Tag: Health

Veterans for Cannabis: Meet Todd Scattini, ‘The Hemp Colonel’

Veterans for Cannabis is an ongoing series that profiles veterans whose lives have been impacted by medical cannabis. After coming home, many of our veterans face an uphill battle in their journey to healing as federal restrictions bar legal access to cannabis, despite its ability to alleviate pain, PTSD, pharmaceutical dependence, and other wounds of war. Find more veteran stories here.

Growing up in Bakersfield, CA, Lieutenant Colonel Todd Scattini seemed an unlikely candidate for a cannabis advocate. Raised by conservative parents, his family made their living by way of the land and the law—his father as a cowboy who worked the ranch, and his mother and stepfather as employees of the Sheriff’s department.

From a young age, however, Scattini paved his own path. After failing out of community college, he worked multiple jobs, resisting relatives’ advice to join the Army. It wasn’t until an accident that totaled his car and landed Scattini in the hospital that his period of youthful resistance came to an end. Soon thereafter, he walked into the nearest recruiter’s office and enlisted in the United States Army as a Czech and Slovak linguist.

The Army quickly recognized Scattini’s leadership abilities. He was offered a coveted appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1996, the same year cannabis was made legal for medical use in his home state of California—a meaningful coincidence he marks with pride.

Todd Scattini in Paris, France. (Courtesy of Todd Scattini)

Early in his career, Scattini served in combat arms roles, including Tank & Scout platoon leader and Cavalry troop commander. His language skills and passion for foreign service led to positions overseas, including at the US Embassies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia. But it was his assignment in 2011, as a senior advisor to the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, that opened his eyes to the both the opportunity of hemp and the healing power of medical cannabis.

“I believe there are miracles hidden inside the cannabis plant, and I want to be an integral part of the process of discovering and applying them.”

Lt. Colonel Todd Scattini

At the time, the Afghans were using their country’s resources to grow and sell hashish on the black market to fund deadly explosives that were used to target American and coalition forces. Scattini was tasked with developing a strategy for how to redirect Afghanistan’s natural resources into new markets. His recommendation? Hemp.

Though the idea didn’t take flight, Scattini became intrigued by the potential applications of cannabis. Says Scattini: “This is something that was fascinating on so many different levels—economy, employment, social justice, and medicine. I had to learn more.” The “Hemp Colonel” was born.


Warrior Ethos: Colorado’s Battle to Allow Cannabis for PTSD

Scattini’s efforts to understand the depth and range of medical cannabis intensified when one of his former platoon leaders succumbed to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs have become so pervasive that officials refer to them as a signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “He died because they couldn’t stop the inflammation in his brain,” says Scattini. “I think there’s a chance we could have saved him.”

Through extensive research, Scattini learned that components of the plant could be used as a neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. This insight was one of many that led to the creation of The Athena Protocol, a strategy Scattini and his team have developed to mitigate and treat TBI on the battlefield. Scattini believes that this effort may also provide protection against CTE, a degenerative brain disease often found in NFL players.

Returning stateside in 2016 for his final assignment, Scattini spent two years positioning himself for the next phase of his life in the cannabis industry. He retired last month, and is now the CEO of Harvest 360 and the European representative of CW Hemp.


After Service, These Veterans Are Finding New Careers—in Cannabis

The Scattini family will relocate to Prague, CZ, next summer. Scattini’s goal with Harvest 360 is to link the North American cannabis industry to the emerging medical cannabis market in Europe. The open research environment in Europe allows him to pursue cutting-edge research in cooperation with the International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute in Prague.

Having traded combat arms for cannabis, Scattini is still driven by the same mission and values he followed during his 27 years on active duty. “In the military, when developing plans, we are constantly encouraged to think critically about complex problems and to devise creative solutions,” he says. “I believe there are miracles hidden inside the cannabis plant, and I want to be an integral part of the process of discovering and applying them.”

7 Signs It Might Be Time for a Break From Cannabis

There are a lot of reasons to take a break from getting high, and you might currently be considering stepping away for a bit but feel weird because cannabis has been your best friend since Day 1. You’re not alone; it’s perfectly normal for cannabis consumers to give up their favorite product for a stretch. If you’re wondering whether you should bench your bud, take a look at some of these reasons why you may want to abstain.

You’re Spending Too Much Money

A one-time-buy isn’t that expensive, but those one-times turn into 12-times and then your ATM card’s looking at you like this isn’t the relationship that y’all agreed to. It’s very easy to spend hundreds on a few grams and a few edibles or concentrates, then look up at the end of the month and see that you could’ve bought a plane ticket to Hawaii or, even better, a delicious amount of mozzarella sticks.


25 Dispensaries With Fantastic Cannabis Prices and Deals

It’s Taking Priority Over Your Responsibilities

You said after work was Day 1 of Operation Back in the Gym, but instead you go home, smoke, and pass out for the night. You said tonight was the night that you’d write out that business plan, but that one hit for a little inspiration turned into 87 hits for procrastination and now you’re watching the basketball episode of The Office for the 832nd time. You were going to pay off that credit card, but you’ll get it next month because you got the munchies and ordered a delicious amount of mozzarella sticks delivered straight to your mouth.

While cannabis may not be entirely responsible for your laziness, you may want to cut back on it for a while so you eliminate the temptation and can focus on establishing good habits and being more productive.


Cannabis Isn’t Making You Lazy, Your Bad Habits Are

All Your Free Time Is Spent Inside

You need a social life to stay sane. Your friends are important, and seeing other humans in the wild matters. Spending all your time with your dab rig is cool, but so is fresh air and some time with your loved ones. If your motivation to go out and do things with others is being zapped, try tucking away your stash box for a bit so you can get out of your comfort zone and reestablish some social connections.


The 13 Best Cannabis Strains for Parties

You Rely On It Too Much For Creativity

You’re either creative or you’re not. If you are, it’s not because you smoke, it’s because you’re talented and special. I think the connection between cannabis and art is so strong that some creatives believe they can’t create the latter without the former. If you’ve become so reliant on it that you can’t create without it, you should chill on it for a while so you can see what you’re truly capable of with a clear head.


Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Creativity?

You’re Getting Too High…

There was a period in college where I couldn’t even smell a blunt without passing out for the next six hours. Imagine being that friend: every time you get high, you pass out on the couch, and now the sitting area is closed for the next 360 minutes.

If you’re getting way too high and it’s leaving you feeling stuck too consistently, you may need a less-potent strain or product, or at least admit that your body isn’t built for war and you need to retreat for a bit to get your soldiers in order.


Cannabis Strain Recommendations for Beginners and Low-Tolerance Consumers

…Or You Aren’t Getting High Enough

Sometimes you smoke so much that you feel like you’re not feeling the effects as strongly as you used to. The only way to power through is to take a little break to reset your tolerance a bit. Even just 24 hours will help, but a full month? Oooohweee, that will make a big difference.


Can a Tolerance Break Rejuvenate the Effects of Cannabis?

You Feel Guilty About It

You’ve been wanting to take a break, or even quit, for so long that getting high makes you feel extremely guilty because it feels like you’re running from a challenge. Anyone who has felt like they needed to stop smoking and rearrange their priorities knows all about that feeling.

There’s no shame in walking away from a bit. You can still support the mission of normalizing the use of cannabis and advancing the legalization of medical marijuana without actually indulging in the product. Do whatever’s best for you, my friend.

The Top Medical Cannabis Studies of 2017

The Top Medical Cannabis Studies of 2017

In part one of this series, we took a look at some of the most impactful studies in medical cannabis, specifically those relating to CBD. This next installment highlights several cannabis wins beyond CBD, as it shows promise in healthy aging, neurodegenerative disease, and more.

Cannabis is a powerful weapon against the opioid epidemic.

 Source: International Journal of Drug Policy, April 2017 and PLoS One, November 2017

One of the biggest health news stories of 2017 has been the escalating need to address the opioid crisis. President Trump declared it a “national emergency,” but in addition to not allotting sufficient resources to prevent problematic opioid use, the Trump administration’s combat strategy doesn’t include cannabis. Research published in 2017 suggests that it should.

84% of patients who received access to medical cannabis reduced their opioid prescriptions, compared to 45% in the comparison group.

Association studies over the last couple of years have identified that there are fewer opioid-related overdoses in states with access to medicinal cannabis. But those studies didn’t directly address whether medical cannabis led to improved pain management as an opioid substitute.

Several studies published in 2017 address these issues. One surveyed 271 Canadian patients who were seeking prescription drug treatment for a variety of ailments including pain, anxiety, and depression; among these, 63% reported that cannabis substituted for their prescription medications. Specifically among pain patients, 30% reported that they swapped out their prescription opioids for cannabis. Patients reported that one of their greatest reasons for switching from opioids to cannabis wasn’t necessarily because of better symptom management (after all, opioids are effective pain killers…initially), but because there were fewer side effects associated with cannabis use.


This Medical Cannabis Researcher Explains How Marijuana Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic

University of New Mexico scientists put the substitutability of cannabis for opioids to the test in a cohort of chronic pain patients. The study compared prescription opioid use, mostly to treat back pain, between patients enrolled or not enrolled in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. They found that 84% of patients who received access to medical cannabis reduced their opioid prescriptions, compared to 45% in the comparison group. Notably, 41% of the cannabis users stopped using opioids altogether.

As described in previous surveys, cannabis use was not found to cause any serious side effects. Instead, it was associated with improved measures of quality of life with noted benefits to their social and activity levels, as well as boosted concentration.

These studies are the latest to support cannabis’ benefits in reducing opioid use. They find that cannabis can either substitute for prescription pain medication or supplement its effect, thus requiring fewer opioid pills to be consumed. And all of this with few side-effects!


Cannabis as an Opioid Exit: 5 Real-Life Stories

Low doses of THC promote healthy brain aging.

Source: Nature Medicine, June 2017

As the mature brain ages in adulthood, its endocannabinoid system weakens. The number of CB1 receptors–the receptors through which cannabis takes its classic effect–decrease with age, and the ones that remain are less effective. It’s thought that the weakened endocannabinoid system in the elderly contributes to their cognitive decline. This past spring, a research team from Germany reported that consistently activating CB1 receptors with low doses of THC prevents age-related cognitive decline in mice.

In old mice, THC increased the number of connections brain cells made with one another in the hippocampus.

For 28 days, scientists gave a single low-dose of THC to young and old mice, after which they were tested for learning, memory, and cognitive flexibility (i.e., how well they could adapt to changing instructions). Old mice generally perform worse than young mice in these tasks, but THC impaired performance in young mice. However, old mice treated with THC performed similarly to their younger cohorts that did not receive THC, revealing that THC can impair brain function in the young, but rescue age-related decline in old animals.


Less Is More: Why Low-Dose Cannabis Is Important

These beneficial effects of THC in old mice were associated with positive changes at the level of individual brain cells. With aging, the number of connections between brain cells decreases. However, in old mice, THC increased the number of connections brain cells made with one another in a brain region called the hippocampus, which has important roles in learning and memory, and stress and anxiety. In fact, old mice treated with THC had a similar number of connections as untreated young mice.

The scientists revealed that one way in which low-dose THC promotes healthy brain aging is by impacting the pattern in which certain genes are expressed. Genes, which are the DNA instructions for building all the proteins in your body, are differentially expressed depending on age; there are “young” gene expression patterns and “old” gene expression patterns. One of the marquee findings in this study was that low-dose THC shifted the old mice’s gene expression to look like that of the young animals.

These results highlight the differential impact that THC can have on the brain and behavior as a function of age. But while many seek to better understand the harm that THC can have in the developing brain, this study provides the first in a hopefully growing body of evidence showing the benefits it can have in the aged brain.


Cannabis Study: How THC Affects Learning and Memory at Different Ages

Cannabis tames symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Clinical Neuropharmacology, November 2017

Cannabis cannot cure Parkinson’s disease, but there’s now evidence that cannabis can relieve many of the devastating symptoms associated with the disease. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by cognitive problems, difficulty initiating movement, impaired gait and balance, and tremor. Many Parkinson’s disease patients also report an increased sensitivity to pain.

In a pilot study of 40 Parkinson’s disease patients, scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel found that smoking medicinal cannabis for an average of 19 months improved many of the symptoms associated with the disease. 82% of participants reported that cannabis improved their overall symptoms. Cannabis reduced the number of falls, provided pain relief, reduced tremor, attenuated muscle stiffness, and improved sleep. Nearly 75% also reported that cannabis enhanced their mood, suggesting that cannabis may be an effective palliative care strategy for Parkinson’s disease patients.


How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Neurodegenerative Diseases?

One of the ways in which cannabis may be having its beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease symptoms is by activating CB1 receptors in the substantia nigra, a small brain region where brain cells are selectively destroyed in the disease. Activating CB1 receptors in this brain region may relieve the cognitive impairment, walking difficulty, and tremor associated with the disease.

These benefits were associated with only minimal side effects. Cough was the most prevalent, and it’s likely that consuming cannabis in a method other than smoking would mitigate this side effect. The majority of participants reported that cannabis had no effect on memory, but 17% reported confusion and anxiety. The study did not control for type of cannabis consumed or measure cannabinoid content, but this is an important research direction to pursue in 2018.

Cannabis can help escalate your sex life.

Source: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, November 2017

There are many fear-inducing headlines when it comes to cannabis. But one of the latest to be debunked is that cannabis is bad for your sex life. Some claim that cannabis reduces sex drive or it impairs performance.

Stanford University physicians analyzed sexual activity data from over 50,000 men and women and concluded that cannabis use actually increases frequency of sexual activity. This increase was found in both men and women and consistent across demographic groups.

The study, however, did not address the effect of cannabis use on sexual performance. Regarding whether regular cannabis use impacts ability to attain an erection and achieve orgasm, the jury remains hung.


Can Too Much Cannabis Numb Your Nethers and Affect Your Sexual Performance?

Looking Forward

In 2015, $21 million dollars in United States government funding went towards therapeutic cannabinoid research. That amount increased by a third in 2016, and is projected to rise even more in 2017. Almost half of this amount went towards studying CBD, which is thought to convey many of cannabis’ medicinal benefits. The increase in funding by the National Institute of Health is an acknowledgement of cannabis’ medicinal potential, and its recognition by the scientific community has led to a spike in the number of applications for Schedule I drug licenses from the Drug Enforcement Agency to study these benefits. It’s clear that momentum behind the medical cannabis movement is building, which will make for an exciting 2018… and beyond.

Lead image: (gremlin/iStock)

The Top CBD Cannabis Studies of 2017

The Top CBD Cannabis Studies of 2017

The past year was important for proponents of medical cannabis. Those seeking to remove cannabis’ Schedule I status are now armed with even more evidence for its medicinal and wellness benefits from a combination of human and rodent studies. From benefits in epilepsy, autism, and beyond, here are some of 2017’s biggest medical cannabis news stories. This installment covers insights relating to CBD, but tune in to the second part of this series for more discoveries uncovered in 2017.

Cannabidiol (CBD) passes stage 3 clinical trial for treatment of epilepsy in children.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, May 2017

This one was big. One of the greatest limitations in the medicinal cannabis field is the lack of randomized double-blinded studies, the standard in clinical research. This limitation is often the basis of the opposition’s argument that there’s no strong evidence to support clinical cannabis use. But that argument was undermined by the successful trial of CBD treatment in children with epilepsy.

CBD reduced the median number of seizures each month by 39% compared to 13% for placebo-treated patients.

Scientists studied the effect of CBD (Epidolex developed by GW Pharmaceuticals) on epileptic seizures in patients with Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a severe epileptic childhood disorder caused by genetic mutation that reduces brain inhibition and leads to frequent and uncontrollable seizures. Traditional anti-epileptic medications are largely ineffective at preventing seizures in Dravet syndrome, but anecdotal reports from parents of children with the condition suggest that CBD-rich cannabis effectively reduces seizures.

The researchers found that orally-consumed CBD oil over a 14-week treatment period was an effective anti-epileptic treatment in these patients, reducing the median number of seizures each month by 39% compared to 13% for placebo-treated patients. Further, these anti-epileptic benefits were achieved with only minimal side effects, of which diarrhea and drowsiness were the most reported. While these could be problematic in their own right, they beat having seizures and many of the side-effects from traditional anti-epileptic strategies.


Cannabis and Epilepsy Treatment

Because CBD was used as an add-on therapy to the patients’ other anti-epileptic medications, one of the limitations of this study was not being to identify if CBD on its own reduced seizures, or if its anti-epileptic abilities were through interaction with other medications.

Nonetheless, this study’s double-blinded design was a substantial improvement over earlier assessments and benefited from a large sample size (61 received CBD, and 59 received placebo). Previous CBD trials found that it effectively reduced seizures in other drug-resistant forms of epilepsy, but the conclusions of these studies were weakened by their open-label nature, which allowed patients and doctors to be aware they were taking CBD and permitted bias.

This is the largest and most successful clinical trial to-date to demonstrate the medicinal benefits of CBD, and it will likely convince many clinicians to consider CBD for treating the 20% of epileptic disorders that are poorly controlled by traditional anti-epileptic drugs.

Add autism to the list of CBD’s medicinal benefits.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2017

Autism is often the result of too little inhibition in the brain, which leads to heightened sensitivity to stimuli (such as lights, sounds, touch, and smells) and abnormal social behavior. Epilepsy can also result from too little brain inhibition, and it’s common for individuals on the severe end of the autism spectrum to also have epilepsy. Scientists then may study both epilepsy and autism that are caused by the same DNA mutation.

Soon after the exciting clinical data demonstrating CBD’s effectiveness at reducing seizures in children with drug-resistant epilepsy, University of Washington scientists published a report demonstrating CBD’s effectiveness in a mouse model of epilepsy and autism.


How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Autism?

As described above, one of the limitations of the clinical study of CBD in patients with Dravet syndrome is that, for ethical reasons, patients remained on their anti-epileptic medications; CBD was used as an add-on therapy, leading skeptics to posit that CBD’s anti-epileptic effects were in fact mediated by an interaction between CBD and other medications. To assess if CBD had anti-epileptic effects on its own in drug-resistant epilepsy, scientists tested CBD’s effects in mice with the same genetic mutation as humans with Dravet syndrome.

CBD increased the mice’s preference for spending time interacting with other mice and reduced the number of social anxiety-like behaviors.

In these epileptic mice, scientists confirmed that CBD, by itself, was sufficient to reduce seizures. Further, it was revealed that CBD rescues deficits in brain inhibition by blocking the activity of a brain receptor called GPR55. Now that CBD’s anti-epileptic effects are better understood in the brain and have been observed in humans and rodents, there’s an especially compelling case for clinical use of CBD in treating drug-resistant epilepsies.

But it doesn’t end there.

In addition to epilepsy, children with Dravet syndrome and other epileptic disorders often have autism. Unfortunately, the phase III clinical trial of CBD’s efficacy on seizures wasn’t able to simultaneously address autism-like social deficits in these individuals. However, University of Washington scientists looked at CBD’s impact on autistic-like social deficits, and they revealed that CBD normalizes social behavior in mice. CBD increased the mice’s preference for spending time interacting with other mice and reduced the number of social anxiety-like behaviors. Critically, this improvement occurred even after the mice had undergone numerous seizures, which highlights its medicinal potential at any age.


CBD and the Brain: What Does It Do and What Is It Good For?

This was the first controlled study to demonstrate CBD’s ability to treat autistic-like social behaviors. CBD’s ability to improve symptoms of autism, even if it’s used in late developmental stages or adulthood, provides strong justification for the first human clinical trial to test cannabis oil in the treatment of autism, which is currently being conducted in 120 Israeli patients.

Addressing 2016’s biggest health scare: Does CBD turn into THC in our stomach?

Source: Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, available online December 2017

In 2016, a report claiming that CBD gets converted to THC in the stomach raised fear among proponents and patients. CBD has been emerging as a powerful medicinal tool for treating numerous disorders in children, adolescents, and adults. However, if CBD were to be converted to THC, this could negatively impact brain development in children and adolescents and induce side effects in adults.

Since that report, many have stated the obvious: If CBD gets converted to THC, then patients that consume large doses of CBD should experience THC-like effects. But they don’t! This simple observation prompted many to speculate that the conversion of CBD to THC was an artifact of the experimental conditions which were conducted in a petri dish and not a living creature.


CBD vs. THC: Why Is CBD Not Psychoactive?

To address whether CBD gets converted to THC in a living animal, scientists in Italy dosed rats with a high concentration of CBD and measured cannabinoids in the blood. Neither THC nor its metabolites were detected. These findings support the conclusions from behavioral studies in humans and animals that CBD does not convert to THC in the stomach in any meaningful amount. So in 2018, rest assured that you can attain CBD’s medicinal benefits without the potential risk of THC exposure.

Eager for more of 2017’s most compelling cannabis research? Stay tuned for part two, where we dive into more good news brought forth by the scientists and researchers working boldly in the cannabis space.

Lead Image: Kkolosov/iStock

We Asked a Scientist: What’s the Right Dose of CBD?

This article is sponsored by Tilray, one of the largest and most sophisticated producers of medical cannabis in the world. Tilray is dedicated to providing safe, consistent, and reliable products to patients and furthering clinical research.

As research into the medical applications of cannabis compounds steadily increases, scientists and doctors are shedding new light on how cannabinoids interact with not only the human body, but with other cannabinoids. New studies are providing further insight on why these substances work, how they can be used most effectively, and what new applications they may have in the future.

We sat down with Nick Jikomes, Leafly’s in-house neuroscientist, to learn about what researchers are learning about the cannabinoid CBD, and how different doses can be put to use in treating a variety of conditions.

Nick Jikomes (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Tilray: Let’s start with the basics: what is CBD, exactly?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the major cannabinoids produced by Cannabis—typically the second most abundant after THC. It’s like THC in that it’s a plant cannabinoid with a similar chemical structure, but it’s also very different in terms of physiological effects.

The most obvious way that it’s different is that it’s non-intoxicating—CBD doesn’t get you high the way that THC does. There are also a lot of interactive effects between THC and CBD. They can enhance each other, but they can also get in the way of one another. Some of those interactions have potentially interesting medical applications.


CBD and the Brain: What Does It Do and What Is It Good For?

What do we understand about that relationship between THC and CBD, and what are we learning about it?

The first thing to understand is how they both interact with receptors in the nervous system. The major receptor in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis is CB1, a receptor found predominantly in the brain. For classic psychoactive effects to be felt, THC needs to bind to that receptor and activate it.

CBD also interacts with the CB1 receptor, but in a different manner. It doesn’t activate that receptor; in fact, it makes it harder for the receptor to be activated by other compounds. CBD is essentially getting in the way of THC’s ability to bind the CB1 receptor, which is why the presence of CBD has a significant impact on the psychoactivity of THC-containing products. This is why the ratio of the two compounds is important for anticipating the effects of cannabis products.


Predicting Cannabis Strain Effects From THC and CBD Levels

The other thing to keep in mind is that most compounds, CBD included, interact with many different receptor systems. So, it’s not just the relationship with THC that’s interesting; CBD is interacting with many other receptors and having many different effects through those systems.

CBD droplet bottles from TilrayCBD is available in numerous forms, including liquid drops. (Courtesy of Tilray)

CBD is recommended for a wide range of symptoms and conditions—are there instances where you’d want some CBD with your THC, and others where you want just CBD?

Basically, yes. CBD may reduce many of the unwanted side effects of THC, such as short-term memory impairment and anxiety, which are more common at higher doses of THC. Often the more CBD you have relative to THC, the less of those things you should expect.

While THC and CBD have different pharmacological properties, they can both have similar physiological effects, probably acting through different mechanisms. For instance, both compounds can have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; they likely act through different mechanisms, so having THC and CBD could potentially enhance an outcome surrounding pain relief.


Can CBD Undo the Anxious Side Effects of THC?

Are we at the point in research where we can better understand, based on the condition a patient might have, what could be the most useful blend? Or is there still some trial and error involved for patients finding what is going to work best for them?

I don’t think the clinical evidence is currently at a point where you can say you want this particular ratio for this particular condition to a specific patient. If you are a patient who finds that a 1:1 THC to CBD blend is perfect for you, that’s great. But you’re most likely going to have to get there through some trial-and-error, and when you do, there are good reasons to think that blend won’t be perfect for you forever.

That’s because people’s physiologies change over time, including the ECS and how densely receptors are expressed in the brain and the body. These things change over the lifetime of an individual, and so the optimal ratios and doses of these compounds, whatever they may be, are probably going to change as well.


How Strain Genetics Influence THC:CBD Ratios

CBD dosesMedical cannabis providers carefully measure CBD for dosing. (Courtesy of Tilray)

It sounds like the proper dose, in the long run, can be kind of a moving target?

It can, and that’s one reason to be very cautious about being overly prescriptive about doses and ratios. There’s an interesting study on this topic looking at THC in mice, and the results suggest that the same dose of the same compound (THC, in this case) has very different behavioral and cellular effects depending on the age of the subjects.

This is a very common thing in the world of pharmaceuticals—different doses of a drug can have different effects. With substances that bind to a lot of different receptors, like CBD, there’s often a sweet spot around a mid-sized dose. That means you can’t necessarily expect the substance to be twice as strong if you double the dose—in fact, you might see the opposite.


Peak THC: The Limits on THC and CBD Levels for Cannabis Strains

And that article points out that there are also different conditions for which different dosages are effective?

Exactly. And that’s likely because CBD is binding to many different receptors throughout the body. At a fairly low dose, it will mainly hit the receptors it has the highest affinity for, or that are the most densely expressed. At higher doses, those receptors can become saturated, so the remainder of the CBD will interact with other receptor systems, and that’s where you may start to see different effects.

Are we starting to see a ceiling on effective dosages of CBD?

It depends on the condition you’re trying to treat. If you’re using CBD for anxiety, there may be that sweet spot middle dosage that has the best effect, and can become less effective if you increase the dose.


Why Does Cannabis Cause Paranoia in Some But Helps Anxiety in Others?

In epilepsy, that hasn’t been seen yet. They’re using very high doses in that treatment, and no one has yet observed a diminishment in effect as the dose goes up.

Cannabis and Mental Health: Cause, Cure, or It’s Complicated? (Yes)

As the countdown to legal Canadian cannabis ticks forward, there’s growing interest in cannabis’s medical potential when it comes to mental illness, something that affects one in five Canadians.

Are those with mental illness using cannabis to help with symptoms, or are they using it as a result of having a mental illness?

Given those stats, and the reality that, outside of tobacco and alcohol, cannabis is the most common psychoactive substance used among the general population, it’s inevitable that the potential overlap of cannabis and mental illness will lead to a spike in questions for doctors.

And yet, many patients share a similar experience: When they approach their doctors about the possibility of using cannabis to help with mental illness, the suggestion is strongly dismissed. Since cannabis has a long way to go before it shakes off the stigma of being an illicit drug, some perceive it as a chicken-or-egg conundrum among those who use it to treat mental illness. Are those with mental illness using it to help with symptoms, or are they using it as a result of having a mental illness?

Because research into this quandary is minimal and doctors are often unforthcoming, the evidence is largely anecdotal.

Toronto-based photographer and activist Andy Lee uses cannabis, along with talk therapy, to treat his depression and anxiety. He came to this balance after trying antidepressants, and deciding they weren’t effective for him.

Since his doctor made it clear he was against the idea of medicinal cannabis to treat mental illness, Lee found another practitioner who was comfortable prescribing it. “I know this is a touchy subject and taboo but this worked,” he says.

Lee is now involved in cannabis and mental health advocacy.

“I know this is a touchy subject but this worked.”

Andy Lee on treating his depression with cannabis

Even though he’s found treatment that works, he admits there are risks to overusing cannabis. “It’s a healing plant but it shouldn’t be abused and taken for granted,” he says. “It’s like antibiotics, the positive effects diminish the more your body gets used to it.”

Claire Gabereau relates. For years, the Vancouver-based costume designer would chronically smoke cannabis. When she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder, her doctor strongly discouraged her from consuming cannabis. Her psychiatrist, on the other hand, was more open-minded and never criticized Gabereau’s habits. But when an additional diagnosis determined she had substance-use disorder, she decided to go completely sober, rather than start antidepressants.

“I didn’t like [that my psychiatrist] was like ‘sobriety might be good for you, here’s a bunch of drugs,’” she says.

It’s been three months since Gabereau changed her habits and her depression and anxiety appear to have subsided. “I don’t want to go back to smoking it all the time because I’d definitely get paranoia and anxiety,” she says. “It can be used as a tool and medicine but since I’ve been abusing it for so long, it lost its value and purpose.”

Invaluable Research from Israel

Most scientists will agree that cannabis’s 100+ compounds, known as cannabinoids, have a clear effect on humans’ biology. But there are a lot of gaps in the research of the therapeutic role it can play when it comes to mental illness, especially in the US, where medical research is stifled by cannabis’s prohibitive designation as a schedule-I narcotic.

Shauli Lev-Ran (courtesy of the subject)

Shauli Lev-Ran  is an addiction psychiatrist based in Tel Aviv. He focuses on the psychiatric aspects of cannabis use and the interface between pain, psychiatric disorders, and risk of addition.

He regularly treats patients in his clinical practice with both psychiatric disorders and cannabis-use disorders. As legislation and regulations surrounding cannabis change across the US, Canada, and other countries, he started examining the connection between mental health and cannabis more deeply.

Despite his area of expertise, Lev-Ran admits he hasn’t found definitive answers when it comes to the chicken-or-egg theory of what comes first, mental illness or the dependency on cannabis. “It’s complex and there are a lot of methodical issues that confound our ability to get reasonable answers to these questions,” he says.


The Medical Minute: More Cannabis, Less Mental Illness

In 2013, Lev-Ran conducted a study through the Centre for Mental Health and Addictions in Toronto. Based on data collected by the National Institute for Alcoholism Abuse and Alcoholism, it was a cross-sectional study of more than 43,000 people—the largest epidemiological study on psychiatric disorders and substance use abuse. Lev-Ran found people with mental illnesses are over seven times more likely to use cannabis weekly than those without a mental illness.

More specifically, the study analyzed the difference between the rates of cannabis use and abuse amongst people with psychiatric disorders compared to those without. The research was based on the subjects’ number and types of psychiatric disorders and the intensity of their cannabis use, which Lev-Ran admits is challenging to quantify. Unlike alcohol, there are no standard doses with cannabis use.

Lev-Ran found people with mental illnesses are over seven times more likely to use cannabis weekly than those without a mental illness.

“We can talk about frequency and we can talk about dose, but they’re not standardized,” he says. “If I smoke two joints a day that are low in THC, it’s one thing, but if I smoke skunk or high potency and I smoke a large joint without tobacco as a filler, in both cases the dose seems like the same but they’re very different.”

Lev-Ran followed up with a meta-analysis, culled from thousands of existing studies, and found that those who use cannabis are at an increased risk for developing depression. However, he noticed many of the individual studies within the meta-analysis left out significant considerations, such as childhood upbringing and a family history of substance abuse.

Lev-Ran followed up with another study in 2016, which surveyed both cannabis users and non-users who had never suffered from depression. It set to understand if cannabis users who never experienced depression were at higher risk of suffering from an onset of the mental illness, compared to non-users. The study also analyzed data from the National Institute for Alcoholism Abuse and Alcoholism. This time, it followed up on 34,000 individuals who had taken part in the 2013 study.


Could Cannabis Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Medications?

Lev-Ran found that regardless of frequency (or infrequency) of use of cannabis, there was no difference between the rates of depression. Conversely, individuals with depression were at a higher risk to start using cannabis compared to those with no depression.

“One thing is to maybe say that cannabis isn’t very detrimental but it also shows that it isn’t very helpful.”

Shauli Lev-Ran

Next, Lev-Ran examined if cannabis works in favour for those with depression. He surveyed people with mental illness who used cannabis and those who didn’t and found very little difference between the two groups. It’s a conclusion that can be interpreted in two ways.

“One thing is to maybe say that cannabis isn’t very detrimental but it also shows that it isn’t very helpful,” he says, adding that the conclusion was only based on one study. “But this shows the line on how we explore these questions.”

What makes researching cannabis and its effect on mental illness challenging is that cannabis isn’t an all-encompassing substance. There are thousands of strains and hundreds of chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes within the plant.

“It’s clear that we’re not talking about one uniform compound,” he says. “So lumping all cannabis users together is almost ridiculous.”

The research on psychotic disorders like bipolar or schizophrenia is more clear-cut. The consensus is that cannabis triggers such disorders and can lead to substantially worse outcomes. But risk for any disease or disorder is a combination of pre-disposition and exposure to risk factors. For people heritably predisposed to schizophrenia, using cannabis, particularly during adolescence, increases the risk of developing the mental illness.

PTSD Leads the Way

Zach Walsh spends a lot of time examining the ties between marijuana consumption, mental health, and addiction. As an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, he oversees the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab, which studies cannabis use for therapeutic and recreational purposes.

Walsh says the only way to really know if mental illness precedes cannabis use or the other way around would be to follow people from an early age. That’s because most people start using cannabis around the same time they would demonstrate signs of mental illness—in their mid to late teens.

Walsh says the strongest evidence from his lab on cannabis’ effectiveness is among patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Say you started smoking at 14 and at 18 are diagnosed with depression. It’d be hard to say whether you were feeling little bits of depression and were dealing with it by smoking cannabis as a pre-depression syndrome,” he says.

Medical trials can help reveal whether people who have mental illnesses are better off using cannabis or not, but researchers are far from understanding much beyond that.

Walsh points to the stigma around cannabis, which is still illegal in most countries, and how it hinders the drug’s potential from being taken seriously as medicine. Since cannabis has been branded an illegal substance that’s often associated with criminality, people don’t associate it with relief from symptoms. That could take time to reverse.

“I think [cannabis] should be given a balanced assessment,” he says. “All [drugs] have risks and relative benefits. We just have this stigma around cannabis. We’re less critical of drugs that come from pharmaceutical.”


Is Cannabis Addictive?

Walsh says the strongest evidence from his lab on cannabis’ effectiveness is among patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in reducing nightmares. This is especially relevant for Canada’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VAC) and the Department of National Defense (DND), which are also reviewing existing research on the use cannabis for medical purposes. VAC will cover the costs of medicinal cannabis—to a limit of three grams a day—for some veterans who suffer from PTSD.

In a statement to Leafly, a Veterans Affairs official wrote: “Recognizing that this is still an emerging practice and field of study, the Department wants to ensure that the specific direction of its research initiative undertaken with DND will have the greatest impact on strengthening evidence on the effects of marijuana on the health of Veterans.”

“All (drugs) have risks and relative benefits. We just have this stigma around cannabis. We’re less critical of drugs that come from pharmaceutical.”

researcher Zach Walsh

Walsh suspects that future trials will focus on broader anxiety disorders, which are often treated with pharmaceuticals like Valium or Ativan.

“It’s worth looking at side by side because those drugs have side effects as well,” he says. “They can lead to tolerance and withdrawal.”

If patients with mental illnesses or anxiety disorders are going to try cannabis as a treatment, Walsh stresses the importance of self-reporting. Finding a strain that works could be likened to finding the right prescription and dosage if a patient were to go on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. Sometimes it takes a few months of trial and error to find the medicine that helps. By closely monitoring how certain strains and doses feel, a patient will get a better sense of what’s effective and what isn’t.

“As adults we should be given the choice,” he says. “The harms of cannabis have been well-tested even if the benefits haven’t been. I think adults can go in and make sufficient choices about whether they want to use cannabis or not.”

You Can’t Argue with Results

Toronto resident Alexandra Charendoff fully agrees, despite regularly being discouraged from cannabis use by a number of health care practitioners. After being  diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia, Charendoff found cannabis was the most powerful and effective way to relieve the anxiety that paralyzed her when she had to leave the house.

“It was almost instantaneous,” she says. “I can actually function when I smoke weed. It’s the only thing that’s had any impact. When I take an Ativan, I just want to lie down and sleep.”


The Best Cannabis Strains for Treating Depression

When she brought up the possibility with her doctor, “it was apparent he’d had this conversation multiple times before” but wasn’t in favour of going the medicinal-marijuana route. She wasn’t that surprised. Every time she’d been to the ER for treatment for an episode, doctors strongly railed against cannabis use, but never had any data to back up why. Charendoff felt their input was one-sided.

“They’ll say it’s not a good idea but there’s no room for conversation,” Charendoff says.

It’s likely the data on marijuana’s potential to treat symptoms of mental illness will spike once the drug is legalized in Canada, and more research is administered. Until then, doctors will continue fielding question about how cannabis can potentially help. If they don’t have answers, it’s likely that patients, like Lee and Charendoff, will continue to explore options themselves.

“I don’t think it’s going to cure my mental illness,” says Charendoff. “But it helps.”

Are Too Many Canadian Medical Marijuana Patients “Faking It”?

Are there a bunch of “fakers” in Canada’s medical marijuana program? And is it necessary to impose a tax on the program so that it dissuades more recreational cannabis users from joining the program? That’s what the Canadian government has suggested as it defends a new tax being imposed on the nation’s medical cannabis system.

Ottowa has announced that a 10% excise tax will be levied on producers of cannabis—regardless of whether the product is destined for medical patients or recreational consumers.

All cannabis sold through the medical program is subject to both federal sales tax and provincial sales tax. That’s not news to medical cannabis patients, as the tax has been in place since the current program’s implementation in 2013.

But now, the federal government has announced that as part of its legalization of non-medicinal cannabis, a 10% excise tax will be levied on producers of cannabis–regardless of whether the product is destined for medical patients or recreational consumers.

“Our government remains committed to maintaining a function medical marijuana system,” Liberal MP Bill Blair told The Globe and Mail in November. “At the same time, we do not want the taxation levels to be an incentive for people to utilize that system inappropriately, and we propose that the taxation levels for both medical and non-medical will be aligned.”

“We do not want the taxation levels to be an incentive for people to utilize that system inappropriately.”

Liberal MP Bill Blair

The government seemed to double down on the implication earlier this month, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared on Toronto’s Breakfast Television: “The fact is there are a lot of people who use the medical marijuana industry as a way of getting recreational marijuana,” said Trudeau.

Reaction to the clip was fierce. Mandy McKnight, whose son Liam uses high-CBD oil from Canada’s legal medical cannabis system, sardonically tweeted, “Let’s tax 99% of legitimate medical patients because there are a small number that are hiding behind ‘medical’ to save $1. Is that how we create policy in Canada?”


How to Register as a Medical Cannabis Patient in Canada

McKnight’s comments pose an interesting question—just how many people are abusing the system to get their recreational fix?

Leafly spoke with Brian Kierans, a medical cannabis consultant who has worked in several medical cannabis-oriented doctor clinics across Toronto.

“I don’t think there are as many people abusing the system as they think.”

Brian Kierans, medical cannabis consultant

“I don’t think there are as many people abusing the system as they think,” Kierans told us.

Leafly wanted to know the percentage of patients that Kierans believes are accessing cannabis for purely recreational purpose, and his answer was similar to McKnight’s.

“I have no numbers on this. But in my gut, less than 1%. I’ve sat in a clinic for more than a year now. The people that want recreational cannabis, they see you are a doctor’s clinic, and leave….they excuse themselves comically quickly.”


Is Smoking Cannabis Bad for You?

“Some [clinics] have different packages that are more geared towards someone who just wants to get access quickly. But that usually isn’t an indicator that they are just trying to get recreational access—sometimes it’s someone who is sick who feels helpless and when given an opportunity wants to pursue it.”

Kierans says that one concern with the medical cannabis system is that patients may buy from their licensed producer once, and thereafter use the official, authority-deflecting bottle to hold cannabis purchased on the black market or from illegal dispensaries, a practice he called “bottle stuffing.”

All cannabis prescriptions are scrutinized by the provincial Colleges, with the careful oversight driving physicians to be extra careful with their medical-cannabis authorizations.

Some clinics even track the buying patterns of patients, via information provided by licensed producers. “Upon renewal, the clinic will ask [the patient] about buying patterns if they are concerned by [lack of purchases],” says Kierans, noting that the practice of “bottle-stuffing doesn’t necessarily mean the person is recreational-only consumer.

Most significantly, Kierans tells Leafly that all cannabis prescriptions are scrutinized by the provincial Colleges, with the careful oversight driving physicians to be extra careful with their medical-cannabis authorizations.

“There are standard narcotics evaluations for prescribing cannabis at all clinics—because all clinics are under great scrutiny by the College. They are prescribing what is legally a narcotic and they should all be following the steps to prescribe it.

Kierans says that that includes standard questionnaires that are meant to suss out patients who may be addicted to cannabis, including questions about the propensity to addiction.

For his part, Kierans does not agree with the government imposing a tax on medical cannabis. That’s a sentiment shared by more than 13,000 people who have sent emails to the government, as part of the #DontTaxMedicine initiative launched earlier this year by patient advocacy organization Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana. With that number representing more than 5% of the 200,000 registered medical cannabis patients in the country, it’s something the government may have to re-address.

‘It Is Not a Major Public Health Hazard’: The Week in Cannabis Quotes

This week we’ve got hysteria over “scromiting,” yet another debunking of the gateway drug theory, the continued fight for 280E exemption, disturbing allegations of white supremacy, support for legal cannabis in Ireland, fatigue from the persistent wildfires in California, and reciprocity hypocrisy.

Here’s a roundup of quotes from the past week.

“CHS [cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome] is concerning for people who have it, but it is not a major public health hazard.”

– Harvard-trained physician Dr. Jordan Tishler, who runs a cannabis clinic in Massachusetts. Tishler spoke to Newsweek about CHS after it reported on increased cases in legal states and latched onto the word “scromiting,” a mashup of two symptoms, screaming and vomiting, that can be signs of CHS. Despite the increase of news articles this week about CHS, it remains an uncommon side effect for cannabis consumers.


What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

“Another knock on the gateway theory: In Japan, where marijuana use is far lower than in most Western countries, 83 percent of illicit drug users did not start out smoking pot, according to a 2010 study. And there is now mounting evidence that factors such as poverty and poor social environment are a greater predictor of hard drug use than early exposure to soft drugs.”

– Douglas Quenqua in his New York Times article “A Comeback for the Gateway Drug Theory?”


Is Cannabis a ‘Gateway Drug’?

“It’s an uphill climb, but we’re not giving up on it.”

– Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), who continues to argue that recent tax reform efforts should include an exemption from 280E for legal cannabis businesses complying with state regulations


280E Tax Reform Effort Still Alive, Senator Says

 “The debate for legalising recreational cannabis is different from the one for medicinal cannabis, even though the two usually get conflated. But I think it’s another debate that needs to happen in Ireland, and I think it’ll happen eventually. It’s moving very slowly at the moment, but it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen here in the next three or four years. We’re going to have that debate and I think it’s good to have. At this moment in time we want to deal with the medical issue first and get that over the line. We can think of other issues as they come.”

– Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, whose Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill is currently moving through the Dail in Ireland


Which Country Leads Europe in Cannabis Consumption?

“I find it extremely disconcerting that it is admired and revered to have ‘gay pride,’ ‘black pride,’ ‘Asian pride,’ or pride in any other cultural heritage, but if you have ‘white pride’ it automatically makes you a Nazi, and you are ostracized, attacked, and lynched by your community. I admit, I am proud that I am white, and I’m not ashamed of my heritage. And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could. Knowing the potential ramifications of my actions, I did my best to keep them incredibly discreet.”

– Bethany Sherman, managing member and CEO of the Oregon state-licensed cannabis testing lab OG Analytical, in a written statement to The Oregonian/Oregon Live. She stepped down from OG Analytical amid allegations that she participates in neo-Nazi activities.


Lab Owner to Resign Over Alleged Ties to White Supremacist Groups

“This year has been some of the highest highs and lowest lows, where we’ve made so much progress toward a legal, regulated, normal future. But at the same time, we’ve had these catastrophic fires.”

– Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, to Reuters. California has been ravaged by wildfires across the state this past year.


After the Blaze: The Harrowing Accounts of Wildfire Victims in California’s Cannabis Country

“Let’s think of this logically: If one state allows the legalization of marijuana, does that mean that every state needs to allow the legalization of marijuana?”

– Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA, 17th District) in a Twitter video where he criticizes the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would mandate states to recognize concealed carry permits from other states

Veterinarians Want Permission to Research Cannabis for Pets

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Dr. Byron Maas surveys a supply of marijuana products for dogs that lines a shelf in his veterinary clinic. They’re selling well.

“The ‘Up and Moving’ is for joints and for pain,” he explains. “The ‘Calm and Quiet’ is for real anxious dogs, to take away that anxiety.”

People anxious to relieve suffering in their pets are increasingly turning to oils and powders that contain CBDs, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. But there’s little data on whether they work, or if they have harmful side effects. That’s because Washington has been standing in the way of clinical trials, veterinarians and researchers say. Now, a push is underway to have barriers removed, so both pets and people can benefit.


11 CBD Tinctures Made for Your Pet

Those barriers have had more than just a chilling effect.

When the federal Drug Enforcement Administration announced last year that even marijuana extracts with CBD and little or no THCmarijuana’s intoxicating component — are an illegal Schedule 1 drug, the University of Pennsylvania halted its clinical trials. Colorado State University is pushing ahead.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned companies that sell marijuana products online and via pet shops and animal hospitals that they’re violating laws by offering “unapproved new animal drugs.” The FDA threatened legal action.


New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal

But, seeing potential benefits of CBDs, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy-making body said last summer it wants the DEA to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug “to facilitate research opportunities for veterinary and human medical uses.” It asked the board of the national veterinarians’ organization to investigate working with other stakeholders toward that goal. The board is awaiting a recommendation from two group councils.

“We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

“The concern our membership has is worry about people extrapolating their own dosages, looking to medicate their pets outside the realm of the medical professional,” Board Chairman Michael Whitehair said in a telephone interview. “This is an important reason for us to continue the research.”

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative Republican, became an unlikely champion of this push when he introduced a bill in September that would open the path for more clinical research. While Hatch said he opposes recreational marijuana use, he wants marijuana-based drugs, regulated by the FDA, produced for people with disorders.

“We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation,” Hatch said.

Dawn Boothe, of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is waiting for federal approval to begin a study of marijuana’s effects on dogs with epilepsy. The classification of marijuana products containing CBD as a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin and LSD, creates a “major, major, major, terrible roadblock” for researchers, Boothe said in a phone interview.


Treating Seizures in Dogs and Other Pets With CBD

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine were studying CBDs’ effects on dogs with osteoarthritis and pruritis, or itchiness, until the DEA released its policy statement.

“The ambiguity in this process has really brought us to a screeching halt,” said Michael DiGregorio, director of the university’s clinical trials center. “It is research that needs to be done, because there are a lot of CBD products out there.”

When it clarified that marijuana CBD extracts are Schedule 1 drugs, the DEA said it was assigning a code number to those substances to better track them and to comply with international drug control treaties.

DiGregorio complained that researchers seeking federal approval to study CBD products are told to provide certain data, but that data isn’t normally available until the study is done.

“If you don’t have the data, you can’t get the registration to do the work,” he said.


5 Things to Know Before Using Medical Cannabis for Your Pets

On a recent morning, Maas took a break from seeing four-legged patients in the Bend Veterinary Clinic. A stethoscope dangling from his neck over green scrubs, Maas said his clients have reported CBDs help relieve pain, arthritis, anxiety, loss of appetite, epilepsy and inflammation in their pets.

“Unfortunately there’s not a lot of research out there, especially on animals, on CBD compounds,” Maas said. “The research is really necessary to help us understand how to actually use these compounds on our pets.”

Veterinarian Janet Ladyga of the Blue Sky Veterinary Clinic, also in Bend, said she doesn’t recommend marijuana products because of the unknowns.

“We don’t have a lot of evidence right now, so we don’t know the toxicity or the safety profile … and we don’t have any good evidence to show either if it’s safe or efficacious,” she said.

The study at Colorado State University aims to provide some data. The roughly two dozen dogs in the arthritis study and the 30 in the epilepsy tests are given either CBD oil or a placebo. For the arthritis study, activity monitors are attached to the animals’ collars, to determine if they’re more mobile when they’re taking CBD.


CBD vs. THC: Why Is CBD Not Psychoactive?

Principal investigator Stephanie McGrath said she hopes the results will be a stepping stone for longer and more diverse studies, and that they provide useful information for human medicine.

“Every medication we’re taking has been given to a dog first,” the University of Pennsylvania’s DiGregorio noted.

Meanwhile, Boothe said she had everything ready to start her study in January, and was waiting for a green light from federal officials.

“I don’t know what’s taking so long,” she said.

What Is CBC and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?

By now you’re probably familiar with cannabinoids, especially the most common ones, THC and CBD. But you likely haven’t heard of cannabichromene, also known as CBC. Discovered over 50 years ago, CBC is considered one of the “big six” cannabinoids prominent in medical research. It doesn’t get as much attention, but CBC’s benefits are extremely promising.

CBC has the same origins as both THC and CBD do in that they all stem from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Cannabis plants produce CBGA, the precursor to three major cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).


List of Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis and Their Effects

The specific plant enzymes cascade and “direct” the breakdown product into one of the three lines. For CBC, it converts from CBGA into cannabichrome carboxylic acid (CBCA), and then finally to CBC after exposure to heat or ultraviolet light.

CBC Works With Other Cannabinoids

CBC is non-psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce a euphoric high like THC. The reason it is non-psychoactive is because it binds poorly to CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. But CBC does bind with other receptors in the body, such as the vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), both of which are linked to pain perception. When CBC activates these receptors, increased levels of the body’s natural endocannabinoids like anandamide are released.

While CBC definitely has singular benefits, researchers also think that it seems to synergistically work with other cannabinoids, a term known as the entourage effect. This effect of THC and CBD working together is well-known, but whether other cannabinoids have entourage effects is not well understood.


Cannabis’s Entourage Effect: Why Whole Plant Medicine Matters

CBC’s Medicinal Potential

The purported benefits of CBC have far-reaching implications. Below are a few medical conditions that may be alleviated by cannabichromene.


Cannabichromene may be a powerful cancer fighter, and the reason might be its interaction with the body’s natural endocannabinoid, anandamide. CBC also appears to inhibit the uptake of anandamide, allowing it to remain longer in the bloodstream.

A recent study in which tumor growth was initiated in mice (two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis model) showed cannabinoids might be effective in inhibiting both inflammation and tumor growth. Since anandamide has been shown to fight breast cancer in vitro and in vivo, this shows promise that CBC and other cannabinoids might one day be a chemopreventive agent.


Cannabis Shows Great Promise in Treating Cancer—Let’s Not Wreck It With Hyperbole

CBC as a potential cancer fighter was first published in a 2006 study that looked at cannabinoids other than THC and their possible effects on cancer. While THC is known for its anti-tumor properties for several different forms of cancer, its powerful psychotropic qualities can make it difficult for chemotherapy use. So far, research has found CBC to be the second-most-potent cannabinoid at inhibiting the growth of new cancer cells (CBG was the most potent).

Pain and Inflammation

Cannabichromene has been shown to block pain and inflammation associated with collagen-induced osteoarthritis. Cannabinoids like CBC act on inflammation differently than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do, and don’t have the side effects of these medications. In another example of the entourage effect, CBC in combination with THC had significant anti-inflammatory response in a recent animal study; together, the two cannabinoids produced a much greater effect on inflammation than by themselves.


What Are the Best Cannabis Strains for Pain?

Brain Cells

In a 2013 mouse study, CBC had a positive effect on neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs), a cell essential to healthy brain function. NSPCs became more viable when in the presence of CBC, and that shows promise because NSPCs differentiate into astroglial cells, the most important cells for maintaining brain homeostasis. The astroglial cells perform a whole host of functions, including neurotransmitter direction and defending against oxidative stress. Astroglia counteract many of these issues—oxidative stress, inflammation, toxicity—that create neurological diseases and brain pathologies like Alzheimer’s disease.


How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect the Brain?


A research team that had previously shown CBD’s effect on acne studied other cannabinoids, including CBC, for the same effects. Indeed, CBC was shown to be a powerful inhibitor of acne. As a skin disease, acne is characterized by excess sebum production and sebaceous gland inflammation. It turns out that CBC exhibited powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also suppressed excessive lipid production in the sebaceous glands. CBC also reduced levels of arachidonic acid (AA), which is needed to create the lipogenesis. More research is needed, but CBC might just one day become a very powerful anti-acne treatment.


Can Cannabis and CBD Be Part of Your Skin Care Regimen?


In another amazing display of the entourage effect, CBC appears to work in conjunction with both THC and CBD to deliver a trifecta of antidepressant properties.


Cannabis and Depression

The therapeutic promise of CBC is important and requires more research to determine its power by itself as well as with other cannabinoids working together for an entourage effect. Cannabis patients today are limited in the products available to them, but hopefully as new studies emerge and cannabis laws loosen, new medicines with a diversity of cannabinoids will soon become an option.