Health

CANNABIS COULD BE THE ANSWER TO DRUG-RESISTANT SUPERBUGS

Could a cannabis compound be the latest weapon in the fight against drug resistant bacteria? According to a post in the Guardian, that could be the case. Scientists have tested cannabis compounds on mice with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus), and one appears to have cured them of the superbug. MRSA is one of the most common superbugs found in hospitals and combating it has been a challenge.

The compound found to be effective in killing MRSA was cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Until now, vancomycin has been considered the last line of defense in fighting the common hospital superbug, but CBG proved to be as effective. It will likely be some time before CBG is used as a treatment in humans though. As quoted in the article Eric Brown, the leader of the study, says, “There is much work to do to explore the potential of the cannabinoids as antibiotics from the safety standpoint.”

Cannabis Magazine. “Cannabis Could Be the Answer to Drug-Resistant Superbugs.” Cannabis Magazine, 20 Jan. 2020, cannabismagazine.com/cannabis-could-be-the-answer-to-drug-resistant-superbugs/.

PA to Treat Medical Marijuana for Parolees as Any Other Prescription

The Pennsylvania Board of Parole and Parole provided guidance to officers suggesting they treat marijuana prescriptions like any other prescription.

Pennsylvania is in the middle of what could be an important legal case dealing with medical marijuana. Specifically, there is a challenge to local policies that have attempted to bar parolees from accessing medical marijuana.

Some counties within the state are trying to keep such prohibitions in place. However, there is growing pressure to push back against these restrictions. And now, those insisting that parolees have a right to medical marijuana could be gaining traction. That’s because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decided to hear the case.

Obviously, this has big implications for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. But more broadly, it also carries significant implications for the rights of prisoners, those who have been formerly incarcerated, and those on parole.

PUSHING BACK AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITIONS

The heart of the debate is a lawsuit coming out of Lebanon County. As reported by local news source Fox 43, the suit is being filed against the County by the ACLU and plaintiffs Melissa Gass, Ashley Bennett, and Andrew Koch.

The lawsuit comes as a response to Lebanon County’s policy barring Gass and others from participating in the state’s medical marijuana program, simply because they are on parole.

Lebanon County, along with a number of other counties in Pennsylvania, have policies in place that prohibit parolees from accessing medical marijuana, even though it is legal in the state.

Not surprisingly, the lawsuit challenges the legality of this prohibition.

Initially, the 52nd Judicial District of Lebanon County defended the policy. Immediately, the ACLU pushed back.

“The plain language in the medical marijuana law shows that the legislature intended to protect all patients, including those on probation,” Pennsylvania ACLU legal director Witold Walczak said. “Judges may not agree with the Medical Marijuana Act, or may not support people using marijuana for any reason, but they must follow the law.”

PA SUPREME COURT IS HEARING THE CASE

Since Lebanon County’s initial response, the case has now moved on. Specifically, the state Supreme Court has decided to hear the case.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court explained that it normally would not hear cases like this. But, given the broad implications of this case, the court chose to allow it.

“The Court finds that this case implicates substantial legal questions concerning matters of public importance, particularly in light of the allegation that other judicial districts have adopted or are considering adopting similar limitations on the use of medical marijuana,” the Court explained in a filing.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has asked for all briefs to be submitted by December 9.

In the meantime, the Court also issued a stay on county policies that bar parolees from accessing medical marijuana.

“Any enforcement or implementation of the Policy is STAYED pending further order of this Court,” the court filing stated.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole issued a statement that seems to provide even more support for parolees’ rights. In it, the Board sent a memo to all state parole supervision staff.

That memo reads: “If the parolee has a prescription for medical marijuana, we would treat it exactly as we would treat any other prescription.”

That memo together with the Supreme Court’s stay indicates that parolees should be able to get medical marijuana in all parts of Pennsylvania. Final decision are pending the Supreme Court case.

Lindsey, ByNick. “PA to Treat Medical Marijuana for Parolees as Any Other Prescription.” Green Rush Daily, 1 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/pa-to-treat-medical-marijuana-for-parolees-as-any-other-prescription/.

Pregnant Women in California Are Using More Cannabis, Study Says

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The sharpest increase in use was with women who weren’t pregnant yet.

The use of cannabis among women in California has been on the rise, according to a new study. And even pregnancy doesn’t stop all of them, apparently.

PREGNANT WOMEN ARE USING MORE CANNABIS BEFORE AND AFTER PREGNANCY

Published in the JAMA Network Open journal Friday, the study looks at the pregnancies of more than 276,000 women who received coverage from healthcare company Kaiser Permanente Northern California between 2009 and 2017. The researchers found that the use of cannabis increased both before and during pregnancy in this period.

The increase isn’t as stark during pregnancy—1.95 percent to 3.38 percent—but it’s more dramatic before—6.8 percent to 12.5 percent of the women sampled. And the increase can be seen in daily, weekly, and monthly cannabis use. The authors hypothesize that this shift in behavior may be related to the normalization of cannabis use, as well as the growing knowledge around actual harms from cannabis.

RESEARCH NOT CONCLUSIVE

Now, cannabis use during pregnancy still remains a big, shiny question mark. A lot of research, however, hasn’t painted the best picture: from the potential for psychosis to brain malformations. A lot of this research is just beginning, though, so it’s not conclusive. Not yet. So women who plan to smoke while pregnant should exhibit serious caution until the impacts are fully understood.

The women sampled in this study represent the realities of many women, however. The sample is diverse with a range of ages represented, as well as ethnicities. Most of the women were white, 25 to 34-year-olds, but a little diversity is always better than none, which is all too common in cannabis studies. The study authors do note that cannabis use before and during pregnancy was most common among the younger participants, black participants, and/or those with a lower income. The study is based on self-reported data, so there’s always a chance that patients are misreporting by accident or, well, lying on purpose. That’s a major limitation to the study as individuals may underreport their usage.

AUTHORS SPECULATE REASON FOR INCREASE

Cannabis use during pregnancy may be a result of all the shittiness women feel during pregnancy. There’s nausea, but also the stress. The study authors speculate if the symptoms related to pregnancy have anything to do with this rise, as well.

There’s still a lot for them to examine, but this study offers a strong starting point, especially given the large sample of women it included. What they’ve gotta figure out now is the impact all this is having on women who smoke. A related commentary in the journal notes that there’s enough we don’t know for health professionals to advise pregnant women to take a break from the herb while they’re pregnant.

After all, if you can’t ensure your baby’s safety, then why not wait until it’s just your body you have to worry about. Then, you can smoke all the weed you want.

Fun, ByLissett. “Pregnant Women in California Are Using More Cannabis, Study Says.” Green Rush Daily, 20 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/women/pregnant-women-in-california-are-using-more-cannabis-study-says/.

Study Claiming Pot is as Harmful to Fetus’ as Alcohol Used Synthetic Cannabinoid

Science is using synthetic cannabinoids and animals to make conclusions about cannabis use during pregnancy.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about how cannabis use affects pregnancy. It’s a topic, however, researchers are beginning to grow more and more curious about as cannabis legalization ripples throughout the U.S. On the downside of prohibition, the world of science is making conclusions about cannabis—without using actual cannabis or humans. Instead, they used synthetic cannabinoids with known severe side effects to research cannabis use during pregnancy.

Despite this, an entire special issue of a research journal published Tuesday is making headlines for research concluding cannabis use may be just as bad during pregnancy for the fetus as alcohol.

Researchers Claim Alcohol and Cannabis Trigger Similar Responses

“It raises concerns regarding the safety to fetal health, as use of cannabis by pregnant women may be as detrimental as alcohol use in terms of long-term effects on health,” said Gregory Cole, a professor and chair of the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at North Carolina Central University and author of one of the studies, in an email to Green Rush Daily.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders occur when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. These disorders can present themselves as physical deformities or in behavioral and learning disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The individual teams of researchers found alcohol and a CB1R antagonist or synthetic cannabinoid used in the place of cannabis triggered a similar response in the brain. Therefore, cannabis and alcohol use may result in similar effects in people who were exposed to them while in utero.

However, the CB1R antagonist they used has never been approved in the U.S. and was taken off of the market globally for it’s known severe side effects back in 2008.

Study Didn’t Use Human Subjects

It is worth noting that the study Cole helped work on, which made this conclusion, didn’t use humans to measure this. It used a zebrafish model, which is popular among health studies because they (surprisingly) share many genes with humans and operate under a similar organ structure, according to a blog post on the National Institutes of Health’s website. Plus, zebrafish are cheap and quick to breed. That’s always a plus.

The study would be much more definite if it involved human subjects, but this is a growing field of research with limitations from federal laws.

However, at least one previous study contradicts their findings. The research published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found no connection between adverse health impacts and cannabis. Instead, it points to the combination of marijuana and tobacco products as the culprit for adverse outcomes associated with cannabis.

Studies Claiming Harm Used Potent Synthetic Cannabinoids or Combined Cannabis with Alcohol

Both studies in this special issue focus on the adverse effects of cannabis exposure during pregnancy in animals. However, one study uses rats and a synthetic cannabinoid called CP55940 that is said to be 45 times more potent than the THC we know and love to make their conclusions.

The other study found that exposure to combined cannabis and alcohol during pregnancy could affect behavioral development. Researches claim the impacts appear bad when exposure to the synthetic cannabinoid happens alone and they’re even worse when combined with alcohol.

However, it is hard to say how much of a connection this research has to modern cannabis use among pregnant human women.

More Research Required

Despite this, the authors stressed the importance of their findings as many pregnant mothers believe that cannabis use is safe.

“What our study suggests is that early exposure to each drug may have unique effects on behavioral development and that the combination may have more severe effects on some behaviors,” said authors Jennifer Thomas and Kristen Breit, both of whom conduct research at San Diego State University’s Center for Behavioral Teratology, in an emailed statement to Green Rush Daily.

Still, the authors realize that more research is needed on this topic. And this special issue is only the beginning. As more and more states legalize cannabis in their own way, scientists will step up to the task. They need to—public health is depending on them providing the answers.

Fun, ByLissett. “Study Claiming Pot as Harmful to Fetus’ as Alcohol Used Synthetic Cannabinoid.” Green Rush Daily, 23 July 2019, greenrushdaily.com/women/study-claiming-cannabis-as-harmful-to-fetus-as-alcohol-used-synthetic-cannabinoid/.

Inhaled Cannabis Cut Headache and Migraine Severity in Half, Study Finds

Researchers say concentrates were associated with significantly larger reductions in migraine and headache severity compared to flower.

Lots of people consume cannabis to relieve headaches and migraines. But researches have hardly studied cannabinoids as a therapeutic treatment for these common ailments. That’s where this new study comes in. Researchers aimed to analyze the short and long-term effects of cannabis on headaches and migraines using data from nearly 20,000 sessions where people inhaled cannabis to relieve their symptoms. And what they found were significant reductions in headache and migraine ratings after cannabis use.

Specifically, researchers concluded that inhaling cannabis cut headache and migraine severity in half. But they also noticed different trends among women and men and a pattern of tolerance that changed cannabis’ effectiveness over time.

The new study on cannabis as a migraine and headache treatment is backing up thousands of years of human experience, including recent trends in medical cannabis use. According to recent reports, more than a third of medical cannabis users reported using cannabis to treat headaches and migraines. And on average, those patients report an average 3.6-point decrease (out of 10) in headache severity after inhaling cannabis.

CONCENTRATES RELIEVE HEADACHES BETTER THAN FLOWER

Furthermore, another study found that 40 percent of patients who received a medical cannabis recommendation for headaches reported a positive effect. For those patients, headaches and migraines weren’t just less severe, they also experienced roughly 6 fewer migraines a month. In fact, people have found cannabis so effective at reducing the severity and frequency of headaches and migraines that they’re using significantly less migraine medications.

Cannabis pain-relieving capabilities is something researchers are studying very closely. One recent study found that compounds in cannabis called flavonoids are thirty times more effective than aspirinand ibuprofen for pain. Cannabis can reduce pain intensity better than the most common over-the-counter pain relievers, reduce the use of these drugs and increase quality of life.

So what did this new study add to what we already know about cannabis and pain relief? Researchers sought to figure out not just whether inhaled cannabis decreased headache and migraine severity. They also wanted to understand how things like the type of cannabisTHCCBD and dose impacted changes in headache severity and frequency.

Overall, researchers found that headache and migraine ratings were reduced by nearly 50 percent after inhaling cannabis. But they noticed a couple of other important things about cannabis as a headache and migraine treatment, too.

First, researchers concluded that while inhaling flower produced significant reductions in headache ratings, consumption of concentrates was associated with “significantly larger” reductions in these ratings. It’s a novel finding that researches say presents an urgent call for further study.

TOLERANCE CAN DIMINISH EFFECTIVENESS OVER TIME

Given that concentrates produced a better result for migraine and headache patients, one might think dose or potency made the difference. But researchers say that things like dose, potency, strain type and THC to CBD ratios didn’t really make any difference when it came to reducing the severity of headaches and migraines. In other words, any kind of cannabis will do when it comes to treating headaches, and researchers don’t know why concentrates produced better results than flower.

One thing that did affect cannabis’ effectiveness, however, was time. The study found that for regular and frequent consumers, a toleranceto the effects of cannabis diminished its ability to relieve migraine and headache pain. Cannabis still worked for people with high tolerance, just not as well.

But researchers also added that a higher tolerance to cannabis never made headaches or migraines worse over time. That means cannabis differs dramatically from conventional migraine and headache medications, which can cause “medication overuse headache“. In other words, conventional medications can actually make headaches and migraines worse over time with frequent use. But cannabis doesn’t do that.

In light of these encouraging findings, the study’s authors are calling for more research into cannabis as a headache and migraine treatment. They say future studies need to take a closer look at how dose, type of cannabis, THC, CBD and other cannabinoid interactions influence patient outcomes.

Drury, ByAdam. “Inhaled Cannabis Cut Headache and Migraine Severity in Half, Study Finds.” Green Rush Daily, 26 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/studies/inhaled-cannabis-cut-headache-and-migraine-severity-in-half-study-finds/.

New Testing Finds Hydrogen Cyanide in Counterfeit Vape Cartridges

Vitamin E acetate is not the only culprit.

An influx of vape-related deaths around the United States has set off alarms around the country, which have resulted in temporary state-wide bans, impassioned warnings from bed-ridden vapers, and even an executive order to cease the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. While the dust from the initial fallback is still settling, disturbing new details have emerged regarding black market vape cartridges.

A new set of tests recently revealed the presence of hydrogen cyanide within counterfeit vape cartridges, giving us a bleak, albeit rudimentary insight into some of the mysterious vape-related deaths and illnesses plaguing the country.

Hydrogen Cyanide Found in Counterfeit Vape Cartridges

NBC News released a bombshell report on Friday, which delved into the potential causation of a rising crisis that has taken 12 lives and hospitalized 805 people over 46 states over the last month. While the medical community has yet to come to an agreement on a single, underlying cause for these illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most patients suffering from the harsh lung-illnesses have smoked black market vape cartridges containing THC.

For the report, NBC commissioned one of the country’s top cannabis testing facilities, CannaSafe, to test a total of 18 THC cartridges, obtained from both legal cannabis dispensaries and street dealers. The tests, perhaps unsurprisingly, displayed stark differences between the regulated product and the illictly-sold cartridges.

Three of the cartridges were purchased from legal dispensaries throughout California — none of them contained pesticides, heavy metals, or residual solvents like Vitamin E acetate, one of the major cause for concerns from health officials familiar with the outbreak. It has been suggested that dealers use the substance to “cut” cannabis for their cartridges.

However, CannaSafe determined the 13 of the 15 street cartridges did have traces of Vitamin E in them, raising a cause for concern. Additionally, 10 of the illicit vape cartridges were tested for pesticides, and all 10 tested positive.

All the products contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that has the ability to transform into hydrogen cyanide when it’s burned. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cyanide can lower the levels of oxygen in almost every organ in the body, including the heart brain and lungs, and can be rapidly fatal.

“You certainly don’t want to be smoking cyanide,” CannaSafe vice president of operations, Antonio Frazier, told NBC. “I don’t think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it.”

The FDA has struggled to properly police these cartridges, mostly because the fatalities have come courtesy of unregulated street products. The California bureau chief for the fellow online cannabis publication, Leafly, David Downs, says that fake packaging is being manufactured in China and making its way to Los Angeles. The empty cartridges are then being filled with bootleg THC oil and being packaged as branded products.

“This all starts in China where you can get the empty cartridges both for the THC market and the nicotine market, as well as the additives, flavorings, and thickeners that are being put into these cartridges alongside the THC oil,” Downs said.

This was further corroborated by NBC after the publication said one of the LA-based dispensaries sold packaging for Dank Vapes — a brand that has been oft-counterfeited and linked to some of the lung disease cases throughout the U.S.

For now, cannabis consumers are being warned to only buy regulated products from dispensaries.

Kohut, ByTim. “New Testing Finds Hydrogen Cyanide in Counterfeit Vape Cartridges.” Green Rush Daily, 27 Sept. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/products/new-testing-finds-hydrogen-cyanide-in-counterfeit-vape-cartridges/.

Safest Ways to Consume Cannabis for People with Anxiety

There are a few different routes you can take to enjoy the benefits of cannabis while avoiding a panic attack.

Anxiety is a condition that has kept many people from enjoying the medical benefits of cannabis. There are two spectrums when it comes to cannabis and anxiety. Even though many people use cannabis to relieve stress, there are people that suffer from anxiety who can end up panicking after consuming high levels of THC.

However, cannabis has also been used to treat pre-existing anxiety. It all depends on the type of cannabis used, the potency and dosage. We’ll go over the various ways cannabis can influence anxiety.

MICRODOSING AS PREVENTION

The Ultimate Guide to Treating Anxiety With Cannabis
SageElyse/Shutterstock

There are people that could benefit from the medicinal effects of cannabis who can’t handle the psychoactive effects due to their anxiety. The best way to avoid a cannabis-induced panic attack is to learn how your body handles specific strains by microdosing.

Uncertain of the THC level? The safest thing to do is to take things one puff at a time and feel out the effects before taking another pull. With this in mind, the best tools for the job are a one-hitter or vaporizer.

If you’re going to use a vaporizer we recommend one that will only heat as you take a hit so no weed is wasted when you take breaks between puffs. Start by figuring out how many hits it takes to feel the effects without any feelings of panic. Be sure to take note of that for every time you use that specific strain.

Consuming your cannabis after meals is a good way to keep results consistent. The same amount you’re accustomed to can seem more intense if you’ve gone a while without eating.

CBD TO CALM ANXIETY

The Ultimate Guide to Treating Anxiety With Cannabis
Mitch M/Shutterstock

Fortunately, there is a safety net built within the cannabis plant for anyone prone to anxiety. Treating anxiety with cannabis is easier with cannabidiol or CBD. CBD is a different cannabinoid from THC that can actually counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. In fact, Brazilian researchers found CBD was able to relieve anxiety in patients with social anxiety.

Furthermore, research has proven the anti-anxiety ability of CBD. Researchers gave CBD with no THC to people with a generalized social anxiety disorder and put them in simulated public speaking situations. They found CBD was able to successfully reduce the anxiety induced by public speaking in patients with social phobia.

There are tons of strains high in CBD and low in THC. So people prone to anxiety have plenty of options for balancing out the psychoactive effects of THC. There are even CBD products with absolutely no THC content on the market so people with anxiety can get relief without the risk of accidentally consuming too much and panicking.

DELTA 8 THC: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THC AND CBD

The Ultimate Guide to Treating Anxiety With Cannabis
High Times

If you’re prone to anxiety, most cannabis concentrates should be avoided. Unless they’re a CBD concentrate or an edible dose of Delta 8 THC.

1995 study on children found that kids did not show any signs of psychoactive effects after ingesting delta-8 THC.

Unfortunately, Delta 8 THC is rare because so few people produce it but it is also one of the best options for those looking for the medicinal effects of THC with less psychoactivity. However, be warned that there is still some psychoactivity to delta 8 THC when it is dabbed. So, anyone prone to panic from THC will likely be triggered by a large dab of delta 8 THC.

Even though delta 8 THC is less psychoactive than THC, it comes in concentrated form. As a result, you should practice microdosing when dabbing delta 8 THC.

People suffering from other conditions on top of anxiety that want to benefit from the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without having a panic attack have a few routes to take. Those with high-anxiety should stick to CBD treatment. Everyone else should be fine micro-dosing with cannabis flowers or experimenting with delta 8 THC. To avoid any unwanted surprises, we recommend skipping the THC edibles and concentrates.

Daily, ByGreen Rush. “Safest Ways to Consume Cannabis for People with Anxiety.” Green Rush Daily, 7 Jan. 2020, greenrushdaily.com/guides/safest-ways-to-consume-cannabis-for-people-with-anxiety/.

Cannabis with Mold and Yeast Recalled at 144 Colorado Dispensaries

Consumers are encouraged to see their doctor if they have health concerns.

The city of Denver recently announced that inspectors found potentially harmful contaminants in a large batch of cannabis products. As a result, the company that produced the contaminated weed has issued a recall.

Consumers in Colorado who may have purchased the questionable products are urged to either destroy it or return it to the retailer where they purchased it.

Cannabis Tainted With Mold and Yeast

On Monday, the city of Denver circulated a statement announcing the recall. As per that memo, Denver marijuana company Bonsai Cultivation has issued a voluntary recall on tons of products.

The recall comes in the wake of a safety test by the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE). Specifically, samples of flower from Bonsai Cultivation showed elevated levels of yeast and mold.

After failing the test, the company issued a recall. In particular, any Bonsai products containing dried flower that were purchased between April 30, 2019 and October 14, 2019 could be contaminated.

Anyone who purchased flower products made by Bonsai during that time period are encouraged to destroy the weed or return it to the place they purchased it.

Bonsai Cultivation products that are potentially contaminated include the following:

  • flower
  • pre-rolled spliffs
  • shake
  • pre-rolled joints
  • trim
  • pre-rolled blunts

According to DDPHE, the recall is affecting products from 144 retail stores throughout Colorado. Of those 144 shops, at least 54 are located in Denver.

Additionally, the contaminated products passed through three cultivation facilities and 11 manufacturing facilities in the state.

Contaminated Weed Could Create Health Problems

Authorities in Colorado and Denver are urging consumers who may have compromised product not to consume it. Doing so could lead to health problems, they said.

“DDPHE opened an investigation after identifying multiple samples of marijuana plant material had failed total yeast and mold sampling from multiple retail store locations,” Denver officials said in a statement. “Short and long-term health impacts resulting from inhalation exposure to mold/yeast may exist depending on the specific product, duration, frequency, and level of exposure.”

In addition to disposing of any contaminated weed products, consumers are encouraged to see their doctor if they have health concerns.

“Consumers with concerns about their personal health should contact their physician with related questions,” Denver officials said. “Any consumers who experienced symptoms of illness after smoking, vaping, or other consumption method of plant material purchased from Bonsai Cultivation are also urged to contact DDPHE at: phicomments@denvergov.org.”

Product recalls like this are not uncommon in the legal cannabis industry. Typically, they happen when lab tests reveal potentially unsafe cannabis products.

In general, safety concerns tend to center on possible contamination from pesticides, fertilizers, mold, yeast, or other substances.

Although unrelated, many places in the country are also dealing with similar health concerns related to cannabis products. Specifically, there have been a number of illnesses and deaths linked to vaping. In most cases, these problems appear to come from knockoff black market THC cartridges.

One recent test showed high levels of contamination among black market cartridges. However, that test showed that carts purchased at a legal dispensary tended not to have contaminants.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Cannabis with Mold and Yeast Recalled at 147 Colorado Dispensaries.” Green Rush Daily, 15 Oct. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/cannabis-with-mold-and-yeast-recalled-at-144-colorado-dispensaries/.

How to Use CBD for Anxiety

A pounding heart, sweaty palms, racing thoughts: For those living with an anxiety disorder, these unwelcome symptoms can make everyday life feel debilitating.

One in thirteen people around the world live with an anxiety disorder, making them the most common mental health disorder worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). For those living with anxiety, finding a safe method for managing symptoms is a critical concern.

Quick-acting anti-anxiety medication, such as Xanax and Valium, may offer instant relief but can become addictive. Long-range anxiety medications, such as Prozac, may help reduce symptoms over time, but don’t work for everyone.

Enter cannabidiol, better known as CBD. CBD has recently captured the spotlight as an alternative or complementary treatment for anxiety.RelatedWhat is CBD oil? A beginner’s guide to cannabidiol extracts

CBD: SNAKE OIL OR POWERFUL ANXIETY TREATMENT?

Clinical research on CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders has proliferated in recent years with accumulating evidence pointing to its therapeutic potential.

Although most studies on CBD are preclinical and use animal models, clinical studies using human participants are now emerging.1 in 13 people around the world live with an anxiety disorder, making them the most common mental health disorder worldwide.

In a double-blind study from 2019, 37 Japanese teenagers with social anxiety disorder (SAD) received 300 mg of CBD oil or a placebo every day for four weeks. The teens were assessed with surveys used to diagnose and measure SAD symptoms. The anti-anxiety properties of CBD reduced symptoms aligned with the disorder, providing relief comparable to Paroxetine, a drug commonly used to treat the condition.

Interestingly, in the follow-up, nine of the seventeen teenagers who received the CBD intervention also declared that they had decided to seek some form of treatment. Teenagers with SAD rarely seek help due to the stigma surrounding the condition and for fear of interacting with therapists.RelatedAre you getting the CBD you paid for? We put 47 products to the test

A 2019 retrospective case study reviewed outpatients at a mental health clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado. Forty-seven of the patients sampled had expressed concerns about anxiety. Over three months, the majority of patients were given 25 mg of CBD daily in addition to treatment.

After the first monthly assessment, 79.2% of patients experienced an improvement in anxiety. After two months, 78.1% of patients reported a further improvement compared with the previous month.

However, there were also patients who reported that the symptoms of their anxiety worsened after taking CBD—15.3% felt their anxiety had become exacerbated after the first month and 19.5% felt their anxiety had worsened further after the second month.

Another study, done in 2018, also suggests that CBD may heighten anxiety. It included a small sample of individuals with paranoid traits and found that CBD exacerbated anxiety among some of the participants. Anxiety was measured through symptoms such as cortisol concentration, heart rate, and systolic blood pressure.

These contradictory findings may be due to factors such as small sample sizes and variations in dosing. CBD is a bidirectional medicine, which means it can cause opposing responses at different doses. We’ll delve deeper into this below.RelatedWhy CBD works better with a little THC (even if you don’t want to get high)

HOW SHOULD I CONSUME CBD FOR ANXIETY?

If you’re curious about using CBD oil as a tool to help manage your anxiety, education is critical. Understanding the pros and cons of the various ingestion methods can help you determine which form of consumption best suits your needs.

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TINCTURES AND OILS

CBD tinctures and oils represent a quick, easy, and accurate way to consume CBD. Most tinctures contain CBD in an alcohol base. CBD oils contain CBD extracts infused into a carrier oil, such as coconut or hemp seed oil.

Tinctures and oils are taken using a dropper, which allows you to easily measure intake. The cannabinoid rapidly enters the bloodstream when taken sublingually—results can kick in as quickly as ten minutes and last up to three to four hours.

CBD VAPE OILS

CBD can be vaped using a special pen that vaporizes the oil. At present, the safety of vaping has come under intense scrutiny. A serious lung condition known as VAPI, or EVALI, has hospitalized more than 2,000 people and led to the deaths of 42. The federal Centers for Disease Control has found that most cases have been linked to the use of illicit-market THC vape cartridges tainted with vitamin E oil (tocopheryl-acetate).

CBD vape cartridges purchased in legal state-licensed cannabis stores are highly regulated, while CBD cartridges purchased from other sources are completely unregulated. Proceed with caution when considering any vaping product in an unregulated environment.RelatedVape pen lung injury: Here’s what you need to know

EDIBLES

CBD can be added to almost every food under the sun. While super easy to consume in this form—and often delicious, particularly as gummies—it may take an hour or more before results are felt.

What’s more, the oral bioavailability of CBD can hinder CBD absorption—when you consume CBD orally, it has to pass through your gastrointestinal tract before it is metabolized by the liver. As a result, a limited quantity of CBD makes it into the circulatory system.

It’s important to also note that the FDA has recently deemed food containing CBD illegal. You’ll have to get CBD edibles in state-licensed adult-use markets.

SMOKING

Smoking provides an almost instantaneous method for enjoying the effects of CBD. Smoking sends the cannabinoid directly to the alveoli of the lungs, and from there, CBD molecules enter the bloodstream for rapid absorption. However, measuring your CBD intake can be tricky when you smoke, and the act of smoking itself can cause lung inflammation.

DOSING CBD FOR ANXIETY

If you read the studies cited above, you’ll notice that the dosing varied significantly between them. The teens in the Japanese study were provided with 300 mg of CBD daily, while the outpatients in the Colorado study received 25 mg. Why such a large discrepancy in dose?

As most scientists and clinicians will readily admit, there is no universally recommended dosage for CBD, and, to date, there haven’t been any large-scale clinical trials to inform dosage guidelines. In addition, the FDA is still learning about CBD—such as its cumulative effects on the body—before it decides on how to regulate it.

This doesn’t necessarily mean CBD is unsafe. Existing research already suggests that it appears to be a safe, well-tolerated treatment. If you’re interested in experimenting with CBD to manage your anxiety symptoms, aim for an informed, cautious approach to dosing (which is always a good idea). Below are some dosing considerations.Sign up for more Leafly newsWe won’t share this without your permissionsign up

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GENERAL DOSING TIPS

Some basic factors that you should consider when devising a CBD dose include:

  • Body weight
  • Metabolism
  • Concentration of CBD
  • Severity of your anxiety

The concentration of CBD varies between products, and is generally expressed as milligrams (mg) per container.Your unique body chemistry affects how you respond to CBD.

Once you know the potency of the CBD product you hold, you can use a dosage calculator or an app such as Accugentix to help settle on your perfect dose. Dosage calculators can provide a recommended dose in milligrams based on your body weight and the severity of your symptoms.

Your unique body chemistry also affects how you respond to CBD. Some individuals metabolize medicine faster than others, which can be attributed to genes or lifestyle. If you know that you metabolize medication quickly, it’s possible that you may benefit from a higher dose.RelatedThe entourage effect: How cannabis compounds may be working together

BIDIRECTIONAL EFFECTS

CBD may do different things at different doses, a phenomenon known as bidirectional effects. Overstimulation of the body’s endocannabinoid system may exacerbate symptoms instead of alleviating them.

Additionally, high levels of CBD, such as 300 mg, have been known to promote sleepiness and relaxation. Conversely, low levels of CBD may create an elevating response, inciting wakefulness and alertness. The best way to avoid unwanted bidirectional effects is to follow the adage: start low, go slow.

START LOW, GO SLOW

Titration refers to the process of adjusting the dosage of a medication to get its maximum benefits without adverse effects. CBD has been shown to be safe even when taken in high doses (300-600 mg), nonetheless, it’s advisable and more cost-effective to start with a low dose and increase it incrementally, observing how you feel as you go.

This method forces you to pay attention to subtle changes in your body as it responds to the medication. Everyone’s optimal dosage and tolerance is unique, and this process allows you to get acquainted with yours.RelatedA physician’s perspective on optimal cannabis dosing

Dr. Dustin Sulak, a cannabis medicine expert at Healer.com, offers educational resources for novice and seasoned cannabis users alike to find their optimal dosage.

TALK TO AN EXPERT ON MEDICAL CANNABIS

If you’re still feeling unsure and you live in a state where you can safely converse with a health professional about CBD, consider scheduling a consultation. Some cannabis dispensaries also have medical experts on hand who can provide you with sound advice and dosage recommendations.

Stone, Emma. “How to Use CBD for Anxiety.” Leafly, 10 Dec. 2019, https://www.leafly.com/news/health/how-to-use-cbd-for-anxiety.

LONG-TERM CANNABIS USE IMPROVES SYMPTOMS OF IBS, STUDY SHOWS

The study looks at how marijuana impacts inflammatory bowel disease.

One of the many positive effects of legalization is that it also helps advance research. This is especially true when it comes to research into marijuana’s potential medicinal qualities.

Specifically, as marijuana becomes legal in more and more places around the world, it becomes easier for researchers to access and use the plant in medical and scientific research.

And it’s not just immediate research that is benefitting and improving. Research into the long-term effects of cannabis is becoming much more accessible and more widely available, thanks to the ever-growing body of marijuana-related data.

Now, researchers in Israel have published a new study about the long-term effects of marijuana on inflammatory bowel disease. And according to their work, cannabis could have multiple positive benefits for people dealing with the condition.

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS POSITIVE OUTCOMES FROM USING MEDICAL CANNABIS

The study was recently published online. It is part of the forthcoming November issue of the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Specifically, the study looks at how marijuana impacts inflammatory bowel disease.

In the research, scientists worked with 127 patients. Each of them used legal medical marijuana to treat their bowel condition. Specifically, patients in the study consumed an average dosage of 31 grams per month.

Throughout the patient group’s ongoing treatment of inflammatory bowel syndrome, researchers gathered key metrics before starting medical marijuana, one month after using medical marijuana, and at least one year after consistent use of medical marijuana.

Additionally, patients periodically filled out questionnaires about their health in general and, more specifically, about the state of their inflammatory bowel disease.

After compiling and analyzing these numbers, researchers identified the following trends:

  • Patients’ Harvey-Bradshaw Index (a method for gauging the severity of Crohn’s disease) consistently showed marked improvements.
  • There was an average weight gain of 2 kilograms among patients within the first year of medical cannabis use.
  • On average, medical marijuana patients reduced their need for other medications.
  • Employment among medical cannabis patients rose from 65 percent to 74 percent.

RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS

In addition to noting several positive health indicators among the medical marijuana patients, researchers also said they did not observe any noticeable negative side effects.

Ultimately, they concluded: “Cannabis use by inflammatory bowel disease patients can induce clinical improvement and is associated with reduced use of medication and slight weight gain.”

They also wrote: “We conclude that the majority of inflammatory bowel disease patients using cannabis are satisfied with a dose of 30g/month. We did not observe negative effects of cannabis use on the patients’ social or occupational status.”

CANNABIS AND BOWEL DISORDERS

This study is not the first time experts have linked cannabis to the effective treatment of bowel disorders.

In fact, many believe that cannabinoids like CBD can be very helpful in managing a wide range of bowel diseases and disorders.

In fact, it is fairly common for people to use medical marijuana to treat the following bowel conditions:

  • Celiac disease
  • Leaky gut disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • and many others.

Now, in the wake of this brand new research, it seems as if patients might be able to add inflammatory bowel disease to that list.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Long-Term Cannabis Use Improves Symptoms of IBS, Study Shows.” Green Rush Daily, 28 Oct. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/health/studies/long-term-cannabis-use-improves-symptoms-of-ibs-study-shows/.

Massachusetts Lab Offers First Two Vitamin E Acetate Screenings Free

With regulators zeroing in on vitamin E acetate as the likely cause of vape-related lung sickness and death, one testing lab is offering free product testing.

The state of Massachusetts is taking aggressive action to improve regulations and testing procedures for vaping products. Efforts are currently focusing on vitamin E acetate, after the Centers for Disease Control released a new report identifying the common vape additive as a likely cause of the recent nationwide outbreak of vape-related deaths and lung sicknesses.

In light of the CDC’s findings, Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission is quarantining all cannabis vaping products until it can develop protocols for making sure shops aren’t selling anything containing vitamin E acetate. And the commission is getting a little help from MCR Labs, the laboratory that developed one of the first ways to test weed for the suspect chemical. And to respond to increasing public concerns about vitamin E acetate’s roll in vape-related lung illness, MCR Labs is offering two free screenings to any and everyone who wants to test their cannabis products.

LAB FINDS UPWARDS OF 50 PERCENT VITAMIN E ACETATE IN FAKE THC CARTRIDGES

MCR Labs began screening cannabis vape cartridges for vitamin E on September 20, coinciding with the start of Massachusetts’ ban on vapes. Of the 109 samples MCR Labs analyzed, nine tested positive for vitamin E acetate. And some of those cartridges contained more than 50 percent of the additive by weight.

If you’ve ever wondered what all that extra stuff in your unregulated, counterfeit vape cartridge is, or why the color or consistency of the oil isn’t quite like the stuff you can get at licensed retailers, that’s likely why. Whoever’s manufacturing fake THC carts is cutting the THC oil with upwards of 50 percent vitamin E acetate. Indeed, MCR Labs saysthat none of the initial 109 samples it tested came from licensed producers or manufacturers of cannabis products.

Conversely, MCR Labs says that none of the vaping products supplied by a licensed, regulated producer have tested positive for vitamin E acetate.

MCR Labs is reporting its findings to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission as it works to develop new regulations addressing the ingredients, labeling, sourcing, manufacturing and consumption process of cannabis oils and concentrates. Meanwhile MCR Labs will continue to offer two free vitamin E acetate screenings to anyone who submits a cannabis vaping product.

The free tests help MCR inform state regulators about which kinds of products are most contaminated with the chemical. And so far, their results are raising questions about the effectiveness of the commissions’ quarantine on regulated products. Critics say the quarantine will push medical patients and retail consumers back into the illicit marketplace, where products are more likely to contain vitamin E acetate.

MASS. LAB BEHIND VITAMIN E ACETATE TEST OFFERS FIRST TWO SCREENINGS FREE

Despite the recent opening of Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis market, state agencies have had cannabis vaping products on lock down. Since late September, neither medical cannabis patients nor recreational consumers have been able to buy THC oils, concentrates, cartridges, aerosol products, inhalers or any products, like vape pens, designed to work with them. Instead, medical cannabis patients and recreational consumers can only purchase flower and vaping devices that work exclusively with dried herb.

At the height of the public outcry over the nationwide vape-related health crisis, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency ban on all e-cigarette and cannabis vaping products. The governor’s action drew a slew of legal challenges, and a state Superior Court has been steadily chipping away at the blanket ban on vapes, ruling that Gov. Baker and the state’s Department of Public Health exceeded their constitutional authority.

In one major decision, Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled that only the state’s Cannabis Control Commission had the authority to block the sale of cannabis products. But just as the governor’s ban on medical cannabis vaping products expired on November 12, the commission issued a quarantine on all medical cannabis products except flower.

The commission cited the recent CDC report linking vitamin E acetate to lung illness and vape-related deaths. Under the agency’s existing set of regulations, product testing does not require screening for vitamin E acetate. Therefore, the commission said in a statement, products sold at licensed dispensaries and retail shops could contain the suspect additive.

Drury, ByAdam. “Massachusetts Lab Offers First Two Vitamin E Acetate Screenings Free.” Green Rush Daily, 14 Nov. 2019, https://greenrushdaily.com/health/massachusetts-lab-offers-first-two-vitamin-e-acetate-screenings-free/.

Lab Test Shows ‘Fentanyl Laced Weed’ Police Found Had No Fentanyl

Three back-to-back false field tests lead to the wrongful arrest and defamation of a young man.

A shocking twist to a strange saga appears to exonerate a man accused of lacing his marijuana with the highly addicting opiate, fentanyl, as an FDLE report concludes there was actually no trace of the pain-killing substance in the cannabis.

The man in question, 19-year-old Lucas Rosier, was arrested during a traffic stop back in September. He was found with marijuana, which was then tested during a series of roadside exams.

But according to the latest report, which was first obtained by Jacksonville’s local Fox affiliate, Action News Jax, the test came back positive only cannabis and not fentanyl as previously believed.

The results of the latest tests dispute the Clay County Police Department’s original findings. In fact, the battery of roadside tests concluded the exact opposite of what was determined by the far more accurate FDLE screening.

 “The results came back negative for marijuana all three times,” the original report said. “The green leafy like substance tested positive for laced fentanyl all three times using an agency issued field test kit.”

Rosier admitted to Action News Jax that the last few months have been difficult on him following the police’s initial findings.

“I’ve had people send me death threats saying you’re a horrible human being, that I shouldn’t even be alive.” Rosier said.

One of Rosier’s lawyers, Beth Sammons, says the roadside kits used in these drug stops are often unreliable.

We have no idea how the Sheriff’s Office is storing these kits, we have no idea how old these kits are.” Sammons said.

Rosier’s case will now go through misdemeanor diversion and subsequently dropped. The CCPD said they will update their Facebook post about the arrest—likely, as an effort to decrease the backlash against Rosier—once they receive the tangible results of the FDLE lab test.

The Clay County Police Department also noted they will continue to evaluate their drug kits, but as of right now, they will still be used.

Fentanyl in Weed

There have been some other reported cases of marijuana-laced fentanyl, although, these cases are few and far in between.

Back in April, there were three different incidents involving fentanyl-laced marijuana in upstate New York. The first,  police found three people unconscious in a car in a parking lot after they ingested the tainted cannabis. Another incident in Sullivan County had officers confiscating seven grams of weed that was found to have traces of fentanyl in it. A third incident, this time in Knox, New York, saw paramedics revive three more people who had overdosed on the polydrug.

“This is the stuff that is causing the majority of the overdoses,” Sullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff said at the time. “They are mixing fentanyl with heroin, cocaine and now marijuana.”

A fentanyl-laced marijuana epidemic also broke out in Tennessee back in 2017. At the time, Tennessee DA Matthew Stowe expressed his concerns about the drug popping up exponentially in confiscated marijuana.

“It’s absolutely being seen in Tennessee,” he told local sources. “It’s being seen in West Tennessee, it’s coming in in vast, vast quantities.”

Kohut, ByTim. “Lab Test Shows ‘Fentanyl Laced Weed’ Police Found Had No Fentanyl.” Green Rush Daily, 5 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/news/lab-test-shows-fentanyl-laced-weed-police-found-had-no-fentanyl/.

Nevada Cannabis Lab Fined $70K for ‘Unsound’ Practices

PHOTO: nhungboon / Shutterstock.com.

SPARKS, Nev. – The Nevada Department of Taxation, Marijuana Enforcement Division has levied a $70,000 fine against state-licensed, Sparks-based cannabis testing facility Certified Agriculture Lab LLC, (known as Ag Lab) for “unsound testing practices,” according to media reports.

The lab also received a thirty-day suspension of its license, retroactively dated to November 18. Ag Lab must provide officials with a plan of correction to address non-compliant issues discovered by the state’s investigation before being allowed to resume testing for THC potency.Advertisement

In mid-November, the taxation department announced Ad Lab-tested products were labeled inaccurately for levels of the cannabinoid THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

The department did not comment on actual levels of THC in the product, but urged consumers who had purchased products tested by Ag Lab to contact their retailers with concerns. They did not issue a product recall.

At the time, Ag Lab said the suspension was “as baseless as it is appalling” in a statement.

The taxation department issued an advisory in November when it suspend Ag Lab’s license, alerting “all legal cannabis users to take caution when using product tested by Certified Ag Lab LLC and when comparing any similar products of the same potency, as those effects may be greater and/or less than that of the product tested by Certified Ag Lab LLC.”

This is not the first suspension for Ag Lab. On December 22, 2018, the taxation department suspended the lab’s license for “not following proper lab procedures and good laboratory practices.” The license was reinstated in early January 2019, when “deficiencies had been corrected.”

Joanne Cachapero. “Nevada Cannabis Lab Fined $70K for ‘Unsound’ Practices.” Mg Magazine – Cannabis News & Information, Joanne Cachapero, 21 Dec. 2019, mgretailer.com/cannabis-news/nevada-cannabis-lab-fined-70k-for-unsound-practices/.

Massachusetts’ Ban on THC Vapes Comes to an End

One day after the ban on e-cigarettes was lifted, THC vapes will be allowed again under new rules.

As the number of mysterious vape-related illnesses seems to slowly wane, some of the restrictions implemented on them, at least within certain state jurisdictions, also appear to be fading along with them. Most notably, in Massachusetts, where a full-on ban on vaping and the sale and distribution of vape-related products was recently reversed.

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health voted to remove the ban while implementing lesser-regulations on flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes. However, the new ordinances did not originally mention anything about THC vaping products; the state legalized recreational marijuana sales in November of last year.

But cannabis smokers didn’t have to wait long on the issue—the state’s ban on THC came to a ban just one day later, albeit with some new regulations in place.

THC VAPE CARTRIDGES ONCE AGAIN PERMITTED IN MASSACHUSETTS

On Thursday, the Cannabis Control Commission voted to once again allow the sales of cannabis vape pens and cartridgesfilled with THC oil. Patrons were allowed to purchase the product as of 2 p.m. that day.

The commission determined that there was not nearly enough evidence to determine that the mysterious lung illnesses were the result of dispensary-issued products. Still, the commission’s executive director, Shawn Collins, said that they will take additional preventive measures to ensure all THC products are clean and free from harmful additives.

“Today, hopefully, is the start of a process,” said Shawn Collins, the commission’s executive director.

Under the new set of laws, all cartridges sold after December 12th must be tested vitamin E acetate and other contaminants, such as heavy metals. Vitamin E acetate has been the chief contaminant found in black market products. The cutting agent wasn’t found in any legally-sold products, however. Other harmful components, such as Hydrogen Cyanide, have been found in illicit vapes.

Conversely, any products produced before December 12th will be quarantined indefinitely.

Each product will have to include a disclaimer on the packaging as well. The warning must read: “This product has been tested for contaminants, including Vitamin E Acetate, with no adverse findings. WARNING: Vaporizer Products may contain ingredients harmful to health when inhaled.”

The move comes as a major win for cannabis dispensaries. Some businesses saw up to 40% decreases in sales after the statewide ban. However, New England Treatment Access president Amanda Rositano believes its a win for all sides.

“ is really a win for our customers and our patients who can now have access to a product that has been tested, that’s well regulated, that comes with accurate information about what’s inside those products, and that really drives them back into the regulated market and away from the illicit market,” she said.

Kohut, ByTim. “Massachusetts’ Ban on THC Vapes Comes to an End.” Green Rush Daily, 13 Dec. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/politics/massachusetts-ban-on-thc-vapes-comes-to-an-end/.

CDC Lists Vape Brands Linked to Hospitalizations

Dank Vapes was used by more than half of the hospitalized patients.

Following an outbreak of a mysterious vaping illness that has plagued the country, officials have determined some of the brands directly linked to the lung issues caused by the black market vape cartridges.

According to the new report from the CDC, the brand Dank Vapes was used by 56 percent of the hospitalized patients, with  TKO (15%), Smart Cart (13%), and Rove (12%) rounding out the group.

“It’s not likely that a single brand is responsible for this outbreak,” Brian King, a senior CDC official on the investigation told the AP.

While a few are actual brands, Dank Vapes isn’t a licensed company. Instead, it’s simply empty packaging illicit sellers can buy from China and fill their oils in.

The other companies are victims of a similar ploy. Sellers can also purchase fake TKO, Smart Cart, and Rove packaging to make their homemade oil look similarly legitimate.

The co-founder of TKO Products, Bill Loucks, says that his company only sells to licensed dispensaries in California. Still, he receives emails about his product in various other states. TKO, like the other aforementioned companies, has had to scramble to protect its brand by updating its packaging design.

“If you bought them outside of California … you are the proud owner of fakes,” Loucks said to the Associated Press in an email.

THE WORST MIGHT BE BEHIND US

According to the CDC report, the worst of the mysterious outbreak may be behind us. Per the data, there has been a decline in hospitalizations dating back to mid- September.

“Since September 15, there has been a steady decline in hospitalized EVALI patients reported weekly to CDC,” the report says. “Among all hospitalized EVALI patients reported weekly to CDC by states since November 5, 2019, the percentage of recent EVALI cases declined from 58% reported November 12 to 30% reported December 3.”

Still, there are numerous cases being reported to this day, with another 176 vaping-related lung illnesses this past November alone. Overall, there has been a total of 2,291 reported this year amongst all states. 25 of said U.S. states have reported at least a death, with a total of 48 casualties nationwide.

Some of these deaths have led to bans of flavored e-cigarette nicotine cartridges. New York City just became the first major city to ban flavored e-cigarette products, while Michigan became the first state to do so back in September when the epidemic was still at its height.

Still, research has shown most of the illnesses and deaths have been courtesy of black market THC cartridges, not flavored e-cigarettes. The CDC reported that a whopping 80% of cases were caused from vaping THC, while just 13% of the reported issues were from e-cigarettes.

“Overall, 80% of hospitalized EVALI patients reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products,” the CDC stated.

Lab studies have shown that most of the tainted cartridges contained traces of Vitamin E acetate oil, amongst other pesticides. Legally sold cartridges, on the other hand, tested clean, prompting warnings to only purchase the products from licensed dispensaries.

But the CDC wants you to err on the side of caution and stay away from vape products altogether.

“CDC recommends that persons not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC,” the report noted.

Michigan Requires All Cannabis Cartridges to Be Retested Before Sale

Michigan’s ban on cannabis vape products is lifted for any products that test clean after the emergency rules went into place.

In the wake of this year’s vaping crisis, in which numerous people around the country experienced lung injury, illness, and even death after vaping, Michigan is taking steps to ensure better safety for consumers.

Most recently, the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency issued emergency rules about vaping. Specifically, the agency has stopped the sale of all cannabis vape products.

But the move is not a permanent ban. Instead, it will remain in place until all products are re-tested to ensure safety.

ALL VAPE PRODUCTS MUST BE TESTED FOR VITAMIN E

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified vitamin E acetate as the substance causing all the vape-related health problems. In many cases, the substance was being used to cut THC oils used in vaporizers.

While vitamin E is safe in many applications, inhaling vitamin E acetate can lead to a number of health problems. And that’s exactly what has been happening to consumers in recent months.

Now, in an attempt to slow the frequency of vape-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths, Michigan is requiring that all cannabis vape products be tested specifically for vitamin E.

Anything containing vitamin E can not be sold. And any other additives must clearly be indicated on product labels.

“It is absolutely vital that patients and consumers know, with certainty, the ingredients in the products that they are using,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement. “These rules require stringent testing and will continue to prioritize the health and safety of Michiganders.”

The vitamin E testing rule applies to all new cannabis products in Michigan. But it also applies retroactively. That means that all vape products currently on dispensary shelves must be tested for vitamin E—even if they have already cleared earlier lab tests.

The emergency rules go into effect immediately. As soon as vape products have been tested and it’s clear that they do not contain vitamin E, they can once again be sold.

Despite potentially slowing retail for the time being, key industry players appear to be on board.

“We’re fully supportive of the governor’s decision,” Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, told the Associated Press. “Our members’ number one priority is providing safe, tested medicine to medical marijuana patients across the state. We think this will contribute significantly towards that goal.”

MICHIGAN’S CANNABIS MARKET

The emergency rules come on the eve of kicking off recreational retail sales in Michigan. Earlier this month, state officials decided to roll out recreational sales on December 1.

Initially, there was some uncertainty about whether or not recreational sales would actually start so soon. The biggest question had to do with whether or not sellers would have to wait for a brand new harvest. Doing so would take until 2020.

But authorities ultimately decided to green light the move instead of waiting. In order to allow for sales to begin so quickly, authorities will let already-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to transfer up to 50 percent of current medical marijuana inventory into recreational inventory.

This, officials said, should allow for enough product to start recreational sales. At the same time, it should also let medical sales continue without seeing too much slow down.

Lindsey, ByNick. “Michigan Requires All Cannabis Cartridges to Be Retested Before Sale.” Green Rush Daily, 25 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/health/michigan-requires-all-cannabis-cartridges-to-be-retested-before-sale/.

Edible Highs Vs. Smoking Highs: What’s The Difference

There’s a time and a place for each.

BENEFITS OF EDIBLE HIGH VS. SMOKING HIGH

Foodio/Shutterstock

Despite the popularity of smoking as the most common method of consumption, many cannabis users prefer edibles for a number of reasons.

Healthier?

One of the main reasons for someone to choose edibles vs smoking highs is healthcare. Combusting cannabis releases a number of potentially harmful toxins.

Even vaping weed, which produces fewer toxins than smoking, can still irritate the throat and lungs to the point of extreme discomfort. Furthermore, some of the harmful compounds found in tobacco smoke are also present in cannabis smoke. Thanks to edibles, anybody that doesn’t want to smoke will still be able to enjoy the benefits of marijuana with absolutely no strain to their lungs.

Dosing

Anyone purchasing their cannabis products from a dispensary in regulated marijuana markets may prefer edibles over smoking for controlled dosing.

In states like Colorado, every 10mg serving must be stamped with THC warnings. As a result, it is easy to keep track of exactly how much THCyou’re taking at a time. On the other hand, it is harder to tell how much THC you’re getting per puff when smoking.

If you’re making your own edibles, it will be much harder to control your dosage. When it comes to homemade edibles or anything acquired in a state without strict edible regulations, finding the right dosage will be more of a challenge. You’ll have to try a small amount at a time to get an idea of how potent the edible is.

Easier To Ingest

Making edibles can be complicated depending on the recipe. However, once they’re made, ingesting them is about as easy as it gets.

Smoking comes with more of a process than eating an edible. You’ll need to know how to roll or you’ll need a pipe. Then, you’ll have to grind and prepare the weed. Eating a pot brownie is as simple as breaking off the right serving size, chewing and swallowing. You won’t be left with a dirty pipe or stinky roach clip.

Stealthier

A huge advantage of consuming edibles over smoking is the stealth factor. Smoking in public can attract unwanted attention.

While smoking, anyone that is close enough to see you will likely smell you too. Even if you smoked in private, the smell of burned weed will likely stick to your breath and clothes. If you’re worried about any drama that may come from the lasting stigma against cannabis consumption, you’ll feel more comfortable consuming edibles in public. Just keep eyedrops on you in case your eyes get red.

Longer High

From a recreational perspective, one of the main reasons to consume an edible is in the hopes for a longer, stronger high.

Once you develop a tolerance to cannabis, you may find yourself smoking several bowls before feeling the desired effects. Not to mention, the high from smoking doesn’t last anywhere near as long as with edibles. If you don’t have the time to grind weed and roll or pack a bowl constantly, you may benefit from choosing edible marijuana over smoking the plant.

Benefits of Smoking vs. Edibles

Circuito Fora do Eixo/Flickr

Even though edibles seem to come with a number of advantages over smoking, most people still prefer to burn one.

FASTER HIGH

The main advantage smoking provides over edibles is the fast-acting relief. When you eat an edible you may have to wait for up to two hours before feeling any of the effects. Even worse, you could wait hours and feel nothing. On the other hand, you’ll feel most of the effects from a joint by the time you finish it.

Certain patients that need quick relief can’t wait for the effects of edibles to kick in. When you’re laying in bed wide awake, you won’t want to wait two hours to feel the sedative effects from an edible. Anyone suffering from a condition that requires immediate relief is better off smoking or vaporizing cannabis.

FEWER SURPRISES

Smoking will come with fewer surprises than consuming edibles. If you’re not purchasing your edibles from a dispensary with strict regulations on dosing, you’ll have to find out the potency on your own.

Take caution when trying edibles you made yourself. Try as small of a piece as possible, slowly increasing dosage until effects are felt. Most beginners try weed for the first time by smoking, not eating it. An edible is more likely to overwhelm users than a joint. If high levels of THC make you anxious, you’ll want to avoid edibles that aren’t marked with the precise dosage per piece.

Fewer surprises will also make it easier to microdose cannabis. You can take things one puff at a time and gradually feel effects escalate. With an edible you may not feel anything in an hour, take another dose and then get hit by both doses at once. Microdosing with edibles requires much more patience than with smoking.

SOCIALIZING

Edibles aren’t the best method of consumption in a group setting for a number of reasons.

It only takes a few seconds to consume an edible but it can take up to a few hours for the effects to settle in. As a result, some people may find themselves sitting around waiting while others are already on cloud 9. On the other hand, smoking a joint will give a group something to do while together while waiting to get high. By the time the joint is finished, the whole group should be at least somewhat high.

People that prefer edibles vs smoking usually do so for reasons associated with stealth and health. Smoking also has its advantages for people looking to get high as soon as possible.

Daily, ByGreen Rush. “Edible Highs Vs. Smoking Highs: What’s The Difference.” Green Rush Daily, 15 Nov. 2019, greenrushdaily.com/guides/edible-highs-vs-smoking-highs-whats-the-difference/.

Doctors Perform Double Lung Transplant On Patient With Vaping Illness

A medical breakthrough—and a warning to the public.

Doctors at Henry Ford Health System say they just completed the first-ever double lung transplant on a patient suffering from vaping-related lung injuries. While the operation is a breakthrough, many health experts are also using it to warn the public about the potential dangers of vaping.

Recently, the U.S. and other countries have seen a spate of lung injuries—many of which have turned fatal—that experts believe are directly linked to vaping.

History-Making Surgery

Yesterday, the Henry Ford Health System, located in Detroit, Michigan, published a brief press release about the operation.

“A team of Henry Ford Health System medical experts performed what we believe is the first double lung transplant in the United States for a patient whose lungs were irreparably damaged from vaping,” the release stated.

According to the hospital, the patient has asked for his identity not to be released. However, the patient did give permission for the hospital to share updates and photos. According to the press release, the patient wants this information to help “warn others.”

So far, there has not been additional information besides this initial press release. But the hospital is scheduled to hold a press conference later today. At the conference, the hospital will likely provide updates on the patient’s status.

Lung Epidemic Linked to Vaping

This is the latest piece of news related to the ongoing epidemic of vaping-related lung illness. To date, the U.S. has seen more than 2,000 lung injuries. And experts say they are directly linked to vaping. Even worse, out of those injured, at least 39 patients have died.

The sudden uptick in vape-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths has become what many consider to be a public health crisis. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently said those numbers are dropping.

Cause of Epidemic Has Been Identified

Initially, experts were uncertain about the cause of these illnesses. But it appeared as if THC cartridges on the illicit market were especially dangerous.

In fact, one study from September showed that a high percentage of illegal vape cartridges contained a substance called vitamin E acetate. According to that study, 13 out of 15 illegal vapes had vitamin E.

Vitamin E acetate is reportedly used as a thickening agent in some vaping liquid. But when vaporized and inhaled, the substance can quickly become harmful, even deadly.

Since the release of that study in September, the CDC has focused even more on the dangers of vitamin E acetate. Just last Friday, the agency confirmed that the substance is likely the cause of the recent lung injuries.

“For the first time, we have detected a potential toxin of concern: vitamin E acetate,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lung.”

Now, in the wake of the recent double lung transplant, health experts are once again reminding the public of the potential dangers of vaping.

“It would be nice if it’s the last—if the epidemic of acute lung injury can be brought under control” professor of medicine Dr. David Christian told media source Global News.

Donohue, Caitlin. “$1 Billion Worth of Cannabis Seized in California Hemp Field Bust.” High Times, 4 Nov. 2019, hightimes.com/news/1-billion-worth-of-cannabis-seized-in-california-hemp-field-bust/.

MEDICAL CANNABIS AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Source: Herb.delivery

Chances are that most of us have either dealt with a loved one who has suffered from dementia or knows someone with a loved one suffering from the condition. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia worldwide, accounting for between 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. This means that Alzheimer’s affects approximately 30 million people across the globe. Since life expectancy is increasing, this number is expected to almost quadruple to 120 million people by 2050.

Because of this expected explosion of cases, scientists and medical professionals are looking to different ways of treating and, hopefully, preventing the disease. One of those ways is cannabis.

Is cannabis a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s? As it turns out, there is evidence that it may help in some ways, but long-term testing still needs to be carried out in humans.

How Alzheimer’s Affects the Brain

The jobs of our brain cells include the sending and receiving of information, generating energy, and constructing new brain cells. They are like little factories. Just like a normal factory, if one part of the assembly line breaks down it causes problems with other parts of the factory. Scientists know that people with Alzheimer’s have a particular kind of breakdown in the cells of the brain that leads to irreversible symptoms.

The prime suspects in damaging the cells are two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles. Plaques are deposits of a protein fragment called amyloid-beta that build up in the spaces between nerve cells. Tangles are another protein called tau, which forms twisted fibers that build up inside cells.

Source: Very Well Mind

While scientists aren’t exactly clear on just how plaques and tangles work in Alzheimer’s disease, most believe that they may block communication between and inside nerve cells. These blockages lead to cell death, which leads to the loss of memory, personality changes, and problems carrying out daily tasks.

Autopsies indicate that everyone develops plaques and tangles as they age, but those with Alzheimer’s tend to develop far more and in a predictable pattern. This pattern begins in the memory areas of the brain before spreading to other areas. This is why the first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss.

Source: Medical Net

Cannabis and Alzheimer’s

Currently, 14 medical marijuana states allow cannabis for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. While researchers currently see the potential for benefit in some cases, they also recommend caution due to the possible unforeseen risks. Alzheimer’s advocacy groups recognize the potential benefits in mood, sleep, and behavior. They also, however, note that studies indicating the benefits are limited.

Agitation, aggression, and anxiety are some primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s where cannabis use may have a positive impact. While small studies have been done on individuals with conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using cannabis to alleviate these symptoms, they have been small. The only evidence currently available for the effect on Alzheimer’s disease is anecdotal.

This means that there is a need to do more, larger studies on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and cannabis. These studies should focus on effectiveness, dosing methods such as vape pensor edibles, and which cannabinoids are the most effective.

While cannabis may help to improve symptoms or episodes of agitation or anxiety, there is currently no reason to suspect that cannabis would improve cognitive function in current Alzheimer’s patients. However, there might be positive indications for cannabis preventing the development of Alzheimer’s in the future.

Source: Zenpype via Lab Roots

Cannabis in Preventing Alzheimer’s

David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California is part of a team testing the effects of THC on human neurons grown in a lab. The study showed that tetrahydrocannabinol promotes the removal of amyloid-beta protein and lowering inflammation. Amyloid-beta protein is thought to be one of the primary factors in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The downside to this study is that the amyloid-beta protein that forms the plaques believed to cause Alzheimer’s is that those proteins have other important brain functions. So, the complete removal of them is a no-go. However, limiting the inflammation response to the plaques may be beneficial. Thankfully, both THC and CBD (cannabidiol) are both potent antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.

It is important to note, however, that while research indicates that cannabis may play a role in reducing these proteins and inflammation in rodent models and lab-grown cells, we are still a long way away from testing on humans.

Source: Ghost Professors

It is important to note, however, that while research indicates that cannabis may play a role in reducing these proteins and inflammation in rodent models and lab-grown cells, we are still a long way away from testing on humans.

The takeaway here is that while cannabis shows promise as a potential preventative treatment and may help with some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we’re still a long way from declaring it as a legitimate treatment.

Cannabis Magazine. “Medical Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease.” Cannabis Magazine, 23 Aug. 2019, cannabismagazine.com/medical-cannabis-and-alzheimers-disease/.

Cannabis and Mental Health: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

To avoid the side-effects from traditional medications, some ADHD patients are using cannabis.

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Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that can considerably impact one’s daily life. The disorder has the ability to affect attention spans and behavior, as well as trigger bouts of hyperactivity. As such, patients tend to struggle with school, work, relationships, and common tasks and interactions. 

Several causes of ADHD have been identified. They include genetics, developmental issues in the central nervous system, and a person’s environment. Additionally, families with ADHD or other mental health concerns may be at higher risk, as are those exposed to toxins as children. Issues during pregnancy, like premature births or drinking while pregnant, can play a factor as well. 

Coexisting conditions tend to occur alongside ADHD. Accompanying disorders may affect a person’s anxiety, mood or psyche, with learning disabilities also common. 

ADHD contains three subtypes of the disorder, including attention deficit disorder (ADD). Other subtypes include Combined, which affects hyperactivity and inattentiveness, and Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, which states what is affected in its name.

According to 2016 Center for Disease Control data, 9.4% of American children between the ages of two and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. Of the 6.1 million diagnosed, 3.3 million children were diagnosed between the ages of 12 and 17. 

The disorder is known to affect the sexes differently. Girls with ADHD tend to outperform boys with ADHD in school. Meanwhile, boys tend to suffer in school and act out more. Boys with the condition likely stand out more due to their frequency as well, with triple the amount of diagnoses. 

In both genders, symptoms include being withdrawn, frequent talking, disorganization, and difficulty completing tasks. That said, with symptoms mirroring a person’s everyday struggles, making it difficult for a person to know what they’re dealing with. Experts suggest consulting a physician if you feel that you or your child’s day is disrupted daily. If the occurrence is not a daily burden, it is not likely ADHD.  

Though more frequent in children, ADHD affects 4.4% of adults as well. This percentage may be inaccurate, according to some expert positing. They believe scores of undiagnosed adults may drive the figure higher, though unclear of the number. While possible, the Mayo Clinic points out that adult ADHD diagnoses are difficult. In addition to the previous examples, ADHD also shares similar symptoms with other anxiety or mood disorders, further clouding a diagnosis. 

Like other disorders and mental conditions, some don’t see their ADHD as entirely negative. “ADHD is an absolute blessing and blatant curse depending on the day,” explains Melissa Gumely, an early-30s clothing designer and creative. She offered up examples. “There are days I’m a multitasking, hyper-focused ninja working on and completing task after task. Others, I can’t get out of my head or my bed.”

Officially diagnosed at 17, Gumley recalls her hyperactivity as a problem for teachers as early as age seven. By her senior year in high school, she reported taking AP classes with an inability to focus on a single one. 

“I would finish assignments within 10 minutes and then get sent to go ‘walk it off,’” she said. She switched to a vocational program mid-year, which she said helped. 

She continues to struggle with ADHD today. Her symptoms include feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. “It’s constantly fighting with your executive function because some days your brain and body are working against each other.” She continued, “It’s exhaustion but permanent insomnia.”

Treatment for ADHD

In most cases, adults and children are treated using some combination of medication, psychological therapy and treatment for any coexisting conditions. However, some patients experience less than ideal outcomes with traditional methods. Some of the reported adverse effects include difficulty sleeping, higher blood pressure, head and stomach pain, as well as weight loss. 

As such, cannabis has become an option for many seeking treatment. 

Sarah ElSayed is a public relations executive who was diagnosed with ADD nearly 12 years ago. She explained how cannabis has been part of what she believes is her ideal treatment. “I do believe that cannabis, in addition to probiotics and a reduced sugar diet, helps me maintain my focus without the help of stimulants.”

Medical professionals who spoke to High Times for this article agreed that ADHD treatments are not one-size-fits-all. Brooke Alpert is a licensed cannabis practitioner and founder of Daily Habit. Alpert touched on the correlation between CBD and ADHD. “The studies that focus on ADHD and CBD have shown some conflicting evidence.” 

She added, “I think more research needs to look at what relief people are finding with cannabis so we can have a better picture of how to further recommend CBD and cannabis for those with ADHD.”

Alisa Martin is a writer and researcher for InsuranceProviders.com and holds a B.S. in medical technology. Martin pointed towards a study that found 25% of patients surveyed manage their ADHD with cannabis. The researcher went on to agree that additional studies are required. “More investigation is needed from the medical community, as well as an increased public openness and understanding regarding the benefits,” said Martin. 

The current lack of evidence and the federal legal status in the U.S. leaves medical professionals uncomfortable to prescribe cannabis. As such, patients often self-medicate.

Those who self medicate have some lab findings to confirm their faith in cannabis treatments. They include a 2017 small clinical study that found that a 1:1 CBD/THC medicine reduced ADHD symptoms. Matt Scillitani, a Demographic Researcher for Remedy Review, also cited the study. Scillitani also pointed out that the research did not meet a statistically significant threshold. 

He echoed a similar sentiment about the need for more studies. He also touched on shortcomings in the currently available date. “Additionally, of the few clinical studies that do evaluate cannabinoids and ADHD, most assess the effects of THC or THC/CBD adjunctively.” Scillitani also pointed out that studies typically use only adults and small sample sizes.

Despite the uncertainty in the eyes of science, many are convinced cannabis is their ideal treatment. For the designer Gumley, she claims that cannabis provides everything medications like Adderall, Vyvanse and Ritalin claimed but never did. “It helps bring calm to an otherwise constant anxiety-ridden body,” she explained, highlighting mental and physical relief. 

She added, “Cannabis has changed my life exponentially for the better.”

Ward, Andrew. “Cannabis and Mental Health: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” High Times, 21 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/health/cannabis-and-mental-health-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/.

End-of-Life Hospital Care in California Could Soon Include Cannabis

The awkward legal-ish status of cannabis is something that affects many. And out of those, perhaps terminal patients are the most in need. When someone is painfully dying in a hospital, they are generally pumped full of drugs that often leave them barely conscious, or fully asleep.

Ryan had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had reached the point where he needed professional care, but his only option to treat the intense pain was morphine, and even fentanyl—which is up to 100 times stronger than already-potent morphine⁠—leaving him barely conscious, or asleep. The last days of his life were being stolen, and he wanted all the coherent time he could gather to spend with his 9-year-old son.

So Ryan asked his father, Jim Bartell, to get him off the pharmaceuticals so he could function in some capacity during his last days. Jim located a hospital that would allow cannabis, and Ryan was promptly transferred to it. On the first day that Ryan was allowed cannabis, they had to spray a tincture under his tongue because he couldn’t even swallow.

But by the next morning, he was reportedly alert, talkative, and pain-free. Ryan was able to spend his last two and a half weeks of life chatting on the phone and taking visitors—connecting, laughing, and taking the precious time to say goodbye.

But Jim Bartell’s Mission Had Just Begun

Ryan Bartell passed away on April 21, 2018, but Jim wasn’t done with this issue. He drafted a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis in hospitals.

In an interview with Leafly, he shared that as President of a San Diego firm that handles things like government PR, he’d been prepared for this mission—he’d already reviewed hundreds of government bills over the years.

After three long months of research and another three weeks of drafting, he took SB305 to Senator Ben Hueso at the end of 2018. Sen. Hueso agreed to sponsor it, and Jim and his staff continued to work together near daily until SB305 was submitted in February. Much of the pushback came from the California Hospital Association, who feared that they would lose federal funding as cannabis is still federally classified as a Schedule I drug.

But they worked through the opposition, drafting the bill so if the government were to change position and enforce federal prohibition against cannabis—then that hospital would be suspended from compliance.

And on September 11th, 2019, the California State Legislature unanimously approved their Senate Bill No. 305, which was aptly, and powerfully, titled “Ryan’s Law.” It’s now on its way to California’s pro-cannabis Governor Newsom, who is expected to sign it in the coming weeks. If all goes as predicted, it will come into effect on January 1st, 2020.

This means that starting next year, terminal medical cannabis patients with a prescription will be able to use cannabis in forms other than smoking/vaporization in hospital care. Cannabis will be procured by the patients, not the hospital. Hospitals will not be allowed to interfere with its administration, but will be allowed to help if needed.

Next steps for Ryan’s Law

Jim doesn’t plan to stop there. He says that this issue is affecting people like Ryan, and the people who love them, all over the country—so he’s doing something about it. First steps are to take on the geographically (and politically) close states of Oregon and Washington. And now they’ll only have to amend the bill with state-specific health codes instead of starting from scratch. Hopefully these states align quickly, and others as well.

Medical cannabis may be legal in many places, but patients in need of this medicine still face obstacles in terms of using it when and where they need it. While the chronically ill and those still in the fighting stages of diseases aren’t yet protected, this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

While some other states have on the books that they allow cannabis in hospitals, this will be the very first law that requires allowing it. Finally.

Even with such strict laws in place, a massive library of studies supporting the power of medical cannabis have amassed over the decades. It’s beyond time that medical cannabis became more accessible.

Hartley, Meg. “End-of-Life Hospital Care in California Could Soon Include Cannabis.” Leafly, 24 Oct. 2019, http://www.leafly.com/news/politics/end-of-life-hospital-care-in-california-could-soon-include-cannabis.

Can Cannabis Help with Crohn’s Disease?

Can cannabis help with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease? This is a popular question, with a myriad of articles claiming that cannabinoid-rich oil can bring relief—or even a cure—to those diagnosed with the disease. Claims like these sound enticing and exciting, but is there truth to them? Is there research to back up cannabis as a remedy? Does anecdotal evidence support the claims?

As it turns out, the results are not as straightforward as it would seem.

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. This autoimmune disease affects the digestive track and in serious cases can cause life threatening complications.

For some, the disease presents mild to almost no symptoms, while for others, it can be a life-long battle. Some of the most common symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Digestive issues

In severe cases, Crohn’s disease can lead to losing sections of one’s colon, or even so much that a colostomy bag may be necessary.

It is clear to see why the hunt for a cure is so important for patients. Currently, there are no pharmaceutical medicines or medical treatments that offer a cure for Crohn’s disease. Immunosuppressants and steroids can be used to slow its progression, but do not entirely prevent flare ups and symptoms.

But what about cannabis? Can cannabinoids offer a better alternative to the pharmaceutical industry? Unfortunately, neither the results of research nor anecdotal evidence provide a clear answer to this question.

The Research on Cannabis and Crohn’s Disease

There are currently no cures for Crohn’s disease, and that includes cannabis. That said, the real question is this: Can cannabis put and keep the disease in remission?

2018 study conducted by the University of Western Ontario assessed the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoids in inducing and maintaining remission in patients with Crohn’s. The results, however, were inconclusive.

Dr. Dustin Sulak, a leading clinician in the field of cannabis medicine, weighed in on the topic with an optimistic outlook. He confirmed that there are no current studies which show conclusive evidence that cannabis is treating the underlying symptoms of Crohn’s, but there are several successful animal models which show a clear, positive correlation.

Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather is a medical cannabis physician from California who continues to pursue knowledge and new research. When last touching base, Dr. Hergenrather spoke of a 500-person study on Crohn’s at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv that may reach as many as 1,000 participants. Time will tell the outcome of said study, but Dr. Hergenrather had a positive outlook on his observations thus far.

Both Dr. Hergenrather and Dr. Sulak’s spoke of encouraging results with their own patients.

“We’ve treated maybe 400 people with inflammatory bowel disease, [and] we’ve seen a whole range,” says Dr. Sulak. “We’ve seen people who are on biologic drugs that have been able to achieve better control when adding cannabis, and then over time get off those drugs and retain their remission. We see people who just don’t tolerate those drugs because they have a lot of side effects and they come here for alternatives, and cannabis works well. And [for some], cannabis doesn’t work.”

Dr. Hergenrather spoke of his own clinical experience, stating, “[About half of] the patients that I’m treating with cannabis seem to be able to eliminate the use of conventional medications. The use of CBD-rich strains and various blends will undoubtedly make this medicine more acceptable to a wider population of Crohn’s sufferers.”

So why doesn’t cannabis seem to work for everyone, and how can a patient know if it will work for them? Unfortunately, it seems to be a bit of trial and error.

“There’s no single approach that can specifically address the symptoms,” says Dr. Sulak. He says it’s a matter of individualized treatment for each patient, and that dosing and cannabinoids play a role. For example, he says a low does of CBD isn’t likely to help a chronic patient, whereas THCA is an important cannabinoid that should be included in treatment.

Are there risks associated with cannabis use and Crohn’s?

Unfortunately, without clear evidence or treatment options that can guarantee results, using cannabis as a treatment can leave patients feeling as though they are taking a gamble with their health.

Angela Bacca is a journalist with over 12 years of experience in cannabis media, business, research, and policy advocacy. She’s also been living with Crohn’s disease for 15 years.

“It’s a reaction to being lied to about pharmaceuticals for so long, I think,” said Bacca about the impulse to buy into the idea that cannabis oil is a cure-all. “What I have learned is that you can’t look at cannabis to ‘cure’ or ‘treat’ your disease the way a pharmaceutical drug promises to. Those drugs don’t either, but they usually suppress the problem—at greater long-term cost—so that you don’t have to do anything else to address your symptoms. [You’re] usually discouraged or kept in the dark about more natural things you can do to address symptoms.”RelatedCannabis Shows Great Promise in Treating Cancer—Let’s Not Wreck It With Hyperbole

Ultimately, Bacca experienced negative consequences from believing all she needed to treat her Crohn’s was consume cannabis oil. She says there’s a lot more to non-Western healing than simply replacing drugs.

Still, Bacca feels cannabis fits into a larger picture of health, not just for those diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, but for anyone suffering from any autoimmune disease.

“There are a lot of other ways to upregulate my endocannabinoid system without cannabis,” Bacca said. “You will also notice that the things that upregulate the endocannabinoid system are things everyone should do, especially if they have any sort of disease, illness, or discomfort—get sleep, get water, eat a whole food diet, avoid chemicals, get exercise, meditate, [and] manage stress.”

Bacca believes it’s time to move past asking questions such as, what strain can cure my Crohn’s disease? “That is a pharmaceutically minded way of looking at natural medicine,” she says. “Cannabis should be your gateway to herbalism and healthy living. You would be surprised how many people’s conditions reverse with clean whole food diets, herbs, exercise, sleep, and hydration. We need doctors to realize most [people] know little to nothing about cannabis because they know nothing about plants, diet, and the world around us.”

So how can patients talk to their doctors about adding cannabis to their treatment of Crohn’s? Dr. Sulak has some great advice for breaking the ice.

“My number one suggestion is always to use the word ‘cannabis’ and avoid its other name because doctors are more comfortable with that,” Sulak says. “I like to have patients say something to the extent of, ‘Would you be willing to learn more about the benefits of cannabis and whether that can help me?’ They can also say, ‘Do you understand how the potential risks and benefits of cannabis compared to some of the other treatments you’re suggesting?’”

So How Can Cannabis Help?

So if cannabis is not a cure, and evidence for its ability to put Crohn’s into remission is inconclusive, in what ways do we know cannabis can help patients with Crohn’s disease?

“All health should be about eliminating the conditions that cause the disease state as well as treating it,” says Bacca. “No, cannabis doesn’t cure [Crohn’s], but it makes a lot of symptoms go away.”

Cannabis can relieve symptoms of nausea and digestive issues, it can stimulate appetite to prevent weight loss, it can relieve pain, and assist in getting good sleep to help fight fatigue. When we look at cannabis in this light, we can see how it can greatly benefit people with Crohn’s—even if it can’t cure the disease.

Further research is needed to draw any conclusive evidence about the risks and benefits associated with cannabis and Crohn’s. Although the search for a Crohn’s cure continues, it’s worth acknowledging that cannabis can at least bring relief and a better quality of life to those suffering the disease.

Lland, Rae. “Can Cannabis Help with Crohn’s Disease? Doctors and Patients Weigh In.” Leafly, 24 Oct. 2019, http://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-and-crohns-disease.

Researchers Study How to Treat Cannabis Addiction With More Cannabis

A pioneering study from University College London researchers has found that CBD extracts can help people quit or reduce their dependence on cannabis

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The solution to cannabis dependency might simply be more cannabis. That’s according to a new study from researchers at University College London, which found that cannabidiol (CBD) can help people reduce their consumption of THC. Presenting the study at this year’s London’s New Scientist Live festival, lead author Val Curran called the findings “really remarkable.” Curran, a professor of psychopharmacology at University College London, and her team were the first to test the idea of using CBD extracts to treat cannabis use disorders. And indeed, the results are very promising: Curran’s study found that CBD extracts cut the amount of cannabis people smoked in half.

CBD Extracts Can Help Reduce Cannabis Dependency

Cannabis “addiction” can be difficult to define. With no strong chemical dependencies, cannabis use disorders aren’t as destructive or difficult to overcome as those involving more addictive substances, such as nicotine and alcohol. Still, rough estimates put about ten percent of cannabis users in the “addiction” camp. For these cannabis consumers, reducing intake or trying to quit can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxietyinsomnia and agitation. Scientists believe increasingly potent THC products are increasing the number of people becoming addicted to cannabis or struggling with dependency issues.

But Curran thinks her research is pointing to an answer. And the answer, she says, is treating cannabis addiction with more cannabis. But Curran doesn’t mean more flower, edibles, concentrates or other THC-dominant products. Instead, she says therapeutic doses of another cannabis compound, cannabidiol (CBD), can help people quit or reduce cannabis use without withdrawal symptoms.

Curran’s study took 82 people living in the U.K. who were classified as “severely addicted” to cannabis. The participants were divided into three groups, and over the course of a four-week trial, each group was given either a daily 400 mg dose of CBD, 800 mg of CBD, or a placebo. All participants also had access to counselors and other psychological support to help them drop their cannabis habit.

According to the study, the 400 mg CBD group experienced the greatest reduction in cannabis use after six months. Researchers measured cannabis consumption by testing participants’ urine for THC. Not only did the 400 mg CBD group have half as much THC in their urine, they also doubled the days when their urine did not test positive for THC. The 800 mg CBD group saw some improvement, but less than the 400 mg group. The placebo group saw no reduction in cannabis consumption.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and the Fight Against Addiction

Curran’s University College London study resonates with other recent findings about the ability of cannabidiol to both counteract the negative side effects of THC and fight addiction. One recent study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that CBD prevents the brain from amplifying stressful stimuli. THC, say researchers, sparks off a chain reaction of nerve signals in the brain that can spiral into stress and anxiety. Cannabidiol counteracts the runaway-train effect, blocking the signaling pathway and preventing the unwanted mental disturbances that potent doses of THC can cause. “CBD gets rid of the toxic effects of THC,” Curran said during her “Cannabis: medicine or madness?” talk at the New Scientist Live festival.

“CBD has a variety of anti-addictive properties,” said University of Sydney professor Iain McGregor. McGregor worked on Curran’s study and is also researching the use of CBD to treat alcohol addiction. Anxiety is a major side effect of detoxifying, and McGregor says CBD is very good at reducing anxiety.

These important studies continue to highlight the wide-ranging therapeutic and health benefits of cannabidiol. But it’s important to keep in mind that most of the commercial CBD products available today, especially outside legal cannabis markets, do not have the potency of the capsules used in Curran’s study. And in most places, CBD products face little if any regulatory scrutiny.

Drury, Adam. “Researchers Study How to Treat Cannabis Addiction With More Cannabis.” High Times, 14 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/news/researchers-study-how-to-treat-cannabis-addiction-with-more-cannabis/.

A ‘Significant’ Number Of Patients Stopped Taking Benzodiazepines After Starting Medical Marijuana

Nearly half of patients using marijuana to help with their respective medical conditions stopped taking prescribed benzodiazepines, a new study reports.

“Within a cohort of 146 patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy, 45.2% patients successfully discontinued their pre-existing benzodiazepine therapy,” the study’s authors write. “This observation merits further investigation into the risks and benefits of the therapeutic use of medical cannabis and its role relating to benzodiazepine use.”

While much research has been dedicated to understanding how medical cannabis could potentially replace opioids for patients who deal with chronic pain and other ailments, the new study suggests patients who take Valium, Xanax and other popular tranquilizers for neurological conditions (such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures) may find relief through marijuana. The findings were published last month in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Researchers in Canada conducted a retrospective analysis of data collected from a group of patients who had been referred to the Canabo Medical Clinic for medical cannabis to treat a variety of medical conditions. They identified 146 patients who reported taking benzodiazepines regularly at the start of their cannabis therapy.

According to their findings, 44 patients (30 percent) had discontinued their benzodiazepines by their first follow-up visit. Another 21 had stopped the benzodiazepine treatment by their second follow-up visit, and one more person reported doing so at the third visit. All in all, 66 patients, or 45 percent of the sample, stopped taking benzodiazepines after starting a medical marijuana regimen.

“Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” the study states. “Discontinuation was not associated with any measured demographic characteristic. Patients also reported decreased daily distress due to their medical condition(s) following prescription cannabinoids.”

The amount of CBD and THC content did not appear to play a role in who continued to discontinued taking the tranquilizers.

The design of the study, however, limited the authors’ ability to speculate about the mechanisms underscoring their results. Additionally, because they didn’t have access to information on what marijuana strains patients used or how they consumed it, the authors caution that their results can’t be generalized to what’s available in legal commercial markets today.

“The study results are encouraging, and this work is concurrent with growing public interest in a rapidly developing Canadian cannabis market,” said lead author Chad Purcell in a statement. “We are advising the public to observe caution. The results do not suggest that cannabis should be used an alternative to conventional therapies. Our purpose is inspiring others to advance current cannabis understanding as we collect stronger efficacy and safety data that will lead to responsible policy and recommended practices for use.”

The study also serves as an opportunity to draw more attention to the potential risks associated with benzodiazepines, Purcell told PsyPost. “I was interested in this project because it presented an opportunity to address benzodiazepines and cannabis use, both of which are becoming increasingly socially relevant. Benzodiazepines can be effective in treating many medical conditions but unlike opioids, there seems to be little public awareness of the risks associated with these commonly used prescription medications.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths related to benzodiazepines rose 830 percent between 1999 and 2017.

Lawson, Kimberly. “A ‘Significant’ Number Of Patients Stopped Taking Benzodiazepines After Starting Medical Marijuana.” Marijuana Moment, 15 Oct. 2019, http://www.marijuanamoment.net/a-significant-number-of-patients-stopped-taking-benzodiazepines-after-starting-medical-marijuana/.

University Researchers To Study Effects of Medical Cannabis On Chronic Pain

The project will be subsidized by a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health

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The project will be subsidized by a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health

Researchers at the University of Georgia will study the effects of legalized medical cannabis on those suffering from chronic pain thanks to a multi-million dollar grant.

The project, announced this week, will seek clarity on whether medical marijuana laws alter the health behaviors of people living with chronic pain and whether they substitute or reduce traditional pain treatments while using medical cannabis.

“We are thrilled to get started on this work,” said Grace Bagwell Adams, assistant professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia. “Much of the policy change has happened quickly in a landscape that is not well understood at the patient level. This work is going to contribute to our understanding about the intersectionality of medical cannabis policy and the behavior of chronic pain patients.”

Researchers will have access to years of data on five million Medicare and five million Medicaid enrollees’ complete medical claims history, which will include all inpatient, outpatient and prescription drug use, as well as some information about socioeconomic status.

In addition, the research team will also examine comparable data on individuals with private insurance.

“For all three types of individuals—Medicare, Medicaid and HCCI/private insured—they will follow the same people over time and see how their pain management health care decisions change as they gain access to medical cannabis via changes in state laws,” the school said in its announcement.

The project could help illustrate the real world policy effects in more than 30 states across the country that have legalized medical cannabis. It is also the latest in a flowering of academic research on marijuana, as governments, institutions and companies reconsider prohibitions on pot as concerns over prescription painkillers continue to mount.

The National Football League said in May that it would participate in a study on the effects of cannabis on pain management, a response to the growing number of players who have become addicted to prescription drugs.

In April, the cannabis investor Charles R. Broderick made a $9 million donation that was split between Harvard and MIT to support research into how marijuana affects the brain and behavior.

Broderick said the gift was driven by a desire “to fill the research void that currently exists in the science of cannabis.”

David Bradford, the public policy chair at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, said that the research announced this week will also fill a gap.

“Researchers have been able to document reductions in aggregate prescription use, especially opioids, after states implement [medical cannabis laws],” Bradford said. “But there is almost no research on how a large representative sample of individual patients respond to medical cannabis access. Do we see lots of patients reducing opioid use, or just a few patients reducing by a lot? What happens to other kinds of health care use, like emergency room visits or physician office visits? We don’t know, and we’re excited to find out.”

Edward, Thomas. “University Researchers To Study Effects of Medical Cannabis On Chronic Pain.” High Times, 9 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/news/university-researchers-to-study-effects-of-medical-cannabis-on-chronic-pain/.

New Clinical Trial Will Examine Effects of Cannabis Compound on Autism

A clinical trial in New York will study the effects of CBDV on children with autism.

A New York clinical trial will study the effects of the cannabis compound cannabidivarin, or CBDV, on patients with autism, according to a report from CNN. The study at the Montefiore Medical Center will examine the effects of CBDV on irritability and repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Eric Hollander, director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program and Anxiety and Depression Program at Montefiore Hospital and the lead researcher on the study, told CNN that previous research has shown that CBDV may have potential as a treatment for autism spectrum disorders.

“In some of the animal models that are similar to autism, it was found that CBDV had important effects on social functioning, on decreasing seizures, on increasing cognitive function, and in reducing compulsive or repetitive behavior,” Hollander said. “So for that reason, we wanted to apply that to autism.”

The CBDV formulation being used in the study is produced in the U.K. by GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the only FDA-approved cannabis medicine Epidiolex. The drug has been approved for use in the U.S. and European Union to treat two serious disorders that cause childhood epilepsy. Dr. Geoffrey Guy, the founder of GW, said that epilepsy and autism share some common symptoms.

“When you look at these—loss of cognitive function, poor socializing skills, poor language skills—what you’re looking at is a phenotype very similar to autism,” Guy told Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview for the CNN special “Weed 5: The CBD Craze.” “In my mind, epilepsy and autism-type presentations are on the same continuum.”

Holand believes that autism and epilepsy may have similar underlying causes and says that CBDV has shown some success treating seizure disorders, giving him hope it may also be effective for autism patients.

“There’s some abnormal electrical activity even though they don’t have seizures, for example,” Hollander told Gupta. “And we had previously shown that when we give anticonvulsants that decrease the electrical activity, or the spikes, some of the disruptive behaviors, or the irritability, actually get better.”

“And that was one of our thoughts, why this CBDV could be helpful,” Hollander added. “Because if it helps with epilepsy and it helps in terms of decreasing the spike activity, we might also get improvement in the some of the aggression, or the self-injury, or the temper tantrums.”

Some Experts Wary About Cannabis

Dr. Alexander Kolevzon, the clinical director of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai who is not involved in the study, said that while he is encouraged by the potential of cannabis-based medications, it is still too early to tell if it’s an effective medication for patients with autism spectrum disorder.

“The field of autism has a long history of enthusiasm for many treatments based on small pilot studies and anecdotal accounts,” Kolevzon said. “However, often when these treatments are tested rigorously in larger studies, the benefits are not significantly different than that of placebo.”

Montefiore Medical Center is currently recruiting volunteers to participate in the study. Participants must be children 5 to 18 years old with autism spectrum disorder.

Herrington, A.J. “New Clinical Trial Will Examine Effects of Cannabis Compound on Autism.” High Times, 30 Sept. 2019, hightimes.com/news/new-clinical-trial-will-examine-effects-of-cannabis-compound-on-autism/.

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