Should Health-Conscious Consumers Really Smoke Medical Marijuana?

Should Health-Conscious Consumers Really Smoke Medical Marijuana?

[Canniseur: There are two sides to this issue. Mr. Adams outlines both the pros and cons of consuming cannabis via burning and inhalation. Both arguments are fairly obvious, but it’s nice to see both sides of the issue put together.]

There is a lot of noise these days about medical marijuana and its place concerning wellness. The average American has come to believe that using cannabis, regardless of whether that is whole-plant marijuana or hemp-derived CBD products, may help them ward off all of the despicable diseases put here to destroy us. Some of these people, however, have shown up late to the party, and are just now jumping on board the medicinal cannabis train in hopes that it will keep them above ground.

However, depending on how these people choose to consume this product, they might actually be doing themselves more harm than good. So, we have to ask the question: Should health-conscious consumers really be smoking marijuana to stay healthy or treat disease?

Well, it doesn’t take a degree in aerospace engineering (that’s rocket science) to know that smoking anything is not the healthiest thing to do. The lungs simply do not take kindly to being filled with burnt plant particles. It doesn’t matter if the smoke comes from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxic chemicals and carcinogens can enter the body when it is inhaled. And it’s these toxins that can bring about disease and respiratory issues. Sure, many cannabis advocates argue that marijuana smoke doesn’t pose the same health risk as tobacco, but health experts say that isn’t necessarily true.

“Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke,” according to a report from the American Lung Association.

Regardless of the potential risks involved, smoking is the most common consumption method on the cannabis scene. Even though there are now a variety of presumably safer pot products on the market — edibles, drinks, oils, tinctures — that the medical marijuana community could be using instead. But those products still need more time to catch on. We still live in a society that thinks of cannabis as something that needs to be smoked as opposed to orally consumed like most other drugs. This means it could be a while (we might be talking decades) before we see a drastic shift in the preferred consumption method of the average cannabis user. For now, smoking is here to stay.

But are there any benefits to smoking marijuana, even if the user is trying to manage their overall health?

Sure.

Most people prefer smoking marijuana to other forms of consumption because the effects are instantaneous. If a person is using cannabis to help them with something like social anxiety, there is no time to mess around — they need to feel calm, and the sooner, the better. So, in situations where the user, for whatever reason, needs or wants to be high right now, smoking is perhaps the best option. And it sure beats going without, that’s for sure. It is also easier for a person to control their buzz through smoking than it is with any other method of consumption. We seldom hear of anyone suffering from a full-blown canna-panic after smoking a joint, bowl or bong. Those types of freak out moments, which are reportedly causing more people than ever to rush to the emergency room, are typically experienced through the use of edibles. The onset time of these products can be an hour or more. And it is easy to overdose (not the deadly kind) when using these products.

Another benefit of smoking weed is the ability to sample a variety of strains at one time. When medical marijuana patients first get involved with a program, it can be difficult at first to find a specific strain that works best for them. Smoking makes it easier for them to find the best possible strain.

Are there any other reasons?

Well, a lot of the old school stoners simply prefer smoking to any other consumption method. These are the people who have been getting ripped up for years, decades even, legal or not, and they’re not about to buy into the neatly packaged corporate cannabis construct. Heck no, these are tokers for life, and most will tell you that they haven’t experienced any health problems yet as a result. This testimony is not scientific by any stretch, but it is what they have chosen to believe.

However, there are plenty of reasons not to smoke marijuana.

For starters, without concrete research to tell us any different, the chemicals produced from burning buds could be damaging to the lungs. There is no real evidence that smoking marijuana increases one’s risk of lung cancer, but there’s not really any that says it doesn’t either. For this reason alone, even if there is only a small chance of it causing lung cancer or any other disease, the health-conscious consumer should avoid smoking. The smell associated with weed smoke is also a concern for some folks.

Instead of smoking, many cannabis experts recommend a microdosing regimen (2-5 mg of THC as needed) using cannabis edibles. The buzz is more of a body high than in the head, but there is no risk of health issues as a result of the smoke — only feel goods. It is also reasonable to suggest that consuming edibles might help a person smoke less marijuana than if they were using the burn method exclusively. Edibles also make it easier and more discreet to get high at work and other places where pot needs to be kept on the downlow. You can’t just fire up a joint in the break room when you need to.

Unless, of course, you have my job.

Should Health-Conscious Consumers Really Smoke Medical Marijuana? was posted on Cannabis Now.

Medical Marijuana Research in Canada Is Going Nowhere

Medical Marijuana Research in Canada Is Going Nowhere

[Canniseur: Why do governments have to keep their heads so firmly in their nethers that real research cannot get done. Although cannabis is entirely legal in Canada, the national government doesn’t allow unfettered research. I’d say the bureaucrats are just idiots, but really they’re just behaving like bureaucrats do all over the world. I guess they’re all the same no matter what country. The bureaucrats of Canada need to allow researchers to do what they were trained to do. Research and not have to fill out reams of paperwork to get to the place where they can actually do research.]

It was said last year that Canada was poised to become a global leader in the realm of medical marijuana research. It made perfect sense, too, what with the country being one of the first to ultimately end marijuana prohibition nationwide. There would be nothing to stop the barrage of researchers all across the northern nation from rolling up their sleeves to learn more about the therapeutic powers of the cannabis plant.

It was exciting news for those of us living in the United States, especially since the federal government continues to uphold a prohibition standard. The powers that be still refuse to embrace the possibilities of cannabis and will not lighten the nation’s drug policies enough to give science a fighting chance at showing the value in weed. But as long as our friends in Canada were up there, proving to the world that cannabis is medicine, the naysayers of the nug couldn’t stand in the way of progress for much longer.

Well, so much for hope.

Come to find out, Canadian researchers haven’t even started exploring medical marijuana in any real capacity. A report from CTV News indicates that hundreds of research facilities are still too busy trying to cut through the red tape and deal with other complexities of the approval process.

Although cannabis is entirely legal in Canada, scientists there are still required to hold a license before they engage in a single study. Furthermore, the hundreds of research licenses that existed before the country went legal are being forced to transition over to the Cannabis Act. As for newcomers, well, their approval isn’t exactly happening with haste. So far, only around 65 new licenses have been approved since the country’s monumental pot law took effect in October.

Some researchers say the approval process is “so difficult” that many “don’t even try” for a license. Why all of the snags, however, is something most of them cannot wrap their heads around.

While a lot of these folks are eager to get involved in cannabis research to find out how it might benefit patients with dreadful diseases, solve the stoned driving conundrum and other unknowns, the research policies outlined in Canada’s new pot law are designed more for the industry itself.

And that has thrown a bit of a wrench in the idea of science exploring marijuana for the sake of humanity.

Health Canada requires researchers to provide details about physical security measures to prevent unauthorized access; Storage measures “appropriate to the amount of cannabis required;” Record-keeping practices “that ensure the accurate tracking of the inventory, production and destruction of cannabis; and Prevention of diversion or retail sale of research products,” the report shows.

Now, if you’re thinking to yourself: “Hey, this sounds more like some of that B.S. that U.S. researchers are going through instead of a country where cannabis is completely legal,” we would be inclined to agree. One would think that legalization would have automatically created more research opportunities. In fact, last year, Forbes said the country now had a head start in global research and that the “opportunity would be profound.” But they apparently didn’t foresee the current licensing hassles.

So, what gives?

According to Health Canada, “Research licenses are intended to provide a mechanism to authorize otherwise prohibited activities with cannabis for the purpose of research.” OK, sure we get that. We wouldn’t want a bunch of scientists supplementing their incomes by dealing weed on the side, would we? Still, some researchers say they need less than 30 grams (the possession limit for recreational use) for their studies. Their primary gripe is the country continues to keep a tighter leash on cannabis than it does for booze. If both products are legal, what’s with all the bureaucrap?

“We’re doing driving research and we want to use cannabis in the same way we might use alcohol,” Simon Fraser University Ph.D. candidate Bertrand Sager said in an interview with the news source.

Still, Health Canada insists that it is not trying to hinder medical marijuana research. While “there have been challenges in processing times for new research license applications,” the agency said, it “recognizes the importance of cannabis research and is committed to promoting and enabling that research.”

Perhaps another year will make a difference. Just don’t hold your breath for results to come pouring in anytime soon. The research aspect is just another reason why some believe Canada screwed the pooch on legal weed.

The country could have dominated the market, yet it decided instead to put so many restrictions in place that it was sort of finished before it ever got started. Maybe that will change later this year when the country premiers its edible cannabis sector. But we have a sneaking suspicion that this part of the market isn’t going to end up being the boost that many hope it will be.

Medical Marijuana Research in Canada Is Going Nowhere was posted on Cannabis Now.

New Study Refutes Link Between Medical Marijuana & Decline in Fatal Opioid Overdoses

New Study Refutes Link Between Medical Marijuana & Decline in Fatal Opioid Overdoses

[Canniseur: I’ve never viewed cannabis as a panacea or cure for opiate addiction. This study, while not definitive, demonstrates that an earlier study was perhaps wrong. Is it a big deal? Probably not. However, the new study used essentially the same source data and employed the ‘same’ methodology to analyze the data.The new Stanford study refutes the University of Pennsylvania study’s earlier conclusions. It’s still has not clear if there is a correlation between opiate fatalities and cannabis use. Although there might be a corollary, our society is still too new at cannabis regulation for these studies to be of any use in a decision making process for state regulators.]

New research debunks a previous study conducted using the same methods, gathering evidence against the popular pro-legalization talking point that medical cannabis could help end the opioid crisis.

It was right around five years ago when the cannabis advocacy community got wind of some science indicating that medical marijuana was reducing the number of opioid overdose deaths in states where it was legal.

This news was such a big deal that, over the years, not only has it become one of the most popular arguments for why the federal government should entertain marijuana reform at the national level — a handful of states have actually changed their laws allowing cannabis to be used as an alternative to opioids.

Some of us out here were skeptical of these findings. Anyone with experience in the two substances understands that they are entirely different from one another, and weed, as awesome as it is, might not have the ability alone to save America from the throes of opioid addiction. Well, it appears that science has finally caught up with real-time drug wisdom.

recent study published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Science puts one of the talking points of the cannabis advocacy community in a challenging position.

Researchers at Stanford University say that, while the legalization of medical marijuana may have contributed to lower rates of fatal opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2010, that’s not the case today. When parts of the infamous 2014 study from the University of Pennsylvania, which inspired the pro-legalization talking point, were replicated, results showed that rather than a reduction in the number of opioid overdose deaths, states with legal weed actually experienced an increase. The study plugged in data from states that had legalized medical marijuana from 2010 to 2017, and found that the number of people who succumbed to opioid overdose grew by 23% in these jurisdictions.

Too Much Faith, Not Enough Info

For any potential naysayers out there, the study authors stress that the two studies were conducted using the exact same methods — both pulled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Therefore, if you bought into what the University of Pennsylvania was selling five years ago, it would be hypocritical to disregard the accuracy of the Stanford find.

“If you believed the results of the first study, it’s hard to argue that you don’t believe the results of the second one, since the methods are the same,” Chelsea Shover, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, told the Atlantic.

What cannabis advocates failed to recognize back in 2014 is the study never really pointed to medical marijuana as being a salvation’s wing for the opioid crisis. Now that marijuana legalization has taken hold in more parts of the country, this study found that there just doesn’t seem to be any correlation between legalization and a reduction in fatal opioid abuse.

In fact, back then, even the study authors were quick to point out that the research was built on shaky ground. They said: “Although the present study provides evidence that medical cannabis laws are associated with reductions in opioid analgesic overdose mortality on a population level, proposed mechanisms for this association are speculative and rely on indirect evidence.”

It was hardly enough science to spawn such an uprising in blind faith. Nevertheless, the study was considered a pivotal point for marijuana.

Sadly, it appears it just wasn’t real.

So Where Does That Leave Legalization?

This is not to say that marijuana is contributing to the opioid problem. That is unlikely. The prescription pads of doctors have been extremely animated over the past two decades or so, and the popularity of hard street drugs like heroin has found its way inside the homes of the average citizen. In the past few years, the country has also witnessed the introduction of fentanyl into the illicit market drug trade. It is a trend that has become so widespread that this substance alone is responsible for the bulk of the opioid overdose deaths.

Researchers say all their findings really mean is that opioids and marijuana “are separate issues.”

Researchers say all their findings really mean is that opioids and marijuana “are separate issues.”

“I think the most logical explanation is that these two things are not causally related,” Shover explained in an interview with Inverse. “We saw an association before, we see the opposite now. We don’t think cannabis was saving people before and killing people now. We think these are two unrelated things. If one is not causing the other, it’s not surprising that the relationship looks different,” she added.

The most important thing to remember here is we, as a nation, do not need marijuana to be a medicinal superhero to the masses in order for it to be legal. Cannabis doesn’t have to save us from opioids, cancer or any other blight to the existence of the human race in order for legalization and other reforms around cannabis policy to be worth supporting.

Sure, there is evidence that some people are using marijuana as a way to deal with chronic pain, in the same way they might use ibuprofen. But there has always been some contention as to whether the herb was strong and effective enough to cut through severe pain conditions. That doesn’t mean that cannabis doesn’t deserve to be legal.

Furthermore, the majority of Americans caught up in opioid addiction could never be swayed to replace the feel-good effects of painkillers with the marijuana high. If this were the case, they may have never used opioids in the first place. These drugs, while lighting up some of the same parts of the brain, really are different in so many ways.

Whether or not marijuana has the power to help pull the nation out of its addict daze should have no bearing on the progress of legalization in the United States. It produces jobs, boosts local and state economies and all at no increased harm to society. This is all that is important at this juncture.

New Study Refutes Link Between Medical Marijuana & Decline in Fatal Opioid Overdoses was posted on Cannabis Now.

Cannabis Beverages Might Not Be the Next Big Thing After All

Cannabis Beverages Might Not Be the Next Big Thing After All

[Canniseur: I tasted a few THC and CBD beverages in Seattle a few months ago. They were uniformly horrible. The fact is, THC and CBD taste bad and no amount of sugar is going to solve that problem. We need to find a way for cannabis to be a part of the bar scene, and outside of THC infused drinks.]

From the outside looking in, the concept of THC-infused beverages was a shoo-in at becoming the next big trend in cannabis. Not only did it seem that every major beverage company from around the globe was looking to jump into the scene and rip off a piece of the action, but market analysts even came forward with reports that told the tale of riches to be had from the sale of stoner sips. Some also suggested that these drinks were for the cannabis consumer of tomorrow, and if cannabis companies weren’t selling drinkable weed in the foreseeable future, they would end up bankrupt and living under a bridge. However, that was last year. Although we have seen the addition of some THC-beverages showing up in the American market (Canada still can’t legally sell them until October) it almost seems that the hype has petered out and is fading away.

Some of the attrition in hoopla could be because cannabis companies are finding out that there just aren’t as many customers interested in sipping buds as they initially believed. To hear Aurora Cannabis CEO Terry Booth tell it, that’s precisely what has happened as far as his camp is concerned.

Earlier this week, Booth explained to analysts during an investment conference call that he and his people were starting to second-guess the enthusiasm for THC-infused beverages. Apparently, Booth just isn’t convinced — at least not anymore — that this is the direction the cannabis consumer is heading. “The proven market is certainly not in beverage,” he said, according to Yahoo Finance. “There are not going to be any cannabis bars like there are alcohol bars any time soon.”

This has not always been Booth’s opinion. You might remember that Aurora was taking meetings with several large beverage companies last year from Diageo Plc, maker of Crown Royal and Guinness Beer, right down to the queen mother of carbonated libations – Coca Cola. Or at least that was the rumor. The word on the street was that Coke was in “serious talks” with Aurora about creating a CBD-infused beverage, but almost as quickly as that news started to spread it was shut down by Coke’s top dog. CEO James Quincey said back in October of 2018 that the beverage company “doesn’t have any plans at this stage” to get involved with the cannabis industry.

But other beverage-cannabis partnerships have taken place over the past year, one of which is a huge deal. The first international brewing company to go balls deep into the idea of bringing cannabis beverages to life was the maker of Corona and Modelo, Constellation Brands. The company has invested billions of dollars with Canopy Growth to become one of the first to offer such a product on the Canadian market. The goal is to test THC-beverages in the northern nation and be one of the first to jump into the U.S. market once marijuana goes legal at the national level. There is now even a contingency deal in place with an American firm (Acreage Holding) that could also technically allow the brewer to become one of the largest cannabis-beer companies in the United States. Of course, all of this depends on Congressional enthusiasm for ending pot prohibition. And as far as we can tell, there isn’t much. But that’s another story for another time.

No, it’s true, there is no Corona of Cannabis yet – not even a nifty brand name or any indication of whether it is close to ready for market, or how it might taste.

In fact, flavoring seems to be a large part of the problem when it comes to producing THC-infused beverages. A report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that companies are struggling to make a weed drink that doesn’t taste awful, funky and in the not-so-pleasant ballpark of urine or soap. We can’t see there being a huge market for something like that. Another problem is creating a THC-infused beverage that is water-soluble so it can metabolize in a person’s system like alcohol. Otherwise, consumers might experience some of the panic moments that they have when consuming other cannabis edibles. So achieving a 10-minute onset time is the goal. The only problem is some of the chemicals needed to make cannabis drinks take effect quicker also contribute to the bad flavor. It’s almost as though the cannabis plant just doesn’t want to be liquified.

It could be all of these headaches associated with the production of cannabis beverages that has Aurora ready just to keep kicking it old school. For now, smoking is still the most popular form of consumption, so why mess with a good thing — right? But there are problems with smoking as well. A recent poll found that even some cannabis users are bothered when they catch a whiff of marijuana smoke in public. There is also the question of where stoned socialites might eventually go to partake. Are we going to establish consumption lounges all across the country like they’re doing in Vegas or is a more logical option to find a way to incorporate it in with the bar scene? These questions are far from being answered, and it remains to be seen how it will all shake out. There is no doubt that marijuana needs a social component for it to become as widely accepted in the same way as alcohol. And cannabis beverages seemed like the product that could take us there.

This is not the case, according to Booth and Aurora CCO Cam Battley. They say while there might be a customer base for wellness beverages — CBD-infused recovery drinks like Gatorade — there doesn’t seem to be much interest coming from the consumer public for getting high through the consumption of weed drinks. “On the intoxication side of the fence with respect to cannabis drinks, the market is just not there. It’s not proven to be a popular item anywhere,” Booth said.

Cannabis consumers are, however, still stoked about vapes and edibles, the two cannabis executives explained. But as far as investing resources getting into cannabis drinks, it’s just not worth it to them. “Considering the anticipated relatively low market share of these products, we are not rushing this,” Battley said.

TELL US, would you try a drink that was infused with THC?

PHOTO Neil Williamson

Cannabis Beverages Might Not Be the Next Big Thing After All was posted on Cannabis Now.

Police Want Access To Medical Marijuana Records To Bust Gun Owners

Police Want Access To Medical Marijuana Records To Bust Gun Owners

[Canniseur: Pennsylvania law enforcement has some truly bizarre concepts of cannabis users. Thicker vape pens are more likely to spawn a shakedown? This is a gross overreach and a blatant breach of HIPPA law. This is just madness ]

Law enforcement in Pennsylvania are trying to gain access to information about medical marijuana to enforce firearm laws

In spite of marijuana legalization in parts of the United States, law enforcement in those areas remain hellbent on finding new and improved ways to bust those who use this substance. And it’s not just about getting stoned drivers off the road either — although that is a big part of it. Cops are wanting access to medical marijuana patient registries so they can just start showing up at the residences of these people and arresting them if they own a gun. To get the ball rolling on these Gestapo tactics, police forces are trying to convince the higher-ups that public safety is in jeopardy as long as they are in the dark about which citizens are out there using medical marijuana.

Although cannabis has been legal in Pennsylvania for therapeutic use for the past three years, cops are still throwing a temper tantrum over their inability to access the state’s medical marijuana registry. Some of them, like drug recognition lackey Craig Amos, believe the state’s secrecy on the issue has created a “huge disconnect.” Because now, there is a possibility that society is full of marijuana users that also own firearms. And that is a volatile predicament that they wish to remedy by any means necessary.

“If we had access (to the marijuana user database), then we’d have state troopers showing up at someone’s door, arresting them for a felony violation because they lied on a form to purchase a firearm,” Amos told a crowd of around 80 police officers, according to the Intelligencer.

The discussion over medical marijuana and gun ownership is perhaps one of the most controversial of the heated subjects surrounding the cannabis plant. But the rules on this issue are relatively cut and dry.

Since the federal government still considers marijuana an outlaw, Schedule I substance, marijuana users, even those acting in accordance with the laws of their respective state, cannot legally own guns. Section 802 of the Controlled Substances Act makes that clear. Essentially, a person forfeits their Second Amendment rights once they make the decision to participate in a medical marijuana program.

Even the courts support this madness.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco handed down a verdict that said no constitutional violation was made in preventing medical marijuana patients from purchasing guns.

“Registry cardholders are more likely to be marijuana users, and illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are more likely to be involved in violent crimes,” wrote a three-judge panel. “Accordingly, preventing those individuals who firearm dealers know have registry cards from acquiring firearms furthers the Government’s interest in preventing gun violence.”

But it’s not as though that dastardly Uncle Sam has a special B.S. detector that sounds an alarm each time a registered medical marijuana patient purchases a firearm. Marijuana users are just supposed to be forthright about their use when filling out the form (4473) required to buy, sell, or transfer a gun. Failing to provide the government with this information can lead to felony charges.

This was made clear in a letter issued in 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, it is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition.”

Pennsylvania officials fully understood there was going to be trouble if they shared information about medical marijuana patients with the police. It is for that reason that the state’s Department of Health, which oversees the patient registry, has denied law enforcement any access to those records. This is apparently causing some cops to lose sleep at night. They feel it creates a situation where medical marijuana patients could fudge form 4473 and still purchase weapons.

But it’s not just the thought of marijuana users owning firearms that has Pennsylvania cops all riled up. They are perplexed altogether by the evolving cannabis scene — on everything from the latest cannabis products to spotting impaired drivers. This is why drug recognition experts, like Amos, from the Pennsylvania DUI Association, are traveling around giving cops the 411 on the cannabis culture of today.

They are teaching law enforcement officers that kids smoking weed in this day and age no longer smell like “grapes or blueberry” from smoking joints (WTF?) and that consumption is about “vaping, extracts and oils.”

Police are also learning how to make arrests in the newly legal climate by identifying equipment used in the production of concentrates, as well as gaining an understanding of when it might be time to send a vape pen in for lab testing. Apparently thicker vape pens are more likely to spawn a shakedown.  

And when it comes to yanking stoned drivers off the road, cops are being told that the drivers out there taking it easy are not the high ones. On the contrary, Amos suggests, high drivers are almost always caught because they are driving too fast. “They’re not out there driving slow,” he said. “They’re going 75 (mph) when they’re supposed by going 35 (mph). When they’re using, they think they’re better drivers.”

Clearly, the disconnect is real.

TELL US,  have you ever owned a gun?

The post Police Want Access To Medical Marijuana Records To Bust Gun Owners appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Police Want Access To Medical Marijuana Records To Bust Gun Owners was posted on Cannabis Now.

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