CANNABIS CAN TREAT YOUR INSOMNIA
By: Ab Hanna 7/26/16
Cannabis has been used to battle insomnia since ancient times. Surviving texts from ancient India claimed knowledge of cannabis’ psychoactive properties and their ability to treat a variety of illnesses including insomnia. Modern research may point to cannabis as an alternative to many of the more addictive sleeping aids on the market.
A small study published in 1973 found that THC reduced the time it took for subjects to fall asleep by over an hour on average. Another more recent study published in 2013 also found THC effective as a sleep aid. Thus far, research on marijuana in the United States has been reserved for severe and chronic conditions with little focus on marijuana’s ability to combat insomnia.
Allowing Cannabis to Age May Enhance Sleepy Symptoms
This is because over time the THC in poorly stored cannabis can convert to THCa or Cannabinol (CBN). CBN is considered a degradation of THC. CBN is also the cannabinoid most responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis. Cannabinoids which are found in marijuana copy the role of the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids work with cannabinoid receptors to help restore the body to homeostasis. So insomnia may indicate a lack of endocannabinoids to attach to the cannabinoid receptors that make us tired. Ingesting CBD would then take the place of the missing endocannabinoids and restore the body’s ability to feel sleepy.According to one study, the endocannabinoid system is nothing less than a naturally evolved harm reduction system. Sleep deprivation has been linked with higher risk of chronic health problems including heart disease and stroke. So the sleepiness you feel when getting high may be your endocannabinoid system coming to save the day.
What Strains are Best for Insomnia?
The two main cannabis families are indica and sativa. The short explanation people usually give for the two is that sativa provides the “head high” and indica provides the “body high.” Sativa strains are high in THC and lower in CBN/CBD. Indica strains are usually lower in THC and higher in CBD/CBN, which is why doctors recommend indica for night time use.
Marijuana strains high in CBN are typically prescribed to medical marijuana patients suffering from insomnia. Indica strains are known to provide sedation, pain relief, and relaxation which all halt all the tossing and turning insomniacs experience.
With a strong enough indica some users report having a very hard time staying awake even during the day so don’t hit the indica too hard if you plan to be on your feet for the rest of the day.
To start treating your insomnia with marijuana, it’ll help to be in a state that allows medical or recreational marijuana so you can get professional help finding the right strain to help you hit the sack. Ask your local budtender for strains that have tested high in CBN and if you don’t have the luxury of test results try to stick with indica or indica dominant hybrid strains when attempting to treat your insomnia.
Marijuana lobby finds welcome vibe at the Democratic National Convention
USA Today-Fredreka Shouten-7/26/16
PHILADELPHIA — Marijuana has gone mainstream at the Democratic National Convention this week.
Democratic officials, including Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer and his state’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, mingled with pot industry executives Monday night at a reception at a sleek bar downtown, miles away from the convention hall. A day earlier, the Marijuana Policy Project staged a fundraiser to support its work to push new laws around the country legalizing the use of marijuana. And inside the hall Monday, convention delegates endorsed a platform that calls for a “reasoned pathway” for the drug’s legalization.
“This is a very legitimate and very big industry,” said Michael Bronstein, co-founder of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, which represents about 20 of the marijuana sector’s biggest players and co-sponsored a crowded weeknight party at bop, a Korean-styled bar and restaurant.
“A necessary extension of a legitimate cannabis industry is for the industry to become politically involved,” he said, explaining the group’s presence in Philadelphia.
The rapidly expanding market for legal marijuana is expected to hit $6.7 billion in sales this year, up from $5.4 billion in 2015, according to industry-affiliated ArcView Market Research.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes now is legal in 25 states, and it can be sold for recreational purposes in four more: Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. In the nation’s capital, it’s also legal to possess and cultivate cannabis but retail sales are banned.
“Marijuana legalization ranks with marriage equality as the two social issues that have evolved the most rapidly in public opinion,” said Ethan Nadelman, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a co-sponsor of the reception and big force behind legalization efforts.
The legal cannabis industry could be poised for a major expansion this year.
Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada will decide ballot initiatives in November that would allow adults to use cannabis in those states and a push is under way for more ballot measures in several other states this year. In addition, medical marijuana measures have qualified for the ballot in Arkansas and Florida.
“The industry has arrived at a national moment,” Bronstein said. “If California passes it, it changes the nature of this business overnight.”
Nearly 39 million people live in California. “After this election, one out of every three Americans could live in a state where adult use will be legal,” he said.
The Democratic platform calls for the federal government to downgrade marijuana in the federal Controlled Substances Act, given the patchwork of state laws that conflict with the federal statute. It also says states “should be laboratories of democracy” on marijuana and free to decriminalize its use.
Blumenauer, a longtime legalization advocate, called the platform “encouraging” and said 2016 “could be the year when we finally crest.”
“The failed policy of prohibition is wrong on so many levels,” he said, ticking off the benefits of cannabis over opioids for pain management and the potential economic value of industrial hemp.
“The unequal application of marijuana laws come down so heavily on young men of color, especially African Americans,” the bow-tied Blumenauer said, as black-clad servers carved a path among the party-goers, bearing trays of mini-burgers and cheesesteak egg rolls.
Tall glasses of beer and chilled white wine, however, were the only intoxicants on hand. It’s illegal to sell weed in the state, and the event was “not about people getting together to smoke marijuana,” Bronstein said.
“This is not a protest,” he said. “These are people getting together to talk about the business of their business.”
To that end, revelers discussed the clinical trials mandated by Pennsylvania’s recently passed medical-marijuana law and the importance of humidity control in cannabis storage and sales. For instance, Minnesota-based Boveda, long a player in the cigar humidor industry, is adding value to pot sellers because “in a world where product is vended exclusively on weight, we eliminate the loss of money due to evaporation,” saidCharles Rutherford, the company’s business developer director.
The marijuana theme is sprinkled throughout the four-day gathering in Philadelphia.
The Marijuana Policy Project is among the groups granted space to display its pro-weed literature at a downtown convention center where delegates are holding caucus meetings. “This is the most formal presence we’ve had at a Democratic convention,” said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel in the group’s state policies department.
On Thursday, the convention’s closing day, a band of activists is slated to stage a “Cannabis Pride Parade” and tote a 51-foot-long, inflatable joint through the city.
And a post-convention “unity” bash sponsored by three Democratic super PACs will feature rapper Snoop Dogg — a brief detour from his High Road tour, sponsored by Merry Jane, his weed-centric lifestyle website. Just last year, the rap mogul launched his own cannabis line, Leafs by Snoop.
Medical marijuana has potential as Alzheimer's treatment, study says
(CNN)Could medical marijuana treat Alzheimer's patients? One recent study found THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, stimulates the removal of toxic plaque in the brain, a common feature of the disease. Furthermore, the researchers discovered it blocks inflammation, which damages neurons in the brain.
"It is reasonable to conclude that there is a therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," wrote David Schubert, senior researcher and a professor at Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association, refers to marijuana as a "legitimate avenue of research." The association funded some of Schubert's early research and Fargo sees therapeutic potential in components (or chemical derivatives) of cannabis to alleviate brain inflammation.
Not everyone is as optimistic as Fargo.
While Schubert's study may be "interesting," the results are not yet ready for prime time -- treating actual patients, said Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Maust, who is not affiliated with the study, examined dementia as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in his own separate study.
"It is difficult to say what, if any, effect this might have in humans, even if it would successfully promote clearance of [plaque]," said Maust.
Meanwhile, Dr. David Casarett, chief of palliative care services at Duke University, remains open to the possibility that medical marijuana is beneficial.
"I spoke to many family members of people with mild or moderate dementia who believed that THC or whole-plant marijuana was effective in alleviating the confusion and agitation that sometimes occurs," said Casarett, author of the book "Stoned."
This idea is supported by a 2014 review of the existing research on marijuana; Dutch scientists found two studies showing THC is useful in treating the behavioral symptoms of dementia. Similarly, a very small 2016 study of 11 participants found THC helped decrease symptoms of delusions, agitation or aggression, irritability, apathy and sleep in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
While easing the complaints of patients is helpful, scientists hope for something much more out of marijuana and all other avenues of research --- namely, a preventative treatment or even a cure for Alzheimer's.
Unfortunately, there are still no effective therapies for stopping Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative conditions.
The pros and cons of targeting plaque
One reason for the lack of treatments is these diseases cause very complex damage to the brain -- it's a thorny knot to untangle.
Schubert believes pharmacological scientists share in the blame as well. Contemporary researchers take a "reductionist" approach, according to Schubert. They focus on very small drug targets, such as a single protein found in neurons in the brain. The research is too narrowly focused, said Schubert.
Another reason experimental drugs for Alzheimer's have failed is they've all been targeting the toxic amyloid plaque that clogs the brain and kills brain cells, noted Schubert. "The hooker in this whole thing is you can have individuals loaded with plaques that are cognitively normal," he said. "And you can have the opposite -- no plaques but dementia."
A long and winding road
Schubert's current study of THC got started about 10 years with a drug candidate he derived from curcumin, the main ingredient of the Indian curry spice turmeric.
"The Indian population doesn't get much Alzheimer's," noted Schubert. The existing molecular structure of curcumin was "lousy," so he and his colleagues refined and strengthened it, creating a drug they refer to as "J147."
To raise money from funders, though, he had to explain exactly what made J147 effective. Conducting more experiments with the drug, he and his colleagues discovered it worked through a pathway of cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid system, which was named after the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, helps diverse cells communicate and coordinate.
"And that's what got us into this marijuana thing," said Schubert, explaining that once they knew the drug had a cannabinoid-like effect, they went to the source, marijuana, to see if its own cannabinoid, THC, did the same thing as J147.
Sure enough, THC activated cannabinoid receptors and, in turn, this prevented accumulation of plaque and the death of nerve cells and stopped brain inflammation. Lab data supports this, noted Casarett: Other experiments have shown cannabinoids playing a role in reducing inflammation in the central nervous system.
Though Schubert would be interested in learning more about cannabinoids, regulations surrounding marijuana research make such a task daunting.
In fact, "relatively few" researchers are currently exploring medical marijuana, said Fargo, who explained there are just a small number of ongoing clinical trials and most of these consist of very few people -- less than a hundred.
"It's much harder than it should be to do research on medical marijuana and the cannabinoids it contains," said Casarett, who believes the single most important thing the government could do to improve medical marijuana research would be to reclassify marijuana as Schedule II or III.
"The bottom line is I'm absolutely convinced that medical marijuana has real medical use," said Schubert. Clearly, he's not alone.
Italy's Parliament Votes on Colorado-Style Marijuana Legalization
Westword-Kate McKee Simmons-7/25/16
The Italian Parliament is gathering today to discuss a proposal for marijuana legalization. If passed, the bill on the table — similar to the proposal Colorado voters passed in 2012 — would allow the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana. Italian citizens over the age of eighteen would be allowed to grow as many as five plants for personal use, have up to fifteen grams of marijuana in their homes and possess a maximum of five grams in public. It would also authorize "cannabis clubs," where up to fifty people could gather and smoke together.
Cannabis would be taxed at a rate of 5 percent; the government would issue licenses allowing the cultivation of marijuana with the intention for it to be sold for recreational purposes. The tax would be used to fund Italy's effort to crack down on illegal drug trafficking.
The proposal was organized by Senator Benedetto Della Vedova, MP for the People of Freedom Party, who brought together senators and representatives from different parties to write a draft that was signed last September by a third of Parliament, or 294 representatives.
Support ranged across the political spectrum, with signatories joining the effort from both the liberal and conservative parties.
"Prohibitionist policies have failed in their impossible aim to eliminate the use of drugs and have not reduced the illegal market for cannabis," Della Vedova says in a statement. "Instead, organized crime has controlled the whole chain: production, processing and sales. By legalizing cannabis, the State would cut off substantial income from organized crime and transfer the illegal profits to the State budget."
Italian citizens support legalization: A recent survey conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs showed that 83 percent of Italians believe the current prohibition laws are ineffective, with 60 percent agreeing that the Italian Parliament should consider policy alternatives. The survey also showed that more than 70 percent believed the country should implement a regulation model similar to the one we have in Colorado.
If Parliament passes the bill, Italy would be the first European country to legalize marijuana for non-medical use — but it would join a growing list of countries that have recently enacted new marijuana reform laws.
In addition to the 25 states that have legalized medical marijuana in the United States, Jamaica has decriminalized marijuana, and both Colombia and Puerto Rico have issued executive orders legalizing medical use. Chile allows people to grow marijuana for medical use. The issue of medical marijuana is currently under debate in Argentina and Canada.
A 51-foot joint and sweltering heat mark 2nd day of DNC protests
Penn Live-Penn Live Staff-7/25/16
Bernie Sanders supporters who marched across a bridge from New Jersey into Philadelphia in the sweltering heat have arrived in the City of Brotherly Love ahead of the Democratic convention.
About 100 marchers let out chants including "We are the 99 percent," "This is what democracy looks like" and "Black lives matter" as they made their way across the Ben Franklin Bridge.
They plan to meet up with a rally at Philadelphia's City Hall. The group will then march down Broad Street toward a park across the street from where the convention begins late Monday.
The heat wave hasn't keep protesters away from Monday's rallies, but Police Commissioner Richard Ross is urging marchers to be careful and not overestimate their abilities. Temperatures are in the high 90s but feel more like 105 degrees.
More than just weed at Providence cannabis fest
The Providence Journal-Karen Lee Ziner-7/23/16
PROVIDENCE — The Medical Cannabis Festival on Saturday featured soundtracks from Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead as people perused the merchandise. Hand-blown, $250 art-glass pipes, wooden "pot pockets," funky jewelry and a display poster for "Train Wreck Strain" of marijuana.
But beyond the paraphernalia and free prizes lay serious concerns — and information — about accessible, affordable medical marijuana for people in need. People with such qualifying conditions as cancer; HIV/AIDS; multiple sclerosis; hepatitis C; epilepsy; and — newly legislated in Rhode Island — post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sponsored by the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), Saturday's festival on Bell Street on the West Side marked the 10th anniversary of Rhode Island's medical marijuana (MMj) program.
"This year has been challenging," said RIPAC executive director Joanne Leppanen, referring to legislative battles at the State House. "It's always challenging. But this is about people's medical needs. Look at all the people who have been helped. It's time to reflect and see how far we've come."
At various booths, event-goers could learn growing advice from plant experts, meet with representatives of Rhode Island's three licensed compassion centers, learn how to connect with caregivers, and get information about Rhode Island's evolving medical marijuana law — enacted in 2006.
Derek Cloutier said marijuana helps alleviate the PTSD he suffers as a result of his tour of duty in Iraq. Cloutier's PTSD is easily triggered.
He sees a car in a breakdown lane and his mind leaps to hidden explosive devices. Certain smells, barking dogs can plunge him into a nightmare.
"Things that happened around certain traumatic events, whether it's sniper fire, machine guns, mortars ... If you're in a firefight, if something's happening around you and there are certain smells — it's going to be ingrained in your brain," Cloutier said.
Cannabis "takes away that 'crazy mind,'" and allows him to focus, and calm down. He has been able to come off all other medications, including anti-depressants, he said.
Magdalena Andreozzi, who is an MMj card holder, said she stopped in "to learn what's going on with medical marijuana and medicinal marijuana use in the state of Rhode Island. I'm here to educate myself and listen to other people about what's happening, and where we're headed."
But it wasn't all about public policy and legal issues. There were hot dogs on the grill, and chair massages on a blistering hot day. And buying opportunities.
Jonathan Foster's merchandise featured an array of colorful pipes, including glass lobster claw pipes from Maine and the "Mick Jagger" pipe — lips with a tongue sticking out.
And "PAX", a $279 vape pipe that comes in a white box reminiscent of Apple products.
Foster noted, "It's the IPhone of vaporizers."
This year, 2016, is shaping up to be a milestone for the cannabis industry, with its legal branches (both medical and recreational) continuing to show growing demand and increased revenues.
Just last year alone, market estimates for legal cannabis sales, including both medical and recreational (adult use only), were pegged at $4.4 billion. For 2016, estimates, according to the Ackrell Capital U.S. Canabis Investment Report 2016, show a 30 percent increase, to $5.7 billion, as the industry matures and new markets like Oregon open up.
Another growth indicator bears mentioning: With this year's election, we’ll see a number of prominent states, such as California and Nevada, voting for complete legalization, and other large states like Florida voting to enact medical laws.
Despite all this market potential, however, the cannabis industry is not without its difficulties, and fund-raising is one of them. Certainly, there has been a significant positive trend of more active investment in the space, but instances of traditional VC financing are still few and far between, albeit with some notable exceptions.
The limitations of traditional fund-raising
The biggest limitation to investment in cannabis has been its federal legal status. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies drugs into one of five different groups based on their potential for abuse; among those groups, "I" is classified as the most dangerous, and "V" is the least.
Currently, cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug, alongside some of the worst offenders, like heroin and LSD. This classification means that the federal government regards cannabis as an illegal substance. It also means that many limited partners of VC companies won't go near a cannabis investment.
Another limitation for VC entry is the complex patchwork of state laws, which might result in scaling difficulties. Varying state legislation makes it complex for companies to operate in more than one region, and the result is a reliance on brand-licensing agreements with local players; that makes quality control and consistency of the product difficult.
This fragmented legal framework impacts those companies in particular that work directly with cannabis -- less so ancillary services. Because traditional VCs often make big bets, hoping for big returns, the inability to scale directly and rapidly puts a damper on investment interest.
Exceptions to the rule
Even with these limitations, though, there have been some notable exceptions. There was, for instance, the investment Founders Fund made in Privateer Holdings, a cannabis private equity fund (disclaimer: Privateer Holdings acquired my own previous company, Leafly).
The Privateer Holdings investment brought with it a flurry of media attention and was one of the first, big VC-structured deals in cannabis. Other traditional VC firms that have invested in cannabis-related companies include Tao Capital out of San Francisco, DCM Ventures in Menlo Park and Dutchess Capital in Boston.
Alternative fund-raising methods
With traditional VC investments few and far between, a new opportunity has arisen for cannabis-dedicated funds to step in and support the industry. These include groups like MJIC, Anslinger, Poseidon Asset Management, Tuatara Capital and Tress Capital (disclaimer: Poseidon, Anslinger and Tress are investors in Headset).
These funds are laser-focused on building a portfolio dedicated to cannabis-based companies.
Other routes of financing which have worked in other tech verticals include accelerator and incubator programs. One newer entry is Gateway, based in Oakland, California which helps companies turn their initial ideas and products into something that’s ready for prime time, in exchange for a small percentage of equity.
In addition to these accelerator programs, there are specific groups such as ArcView, which have the capacity to get your company in front of a group of cannabis-friendly investors for demo days and pitch competitions.
Individual angel investors have also shown a real interest in and willingness to invest, as shown by recent investments in Meadow. Meadow is a platform for dispensaries to manage delivery operations; involved with the company are Y-Combinator partners Justin Kan and Alexis Ohanian and Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman.
Family-office investments are another channel for investing, as illustrated by events like the Cannabis Private Investment Summit, which discusses and showcases cannabis investment opportunities for high net worth investors and family offices.
Investing in cannabis has come a long way
Just a short number of years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find any investment outside of small family-office groups or the small angel investor willing to take big risks. That all changed once Washington and Colorado legalized and people saw a real way forward in the industry.
Today, in contrast, countless opportunities for investment capital exist, and with 2016 shaping up to be a pivotal year and more states looking at legalizing cannabis for medical and adult use, we’ll undoubtedly see even more capital entering the market.