Insights from across the cannabis industry
Could cannabis affect your brain structure or its function? While researchers are trying to answer these (and other) questions, the science remains unsettled. While some studies say that cannabis could cure brain cancer, others suggest the plant could actually have bad long-term effects on the brain. Let’s take a look at a couple of recent studies: No Effect on the Structure of the Brain A recent study in the medical journal European Neuropsychopharmacology found that marijuana has no discernible effect on the cortical structure of the brain. “Our results revealed that cortical morphology was not associated with cannabis use, dependence, or onset age,” researchers found. In other words, using cannabis doesn’t change your brain structure — at least not according to the conditions used in this study. But does this mean that cannabis is definitely safe for your brain? Not exactly. It’s just one study, which isn’t enough to prove — or disprove — the potential harmfulness of cannabis. For example, the study doesn’t explore possible effects on a molecular or psychological level. Could Cannabis Cure Brain Cancer? While the previous study was inconclusive about pot’s affect on the brain, another researcher believes in the healing qualities of the plant, especially when it comes to combatting brain cancer. Many patients use cannabis to reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy, but studies have shown that cannabis could actually help treat cancer. According to a recent report by 9News in Australia, neurosurgeon Dr. Charlie Teo is heading up a clinical trial to see if medical cannabis could be used to treat Glioblastoma, which Teo calls “one of the most aggressive cancers known to mankind.” The study aims to determine if cannabis oil with high THC can ease the symptoms associated with cancer, as well as the potential of the ability of cannabis oil to slowing the growth of the disease. The Complexity of the Issue It’s important to remember that the brain is very complex, and that even the best medical practitioners and researchers don’t know all of its secrets. Marijuana could be beneficial to someone with a certain type of brain disease, but could have negative effects on someone else’s brain. Long-term studies should be conducted for every type of disease — with every type of cannabis available — if we want to be sure about all the possible benefits and risks. For now, it’s safe to say that cannabis doesn’t seem to have a negative short-term effect on the brain. As for the long-term effects, they might be negative (cognitive impairments) or positive (curing brain cancer). New scientific findings and trials will ultimately be needed to determine which.
While little scientific research exists about cannabis' effects on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and babies, one thing is certain: more and more mothers are using it. Why? There is plenty of conjecture about cannabis use during pregnancy but very little fact. Despite women using cannabis for millennia during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, doctors and government officials have become increasingly wary of the topic. Some cite flawed studies to prove it is dangerous to the development and growth of offspring, but from a truly scientific point of view, medical professionals have very little knowledge on how cannabis use during this critical time affects real human babies. Either way, more and more women are doing it. One doctor has at least set out to understand what can be gleaned from the studies and to highlight the flaws in research available to medical professionals on the topic. Dr. Laura Borgelt, PharmD, FCCP, BCFS recently presented her findings at the third Marijuana for Medical Professionals conference in Denver, which provides continuing medical education credits to doctors nationwide. Borgelt also surveyed how dispensaries responded to calls from pregnant mothers and found major flaws in both the response from the research and medical community as well as the cannabis industry. She says she decided to embark on these studies with the University of Denver because she identified the major gap between medical knowledge and patient practice. One day during a consultation with a pregnant mother and medical resident she says the question of whether it was safe to consume cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding clearly highlighted the need for the work. “The resident told the patient that was completely fine. I sat there in my chair thinking to myself, ‘I am pretty sure that is wrong, but I don’t know if it is right,’” Borgelt said. %related-post-1% She points out that while the information on pregnancy and child development is light and inconclusive, there is even less research to work from on breastfeeding and lactation. She also notes a major flaw in the research; almost all of it refers specifically to the cannabinoid THC, leaving yet another gap in the study on CBD, other cannabinoids, and whole plant cannabis. As in most knowledge gaps in cannabis, there is also a large gap between medical research and the practice of how humans actually interact with cannabis and its chemical constituents. Although Dr. Borgelt’s research has left more questions opened than answered, she says for now the safest option is to avoid cannabis use in pregnancy and breastfeeding. “Medical cannabis has this benefit and risk that needs to be considered at all times in every patient, no matter how and when they are using it,” Borgelt said. Despite what the medical profession has to say on the topic, 15 to 28 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in and out of legal states are using cannabis. With so much uncertainty, why are they risking it? The Information Gap In Borgelt’s literary review, she sorted through hundreds of studies on pregnancy and breastfeeding with the goal of determining if there is an effect on fetal development due to cannabis use. “This migration, development and formation (of a human fetus) is astonishingly complex,” she said. “We know the endocannabinoid system is critical in development and neuroprotection.” She notes that there are higher numbers of CB1 receptors in the fetal brain than the adult brain. CB1 receptors are receptors in the nervous system that interact with cannabis and endogenous cannabinoids produced by the human body. The higher presence of receptors means the effects of cannabinoids would be more potent on a developing fetus or child than an adult. Borgelt says there is a potential that because THC could disrupt and interfere with proper cell signaling during the development of these neurotransmitter systems there could be an effect on fetal development. However, there is still no definitive current research that could prove or disprove this. As far as birth defects – the results of fetal development having been disrupted – there isn’t substantial evidence of this either. Borgelt says this speaks to the types of trials conducted and their limitations and points out that a lack of conclusive evidence is positive. “It is good news to me that this is not a thalidomide tragedy,” Borgelt says. But she says the literature does point, but not prove, to the possibility that cannabis could affect mental development, which would not become apparent until adolescent and teenage years, noting the human brain does not stop developing until the age of 25. Again, however, the studies don’t sufficiently confirm the theory. “We have found there is no substantial evidence, but there is moderate evidence, for attention problems, decreased IQ scores in young children, decreased cognition and growth,” Borgelt said. %related-post-2% But as Dr. Rachel Knox pointed out during a question and answer session with Borgelt at Marijuana for Medical Professionals, none of the research available accounts for other “confounding factors” or potential causes or contributors to the measured condition. All of the potential problems Borgelt mentioned could be attributed to other known causes such as socioeconomic status, other mental health problems, nutrition and access to healthcare and/or education. “We see those confounders as very closely related to all the possible problems you are listing in the teen years. I bring it up because populations who use it [in pregnancy and breastfeeding] are usually from a lower socioeconomic status,” Dr. Knox said. Dr. Borgelt agreed with Dr. Knox and added that these studies were flawed because they didn’t account for these other confounding factors. As for the effects of cannabis use during breastfeeding, Dr. Borgelt acknowledges even less is known with the available studies. Human breastmilk contains endogenous (produced within the body) cannabinoids, which can account for the sleepy “high” babies get after a meal. While these natural cannabinoids in breastmilk are safe, Dr. Borgelt warns that very little is known about phytocannabinoids in breast milk. “We have no information, or very, very little information. What we can say is THC readily passes into the breastmilk and there are numerous studies to confirm that. Chronic users will have up to eight times more THC in the breastmilk than in the plasma,” she said. “It is about the potency and the impact being higher and longer. When I have patients that ask about that, I will fully acknowledge our body makes its own endocannabinoids, but the exogenous are far more potent and last longer on receptor sites than what our body does normally which can influence the way the cell functions and develops. Why Women Use Cannabis During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding “It is hard to convince a mom (not to use cannabis) when she is puking six times a day,” says Borgelt. One of the primary reasons women use cannabis in pregnancy is for immediate relief of nausea. Women who are more comfortable with medical use of cannabis are more likely to view cannabis use as safer than pharmaceutical drugs that could be prescribed to women in pregnancy. There is a historical precedent for cannabis use in pregnancy. Cannabis has been used by midwives and herbalists to treat pain during menstruation and child birth and pain, nausea, anxiety, and insomnia in pregnant women for millennia. American and English doctors as late as the 19th century would recommend cannabis to mothers to induce and hasten childbirth. Although there are thousands of years of human experience with cannabis use during reproduction, very little formal study can point to any absolutes about effects. %related-post-3% In the 1990s, Dr. Melanie Dreher, currently the Dean of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and previously the Dean of Nursing at the University of Iowa College of Nursing, conducted a series of studies that are considered the most thorough studies of cannabis use in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. She followed mothers in rural Jamaica already regularly using real cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the development of their children over time. She found in 1994, “the (cannabis) exposed neonates showed better physiological stability and required less examiner facilitation to reach organized states. The neonates of heavy-marijuana-using mothers had better scores on autonomic stability, quality of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers.” One thing is certain, women have and will continue to use cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Real longitudinal studies that account for a host of confounding factors like other substance use, nutrition, genetic conditions, wellness and socioeconomic status are necessary to prove if there are negative side effects to development or growth of human offspring. Right now, those studies don’t really exist and no definitive statements can be made. While Borgelt encourages doctors to err on the side of caution, she acknowledges these flaws in research and suggests doctors keep an open mind so that doctors can get honest dialogue with their patients. “I want to encourage you to continue to have the conversations with these women,” she said.
Over the years, researchers have discovered the power of marijuana to help people suffering from myriad health conditions. Add Crohn’s disease to the list. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of this disease can be very incapacitating for patients, sometimes stopping them from holding down jobs or having a social life — or both. According to a new study, however, cannabis could offer relief to patients dealing with this frustrating condition. As Grizzle.com reports, an Israeli team of gastroenterology specialists conducted a study on 46 patients. Some were given cannabis oil, others a placebo. The study showed that those taking cannabis oil saw “a significant reduction” in their Crohn’s symptoms. The study comes two years after another study, which indicated that cannabis could prove to be effective “therapy for inflammatory bowel disease.” Crohn’s is but one of many health conditions that could be treated with cannabis. Marijuana has been shown to reduce the number of epileptic episodes — especially among children. It can also be used to reduce pain, which is appealing for multiple sclerosis or arthritis patients. It can also relieve nausea in chemotherapy patients. As far as Crohn’s is concerned, however, there is one caveat. While it might seem that Crohn’s patients saw relief from their symptoms due to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties, the latest study shows otherwise — meaning that more testing is needed, testing that might show that marijuana has even more healing properties that haven’t been discovered yet. Of course, each time a study shows that marijuana could cure a disease — or, at the very least, alleviate its symptoms — more people rally for legalization. Not only could cannabis help people with Crohn’s, but testing of cannabis for its potential to help people with Crohn’s and other diseases could drive lawmakers to further expand legalization.
According to some studies, as much as 75% of people on Earth are afraid of public speaking. If you count yourself as part of this statistic — fear not! Cannabis may help make your next performance a total breeze. You’ve tried imaging the audience in their underwear. Controlled breathing techniques haven’t helped. And your big speech is only a few hours away. Sure, you could freak out. Or you could enjoy a little cannabis and knock it out of the park. That’s right. According to a recent study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, using cannabis prior to public speaking can reduce performance anxiety, as well as symptoms of daily, general anxiety. Understanding the Experiment Designed to identify a link between CBD and the body’s anxiety response, the recent Brazilian study focused on physical anxiety markers — like high blood pressure — in a simulated public speaking setting. Participants were given 150mg, 300mg, or 600mg, and a placebo at random and then asked to give a 4-minute speech. Doctors assessed anxiety markers before, during, and after the speeches, and the findings were promising. Participants who received a 300mg CBD dose showed lower anxiety levels compared to those who received the placebo. Embracing the Benefits Based on these recent findings, people struggling with anxiety may have a truly effective option for managing symptoms. In the United States, that means roughly 18.1% of the population could get valuable relief from anxiety. And, yes, it may make your next presentation more bearable, too. All jokes aside, studies like this one are proving tremendously valuable in further identifying the medical benefits of cannabis. As more applications are identified, more work may be done to legalize medicinal cannabis across the country. We can’t speak for everyone, but we definitely don’t see that as a bad thing.
Even the best scientists have difficulty fully understanding sleep. But with the benefits of medical marijuana becoming more widely known worldwide, an increasing number are citing the benefits of using cannabis as a sleeping aid. If you’ve ever used high-THC marijuana, you’ve probably noticed that it can make you sleepy. Whether that sleepiness is good or bad for you in the long run is unclear, however. Many people struggle with chronic pain that keeps them awake at night. Others simply have difficulty relaxing and clearing their minds before falling asleep. As Forbes reports, Americans are expected to spend $52 billion on sleep aids — up from $14 billion in 2015. Sleep aids are huge potential market, and one that an increasing number of cannabis brands will likely explore. Zzz Natural is one such brand. Founded earlier this year, the company produces disposable vape pens that use “sleep-inducing terpenes and botanical extracts” to help people get the rest they need. While more research still needs to be done, experts are increasingly citing cannabis’ effectiveness as a sleep aid. Smoking THC before bed can help relieve and usher in the ZZZ’s, while the analgesic properties of CBD can soothe pain that keeps people awake. It appears that using CBD also reduces the amount of REM sleep, basically meaning users will dream less. This could be good news for people suffering from nightmares (due to PTSD, for instance). As Healthline.com points out, using CBD could mean that “you’ll spend more time in a ‘deep sleep’ state.” While this could be beneficial — as it helps your body to restore and rest — REM sleep is also very important, meaning that artificially reducing it, could have negative consequences on your health. Because little is known about the long-term use of cannabis as a sleeping aid, it’s wise to talk to a physician before using it. If you do begin using cannabis as a sleep aid, talk to your doctor regularly about the results, and jot down anything that could be considered a side effect.
While long-term cannabis use has been long been thought to lead to psychosis, a new study shows that CBD might actually help combat symptoms of this condition. Cannabidiol — better known as CBD — is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t make you feel high like you would after consuming the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and when taken alone, it can provide a wide range of health benefits. According to a new study, treatment of psychosis could soon be added to that list. People dealing with psychotic disorders often have difficulty thinking normally and perceiving reality, and can also suffer from hallucinations. These psychoses can significantly alter their ability to have normal relationships, maintain employment, or otherwise function normally from day to day. A New Psychosis Prognosis? While some researchers say that cannabis taken in large doses can be a risk factor for psychosis in some users, it’s unclear whether cannabis can trigger the condition on its own if no other risk factors are present. Researchers also aren’t sure how much THC someone needs to consume during their lifetime to be at risk for psychosis. On the flip side, a study by researchers at King’s College London shows that CBD might be a useful treatment for mental health conditions like psychosis. For the study, a group of patients with schizophrenia received 1000 mg of CBD every day for six weeks. Another group received a placebo every day for six weeks. Both groups continued taking their existing antipsychotic medication, and after the six weeks, the group receiving CBD “had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms, and were more likely to have been rated as improved and as not severely unwell by the treating clinician.” According to King’s College London, antipsychotic drugs “are often only partially effective, and can be associated with serious side effects.” CBD, with no known side effects, might be a good alternative for those reluctant to take “normal” medication, or for those who can’t take handle their antipsychotic treatments because the side effects are too difficult to live with. The lead author of the study calls the initial findings are promising, and says the next step is to carry out larger trials to “assess the effectiveness of CBD in other types of patients.”
From star athletes struggling with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy to soldiers struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the countless Americas struggling with chronic stress, brain health is constantly top of mind. Thanks to new research, however, some scientists believe cannabis may be the key to keeping our brains healthy — especially after significant trauma. Approximately 2 million Americans suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) each year. With these injuries come a long list of cognitive and behavioral challenges that can be extremely stressful and detrimental to continued overall health. In fact, the number of Americans living with TBI-related disabilities number as high 5.3 million. Despite these overwhelming numbers, researchers believe they have found a link between THC and CBD and recovery from significant TBIs. When administered shortly after a brain injury, THC has shown to jump start natural processes in the brain that protect brain cells and preserve cognitive abilities. How Cannabis Helps Administered before or after a TBI, THC, and CBD protect the brain by kickstarting the natural process the brain uses to minimize injury. When administered anywhere from one to seven days prior to an injury or one to three days following an injury, THC and CBD have shown to bolster the brain’s biochemical response to traumatic injury. Even more interesting is that the amount of cannabis found to help retain cognitive function is only a fraction of the amount found in a typical joint. Studies have also shown that CBD may be even more effective at reducing and minimizing the lasting effects of brain injuries. For younger patients or those who prefer to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD holds plenty of promise. What Are The Consequences? While the research is still on very preliminary stages, the parallels between cannabis and brain health are certainly promising. As more health professionals look to cannabis — especially CBD — as a safe, effective daily health supplement, the applications and benefits may prove life changing for many people worldwide. Do you see yourself toking into old age? If so, why? Let us know!
America has a real problem with opioids. Two new studies show that medical cannabis could be a real solution. Regardless of what you think of President Trump, when he called the nation’s opioid crisis a “national emergency,” he was completely right. As the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board points out, the misuse of and addiction to opioids — including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl — claimed more than 42,000 lives in 2016 — the same number of opioid-related deaths predicted for this year. That number works out to more than 250,000 deaths over the past decade or 115 deaths each day. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is urging “health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose,” to learn how to use the highly effective anti-overdose drug naloxone and keep it “within reach.” It’s Science But while the use of naxalone, which is carried by many first responders, can certainly save lives, new research indicates that medical marijuana can reduce greatly patients’ need for opiates altogether. Two papers published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed more than five years of Medicare Part D and Medicaid prescription data and found that after states legalized medical cannabis, both the number of opioid prescriptions and daily opioids dropped dramatically. As Scientific American notes, this new research mirrors a 2014 study that showed that states that had legalized medical marijuana saw nearly 25 percent fewer deaths due to opioid overdoses. %related-post-1% According to the Union-Tribune, there are two key takeaways from the new studies. First, the new studies appear to back up another JAMA report from November that showed that emergency room patients in New York City reported roughly the same amount of pain relief whether they received over-the-counter medications like Advil or Tylenol, prescription drugs like Percocet or Vicodin, or Tylenol No. 3. The study showed that not only are addictive drugs readily available in emergency room settings, but that they are prescribed too often, which is playing a significant role in the current opioid epidemic. The study also showed that hundreds of thousands of Americans are doing away with opioids in favor of non-addictive medical marijuana. While it’s unclear whether patients or doctors are leading the shift, a recent survey of 3,000 medical cannabis patients found that almost all of them say they could significantly reduce their dependence on opioids by adding cannabis to their treatment regimens, with a vast majority saying they would prefer to use cannabis over the prescription pills they currently take. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that the Justice Department seeks a “rational” marijuana policy. Wanting to save lives is pretty rational.
While medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states, only three say schools must permit students to use legal prescribed cannabis in school. The groundbreaking case of a 11-year-old girl in Schaumburg, Illinois, however, could help to narrow that gap. Ashley Surin was a toddler in December 2008 when she was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While several rounds of chemotherapy and spinal injections helped send her cancer into remission, one of the injections triggered debilitating seizures. Ashley has had to take numerous medications for those seizures — medications with serious side effects like extreme mood swings, memory loss, and limited energy. And, as her father, Jim, told CNN, Ashley still had semi-regular seizures. %related-post-1% After one particularly scary episode at a grocery store last year, Ashley had to be taken to the hospital. During a full-body seizure, her head hit the cement with such force that doctors had to drain blood from her brain. "It was the most helpless feeling in the world to see her go down and not be able to help," Jim told CNN. It took Ashley a long time to recover, and when doctors wanted her to try yet another drug last August, Jim says the family “drew a line in the sand.” They started seeing another doctor who suggested that a new regimen consisting of a change in diet and medical cannabis would produce much better results. And it has. The Surins got their medical marijuana license in December 2017, and according to Ashley’s mother, Maureen, Ashley’s seizures have already declined immensely. "We're amazed with her progress," she said to NPR. %related-post-2% Ashley uses a patch on her foot and an oil extract on her wrists. If she happens to have a seizure, she gets a small drop of oil on her tongue. As CNN explains, the cannabidiol in the cannabis helps to keep the seizures at bay. State laws in New Jersey, Maine, and Colorado says that schools must allow students to use prescribed legal cannabis in school. In Washington State, there is no such requirement, and schools can decide for themselves whether or not they will allow it. In the other 25 states where medical marijuana is legal, however, it is against the law for students to use it — or have school nurses administer it — while on campus. Illinois is one of those states. Despite the fact that Ashley takes cannabinol and not tetrahydrocannabinol — better known as THC, or the marijuana drug that causes people to get high — she couldn’t have it on school grounds. While, say, diabetic children in Illinois can receive help from an adult at school to administer insulin, a teacher or a nurse could lose his or her license if they helped Ashley with her prescription cannabis in school. And, as CNN notes, if Ashley wore her patch to school, she or her parents could technically face criminal prosecution. %related-post-3% While Schaumburg School District 54 was sympathetic to Ashley’s condition, and neither she or her parents were likely to be prosecuted, the school district said it was still compelled to follow the letter of the law. This left Ashley’s parents with two options: keep Ashley out of class or take the school to court. On January 10, her parents filed a lawsuit against the school system in federal court, claiming that the state's ban on utilizing medical cannabis in school violates the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Two days later, a judge ruled in the family’s favor. After missing a couple weeks of class, Ashley has since returned to school, and lawyers for the school district and the attorney general’s office are working on a long-term plan for Ashley and the school. While this case reached court, it should be noted that the school district was determined to find a solution that balanced the law with its obligation to serve a “medically fragile” student like Ashley. Darcy Kriha, the district's attorney, told CNN that the morning before the court hearing, she got a call from the district superintendent and the school board president who told her to do whatever she could to make sure Ashley could come back to school. Ultimately, the Illinois attorney general agreed not to prosecute, saying the staff who help Ashley with her medicine shouldn’t face any legal trouble. The federal judge quickly followed by issuing an emergency order to allow Ashley to go back to school. "They've changed Ashley's life today and they may've also changed the lives for other children for the better,” says Kriha. Kriha added that she applauds the Surins’ "courage" to bring a lawsuit on behalf of their daughter. As do we.
When it comes to Texas medical marijuana — the medical kind — pickings are slim in the Lone Star State. Really slim. Texas is the biggest state in the lower 48. It ranks second in the nation in terms of population and it’s home to seven of the nation’s 20 biggest cities. And while Texas is also home to 150,000 patients who qualify for the state’s new medical marijuana policy, there is currently only one dispensary in the entire state to serve them. Yes, uno. %related-post-1% Last September, Florida-based Knox Medical opened their medical-marijuana dispensary on a farm near Schulenburg, Texas. As The Fresh Toast notes, the small town of some 3,000 residents is a 90-minute drive from Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, making it a central location for those in need in the area. Not surprisingly, the locals in the conservative town are quick to point out that the lone Texas marijuana business is technically outside of city limits. Even Kristopher Emola, the cultivation manager for Knox Medical, has learned to keep quiet about the fact that he grows pot when talking to people in Schulenburg. “It’s one of those things that has been so stigmatized for so long, that it’s natural to question it initially,” Emola told The Atlantic. As The Fresh Toast points out, however, being off the beaten path is probably a good thing for the dispensary. Not only does Knox Medical have more than enough room to grow cannabis without getting too close to schools or playgrounds, it is also located far enough out that it won’t be stepping on locals’ toes — or convictions. According to The Atlantic, if small towns like Schulenberg can “get past the stigma” of playing host to such dispensaries, they could serve as the perfect entry points for the legal cannabis business to grow across prohibitionist states. %related-post-2% “If it helps people and it doesn’t hurt anything, why not do it?” asks Fayette County Judge Ed Janecka. The lone dispensary is the result of Texas lawmakers passing the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015, which allows patients to obtain low-THC cannabis. The law authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to establish a registry of prescribing doctors, and required the DPS to issue licenses by September 2017 to at least three dispensaries to sell CBD to 150,000 patients in Texas, mostly children, who suffer from severe epilepsy. According to Andrew Lerman, a neurologist who has been prescribing the drug to his own epilepsy patients in Florida since it was legalized there four years ago, the drug significantly reduces the number of seizures many of these patients suffer — and with virtually no side effects. While the drug could be a godsend for those who need it, there is no guarantee that all of the patients could benefit from it will actually have access to it. For starters, as The Atlantic points out, federal law stipulates that physicians in Texas could risk their prescribing rights if they recommend CBD to their patients. That fear is likely a big reason why only seven doctors in the state have registered for the program. On top of that, since cannabis oil is still classified as a a Schedule I narcotic and no health insurance will cover it, a good number of patients who would otherwise qualify for the pricey drug likely won’t be able to afford it. %related-post-3% Still, while CBD-heavy, low-THC marijuana could be too pricey for some patients, the fact that it’s legal at all in a state largely opposed to legalization is a definite sign of progress. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other state lawmakers insist that the Texas Compassionate Use Act will not usher in broader legislation, but, as The Atlantic rightly argues, it’ll be tough for legislators to fight the urge to expand Texas’ pot laws once the revenue from CBD starts coming into the state — not to mention the fact that the nation’s cannabis market is expected to grow three to four times over in the next seven years. At the very least, such growth could lead to an expansion of the Compassionate Use Program and more registered physicians. It could also drive legislators to reconsider their opposition to other, stronger forms of cannabis that could benefit even more people and, in turn, Texas’ coffers. But you gotta start somewhere. And, for now, that somewhere for Texas marijuana is Schulenberg. Well, just down the road from Schulenberg…
Have you been wondering if CBD treats for dogs are a good idea? There's a clear need for more scientific studies, but here’s one story that may help. My Dog Has Anxiety Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. He’s not afraid of thunderstorms, but he eyes neighborhood garbage cans with suspicion. He once got so stressed out during a long car ride — panting and shaking — that I thought he was going to have a heart attack. It was really next level. After trying everything I could think of to get him to calm down, I realized he was bothered by the shirts my husband and I had hung in the window. I can never predict what’s going to cause his stress, but I assume that my dog will be a nervous wreck at some point during any adventure, no matter how tame. %related-post-1% I am fortunate enough to work in an office where dogs are welcomed. I bring my precious pup — a sweet and beautiful hound/pitbull mutt — with me two or three days a week, normally anytime I don’t have off-site client meetings. We have a small work team, 10 in total, and my pup has gotten to know everyone well enough that he is delighted when we get there. But before the excitement and peacefulness that comes with being in the office, we have to actually make it there. Our office is in the heart of the downtown of a mid-sized city. We park a few blocks away and walk in each morning. Queue stress. Weighing in at 55 pounds of solid muscle, my dog is strong. And weighing in at 110 pounds soaking wet, I struggle to keep him on track. Tail tucked, he pulls on his leash and jumps at any loud noise. Horns honk. Box truck doors slam closed. Dogs bark in cars driving by. Every startling experience compounds the last, and some days I can hardly keep up. Luckily, I’ve never had a situation where I couldn’t hold him back — but there have been a couple instances where I have worried that one or both of us could be put in danger if he ever completely loses it. We'd heard that CBD treats for dogs could help. So, we tried them. Office Trip with CBD Before heading out the door, I gave my pup the recommended dosage of some locally produced CBD oil-infused dog treats. It was a mild fall morning, so we enjoyed a slow ride to work, my pup sticking his head out the window, eagerly sniffing, wind flapping his ears. We parked the car and walked in. His tail stayed tucked, and he still pulled some. Luckily nothing crazy happened on our trek, and he romped up the stairs and through the halls, tongue flapping, winding his way to our office. He always waits for me to catch up at each turn before barreling down the next hallway. (It’s adorable.) %related-post-2% With his best pitty smile on his face, he greeted everyone as they arrived. We make it to the office first each day, and he gets so excited every time the door opens. “He’s so confident today!” one of my coworkers beamed. “Man he is in such a great mood!” said another later in the day. My pup normally hesitates to leave my side if I have to go into a coworker’s office for a meeting, but he wandered happily around and didn’t seem to stress about anything all day. During our midday potty break, which of course requires wandering around downtown in the same scene as described above, he did pull a bit but not as intensely as usual. And our walk to the car at the end of the day was a piece of cake. He was so calm, I kept wondering if he was lagging behind to stop and sniff, but instead he was just keeping pace with me instead of trying to run ahead like he normally does when he gets anxious. So, Do I Think It Worked? Yes, most definitely. It wasn’t some miraculous experience that totally changed my dog’s personality, but honestly I wouldn’t have wanted it to. I think it helped take the edge off and helped him feel much more comfortable in the hustle and bustle of a downtown environment. Most importantly, I think the added calm ensured both of us were safer during our walks throughout the day. I’ve read articles that say it may take a while to find the right dosage for your dog, and I think that’s definitely true. Based on the dosage recommendations of the treats I gave my dog, I could have given him a tad bit more, or even given one dose the night before and another in the morning. %related-post-3% The treats I found are a bit pricey with the amount I’d have to feed our pup since he’s a solid boy, but I plan to also try an oil tincture in the future. Depending on the CBD oil product, dosage recommendations either suggest putting the oil in your pup’s food or rubbing it on a venous area (such as the ears or groin) for absorption through the skin. So far, we haven’t integrated a daily CBD treat into our dog’s regimen, but I definitely see value in using the product when I know we’ll be dealing with stressful situations, such as going on a long trip, going to the vet, or visiting a new place. To find out more about what CBD oil is and what it can do for humans, our blog "What Is The Medical Value Of CBD?" may help. If you’ve had positive experiences with CBD products—whether for yourself, your loved ones, or your pets—we’d love to hear about it. Give us a shout at email@example.com.
Yes, botanical marijuana is medicine. Treating it otherwise will harm those who need it most. Northern California and Oregon are home to the vast majority of the nation’s small cannabis farms. These early breeders and cultivators were responsible for the genetically diverse cannabis varieties that have largely re-shaped the public’s view of this incredible plant and forced its slow march towards what it truly needs to thrive as the most useful crop in the 21st century: decriminalization and descheduling. How is medicine defined? If medical marijuana is defined to exist only as extractions in cartel-like markets, whole communities around the nation lose out on the economic benefits a robust and competitive cannabis market with lower barriers to entry for small businesses can provide. Further, because the FDA approval process favors a specific yet unproven drug ideology, pharmacologicalism — which, dictates standardized single compound substances are medical and variable plants are not — patients will suffer the most if farm-to-patient cannabis falls victim to big business. %related-post-1% By the government’s definition, a substance is not “medicine” unless it passes clinical trials and is proven “safe and effective” by the FDA. Plants are likely to never be defined as “medicine” or “medical” by the government’s current standards, which require standardization. Plants grown from seed, like humans and all other living organisms, are not standardized nor do they ever have singular “active ingredients” like synthetic drugs. The human response to genetically diverse cultivars of all plants are a result of many active compounds working in synergy with one another, not in isolation. Many plants are beneficial to human life but they will never be FDA-approved medicines because there is no FDA approval process for food or other agricultural products that vary genetically. The government simply does not define variable agricultural products as medicine. Botanical compound blends and standardization Yet, humans still seek out plants and plant-byproducts to relieve the symptoms of everything from pain to social anxiety. Crops like coffee and tea are grown for their varying flavor and effects but also the caffeine they contain. The alertness that results from drinking a cup of one of these popular and widely variable beverages could also be obtained by taking a caffeine pill, yet people tend to prefer the botanical versions. Why? The varying flavor and effects of coffee varieties are the result of over 1,000 active compounds working in synergy with one another. Teas can contain up to 30,000, chocolate 300 and cannabis nearly 500. Every deliciously different variety of these three crops will, if not grown from clone, be genetically unique and carry its own blend of active compounds, and therefore different flavors and effects. %related-post-2% While industrialized cannabis medicines require standardization, patients derive more of a benefit from genetically diverse cannabis markets. Like other living organisms, the final product after harvest varies by both nature and nurture. Nature is the plant’s genetics, which are unique to every single seed. Nurture are the conditions in which the plant is grown and the care it receives, if any. This plant is different every time a new seed is planted by a new farmer or simply falls from its parent into the dirt and germinates, but that doesn’t change its general safety profile, which is higher than coffee. Further, unlike standardized drugs, the variable compounds in different varieties are much more difficult to grow a tolerance to, meaning patients can try different varieties or methods of ingestion to address their unique problems, rather than increase the dose the way they would have to with opiates and other standardized pharmaceutical drugs. Will past lessons influence the future? When California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, the nation’s first medical marijuana law by voter initiative, it solidified the rights of citizens to use, possess and cultivate this plant should a doctor believe a person’s use is medical. Prop 215 has been widely criticized by legislators and cannabis opponents in other states because it created a “wild west” market full of stoners faking illness to get legal access to cannabis. %related-post-3% The legislation’s co-author, Dennis Peron, who was originally motivated by getting safe access to people dying of AIDS, has famously defended Prop 215 and has continually opposed the regulations of “full legalization” bills because he says they perpetuate government overreach. According to Peron, all use is medical because if a person uses cannabis in place of a more deadly substance for mental or physical relief, like over-the-counter medications, prescriptions drugs, sugar and processed foods or even just to replace alcohol consumption, they are making a choice that is technically safer for their body. He is, of course, correct. Under new legalization schemes, however, states with systems that perpetuate botanical cannabis as medicine are being reshaped. By the end of next year, both California and Oregon will have mostly eliminated their botanical medical cannabis markets in favor of lucrative “recreational” markets and pharmaceutical cannabis products. It’s unfortunate because not only do patients deserve both choice and access to genetically diverse botanical marijuana, but the cannabis industry can provide tremendous opportunities on Main Street if the wealth isn’t entirely concentrated on Wall Street first.
As more states legalize the “recreational” use of cannabis, the definition of medical marijuana is changing, and, as the definition changes, many of the pioneering small farms who started the industry are finding themselves going the way of the dinosaurs. But, is the disappearance of medical marijuana farms really in the best interest of the patient or big business? How is the phrase medical marijuana defined? What exactly makes marijuana “medicine”? That’s a tricky question, one with varying answers depending on who is asked. Ask a sick person and they will tell you that any food or substance that provides relief of symptoms without doing physical harm is therapeutic, a necessity and “medicine.” Unfortunately, sick people don’t get to define “medicine,” the government does, and as pharmaceutical cannabis products like GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex inch closer to FDA-approval, the rush is on to make competitive government approved “medicines” and transition the botanical cannabis market from farm-to-patient to a highly-taxed highly-regulated “recreational” market. %related-post-1% These definitions matter most for small growers and patients, because ultimately they define who can supply cannabis for medical purposes and who can economically benefit as laws continue to change across the United States and abroad. While western states that pioneered the industry have traditionally favored a free-er market of small farms, businesses and collectives, in midwestern and eastern states, medical marijuana markets are becoming highly exclusive clubs for the very wealthy and well-connected. Who gets to grow medical marijuana? Many newer state laws (like Florida and New York) are being shaped from the onset as oligopolies, which are cartel-like markets where there are only a handful of competitors controlling the entire supply. Many of these state laws favor extracted products over raw cannabis flowers and also call for vertical integration, meaning these lucky few license holders have the exclusive right to grow, process and distribute the entire supply. Forced flower extraction into standardized products and a limited market of early producers gives these companies a head start on making their own Epidiolex-like drugs that could potentially become lucrative FDA approved medicines. And, should cannabis be moved from Schedule I to II federally, these oligopoly-market license holders will be in line for some serious cash-ins when they go public and begin to formally merge across state lines to supply the national medical market. %related-post-2% Of course, the exercise wouldn’t be worth the cost of FDA approval if pharmaceuticalized cannabis products must compete with genetically diverse botanical cannabis as medicine, which can be grown at home but never standardized like traditional “medicines.” Unfortunately for the small growers that supplied the earliest medical cannabis markets, they no longer can call their crops “medicine” or “medical marijuana” once the FDA defines it first, and they already are. The first medical marijuana farms In the early days of medical marijuana, most state governments declined to regulate. In California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, legislation passed by citizens through ballot initiative was more rights-based than commerce based, thoroughly acknowledging first that the criminalization of this useful plant was a fallacy to begin with. It was also an unspoken but acknowledged reality that hundreds of thousands of farmers on the west coast have been supplying the demand for this illegal plant since the early days of prohibition, and giving them a path to a legal market was just as important as patients getting product. The result was a highly competitive and diverse cannabis economy that flourished in the gray area between state and federal law. These small medical marijuana farms were allowed to grow anywhere from six to 99 plants per patient, as long as they provided said patients with the medicine they needed, free of cost. Starting with California’s S.B. 420 in 2004, these growers could sell the excess of what they grew for patients to locally-regulated dispensaries at a profit. In this way, the broader market for medical marijuana (whether or not the government deemed their use “medical”) subsidized the heavier use of the chronic and fatally ill. %related-post-3% Just as the botanical medical marijuana markets are being eliminated by the legal definition of “medicine,” they are being shrunk by the legal definition of “patient” too. One of the biggest criticisms of California’s medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, was that it allowed medical cannabis for any condition which a doctor chose to recommend it for, meaning “anybody who wants it can get it.” Not only was that part of the intention of the law, but it is scientifically valid as educated use of cannabis is technically safer than most over-the-counter drugs, processed foods, refined white sugar, tobacco, alcohol or the vast majority of prescription drugs. What happens next to medical marijuana farms? So, what exactly is the difference between medical and recreational marijuana? The plant itself is the same, regardless of the reason a person chooses to interact with it, but as the United States gets closer to nationalized medical marijuana, the answer is shaping up to be the difference between a factory and a farm. And, besides the harm to small growers and patients, if most cannabis production is standardized and concentrated, what effect does that have on the future of the plant itself?
At the time of this writing, more than half of the states in America — 29 — are medical marijuana states, and it’s not hard to see why. Legal medical cannabis helps to boost local economies, provides relief to millions of people suffering from numerous medical conditions, shrinks the black market, and reduces crime. As Civilized notes, the governors of the first four states to legalize medical marijuana — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — are lobbying the Trump administration to let the cannabis industry continue to grow unabated. If it does, the site predicts, more states will legalize medical marijuana, and the industry will continue to see increased scientific research, product development, investor interest, and sales. %related-post-1% While the cannabis industry still has much more room to grow, Civilized wanted to see how much it has grown so far. Using data from the Marijuana Policy Project, the site recently ranked medical marijuana states according to how much of their populations are currently using medical marijuana. Note: Of the 29 states where medical marijuana has been legalized, seven did not have enough data to be included in the list, as they have either yet to implement the law or have just recently implemented it. Here is how the other 22 states rank: 1. California: 3.83% Total population: 39,849,872 Medical marijuana patients: 1,526,250 2. Maine: 3.31% Total population: 1,327,472 Medical marijuana patients: 43,906 3. Michigan: 2.20% Total population: 9,935,116 Medical marijuana patients: 218,556 4. New Mexico: 2.13% Total population: 2,084,193 Medical marijuana patients: 44,403 5. Arizona: 1.89% Total population: 7,026,629 Medical marijuana patients: 132,487 6. Rhode Island: 1.71% Total population: 1,059,080 Medical marijuana patients: 18,155 7. Colorado: 1.53% Total population: 5,658,546 Medical marijuana patients: 86,821 8. Oregon: 1.49% Total population: 4,144,527 Medical marijuana patients: 61,867 9. Montana: 1.48% Total population: 1,052,343 Medical marijuana patients: 15,563 10. Hawaii: 1.05% Total population: 1,454,295 Medical marijuana patients: 15,334 11. Nevada: 0.95% Total population: 2,995,973 Medical marijuana patients: 28,308 12. Vermont: 0.71% Total population: 624,592 Medical marijuana patients: 4,439 13. Connecticut: 0.53% Total population: 3,583,134 Medical marijuana patients: 19,082 14. Massachusetts: 0.50% Total population: 6,873,018 Medical marijuana patients: 34,189 15. Washington: 0.33% Total population: 7,384,721 Medical marijuana patients: 24,577 16. Delaware: 0.32% Total population: 965,866 Medical marijuana patients: 3,092 17. Illinois: 0.18% Total population: 12,815,607 Medical marijuana patients: 23,300 18. New Hampshire: 0.16% Total population: 1,335,832 Medical marijuana patients: 2,089 20. (tie) Alaska: 0.14% Total population: 741,204 Medical marijuana patients: 1,042 20. (tie) New Jersey: 0.14% Total population: 8,996,351 Medical marijuana patients: 12,514 21. New York: 0.13% Total population: 19,889,657 Medical marijuana patients: 26,096 22. Minnesota: 0.12% Total population: 5,554,532 Medical marijuana patients: 6,384
On September 29, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods for the coming year, 2018. As always, the new list will take effect on January 1. This gives athletes and anti-doping organizations three months to learn about the changes, and adapt to them. According to WADA’s website, a substance or method must meet two of the three following criteria to be on the prohibited list: 1. It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance 2. It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athletes; or 3. It violates the spirit of sport. %related-post-1% What’s the difference between the 2017 and 2018 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods? Besides some name changes and revised definitions, some substances have been removed while other have been added. The thing that might interest The Sugar Leaf readers is this line: “Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited." But don’t start jumping in the air right away. Even though CBD has been removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list, THC is still on it. And let’s not forget that some CBD extracts also contain varying concentrations of THC. It's a small, yet profound step, in the right direction. Enough of one that the optimist might hope in a couple of years THC will no longer be on the prohibited substances list either. Go ahead, cross your fingers. What changes for athletes now that the use of CBD is allowed? Now that CBD is no longer on the prohibited substances list, athletes will be allowed to use CBD products in and out of competition after January 1, 2018. They must be careful not to use any products that contain THC, since it’s going to be prohibited for at least another year. CBD might help a lot of athletes to alleviate pain from injuries in a more natural way. Strong painkillers often come with negative side effects, whereas cannabidiol doesn’t. Moreover, it might help them to sleep better, which decreases their recovery time, without possibly less sleep medication. %related-post-2% In the United States, CBD is still illegal under federal law. Several states allow it (for medical use), as well as some other countries. Even though the World Anti-Doping Agency won’t exclude athletes if they use the substance, it might be impossible to get it legally depending on where they live. What will happen in the future? We can’t be sure about what will be on the 2019 list, but it’s likely CBD won’t be added again. Of course, studies will be done all year, and might indicate CBD does influence the performance of athletes. If that happens, there is a chance the WADA will reconsider its decision. For now, athletes can enjoy CBD products without being afraid of testing positive on doping tests and missing competitions because of it. Not everybody will be happy Of course there’re still people against the use of CBD in sports. The substance allows athletes to heal faster, and feel less pain from long lasting injuries. Because of this, athletes using CBD, some might argue, have an advantage over their competitors. But others say that having a cup of coffee full of caffeine before a competition will also improve your performance, so...we'll keep our eye on this development.
Is there a beneficial connection between multiple sclerosis and cannabis? Consider Grace's story. Note: This article is about an individual who resides in a state where cannabis is not legal for medical or recreational purposes. Her identity has been withheld at her request due to the illegal nature of her cannabis usage. The name “Grace” used in this article is an alias. Have you ever met someone who instantly puts you at ease? Whose presence is like the warm spot in the living room where the sun shines through the window on a cold day? That’s how I felt when I met Grace. How we met My husband and I decided to grab a quick drink after dinner on a low-key Friday night. Grace was hanging out with a friend of ours, and we wandered over to chat. Just a few minutes into talking with her, I was suffering from a severe case of deja vu — I knew this girl. I knew the way she made me feel. I’d experienced her calm coolness and the syrupy sweetness of the “darlings” and “lovelies” she peppers into conversation. It didn’t take much time to make the connection that she is a server at a restaurant my husband and I frequent, and it wasn’t long after this discovery that she was refilling my glass with the bottle of rosé she had split with our friend. The refills kept flowing generously, and we stayed at the bar much longer than we’d intended to. %related-post-1% Grace and I talked about everything — work, life, the usual. She’s 24 and isn’t entirely sure what she wants to do with her future. For now, she serves at a couple of different restaurants, doesn’t really have any “off days,” and plans on moving to New York City. At some point, the whole group landed on the subject of medical cannabis, and Grace mentioned that her support for the cause is personal, as she suffers from a chronic condition that she’s noticed is positively impacted by cannabis usage. I learned that Grace has multiple sclerosis, and I asked her if she would mind talking more about it. We decided to meet up later in the week so I could get all the details I’d need to tell her story. We got together at a local tea shop on what must have been the hottest Friday afternoon of the summer. I wound up having a hectic day at work and rushed frantically to meet Grace once I had everything wrapped up. Sweating and disheveled, I apologized for my tardiness. True to her calm, comforting form, Grace assured me that it was no trouble and she had all the time in the world. Finding out Grace was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 16. I asked what led to the diagnosis, and she explained that her symptoms initially presented as vision problems — seemingly random blurred vision and double vision. “I was at a theater conference watching a play, when I started seeing double, vertically, in one eye. I thought maybe it was my contact so I took it out, but my vision was still really blurred,” she said. When she returned home from the school trip, her parents took her to an eye doctor, who referred Grace to a neurologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. After a series of tests, including blood work and an MRI, the doctors felt confident that they had identified the cause of Grace’s vision problems. “I was only 16 at the time, so they sent me into another room so they could talk to my parents first,” she said. “When they brought me back into the room, they said, ‘We think you have multiple sclerosis, do you know what that is?’ And I immediately started bawling. My uncle had multiple sclerosis and he was in a wheelchair. That was the only image I had of MS at the time, so it was really scary.” %related-post-2% Grace has relapsing-remitting MS, a condition that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “MS causes the immune system to attack the myelin, which is the insulation protecting the nerves.” These attacks result in scarring — or sclerosis — of myelin and/or the nerves the myelin protects. (In discussion of MS, these scars may also be referred to as lesions.) Because the central nervous system controls just about everything in the body, MS can present itself in many different ways — it all depends on the location of the lesion(s). For Grace, symptoms come and go and manifest in a variety of forms. “Summer is the worst,” she explained. “When my core is overheated, my eyes go blurry, my legs go numb, and my cognition is terrible. It’s hard to be a person.” Finding relief While there is no cure for MS, there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease, minimize inflammation, and promote temporary healing. After trial and error with a number of intensive treatments, Grace landed on an infusion given once per month, which she told me costs around $12,000 per visit. That’s $144,000 a year. Right now, Grace is still on her parents’ insurance but worries about what she’ll do when she turns 26 and no longer qualifies to remain on their plan. Grace also takes medication to soothe the anxiety that comes with worrying about impending medical bills, disease progression, and life in general. What she feels like she’s missing is access to a natural remedy for pain and stress. “I’d read about medical marijuana trials for MS, and I heard people talking about [medical cannabis] in hushed tones when I was in high school,” she said. “I never actually smoked until I was in college, probably my freshman year, and I realized that it made such a difference.” Grace explains that using cannabis before bed helps alleviate pressure and relax her muscles, which tend to tense up when she lays down to sleep at night. But even though Grace has noticed benefits, she explained that because cannabis is still illegal in her state, she doesn’t buy it and often feels hesitant to smoke with friends because the product isn’t regulated. She also noted that she personally prefers not to smoke, and that she would love to have access to products such as edibles, oils, and other cannabis products on the market. %related-post-3% What we know about Multiple Sclerosis and cannabis The effects of medical cannabis for multiple sclerosis have been studied in formal research and clinical trials. With results that support Grace’s personal findings, the National MS Society reports that positive correlations have been found between cannabis products and the reduction of muscle stiffness/spasms/pain, as well as better sleep for MS sufferers. No long-term studies have been completed to determine the effects of medical cannabis on MS disease progression. A common thread The more I talk with people who suffer from chronic conditions that can benefit from medical cannabis, the more I realize they all want the same thing: an opportunity to try a natural product that can help their symptoms. “If medical marijuana was legalized in more states, a lot more people could feel better on a regular basis and not be stressed out because their body is in pain,” Grace said. “That would be a really beautiful thing.” This boiled down sentiment is one of the most basic, yet most profound ways I’ve heard anyone explain the benefits of medical cannabis. Feel better. Less stress. If that’s the only thing cannabis did for anyone, Grace is right: That would be a really beautiful thing. Have a story you’d like to share? The Sugar Leaf would love to tell it. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
"It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis." — Donald Trump, August 10, 2017 The legal marijuana industry — and the medical marijuana industry, specifically — is exploding, and it’s not difficult to see why. Despite the fact that the drug’s illegality at the federal level limits its ability to be used by researchers in large, well-designed studies, a considerable (and increasing) number of people are using cannabis to find relief from an increasing number of diseases and medical conditions. Cannabis can reportedly serve as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, reduce nausea and vomiting for those going through chemotherapy, and provide relief from an array of symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions. However, the one benefit of medical marijuana that might be getting the most attention — and the one that is perhaps doing the most to change the minds of previously prohibitionist politicians and others — is the drug’s ability to make a serious dent in the nation’s current opioid crisis. %related-post-1% Opioid Crisis a “National Emergency” According to government data, 33,000 of the 52,000 overdose deaths nationwide in 2015 were the result of the use of opioids like heroin and fentanyl. President Trump has declared the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” and his administration is drafting paperwork that would pave the way for a national response to the epidemic similar to that of the response to natural disasters. Six states have also declared emergencies because of the epidemic – declarations that have helped states receive federal grants for treatment services and improved reporting of overdoses, and that have also helped expand access to naloxone, a medication that can revive overdose victims. As important as it is to be able to revive people who’ve overdosed, however, it’s more important to prevent those overdoses from happening in the first place. Medical marijuana can make a difference in this area, and, as research shows, those most at risk for opioid addiction are more than willing to give it a shot. Swapping opioids for Medical Marijuana A recent survey of 3,000 medical cannabis patients found that almost all of them say they could significantly reduce their dependence on opioids by adding adding cannabis to their treatment regimens, and a vast majority would prefer to use cannabis over the prescription pills they currently take. The study, conducted by the University of California Berkeley and medical cannabis site HelloMD.com, found that 97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that consuming cannabis could help them decrease their use of opioid painkillers. Almost as many (92%) said they agreed or strongly agreed when asked if they preferred cannabis to treat their medical conditions. Also notable was the fact that 81% agreed or strongly agreed that taking cannabis by itself was more effective than taking it with either opioids or non-opioid-based pain medication. %related-post-2% “Patients have been telling us for decades that this practice is producing better outcomes than the use of opioid-based medications,” says Amanda Reiman, one of the researchers who led the study. “It’s past time for the medical profession to get over their reefer madness and start working with the medical cannabis movement and industry to slow down the destruction being caused by the over prescribing and overuse of opioids.” When it Becomes Personal, Perspectives Change Medical professionals aren’t the only group who’ve needlessly kept medical marijuana out of the hands of those who could use it the most. Politicians, too, have had a sort of reefer madness of their own. But things are starting to change. Three years ago, when South Carolina lawmakers passed strict legislation allowing patients with severe epilepsy, or their caregivers, to legally possess the drug, Marine veteran and South Carolina Rep. Eric Bedingfield voted against the measure. Later, however, after his son’s six-year battle with opioid addiction ended with a overdose, Bedingfield reconsidered his stance and co-sponsored medical cannabis legislation. He is now optimistic that medical marijuana can replace opioid painkillers, helping curb an epidemic he's seen destroy families of all economic levels — including his own. "My mindset has changed from somebody who looked down on it as a negative substance to saying, 'This has benefits,'" Bedingfield said recently. When it comes to health benefits, saving lives is a pretty big one.
Before he died in 2008, Dr. Albert Hoffman — the Swiss scientist who created LSD — long touted the ingestion of small doses of LSD in order to boost its therapeutic value. In the years since Hoffman’s passing, “microdosing” has expanded to psilocybin mushrooms and, boosted by increased legalization, marijuana. But what is marijuana microdosing? The Benefits of Marijuana Microdosing Taking a microdose means consuming the lowest possible amount of that drug while still experiencing noticeable effect. Microdosing of psychedelics has been used to boost users’ productivity and inspiration, as well as to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health conditions. Marijuana microdosing is proving to be even more useful, treating the same conditions as the microdosing of psychedelics, in addition to chronic pain, inflammation, and indigestion, among others, while also boosting some users’ creativity, concentration, moods, spiritual awareness, workouts, and even yoga sessions. %related-post-1% While the benefits of marijuana microdosing can vary from person to person, the effects are fairly universal. The practice gives users the maximum benefit from a minimum amount of THC, without the user becoming stoned, lethargic, paranoid, or experiencing any other negative side effects. Users report feeling more relaxed, more energetic, and/or more focused — like they are sort of high, but not quite. This unique and powerful combination of benefits and effects makes microdosing marijuana a very appealing medicating option for people from virtually every walk of life. How to Get Marijuana Microdosing Right Of course, as with any substance, finding the proper microdose for each person can take some trial and error. Not only do users need to find the correct minimum dose, but they also need to find the right method(s) to deliver it. The three leading delivery methods are ingesting, smoking, and vaping cannabis. While each has its pros and cons, as the folks at MerryJane.com point out, finding the perfect regimen might mean incorporating all three. Consider These Recommendations %related-post-2% Ingestion Not only is ingesting cannabis tinctures, tablets and edibles arguably the easiest way to medicate, it also provides a longer and (sometimes) more therapeutic dose. Eating cannabis edibles also allows you to ingest the drug discreetly and precisely without creating or inhaling harsh smoke. Try a square of infused chocolate or add some cannabis extract to your coffee. There are also tablet options, and you can place a tincture dropper under your tongue. You can even make your own treats with an herbal infuser. Vaping Vaping has never been easier or more discreet thanks to the numerous convenient, portable, and stylish handheld devices currently on the market. Vaping allows you to accurately adjust your microdose, conserve your stash, and avoid harmful carcinogens while you learn about the various beneficial compounds and their corresponding vaporization points. Smoking Smoking marijuana is easily the most difficult way to control your dosage. A single hit from a joint can contain as much as 10 milligrams of THC, which can quickly overwhelm someone with a low tolerance. If you are intent on smoking, use a small transparent glass pipe instead. The pipe will allow you to see the smoke fill up the chamber. Just take a tiny puff and leave the rest behind until you figure out what amount works best for you. Even with a glass pipe, however, smoking will burn through your product rather quickly. Plus, smoking isn’t the cleanest delivery method if you are microdosing for health reasons. %related-post-3% Whichever methods you choose, be patient. Finding the right balance and dosage can take some time. For more information on microdosing, click here to read the Third Wave’s “Essential Guide to Microdosing with Marijuana.”
Is there a healing link between epilepsy and cannabis? Here's one story exploring that possibility. A friend of mine mentioned that her boyfriend had wrecked his car during a seizure, and that spurred a subsequent conversation, during which I found out that the seizures came after he had stopped smoking marijuana. So of course, I had to get the story straight from the source. *Note: The name “Andrew” used in this article is an alias, as it is about an individual who resides in a state where cannabis is not legal for medical or recreational purposes. His identity has been withheld at his request due to the illegal nature of his cannabis usage. Here’s what I learned. %related-post-1% When he was in college, Andrew wrecked his bike and fractured his skull. (Sidenote: Wear a helmet!) He suffered a subdural hematoma, which is a bleed on surface of the brain classified as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). During and after his recovery, Andrew smoked marijuana fairly regularly. Fast-forward a couple of years. Andrew graduated from college and got a job a couple hours away from his hometown. “I felt like I was on top of the world,” he says. “I had this great job, I bought a new car. Things were going really well for me.” And then Andrew got busted with the largest amount of marijuana he’d ever even had in his possession. He owned up to everything as soon as an officer who pulled him over addressed the smell of weed in the car, and was ultimately placed on probation for a misdemeanor offense. As a requisite of his probation, Andrew underwent routine urine tests for 6 months. In other words, no smoking. About three months into the probationary period, Andrew experienced his first seizure. “I guess the first one was when I woke up in the floor one morning, and I had knocked over my nightstand,” he says. “I thought it was strange, but I didn’t think too much of it. Ultimately, the reason I went to the doctor was just to get established with a primary care physician.” %related-post-2% It was during this routine visit that the “rolling out of bed” story came up. The nurse practitioner he was seeing considered it a red flag and referred him to a neurologist. The neurologist recommended an EEG (electroencephalogram), which is used to determine whether or not there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Andrew says that test only took about 20 minutes, and shortly thereafter, he learned that he had experienced several small seizures during the test. “Around that same time, while I was waiting on the test results, I had a car accident while driving to work one morning,” Andrew says. “I just drove off the road into a ditch and rolled my car because I had a seizure while I was driving. I was flown to the hospital and had a compression fracture in three or four vertebrae in my back. That’s when it was like, ‘We really gotta figure this out.’” The timing of these events meant that Andrew was recovering from a broken back and trying out epilepsy medications simultaneously. The first seizure medication he took was called Keppra, and he says it made him extremely emotional. “I thought I was just having a bad time because I broke my back in a car accident and wasn’t able to drive,” Andrew says. “But I started to realize it was the medication. I cried a bunch one day, I was very irritable, prone to shouting. So I got off that one.” Andrew tried a couple other medications, and those caused him to break out in rashes. %related-post-3% After trying out about five different medications in all, he’s now taking one called BRIVIACT, which he says is working well. He noted that it’s typically used as a supplementary medication, but he’s using it as his primary form of treatment. So how does this all add up? According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately one in five individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury will experience a seizure. While he notes that he can’t quantify his suspicion, Andrew says he has wondered if the TBI he experienced during his bike accident in college caused the seizures he experienced later on. He also hypothesizes that smoking marijuana afterward was preventing the onset of epileptic symptoms. Andrew says he’s currently not smoking, simply because his neurologist advised against it and the gravity of the situation is immense. However, he says that he wishes there was a clear line that could be drawn between the use of cannabis products and the reduction of seizures. “I like to think that marijuana was keeping me from having seizures, but I am barely educated in that realm,” Andrew says. “I just wish that there were opportunities to have real seizure patients use quality cannabis products while connected to an EEG machine to find out how that really affects you. I’d really like to know what the correlation between epilepsy and marijuana is.” Disclaimer: This article is not intended to suggest that epilepsy patients should attempt to self-medicate with cannabis products. Speak to your healthcare provider before altering any treatment plan. Have a story you’d like to share? The Sugar Leaf would love to tell it. Contact us at email@example.com
Cannabis for seizures? The anecdotal evidence is piling up. And in the case of children, such successes are helping rally public sentiment for legislative change. Stories of the cannabis plant’s effects on children with epilepsy are perhaps some of the most remarkable pieces of anecdotal evidence in support of legalization. There’s the story of Charlotte Figi, reported by CNN in August of 2013, who began having grand mal seizures at 3 months old. An otherwise healthy baby whose blood tests, EEGs, MRIs, and other medical tests returned nothing but perfectly normal results, Charlotte continued having seizures after that first episode, despite medical professionals’ assumptions that Charlotte would grow out of it. Instead, the seizures increased in intensity and regularity. %related-post-1% It wasn’t until Charlotte was 2 ½ that a neurologist in Colorado diagnosed her with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, which is responsible for a variety of complications, including prolonged and frequent seizures, as well as behavioral and developmental delays, among others. When Charlotte was 5 years old and suffering from 300 grand mal seizures per week, her parents reached a breaking point. Feeling as though they’d exhausted all other options, the Figis decided to give cannabidiol (CBD) oil a try. Charlotte’s mother Paige admits that she previously opposed the use of medical cannabis but felt as though it was her family’s last resort. Within the first hour of administering the first dose of CBD oil, Charlotte’s seizures stopped. At the time of the CNN report, Charlotte was 6 years old and having only one or two seizures per month. Then there’s Sam Vogelstein, whose father wrote an article for Wired.com recounting the struggles of their epilepsy journey — both figurative and literal, as his wife traveled 5,350 miles with their 12-year-old son to try high-quality CBD in pill form in the UK. Living in a legal state, the Vogelsteins originally purchased CBD oil products from dispensaries in California. However, in having the products lab tested, they found that the ratios of CBD to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, or the psychoactive component of marijuana that makes users feel high) often differed significantly from the product’s label. For instance, one product claiming a 10:1 ratio was actually 20:1, while another was 3:1. %related-post-2% The trip to the UK came from the family’s desperation to find a pharmaceutical-grade option. Similar to the Charlotte Figi story, Sam’s response to the CBD pills he took during the two weeks of the trial was undeniable. And after overcoming a number of roadblocks and shelling about $120,000 in expenses (not including the cost of travel), the family was able to import the CBD medication, Epidiolex, into the states. CBD and Epilepsy in Children Today In late May of this year, The New England Journal of Medicine published the findings of a double-blind study that tested both children and young adults with Dravet Syndrome. During the course of the study, one group of participants received a placebo, while the other received a CBD solution. According to a CNN.com report of the study’s findings, “the decrease in the frequency of convulsive seizures — which involves a loss of consciousness, stiffened muscles and jerking movements — was 23 percentage points greater than the decrease in seizures among children taking a placebo.” The Epilepsy Foundation reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed some epilepsy centers to prescribe Epediolex, the medication that worked well for Sam Vogelstein in the story above. The organization also notes that any CBD product is a Schedule I substance, making it illegal to ship across state lines. However, CBD products have been legalized in some states where medical and recreational cannabis are otherwise not legal. If you are interested in using cannabis for seizures or finding CBD products, check into your local regulations first.
Note: This article is about an individual who uses cannabis as a Tourette's treatment, but who resides in a state where cannabis is not legal for medical or recreational purposes. His identity has been withheld at his request due to the present illegal nature of his cannabis usage. The name “Aaron” used in this article is an alias. “When did you first start noticing your tics, or did you always have them?” I asked, while also admitting that I didn’t know a lot about Tourette’s or Tourette's treatment options, for that matter. “I think I was around 9,” Aaron said. “None of my tics were really severe, but I would squint my eyes or clear my throat… It was enough to be annoying.” “You say it was ‘annoying.’ Do you mean to yourself, your classmates, your teachers?... All of the above?” I ask. He laughs. “All of the above.” %related-post-1% Aaron is a friend of mine, in his early 30s. He’s a really congenial guy with a good job and a cute house and a dog. And in all honesty, I didn’t know he had Tourette’s until it came up in a conversation I had with his wife (who, I should note, is also delightful). When Aaron started experiencing tics as a kid, he says he always knew that something was up. He credits his mom for realizing it, too, and not just blowing his behaviors off as “nervous habits.” “I saw a handful of doctors and psychiatrists, and a lot of them just called my tics ‘nervous habits,’” he said. “It took about 6 years, from the time I was 9 until I was 14, before somebody finally said, ‘You know, I think this is a form of Tourette’s.’” So What Does That Mean? According to the National Institutes of Health, Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder whose sufferers experience repetitive, “involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.” It was discovered by its namesake, Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, in 1885. The condition affects races equally, but males are three to four times more likely to experience symptoms of Tourette’s than females. In many cases, people with Tourette’s display symptoms of other behavioral or neurological disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and depression. Because many people with Tourette’s experience more dramatic tics when they are anxious or stressed, their behaviors tend to work in a sort of perpetual motion, a tic exacerbating stress and stress exacerbating the tic. This was the case for Aaron. Medicated There’s no Tourette’s treatment silver bullet, but medications may be prescribed with the hope that they will minimize symptoms. “When I got older, my tics were still visibly noticeable and really hard to control, and kids started to ask questions or make fun,” Aaron said. “That led to more stress, which just compounded everything and made the tics worse.” Some days, Aaron would clear his throat so much that it would get sore or blink so many times that his eyes would turn red. “You can only play that off as allergies so many times. Kids are jerks, you know,” he laughs. So doctors prescribed medications. %related-post-2% Aaron explains that there were times that he was taking five or six prescription medications every day. Adderall to focus. Kolonopin for sleep. Anti-anxiety meds for stress. Muscle relaxers to suppress the tics. “Sometimes you’d read a label on one of these medications and think, ‘Wow, this is an antipsychotic…’ There was one that even messed with my blood pressure,” he said. Some of the medications took the edge off for a while but became ineffective after a year or two. And even when the medications helped with Aaron’s tics and stress, the side effects outweighed the benefits. “I would wake up feeling drunk,” he said. “Really, what it all boils down to is that I wasn’t using most of these drugs for their intended purpose.” Finding Freedom in Cannabis At this point in our conversation, I asked Aaron the big Tourette's treatment question: “So, when did you realize cannabis made a difference in your symptoms?” Aaron says he tried marijuana in his late teens if it was around. His story was very much the same as most people you hear about trying weed when a friend pulls out a bowl or a joint at a party. He never smoked heavily or regularly, and it was actually friends who noticed the positive effects first. “I’d never smoked often enough to really notice a difference until I lived with a couple of guys who smoked pretty regularly,” Aaron said. “We weren’t smoking all day or anything, but it turned into my evening wind-down routine, and we all started noticing that the tics weren’t as severe.” %related-post-3% Around the same time, Aaron was losing his parents’ insurance and realized the medications he’d been taking for so long would be much more expensive without the cushy plan he’d been used to growing up. So that was that: He quit the meds. (Note: If you are taking prescription medications for anxiety, depression, or other medical conditions, we are absolutely not suggesting that you try this “cold turkey” method. Our story source even said he found out after-the-fact that quitting one of his meds too quickly could have caused him to suffer from seizures. Fortunately, he didn’t — but this is not medically advised. Talk to a medical professional before changing course on any prescriptions.) The Rest of the Story Aaron hasn’t taken a prescription medication for 6 or 7 years. He smokes a puff or two most nights and says his tics have subsided. Aaron also noted that he sleeps better than ever and doesn’t wake up feeling groggy. “At the end of the day, I just hate that I have to keep this quiet and that there’s still a stigma attached to it,” Aaron said. “When you see the kinds of things it’s helping—like keeping kids from having seizures and stopping tremors in people with Parkinson’s—the evidence is there. Something has to be done.” Have a story you’d like to share? The Sugar Leaf would love to tell it. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before answering the question "What is CBD Oil Used For?" we first have to answer the question, “What is CBD?” CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It’s most commonly recognized for its ability to provide a wide range of health benefits to users without causing any psychoactive effects (in other words, it won’t get you high). Like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in marijuana that is responsible for making users feel high), CBD’s effects come from its reaction with the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are produced naturally in the body and play a role in regulating a variety of functions, such as sleep cycles, appetite, mood, and more. %related-post-1% According to the National Institutes of Health, the cannabis plant contains more than 60 cannabinoid compounds. The levels of each cannabinoid found in a particular plant will vary from strain to strain, but low-THC, high-CBD strains are readily available in areas where medical cannabis is legal. Additionally, many companies have begun to extract specific compounds from cannabis plants, thereby achieving greater control of how a particular product will affect a user. CBD oil is one type of these extracted products. It’s an oil extracted from a cannabis plant that contains high levels of cannabidiol. Because of CBD’s reputation for delivering many of the medicinal effects cannabis supporters have been touting for years without any psychoactivity, the extract is being studied both in formal research and anecdotally by individuals looking for alternative treatments for a variety of ailments. Got that? Okay, now let's get to the question "What is CBD oil used for?" Uses for CBD Preventing seizures: Some of the most widely shared stories in favor of medical cannabis legalization are those about individuals who find relief from seizures in cannabis products. Because of stories like the one we recently shared recently about CBD oil for children with epilepsy formal research into developing pharmaceutical-grade CBD products is already underway. One company, GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK, has developed a 99 percent pure CBD product called Epidiolex, which according to the Epilepsy Foundation, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in some epilepsy centers in the United States. %related-post-2% Stress and anxiety (in people and pets!): CBD has been reported to reduce stress and anxiety in both humans and animals by boosting serotonin and restoring neurons in the area of the brain that controls mood, memory, and other important functions. Because many prescription medications for anxiety disorders lead to undesirable side effects, such as fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, and weight gain, CBD may be an appealing alternative. Minimizing inflammation: The inflammatory response can be triggered by any number of things — autoimmune diseases, medications, allergies. And it’s that inflammation that causes people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or Chron’s disease to suffer from pain and discomfort associated with their particular disease. Because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may be a solution for individuals suffering from any number of conditions that prompt the inflammatory response. Finding CBD products Regulations around CBD are confusing to say the least. Even in some states where cannabis is neither medically nor recreationally legal, CBD products can be sold. Check your local regulations to find out of CBD products are available in your state.
When consuming cannabis, the immediate effects are typically felt for only a handful of hours, but this doesn’t mean your body is THC-free shortly thereafter. Drug testing shows that days or even weeks later, THC can still be detected in your urine or hair. And it's no shocker that one of the highest cannabis-related online search phrases is: how long does marijuana stay in your system? Literally, tens of thousands of people search that exact question on a monthly basis. No doubt, many of those asking are wondering if they might be able to pass an upcoming drug screen. The most typical answer? 30 days after consuming a THC product. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The amount of time THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is measurable in your body is called the detection window, and the amount of time that window stays open depends on many different factors. So, what are those determining factors in answering the question, "how long does marijuana stay in your system?" %related-post-1% Types of possible drug tests THC can be detected in blood, saliva, sweat, your breath, hair and of course urine, which is the most frequently tested body matter. When you’re subject to a blood test and haven’t consumed cannabis for the last few days, you won’t have to worry, because it’s very likely the THC levels have dropped enough to give a negative result. Even when you get a negative result on a blood test, other methods might be used to determine if you recently consumed cannabis. A hair test, for instance, appears to have the longest detection window. To understand why, you have to understand how your body stores THC. When THC enters the body, metabolites (which are byproducts of cannabinoids) are stored in your fat reserves. It can take quite some time for your body to get rid of all traces of cannabis usage. The metabolite most tests hunt for — including urine and hair tests — is THC-COOH. When this metabolite is found in your hair, this doesn’t necessarily mean you smoked very recently, since it’s detectable for up to 90 days. This means that you might still test positive, even though the effects of the cannabis have worn off weeks or even months before and you feel completely clean. Urine tests also screen for the above mentioned metabolite. In most cases, the cutoff is 50 ng/mL. This means that if there’s more than 50ng of THC-COOH per mL, the test will be positive. Depending on the company that tests you, the cutoff can be higher or lower. The lower the cutoff, the longer you will test positive after ceasing to consume cannabis. %related-post-2% Other factors influencing the "how long does marijuana stay in your system" detection window Besides the type of test, other factors can shorten or lengthen the detection window. It varies between someone who is a regular user, and someone who only smoked once. It appears that if you only smoked once, it’s plausible you’ll test negative on a urine test after only a few days. This period is a bit longer for people who smoke often. As we’ve noted in other articles on The Sugar Leaf, the effects of cannabis vary from person to person. The same goes for the amount of time THC stays in one’s body. This makes it impossible to tell precisely how long you will test positive after consuming cannabis. Several studies have been completed regarding the amount of time THC is detectable in urine. One of these studies dates back to the 1980s. During this study, chronic users stopped smoking for four weeks in order to see how long it took for their bodies to eliminate the THC. Within 25 days, all urine tests came back negative, although most participants had negative test results before that. This proves that it takes a different amount of time for everyone to get his or her fist negative. But beware, it doesn’t prove that you will test negative after 25 days also, because your body is unique. When you don’t drink enough water, your urine will be more concentrated, which means that there will me more THC-COOH is your sample. A test might give a false positive in this case. It’s important to always hydrate enough, but be careful, because if you drink too much before a test your sample is going to be too diluted, and the test might be rejected. What about CBD? Urine tests are designed to detect THC metabolites, not CBD. But if your CBD-infused product also contains a small amount of THC, you could test positive, even though you didn’t feel the effects of the cannabinoid. As you can see, there's no easy answer to the question, "how long does marijuana stay in your system?" So to be safe, if you have a screening coming up, play it safe and push the pause button on your cannabis consumption. A painful proposition, we agree.
Have you ever considered marijuana for sleep? No? Well, does this situation ring a bell? Here’s the scene: It’s Wednesday at 9:45 p.m. You’re halfway through the work week, and it’s already been grueling. All you’ve been looking forward to all day is that sweet, sweet moment when your head hits the pillow and you drift off into a glorious dreamland of puppies and rainbows (if that’s your kind of thing). This earlier-than-normal bedtime is exactly what you need. You snuggle up in your freshly washed sheets and rest that pretty little head of yours on your favorite pillow, and... --Record scratch-- %related-post-1% Now it’s 11:45 p.m. You’re still awake. Why are you still awake? It’s a full two hours after you hopped into this comfy bed, and you’re still awake? You have to be up at 5:30 a.m. to get to a morning coffee meeting with a potential client, and if you don’t get to sleep soon, you might sleep through the three alarms you set. Wait, did you set the alarms? Yes, you know you set the alarms — you just checked. JUST. GO. TO SLEEP. “It’s not that easy!” you say to yourself. Wait — when did you start talking to yourself? Is this normal? Should you see a counselor? Maybe you should Google it. You pick up your phone. IT’S TWELVE THIRTY. IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW. JUST. GO. TO SLEEP! Sound familiar? You're not alone. According to the American Sleep Association, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, impacting 30 percent of adults from time to time and 10 percent of adults chronically. Its causes span the gamut. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports anxiety, nasal allergies, arthritis, back pain, medication side effects, and even poor nutritional habits as causes of insomnia. Some individuals may find relief from insomnia by treating the specific symptoms of the conditions causing their sleep deficit, but for others, sleep aids are necessary. Sleep aids come in both over-the-counter and prescription forms and are used by nearly 9 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps the most common over-the-counter sleep aid is melatonin, which is a hormone produced naturally in the body to regulate one’s circadian rhythm. While melatonin may work well for many with sleep disorders, the NSF reports that “when scientists conduct tests to compare melatonin as a ‘sleeping pill’ to a placebo (sugar pill) most studies show no benefit of melatonin.” For those who do not experience a noticeable improvement in their sleeping habits while taking melatonin, stronger medications may be recommended. Prescription sleep aids including widely recognized brands such as Ambien and Lunesta are known for their ability to help insomniacs fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. But for some, these medications cause unpleasant side effects. Stories of everything from sleep eating to sleep shopping to sleep driving (yes, driving while asleep and having no recollection of said act) have been reported. So, where is the middle ground? %related-post-2% Enter: Cannabis. Yes, marijuana for sleep. For individuals suffering from sleep disorders who find over-the-counter options to be ineffective, while prescription options on the other end of the spectrum prove to be too powerful, cannabis may be the happy medium. With so many strains of cannabis, it’s important to note that not all varieties will have the same effect on sleep. In fact, certain types of cannabis may cause users to be more alert, so a little research or trial and error may be necessary prior to self medicating with cannabis for sleep. Indica is the strain most commonly recognized for its effectiveness in helping insomniacs get to sleep, but those who use marijuana for sleep may find that they feel groggy the following day. Although scientific research is limited, it is believed that cannabis can limit the time spent in the final sleep stage, rapid eye movement or “REM sleep.” The National Institutes of Health explains that REM is crucial to retaining information, meaning that not getting enough REM sleep can limit one’s ability to remember information they learned prior to falling asleep. So keep that in mind as you consider your options. Is cannabis right for you? Sleep disorders are not currently recognized as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. However, professionals in dispensaries in legal states can provide guidance in choosing a strain that has sedative effects. It may turn out that using marijuana for sleep is a good fit for you. Happy snoozing.
Even in states where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, medical marijuana spending outpaces recreational receipts by a three-to-one margin. That’s according to a recent 400-page study released by New Frontier Data, a Washington D.C.-based analytics firm specializing in the cannabis industry. In The Cannabis Industry Annual Report: 2017 Legal Marijuana Outlook, New Frontier partnered with Baker Technologies, a CRM outfit, to examine some recent marijuana business trends in states such as California, Colorado and Oregon, while also making some predictions for the near to not-so-near future. %related-post-1% Why is this report important? Data analysis across the marijuana industry remains in its infancy, but as the legal landscape changes and capital flows into the space, experts insist that understanding studies like New Frontier’s are essential to cannabis business successes. "California offers the perfect example of why it is so important to understand trends in consumer behavior,” said New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre De Carcer. “The state's legal industry is forecast to grow from $2.8 billion in 2017 to $5.6 billion in 2020. That spending will be increasingly directed at products and retailers who understand and serve the market's evolving tastes and preferences. The market is changing, and the most successful operators will be those who adapt most quickly to the change.” %related-post-2% Medical versus recreational spending Though medical marijuana versus recreational spending levels garnered most headline attention, the Annual Report is chock full of other helpful tidbits. For instance, while (in 2016) medical spends averaged $136 per transaction to a recreational average of $49 — helped by the fact that medical products tend to be pricier — medical users also shopped every 10 days as recreational consumers did so every 14 days. How do consumers, you know, consume product? New Frontier also shed light on a massively important insight into how consumers prefer to actually use marijuana. In the recreational market, demand for flower (smokable) products plunged from an 85 percent share in January 2016 to just 64 percent by the end of the year. On the medical side, it fell from 87 percent to 65 percent. If this trend holds steady, expect more investment in extraction methods and non-smokable product offerings. %related-post-3% The sky's the limit The Annual Report estimates medical marijuana sales will hit the $5.3 billion mark this year, which would be 67 percent of the entire legal cannabis market. By 2025 the medical sales total will pass the $13 billion threshold in today’s currently legal states. When new states join the legalization roster, that $13 billion number is expected to grow accordingly. As for recreational, the 2017 forecast is $2.6 billion in sales, and $10.9 billion by 2025. Tied to the marijuana boom, in the near and long term, is job creation. In one state alone, Oregon, New Frontier estimates that by 2020 legal cannabis will produce about 18,000 jobs. This number takes into account medical and recreational jobs, as well as those created by marijuana spinoff businesses. This year’s Annual Report demonstrates the resilience of an industry freeing itself from decades-long stigmatization. In the words of John Kagia, Executive Vice President of Industry Analytics for New Frontier, “These markets are growing very, very aggressively.”
While it’s well-known that medical marijuana benefits individuals in every life stage — from children with epilepsy to adults with chronic pain — the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug. In other words, medical marijuana is lumped together with substances such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. (For some additional perspective, meth and cocaine are considered lesser Schedule II drugs, while Schedule III includes Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids.) And although cannabis has maintained its Schedule I classification since it was originally labeled in the 1970s, these stringent federal regulations haven’t kept medical professionals in the U.S. from exploring medical cannabis as a viable treatment option for a wide variety of ailments in children, adults, and the elderly. %related-post-1% Here are some of the more interesting stories we’ve heard related to medical marijuana benefits so far in 2017: Skin Cancer Treatment with Topical Oils: A recent article in the Baltimore City Paper explores the story of Laurie Gaddis, a self-proclaimed “medical marijuana refugee” who moved from Arizona to Colorado so that she could legally test a concoction of THC extracts in lotion form, as well as ingestible THC oil. And Gaddis says the treatment has worked: She was diagnosed in 2008 and has yet to undergo a single round of chemo or radiation therapy. Chipping Away at the Opioid Epidemic: Statistics about opioid use are staggering: 1. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid,” a statistic that the CDC explains quadrupled between 2000 and 2015. 2. The National Institutes of Health reports that a baby is born every 25 minutes suffering from opioid withdrawal. 3. The CDC estimates that just 27 percent of people using prescription opioid medications are actually using their own prescription. The list goes on. But the future isn’t as dismal as it seems. A quick Google search about opioid abuse will return almost as many stories touting the benefits medical marijuana as a way to kick an oxycodone or hydrocodone habit. %related-post-2% One article in Baton Rouge’s The Advocate explores the battles of a former New Orleans police officer, Jerry Kaczmarek, who suffered injuries in the line of duty that ultimately led him into a years-long battle with prescription painkillers, which affected his health and placed significant strain on his personal relationships. When nothing else seemed to help, Kaczmarek turned to strains of cannabis that targeted his pain and eased withdrawal symptoms. No longer an opioid user, Kaczmarek says, “Cannabis saved my life.” Another recent piece by NORML, an organization working to reform marijuana laws, focuses on the results of a formal research partnership between the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia in Canada, in which 32 percent of the study’s participants reported “using cannabis in lieu of opioids.” Minimizing the Symptoms of Dementia in Alzheimer’s Patients: Although federal regulations are proving to be a significant challenge, medical professionals at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies are exploring the benefits of medical cannabis in the treatment of Alzheimer's. Preliminary research demonstrates a positive correlation between medical cannabis and a reduction of plaque and inflammation in the brain. Additional small-scale studies from other organizations report that THC may offer benefits such as enhanced lucidity and a reduction in aggressive behaviors in individuals with Alzheimer’s. As of right now, it seems researchers have just uncovered the tip of the iceberg. And if that’s any indication of what’s to come, it’s safe to say many more medical marijuana benefits will be uncovered.
It’s one of the more prevalent cannabis-related questions: What is THC? THC is short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a cannabinoid. THC is well known, even though most people who have heard about it don’t know exactly what it does or how it works. Whether you’re new to the world of cannabis products, or an experienced consumer, it’s likely you immediately associate cannabis with THC. And you’re right, but there’s also more to the "What is THC?" story. Let’s start by answering the question... What are cannabinoids? A cannabinoid is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. There are many different cannabinoids, but THC and CBD (cannabidiol) are the best known. When you consume cannabis, the cannabinoids enter your body and attach to CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system of your body. When this happens, the you begin feeling the effects of the cannabis, often including the “high.” The “high” is caused by THC, which is a psychoactive compound. CBD for example will not make you feel high. The effects of cannabinoids can be both physical and psychological, and their intensity will differ from person to person, depending on variables like one’s sensitivity and build-up tolerance. %related-post-1% Not all cannabis products contain (only) THC It’s important to understand that most strains contain both CBD, which doesn’t make you high, and THC. When buying a product, whether it’s smokable cannabis, an edible, or a topical, you must make sure you understand how much THC it contains. This will help you when choosing the moment of the day you consume your cannabis. Because THC gives you a euphoric high, it might be smart to avoid smoking right before an important meeting or job interview. But when you’re hanging out with friends at home and need some pain relief, THC is fine to use. What is THC's effect on the body in the short-term? Now that we've answered the "What is THC?" question, we can discuss what it does. THC can have several short-term effects on consumers. Some of these effects are wanted, but others aren’t as much. The intensity depends mostly on what amount of THC your body is used to. Some of these effects are: • Relaxation • Pain relief • Energy • Hunger • Sedation • Drowsiness • Increased heart rate • Slowed perception of time • Anxiety • Dizziness • Laughter • Feeling heavy • Memory impairment • Red eyes THC has been the subject of many studies. The cannabinoid might offer benefits for people suffering from PTSD, nausea, migraines, appetite loss, ADHD, glaucoma, fibromyalgia or insomnia for instance. THC can cause hunger, which might be beneficial for people who have lost appetite. And the relaxing effect might be helpful for people suffering from insomnia. %related-post-2% There are, it should be mentioned, possible limits to the use of cannabis for some of these symptoms and conditions. Many ophthalmologists wonder if using cannabis to treat glaucoma is really the best long-term solution. According to some of these doctors, patients would have to smoke cannabis every few hours in order to keep a lower intraocular pressure (IOP). This means that during this treatment, you would even have to get up at night to consume cannabis. For such reasons, you should always consult your ophthalmologist before using medical cannabis to try and treat your glaucoma. When it comes to fibromyalgia, things are rather complicated as well. This condition is often misunderstood, and researchers still don’t know exactly what causes the chronic pain and other symptoms the patients suffer. Many testimonials suggest that medical cannabis helps fight the symptoms better than pharmaceutical medication. But everyone has a different type and amount of pain and other symptoms. Moreover, they can vary every single day, depending on the weather, the amount of stress, a lack of sleep. So it appears cannabis might be an option, although patients would need some time to find the right strain, or the right edible to alleviate their symptoms. A build-up tolerance for THC When you consume cannabis regularly for a prolonged period of time, your body builds up a tolerance. This basically means that you will need more to get the same effects. If you don’t want to consume more than you do now, several alternatives can be tested. For instance you could take a tolerance break or stop consuming cannabis for a set amount of time in order to achieve better effects once you start again. If this isn’t possible because you use cannabis as a treatment, try changing the times on which you consume. There are few silver bullets in the the medical space. However, cannabis is a helpful option for many ailments. The key is to develop an understanding of how it can best be used in your own unique experience.
Evidence is mounting highlighting benefits of cannabis for Crohn's disease patients and sufferers of other inflammatory bowel diseases. What is Crohn's disease? According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) affect approximately 1.6 million Americans, and as many as 70,000 new diagnoses are made each year. For individuals suffering from Crohn’s and IBD, the symptoms are often debilitating: severe stomach cramps, chronic fatigue, diarrhea, fever — and in many cases, sufferers may not even be able to pinpoint all of the triggers of their flare-ups, meaning they are unable to identify (and avoid) foods and environmental factors that may exacerbate symptoms. Like other autoimmune disorders, the primary cause of discomfort for Crohn’s and IBD sufferers can be attributed at a basic level to inflammation — which in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to ulcers and a narrowing of the intestines called stricture. In many patients, these complications and others may lead to an inability to pass gas or stool, further worsening the pain and discomfort associated with their conditions. %related-post-1% Hope for relief Crohn’s disease was formally identified in the 1930s, and until recently, treatment options for Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases have been focused on relieving symptoms. Medications prescribed for Crohn’s include antibiotics, biologics, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators — and unfortunately, medications in each of these classes come with their own laundry lists of negative side effects. Acne, diarrhea, vomiting, upper respiratory infection, swelling, weight gain, headache, gas, hair loss — the list goes on. A quick glance at the “side effects” sections of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s IBD medications list sheds light on just how serious the negative impact of these medications can be. In recent years, however, researchers have discovered that cannabinoids may play a role in leveling out the body’s autoimmune response, thereby reducing inflammation in Crohn’s and IBD sufferers. Preliminary research indicates that chemicals in medical cannabis can react positively with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a key role in minimizing the overactivity of the inflammatory response in Crohn’s and IBD sufferers. Favorable observational evidence %related-post-2% Research to determine the specific correlation between medical marijuana and its impact on the inflammatory response is limited. Most studies have been completed on a very small scale or have never made it past the phase of testing results in laboratory mice. But despite the fact that federal regulations keeping cannabis locked into its role as a Schedule I drug have prevented testing on a larger scale, many states already identify Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases as qualifying conditions for access to medical cannabis. As IBD sufferers in cannabis-legal states find relief from their symptoms — some reporting such dramatically positive results as several years of remission from the symptoms of their disease — this observational evidence has proven to be convincing enough for other individuals searching for an alternative to traditional treatments. And although some medical professionals still caution the use of medical cannabis for Crohn’s and IBD due to its lack of clinical evidence, sufferers weighing the potential pros and cons in comparison to their existing medications seem to find the anecdotal stories of their peers as evidence enough to seek out medical cannabis as a viable treatment option. Cannabis for Crohn's: What’s next? As more states legalize medical cannabis and continue recognizing inflammatory bowel diseases as qualifying conditions, we anticipate that the number of people who try medical cannabis for Crohn's and other IBD relief will only rise. And while anecdotal evidence isn’t a replacement for controlled research studies, there is something to be said for consistent similarities in individual results. The Sugar Leaf will continue following the latest stories in IBD and medical cannabis and keep our readers up to date.
As is the case with most things related to cannabis, the full medical value of CBD (cannabidiol) is to be determined. But we’ll get you caught up to speed on its current uses here, starting by answering the question, “What is CBD?” First thing’s first, what is CBD? CBD is one of the many cannabinoids, which are active compounds, found in cannabis. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive (like THC), and others aren’t (like CBD). Cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 in the endocannabinoid system receptors of your brain. The first ones are located within the nervous system, the brain and nerve endings. The second ones are located within the immune system. When you consume cannabis, the cannabinoids attach themselves to the receptors, causing different physical and psychological effects. Every cannabinoid has a different effect on consumers. That’s why each strain of cannabis will make you feel different. It all depends on how much of each cannabinoid is present in your product, and also on how sensitive you are to these particular compounds. %related-post-1% What is the most popular medical value of CBD? CBD is often used to treat medical conditions. One of the reasons for this is because of the absence of psychoactivity in CBD (as opposed to THC). This means that you will not get “high” after consuming a product containing CBD, as long as it doesn’t contain any (or a too much) THC. As you might have seen in documentaries or in the news, CBD is known especially for its positive effects on people who have seizures. Numerous children have been treated with small drops of CBD, and the results have typically been positive. The amount of seizures usually decreases, allowing the children and parents to have a less stressful and painful life. Since seizures can be caused by different conditions, the effects of this type of medication are not the same for every individual. But this is, of course, the case with almost all types of drugs and medication. In which other cases could CBD help? Besides helping reduce the amount of seizures in many cases, CBD appears to also have other medical benefits. This cannabinoid could be used to reduce nausea, combat inflammatory disorders, and also help manage anxiety and depression. Of course the effects vary from person to person, and the breadth and scope of CBD studies leave much to be desired, thanks in large part to its Schedule 1 classification by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). %related-post-2% Could cannabidiol help schizophrenia patients? According to some researchers, CBD could have antipsychotic properties, and could be an alternative to current antipsychotic medications. A study published in 2012 shows that people with schizophrenia, who were either treated with cannabidiol or amisulpride (an antipsychotic drug) all had comparable improvements during the trial. Moreover, amisulpride is associated with quite a few negative side effects, whereas the people treated with cannabidiol showed significantly fewer of these side effects. More studies should be conducted on CBD and psychosis. Does CBD have anti-anxiety properties? According to different studies performed on animals, certain amounts of CBD might actually help reduce anxiety in various situations. Some small studies on humans have been conducted recently, but in order to get scientific proof that this cannabinoid actually works in case of anxiety, more studies must take place. Many studies on the benefits of CBD Today, many studies have taken place to determine the full medical value of CBD. But more are needed. Scientists and researchers believe that cannabidiol might be able to help many people. And according to researchers, the key advantage of CBD, as mentioned earlier, is that you won’t get “high.” This is very important for many medical cannabis users, and especially for children. If you want to know more about the different studies that take place on cannabidiol, keep reading our blog. We will keep you updated.