Water guns, weed smoothies, and explosions of technicolored powder. The Hindu Festival of Holi is maybe the greatest combination of fun high-activities you will ever encounter.
The Holi festival is a celebration of springtime, and all of the qualities associated with it: fertility, new life, and the triumph of light over darkness. However, the festival’s origins can be traced back to a wide breadth of mythologies, traditions, and significances. In other words, there is no single, specific or defining purpose to Holi (other than the broad tenets of love and unity).
Since the date of the festival is determined by the last full moon of a particular Hindu lunar calendar month, it can take place anywhere from February to March. This year, Holi begins on March 1st, 2018. From India to Pakistan, from Nepal to Sri Lanka, those who follow the Hindu faith gather during Holi to bombard friends and strangers alike with fists full of colored dust. While cannabis is illegal in all of these countries, in India weed smoothies get a pass.
While cannabis is has been illegal in India since 1985, there is an exception made for Bhang Lassi, a cannabis-infused milkshake that is especially popular during Holi.
Made from cardamom, cinnamon, yogurt, and rosewater, Bhang Lassi is infused with cannabis grown in the Himalayas. It can only be sold and produced in government-run Bhang shops.
Holi lasts for a full two days. On the first day, large bonfires of wood and dung pyres are burned. The second day is when the explosion of colors really begins.
The intermingling of colors is symbolic of the celebration’s purpose; to unify people across cultural and religious lines.
While Hindus might drink Bhang for a spiritual high, as they have since 1400 BC, some people drink the weed milkshake during Holi to bring out their inner-child.
Holi has a way of bringing festival goers into the present moment.
Even Hindu priests and religious figures get involved in the festival, throwing colored powder on their constituents inside of temples.
You should probably be aware that personal space does not exist during the festival.
You can now find color-festivals all over the world, inspired by Holi. But there’s something uniquely magical about the original festival.
Legalizing cannabis, a substance notorious for driving cravings of Cheetos, cookies, and chips, seems a dangerous prospect for a country already struggling with the highest obesity rate in the world. Scientifically, there is at least some evidence to support the old trope about weed enthusiasts’ insatiable craving for munchies. But other studies have shown that for all this snacking, marijuana users are not necessarily predisposed to gaining weight, but rather the opposite: that cannabis use can assist in weight loss.
Like all substances that assist with weight loss, cannabis is, of course, nothing without a proper diet and exercise regimen. But the research investigating the association between cannabis use and weight loss seems promising.
Take for instance a 2011 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which concludes that “the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.”
The study analyzed two prominent surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and theNational Institute of Mental Health. In total, these two projects surveyed over 50,000 people about the frequency of their marijuana use. This data was then measured against respondents’ body mass index (BMI). This study also controlled for other factors like age, gender and whether these cannabis users are also tobacco smokers.
According to the researchers, “this analysis showed that even if cannabis consumption increases appetite, people using cannabis are less likely to be obese than people who do not use cannabis.” This is especially striking considering that, as the researchers admit, cannabis does increase a users appetite. Therefore, researchers have hypothesized that cannabis’ impact on obesity might be related to a chemical process in the stomach, which manages one’s level of “intestinal microbes” responsible for weight gain.
This point is worth restating: even though cannabis increases one’s appetite, it also appears to help decrease one’s weight.
This extraordinary finding is probably why other researchers, like those involved in a 2013 study published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information, appear openly baffled by their findings on marijuana’s connection to weight loss. The conclusion for this study reads “We, therefore, propose the seemingly paradoxical hypothesis that THC or a THC/cannabidiol combination drug may produce weight loss and may be a useful therapeutic for the treatment of obesity and its complications.”
These findings are also significant because, as the researchers for this study point out, obesity is one of the country’s—and in fact, the world’s—most easily preventable causes of death.
The research doesn’t end there, either.
In 2015, another study used mice to study the effects of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid present in marijuana responsible for getting users “high.” After administering THC to both obese and normal-sized mice, the researchers found that the obese mice actually lost weight. As the researchers concluded, the THC “prevented high fat diet-induced increases in body weight and adiposity.”
Marijuana users even apparently tend to have a “smaller waist circumference,” according to another 2013 study published in The American Journal of Medicine.
While the research on the connection between cannabis use and lower rates of obesity seem promising, it’s still a little early-on to proclaim cannabis as a miracle weight loss cure. This is because data exploring long-term trends are lacking, and while research conducted on mice can offer important findings, there is no replacement for actual human studies. This type of research is much trickier to conduct with cannabis’ prohibitionary status, which makes it difficult to obtain funding. Hopefully, further research will solidify the evidence that cannabis can be used to assist weight loss. But for now, marijuana enthusiasts can at least take solace that the evidence is in their favor.
They are the opioid epidemic’s littlest victims, and their stories are heartbreaking. For infants born to opioid-addicted mothers, the first few moments in this world can be horrifying, but the effects can also follow these children to their homes. The condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), and its effects can be absolutely chilling.
The symptoms can leave newborns shaking uncontrollably, crying at the slightest stimulus and sometimes unable to eat. It’s a disheartening sight for any parent and the nurses who care for them. It’s also a sight that is far too common for comfort.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one infant is born with NAS every 25 minutes.
West Virginia, Vermont, and Maine have the highest rates of NAS with more than 30 cases for every 1000 births. Even those number are dated while the job of making the data publicly available has fallen largely to reporters.
An in-depth investigation by Reuters in 2015 discovered that the last year for which data was collected on NAS cases was 2013. In that year alone, nearly 30,000 newborns were diagnosed with opioid-related NAS, and that information was far from readily available. It was obtained through over 200 FOIA requests for local, state, and federal records on infant deaths despite the fact federal law demands those numbers be kept up to date.
A law passed in 2003, called the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act, outlined requirements for states to report cases in which newborns were diagnosed with NAS and notify child protective services. Unfortunately, those regulations only apply to illegal substances, which has become a major loophole in the system in the wake of the prescription opioid epidemic.
The CDC has found that one-third of women aged 15-44 in the US are prescribed opioids and up to 22 percent of those women fill opioid prescriptions during pregnancy. That’s a pattern of use which is seriously concerning since even the smallest level of exposure can put a child at risk. As a study conducted in collaboration with Harvard Medical School found; 55 to 94 percent of newborn babies whose parents used opiates show symptoms of NAS.
But the truly troubling aspect of NAS cases is that the danger can follow these infants home. While the illness itself is curable, doctors know that many of the parents are not prepared to care for their babies once they leave the hospital. According to the CDC, 86 percent of pregnancies that result in opioid-dependent children are unplanned.
As a result, doctors are obligated to inform child services when a family is sent home. Yet in their investigation, Reuters uncovered 110 cases since 2010 in which a newborn was sent home with their parents and subsequently died of causes that were unrelated to their NAS.
“Being born drug-dependent didn’t kill these children.” The report states, “What sealed their fates was being sent home to families ill-equipped to care for them.”
Indeed, many states don’t comply with the federal requirements and those that do have crafted laws which contradict the 2003 law and enforce punishments for the parents.
Among these states is Alabama, where instances of NAS are among the highest in the country and state law finds these cases to be, “chemical endangerment of a child.” If found guilty, the mother could serve up to 10 years in prison, and that’s only if the baby survives. If the infant dies, that penalty can be raised up to 99 years. According to records obtained by ProPublica and AL.com of the 1,800 women arrested since the state regulations were passed in 2006, 479 women have been charged.
That threat of facing life in prison may seem like justice to some – especially when a child is involved – but it can also deter mothers from seeking help for their addictions.
As a result, doctors are reluctant to report these cases to the proper authorities because many of them believe that punishing the parent is prioritized over helping the child.
The non-profit National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) seems to agree. In an open letter to the media and policymakers, medical professionals from across the country warned of the dangers of enacting harsh punishments.
“Demonizing pregnant women,” the letter states, “creates an environment where punishment rather than support is the predominant response, and will inevitably serve to discourage women from seeking care.”
They also go on to criticize the coverage of these cases in the media and suggest that terms like “crack baby” and “victim” not be used in reports, though it’s difficult to see how NAS diagnosed infants are not victims in some way. The NAPW claims that reports of the illness are wildly overblown and that the media is doing more damage than good.
Still, throughout the legal and healthcare structure it seems that there are several gaps that need to be addressed and media coverage appears to have shone a light on those shortcomings. If any good can be gleaned from these stories, it’s that doctors and lawmakers have begun to take notice. The hope is that it won’t be long before they also take action.
On Thursday, October 12th, Calaveras officials in West Point, California discovered a sizeable illegal cannabis grow consisting of 445 plants and 60 pounds of processed marijuana. While searching the premises, the officers soon realized that surrounding the plants was human feces. As it turns out, the two individuals responsible were using their own poo to fertilize their crop. If the thought of puffing on bud that was grown using human waste makes you cringe, then you aren’t alone. But here’s a shocking revelation for you: they are just one of millions of farmers doing the same exact thing.
63-year-old Rong Zhang and 42-year-old Sishou Zheng are now behind bars in the Calaveras County Jail facing charges of illegal cultivation and knowingly discharging hazardous substances upon the land of another without the permission of the owner. The idea of cultivating anything in human poop sounds downright disgusting.
Most people would never smoke a strain of weed that they knew was grown using feces as fertilizer. What kind of farmer would do such a thing?…Plenty, believe it or not.
Studies reveal that 200 million farmers are using human feces as fertilizer.
According to a study published by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), “nearly 200 million farmers in China, India, Vietnam, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America harvest grains and vegetables from fields that use untreated human waste.” While this practice doesn’t come without risks, IWMI environmental scientist Pay Drechsel believes the benefits outweigh the potential health hazards, especially for poor urban farmers.
In developing countries, farmers frequently face water shortages. And with fertilizer prices on the rise, affordable food isn’t always obtainable. So to them, it only makes sense to turn to raw sewage. After all, it does contain the same vital nutrients as pricey chemical fertilizer, including phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. Plus it’s free of charge.
Raw humanure vs. composted humanure
Although human wastewater and feces could be the key to helping urban farmers escape poverty, the health hazards are still there. According to The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins, there’s a fine line between raw humanure and treated humanure.
Raw humanure, in particular, puts you at risk for a variety of disease pathogens, including hepatitis, cholera, and intestinal parasites, just to name a few. By tossing it onto a field, you are essentially promoting the spread of such diseases.
Treated humanure, on the other hand, is a different story. By properly composting humanure, any potential pathogens would then be destroyed. In case you’ve never heard of it, composting, in a nutshell, is the process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a fertile soil called compost. For cannabis growers looking to avoid fertilizers loaded with chemicals, composting is a much more natural and attractive option.
Composting your typical scraps, such as plant clippings and fruits, is an overall simple process. But when you’re dealing with human feces, it gets tricky. It’s absolutely crucial that this compost system produces a high enough temperature to kill off bacteria and pathogens. And that temperature must be maintained for long periods of time, so strict monitoring is required.
For those that don’t have the time nor the knowledge to compost safely, they are only putting themselves and their garden at risk. National Geographic News notes that “nearly 2.2 million people die each year because of diarrhea-related diseases, including cholera, according to WHO statistics.” Also, that over “80 percent of those cases can be attributed to contact with contaminated water and a lack of proper sanitation.” In other words, you’re better off not trying this at home. Sure, the practice has its perks, but at what cost to your health?
Despite the rapid legalization of marijuana as both a medical and recreational substance, parents who smoke marijuana remain at risk of having their children taken away from them by Child Protective Services (CPS). There are few stories more heart-wrenching and infuriating than when children are wrongfully separated from their parents. Cases that involve marijuana are particularly odious because of how commonplace marijuana use is for all Americans, including parents.
Even in states where marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized, certain social services still have the right to punish parents for marijuana use, similar to the way alcoholism can be grounds for Child Protective Services to separate a child from a parent. But the difference is that unlike alcohol, marijuana is both a recreational substance and a medical substance. This makes the situation significantly more complex.
Cases of children being separated from their parents for medical marijuana use are increasingly common. MMJ patients are being held to an alternate standard of risk than those who use pharmaceutical prescriptions.
In one case, reported by Fusion, a mother who was a licensed medical marijuana user to treat her PTSD, and had used cannabis edibles to treat her morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, had her child taken away from her when her blood tested positive for THC. While there are inherent risks with using marijuana while pregnant, and more research is necessary to determine if there is a risk variance between strains or specific cannabinoids, it’s important to note that these inherent risks are not exclusive to cannabis. Any prescription drugs a mother takes while pregnant is likely to end up in their baby’s bloodstream. According to a study by the University of Boston, many of the pharmaceutical medications commonly prescribed by doctors to women for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, like bismuth subsalicylate and antihistamines, have shown a connection to birth defects such as cleft lips, neural tube defects, and hypospadias. Babies who are found with traditional prescription medications in their bloodstream would not be red flagged, or taken away from their parents, by Child Protection Services.
As the nonprofit organization Consumer Reports writes, “[Mothers] might take for granted that if a drug was prescribed by their doctor, or is available over-the-counter, then it must be safe. But the truth is, there’s often very little evidence to back up that assumption. Some drugs are known to pose a danger to pregnant women or their unborn babies.”
Due to cannabis being federally recognized as Schedule I drug, parents who use medical marijuana are held to an alternate standard. It’s important to note the distinction between recreational cannabis and marijuana for which adults have a medical license, and was prescribed to them by a physician.
Fusion also reports on a case where a child was separated from her mother for six weeks, because she had been using medical marijuana to treat her Multiple Sclerosis.
In other cases, children have been separated from their parents following flawed drug tests.
In a recent New Yorker piece, Larissa MacFarquhar reports on the experience of Mary Anne Mendenhall, who works for the Bronx Defenders in New York as a public defender for lower-income families. In her experience, Child Protective Services workers (which is known as A.C.S in New York) consistently operate on a double standard for low-income families, arguing for poor children to be separated from their parents based on their parents’ use of marijuana. Here’s a conversation that Mendenhall had with a A.C.S lawyer, as reported by the New Yorker:
“Never say ‘marijuana’ again in this courthouse until you call the police on your friend from college who dares to smoke it when he has children at home,” she fumes. “One guy said to me, ‘My own friends’ and family’s marijuana use is neither here nor there.’ And I said, ‘How can that be? How can it be? If you really believe in what you’re saying.’ ”
Unfortunately, as this exchange demonstrates, lower income people are more at risk of having their children taken away if they use marijuana.
Of course, federal legalization of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes would go a long way in cutting down the stigma that is still attached to marijuana use. With the current administration’s negative view of marijuana, this seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.
This means that, ultimately, all parents who use marijuana are at risk of having their children taken away by CPS. It’s not a problem that anyone can afford to turn their backs on, leave solely in the hands of public defenders like Mendenhall, or pretend doesn’t exist.
“During the campaign I’ve always been very vocal about the fact that I do not believe people should be imprisoned for the personal use of cannabis. On the flip-side, I also have concerns around young people accessing a product which can clearly do harm and damage to them,” she said.
Epican, a Tier 1 cultivator, and Everyting Oily, a Tier 1 processor, signed their tripartite agreement, signifying their arrangement to conduct business together, in keeping with the requirement to have the industry operate as a closed loop system.
BEREA, Ohio — Berea City Council members voted 4-2 at their Oct. 16 meeting to establish a six-month moratorium on occupancy permits for medical marijuana entrepreneurs who want to establish businesses in the city. Councilmen Gene Zacharyasz and Rick Skoczen voted no, and Councilman Jim Maxwell was absent.
“No building permits, certificates of occupancy or any other permits shall be granted to any business owner who intends to open, use any land or devote any floor area to the business for purposes of the cultivation, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana for the period of this moratorium,” the council resolution reads. “No valid existing business in the city may expand in any way that would establish cultivation, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana for the duration of the moratorium.”
Prior to the vote, Zacharyasz said he was “not opposed to having medical marijuana in the forms that they’re talking about through the state guidelines” but asked about possible future restrictions the city could legislate if recreational marijuana use ever becomes legal in Ohio. Law Director Barb Jones replied that without knowing what future state legislation would say, it is “a little more difficult to answer with any certainty.”
The Congress of Peru Thursday approved a bill that authorizes the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives in the country.
The proposal received 67 votes in favor, 5 against and 3 abstained of the full legislative, which allowed the bill to be enacted by the executive without going through the second voting session as required by law.
The bill will legalize the medicinal use of marijuana and its derivatives, such as cannabis oil, to alleviate the symptoms of diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, who was the advocate of the proposal, said that, once the bill is promulgated, the government will have 60 days to work on the regulations.
De Belaunde added that this document must be published in advance so that all citizens will have access to its content and send suggestions and proposals.
“We achieved it. Historic moment for Congress and the country: Legal medicinal cannabis,” De Belaunde wrote on his Twitter account.
The proposal was endorsed Thursday by Congressman Ricardo Narvaez, president of the Congressional Health Commission, which had already approved the project earlier in October. [Read more at Al Dia News]