WEED 2: Getting Somewhere; But Where?

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I woke up at 4:20 a.m. this morning restless and unable to get back to sleep. I decided to watch Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special entitled Weed 2: Cannabis Madness. I had been procrastinating on watching it for a couple of days, in part to see what the general response was from the cannabis community and the media at large. I have listened to the positive points, and also looked more deeply at questions posed to try and make sense of it all.

I believe Gupta to be a strong benchmark for where the current administration and government regulators are on the issue. Sanjay was supposed to be the US Surgeon General under the Obama administration; but my tin-foil hat leads me to believe he stayed on with CNN because he serves a far more valuable role to the administration as a trusted medical spokesmodel on a major news outlet.

Don’t believe me? Think Obamacare. At every point in the poor rollout of Obamacare Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been there to defend the administration positions, even comparing the new healthcare plans to a Ferrari. Not convinced? Check out the gay rights issue. Gupta came out hard for gay bullying when the administration was developing new strategies and policies for DADT and DOMA. He has defended the need for gay marriage. What’s that? Michelle Obama is rolling out a childhood obesity program? Call Gupta. Immigration? Gupta has an excellent immigrant story to share, and does. Wanna talk abortion? Gupta is your man to tell why closing women’s health centers is dangerous to public health.

My point is Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares eerily similar points of views with President Obama and seems to design specials based on politically hot topics that the administration is working on. Coincidence? Maybe. But to me it seems an awful lot like they use this guy to float their trial balloons out to get a read on the pulse of the nation before dropping big news on policy shifts.

So here we are with Gupta bringing his SECOND hour-long documentary on WEED. How convenient.

The episode begins with one of my favorite families and their journey to get their daughter, Vivian, safe cannabis medicine for her rare epileptic condition, Dravet’s Syndrome, which causes her to have many aggressive seizures everyday. Brian and Meghan Wilson are amazing people and some of my personal heroes. I have watched their story evolve in the media and through lurking on Meghan’s Facebook feed.

I became a huge fan of the Wilson’s when I saw Brian Wilson confront New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and say the words heard around the world….”DON’T LET MY DAUGHTER DIE, GOVERNOR.”

 
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I deal with people and parents every day who are trying to unravel this whole cannabis issue; but Wilson’s ability to convey that message so clearly and speak truth to power hit me like a ton of bricks. It made me angry. It made me upset. It made me want to do something. It also made me want to kick Chris Christie (and all the prohibitionist losers) in the nuts.

I have two healthy sons. I am so lucky to be able to say that. When I understand what parents like the Wilson’s go through just to provide basic qualities of life to Vivian I know how lucky I am, and I understand what a struggle their life must be. Which is why their strength and poise amaze me and I am in awe of what incredible humans they are.

They share their story with the world in hopes if creating understanding and opening doors. CNN did a good job of showing their journey to move from New Jersey to Colorado to have access to safe and effective plant based CBD rich medical cannabis preparations. As I watched it, even though I knew the story, I could see how difficult the entire ordeal must have been- and continues to be. I could not imagine how angry I would be to have to move my entire family across the country just to have access to a medicine that literally has never killed anyone and is safer than water.

The point CNN worked to make was what an injustice this was, and how stupid the entire thing is. They showed the irony that the government owns a patent on cannabis medicines and yet claims there is no medicinal value. They made clear the absurdity of the legal status of cannabis, and even spell out that only 6% of government funded studies have gone toward exploring the benefits of cannabis, while the other 94% of resources have gone toward demonizing this plant and have failed miserably.

They made sure to hit on many points that attempt to make the case for rescheduling; which is exactly what I think this “documentary” is set to do. I think cannabis rescheduling is literally moments away.

But what does that mean?

I am glad you asked. On the surface it seems like a harmless progression. One thing I can assure you of though, rescheduling cannabis without adult use legalization will create MORE prohibition related issues. Not less.

What you will see is a move to discredit and disqualify state programs that allow for the free and open exchange of medical cannabis preparations. You will see a move to end people’s ability to produce their own cannabis at home, in a move to say “the only cannabis medicines that can be considered legitimate are the ones produced by this big pharma outfit, or this specific group.”

We saw that argument being made in the special by none other than Drug Warrior Prince Patrick Kennedy himself. Now here is a jackass who is fighting a losing battle and who is now trying to hedge his bets. Patrick Kennedy, and his buddy Kevin Sabet (the world’s biggest liar about marijuana) have been on their “Project SAM” crusade to try and stop the inevitable legalization of marijuana.  Now he wants to go on Gupta’s special pretending he is some advocate for “medical only” cannabis prepared strictly under FDA regulations and provided only through pharmacies. Sure…right. He continues to backpedal and establish a line in the sand that will pay his money hungry corporate sponsors who want to keep weed as illegal as possible for as long as possible. It is sad. You are better than this shit, Patches.

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The look at the GW Pharmaceuticals close-up. As far as Big Pharma goes, I am not a fan; but GW does a good job of working to represent cannabis in that world, which has obviously not been cheap and they have faced many hurdles. I respect their work.

The message we saw being made in the Gupta Weeds 2 special was twofold. For one, they made it clear that England was ahead of us on this matter, as well as 25 other countries. Nothing gets conservative lawmakers to the table more quickly than American exceptionalism. Secondly, they made the case and showed up-close with their fancy science machinery and football field size garden (complete with a neat little British chap saying “I am not particularly partial to the smell”) to make the case that they CAN turn the marijuana plant into a prescription drug. Perfectly framed to drive even the most staunch opponents around on why rescheduling is necessary and it can be done under the strict protocols of the FDA and DEA.

Did you notice the gratuitous shots of the fancy Rotovapes, both at GW labs and in Colorado? That is not an accident. Make the connection.

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So we can see how the message is moving, and where the focus is going. A clear message about the children suffering and families being torn apart to start the show. A transition to firm discussion on hypocrisy of Schedule 1.They show successful results from early cases in C0lorado with a company who has “hired scientists from major pharmaceutical companies.” Then they show the European-based GW Pharmaceuticals mass producing and beating us to market on 25 other countries in a very professional and scientific medical environment. Throw in a little hippie bashing and some well placed jabs at the current cannabis industry…and there you have it. The case on why the Obama administration will reschedule probably before summer.

Which brings me to where the piece FAILS.

While obviously the tale of Vivian Wilson is gripping (I cried for real), it is one of many stories of families that are suffering from cannabis prohibition in so many ways. There has been a lot of focus on Dravet Syndrome because it is such a stark reminder of just how crazy these policies are. How fucked up are we as a society to make parents like Brian and Meghan uproot their family and move to a different state to save their kid because we decided to outlaw weed many decades ago, and our current political nightmare keeps us from touching any third rail items and addressing injustice? It shows how messed up the situation is beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Dravet Syndrome only affects 1 in 30,000 people on average. The prohibition of cannabis has affected and often ruined the lives of SO MANY MORE.

That is the core message we are not having enough as a society. I feel deeply for those 10-15,000 people in our country who have Dravet Syndrome….but the millions and millions of people who lose their freedom, their jobs, their kids, and their standing in the community every year because of this war on personal choice and a safer alternative also deserve a voice in this.

People like Josh Stanley and his supposed band of Dudley Do-Right brothers do not help the matters either with their pathetic rhetoric where they go out of their way to make off color remarks stating:

“You can set the whole hippie population of Colorado loose on our plants and all you will have is a bunch of disappointed hippies.”

Yeah, asshole…..those hippies are the one who brought the issue to the forefront of the conversation so you could “get famous” for growing your medical only marijuana and disparaging the “hippie stoner potheads” on national television and in the press. Don’t forget it was “the hippies” who also have brought up some other meaningful issues like ending violent wars, genetically modifying foods, and taking care of the environment…or as you “I play a straight guy on TV” assholes say – climate change.

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Remember all those novel points? Earth Day and shit? So go on with your hippie bashing but do not be surprised if you get a size 11 Birkenstock sandal up your ass one day soon. I am not sure what your constant bashing of a culture that created the space that allows you to exist, but there is an old hippie named Dennis Peron you might want to go talk to about how cool hippies really are before you go off on your next tirade.

The Stanleys are up to something for sure. They are actively providing CBD only templates for legislation to lawmakers in many states that will certainly give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. they are positioning themselves as the “go-to” saviors, complete with the “we are good Christians so you can trust us” bullshit rhetoric.

There is a lot of strange cloak and dagger movement in that camp. The word on the street is that they are now offering their Charlotte’s Web genetics for a measly $100,000. They also seem to be pretty closely in bed with people well-known in Big Pharma circles.

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That is an email from Wisconsin showing them getting the “template from Realm of Caring” for the CBD only legislation being proposed there. I think the Stanley’s willingness to throw cannabis users under the bus with their hyperbolic bullshit is disgusting. These clowns just got off the boat, changed their clothes from the parking lot at the dead show, refound Jesus, and now want to position themselves as the leading researchers in cannabis medicines in the United States? Spare me.

You guys are gross. What you are is star struck and money hungry.

The Stanley’s admit they cannot meet demand, yet they will not give the strain to parents in need to grow for themselves….unless they have $100k per plant apparently. They are hoping to capitalize off of their fortunate notoriety and probably sell their operation to one of the big pharma behemoths lurking around the corner (if they haven’t already).

I did love that their employee had his rasta colored bong and was dabbing on the segment. LOL. So strange. Fucking hippie.

I think the Stanley Brothers are gross and I hope they get fucked over by their new corporate overlords. I think they have done some decent stuff over time, but it is clear they have sold way the fuck out and are not coming back anytime soon.

Beyond the fact that the episode shaped up to be a commercial for the rescheduling of cannabis and the ultimate turnover of the industry to big pharma for the medical side- and the reality that people who think they have “medical cannabis” now are in for a pretty rude awakening- I thought the program made a lot of great points.

I think it made points that are long overdue, and I also think it fell short of the real message…being that cannabis prohibition is evil and immoral, regardless of its intended use.

I believe that the story given by Brian and Meghan Wilson about their daughter was incredible and opened the hearts and minds of millions of people….and I cherish them for that.

I think the rest of the “documentary” sounded a lot like a commercial for upcoming changes in the political, legal, and regulatory policies of cannabis. I think we, as a community, should be very aware of what that means. I think it does not mean what most have been led to believe. I will say it again for you….”MEDICAL IS THE SECOND STRICTEST CLASSIFICATION ON THE PLANET NEXT TO ALL OUT PROHIBITION.

While I am sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the medical sector of cannabis will be swallowed up by big pharma and eventually what is considered medicine will be prepared only in strict controlled and regulated environments, I fear this transition happening without adult use legalization happening at the same time. You can be sure that what is now considered “medical” programs across the country will be deemed as “too recreational” and “ripe for abuse” and will be challenged and attacked by those who are allowed to produce FDA grade weed products….mark my words.

If the current industry gets caught in that vortex, we either join the dark side or head back to the black market. So we must be careful what we are asking for and what we are not standing up to defeat. I did think Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made a great point about needing the whole plant medicines, including THC; but it was obviously edited down and then led into a “which is why GW Pharmaceuticals is making this product” segment. (rolls eyes)

The CBD only legislation and the “just enough” efforts we see being put forth are aimed at limiting who can use cannabis for what and what ratios they can obtain. It is CANNABIS MADNESS… but not in the way Sanjay would lead you to believe. We are evolving towards a “prohibition light” where we will seem to allow for cannabis, but really can maintain many of the prohibition policies that allow us to jail poor and minority people at alarming rates.

The answer is ending prohibition. That is where we need to be headed.

I think the Weed 2 piece is getting us somewhere for sure. I am just not sure it is where we need to be going in the bigger picture of things. If Sanjay really wants to talk health, talk about the suffering of people in prison for a plant you just went on TV and said was amazing. Quit selling pharmeceutical products and look at the incredible harm prohibitin and the drug war is having on the world we live in. Get back to me with the real health costs of that if you want to have a valid conversation.

So I guess my point is…”Thanks. But no thanks.” Freedom or bust.

Here is the whole episode for you to check out:
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6 thoughts on “WEED 2: Getting Somewhere; But Where?”

  1. very nicely stated and your assessment of Josh Stanley is spot-on. He was part of a follow-up discussion on G+ where he bashed California for being a make-believe medical marijuana state who didn’t care about high CBD strains when in fact high CBD strains were started in California and have been available for ~10 years now.
    more info on CBD research:
    http://www.projectcbd.org/plant/genetic/
    Mr Stanley is a wolf in Christian clothing and should be fed to the wolves :
    keep up the great work!
    Draeger

  2. President Obama loves to send out feelers via talking heads to float his administration’s ideas — is it strategy or cowardice (or cowardly strategy)? And Dr. Gupta represents the medical establishment and corporate America — when have these two groups ever been on the side of patients or consumers?

    As someone who has sampled just about everything that big pharma has to offer in the way of pain management, I can say with some expertise that they will never be able to copy the perfection that is… nature.

    Oh, sure, they will try. Again and again and again. It will take decades. But the initial interests of big pharma are in reducing the effects of THC — when THC is the most important part of the cannabis entourage. Dampen the effects of THC and you are left with only partial medicinal effects. And I don’t see any way that big pharma will be able to copy terpenes.

    There will be millions of people willing to settle for big pharma products, but it will mainly be those who have never tried the real thing. (Kinda like… love.)

  3. The cannabis community has been on the short, sharp and dirty end of the stick for decades and has every right to be suspicious of anything government does, given recent history. And given what the subject is, there’s more than enough evidence to fuel those suspicions. Given that cannabis prohibition itself is a conspiracy, to suspect its beneficiaries of skullduggery isn’t out-of-line.

    Not when the conspiracy is in plain sight. And the conspirators gloat about it.

    GWP has long intended to use whatever connections it has with government to monopolize the med-cann industry. Hence their recruiting of Andrea Barthwell, former Number Two at the ONDCP in the Bush Too (not a typo) era.

    In one of those “We have always been at war with Oceania” moments, prior to about 2004-05, la Barthwell had been parroting the Bush Too administration’s talking point (no doubt Sabet’s work) that “Medicinal marijuana is a cruel hoax.” She would also say that “Marijuana has no medicinal value.”

    Then, around 2004-05, the Oceania moment came, and suddenly, the talking point changed to saying “Smoked marijuana has no medicinal value.” Notice how the propaganda talking point changes? This was also around the time GW Pharma had been granted an unusually rapid processing of their product’s classification to a Schedule 3 drug…to be delivered in classic pharma spray fashion.

    Shortly after this about-face, la Barthwell bows out from Gub’mint ‘service’, straight into the arms of GW Pharma. Not even a ‘decent interval’. I shouldn’t have to berate the obvious, but this screams criminal conspiracy on the part of government officials in cahoots with a favored private industry to their mutual benefit and the detriment of the people.

    As to GW Pharma’s monopolistic intentions? Well, let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth, shall we?

    from the article:

    “Lucas received a foretaste of possible legal battles to come with GW, Bayer AG, and its subsidiary Bayer Canada, when he described Cannamist at a medical marijuana conference held by a group called Patients Out of Time, at the University of Virginia. Geoffrey Guy happened to be in the audience, and afterward approached Lucas and asked him if he’d had a chance to look at the any of the many patent applications GW has for Sativex. “He said it with a twinkle in his eye,” recalls Lucas, “but with firmness in his voice.”

    There is no question that GW plans to enforce its patents on Sativex, which is a precisely dosed medicine. Warns Guy: “To protect our extensive investment, we have sought to identify and patent certain inventions throughout the growing, extraction and manufacturing process. My comments to Mr. Lucas were made as a friendly and, hopefully, helpful gesture as I did not wish him to invest a great amount of effort into obtaining approval for a product as a prescription medicine only to find that he did not have the freedom to operate in the first place.” (Arrogant little f-er, isn’t he?)

    Guy’s warning was reiterated shortly after I arrived in England to interview him, when Mark Rogerson, GW’s grey-templed, elegantly dressed, public-relations man, met me at the Oxford train station. “Once it’s approved and Sativex becomes a medicine under the law, there needs to be a minor change in legislation so it can be prescribed,” he said, as he steered his Hyundai (his Audi was in the shop) into near-gridlock. “The Home Office has already said they will do that, and then patients will be taking a legal medicine. But if you are an MS sufferer, it would still be illegal for you to grow cannabis at the bottom of the garden to treat your symptoms. Our medicine will be legal, but anything else will not be.”

    They’re still at it. They won’t stop until they have a corp-rat choke-hold on access. This is happening with government blessing and assistance, but not for our benefit. Which is why referenda are so important. Because they end-run around the entrenched special interests, exactly the way they supposed to, and for exactly the same reasons.

  4. I am the parent of a child who has Intractable Epilepsy. I do not live in a legal state and my daughter’s life is at risk every day. I have been closely following this issue for a few years now. I just want to bring up one point that you may have already looked into. I have not seen any articles about it. There’s so much talk about Sanjay Gupta and what’s his real deal with his new love for cannabis. Here’s a conspiracy theory. Back in 2009 Gupta declined to accept Obama’s appointment of him as Surgeon General. So they obviously had some sort of cozy relationship. Obama saw the growing changes of public opinion towards MMJ. Who better to further the quick change of public opinion than Gupta himself. I think they have some sort of under the table agreement that Gupta has been unofficially been contracted to change public opinion on the issue. There’ no way Obama could have softened up his beliefs on the issue recently without Gupta’s work. That’s really it. Would love to know what others think about this.

    Thanks for your awesome coverage about the scumbags Stanleys! 🙂 Don’t get me wrong. Yes many desperate families and children’s lives have changed for the better, and I thak them for that, but what they have turned into is disgusting!

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