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.
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.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has made some small but impactful changes to their website’s page on medical marijuana.
Prior to the change, NIDA had a page on their website titled Is Marijuana Medicine? The page has now been updated with several changes, including a change in title; it is now referred to as simply Marijuana as Medicine, without the question mark. This is a small change, but an important one.
In addition to a change in title, there were multiple other changes made to the page. Below are the seven biggest changes, pointed out by Westword;
In this section, the important change isn’t what’s missing, but what’s been rephrased. In the July 2015 revision, THC was described as “marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient.” The latest revision adds the words “that makes people, ‘high’.” There’s also a new link link to a page explaining Synthetic Cannabis.
Synthetic marijuana is used primarily to enhance the high in THC-centric marijuana products. Adding information about synthetic marijuana to a section about cannabinoids makes a distinction between natural cannabinoids derived from the plant and synthetic products made in a lab. Most medical products come directly from the plant; this point is important. Multiple studies have shown synthetic marijuana to be more harmful than products made exclusively from the cannabis plant, and THC products get a bad rap when synthetic marijuana causes harmful effects.
3. CBD and childhood epilepsy
One of the most drastic changes is an informational box once titled “What is CBD?” The updated title reads: “CBD and Childhood Epilepsy.”
The box itself explains how CBD can treat epilepsy; the small shift in the headline reflects how accepted this practice has become. So does a change in the verbiage. Instead of reading, “These drugs may be less desirable to recreational users because they are not intoxicating,” the updated version is more direct: “These drugs aren’t popular for recreational use because they aren’t intoxicating.”
This change is major for medical patients: So much of the time, their medicine is compared to THC and negative cultural norms associated with smoking marijuana. Specifying that drugs that medical patients use are not in any way comparable to the high users get from THC is an important distinction.
4. Alzheimer’s disease removed
Alzheimer’s disease was removed from a list of conditions that are the focus of current scientific pre-clinical and clinical trials. That could be because multiple studies have been published since 2015 linking cannabis to improved memory.
Four more states legalized medicinal cannabis since the last edit of this page; four more legalized recreational use. In over half of the states in this country, cannabis is legal in some form. The section about potential health risks used to read “regular medicinal use of marijuana is a fairly new practice.” The revision? “State-approved medicinal use of marijuana is a fairly new practice.”
States with legalized marijuana face uncertainty in the age of Trump. But acknowledging that states have approved marijuana for medical use on a government site is significant as the industry grapples with questions about states’ rights.
6. Section on pregnancy
An entire section has been added to the revised page, focusing on the use of medical marijuana during and after pregnancy. The gist: There needs to be more research before a definitive answer can be made about the effects of marijuana on a fetus or infant.
The only study that measures THC in breast milk, for example, is from 1982 and provides data from just two subjects. “All of Colorado policy around marijuana use and breastfeeding is derived from one person’s data,” notes Dr. Heather Thompson, deputy director of Elephant Circle, a local organization working with a physician in Texas who is conducting a study on the effect of THC in breast milk.
7. Medications with cannabinoids
In the section that explains the two FDA-approved drugs containing THC, dronabinol and nabilone, an important sentence was added: “Continued research might lead to more medications.”
Rep. Mike Coffman suggested he’d use congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.
By The Associated Press
DENVER — Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.
During a telephone town hall Wednesday evening the Republican congressman was asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threat to crack down on states like Colorado that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Coffman noted that he opposed the ballot measures that legalized both medical and recreational marijuana in the state. But he added that since voters approved them they are now Colorado law. He said the federal government should not interfere and he hopes Sessions doesn’t follow through on his warning.
If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.
I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.
Sessions remarks are contradicted by a wealth of medical and policy research.
Expressing his views on drug policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said marijuana legalization wouldn’t be “good for us.” He also doubted reports of marijuana’s effectiveness fighting opioid addiction, adding “we need to crack down more on heroin.” (Reuters)
That speaks to Sessions’s second point: that marijuana dependency is “only slightly less awful” than heroin addiction. Drug dependency of any kind is, indeed, awful. And marijuana dependency is quite real.
Second, the federal government’s own research undermines any equivalency between dependency on marijuana and heroin. You can often gauge how bad a given drug addiction is by looking at what happens when a user tries to kick the habit. For heroin, the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists withdrawal symptoms including “muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, uncontrollable leg movements severe heroin cravings.”
Finally, researchers have generally ranked marijuana use as far less harmful to individuals and society than heroin use. In a 2010 Lancet report, dozens of researchers and public health experts rated the harm potential of a variety of drugs on a 0 to 100 scale, with 100 being the most harmful. Heroin scored in the mid-50s. Marijuana was rated at a 20.
Sessions’s remarks are “a sort of starting gun for a new war on drugs,” according to Michael Collins of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group working to reform drug laws. “It’s very disappointing that this DOJ and this attorney general are so anti-science and anti-evidence and anti-facts.” Video on Legal Medicinal Marijuana States
Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada just approved recreational marijuana use. Here’s what they can learn from Washington, Colorado and Oregon, states where marijuana use has already been legalized. (Daron Taylor, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.
At a speech today in Virginia Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he believes medical marijuana has been “hyped”, and that marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.
During a speech to law enforcement – the full text of which can be found on the Department of Justice website – Sessions stated; “I think medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much.”
Sessions also remarked that he rejects “the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store”, and said he’s “astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Sessions saying nonfatal marijuana is “slightly less awful” than heroin, which took the lives of at least 12,000 people in 2015 alone, is clearly ridiculous, and a clear example of how ignorant he is on the issue.
Despite these remarks, and a plethora of other negative comments Sessions has made about marijuana, he apparently reassured several senators before his confirmation that there won’t be a federal crackdown on marijuana. Whether or not he keeps his word, however, is anybody’s guess.
The statewide legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a reduction in hospitalization from opioids, according to a new study.
The study, conducted at the University of California, was published by the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependency and the National Institute of Health. Researchers assessed the association between medical cannabis laws and hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers.
“This study demonstrated significant reductions on OPR- (opioid pain reliever) related hospitalizations associated with the implementation of medical marijuana policies”, states the lead researcher. “We found reductions in OPR-related hospitalizations immediately after the year of policy implementation as well as delayed reductions in the third post-policy year.”
The study also notes that the increased use of marijuana in states that have legalized it for medical use has not led to an increase in cannabis-related hospitalizations; “While the interpretation of the results should remain cautious, this study suggested that medical marijuana policies were not associated with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Instead, the policies were unintendedly associated with substantial reductions in OPR related hospitalizations.”
The study concludes; “Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced OPR-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Given the epidemic of problematic use of OPR, future investigation is needed to explore the causal pathways of these findings.”