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Category: Research

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.

 

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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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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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Researchers Identify Genes that Produce Terpenes in Cannabis Plants

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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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National Academy of Sciences Acknowledges Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis

CannabisCoverFinalOn January 12, 2017 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published one of the most comprehensive reports of recent research regarding the health effects of cannabis. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research produced nearly 100 conclusions based off scientific evidence, and in certain cases finding “conclusive or substantial evidence” of the therapeutic effects of cannabis. At the top of the list, the study found conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults. Chronic pain is a qualifying condition for New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program only if it’s a symptom of cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Although chronic pain is currently limited to these restrictions, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, lupus and Lyme disease are of the 45 conditions that the Medicinal Medical Review Panel is set to consider as additional qualifying conditions.

Other conditions that the Academies’ report found cannabis effective for are chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting and improving patient reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms.

The report also found moderate evidence of effective cannabinoid treatment for improving short-term sleep outcomes related to sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Limited evidence showed cannabinoids to be effective for improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome, symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

In terms of cancer, the report showed evidence suggesting that cannabis smoke doesn’t increase the risk for cancers that are often associated with tobacco use.

The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide objective guidance for policy makers through scientific evidence.

The issue of cannabis and health has been brushed aside by the National Academies since 1999, but substantial effort was put into this report with over 10,000 scientific abstracts reviewed in preparation.

Acknowledgements were made in the report that potential harm from cannabis may be noted related to risks for adolescents, pregnant women and those who operate motor vehicles shortly after ingesting cannabis. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) says, “In each of these cases, these risks may be mitigated via marijuana regulation and the imposition of age restrictions in the marketplace.”

The committee that authored the report recommended more research to be done on the beneficial and harmful effects of cannabis, and emphasized the drug’s classification as a Schedule I substance being a barrier impeding such research.

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March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

ms-robbon-blue-orangeIn light of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we want raise awareness about the scientific evidence showing cannabis as a palliative treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis [MS], as we know it, is an autoimmune disease that results in the slowing of the speed of signals sent from the central nervous system to the peripheral nervous system and can even result in irreversible damage to the nerves in the central nervous system that were once protected by the myelin sheath. This condition can leave a patient suffering from a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, depression, weakness, spasms, spasticity, pain, sleep disturbances and more.

One of the largest studies on the effect of medical cannabis on patients with MS stated that patients who used Tetrahydrocannabinol reported improvements in pain, sleep quality, spasms and spasticity.

There is even evidence that suggests that cannabinoids may have immunomodulatory effects, and have therapeutic benefits in treating MS. 1

Current studies show that patients who perceive initial benefits from their cannabis medication experienced persisting positive effects into extended trials without tolerance.[1]

Of a small group of MS patients who participated in an abrupt interruption of their cannabis medication, there was no consistent withdrawal symptoms and five patients had to resume taking their medication due to reemergence of symptoms.

Symptomatic medications often do not provide adequate relief and may have toxic effects that can worsen a patient’s already diminished quality of life.1 These effects can be weighed in comparison to cannabis’s relatively limited side effects.

For more information on research studies relating to cannabis click here.

 

[1] Hazekamp, Arno, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “Review on Clinical Studies with Cannabis and Cannabinoids 2005-2009.” 5.Special Issue (2010): 1-21. Print.
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