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Category: Cannabis News

Public Hearing for New Qualifying Conditions

The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program is moving closer to adding new qualifying conditions including Chronic Pain related to Musculoskeletal Disorders, Migraines, Anxiety, Chronic Pain of Visceral Origin and Tourette’s Syndrome. The Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel is holding a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 for all those wishing to make oral comments to the panel. The panel will take comments from 10 -11 a.m. in the Turning Point Conference Room of the War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, New Jersey. Click for directions

 

The panel is also accepting written comments until Sept. 25 from those who can’t make the public hearing. With the hope of helping thousands of suffering patients, CSATC has submitted its written comments in support of approving the new conditions. We encourage all patients and physicians to attend and comment in person at the public hearing or submitting comments in written form in advance.

 

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CSATC’s Improvements, New Strains and More

Since CSATC entered the cannabis industry in New Jersey, our goal has always been to continue to improve the Medical Marijuana Program. We recognize the realities of being a patient in New Jersey; a program structure that is expensive and one that limits patients’ access to high grade medical cannabis. Considering that there are only five alternative treatment centers in New Jersey, from the onset, CSATC has made constant efforts to provide patients with greater accessibility to the most affordable and the highest quality medicine.

CSATC is involved in constant research and development. We recently purchased new extraction instrumentation to improve the quality of our extract products. The new upgrade enhances our extracting ability by eliminating the post decarboxylation process. Eliminating this process minimizes the degradation of concentrate, which results in an increased clarity in our oil. In addition, our extract process has recently been enhanced, and utilizes a two stage distillation process to fully remove waxes allowing for higher concentration recovery and less non-targeted compounds. These recent improvements in our extracting abilities are noticeable in the physical clarity of our topical oil as well as improved taste, smell and provide an increase in the clarity of effects among our extract products.

Largest and most consistent variety of medical cannabis strains. Our growers are constantly working to improve strains by methodically adjusting grow conditions to maximize the medicinal components for patients. We are currently growing six new strains that will be announced before the end of the year. CSATC’s patient base is constantly growing, and to match the demand, our facility has been approved to expand an additional 23,000 square feet giving room for an additional 500 lights. In the short term, this will allow CSATC to grow enough medicine to supply our growing patient base. Our long term plan is to turn our existing building into our cultivation and processing location, and open a larger, better suited CSATC dispensary across the street from our existing location.

These efforts will enhance CSATC’s ability to provide the highest quality medical cannabis strains and products at even more affordable prices. Our mission is to help relieve the pain and suffering of patients with serious diseases, and in order to accomplish this goal, CSATC has implemented different initiatives to make our medical cannabis more accessible and affordable for patients in the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program.

Pricing
When CSATC opened, our prices were set below market value, but we knew that this wouldn’t be the end of our effort to improve patients’ access to medicine. Since then, we have expanded our hours of operation instituting the largest range of hours in the state for patients to purchase medicinal cannabis.

CSATC is unique in that our prices can be taken at face value. The prices patients see already includes the 6.875 percent state sales tax. CSATC is currently lobbying for the removal of the medical cannabis state sales tax, which would further reduce prices for patients. Over the past three months CSATC has reduced flower prices by more than 20 percent on over 12 top strains, and has increased the variety of featured strains in hopes that more patients will find the right strains for their debilitating medical condition. We also offer additional discounts including the Veteran’s Discount of 20%, the Compassionate Discount of 20% for those on government assistance and a Minor’s Discount of 40%.

As part of our hands-on approach to improve the New Jersey cannabis industry for patients, Executive Director George Schidlovsky has positioned himself on the board of directors for the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, a powerful and active association whose mission is to guide the decision makers and regulators in the budding cannabis industry to understand and respect the needs of the CannaBusiness community.

 

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Concerns Regarding The Supply of Hemp Based CBD from Sources Outside of The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program

Recently, some of our patients have been exploring other sources of CBD and trying new Hemp-based products. It’s important to be aware that Hemp-based CBD is not always what it claims to be. Our major concern with the supply of Hemp based CBD from sources outside of the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) is that these sources do not adhere to the same rigorous growing and testing criteria of the New Jersey MMP, and may be exposing already suffering patients to harmful chemicals or pesticides. 

Sources of CBD from industrial hemp raises multiple concerns. Industrial hemp is not restricted in the use of pesticides and fertilizers as New Jersey medical cannabis is. Hemp, a known bioaccumulator, will absorb and collect these contaminants that can cause serious health problems if ingested. Also, companies producing these CBD products may purchase hemp from sources outside the U.S. further raising health concerns if these products are safe for patients to consume. The state of New Jersey tests all of the medical marijuana products produced in the state for consumption, and these outsourced CBD products are not tested within the state criteria.

 

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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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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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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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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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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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Welcome to Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center News. Our goal is to keep you informed about Cannabis-based therapies and how they can mitigate disease symptoms and offer a natural alternative to powerful pharmaceutical drugs that have debilitating side-effects. You may also signup to receive our RSS feed and get email alerts about our progress and to subscribe to our eNewsletter to stay connected to our news and updates.

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