Is marijuana an effective cancer therapy?
“It is already widely understood that marijuana is valuable and safe as a palliative medicine, which undermines the tenets of the Schedule 1 status,” says Gerdeman. “But additionally, there are anecdotal patient reports, increasing numbers of legitimate clinical case studies, and large amounts of preclinical studies that all indicate tumor-fighting activities of cannabinoids, and with great mechanistic detail.” Gerdeman says he wants to know whether herbal marijuana is effective in cancer therapy, and if it is, for what cancer types.
What does it do to the brain?
Studies have shown small structural changes in the brains of people who use marijuana, and researchers say there is little doubt that using marijuana has effects on the brain. However, whether those changes are actually bad, remains unknown. “This is an important question with tremendous policy implications,” says Gerdeman. “While the media interpret such [changes] de facto as evidence of damage, they are within the range of normal human variation as far as we currently understand.”
What dosage or strains have the best use in medicine?
Researchers say they want to know more about how much marijuana is needed to treat a person’s disorder, and for how long. “Like all drugs, FDA-approved therapeutics or recreational, marijuana will have some unwanted side effects,” says Sinai’s Hurd. In addition, researchers are still looking into what strains are most beneficial and whether a person needs the whole plant, or just one compound.
Can marijuana help brain and cognitive problems?
Some researchers, like Gerdeman, want to study whether marijuana could stave off Alzheimer’s disease or even mitigate brain damage from stroke or concussions. One 2014 study suggested a compound in marijuana could slow the production of proteins that accumulate when a person has Alzheimer’s.
What about anxiety?
There’s some evidence suggesting marijuana could help people with anxiety, but the relationship is still not well understood. “Without the clinical trials it may be a long time before we know for sure,” says Patel.
Can pot help end the opioid epidemic?
As TIME has previously reported, several doctors are interested in the use of marijuana as an alternative or adjunct to opioids, since the U.S. is currently in the midst of an epidemic of painkiller addiction. “If you give [opioids] alongside cannabis, there is a synergistic effect which means you can give less of the opioid and or you can give the opioid for a shorter period,” says Dr. Lester Grinspoon is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. A 2016 study found doctors in a state where marijuana was legal prescribed an average of 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers per year.
Are there long term consequences of using pot?
Scientists also want to understand whether marijuana can cause any effects over the long term, since some people may use the plant medicinally for some time. “What are the effects on the developing brain?,” says Hurd. “This is a particularly important question for me since our preclinical studies suggested that prenatal and adolescent THC exposure can have long-term impact into adulthood long after the drug was administered.”
Cannabis Treatment Can Help With High Blood Pressure
Green Rush Daily - By. Casey Riley - 08/10/16
There is evidence that cannabis use can help those who suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Hypertension is extremely common; according to the CDC,about one in three adults in the US has it. Given this prevalence, finding ways to manage high blood pressure can help millions of people around the world. Here, we’ll examine blood pressure, the problems with it getting too high, and how cannabis can help.
Blood Pressure Explained
You’ve probably had your blood pressure taken before, but were not quite sure what the reading you got means. The American Heart Association has a great article explaining how to understand your reading. You are given two numbers, the first of which is your systolic blood pressure. This number is always the higher of the two, and it indicates the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries between heart beats. A healthy blood pressure for an adult is about 120/80: much higher than that, and you’re considered hypertensive. Long term hypertension sufferers are at increased risk for a whole host of problems: heart disease, stroke, heart failure, vascular disease, and kidney disease.
Endocannabinoids and the Heart
The endocannabinoid system is a group of chemicals and their receptors naturally produced by the body to regulate many important functions. A study found that among these functions is the regulation of the cardiovascular system. Researchers found that some endocannabinoids help the heart by normalizing blood pressure and reducing hypertension. Given that this is the very system that cannabis acts on in the brain, it makes sense that the plant can be used in a similar fashion to modulate the heart.
Cannabis Reduces Hypertension
In a study done on hypertensive rats, researchers injected them with THC (the principal active ingredient of cannabis) and recorded its effects on their blood pressure. What they found was that immediately after injection, their blood pressure dropped significantly. Even days after the injection, the rats injected with THC still had significantly lower blood pressure than those not dosed! A similar study injected cats with THC and had the same findings: the THC decreased their blood pressure. Given that these cats did not have hypertension, unlike the rats, it seems that THC can lower blood pressure regardless of a pre-existing condition.
Another study measured vitals of subjects both before and after smoking marijuana. The researchers found that there was a decrease, though small, in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the patients after smoking; greater than the group who smoked a placebo cigarette. However, the marijuana used in this study was, at strongest, only 3% THC. Given that the cannabis of today is often above 20% THC, the small decrease in blood pressure found in the study could rise substantially with the stronger marijuana we have available today.
In 2012, a team of researchers looked at the withdrawal effects of cannabis on heavy users. They found that abruptly stopping the use of cannabis significantly increased both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the subjects in the study. More notably, these withdrawal effects were reversed when the abstinence period was ended, and the subjects were again allowed to use cannabis. In this study, cannabis use was shown to correlate with lower blood pressure.
The evidence shows that cannabis and its components can reduce hypertension and, as a result, decrease the risk of many serious diseases. Considering how common high blood pressure is for Americans, turning a blind eye to the cannabis plant is just plain old fashioned ignorance.
First Florida marijuana dispensary opens in Tallahassee Tuesday
Tallahassee Democrat-Ryan Dailey-07/21/16
Florida’s first marijuana dispensary will open Tuesday at 800 Capital Circle SE, Tallahassee.
Licensed cannabis grower and distributor Trulieve won the race among the state’s six medical cannabis licensees to open the state’s first retail location. It will sell its proprietary high-CBD, low-THC strain of marijuana named Vita Jay, and has plans for a stronger strain on the horizon.
To do so, according to Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, the company had to complete a rigorous 2,000-page application that was “very technical,” and pass the consequent inspections from the Department of Health.
“At the end of the day, we are responsible for the plant, what comes out of the ground, and responsible for processing. It is highly regulated, of course, but also a very serious medicine,” Rivers said.
Trulieve is involved in every step the cultivation and sale, with its processing plant Hackney Nurseries located in Quincy.
“We, of course, hope and anticipate a warm welcome from our Tallahassee friends, neighbors and community,” Rivers said. “We’re local, and that’s why it was really important for us to open our first dispensary here.”
Rivers said that she and the company hope the public will see the medicinal value that Trulieve’s product can bring to those with health needs.
“I think once people realize that it really is medicine, that it’s not in any way recreational, they will see why people need it,” she said.
Under Florida’s Right to Try law, which gives patients with diagnosed terminal illness the right to try certain approved “experimental” drugs or ones not found in a pharmacy, Trulieve will have a higher-THC strain available mid-August.
In order to obtain the more potent strand, patients must be declared terminally ill by two physicians.
Customers will not be able to make marijuana purchases with plastic at the store, however, as state law allows only cash transactions at dispensaries.
The company has locations listed on its website as “coming soon” to Pensacola, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton.
Trulieve will host a press conference at the Capital Circle location at 2 p.m. Tuesday.