Effects of cannabis

Scientists manage to seperate cannabis medicinal benefits from its hallucinogenic effects


Scientists have discovered that inhibiting a receptor in the brain meant they could trigger cannabis’ medicinal benefits but not its unwanted side effects. This enables cannabis to shrink cancer tumours and retain its pain relief capabilities.

Scientists have, for the first time, been able to separate the medical benefits of cannabis from its unwanted side effects, it has emerged.

The research comes from the team that discovered how the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, known as THC, reduces tumour growth in cancer patients.

Their latest findings reveal how the cognitive effects of THC, such as memory loss and anxiety, are triggered by a pathway which is separate from some of its other effects, including pain relief.

That pathway involves both a cannabinoid receptor and a serotonin receptor.

When it is blocked, THC can still exert several beneficial effects while avoiding impairment of memory.

The research was carried out in mice by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with a team at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

It is hoped the breakthrough will pave the way for safe cannabis-based therapies that do not cause alterations in mood, perception or memory. ? Read more »

A sensible first step, MinHealth to investigate medicinal cannabis

The Ministry of Health is set to look into the health benefits of medicinal cannabis.

An investigation into the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been carried out by the Ministry of Health.

Growing numbers of jurisdictions allow cannabis for medical use and the Government has come under pressure to re-examine its use here.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who oversaw New Zealand’s innovative regulations on so-called legal highs, asked officials to look into the issue.

“My office receives regular correspondence seeking legislative change … cannabis, I am told, is apparently the panacea for a plethora of ailments, some of which, sadly, are painfully debilitating,” Mr Dunne said.

“For those suffering from such ailments I have enormous sympathy … the evidence [supplied by officials], however, has been underwhelming.”

There is a problem in assessing cannabis. ? Read more »

Is cannabis stronger now than in the days of the hippies?

Lots of people have lots of opinions on cannabis and whether or not today’s strains are stronger now than what the hippies used to smoke.

But is it a valid claim?

The Atlantic has an article that explains it all.

One of the strongest known strains of marijuana in the world is called Bruce Banner #3, a reference to the comic-book scientist whose alter ego is the Hulk. This is probably an appropriate nickname. With a THC concentration of 28 percent?THC is one of the key chemicals in marijuana?Bruce Banner #3 packs a punch. It’s something like five times as potent as what federal researchers consider to be the norm, according to a 2010 Journal of Forensic Sciences paper. High Times marveled in a review: “Who knows what you?ll turn into after getting down with Bruce?”

As marijuana goes increasingly mainstream?and, crucially, develops into big (and legal) business?more super-potent novelty strains are likely to crop up. Bruce Banner #3 is the marijuana industry’s answer to The End of History, an ultra-strong Belgian-style ale that the Scottish beer-maker Brewdog made in a specialty batch?which was then served in bottles inside taxidermied squirrels?in 2010. Its alcohol by volume was 55 percent. That’s way, way stronger than most beers. “It?s the end of beer, no other beer we don?t think will be able to get that high,” James Watt, one of the founders of Brewdog, told me when I visited the Brewdog headquarters in Scotland in 2010.

Yet three years later, another Scottish brewery had whipped up a batch of barley wine called Snake Venom that boasted higher than 67 percent alcohol by volume.

This is human nature. Or maybe it’s just capitalism. One person makes a superlative product, which prompts the next person to best them. Given the opportunity to try something extreme?the biggest, the strongest, the best, the craziest?plenty of people will go for it. But most people don’t pick Snake Venom as their typical pint. And Bruce Banner #3 probably is not representative of the average joint.

But what is?

For years, people have talked about increasing marijuana potency. The idea that pot is getting stronger?much stronger than the stuff that got passed around at Woodstock, for instance?is treated like conventional wisdom these days. Maybe it shouldn’t be.

“It’s fair to be skeptical,” said Michael Kahn, the president of Massachusetts Cannabis Research, a marijuana testing and research lab in New England. “Back then the predominant method for quantitation was gas chromatography, which is not quite appropriate for cannabinoid quantitation. This is because [it] heats up the test material before analysis, which also alters the chemical profile?including breaking down the THC molecule.”

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I see from the Herald today that there is a weed shortage in the South Island, which has driven up prices, classic supply/demand economics.

The?Telegraph in the UK had a recent article about the economics of legalising cannabis.

How much is cannabis worth these days? According to the Institute for Economic and Research, up to ?900m could be raised annually through taxation of regulated cannabis market.

Meanwhile ?361 million is currently spent every year on policing and treating users of illegally traded and consumed cannabis.

It seems a lot to spend on punishing people for an activity most of us barely believe should be a crime any more. And that?s even before one factors in the potential benefit legalisation and regulation of cannabis could have for the UK exchequer.

Then, there is the job creation potential. In Colorado, which legalised marijuana at the beginning of 2014, 10,000 now work in the marijuana industry: growing and harvesting crops, working in dispensaries, and making and selling equipment. Crime has fallen: in the first three months after legalisation in Denver, the city experienced a 14.6 per cent drop in crime and specifically violent crime is down 2.4 per cent. Assaults were down by 3.7 per cent.

This reduction led to further savings and allowing stretched police forces to concentrate on more serious issues. Meanwhile, cannabis use by young people actually decreased, an uncomfortable fact for prohibitionists who argue that legalisation would simply encourage more teens to take up cannabis.

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Another weed study with surprising results

As cannabis gains traction with legalisation across the world more and more studies are able to be done that were previously forbidden.

Some are producing surprising results.

Time reports:

Want fewer ?Dude, where?s my car?? moments but not ready to give up the weed? A new studypublished in the British Journal of Psychiatrysuggests that variations in the chemical makeup of different strains of marijuana are associated with different levels of cognitive impairment while high.

Tetrahydocannabinol (THC) is commonly recognized as the ingredient in marijuana that causes a ?high? in users, but researchers have long known that pot contains other active substances as well. While THC can cause hallucinations and paranoia, another chemical found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), is believed to be responsible for the calmer, sedating part of the experience. The two chemicals have opposing effects on one of the brain receptors affected by cannabis, the CB1 receptor.

To determine the effect of different levels of CBD, researchers studied 134 cannabis-using volunteers while they smoked their own stash of marijuana, at home. They gave them various cognitive tests, either while wasted or abstinent. Then, they took samples of the pot back to the lab for testing. ? Read more »

And yet another medical use for cannabis

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I wonder when politicians will start to realise that they are on the wrong side of the debate when it comes to legalising cannabis.

More and more studies are proving that the plant has more benefits than issues.

The latest report suggests that cannabis extracts can assist in the treatment of cancer.

Cannabis extracts can help slow the growth of cancerous tumours when used alongside radiotherapy treatments, new research has suggested.

Two active chemical components found in cannabis plants, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) were tested as part of research into the treatment of brain cancer tumours.

This type of cancer is notoriously difficult to treat and has a particularly poor prognosis. The rate of survival for patients five years after diagnosis is just 10 per cent. ? ? Read more »

Medicinal Cannabis coming to Australia

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As more states and countries around the world start legalising cannabis the pressure is going to come on John Key to look at legalisation of cannabis sooner rather than later.

Tony Abbott is a convert and his government is moving to legislate for the introduction of medicinal cannabis.

The federal government would be given oversight over the production and distribution of medical cannabis under new legislation to make the make the drug available to patients with chronic pain.

The push to legalise medical cannabis is gathering pace, with Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, chairman of the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, now finalising a bill that is set to be introduced into Parliament next month.

Supporters of legalised medical cannabis have been buoyed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s strong public support for the legalisation of the drug for medical use.

“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” Mr Abbott wrote in a letter to 2GB radio host Alan Jones, dated August 23.

“If a drug is needed for a valid medicinal purpose ? and is being administered safely there should be no question of its legality.”

Jones, who has been campaigning in support of medical cannabis, read Mr Abbott’s letter on air earlier this month.

Senator Di Natale, a former GP, is also pushing for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to create a special category for the drug so that it can be available with a doctor’s prescription. The TGA currently lists cannabis as a prohibited substance. ? Read more »

Colorado’s violent crime plummets after legalisation of weed


The murder rate in Colorado has fallen dramatically ,by more than 50%, since the legalisation of cannabis.

According to?government data?released this week, the city- and countywide murder rate has dropped 52.9% since recreational marijuana use was legalized in January. This is compared to the same period last year, a time frame encompassing Jan. 1 through April 30.

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Dissent of the Day – Legalisation of Cannabis

Another reader emails on the issue of cannabis legalisation?responding?to William’s email.

Brett makes some good points too:

Hi Cam.

After reading your correspondents argument for legalisation of cannabis I thought the alternative view was worth considering as well. The concept that legalising cannabis removes the ?cost of fighting violent cartels? ?. and ?prevent ordinary otherwise law abiding citizens from consuming public resources? is simplistic in its approach and overstates the potential benefits.

Firstly the concept of violent cartels doesn?t really apply in NZ to the extent it does in South America for example. For sure organised criminal gangs are actively involved in distribution of cannabis but legalising cannabis would not remove them from the NZ crime scene, it would simply cause them to focus on other revenue streams such as meth, heroin etc. It would however create another method to launder revenue from the other illegal activities as legitimate cannabis revenue. it would probably also increase their business opportunities as a flow on effect.? More legal drug users mean more potential illegal drug users as there is plenty of evidence supporting the concept of Cannabis increasing the susceptibility to addiction. Its simply about growing target markets.

By creating a legal cannabis industry you are creating an industry that has a vested interest in increasing cannabis use.?The more people who smoke, the more profit they generate.?The last thing our economy needs is an increased population of hop heads who cant function to reasonable levels of productivity. There is absolutely no doubt that cannabis use results in poorer cognitive performance. While Alcohol is metabolised out of the body in a matter of hours, cannabis takes six weeks or more. Due to the fact that the THC deposits itself in certain body fats, particularly those around the brain, its effects are cumulative. Some studies indicate that regular use of cannabis? lowers the average IQ of the user by 6 points. Just what we need in NZ , more dumbasses who don?t contribute to society!

Think that legalisation wouldn?t increase its use? Did lowering the drinking age contribute to increased youth binge drinking and the associated social problems? Did legalised synthetic cannabis create a new population of drug users because ?it was legal? and promoted by greedy manufacturers with no ethics? ? Read more »

Police against cannabis reform


No surprises here, the Police are opposed to cannabis reform preferring instead to continue waste resources prosecuting people for using cannabis. They have already virtually decriminalised cannabis in any case by not prosecuting most users caught with a joint or two…instead going after larger quantities.

But for all the years of battling cannabis they are no closer to eradicating it from our shores. You have to wonder why they bother…then again this is the same people who say having a pistol grip on a rifle is bad…for no reason whatsoever and no scientific proof that having a pistol grip makes the owner of a rifle a homicidal maniac.

Still they are opposed to legalisation of cannabis and the sole basis for coming to this conclusions is that 5 people last year removed themselves from the gene pool by driving drugged.

Police say they do not support the decriminalisation of natural cannabis despite calls by Auckland’s Deputy Mayor that it’s safer than banned synthetic versions.

Penny Hulse said it was time New Zealanders discussed the decriminalisation of cannabis, much as they had had discussions on prostitution and same-sex marriage.

But a police national headquarters spokesman said there was no political will for decriminalisation and their stance on the issue was clear.

“Police do not support the decriminalisation of cannabis.”

[…] ?? Read more »