Marijuana Access Is Associated With Decreased Use Of Alcohol, Tobacco And Other Prescription Drugs

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By Paul Armentano

A significant amount of data has been generated in recent years showing that cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use and abuse. But emerging data also indicates that many patients similarly substitute marijuana for a variety of other substances, including alcohol, tobacco and benzodiazepines.

Last month, a team of researchers from Canada and the United States surveyed over 2,000 federally registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of cannabis and other substances. (Medical cannabis access has been legal across Canada for nearly two decades).

Investigators reported that nearly 70 percent of respondents said that they substituted cannabis for prescription medications, primarily opioids. Forty-five percent of those surveyed acknowledged substituting cannabis for alcohol and 31 percent of respondents said that they used marijuana in place of tobacco.

Among those who reported replacing alcohol with cannabis, 31 percent said they stopped using booze altogether, while 37 percent reported reducing their intake by at least 75 percent. Fifty-one percent of those who reported substituting cannabis for tobacco said that they eventually ceased their tobacco use completely.

 

This documentation of cannabis substitution is not unique. A 2017 study of medical cannabis patients similarly reported that 25 percent of the cohort reported substituting cannabis for alcohol, while 12 percent substituted it for tobacco. A 2015 paper published in the journal, “Drug and Alcohol Review” also reported that over half of patients surveyed substituted marijuana in lieu of alcohol. A placebo-controlled clinical trialperformed by researchers at London’s University College reported that the inhalation of CBD — a primary component in cannabis — is associated with a 40 percent reduction in cigarette consumption.

Numerous studies also indicate that legal cannabis access is associated with reductions in overall prescription drug spending. While much of this reduction is the result of the reduced use of opioids, studies also report decreases in patients’ consumption of other prescription drugs, such as sleep aids, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. A 2019 study by a team of Canadian researchers reported that the use of marijuana is associated with the discontinuation of benzodiazepines. (The popular anti-anxiety medication was responsible for over 11,500 overdose deathsin the United States in 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control). In their study of 146 subjects, the initiation of medical cannabis resulted in significant and sustained reductions in patients’ use of the drug.

By the trial’s conclusion, 45 percent of participants had ceased their use of benzodiazepines. In a separate study, also published this year, of over 1,300 US medical cannabis patients suffering from chronic pain conditions, 22 percent reported substituting marijuana for benzodiazepines.

These scientific findings run contrary to the so-called “gateway theory” – the long-alleged notion that marijuana exposure primes users to ultimately engage in the use of far more intoxicating and addictive substances. By contrast, for many people cannabis appears to act as an “exit drug” away from potentially deadly pharmaceuticals, booze, cigarettes and even other illicit substances such as cocaine.

As more jurisdictions move away from cannabis prohibition and toward a system of regulated access it will important to monitor the degree to which these trends continue and to assess their long-term impacts on public health and safety.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML — the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? and the author of the book, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana.  Laws.

Here’s What We Actually Know About CBD Oil And Anxiety

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By  TAMIM ALNUWEIRI

Over the last few years, cannabis has (slowly) started going through a transformation as it becomes destigmatized and increasingly legalized around the country. There’s more information, research, and interest in it than ever before, and one of the buzziest aspects of the booming cannabis industry is a compound it contains called cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. The phytocannabinoid, which was discovered in 1940, can be found in many plants but is most commonly extracted these days from cannabis and hemp.

We’re still in the early stages of understanding the full potential, side effects, and benefits of CBD. Or, as J. H. Atkinson, MD, of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diegotold us earlier this year: “There is very little data from rigorous scientific research on the therapeutic effects of CBD.” That said, Dr. Atkinson did go on to say that some of the early research does show that CBD could be beneficial in treating anxiety.

Still, finding out what’s real and what’s false about CBD oil and anxiety can be difficult. To clear up some of the confusion, I spoke to Brooke Alpert, RD, a holistic cannabis practitioner, and Cayla Rosenblum, a healthcare informatics specialist at PotBotics, on the topic to see what experts know (and don’t) about the cannabidiol and mental health.

The first thing they both tell me is that should you have anxiety, you should always speak to a qualified medical and mental health professional before incorporating new supplements or products into your routine. There aren’t any known downsides to taking CBD if you have anxiety, at this point, but “the dangers of CBD as a treatment plan comes from patients who take this treatment plan upon themselves” Rosenblum says. So proper oversight is a must.

Beyond that, “since the oversight of CBD products is not as strict as many other pharmaceuticals on the market, it is imperative that patients are well informed about the product they are using and the exact cannabinoids within the products” Rosenblum says adding that things may become more clear and regulated now that CBD products have been legalized.

Here is everything the pros know about CBD oil and anxiety so far.

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1. WE’RE IN THE VERY EARLY STAGES OF RESEARCH

Because of the red tape surrounding cannabis, the research currently available on all aspects and compounds is somewhat limited. Most of the clinical trials and studies that have been executed so far have been done on mice and rats or small sample sizes of human subjects.

To prove “a relationship between CBD use and positive benefits on anxiety treatment, the medical community still needs more large scale randomized clinical trials using CBD. However, with new legislation legalizing hemp and CBD products, it is to be expected that these much-needed, large-scale trials will be conducted soon, providing even more clinically based evidence” Rosenblum says.

2. RESEARCH SHOWS A CONNECTION BETWEEN CBD AND SEROTONIN

A study published in 2016 found that CBD has a noticeable impact on serotonin levels. Alpert explains that the study demonstrates that CBD could work “similar to how SSRIs work by preventing serotonin from being reabsorbed in the brain, allowing for more of that feel good hormone to be present.”

The study, however, does have a major caveat, which is that it was conducted on mice and not humans. Additional studies using human trials have been inconclusive. A study published in 2018 found that CBD can, in fact, behave somewhat like an anti-depressant but only when there are certain levels of serotonin found in the central nervous system.

3. CBD COULD EXPAND THE HIPPOCAMPUS

Another study with promising results (though conducted on mice) found an interesting and beneficial relationship between CBD and the hippocampus. The research published in 2013 showed that “CBD can stimulate neurogenesis, or the generation of new neurons, in the area of the brain associated with anxiety. More neurons mean a bigger hippocampus, which is associated with better moods,” Alpert explains.

4. IT COULD BE ESPECIALLY EFFECTIVE FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY

In 2011 a small study was conducted on two groups of people, patients with a generalized social anxiety disorder (SAD) who had never undergone treatment before, and those without a social anxiety disorder. The study examined how CBD affected their social anxiety with promising positive results. “In both the social anxiety disorder and healthy subject groups, when tested with the CBD treatment, a large positive difference in the reduction of stress measures were seen in both groups. It was indicated that even in the healthy control group, the stress measurement levels were almost abolished in the CBD treatment group,” Rosenblum says.

Study: Medical Cannabis Oil Helps Relieve Autism Symptoms in Kids

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Medical cannabis oil for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) appears to be a well-tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms including seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and rage attacks, according to a new study by Israeli researchers from Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also show that cannabis treatment can significantly improve sleep and concentration.

“Overall, more than 80 percent of the parents reported significant or moderate improvement in their child,” said Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of the BGU-Soroka Clinical Cannabis Research Institute.

Autistic spectrum disorder is an extensive developmental disorder that is expressed in almost all areas of a child’s development. ASD is commonly considered to be a wide range of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) in which there are various manifestations and symptoms.

For the study, researchers evaluated the data of 188 ASD children up to 18 years old who were treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017.

“The treatment in the majority of patients was based on cannabis oil containing 30 percent cannabidiol oil (CBD) and 1.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” said Dr. Gal Meiri of the Negev Autism Center at BGU. “Symptoms, patient global assessment and side effects at six months were primary outcomes of interest and were assessed by structured questionnaires.”

Overall, after six months of treatment, 30 percent of patients reported a significant improvement; 53.7 percent reported moderate improvement; and only 15 percent had slight or no change.

Quality of life, mood and ability to perform daily living activities were evaluated prior to treatment and at six months. Good quality of life was reported by 31.3 percent of patients prior to treatment initiation. At six months, good quality of life more than doubled to 66.8 percent. Positive mood was reported as 42 percent before treatment and 63.5 after six months.

In addition, the ability to dress and shower independently improved significantly from cannabis treatment. Only a quarter (26.4 percent) reported no difficulty prior to the treatment while 42.9 percent improved their ability to dress and shower independently at six months.

Medical cannabis oil also significantly improved sleep and concentration. Before treatment, good sleep and concentration had been reported by only 3.3 percent and zero percent respectively vs. 24.7 percent and 14 percent during active treatment.

“While this study suggests that cannabis treatment is safe and can improve ASD symptoms and improve ASD patients’ quality of life, we believe that double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are crucial for a better understanding of the cannabis effect on ASD patients,” says Dr. Victor Novack, of the BGU-Soroka Clinical Cannabis Research Institute.

Source: American associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Insomnia Series: A New CBD Product For Insomnia

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The buzz surrounding cannabidiol is strong, but folks in the wellness community are whispering about a different cannabinoid compound, one that might help you sleep at night. You may have heard of the murmurs, but what is CBN?

The most dominant cannabis compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), steal all the attention, but cannabinol, or CBN, could be the next big thing. According to Bon Appetit, as marijuana oxidizes, the THC converts to CBN. In other words, old weed is high in CBN. But can you get high on it? Not really. The CB1 receptors are weaker than with THC, but it definitely still has the potential to make you drowsy, which is why more people are turning to it before they turn in for the night.

Scientific evidence is sparse, but CBN has been studied on mice, though it should be noted that researchers used synthetic derivatives of CBN. When rodents were given the lab-made cannabinol, they were more likely to stay asleep. There’s a chance it could even be used to fight the signs of aging, so look out for CBN as an ingredient in sleep aids and night cream. But here’s the kicker: Most studies suggest it works best when combined with other cannabinoid compounds, like THC or CBD. Anecdotal evidence still dominates in conversations pertaining to uses for CBN. In any case, it’s worth noting that if your friend says it works for them that doesn’t mean it will work for you. As always, consult your doctor about your options and possible interactions with other medications.

Currently, the health benefits of CBN and its effectiveness as a sleep aid are still largely unknown. But with the booming CBD industry expected to be worth $1.15 billion by 2020, it’s a good bet that more companies will begin to experiment with CBN, perhaps by pairing it with CBD to discover if it does indeed lead to a better night’s sleep.

Is cannabinol the answer to our restless nights? We can dream.

In the meantime, here are some foods that can help put you to sleep and others that might be keeping you up at night.

WHY IS IT SUCH A TURNOFF WHEN SOMEONE TRULY, REALLY, ACTUALLY WANTS TO DATE ME?


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One of my father’s favorite refrains about my love life is that I only like men who don’t like me. He’s constantly joking that the easiest way for a man to turn me off is for him to show interest. Based on history, I do see where he’s coming from, but I’m still not totally convinced. Still, he does point out a polarizing, age-old issue: Is it true that the more someone is into us, the less into them we are? And if so, is a silly game of hard to get actually effective?
Apparently, the basis of playing it cool in dating—in which there’s an unspoken contest of sorts where whoever cares less wins—has a lot to do with human nature in general. “Part of it is about a primal desire that we have as humans for things that are valuable,” says therapist Daniel Olavarria, LCSW. “When someone plays it cool, the subtle message is that they are difficult to attain. If we’re relying on our most basic primal instincts, this will make them feel even more desirable.”

Furthermore, since it’s so easy to assume a potential love interest’s attitude applies to their entire disposition and life, being aggressively open and vulnerable off the bat isn’t the best look.  “When someone seems too available, it can give the impression that they don’t have much going on in their own life to contribute to the relationship,” Olvarria says. Plus, one person feeling like they are the center of a their love interest’s schedule can add a lot of pressure to a new relationship . “In short, having your own life is sexy,” he adds.

“Do your best to be authentic in expressing your interest, but try to avoid folding your whole life around a new person you’re looking to get to know.” —Daniel Olavarria, LCSW

The answer here isn’t to be fake, but rather to communicate your interest without seeming needy or tooavailable. “Do your best to be authentic in expressing your interest, but try to avoid folding your whole life around a new person you’re looking to get to know,” Olavarria advises. So if, for example, you have plans with friends and your new potential S.O. texts, don’t clear your schedule to hang. “Being too available in this way can send the message that you don’t have your own life, which makes things a lot less interesting for your date,” Olavarria says.

Share that you’re busy, but suggest a follow-up date to make clear that you’re still into them. By the time you actually get together, your date may be even more attracted to you and your full life.

 

The Rise of Women in Cannabis

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In what may seem like a male-dominated industry, the legal cannabis market has attracted many female entrepreneurs and participants who are making a big difference. Encouraged by states’ support for and focus on minority participation, women are taking advantage of opportunities in the developing and maturing legal cannabis space.

In fact, women hold nearly 27% of leadership roles in regulated cannabis compared to the 21% they hold in traditional businesses. Since women make about 80% of the health and wellness decision for traditional American households, women are well poised to create and sell cannabis products, especially those pertaining to luxury or skin-care such as topicals, lotions, candles, balms, and scents.

The high-growth cannabis industry is a rather level playing field providing equal opportunities for men and women, young and old. To that end, three like-minded women – Jane West, Jazmine Hupp, and Julie Batkiewicz – started a Women Grow, an organization designed to educate, connect, and inspire women in cannabis, in Denver, Colorado in 2014.

Since then, Women Grow has had over 50,000 women and some men attend their monthly Signature Networking Events and Leadership Summit across the country and in Canada. With a presence in dozens of cities and markets across the United States, Women Grow has helped and empowered hundreds of women to become CEOs, advocates, and successful business owners in the cannabis arena.

“Women Grow’s focus is the dissemination of information and support of women in cannabis through quality education and networking,” according Kay Garcia, CEO of Women Grow. Women Grow hosts networking events throughout the country for women interested in getting involved with cannabis.

“We try to make our events as inviting and comfortable as possible for new participants who are oftentimes unsure of what to expect, nervous, and do not know anyone in the room” says Garcia, who pointed out that the networking meetings almost always include ice breakers and an identification of who, in addition to the speakers and panelists, is in the room.

“We find that a lot of women come to our meetings with many misconceptions, myths, and misinformation about cannabis, starting a cannabis business, and the amount of capital needed to break into the space” commented Garcia.

“People get hung up on opening a dispensary or a grow operation,” says Garcia, “and do not realize the vast opportunities that exist in all various facets of the business from equipment sales to community relations to software development.”

Asked what the most sought after skills in the industry are, Garcia responded that “technical skills can be taught to anyone, but what the industry needs most are people with empathy and patience because businesses have to be patient focused in order to succeed.”

To find out more about upcoming Women Grow events and how to get involved go to https://womengrow.com/events/. Kay Garcia can be reached at support@womengrow.com.

COPYRIGHT © 2019, STARK & STARK

Vice: Young Farmers Are Cashing in on Hemp to Live Happier

In recent years, media attention has attributed the anxiety, depression, and suicide among farmers to factors beyond their control. Could growing cannabis for CBD turn the tide?

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