The Last American Vagabond
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Cannabis Use Reduces Grey Matter in the Brain
But Increases Connectivity

Once again the internet is flush with a new batch of cannabis naysayers choosing to report a skewed version of a new study. The findings are interesting and have both good and bad results. As always, The Last American Vagabond is here to report the truth, whatever that may be; sprinkled with opinion and perspective, but the facts remain the facts. The information always included in full so each reader can form an educated opinion as opposed to regurgitating half truths. That is the defining difference between a journalist and a sensationalist. 

A recent study, which compared 48 users with 62 “control” subjects who never smoked, found that the brain of a marijuana smoker had “higher functional and structural connectivity” but had a reduced amount of grey matter. The white matter compensates for the damage with the increased neuron connectivity. White matter is responsible for transmission of signals, thus affecting how the brain functions. In other words, regular cannabis use shrinks the brain but increases the complexity of its wiring improving brain function. 

The greatest increase in connectivity occurred as an individual first began to use cannabis. After six to eight years of continually use the increases in structural wiring declined, but users continued to display higher connectivity than non-users overall. This could be perceived as an example of how cannabis improves brain function rather than harming it. Anything in excess can harm the body. However, it is becoming an increasingly popular belief as studies like this one rise in practice, that marijuana use in any form and in moderation, doesn't harm the body, but rather benefits the user. 

The study examined the effects of extended cannabis use by considering brain images as a first step on drug’s long-term impact, said Dr. Sina Aslan, co-leader of the research from the University of Texas, Dallas where studies were carried with three magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to check the brain. 

To obtain such abnormalities on a detectable level (as participants demonstrated on average) one has to consume cannabis about three times per day, which is above average. The term ‘chronic user’ is applied to usage of at least four times per week. There is a large disparity between what the government considers to be a ‘chronic user’ and the amount of use needed to cause these test results. The researchers who conducted the study speculate that the orbital frontal cortex's greater level of “connectedness" which is especially pronounced in people who started smoking pot early in life, may be the brain's way of offsetting the reduced grey matter. Grey matter contains most of the brain's neuronal cell bodies. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. 

Even now, however, the authors of the study acknowledge that they cannot discern whether a pot smoker's smaller orbital frontal cortex is the cause or the result of chronic marijuana use. A 2012 study found that subjects with a smaller orbital frontal cortex at age 12 were more likely to start using marijuana by age 16, suggesting that deficits in this crucial region may predispose one to substance-abuse behaviors. 

This topic has always been one of passion and personal beliefs. As it becomes seen as more of a political pillar and matter of financial possibility, the public will see many more studies to come. Only time will reveal the reality of long term effects as the stigma is removed and laws begin to change. Is the brain of a marijuana smoker smaller due to abuse of the substance? Or are certain people predisposed to be cannabis smokers due to a smaller orbital frontal cortex? One may never know. The real question that must be asked is: Should this be the debate of anyone other than the user themselves?


Ryan Cristian
Posted November 11, 2014
Marijuana Freedom Trail Recap
Day 3, 4 & 5



“I am perplexed, as to why there’s even a debate. Cannabis does have medical value.” 


Marijuana Freedom Trial Recap
Day 1 & 2

"It's earth-shattering to even have this hearing"

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The Real Story Behind Marijuana Opposition

Posted November 4, 2014

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” 
-Albert Einstein

One would be hard pressed to find a person not jaded by the American political system. Lies and deception accepted as “part of the process” as if to imply that it is outside the politician’s control, and each is simply playing the game. Major news conglomerates stating contradictory “facts” about very important issues. What is one to believe? It is as if the country has given up on trying to fix a broken system and become satisfied with choosing the lesser of two evils. As the public opinion begins to shift in favor of marijuana legalization many who once cried out, “Think of the children!” are now saying the exact same statement but fighting for the other side. Many are beginning to see what hemp and cannabis can truly do for the individual and for the country. It is important to differentiate between smoking cannabis, and using essential CBD oils (which do not get you high) to treat an illness. Many within the opposition want the uninformed to think the battle is over the right to smoke and get high. That aspect is a part of the debate, constitutional rights and all, but the least important of what is being fought for. 

Currently the United States is divided on the issue of cannabis. Despite leading medical organizations that produce documented proof... 

Marijuana on Trial for Freedom

The Hearing of Cannabis and the Schedule One Placement

Posted October 23, 2014

On the 27th of October a hearing will be held in California to determine whether cannabis should remain on the schedule one substance restricted list. Information will come to light that many have known since the substance was inducted: the classification of cannabis as a schedule one substance is unjustified, and that it has remained as such in the face of known and ignored facts, is unconstitutional at best. 

Since the beginning of the war on drugs, this now disillusioned government has intentionally manipulated the public’s view of cannabis to protect the personal interests that were being threatened. Many would rather believe that topics such as this are the product of conspiracy theorists and anti-Americans. However, this is the unfortunate truth and all one has to do, is a very mild amount of research to come to the same conclusion. Originally, it was the timber industry that was threatened by the rising hemp capabilities that scared key political families into a massive cannabis slander campaign. Whether one believes the catalyst to be a specific individual or group, the ongoing effort to keep hemp and cannabis misunderstood is the true evil. Today it is still a very real threat to the timber industry, but the larger multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry has the most to fear when it comes to what cannabis could, and will, render obsolete...




Could Cannabis be the Answer
to the Ebola Pandemic?

Posted October 22, 2014

Epidemic: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time

Pandemic: an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents

This is no longer a distant problem. The shocking reality of this visceral and deadly disease, long ago crossed the ocean and is now being downplayed at an alarming rate. This “so-called” epidemic has spread through a total of 8 countries, with 9,763 contracted cases and a total of 4,853 deaths with a current case fatality rate of a shocking 71%. No matter how one chooses to read these numbers the outcome is the same: Pandemic. This country continues to act as if this problem is not serious, or at least not serious for Americans. With five cases already contracted within the U.S. it is beginning to become clear that an outbreak of this magnitude, in any country, is every country’s problem. 

This topic feels like some sort of surreal blockbuster movie plot line or the beginning of a zombie novel that heralds the coming of the end. This is not that far from the truth. However, the American people should have absolute faith that this country has every ability to combat this impending disaster. What should upset many and more is the fact that the overall seriousness of the issue is being dramatically downplayed...


Posted October 19, 2014

Imagine
a young child lying awake consumed with pain. Seizers that clench the teeth, headaches that shut the world out. Reaching for a loved one, someone, anyone to make the pain stop. Just when it seems to be over the muscle spasms reminding that conditions like these do not end, but seem to intensify with time. This is what Trey Brown has endured for many years. Until his mother, who could no longer stand by and watch her only son’s life be devoured by pain, decided to do what she knew was right.

After a baseball injury several years ago, in which Trey suffered a traumatic brain injury, he has continually suffered from many debilitating ailments including: headaches, muscle spasms and seizures. It got to the point where Trey was so unhappy, in such constant pain, that he began punching and cutting himself. 

 "He was in so much pain that he didn't want to live, no parent can understand it until they have to sit in their child's bed and hold them down so they don't hurt themselves or they have to sit beside them because they hurt so much that they can't handle your touch," Angela told Huffington Post

Trey’s mother Angela made the decision..

Cannabis Seeds

Posted October 10, 2014

A young girl was suspended for half of the 2014 school year due to some writings discovered inside her personal journal. Now despite the cannabis related topics that were the catalyst of the suspension, the fact that her personal journal was open to reproach by the school district should not sit well with those aware of American’s slowly diminishing first amendment rights. Even though she is a child, there must be some justified reason or concern to breach ones personal information, minor or not. This was not the case. 

Krystal had left her journal at school by accident and had thought it lost. It was discovered by school officials who then made the unilateral decision to investigate the personal contents within. This is where multiple accounts of marijuana use and discussion where found. Krystal was originally placed on a 10 day suspension and later told that she was out for the rest of the year. Until now, she had been a model student and never found herself in any trouble. Due to this suspension her grades plummeted and she lost out on credits needed for graduation. Krystal’s father, Tom Grayhorse, was understandably outraged. Later that outrage turned into hostility when he discovered that her disciplinary papers indicated that she had been suspended for "possession of a controlled substance," even though she was guilty of nothing more than expressing her written interest in one of the largest political topics of today...

Marijuana Refugees

April 22, 2014

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” -
Martin Luther King Jr
.

In every society, each citizen will eventually come to a crossroad in which a choice must be made. It is a choice that will not only define the society, but ultimately, define the individual. It is an age old battle between right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral. After all, every person involved in creating the many different laws that Americans must adhere to, are only human. Meaning, that each is susceptible to greed and all the many different forms of treachery that could potentially alter ones ability to clearly and morally strike laws into place. 

Today, this defining moment is happening for us all. With the new poll showing that 74 percent of Americans believe that marijuana has real medical benefits and will soon be completely legalized, most are beginning to feel a bit morally wrong about continuing to look the other way as our government profits off the overwhelmingly high percentage of nonviolent marijuana arrests. As of January 2014, over 25 percent of the federal prison population was incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses. An overwhelming 50 percent of that total population was arrested for Drug related crimes. The federal prison population has increased by almost 790 percent since 1980. In a country where fifty percent of the federal prison population is incarcerated due to laws that the vast majority are speaking out against, it is the right as well...

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“Marijuana Kills”
Posted March 1, 2014

“The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.” - Cheryl Hughes

At one point in this nation’s history journalism was an honorable and respected craft. It embodied a sense of duty to the people, a dedication to the freedom of information and the people’s right to the truth. It was carried out by men of honor, men who were revered. As always there will be some who choose to go against the grain and act out of desire and greed, but today the American people are seeing a complete loss of accountability within their trusted media. 

Today one would be hard pressed to find a main stream media source that isn’t sponsored or completely backed by a corporate or private source. The problem being, that these financial sources have very specific agendas and would go as far as to broadcast information that was knowingly untrue to suit their needsThe facts and the truth are a secondary concern. With the addition of the internet to that equation, the idea of today’s media is intermingled with countless news outlets that can wildly claim unsubstantiated facts with no fear of reprisal. Yet, many Americans will still read, believe and repost those very same articles nonetheless. So the sad truth is that most of the country is being mislead about what is actually happening.  


Obama Administration Dances Around Marijuana Legalization

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell

Americans shared a combination of shock and exuberance when President Obama made his recent statement to The New Yorker in regard to alcohol being more dangerous than marijuana. This raised many questions as well as a call to action that was clearly heard by those waiting for the right moment. In February, 18 members of Congress went as far as to send Obama a formal letter indicating their strong desire to reevaluate how the federal government regulates marijuana. One would think this statement was the herald of change. However, the Obama administration set out to dance around the issue while continuing to drag their feet. 

“We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled, as I said there is a great degree of expertise that exists in Congress. It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.” 

This statement was made by Attorney General Eric Holder on April 4 of this year. Clearly, 18 members of Congress sending formal requests for action in the previous months, represents just the proposal that this statement suggests has yet to be made.

Dispensary Warriors

Posted February 18, 2014

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” - Nelson Madel
a


Meet Joe Cannabis (Joe’s real name has been changed at his request). 

Joe is your average American citizen. He smokes marijuana for fun every so often but has slowed down after the birth of his second child, primarily for financial reasons. Like most Americans today, Joe feels that marijuana is grossly misrepresented by our government and feels that it is no different than tobacco or alcohol. However, he lives in a country where it is unfortunately still illegal, so he keeps his feelings to himself. Not so long ago, legislation was passed that made it possible for regulated dispensaries to legally operate within his home state. Having a pro marijuana mentality and a strong belief in the medical uses of cannabis, Joe decided to open a dispensary and get in on the ground floor; assuring that his growing family would have a secure financial future. Assuming that his state would not lead him astray, he invested all his saving into this pioneering venture. Being on the forefront of this Marijuana Movement, Joe was unfortunately one of the many who felt the unjust wrath of the Federal Government, who decided that they no longer agreed with the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States...


Who is Calling the Shots?
Posted November 8, 2013

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” Thomas Jefferson

The idea of the United States, at one point, was synonymous with the idea of power, morality, and leadership. A shining light in a world drowning within its own corruption and dishonesty. Choices were made that reverberated throughout the free world; clearing the path for those striving to break free from the shackles of coercion. The mission of The Last American Vagabond has always been to shine light on the dark corners of our society and force the average citizen to think for themselves. To look beyond whatever bias nonsense one chooses to read or watch from the mainstream media and develop one’s own opinion using common sense and deductive logic. Americans find themselves in a country today that has shed the extra mental weight of it’s morality and leadership, but deftly held on to it’s power. Looking at where this country began, compared to where it currently stands, one can honestly wonder with whom that power currently resides. 

The system once set in place by our Forefathers, designed to give power to the people, is now only a phantom shell of what it once was. Enough of the shell remains to allow those unwilling... 

“We the People” Have Returned

Posted February 15, 2014

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life, I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” -President Barack Obama, The New Yorker

The United States finds Itself in the beginning of an era. One of moral, civic and patriotic rediscovery. An era where the people once again find their voice and remember that the power has always resided with the American majority and not the elite few. It is every conscientious individual’s responsibility to inform the public of the truth when that truth is so obviously being disregarded by those who’s very duty it is to inform. Even with all that has shifted due to the current Marijuana Movement, many men of both authoritative, and political standing continue to state proven misconceptions and flat out lies. Political agendas have always had a way of blurring the distinction between fact and fiction to suit the needs of its architect. It is for this very reason that it is important to educate oneself and not be cowed along by the agendas of men who’s only true allegiance is to money. The current facts courtesy of Drugpolicy.org:

Majority Cries Out for Federal Acknowledgment

Posted November 10, 2013

At what point in the history of the United States did the will of the majority become a choice for the Federal Government? When did the rights as citizens of this country become tangible objects that could be molded to suit the motives of whoever is in control? These are questions that every American needs to be asking themselves with every breach of the constitution that gets deftly swept under the rug. Every moment in this country someone’s rights are abused by the very men meant to protect them. Within human nature there has always been an inherent potential for evil, for greed. This is known to us all, and is exactly why the law of the land is set in place to provide safety, or at least the illusion of safety. The only possible fault in this structure lies in the actions of those charged with upholding such protections. When those we look to for retribution fail to act, or are the perpetrators themselves, every delusion of safety is lost and the reality behind their inaction becomes painfully clear. 

There are many documented events of government officials committing dramatic violations to the rights and protection that every American is entitled to.  

Posted September 24, 2013

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

In a society so wrought with controversy, starvation and conflicting agendas, it becomes easy to take advantage of the people’s desperate need for a solution. Those claiming to have a cure all will always arise, but in this uncertain world it is rarely that simple and deception is usually involved. Monsanto is a company that all should be aware of, if not already fear. They are patenting genetically modified organisms, (GMO’s) seeds designed to withstand chemical herbicides. Monsanto claims to be working for the farmers but by locking companies into licensing arrangements, and collecting royalties by claiming that the seed is now the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, they are raising the cost of seed which these farmers are now forced to buy. This is pushing the small farmers out of business. Open pollinated seeds are replaced by genetically altered seeds, and a renewable resource becomes a nonrenewable, patented commodity.


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