Category Archives: Cannabis

High hopes ride on marijuana painkillers amid opioid crisis

A handful of drugmakers are taking their first steps toward developing marijuana-based painkillers, alternatives to opioids that have led to widespread abuse and caused the U.S. health regulator to ask for a withdrawal of a popular drug this month.

The cannabis plant has been used for decades to manage pain and there are increasingly sophisticated marijuana products available across 29 U.S. states, as well as in the District of Columbia, where medical marijuana is legal.

There are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved painkillers derived from marijuana, but companies such as Axim Biotechnologies Inc, Nemus Bioscience Inc and Intec Pharma Ltd have drugs in various stages of development.

The companies are targeting the more than 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain, and are dependent on opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, or addicted to street opiates including heroin.

Opioid overdose, which claimed celebrities including Prince and Heath Ledger as victims, contributed to more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, the FDA asked Endo International Plc to withdraw its Opana ER painkiller from the market, the first time the agency has called for the removal of an opioid painkiller for public health reasons. The FDA concluded that the drug’s benefits no longer outweighed its risks.

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FIGHTING THE EPIDEMIC

Multiple studies have shown that pro-medical marijuana states have reported fewer opiate deaths and there are no deaths related to marijuana overdose on record.

But marijuana-derived drugs could take longer than usual to hit the market as the federal government considers marijuana a “schedule 1” substance – a dangerous drug with no medicinal value – making added approvals necessary. Any drug typically takes at least a decade from discovery to approval.

It could be worth the wait.

An FDA-approved marijuana-based painkiller would ensure consistent dosing and potency, and availability across the country, analysts and experts said.

“Doctors like to be able to write a prescription and know that whatever they wrote is pure and from a blinded, placebo-controlled trial,” California-based Nemus’s CEO Brian Murphy told Reuters.

Nemus is testing its product – a synthetic version of the non-psychoactive CBD compound found in cannabis – on rats with chronic pain and expects to report data later this year.

Rival Axim, whose North American headquarters is in New York, is conducting preclinical studies on a chewing gum containing synthetic CBD and THC, a psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The company expects to submit an FDA application to start a trial on opioid-dependent patients this year.

Leading the pack is Israel-based Intec, which recently announced the start of an early-stage study testing its painkiller made of natural CBD and THC extracts.

Independent scientists are also looking to find natural, non-pharmaceutical alternatives to opioids, but many have said it is difficult to access government-approved marijuana to conduct research due to supply restrictions.

“It’s taken me seven years to get the DEA license,” said Dr Sue Sisley, who is planning to conduct an FDA-regulated study evaluating whether marijuana can help opioid-dependent patients.

There could soon be other alternatives as well. Pfizer Inc and Biogen Inc are among a clutch of drugmakers developing non-opioid painkillers that are in advanced clinical studies.

Still, opioid painkillers are here to stay and will continue to be widely prescribed, especially for patients with acute and post-surgical pain.

The Republican healthcare bill unveiled on Thursday has proposed a drastic cut to the Medicaid budget and could gut, what advocates say, is essential coverage for drug addiction treatment, potentially hampering the fight against opioid abuse.

Source:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marijuana-fda-idUSKBN19E1NU

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Vermont Legislature becomes first in U.S. to vote to legalize recreational marijuana use

Vermont’s Legislature on Wednesday became the first in the country to vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

The legislation, which passed the House by a 79-66 vote, would allow adults to possess and use small amounts of the drug beginning next year. The bill was identical to one passed last week by the Senate that also sets up a commission to study the best way to regulate marijuana.

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Phil Scott, whose spokeswoman said he’s not philosophically opposed to legalizing marijuana but must be sure the bill answers certain public safety and health questions.

“He’ll review the bill when received to determine if those questions are addressed,” spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said after the vote.

If Scott signs the legislation it will become law on July 1, 2018.

Under the legislation, small amounts of marijuana would be legal to possess and grow for anyone over age 21. Larger amounts would remain illegal.

A nine-member commission will develop a proposal to tax and regulate marijuana, and the proposal will be presented to lawmakers next year.

Before Vermont’s vote, eight states and the District of Columbia had legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. The vote by Vermont lawmakers, however, was the first to legalize marijuana separate from a voter initiative.

The hour-long debate before the vote featured impassioned comments by some lawmakers who felt legalizing marijuana would lead to increased substance abuse, car accidents and other unintended consequences.

“This is voting for trouble. We’ve got a lot of problems, and this is only going to make it worse,” said Rep. Ben Joseph, a Democrat from North Hero.

But opponents’ arguments were countered by others who said that marijuana use is already prevalent in Vermont and passing the law could give the state a say in its regulation, end the black market and possibly increase state revenue.

“What is changing is the landscape of our region,” said Rep. Ruqaiyah Morris, a Democrat from Bennington, whose home is less than 10 miles from Massachusetts, where retail marijuana sales are due to begin in mid-2018. “This is going to happen. We can either be pro-active and be part of this conversation and ensure we are thinking about all these things, including some sort of a mechanism to address them, or we can just take a wait-and-see approach and deal with it next year.”

Source:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-vermont-recreational-marijuana-use-20170510-story.html

More Than a Quarter of Americans Would Substitute Marijuana for Beer, New Survey Shows

What’s faster than a speeding locomotive? Move over Superman, it’s the marijuana industry.

Since 1996, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized medical cannabis for select ailments, and since 2012 residents in eight states have voted to allow recreational pot to be sold to adults ages 21 and up. These figures are jaw-dropping considering that in 1995, according to a Gallup poll, just 25% of respondents were in favor of legalizing weed nationally. Today, that figure stands at 60%, an all-time high.

A separate poll recently conducted by the independent Quinnipiac University found 59% support for national approval compared to 36% who opposed it. Support for a nationwide approval of medical marijuana was overwhelming at 93%.

Of course, it’s more than just the rapidly changing public opinion that allowed legal pot sales in North America to grow by 34% to $6.9 billion in 2016, as reported by ArcView Market Research. It’s the almighty dollar. Investment firm Cowen & Co. predicts that sales of legal weed could grow to $50 billion by 2026, which represents an average growth rate of more than 23% for the decade. You’d probably struggle to find an industry that could generate 23% compound annual growth for a decade.

But, does the “green rush” stand a chance at competing with one of the oldest and most profitable industries on the planet: beer? According to the latest survey results from the Cannabiz Consumer Group, this weed is growing.

 

Would consumers substitute cannabis for beer?

Cannabiz Consumer Group questioned approximately 40,000 Americans in 2016 about their cannabis and beer consumption habits. It was specifically interested in finding out whether beer drinkers were substituting or forgoing beer in favor of cannabis. The results showed that 27% of beer drinkers had purchased cannabis instead of beer or would do so if weed were legal in their state.

The report also implies that there won’t be a “novelty factor” associated with legalized cannabis. It’s not uncommon for consumers to flock to a new product once it’s introduced, but have that interest fade over time. The Cannabiz Consumer Group’s results suggest that won’t be the case with legal weed, since consumers “tend to be more invested in the products that they are buying, including understanding the potency, strains, and formats available and uses for pain management, holistic health, and relaxation.”

So what does this all mean for the beer industry? According to the predictions, it could cede $2 billion in annual retail sales to cannabis, with the pot industry gobbling up 7.1% of revenue from the existing beer industry.

Nonetheless, even a mature marijuana industry is only likely to generate half as much in annual sales as the U.S. beer industry, so you investors in Anheuser-Busch InBev(NYSE:BUD), which controls roughly 45% of the U.S. beer market, can probably breathe a sigh of relief. 

 

Furthermore, as you’ll see below, pot’s pie-in-the-sky growth estimates may not come to fruition.

Legal pot’s expansion is about to get more difficult

Last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer sent shockwaves throughout the legal marijuana industry by announcing that the Trump Administration would more strictly enforce federal marijuana regulations relative to the extremely lax Obama administration, which kept a hands-off approach to federal regulation. This statement was a clear departure from the prior administration and a potential signal that Trump may renege on his pot pledge during his campaign.

The good news for proponents of marijuana is that Trump has thrown his full support behind medical marijuana previously, and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be enacting any legislation that would otherwise compromise a patients’ access to medical cannabis. This is likely to remain entirely a states’ rights issue.

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Source:

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/03/25/more-than-a-quarter-of-americans-would-substitut-2.aspx

Jesce Horton is the owner of Panacea Valley Gardens a cultivation center and boutique edibles line serving cannabis patients in Portland, OR.

In addition to providing a network of contacts and educational resources for aspiring entrepreneurs of color, MCBA advocates for legislative changes to state and local policies that impose legal and financial barriers to legal weed for many would-be business owners and consumers of color.

Beyond its being a “slap in the face” to the communities hurt most by marijuana enforcement, Horton sees the legal industry’s lack of diversity as a real hindrance to its potential for growth.

“It’s not just about doing the right thing and doing the moral thing,” he said. “But I think we’re in a unique industry where doing the right and the moral thing means more money, means more growth, means more sustainability.”

Meanwhile, in New York, Plowden and his fellow co-founders at the nonprofit Cannabis Cultural Association are hoping to get ahead of this issue by educating people of color on the evolving city and state marijuana policies, and encouraging minority involvement in the ancillary products of the cannabis industry, such as vaporizers and hemp products.

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“We know we can’t do the same things as California or Portland can do,” but, Plowden insisted, it’s important to start having these conversations about diversity now.

“The industry is coming, but if we don’t have somewhat of a structure set up, we can stumble and put ourselves back 20 years,” he said.

For both men, their missions to reshape the black community’s relationship with marijuana have led them to change the conversation within their own families.

About a year or two ago, Plowden broke his family’s long-standing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and asked his great-aunt Molly if she smoked weed. Yes, she answered, adding, “you’re the first one in the family to honestly ask me that question.” A few months later, she spoke at one of CCA’s events about her experience with marijuana and the effects of drug laws on her family.

Even Plowden’s mother has recently begun exploring medical marijuana as an option for dealing with skin cancer. However, she continues to implore her son to use caution, reminding him, “You’re still a black man who is promoting something that’s federally illegal.”

More than four years after he gave up his comfortable corporate career, Horton says, his parents are “very, very excited” about his success in the legal cannabis industry.

“My dad sees that I’m an entrepreneur now,” he said. “I’m much, much happier than I was when I was in corporate.”

Horton has also opened the door for other members of his family, like his cousin and brother, who both moved to Oregon to work with him. More than anything, though, marijuana is no longer the cause of family strife.

“My dad is a cannabis consumer; he always has been,” Horton said. Now “we can finally smoke together.”

Source:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/african-american-families-hit-hard-war-drugs-pot-comes-shadows-slowly-092711075.html

8 COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT INDUSTRIAL HEMP

Hemp has gotten a bad rap over the years. It wasn’t that long ago that this plant was widely used in our society for making fabric, building supplies, and paper. As a matter of fact, the original Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

Of course, this was all before industrial hemp growth and cultivation became illegal. What many people do not know is that hemp is different from recreational or medicinal marijuana. The hemp plant is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not get you high, which begs the question: Why is it even illegal in the first place?

It’s crazy that there is there was a plant available to us today that could be grown in pretty much any soil, requires no pesticides and it takes very little maintenance to grow, and this magical plant could be used for a very large number of necessities and goods we use today yet we don’t use it.

These plants are and have been illegal for quite some time, and the only people who are allowed to grow it have to do so under very tight regulations.

Recently, College Humor went ahead and made a pretty comical video that neatly summed up exactly how Hemp and Marijuana both became illegal. You can view that here.

1. Hemp and Recreational/Medicinal Marijuana DO Come From the Same Plant

While all derived from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L, hemp, and recreational marijuana are still vastly different products. Marijuana contains high levels of THC, the active component that gets you high, while hemp is cultivated to contain little-to-no THC. The marijuana plants grown to produce the flowering buds we find on the street or in dispensaries contain, on average, around 12% THC. By comparison, hemp plants contains less than 1%. Currently in the United States, the cannabis plant is considered to be industrial hemp if it contains less than 0.3% THC.

 

2. It Is Legal to Transport Hemp in the U.S.

Within the U.S. it is only legal to bring hemp across state lines in its processed form. Included in this are products containing hemp like skin lotions, granola bars, etc. Hemp is also used to make a number of popular CBD products, and you can find these in most states. CBD is the non-psychoactive active component of the hemp plant, and it has a number of potentially healing properties. This makes hemp products ideal for those who can’t access medicinal marijuana or for those who want the health benefits without the high, such as children.

3. Researching Hemp Is a Waste of Time

Just because we have already researched the properties of this plant doesn’t mean that we should stop there. There is always more to be discovered, and when something has the potential to be life-changing, to drastically improve someone’s quality of life, it definitely deserves to be given a second, third, and even fourth look.

4. Hemp Can Save the World

Being such a bold statement, most consider this claim false. However, hemp can be used to make food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and medicine, and considering how scarce such resources are becoming, and how unsustainably they are being produced, we should be exploring every avenue possible. The hemp plant can help accommodate many of our basic needs, and for this reason alone we should be utilizing it much more than we are right now.

5. Hemp Can Only Be Used to Make Textiles

Believe it or not, hemp has been being cultivated for nearly 10,000 years. Many believe this plant to be the first agricultural crop, as many ancient civilizations used the plant to make clothing, rope, and boat sails. Although textiles are a wonderful use for the hemp plant, this only scratches the surface of what this plant is capable of. The hemp plant contains protein- and magnesium-rich seeds that are a great addition to any diet. The plant can also be used to make fuel, biodegradable plastics, building blocks for construction, and cosmetic products. This list goes on.

6. Consuming Hemp Will Cause a Positive Drug Test

If you are concerned about a drug test at work, you do not have to worry that hemp seeds or CBD will show up. These tests look specifically for THC, and if you are consuming government approved products — those containing less than 0.3% THC — then you will be fine. Unless you are going out of your way to have an all-hemp diet, and consuming tons of it, you have nothing to worry about.

7. The Hemp Plant Is Male, Marijuana Female

Because these two products come from the same species of plant, as mentioned above, they have the potential to be either male or female. THC content is determined, not by gender, but by how the plant has been bred and engineered over time. Hemp is not given the opportunity to mature; it grows quickly and is cut down much earlier than its cousin marijuana, which is allowed to fully mature.

8. Cultivation of Industrial Hemp Is Legal

Surprisingly, this is incorrect. The growth and cultivation of industrial hemp is only legal in accordance with agricultural pilot programs allowed to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp, and in certain states only.

Collective Evolution has a very large collection of articles relating to the medicinal properties, nutritional benefits, and various other uses of the hemp plant. To access these articles.

Are there some other common misconceptions that you can think of about the hemp plant? Let us know.

Source:

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/04/05/8-common-misconceptions-about-industrial-hemp/

A ‘Catch-22’ of medical marijuana and organ transplants

A rise in the use of medical marijuana has spurred a debate about organ transplantation, and it’s changing some laws across the nation.

Garry Godfrey found out in 2010 that he was removed from an organ transplant waiting list in Maine due to a health risk associated with his use of medical marijuana, CNN affiliate WGME reported. Now Godfrey is speaking out in support of a bill in Maine that would prohibit hospitals from determining a patient’s suitability for transplantation solely on the basis of medical marijuana use (PDF).
That bill is in committee, and similar legislation has been passed in other states, including California, Washington, Illinois, Arizona, Delaware and New Hampshire (PDF).
Godfrey, 32, uses marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms he suffers due to Alport syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause renal failure — and he needs a new kidney, WGME reported.
“I’ve tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does,” Godfrey told WGME. “It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids.”
But if a transplant candidate already has a compromised immune system and is taking prescribed or recreational marijuana, that can increase their risk of a deadly fungal infection known as Aspergillosis during the transplantation process, according to a press statement released this week by the Maine Transplant Program. Once off marijuana, patients can be put back on the waiting list.
Meanwhile, researchers are desperately trying to better understand the potential health risk that may be associated with marijuana use and organ transplantation.

‘When we turn someone down, it’s a personal failure’

“The thing that comes up with marijuana is the risk of pulmonary infections, (specifically) fungal infections with Aspergillosis,” said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Such infections “can be an absolutely devastating complication but, you know, how often does that really happen? How likely is it? Those questions are less well understood,” Klassen said. “It’s a question of how much risk does that really impose versus the benefit that the patient potentially gets from getting the transplant.”
The Maine Transplant Program has a policy in place around marijuana because two people who had transplants died as a result of the fungal infection, Maine Medical Center spokesman Clay Holtzman said. Both patients had smoked marijuana, which suggests it might have been the cause of the infections. It’s not clear what the risks are around edible medical marijuana, he said.
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