Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
I sit looking at this document wondering how to write about the craptastic Catch-22 that has appeared in my husband’s life. My husband is one of the millions of people who suffer with chronic pain. His journey to where he is today began 35 years ago when he worked for a traveling carnival. While working to repair a ride, the clutch holding the ride’s car opposite the repairmen failed sending the cars around the track. Hubby and two other workers fell 50 feet resulting in multiple fractures and life threatening injuries. Combine those injuries with 30 years of commercial truck driving, a near fatal lightning strike resulting in damage to his nerve sheaths and joints, along with degenerative disk disease, stenosis, scoliosis, and osteoarthritis ……
The plaintiffs, including an Iraq War veteran, a child with a seizure disorder and an ex-NFL player, claimed that the CSA’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is so “irrational” that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
I know a woman. Her name is Paula. I have known her since I was in the 7th grade. When I first met her she was friends with my older brother. They would hang out together working on school projects and she even made a few appearances to our house for supper and a visit. Even though I was younger than her by five years, she still lit my fire.
Skip ahead to the 80’s and you will find that Paula and I had a chance meeting. It was completely unexpected for both of us and, even though it was brief, it would lead to our first date a few months later.
That first date took place in the month of September of 1985 and we would end up seeing each other every night after that until January, 10th of 1986. The next day, which happened to be January 11th, I watched as she walked down the aisle with her father. When they reached the front of the church he handed her over to me and we became a happily married couple.
Today it has been just over a month since we celebrated thirty two years together. As with any marriage that stands the test of time we have had our good times, bad times, and even times when we questioned why we were still together, but through it all we have remained a happily married couple as we promised each other on a cold day in 1986.
The reason I have taken the time to explain the success of our marriage is because she is the one to nominate me for this fantastic award along with the opportunity to spread my success on to other writers. It is an honor for me and I love my wife for including me.
First an explanation of the award.
The Liebster Award recognizes and celebrates bloggers, their content, skill, and contribution to the blogging community. The rules for accepting a nomination are:
There are many fascinating things to know about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in cannabis. While much of the mainstream conversation revolves around whether or not THC is safe to consume, these conversations often miss highlighting some of the odd and unique characteristics of this plant molecule. For all of the cannabis enthusiasts out there, here are six random things you should know about THC.
1. THC is a fat
Did you know that THC is a lipid? Lipids are fat molecules, and cannabis contains a lot of them. Since the primary active compounds in cannabis are fats, this means that they like to hang out in your fat after you consume them.
After inhaling cannabis, THC is absorbed by the lungs and then enters the bloodstream. From there, the psychoactive quickly makes its way to the fatty tissues it likes to call home, including the brain.
It is this quality that prevents THC from quickly exiting the body after consumption, which is why the average cannabis consumer can test positive for the herb for around 30 days after consumption.
For more information on how long THC stays in your system, check out the full article here.
2. A bunch of THC is released with fat burning
Okay, this THC discovery is a bit surprising. There is some evidence that after an intense event which burns through a lot of fat, such as heavy exercise or rapid weight loss, levels of THC may be released back into the bloodstream.
There are some reports of ex-cannabis consumers testing positive for THC simply because they lost a lot of weight prior to testing.
On a more somber note, in 1997, a report highlighted anecdotal autopsy reports which showed abnormally large quantities of THC in the blood of drowning victims, who must have burned through significant amounts of fat before passing away.
Other research suggests that something as simple as 25 to 35 minutes of exercise in a cannabis consumer can elevate blood plasma levels of THC. Interestingly, one study shows that the larger a participant’s BMI, the more THC could be detected after exercise.
3. Most THC comes out in your poop
So, THC gets itself into the bloodstream, then is stored in your fat cells where it is re-released into the bloodstream over time. But, where does THC go after that?
While it’s possible for a heavy cannabis consumer to test positive for cannabis metabolites in a urine test for up to 77 days after abstaining from the herb, most THC and THC metabolites are excreted in bowel movements.
In fact, it is estimated that more than 65 percent of THC consumed is excreted in the feces, whereas only 20 percent is excreted in urine.
Many people hoping to fake a drug test take advantage of this fat by consuming fruit pectin, a natural fruit fiber that theoretically forces more THC out through the stool rather than in urine or blood. However, there is no data on just how effective this method is in actuality.
4. Small amounts of THC can be found on you even if you don’t consume
Interestingly, there may be a lot of THC floating around out there that you don’t even know about. Trace amounts of the cannabinoid are excreted in sweat, as well as in skin and hair oils.
When you shake hands with a cannabis consumer or touch things that they have touched, there’s a good chance that very tiny amounts of the herb can show up on you as well.
Some researchers in Germany think that this may be one of the reasons to argue against hair testing as a way to detect cannabis consumption. The standard theory suggests that cannabis ends up in the hair by transfer through the bloodstream.
However, these researchers have found some evidence that makes them question the standard beliefs about hair testing. In a tiny 2015 study of just two people, researchers tested hair growth during a time that each participant was given a controlled dose of a synthetic THC.
Hair grows at a fairly consistent rate in most people, meaning that each centimeter of hair provides a snapshot into your daily habits. After being treated with THC for 30 days, the researchers tested the participants’ hair. Surprisingly, they did not detect much of the stuff.
Even more surprising, when the researchers tested hair from a time the participants’ did not consume cannabis, compounds from the plant were present.
This lead the researchers to conclude that a good amount of the THC on the hair and the surface of the skin comes from external sources, like the environment and contact with the plant and those who love it.
5. Plants and fungus with similar compounds have been found
Interestingly, other plants and some types of fungus have been found to contain compounds similar to THC. Black truffles, delicacies that can sell for $800 or more, have enzymes needed to create anandamide, the same THC-like compound that humans produce naturally.
Japanese and New Zealand liverwort, which are non-flowering plants, have also been found to contain compounds with similar actions to THC. These compounds are perrottetinene and perrottetinenic acid.
While the psychoactivity of these plants is questionable, the perrottetiene seems to activate the same cellular pathways that THC does, according to recent research.
Researchers have also genetically engineered yeasts that can produce the enzymes that create THC. Since the cannabis plant is illegal, this yeast might be a way for scientists to legally create natural THC that can be used for the large-scale production of medicines. However, this research is still in its early stage.
6. THC taps into our natural bliss pathway
Have you ever wondered why consuming cannabis feels so good? Well, THC just-so-happens to tap into our body’s natural bliss control. As mentioned above, THC replaces a compound called anandamide (AEA) in the body. The word Ananda is Sanskrit for bliss, making anandamide our natural bliss molecule.
Both THC and anandamide bind to the same locations on cells. As it turns out, THC latches on to these cell sites for a little longer than anandamide, which is perhaps why the cannabinoid seems to have such a strong effect on the mind and body.
Anandamide was only discovered relatively recently, and there is still much to learn about the molecule’s role in the body.
However, a few interesting tidbits about the compound are known. Anandamide helps maintain mood, tells you when you’re hungry, is partly responsible for that feel-good high after exercise, and has many other key functions in the body.
A certain few who have won the genetic lottery have genes which hinder the breakdown of AEA. This may make these lucky folk naturally a little more chill and less anxious than the unfortunate majority without the needed gene mutations
Medical cannabis use is highly under-researched, according to UNM professors Jacob Vigil and Sara Stith — and their recent findings suggest that it could actually help to battle addiction.
The pair, along with pain specialist Dr. Anthony Reeve, presented their research on how enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has affected prescription opioid use in patients with chronic pain on Friday at UNM.
Vigil said the Medical Cannabis Program is unprecedented because patients manage their own care, since doctors can’t prescribe doses of cannabis, only authorize patients to obtain it.
He said it’s difficult to obtain federal funding for research on medical cannabis use and New Mexico is a great place to do research on it now, because recreational use is not currently legal.
The study compared prescription opioid use in Reeve’s patients who were enrolled in the medical cannabis program and his patients who were not enrolled over an 18 month period, Stith said.
New Mexico keeps track of prescription opioid use, allowing them to check whether patients who reported a reduction in opioid use were telling the truth, she said.
Their research found a 31 percent reduction in opioid use after 18 months in the medical cannabis patients and a slight increase in opioid use in the control group, she said.
The trend for cannabis users was clear, while the control group’s trend was less definite. But their research defies the popular gateway hypothesis, that cannabis use will lead to the use of more dangerous drugs, Vigil said.
Stith said it was difficult to even begin the study as Vigil spent two years getting the “little pilot study” approved through the institutional review board.
“I don’t have tenure yet. I wouldn’t have been able to spend those two years,” Stith said. “Basically (Vigil) got tenure and was able to invest the time and so it really is restrictive, especially when you don’t have tenure to even begin to start on these types of studies because it’s just too long of a timeline.”
One of the other challenges is quality assurance, Stith said.
“You can go to one dispensary and buy something called “purple firefly” or something and you go to another dispensary, it’s called the same thing but it’s actually a totally different plant,” she said. “There’s a lot of inconsistencies and that makes it hard to study in a medical sense.”
Stith said the biggest challenge to doing research is cannabis’ status as a Schedule 1 drug.
“We cannot give patients cannabis or we’re drug dealers — so we have to figure out how to observe them in a way so that we’re not intervening with them,” she said. “We couldn’t say, ‘take this before you go to bed and tell us how it works.’ We can’t do that. So that’s the biggest hurdle, the Schedule 1 aspect of it, and Schedule 1 means literally no therapeutic potential for the medication or substance.”
But despite all of the challenges, they are excited to continue in this “really exciting” area of research, she said.
“One benefit of the fact they haven’t allowed us to do research for so long, is there’s a lot of questions waiting to be answered,” Stith said. “It’s not hard to find research to do in this area — especially now that we’ve been able to develop this more observational approach as opposed to an interventionist approach.”
The two plan to continue their research on medical cannabis use and expand the scope of their research, she said.
“We want to look across different states. Different types of cannabis programs, how those work,” Stith said, adding that one of the next things they will look at is the indirect effect of cannibis on sedatives.
“It appears that these patients are not just reducing their opioid use, they’re also reducing their sedative use,” she said. “We’re going to look at some of the polypharmaceutical aspects. We want to get into some of the economic questions, cost effectiveness.”
Now that they have completed the pilot study, Stith said she believes future studies will be easier to begin, especially after going “back and forth and back and forth” with the IRB to get everything approved.
“So all that’s been worked out,” she said. “How the patients consent, when they consent, all that stuff. So a lot of legwork’s been done on that.”
Medical cannabis patient and community advocate Jason Barker said he thought the presentation was excellent and is excited to see research being done on medical cannabis.
“This is research that should have started back in 2014 when they first initially tried to do this,” he said. “Now they’ve got it under way, this is exciting because opioids kill more people in the state than any other thing we have.”
Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Cathy_Daily.