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Honoring the Legacy of Michigan Advocate Zahra Abbas

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The cannabis community suffers great losses in the passing of its community members, but today it is with great regret that we report the passing of Michigan cannabis advocate and political activist, Zahra Abbas, who was 35 years old.

The Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party for which she held the position of Chair announced her passing on July 28. “Without Zahra the Cannabis Caucus would not be what it is today and the world is a lonelier place without her presence,” the Caucus wrote online. “Our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We know she touched many all across this great state and beyond.”

Abbas was a prominent figure advocating for cannabis as a patient herself, and sought to spread the word about cannabis and its medical benefits. “Zahra was dedicated to teaching the world about the health benefits of cannabis and helping lead the progressive movement action to remedy the catastrophic consequences of the war on drugs,” the post continued. “Zahra was frequently failed by our healthcare system and cannabis prohibition that would at times deny her the only medicine that could bring her seizures under control.”

Detroit’s Metro Times reported on Zahra’s passing, describing an interview they conducted with her in 2017. At the time, she suffered from daily seizures that were not solved through brain surgery or prescription medication—but cannabis was a game changer for her.

“As soon as I started it, within a few days my seizures stopped,” Abbas told Metro Times in 2017. “Before I started looking into it for epilepsy I was very much against marijuana because there was so much misinformation around it. It came to the choice between using that and having another brain surgery to control my seizures. … Turning to cannabis was kind of my last resort.”

She volunteered to gather signatures for the legalization ballot that appeared before voters in 2018, in hopes that others could utilize cannabis just as she did. “I’m doing this because I think more people should have access to cannabis because it helps all people,” she told Metro Times. “It should be everybody’s right to use it,” she added.

But her journey into the cannabis industry had only just begun. Her advocacy grew, and she later became Vice Chair and, later, Chair of the Cannabis Caucus, and also Vice president of the Detroit chapter of Motor City NORML. She had an instrumental role in commuting the sentence of Michael Thompson, a man convicted of a cannabis crime who had survived 60 years in prison.

Fellow advocate Jamie Lowell told Metro Times that at one point, Abbas had to quit cannabis in order to pass a drug test for a new job, but her seizures returned. “She soon had a major seizure and vowed to not quit again for anything,” Lowell said. “After resuming, she was again seizure-free. This was her powerful and amazing testimony.”

Speakers at a rally featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders, which was held in Pontiac, Michigan on July 29, took a moment to honor Abbas’s memory. Rep. Rashida Tlaib called Abbas “an incredible warrior.” “Her heart was full of love for community, and there wasn’t a cause that she did not take on … 100%,” Tlaib said. “She was one of our biggest advocates for health care and access to alternative approaches, including cannabis … and she never gave up the fight. She will be sorely missed. I know that she is with us today.”

Also present was Dr. Abdul El-Sayeda who previously ran for Michigan governor in 2018, whose spoke about Abbas’s selfless dedication to the cause. “She took her pain and she used it to bring people together, to fight for all of the things that she herself was denied, recognizing that it could have been anyone else,” El-Sayeda said. “She took that pain and decided to make the world that much better.”

“Zahra didn’t have very much time, but Zahra put all of herself into the time she had,” he added.



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Adults who use cannabis daily do not perceive smoking as harmful, study finds

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Questions abound about what impact legalization will have on adult and youth health.

A new study led by Dr. Renee Goodwin, Professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), shows that increased cigarette use is one possibility. While cigarette use has been declining for decades in the U.S., a new study finds that adults who use cannabis daily do not perceive smoking a pack a day as being as harmful as those who do not use cannabis in the U.S. In the context of recent findings that perception of risk plays a key role in predicting substance use, and that perception of risk associated with cannabis use has declined steadily along with legalization, these findings were somewhat of a surprise.

The researchers used data from adults age 18 and older in the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a representative survey of U.S. individuals. Participants’ responses to a question asking how much people risk harming themselves physically and in other ways by smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day were compared between those who use cannabis daily and those who did not use cannabis in the past year. Sixty-two percent of adults who use cannabis daily perceived pack a day cigarette use to be of “great” risk to health, compared with 73% of those who did not use cannabis in the past year.

“Tobacco control has done a tremendous job in public education on the physical health risks associated with tobacco use, and cigarette smoking in particular, over the past several decades,” says Goodwin, also an adjunct professor at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Her prior work shows that cigarette use, however, is much more common among those who use cannabis and findings suggesting that cannabis legalization may lead to increases in cannabis use and cannabis-cigarette co-use among adults.

Dr. Goodwin discussed her work, and in particular that of Canadian colleagues, at a recent public hearing for a law that would ban cannabis packaging that appeals to children in New York’s Suffolk County. Findings from recent studies in Canada, where cannabis is legal on a federal level, show increases in adult cannabis use but as of the most recent study in 2022, no significant increases in cannabis use among adolescents.

“The data suggests that plain packaging is one measure that can maximize the safe and effective rollout of cannabis legalization that ensures and protects the health, safety and wellbeing of all members of our community,” Goodwin said. “Prohibiting product packaging that mimics foods and candies that are traditionally marketed to children may reduce potential unintended harms to the most vulnerable members of our community via accidental ingestion/poisonings, which have exploded in number in recent years in the U.S., and child and adolescent intentional use of these products.”

Source: News-Medical.net

Journal reference:

Goodwin, R.D., et al. (2022) Everything old is new again: Creating and maintaining a population-level ‘shared reality’ of health risks associated with cigarette use toward both reducing the prevalence and eliminating disparities in cigarette use among all Americans. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntac177.

Image: Pexels



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Chris Webber Launches New Strains With ‘Players Only’

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NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber announced the launch of his cannabis brand Players Only with his business partner, Lavetta Willis—and he’s bringing several familiar faces along for the ride including Quavo, Raekwon, Royce da 5’9″, Matt Barnes, and Jason Williams.

The new all-star brand was first announced on August 11. Players Only will feature an array of strains, cannabis oil cartridges, pre-rolls, vapes, as well as sport recovery and performance products. Players Only will also roll out branded apparel and footwear.

Last March, TerrAscend secured exclusive retail rights for Players Only products in Michigan through the acquisition of Gage Growth Corp, securing the way for the brand to drop.

“Players Only is more than a cannabis brand—it’s a lifestyle brand,” Webber said. “We truly have a unique opportunity to change the narrative around cannabis, empower rising entrepreneurs and set a new standard in this growing industry. We’re thrilled to launch our versatile offerings and begin the process of creating meaningful economic change in communities across Michigan. Shout out to TerrAscend and Gage—our Michigan family. Much love to Cookies and Berner, let’s go!”

In October of last year, Webber unveiled a cannabis facility in Detroit complete with a cultivation facility, dispensary, and private consumption lounge. The 180,000 square foot Players Only facility was named the Webber Wellness Compound.

The first strains to roll out include C4, Time Out, and G.O.A.T.’s Milk, as well as Non-Laters and Whipped Cherries. Later on, the brand will roll out additional strains including Blueberry Hotcakes and Ray Jackson’s Black Sox within weeks. While C4 can give off a hashy, Afghani-like appeal, G.O.A.T.’s Milk leans more sativa with a balanced amount of THC and CBD, according to reviewers. Whipped Cherries, on the other hand, tastes exactly how you’d expect it to.

“We have been working with legacy cultivators and operators seeking to establish their place in the regulated market for quite some time,” said Lavetta Willis, co-founder and President of Players Only. “The opportunity to incorporate legacy strains and expertise into the Players Only platform and menu furthers our goal of uplifting black entrepreneurs who have been building brands and intellectual properties for decades.”

The brand also announced a partnership with Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan to launch Compliments of the Chef and his partnership with Citizen Grown. Another collaboration involves Hassim Robinson and Winner’s Circle Genetics, to bring the PB&J strain as well as Quavo’s BIRKINZ to Michigan’s cannabis market. Detroit’s legacy brand “Lil Stupid” will also launch for the first time in the adult-use market while Detroit’s own Royce da 5’9″ will roll-out his “Heaven” brand as part of an NFT. Webber’s former Sacramento Kings teammate Jason Williams will also unveil the White Chocolate strain.

Webber recently appointed Matt Barnes, former NBA star and teammate, as Chief Collaborations Officer while launching “The Smoke” with his partner and co-host, Stephen Jackson. The offering’s name is a nod to Barnes’ and Jackson’s award-winning SHOWTIME series, “All The Smoke.”

The “All the Smoke” podcast features “the brash and unapologetic NBA champions, delivers authentic, unfiltered perspective on the most polarizing topics in and around the game of basketball, including culture, social justice, politics, music and more.”

Episodes of “All the Smoke” drop each Thursday.

The launch of the brand will kick off with a limited edition brand collaboration with the Players Only x Packwoods 2.5-gram Blunt, which will be available in select stores. Learn more at the Players Only website.





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Cancer sufferer who put cannabis in her food to ease pain fined

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Heather Kennedy, aged 60, who has stage four lung cancer, admitted possessing the drug with intent to supply it and being concerned in the supply of it to her husband and son between December 26, 2020 and March 16, 2021.

Mold Crown Court heard she hadn’t realised that supplying it to members of her family was illegal. A judge gave her a six-month community order.Prosecutor Alexandra Carrier said police conducted a search of Kennedy’s home in Cae Mawr in Llandudno on March 25 last year. The defendant was there with her granddaughter.

Ms Carrier said Kennedy told an officer: “I’ve got cannabis. I’m not going to lie.”Police found snap bags with “Bob Marley” logos in a bag down the side of a sofa. The search continued and the officers discovered cannabis worth a total of £370, along with £205 in cash and two mobile phones.Kennedy told police she had Stage 4 lung cancer and had taken cannabis oil, which became too expensive.

She took cannabis in her food instead, the court heard. She also supplied it to her husband and a son but did not realise she was committing a crime by doing so to members of her family.Sarah Yates, defending, said her client is ill and had been “vulnerable to an extent” but regrets her actions.

She has lost her good name and this is “possibly a lesson well-learned”, she said.Ms Yates added: “It’s safe to say I don’t think we will see her back before this court again.”The judge Her Honour Nicola Saffman noted that, when cannabis oil became prohibitively expensive, the defendant put cannabis in her food to ease the pain from her lung cancer.

But in being in possession of a Class B drug and in supplying members of her family, she had broken the law.She said Kennedy had not realised she had committed her offences and had done so out of “sheer naivety”. She added: “You are a lady of previous positive good character.”She imposed the community order, fined her a nominal sum of £10 and ordered the destruction of the drugs and forfeiture of the cash, which will go towards North Wales Police’s fight against drugs crime.

Source: ITV

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