Why Jennifer Doudna Has Trouble Sleeping

In my last post, Hilo High Grad Makes Crispr ‘Discovery Of The Century,’ I wrote about the amazing Dr. Jennifer Doudna and her CRISPr gene-editing technology, which is taking the science world by storm.

I also wrote that it can be controversial. Today I want to share an article by Dr. Doudna, one of CRISPr’s discoverers. She wrote this article for Nature, the international weekly journal of science. It’s about her concerns over the philosophical and ethical ramifications of genomes that are easily-altered.

From Nature.com:

Genome-editing revolution: My whirlwind year with CRISPR, by Jennifer Doudna

22 December 2015

Some 20 months ago, I started having trouble sleeping. It had been almost two years since my colleagues and I had published a paper describing how a bacterial system called CRISPR–Cas9 could be used to engineer genomes (see ‘Based on bacteria’).

I had been astounded at how quickly labs around the world had adopted the technology for applications across biology, from modifying plants to altering butterfly-wing patterns to fine-tuning rat models of human disease. At the same time, I’d avoided thinking too much about the philosophical and ethical ramifications of widely accessible tools for altering genomes.

Questions about whether genome editing should ever be used for non-medical enhancement, for example, seemed mired in subjectivity — a long way from the evidence-based work I am comfortable with. I told myself that bioethicists were better positioned to take the lead on such issues. Like everyone else, I wanted to get on with the science made possible by the technology….

 Read the rest

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Hilo High Grad Makes CRISPr ‘Discovery of the Century’

Are you familiar with CRISPr gene-editing technology? It’s been called the discovery of the century, but it’s not well known yet outside of science circles. From time to time I’m going to write here about what’s going on with it.

At ScienceNews.org, they talk about it this way:

Scientists usually shy away from using the word miracle — unless they’re talking about the gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. “You can do anything with CRISPR,” some say. Others just call it amazing.

An interesting fact: Dr. Jennifer Doudna, credited with discovering this technology and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, graduated from Hilo High.

Jennifer Doudna, CRISPr

She and a colleague “helped make one of the most monumental discoveries in biology: a relatively easy way to alter any organism’s DNA, just as a computer user can edit a word in a document,” according to The New York Times. People are saying she may get a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for it.

The New York Times article also states:

The discovery has turned Dr. Doudna (the first syllable rhymes with loud) into a celebrity of sorts, the recipient of numerous accolades and prizes. The so-called Crispr-Cas9 genome editing technique is already widely used in laboratory studies, and scientists hope it may one day help rewrite flawed genes in people, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases.

But what is it? In an article called “Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that Edits DNA,” Gizmodo writes:

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?

The short answer is that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genomes with unprecedented precision, efficiency, and flexibility. The past few years have seen a flurry of “firsts” with CRISPR, from creating monkeys with targeted mutations to preventing HIV infection in human cells. Earlier this month, Chinese scientists announced they applied the technique to nonviable human embryos, hinting at CRISPR’s potential to cure any genetic disease. And yes, it might even lead to designer babies. (Though, as the results of that study show, it’s still far from ready for the doctor’s office.) 

In short, CRISPR is far better than older techniques for gene splicing and editing. And you know what? Scientists didn’t invent it.

CRISPR/Cas9 comes from strep bacteria…

CRISPR is actually a naturally-occurring, ancient defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria. As far as back the 1980s, scientists observed a strange pattern in some bacterial genomes. One DNA sequence would be repeated over and over again, with unique sequences in between the repeats. They called this odd configuration “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” or CRISPR.

This was all puzzling until scientists realized the unique sequences in between the repeats matched the DNA of viruses—specifically viruses that prey on bacteria. It turns out CRISPR is one part of the bacteria’s immune system, which keeps bits of dangerous viruses around so it can recognize and defend against those viruses next time they attack. The second part of the defense mechanism is a set of enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which can precisely snip DNA and slice the hell out of invading viruses. Conveniently, the genes that encode for Cas are always sitting somewhere near the CRISPR sequences….

Read the rest

Although the technology is not without controversy, it is a very interesting subject. It’s going to be huge. I’m following the topic and will occasionally write about it here.

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PUEO to Rotary: TMT Offers Educational Opportunities We Shouldn’t Miss

Keahi Warfield, president of the native Hawaiian group Perpetuating Unique Education Opportunities (PUEO), spoke at the Rotary Club of Honolulu Tuesday. He said the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) offers educational opportunities we shouldn’t pass up.

PUEO
Keahi Warfield, PUEO President

Rotary sign

PUEO
Mitch D’Olier, past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu

From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

Pro-telescope group touts educational benefits

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

August 17, 2016

Building a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea will come with educational opportunities that Hawaii shouldn’t close the door to, the president of a Native Hawaiian group that supports the project said.

Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities President Keahi Warfield told a Waikiki hotel banquet room filled with members of the Rotary Club of Honolulu on Tuesday that he believes there’s a “silent majority” of the public who support the Thirty Meter Telescope….

Read the rest

And I strongly agree – both that the TMT has educational opportunities for our Big Island keiki that we cannot pass up, and about the “silent majority” in favor of the project.

IMG_2212
Richard Ha, Keahi Warfield

I introduced Keahi before he spoke and here’s what I said:

Who are we? I’m from the Kamahele family in lower Puna. My great-great grandfather had 12 boys and one daughter. All the Kamaheles are related.

I’ve been farming for 30 years. Our farm is Hamakua Springs, which is on 600 fee-simple acres. I describe us as being a triple bottom-line farmer. To be sustainable we need to be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The “social” aspect includes culture and education. It includes all of us, not just a few of us. This is the part I am especially focused on.

The County of Hawaii has the lowest median family income, and the highest suicide and homelessness rates. The game changer is education. It’s not the largest, strongest or the smartest that survives – it’s the ones who can adapt to change.

The pluses have to exceed the minuses or you go extinct. That applies to organisms and organizations as well as civilizations.

Education is the game changer that allows us to adapt.

Regarding the TMT: Henry Yang is the president of the TMT. And he’s the type of person you can do business with on a handshake. He and Jean-Lou Chameau, the former president of Cal Tech and now president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, visited the Big Island 15 times. They became well known in the community.

One visit to Keaukaha was memorable. They dropped in unexpectedly at a Kupuna Day function. They had become so familiar that the people greeted them with, “Come, come, come, go eat.”

Keiki education is the common denominator that everyone on all sides of the issue can agree upon. That’s how the THINK fund was born. The THINK Fund is a one million annual contribution to Big Island student education from the Thirty Meter Telescope. They left it to the community to choose the direction.

I’ve been in the middle of this issue for nearly ten years, and I am very pleased that PUEO has taken a seat at the table.

I have noticed in the last few months that public opinion is shifting. In the Ward Research poll just released, the number opposed to the TMT has gone down from 39 percent to 31 percent. I have a Facebook page that talks about ag and energy and I’ve noticed many more Hawaiian surname “likes,” compared to just three months ago. I also notice more young people participating. This is the most encouraging part to me.

My role now is support. I can see the young people starting to come out and I could not be more pleased.

The PUEO group is made up of very credible native Hawaiian people. In all my years of knowing them, they only talk about the community, the keiki, and future generations. I am very proud to be allowed to work with these people. 

Keahi is the perfect leader for PUEO. I’ll do everything I can to support his efforts. Aloha

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Ceremony for Lau Ola Groundbreaking a Success

We gathered at the farm yesterday for a Lau Ola groundbreaking ceremony. We stood where the 25,000-square-foot facility for our medical marijuana growing operation will be built.

It was a nice turnout; around 60 people. It was great to look around and see so many of our friends and neighbors from the community.

Lau Ola groundbreaking

I spoke about how we are a triple bottom-line company. I said we believe in sustainability, and for our company to be sustainable it must be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. “Socially” includes our workers and our neighbors, and I told the people there I want them to be comfortable coming to talk to me any time they need. I really mean that.

Keahi Warfield set an inclusive tone while he gave the blessing. He chanted while he and I walked the dirt where the new growing facility is going in and he blessed it with pa‘akai.

Lau Ola groundbreaking

We took some pictures with shovels and invited everyone to take a shovel and be a part of it.
Lau Ola groundbreaking

Lau Ola groundbreaking Lau Ola groundbreaking

It was really a nice gathering. Everyone felt great afterward. We are off to a good start.

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Part Four: Strong Medical Cannabis Research Happening in Israel

When it comes to cutting-edge medical cannabis research, Israel is the hot spot.

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Israel, but the Israeli government encourages the use of cannabis therapeutically. The Ministry of Health there oversees the growing and distribution of medical marijuana.

Last year, doctors in Israel prescribed medical marijuana to about 25,000 patients with cancer, degenerative diseases, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress.

The big push on medical cannabis research in Israel right now? A purified form of cannabis that can be administered in precise doses and with minimal side-effects.

Federal law here in the U.S. makes it difficult for scientists to study the plant and its medicinal potential. Israel, though, doesn’t have the same restrictions. And unlike in other countries, human clinical trials on medical cannabis are allowed in Israel.

In fact, an Israeli biochemist is the world’s pioneer and foremost expert on medical marijuana research. In the 1960s, Raphael Mechoulam determined the structure of cannabis’s component cannabidiol (CBD). He also isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the first time.

He also identified the brain’s first endogenous cannabinoid and found a compound in the body that activates cannabinoid receptors. Although he retired years ago, the octagenarian still goes to work to conduct his medical marijuana research.

Working Together

American and Canadian pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies, and producers work with Israel researchers and organizations. Even the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds research in Israel. The NIH has helped fund Mechoulam’s medical cannabis research for almost 50 years.

The Hebrew Unversity of Jerusalem recently opened a cannabis research center. There are now 20 such research centers in Israel. And this year, Tel Aviv hosted the second annual international conference on medical cannabis, CannaTech.

Watch The Scientist (1:02), a documentary about Dr. Mechoulam.

“The Scientist” is a documentary that traces the story of Dr. Mechoulam from his early days……as a child of the Holocaust in Bulgaria, through his immigration to Israel, and his career as the chief investigator into the chemistry and biology of the world’s most misunderstood plant. Dr. Mechoulam ascertained that THC interacts with the largest receptor system in the human body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

Also in this series:

Part 1: The History of Cannabis

Part 2: How Cannabis Works

Part 3: Who Takes Medical Marijuana?

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IfA Director Insists on Strong Hilo Astronomy Program

Guenther Hasinger, director of the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), really impresses me.

I first met him when I sat on the selection committee for the new IfA director. On that committee, I was looking for someone who would understand us here on the Big Island, and who would advocate for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo astronomy department.

Hasinger just announced that undergraduate students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH) will get viewing time at Mauna Kea observatories for the first time, up to 16 nights per year.

You can read more about this in Saturday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald:

Guenther Hasinger, IfA director, said it’s unusual for an undergraduate astronomy program to be granted dedicated viewing time. Typically, observing time is reserved based solely on the caliber of research.

But few programs sit at the bottom of one of the world’s top telescope sites.

“From my point of view, it is absolutely necessary to have a very strong astronomy program in Hilo,” Hasinger said.

“We want to ground the telescopes in the community.”

Read the rest

Accomplishments

He impresses me for several reasons.

First of all, he was scientific director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics near Munich, and received numerous awards for his research and contributions to space science. These include Germany’s most significant research prize and the international Committee on Space Research award.

Also, he wrote a book called Das Schicksal des Universums (Fate of the Universe), which explains astrophysics and cosmology to a wide audience. It won the Science Book of the Year award in Germany and was popular in Europe. I asked him how he did it. How does an astronomer write a book that’s popular with the general public? He told me he can relate to the average person. Right there I thought, “This is the guy for the IfA.”

And furthermore, before he applied for the IfA position, he went to a ceremony at Halema‘uma‘u to show respect. He didn’t talk about it in his official presentation; we had to drag it out of him.

Historically, the IfA is O‘ahu-centric. And here on the Big Island, we’ve always had to fight for anything we get. With Dr. Hasinger, we have someone who is respectful of the Big Island.

Hasinger advocates for growing the UH-Hilo Astronomy department.

“From my point of view, it is absolutely necessary to have a very strong astronomy program in Hilo,” he said in the Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald article.

Read the University of Hawai‘i Memo of Understanding about this change here:

Memo of Understanding

 

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Part Three: Who Takes Medical Marijuana?

Cannabis has a long history of easing medical symptoms or conditions. The cannabinoids within cannabis have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Who takes medical marijuana? People trying to treat a great number of conditions.

They take it in various ways: as edibles, in capsules, as a lozenge, dermal patch, oral or dermal spray, in a liquid tincture, or by vaporizing or smoking dried buds.

In some countries, including the U.S., there are also synthetic cannabinoids available by prescription. These include Marinol (Dronabinol) and Cesamet (Nabilone).

Seizure Disorder

Dr. Jim Berg, of Hilo, talks about the now-famous case of a little girl in Colorado named Charlotte. The toddler, who had a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, was having 300 grand mal seizures a week.

Doctors tried every possible medication, but none helped. Finally, when she was five, her desperate parents Paige and Matt tried medical cannabis.

From CNN:

Paige found a Denver dispensary that had a small amount of a type of marijuana called R4, said to be low in THC and high in CBD. She paid about $800 for 2 ounces – all that was available – and had a friend extract the oil.

She had the oil tested at a lab and started Charlotte out on a small dose.

“We were pioneering the whole thing; we were guinea pigging Charlotte,” Paige said. “This is a federally illegal substance. I was terrified to be honest with you.”

But the results were stunning.

“When she didn’t have those three, four seizures that first hour, that was the first sign,” Paige recalled. “And I thought well, ‘Let’s go another hour, this has got to be a fluke.’ “

The seizures stopped for another hour. And for the following seven days.

“It was extremely low in THC and very high in CBD,” says Berg. He says this was key. “With that ratio, you can take it in much higher doses, much more therapeutically. You would never be able to do that with high THC because you would get too stoned from it.”

Like CBD, the cannabinoid CBG is not psychoactive. “It seems to have very strong anticancer properties,” says Berg. “There’s a lot of hope regarding various cancers including brain stem tumors, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. There’s been a series of studies done on those specifically for CBG.”

Medical Marijuana in Hawai‘i

In Hawai‘i, medical use of marijuana is permitted for “alleviating the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.”

Hawaii Senate Bill 862 defines debilitating medical conditions as:

Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or the treatment of these conditions;

A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or

Any other medical condition approved by the department of health pursuant to administrative rules in response to a request from a physician or qualifying patient.

“And it also looks like CBD is probably going to be good for things like Alzheimer’s disease and for Parkinson’s Disease,” says Berg. “We’ve had many studies showing that it’s helpful. It’s probably both related to its pain-relieving qualities but especially its neuroprotective qualities.

“It seems to help the nervous system function better, both in the big picture of working between the structures in the nervous system in the brain and at a very local level both, in the peripheral nerves.”

Next week, a look at state-of-the-art medical cannabis research in Israel.

Also in this series:

The History of Cannabis

How Cannabis Works

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Are You Familiar with the Concept of Security Cows?

Ben Adlin wrote a story on our new cannabis operation for leafly.com and in it he talks about our security cows.

Leafly calls itself “The world’s cannabis information resource” and publishes news and other information about the cannabis industry.

Here’s the article:

‘Security Cows’ Will Guard This Hawaiian Cannabis Farm

To keep his licensed medical cannabis crop safe, Hawaii farmer Richard Ha is going beyond the security measures — surveillance cameras, an alarm system — mandated by the state. He’s hired cows. Security cows. 

It’s not quite what neighbors had in mind when they asked whether guards would patrol the grounds of his new grow site, one of the first to be awarded a state license. But Ha believed that armed guards would do more harm than good. 

“We’re not going to have armed guards,” he told his neighbors, “because we’d end up shooting ourselves.”

…The grow site for Ha’s medical cannabis venture, Lau Ola, sits on a 40-acre plot lush with branches and undergrowth — ideal camouflage for burglars. The cows, he says, will act as enormous bovine lawnmowers, clearing brush and increasing visibility. 

“We know cattle ranchers,” Ha said. “It’s a win-win for us and them. They get to raise their animals, and we don’t have to do the weeding and maintenance, grass-cutting and things like that.”

Ha knows the cows aren’t exactly watchdogs. So to up the intimidation factor, sometimes Ha refers to the cattle as “wild bulls.” He even plans to post signs to that effect.

“Everybody’s afraid of bulls,” he explained dryly. “Nobody wants to be caught in a pasture with a wild bull.”

Lau Ola, security cows, Richard Ha

Read the rest of the story to get the full picture.

Lau Ola, security cows, Richard Ha

photo by Pikaluk – Flickr: One Gorgeous Cow, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1460977

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Part Two: How Cannabis Works

Scientists understand more about how cannabis works these days than they used to.

Cannabis affects our brain the same way as does a naturally occurring brain chemical. Compounds in cannabis attach to cannabinoid receptors and help with pain and inflammation.

Researchers first identified the body’s cannabinoid receptors in the 1980s. At least two types of receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, are found throughout the body. Mostly they are in the brain and immune system.

“The most medicinal part of the plant is in the flower,” says Big Island physician Jim Berg. “That part of the plant produces most of the medicinal agents.”

Those medicinal agents in cannabis primarily fall into two categories – cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act upon cannabinoid receptors in the brain. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Natural Products, researchers have isolated at least 113 different cannabinoids in cannabis. They all have different effects.

  • Perhaps the best known cannabinoid is THC, which is cannabis’s primary psychoactive compound. This is what people who smoke marijuana for the “high” are reacting to.
  • Another cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD). “CBD is not very psychoactive,” says Berg. “So that’s the one that has a lot of medicinal properties without being intoxicating in any way.”

Terpenes

Terpenes, on the other hand, are volatile essential oils. The plant produces these primarily to protect itself from both insects and UV light. These essential oils have an odor, which is what gives cannabis its smell and flavor.

“Many other types of plants have terpenes as well. Some of the terpenes are found in mango, black pepper, and hops,” says Berg. Terpenes have medicinal properties wherever they are found. “Black pepper is strongly anti-inflammatory,” he says. “It can be used both topically and internally for that. Mango definitely has some of the properties, too.”

How cannabis works is by attaching to cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily in the brain, as well as the male and female reproductive systems, the eye and the retina. These impact the psychological effects of THC.

CB2 receptors are mostly in cells of the immune system, where they increase some immune responses and decrease others. Non-psychotropic cannabinoids can be a very effective anti-inflammatory.

Last week: The History of Cannabis
Next week: What conditions is medical marijuana commonly used for? 

Photo at top: Cb1 Cb2 structure. By Esculapio at the Italian language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14390100

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The History of Cannabis

Take away all the politics and cannabis is just another plant. The history of cannabis being used medically is extensive, though; people have used it for its medicinal qualities for thousands of years.

So what’s the difference between “cannabis” and “marijuana?”

“Cannabis” is an old word. It’s the name of the genus of the flowering plant that is indigenous to Central and South Asia, and the Greek, Persian and Hebrew languages all have variants of it.

The more recent term “marijuana,” a word used more commonly in the U.S., probably derives from slang. The 1937 U.S. Marihuana Tax Act legitimized the word.

Whatever you call it, the history of cannabis use, both for medicine and ritual, goes back thousands of years.

Ancient History of Cannabis

In around 2700 BC, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was prescribing cannabis tea to treat gout, rheumatism, malaria, and poor memory. Hindus in India and Nepal used it thousands of years ago. Ancient Assyrians used it in religious ceremonies.

Just twelve years ago, in China, archaeologists found a leather basket full of cannabis leaf fragments and seeds next to a mummified shaman they dated at around 2,500 to 2,800 years old. There’s evidence of cannabis use in Egyptians mummies that lived in around 950 BC.

And the South African Journal of Science says that, more recently, pipes dug up from William Shakespeare’s garden in Stratford-upon-Avon contained cannabis.

Jim Berg, M.D., who has offices in Kona, Ocean View and Hilo, is physician to about half the Big Island patients with medical marijuana cards. He says the ancient Chinese used cannabis for what they called “unsettled spirit.”

Long Ago Experts

“The Chinese had some interesting ways of calling schizophrenia and bipolar, mental illness, ‘unsettled spirit,’” he says. “So cannabis would settle the spirit and help calm people down, and help them get better sleep.

“The Chinese really had some interesting names. Like they said that hot phlegm obscured the portals of the mind. They used cannabis to clear the hot phlegm and to clear the portals.”

He says that by the time of Huangi, the “Yellow Emperor” of China who reigned from about 2697 to 2597 BC, “they had a very sophisticated system and their pharmacy was actually quite advanced.

“I would put their pharmacists up against our pharmacists any day, because we’re scientifically based but they were practically based. They would go pick their plants. They would have to prepare all their medicines and use them, and then they would get the direct feedback from the people.” The history of cannabis, he says, includes its use for childbirth in the Middle East.

In America

In 1619, King James I decreed that every colonist in the Virginia Company grow 100 hemp plants. Hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. Its fibers made rope, sails and clothes. Hemp was legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

Cannabis was used extensively in medicines and was extremely commonplace in the U.S. between 1850 and 1937, says Berg. “We have well-documented use of it being used by doctors then,” he says. “In fact, we can easily say it was the most prescribed medicine in this country for people before 1937.”

“It was used for sedation and as an anesthetic for doing basic procedures. It was used for depression, and it was used, most importantly, for sleep. It was in sleep tonics. It was in pain medicines. I think sleep and pain are probably the most traditional reasons cannabis were used over the years in this country – people trying to deal with their pain issues.

“And this is all stuff that was totally legal at the time. People could just buy from the guy down the street, or the guy in the wagon. Of course, there were probably many people who got addicted to the opiate in it. That was probably why it got to be such a big seller.”

Cannabis was mixed with other herbs, and often with opiates.

“Eventually, both the opiates and the cannabis became illegal, but until then they were used by moms and pops, by kids. It was in cough syrups. It was in good, old-fashioned tonics, just to help you feel better.”

Government Changes

When the U.S. Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, there was suddenly an excise tax on cannabis. People could only use it for authorized medical and industrial uses.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act passed, replacing the 1937 Tax Act. That’s when drugs were classified into different schedules for the first time. Cannabis and some other drugs became “Schedule 1.” This meant they had a high potential for abuse, had no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there was a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. It became illegal at the federal level to use a Schedule I substance.

(However, a synthetically prepared type of cannabis, Marinol, is commonly used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and appetite loss caused by AIDS. It went on the Schedule III controlled substances list.)

Eye-Opening

It was significant to the way many Americans view medical marijuana, says Berg, when neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta went on CNN a couple years ago. He did a series of investigations about cannabis and its medical properties. Among other things, he showed kids with seizures treated with cannabis that has high-dose CBD (the compound with medical benefits) and low-THC (the psychoactive part). Their seizures responded remarkably.

For instance, a young girl named Charlotte went from having 300 seizures a week, some of them two to four hours long, to just one or two a month.

“There is now promising research into the use of marijuana that could impact tens of thousands of children and adults,” writes Gupta, “including treatment for cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. With regard to pain alone, marijuana could greatly reduce the demand for narcotics and simultaneously decrease the number of accidental painkiller overdoses, which are the greatest cause of preventable death in this country.”

Hawaii’s legislature voted to make medical marijuana legal in 1999. This change took effect in 2000.

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