Tag: medical marijuana

Maximizing CBD’s Effects and Benefits: 5 Experts Weigh In

This article is sponsored by Firefly, a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in the research, design, and manufacturing of vaporizer hardware.


Is CBD the magic cannabis molecule, or a misleading fad? There’s certainly a major trend toward CBD-only products on the cannabis market, and a push in some states leery of medical marijuana to legalize only one or two cannabinoids. Yet many are fighting back against this approach.  That’s because there’s an interactive synergy between cannabis compounds, known as the entourage effect, and many benefits attributed broadly to cannabis can only be unlocked through “whole plant medicine” – that is, with THC, CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids working together in sync.

RELATED STORY

5 Experts Weigh in on Cannabis Concentrates and How to Use Them

Whole plant medicine has been widely debated as many states consider limited legalization of cannabinoids like CBD, and the idea that the entourage effect is integral to using cannabis as medicine is increasingly accepted. In fact, some products are being designed specifically to maximize the value of whole plant medicine for the consumer. Take Firefly’s vaporizer technology, which sets out to capture all the myriad benefits of the entourage effect through dynamic convection technology. “[Firefly 2 was] truly designed around the plant…in order to deliver all the cannabinoids and terpenes in the most efficient way,” says Rachel Dugas of Firefly. Yet given the complexities of these chemical interactions, it’s still hard to pin down how exactly this maximizes the benefits of cannabis.

What the Experts Say About CBD’s Effects and Benefits

Neuron cell network

To shed some light on the subject, we assembled a panel of five experts in different areas of the cannabis space to weigh in:

Here’s what they had to say.

What effects does CBD have on its own?

Mary Lynn Mathre: “Many – anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, neuroprotective, bone stimulant, anti-spasmodic, and more.”

Jessica Peters: “Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-proliferative, analgesic, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), neuroprotective, anti-psychotic, anti-emetic (anti-nausea) … I can technically answer what are the properties of CBD, but these properties might not pop out if THC is not present. A potential new research category that I’ve seen evidence of anecdotally are addiction-fighting properties … CBD seems to reroute those neural pathways.”

Constance Finley: “Studies have shown CBD to have a positive effect on inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis and spasms, but it should be noted that most of these applications are not treated with just CBD alone and in fact do require some level of THC, whose role as a phytotherapeutic compound has already been established vis-à-vis many of the same conditions. CBD acts on different receptors than THC in the body.”

Perry Solomon: “It’s been found that CBD alone can cause a feeling of calm, relaxation. CBD’s other medicinal effects stem from completely separate pathways, such as the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), mu and delta opioid receptors. Taken on its own, CBD has sedative, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant effects on the brain, but does not create any overtly psychoactive high like THC. It’s also been shown to have change gene expression and remove beta amyloid plaque, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, from brain cells.”

RELATED STORY

Product Review: The Firefly 2 Portable Vaporizer

How are these effects augmented or altered by other compounds?

Peters: “Pretty significantly. CBD being cannabis-based is what’s most crucial for these properties to exist. The range of the volume of THC in relation to CBD will feature different properties. An equal amount of THC to CBD [for example] is often the best pain reliever. Many terpenes have relationships [and] the fact that those relationships exist is becoming clearer and clearer.”

Eloise Theisen: “CBD and THC seem to work better together. They lessen each other’s side effects.”

Solomon: “THC seems to potentiate all the effects of CBD and conversely, CBD affects THC. Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This ‘phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,’ as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and even cancer … Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the “upper”). However, more specific research is needed.”

Mathre: “CBD has value, but its value can be enhanced with the whole plant and we can develop more individualized medicine (specific ratios depending upon the person and the need).”

RELATED STORY

Cannabis’s Entourage Effect: Why Whole Plant Medicine Matters

How much more effective would you say whole-plant medicine is than CBD-only?

Peters: “Radically. Not even close. It’s as though you’re working with different substances.”

Solomon: “I think that any whole plant medicine is more effective then any CBD-only product.”

Theisen: “Whole plant medicine is the only way to go.”

Mathre: “Safer and more effective, and tolerance will develop more slowly (if at all).”

Finley: “In almost all cases…I would say whole-plant therapeutics are 100% more effective than CBD-only.”

Thoughts on those who exclude THC or other cannabis components from the realm of medicinal cannabis?

Finley: “I believe everyone should have access to all types of treatment options that could potentially benefit them, and people need to be aware that not all cannabis is created equal. CBD from hemp does not have the medicinal properties that CBD from cannabis possesses, and is frankly an inferior product.”

Mathre: “We have lawyers and politicians practicing medicine without a license – they don’t know what they are talking about. Clearly there may be some patients who need little to no THC, but the vast majority will benefit from it. Patients should have all of the options open to them and research needs to continue to help determine how to best individualize cannabis medicine.”

Peters: “It’s so extraordinarily problematic that it feels criminal to me… The wall of bureaucracy is pushing up against the wall of science.”

RELATED STORY

Firefly 2: The Dynamic Convection Vaporizer Pushing the Industry Forward

What is the best way to consume cannabis to access its complete entourage of effects?

Finley: “Delivery methods vary greatly in terms of their efficiency and their effects. I heard a colleague say that smoking a joint for therapeutic effect is akin to opening your mouth in the rain to get a drink of water … Our preferred methods [are] buccal ingestion or sublingual ingestion, vaping from a vaporizer or vape pen whose hardware is safe to use with cannabis extracts, and topical for additional localized impact.”

Peters: “Certainly vaporizing flowers is one of the easiest options. I would [also] say tinctures … especially full plant and alcohol-extracted (with organic ethanol).”

Theisen: “Vaporization or tinctures of whole plants. Any sort of extraction method that isn’t going to deplete it.”

How Vaporizer Technology Can Maximize the Entourage Effect

firefly30 copy-web

In the vaporizer world, dynamic convection is the process by which vapes can capture a complete range of active ingredients and flavors in cannabis flowers and full-plant concentrates. This maximizes efficiency and optimizes the benefits of the entourage effect for the consumer. As vaporizer technology continues to advance in this direction, it will become easier and easier for patients to explore the benefits of whole plant medicine for themselves, and hone in on the cannabis strains best suited to their needs.

To learn more about dynamic convection technology in the Firefly 2, please visit the sponsor’s website.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Texas Has a Medical Cannabis ‘Prescription’ Problem

This coming Thursday, February 23, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will start accepting applications from companies to grow and process cannabis under Texas’s new Compassionate Use Program, which regulates the production and sale of low-THC, high-CBD medical cannabis. The agency is scheduled to conditionally approve at least three dispensaries by May. But because of a quirk in the bill’s language, medical marijuana advocates worry that there may not be any patients to purchase the dispensaries’ products.

Texas starts taking license applications this week. But there may not be any patients.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, signed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015, allows physicians to “prescribe” low-THC, high-CBD cannabis to patients with epilepsy. Groups like Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) say that’s impossible. The DEA, which licenses physicians to prescribe scheduled drugs, still treats marijuana as a Schedule I drug — a category reserved for “drugs with no currently accepted medical use.” And a DEA manual makes it clear that doctors can’t prescribe Schedule I substances.

Defenders of the law say the Texas DPS, the agency tasked with running the program, has defined the word “prescription” in a way that resolves the problem. But it’s not entirely clear how that works.

With the application deadline approaching, and the Texas DPS still unwilling or unable to answer basic questions about this issue, the Compassionate Use Act is beginning to look like the latest in a long line of flawed Southern cannabis programs.

RELATED STORY

Atlanta Buyers Club: Inside the CBD Underground in the American South

In every state with a workable medical marijuana program, doctors “recommend” or “certify” patients for cannabis use. The do not “prescribe.” In a 2002 court case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government couldn’t punish doctors for recommending cannabis so long as they weren’t helping patients obtain it. (The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, so the ruling stands.)

A prescription doesn’t give doctors the same legal protection as a recommendation.

Because a prescription is, essentially, an order for controlled drugs, it doesn’t provide doctors with the same protections as they enjoy for a recommendation or a certification. In 1978, Louisiana became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, for glaucoma and cancer patients. That law required a prescription, but the state Health Department never created a system for doctors to legally prescribe, or for patients to legally access their medicine. So the law never served a single patient.

Officials with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and NORML insist the prescription language will effectively kill Texas’ efforts to create a low-THC medical cannabis program. In 2015, when the Compassionate Use Act passed the Texas Senate, MPP lobbied to fix this wording, according to Heather Fazio, a Texas spokesperson MPP. But Kevin Eltife, the Senate sponsor for the bill, refused to consider any amendments, Fazio said.

RELATED STORY

Hold On! The DEA’s Move Against CBD May Not Be Legal

Some companies may take the risk

One of the companies applying for a Texas DPS license is AcquiFlow. Founded in 2014 by Patrick Moran, a Texas native turned pot entrepreneur, the business touts itself as “the first open, transparent and legal Texas based cannabis company,” according to its website.

Despite the prescription problem, Moran is optimistic about the Compassionate Use Act. He argues that programs with the “recommend” language, like California’s, have too often created a gray market. He believes the Texas bill will be functional because State Representative Stephanie Klick, who co-sponsored the bill, works in the medical profession herself. (Klick is a medical-business consultant and a registered nurse.)

More significantly, Moran notes that the Texas DPS has defined a marijuana prescription as “an entry in the compassionate-use registry.” Since this definition “remains in the state framework,” he said, “the DEA has no authority.”

That’s Moran’s claim—but it may not be so in the eyes of the DEA. Since California passed the nation’s first workable medical marijuana law in 1996, the DEA has considered all variations of medical cannabis to be illegal and subject to federal enforcement.

RELATED STORY

Companies Sue DEA over Recent CBD Rule

State officials: Nobody knows how it works

It’s true that the DPS defines a marijuana “prescription” in relation to the Compassionate Use Act. But does this mean doctors don’t have to follow the usual rules around prescriptions? Would this wording protect them in the same way the “recommend” language does? For at least two weeks, I’ve asked these simple questions to a number of state organizations, including the Texas DPS. The answers — or lack thereof — do not inspire confidence.

I asked DPS officials if doctors would be legally allowed to prescribe–rather than recommend–marijuana, and if they would risk any penalties for doing so. Tom Vinger, a DPS spokesperson, told me via email that these questions weren’t “on point.” When asked for clarification, Vinger said the Compassionate Use Act “does not affect federal law or require the DEA to alter its enforcement practices.” He referred me to the DEA.

The Texas law ‘does not affect federal law or require the DEA to alter its practices.’

Texas Dept. of Public Safety spokesman

When asked the same questions, Jarrett Schneider, a spokesperson for the Texas Medical Board, said via email that, as far as he knew, the Compassionate Use program was “still being developed.”

“Schedule I drugs are illegal,” Schneider added. For more information, he referred me back to the DPS.

I contacted the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP), which regulates the distribution of pharmaceutical drugs in Texas. Gay Dodson, Executive Director of the TSBP, told me in a voicemail that the Compassionate Use Act was “not administered by this agency.” She also directed me to the DPS.

I reached out to the offices of State Representative Stephanie Klick, who co-sponsored the bill. A spokesperson told me Bryan Shufelt, Klick’s Chief of Staff, could answer my questions. Shufelt later called to say he couldn’t do a phone interview before my deadline. When I emailed my question instead, Shufelt didn’t respond.

Brent Annear, a spokesperson for the Texas Medical Association, said he doesn’t know of any Texas physicians who have registered with the DPS to become marijuana prescribers. “Apparently no formal rules are in place to make that possible yet,” he said in an email. “Federal law prohibits writing a prescription for a Schedule One drug anyway.”

RELATED STORY

Leafly Exclusive: GW Pharma is Moving CBD Bills on the Down Low

There’s a bill in the works, but…

The DPS seems to recognize the problem. In audio from a December 2015 meeting, RenEarl Bowie, Assistant Director of Regulatory Licensing at the Texas DPS, said the prescription issue was “something that will have to be addressed by the Texas legislature.”

Texas State Senator José Menéndez is trying to do just that. In December 2016, he introduced a revised medical marijuana bill that would replace the word “prescribe” with “recommend.” It’s been referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, which has yet to decide whether to give the bill a hearing, according to Heather Fazio, the Texas MPP spokesperson.

One complication: Menéndez’s bill doesn’t just change the language around prescriptions. It also removes caps on THC. It’s not clear how that bigger change will sit with conservative lawmakers. If Menendez insists on removing the THC limits — for instance, by not allowing amendments — efforts to fix the prescription language may once again fail.

One more twist in the Southern CBD saga

The American South is known for dysfunctional marijuana laws. In much of the South, cannabidiol programs don’t even allow patients to purchase their medicine in state. When Texas bucked that trend in 2015 with its Compassionate Use Act–which established licenses for the production of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis–it created a buzz in the Southern medical marijuana community.

The Texas program seems increasingly mired in problems of its own making.

Now, almost two years later, the Texas program increasingly seems mired in problems of its own making. After all, even Southern states like Alabama and Georgia — not exactly models of workable medical CBD programs — use the “recommend” language in their laws.

“The other low-THC laws aren’t that foolish,” said Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies at MPP.

The prescription language isn’t the only part of the Compassionate Use Act to generate controversy. Although the law originally set licensing fees at $6,000, the DPS tried to raise licensing and renewal fees to around $1.3 million in November. After an uproar, the costs were lowered slightly, to $488,520. That’s still by far the highest licensing fee in the nation, for what may be the country’s smallest and tightest market.

A couple weeks ago I called Patrick Moran, the AcquiFlow founder, to see if he was still feeling optimistic. He said he didn’t have much time to talk. In the tiny north Texas town of Gunter, the city council had approved Moran’s plan to turn a former cotton gin into a grow operation. He’d already broken ground, he said.

With the program’s rollout just on the horizon, Moran admits there’s still disagreement around the prescription issue. He thinks that concern is misguided, though. Besides, if all else fails, Moran told me he has a contingency plan. Using his hydroponic cultivation setup in Gunter, he said, he could grow herbs like basil instead.

RELATED STORY

Cannabis Legislation 2017: We’re Tracking All Legalization Bills


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study: Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Use of Opioids

VICTORIA, BC — Patients with legal access to medical cannabis reduce their use of opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription drugs, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Researchers at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia assessed the use of medical cannabis and prescription drugs in a cohort of 277 patients registered in the Canadian government’s medical marijuana program.

Sixty-three percent of the respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription medications. Patients were most likely to report using cannabis in lieu of opioids (32 percent).

Patients also reported using cannabis in place of benzodiazepines (16 percent) and anti-depressants (12 percent).

Respondents were most likely to reduce their use of prescription medications because they believed that cannabis posed fewer adverse side effects. Respondents also reported that “cannabis is safer” than prescription alternatives and that it provides “better symptom management.”

Authors concluded:

“The finding that patients using cannabis to treat pain-related conditions have a higher rate of substitution for opioids, and that patients self-reporting mental health issues have a higher rate of substitution for benzodiazepines and antidepressants has significant public health implications. In light of the growing rate of morbidity and mortality associated with these prescription medications, cannabis could play a significant role in reducing the health burden of problematic prescription drug use.”

The study’s conclusions are consistent with those of prior reports finding that patients with legal access to cannabis spend less money on conventional prescription drugs, and are less likely to use or abuse opioids.

Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients,” appears in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Tags: , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Arkansas Governor Signs Law Delaying Enactment of Voter-Approved Medical Marijuana Initiative

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (arkansas.gov)

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Lawmakers passed legislation this week to delay the enactment of the state’s voter-initiated medical cannabis program.

The bill was signed into law Monday by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson

House Bill 1026, now Act 4, postpones the implementation of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment by 60 days.

Under the new timeline, regulators have until July 1, 2017 to begin accepting applications from those seeking a state license to grow or dispense medical cannabis.

Fifty-three percent of voters decided in favor of the Amendment on Election Day.

Because the legislation amends a constitutional amendment, it required the votes of over two-thirds of state lawmakers.

Lawmakers in several states, including Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Dakota, are pushing forward similar legislative efforts to either significantly delay or amend voter-approved marijuana initiatives.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri expressed strong criticism toward these proposed changes and delays, stating: “Voters have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Lawmakers have a responsibility to abide by the will of the voters and to do so in a timely manner.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Atlanta Buyers Club: Inside the CBD Underground in the American South

In most medical marijuana states, patients and caregivers can pick up cannabis products at dispensaries. But in CBD-only states, the search for relief leads people to places not often associated with medicine. For example: a gas station parking lot.

That’s where Georgia resident Corey Lowe, whose 15-year-old daughter suffers from seizures, says she found herself one afternoon last fall. She pulled up to a gas station on Moreland Avenue, in a seedy part of east Atlanta. In her silver SUV sat an ounce of black-market cannabis, tucked away in a Target bag.

One mom gave cannabis to another after picking up her 6-year-old from a birthday party.

Lowe, a former police officer, is registered as a CBD caregiver in Georgia. She parked at the gas station to rendezvous with another mom. The two met through a Facebook group for cannabis patients. Lowe knew the mom wasn’t registered with the state, but that didn’t faze her. “I couldn’t sleep at night if I know somebody needs help, and I have the access, and I say, ‘No, sorry,’” she told me over the phone. “I think it’s bullshit that you can’t get medicine for your loved one because they don’t qualify.”

Lowe waited for a few minutes at the gas station. Another car pulled up, and Lowe climbed in. “I don’t know if this works,” she admitted as she handed the bag to Jennifer Conforti. Conforti, who’d just picked up her 6-year-old daughter Abby from a party, offered Lowe a slice of birthday cake.

RELATED STORY

CBD and the Brain: What Does It Do and What is It Good For?

Though Conforti (pictured in the featured image, top) isn’t a registered caregiver in Georgia’s CBD program, she told me she needs the oil to prevent her autistic daughter’s bouts of self-harm. Conforti has been vocal about Abby’s medical regimen. Last year Conforti spoke before the Georgia state legislature, where she explained how the state’s overly restrictive rules forced her to obtain cannabis for her daughter on the black market.

Conforti’s blunt honesty made her an unlikely hero in the fight for medical marijuana. In a Facebook post, State Representative Allen Peake called her “courageous.” Even so, another sympathetic state representative cautioned her: “Every sheriff watched your testimony.” Conforti took heed, confronting her local sheriff at a public event. “I love you,” she told him. “I voted for you. I think you’re fabulous. But I’m giving my kid medicine and it works.”

Possession is legal, obtaining it isn’t.

Georgia’s strictures are typical of most American CBD-only laws. If you’re a patient with one of eight conditions covered by the state’s law, and your physician recommends CBD oil, the Georgia Department of Health will send you a medical card. Congratulations: You can now possess up to 20 ounces of CBD oil. After that, you’re on your own.

Georgia law won’t allow anyone to buy or sell CBD oil anywhere in the state. Theoretically, you could have it mailed to you, or pick it up elsewhere. But shipping cannabis products — or driving them across the country — is, in the eyes of state and federal law, drug trafficking.

RELATED STORY

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana by State

“In order to comply with these laws, individuals would have to violate not only federal law but, in many cases, the laws of other states,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

‘To comply with these laws, you’d have to violate both federal law and, in many cases, the laws of other states.’

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director, NORML

Another problem with the CBD-only laws is the entourage effect. Study after study has shown that cannabidiol by itself may help some conditions. But it isn’t good for everything. And it’s often best in combination with THC and other cannabinoids. THC, not CBD, is the cannabis ingredient with anti-nausea properties “Whole plant” remedies appear to work better for a number of illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and possibly autism.

RELATED STORY

Can You Get Away with Mailing Cannabis Through the USPS?

Many parents I spoke to were weary of CBD-only medicines. They believed, based on personal experience, that medicines combining CBD with some level of THC were far more effective. In November, Leafly profiled a Florida mom named Jacel Delgadillo, whose 5-year-old son, Bruno, suffers from Dravet syndrome. CBD oil, Delgaldillo said, certainly seemed to help with Bruno’s seizures. But the first time she tried a medicine with more THC, she said, was the first time Bruno had a seizure-free afternoon.

“I truly believe that CBD is like the supplement,” Delgaldillo told me over the phone. “THC is what did the most.”

Conforti doesn’t think CBD-only products do much for her autistic daughter, Abby. And since autism isn’t a qualifying condition under Georgia law, it seemed silly to follow the program’s strict requirements. Why pay more for less THC and the same amount of hassle? It made more sense, Conforti figured, to make medicine herself. So that’s what she does.

RELATED STORY

Reviving Bruno: A Day in the Life of a 5-Year-Old Florida Cannabis Patient

in Atlanta, Ga. on Tuesday, January 3, 2017Georgia mother Jennifer Conforti, pictured here with daughter Abby, says she needs CBD oil to help treat Abby’s autism. She told her local sheriff: “I voted for you. I think you’re fabulous. But I’m giving my kid medicine and it works.”

An evening with the buyers club

On a drizzly evening last October, Conforti invited me to watch her cook her latest batch of cannabis extract. Nowadays she buys cannabis leaves from California on the black market, then brews them in a clear high-proof alcohol like Everclear. In the kitchen of her home, in the suburbs of Atlanta, a double-boiler of green liquid bubbled softly. Cooking alongside her cannabis tincture were the makings of a Southern party: meatballs in tomato sauce, a loaf of bread stuffed with green onions and cheddar.

RELATED STORY

Recipe: How To Make Basic Cannabis-Infused Butter

As Conforti cooked, her husband, pecked at the appetizers. Abby pranced around the kitchen, popping into the living room now and then to watch her favorite PBS show, “Dinosaur Train.”

I asked Conforti about the risks she took. She waved off the concern. Her cannabis distributor, she explained, vacuum-sealed his packages at least four times, to keep the smell hidden. But even if the authorities did discover her, she said, what would they possibly do to her — a cheerful suburban mom who just wanted her kid to be healthy?

RELATED STORY

How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Autism?

Conforti’s husband wandered into the kitchen just in time to offer a different answer to her rhetorical question. What can they do? “Deliver it,” he said, “and then arrest you at the door.”

Conforti laughed. “Probably,” she said.

About thirty minutes later the cannabis tincture was done. Conforti strained out the solids with a cheesecloth. She put the bag of cannabis back in her freezer, next to some frozen groceries.

“It’s literally that easy,” she said. “I learned it on YouTube.”

First names only, please

The connection between Conforti and Lowe worked out well, but things don’t always go so smoothly. When patients are forced to reply on underground sources for their medicine, it’s difficult for them to vet their providers and their products.

One of Conforti’s connections in the medical cannabis underground was a man—I’ll call him Oliver—who was also raising an autistic child. Oliver had a friendly, dimply smile and the build of a football player. Conforti had invited him to stop by so he and I could meet. Oliver was a chatty guy, happy to share his feelings on pretty much everything. But when I pressed him on his enterprise — several people had told me he made CBD oil for about 300 kids in Georgia — he told me he didn’t want to talk about it.

One CBD oil maker refused to show patients his lab tests because, he said, they could used be used as evidence against him.

There were some strange things about Oliver’s operation. His business partner, who processed the oil, was a registered sex offender. (This wasn’t just hearsay. I verified it with the Georgia state sex offender registry.) Several sources told me that a connection in Colorado had been helping Oliver obtain cannabis, but stopped when he learned about the partner’s history.

There were other oddities. Oliver said his oil was third-party lab-tested. But many parents had never seen any actual lab results. A few kids had bad reactions to the product. When one mother complained that her autistic son’s symptoms were worsening, she said Oliver “never listened.”

A couple weeks later, I called Oliver to press him on some of these issues. He insisted that he got his oil tested. “Every drop of everything has been lab-tested,” he told me. “It’s just a matter of, you cannot show them that.”

RELATED STORY

Cannabis Testing: The Importance of Independent Third Party Analyses of Cannabis Products

If his test results got into the wrong hands, he explained, they could be used as evidence to bring him up on drug charges. But when I asked him if I could see his lab results, he grew agitated. He declined, saying, “I’ve had enough.”

Oliver felt he was being unfairly vilified by people who didn’t understand how risky it was to make cannabis oil in Georgia.

Oliver felt burned by his own generosity. He hadn’t advertised his oil, he told me. Desperate parents found him and practically begged for the stuff, he said. And while he acknowledged that some kids did react negatively to his products, he felt he was being unfairly vilified by people who didn’t understand how risky it was to make cannabis oil in Georgia.

“They want to critique me for helping people, I’ll stop helping people,” he said. “There’s very little I’m as passionate about in this world as helping autistic families. I put my personal freedom on the line only to be questioned and bashed.”

When I asked about his business partner’s legal status, Oliver said the question was “case in point why I’m done.” Oliver said he had decided to stop distributing cannabis oil to other parents.

“I’m going to help my own son get medicine,” he said. “That’s it.”

Georgia Medical MarijuanaSebastien Cotte saved his 6-year-old son Jagger with CBD oil from Colorado. Now living in Georgia, he’s an advocate and the education director for the Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation.

Harsh laws turn parents into activists

Many parents do their best to play by the rules.

Sebastien Cotte was one of the first CBD parents in Georgia. In the summer of 2014, desperation drove Cotte, the father of a six-year-old son with a rare mitochondrial disease, to look for CBD oil even before it was legal in the state. That August, with his son Jagger nearing death, his family piled into a car and made the 20-plus hour drive from Atlanta to Colorado, where cannabis oil was legal and plentiful.

A desperate father drove from Georgia to Colorado to find CBD oil. Doctors gave his son a 50-50 chance of surviving the trip.

“That was a horrible trip,” Cotte said. “We had to stop every three or four hours.” Jagger’s muscles cramped up if he sat in a car seat for too long. And since Jagger needed to use a rechargable oxygen tank, Cotte said, “we would literally run out of oxygen.” Before they left Georgia, Cotte said, hospice doctors told him his son had a 50% chance of surviving the trip.

Cotte’s destination was Denver. The Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation, a non-profit that helps underage patients get CBD oil, kept its headquarters in the Denver suburb of Longmont. (The foundation has since moved to Colorado Springs.) The foundation provides cannabis oil to about 2,000 patients nationwide, according to the group’s founder, Jason Cranford. Ten percent of those — around 200 patients — live in the American South. That number may sound small, but consider how few Southern patients there are, at least officially. Georgia has fewer than 1,000 patients in its registry. Michigan, which has roughly the same population as Georgia, counts more than 182,000 medical cannabis patients.

Denver had another thing going for it. The Mile High City is one of the few to have a pediatric hospice. If it came to it, the hospice could at least make Jagger’s final days a little more painless.

RELATED STORY

CBD vs. THC: Why is CBD Not Psychoactive?

Cotte’s big gamble paid off. Using a number of the foundation’s products, including its signature “Haleigh’s Hope” CBD oil, Jagger stabilized. The life expectancy for a kid with Jagger’s illness was around four years, Cotte said. When Cotte and I spoke last autumn, Jagger was about to turn six.

That road trip turned Sebastien Cotte into an activist. He and his family moved back to Georgia. Working with Rep. Allen Peake, the Georgia legislator who’s been a pioneer on medical cannabis issues, Cotte helped make Georgia the first state in the country to include mitochondrial disease as a qualifying condition. Last year Peake convinced his fellow legislators to expand Georgia’s list of qualifying conditions and raise the allowable THC level in CBD products to five percent, far higher than most other Southern states.

RELATED STORY

We Speak with Rep. Allen Peake, Georgia’s Medical Cannabis Bulldog

If you drive, “avoid Kansas at all costs.”

Cotte now serves as the national business and education director for the Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation. When he’s not helping to care for Jagger, he travels around the country teaching a free two-hour “Cannabis 101” course to parents of patients.

“The course is very basic: What’s THC, what’s CBD, what are terpenes, what does a lab report look like,” Cotte explained.

‘I can’t tell them how to get it if it’s illegal.’

Sebastien Cotte, Education Director, Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation

Inevitably, parents always ask about how to actually obtain CBD oil in the South. If their kids responded to oil containing less than 0.3% THC, which is below the federal threshold for hemp, the answer is simple: Order it online and have it shipped to your home. But if the child needs something stronger, Cotte finds himself in a tricky position.

“I have to be very, very careful answering questions like that,” he said. “I can’t tell them how to get it if it’s illegal.”

However, Cotte could say what other parents were doing: Getting it in Colorado themselves. Despite the DEA’s recent statement on CBD oil, patients and parents who need CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC can order it online from dozens of web-based companies. There are no safeguards or assurances about what impurities those products might contain, however. There’s no guarantee they even contain cannabidiol.

That’s not a slam against CBD producers. There simply is no quality-assurance testing required of CBD products manufactured outside of legal, regulated states. Parents and patients have no way of knowing the true CBD content of their medicine. In theory, they could pay for their own test (if they could find a lab, in the South, willing to test a Schedule I drug) but that would put them at legal risk. By contrast, legal states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, require stringent state-regulated testing. If you buy it in a legal state, you know exactly what you’re getting.

RELATED STORY

Kansas Cops Can’t Stop Every Car With Colorado Plates, Federal Appeals Court Rules

So many parents did just that. They drove to Colorado. Some flew there. Almost everyone picked up the oil itself, because buying the plant would be pointless and risky. And everyone who drove stayed out of Kansas while carrying the cannabis oil home.

“Avoid Kansas at all costs,” Cotte said.

Best to avoid Oklahoma and Nebraska, too. Those were the three states that sued Colorado after it legalized marijuana, claiming that too much cannabis was seeping over their borders. Police in those states are actively looking for people smuggling cannabis, Cotte said. Last year, in fact, a federal court ordered Kansas police officers to stop targeting cars crossing the state line from Colorado. Officers had been routinely stopping out-of-state automobiles and searching them for cannabis.

You were better off driving south out of Colorado, he said, motoring through laid-back New Mexico, then enduring the 10 to 12 hour drive across Texas. Despite its law-and-order posturing, Cotte said the Lone Star state wasn’t so hard on CBD parents. He’d even heard about one family who, after being stopped by police in Texas, had the cops return their oil and send them on their way.

RELATED STORY

Supreme Court Rejects States’ Challenge to Colorado Cannabis Law

Serving the South: Flowering H.O.P.E.

Seeking a trusted source of medicine, many of the parents and patients I spoke to relied on the organization Cotte worked with, the Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation. Jason Cranford’s organization maintains a storefront in Colorado Springs, where patients can pick up oil under the 0.3% THC threshold. Its headquarters are about 100 miles west of that, in the high plains of the Rockies.

That’s where I found Cranford, tending to his crop on a sunny autumn afternoon in the Rocky Mountains. His organization’s 20-acre property contains two rows of grow houses — one for Flowering H.O.P.E., the other for a Cranford’s retail company called South Park Farma — clumped against a backdrop of aspen-covered slopes. There’s a modern, suburban-style home where Cranford lives, and a small outbuilding he describes as his “research and development” lab.

Cranford’s foundation is a lifeline for parents living beyond the CBD-only line.

Cranford is a stocky man with a quiet but cheerful persona. He’s quite comfortable discussing cannabis, maybe because he’s been around it most of his life. His father, a member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, grew marijuana in Georgia in the 1970s. In 2007, Cranford moved to Humboldt County, California, to pursue the same career. In 2009, when he heard rumors that Colorado would soon license growers, he relocated there.

On the day I visited him, Cranford wore a shirt emblazoned with the phrase “#illegallyhealed.” He led me to his lab and R&D building, where dozens of bottles of the foundation’s most popular product, the 0.3% THC cannabis oil called “Haleigh’s Hope,” sat in boxes on a metal shelf. Samples of the oil, Cranford told me, are tested for microbials, pesticides and dosages by Phytatech, a state-licensed lab. Parents can request the lab results, Cranford said. He’s happy to provide them, a fact that several of his patients confirmed with me. After a batch is tested, about 90% of it gets shipped out of state.

Cranford occasionally receives a request from an out-of-state parent who needs cannabis oil containing more than 0.3% THC. Even if that level is legal in their state (Washington or Oregon, for instance), Cranford can’t ship it across state lines.

“We’re strict,” he said. “We don’t give [oil with more than 0.3% THC] to a child unless they have a Colorado card. They get mad at me, but I do it to protect them.”

Georgia Medical MarijuanaForced by Georgia state law to cook her own CBD oil for her daughter, Jennifer Conforti boils cannabis in Everclear, then measures out doses of oil into oral dispensing syringes.

Living under Leni’s Law in Alabama

One of Cranford’s clients is Jody Mitchell, an Alabama mother whose 12-year-old son once suffered from hundreds of epileptic seizures daily. Mitchell first learned about cannabis oil and CBD in 2014. At that point, she’d tried about 20 drugs for her son and was considering brain surgery for him. Then a friend stumbled upon a TV documentary about treating seizures with cannabis oil. She invited Mitchell over.

“I’m sitting on their sofa looking at them like, ‘Are you serious? This is a viable option?’” Mitchell recalled. “And I’m thinking, ‘OK — weed’s never killed anybody.’”

‘Can I meet my maker knowing I didn’t do everything to help my child?’

Jody Mitchell, Alabama mother of an epileptic son

At that point, medical cannabis of any kind was illegal in Alabama. Mitchell’s parents thought she was crazy for considering it. Her husband threatened to have her arrested. Mitchell, who prays over decisions about her son’s health, was preoccupied with other concerns. “I have gone as far as medical science can go for me,” she remembered thinking. “Can I meet my maker knowing I didn’t do everything to help my child?”

Fortunately for Mitchell and her son, legal relief soon arrived. In April 2014, Alabama passed its first extremely limited CBD law, known as Carly’s Law.

Under Carly’s Law, the state legislature limited cannabis-based medicine to a single clinical trial at the University of Alabama. Specifically, it was a three-year trial for Epidiolex, GW Pharma’s CBD-based drug currently undergoing Phase III FDA trials. Mitchell enrolled her son, Robert, in the study, but eventually pulled him out after a disagreement with the doctors. “I said, ‘Let’s keep him on the lowest dose,’ because that’s what he did best, and they said, ‘That’s not what this trial is for.’” A month later, she began giving him illegal cannabis oil.

Alabama legislators eventually revised that original measure by adopting Leni’s Law, which went into effect this past June. It was barely a law, in the sense that it didn’t actually legalize anything. Instead, the bill was written to offer medical cannabis patients an affirmative defense, which could be used in court by CBD patients charged with drug possession.

RELATED STORY

How Many Jobs Depend on Legal Cannabis? We Did the Math

If it’s super-low THC, call for delivery

Since Leni’s Law didn’t allow anyone in Alabama to make or sell the oil, Mitchell still had to find it elsewhere.

She heard about the Flowering H.O.P.E. Foundation through the grapevine. “One talk led to another talk led to, ‘Oh, I can get oil from this person,’” she said. Her son responded to CBD oil that fell below the 0.3 percent THC threshold. That meant she could order it online from Jason Cranford’s foundation in Colorado and have it shipped to Alabama.

‘You end up tracking it every five minutes,’ said an Alabama mother, waiting for her child’s CBD delivery. ‘Did it just get delayed in Memphis?’

“It’s one of those things you track every five minutes, like: ‘OK, did [the package] just get delayed in Memphis?’” she said. But at least she didn’t have to worry about state or federal drug-trafficking charges quite as much as other caregivers.

When I spoke to parents and caregivers, they often seemed unfazed by the laws they were breaking. They were helping their loved ones, they told me. If they were to be arrested, many told me they were confident that public opinion—and perhaps the votes of a jury—would be on their side.

After a few weeks of reporting this story, however. I noticed something troubling. All the caregivers I’d met were white and, by and large, middle class. They were all the parents of very cute, very sick children. I met no people of color who were willing to talk about obtaining CBD oil for their children. And I met very few patients who were not children.

The effect was so pronounced that even distributors and policymakers would sometimes use the words “caregiver” and “parent” interchangeably. Was there an element of confirmation bias at play here? Was it true that most CBD oil users felt safe? I wondered if I was just talking to the people who felt the most insulated from the risk of arrest—middle class white parents with very sick, very sympathetic white children.

When I asked Flowering H.O.P.E. founder Jason Cranford about this, he chuckled. “We call them mommy lobbyists,” he said of this overlap between parent and activist. “You don’t mess with a momma bear and her cubs.”

RELATED STORY

This One Chart Captures Everything Wrong with NYC Cannabis Arrests

Race, class, and degrees of risk

In fact, it was that very image—ferocious white mothers testifying at state legislative hearings, demanding that lawmakers allow them to treat their sick children—that forced the passage of CBD-only laws in the first place.

I recalled what one middle-aged Georgia patient told me. Frank, not his real name, is a divorced father who struggles with multiple sclerosis. He asked me to obscure his identity, citing ongoing divorce proceedings. “Picture it this way,” he said. “You turn on the TV and you see me on crutches. Then you see a little kid on crutches. What causes more tears?”

Frank used to buy cannabis from street-corner sellers to alleviate his MS symptoms. Last year, after he got his Georgia medical card, he found a company that distributes CBD oil within the state. Frank connected me to the company’s co-founders, whom I’ll call Mike and Ben. They agreed meet with me but asked that I obscure their identities, citing legal concerns.

Georgia Medical MarijuanaMike and Ben, pictured here, produce CBD oil for patients in Atlanta. The risks are considerable. “We know that, at the end of the day, the door could get kicked down,” Ben said.

Oil makers on the edge in Atlanta

I met Mike and Ben at their office in a picturesque section of north Atlanta. Something about the open but nondescript building, which sat against a forest stream, seemed like a perfect place for a semi-underground cannabis company. I walked upstairs and followed the mailbox numbers to their office. The door was open.

Mike welcomed me in with a big smile. The space was sparse and messy, with a box of promotional materials sitting against one wall. Ben was already there, along with two adult patients. Mike and Ben’s lab technician would show up a few minutes later, dragged inside on a leash by his service dog, a large German shepherd.

Mike and Ben know the risks. But their patients are battling Crohn’s and PTSD. So they keep the oil flowing.

Mike and Ben made several products that exceeded Georgia’s limit of five percent THC. Otherwise, they said, they tried to obey the law when they could. They only treated patients with Georgia medical cards. They grew their cannabis in California, where medical cultivation was legal. They had a nice website where patients could check out a variety of well-branded products, which were tested by a lab in Colorado.

But, I pointed out, they were producing and distributing cannabis products in Georgia, where that was strictly forbidden. “We know that, at the end of the day, the door could get kicked down,” Ben told me.

Even getting the cannabis flower to Georgia could be difficult. “We still don’t know how it gets here,” Mike said.

“I have to go to church and pray,” Ben added, only half-joking.

RELATED STORY

The Art of Extraction, Part 4: Rosin Extraction

Still, as we sat there chatting, it was difficult to imagine police officers bursting through the door. The five of us stood around eating artisanal donuts—with flavors like apple cobbler and banana cream pie—that Mike had brought that morning. As we ate, Ben pulled out a bong and nonchalantly fired it up.

Mike and Ben had managed to set up a real company with an office in the Atlanta suburbs. Was that a sign, I asked, that the state government didn’t put the enforcement of CBD laws high on their priority list? As an answer, Mike put a bottle of CBD oil on the table and then began to pantomime a police raid, playing the part of a gun-toting drug enforcement agent.

The point of Mike’s demonstration was that busting him would make the police look bad in the eyes of the public. “Optics,” Mike said. It was the same argument I’d heard from many parents. But Mike and Ben’s business focused on adult patients, not children. A few of them talked with me as they stopped by. There was Bradley, who battled Crohn’s disease. Bruce, a military veteran struggling with both Crohn’s and PTSD, joined us later for lunch at a local restaurant. After months of reporting on this story, Bruce was the only Southern patient of color I met.

Frank’s crippling MS made him think about ‘giving it up.’ The oil he gets from Ben and Mike gave him his life back.

All three were adamant about how cannabis oil had changed their lives for the better. Since he began taking the medicine, Bradley said he had been able to earn his masters degree. He no longer had to rely on his mom. Bruce added his own story. “I haven’t been back to the VA [Veteran’s Adminstration] in two or three years,” he said. “When I was on those [pharmaceutical] meds, I got four DUIs, three felonies, and I got addicted to Xanax.”

The changes were perhaps most dramatic for Frank. Before medical cannabis, his multiple sclerosis had been debilitating. “There were times I wanted to give up,” he said. His symptoms would get so bad that he’d retreat to his bedroom where he could cry without disturbing his children.

Things were better now. Still, as an older patient, Frank felt guarded. His daughter had noticed how much he’d improved, he said. But he couldn’t risk telling her about CBD oil, so he just called it “Daddy’s medicine.”

CBD-only: An experiment failed

In most of America’s 29 medical marijuana states, cannabis is easily purchased in dispensaries. But three years into the CBD-only experiment, it remains extremely difficult for Southern parents and patients to obtain any kind of cannabis-based medicine, no matter how low the THC content. They must rely on an underground network of fellow patients, parents and sympathetic helpers.

At worst, patients find charlatans peddling fake medicine. At best, they risk arrest by smuggling CBD oil across state lines.

Obtaining CBD oil in the South remains such a challenge that patients and parents have formed an underground network of providers, mentors, caregivers and supporters. Operating in-person or through private Facebook groups, they help each other find good producers and steer clear of bad ones. Though CBD-only laws were supposed to make the medicine legal and more easily obtained, in fact the laws have only spurred the formation of clandestine networks and local cannabis medicine buyer’s clubs.

So far, there are no reports of patients getting busted for violating a CBD-only law. It’s unclear if that reflects the caution of patients and parents, or if there’s an unspoken law enforcement policy to leave CBD patients alone.

Marijuana stigma remains so powerful in the South that even a police chief didn’t want to discuss the CBD-only law.

Perhaps, as Mike suggested, local police are leaving enforcement of these laws to superior agencies, like the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. During my research, I heard about an Alabama police chief who was, some parents said, sympathetic to their concerns. When I contacted the chief and ask him for his opinion on Leni’s Law, he declined an interview. “I’m just not comfortable (possibly) being viewed as an advocate of something currently deemed illegal in the State of Alabama,” he wrote me in an email. Of course, Leni’s Law is actually not illegal in Alabama—the name itself is kind of a giveaway—but his response was telling: Marijuana stigma remains so powerful in the South that even a police chief didn’t want to discuss it.

With no arrests yet, it’s unclear how these CBD laws will play out in court. Still, most patients and parents are prepared for a fight. Mark Coleman, an Alabama father who treats his severely autistic 15-year-old girl with CBD oil, told me he keeps a copy of Leni’s Law in his car, just in case.

Like most parents, Jody Mitchell, the Alabama mother who orders CBD oil online, remains defiant. “I’ll go sit in a jail cell for a couple days,” she told me. “As long as they can’t take my son’s medicine, I’m okay.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis and Epilepsy Treatment

Since medicinal cannabis has become a more commonplace alternative for a well-established list of ailments, patients are finding a place for it next to their Advil and Tums. But unlike many other chronic illnesses that can be managed with over-the-counter supplements, epilepsy requires a specific cocktail of chemicals not readily available at the local corner store.

This is why cannabis – specifically its chemical constituent CBD (cannabidiol) – has become so important for families struggling to treat their epileptic loved ones. Cannabis has demonstrated so much promise in the treatment of epilepsy that FDA-approved clinical trials are underway. But why is it that cannabis in particular is so effective at treating seizures, and why is it critical that clinical investigations continue?

RELATED STORY

Which Cannabis Strains are High in CBD?

What is Epilepsy and What Causes It?

EEG tests can help learn more about epilepsy causes

Epilepsy is characterized by recurring seizures of variable intensity and effect. These seizures are usually caused by disturbances in specific regions of the brain’s circuitry that create storms of extra electrical activity. Approximately 1 in every 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime, and two-thirds of those diagnosed will have no specific origin for the disorder. But perhaps the most harrowing fact is that 34% of childhood deaths are due to epilepsy or accidents that occur during seizures. These figures illustrate the “hiding in plain sight” commonality of epilepsy and the incredible unmet need for the development of novel drugs to treat seizures.

RELATED STORY

CBD and the Brain: What Does It Do and What is It Good For?

While a seizure disorder can be a massive disruption to someone’s way of life and can even be deadly, most patients manage to acquire treatment and medicine while others simply grow out of it – though this is not always the case. Seizures and seizure disorders are as unique as the person afflicted by them, which can make seizures difficult to treat. Recently, epilepsy and cannabis have been highlighted in the news, especially success stories focusing on children with epilepsy who are trying medicinal cannabis. A few notable examples include Charlotte Figi and the high CBD Charlotte’s Web cannabis strain named after her, as well as Renee and Brandon Petro.

These cases and others have shone a spotlight on the medicinal uses of cannabis, regardless of its classification as a Schedule I narcotic (having no medicinal use in the eyes of the Federal government) and the generally accepted legal age of consumption for mind-altering substances (save caffeine and sugar).

The Current State of Cannabis and Epilepsy Research

cannabis and epilepsy clinical trial stages

These inspiring stories help illuminate the efficacy of medical cannabis while defining its range of treatment from the elderly to the young. While the capabilities of CBD and medical cannabis use seems to be self-evident, the DEA has only recently allowed academic institutions to explore the effects, side effects, and usefulness of cannabis as a medicinal plant. This seemingly innocuous change of face is an enormous leap forward for researchers, pharmaceutical companies, breeders, and the cannabis community at large as more scientific capital is put toward understanding this populous plant.

RELATED STORY

CBD vs. THC: Why is CBD Not Psychoactive?

“Based on these preclinical studies, one would be excited about the potential therapeutic potential of the cannabinoids,” wrote Dr. Francis M. Filloux in the journal Translational Pediatrics. “However, it is undeniable that the complex regulation that surrounds these Schedule I substances has impeded scientific investigation of their therapeutic potential.”

There has been no other drug in history that has been as widely consumed and applied for medicinal use without the institutional blessing symbolized by clinical human trials. But patients around the country currently have access to the “generic” versions of life-saving, CBD-rich cannabis products that are thriving beyond the regulatory reach of the FDA. So by conducting clinical trials with pure CBD, as GW Pharmaceuticals is with Epidiolex, concrete, tested scientific evidence can lay the first bricks in the road toward a variety of CBD/THC ratio products as well as synergistic cannabis cocktails targeted at other specific maladies.

RELATED STORY

High CBD Products for Medical Marijuana Patients

Clinical trials become more rigorous and far reaching as they progress through each stage. Currently GW Pharmaceuticals is undergoing Stage 3 clinical trials on Epidiolex, a nearly pure CBD preparation (98%+), to confirm the therapeutic value of this cannabinoid. This is also an astounding leap forward for cannabis and medicine, because, as noted by Dr. Filloux:

“Until the last few years, the published data was minimal and included [fewer] than 70 subjects. Very few of these were children. Furthermore, none of these studies would meet criteria as Class I-III clinical trials (50-53). However, this state of affairs is rapidly changing given the current climate.”

While this scientific success story isn’t a tear-jerker like Brandon’s or Charlotte’s, it does explain a necessary step toward proving the efficacy of cannabis-based therapies and its more egalitarian medicinal prescription.

Why Does Cannabis Work for Epilepsy and Seizures?

medical cannabis for epilepsy and seizures
The endogenous cannabinoid system is ubiquitous in our bodies, and is heavily regulated by cannabinoids found in cannabis.  With such potent biological usefulness throughout the human body, it’s obvious that the more scientific study that goes into the cannabis industry and the plurality of products it has created, the more the consumer will benefit. Time will be a better judge, but the future of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for disorders like epilepsy is here. Catherine Jacobson, Director of Clinical Research at Canadian licensed producer Tilray (note: Tilray is owned by Privateer Holdings, Leafly’s parent company), weighs in on the future of medicinal cannabis and the scientific progress that needs to be made:

“A pure CBD formula was the safest way to begin trials on epilepsy patients because of its lack of psychoactivity. The trouble with developing a single pure CBD formula is that epilepsy has never been a one-size fits all disorder. Of the 200,000 children living with treatment-resistant epilepsy, only a fraction has access to clinical trials investigating CBD. This leaves most parents and patients to acquire their own CBD-rich cannabis, which always contains some percentage of THC. It’s important to learn from these cases to understand which types of epilepsies might respond to a combination product, and to inform future clinical trials. Early results from clinical studies on GW’s Epidiolex clearly show a beneficial effect of CBD on some types of seizures, but more research is needed to fully understand whether a combination THC/CBD product can reduce the seizure burden in those patients who don’t respond to CBD alone.”

RELATED STORY

Here’s Why the DEA Will Never Reschedule Cannabis

This statement aligns well with conclusions drawn by Dr. Edward Maa, Chief of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Denver Health and Hospitals. “It is possible that CBD and [THC] work synergistically to suppress seizures,” Dr. Maa write in Epilepsia. “In fact Ethan Russo, senior medical advisor to GW Pharma, recently reviewed the evidence for the ‘entourage effect’ of the phytocannabinoids and terpenoids, and he makes a strong case for their synergistic effects in a variety of disease states.”

Epilepsy is surprisingly common, exceptionally disruptive, and potentially deadly. But the uncertainty behind the effectiveness of cannabis and CBD in regards to epilepsy treatment is fading. This “controlled substance” is finally receiving its due diligence from the scientific community, and Dr. Jacobson is at the forefront of much of the forthcoming research.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Police Survey: Attitudes Toward Marijuana Legalization Shifting

WASHINGTON, DC — Nearly seven in ten police officers believe that marijuana ought to be legally regulated for either medicinal or recreational purposes, according to a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 law enforcement personnel.

Thirty-two percent of respondents supported legalizing the plant for adults, while another 37 percent agreed that marijuana ought to be regulated for medical purposes only. Thirty percent of police said that marijuana ought to continue to be illegal for any reason.

Law enforcement’s views continue to be more conservative than those of the general public – 81 percent of whom endorse the legalization of medical cannabis and 60 percent of whom support broader legalization for adults.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Marijuana Confirming Medical Benefits; Dispelling Myths

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on the health impacts of marijuana Thursday, confirming the existence of medical benefits and dispelling some long-held myths about the substance.

The review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts found, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.

“These findings clearly undermine the federal government’s decision to classify marijuana under Schedule I, which is reserved for substances with no medical value,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It confirms that marijuana has several medical benefits and is not nearly as problematic as people are often led to believe. There is no rational or scientific justification for our nation’s current marijuana prohibition policy.”

The report also dispels several myths about the health impacts of marijuana. It found no links between smoking marijuana and the development of lung, head, or neck cancers, nor did it establish a link between marijuana use and asthma or other respiratory diseases. The respiratory problems that it did link to smoking marijuana, such as bronchitis, appear to improve after the consumer ceases their use.

According to the report, “There is no or insufficient evidence” linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality (death), deaths from overdose, or occupational accidents or injuries. It also found no substantial evidence of a link between the use of marijuana and the use of other illegal drugs. The report also does not appear to make any links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behavior. Several of these findings were also included in the National Academies of Sciences’ previous report on marijuana, which was released in 1999.

“The report essentially concludes that marijuana is not harmless, but it is not as harmful as many other products that are regulated for adult use,” Tvert said. “If the researchers conducted a similar study on alcohol, they would conclude that it poses far more harm and provides far fewer medical benefits than marijuana. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and that should be reflected in our nation’s laws.”

The entire report can be read here.

Tags: , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

National Academy of Sciences: Marijuana is an Effective Medicine

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Academy of Sciences on Thursday released a groundbreaking report, “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.”

The report states that there is conclusive evidence that marijuana can be used as a medicine.

The report did not find clinical evidence for all conditions marijuana treatment is often associated with, but it recognizes its efficacy for treating many medical conditions such as “chronic pain in adults…chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms.”

“This report is vindication for all the many researchers, patients and healthcare providers who have long understood the benefits of medical marijuana,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “To have such a thorough review of the evidence conclude that there are benefits to medical marijuana should boost the case for federal reform. It also underlines how out of touch the DEA and other marijuana reform opponents are when they claim otherwise.”

The report is skeptical of marijuana’s benefit in treating some medical conditions, such as cancer. Nonetheless, the report, “a comprehensive review of the current evidence regarding the health effects of using cannabis and cannabis-derived products,” is a strong rebuke to many of those who have denied that marijuana can be used as medicine.

It also found evidence that suggests “smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for cancers often associated with tobacco use – such as lung and head and neck cancers.”

Currently 28 U.S. states have medical marijuana laws, and 16 additional states have CBD laws (a non-psychoactive component of medical marijuana). Last summer, the DEA announced that it would not reschedule marijuana.

The NAS report notes that “There are specific regulatory barriers, including the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, that impede the advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid research.”

Just this week, President-elect Trump’s candidate for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions, was asked at his nomination hearing about what he would do about medical marijuana patients who are following state law but violating federal law. Sessions gave a wishy-washy answer, acknowledging the Department of Justice’s limited resources but ominously saying, “I won’t commit to not enforcing federal law.”

Medical marijuana amendments routinely passed the Republican-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee over the past three years, while an amendment to end federal marijuana prohibition outright failed by just nine votes last year in the House.

The uncertainty over medical marijuana and how the Trump administration will approach the issue is expected to drive efforts at reform in Congress. Advocates anticipate the reintroduction of the CARERS Act, a bill that would let states set their own medical marijuana policy without federal interference, and would remove many research barriers.

Tags: , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Colorado: Marijuana Sales Surpass $1 Billion in 2016

DENVER, CO — Retail sales of marijuana in Colorado totaled well over $1 billion in the first ten months of 2016 and are estimated to reach $1.3 billion by year’s end, according to data provided by the state’s Department of Revenue.

The sales totals are an increase over last year, when retailers sold $996,184,788 in marijuana-related products.

Cannabis sales in 2016 have yielded an estimated $151 million in tax revenue to date, $40 million of which will be directed toward school construction.

Year-end totals for 2016 will not be available until February.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.