Science

Study: Long-Term Marijuana Use Linked To Changes In Brain's Reward's System?

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sometimes you really have to wonder about the "scientific" studies which are being done on marijuana. Now there's a new one which says that because people who've smoked marijuana for years show more reaction to photos of objects used to smoke it than people who don't smoke marijuana when shown the same photos, that means cannabis "changes the reward system of the brain."

Researchers led by Dr. Francesca Filbey at the University of Texas at Dallas said they found that people who had used marijuana for 12 years, on average, showed "greater activity" in the brain's reward system when looking at pictures of objects used for smoking cannabis than when they looked at pictures of a "natural reward," their favorite fruits, reports Agata Blaszczak-Boxe at Fox News Health.

As if marijuana wasn't a natural reward, eh? It's no accident we have a human endocannabinoid system, people.

Study: Marijuana Doesn't Affect Physical Health, Except For Gums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Chronic marijuana use has about the same impact on health as not flossing, according to an extensive new study.

A research team led by Madeline H. Meier of Arizona State University tracked the cannabis habits of 1,037 New Zealanders all the way from birth to middle age, to see exactly what effects marijuana has on common measures of physical health, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. Those measures included lung function, systemic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar, and dental health.

After controlling for other factors known to affect health -- especially tobacco use and socioeconomic status -- cannabis use had no negative effect on any measure of health, except for dental health. People who smoked more marijuana had a higher incidence of gum disease.

Even after controlling for dental hygiene, such as likelihood to brush and floss, the relationship between marijuana use and poor dental health persisted.

U.S.: 'Cannabis Damages DNA' Claims Debunked By Leading Researcher

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When a study was released last week claiming that marijuana use damages DNA, and that damage could be passed to one's children, of course it made headlines around the world. For many of us who have been acquainted with cannabis for a long time, the study sounded like nonsense, and now one of the field's leading researchers is calling "reefer madness" on the flawed study from Australia.

While the study from the University of Western Australia claims that smoking pot will give your kids cancer, cannabis has been shown in cell, animal, and limited human trials to prevent, halt, or kill cancer, researchers note, reports David Downs at East Bay Express. The study, released last week by Associate Professor Stuart Reece and Professor Gary Hulse at UWA, had the lengthy, scientific-sounding title, “Chromothripsis and epigenomics complete causality criteria for cannabis- and addiction-connected carcinogenicity, congenital toxicity and heritable genotoxicity,” and was published in the July 2016 issue of the journal Mutation Research.

U.S.: AAA Says There's No Scientific Basis For Laws Against Driving On Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Six states that allow marijuana use in one form or another have legal tests which supposedly serve to determine who is driving while impaired -- but those tests have no scientific basis at all, according to a study done by the largest auto club in the United States. AAA, as a result, has called for scrapping those laws.

The study was commissioned by AAA's safety foundation, and it discovered that it's not possible to determine impairment by setting a blood-test threshold for the level of THC, the main component of marijuana responsible the high. Yet the laws in five of those six states automatically presume a driver is guilty of driving while impaired if he or she tests higher than the limit, not not guilty if the level is lower, reports the Associated Press.

The AAA foundation recommends replacing those faulty laws with ones that actually rely on science, using specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired on pot, backed up by a test for the presence of THC rather than a specific level. The officers would be responsible for screening for dozens of supposed indicators of marijuana use.

U.S.: New Study Shows Natural Marijuana Superior To Synthetic Cannabinoids

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new study called “Comparison of Outcome Expectancies for Synthetic Cannabinoids and Botanical Marijuana,” in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, shows that negative effects are significantly lower for natural, botanical cannabis than for synthetic cannabinoids.

In the study, 186 adults who had previously used both the synthetic and natural forms of marijuana, as well as 181 who had previously used only natural (botanical) marijuana, were surveyed about their expected outcomes of using either type of cannabinoid. The results showed that the expected negative effects were significantly higher for synthetic marijuana than for natural marijuana across both categories of use history.

Despite the more commonly expected negative effects of synthetic cannabinoids, the most cited reasons for using these compounds were wider availability, avoiding a positive drug test for cannabis, curiosity, perceived legality, and cost. For instance, synthetic cannabinoids are popular among members of the armed services, and in other occupations where a positive test for marijuana might get you fired, but synthetic cannabinoids would remain undetected.

Canada: Current Oncology Mag Devotes Special Issue To Cannabis For Cancer Patients

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The treatment of cancer and its symptoms has been recognized as one of the most critical advances in cannabinoid therapeutics. Now, a special issue of Current Oncology magazine highlights the use of marijuana for cancer patients. The supplement is aimed at informing the medical community in Canada about the role that medicinal cananbis and cannabinoids can play in cancer management./

The special issue is guest edited by Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research, Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit, McGill University Health Centre, and executive director of the nonprofit Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC). The issue is sponsored by Mettrum Health Corp., a vertically integrated producer of cannabis products.

"Finding answers to the questions regarding cannabis and cancer will require a concerted effort by patients, scientists, clinicians and the industry," said Dr. Ware. "We at CCIC are proud to have stimulated this discussion, and we urge all stakeholders to move forward with the needed research to address an issue that really is a matter of life and death.

Colorado: Researcher To Study MS Patients Who Use Medical Marijuana

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Some multiple sclerosis patients use medical marijuana to reduce their pain and muscle spasms, and a Colorado State University researcher is launching a crowdfunding campaign to study possible benefits and side effects of this long-term marijuana use.

The research project will not involve providing cannabis or encouraging its use; it will simply examine existing users who have decided to treat their MS symptoms with medical marijuana and voluntarily agree to participate in the study.

Thorsten Rudroff, director of CSU’s Integrative Neurophysiology Lab, said local clinicians estimate that up to 50 percent of their patients are using marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

“Marijuana use may have additional benefits, such as improving motor function, but this is all based on anecdotal evidence,” Rudroff said. “We don’t have scientific evidence that this is working, so we think this research could provide valuable information.”

Rudroff would like to conduct tests on at least 20 MS patients in northern Colorado who are already using medical marijuana and compare them to a control group of the same size who don’t. He said that Colorado, which voted to allow medical marijuana use in 2000, is an ideal location for the study.

“This research can’t be done in many other states that don’t have the same marijuana laws,” Rudroff explained. “Also, Colorado has one of the highest rates of MS in the country. More and more dispensaries are coming, and we need to give patients solid information.”

Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Make You Anxious Or Depressed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Using marijuana as an adult is not associated with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, according to a new study published on Thursday.

The research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, challenges some previous studies which claimed an association between marijuana use and both depression and anxiety, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

Scientists examined the records of nearly 35,000 American adults who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. They looked at the prevalence of cannabis use among study participants in 2001 and 2002, then checked on their rates of mental health problems three years later, in 2004 and 2005.

After controlling for confounding factors such as socioeconomic differences, family history, environment, and past and present psychiatric disorders, researchers found that "cannabis use was not associated with increased risk for developing mood or anxiety disorders."

Lead author Mark Olfson of Columbia University and his colleagues think that some prior evidence of supposed links between marijuana and psychiatric disorders could be due more to confounding factors than any actual connection.

Oregon: Task Force Says State Should Should Fund Marijuana Research Institute

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon should pay for an independent cannabis institute to study the herb's medicinal and public health benefits, according to a task force including state officials, scientists and leading doctors.

Tax dollars from recreational marijuana sales would supplement private funding to underwrite the semi-public Oregon Institute for Cannabis Research, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Research scientists and staff would be hired to navigate the complexities of getting marijuana studies federally approved, according to the report, prepared by the Oregon Health Authority.

The recommendation was included in a report submitted to the Oregon Legislature on Monday. Among the proposals is that the institute itself would grow and handle cannabis for research purposes.

"This institute will position Oregon as a leader in cannabis research and serve as an international hub for what will soon be a rapidly accelerating scientific field," according to the report. "No other single initiative could do as much to strengthen the Oregon cannabis industry and to support the needs of Oregon medical marijuana patients."

While the federal government allows research on marijuana, the approval process is tortuously complicated, and must use cannabis grow at a federal facility at The University of Mississippi.

U.K.: Major Study Finds Marijuana Does Not Reduce IQ In Teens

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Reefer Madness has been debunked yet again, as a large study conducted in the United Kingdom failed to find any evidence of a link between cannabis use and lower intelligence among teenagers.

The study was published online January 6 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, and it found that any statistical association between marijuana use and decreased intellectual performance vanished when researchers took other variables into account, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story.

The study looked at 2,235 teenagers who participated in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a longterm study following children born in the Bristol area in 1991 and 1992. The kids had their IQ tested at the age of 8, and again at the age of 15. Nearly a quarter of the participants reported having tried marijuana at least once, and 3.3 percent had used it at least 50 times.

"The notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenager sample," werote lead resercher Claire Mokrysz of the University College London and her colleagues.

Israel: Documentary Examines Professor Mechoulam's Pioneering Work With Cannabis

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The Scientist, a documentary released by filmmaker Zach Klein which aims to promote the work of Professor Raphael Mechoulam, is available online for free viewing.

Filmmaker Zach Klein first met Professor Mechoulam when researching the ways in which cannabis reduced the symptoms of chemotherapy that his mother was experiencing while being treated for breast cancer. The resulting documentary follows Professor Mechoulam's attempt to answer the potent question: Are we missing something?

While the work of Dr. Mechoulam in the cannabis field started way back in 1960, he maintained a humble attitude when it comes to the diffusion to the general public of the incredible discoveries he was able to publish. Only a few years ago Dr. Mechoulam agreed to grant an exclusive right to Zach Klein to produce a documentary about his lifetime achievements, to help spread the word and reach out to patients that suffer from medical conditions that can be treated with cannabinoids.

"Here we have a group of compounds, an endogenous system of major importance, it is not being used as much as it should be in the clinic, it is of great promise in the clinic," explained Dr. Mechoulam. "Let's try to push it forward and maybe this film can push it forward a bit."

The Scientist was produced, over period of four years, in association with Fundación CANNA, a non-profit research foundation focusing on the study of Cannabis and its compounds.

The Scientist is free to watch online through

U.S.: Survey Of Teens Finds No Change In Marijuana Usage Rates For Past 5 Years

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The results of an annual survey of U.S. middle and high school students released Wednesday refute claims that reforming marijuana laws and debating legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens.

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

· Rates of daily marijuana use by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, as well as monthly use by 12th-graders, did not change from 2014 to 2015 and have remained unchanged since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 8th-graders did not change in the past year, but has dropped significantly since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 10th-graders appears to have dropped significantly from 2014 (and 2010) to 2015.

The survey also found a decline in the number of teens who perceive "great risk" in marijuana use, negating the theory that softening perceptions of harm will result in more teens using marijuana.

“Many young people recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "But they also understand that it is not okay for them to use it.

"For decades, teens had an artificially high perception of risk that stemmed from exaggerations and scare tactics," Tvert said. "Now that there is more information out there and it's not limited to horror stories and propaganda, they are developing a more realistic view.

Vermont: Medical School Delves Into Cannabis Science

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The University of Vermont is offering a course in the science of cannabis, but the professors say they are hobbled by a lack of research on what has long been a taboo topic.

While other institutions have offered classes in marijuana law and policy, the university's medical school is possibly the first in the nation to offer a full course on medical cannabis, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, reports the Associated Press. Other medical schools have touched on the topic.

"What we're trying to do with this course is to sort of demystify this whole subject matter, to try to treat this like any other drug, like alcohol or amphetamines or opioids," said Vermont pharmacology professor Wolfgang Dostmann. "Just demystify the whole thing and say what it is, what is going on with it, how does it work."

The Massachusetts Medical Society is offering online medical marijuana courses including one on pharmacology, but those courses are also limited because of the lack of research on the topic.

Nearly 90 graduate and undergraduate students have signed up for the Vermont class, which is to start in the spring, forcing the professors to expand the classroom twice. The class is also open to the general public, allowing members of the Legislature, or those in law enforcement or medicine, to attend.

Study: Marijuana Is Safe and Effective For Pain Treatment

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabinoid preparations including herbal marijuana, liquid and oral cannabis extracts, and nabilone (a synthetic analog of THC) are effective in the treatment of chronic pain, according to the results of a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

Investigators from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and McGill University in Montreal evaluated the results of 11 placebo-controlled trials conducted between 2010 and 2014, reports Paul Armentano at NORML. Trials assessed the use of herbal cannabis, liquid and oral extracts, and synthetic THC.

Cannabinoids possess "significant analgesic effects" and were "well tolerated" in the majority of studies reviewed.

"The current systematic review provides further support that cannabinoids are safe, demonstrate a modest analgesic effect and provide a reasonable treatment option for treatment chronic non-cancer pain,” the authors concluded.

According to a 2011 review of 18 separate randomized trials evaluating the safety and effectiveness of cannabinoids for pain management, "[C]annabinoids are a modestly effective and safe treatment option for chronic non-cancer (predominantly neuropathic) pain."

Study: Blocking Brain's 'Internal Marijuana' May Trigger Early Alzheimer's

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A 2014 study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has implicated the blocking of endocannabinoids -- the body's natural substances that are internal versions of the psychoactive chemicals in marijuana -- in the early development of Alzheimer's disease.

A substance called A-beta is strongly suspected to play a major role in the development of Alzheimer's, since it's the chief constituent of the clumps found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients -- may, in the early stages of the disease, impair learning and memory by blocking the natural beneficial action of endocannabinoids in the brain, according to the study, reports Bruce Goldman at Stanford University.

The researchers at Stanford are now working on the molecular details of how and where the interference with endocannabinoid receptors occurs. Knowing that could help develop new drugs to delay the effects upon learning ability and memory that occur with Alzheimer's.

The study, published in Neuron, analyzed A-beta's effects on the hippocampus, a region of the midbrain which in all mammals serves as a combination GPS system and memory-filing assistant, along with other duties.

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