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Local Medical Marijuana Co-op Closes Loophole

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Herbs, vegetables, medical marijuana, Ojai!

While there certainly isn't a yellow brick road laid out for medical marijuana consumers in California, the road to pharmaceutical alternatives for ailments is broadening. Though Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties have marijuana dispensaries, Ventura County has yet to give in. But a thriving closed-loop cooperative in Ojai is ensuring its members have access to organic medicines.

Shangri La Care Cooperative Inc., labeled as an agriculture and horticulture private social club, is a members-only cooperative that mentors and teaches members about growing marijuana, organic herbs and vegetables. By way of Shangri La, members have access to one another's crops, depending on their medical needs.

"Some members don't have the technical skills to grow their own," explained Jeff Kroll, who operates Shangri La. "So this is members helping members. We find out what the medical needs are of our members, and then other members come forward and help."

The nonprofit, private cooperative has been operating slightly more than a year and periodically opens membership registration for a fee of $300 per person, along with a medical recommendation in tow. The fee entitles members to Shangri La's legal services, group health insurance policy and one share of the cooperative. Because it's a private organization, Kroll wouldn't state how many members belong to Shangri La. But he confirmed that for every 10 members that join, the cooperative voted to waive the registration fee for a prospective member in hospice or financial straits.

"We only allow as many (members) as we can support," said Kroll.

What sets Shangri La apart from many other cooperatives, or collectives, said Kroll, is the science involved. The contents of the marijuana circulated by Shangri La members is lab tested weekly by BudGenius, with the results then posted to the BudGenius website (Marijuana Testing | Cannabis Testing). Lab technicians in the BudGenius laboratory in Los Angeles use Hewlett-Packard machines fueled by gas chromatography to identify the active cannabinoids, rating the percentages of the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the CBDs (cannabidiol) and CBNs (cannabinol), which studies have shown provide the medical benefits of marijuana. The tests also produce an effects analysis, rating the marijuana strain's ability to reduce pain, nausea and anxiety, and stimulate appetite and sleep. The lab also tests for molds and pesticides.

"Our big thing here is that we can provide the data, but we also bring in the whole social network of it, involving the patients," said BudGenius CEO John Montgomery.

Shangri La, explained Kroll, takes a member's medical recommendation and works with the member to obtain a strain that best suits his or her medical needs.

"A person may not want the 'high' feeling and can find a strain with very low THC," Kroll explained.
When Wayne L., 69, was stricken with glaucoma, his doctor recommended he try medical marijuana to relieve the pressure in his eyes. He joined Shangri La and began growing his own medicine and testing strains from the cooperative, instead of relying on the pharmaceutical industry, which he said couldn't care less about his vision.

"What I am doing to determine what strain works best for me is going to the optometrist to check my eye pressure, and that will be the baseline," he said. "I will try specific strains provided by the co-op and have the pressure tested afterwards, then try another strain, step-by-step, to see what strain is working best."

Last month, the National Cancer Institute became the first federal agency to formally recognize the cancer-fighting properties of marijuana's active ingredients, stating, "In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct anti-tumor effect."

Soon after publishing the statement, the NCI removed the language about anti-tumor effects but still suggested positive benefits for cancer patients.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: vcreporter.com
Author: Shane Cohn
Copyright: 2011 vcreporter.com
Contact: Ventura County Reporter
Website: Local medical marijuana co-op closes loophole
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