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Back in 2007: All Signs Point to Cannabis

On November 19, 2007, (technically four years ago tomorrow, but I wanted to get a jump on it!), I posted the following on my first blog, Peaceful Ponderings:

Study after study has been performed on the plant known as cannabis or, more frequently, marijuana. More often than not, only positive results have come out in one way or another and the same has happened with the most recent use that has been tested – as a treatment for cancer. Now, I am not talking about smoking the herb after chemotherapy in order to reinstate appetite; instead, I’m talking about using a cannabis component as a replacement for chemo period. Intrigued? I was when I came upon the story on BBC.com this morning.

“Cannabis compound ‘halts cancer’” reports that cannabidiol – CBD – found in the marijuana plant can likely be used as “a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy”. For those of us who are vigilant law-abiders, it is helpful to acknowledge the fact that CBD lacks the psychoactive attributes that inhaling marijuana smoke provides. Thus, simply smoking the plant will not have the desired effects for chemo patients. Here’s how it works: “CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site – a process called metastasis. Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers. The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.” What does this mean? It could mean the possibility of a treatment without the painful side effects of chemotherapy. For cancer patients, this is terrific news.

As medical research continues with more natural remedies such as this one, it could be said that a move towards more holistic health is really where medicine is moving. To be sure, with cannabis alone we have found a variety of uses that are beneficial to humans, health-wise. Back in February studies came out showing that boosting the brain’s chemicals that are cannabis-like in nature has the potential to improve Parkinson’s treatment. In July 2005 scientists in the UK revealed that “patients with inflammatory bowel disease may benefit from cannabis-based drugs” (“Bowel study backs cannabis drugs”, www.bbc.com, 31 July ’05). In June of the same year the drug was found to help relieve mental illness symptoms for patients struggling with such problems as bipolar disorder – “THC helps give the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use, while CBD has been found to have calming properties. Combined, they could help people with bi-polar disorder avoid the manic highs and depressed lows of their condition” (“‘Cannabis’ may help mentally ill”, www.bbc.com). Honestly, just about any illness that causes pain or nausea can be relieved with cannabis, from multiple sclerosis to AIDS. It is impossible for the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration to remain undeterred in their stance that cannabis has no medicinal value with the massive amounts of evidence to the contrary.

We already know that the amount of money spent on America’s war on drugs is both absurd and ineffective. So tell me this: why do we continue to spend money indiscriminately on reprimanding offenders who grow and sell marijuana (or shall we say weed, pot, herb, ganja, dope, grass, draw, puff, wacky baccy, hash, tea…) when the medicinal properties are much more helpful as opposed to harmful? As long as we are responsible when taking the drug, there is no reason to continue to have it outlawed. Take it from Canada who saves around $150 million annually since marijuana possession has been decriminalized.

The personal use of cannabis is allowed in such places as Canada, Spain, Portugal, and Holland. What does Amsterdam know that we don’t? Why is it okay to buy marijuana there but not here? In the early 1900s, America saw the first outlawing of the drug. According to Wikipedia.org (I know, I know, not the best site in terms of research reliability), “In the 1980s, mandatory sentencing laws were reinstated for large-scale marijuana distribution, three strikes laws were enacted and applied to marijuana possession, and the death sentence was enabled for marijuana drug kingpins.” This was after the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was passed, classifying marijuana as being potentially abusive with no medical use. Recently, however, decriminalization and medical use allowances are slowly being seen here in the States.

And I mean slowly.

1996 saw the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in California, regulating consumption, possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Since then, twelve states have followed, implementing similar laws with lesser charges: Alaska; parts of Arkansas; Colorado; parts of Illinois; Lawrence, Kansas; Maine; Massachusetts; parts of Michigan; parts of Missouri; Mississippi; parts of Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oregon; parts of Washington; and parts of Wisconsin. There are several more with solely medicinal cannabis laws, Rhode Island and Hawaii being two of them.

On top of the medical uses, the Cannabis sativa plant can also be grown to produce hemp, a strong natural fiber that can be put to many organic, sustainable, GREEN uses, including clothing production, rope, paper, fuel (oil), and more.

With so many helpful utilities, why are we not harnessing this plant in order to do more good? When combined with the growing climate crisis, it is also a wonder why we are not legalizing the plant and its uses. Consider this: one acre of hemp grown in annual rotation for 20 years produces as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees over the same 20 year period. Talk about going 


If anyone has any valid reasons why legalization would be harmful nation-wide, feel free to comment. As long as the components THC and CBD can help those who are suffering from a variety of ailments, however, I see no reason why they should be denied access to the drug. If you believe it has the potential for addiction and abuse, take a look at all of the over-the-counter medications people have access to and abuse every day in the US, and are not being taken off the shelves. There will always be people who will use drugs irresponsibly; but for every one abuser, there are at least 50 more people who can benefit positively.


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Filed under Marijuana, Social Justice, Writing

Author Series

I have been promoted at Mahalo.com to head producer and casting director for the Author Series. This is very exciting for me as a lifelong reader and writer. I am having so much fun looking for and speaking with authors from as far as the UK, thus far. We put up a thread on Reddit.com the week before each author is scheduled to interview asking for questions from fans to be answered by the author on video.

The first person to come into the studio that I was personally thrilled to meet and speak with was Rex Pickett, author of Sideways and its new sequel, Vertical. Here’s a little taste of his interview where he answers the question, “What is the best glass of wine you’ve ever had?”:

Thus far, the funniest and most entertaining author we’ve filmed has been filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman. Kaufman made The Toxic Avenger, along with many other films with his company, Troma Entertainment. He recently came out with a new book entitled Sell Your Own Damn Movie! In the following video, he answers the question, “Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?”:

Out of everyone I’ve bet thus far doing this series, however, I have to say it’s hard to surpass Jeff Mudgett. I had been anticipating meeting him since reading his book, Bloodstains, and being fascinated by the stories of H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, along with serial killers in general. Mudgett himself is Holmes’ great-great-grandson. Here he describes the personal tale he tells in Bloodstains:

If you are an author or have a suggestion of an author you’d like to see on Mahalo’s Author Series, please email requests@mahalo.com.

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Filed under Advice, Books, Interviews, Writing

Wrongfully Accused Goes Free…27 Years Later

I cannot properly contain my frustration and anger over cases like William Dillon‘s, a man who has been imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime authorities only now realize he never committed. On August 26, 1981, Dillon was arrested for the beating death of Floridian James Dvorak. It wasn’t until 2008 that DNA evidence proved Dillon had absolutely nothing to do with the murder.

“It hurts me down deep in my soul,” Dillon told CNN, “because I have been dealing with this for 30 years.

What’s more infuriating than cases like Dillon’s are the innocent who have been wrongly put to death for crimes they had no hand in. Frances Newton, for instance, was executed by lethal injection in Texas on September 14, 2005 for the murder of her husband, son and daughter allegedly for insurance money. Newton maintained her innocence throughout her imprisonment from 1987 until her death. Despite evidence raised mere days before her execution that cast doubt on her being involved in the murders, Texas went through with her execution.

There are more names to include in a post about the wrongfully accused than I’d like to believe. Like Greg Wilhoit of Tulsa, Oklahoma who spent five years on death row before being exonerated for the murder of his wife in 1985. There is also strong evidence to suggest the following men were wrongfully put to death: Carlos DeLuna (Texas, 1989), Ruben Cantu (Texas, 1993), Larry Griffin (Missouri, 1995), Joseph O’Dell (Virginia, 1997), David Spence (Texas, 1997), Leo Jones (Florida, 1998), Garry Graham (Texas, 2000), Claude Jones (Texas, 2000), Cameron Willingham (Texas, 2004).

You might realize that the majority of these inmates were put to death in Texas, a state notorious for wrongful convictions, shoddy lawyering and a lack of overall justice. In fact, I put that theory to the test two and a half years ago when I went searching for a prisoner to write to online.

After going through several profiles on WriteAPrisoner.com, I came across the photo of one of the few white women listed on the site: Elizabeth Burke.

While Burke’s profile did not tell me much, other than she maintained her innocence after being convicted of murder, I decided I wanted to know more about her and her case. I wrote her an email through the site and waited for a letter in the mail. I only waited a couple of days before recieving one from her. Over the next several months, we wrote each other twice a week and learned all about one another.

I became very educated about Burke’s case. She had been arrested in 2002 under suspicion of smothering her seven-week-old son to death. She was convicted of his murder the following year and sentenced to 77 years in prison. That was only the very tip of the iceberg, however. See, Burke’s son, Ian, had a condition known as pyloric stenosis, which caused him to projectile vomit and not keep down any food. Ian had surgery to correct the condition a week prior to his death. The medical examiner who performed his autopsy, however, didn’t notice the scars Ian had from the surgery, or the fact that there was a “brown fluid” in his stomach that was most likely blood.

The more research I’ve done on Burke’s case, the more I’ve come to realize her true innocence, leading me to help her get out of her situation in any way I possibly can. The sad truth is, there are many, many more people like Burke, Dillon and Newton nationwide, the majority of whom are getting no help to change their fates.

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Filed under Burke, Death Penalty, Elizabeth Burke, Social Justice

Gay Rights Protected By United Nations

Before moving to California, I was a correspondent at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City. I must admit, I was actually rather jaded by my experience there. While I relished my experiences hearing Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Al Gore speak in person, I also became aware of how little the UN is actually able to accomplish. The truth is, getting a majority of the world’s countries together to speak about their issues enables a lot of talking with not must listening. Countries come to the table to have their own problems heard, not really to hear the problems of other nations.

When I heard this week that the UN council passed a resolution to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, introduced by South Africa, I was thus quite surprised – and pleasantly so. This is one of the first major steps the organization has taken in a long time, in my humble opinion.

This is such a subject of contention that the resolution led to abstentions, mostly for representatives of African countries.

The depute assistant secretary of state for international oranganizations, Suzanne Nossel explained, “It really is a key part in setting a new norm that gay rights are human rights and that that has to be accepted globally. It talks about the violence and discrimination that people of LGBT persuasion experience around the world and that those issues … need to be taken seriously. It calls for reporting on what’s going on, where people are being discriminated against, the violence that is taking place, and it really puts the issue squarely on the UN’s agenda going forward.”

No truer words.

The resolution came on the heels of New York moving one step closer to approving same-sex marriage in the state as well. In fact, New York’s Roy McDonald, a Republican, even came forward this week in favor of marriage approval:

These are all key steps in protecting and championing the rights of LGBT persons nationwide and internationally as well.

The United States ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the resolution “marks a victory for defenders of human rights. It sends a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end.”

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, added, “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

Clinton continued, “Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love. Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors.”

You go, girl!

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Filed under LGBT, Social Justice