Researchers At Miami University Produce Psilocybin From E. coli Bacteria

Researchers At Miami University Produce Psilocybin From E. coli Bacteria

Original Post: High Times: Researchers At Miami University Produce Psilocybin From E. coli Bacteria

[Canniseur: E. Coli are a common bacteria in the gut of anyone who is reading this, even though it’s portrayed in the news as bad bacteria. That’s a different strain from the strain naturally occurring in our bodies. E.Coli helps turn food you’ve eaten into waste material. Somehow it’s ironic that we could manufacture our own hallucinogens in our own bodies. Nobody would have to know.]

With a copy/paste of some mushroom DNA, researchers have genetically engineered E. coli to mass produce psilocybin.

Forget going through the trouble of growing mushrooms. Researchers at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio have figured out a way to mass produce psilocybin using bacteria. And they say they’re yielding quantities of the therapeutic compound that would otherwise require some serious square footage, not to mention many months, to yield from mushrooms. But this isn’t a synthetic or artificial process. Instead, the team of researchers—undergraduates led by assistant professor Andrew Jones—turned to a common laboratory method: splicing DNA.

After isolating the DNA sequence behind the production of psilocybin in mushrooms, the team did a simple copy/paste, splicing the mushroom DNA into the genome of E. coli. Then, they sat back and watched the E. coli work its mushroom magic, following the DNA’s instructions to produce psilocybin.

Scientists Are Working Technology to Mass Produce Psilocybin

“Once we transferred the DNA, we saw a tiny peak emerge in our data,” said Alexandra Adams, a junior chemical engineering major and lead author of the study presenting the groundbreaking work. “We knew we had done something huge.”

And something out of a sci-fi novel, too. By imbuing the humble E. coli bacterium with the psilocybin-producing power of a fungus, the researchers made the jump between two completely distinct domains of life. They may also have developed a method for producing psilocybin that overcomes the natural limitations of cultivating mushrooms and the exorbitant expense of synthetic chemical production methods.

Genetically engineering E. coli to make psilocybin was only half of the puzzle, however. The other half was figuring out how to kick the E. coli into overdrive so that it didn’t just produce psilocybin, but produced a ton of it. That took several months of experimenting, and the team is still tweaking the setup to find the optimal conditions for E. coli to produce the compound.

How optimal? The newly-published study, which appears in Metabolic Engineering, says the experiments are now yielding gram-scale production—1.16 grams per liter, to be exact. “Over the course of this study we improved production from only a few milligrams per liter to over a gram per liter, a near 500-fold increase,” said Jones. With that kind of speed and scale it’s possible to conceive of a future with legal and economically mass-produced psilocybin.

Chemical Engineers Eyeing Future for Psilocybin-based Medicines

Psychedelic mushrooms, plants, and cacti, or more specifically, the compounds in them—DMT, psilocybin, mescaline—are gaining increasing recognition and legitimacy as therapeutic, medicinal substances. There are currently a number of clinical trials underway to investigate the potential use for psychedelic compounds in the treatment of addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. Recent studies have shown how therapeutic doses of psychedelic substances can heal and regenerate brain tissue and help treat mental illness. Other studies show how psychedelics can help with wean people off of highly addictive drugs.

Researchers are likewise turning their attention to the ways psychedelic experiences expand consciousness and improve mental health. Indeed, the use of psychedelics dates back millennia, and they have been central to the spiritual and healing practices of many cultures. Now that more medical professionals are beginning to take psychedelics seriously, chemical engineers and research scientists are getting to work unlocking their vast potential for human health and wellness. 

Researchers At Miami University Produce Psilocybin From E. coli Bacteria was posted on High Times.

Florida Congressman Wants To Downgrade Controlled Substance Scheduling For Marijuana

Florida Congressman Wants To Downgrade Controlled Substance Scheduling For Marijuana

Original Post: High Times: Florida Congressman Wants To Downgrade Controlled Substance Scheduling For Marijuana

[Canniseur: Introducing a simple bill to move cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 makes so much sense. This bill, containing only this rescheduling, comes at a time when our country could use a little relief from all the hate. Call your Senator or Congress representatives and let them know you support the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019.]

The lawmaker is aiming to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance.

On Thursday, Congressman Greg Steube, who represents Florida’s 17th district, introduced a bill that would downgrade the controlled substance scheduling for marijuana. Steube’s bill, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019, would reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance. Currently, the federal government considers cannabis a Schedule I drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Downgrading cannabis to Schedule III, a classification which includes drugs like ketamine and anabolic steroids, would primarily make it easier for scientists to research cannabis and its health effects.

Marijuana 1-to-3 Act Would Allow for Federally-Funded Cannabis Research

On September 12, Congressman Greg Steube tweeted a press release announcing a bill to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance. “The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act will allow additional research to be done on the benefits of marijuana by removing bureaucratic red tape,” Steube wrote in the tweet.

According to Steube’s press release, the bill directs the Attorney General of the United States to make a simple change to the Controlled Substances Act: dropping “marihuana” down to Schedule III. In the release, Steube acknowledges there are clearly medical benefits to cannabis. “We hear every day about the positive health benefits of marijuana,” Steube said. “Whether it’s young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain.”

Federal research into the health effects of cannabis has been extremely restricted due to its Schedule I status. A Schedule III designation would remove many of those barriers, including one of the most substantial: funding. As a Schedule III substance, federal funds would be available to support research projects on cannabis and its medical and therapeutic applications.

Marijuana 1-to-3 Act Would Also Benefit Cannabis Industry

Congressman Steube’s Marijuana 1-to-3 Act is simple. Unlike another rescheduling bill also filed Thursday by a bipartisan pair of Florida Representatives, which would require federal agencies to develop research programs and designate “Centers of Excellence in Cannabis Research,” Steube’s bill just directs the U.S. Attorney General to reschedule marijuana.

Still, Steube believes the reclassification is enough to drastically expand opportunities for research and study into the medical and recreational uses of cannabis. “With this rescheduling, researchers can now access federal funds to research this substance and determine its medical value,” Steube said.

But the rescheduling of cannabis won’t just impact research scientists’ eagerness to study it. It could also have a major impact on the legal cannabis industry. Many of the financial problems facing the industry, like its difficulty accessing bank services and inability to obtain tax deductions and other subsidies, stem from companies’ trafficking in what the federal government considers a Schedule I drug. If marijuana were to be rescheduled down to level III, cannabis businesses would become eligible for a number of federal tax deductions.

The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act isn’t the first piece of federal cannabis legislation Congressman Steube has introduced. Back in April, Rep. Steube, a former Army JAG Officer, put forward a bill to protect U.S. veterans who use medically prescribed cannabis from losing their VA benefits.

In 2017, the VA adopted a directive that protects veterans from losing their benefits over lawful medical cannabis use and authorizes VA officials to discuss cannabis treatments with patients. Steube’s bill aims to make that directive law, making sure no future administrative changes put veterans at risk of losing their benefits. “As a veteran, I’m committed to ensuring that veterans receive the care they deserve, and I know that sometimes that care can include medical marijuana,” Steube said.

Florida Congressman Wants To Downgrade Controlled Substance Scheduling For Marijuana was posted on High Times.

Thai Lawmakers Reportedly Pushing for Medical Marijuana Research

Thai Lawmakers Reportedly Pushing for Medical Marijuana Research

Original Post: High Times: Thai Lawmakers Reportedly Pushing for Medical Marijuana Research

[Canniseur: Thailand is embracing its long history of cannabis as medicine. By enabling all Thai citizens to grow and sell cannabis for medical purposes, they are dissuading big business from taking over the market.]

After becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize medical cannabis, Thailand is moving swiftly to build its medical cannabis industry.

In Thailand, there is a long cultural tradition of using cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Like many of its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, however, Thailand has historically imposed harsh anti-drug laws that strongly penalize cannabis cultivation and use. But late last year, the nation of nearly 70 million people became the first in the region to legalize medical cannabis. And now, Thai lawmakers are pushing to develop policies aimed at creating a robust medical cannabis industry.

In a policy document released July 21 ahead of a key national assembly debate set for Thursday, Thai leaders call for accelerating research and developing technologies to bring marijuana, hemp and other medicinal herbs into the country’s medical industry. The policy document also sets out the unique goal of enabling all Thai citizens to grow and sell cannabis for medical purposes.

Thai Lawmakers Propose Policies to Jumpstart Medical Marijuana Industry

In March 2019, Thailand held its first election since the 2014 military coup d’état that installed coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minster. Following the controversial March elections, Prayuth held on to power to head up Thailand’s civilian government with a ruling coalition of 19 parties. One of the largest parties of that coalition, the Bhumjaithai Party, made developing Thailand’s medical cannabis industry a central part of its agenda. And since the election, the party has been demanding policy action from Thai lawmakers and the prime minister.

One of the leading voices pushing to make medical marijuana a part of the government’s agenda is Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul. Charnvirakul serves as deputy prime minster and health minister. And in statements to Thai media, Charnvirakul has called for changes to the banned drugs list and new rules to make it easier for hospitals to prescribe drugs containing CBD and THC.

The health minister has also called for highly permissive cultivation laws that would permit all Thais to grow and produce medical cannabis to make money. All of those demands are part of a policy document Reuters obtained Sunday. “The study and technological development of marijuana, hemp and other medicinal herbs should be sped up for the medical industry to create economic opportunity and income for the people,” the policy document said.

Policy Shift Could Position Thailand as Major Regional Cannabis Supplier

Support for a legal medical marijuana industry is widespread across Thailand and backed by the ruling military government. Late last year, the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly approved medical marijuana legalization with a vote of 166 to 0 (13 abstaining). After the vote, the lawmaker in charge of drafting the medical marijuana bill called its passage “a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people.”

Indeed, economic analysts predict a medical marijuana industry in Thailand could be a gift to the whole region. According to Bloomberg, the forecast for the legal cannabis market in Asia is expected to grow to $8.5 billion over the next five years. Those projections are prompting some in Prime Minister Prayuth’s coalition to push for full recreational legalization. It’s a move that has the support of deputy prime minister and health minister Charnvirakul, whose positions in government make it easy for him to change regulations and laws surrounding cannabis cultivation and patient access.

The Thai government is also taking steps to prevent its nascent industry from being overtaken by international cannabis conglomerates. Sopon Mekthon, who heads Thailand’s medical cannabis research efforts with the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, said “we want to be a leader in marijuana. And we have traditional Thai medicine knowledge that’s over 300 years old.”

Thai Lawmakers Reportedly Pushing for Medical Marijuana Research was posted on High Times.

Prosecutor Issues Warning About Cannabis Edibles That Look Like Normal Candy

Prosecutor Issues Warning About Cannabis Edibles That Look Like Normal Candy

Original Post: High Times: Prosecutor Issues Warning About Cannabis Edibles That Look Like Normal Candy

[Canniseur: Parents and children shouldn’t have to look closely at packaging to figure out if it’s a THC infused edible or not. This is a dangerous. The packaging needs to be distinct and unique from the original packaging. By making packaging look like regular candy, the manufacturer of this candy risks having more packaging rules and regulations in a marketplace that already has too many rules and regulations.]

After police intercepted a package of cannabis edibles in Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said Trick or Treat will never be the same.

Halloween is still months away. But in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart says Trick or Treat will never be the same. On Thursday, Stuart’s office in the Southern District of West Virginia issued a public health alert about THC-infused edibles. The alert warns about cannabis edibles that look like normal candy, saying they pose a potential hazard to kids. The alert stems from a June 15 drug interdiction that intercepted 7.5 pounds of cannabis-infused candy traveling through Kentucky. The statement issued by the prosecutor’s office provides an image comparing the intercepted edibles to the popular Nerds Rope candy.

US Attorney Says THC Candy is “All Trick and No Treat”

United States Attorney Mike Stuart is warning the West Virginia public that THC-infused edibles are being packaged in a manner that is appealing to kids. The public health alert comes just days after members of an Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (AHIDTA) task force intercepted a parcel containing several pounds of marijuana edibles. In a bulletin announcing the seizure, AHIDTA stated that the parcel had originated in Mill Valley, California and was on its way to Coconut Creek, Florida when the task force intercepted it in Kentucky.
Cannabis infused candy

Courtesy of The Justice Department

The edibles in question closely resemble the brand packaging of normal Nerds Rope candy. But the AHIDTA bulletin acknowledges that the THC-infused candy had clear warnings to keep out of the reach of children and animals. The packages also display California’s THC warning badge and large lettering indicating the quantity of THC in the package—400 mg per rope. Above the word Nerds on the cannabis-infused version, block letters spell out “Medical.”

Despite these warnings and labels, however, the HIDTA bulletin says the edibles’ packaging uses colors, shapes and promotional characters that make them appear similar to the commercial version of the candy. The bulletin then cites a 2016 University of Washington study on the factors that attract children to edibles packages. The research details that the colors red, orange, yellow and green were most attractive to children. The THC-infused Nerds Rope packages contained all those colors, as well as “festive writing” and common naming conventions. The result, HIDTA says, is a product that is highly appealing to children and youths.

“This fake ‘candy’ is all trick and no treat,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. “It is packaged like candy. It looks like popular candy, tastes like candy. But, instead, it is a very powerful and potent way to get high.”

Parents Urged to Inspect All Candy for THC

“High-potency” edibles are increasingly coming under attack by law enforcement and public health officials for the perceived threat they pose to young people. U.S. Attorney Stuart’s public health alert hits familiar notes. “Any unsuspecting child or teenager could easily stumble along a package and innocently et it not realizing the potency of the THC infused in the product,” Stuart’s office said in the alert. “The average marijuana joint contains 0.3 grams of THC. This fake “candy” contains nearly 35 percent more THC than an entire average joint. It is outrageous that this powerful drug is marketed to children,” the statement continues. But states that have legalized retail cannabis products like edibles all have regulations that prohibit packages children might find appealing.

But some of the traits of the intercepted edibles suggest they were manufactured before California revised its rules for marijuana packaging. When those regulations took effect, they instructed retailers to destroy non-compliant products. But instead of the incinerator, many products ended up on illicit distribution networks. It’s therefore possible that so-called black market diversion sent these “Medical” Nerds Ropes with THC on their way to Florida.

So states are trying to do something about THC products that could appeal to children. But U.S. attorney Stuart’s office says parents will have to pick up the slack. “Parenting is challenge enough without having to check a child’s candy for potent levels of THC. This just means parents will have to work double duty on Halloween.”

Prosecutor Issues Warning About Cannabis Edibles That Look Like Normal Candy was posted on High Times.

Governor of Colorado Signs Public Cannabis Consumption Bill

Governor of Colorado Signs Public Cannabis Consumption Bill

Original Post: High Times: Governor of Colorado Signs Public Cannabis Consumption Bill

[Cannisuer: Colorado leads the way with this state initiative. Cities still have to opt in and it won’t take effect until 2020, but you can almost smell cannabis normalization. Yay for Colorado!]

Colorado’s new public consumption law could completely transform the state’s retail cannabis industry.

On Wednesday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill legalizing and regulating public cannabis consumption. Colorado cannabis advocates have been fighting for legalized public and social use since 2013. But their latest and most expansive attempt, House Bill 1230, finally broke through the Colorado Legislature this year. While establishing regulations for retail shops to set up consumption lounges, the bill also clears the air for mobile and temporary licenses, which advocates say will help spark more creativity, innovation and, they hope, equity in the cannabis industry.

The new law won’t take effect until the beginning of 2020. But municipal governments can pass resolutions to opt in ahead of time if they wish. Of course, as with dispensaries and retail shops, Colorado towns can also opt out and ban public and social consumption licenses.

Public, Social Cannabis Consumption Green-Lighted in Colorado

The landscape of retail cannabis in Colorado is about to change dramatically. Previously the province of underground cannabis clubs, social consumption venues like marijuana cafes, lounges, tasting rooms, tour buses, limousine services, and more now have the official green light from the governor’s office.

In fact, House Bill 1230, which Gov. Polis signed into law this week, establishes regulations for social and public consumption licenses for all kinds of businesses. Under the new law, businesses like music venues, art galleries, yoga studios, restaurants, and hotels can obtain public consumption permits and even licenses for limited cannabis sales. There’s also a pathway for awarding temporary licenses for special events. “Imagine legal consumption on 4/20 being a thing,” said cannabis lobbyist Cindy Sovine.

In addition to creating more opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs, which Sovine hopes will encourage diversity, Colorado’s new public consumption law also benefits tourists and the towns that host them. “Colorado has many tourists and residents who choose to participate in legal cannabis use. Up until this bill, there’s been no way to have safe public consumption,” said Gov. Polis ahead of the May 29 bill signing. “I’ve smelled it walking my dog. For many of us with kids, we want to make sure we don’t have that in our neighborhoods.”

Colorado’s New Public Use Law in Detail

With a bustling legal cannabis industry, Colorado businesses and local authorities have so far had to find their own workarounds for public cannabis consumption. Denver City Council, for example, passed a public consumption resolution in 2016. But that ordinance still banned indoor smoking, leaving vaping and edible consumption the only technically approved consumption methods.

Private cannabis clubs, tour companies and private cannabis events also provided a safe haven for those looking for a social venue to enjoy weed. But even though, as private establishments, these venues were allowed, they still faced routine problems with law enforcement.

Colorado House Bill 1230, then, represents the state’s first comprehensive legislation regulating public and social consumption. Businesses interested in applying for a social consumption license will do so through Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. Importantly, the licenses exempt businesses from the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, a law that pans public indoor smoking. The Clean Indoor Air Act has historically been the primary legal obstacle to public cannabis consumption.

But like any industry’s regulatory requirements, businesses will still have to clear a few hurdles before they can let customers light up. First, business owners and cannabis advocates will have to convince local governments to opt in to the new law. Otherwise, the state won’t award a public consumption license. House Bill 1230 also gives local governments the authority to tweak the rules for public consumption. Towns could, for example, only approve certain forms of consumption.

Businesses or events that receive public consumption licenses will also have to train employees to monitor marijuana intoxication. The new law also places responsibility for impaired drivers on businesses and events, just as liquor licenses hold bars accountable for the same.

Governor of Colorado Signs Public Cannabis Consumption Bill was posted on High Times.

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