Tag: Health

West Virginia Wants Your Thoughts on Medical Marijuana

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia health officials have released an online survey for people interested in obtaining medical marijuana.

A Department of Health & Human Resources news release says the survey results will be shared with the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in December.

State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta says the non-scientific, anonymous survey will provide insight about potential patient demographics, where they seek care and what conditions they are looking to treat.

Taking the survey doesn’t sign someone up for the program.


West Virginia Gov’s Defense of Medical Marijuana Has Us All Verklempt

Gov. Jim Justice signed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act in April after lawmakers passed it earlier in the month.

It permits doctors to recommend marijuana be used for medicinal purposes and establishes a regulatory system. No patient or caregiver ID cards will be issued until July 2019.

Only 2 Louisiana Doctors Seek Marijuana Permits

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As Louisiana’s medical marijuana program edges closer to kickoff, only two doctors in the state have applied for permission to dispense the drug, raising questions about whether patients struggling with chronic pain and suffering will gain access to the treatment they lobbied so hard to get.

One application for the permit required to offer medical-grade cannabis to patients has been approved for a Baton Rouge physician, while the other application is under review, according to information provided to The Associated Press by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners in response to a public records request.


What’s Behind All the Delays in Newly Legal States?

The pharmacist who sponsored the state’s 2015 and 2016 therapeutic marijuana laws said he’s not worried just yet.

Sen. Fred Mills, a St. Martin Parish Republican, hopes to see an uptick in permit requests from doctors early next year when the growing operations have started, medical marijuana sales are only months away, and patients start asking how they’ll get it.

“I feel that the people I’ve met, the 400 or 500 families of people who have the debilitating diseases, they are going to go to their physicians and say, ‘Please, I want to try this,’” Mills said.

Vincent Culotta, a doctor and executive director of the Board of Medical Examiners, didn’t offer an explanation for the low interest physicians have shown so far, saying in an email he had “no thoughts at this time, no patterns available to analyze.”


Study Finds Most Cancer Patients Want MMJ Info, But Few Get It

Doctors disagree on the benefits of medical marijuana, and the program’s creation was controversial in the conservative Southern state. Sheriffs and district attorneys opposed therapeutic marijuana as opening the door to eventually legalizing recreational marijuana, but lawmakers sided with parents who described moving to Colorado to lessen their children’s suffering and who launched billboards and social media campaigns.

Gov. John Bel Edwards promised “tight controls” for the program, and reams of regulations have been issued to govern growing operations, dispensing pharmacies and doctors with permits.

Louisiana’s law will eventually get the drug to people with cancer, a severe form of cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and other diseases. Marijuana can be available in medicinal oils, pills, sprays and topical applications, but cannot be sold in a form that can be smoked.


John Morgan Sues to Overturn Florida’s Smokeable-Cannabis Ban

Doctors won’t issue a prescription, but instead a “physician recommendation form,” a legal nuance aimed at keeping doctors from jeopardizing their medical licenses because federal law prohibits prescribing marijuana.

Only the agricultural centers at LSU and Southern University are allowed to grow medicinal-grade cannabis. LSU estimates the product will be available by the summer — but only available if doctors have obtained a permit to recommend it.


Photos Prove Government-Grown Cannabis Is Basically Ditch Weed

Katie Corkern lobbied lawmakers for years in support of medical marijuana, showing up during debates with her son in his wheelchair and pleading for a drug that his neurologist says could help control his seizures.

“I’m obviously disheartened that it’s taking a long time and so many people in Louisiana are still having to suffer without this medicine. But I’m trying to be patient, because I want them to get it right the first time,” Corkern said Wednesday.

Corkern’s 10-year-old son Connor suffers through six different forms of seizures that rip across his body all day long, some so severe they’ve caused busted lips and blackened eyes, triggered by a rare brain malformation diagnosed when he was 6 weeks old.


Here’s What the National Academy’s Medical Cannabis Report Actually Says

“We don’t really know a life without hundreds of seizures a day,” Corkern said.

She expected some reticence from doctors. But despite the low number of applicants for the permit to offer the drug to patients, Corkern remains hopeful the program will eventually be successful.

The state’s “super-conservative, and doctors don’t want to be the first ones to jump in the pool, but I think it will grow,” she said. “I’m confident that once the doctors do take this leap of faith in recommending it to their patients, other physicians will see the success in easing patients’ suffering.”

With Plans to Sell CBD Nationwide, Lucky’s Market Charts Legal Gray Area

With cannabis legalization spreading across the country, it sometimes feels like any day now you could walk into a grocery store and see some sort of pot product on the shelves. Now, at more than two dozen Lucky’s Market locations across the country, that’s true—at least in terms of items containing CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid believed to have numerous medical benefits.

“This is just about the grayest of gray areas as far as federal law and policy. I think the DEA’s even confused about it.”

Vince Sliwoski

The Colorado-based grocer, which is backed by retail giant Kroger, announced this week that it will add a dozen CBD products to its apothecary shelves nationwide, where they’ll be sold alongside herbs and natural cosmetics made from ingredients like echinacea and calendula.

Lucky’s Market isn’t the first large retailer to test the waters of the CBD market, forecast to be worth $3 billion by 2021. Last month, in a short-lived move, Target added four CBD-enriched products to its online inventory. The big box yanked them from its virtual stores in less than a week without explanation, though.

Yet as consumer demand for CBD products grows, authorities at the DEA have reiterated their stance that anything derived from the cannabis plant—including hemp-derived CBD extract—is a Schedule I drug.


Is CBD Oil Legal? Depends on Where You Are and Who You Ask

“This is just about the grayest of gray areas as far as federal law and policy,” said Vincent Sliwoski, a cannabis law attorney and professor in Oregon, of CBD products. “I think the DEA’s even confused about it.” (The agency may get some clarification by way of a federal lawsuit filed by hemp farmers challenging the way the agency codifies “marihuana extract”.)

Conversations of legality surrounding cannabis usually focus on the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the agency may well take issue with grocery store-sales of CBD extract. But would-be sellers may have to tussle with the Food and Drug Administration, too. Earlier this month, the FDA made a vague announcement about its intent to crack down on unproven health claims on cannabis products.

“The FDA is the bigger issue around hemp oil and CBD oil. That’s why Target backed out,” says Mark Slaugh, former executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance.


FDA Declares CBD ‘Beneficial,’ Wants Your Input ASAP

In a recent statement to the press, the DEA opined that sales of Charlotte’s Web were illegal because the CBD oil has not been FDA approved. (Even if CBD is “beneficial” in treating neurological disorders, as the FDA has declared, products containing it would still need to pass the approval process.)

In the past couple of years, the FDA has sent cease and desist letters to CBD producers for making unfounded health claims or claiming products contained CBD when in fact they contained less than advertised or none at all, said Rod Kight, an attorney in North Carolina who represents numerous companies that deal with hemp.

Lucky’s Market did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Under federal law, hemp can only be grown only in states with federal hemp research programs. “If the CBD were imported it could arguably be legal,” Sliwoski noted, adding it would be unlikely that a retailer could track the provenance of CBD in numerous products. “Maybe they could prove all their source material was from China or somewhere else. That would have to be their affirmative defense and it would end up being litigated.”


Companies Sue DEA Over Recent CBD Rule

Kight isn’t so sure federal law will be the problem (he says the DEA is slowly “retreating” from earlier positions) but state law might be. “The 9th Circuit has ruled that nonpsychoactive imported hemp is legal. If you connect the dots, the DEA says CBD is not a controlled substance,” he said. “But a lot of states haven’t carved out an official position.” Lucky’s Market could force them to, he adds.

“They see a demand for the products and feel comfortable enough with the muddled state of the policy.”


Food and supplement companies that sell hemp seed or oil get away with it because they don’t claim the products contain CBD, Slaugh said. “Once you start claiming CBD is an active ingredient, are you getting into the realm of a regulated drug? I think that’s the great debate. These folks aren’t held to food, nutraceutical, or drug manufacturing standards.”

While the FDA does regulate nutraceuticals, the industry has developed many self-imposed standards in an effort to put regulators at ease, Slaugh said. CBD producers may want to consider going the same route, he suggested. “The hemp industry has to step up and create those internal, self-policing standards if they want to avoid regulation.”


Leafly Investigation: Why Are CBD Prices So Confusing?

That’s already taking place, noted Kight. “Hemp and CBD are moving right in line with that. We’re probably going to see a split between cannabinoid prescription medications and nutraceutical-type producers who will co-exist,” he said.

Whatever potential response Lucky’s Market might see from regulators or law enforcement could be worth the opportunity of getting into the CBD space early. “It says the potential upside of doing this is worth the risk of any law enforcement action,” Sliwoski said. “They see a demand for the products and feel comfortable enough with the muddled state of the policy. They might be thinking the DEA will probably write us a letter rather than hauling us into court and we’re going to differentiate ourselves here.”

Could Cannabis Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Medications?

A recent study thought to be the first of its kind has found that regular cannabis use may make a person less prone to anxiety over time, even when sober.

The study, published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology, found that people who use cannabis daily or almost daily had a blunted stress reaction when exposed to a high-stress situation after a period of abstinence from marijuana. While non-cannabis users reported feeling anxious and experienced elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol when stressed, chronic cannabis users reported lower levels of anxiety, and their cortisol levels remained the same under high stress as they they were under no stress.

“The potential effects of cannabis on stress do appear to extend beyond the period of intoxication.”

Dr. Carrie Cuttler, study co-author

The research involved 40 people who had used cannabis chronically over the previous year and 42 people who’d used cannabis no more than 10 times in their lives and not at all in the previous year. All participants abstained from using cannabis from 12 to 18 hours prior to the study.

“Based on our findings, the potential effects of cannabis on stress do appear to extend beyond the period of intoxication,” Dr. Carrie Cuttler, a researcher and clinical assistant professor at Washington State University and co-author of the study, told Leafly.

“But,” she cautions, “We’re not yet comfortable saying whether that muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing.”


Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

We do know that too much cortisol is definitely a bad thing. It’s been associated with everything from anxiety and depression to digestive issues, heart disease, insomnia and memory problems. But too little cortisol can also be problematic, since the hormone helps us tap into stored energy and respond appropriately to stressful situations.

Cuttler says further research is needed to determine whether the lowered cortisol response exhibited by chronic cannabis users is ultimately therapeutic or detrimental when it comes to managing anxiety long-term. She adds that they did, however, make a promising finding regarding cannabis and dependency.

“We looked at the withdrawal symptoms of chronic users to see if they experienced heightened levels of and cannabis cravings when stressed,” she reveals, “and surprisingly, we didn’t find any evidence that they did.”


CBD vs. THC: Why Is CBD Not Psychoactive?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US. An estimated 40 million American adults, or just over 18% of the population, are affected by anxiety disorders every year.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin are often prescribed for short-term relief from acute anxiety and panic attacks. While they’re incredibly effective in the short term, side effects can include fatigue, confusion, and disorientation, and tolerance and dependency can develop quickly — in 2015, over 8,000 Americans died by overdosing on benzodiazepines.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft are often prescribed for long-term relief from anxiety disorders, but they come with their own long lists of potential negative side effects ranging from insomnia and drowsiness to headaches, low libido, and increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety is also among the most commonly cited reasons for cannabis use, and research suggests that it has relatively few negative side effects, low potential for addiction and virtually no risk for an overdose. But because it remains classified as a schedule 1 drug at the federal level, little research has been done to investigate the long-term therapeutic potential of cannabis to treat anxiety—until Cuttler’s recent study.


Here’s What the National Academy’s Medical Cannabis Report Actually Says

Next, Cuttler and her colleagues plan to repeat the study with a longer period of cannabis abstinence to see whether their findings still hold true. They also eventually hope to replicate the study with rats to confirm their findings.

“One of the limitations of this research is that we can’t ethically manipulate who uses cannabis daily and who does not,” Cuttler explains. “So while our research indicates that they have a blunted stress response, it could be that people who are already less prone to stress are also more prone to being chronic cannabis users. With rats, we can manipulate both stress and cannabis.”

Another recent study published in Pharmacological Research found that cannabidiol (CBD) may enhance the efficacy of the neurotransmitter GABA, which works to counteract and calm the chemicals triggered by cortisol in the brain’s anxiety response, like glucose. While high doses of THC actually have the potential to cause increased anxiety, CBD is non-intoxicating, so it doesn’t carry the same same risk.


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

While all of this emerging research is promising, Cuttler emphasizes that when it comes to anxiety, neither marijuana nor pharmaceuticals should ever be the first course of treatment.

“As a psychologist, I believe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the ideal treatment for anxiety,” she says. “In the short term, anti-anxiety meds and CBT have equivalent outcomes, but long-term, the effects of eight to 10 CBT sessions outlast those of medications without any of the negative side effects. I see cannabis the same way — it may help treat the symptoms of anxiety, but it won’t address the root cause.”

World Anti-Doping Agency Removes CBD From Banned Substances List

Call it a first step in the right direction.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is removing cannabidiol—the pain-relieving, non-psychoactive cannabis compound—from its list of banned substances in 2018.


These Pro MMA Fighters Don’t Just Use Cannabis, They Embrace It

WADA, which governs drug testing in the Olympics, also sets the standard for anti-doping guidelines in many sports leagues, like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and others around the world.

Currently, under the United States Anti-Doping Agency and UFC rules, cannabis and its metabolites are prohibited. Starting next year, however, CBD will be allowed, while synthetic cannabis and cannabis products rich in psychoactive THC will remain banned.


CBD vs. THC: Why Is CBD Not Psychoactive?

Here is the passage of the new WADA 2018 Prohibited List that references cannabinoids:

From wada-ama.org

Each year WADA releases a prohibited list of banned substances, as the agency frequently looks at changes in the medical world and relates them to its banned substance list.

“Annually, the Prohibited List review involves a very extensive stakeholder consultation process over the course of nine months,” said Director General Olivier Niggli in his official statement. “In reviewing the List, experts examine such sources as: scientific and medical research; trends; and, intelligence gathered from law enforcement and pharmaceutical companies in order to stay ahead of those that endeavor to cheat the system.”


Is the Nevada Athletic Commission About to End Its Cannabis Ban?

How big of a deal is this? Cannabis-friendly athletes like Nate Diaz, who garnered worldwide attention after vaping CBD at a post-fight press conference, should be pleased with the news. He and his brother have been cannabis advocates in the mixed-martial arts world for more than a decade.

Diaz was given a public warning by USADA after he admitted to consuming CBD in competition during the press conference, while his brother Nick was suspended for five years by USADA after repeatedly failing drug tests for cannabis in 2015.

Australian Biotech Company Wants to Treat Autism Symptoms With Cannabis

Australian penny stock Zelda Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD) announced last week that it has completed an observation trial in Chile, and is reporting successful results for treating core symptoms of autism with medical cannabis extracts. Zelda officials say they now plan to build on those results with clinical trials in the second half of 2017.

The trial, in collaboration with a Chilean medical cannabis and alternative healthcare non-profit called Fundación Daya, aimed to treat core autism symptoms including difficulties with social interaction, language and repetitive behaviour.


Blockchain Company Aims to Transform Australia’s Medical Cannabis Sector

The results found that in a cohort of 21 patients (median age of 9 years and 10 months), cannabis extracts were significantly more effective than the conventional medicines the children were using, including atypical antipsychotics.

Patients in the study were treated over a 12-week period and were examined by EEG, neuropsychological analysis, metabolism and genetic tests.Those treated with cannabis extracts demonstrated significant improvements in at least one core symptom (social interaction, language or repetitive behaviors) in 71.4% of cases and 66.7% of treated patients showing significant general overall improvement.

Harry Karelis, Executive Chairman of Zelda was excited with the results, as he sees a promising future with treating autism symptoms with cannabis.


Australian Doctors Clash With Government Over Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

“The results from this observational study are very exciting and supports the anecdotal evidence we have, showing the positive effect medicinal cannabis has on treating autism symptoms,” Karelis said in a statement.

“Zelda will use this baseline data to design its clinical trials and generate rigorous scientific data that validates the clinical benefit of medicinal cannabis,” Karelis added. “We hope that in the near future Zelda Therapeutics can provide an alternative treatment for sufferers of this condition which is of major global significance.”

There is little scientific literature covering the use of cannabis to treat autism. In 2011, a study published in Current Neuropharmacology demonstrated that Δ9-THC improved mobility and mood in a breed of mice which exhibit autism-like behaviour. However, a study in mice is a long way from solid peer-reviewed studies in humans.

Clinical trials are critical for establishing the safety and effectiveness of a treatment, but also for ensuring its acceptance by regulators like Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration. In the case of cannabis as an autism treatment, the lack of published studies makes successful clinical trials all the more important for Zelda.


Cannabis Consumption Has Increased, but Not Because of Legalization

But clinical trials of unproven medicines are time consuming, expensive, and far from certain. Zelda should take heed of the troubles of Zynerba Pharmaceuticals – a cannabidiol company which has a string of unsuccessful clinical trials behind it. Initially testing its cannabis-based medicine on epilepsy sufferers, Zynerba switched to treating osteoarthritis after poor results.

But following another lengthy and expensive trial, no significant improvements were seen in patients suffering from osteoarthritis, and Zynerba’s stock (NASDAQ:ZYNE) took a serious hit.

Curiously, Zynerba has reported some initial success in using its cannabis-extract formulation to treat Fragile X, a genetic condition which frequently overlaps with autism spectrum disorders.

Zelda may find room for collaboration – or face competition – as it builds out its cannabis-based autism-treatment medicine trials.


Drug Use Up Among Australian Baby Boomers

Study Finds Top 5 Causes of Cannabis-Related Emergency Visits

A new review published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy determined the most common causes of cannabis-related emergency department (ED) visits, giving policy makers and industry leaders a compass for improvement. This analysis specifically looked at data from Colorado.

Cannabis legalization helps solves many problems: it eases the toll of the opioid epidemic; it creates jobs; it generates tax revenue; and it keeps cannabis out of the hands of minors. But for all the good cannabis does, we can’t lose sight of public health concerns that must be solved in order to successfully implant legalization across the U.S. and beyond.

This review provides us with five concerns to prioritize: accidental pediatric ingestion, acute intoxication, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, synthetic cannabinoids, and injuries related to production of butane hash oil (BHO).


How to Change a State Cannabis Law

Pediatric Ingestion

As previously stated, legalization has not led to higher rates of underage use, but this review found an increase in accidental pediatric intoxication. “Children are at particular risk of cannabis toxicity because cannabis-containing food products, known as edibles, look extremely similar to regular candy,” the authors wrote. “Also, we have found that the severity of symptoms from marijuana exposure has worsened due to the high THC concentration in edibles.”

States have taken several measures to reduce accidental consumption by children. Some policies mandate that:

  • Packaging is childproof
  • Packaging does not contain cartoons or other imagery attractive to children
  • Edibles do not come in candies or other forms enticing to children

Guidelines like these may help to reduce accidental ingestion by children, but full responsibility falls in the hands of adults and parents. It may seem like an excessive measure, but lock your products away until you intend to take them. Kids can be incredible hack artists.


A State-by-State Guide to Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Laws

Acute Intoxication

Acute intoxication refers to those who simply consumed too much cannabis. “The number of marijuana-related ED visits has nearly doubled since the drug’s use was legalized in Colorado,” authors wrote, “and the rate is higher for non-Colorado residents who are visiting the state.”

They also mention that acute intoxication has historically gone unreported, which helps to account for the notable increase. Naturally, people are more inclined to seek help for intoxication by a legal drug than one that is illicit.

Furthermore, with the uptick in cannabis tourism, this statistic is unsurprising: a tourist inexperienced in cannabis may lack the experience to know how much is too much. The review outlines a particular instance in which one man consumed three edibles before a flight “when he realized he could not take the brownies on the plane.”

Many Colorado dispensaries go above and beyond to educate their customers on the effects of cannabis, especially edibles. Continuing to get that message through, especially to out-of-town visitors, should remain a top priority of businesses in legal markets.


8 Ways to Counteract a Too-Intense Cannabis High

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a condition that is coming to light in the medical field – though its characterization has been somewhat controversial and divisive among professionals.

It’s primarily characterized by regular vomiting episodes, which is why it’s often assumed to be cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS). The cause of CHS, researchers speculate, has to do with heavy, regular cannabis consumption in some individuals – a speculation that is supported by the fact that symptoms tend to resolve after cannabis cessation.

This review describes an instance of CHS recorded in Denver:

“A 32-year-old man came to the Denver Health Medical Center ED with a 12-hour history of intractable vomiting and epigastric pain. Throughout the interview the patient was retching uncontrollably. The patient reported several similar episodes over the past 2 months requiring medical care. Laboratory tests were conducted but unremarkable other than a THC-positive urine drug screen.”

While more cannabis specialized doctors are coming to acknowledge this condition’s existence, there’s overwhelming agreement that more research needs to be conducted on CHS.


What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids – also called SCs, Spice, K2, Scooby Snax, etc. – are not cannabis (and by that right shouldn’t even be on this list). They are chemical analogues intended to mimic the effects of natural cannabis, but because of their clandestine production and high affinity for receptor sites, synthetic cannabinoids can cause a laundry list of severe symptoms and, in worst cases, death. This report describes a 24-year-old man (who was of legal age to buy natural cannabis) who was admitted to the ED and suffered a seizure after consuming SCs purchased at a head shop.

The fact that synthetic cannabinoids had to be included this report is disappointing. With legal cannabis widely available to adults over the age of 21, there’s no reason for anyone to turn to an unregulated, dangerous alternative. That being said, it’s clear that there’s much work yet to be done on the education front.


Synthetic Cannabinoids: Growing Side Effects Make Now a Great Time to Stay Away

Home Extraction Injuries

Once again, when there’s a legal, safe alternative, it’s disheartening to read about the injuries sustained by individuals attempting to produce butane extracts themselves. Professional extractors use state-approved equipment and processes to greatly reduce the risks associated with BHO production, but some individuals will take it upon themselves to make their own, “blasting” BHO in their homes often with butane cans and glass extraction tubes. Improper airflow can lead to explosions, injuring the person performing the extraction as well as others in the vicinity.

“In July 2015, a law was passed that explicitly made manufacturing hash oil using flammable solvents illegal,” the authors wrote. “Anecdotally, the effect of this legislation has had minimal effect on the number of burn patients admitted to our institution.”

If you’re interested in extracting cannabis at home, choose a safe method that doesn’t use dangerous solvents. Rosin, for example, is a solventless extract that simply uses heat and pressure to extract cannabinoids. It can be produced safely and affordably with a pair of strong hands and a hair straightener.


How to Make Rosin Dabs

The report ends with a single conclusory sentence: “Marijuana legalization in Colorado has been associated with an increase in marijuana-related ED visits.” In a young industry that attracts inexperienced consumers with novelty and newly gained legality, this report is not shocking.

But it’s important not to conflate this conclusion with “Legalization in Colorado caused an increase in public health issues.” Legalization may correlate with these increasing statistics, but it did not necessarily cause them. Cannabis legalization empowers people to report their emergencies. It’s also impossible to say that legalization is to blame for increases in synthetic cannabinoid use. It’s true that legalization invites more citizens to partake, but it’s up to us to assume responsibility and evolve cannabis – through education and research – in a direction that betters the lives of consumers and non-consumers alike.

Study Finds Most Cancer Patients Want MMJ Info, But Few Get It

How popular is medical cannabis among cancer patients in states that have legalized both medical and adult-use cannabis? Researchers at a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington state set out to find out.

The survey, published this week in the medical journal Cancer, was conducted at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Researchers found that 74% of eligible participants who completed the survey wanted information on medical marijuana from cancer providers.

Their chances of receiving that information, though, fell somewhere between slim and none.


Cannabis Consumption Has Increased, but Not Because of Legalization

According to the same study, fewer than 15% of those patients received information about medical marijuana from their cancer physician or nurse.

Most sought out information from friends or family, newspaper articles, other cancer patients, and cannabis resource websites like Leafly. Of the 926 patients who completed the survey, only 73 (or 8%), said they did not want to receive any information on medical marijuana.


Federal Gov’t: Teen Cannabis Use Rate Drops to 20-Year Low

6 Takeaways From Dr. Ethan Russo’s ‘Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis’

Ethan Russo is internationally renowned for his research on cannabis compounds and their roles in the body. As a neurologist and psychopharmacologist, Russo has established himself as a crucial champion of the integral roles plant-based medicine should play in modern therapeutics. After wrapping up a decade-plus run as Senior Medical Advisor for GW Pharmaceuticals in 2014, Russo co-founded PHYTECS, a biotechnology company devoted to researching and developing medical approaches to the human endocannabinoid system, for which Russo serves as Medical Director. (In his spare time, he hosts Reddit AMAs.)

(Courtesy of Ethan Russo)

Earlier this month, Dr. Russo joined forces with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to address one of North America’s gravest problems: the opioid crisis, which now claims the lives of 60,000 Americans and 2,500 Canadians a year, with opioid overdoses killing 80 people a day. Russo’s ASA-sponsored webinar, ‘Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis?’ laid out the surprising history of the tandem use of cannabis and opioids, and highlighted contemporary research confirming the efficacy of mitigating the problems of opioids with cannabis. Here are six takeaways.


The Biology of Cannabis vs. Opioids for Pain Relief

1. Combining cannabis with opioids is nothing new.

As Leafly has reported, cannabis’ potential in fighting the opioid epidemic ranges from replacing or enhancing opioids in the treatment of chronic pain to serving as an exit drug for those fighting opiate addiction. As Dr. Russo explained, none of this is unprecedented.

“The bane of many opiates…is that the relief of the moment is purchased at the expense of tomorrow’s misery.”

Sir John Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria

In the early 1800s, London physician Dr. John Clendinning chronicled his successful use of cannabis (then called “Indian hemp”) to treat migraines, noting that cannabis also helped lessen the intensity of a patient’s morphine withdrawal symptoms. During the US Civil War, cannabis was used as a tandem treatment with opium to treat dysentery. In 1868, Sir John Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria, came out swinging for cannabis’ superiority as a painkiller: “The bane of many opiates…is that the relief of the moment is purchased at the expense of tomorrow’s misery,” wrote Reynolds, alluding to the withdrawal symptoms and gastrointestinal distress that can accompany opiate use. “In no one case to which I have administered Indian hemp, have I witnessed any such results.”


How Cannabis Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic: An Interview With Philippe Lucas

2. A key appeal of early medical cannabis was its ability to kill pain without inducing nausea or sleep.

As 19th-century Philadelphia physician Hobart Hare wrote, “The advantages in [cannabis] use over opium consist chiefly in the absence of prostration and nausea after its ingestion, and in the partial lack of soporific power which it possesses compared to the opiate, for in certain cases sleep is not always desirable when pain is to be removed….I have found the efficient dose of a pure extract of hemp to be as powerful in relieving pain as the corresponding dose of the same preparation of opium.”

3. Using cannabis to treat opiate addiction is also nothing new.

In 1902, the American doctor Thomas D. Crothers hailed cannabis’ “temporary removal of the worst symptoms” of opioid addiction, and in 1944, the LaGuardia Commission tested extracts of cannabis on incarcerated opiate addicts and found they had much less severe withdrawal symptoms.


At This LA Rehab Center, Cannabis Is an ‘Exit’ Drug

4. Opioids kill 80 Americans a day. Cannabis has never killed anyone. The reason? The way cannabinoid receptors are deployed in the brain.

Opioid overdoses routinely cause death by overloading the opioid receptors in the brain’s cardiorespiratory centers, with the result being “respiratory depression” that causes users to simply stop breathing and die. As Dr. Russo noted, while the brain is rich in cannabinoid receptors, there are almost no cannabinoid receptors in the brain’s cardiorespiratory centers—which is why no one has ever gotten so high they stopped breathing.

5. It’s not just THC. CBD also has a place in fighting the opioid epidemic.

Studies of opiate-addicted rats have shown that administering CBD inhibits opiate-seeking behavior. Dr. Russo noted that high doses of CBD can effectively deactivate the drug-seeking part of brain, with no psychoactive “high” effect.


Cannabis as an Opioid Exit: 5 Real-Life Stories

6. While the US struggles to get up to speed on cannabis’ opioid-replacing potential, 29 other countries are racing forward.

Nabiximol is the legal-in-29-countries-but-not-the-US oral cannabinoid spray that effectively proves cannabis’ ability to replace opioids in pain-management plans. Dr. Russo noted the two-week cannabis trial among a European hospice population with opioid-resistant pain, where steady doses of Nabiximol brought a 30% reduction in patients’ pain. What’s more, researchers found significant success in sustaining the pain-killing properties of Nabiximol without escalating the dose—a veritable miracle in the world of pain management, where opioid dose escalation has previously been the name of the game.

To see video of Dr. Russo’s webinar in full, visit Americans for Safe Access.

The Wellness Soldier: How War and Cannabis Created a Canadian Force for Good

Veteran Cody Lindsay can credit the Canadian military for helping and hindering him in equal parts.

Without his training and experience as a cook in the army, the 34-year-old Ottawan wouldn’t have developed the culinary skills he currently uses to teach others how to cook with medicinal marijuana in healthy and nutritional ways.

As the Wellness Soldier, Lindsay is known amongst veterans and marijuana activists for his cooking demos at cannabis expos across the country. His popular live seminars aim to educate medicinal users on the best ways to incorporate cannabis oils into food like sauces, salad dressings and risottos.


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“I teach them how to make real meals, so it’s not only the regime of eating a cookie or only eating a head or feet off of a gummy bear,” Lindsay tells Leafly.

But while his seven years in the military nourished his culinary capabilities, it also corroded the core of his mental and emotional foundation.

An Ongoing Series of Flubs

It all started in 2005, when Lindsay received a call from his chief, asking if he wanted to go to Kandahar. At that point, he had spent about five years training as a chef on bases in Quebec and Ontario, before being stationed in Esquimalt, on Vancouver Island.

“I didn’t know where Kandahar was but that’s what I joined the military for,” Lindsay says.  “I wanted to see the world and to serve this country so I was like, let’s go. Then realized it was in Afghanistan.”


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Once there, it didn’t take long for Lindsay to realize he was well out of his comfort zone. Other military members were flabbergasted to learn Lindsay, who served as a private, mainly served on a Navy base, and hadn’t received any of the standard intensive training required for all service people working in combat arms. That includes nine months pre-deployment education and orientation on culture, language, weapons, and nuclear and biological threats. Lindsay hadn’t received any training beyond his time on Canadian bases.

Ill-Equipped in a War Zone

Lindsay’s overseas job would involve setting up a base camp outside the airfield for two months, which a touring unit from Edmonton would eventually take over.

Lindsay felt different the moment he arrived in Afghanistan. He experienced heightened levels of anxiety living and working in a war zone with no equipment or combat training.


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“Try being the navy guy showing up on a military war zone base with desert combat boots that don’t fit and magazines in your pocket because you don’t have the proper gear to carry them or the proper rucksack to carry sleeping gear,” he says. Lindsay’s brain went into overdrive. He continually reminded himself that he wasn’t prepared or qualified to be in a war-torn country.

“I was constantly running 10,000 scenarios through my head to offset being unprepared, and that’s how my brain works now,” he says. “I was sent over there with nothing but my dick in my hand.”

Lindsay hadn’t received any training beyond his time on Canadian bases.

Despite the intensity of his circumstances, Lindsay never talked to his superiors about what he was experiencing internally. He credits this to military culture.

“You don’t complain,” he says. “You take it as you go. You adapt and learn.”

Unfortunately, Lindsay did not fully adapt to base life and the constant threats that come with it.

A supervisor eventually gave him some of the weapons training required in order to be able to leave the base. During the training, the person refreshing Lindsay on gun safety fired a round of ammunition into the ground, which triggered him.

“All these things are going on and then someone shoots off a gun right beside you when you’re not expecting it,” he says.


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Things got worse when he travelled from the Kandahar airfield, which was considered a safe zone, to work setting up the camp for the Provincial Reconstruction Team, which was considered an unsafe zone. While he didn’t witness any combat, he could hear it at night.

Anything from the sound of a chopper landing would trigger his anxiety into overdrive. When he finally returned to Canada, Lindsay felt like a changed man—and not for the better.

Hulk Take Over

A post-deployment review was never issued for Lindsay after his time in Kandahar. Even though his brain was “rolling a mile a minute,” he was never given an assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. As a result, there’s nothing in his military files about his mental state post-deployment.


Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

His post-traumatic stress began to manifest when he was feeling overwhelmed. It started happening on occasion, usually when he was stressed out at work. But then it would amp up. Anything from his kid nagging him for attention to being in a crowd would set him off.

“I was made to feel like an addict, a loser, scum of the earth because I was using (cannabis).”

Cody Lindsay

“I call it ‘The Hulk’,” he explains. “I can go from being completely calm, cool and collected to snapping at a moment’s notice. If it’s too much at once, I can’t handle it and snap.” Lindsay started to self-medicate with marijuana, which he soon discovered was helpful for slowing down his thoughts.

About a year after returning from Afghanistan, Lindsay was smoking pot in his condo when a neighbour smelled it and reported him to military police. He was called in to his chief’s office and instructed to pee in a cup. When his results came back, they tested positive for cannabis.


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Lindsay claims his superiors belittled him for smoking weed, which wasn’t in the grey zone of legality at the time—it was treated as an illegal substance. He was discharged from the army as a result.

“I was made to feel like an addict, a loser, scum of the earth because I was using it,” he says.

Getting Back to Normal

After being discharged, Lindsay finally saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and continued using doctor-prescribed medicinal cannabis. In 2014, through some research, he eventually discovered that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) could help cover the costs of medicinal marijuana. That prompted him to file a grievance with the department.

“I told them I’d been using cannabis for an operation stress injury and if they’d done the proper assessment, I’d still have my career, and it wasn’t my fault,” he says. “They actually came back and said ‘You’re right’.”


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While they wouldn’t allow him to serve again, VAC changed Lindsay’s reason for military discharge from “drugs” to “drugs, medical.” The department continues to provide support for Lindsay, as well as covering the costs of his medicine.

After building his own website for the Wellness Soldier, Lindsay discovered a passion for graphic design. He enrolled in a program with a local college, which VAC pays for, along with a living wage and childcare. “The military made me the way that I am, but Veterans Affairs Canada has seriously contributed to me getting back to normal,” Lindsay says.

Helping Other Vets

The Wellness Soldier came about out of necessity, since Lindsay wanted to help other veterans get the support he didn’t immediately have available. He’s now an active member in the veteran’s community, helping to organize annual sponsored dinners and working with homeless veterans. Through his cooking demos and volunteer work with Veterans Helping Veterans, Lindsay has helped hundreds of other people who were in similar situations.

He admits some people are wary when they discover his association with cannabis but he aims to add another perspective to the conversation.


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“Some veteran organizations shy away from working together because they don’t want to have that association,” he admits. “But it’s starting to get better as the stigma dies down, and people come to realize that cannabis can actually help.”

Even though Lindsay’s main focus will now be on his emerging web design career, he’s still committed to helping veterans and educating others through his cannabis cooking techniques. He has a cooking demo scheduled in Victoria, B.C. on October 6 and The Wellness Soldier’s Veterans Dinner, which partners with local businesses to sponsor veterans meals, will take place at the end of October.

To learn more about the Wellness Soldier, visit his website.