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Medical marijuana helps Las Vegas veterans

Veterans recently joined a tour of a local dispensary and testing lab to tell their stories of how medical marijuana has improved their lives since they left the military.

The tour was hosted by the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association, which was formed to promote the medical marijuana industry in Nevada. The association recognizes the use of cannabis to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

“Marijuana changed my whole life,” said Cristina Alfonso-Zea, an Army veteran who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD. “From the time I left the military, I attempted suicide every year.”

She said she first turned to alcohol, synthetic marijuana and other drugs to cope.

“After a while, opiates don’t work,” she said.

Now Alfonso-Zea holds a weekly group discussion for veterans at Oasis Medical Cannabis clinic to educate them about the benefits of medical marijuana. The clinic works to improve community quality of life, spread knowledge, choose quality over profit and help every individual patient, according to their website.

Pot offers Alfonso-Zea and other veterans, like Top Gun Commander Shane Terry, the relief they need.

Terry is a medical marijuana patient who uses the substance to help with chronic pain caused by an injury he suffered in combat.

While some veterans try multiple pharmaceutical drugs such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, mood stabilizers and narcotics before turning to cannabis, Terry avoids all pharmaceutical drugs, even Tylenol.

He uses marijuana at bedtime to relieve his neck pain and help him sleep.

“Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide,” Terry said. “And about 10 percent of your veteran community suffers from substance abuse.”

The owners of Silver Sage Wellness, the dispensary explored on the tour, pride themselves on offering relief for patients such as Alfonso-Zea and Terry. Owners Pam and Jim Blasco got into the business to help their two disabled sons.

“There’s the special-needs community and the PTSD with the vets who are sitting there suffering through, and we as a society have just kind of gone by it,” Jim Blasco said. “It’s time to start addressing it.”

Seth Holycross, an Army veteran, helps grow marijuana for the Silver Sage dispensary. He also is a patient who uses the plant to treat his PTSD.

Holycross tried therapy, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication before turning to cannabis.

“They would make me sick,” he said of the drugs. “I couldn’t get out of bed at times. I would miss work because of it. I just had to get away from that stuff.”

Holycross said he prefers a more natural treatment.

Nevada has some of the strictest testing laws of any state, according to Savino Sguera, director of DB Labs, the first lab certified by the state to test marijuana.

DB Labs is an independent analytical testing laboratory specializing in organic, inorganic and microbiological analyses, according to their website. They were founded in 2014 in response to the growing demand for quality analytical services. 

The lab tests for heavy metals, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances that could be found in marijuana. Organizations can submit samples of their marijuana plants for testing and get results in just one to three days.

The medical marijuana industry is growing as more and more states recognize its medical use and legalize it on state levels. The drug is still illegal according to the federal government and is ranked a schedule one drug meaning it currently has no “accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

The DEA still makes these claims, despite studies that have proven marijuana to be safer than alcohol and tobacco. The other schedule one drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote. The DEA considered marijuana to be more dangerous and addictive than schedule two drugs, which include cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone and oxycodone.



Blogging is the new black

Blogging is the new-age journalist’s best friend, and everyone is doing it. But where should a blogging newbie start? This blogging site, WordPress, is great, but there are other options out there.

Weebly is just one of those great options for the newest up-and-coming blogger, looking to make their mark in the blogging/journalism world.

The following video tutorial gives a brief overview of how to make a blog using in just five minutes! It really is that easy.

Weebly is great for blogs because of its drag and drop style customization tools and its user-friendly interface. And the website isn’t just for blogs, it can be used for websites and online stores.

According to their website, “millions around the world use Weebly to start their own business, sell online, showcase their achievements and communicate with visitors in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Designed with the first-time business owner in mind, Weebly gives everyone the freedom to build a high-quality site that works brilliantly across any device.”

There is even an upgraded version that can do more than the demonstration of the free version.

Some of Weebly’s features that weren’t mentioned in the video include the ability to add slideshows, maps, widgets, documents, surveys, feed readers, and so much more.

The Weebly home page tracks site statistics like how many visitors and views the page has.

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The blogger can also use the blog settings to customize blog comments, add a password to protect the blog, and other useful adjustments.

The ability to add pages and subpages gives the blogger the option to create a site that draws readers in further and further.

Weebly is a simple website builder that can do extremely complex things. I would definitely recommend Weebly to a first-time blogger looking to have the ultimate customization experience.

Twitter: A paradise for multimedia journalists

Before I started working in the news business, I mostly used Twitter to see what people were up to and keep up with the trends. Now, Twitter is my primary source for gathering and sharing news – mostly breaking news. Luckily for me, I was able to get my Twitter account verified through my work which allowed me to gain a following of other people in the news business or who enjoy my stories and want to read my articles regularly.

I use Twitter professionally by tweeting bits of breaking news in real time. I usually tease an upcoming article with more details to keep readers interested and in-the-know. Then, I’ll write a brief or full length article and share it on twitter by writing an interesting tweet and link to the article.

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I also use Twitter in my profession to keep up with trending news by keeping up with a Twitter list that a former co-worker of mine created. The list follows local and national reporters, news organizations, government agencies, politicians, etc. Having a resource like a Twitter list allows me to keep up with breaking and trending news and to read articles from other outlets.

Twitter also allows me to find sources and conduct interviews. If I was looking to do a story on this week’s Electric Daisy Carnival, all I would have to do is search Twitter for #EDCLV and I have access to attendees who I can contact via direct message for comments, photos, videos, etc.

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A tool that many journalists, including myself, use to track information on Twitter is TweetDeck. This site allows the user to “organize and build custom timelines, keep track of lists, searches, activity and more—all in one interface,” the site says. TweetDeck is constantly updated and easily customizable to show you exactly what you want to see.

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Twitter is no longer just a way to tell your friends what you had for breakfast or to keep up on what your celebrity crush is doing. Twitter is also a network of professionals and one of the leading social media sites for breaking news. Its uses and abilities are limitless.


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