Jul 18 2009

Medical marijuana and pesticides

Posted by J. Craig Canada in contamination, cultivation, Examiner.com, jane weirick
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Sister Mary Jane - Jane Weirick Carlson
Sister Mary Jane – Jane Weirick Carlson

Sister Jane was one of the pioneers of the Medical Marijuana movement.  She devoted her life to it and it killed her.

In 1995 she was a buyer for The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.  After The Club was raided in 1996 and patients were being robbed and beaten as they returned to the streets to obtain medicine, she started a delivery service in her 1984 Saab (with no reverse) and a donated pager.  It was named Compassion On Wheels and affectionately known as The Holy COW.

Jane had a thing for cows.  Reportedly, the old Saab was full of them when she made her deliveries.  She collected them.  Over the years she accumulated hundreds of them in every shape, size, and form.

Beginning in 1998 she worked with pilots to transport medical marijuana at the Hayward airport.  In 2001 she was co-director of San Francisco’s Patient Resource Center, also known as St. Martin’s Dispensary.  In 2003 she started the Hayward Patients Resource Center.   In 2007 she was named (along with Jeff Yablan)  “Activist of The Decade” by Americans for Safe Access, though a search of their site shows nothing about this, nor anything for “activist of the decade” about anyone.

Remember some years ago when there was a town for auction on EBay in Humboldt County?  It was Jane that made the winning bid on behalf of some of her friends.  The deal fell through when it was discovered all 8 or 9 of the houses were in terrible shape.

As a buyer, and a manager of teams of trimmers and packagers, she handled marijuana all day long every day for a decade.  And that’s what killed her.  Not the marijuana, but pesticides which were both absorbed through her skin and inhaled and, possibly, ingested.  Avid is the prime suspect.

Jane said when she began at the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club in 1995 all the marijuana that she dealt with was grown outdoors.  By 2005 she estimated 75% to 80% of the cannabis sold in Bay Area dispensaries was grown indoors.  Marijuana grown indoors is susceptible to spider-mites.  Avid is used to control spider-mites.

In March of 2005 Fred Gardner published in Counterpunch that Jane said  “five or six” of the vendors she dealt with admitted using Avid, and two admitted using it a lot.  One admitted using it heavily, someone Jane had trusted for years.  She also found out her next-door neighbor was using it on their ornamentals.  It may have soaked into the plaster walls of her house.

About six months before Thanksgiving she had to stop working with marijuana because it was making her sneeze.  She had developed an allergy similar to hay-fever.  Just before Thanksgiving she went to her doctor feeling tired and run down, as if she had the flu.  She had headaches.  She was prescribed hydrocodone.  After two weeks she realized she was addicted to the pain killers and she said it took her 3 days to get off them.  And then she couldn’t walk.

By New Year’s Eve she was in Kaiser Hospital.  The initial diagnosis was a brain tumor and she was given three days of chemotherapy.  Nine neurologists examined her for 29 days testing her for everything, including brain tumors and meningitus.

After a month in the hospital her right side was paralyzed.  She couldn’t talk or move and was given dilaudid intravenously every four hours.  She said she was in total pain.  At that point a friend brought her a joint and she continued to smoke at the hospital and also to eat marijuana in fudge and caramels.  By February 23rd she was able to write her name and left the hospital.

An exact diagnosis was never determined.


About 20 minutes into the segment Jane drives Penn & Teller to a grow.  She appears about a minute later.

One doctor, Dr. Todd Mikuriya, believed it was “presumptive delayed allergic hypersensitivity”.  Mikuriya has been warning of the dangers of pesticide contaminated marijuana since the early 1990s.  There was suspicion that a hormone disruptor was responsible for Jane’s mysterious illness.  One doctor stated that AVID works as a GABA agonist, and that if it were responsible, then treating her with muscle relaxants would have made her worse.

While she went into remission she never recovered and in the end she was on extremely high doses of morphine and steroids.  The probable cause of death was morphine poisoning.

Jane died 25 Oct 2005.

One of her last acts was an attempt to revive the Medical Cannabis Association which she organized in 1998.  On page 35 of the Spring 2005 issue of O’Shaughnessy’s, following the article by Fred Gardner announcing her illness, is found her article Can Trade Group Set Standards for Growers and Dispensaries?

It was hoped that all dispensaries and providers of medical cannabis would be a part of this organization, which would not only insure the safety of the medicine but provide a tool with which to regulate cultivation and distribution in the best interest of the patients.

The hope did not pan out. Most dispensaries exist in a bubble, competing for quality product and patient/members. Their commitment to research and education is nil. The average dispensary staff person has no idea what an appropriate dosage or strain would be for any particular condition, and most patients themselves are unaware of their own preferences.

She envisioned the organization as a method of grading and tracking producers and strains with a simple code such as B0045ROMULANI100S0100904.  This would be on every package in barcode format, easily scannable.  The first character is the safety rating: A, B, or C.  Next the vendor identification, the strain name, the ratio of Indica to Sativa, and the date.  Ideally, a sample from each crop would be sent to a lab and tested for pesticide contamination as well as spectroscopic analysis of the cannabinoid profile.

She hoped to combine this information with feedback from patients and the conditions for which they were using cannabis to create a database that would show what varieties and what dosages are effective for any given condition.

This past March East Bay Express broke the story of the first lab conducting spectroscopic analysis of marijuana.  The lab is the project of Stephen DeAngelo of Harborside Collective in downtown Oakland, said to have 20,000 members and grossing $10 million in 2008.  “For the first time in the 3,000-year history of human cannabis consumption, consumers will be provided a scientific assessment of the safety and potency of products prior to ingesting them,” said DeAngelo.

Backes says “No, you’re wrong,” to L.A. City Attorney Trutanich.

DeAngelo moved West in 2000 to grow medical cannabis after founding and then selling Ecoloution, an industrial hemp company.  He was a charter member of Americans For Safe Access.   This is the same organization that declared Jane Weirick “Activist of the Decade” in 2007, according to Jeff Yablan (formerly a researcher for Medical Marijuana Pro/Con and director of Southern Californians for Compassionate Use).  There was quite a discussion about contaminants and Avid and Sister Jane in ASAs forum during October of 2007.

At last report, DeAngelo’s “Analytical Laboratory Project” was a garage sized facility that runs gas chromatography, flame ionization, and mass spectrometry on marijuana.  At last report they test for mold, THC, CBD, and CBN, but not pesticides.  They added a test for mold “after a friend mentioned problems with contamination in tobacco.”

CBD has anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, anti-oxidant, and neuroprotective properties. It also has a direct inhibitory effect on certain cancer cells and reduces the anxiety produced by THC as well as moderating its psychoative properties.  CBN is a breakdown product of THC and is therefore an indication of time in storage.

Since the percentage of CBD and CBN almost always rounds off to zero, this means the patient gets to know the percentage of THC in their medicine and that its free of aspergillus.  DeAngelo said they plan to add tests for pesticides and terpenes.

In the 13/15 Mar 2009 issue of Counterpunch, Fred Gardner announced that DeAngelo’s lab had found two strains of cannabis with 4.2% and 5% CBD.

For more info:
Cannabidiol Now! – Counterpunch | 13/15 Mar 09
Is Cutting-Edge Marijuana Lab the Future of Legitimate Pot – Alternet | 5 Mar 09
The Manhattan Project of Marijuana – East Bay Express | 4 Mar 09
Jane Weirick – DARE Generation Diary | 16 Dec 2005
Death of an Organizer – Counterpunch | 29/30 Oct 05
Pot Clubs’ Concerns Closer to Home – ABC News | 8 Jun 2005
Cannabis Trimmer Attributes Illness to Pesticide Exposure – O’Shaughnessy’s | Spring 2005
Can Trade Group Set Standards For Growers and Dispensaries – O’Shaughnessy’s | Spring 2005
Pesticides Made Her Sick; Herb Got Her Well – Counterpunch | 12/13 Mar 05
Pesticide Use Illegal on Pot – Civil Liberties Monitoring Project | Spring 2005
Fighting To Heal – Cannabis Culture | 30 Apr 2001
City’s pot clubs live on; Keeping a lower profile, but in plain view of the police – San Francisco Examiner | 13 Jun 1999
Budfairy – A Tribute and Memorial

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