Please call and/or write your Assembly Member and Gov. Newsom to urge them to pass this bill that would allow medical cannabis in certain medical facilities for terminally ill patients. This is really important for seniors.
Last session it passed unanimously in the legislature, but Governor Newsom vetoed it over concerns with conflicting federal policy. We cannot wait to help our loved ones. Call the Governor today. 916-445-2841 Or send him a note https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/
Here’s what I wrote:
“Dear Gov. Newsom –
Writing today to urge you to sign SB-311 Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act or Ryan’s Law (when it comes to your desk) to help all those in hospitals, hospice and even skilled nursing facilities gain access to cannabis medicine.
Cannabis was the only medicine that ever helped ease my mom’s journey through Alzheimer’s dementia. From the time we started using it until her last breath, cannabis eased the way.
The Governor of Virginia recently signed a similar piece of legislation. We need you to lead on cannabis normalization and help seniors and others at the end of life have access to the medicines that they wish to use. Please have compassion for those at the end of life and be bold enough to sign this law.
A little background on Ryan’s Law: Former Santee Mayor Jim Bartell’s 42-year-old son, Ryan, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in early 2018 and died seven weeks later in a hospital bed in Washington State. Their experience inspired them to help craft this law that would give terminal patients a better quality of life. Here is a news story from last session, the first time they tried to pass it.
Why the SAFE Banking Act Must Pass to Expand Legal Cannabis Access to Seniors in Residential Care
By Dave Coennen
Pass SAFE Cannabis Banking Act Today!
Did you know that buying cannabis is a cash only transaction in the US? Did you know that even cannabis healthcare specialists and educational organizations struggle to find and keep banking and credit card processing? Did you know that there is no cash on hand in residential care facilities for the elderly?
Credit card companies won’t process cannabis related transactions and most banks will not provide services for licensed cannabis businesses. A few credit unions are starting to offer basics, like a checking account and a debit card, but still have no processing for credit cards. They require an armored car service and charge very high rates and fees for oversight and compliance, probably due to the fear they might be considered money laundering for the sale of a “federally controlled substance.”
Despite the “Green Wave” of states legalizing the healing herb for adult use or medical purposes in 2020 and now in 2021, cannabis remains on the Schedule I of drugs in the Controlled Substances Act. This is the Schedule where they put heroin, and other chemicals which are considered to be “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The mere fact that cannabis is on this schedule of forbidden substances creates a myriad of issues for the states that have legalized the plant for medical or adult use purposes, not the least of which is financial.
Efforts to remove cannabis completely from the Controlled Substances Act are underway in the House of Representatives in the MORE Act, passed in 2020 and soon to be reintroduced along with a bill in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Schmumer (D) and members of the Cannabis Caucus to achieve the same goal: legalizing cannabis federally.
This is, of course, the ultimate goal; de-scheduling cannabis, a plant that is so beneficial to so many with a relatively low risk of harm and few unwanted side effects. Although the legalization bills being introduced are encouraging, the odds of the MORE Act or some other full cannabis legalization passing at the federal level are slim, needing the support of every Democrat plus ten Republicans as well as Biden’s approval.
The Cannabis Banking Bill: How the SAFE Act Can Help Seniors
After being initially introduced in 2019, the cannabis banking bill, or the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, has been reintroduced in the House. The proposed law ensures cannabis companies would no longer be prohibited, penalized or discouraged from being provided financial services and was widely celebrated in 2019 with bipartisan support. In fact, the vast majority in Congress voted for it, 321-103. Despite all the support, the SAFE Banking Act languished in the Senate.
With passage in the House extremely likely in 2021, SAFE banking will once again be in the hands of the Senate, now under Democratic control. But the road to passage of the bill is not as clear as one would imagine. Senate banking chair Sherrod Brown recently stated he would like to couple bank access for cannabis businesses with drug sentencing reforms, working in concert with the Judiciary Committee:
“I am willing to look at moving on the SAFE Act, but with it needs to come sentencing reform,” Brown said. “I don’t think we move on legalization the way that Colorado and some other states want us to, unless we really look more seriously at who’s in prison for how long for those kinds of offenses and we don’t do one without the other.” Brown said the sentencing reform he desires would have to go through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We’re not going to move without working with the Judiciary Committee on that at the same time,” said Brown.”
It is only because of the outlaws and traditional medicine makers that we have a modern cannabis movement. Legalizing and normalizing cannabis must include ending failed policy and releasing those who made all this possible.
Should cannabis banking pass without addressing the harms of the failed war on drugs? Probably not, but will it? Getting bipartisan support for a criminal justice reform bill on top of banking access for legal cannabis businesses may not be achievable in the current Congress.
Banking alone, however, may get the support of both sides of the aisle. Will that support reach the margin of 60 votes to allow the banking industry a piece of the cannabis pie, solving the cash only safety concerns, as well as expanding access to people living in residential care who don’t have cash to pay for their medicine? Only pressure from their constituents will make them get on board.
Call and write to your Senators and tell them to pass SAFE banking including sentencing reform. In California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) – (202) 224-3841 and Sen. Alex Padilla (D) (202) 224-3553
NYT: “Lighting Up Later in Life, The number of older adults who use cannabis is on the rise…”
In a New York Times article from March 20, “The New Old Age” feature, they focused on the rise of cannabis use among seniors from coast-to-coast in the United States. Along with a reasonably clear picture of why the herbal medicine is being used among the 65+ crowd, the article also includes a healthy dose of caution to the fastest growing segment of the cannabis market – Boomers.
The Farmacann family will recognize one of the Times sources for the piece as one of our recommending health care practitioners in Northern California, the President of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, an expert in cannabis medicine for seniors, geriatric nurse-practitioner Eloise Theisen of Walnut Creek, CA. Nurse Eloise participated in Farmacann’s webinar ISOLATED ELDERLY: Anxiety & Depression in Seniors Amid COVID, Can Cannabis Medicine Help? where we discussed the very subject included in the NYT article:
“…There are no data yet on how the pandemic, with its stress and isolation, affected use among older people. But legal cannabis sales grew by 20 percent last year, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. Leaf411, a nonprofit, nurse-staffed information hotline, received 50 percent more calls, most from older adults.
Researchers therefore expect the numbers will show greater geriatric use. Mental health surveys of older people last year showed rising anxiety and depression, conditions frequently cited as reasons to try cannabis.
“I’ve definitely seen my patients who were stable returning for tuneups,” said Eloise Theisen, president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and a geriatric nurse-practitioner in Walnut Creek, Calif. “Their anxiety was worse. Their insomnia was worse.”
“Start Low and Go Slow”
One concern amongst the mainstream medical community with the increase in interest in cannabis medicine by seniors, which is brought up in the article, is something that we’ve learned at Farmacann from clinicians like Eloise Thiesen or geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Grob: seniors are much more sensitive to THC and other cannabinoids, and that starting slow at very low dosages not only mitigates most, if not all the side effect concerns, such as “dizziness and lightheadedness, and with thinking and perception disorders” but many patients are able to find great benefit from ultra low doses of both CBD and THC.
“Older adults generally need less, because their metabolism has slowed,” Ms. [Nurse] Theisen said. That also means that “they can have a delayed onset, so it’s easier to over-consume, especially with products that taste good,” she continued. She urges older adults to consult health care professionals knowledgeable about cannabis — who, she acknowledges, are in short supply…”
As the Boomer generation returns to cannabis from a long hiatus or if exploring the wide rage of benefits for the first time, CBD along with low-dose THC can play an essential role for seniors in addressing a wide variety of health issues including sleep, anxiety, pain reduction or even behavioral issues associated with symptoms of dementia.
Farmacann has focused their formulations and ratios specifically for seniors and others looking for low dose, pure and potent cannabis medicine.
Cannabis is associated with blood pressure reduction in older adults & may not cause a cognitive decline in older populations.
With today’s fastest growing segment of cannabis users in the US and the world being seniors, concerns over its use in a population at risk for numerous other medical conditions such cardiovascular disease and hypertension, as well as cannabinoids, most specifically THC, possibly contributing to cognitive decline, is of ongoing concern.
In January of this year, researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel released the results of a first-of-its-kind study in adults 60 and over with hypertension using cannabis therapy either in smoked or oil form.
According to the abstract: “Medical cannabis use is increasing rapidly in the past several years, with older adults being the fastest growing group. Nevertheless, the evidence for cardiovascular safety of cannabis use is scarce. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of cannabis on blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolic parameters in older adults with hypertension.”
The conclusion of the study: “amongst older adults with hypertension, cannabis treatment for 3 months was associated with a reduction in 24-hours systolic and diastolic blood pressure values with a nadir at 3 hours after cannabis administration”
And as reported here, a recent review in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology of “multiple studies have indicated that exposure to cannabis may not cause a cognitive decline in older populations.”
FTA – “Six articles reported findings for older populations (three human and three rodent studies), highlighting the paucity of research in this area. Human studies revealed largely null results, likely due to several methodological limitations,” the researchers wrote. “Better-controlled rodent studies indicate that the relationship between [THC] and cognitive function in healthy aging depends on age and level of THC exposure. Extremely low doses of THC improved cognition in very old rodents. Somewhat higher chronic doses improved cognition in moderately aged rodents. No studies examined the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) or high-CBD cannabis on cognition.”
As seniors follow their own paths to cannabis therapy, educating their doctors along the way, it’s important to stay up to date on potential benefits and unwanted effects of cannabis therapy despite the “paucity” of research.
If you want to get really technical on some of the other current research, here are a few studies released last month that may interest you. One on how CBD can help with PTSD from the pandemic; one on how CBD is helping folks with anxiety, stress and sleep; and a third on how cannabis may be a therapeutic agent in glioblastoma.
Believe in Science? Cannabis medicine creates homeostasis in body and mind
By Chela Fiorini-Coennen
through balancing chemistry
It’s impossible to understand that cannabis is medicine without knowing that our bodies have an Endocannabinoid system (ECS; eCB). A vital system that is maintained by cannabinoids we make on-demand in our bodies. By eating leafy greens and a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress we help balance our ECS. We can also nourish our ECS by consuming phytocannabinoids like those found in cannabis and other plants. Sounds a little like crunchy-granola-hippie-talk, but it’s actually science. The first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in 1988 and further research over the next decade, led to understanding of the network that came to be known as the “endocannabinoid system.”
All vertebrates have an endocannabinoid system. It’s essential in maintaining balance in our body and brain. Our ECS keeps us steady. If it’s not working properly, we experience dis-ease.
There are a number of systems in the human body including: the circulatory, digestive and excretory, endocrine, integumentary/exocrine, immune and lymphatic, muscular, nervous, renal and urinary, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and the endocannabinoid system.
The existence of the ECS is well-established in scientific literature. Although more needs to be learned about it, the existence of the ECS is currently only taught in 10 US medical schools. And in my home state of California, where Medical Cannabis has been legal since 1996, it’s not required for healthcare providers to learn about it at all. What if the nervous system or skeletal system were only taught in a handful of medical schools? Would you be comfortable seeing a doctor that didn’t know about all the systems of the human body? Has your doctor studied the importance and role of the endocannabinoid system?
In her incredibly accessible and illuminating 2020 book, “Cannabis is Medicine,” Dr. Bonni Goldstein writes, “The endocannabinoid system is the most widespread receptor system in the human body. It regulates many of the most important physiologic pathways, including:
Maintenance of bone mass
Inhibition of tumor cells
As you can see, your endocannabinoid system is involved in just about every chemical process in your body!” (p.30)
In a 2013 study published in Cerebrum, Bradley E. Alger, Ph.D. writes, “…Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. With its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind…”
So, the question is, if most healthcare professionals aren’t getting the complete picture because of outdated policy and lagging professional requirements, how can we get symptom relief or even hope for a cure to so many illusive illnesses?
World-renowned neurologist, researcher and psychopharmacologist, Dr. Ethan Russo theorized that a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system could be the cause of many hard to treat issues “…that lack objective signs and remain treatment resistant. Foremost among these are migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome…with possible common underlying pathophysiology suggests that a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency might characterize their origin…”
Dr. Russo has also proposed that Alzheimer’s and other intractable conditions may be related to endocannabinoid deficiency. More studies are obviously needed.
On the subject of Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome, Dr. Goldstein writes, “…Chronic stress, poor diet, poor sleep, and chronic pain have all been shown to negatively impact endocannabinoid system functioning and can lead to endocannabinoid dysfunction…” (p.38)
It’s well established that endocannabinoid dysregulation leads to anxiety, depression and many other disorders. So, be sure to tone your endocannabinoid system. Eat your greens, get regular exercise, quality sleep and reduce stress. Consider cannabinoid therapy if you’re having trouble. Science is real.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28861491/Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes by Dr.Ethan B Russo
Anyone concerned about the cannabis reform movement and the legalization efforts for both Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis programs across the country might find 2020 to have been one of the most effective years for reversing the stigma created by 70-years of lies and propaganda, and allowing expanded access to this highly beneficial plant medicine, while beginning to repair some of the damage created by the failed “war on drugs.”
By most accounts, 2020 was a year that we are all grateful has finally come to an end. An impeachment of the President Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic, mass protests, social unrest, economic collapse, a challenged presidential election and a suicide bombing; good riddance 2020.
As 2020 began, and the impeachment trial of President Trump was ending, rumors of a novel coronavirus in China were emerging, and by the Spring, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect. Despite some attempts to shut down the cannabis industry to help “slow the spread”, cannabis medicine emerged as an “essential business” in California and many other states. As threats of lockdowns drove huge cannabis sales numbers in every legal state, people who could afford it, were stocking up on their medicine or their “recreational” supply, preparing for the stay at home orders.
Delivery laws were changed, dispensaries adapted to curbside pick-up where possible and social distancing and mask rules were in effect as sales continued to grow throughout the Summer. Isolated Seniors found some comfort in plant medicine.
Then in the Fall, the election, and despite the close race at the top of the ticket and balance of power in question, one big winner emerged on election night: cannabis. Cannabis measures on ballots in five states all passed with huge margins. In fact, in most races, cannabis garnered more votes than any official on the ballot.
A majority of Arizona and New Jersey voters said yes on ballot measures to make adult-use marijuana legal. Voters in South Dakota approved marijuana for medical use, and a slim majority voted for adult-use. Mississippi voters approved an initiative to establish a medical marijuana program for certain patients with debilitating conditions, while voters in Montana voted for two initiatives to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. We saw that cannabis is not a red or blue issue. Cannabis crosses all boundaries of politics, class and culture.
And in the final weeks of 2020, the year where everything changed, the US House of Representatives passed the MORE Act, if enacted, would effectively deschedule cannabis and expunge the records of non-violent cannabis convictions, among other reforms. The vote marked the first time in 50 years that a chamber of Congress has revisited the classification of cannabis as a federally controlled and illegal substance.
The U.S. Senate separately approved a bill that would allow for the expansion of scientific research into cannabis derivatives including CBD. The bill, known as the “Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act,” was advanced by unanimous consent, however, it is unlikely the House will vote on this version. The House passed a similar measure, although provisions in that bill that would allow researchers to use cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries are not included in the Senate proposal. The Senate version does nothing to change the federal scheduling of cannabis, nor does it allow for banking in cannabis. McConnell, a long-time prohibitionist, who currently leads the Republican-controlled Senate, is from a hemp-heavy state where some may think that cannabis normalization may conflict with the future financial gains of the emerging hemp industry. Maybe the Georgia run-off election will shift the balance of power in favor of cannabis reform and we will see greater gains with a new administration.
Overall, 2020 was one of the best years for cannabis reform and the cannabis industry, both medical and adult-use, and 2021 could be even better. Despite President-elect Joe Biden’s long history as a prohibitionist and drug warrior, VP Harris has indicated decriminalization is definitely on the table. To what extent is yet to be determined, but the Progressive Caucus is pushing for action within the first six months. There are few things that the vast majority of Americans agree on, and cannabis reform is one of them.
Moving forward, in the states, programs voted for in 2020 will be implemented, some faster than others, with New Jersey opening the floodgates for the East Coast. State legislatures are making moves in many conservative states, including Texas and Nebraska, to legalize adult-use for tax revenue to pay off massive economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Decriminalization and expungement efforts for low level cannabis crimes will be expanded throughout localities and states including Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois on Thursday announcing more than 500,000 expungements and pardons for people with low-level marijuana offenses on their records.
On December 2nd, in a historic move, the United Nations descheduled cannabis in a 27-25 vote, with the United States among those voting in favor. Following a recommendation from the World Health Organization, the United Nations’ Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV (equal to the US Schedule I) of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This was a really big deal that barely made a blip in the news.
Look for 2021 to be another year of unprecedented expansion of access to cannabis, using the plant and its derivatives to address the opioid crisis, and the chronic conditions of aging. Researcher Christopher Kaufmann, assistant professor in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego reports, “Pain, insomnia and anxiety were the most common reasons for cannabis use and, for the most part, patients reported that cannabis was helping to address these issues, especially with insomnia and pain.”
And more seniors are using cannabis in 2020 and beyond for symptoms ofdementia and polypharmacy, a trend we continue to see with our Farmacann family of facilities and clients.
Cannabis can save the world! As soon as the last few prohibitionists are convinced, like the vast majority of the American population on both sides of the political aisle, to support legalization. A Gallup Poll released Nov. 9, 2020 indicated that 68% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana – double the approval rate in 2003. As we enter this new decade, the popularity and belief in the medicinal benefits of cannabis will grow exponentially, fed by the light of truth and tended by educators, activists , caregivers and the patients that use plant medicine to find relief.
“Global task force establishes protocols for medical cannabis use to treat pain”
It’s fairly well-known that medical cannabis is being used by patients to ease chronic pain, and many other hard to treat issues.
[FTA] “…There are limited randomized controlled trial data to guide clinicians on how to dose and administer medical cannabis,” Arun Bhaskar, MD, a pain medicine consultant with the Pain Management Centre at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, said during a virtual PAINWeek presentation. “This evidence gap, coupled with the clinical reality that patients are receiving medical cannabis for chronic pain, highlights the demand for expert consensus guidance from experienced clinicians on how to safely and effectively dose and administer medical cannabis.”
The panel produced an often recommended “start low and go slow” approach that you can find in the full“Helio” journal article.
Have you asked your doctor about cannabis medicine for pain?
Created in California, FarmaCann is designed with patients in mind. With good manufacturing practices, efficacy, compliance, and ease of use for the facility or home caregiver, recommending medical professionals can feel confident that their patient will get what is intended. FarmaCann is medicine.
“Study Finds Older Adults Using Cannabis to Treat Common Health Conditions” – Times of San Diego
If medical cannabis is legal in most states, then why aren’t doctors required to learn about it in school or continuing education?
[FTA] “…The findings demonstrate the need for the clinical workforce to become aware of cannabis use by seniors and to gain awareness of both the benefits and risks of cannabis use in their patient population,” said Dr. Alison Moore, senior author and chief of the division of geriatrics at UCSD’s School of Medicine. “Given the prevalence of use, it may be important to incorporate evidence-backed information about cannabis use into medical school and use screening questions about cannabis as a regular part of clinic visits.”
Ask your doctor if they’ve had any training in how medical cannabis works with the endocannabinoid system to ease many of the hard to treat issues that seniors often face including aches and pains of arthritis, insomnia, anxiety, depression, polypharmacy, agitation, aggression in dementia, PTSD, and more.
“Medical Cannabis Doesn’t Cause Cognitive Decline in Seniors, Study Finds” – Jerusalem Post
Study participants showed no real difference in brain function than the control group, and they had great pain relief with a low side-effect profile.
[FTA] “…Chronic pain affects 19%-37% of the adult population worldwide and medical cannabis has, in recent years, been raised by patients and researchers alike as a “highly effective” possible treatment….Our research findings may reduce concerns among physicians who deal with chronic pain and among patients suffering from it regarding the possible effects of cannabis on brain function,” the researchers added.
Of course more studies are always needed and welcome but CBD is legal all over the country and the majority of states have some kind of medical cannabis program.