[Canniseur: At this point, it almost seems a given. We know that cannabis can help relieve pain. We know that it’s not addictive in the same way opiates are. And I understand completely that there is new research coming out almost every day, but not enough. I can only wish the research started sooner, but that’s a government hell-bent on prohibition for you.]
A new study found that of a group of people using state-legalized marijuana, 65% of them were using it to relieve pain, and most (80%) of them found it to be very effective. Marijuana’s medicinal abilities helped 82% of the people to reduce or stop taking over-the-counter pain medications, and 88% were able to stop taking opioid painkillers.
“Approximately 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and one in three adults do not get enough sleep,” said Dr Gwen Wurm.
The study suggests that cannabis could help decrease American’s dependence on opioids for pain relief.
“People develop tolerance to opioids, which means that they require higher doses to achieve the same effect,” said Dr. Julia Arnsten. “This means that chronic pain patients often increase their dose of opioid medications over time, which in turn increases their risk of overdose.”
“In states where adult use of cannabis is legal, our research suggests that many individuals bypass the medical cannabis route (which requires registering with the state) and are instead opting for the privacy of a legal adult use dispensary,” stated Wurm.
Over-the-counter drugs can help relieve pain, but they can have serious side effects.
“Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen cause GI bleeding or kidney damage with chronic use,” Wurm noted. “Paracetemol (Acetaminophen) toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide, and is responsible for 56,000 ER visits, 2600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths per year in the U.S.”
The study authors caution that further research into marijuana is needed to better understand the health benefits and side effects.
“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not. Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own ‘trial and error,’ experiments, getting advice from friends, social media and dispensary employees,” Wurm said.
[Canniseur: Not surprising in some ways. It appears that several states are clueless about how to determine cannabis “intoxication”. This consists only of a couple of quotes from two government agencies; Congressional Research and NHTSA. Both say the same thing. They’re also saying we still don’t know what cannabis actually does to our minds and how it works.]
A new Congressional Research Service report on marijuana and motoring found that the presence of THC in a person’s blood is an inconsistent predictor of both driver impairment and performance.
The report mentioned: “Research studies have been unable to consistently correlate levels of marijuana consumption, or THC in a person’s body, and levels of impairment,” NORML stated. “Thus, some researchers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have observed that using a measure of THC as evidence of a driver’s impairment is not supported by scientific evidence to date.”
The report’s findings are consistent with a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“There is as yet no scientifically demonstrated correlation between levels of THC and degrees of impairment of driver performance, and epidemiological studies disagree as to whether marijuana use by a driver results in increased crash risk,” the report concluded. “Based on current knowledge and enforcement capabilities, it is not possible to articulate a similarly simple level or rate of marijuana consumption and a corresponding effect on driving ability.”
Illinois, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington enforce various laws for the presence of certain amounts of THC in blood. Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin enforce zero-tolerant laws.
[Canniseur: While not surprising on one level, I have to wonder what the mechanism is that lowers the risk of Liver Disease. I also have to wonder why the government in the U.S. has forbidden research into anything over the years. If this study is accurate and true, we’ve just begun to discover the benefits of cannabis even if we don’t yet understand the mechanisms of cannabis on the human body.]
According to a study published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, cannabis consumption may produce a protective effect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Obesity is a leading cause of increased occurrences of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
At the study’s 3-year follow up, it was found that cannabis users presented significantly lower Fatty Liver Index (FLI) scores than non-users, NORML reported.
Santander, Spain: Subjects with a history of cannabis use are less likely than abstainers to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to longitudinal data published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.
A team of Spanish investigators assessed the relationship between cannabis use and liver steatosis over a three-year period. They determined that those subjects “who reported continuing cannabis use were at lower risk for developing NAFLD.”
They concluded: “Our results suggest that using cannabis could have a protective effect on liver steatosis. The beneficial effect of cannabis at the level of the development of steatosis seems to be secondary to its modulation effect on weight gain and the reduced development of obesity. … These results are in line with previous studies in the general population, in which cannabis showed significantly lower NAFLD prevalence compared to non-users.”
For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director. Full text of the study, “Cannabis consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A three years longitudinal study in first episode non-affective psychosis patients,” appears in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.
The authors stated that “cannabis users less frequently met the criteria for liver steatosis than non-users” and that “patients maintaining cannabis consumption after 3 years presented the smallest increment in FLI over time, which was significantly smaller than the increment in FLI presented by discontinuers (p = .022) and never-users (p = .016).”
[Canniseur: It appears that science is beginning to get a handle on the whys of the effect of cannabis on the human genome. We’d have been here sooner, if research of the unbiased variety had been allowed over the years.]
With marijuana now medically legal in 33 states and recreationally legal in 11 states (plus D.C.), the concept of smoking, vaping, or eating it is fair game in the mainstream. But with lingering restrictions on testing it due to the Drug Enforcement Administration, how it affects the brain remains murky territory.
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent — at least in the recreational realm — than an enduring, unanswered question: Why does marijuana cause one person to experience a pleasurable high, and another to experience paralyzing paranoia?
Thanks to a July 5 study out of Western University in Ontario, Canada, we may be one step closer to an answer. Published in Scientific Reports, the study is one of the few to explore what it deems the “divergent psychological effects” that marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces — and to offer explanations for why this happens.
Using rats, the study found evidence that psychological reactions to weed depend on which part of an individual’s brain is most sensitive to THC. If it’s the anterior (front) part of the brain, consuming marijuana will produce rewarding effects (i.e. feelings of ease, reduced anxiety, and joy). If it’s the posterior (back) region that’s most sensitive to THC, it will produce negative reactions (i.e. paranoia and fear).
Steven R. Laviolette, PhD, one of the study’s researchers, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the study embarked on new territory. “There is not too much known about why there is such differences in response to THC,” Laviolette says. “We know a lot about the longterm and short-term effects…But there is very little known about the specific areas in the brain that are responsible for independently controlling those effects.”
This study, then, is a breakthrough. “It’s a very new finding,” Laviolette tells Yahoo Lifestyle. The multi-year project, led by Christopher Norris, PhD, validates many who have reported experiencing highly negative effects from marijuana. Beyond just negative feelings, the authors found that in severe cases, individuals may experience “schizophrenia-like” symptoms.
The work is a departure from earlier attempts to explain the different psychological reactions, including a 2014 study from Oxford, which suggests that traits such as low self-esteem play a role. Norris and Laviolette’s study suggests instead that the reaction is beyond an individual’s control — and could be based more on genetics. For those who experience a bad reaction, this may be good news.
“Once we figure out what molecular pathways are causing those effects in different areas, then in the longterm we can work on modulating THC formulations so they don’t activate those specific pathways,” Laviolette tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That’s the really longterm goal of what we’re trying to do here.”
The next step for Laviolette and his colleagues is to attempt to replicate the results in the human brain, which will be no easy task. But for now, he hopes the new research will educate users and help them make informed decisions. “Be aware that we’re starting to unravel some of the more intricate details of how cannabis is affecting the brain,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Monitor your use and if you’re experiencing negative side effects, talk to your physician.”
[Canniseur: Cannabis can improve the quality of life for everyone, not only seniors. But it’s nice to know seniors benefit from cannabis use. Life is complex and it gets more complex as we age. This is about geriatric well-being. If grandma and grandpa want to get stoned and it makes them feel better, so be it.]
According to data in the journal Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, seniors who have consumed marijuana within the past year say that it greatly improves their quality of life.
University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers surveyed seniors about their cannabis use patterns, NORML reported.
“Past year marijuana users reported improved overall health, quality of life, day-to-day functioning, and improvement in pain,” the authors reported.
The seniors most frequently reported using marijuana to treat arthritis, back pain, anxiety, and depression. A range of marijuana products — from flowers to edibles and topicals — were used by the seniors.
Authors stated, “[S]urveyed older persons aged more than 60 who have legal access to recreational and medical marijuana described multiple patterns of use of marijuana in the past year, and the majority felt that marijuana use had an overall positive impact on their quality of life.”