Marijuana as dangerous as heroin? C’mon!

As I write this, over 44 U.S. states have adopted medical marijuana laws and 8 states have made it legal to use recreationally. YAY for progress!!!

So, how did marijuana come to be viewed as dangerous in the first place? During times of growing anti-drug hysteria, former President Richard Nixon was able to pass the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which remains in effect until today. The passing of this act suddenly took marijuana from a legal drug (in the early 20th century) to a Schedule 1 drug, right next to heroin. Even cocaine and methamphetamine are considered less dangerous by this categorization.

In states that have since legalized marijuana, lawful dispensaries continue to be treated as criminal enterprises. Banks cannot legally accept deposits from these businesses, yet the federal government insists on collecting their tax dollars. If they don’t pay, they face fines to the tune of double what a so-called “legal” business would have to pay. In other words, marijuana dispensaries must obey the law to a T, but are given none of the benefits and protections that a taxpaying business would normally enjoy. In fact, their jobs are made harder through all sorts of ‘red tape’.

Let me tell you why I feel so *passionately* about this topic. We all have heard of people dying of overdoses from methamphetamine, prescription opioids or cocaine – but marijuana? I don’t think soooo!! Not only has marijuana not killed anyone, but it has helped countless people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions, mood disorders, chronic pain, and inflammation. It does this without any of the harmful side effects associated with many prescription medications, and in fact, it has been shown to have many beneficial “side effects”.

So, why all the fuss over legalization?

In a TIME Magazine article published last year, researchers found that doctors in a state where marijuana is legal ended up prescribing an average of 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers per year. (Huge blow to pharmaceutical companies, amirite?)

Let’s take a commonly prescribed opioid medication and compare the side-effects with CBD, a non-psychoactive (won’t make you high) form of marijuana:

Oxycontin:                                                                              Cannabidiol (marijuana):

Attempted and completed suicide                                   Dry mouth

Overdose                                                                               Low blood pressure

Seizures                                                                                 Lightheadedness

Addiction                                                                               Drowsiness

Aggression

Life-threatening respiratory depression

Increased liver enzymes

 

Pharmaceutical companies like to say that marijuana hasn’t been tested rigorously enough. But why is that? Such studies are painfully slow to be approved and completed (currently, all federally approved studies share a single cannabis supplier at the University of Mississippi). Also, they’re expensive. Since a plant cannot be patented in its natural form, no one is interested in funding a study because the end result wouldn’t be profitable. Still, many companies have found sneaky ways of getting around this law, by formulating products that contain only isolated parts of the plant.

In another TIME Magazine article, scientists say marijuana should be made easier to study, citing “anecdotal patient reports, increasing numbers of legitimate clinical case studies, and large amounts of preclinical studies that all indicate tumor-fighting activities of cannabinoids.” In one study, a compound in marijuana was found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders. Researchers say further studies are essential to determine proper medicinal dosages, and to learn which parts of the plant are beneficial for which conditions.

I believe that people deserve to have options – especially when that option has been used safely for a much longer timeframe than say, Oxycontin.

 

 

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Top 4 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism this Winter

I initially set out to make a ‘Top 5’ list of ways to avoid holiday weight gain, until I learned that the average American gains roughly  1-2 pounds over the holiday season– not much help needed there.   Still, there are some very good reasons not to gorge yourself full of food this season:

1- It may not end with the season.

2- Too much food means your body has to work extra hard to digest it all, which leaves less resources for your body to fight back those pesky cold and flu viruses that run rampant during the winter season.

3- You feel gross.

4- Overconsumption is not good for the planet.  Why not take a beat between bites, and if you’re not hungry– here’s a novel idea… don’t eat it.     🙂

Now, for the actual list I promised …

Thermogenic foods help to speed up the metabolism, aiding with digestion and calorie burning:

1- Spices;  Foods containing ginger and hot peppers (cayenne, black pepper, chili)  can help you to feel fuller faster.  And the benefits don’t just stop there!  Spiced foods and drinks will keep you toasty when the weather gets a little (Los Angeles) or a lot (New York) nippy.  Check out this recipe for one of my favorite fiery drinks to snuggle up to!

2- Green tea appears again and again on my list of beneficial foods.  The catechins and caffeine in green tea work synergistically to suppress appetite and to speed up the metabolism.  Get it in your life now!

3- Proteins.  Try a handful of organic almonds or walnuts, a cup of lentils, or some yogurt to jump start your metabolism.

4- Whole Grains.  Your body burns twice as many calories when you consume a whole food (ie. brown rice) instead of processed (white rice)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter ‘tea’

1/2″ piece of fresh peeled ginger (scored or minced)

2 cups of purified water

1-2 tsp maple syrup

pinch of cayenne

 

Combine the ginger and water, bring to a boil.

Pour the contents into two mugs.

Add half or one teaspoon of maple syrup and a pinch of cayenne per mug.

Enjoy next to a crackling fireplace with someone you love!  ❤ ❤

10 Easy Tips to Curbing Food Waste

According to the National Resources Defense Center (NRDC), a whopping 40% of food produced in the U.S. never gets eaten!   (Yes, I watched that episode of John Oliver).  And yet we continue to hear that we need GMO crops to feed an ever-growing population.  Something just isn’t adding up here!

Try getting involved with a local food rescue to help prevent food waste the smart way.

On an individual level, here’s what each of us can do to make a difference:

1- Buy fresh produce and perishables frequently and in small quantities.

2- Freeze what you don’t need for later use.  (Most foods are freezer-friendly).

3- Ask your server if they carry half-sized portions.  Oftentimes, you won’t see this on the menu when the option does exist.  If the answer is ‘no’, then ask for a to-go container and finish every last bite when you get those munchies later (and recycle that container, if it’s salvageable)!

4- Grow your own vegetables and fruit.  Pick what you need, then donate, sell, or compost (to a local farmer’s market) what you don’t.

5- Don’t fear ugly produce.  Lettuce should still be green, but if it doesn’t look perfect or is the last one of its kind on the shelf– JUST EAT IT!

6- A lot of people may disagree with me on this one, but I stand firm!  Feed a hungry animal.  Birds, coyotes, deer, and other animals are increasingly being displaced due to drought and habitat loss.  Drop off some leftover roast, turkey (coyotes), seeds (birds), nuts and fruits (deer) where you know they might find them.  Our survival depends on their survival.  ❤ ❤

7- If you know you’re not going to need that ketchup, that side of bread or saltines, or will only be able to finish half of that glass of water… why not ask your server at the outset to downsize the order.  If you still get a full sized glass of water, use it to water something with.  I have been known to sneak out of a restaurant, with glass in hand to water anything green that’s growing out of the ground!

8- Eat more vegetables/ Eat less meat.  Meat is the most “expensive” food item we could consume because it takes so much energy to produce.  Its production contributes significantly to climate change, while a plant-based diet has been linked to increased health and longevity.  Sounds like a win-win to me!

9- Do you really need to go in for seconds?  Sure, it’s nice every now and then to treat yourself… but it’s important to note that calorie restriction has been linked to increased longevity.  If skipping a meal every now and then might add some years to my life, and life to my years… turning my nose up at that second slice of pumpkin pie sure comes a lot easier!

10- Vegetables a little wilted?  Fruit a little too ripe?  Sounds like the perfect makings of a good hearty soup, stew, or omelet… or how about some homemade jam or fruit popsicles?  Oh yeahhh, baby!!

Demand deforestation-free groceries

The bad news first: Tropical deforestation accounts for about 10% of the world’s global warming emissions, and contributes to habitat loss and species extinction.

The good news:  The demand for palm oil (found under different names in so many food and non-food items) is expected to double by the year 2020.  If grown on degraded, mineral rich (instead of forested peat) land, it CAN be a sustainable product.

Please don’t waste another minute to sign this petition to help save our tropical forests and protect our planet.

(Consuming a little less on an individual level never hurts, either).

Thank you for taking the two minute challenge to be the change you wish to see in the world!

 

Speak up for bottlenose dolphins

These sensitive, intelligent, altruistic creatures need our help.  Though protected in U.S. waters by the Marine Mammal Protection Act… recently, two bottle-nosed dolphins washed ashore in San Diego after the U.S. Navy, according to the Center for Biological Diversity “failed to consider restricting military exercises using sonar and explosives in biologically important areas of the Pacific Ocean”.

Please click below to add your name to this petition (‘Stop Unnecessary deaths & Injures of Dolphins & Whales’) by clicking the link below:

http://earthjustice.org/action

5 Daily Routines that can be made a meditation

With everyone so short on time, it can sometimes be tough to justify sitting down 20 minutes or more at a time just to, well, sit.   If you can find the time, however, it is life-changing.  When you’ve consistently been meditating for awhile, you discover that it is more than “just sitting”.  You learn to pause and see the depth in everyday life situations before reacting– if you choose to react at all.

Laura Day, who wrote the brilliant book ‘The Circle’, likes to say that meditation should be taught in everyday situations because it’s easy to meditate on the top of a mountain surrounded by nature, but the real challenge is applying those tools in rush-hour traffic.  I recommend trying both.  Whenever time allows, sitting in a quiet darkened room can be hugely restorative and you will naturally carry this relaxed feeling throughout your day when the meditation is over.   When that isn’t possible, there are opportunities to turn these everyday routines into meditations in and of themselves:

1- Food and Drink:  Sit down to a meal away from distraction, even if only for 10 minutes.  Step away from what you are doing and have a hot cup of tea.  Drink it intentionally… really tasting each sip, and feeling the steam warm your face.

2- Hold the phone:  When we’re trying to resolve an issue, those customer service center holds can be brutal.  Try turning the volume down on your phone, and take deep some deep breaths; imagine the outcome you want (a quick resolution to your phone call, and a friendly exchange with a probably overworked human being).

3- Driving: When you’re stuck on the road in bumper-to-bumper traffic, turn on some classical music and take some deep inhales and exhales.  You won’t be going anywhere for awhile… so why not turn your car into a moving meditation studio.  (Carry an herbal mist with your favorite oils, and spray lightly inside your car to make the experience extra special.  I love the Rupa Mist Collection from the Chopra Center).

4- Cooking:  Turn on some relaxing music, and instead of speeding through the process, really draw your attention to the tasks at hand.  Make your diced carrots especially pretty, and pause to notice their beautiful vibrant color, for instance.  Express your silent gratitude for the work that went into bringing that food from farm to your table.

5- Sleep:  Just before sleep, try taking ‘inventory’ of all your body parts.  Start from your toes, pay attention… are they feeling chilly?  Feel the  weight of the blanket over them.  Keep going like this until you’ve reached the crown of your head.  (Though you may be asleep before that happens, and that’s perfectly OK too)!

 

TOP 6 WAYS TO KEEP HEALTHY THIS WINTER

1- Warm lemon water– Taken on an empty stomach in the mornings, the vitamin C in lemon juice has a detoxifying effect. According to Ayurveda, warm water helps to keep the digestive fire burning—that’s a good thing. A warm drink can also be comforting after you’ve left your toasty bed!
2- Zinc lozenges or syrup, when taken at the first sign of a cold, can help reduce the length and severity of a cold. It’s good to keep them handy, and take only when needed.
3- Oscillococcinum (OSC) is a homeopathic remedy containing highly diluted extract of Muscovy duck liver and heart. Homeopathy, like vaccines, is founded on the concept of ‘like cures like’. In this instance, a virus is infinitesimally diluted to cure or prevent the flu. A small clinical study has shown OSC to significantly reduce or halt flu-like symptoms when compared to placebo. Best of all, it is totally safe and doesn’t interact with other medications.
4- Garlic– Chopped or crushed, the allicin in a fresh clove of garlic will keep viruses away. It will also keep most people away, so take your garlic when you don’t have to breathe on or near anyone who doesn’t already love you! Note: Eating a raw apple or drinking green tea might help with the breath—try it, and share below in the comments section!
5- Chinese Five Spice– The Star Anise found in this dee-licious blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns is the active ingredient in the flu medicine Tamiflu, used in the treatment and prevention of flu viruses A and B. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Tamiflu as one of the most important medicines needed in a basic healthcare system.
6- Wash your hands– Last, but definitely not least… scrub your hands clean to prevent viruses from spreading in the first place! Here’s a quick how-to: http://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/

The Anti-Cancer Estrogen

2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME), is a potent anti-carcinogenic metabolite of estradiol made in the liver. Green veggies, citrus fruits, nuts, and supplements like SAMe, MSM, B12 (methyl form) and methylfolate will give your body the raw materials it needs to make its own.

Studies have shown 2-ME to be a promising anti-cancer agent in cancers of the breast and prostate.