Two components of marijuana have different effects on symptoms of psychosis. Delta-9 tetrahydocannabinol (THC) causes hallucinations and, in high enough doses, can cause temporary psychotic experiences, even in healthy people. Another chemical, cannabidiol (CBD), has anti-psychotic effects. Scientists hope to replicate the antipsychotic effects of CBD without triggering the risks of THC. – Ilene
Since the days of Reefer Madness, scientists have sought to understand the complex connection between marijuana and psychosis. Cannabis can cause short-term psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations and paranoia, even in healthy people, but researchers have also long noted a link between marijuana use and the chronic psychotic disorder, schizophrenia.
Repeatedly, studies have found that people with schizophrenia are about twice as likely to smoke pot as those who are unaffected. Conversely, data suggest that those who smoke cannabis are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as nonsmokers. One widely publicized 2007 review of the research even concluded that trying marijuana just once was associated with a 40% increase in risk of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
But here’s the conundrum: while marijuana went from being a secret shared by a small community of hepcats and beatniks in the 1940s and ’50s to a rite of passage for some 70% of youth by the turn of the century, rates of schizophrenia in the U.S. have remained flat, or possibly declined. For as long as it has been tracked, schizophrenia has been found to affect about 1% of the population.
One explanation may be that the two factors are coincidental, not causal: perhaps people who have a genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia also happen to especially enjoy marijuana. Still, some studies suggest that smoking pot can actually trigger the disease earlier in individuals who are predisposed, and yet researchers still aren’t seeing increases in the overall schizophrenia rate or decreases in the average age of onset.
In recent months, new research has explored some of these issues. One study led by Dr. Serge Sevy, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, looked at 100 patients between the ages of 16 and 40 with schizophrenia, half of whom smoked marijuana. Sevy and colleagues found that among the marijuana users, 75% had…
Will the Bear Market End the "War on Drugs"?
Marijuana legalization has come a long way (in a short time), baby
By Robert Folsom, courtesy of Elliott Wave International
In 1996 California voters approved Proposition 215, which extended legal protection to doctors who recommend and patients who use marijuana for medical reasons. This inspired the "medical marijuana" movement, though it made only sporadic progress in the decade that followed. Beyond a few mostly Western states, the movement found meager legislative support.
Until around 2007, that is.
In 2007 and 2008, legislatures in 27 states considered bills related to marijuana — each one sought to relax or eliminate the current penalties for use and/or possession in those states. The trend continued into 2009 and 2010. This past March saw the most far-reaching legislative proposal yet, again in California: the state legislature will vote on a bill to allow adults over 21 to personally possess and cultivate marijuana. It would also implement a regulatory regime that taxes pot sales by licensed vendors.
The trend itself may not be news to you, even if you don’t know all the particulars. This past January, an ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 81% of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana (up from 69% in 1997). The same survey found 46% support "legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use" (up from 22% in 1997).
Still, you may not have gotten the memo about this past Tuesday (April 20) and the event known as 4/20, aka "Pot Day." Participants made a public show indeed of how much this day means to them: behold the crowd gathered for the occasion on the campus of the University of Colorado.
Yes, that cloud is exactly what you think it is.
This apparent willingness toward tolerance and use also extends to controlled substances which create clouds only a user might see. Earlier this month The New York Times reported the experience of a retired clinical psychologist who was deeply depressed while going through treatments for kidney cancer:
"Nothing had any lasting effect until, at the age of 65, he had his first psychedelic experience. He left his home in Vancouver, Wash., to take part in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school
…Yet even politicians inclined to support a treatment-oriented approach to diminishing the American appetite for illegal drugs have opted to emphasize enforcement in order to position themselves as "tough" on crime.
For just this reason, President Clinton replaced his first, reform-minded drug czar, Lee Brown, with retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who squandered billions on a scandal-ridden media campaign (planting secret anti-drug messages in prime-time TV dramas) and combating the medical marijuana movement, which is supported by a majority of Americans. Worse yet, overseas enforcement campaigns lead to horrific blowback. Grim points out that aggressive attacks on growers and suppliers cause centralization of the drug trade (only big organizations can afford the losses) and this in turn leads to corruption, as cartel leaders parlay their fortunes into political influence. Not only are we pissing away our own resources on ineffectual enforcement efforts, we have "brought the Mexican government to the brink of collapse, making the prospect of a failed state on America’s southern border a very real possibility."
For Grim, most of these mistakes have roots in an elementary error, the inability to accept that "altering one’s consciousness is a fundamental human desire." The craving to be more relaxed or more alert, more outgoing or more reflective, happier or deeper or even just sillier and less bored — in one form other another, this drive has always been and always will be with us, though many of us refuse to admit it. As a result, our political response to drug problems tends to be blinkered. "In reality, there’s no such thing as drug policy," Grim writes. "As currently understood and implemented, drug policy attempts to isolate a phenomenon that can’t be taken in isolation. Economic policy is drug policy. Healthcare policy is drug policy. Foreign policy, too, is drug policy. When approached in isolation, drug policy almost always backfires, because it doesn’t take into account the powerful economic, social and cultural forces that also determine how and why Americans get high."
Bankrupt states have finally found a a way out of their budget deficits: Taxes on legalized pot.
In certain western states, at least, the public supports the move.
WSJ: [A] national marijuana-legalization movement…has lately been emboldened by several factors, including laws allowing marijuana for medical purposes.
The recession may be another reason. With many states suffering big budget deficits, for instance, legalization advocates say the states could benefit from new taxes on the sale of marijuana. In addition, the Obama administration appears to have taken a more-mellow attitude on medical marijuana as societal views about the drug evolve. In a poll last week of 500 adults in Washington state by SurveyUSA, 56% of respondents said legalizing marijuana is a good idea.
"We’re beyond a tipping point culturally," said Roger Goodman, a Democrat representing Kirkland, Wash., and other Seattle suburbs in the Washington legislature who co-authored the legalization bill, known as HB 2401. "Now we’re at a point where we’re figuring out the safest way to end prohibition."
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:
1. We have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average. In part, that’s because the number of people in prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000 today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same as that of other countries.
2. We have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone, from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against tobacco.
3. We have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment.
It’s now broadly acknowledged that the drug war approach has failed.
MP: Note the "War on Drugs" is actually a war against generally peaceful American citizens who decide to buy, sell or ingest drugs that are somewhat arbitrarily considered to be illegal by government officials, e.g. cannabis sativa, an annual, dioecious flowering herb that grows naturally all over the world.
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There is a fairly regular pattern to how the market behaves during what is called the "four-year election cycle." Typically, we get a peak in the spring, a bottom in late summer, and then a strong rally into the pre-election year:
We more or less had that pattern in 2010-2011, where we peaked in the spring, bottomed in the summer, and then rallied into the middle of the pre-election year (2011):
Having expressed her perspective of Russia Today's "whitewashed" coverage of Putin's invasion of Russia, Liz Wahl resigned live on air yesterday. This came on the heels of her colleague Abby Martin's recent comments voicing here disagreements with Russian policies on the same state-funded network. Russia Today has responded... "When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor...But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt."
There was so many good things to read this past week that it was hard to narrow it down to a topic group. After a brief respite early this year, the markets are hitting new highs confirming the current bullish trend. As a money manager, this requires me to increase equity exposure back to full target weightings. After such an extended run in the markets, this seems somewhat counter-intuitive. It is, but as Bill Clinton once famously stated; "What is....is." [I think Clinton said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." The intitial part of the sentence being important and further distinguishing the meaning from the all too commonly spoken "It is what it is." ~ Ilene]
The Global X Social Media Index ETF (Ticker: SOCL) touched fresh record highs on Thursday morning, surprising no one given the top three holdings of the Fund are Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings (12.678%), Facebook Inc. (12.506%) and LinkedIn Corp. (8.166%), which are up 130%, 160% and 22%, respectively, since this time last year. The SOCL reflects the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing and other web-based media applications. Shares in the ETF rose 1.3% today to a new high of $23.00, and have soared approximately 65% since this time last year.
Today brought three better than expected economic releases from Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing, and Personal Income. The ISM figure was quite unexpected and Personal Income was well above expectations. If we ignore for a moment that the Final GDP reading for Q4 was lowered on Friday (which may or may not have been primarily caused by severe weather), we have had a week of better than expected economic numbers. Corporate earnings have also continued to exceed forecasts, albeit with a bit more cautious guidance.
Of course, none of that matters when the “war drums” start beating. Russia and the Ukraine are engaged in a serious game of “chicken” with a bear in the hen house. The Russian ruble has borne the brunt of the damage so far with a double digit drop today again...
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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