Friday, April 18, 2014

Dispensing Discrimination Against Dispensaries: Why is Medical Cannabis Signage Regulated


Anywhere you drive in America, you are bombarded by strategically placed signage advertising a plethora of products to consumers on their daily commutes. Major retail chains and event centers advertise on billboards, along with alcohol and pharmaceutical companies.
CigarettesBusinesses are allowed a certain amount of signage according to their community standards and never fail to utilize all available space. One look at a store and you cannot only tell what kind of store it is, but the quality of the store and the products they sell. Most businesses advertise their biggest selling items. The average convenience store’s windows are masked in tobacco and soda advertisements, with extra signs littering their parking lots boasting the lowest beer prices in town.
On the corner of many busy intersections you will notice “sign-spinners” – these are people hired to catch your eye with bright, bold and moving advertisements. From time to time you’ll also find uniformed store employees trying to convince you to come to them for your high-dose flu vaccine.
But there still seems to be one advertising taboo: advertising medical cannabis or that you are a dispensary. Even with the most discreet signage at a dispensary location, offense is taken. City councils in medical marijuana states are constantly fielding complaints about what their local dispensary looks like and how this inconveniences their eyes every  day. Complaints are made about logos ranging from green crosses to brightly–lit neon pot leaves. No matter how a dispensary seems to declare their business is open and ready for clientele, someone in the community around the club is displeased.
But the question is, why are people so offended by medical cannabis advertising?
The answer is simple: the average citizen is still barely tolerant of and not entirely open to medical cannabis, let alone the attached culture that has been stigmatized and disparaged by conservatives for decades. Patients, producers and providers share the same label no matter how they go about conducting their business- “Pot Heads.”
Coors and Keystone proudly buy up advertise space all over communities, and local businesses add to the alcohol-laden advertising litter. Where are the city council meetings discussing the removal of these questionable advertisements? Do they not influence our children as they pass by as people claim that neon pot leaves do? I find it difficult to believe that a green cross is actually more revealing about the nature of the business than a gigantic bottle of whiskey is or a tower can of Copenhagen.  Do these same upset citizens also feel the same way about their children being exposed to pharmaceutical drug access each time they enter Wal-Mart or Rite-Aid?
A discreet dispensary - Collective Awakenings in Portland, Oregon. www.collectiveawakenings.org Photo: Brandon Krenzler
A discreet dispensary – Collective Awakenings in Portland, Oregon. www.collectiveawakenings.org
Photo: Brandon Krenzler
Here I will discuss a normal everyday business in the manner that dispensaries are often discussed.
In the local township of Pendleton Oregon, the busiest intersection in town has 4 conglomerate chains one on each corner. These stores are Wal-Mart, Safeway, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.
Each one of these stores is home to a highly-trafficked pharmaceutical drug dispensing operation. There are people of all types that traverse in and out of these large buildings daily. The quantity of dangerous drugs stored in these places lands in tonnage. It is estimated that the daily revenue earned in the trafficking of these pharmaceuticals and narcotics skyrockets into the hundreds of thousands a month. These drug salesmen also conveniently provide access to other dangerous intoxicants such as caffeine, nicotine, and ethanol alcohol to their clients. These opportunists also willingly hand out these toxic drugs to children and disabled people with little or no discussion of the potential side-effects and dangers inherent in the products.
Let’s look at the facts according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
In 2010, 30,006 (78%) of the 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional, 5,298 (14%) of suicidal intent, and 2,963 (8%) were of undetermined intent.
In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to pharmaceuticals.
Between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 71,000 children (18 or younger) were seen in EDs each year because of medication overdose (excluding self-harm, abuse and recreational drug use).
Of the 22,134 deaths relating to prescription drug overdose in 2010, 16,651 (75%) involved opioid analgesics (also called opioid pain relievers or prescription painkillers), and 6,497 (30%) involved benzodiazepines.
That parody paragraph above is shocking- though it really is not parody. Most do not discuss a pharmacy in this nature, but it is a reality. This is, though, how news media and community leaders talk about medical marijuana dispensaries publicly.
Maybe it is time for communities to step down from their crusade against Cannabis and Cannabusiness and set the tone by promoting acceptance and understanding. A cannabis industry business owner should have no more advertising regulation than their commercial counterparts.

CannaDad


 Article Reprinted with Permission, Original Article Written for LadyBud Magazine

If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf: Children’s Book Illustrator Geneva Carman

If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf: Children’s Book Illustrator Geneva Carman
As medical and recreational cannabis use gain acceptance and even appeal, one stone has been left unturned: how to communicate these worldly changes to our children. A great way to broach the subject is using a story that paints a picture in a child’s imagination.
peacockThe children’s book  If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf by Morgan Carman is sure to become a family favorite. The story chronicles an adventure of a lone, depressed peacock named Peter. Peter stumbles upon a unique leaf that he has never seen before and proceeds to ask all the wonderful animals he meets up with in the forest about it. One by one, animals ranging from cute little spiders to wise old owls to rasta pigs give Peter their take on the leaf. Each animal is based on a real human patient who uses cannabis, and each relates their reasons for using the plant medicinally.
By the end of the story, not only are you looking forward to the sequel, If a Peacock Discovers Hemp Island, you also have many of the complex questions surrounding the medicinal use of Cannabis touched on and even answered for your child.
I reached out to Geneva Carman, the mother of the author and the illustrator of the story – here is what she had to say:
Brandon Krenzler: When did you begin using Cannabis?
Geneva Carman: I was actually a late starter when it comes to smoking Cannabis. I started when I was about 22.
medsBK: That is an unusual age to begin, what made you take up toking?
GC: I am manic-depressive and cannabis is the only thing I have found that makes me feel better. I noticed that once I began using cannabis regularly, I actually was able to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical drugs that I had been prescribed. Once I realized this, I began researching and found amazing facts which changed my life forever.
BK: In what ways does being a Regular Cannabis user affect your parenting?
GC: I feel that it makes me a better parent, and there are so many reasons why that is. I am more outgoing person; I do not feel the need to withdraw. I am not as aggressive and irritable over minor life stressors and that is always a good thing. I am able to communicate better; I can sit and talk with people, including my daughter more. I spend more quality time with Morgan. I find that I am more creative and open-minded artistically. When I was only taking prescriptions all I did was sleep; I didn’t want to do anything, totally non-productive.
BK: Do you allow your daughter to use Cannabis? Why do you allow this?
GC: I didn’t allow it until she needed it. She actually wasn’t interested in it all: she thought it smelled of cut grass and was adamant about not smoking it. Then she got sick; they had her on prescriptions, anti-nausea medicine usually reserved for chemotherapy patients. Nothing really worked for her. Her doctors basically said she had cyclical vomiting issues. With my background in Clinical Psychology, I had a feeling it was something psychological. She was eventually diagnosed with Acute Anxiety Disorder, OCD and PTSD. I decided that she should try Cannabis. And it instantly worked for her.
BK: What made you and Morgan decide to create the book?
peacock4GC: We were sitting on couch one day hanging out watching shows about children using cannabis for different ailments and each benefitting from it. Each of the stories that were on, Brave Mykayla and Jason (David), were touching and inspiring; we wanted to help! We just didn’t know how we were going to do that. Around a month later, Morgan randomly said, “What if a peacock found a pot leaf?” It was an instant children’s book title and we knew what we were going to do to help: we were going to write that book. We started making characters right away. We chose animals because not only are they really kid-friendly characters, they would of course use natural plant medicine from the forest. It took Morgan two and a half days to write the story. It took me around two and half weeks to illustrate the entire tale.
BK: Why the peacock – is there a reason behind this animal?
Geneva: Yes totally, since I was a little girl I’ve loved everything peacock: the feathers, the colors, the grace all of it I absolutely adored. My Grandmother had a whole room that was peacocks and I loved going in there whenever I would visit her. Peacock has depression because I have depression; the peacock is me.
peacock2BK: What is the purpose behind the book?
GC: The purpose is simple. It is to normalize the use of cannabis, especially in families that use cannabis medicinally for themselves or their children. It is medicine for a lot of people; it is not just used recreationally, it is also used for a better quality of life.  We want to show that it is not something that needs to be hidden, or hushed. We want people to become comfortable with the idea of cannabis use in families, because it is what is really going in homes across America – and that needs to be addressed in the children’s eyes as well.
BK: Tell about the feedback you have gotten…Positive? Negative?
GC: We have gotten way more positive feedback than negative. When we decided to do the book we had prepared ourselves and were ready for a rush of negativity, but we didn’t get that at all. It really has been more positive than we could ever have imagined; it just goes to show that eyes are being opened and the world is changing for the better in some ways.
BK: What kind of publicity has it gotten?
GC: We have gotten tons of publicity from the cannabis community. They have been so supportive of Morgan and I – we feel so much love radiating our way, and it is beautiful. We have been featured in a couple magazines; we have been invited on air on the radio. We are thankful for the amount of generous support that we have received. We are breaking ground in a new market; our medical marijuana children’s books are just beginning of a wave that is sure to come.
photo 4BK: What would you say to a parent who is considering buying the book??
GC: I would say definitely do so; everyone needs to have a copy of this book because it is a great conversation opener. You can use it to give examples and give a visual. It is friendly to all viewers so you could use it to initiate conversation with basically whoever you’d want to.  It is a nice tool to use for a variety of different age groups. It is really meant to be on everyone’s coffee table, and we would like to see them there.
BK: In what ways do you feel your book influences children?
GC: We have been told that it helps a lot of parents that are cannabis users, medicinal or recreational. We have gotten emails from parents all over thanking us for our work, because it made it easier for them to talk to their children about it. Children have been writing book reports for school about Peter and his pot leaf. It has been used as evidence in a medical cannabis CPS case to win the court case.
The book helps prove that cannabis is an effective medicine that helps adults and children alike. It is helping to breaking stereotypes and helping parents and children bond on an entirely different level. I think we have affected the children in a positive way; it gives the children who use cannabis as medicine something to share with their friends. This book can help your children growing up knowing that cannabis is medicine, not a street drug.
hempislandBK: where do you see your books going in the future?
GCI honestly don’t know where it is going to go – we are working hard on getting it out there as far as possible. We self-published, and do all of our own marketing, so we are just going with the flow. We are creating more books, because the more the merrier. We’ve just completed and published a second book, If a Peacock Discovers Hemp Island. The second in the series is more vivid and colorful. We knew more about what we were doing the second time around.
BK: Series? Are there going to be more Peter the Peacock Books?
GC: Yes! We haven’t decided on the subject just yet – it is in the brainstorming stage, but a third is definitely in the works. We would eventually like to cover nearly all aspects of the Cannabis world to help usher in an era of complete acceptance.

CannaDad


Article Reprinted with Permission, Original Article Written for LadyBud Magazine

LADY BUSINESS: Trista Okel of Empower Oil

When it comes to treating yourself with cannabis derivatives, there are many products to choose from. With a wide variety of cannabis-infused “medibles” (marijuana edibles), medicinal topicals (marijuana-infused lotions and salves) and tinctures out there, sometimes it becomes hard to choose the right fit for you.
Designer labels, constituents in different mixtures, and word-of-mouth reviews all play an integral part in the decision-making process. In my view, it is important to know what is in your medicine and where it comes from, and sometimes to know the producer personally. Every item found in dispensaries or collectives, from flowers (buds) to salves, has a distinctive and personal story behind its creation. These medicine men and women have lived a struggle of their own, decided to take matters into their own hands, found relief and chose to share their medicine with the rest of the world.
Recently I discovered an interesting new medicine- Empower Oil. The label caught my eye at first, black with stark white writing that reminded me of a protest sign. Behind the simple and rebellious label was a unique concept, a roll on application topical combination of healing essential oils I instantly recognized. I contacted the oil maker to find out more. After a quick phone conversation I was invited over to to see how it was made. She deftly explained to me how the oil works and offered me a variety of samples.
I gave the samples to others who needed the relief most. What I was given in return was outstanding positive reviews, and requests for where to find more. I sat down with the woman behind the oil, Trista Okel for an interview to find out even more. The story behind this excellent mixture is nothing short of astonishing.
Trista Okel, founder of Empower Oil
Trista Okel, founder of Empower Oil
BRANDON KRENZLER: How did you start making this oil? What made you want to?
TRISTA OKEL: In 2005, I was making cannaoil capsules [Cannabis infused olive oil filled capsules] to help some medical marijuana patients in my area with pain, insomnia, and nausea.
While camping a couple of weeks later a very heavy  log was dropped on a friend’s foot, it was around 200 pounds. Her entire foot immediately swelled and turned black and blue. It was nasty and there wasn’t any Ibuprofen to help with the swelling. Then it hit me- the oil could work topically to help at least take some of the pain away.
So, we broke open a couple of cannaoil capsules and rubbed the oil all over my friend’s foot. The results were better than good, they were amazing! Not only did the oil help greatly with the pain, but it also reduced the swelling tremendously and the bruise was almost gone in three days. The healing time on the injury was reduced by about two-thirds.
Later that month, my mom was talking about the great deal of pain she was in from advanced arthritis, compressed disks in her back, mixed connective tissue disease and Fibromyalgia. It was heartbreaking to see her suffer in such pain. I gave her some of the oil from the capsules to apply topically and it really helped her.
But there was a dilemma: at that time my mom worked for a state agency that was dedicated to alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs. There was no way that smell would fly there. So, I started adding essential oils in hopes of masking the smell. While experimenting with and researching essential oils, because I’ve always had an interest in aromatherapy, I learned that different essential oils work for different kinds of pain and maladies when applied topically, with or without carrier oils, like olive oil or grape seed oil.
After much trial and error, experimenting with different strengths and strains of cannabis, different concentrations of cannaoil, carrier oils and a plethora of essential oils, I eventually established an essential oil mix that worked synergistically with the cannaoil. Although I had hoped, I didn’t expect those results.
I discovered-the combination not only helped with pain and swelling, but it also helped with bruises, scars, neuropathic pain, rashes, psoriasis and was reported to help with a few other ailments as well. To my surprise, it worked better than the straight cannaoil worked. I was blown away and my inner skeptic said, “No way.” But I kept giving it away to people in pain and they kept telling me it worked.
Last week, a patient who is fighting cancer and has a kidney stent told me it not only works on the kidney pain, but it worked on a fever blister she had. She says it dried it up within 24 hours. That is a new use for it. I hear of different uses for Empower Oil on a weekly basis. I’m pretty blown away with the feedback I’m getting on it now that it is on the shelves in a few [Oregon] dispensaries.
That is why I started making Empower Oil and why I love doing it so much now. Giving relief, even if it’s a small reduction in pain or any other ailment people choose to use it for, is my primary goal and my driving force. Helping people is first and foremost for me.
BK: What are the plant essential oils other than cannabis, and could you describe their benefits?
TO: There is a natural form of menthol, wintergreen, also known as methyl salicylate, which, according to my research, is in 85% of all topical pain relievers. Methyl salicylate is a big part of the formula and mixed with the cannaoil, carrier oils (like jojoba and grape seed) and a few other essential oils in minute concentrations, Empower Oil works both topically and as aromatherapy. It is meant to be calming and uplifting to the user. Lots of folks who use Empower Oil are seriously ill and can use all the help they can get in feeling better. Pain has such a major effect on all aspects of a person’s life. It was really important to me to help improve one’s mood as well.
BK: How would you recommend using the oil? 
TO: Put it where it hurts. The short answer to your question is the slogan: “Put it where it hurts.”
Empower Oil is very concentrated, so use it sparingly. A little bit goes a very long way, so rub it into your skin until completely absorbed. There shouldn’t be any oily residue after you apply it. If there is, you either didn’t rub it in well enough or you used too much. Use it often, especially at first and with acute pain. Like with most natural remedies, it requires multiple applications to work best, five or six times per day to start. The roller ball applicator helps you get the right amount of Empower Oil at the site of the pain.
Helichrysum Italicum, a natural pain reliever
Helichrysum Italicum, a natural pain reliever but not good for aromatherapy
BK: During your research and development stage, what were some of the most memorable moments and lessons?
TO: I made a lot of utterly putrid essential oil mixes for quite a while. There is an essential oil,Helichrysum Italicum, that works well for pain, scarring, muscle and joint pain, the list of its benefits is expansive. Helichrysum Italicum is a wonderful essential oil, but it smells grassy and has a sharp, astringent aroma. It has very little aromatherapy utility and the scent doesn’t mix well with the smell of cannaoil at all. Since Empower Oil is meant to be aroma therapeutic as well as a topical remedy, Helichrysum would not work for this formula, despite its utility. The lesson I learned with that experiment was to make small batches when trying new blends. That one was quite an expensive lesson.
I also had to learn to work with oil. Oil is messy. I have worn more cannaoil than I would like to admit. I now wear lab wear to work with it, but in the beginning, especially when I was really excited about a new formula idea, I would just go straight to work without changing my clothes. That and cheesecloth are life savers!
The most exciting part of the process was finding the roller ball bottles for applying the oil. It is the least messy method I’ve seen and allows you to apply a little pressure to the exact place needed. It’s so useful with not using too much and wasting the oil as well. I had to learn that the oil works best if only a little is used at a time, as it’s meant to penetrate the skin, not sit on top of it.
BK: How did you come up with the name empower oil? Is there a story behind the appellation?
TO: There is the long story and the short story for the name “Empower Oil.”
The long story is this:  In 2003, I grew three small 12” plants. I used cannabis medicinally at the time, but didn’t think I qualified for the license because my issues were about severe chronic pain. I didn’t know it was a qualifying condition and I didn’t have health insurance, so I made a choice to try to make my own.
My fantastic lawyer, Leland Berger
My fantastic lawyer, Leland Berger
I was caught with the plants, which were sitting next to a 40-watt shop light, so if you know anything about growing cannabis, you know that I knew nothing about it at that time. I awaited trial for 11 months for one count of felony manufacturing of a controlled substance, one count of intent to distribute (because three baby plants next to a shop light are a sign of a big time dealer!) and one count of possession of over an ounce because they left the roots and stalks on the plant matter when they weighed it.
I believe the total was a gram or two over an ounce. The jury reached the verdict in eight minutes, although it took 20 minutes to get back up to the court room for the verdict. I was found not guilty by an angry jury of my peers. They were angry because it was estimated the state spent between $40,000 and $60,000 on my trial. And my family had to spend quite a bit as well.
When the jury came back with the verdict, I was so relieved. And then came my anger. With the threat of prosecution off the table, I was outraged because the next day, on the front page of the local section of the newspaper, there was an article about my acquittal. I was not interviewed for it. It listed my name, age, and neighborhood.
I was “outed” as a cannabis user and someone who had been arrested on felony charges. The entire experience had forever changed my life. From then on, I now had to explain myself on every job application, volunteer application, housing/rental application, even though I was acquitted. I now wore a “Scarlet M” for all to see.
So I decided to put my energy into making sure this didn’t happen to others. During the 10 months I waited to stand trial, I was afraid and disempowered. Luckily for me, my attorney, Leland Berger is a prominent cannabis activist who introduced me to a number of people who helped me channel my anger to help make a difference.
After I was acquitted, I became empowered and used my outrage to speak publicly on the issue, lobby my state and federal representatives, work on a campaign for the legalization of dispensaries in Oregon and join national protests, I even got arrested (on purpose) in Washington D.C. with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) alongside Steph Sherer and 13 other inspiring activists.
During that trip to D.C. and the six hour jail stay for blocking the stairs into Health and Human Services by sitting down, I, along with another woman who had protested that day, talked about starting a marijuana legalization advocacy group by and for women. At that time, it was well known that women were the primary voting block against the legalization of marijuana. If we could show other women the safety, utility and power of this wonderful plant, perhaps we could start changing the future of the legality of cannabis. Women ended alcohol prohibition and gained the right to vote, why not end cannabis prohibition?
The problem was that neither of us had any experience or money to start such an organization, so nothing came of it. The name “EMPOWER” was originally a mouthful of an acronym: Ending Marijuana Prohibition by Organizing Women to Enact Reform. The name stuck with me all along. Now, we are fortunate enough to have the Women’s Alliance at NORML, women’s cannabis magazines like Ladybud– not all bikini clad women selling grow lights or fertilizers. Now we have professionals who have come out of the cannabis closet to speak up and make a difference. It’s beautiful to see!
Join Empower Oil's mailing list!
Join Empower Oil’s mailing list!
The short story is this: Since I had the name and the passion behind it never ceased, after trying numerous other names, everything from “magic snake oil” to “boomer oil blend,” I finally came back around to “Empower.” Because using Empower Oil reduces pain and helps with other ailments, it empowers you to do what you want to do again.
My mom uses the oil and is able to do so much more than if she didn’t. When she doesn’t use it, she is barely able to walk and feels pain all over her body. She is empowered now, and that brings tears to my eyes.
“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
BK: Where is Empower Oil available?
TO: Currently the oil is available at select Portland, Oregon area dispensaries, Collective Awakenings as well as Portland Canna Connection, both in Portland. There are a few private delivery services in town who have taken to keeping Empower Oil in stock. Three other dispensaries in the Portland area are also going to carry in the near future.
Private Patients and Providers can contact Trista at info@empoweroil.com for more information and ordering. The website is a start-up in progress-www.empoweroil.com. Like Empower Oil on Facebook

CannaDad


Article Reprinted with Permission,
Original Article Written for LadyBud Magazine

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