More quick hits
Throughout history, cannabis has been described as a treatment for hundreds of different conditions. If scientists find it hard to believe cannabis can do so much, they may chalk up the results as just a placebo. But the placebo effect is powerful. It accounts for roughly half of the efficacy of opioids and antidepressants.
A major benefit of legalization is regulation (at least in theory). Cannabis in a legal market can be held to safety standards such as the absence of dangerous pesticides. While autonomous community-enforced regulation can exist without government intervention, this does not happen at the global scale which the cannabis industry has reached today. So how well are governments doing with their pesticides regulations?
A pilot study recently demonstrated that cannabis extracts can be safely used to ameliorate symptoms of severe dementia. Swiss researchers at Geneva University Hospitals decided to use cannabinoids to help ten patients with severe dementia. They took a 2:1
There are curious cases of people who feel no pain or have extreme resistance to discomfort. These individuals are often studied by researchers who hope to develop better methods of pain management. One such woman was discovered after she recovered from a highly painful wrist surgery using Tylenol alone. As researchers at the University College of London found out, she had a history of this sort of endurance, and it appeared to have been passed on to her son. With her consent, they ran genetic tests, identifying two mutation in genes related to FAAH.
As CBD and recreational cannabis have gained considerable momentum, important aspects of medical marijuana are falling by the wayside. The magnified focus on economic incentives and tax revenue has overshadowed the significance of cannabis as medicine.
In 2017, Michigan’s government founded a commission to recommend policy on cannabis and driving, specifically how to set THC limits. Two years later, in March 2019, they released their conclusion:
[T]he Commission finds there is no scientifically supported threshold of ∆9-THC bodily content that would be indicative of impaired driving (emphasis added).
Cannabinoids play a diverse role in addiction. They confer some of the euphoric feelings of many drugs, but also help eliminate memories that trigger cravings. The also regulate dopamine in a part of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Normally, dopamine release in the VTA helps orient animals, including humans, to new kinds of stimuli.
“What about the children?” is a mantra that has been used to propel prohibition with misplaced fear. Scientists and politicians increasingly warn about the dangers of using cannabis during pregnancy. There’s only one issue: data doesn’t back them up. But a lack of evidence has never stopped the tides of prohibition.
There is little evidence to show a directly harmful effect of cannabis in pregnancy. However, cannabinoids consistently amplify the toxic effects of nicotine and alcohol on the fetus. Preclinical research suggests one possible reason: activating the CB2
Heavy or even moderate drinking causes maladaptions in humans, ranging from cardiovascular disease to cirrhosis. Underlying many of these ill effects is alcohol’s ability to amplify inflammation. But the immune system is immensely complex, and “inflammation” is a catch-all term that accounts for most degenerative and age-related disease, so it is important to distinguish the specific molecules promoting inflammation. Interleukins are a class of proteins that orchestrate the movement of immune cells – most, but not all, increase inflammation.
A new study from researchers at Yale University suggests that an antipsychotic called haloperidol decreases the psychoactive effects of THC. Reading between the lines in research, it’s always important to check the dose administered. These scientists gave participants an i.v. injection of THC (0.0286 mg THC per kg bodyweight, to be exact). For an average adult in the U.S. that means injecting about 2 mg of THC.
One of the many political hurdles that cannabis researchers face is the supply chain – for decades the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has been the sole producer of «research grade» cannabis. Most cannabis supplied by the U.S. government has less than 10% THC and it may have been stored for more than a yearr – which makes it very different from what is sold in most dispensaries.
A new study suggests that marijuana use among working 12th graders has increased since legalization in Colorado, and therefore interventions to reduce youth use are necessary. But working 12th graders were the only subgroup whose cannabis use increased since legalization. Everyone else — working 8th and 10th graders and all unemployed survey participants — used cannabis at a lower rate.
The gateway theory of addiction is a slippery slope fallacy. It argues that when people are introduced to mild drugs like cannabis, they later escalate to dangerous drugs like amphetamines and opioids. In the era of reefer madness, this was an excuse to demonize cannabis by associating it with lethal drugs. Although the theory is wrong, there are a few real aspects of addiction it captures.