Hotbox the lab

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Can you update us on some of the latest developments in the world of medical-cannabis research?

—Wanda Wellness

Yes, I can! A new study by Israel’s Meir Medical Center has found that inhaled cannabis is very effective for people with Crohn’s disease. The study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, gave 11 people two joints per day for eight weeks. They also gave 10 other people placebo doobies. Out of the 11 people on the real weed, five of them saw their Crohn’s disease go into complete remission, with the others reporting that their symptoms had been cut in half. All patients reported increased appetite and better sleep, with no adverse side effects.

Over at the Kaiser Permanente labs, a just-completed study has shown that cannabis users have a lower chance of bladder cancer when compared to cigarette smokers or people that use cannabis and tobacco. The study tracked 83,000 men aged 45 to 69 over 11 years. The men that only smoked weed had a 45 percent lower rate of bladder cancer. The men that smoked only tobacco had a 52 percent higher rate.

We can add these two studies to what we already know about cannabis: It helps people with arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and it kills cancer cells. Not bad for a plant you can grow in your backyard.

It is still exceedingly difficult to study the medical benefits of cannabis in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration has cannabis designated as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medicinal or beneficial properties at all and is more dangerous than cocaine, but just as bad as heroin. And while it is possible to get approval to run tests, it is virtually impossible to get any cannabis from the U.S. government’s marijuana farm in Mississippi. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is in charge of the farm, and it hates it when all these studies show that dank is beneficial because prohibition, pot is bad, think of the children, blah, blah, blah.

What’s up with this whole “40 years in jail” thing if you own a pot club?


The threat is real. It hasn’t happened yet, but the DEA loves to threaten landlords.

On May 2, it sent one of its infamous evict-the-cannabis-club-from-your-property-or-we-will-confiscate-your-building-and-throw-you-in-jail letters to the landlord of the Berkeley Patients Group. BPG had shut down in 2012 after the most recent fed crackdown on medical-marijuana clubs. BPG found a spot at least 1,000 feet from any “sensitive use” areas (schools, playgrounds, etc.) and reopened. Apparently, that isn’t enough for Department of Justice prosecutor Melinda Haag, as she has continued to go after one of the best dispensaries in the country. The BPG does everything right, has the support of the Berkeley City Council, and still gets harassed by the DEA and DOJ. We need to make changes in federal law so this sort of thing stops happening.