Posts Tagged ‘marijuana research’

Genetic Code of Cannabis Reported Unlocked

(CBS News)  A small Massachusetts-based company says it has successfully sequenced a marijuana plant, paving the way for more research into the therapeutic effects of Cannabis – including its potential for treating cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Medicinal Genomics published the raw sequence strings at midnight. The company’s findings have not yet undergone peer review. Medicinal Genomics put the data up on Amazon.com’s EC2 cloud- computing system.The more than 131 billion bases of sequence, which is believed to constitute the largest known gene collection of the Cannabis genomes so far, will be made available to the scientific public sometime this fall.
The breakthrough also raises the possibility that researchers will eventually be able to weed out – no pun intended – the psychoactive effects pot smoking has on people while enhancing the medicinal aspects of Cannabis.
It’s only happenstance but Medicinal Genomics is headquartered both in Marblehead, Mass. and Amsterdam, where the company’s research facilities are found.
“This is the beginning of a more scientific approach to the genetics of the species,” Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Bloomberg. “This is not really about marijuana; it’s about pharmacology.”

Four More Bullsh*t Marijuana Myths Busted Using the Fed’s Own Numbers

marijuana, facts, NORML, prohibition, states, report,

My apologies for getting this little nugget out to you guys late but you know how it is when you’re trying to pay attention and…well, you know how it is. Nevertheless, guess what I’ve got!?!

The Federal government’s annual report highlighting substance abuse. Now that may not sound interesting when I put it like that but if you look through the 300+ pages like Paul Armentano of NORML did right here. You’ll find even more myth busting information by comparing the data but in the meantime, here’s the breakdown.

Four More Bullsh*t  Mary Jane Myths BUSTED!!!

  • Myth: Marijuana use is prevalent in low income and urban areas thereby justifying the “War on Drug” and aggressive treatment and surveillance of poorer (read: Black and Latino) neighborhoods.

…..combating numerous drug warrior myths and stereotypes (such as the notion that high rates of illicit drug use — yes, the New England states lead in this broader category too — are typically relegated to poorer, urban, more racially diverse areas).

  • Myth: Marijuana use is neither determined nor undermined by state drug laws. People use marijuana if and when they choose to and not because states make marijuana possession laws harder.

…..it should be noted that despite the prevalence of medical marijuana states in these rankings, the authors of the report acknowledge that there is no evidence that the implementation of medi-pot laws is increasing the use of cannabis or other illicit drugs.

  • Myth: Establishing medical marijuana laws do not directly affect an increase in casual marijuana use.

They also call into question the notion that marijuana use among the general population is in any way influenced by the legal status of marijuana.

  • Myth: The Northeast loves them some Mary Jane. Nearly every state in the region made it’s way into the top spots for marijuana use.

The totals in the category ‘marijuana use in the past year among persons age 18 to 25‘ is even more New England-centric, with every northeast state (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) all included in the top percentile (along with Alaska, Colorado, New York, and Oregon). In the category, ‘marijuana use in the past month among persons age 26 or older‘ Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont top the list (along with Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, and Oregon).

So, according this report by the United States government marijuana use is not the big bad monster that they make it out to be. With social concerns and morals aside, I wonder if a level-headed person would read this and ask themselves what the implication of this data means.

At the very least, our government has inflated the seriousness of marijuana’s affects on society. The decision to do so may have caused a  focus of limited state resources on treating a problem that may not have been a priority compared to other social issues.

At the very worst, this data shows a how an entire class of people (poor/brown) have been manufactured into a criminal class justifying the pursuit, expense and time required by the state to prosecute them when their marijuana use maybe less prevalent than in other (upper-class/white) areas. So if the real intent of the state is to pursue those that use illicit drugs the their polices effort to lock up offenders would correlate with drug use. This one theory begs the question of the states willingness to exploit their own criminal justice system to violate the rights of citizens to fund private industries that benefit from such discretion, specifically, the courts, the prisons and the legal industry.

Don’t be intimidated by false marijuana myths, educate yourself and stop the stupid with real data made by the same people that we’re fighting. Shout out to Norml for doing the hard part, now all you have to do is repeat it. Almost like cheating on a test but not. Until next time, people

http://www.hailmaryjane.com

Using Marijuana To Treat Pain

Medical Uses of Cannabis: Pain

By Alan Shackelford, M.D.

pain and spasms cannabisAccording to a paper published in the Journal of Opioid Management in 2009, more than 15,000 peer-reviewed scientific and medical studies of cannabis were published world-wide between 1960 and mid-2008. A number of those studies showed that cannabis can be an effective treatment for a variety of different medical conditions such as glaucoma, muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, neuropathic and other kinds of pain, nausea, weight loss in wasting syndrome and several psychological conditions including PTSD and Tourette syndrome. Others showed that compounds found in cannabis may prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV-related dementia, and may limit neurological damage in strokes and trauma. This month, we will look at some of the evidence supporting the use of cannabis to treat pain.

Recent studies (the earliest documented use of cannabis as an analgesic was in China some 2,800 years BCE ) have demonstrated the efficacy of cannabis in alleviating acute pain resulting from chemical exposure, mechanical injury such as surgery, and burns. Other studies have shown that cannabinoids are very effective treatments for chronic neuropathic pain and pain caused by inflammation such as those associated with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Cannabis has also been found to be an effective treatment for migraine headaches and to enhance the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and opiate pain medications.

In addition to its remarkable effectiveness in relieving a variety of different kinds of pain, two other factors make cannabis a particularly good treatment option: its incredible safety and low toxicity. There has never been a verified report of a death due to a cannabis overdose in its more than 4,000 years of use as a medicine. The same cannot be said of narcotic pain medicines, nor can it be said of prescription and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Deaths from opiate overdoses rose nearly 97 percent between 1997 and 2002, to more than 12,000 a year in American metropolitan areas. Today, some nine years later, narcotic overdoses are the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States, just behind traffic accidents, according to the CDC. Furthermore, in the late 1990s a conservatively estimated 16,500 patients with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis were thought to have died each year from the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, according to the June, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine. That number has continued to rise each year since then. Given these kinds of statistics, maybe cannabis deserves more than a just a fleeting glance as a treatment option for pain.

Please join us again next month as we continue to explore the use of cannabis as a treatment for a variety of different medical conditions.

Courtesy of Culture Magazine

Alan Shackelford, M.D., graduated from the University of Heidelberg School of Medicine and trained at major teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School in internal medicine, nutritional medicine and hyperalimentation and behavioral medicine. He is principle physician for Intermedical Consulting, LLC and Amarimed of Colorado, LLC and can be contacted at Amarimed.com.

Here’s Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense

Guest editorial: Here’s why legalizing marijuana makes sense
By Alex Newhouse

For the Yakima Herald-Republic

The call to legalize cannabis continues to grow louder despite all of the other problems our country is currently facing. Mainstream polls indicate almost 50 percent of Americans favor full-out legalization, and nearly 80 percent believe that marijuana should be available for medicinal purposes.

No one has ever died from simply using marijuana. In 1972, then-President Richard Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission to study the nation’s rising drug problem. It reported the following: “Neither the marihuana [sic] user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety.” The commission’s findings have withstood the test of time.

The more we learn about marijuana, the more benign it becomes. Marijuana does not cause cancer. Sound scientific studies, such as those done by UCLA’s Dr. Donald Tashkin, have clearly demonstrated this. We also know that marijuana is legitimate medicine. If marijuana has no medicinal benefit, why are so many terminally ill patients turning to it to improve their quality of life? Why, after countless legislative hearings and initiatives, have 16 states and our nation’s capital legalized marijuana for medicinal use? And why does an expensive prescription drug called Marinol, which is a synthetic form of the active ingredient in marijuana, exist? Even the federal government owns a patent for the medicinal use of marijuana. (The patent number is 6630507.)

Marijuana is medicine to many people. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s own administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, held that “marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.” Studies done by the California Center for Medical Cannabis Research and the recent breakthroughs highlighting the antibacterial properties of cannabis extracts also clearly demonstrate marijuana’s potential as a natural and inexpensive medicine.

Unlike most medicines, it is quite safe for marijuana to be used recreationally by responsible and healthy adults. According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, over 100 million Americans have tried or use marijuana. If this market were taxed and regulated, crime rates would go down and agriculturally based communities would profit. We easily forget how much disrespect for the law vanished when alcohol prohibition was repealed, or that well over 30,000 Mexican citizens have died since 2006 as a direct result of a drug war fueled in large part by demand for marijuana, or that the U.S. has spent approximately a trillion dollars and 100,000 lives on a drug war that could be reined in considerably with marijuana legalization.

Regulating marijuana would also protect our children. It is easier for kids today to get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol or tobacco, which is a fact supported by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Drug dealers simply do not ask for ID. Regulation would also lessen the burden on the criminal justice system, making it easier to keep violent criminals behind bars. Washington currently has mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more people are being court-ordered into treatment for marijuana than ever before under threat of incarceration. This is a huge waste of resources.

The legalization movement is not about persuading people to use marijuana, but for giving the sick and responsible the liberty to consume a relatively benign product. Proposed policies within the spirit of the movement are worthy of our consideration.

 

* Alex Newhouse is a lawyer who lives in the Sunnyside area.

Cannabis for the Cure?

Public-health researchers say the federal government is slowing the search for cures to breast, colon, prostate and brain cancers, as well as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and HIV, because the research involves cannabis.

That’s the takeaway from the 21st annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, which was held earlier this month in Illinois. Researchers stacked the program with talks not only about cannabis’s palliative properties but also its curative efficacy. The event, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was held the same week the Drug Enforcement Administration reiterated its stance that marijuana has no accepted medical use.

“It was really interesting,” said Amanda Reiman, who holds a doctorate from the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare and presented at the symposium. “At the same time [that] the DEA was publicly declaring that cannabis has no medical value, I was surrounded by the most brilliant minds in the world talking about nothing but the medical value of cannabinoids.”

She said the frustration “was something you could feel in the air.”

Reiman researches medical-cannabis dispensaries as community-health providers and considers the use of cannabis a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. It’s a topic of key interest to both the International Cannabinoid Research Society and the National Institute on Drug Abuse because—unlike almost every other drug—the NIDA can completely restrict researchers’ access to cannabis, citing the plant’s danger to society.

That means safe, effective treatments that stem from pot are being held up. Take the case of Sativex, the marijuana-based mouth spray made by GW Pharmaceuticals in Europe that helps patients with multiple sclerosis and is very safe. Sufferers won’t see it in the United States any time soon, because it contains cannabinoids.

According to the abstracts of the ICRS symposium, researchers have found that the molecules in pot can reverse cancer growth. “Mechanisms of the Anti-cancer Effects of Cannabidiol and Other Non-psychotropic Cannabinoids on Human Prostate Carcinoma” reads one abstract title. There are at least a seven such papers this year.

The molecule in pot called cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to reduce anxiety and halt the progression of HIV in monkeys, as well as treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to ICRS research. Cannabinoid researchers are investigating using pot molecules to treat head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

But these researchers aren’t allowed to progress past animal studies and cannot get their hands on the plant, Reiman said. And it’s driving them crazy.

Since the conference was sponsored by the drug warriors at NIDA, “There was a lot of push-back from researchers in terms of restricting access to these cannabinoids, especially CBD, which is not psychoactive,” said Reiman. “There’s opportunities to cure diseases like cancer, but also neurodegenerative diseases and HIV.”

However, “A lot of NIDA’s mission is to discover the harms associated with drugs of abuse [though not alcohol] and to prevent people from using drugs and to help people who are using them to stop them.

“Nowhere in that mission is it to discover potentially therapeutic benefits for illicit drugs, and that’s why cannabis research falls into the crack,” she said.

It’s unfortunate, because pot may birth the all-star “smart drugs” of the 21st century. The molecules in marijuana stimulate a sort of intracellular Internet called the “endocannabinoid system.” Discovered in the ’90s, the endocannabinoid system runs throughout the bodies of mammals, with a large amount of receptors in the nervous system in the head and gut.

Scientists think pot molecules such as CBD can help facilitate cellular communication, assisting cells in sending signals like “Turn off the inflammation” and “My neighbor is a tumor, kill him!”

“Cannabis seeks out disregulation, like the growth of a tumor, and addresses that problem without interrupting the rest of the body,” Reiman said.

While the federal government still schedules cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic, some 1 million U.S. medical-marijuana patients have embraced the so-called vigilante medicine, as it were. And they’re not turning back, no matter what the federal government does.

“They can’t put the whole plant medical-cannabis genie back in the bottle,” Reiman said. “They just have to recognize that it’s there.”

Marijuana Growers’ Kids In Better Health According To Canadian Study

Canada grow roomBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

A new study from Canada flies in the face of stereotypes regarding the offspring of marijuana-growing parents. Children from homes where cannabis is grown were healthy and drug-free, according to the study — in fact, healthier than other children — leading to questions about why such kids are often removed from their homes.

The research from the Motherisk Program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children indicates the automatic removal of kids from marijuana-growing parents can be worse for the children than allowing them to stay at home, according to Gideon Koren, a University of Toronto professor and the program’s director, reports CBC News.

“After examining 75 of the kids over several years, we came to very clear conclusions that a vast majority of these kids are doing well,” Koren said. “Well fed, well kept, doing well in school and developing well.”

“In fact, the health problems found in this population were actually fewer than those in the general Canadian population,” according to a news release from the Hospital for Sick Children.

Children often enjoyed the lifestyle benefits of having high-income parents — even though that income is made illegally — and taking them away often “does a lot of damage,” Koren said.

“Taking a small child from his or her parents in a well-adapted environment causes fear, anxiety, confusion and sadness — everything that comes from separation,” he said.

When children are found in homes identified as marijuana-growing operations, they are usually removed, separating them from their parents and often placing them into foster care.

The Hospital for Sick Children examined 75 kids between 2006 and 2010 from Ontario’s York Region, just north of Toronto.

canada marijuanaSince 2006, child-welfare workers have learned more about the effects marijuana grow-ops have on children and have changed how they maintain the children’s safety, according to Patrick Lake, executive director of the York Region Children’s Aid Society.

“We have developed a more customize and comprehensive process to determine best response, on a case-by-case basis, while looking for ways to safely maintain children with their parents or relatives,” Lake said.

This was the first study done on the topic, and the findings mean authorities will now see these children differently, according to Koren.

“When police and children’s aid go into that situation, they have to look much more carefully on what happened to that child, and now blanket-wise moving kids out of their homes,” he said.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

Marijuana Users Ain’t “Stupid Stoners”

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By NORML on Jul 27, 2011

The consumption of cannabis, even long-term, poses few adverse effects on cognitive performance, according to clinical trial data to be published in the scientific journal Addiction.

Investigators at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, Center for Mental Health Research assessed the impact of cannabis use on various measures of memory and intelligence in over 2,000 self-identified marijuana consumers and non-users over an eight-year period.

Among cannabis consumers, subjects were grouped into the following categories: ‘heavy’ (once a week or more) users, ‘light’ users, ‘former heavy’ users, ‘former light’ users, and ‘always former’ — a category that consisted of respondents who had ceased using marijuana prior to their entry into the study.

Researchers reported: “Only with respect to the immediate recall measure was there evidence of an improved performance associated with sustained abstinence from cannabis, with outcomes similar to those who had never used cannabis at the end point. On the remaining cognitive measures, after controlling for education and other characteristics, there were no significant differences associated with cannabis consumption.”

They concluded, “Therefore, the adverse impacts of cannabis use on cognitive functions either appear to be related to pre-existing factors or are reversible in this community cohort even after potentially extended periods of use.”

Separate studies have previously reported that long-term marijuana use is not associated with residual deficits in neurocognitive function. Specifically, a 2001 study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that chronic cannabis consumers who abstained from the drug for one week “showed virtually no significant differences from control subjects (those who had smoked marijuana less than 50 times in their lives) on a battery of 10 neuropsychological tests. … Former heavy users, who had consumed little or no cannabis in the three months before testing, [also] showed no significant differences from control subjects on any of these tests on any of the testing days.”

Additionally, studies have also implied that cannabis may be neuroprotective against alcohol-induced cognitive deficits. A 2009 study by investigators at the University of California and San Diego reported that binge drinkers who also used cannabis experienced significantly less white matter damage to the brain as compared to subjects who consumed alcohol alone.

For more information regarding the impact of cannabis on brain function, see NORML’s factsheet ‘Cannabis and the Brain: A User’s Guide,’ here.\

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

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