ransom by an outdated law

Changes in the law in parts of the US, Canada and Germany mean that the use of medical cannabis is now legal there. The shift in policy has given people the opportunity to choose their medical path, allowing many to escape addiction to prescription opioids.

The UK government appears reluctant to follow suit. Yet since 1998 it has licensed GW Pharmaceuticals to produce Sativex. The medicine, for people with MS, is derived from cannabis plants, mostly grown by British Sugar. It is a step forward, but ultimately it has ringfenced the development and sale of medical cannabis at a massively inflated price. Only a handful of those with MS receive it: the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which authorises the use of drugs by the NHS deems it too expensive (a year’s supply can cost upwards of £5,000). You either have to live in parts of Wales or be able to afford a private prescription to benefit.

The formula in each 10ml Sativex bottle includes the chief components in cannabis – THC and CBD (2.5mg of each). It costs £125 a bottle and lasts on average 10 days. In comparison an ounce of medical cannabis will cost me £250 and hold upwards of 900mg of each component. Once extracted into cannabis oil and dosed accordingly, it can produce about 350 bottles of a product that does the same job, at a fraction of the cost.

Obviously by making the spray I am breaking the law – but it helps indicate the hypocrisy of the government’s stance and its inertia in facilitating real reform. The production process is certainly not rocket science, and cannabis is a common herb in many countries, and should not cost an arm and a leg. People are just being held to ransom by an outdated law.

Much rests on the second reading of Paul Flynn’s private member’s bill on Friday advocating cannabis be made legal for medical use. If it eventually passed into law, it would be a landmark day for people living with a chronic disease or in constant pain.

Big pharma and major corporations involved in the industry such as British Sugar may balk at a regulated free market in medical cannabis, seeking to protect their interests. The drugs minister, Victoria Atkins, has shown antipathy for any kind of reform to the laws on medical cannabis. (Incidentally her husband Paul Kenward, is the managing director at British Sugar.)

Flynn has got a lot of backers in his corner, though. Legalising medical cannabis might be personal to me, but it should be personal to us all. There are more than 11 million people living with a disability in the UK, and an ageing population means few will be immune from the pain that lies ahead. The benefits seen from the US and across the world offer us a template to build upon.

James Coke is a writer. He blogs at thedisabledchef.com

I shouldn’t be criminalised for using cannabis to ease my constant pain | James Coke

For much of my adult life I’ve had to rise each morning and battle multiple sclerosis. Sometimes it’s a thankless task – my legs scissored together, locked in spasm as I fight to break free of its stranglehold.

I’m convinced cannabis has allowed me to live more of a normal life than would have been possible with the constant pain. I’ve always smoked it. But in recent years I’ve been making cannabis oil and turning it into tinctures. A few drops of my special brew numbs any niggling aches, clear my mind and help me get a good night’s sleep, spasm-free.

But smoking a joint or making cannabis tinctures could land me in jail for five years under our current drug laws. For someone living with MS or any other affliction that can be soothed by cannabis – including Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder or cancer – the stigma of a criminal record is not ethical or fair. 

Since the “war on drugs” was launched in the early 1970s millions of people with medical problems have been getting a bum deal. Cannabis, for centuries lauded for its therapeutic benefits, was unjustly demonised, tossed in with the likes of heroin and cocaine, to be expunged from the reach of society. However, the war was lost long ago. It is estimated that the illegal global drug market is worth about $ 400bn a year. The figure represents the total failure of the policy and excludes the billions wasted fighting it.

Several UK police forces, including Durham, effectively decriminalised the personal use of cannabis to prioritise resources. And public opinion supports a change in the law, especially when it comes to medical cannabis. That is only likely to increase after the fight by the mother of a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy who has been refused a licence to be treated with cannabis oil.


People are just being held to ransom by an outdated law

Changes in the law in parts of the US, Canada and Germany mean that the use of medical cannabis is now legal there. The shift in policy has given people the opportunity to choose their medical path, allowing many to escape addiction to prescription opioids.

The UK government appears reluctant to follow suit. Yet since 1998 it has licensed GW Pharmaceuticals to produce Sativex. The medicine, for people with MS, is derived from cannabis plants, mostly grown by British Sugar. It is a step forward, but ultimately it has ringfenced the development and sale of medical cannabis at a massively inflated price. Only a handful of those with MS receive it: the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which authorises the use of drugs by the NHS deems it too expensive (a year’s supply can cost upwards of £5,000). You either have to live in parts of Wales or be able to afford a private prescription to benefit.

The formula in each 10ml Sativex bottle includes the chief components in cannabis – THC and CBD (2.5mg of each). It costs £125 a bottle and lasts on average 10 days. In comparison an ounce of medical cannabis will cost me £250 and hold upwards of 900mg of each component. Once extracted into cannabis oil and dosed accordingly, it can produce about 350 bottles of a product that does the same job, at a fraction of the cost.

Obviously by making the spray I am breaking the law – but it helps indicate the hypocrisy of the government’s stance and its inertia in facilitating real reform. The production process is certainly not rocket science, and cannabis is a common herb in many countries, and should not cost an arm and a leg. People are just being held to ransom by an outdated law.

Much rests on the second reading of Paul Flynn’s private member’s bill on Friday advocating cannabis be made legal for medical use. If it eventually passed into law, it would be a landmark day for people living with a chronic disease or in constant pain.

Big pharma and major corporations involved in the industry such as British Sugar may balk at a regulated free market in medical cannabis, seeking to protect their interests. The drugs minister, Victoria Atkins, has shown antipathy for any kind of reform to the laws on medical cannabis. (Incidentally her husband Paul Kenward, is the managing director at British Sugar.)

Flynn has got a lot of backers in his corner, though. Legalising medical cannabis might be personal to me, but it should be personal to us all. There are more than 11 million people living with a disability in the UK, and an ageing population means few will be immune from the pain that lies ahead. The benefits seen from the US and across the world offer us a template to build upon.

James Coke is a writer. He blogs at thedisabledchef.com

Keeping medical cannabis from children is callous, and foolish | Ian Birrell

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania have opened their doors over the past few days. Thousands of patients with serious medical conditions have registered to access the drug, which comes in oils, patches and vaporisers, rather than smokable leaf form. The historic first purchase in the state was by Diana Briggs, the mother of a teenage son with severe epilepsy. “I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “There’s no more fear, no more stress for our family.”

Briggs campaigned for this moment after seeing how the drug reduced her son’s seizures from more than 400 a day to fewer than 50. As I know from my own daughter, who also has serious epilepsy, this is a miserable condition when poorly controlled by conventional medicine. Even after 24 years, I still find seizures distressing to watch – seeing the fear on her face when they start, holding her thrashing body tight for several minutes, then making her comfortable when she is left drained for hours. There is nagging fear in the knowledge that these episodes can kill.

Contrast the tears of joy for that mother in the US with the concern facing another mother in Britain. Hannah Deacon sees her six-year-old son, Alfie Dingley, endure up to 30 violent seizures a day. His type of epilepsy is so aggressive that he ended up in hospital 48 times in one year. Then he went to the Netherlands, and enjoyed 24 days without a single attack. The difference seems to have been made by a cannabis-based medication – just three small drops of oil – prescribed by a paediatric neurologist. “We’ve found something that makes him happy,” said his mother.

But since returning to Britain, Alfie has had to return to injections of steroids that are less effective and might eventually cause his organs to fail. This child is another innocent victim of the global war on drugs – perhaps the most foolish aspect of this futile 50-year fight has been the ban on medical marijuana. Now, Pennsylvania has become the 29th state in America to permit its use, while Italy and Germany are among European nations considering this shift.


Families with epilepsy are allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates

Slowly, however, things are changing. But there seems still to be befuddled stupor in Whitehall. This is perhaps unsurprising, under a prime minister whose policy record on drugs during her time as home secretary showed clear disdain for evidence. Yet it is callous and morally confused to stop patients accessing a cheap, safe and readily available drug that could improve life so dramatically. It is also irresponsible to ignore its fiscal potential, given the importance of the pharmaceutical sector to our economy. Among those planning to dispense the drug in Pennsylvania is a firm run by a former British policeman, Michael Abbott. His company, Columbia Care, has won licences in 12 states, and its boss would love nothing more than to be able to offer the drug to his home country. At one of his New York dispensaries I met his chief pharmacist. She explained she was at first embarrassed to be linked to the cannabis trade, and became a convinced advocate only after seeing changes in patients using the drug, especially for chronic pain, late-stage cancer and complex child epilepsy.

This does not have to be a Trojan horse for wider drug reform. And yes, much of the evidence is anecdotal since cannabis research has been hampered by illegality – although it is worth noting that Big Pharma seems resistant to an emerging industry that has reduced opioid deaths in American states where it is permitted to operate. Besides, why are families with epilepsy allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines in their homes but not cannabis?

Polls find that more than two-thirds of Britons and more than half of MPs back the use of medical marijuana. Perhaps we will see a revolt on Friday, when the Labour MP Paul Flynn tries to reschedule cannabis for medical purposes in a private bill. For where is the compassion or sense in letting children such as Alfie needlessly suffer?

Ian Birrell is a former deputy editor of the Independent and worked as a speechwriter for David Cameron during the 2010 election campaign

Keeping medical cannabis from children is callous, and foolish | Ian Birrell

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania have opened their doors over the past few days. Thousands of patients with serious medical conditions have registered to access the drug, which comes in oils, patches and vaporisers, rather than smokable leaf form. The historic first purchase in the state was by Diana Briggs, the mother of a teenage son with severe epilepsy. “I am beyond thrilled,” she said. “There’s no more fear, no more stress for our family.”

Briggs campaigned for this moment after seeing how the drug reduced her son’s seizures from more than 400 a day to fewer than 50. As I know from my own daughter, who also has serious epilepsy, this is a miserable condition when poorly controlled by conventional medicine. Even after 24 years, I still find seizures distressing to watch – seeing the fear on her face when they start, holding her thrashing body tight for several minutes, then making her comfortable when she is left drained for hours. There is nagging fear in the knowledge that these episodes can kill.

Contrast the tears of joy for that mother in the US with the concern facing another mother in Britain. Hannah Deacon sees her six-year-old son, Alfie Dingley, endure up to 30 violent seizures a day. His type of epilepsy is so aggressive that he ended up in hospital 48 times in one year. Then he went to the Netherlands, and enjoyed 24 days without a single attack. The difference seems to have been made by a cannabis-based medication – just three small drops of oil – prescribed by a paediatric neurologist. “We’ve found something that makes him happy,” said his mother.

But since returning to Britain, Alfie has had to return to injections of steroids that are less effective and might eventually cause his organs to fail. This child is another innocent victim of the global war on drugs – perhaps the most foolish aspect of this futile 50-year fight has been the ban on medical marijuana. Now, Pennsylvania has become the 29th state in America to permit its use, while Italy and Germany are among European nations considering this shift.


Families with epilepsy are allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates

Slowly, however, things are changing. But there seems still to be befuddled stupor in Whitehall. This is perhaps unsurprising, under a prime minister whose policy record on drugs during her time as home secretary showed clear disdain for evidence. Yet it is callous and morally confused to stop patients accessing a cheap, safe and readily available drug that could improve life so dramatically. It is also irresponsible to ignore its fiscal potential, given the importance of the pharmaceutical sector to our economy. Among those planning to dispense the drug in Pennsylvania is a firm run by a former British policeman, Michael Abbott. His company, Columbia Care, has won licences in 12 states, and its boss would love nothing more than to be able to offer the drug to his home country. At one of his New York dispensaries I met his chief pharmacist. She explained she was at first embarrassed to be linked to the cannabis trade, and became a convinced advocate only after seeing changes in patients using the drug, especially for chronic pain, late-stage cancer and complex child epilepsy.

This does not have to be a Trojan horse for wider drug reform. And yes, much of the evidence is anecdotal since cannabis research has been hampered by illegality – although it is worth noting that Big Pharma seems resistant to an emerging industry that has reduced opioid deaths in American states where it is permitted to operate. Besides, why are families with epilepsy allowed to routinely use stronger, more addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines in their homes but not cannabis?

Polls find that more than two-thirds of Britons and more than half of MPs back the use of medical marijuana. Perhaps we will see a revolt on Friday, when the Labour MP Paul Flynn tries to reschedule cannabis for medical purposes in a private bill. For where is the compassion or sense in letting children such as Alfie needlessly suffer?

Ian Birrell is a former deputy editor of the Independent and worked as a speechwriter for David Cameron during the 2010 election campaign

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com

High time: introducing the Guardian’s new cannabis column for grownups

Today, California becomes the world’s largest legal marijuana market. It’s not the first American state to go fully legal, but with its outsized cultural influence and economy larger than France, it’s about to do for cannabis what Hollywood did for celluloid and Silicon Valley did for the semi-conductor.

Already, 30 US states have legalized medical marijuana (Med). Next year, Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational (Rec), with support from the prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Germany, Israel and Australia have the beginnings of Med industries. Legal marijuana is coming to your neighborhood, maybe a lot sooner than you think.

For decades the plant has been stigmatized, at best, as a time waster for malodorous and unproductive men, with the disapproval factor steepening after age 30. But here in Los Angeles, the world’s most important cannabis market, a rebranding is under way. Marketers are positioning marijuana as a mainstream “wellness” product, a calorie-free alternative to an after-work cocktail. In short, it’s on the brink of global conquest.


It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, but also how they date, parent and work

There’s much to celebrate in that. Among other things, cannabis can be fun, and in some patients it relieves certain kinds of suffering. In the US, legalization is an important victory for criminal justice reform, and racist “war on drugs” tactics which continue to ruin many lives.

For that reason and many more, marijuana needs to be taken seriously, even though it can make people act goofy.

With legalization, many more people will spend much more of their time high. It will have profound consequences for how adults relax, yes, but also how they date, parent and work. Already, seniors are the fastest growing group of users in the US.

Legalization supporters often say cannabis is safer than alcohol, and this view has gained mainstream credibility. As Barack Obama said, it was “no more dangerous than alcohol”.

A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use.


A bag of cannabis seen in Toronto. Canada is likely to become the first large industrialized nation to legalize recreational use. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

It’s true that you can’t fatally overdose on cannabis. And the drug is less likely than booze to presage a car accident, an assault or another life-shattering event. But legalization may give rise to unforeseen problems. (Some doctors have expressed concern about use during pregnancy.)

No one knows how mass-market weed will change how we live and relate to each other. It’s safe to guess it will alter daily life as irrevocably and intimately as landmark products like cars, smartphones and reliable birth control.

Society has embarked on these kinds of mass experiments before. More than a decade into the social media age we’re only beginning to appreciate the implications for our brains and for our world.

Cannabis, at least, is a familiar entity. The plant has been known as both a psychoactive and a medicine for millennia. But much of the existing information and superstition is anecdotal, since for a lifetime it’s been almost impossible to study this chemically complex plant.

Due to marijuana’s outlaw past, and its most famous property, a fog of misinformation and bullshit envelops the plant and everything it touches. As a reporter, I’ve been listening to it for three years.

Now that world-class marketers have arrived on the scene, the fog has, if anything, thickened. The shelves of California pot shops abound with products implying medical benefits. Several brands of cannabis lubes claim to heighten female orgasms. In stores, they sit alongside tempting gourmet chocolates and infused breath mints, discreet enough for work.

Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.


Marijuana bubble bath and body lotion for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Some brands target young professionals and others, packaged to resemble pharmaceuticals, go after grandparents. Women of all ages are especially in demand; cannabis executives assume the men will follow along. This is all part of an industry-wide effort to reinvent marijuana as a cherished part of a functional life.

There’s some truth to this. But the organizations selling cannabis aren’t charities. While they talk constantly about “educating” the public about cannabis, it generally just means they’re talking up their product.

Cannabis has changed since you were in school. Upon entering a dispensary customers encounter dabs, rigs, concentrates, topicals, CBD and tinctures. Even the flower (that’s what it’s called now) comes in endless strains with unhelpful, sometimes threatening, names like Skywalker OG, Durban Poison and Blue Dream. The galaxy of websites dedicated to parsing them only makes it worse. My favorite write-up begins, “Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver.”

Now that the green genie is out of the bottle, let’s talk about it like adults.

High time is the Guardian’s new column about how cannabis legalization is changing modern life. Alex Halperin welcomes your thoughts, questions and concerns and will protect your anonymity. Get in touch: high.time@theguardian.com