big pharma

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Global: Marijuana-Based Drug Found To Reduce Epileptic Seizures

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first major clinical trial of an experimental drug derived from marijuana has shown that Epidiolex reduces epileptic seizures, the product's developer announced on Monday.

The shares of Big Pharma giant GW Pharmaceuticals more than doubled on Monday after the announcement.

GW said Epidiolex achieved the main goal of the trial, reducing convulsive seizures when compared with a placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare, severe form of epilepsy, reports Andrew Pollack at The New York Times.

If Epidiolex wins regulatory approval, as expected, it would be the first prescription drug that is extracted from marijuana. Marinol (Dronabinol), the THC capsules prescribed for nausea and appetite, use synthetic rather than plant-derived THC.

Epidiolex is a liquid containing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.

As many as one-third of the nearly 500,000 American children with epilepsy aren't sufficiently helped by existing Big Pharma drugs, according to GW. Parents of these children have, in desperation, tried medicinal cannabis extracts prepared by medical marijuana dispensaries.

Study: Medical Marijuana Compares Favorably To Conventional PTSD Treatments

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Medical marijuana compares favorably with conventional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Care By Design, a California-based medical marijuana company which recently completed a survey of 300 patients with PTSD. The survey asked what medications (including cannabis) patients had used for PTSD-related symptoms, and then asked patients to assess each medication in terms of its impact on the hallmark symptoms of PTSD, including anger and irritability, anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disorders.

Among the key findings of the study, according to Care By Design:

• Survey respondents reported taking numerous medications for PTSD. In order of prevalence: Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, cannabis, sleeping medication, mood stabilizers, narcotic pain medication, non-narcotic pain medication, anti-psychotics, beta-blockers, tranquilizers, and anti-convulsants.
• Half of respondents had taken at least 5 medications for PTSD, and 7.5 percent had taken as many as 11.
• Survey respondents reported that cannabis was the most likely to improve PTSD symptoms—albeit to an unknown degree—and the least likely to make symptoms worse.

Iowa: Poll Shows Growing Support For Medical Marijuana; Legislature Considers Expanding Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than three of every four Iowans now favor allowing patients to use marijuana medicinally, but most remain opposed to its recreational legalization, according to a new poll.

Iowans have become more comfortable with medical marijuana, which is now supported by 78 percent of the state's adults, according to the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, reports Tony Leys at The Des Moines Register. That represents a gain of 20 points in support levels in just three years; support was at 58 percent in 2013.

But most Iowans continue to oppose allowing marijuana for fun. Just 34 percent of adults favor that idea, up 5 percentage points from 2013, according to the poll.

The poll results come as Iowa lawmakers are considering expanding the state's tiny, ineffective medicinal cannabis program. The state's current law, passed in 2014, only allows possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a marijuana extract that isn't psychoactive and helps quell seizures associated with severe epilepsy. It provides no legal method to make the CBD oil, nor does it provide any legal method to obtain or distribute it.

New Hampshire: Voters Strongly Support Decriminalizing Drug Possession

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A substantial majority of New Hampshire presidential primary voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a new poll released by the Drug Policy Alliance. Sixty-six percent of voters in the first-in-the-nation primary, including half of all Republicans and 68 percent of independents, think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time.

These findings come in the midst of escalating overdose deaths across the country and unprecedented focus by presidential candidates on alternatives to harsh, ineffective drug policies. Eighty percent of New Hampshire primary voters consider addressing prescription drug and other drug abuse and the recent surge in overdose deaths an important or urgent issue. Sixty-nine percent, including 56 percent of Republicans, say drug abuse should be treated primarily as a health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.

“Now is the time for policymakers to show leadership by laying out clear plans to move our country from a failed criminal justice approach to drugs to a health-based approach,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Their goal should be reducing the role that criminalization and the criminal justice system play in dealing with drugs and drug use as much as possible.”

U.S.: Cannabis Infused Vaginal Suppository Launched For Menstrual Relief

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Foria Follows Award-Winning Sex Lube with a Natural Herbal Pain Reliever

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Foria on Monday launched what it calls the world’s first cannabis-infused vaginal suppository, formulated as a natural herbal remedy to soothe monthly menstrual discomfort. “Foria Relief” contains both THC and CBD, but — unlike many other cannabis products — is non-psychoactive because of the delivery-format, according to the company.

Foria Relief suppositories are made from organic cocoa butter blended with CO2-extracted cannabis oil and a CBD isolate, according to a company press release. Each suppository delivers approximately 60 mg THC and 10 mg CBD.

CBD is a formerly-obscure cannabinoid that has been shown to diminish pain signaling and muscle cramping. CBD is exploding in popular awareness as both medical marijuana patients and Big Pharma companies discover numerous other benefits.

Foria Relief is the first vaginal suppository designed specifically for menstrual discomfort, according to the company. "Till now, women had few options to address menstrual discomfort, primarily systemic pain-relievers such as Ibuprofen or herbal teas (since the only other vaginal suppository products have been yeast medications or birth control)," reads a prepared statement from Foria.

U.S.: Dr. Oz Says He'd Opt For Cannabis, Given That Option

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Popular TV physician Dr. Oz on Friday ran a positive story on medicinal cannabis. "Cannabis is a natural medicine which is less addictive and ultimately safer than opiates that are currently the standard of treatment," said Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon. "And as a physician, I'd opt for the safer choice, given that option."

Those with severe chronic pain have learned that our choices are limited, reports Devi E. Nampiaparampil, MD on DoctorOz.com. Medical marijuana is increasingly seen as an alternative to harsh, addictive pharmaceutical opioids which carry the threat of overdose.

Another problem with opioid painkillers is the phenomenon of tolerance, wherein the drugs become less effective over time, making larger doses necessary -- and, once again, bringing up the danger of overdose, since taking too large a dose of opioids can depress the portion of the brain which controls breathing.

Cannabis, on the other hand, has never caused any lethal drug overdoses -- and the number of opioid deaths appears to have decreased in states with laws allowing medical marijuana. It may be that the addition of cannabis is effectively replacing opioids for some people, and according to some studies it might also be boosting the pain relief patients get from the same dose of painkillers.

U.S.: Founder of Marijuana Investment Group Interviewed by Ganjapreneur

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As public support for the legalization of marijuana has grown, so has the speculation that the cannabis industry could be poised for a major boom if the U.S. federal government changes its policy toward the drug. Like any other emerging market, the cannabis industry has piqued the interest of many venture capital and investment firms around the globe.

Recently, Ganjapreneur, a website dedicated to the growing industry, published an interview with Douglas Leighton, founding partner of Dutchess Capital, an investment group which has recently focused its investments on cannabis start-ups.

In the interview, Leighton discusses how Dutchess Capital came to view the cannabis industry as an opportunity and what led to their eventual decision to invest in several start-ups.

"It took us about 10 months of due diligence before we were comfortable to make the first investment," Leighton said. "We joined ArcView, the angel network for the cannabis industry, in the summer of 2013 and met Isaac Dietrich of MassRoots and subsequently made the first investment." MassRoots is a popular, pseudo-anonymous social network for cannabis users.

U.S.: Anti-Marijuana 'Experts' Are Paid By Big Pharma Painkiller Drug Companies

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Opponents of the marijuana law reform, alarmed by the rising tide of cannabis-sane legislation sweeping the United States, have turned to a group of paid academic "experts" to bolster their regressive arguments against relaxing the pot laws.

These so-called experts who are paid to offer anti-marijuana opinions in the press may represent a conflict of interest in the cannabis debate, reports Lee Fang at Vice.

Many of the "researchers" who have publicly opposed marijuana legalization are also on the payrolls of Big Pharma companies with products that could be easily (and much more safely) replaced by marijuana. Even worse, when these sold-out "scientists" have been quoted in the popular media, their financial ties to the drug industry haven't been revealed.

Dr. Herbert Kleber of Columbia University is an example. He has impressive academic credentials, and has been extensively quoted in both the popular press and in scholarly publications warning against marijuana use. Dr. Kleber claims pot may cause huge addiction and public health issues.

Canada: Medical Marijuana Producer Supports Resolution Opposing Smoking Cannabis

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) on August 20, at its annual meeting in Toronto, voted on and approved a delegate resolution opposing the smoking of medical marijuana and other other plant material. Now Bedrocan Cannabis Corp., a licensed Canadian producer of medicinal cannabis, has come out in support of the CMA motion.

"The CMA is quite right to point out that there are particular hazards associated with smoking any plant material, including medical cannabis," Bedrocan Canada's statement reads. "While some patients, particularly those who use small quantities, choose to smoke medical cannabis, the preferred method of delivery is via the use of a vaporizer -- a device that heats cannabis to release the cannabinoids (the active ingredients), but does not burn it.

"There is good clinical evidence to show that vaporized cannabis contains significantly lower levels of toxins and harmful chemicals," Bedrocan's statement reads.

"In addition, there is one medicinal cannabis vaporizer, the Vapormed Volcano Medic®, approved in Canada as a class 2 medical device," Bedrocan's statement reads. "The use of a vaporizer allows patients to use cannabis to manage the symptoms of health conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, insomnia and other conditions, while avoiding the degree of risk involved in smoking a plant product.

France: GW Pharmaceuticals Applies To Expand Sativex Approval

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Big Pharma giant GW Pharmaceuticals has submitted an application seeking to expand marketing authorization for Sativex into France for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Sativex, an oral spray containing a 50:50 mixture of the cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), is already approved as a treatment for MS spasticity in 21 countries, including 17 countries in Europe. The medicine is available on prescription in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Austria, Poland, Sweden and Italy, with launches in preparation in eight more European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, according to GW.

"Sativex meets a significant unmet medical need for patients with multiple sclerosis and we look forward to working with the French authorities so as to allow this important medicine to be made available in France," said Justin Gover, chief executive officer at GW Pharmaceuticals.

"The submission of this MRP for Sativex in France builds on the recent commercial launch in Italy and continues the momentum of expanding Sativex availability throughout Europe," Gover said. "We see this growth as important validation of patient and physician acceptance of Sativex in meeting the needs of people with multiple sclerosis."

U.S.: 'Kumar' Defends President Obama's Marijuana Policies

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Kal Penn, famous as "Kumar" in the stoner film franchise "Harold and Kumar," on Friday defended President Barack Obama's marijuana policies, placing much of the blame for the continued illegality of cannabis on Big Pharma and the prison industry.

Penn stepped away from Hollywood in 2009 to serve the Obama Administration as associated director of the Office of Public Engagement, reports HuffPost Live.

On HuffPost Live on Friday, Penn defended the President's commitment to marijuana reform, saying Obama has been "firm" in his stance that the Department of Justice should focus on violent offenses, not only medical marijuana patients and providers in states which have legalized cannabis for medicinal use.

"I think he has been consistent," Penn said. "He's against the legalization of marijuana, at least the several times when I looked, when I get questions like this.

"He's sort of been firm that he wants the Justice Department to go after violent offenders, not nonviolent offenders," Penn said. "And the only reason that I know a small sliver of this is that California, I know, has legalized medical marijuana.

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