The science of cannabis: UC Davis offering physiology course - Michael King

The science of cannabis: UC Davis offering physiology course

Originally posted on , by Lisa M. Krieger

As California prepares for expanded use of cannabis, UC Davis is offering courses in the science of the drug to boost awareness of its affect on the body.

The courses, called “Physiology of Cannabis,” are believed to be the first of their type in the University of California system. They join a small but growing number of weed-focused studies around the nation, reflecting the country’s changing attitude toward the drug.

“We feel it is important at this moment to educate students about the physiology and medical indications of cannabis and cannabinoids,” said instructor Yu-Fung Lin, an associate professor of physiology and membrane biology at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

UC Davis already has a longstanding Weed Research & Information Center. But that focuses on plants other than cannabis, such as crabgrass, clover and dandelions.

The new undergraduate-level course, launched in early April, can be used by undergraduates to fulfill the “Science and Engineering” general educational requirement to graduate. A more advanced class will be offered next year to medical students at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

A course for the general public also is planned in the future, allowing civic leaders, law enforcement and other people to learn more about the drug.

Education has been hampered by a lack of access to good information, as well as high-quality research.

Passage of Proposition 64 last November means it’s now legal to possess recreational marijuana in California. Possession of medical marijuana has been legal since 1996. But the state has until January 1, 2018, to figure out how to license commercial businesses — so it can’t be bought or sold until then.

After that, experts expect it may be tried by many Californians who steered clear during its prohibition. But be warned: It remains classified by the federal government as an illegal Schedule I drug, defined as having a potential for abuse and addiction and no medical value, so there is still risk of arrest.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for a variety of medical uses. Recreational use for people over the age of 21 is allowed in eight of those states, as well as the District. The percentage of American adults living in states where marijuana use is legal for adults is above 20 percent; before Election Day, it was 5 percent.

The course will cover the chemicals found in the plant; the medical chemistry of THC and cannabinoids, the active ingredients in the drug; the body’s own endocannabinoid system, with two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, that bind to different components in marijuana; emerging therapeutic applications and the health risks of the drug.

“Cannabis is not my research background,” said Lin, who studies the molecular level-functioning of “ion channels,” proteins in the cell that convert chemical or mechanical messages into electrical signals, transmitting signals in the nervous system, for instance.

Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, the nation’s only cannabis-specific campus, has long offered courses.

The medical school at the University of Vermont offers a course, as does Harvard Law School, Vanderbilt University School of Law in Nashville, and Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law. The Massachusetts Medical Society offers an online courses, including one on pharmacology.

Lin and Luis Fernando Santana, professor and chair of physiology and membrane biology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, hope the UC Davis courses will be a blueprint for additional cannabis studies.

“The timing could not be better to give students the opportunity to have a profound understanding about the physiology and medical implications of cannabis use,” said Santana, in a prepared statement.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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Pot Matters: Marijuana, the Great Unifier - Michael King

Pot Matters: Marijuana, the Great Unifier

From High Times, By 

Marijuana legalization is becoming the great unifier in an otherwise polarized political landscape, a rare issue with bipartisan and widespread public support.

Libertarians have long supported legalization, and state-level reform along with a greater awareness of racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests has solidified support among Democrats across the nation. Meanwhile, Republicans are becoming more and more sick of prohibition.

Inauguration Day developments, though, have called attention to support for legalization among many supporters of Donald Trump.

As reported by HIGH TIMES and other media, DCMJ, which launched the successful effort in Washington, D.C. to legalize personal marijuana use, had plans to give away five thousand joints during an inauguration day protest. The January 20 event was well-organized, and successful, and received considerable press attention.

The event lasted for about five hours, and expressed support for legalization at the federal level, as well as opposition to the nomination of Jeff Session for attorney general. According to Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the event received an “extremely positive reaction from everyone, including the police on site.” Video of the event can be seen here.

Widely overlooked in most news coverage, though, was that “everyone” in this case included many demonstrators who were in town for pro-Trump events. According to Eidinger “about one-third of our takers and givers of free cannabis identified as Trump Supporters.” One of the more noticeable groups of Trump supporters consisted of several dozen members of Bikers for Trump, who were in town for their own rally.

A review of protest activity that afternoon on Julie Mason’s The Press Pool on Sirius radio called attention to the popularity of the DCMJ event and the commingling of legalization advocates and Trump supporters, particularly the Bikers for Trump members.

Weed, it was observed, was the great unifier, a popular concept for many of the show’s listeners. The discussion was a bit tongue-in-cheek, as is frequently the case when it comes to marijuana and its popularity, but that actually gives even more credence to the analysis. In other words, this is so obvious it’s not really news.

The news is filled with reactionary attempts to fight, stall or otherwise opposes marijuana legalization, both in terms of legislative attempts to meddle with the decisions of voters and with respect to preventing other initiatives from taking place. But on the other hand, for example, legalization is now being pushed in Maryland’s legislature.

It’s the demographics of support for marijuana legalization that beginning to sink in for politicians.

Take a look at the October 2016 Gallup poll on legalization. Among national adults, support for marijuana legalization has grown from 35 percent in 2003/2005 to 60 percent in 2016. When itemized by political party, support has grown among independents from 46 percent to 70 percent and among Democrats from 38 percent to 67 percent. Among Republicans, legalization support has doubled, from 20 percent to 42 percent.

This is a long-term trend. Nationally, support for marijuana legalization was at 12 percent in 1969, 25 percent in 1996, 36 percent in 2005, and reflected a majority of Americans only as recently as 2013, when 58 percent supported legalization. Gallup observed that “it is unclear whether support has stabilized or it continuing to inch higher.”

America is reaching a consensus on two related propositions, that (a) prohibition is a failed, costly and unjust policy and (b) that marijuana should be legalized.

It’s becoming obvious that this is a widely held position, embraced across the political spectrum.  Think about this for a moment—DCMJ gave away thousands of marijuana cigarettes in the nation’s capital, and the police just watched and smiled because the lawful protest was peaceful and well-behaved.

More important—symbolically or otherwise—at a time when the supporters and opponents of the nation’s new president are sharply, emotionally and bitterly divided, marijuana brought some of them together in fellowship and solidarity.

Marijuana really is, in today’s America, the great unifier.

About Michael King

Michael King is an experienced professional with a background in finance, private equity, real estate and consulting. He is currently a principal in one of the leading Cannabis consulting firms in the country — Duard Ventures.

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