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.

Carl’s Jr. Will Make 420 History With A CBD-Infused Burger

Carl’s Jr. Will Make 420 History With A CBD-Infused Burger

[Carl’s Jr.? CBD Burger? Apparently so. While it’s not entirely surprising to see a fast food chain cashing (or crashing) in on popular culture, the idea of a CBD burger is a little uh, strange. I wonder how they’re dealing with the taste?]

We’ve created a monster. Well, not us specifically, but over the past few years the media has talked lot of smack about cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis sativa plant, and the discussion, one that began with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has now led a vast majority of the American people to believe that this substance is a miracle cure for all sorts of ailments. And it might be just that, but then again it is hard to praise the health benefits of anything that is set to become an ingredient in fast food. Yep. In case, you haven’t heard, the Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain plans to experiment with a CBD-infused burger at one of its Denver locations, just in time for the 420 holiday, and all we have to say is we hope CBD can cure a stomach-ache.

Hey, what did expect? We live in a capitalist society, one where corporate hounds are always sniffing out the next opportunity to make a buck, so it should come as no surprise that the fast food slingers of the nation are looking to put CBD, which some believe is the next best thing since sliced bread, in a sauce on beef patties squished in between two pieces of, well, sliced bread. It’s the circle of hype, so to speak, a ploy to capitalize on the unofficial holiday of the cannabis culture.

For a limited time, Carl’s Jr. will offer stoned patrons (and sober ones — they aren’t discriminating) the Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight. It is a recipe that almost sounds like it was conjured up in a Bro 2.0 kitchen somewhere after one too many bong rips unleashed a case of the munchies and now self-respect hangs in the balance. This burger comes with two beef patties, pickled jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, waffle fries and a unique mix of its Santa Fe sauce containing right around 5 milligrams of CBD. Of course, the restaurant plans to sell this monstrosity for $4.20. But no, this burger will not get anyone stoned. In fact, it is not likely to provide the consumer with any medical benefits either, unless they suffer from severe constipation.

Although the Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight will only be available to Denver customers on Saturday, April 20, Carl’s Jr. is apparently using the event as a way to gauge interest in a nationwide CBD-infused menu. Patty Trevino, the fast food chain’s senior vice president of brand marketing, told Business Insider that the whole scheme is a move to eventually become the first burger joint to bring CBD-infused sandwiches to the American people. “If anyone is going to do it, I would want Carl’s Jr. to do it,” Trevino told the news source.

But there are still some problems with this concept.

Marijuana is an outlaw substance eyes of the federal government, a detail that makes it tricky for nationally recognized businesses to get involved at any level. But last December, Congress passed a bill legalizing industrial hemp nationwide for the first time since 1937, which turned the prospect of cashing-in on hemp-derived CBD products up a notch. Now, CBD is everywhere. But when it comes to incorporating the substance in food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been sort of weird about it. The agency has essentially said that food and beverages produced with CBD cannot be sold because the substance has not yet gone through its rigorous approval process. It’s a whole confusing affair, one that former commissioner Scott Gottlieb says could take years to hash out unless Congress intervenes and takes it out of the FDA’s hands. For now, the agency will hold hearings on the matter, the first of which is set to take place next month, to learn more about the compound in hopes of offering some regulatory recommendations. Who knows how it will all shake out, and there is any number of articles on the subject that can shed more light on the topic. But, for all intents and purposes, this particular piece is supposed to be a way to crack a few jokes at the prospect at CBD becoming a condiment.

So here goes.

We’re just spit balling here, but anyone thinking about grabbing a Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight (or two) this Saturday as part of their hightinerary can expect to consume more than 420 calories. Only the chain’s 1/3 LB. Lettuce-Wrapped Thick Burger can make that claim. Most of the double burgers sold at Carl’s Jr come closer to the 1,000 calorie mark. So, let’s just say that if CBD-infused fast food eventually becomes a new, exciting trend in the realm of popular cannabis, more Americans across the country are going to be seeing 420 a lot more often — on the bathroom scale.

TELL US, would you try this burger?

The post Carl’s Jr. Will Make 420 History With A CBD-Infused Burger appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Carl’s Jr. Will Make 420 History With A CBD-Infused Burger was posted on Cannabis Now.

Does Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Smell Like Popcorn?

Does Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Smell Like Popcorn?

[Canniseur: Yet another example of the police attempting to create panic and doubt about cannabis. Shades of 1937 and “Reefer Madness” again. It’s also called propaganda. Law enforcement doesn’t seem to understand their outright lies undermine their own authority with the public. The public the police are supposed to serve.]

One of the hottest pieces of propaganda to come spilling from jowls of law enforcement over the past few years is that illicit-market marijuana is being laced with a dangerous and destructive opioid called fentanyl.

The idea that drug dealers are intentionally adding this potent drug to pot so hapless children who get their hands on it suffer savage, sometimes fatal overdoses has become a new reefer madness. Even the White House continues to perpetuate the myth with ignorance. Just weeks ago, Trump’s opioid crisis czar Kellyanne Conway told reporters that fentanyl was showing up in “heroin, marijuana, meth [and] cocaine.” Conway resurrected this claim, apparently, because she is still using misinformation given to her by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The marijuana-fentanyl connection has been proven false, at least on a large scale. Even the DEA called it bogus — more on that later. But new twists on the subject are still popping up from time to time that only stand to confuse the public further.

What the Nose Doesn’t Know

One of our favorites comes from a recent Facebook post, in which someone suggests that fentanyl smells like popcorn when it burns. So, of course, they warn that if a person smokes marijuana and catches a whiff of American’s favorite movie-time snack, that’s a good indication they could be in serious trouble.

But all of this popcorn nonsense is absolutely false, according to fact-checking website Truth or Fiction.

“Nearly all information about fentanyl’s scent indicated it was odorless or faintly powder-scented, not that it smells ‘like popcorn,’” wrote author Kim LaCapria. “The inherent risk in such information being spread as ‘better safe than sorry’ [is] lulling recreational drug users into a dangerously false sense of security with respect to detecting contamination from drugs such as fentanyl.”

Back to Reality

What is true is that fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, designed as a post-surgical painkiller. Yet, for obvious reasons, it has found illicit market appeal. Those who enjoy the feel-good effects that come from popping OxyContin or shooting heroin are the primary customer base. It’s also a drug that cartel operations have found much success with, because it is easier to produce than heroin — all of the supplies needed to manufacture it can be purchased relatively easily from online suppliers in China.

It’s also true that fentanyl is now being found in other drugs — though some of those instances might be exaggerated too. This is happening, according to a report from NPR, either as a result of accidental contamination or intentionally, in order to get users hooked on other products. There is also a distinct possibility that fentanyl is being combined with other drugs in the pursuit of new highs.

While it is not beyond the scope of imagination to suggest that people are adding fentanyl or other opioids to marijuana as part of their personal preference — cannabis has been soaked in embalming fluid, mixed with PCP, cocaine, and more over the years — there is little benefit for the illicit drug industry to engage in this practice. These operations certainly aren’t going to put fentanyl-laced marijuana into the market without charging some kind of premium.

But all of this talk is entirely hypothetical.

As we mentioned before, even the DEA says there hasn’t actually been any marijuana found with traces of fentanyl in it. “In regard to marijuana, I’m not familiar with that,” DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson told the Cincinnati Inquirer.

These comments echo DEA senior chemist Jill Head’s remarks from earlier this year. According to Buzzfeed News, Head made a salient point in a National Drug Early Warning System briefing in March: If fentanyl-laced marijuana was actually a trend across the nation, the death toll would be of an apocalyptic nature. After all, marijuana is the most commonly used substance – some 33 million people in both the legal and illicit markets consume it regularly. We’d definitely be seeing more bodies.

So if fentanyl-laced pot isn’t actually a thing, how did the rumors get started? Well, when it comes to the “misinformation” that continues to be spread by the White House – using the data collected by NIDA — all of it is based on anecdotal evidence from local police departments. But all of those reports were eventually proven to be false. Even the fact-checking site Snopes found no evidence to suggest that this drug combination is not a legitimate concern.

In the end, we cannot trust the police to deliver accurate reports over the kinds of drugs they are seeing out in the field.

“There’s this mistaken belief that law enforcement are experts on the drugs they are seizing,” Northeastern University drug policy expert Leo Beletsky told BuzzFeed News. “That’s just not the case, and that’s part of the problem.”

Does Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis Smell Like Popcorn? was posted on Cannabis Now.

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