With pancreatic cancer, what Stephen needs is legalised cannabis

A year into his cancer treatment, Stephen heard about the benefits of medical marijuana and CBD oil, but it has proven difficult to get

I was lying face down when I first heard about Stephen Schulman. Id been feeling sorry for myself, complaining of an aching wrist and back the vestiges of an age-inappropriate roller-skating accident – while my massage therapist Elisa worked to soothe my pain.

Eventually, our conversation turned to her friend Stephen. At only 41, just months after marrying the love of his life, Stephen had gone to the doctor complaining of stomach pains and the inability to keep anything down. He re-emerged with a diagnosis: stage-3 pancreatic cancer, inoperable due to a very large tumor wrapping itself around a major artery in his abdomen.

In essence, a death sentence.

Elisa had been buying Stephen sublingual CBD oil $89 for one ounce because it proved to be the only thing effectively alleviating the tingling and numbness that had recently consumed his fingers and toes. He and his husband Wades savings had been bled dry by their $2,400-a-month insurance premium plus general expenses. Stephen is unable to work since his life has become a blur of excruciating pain, treatments, hope, fear and heavy doses of opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone.

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Stephen first heard about the reported pain relief benefits of medical marijuana and CBD oil for cancer patients a year into his treatment. When he asked his doctors about applying for a medical marijuana card, their reluctance confused him. Still, he persisted and when he started using both, he found they controlled his symptoms as well or, in some cases, better than opioids. He also found out that no insurance company covers their high costs.

As Elisa told me Stephens story, I considered how the small discomforts Id come in with made it harder for me to get around in the day or to sleep well at night. How they made me feel irritable and fragile. And how I could pay a negligible amount of money to a lovely woman to help soothe them for me. My ailments were absolutely nothing by comparison with Stephens, yet what he needs is elusive at best, prohibited at worst.

Politicians have been embroiled in contentious debates for years about the morality and logistics of legalizing medical marijuana despite reputable studies, like the Rand study, which supports its efficacy. In the meantime, people like Stephen suffer.

I decided to document Stephens life because his story had something valuable to remind us all about the gap between the abstract moralizing of politicians and the needs of the people they represent.

These pictures were taken between January and August 2019.

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Wade is a freelance hairstylist. Once in a while, he sits Stephen down in the chair in his home salon and treats him to a haircut, shave and facial mask.

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Stephen remembers clearly what it felt like to be diagnosed: It just hits you like a ton of bricks: Everything is about to change. Your life is going to be about doing chemo, radiation, things you wouldnt normally do and its going to be a hard, uphill battle.

Stephen

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Wade adds Osmolite formula, a therapeutic nutrition for patients with increased calorie and protein needs, to a drip every other night to help Stephen maintain a healthy weight. The procedure takes eight hours and is very uncomfortable. Lack of appetite and nausea leading to unhealthy weight loss are common for pancreatic patients. The use of medical marijuana has helped Stephen greatly with these symptoms.

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Artist Jason Naylor, whose self-described mission is to spread color and positivity across the globe, heard about Stephens plight through social media and made him the Love painting, which he hand-delivered to the couple, that hangs above Stephen and Wades bed.

Overwhelmed by medical expenses, Stephen and Wade accepted the offer of a friend to set up a GoFundMe page for them.

We have to lean on each other, trust one another, and be up front about how were doing and feeling every single day, Stephen says of his relationship. Theres no way I would have been able to get through this diagnosis without Wade. I appreciate him more every day. I know that sounds corny, but its true.

Clyde,

Clyde, one of the couples two cats, the other is Bonnie (both male), watches as Stephen tries on his kickboxing gloves. Kickboxing was something Stephen enjoyed with friends before his diagnoses when he was 40 pounds heavier. Now, there are some days hes too weak to get out of bed.

Stephen

Stephen describes the current state of his disease; Stage 3-pancreatic cancer without the possibility of the Whipple procedure because of the placement of the tumor. They do a CT scan every three months and determine the next steps based on those results. A very risky surgery I believe its only performed by one doctor in the US at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is my only option and were hoping to make that happen. But insurance has, so far, refused to pay for it or the chemotherapy Ill need beforehand, and it is astronomically expensive.

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It makes me smile a little to wear fun, colorful socks, Stephen says in reference to the cock socks he wears to physical therapy.

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I think its funny, Stephen remarks, that in America youre able to buy alcohol, which is known to cause all these problems, but CBD oil and medical marijuana are more regulated and looked down upon. Its sad because theyve definitely helped me immensely.

In New York state, medication comes primarily in the form of pills, vapes, oils and lotions. Dispensaries cant distribute edibles because its much harder to control the doses a patient receives in them. Every dose at Columbia Care New York is consistent and titrated, meaning its increased, if need be, slowly over time.

dr reed

Tricia Reed, PharmD, Columbia Care New Yorks lead pharmacist, describes the purported benefits of some of their products.

High THC products are good for nausea, vomiting and severe pain, giving more of an opiate-type pain relief. THC is a good muscle relaxer and helps with sleep. CBD is a great anti-inflammatory, works well for nerve pain, and is an anti-convulsant so its good for seizures.

Every dose has to deliver the exact milligram per milliliter as prescribed. Each time you take an inhalation from the vapor, it gives you a specific mg.

When

When a patient visits Columbia Care for the first time, they meet with a pharmacist who takes them through a full consultation to determine what products they may respond to best.

In the higher-THC products, Reed explains, there can be a euphoric feeling which might not be so bad for patients going through a hard time. Its similar to the side-effects youd get from other meds like Valium. I encourage patients to think of it that way. Its just a side-effect similar to those of other medications they may have already taken. There is still that sense of taboo or stigma that goes along with marijuana. A lot of what weve been trying to do is to de-stigmatize it.

Rosemary Mazanet, an oncologist by original training, is chief scientific officer for Columbia Care. When I think about the disconnect between the enormous promise that cannabis products bring and the fact that theres such an air about it that makes it tawdry, it comes down to the fact that its federally illegal.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/04/with-pancreatic-cancer-what-stephen-needs-is-legalised-cannabis

Illegal drug classifications are based on politics not science report

Global Commission on Drug Policy requires a reclassification of drugs consisting of heroin, marijuana and drug

Illegal drugs consisting of drug, heroin and marijuana ought to be reclassified to show a clinical evaluation of damage, according to a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The commission, that includes 14 previous presidents from nations such as Colombia, Mexico, Portugal and New Zealand, stated the global category system underpinning drug control is “prejudiced and irregular”.

A “deep-lying imbalance” in between enabling and managing compounds gain access to for medical functions had actually triggered “civilian casualties”, it stated. Such damage consisted of clients in low- and middle-income nations required to go through surgical treatment without anaesthetic, to go without necessary medications and to pass away in unneeded discomfort due to absence of opioid discomfort relief.

Other unfavorable effects were the spread of contagious illness, greater death and the worldwide jail overcrowding crisis, the report stated.

“The worldwide system to categorize drugs is at the core of the drug control program– and regrettably the core is rotten,” stated Ruth Dreifuss, previous president of Switzerland and chair of the commission. She required a “critique” of the category system, prioritising the function of the World Health Organization (WHO) and clinical research study in setting requirements based upon advantages and damages.

Restrictions on milder, less hazardous drugs need to likewise be loosened up, the commission stated, to consist of “other genuine usages”, consisting of conventional, social or spiritual usage.

Some controlled substances, consisting of drug, marijuana, heroin and marijuana resin, were examined as much as 30 years ago or have actually never ever been assessed, Dreifuss stated, which seriously weakens their worldwide control.

Asked whether these drugs need to be reclassified, Juan Manuel Santos, the previous president of Colombia, responded “yes”. “The clinical basis is non-existent,” Santos informed reporters at an online instruction to go over the commission’s report.

“It was a political choice. According to the research studies we’ve seen over previous years, compounds like marijuana are less damaging than alcohol,” he stated. “I originate from Colombia, most likely the nation that has actually paid the greatest rate for the war on drugs.”

After 50 years, the war on drugs has actually not been won, Santos stated. It had actually triggered “more damage, more damage” to the world than an useful method that would control the sale and usage of drugs in a “great way”.

The WHO approximated in 2011 that 83% of the world’s population resided in nations with non-existent or low access to opioid discomfort relief .

The commission’s current report checks out how “prejudiced” historic category of compounds, with its focus on restriction, has actually added to the world drug issue. Under the existing system, in location considering that 1961, choices on categorizing drugs are taken by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), a body of UN member specifies developed by the UN Economic and Social Council. The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence offers suggestions to the CND. The suggestions are then voted on by the CND members, leaving them open to political choices.

Helen Clark, the previous prime minister of New Zealand, stated the WHO must make choices on drug category based upon health and health and wellbeing. More hazardous drugs would need a greater level of intervention, she stated.

“The worldwide neighborhood ought to acknowledge that the system is broken,” stated Clark. “They ought to acknowledge the disparities and it ought to set off an evaluation.”

Risk limits, such as those utilized for alcohol, ought to be utilized for controlled substances instead of the “outright preventive concept”, she stated.

The commission contacted the global neighborhood to move towards the legal guideline and usage of drugs. In January, the WHO identified the medical advantages of marijuana and suggested it be re classified world large .

Michel Kazatchkine, French doctor and previous executive director of the Global Fund to eliminate Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stated that 75-80% of the international population do not have access to medications and “all of the factors are connected to repression and prohibition-based control systems”.

“These limiting policies under worldwide control have actually been hindering and are continuing to restrain medications that are not just required, however are on the WHO list of vital medications.”

He stated a “crisis of policy” in the United States had actually resulted in the “awful repercussions” of the opioid crisis, as an outcome of which 72,000 individuals passed away in 2017 .

“We require to think about these things with a fresh outlook,” stated Anand Grover, the previous unique UN rapporteur for health, India. “We can’t opt for the cultural predispositions of the west.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jun/26/illegal-drugs-classifications-based-on-politics-not-science-cannabis-report-says

Ben & Jerry’s announces plans to make CBD-infused ice-cream

Ice-cream maker to include cannabidiol to its items as quickly as it is legislated at the federal level

Usually individuals grab the ice-cream after consuming marijuana. Now hippie-capitalist ice-cream maker Ben &Jerry’s is wanting to speed the entire procedure up by producing CBD-infused ice-cream.

Long understood for stoner-hinting tastes such as Bonnaroo Buzz, Phish Food and Half Baked, the United States business’s choice to include CBD to its items as quickly as the plant extract is legislated at the federal level comes as the marketplace of cannabinoids-infused items has actually blown up over the previous a number of years.

CBD, brief for cannabidiol, is a chemical substance from the marijuana plant . Its fans declare it produces relaxation and calm, however unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychedelic and will not get a user high.

As its stands, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbids including CBD to food and drinks, through the regulation is gently, if ever, imposed, and the regulative body has actually revealed a public hearing on the legalization on the problem for 31 May.

Ben &Jerry’s, which has actually sent discuss the problem, is motivating fans of its items to get in touch with the FDA throughout a public assessment duration on using CBD in food now through July.

The regulator has stated it prepares to utilize the general public remarks to notify a federal working group looking “to check out possible paths for traditional foods and/or dietary supplements including CBD to be legally marketed”.

According to the Unilever-owned business’s site, Ben &Jerry’s is checking out sustainably sourced CBD from Vermont, where the company has actually been based considering that its very first shop was opened in a refurbished gasoline station in Burlington in 1978.

The statement guides Ben &Jerry’s strongly into the most popular pattern in food. A current study released by the National Restaurant Association discovered that 3 in 4 chefs called CBD– and cannabis-infused food– as a hot pattern in 2019.

“We’re doing this for our fans,” stated Ben &Jerry’s CEO, Matthew McCarthy. “We’ve listened and brought them whatever from non-dairy extravagances to on-the-go parts with our Pint Slices. We desire like our fans more than they like us and we wish to provide what they’re searching for in an enjoyable, Ben &Jerry’s method.”

Efforts to reschedule CBD as a legal food supplement have actually been collecting speed as more states have actually legislated marijuana. Mostly stemmed from hemp, a close relative of the marijuana plant, CBD is ascribed a wide variety of health advantages, from enhanced sleep to minimized stress and anxiety and discomfort relief.

While scientific research studies stop working to support most declares for CBD, the political push to legislate remains in part in a response to the opiate dependency crisis that swept throughout the United States that has actually rendered health authorities rushing for palliative options, untried or nevertheless improbable.

New Frontier Data , a Denver-based analytics company that studies the marijuana market, approximates CBD item sales deserved $390m in 2018, a figure that might triple to more than $1.2 bn by 2022.

In December, Donald Trump legislated the growing of hemp, which had actually been noted as a Schedule I drug under the illegal drug act, that in turn set off a wave of financial investment, consisting of by the drug store giants Walgreens and CVS .

In a declaration in 2015, Coca-Cola stated while it had “no interest” in cannabis or marijuana, the business was “carefully seeing the development of non-psychoactive CBD as an active ingredient in practical health drinks all over the world. The area is progressing rapidly. No choices have actually been made at this time.”

Key to more growth of the hemp market depends upon how far the FDA is prepared to raise market limitations for the substance. That choice, in turn, will impact farmers, especially in states like Kentucky, much of whom have actually seen their organisations struck by Chinese tariffs on imports of soybeans and other fruit and vegetables.

Kentucky’s farming commissioner, Ryan Quarles, informed United States public radio he desires CBD to be noted as a dietary supplement due to the fact that of the increase it might offer to hemp farmers.

“We acknowledge the FDA has a large range of possibilities with what they can do with these items. We ask them not to control this growing market to death,” Quarles informed NPR this week.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/may/30/ben-and-jerrys-cbd-ice-cream-legalized-federal-level

‘I don’t think I look like a stoner’: the women changing the face of the cannabis industry

US cannabis laws are slackening, and a number of enterprising women are tapping into female interest in the drug through magazines, cooking, health and fashion. Candice Pires reports

As weeds legal status loosens across the US, the way cannabis is being marketed, sold and celebrated is evolving. An industry that has been dominated by men is finding a female voice in consumers and new business owners. Search #womenofweed on Instagram and youll find a female chef drizzling cannabis oil on to a soup, and a woman relaxing in a rose-petalled bath with a spliff in hand. These are women who are celebrating cannabis as an important part of their lifestyles an aid to their health, as much as their creativity.

The legality of using cannabis differs from state to state (and within states) in the US. In California, youre able to possess an ounce if youre aged 21 or over. In Indiana, possessing any amount could land you up to 180 days in jail. (In the UK, being caught with cannabis in small doses comes with a fine or warning, but production and supply can lead to a prison sentence.)

Still, new business opportunities are emerging. There are now yoga retreats, workouts, day spas, parties, conferences all for women who like weed. One female artist is making gold-trimmed porcelain hash pipes that look more sculptural than functional. Whoopi Goldberg has started a line of cannabis products, including body balms and bath soaks, that help with PMT.

As the weed market continues to grow, women are shifting perceptions of the drug and its users. Stoner stereotypes are being knocked back and women are talking openly about the place weed has in their lives. Ideas of community and equitable access to the industry are held as highly as enjoyment of the leaf. And aesthetic representations are being made through a female lens.

Anja Charbonneau

Editor of womens weed magazine Broccoli

Anja
Women see Broccoli as an invitation to communicate about this really private part of their lives: Anja Charbonneau. Photograph: Jules Davies for the Observer

In Portland, Oregon, a city in one of the nine states to legalise recreational marijuana, Anja Charbonneau recently launched Broccoli (a slang term for the drug). Broccoli looks like a design publication and calls itself a magazine created by and for women who love cannabis. The cover of the first issue featured weed ikebana, where a stylist crafted cannabis leaves according to the rules of the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging. Inside issue two, Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Bob and Rita Marley, speaks about her grandparents legacy. And theres a photo story set in an imaginary cannabis dispensary for cats. Since Broccolis inception, other design-focused cannabis magazines have appeared.

The idea for Broccoli came from cannabis dispensaries and seeing the little stacks of free magazines. I noticed they were all for men, by men, Charbonneau explains. Last summer she decided to test her idea of creating a weed magazine for women. She began by speaking to other women who enjoyed cannabis, as well as women in the industry, asking if theyd be interested in a magazine aimed at them. I almost didnt have to ask, she says. As I was explaining what I wanted to do, I was met with this resounding, Yes! Please do that, we want it. She got together a couple of ex-colleagues from the slow-living lifestyle magazine Kinfolk: a writer she knew and an editor shed admired online. Because cannabis is so new as a legal industry, it feels like theres this opportunity to make womens voices heard while its being built and thats pretty much never, ever happened with any other industry.

Charbonneau has been receiving hundreds of messages of support from women sharing stories of their relationships with weed. It seems women felt like they didnt have permission to talk about this really private part of their lives, she says. Theyve seen Broccoli as an invitation to communicate about it, and theyre like, Let me tell you about my life. Its unlocked something.

Andrea Drummond

The marijuana chef

Andrea
I hope Im bringing some normalcy to cannabis: Andrea Drummond. Photograph: Amanda E Friedman for the Observer

Andrea Drummonds path into the cannabis industry was rocky. Despite her religious upbringing, she tried cannabis aged 12 or 13, but the experience made her uncomfortable and after getting into a fight with a friend, she ended up doing community service. That made me think that if you smoke marijuana, you end up in jail, she says.

For the bulk of her adult life, Drummond worked largely in roles advising kids to say no to drugs. But when she moved to California in her mid-30s, she looked at people around her and came to the conclusion that cannabis wasnt the gateway drug it had been touted as. I worked for a successful attorney who was an avid user and I became more open-minded.

At 37, Drummond decided to follow her passion to become a chef and signed up for Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, later honing her craft at top Los Angeles restaurants and starting her own catering company. One evening, a friend asked her to make him some brownies from leftover cannabis leaves. I took it on as a challenge, Drummond says. It smelled so beautiful and Im not really big on sweets so I thought, This wants to be something else. Drummond made a cannabis butter for bruschetta. It completely enhanced the flavour of the dish, she says. Another friend insisted Drummond needed to sell her creation. That night in 2012, while high on bruschetta, the trio hatched a plan to start a cannabis catering company: Elevation VIP Cooperative.

After obtaining a medical licence, they were able to serve anyone who held a California State Medical Marijuana ID Card, which werent difficult to acquire, but It wasnt received well, says Drummond. People were afraid and I was begging them to come for dinner at ridiculously low prices, like $30 a head for five courses. But Drummond kept at it, starting a side business in cannabis education to help people understand the plant better. For a while she was homeless and slept in her car. Then, one day, while working on the business from a Starbucks, she received a call from Netflix. They wanted her to cook for a documentary series called Chelsea Does, where host Chelsea Handler would be doing drugs. The exposure led to a flood of enquiries.

On a personal level, she started using cannabis to treat the sciatica shed developed while working in kitchens. I didnt want to take prescription drugs but there were times I was completely immobile, she says. But as soon as I tried cannabis I knew it was the alternative for me.

Last year Drummond published a cookery book, Cannabis Cuisine. I hope Im bringing some normalcy to cannabis with it, she says. I dont think I look like a stoner, she adds. Hopefully that helps normalise it, especially for other women.

Tsion Sunshine Lencho and Amber Senter

Supernova Women, marijuana advocacy organisation

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The plant can be used to heal our communities: Amber Senter, above right, with Tsion Sunshine Lencho of Supernova. Photograph: Winni Wintermeyer for the Observer

In Oakland, California, Amber Senter focuses daily on getting other women into the cannabis industry. Her own introduction to weed came via pain relief. As an adult, Senter was diagnosed with lupus, and credits smoking with alleviating sore joints and digestive issues. Her medical condition led her to research the plant extensively and gave her a career in the industry.

In 2015 Senter was working for a consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs apply for cannabis dispensary and cultivation permits. At a networking event she met Tsion Sunshine Lencho, an African-American, Stanford-educated lawyer who was looking for a job in the industry. Senter recruited Lencho and the two began working closely together. We noticed that the groups that we were writing applications for were all well-funded, all male and very white, she says. This is an industry that was built on the backs of black and brown people. We thought, Man, were gaining all this knowledge and essentially gentrifying our industry.

The pair decided to start Supernova Women, to help people in the black community get into the cannabis industry. They recruited two other women with existing cannabis-delivery businesses, Nina Parks and Andrea Unsworth, and the four now work in advocacy, education and networking, primarily for women of colour.

The biggest barrier to the cannabis industry is funding, says Senter. And all the people who know each other with money are white guys. Were teaching women of colour how to raise money and how to be good negotiators. The women we work with are equipped with the skills to run businesses they just dont have the resources or the pathways to money.

On 1 January 2018, cannabis went from being medically to recreationally legal in California. There is a finite number of dispensary licences available. Supernova is now working with city councils on equity legislation for creating licensing programmes that give priority and assistance to marginalised groups.

Ultimately, Supernova wants money made from the industry pumped back into the communities its affected. We dont just want people in the community becoming owners we also want to see the money reinvested in social programmes and education, says Senter. The plant can be used to heal our communities, she says, even though its been used to destroy them.

Harlee Case & Co

Ladies of Paradise, cannabis creative agency

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We want to help remove the stigma: Harlee Case, above left, with Jade Daniels, both of Ladies of Paradise. Photograph: Evie McShane for the Observer

Harlee Case started smoking behind her super-religious, strait-laced parents backs when she was 17. She had grown up around cannabis without knowing it. Her small hometown of Central Point in southern Oregon is surrounded by land and perfect cannabis-growing conditions. Now I understand why everyone had these big farms in their back yards, says the 26-year-old, and why people always had cash.

Case is one third of Ladies of Paradise, a women-in-cannabis blog and creative agency. The collective, which includes co-founder Jade Daniels, 30, and new recruit Leighana Martindale, 23, creates cannabis marketing for the female gaze.

Case and Daniels met three years ago. Danielss boyfriend was buying a cannabis farm in southern Oregon and the couple moved to work on it. Both Case and Daniels had fashion backgrounds and large online followings through their Instagram shops, which led them to collaborate on photography and styling.

Last autumn, working the harvest season on the farm and burnt out from their online work, they decided they wanted to redirect peoples eyes to the cannabis industry in a female-driven way, says Case. Our first idea was to spotlight women working in the industry by interviewing them about what theyre doing and styling them in a unique way. They took Danielss online jewellery shop, Ladies of Paradise, and set it off in a new direction. It felt risky and we lost a few followers, but most people were really up for it, says Daniels.

Having recruited Martindale, who had been managing a cannabis dispensary, the trio now work with small cannabis brands that want to bring a female perspective to their photography, styling and events. When a vape pen company approached the women for a revamp of their Instagram feed, the first thing Case decided had to go were the bong girls. Theyre all over the internet, she explains. Case, whos a photographer, likes to feature different types of women. Its about women being women. When we do boudoir stuff, its for us. Not men.

They are keen to broaden the appeal of cannabis among more women. Ideally, if youre my mum and youve never smoked cannabis, seeing a photo of a woman your age with a joint might make it seem less intimidating, says Case. We want to help remove the stigma.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/12/i-dont-think-i-look-like-a-stoner-the-women-changing-the-face-of-the-cannabis-industry

Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

Is marijuana a medical miracle? The truth is, we still don’t know

Whats the evidence behind medical cannabis? While many attest to its healing powers, research into the full potential has long been legally restricted

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/15/medical-marijuana-does-it-work-miracle-drug-evidence