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MMJ Linked to Decrease in Opiate Related Hospital Visits

For all of those who have heard the gateway drug theory, there is now evidence providing clarity to one of the most abused arguments by those opposed to cannabis law reform. Medical cannabis legalization has been significantly associated with decreased hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and overdose.

According to a recent study from the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, states with medical marijuana programs saw a decrease in opioid painkiller abuse by 23 percent. Further findings show hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent. The study also highlights that medical cannabis had no impacts on marijuana-related hospitalizations.

 

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Logo
Previous Studies Helped Solidify These Findings

A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that states with medical cannabis laws recorded 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths than those without medical cannabis laws. “Prescription drug abuse and deaths due to overdose have emerged as national public health crises,” says Colleen L. Barry, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School and senior author of the study. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal.”

In light of an expanding opioid problem, Gov. Christie has made recent efforts to raise awareness of the new addiction treatment services available in the state and tried to limit supplies of opioid bases pain medication.

One would hope that Gov. Christie would keep medical cannabis as a discrete and unintended tool to help boost the results of his efforts. This could be possible if chronic pain is approved as a qualify condition for New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program.

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Seizures and Epilepsy

Epilepsy Graphic

This month we are highlighting Seizure disorders including Epilepsy, which is on the list of qualifying conditions for the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program. Considering that 20-30 percent of epileptics are not adequately controlled with conventional medicine, more patients and physicians should be aware of the use of medical cannabis and these disorders.

The general term seizure disorder is used to describe any condition of which seizures are symptoms. Seizures are described as abnormal movements or behaviors due to unusual electrical activity in the brain. Brain cells communicate through electrical signals. When the electrical signals become abnormal it produces a sort of “electrical storm” causing a seizure. On the other hand, Pseudoseizures or non-epileptic seizures, which are not caused by abnormal electrical signals in the brain, are thought to be caused by physiological issues or stress.

Unfortunately, many cases of epilepsy can’t pinpoint a specific cause. Some of the more common causes of epilepsy include low oxygen during birth, head injuries, genetic conditions such as tuberous sclerosis, infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, stroke or other damage to the brain and abnormal levels such as sodium or blood sugar. There are various types of epilepsy; Generalized tonic-clonic seizures are when the person falls to the ground and the person’s muscles will begin to convulse (jerking or spasm); Absence seizures are when a person unknowingly stares into space for a few seconds and then “wakes up”; and Myoclonic seizures are known to make a person’s body jerk like it is being shocked.

Scientific studies show anecdotal but reproducible findings that cannabis has anticonvulsant properties and would be effective in treating partial epilepsies and generalized tonicocolonic seizures.

In a review  of the effects of cannabinoids, it stated that CBD and THCV have been suggested to exert antiepileptic actions in experimental studies.

A double-blind clinical study  of 18 patients suffering from secondary genralized epilepsy that was inadequately controlled by conventional medicine, showed promising results. Of the eight patients who received doses of cannabidiol, four were convulsion-free during the study and three other showed a clinical improvement.

 

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Hypocrisy Continues With The Scheduling of THC

Despite the federal scheduling of cannabis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on July 5.

Insys Therapeutics, Inc. has crafted Syndros, which contains the pharmaceutical version of THC in an orally administered liquid formulation. THC is one of the most well-known cannabinoids found in the cannabis flower. Being listed as a schedule I drug has classified cannabis as having no currently accepted medical use and a lack of safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Although an organically cultivated cannabis plant is still viewed as a schedule I substance, to the publics surprise, the Drug Enforcement Administration classified this synthetic form of THC as a schedule II drug.
This synthetic form of THC, that mimics the cannabis plant’s natural form of THC, has been approved for treating anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS, and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional treatments.

Cachexia or wasting syndrome and severe nausea or vomiting, if a symptom of cancer or HIV/AIDS, are both qualifying conditions for New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program. Syndros’ alignment with the already known benefits of natural medical cannabis is of no surprise. Scientific research shows that THC can be “significantly superior” to other pharmaceutical options when treating nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. In addition, there are numerous studies showing the usefulness of THC as an appetite stimulant.

The question remains: When will the organic and naturally occurring form of THC be rescheduled to a category that clearly reflects the scientific findings of the drug?

Click to read more scientific research on cannabis on the CSATC website. 

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New Jersey MMP Gets a C grade From Americans For Safe Access

Americans For Safe Access (ASA) published a review of New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) on March 29, 2017, giving it a “C” grade and citing some of the program’s short comings.

ASA is the largest national member-based organization that promotes safe and legal access to medical cannabis. Its member base includes patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens. This grade puts New Jersey’s MMP ranking close to the middle of the road regarding other programs. The report lists 20 programs scoring lower than New Jersey’s MMP and 21 programs that scored higher than New Jersey’s C grade.

Comparing MMPs that were created around the same time as New Jersey’s; Washington DC received a B-; Arizona received a B-; and Delaware received a C+. For a relatively new MMP, New Jersey seems to be slightly behind its fellow programs, but there are opportunities for legislation to be amended and improved.

New Jersey’s MMP received this average grade due to categories such as patients’ rights and civil protection from discrimination, access to medicine and ease of navigation. Patients’ rights include their vulnerability to arrest and the lack of housing and employment protections. There has been two pieces of legislation introduced that have the potential to protect patients from certain adverse actions taken by employers regarding a patient’s status as a medical cannabis patient or a positive drug test for cannabis.

Ease of navigation took into consideration the qualifying conditions, how hard it is to enroll in the program, reasonable doctor requirements and more. New Jersey’s MMP has a limited list of qualify conditions, but it is anticipating additional conditions to be added with the Medical Marijuana Review Panel reviewing other conditions in the upcoming months.

Access to medicine in New Jersey does not include home grown cannabis. Instead, the MMP requires patients to choose one Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) to purchase medicine from at a given time. With only five ATCs to choose from, patients’ options are limited compared to other states.ASA-State-of-State-Report

 

According to ASA, there are over 2 million legal cannabis patients nationwide, and reports such as this gives insight on how to improve these patients’ lives.

 

To read the full report on
medical cannabis access in the U.S.
click here.

 

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Compassionate Sciences™ ATC Gives Suggestions for Recreational Cannabis Legislation

Legislation has been proposed in New Jersey to legalize the possession and personal use of small amounts of cannabis for residents age 21 and over. CSATC wants to ensure its patients in light of any legislation change, our focus and efforts will still be to provide patients with the highest quality medicinal cannabis possible at affordable prices.

As a leader in the existing New Jersey cannabis industry, we have reviewed the legislation, and are providing comments and suggestions to ensure a well-structured and properly-implemented plan for a recreational cannabis market.

The Market 

The proposed legislation would implement a 25% sales tax on recreational cannabis. One of the purposes of creating a recreational cannabis market is to decrease black market sales and produce tax revenue for the state. We believe that a 25% sales tax is too high and would not lead to a measurable decrease in black market sales. As a part of allowing existing Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to participate in the recreation market, we believe the current sales tax on medical cannabis should be eliminated and the requirement that ATCs operate as non-profit entities be removed. Close attention should be given when figuring how the tax structure of a new recreational market will fit into the already existing cannabis industry. For example, reasonably priced recreational cannabis can decrease black market activity, which in return can positively impact limiting the diversion of cannabis to minors.

Framework 

The legislation calls for the Division of Alcoholic and Beverage Control to be renamed and to adopt regulations necessary for the implementation of the bill. Although the creation of a new division of marijuana enforcement is necessary, we suggest that most of the regulatory framework to create a recreational cannabis industry in New Jersey already exists within the state Medical Marijuana Program. We believe that the NJMMP should be used as a stepping off point for the creation of a safe and effective recreational cannabis industry. There is already an entire regulatory structure that can contribute to nearly 60% of the recreational regulations.

Enforcement of the Cannabis Industry

Currently, the NJMMP is regulated and enforced by the Department of Health.  If this legislation is signed into law, it is unclear if that will continue to be the same. We suggest considering “picking up” the MMP and placing it with the recreational regulation under a single agency similar to Colorado.

Also, the current legislation proposes that the Division of Marijuana Enforcement may create an “expert task force to make recommendations to the division about the content” of regulations that will govern the recreational program. The legislation doesn’t specify who will be appointed to this task force, and we would like the legislation to be more specific in this manner. We suggest that the legislation stipulates that one or more of the current ATCs be a member of the task force given their history of knowledge and compliance.

Regulations 

The legislation is unclear on how it will regulate companies that are entering the industry. There is no specific section explaining how the total number of retail licenses will be determined and if the number of licenses held by a single entity will be capped. For example, the MMP utilizes a vertical licensing structure that allows ATCs to hold Class 1 and Class 3 licenses for cultivating and selling cannabis. There are no licensing fees in the current legislation, and it would be helpful to include them for those who are planning to enter the market. Currently ATCs are required to operate grow facilities at a single site, but we suggest the legislation defines whether it allows ATCs to operate grow facilities at multiple locations or not. Furthermore, the legislation should allow existing ATCs to enter the recreational market more immediately than the 1-year period proposed after the legislation becomes law. It should also provide operational guidelines of how an ATC would do so. Some of these guidelines should specify the following: if ATCs would be able to dispense recreational cannabis at the same location; and if ATCs would need to have separate points of entry and sales.

Serving Size and THC Content

We believe the section regarding serving size should reflect the MMP’s current standard of 10mg THC as a single “dose.” By choosing a THC content that represents a “single serving” consumers will know the potency and what effects to expect when consuming different types of products. We agree that serving sizes should be individually packaged if a THC amount standard is established.

In addition, we suggest providing limits based on THC content and product potency as opposed to weight or liquid content measurement to define what is an “unlawful” offense. For example, 72 ounces of liquid could be an amount of product containing massive THC content.

Terms  

The proposed legislation uses terms that are not scientifically accepted or industry endorsed, which can lead to problems when defining what is and what is not “lawful” under this legislation.

Other vague language such as marijuana paraphernalia, marijuana products and produces, should be more clearly defined to minimize confusion when introducing such legislation.

Also, the legislation calls for “marijuana testing facilities” but doesn’t specify who or what will prepare the accreditation requirements for such establishments. We believe the stringent testing requirements put forth by the MMP should be standard for the recreational market as well, but the legislation should clarify that testing lab framework should be independent and not state run.

Finally, the legislation uses the term medical marijuana center and the legislation should mirror defining language in the MMP to avoid conflict or confusion.

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Researchers Identify Genes that Produce Terpenes in Cannabis Plants

Pinecones-low-res

University of British Columbia researchers published a study finding 30 terpene synthase genes that contribute to different scents and flavors in cannabis. Such genes facilitate the production of terpenes like limonene, myrcene and pinene in the cannabis plant.

Researchers also found the gene that produces one of the most common essential oils of cannabis, beta-caryophyllene. Cannabis inflorescences, the complete flower head and stem, are known to be densely covered in granular trichomes, these trichomes are specialized to produce and accumulate terpenes. The discovery of these genes may be a step toward facilitating genetic improvements of cannabis to create more desirable terpene profiles in certain strains.

Considering that cannabis has been domesticated by breeders for increased resin volume and potency, it is possible that this led to a decrease in the quantity or variability of terpenes available in mainstream cannabis strains. The researchers pointed out the importance of examining how terpene compounds interact with the different cannabinoids that provide medicinal properties of cannabis.

Compassionate Sciences ATC grows 23 different strains, each of which encompasses a distinct terpene profile.

Click to Learn about CSATC strains.

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Patient Recipes: Concentrated Canna-Gummies

Concentrated Canna Gummies

Ingredients:
3 oz Jello mix
2 Unflavored Gelatin Packets (use extra gelatin when using molds to prevent sticking)
Concentrated Cannabis Oil (As much or little as preferred)
3/4 C. Water

Instructions:
• Place flavored gelatin and water into pan and mix
• Heat until ingredients are warmed but NOT boiling
• Add unflavored gelatin while whisking to prevent lumps
• Once mixture is finished, take off of stove and add in concentrated cannabis oil. Be sure to continuously whisk, or the oil will separate.
*When fully incorporated, pour into greased silicone mold and place in fridge to set*

Tip:
Divide total MG in oil by amount of gummies to find the strength
Example- 300MG of oil/30 total gummies = 10Mg per gummy

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Patient Recipe: Chronic Vegan Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chronic Vegan Balsamic

Ingredients:
¾ C. Cannaoil (Olive Oil)
¾ Balsamic Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic (Finely chopped)
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Directions:
Blend ingredients and store in air-tight container

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Are you familiar with CSATC’s Topical, Lozenge and Lotion?

Producing relaxing and pain-relieving effects, patients find these products helpful with chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, migraines and muscle spasms.

These products contain a total of 300 mg of THC and 30 mg of CBD, and are equal to the purchase of an 1/8 ounce out of a patient’s allotted recommendation. The Topical, Lozenge, and Lotion are designed to contain 30 separate controlled doses, each dose contains 10 mg of TProduct-LotionHC to 1 mg of CBD.

The Cannabis Infused Cocoa Butter Lotion, comprised of cannabis extract, coconut oil and cocoa butter, delivers active ingredients to the bloodstream through the skin offering localized relief.

Product-TopicalWith similar effects, the Topical consists of a supercritical CO2 cannabis extract and up to 5% Vegetable Glycerin, this product is sold as one syringe filled with .6 g of medicine.

Product-Lozenge

The Lozenges are meant to dissolve slowly in a patient’s mouth being absorbed through the mucosal membrane. They come in flavors such as pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, peach and watermelon.

 

For more information about our strains click hereand for more information about our extracts click here.

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Qualifying Condition: Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity

Muscle-Postier

Among the 14 qualifying conditions that allow New Jersey residents to register for the Medical Marijuana Program is Intractable Skeletal Muscular Spasticity.

Spasticity is caused by an imbalance of signals from the central nervous system to the muscles. This neurological condition is most often related to disorders like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal injury and other conditions that harm parts of the nervous system.

This disorder presents symptoms mostly in skeletal muscles including involuntary overactive reflexes and movements, which may include spasms (brisk and/or sustained involuntary muscle contraction) and clonus (series of fast involuntary contractions), increased muscle tone, muscle stiffness and the inability to stretch the affected muscles.

 

In one of the largest studies conducted regarding cannabinoids and the treatment of spasticity, it showed evidence of improvements regarding patient-reported spasticity and pain, suggesting the
clinical usefulness of cannabinoids.

Other symptoms include contractures (a state of permanent contraction of a muscle /tendon due to severe and repetitive stiffness and spasms), decreased functional abilities, difficulty with care or hygiene, bone and joint deformities, abnormal posture and pain.

The pain a patient can experience from this condition can range from mildly stiff muscles to painful spasms in extremities, particularly one’s legs. Pain may also be present in a patient’s lower back or as pain or tightness around their joints.

In one of the largest studies conducted regarding cannabinoids and the treatment of spasticity, it showed evidence of improvements regarding patient-reported spasticity and pain, suggesting the clinical usefulness of cannabinoids.

According to MarijuanaDoctors.com, an Oxford study corroborated that medical cannabis could decrease muscle spasticity and pain. Other notable findings in the study were that the side effects of cannabis-based medicine had been predictable and tolerable, and the loss of bladder control was alleviated by cannabis extracts.

Similar findings were found in a review of multiple studies, which stated that a wealth of anecdotal studies show that cannabis and cannabinoids have “beneficial effects on disease-related pain, bladder symptoms, tremor and particularly spasticity, but until recently, little scientific evidence existed for their efficacy.”

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