Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the marijuana compound known for getting you high—is the most well-know cannabis constituent. In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has garnered attention for its non-intoxicating medicinal properties.
Now, the federal government is recruiting researchers to investigate how the dozens of other lesser-known cannabinoids and terpenes work and whether they can treat pain.
It’s going to be a weighty task for any interested parties. There are more than 110 known cannabinoids and 120 terpenes, very few of which have been extensively studied. The federal research project will cover all “minor cannabinoids,” which is defined as anything other than THC, according to a pair of funding notices published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health this week.
“The mechanisms and processes underlying potential contribution of minor cannabinoids and terpenes to pain relief and functional restoration in patients with different pain conditions may be very broad,” the notices state. “This initiative encourages interdisciplinary collaborations by experts from multiple fields—pharmacologists, chemists, physicists, physiologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, endocrinologists, immunologists, geneticists, behavioral scientists, clinicians, and others in relevant fields of inquiry.”
Numerous studies have established that ingredients in marijuana such as THC and CBD effectively treat various types of pain. There’s also some evidence that other cannabinoids and terpenes contribute to the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis, working synergistically to bolster the plant’s overall benefits—a phenomenon called the “entourage effect.”
But there’s still a lot of work to be done to fully understand the mechanisms through which each cannabinoid and terpene influences pain. If researchers can pinpoint which ingredients are best suited for pain relief, it could inform new therapies. For example, there’s evidence that certain cannabinoids can enhance the pain-relieving effects of opioids, the notice states, so discovering exactly which ones achieve that end can hypothetically help patients take lower doses of addictive painkillers.
“The development or identification of novel pain management strategies is a high priority and unmet need. Natural products have historically been a source of novel analgesic compounds developed into pharmaceuticals (e.g., willow bark to aspirin). A growing body of literature suggests that the cannabis plant may have analgesic properties; however, research into cannabis’s potential analgesic properties has been slow.”
In addition to CBD, the feds say they are particularly interested in research on the following compounds: cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), myrcene, ß-caryophyllene, limonene, a-terpineol, linalool, a-phellandrene, a-pinene, ß-pinene, terpinene and a-humulene.
The estimated deadline to submit an application for research funding is March 8, 2019.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
The Feds Want Researchers To Study ‘Minor’ Cannabinoids And Terpenes In Marijuana
The U.S. Senate has before it an amendment that would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to study the medical benefits of marijuana for military veterans.
Under the measure, introduced by Sen. John Tester (D-MT), VA would conduct research using whole plant marijuana as well as extracts, and the studies would examine “varying methods of cannabis delivery, including topical application, combustible and noncombustible inhalation, and ingestion.”
The proposal would require VA to issue a report to Congress within 180 days that includes a plan for implementation of research and to preserve all data collected from the studies.
Tester is seeking to attach the provision to a bill on the Senate floor this week that would fund several parts of the federal government, including the VA, for Fiscal Year 2019.
That large-scale legislation already includes language approved this month by the Senate Appropriations Committee to end the department’s ban on VA physicians recommending medical cannabis to veterans. The bill would also protect veterans who use marijuana in accordance with state laws from being denied their VA benefits because of such activity.
Many veterans use medical cannabis to treat PTSD, chronic pain and other war wounds related to their military service.
The new amendment’s language is similar to a standalone bill that Tester filed last month with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK). The two are members of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. House companion legislation is being sponsored by the top Democrat and Republican on that chamber’s Veterans’ Affairs panel.
The House bill became the first-ever standalone marijuana reform legislation to be approved by a congressional committee last month.
Last week, however, the House Appropriations Committee blocked a floor vote on a similar marijuana research amendment.
It is not clear if Tester’s filed amendment will receive a vote on the Senate floor. His office did not respond to a request for comment prior to this story’s publication.
See the full text of Tester’s marijuana research amendment below:
SA 2933. Mr. TESTER submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2910 proposed by Mr. Shelby to the bill H.R. 5895, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
At the end of title II of division C, add the following:
SEC. 2__. CONDUCT OF RESEARCH INTO EFFECTS OF CANNABIS ON HEALTH OUTCOMES OF CERTAIN VETERANS.
(a) Research Required.–In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under section 7303 of title 38, United States Code, the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis and methods of cannabis delivery described in subsection (c) on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.
(b) Data Preservation.–Research conducted pursuant to subsection (a) shall include a mechanism to ensure the preservation of all data, including all data sets, collected or used for purposes of the research required by subsection (a) in a manner that will facilitate further research.
(c) Forms of Cannabis and Methods of Delivery to Be Researched.–The forms of cannabis and methods of cannabis delivery described in this subsection are–
(1) varying forms of cannabis, including–
(A) full plants and extracts;
(B) at least three different strains of cannabis with significant variants in phenotypic traits and various ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in chemical composition; and
(C) other chemical analogs of tetrahydrocannabinol; and
(2) varying methods of cannabis delivery, including topical application, combustible and non-combustible inhalation, and ingestion.
(d) Implementation.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall–
(1) develop a plan to implement this section and submit such plan to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives; and
(2) issue any requests for proposals the Secretary determines appropriate for such implementation.
(e) Reports.–During the five-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit periodically, but not less frequently than annually, to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives reports on the implementation of this section.(f) Covered Veteran Defined.–In this section, the term “covered veteran” means a veteran who is enrolled in the patient enrollment system of the Department of Veterans Affairs under section 1705 of title 38, United States Code.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Senate Could Vote On Marijuana Research This Week
Over 60 million children in the United States are currently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, often simply referred to as ADHD or just ADD. This number has been skyrocketing in the last decade with an average classroom in America now holding 1-3 children with the disorder and a growing number of adults, now 11 percent of the country’s population, also exhibiting symptoms of ADHD.
Characterized by an inability to concentrate on and pay attention to even simple tasks without becoming quickly distracted as well as strong impulsive and hyperactive behavior, this modern day malady negatively affects everything from school performance to interpersonal behavior, as ADHD is linked to verbal hostility and angry outbursts as well.
While the debate still rages on about what exactly is causing this massive disruption in cognitive performance and social interaction in modern society – everything from video games to genetic malfunctions (ADHD can be inherited) have been shown to be factors – the disorder just keeps spreading faster every year. What is known is that those with the disorder have concrete physiological impairments including brain abnormalities that underlie their psychological symptoms, much like in other serious mental health epidemics including depression.
Because of this, and the fact that there is no other real treatment for ADHD other than chemical drugs with “scary” and “unsettling” side effects, savvy researchers have finally begun to study how cannabis, with its potent neuroprotective properties and success in treating other cognitive disorders (including depression), might be able to step in and provide some much needed relief.
In fact, the results of the first randomized controlled study on cannabis and ADHD was just published in May 2017, and the outcomes are quite promising. Researchers from King’s College of London gave an oral cannabis spray to half of a group of 30 volunteers with ADHD and a placebo to the other half and then gave them both standardized cognitive and emotional tests.
Amazingly, the researchers found that the group that been given the spray showed “a nominally significant improvement” in both hyperactivity/impulsivity and in important cognitive factors as well as “a trend towards improvement for inattention”. Because of this, the researchers concluded that “this study provides preliminary evidence supporting the self-medication theory of cannabis use in ADHD and the need for further studies of the endocannabinoid system in ADHD.”
As the researchers state, the new study was in part of course sparked by the fact that many people are already self-medicating ADHD with cannabis, and getting fantastic results. A 2008 case report from Heidelberg University in Germany for example documented a 28 year-old male ADHD patient who showed “improper behavior and appeared to be very maladjusted and inattentive while sober” but became “completely inconspicuous while having a very high blood plasma level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
Because ADHD shows no sign of slowing down and is linked to complex social and genetic factors it probably won’t go away until we completely restructure the world. In the meantime, it’s good to know that mama marijuana is always here to provide some relief to the mental suffering of children of all ages.
From infancy to the age of 25, the human brain goes through a dramatic growth process that solidifies the essence of a person: likes, dislikes, temperament, senses of touch and smell are all determined within the first five years of a human life. Within the teenage years, a person’s judgement begins to form that is independent of their intellect and academic abilities, and will be fully-formed around the age of 25. Therefore, any substance or environmental factor that could inhibit this development is discouraged by doctors.
While cannabis seems to have little effect on adult brains over 25, doctors are concerned by cannabis use among teenagers, and want to warn them on the dangers of using cannabis before the brain is ready. “You should know what you’re getting into. You should know what will happen,” said Jennifer Golick from Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services in Marin County, CA. “Be an informed consumer — you make the choice.” Golick sees about 180 children as patients who have cannabis dependency and understands drug abstinence education has little effect on the teenage population.
In terms of recreational substances, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy and methamphetamine are far more lethal than cannabis. In fact, lethal overdoses of cannabis are non-existent due to how cannabis is processed in the human body and the amount needed to trigger an overdose. But doctors want teenage patients to know that a non-lethal substance can still be harmful.
According to Sion Kim Harris, a researcher at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, teenagers involved in heavy cannabis consumption often have decreased neurocognitive function and brain development. This is due to THC’s effect on neurons in the hippocampus, decreasing their activity in a part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. If the hippocampus has prolonged exposure to THC during the developmental phase, it could lead to undersized development and therefore decreased function. Since a human brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25 or so, teenage brains are more easily-influenced by internal and external stressors, and are more adept at learning and adapting to new influences. If neurons in the hippocampus are less active over time, the brain naturally disables these neurons, which affects memory formation.
“That is one of the biggest issues for teens — the ‘opportunity cost,” Harris said. “Learning is the number one job for teens, and if they are having problems with learning, that will impact their ability to grow into adulthood.”
Research has also shown how THC affects the growth of brain matter, and how electrical pathways in the brain can be weaker. Myelin, the substance responsible for insulating neurons and other nerve cells, does not form as well in the presence of chronic THC consumption. “So the implication is your brain is slower.” said Harris.
“There’s a problem with cognitive processing. It’s not as sharp or as strong. It’s harder to maintain focus.”
There is also a connection between how early the brain is exposed to harmful substances and the severity of developmental damage. According to one report,
“The brain does not complete development until approximately age 25, and data from the field of alcohol use reflect that substance use exposure during this period when the brain undergoes rapid transformation could have a more lasting impact on cognitive performance.”
Researchers at the academy admit that there’s no clear connection between cannabis and academic performance, due to the infinite number of variables that affect cognitive brain development, they do suggest “this interference in cognitive function during the adolescent and emerging adult years, which overlap with the critical period in which many youth and young adults’ primary responsibility is to be receiving their education, could very well interfere with these individuals’ ability to optimally perform in school and other educational settings.”
But in teenager’s whose family has a history of mental illness, marijuana use could lead to a higher likelihood of that illness presenting itself. “We are seeing these kids develop schizophrenia at a younger age than their parents or other family members developed it,” Harris said. “Marijuana use seems to be a precipitating factor.”
The consensus seems to be that cannabis is use is fine, but only after you’re finished growing. “I don’t care who uses, or how often, if you’re over age 30,” said Harris. “But we’re seeing these critical developmental issues in people up to their mid-20s.”
At the Canadian Pain Society’s conference last week, Dr. Jason Busse presented preliminary data on his study of cannabis as a pain reliever.
His research monitored 1,915 patients across 26 separate studies, the findings of which still need to be analyzed, but Busse admitted that revealing some of the initial data “was an attempt to provide preliminary findings, as part of a larger workshop on the role of medical cannabis in managing chronic pain.”
Clinicians used a scale of 1-10 to evaluate the amount of pain a patient experienced, a practice widely used in modern medicine. For about 12 percent of patients, cannabis reduced their pain by at least one point on the scale. Finding alternatives to prescription opioids is a priority among public health officials. The Canadian Institute for Health contributed $100,000 to the study.
“Current strategies are limited, and clinicians often resort to opioids,” said Dr. Busse. “(Medical cannabis) is something that we’re looking at for its potential to treat chronic pain. There is some evidence that it may be effective for some patients.”
Canada is the second largest consumer of opioids, with the United States coming in first. An project to track this public health crisis has recently gained momentum, thanks to work by individuals who have personally been affected by opioid addiction. Since British Columbia started providing naloxone free of charge to anyone who has a history of opioid abuse, it has saved lives but still functions as a stop-gap for those suffering from addiction. Health officials are struggling to find effective way to fight the crisis, and are willing to look at every possible solution.
“Now that there’s increasing pressure on patients and physicians to reduce the use of opioids for chronic pain, it’s interesting that there’s at least some preliminary information suggesting that medical cannabis may allow patients to do that,” said Busse. “Another area of interest is whether it can be used as add-on therapy to allow people to come down from some of the opioid medication.”
The research acknowledges the complexity of zeroing in on the precise compounds in cannabis that account for its pain-relieving benefits, which makes it difficult to work with in a clinical setting. “We can grow strains that have higher or lower levels of THC or CBD, (but) it’s difficult to say at this point the exact chemical composition that is the most effective in dealing with chronic pain while producing the lowest level of undesirable side effects,” said Busse.
In May, new guidelines for prescribing opioids were published by a team of 15 physicians, including Busse. The paper urges prescribing physicians to use opioids after other, less dangerous medications have proven to be ineffective. They also recommend smaller doses, “staying below 50 mg morphine-equivalent per day, which is quite a bit lower than the recommendation of 200 that came out in 2010,” said Busse. Particular attention has been paid to the use of Fentanyl, which the CPHA has indicated is “50 to 100 times more potent,” than morphine. It was intended specifically for patients who were terminally ill but doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to patients for conditions like post-operative pain. The drug has been found in black market heroin, making the drug that much more powerful and addictive.