Tag: Science & Tech

Study Finds Alcohol 10 Times More Deadly Than Cannabis on the Road

Researchers who examined drug tests from drivers involved in more than 3,600 auto crashes have found that alcohol is about ten times more likely to cause a fatal crash than cannabis.

Drunk drivers were 17.8 more likely to cause a fatal crash than sober drivers. Cannabis-influenced drivers were 1.65 times more likely.

In a study published earlier this month in the journal PLOS-One, scientists at the University of Lyon looked at data from all fatal accidents that occurred in France during 2011. They estimated the heightened risk of driving under the influence of various substances and found that “drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident,” when compared to completely sober drivers. Drivers under the influence of cannabis, by contrast, are 1.65 times more likely to be responsible for causing a fatal accident.

Those findings are in line with most recent studies of alcohol and cannabis and driving risk. Earlier this year David Bienenstock investigated the science behind drugged driving estimates, and found that THC-positive drivers have a 5% greater crash risk than drivers with no drugs or alcohol in their system. That figure came from the largest domestic case-control study to date, which was published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency. That same study found that drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit in most states, were 293% more likely to be involved in a crash. Texting drivers were 310% more likely to crash. 


Taking Drugged Driving Seriously: What Does the Science Say?

Past investigations “have shown a decreased capacity of drivers under the influence of cannabis, in particular a decrease in attention, increased reaction time and reduced ability to control direction,” the French researchers noted. Drivers under the influence of alcohol “tend to drive faster, which goes hand in hand with an over-estimation of their own capacities,” the researchers added, “whereas drivers under the influence of cannabis tend to drive more cautiously.”

For a deeper look at the most widely respected and cited studies on driving under the influence, check out David Bienenstock’s feature, “Taking Drugged Driving Seriously: What Does the Science Say?” published earlier this year by Leafly.

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.

Maryland Companies to Study Medical Marijuana Vaping

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — With Maryland set to make medical marijuana available within weeks, two companies have formed a partnership to study how well vapor-inhalation devices work for patients.

Curio Wellness, of Lutherville, and Wellness Institute of Maryland, of Frederick, will conduct a research-and-development study of cannabis oil-filled vapor inhalation devices, the state health department announced Friday. The devices, also known as vape pens, can be used to vaporize marijuana, or heat it without burning it.


The Best Discreet Vape Pens and Portable Vaporizers

The amount of medical marijuana products are expected to be low at first, the health department said, compared to inventories of products in other state’s that allow it. It could take licensed growers and dispensaries several months to reach full inventory, after becoming operational.

“It’s also worth noting that, for this study, only the Wellness Institute of Maryland dispensary will be providing products to patients who were pre-selected by the companies,” said Brian Lopez, chairman of Maryland’s medical marijuana commission. “But all licensed and operational dispensaries are expected to have products available by early December.”

So far, 14 marijuana growers and 12 processors have been licensed in Maryland. Six dispensaries also have been licensed.


Maryland May See Medical Cannabis This Month, but Diversity Issues Loom Large

Medical marijuana will be available in the state for any condition that is severe in which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and if the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by marijuana. Patients with a chronic or debilitating medical condition that causes severe appetite loss, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe muscle spasms also can have access, as well as people with glaucoma or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maryland will allow not only physicians but nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists and nurse midwives to certify patients as eligible to receive marijuana.


What Makes a Medical Cannabis Program Succeed?

Maryland’s medical marijuana program has been delayed by setbacks. The state first approved it in 2013, but the effort stalled because it required academic medical centers to run the programs, and none stepped forward. The law was changed in 2014 to allow doctors certified by a state commission to recommend marijuana for patients with debilitating, chronic or severe illnesses.

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.

Watch This: How Your Brain Reacts to Edibles

Gather ’round, pals, it’s time for science class. In this video, the narrator breaks down the ins and outs of what happens to your brain and body when you consume cannabis in edible form. Spoiler alert: you get uncontrollably high as shit for a long time. But why and how? That information is all in this video. Give it a watch, it’s pretty interesting. (And shoutout to the creator’s drawings of high humans—they’re really funny and adorable, just like all us stoners.)

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.

Why Cannabis and Cryptocurrency Have Yet to Hit It Off

Late this summer, a former Miss Iowa and rapper The Game did what models and hip-hop stars apparently do these days: They launched a new cryptocurrency they hope will one day be used to buy and sell all things cannabis.

On Sept. 15, the founders of ParagonCoin—Jessica Versteeg, who was Miss Iowa in 2014, and her husband, Russian millionaire Egor Lavrov—began offering $100 million worth of ParagonCoins at $1 apiece. Even before the ICO (initial coin offering (or ICO, when a cryptocurrency is first put up for sale) the company had raised a cool $25 million from investors.

“There’s a lot of sound and fury, but it doesn’t signify as much for the cannabis industry as one might believe.”

John Downs, The Arcview Group

And why not? There are more than a few reasons cryptocurrency has been among the hottest topics this year—including Bitcoin’s climb to an all-time high of more than $5,800 in September. There is, it seems, a lot of money to be made in making digital money.

Not that ParagonCoin was the first to have the idea. It wasn’t even the first to target cannabis. Since Bitcoin came out of obscurity around 2010, at least eight cryptocurrencies have emerged with the aim of serving the cannabis economy, a market largely cut off from traditional banking.

Even with catchy headlines, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Remember the cryptocurrency that sponsoring Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea? That was PotCoin, which we’ve written about. There’s also CannabisCoin, GreenMed.io, MetalPay, HempCoin, DopeCoin, and WeedCoin.


Infographic: The Fastest-Trending Cannabis Strain in Every State in 2017

It might seem a match made in heaven: cash-flush industry rejected by banks meets untraceable monetary system. Yet cryptocurrencies and cannabis have yet to hit it off. From seed to sale, business is still almost entirely done in cash. Despite attractive spokespeople and large dollar figures, the digital currencies have not caught fire with consumers.

“There’s a lot of sound and fury, but it doesn’t signify as much for the cannabis industry as one might believe if they just read the headlines,” said John Downs, director of business development at The Arcview Group, a cannabis consulting firm.

Is it even worth the fuss? Absolutely—at least for whoever cracks the market first, said Cory Flanigan, chief technology officer of Tokken, a mobile payment system that got its start in the cannabis industry. “If someone could gain market share, they’d be the only game in town and they’d be phenomenally successful.”

Why a Cannabis Cryptocurrency?

From a consumer standpoint, the advantages of using cryptocurrency versus cash appear marginal. One benefit, cryptocurrency proponents point out, is low fees—or none at all. But why bother buying cryptocurrency and fussing an app on your phone if you can find an ATM and throw down green? Perhaps that’s why consumers haven’t taken to it. Though cryptocurrency is reportedly accepted at some dispensaries, few people are actually using it.


PotCoin: Can the Cryptocurrency for Cannabis Live up to Its Hype?

“We have a bunch of shops that accept DopeCoin, but no one uses it,” says Adam Howell, creator of DopeCoin, which has been available since 2014. “I haven’t seen one actual dispensary or marijuana company use one of these marijuana cryptocurrencies to store their money or conduct daily business. It’s more of a gimmick at this point.”

“You’re looking at a tiny percentage of people who use this technology.”

Sumit Mehta, Mazakali

So what gives?

“Everyone’s here to grab cash,” Howell said.

Flanigan has another take. “It’s kind of flashy, kind of sexy,” he acknowledged, “but I can also appreciate the idea that it makes sense to build a network for cannabis businesses.”

Creating a coin and selling it to the public is a smart way to raise capital—something that’s notoriously difficult to do in the cannabis sector, Flanigan says.

ParagonCoin, for instance, plans to use its newfound cash to establish co-working spaces that can be paid for with its currency. (Paragon didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but you can read the company’s raison d’être in its own words in a white paper on the company’s website.)


Hawaii Says It’s 1st State to Go Cashless for Cannabis Sales

“It’s a savvy move for fundraising. By building their own coin to sell to speculators, they can raise a bunch of money to achieve their vision,” Flanigan says. If the coins see appreciation that looks anything like Bitcoin’s, businesses will be able to cover rent—and many other things—for a very long time.

Still, does the market really need so many different kinds of canna-coin?

As with any upstart industry, some companies will try in earnest and fail because of regulations or economics. But Flanigan said it seems there’s another category in this industry: “Smoke and mirrors by someone trying to put up enough capital to appear convincing but they don’t really have the wherewithal to implement anything.” he said. “It’s tough to know upfront which is which.”


Leafly Investigation: California Has a Dirty Cannabis Problem

The Crypto- Conundrum

Worldwide, there are only 12 million users of cryptocurrency, says Sumit Mehta of the firm Mazakali, publisher of cannabis industry report Mazakali Green Paper. “Compared to numbers of bank accounts and global GDP, you’re looking at a tiny percentage of people who use this technology.”

It may be possible that cannabis cryptocurrencies have floundered not because the technology lacks appeal but simply because the technology is new to so many people.

Not that wider adoption would necessarily solve all of cryptocurrency’s problems. No matter how many consumers might adopt it, they would all face the same issue when converting digital coins into US dollars: questions from the taxman about the money’s origins. Users have to disclose their identity and the source of the funds in order to avoid running afoul of the law.


Under Trump, Legal Cannabis Is a Deportable Offense 

“How do you get around that?” Downs said. “There’s no way. It’s a fatal flaw.”

“To think a marijuana coin is going to pioneer getting people to use cryptocurrency is a mistake.”

Adam Howell, DopeCoin creator

All this makes for a conundrum the cannabis world has yet to crack: If the sector wants to be treated like any other legitimate industry, should cannabis really embrace currencies that allow business to take place in the shadows?

“By its definition it takes away the ability for the government to exercise monetary policy,” said Mehta. “I don’t know that it’s wise to embrace something that takes away the power of the government if we’re trying to play nice with it.”

As far as regulators go, there’s some ambivalence: Washington state has given its blessing to the use of cryptocurrencies in the state’s legal cannabis market. At the same time, lawmakers have also proposed banning it.

“It feels like the cryptocurrency solution is a little bit of fool’s gold in that you’re just going to draw additional regulatory scrutiny and have more eyeballs looking more closely at you,” Downs said.


Inside a Nerve-Rattling Trip to Pay Cannabis Taxes in Los Angeles

Here’s another question to which not everyone agrees: If you want a cash alternative, why is it necessary to have a cannabis-specific cryptocurrency rather than all-purpose one like Bitcoin or Ethereum? That’s a head-scratcher for Mehta. “I don’t fully understand why that matters,” he said.

Howell said he believes cannabis and cryptocurrency have a bright future together, but that the future has yet to arrive. “Once we hit the tipping point where Bitcoin is mainstream, I can see altcoins following suit,” he said. “But to think a marijuana coin is going to pioneer getting people to use cryptocurrency is a mistake.”

Why Blockchain?

Though they are not the same thing, cryptocurrency is often mentioned in the same breath as blockchain. A blockchain is a secure, encrypted ledger—a verified trail of information that can be attached to anything, from money to a cannabis plant to a jar of mayonnaise.

IBM recently made a splash with news it’s eyeing blockchains as a way to track cannabis.

While blockchains are useful on their own for tracking any kind of transaction or the movement of products, they make an ideal foundation for cryptocurrencies. Indeed, every cryptocurrency is built upon a blockchain, meaning all are tracked by an immutable ledger. And instead of being hosted on a central server, as bank ledgers generally are, blockchains are hosted on numerous computers. The redundancy of the system means they’re not dependent on a central entity, and it makes them far less susceptible to hacking.

Any expert will agree: Blockchains are nearly certain to revolutionize the way products are tracked, regardless of the industry. The technology is as likely to follow coffee beans as cannabis buds. In what will likely be a highly regulated industry, it’s easy to see the applicability to cannabis: a secure trail of information—useful to both regulators and customers—that follows a plant from seed to sale.


Washington’s Cannabis-Tracking Snafu Could Disrupt Sales

It’s not just startups getting into the blockchain game. Tech giant IBM recently made a splash with news that it’s eyeing a place in the legal cannabis ecosystem as the producer of blockchains to track cannabis. The company reportedly submitted a proposal to the provincial government of British Columbia to create a blockchain-based tracking system.

What’s up With All the ICO’s?

For anyone thinking of investing in an ICO, consider this: With all the headlines and fast money that cryptocurrencies have been making, it’s not surprising to learn that a Nobel-prize winning economist believes they’re currently experiencing a bubble. And someone who really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to scams—the Wolf of Wall Street guy, Jordan Belfort—says digital currencies are “a massive scam of the highest order.”

On its website, Forbes includes this almost comical caveat with every story about cryptocurrencies:

Ed note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative, and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment.

For better or for worse, the SEC is also eyeing overseeing ICOs, which could change things dramatically.

Will cryptocurrencies be the banking solution the cannabis industry is looking for? Maybe one day. But with so many questions—and other emerging alternatives for cannabis banking—that day may never come.

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.

Personality Quiz: How Open Are Cannabis Consumers?

Sometimes, psychological research acts as an enlightening agent, delving into the depths of the mind and illuminating obscure elements of our unconscious. Other times… well, its discoveries reveal information we already knew – like the fact that cannabis consumers, in some ways, are just different from other people.

As it turns out, the average cannabis user is significantly higher in the trait of “Openness to Experience” than their cannabis-free counterparts. Openness is a trait in the Big Five personality test found to have an enormous association with many facets of life, from IQ to political preference.

Make sure to check out the quiz below to find out how open you are!


Quiz: Which Strain Type Are You, Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?

The Big Five and Openness

The Big Five personality test (also called the “Five Factor Model”)  is divided into five traits:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Each trait is independently measured and represents a different aspect of the personality. This means that people don’t just fall into one of five “types” – instead, we look at every trait individually to get a broad overview of the person’s temperament.

Openness is a reflection of a person’s curiosity, ability to learn, and artistic interest. People high in Openness tend to be more engaged with the world around them, more appreciative of natural and artistic beauty, and more prone to imagination and fantasy.


Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Creativity?

Knowing what we know about the trait, it doesn’t come as a surprise that cannabis consumers tend to score significantly higher in “Openness” than the general population. This finding isn’t just derived from a single study either – it’s a well-documented correlation dating back to the 70’s. In fact, the original description of “Openness to Experience” was created to describe the personality of cannabis consumers.

Open people tend to be more creative, experience more career success in both the arts and sciences, and have higher IQs compared to those with lower levels of Openness. There is also a well-established link between Openness and political progressivism.

Being open has its downsides, too. People high in this trait should be careful not to let curiosity run their lives. If they also happen to be low in Conscientiousness (characterized by hard work and organization), they can often find themselves too interested in the world around them to be able to focus on a specific task for a long period of time.


Cannabis Isn’t Making You Lazy, Your Bad Habits Are

Cannabis, Curiosity and Creativity

Countless creatives and intellectuals use cannabis – in fact, we know that some of the greatest thinkers ever to have lived were avid partakers in the plant: The Beatles, Carl Sagan, and Hunter S. Thompson, just to name a few. So what exactly is it about cannabis that attracts more of this specific personality type?

One explanation lies in the hypothesis that Openness (along with Extraversion) is an exploratory mechanism. Open people are naturally curious, so they probably have a heightened incentive to try new things.

We’re still unsure whether cannabis has an effect on Openness after being consumed. Famed scientist Carl Sagan even once stated that “The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before.” This could be an indication that using the plant helped to increase his level of Openness.


Why Scientist Carl Sagan Embraced Cannabis Throughout His Lifetime

Sagan’s claim still needs to be taken with a grain of salt – as far as we know, there has been no scientific study designed to measure levels of Openness before and after cannabis use. If cannabis does have an impact on Openness though, it wouldn’t be the first substance found to have this effect. An experiment at Johns Hopkins University found that people who took psilocybin had significantly higher levels of Openness more than a year later. This was quite an impressive phenomenon, considering the fact that personality traits tend to remain fairly constant throughout life.

Though a lot of research still needs to be done to better understand the correlation between cannabis use and Openness, it’s clear that this information carries with it some pretty important implications.

Curious about your level of Openness? Take the test below and post your results in the comments!

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.

Meet the People Who Sent Cannabis Into Space

A cannabis experiment of galactic proportions took place over Phoenix, Arizona, in a daring and unusual feat in an effort to answer the age-old question: What happens when you send cannabis into space?

Herban Planet teamed up with Scottsdale cannabis dispensary Level Up for a foray into the unknown. The group packaged up one pound of top-quality Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies to send into the upper stratosphere.

Enlisting the services of Sent Into Space, a company that specializes in—you guessed it—sending stuff into space, Herban Planet worked with Sent Into Space co-founder Dr. Chris Rose, Ph.D., to ensure that all proper measures were in place for the experiment to be a success. Leafly spoke to the leaders of this astronomical project to hear more about what they were looking to accomplish and what exactly happens when you blast marijuana up among the stars.


Celebrate Space Exploration Day With These Cannabis Strains

The Team Behind the Idea

(Courtesy of Herban Planet)

Tagan Dering is the Chief Product Officer for the company Herban Planet, which he described as a “full ecosystem” for the cannabis community, including education, news, a glossary, and more. “We’re just coming to market, so everybody got together and said, ‘What can we do to make a big splash?’ and let everybody know, ‘Hey, we’re here!’” he recalled. “And somebody had the idea: What if we send marijuana into space?”

Dering reflected back on the brainstorm that led to the space venture. “We talked about it and did some engineering, and before we knew it, we sent a pound of marijuana up into space!” he said.


Spark Up and Check Out These 15 Mind-Blowing Space Images From NASA’s Photo Library

Herban Planet devised the concept of Space Weed Bro—cannabis that is literally out of this world. “We’re not a dispensary, so we never took custody of the cannabis. That’s really important” from a legal perspective, Dering explained.

“Level Up came to the site, they stayed with the product the entire time, [and] they chased it down with us. None of our people even touched the product,” he said. “All of the packaging and stuff came in today, and Space Weed Bro goes on sale starting Monday.”

Dr. Rose of Sent Into Space introduced himself and his company as the “Near Space Experts,” having devised an entire business model behind sending objects, plants, organic matter, food, and even a spliff sponsored by Viceland into the upper atmosphere. This experiment will be slightly different, however.

The Science Behind the Experiment

(Courtesy of Herban Planet)

Talking a mile a minute, Dr. Rose described the various possible changes his team hopes to measure in the cannabis that made the perilous journey into temperatures as extreme as -94 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re very interested to take a look at and see just what effect these adverse conditions had on the marijuana.”

Dr. Chris Rose, Ph.D., co-founder of Sent Into Space

“We are sending things into adverse conditions that aren’t found on Earth,” he explained. “We’re very interested to take a look at and see just what effect these adverse conditions had on the marijuana. It could be that the exposure to additional UV has had an effect, the solar radiation could certainly have had an effect, the blast freezing by temperature, above the atmosphere could have had an effect—all things that we intend to use the technology at our disposal to try and divulge.”

Dering chimed in, “He’s going to come back, take some samples, take it back to the lab, and test it to see if the molecular structure changed.”

In the video of the experiment (embedded below), you can see the condensation build up on the inside of the glass cube housing the cannabis. As the sample floats further and further up, the condensation crystalizes in the extreme conditions.


Scientists Solve Structure of Receptor That Allows THC to Get You High

Dr. Rose described the testing processes that the space weed will undergo to determine molecular structure changes. “The first would be to look at a visual change, so we would use a scanning electron microscope to essentially do what a conventional microscope can’t,” he said. “A scanning electron microscope uses very powerful magnets to deflect light down, which essentially lets us look down to almost the atomic level.”

“Secondly, what would be really interesting is to take what is called an Edx or a bromine test,” Dr. Rose added. “It uses the scanning electron microscope to focus on an area and fire a concentrated beam of ions at it. An ion is an atom that has had electrons removed from it, and it’s firing at, say, one of the crystals or the core structure of the marijuana. What we then do is we barrage it on a very small scale. We measure the energy of the electrons that are picked out.”

“You’re probably wondering why we do this,” he elaborated. “The reason is because we can analyze what gets picked off. We can get a fingerprint, a DNA structure, if you like, that tells us in graphical form and hard data what is physically different about this marijuana [compared to] the marijuana that hasn’t been sent into space.”


The Cannabis Taxonomy Debate: Where Do Indica and Sativa Classifications Come From?

The Main Event

(Courtesy of Herban Planet)

After multiple trial runs, the team set up its equipment outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The point of entry into space is technically considered 19.2 kilometers (11.9 miles) above Earth, but this cosmic team was determined to reach even further out into the universe.

Using an inflated weather balloon with GPS to provide lift, these amateur cosmonauts sent one pound of premium Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies cannabis from Phoenix all the way up to 32 kilometers (19.8 miles) above Earth. The team tracked the clear glass cube and documented the entire event, from launch to space entry and its long descent back into the desert via parachute.

The video crew had an onboard camera strapped to the cannabis package, as well as various drones and ground video crews to ensure that the historic event was captured completely.

At 131,208 feet, or 32 kilometers (19.8 miles), the meteorological balloon finally exploded from the pressure in the vacuum of space, sending the box of cannabis plummeting back towards Earth. The team tracked the package, following the GPS into the middle of the Arizona desert, where the crew retrieved the galactic ganja.

The results of this experiment will likely take at least a month to process, but in the meantime, the first cannabis to get intergalactically, out-of-this-world high, Space Weed Bro, will be available exclusively at Level Up dispensary in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Space Weed Bro goes on sale starting Monday,” Dering exclaimed. “Smoke at your own risk!”

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.

THCA Shows Promise for Huntington’s Disease, Study Finds

The compound THCA derived from cannabis could be used one day to treat Huntington’s Disease and other neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases, according to a study published recently in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Researchers found that THCA reduced inflammation and served as a neuroprotectant in animal studies.

Researchers found that THCA, an acidic precursor of THC, reduced inflammation and served as a neuroprotectant when they analyzed cannabis compounds in animals. In the study, the compound improved motor function and prevented brain degeneration.

“I think we have something here and it’s pretty exciting,” Gaetano Morello, a co-author of the study, said in an interview with Leafly. Morello is a cannabis researcher and naturopathic physician in the Complex Chronic Disease Program at B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver.


Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana by State

What Is THCA?

THCA is a natural cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. As the plant dries, THCA is slowly converted to THC. Heat rapidly quickens that conversion in a process known as decarboxylation, which is what happens when cannabis is burned.

Unlike THC, THCA does not have psychoactive properties, making it a promising medical ingredient for patients who want to treat a health condition without experiencing any psychoactivity, corresponding author Eduardo Muñoz, of the University of Córdoba in Spain, noted in written correspondence.

“When you take away that psychotropic effect and you have all those other beneficial effects,” Morello told Leafly, “you really have something very unique and very special.”


What Is THCA and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid?

Similarities To CBD

In that sense, THCA may be similar to cannabidiol (CBD), another non-psychoactive cannabis compound that has been used medically to reduce inflammation and is being studied as a potential neuroprotectant. The researchers involved in the new study found that THCA stood out from CBD and cannabigiol (CBG) in positively affecting the PPARγ receptor in the brain, which regulates lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis. That led them to believe that THCA has “unique” promise, Muñoz said.

The study’s results, the authors noted in their article, qualify THCA “as a lead structure for the development of novel drugs for the management of (Huntington’s) and, possibly, other neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases.”


How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Real World Applications

Co-author Morello is the chief scientific officer at Emerald Health Bioceuticals, a San Diego-based company developing a THCA-based medicine to treat patients with pain, and cognitive dysfunction such as brain fog and memory loss. The product could be ready within two years in Canada, once clinical trials are complete. “I have a two-year wait list currently,” Morello said. “Many (patients) have been in treatment 10 to 20 years and have not gotten any better…They’ve tried everything.”

Other acidic precursors within the plant could also be medically beneficial, the authors wrote, but more research is needed. Most medical cannabis studies “have used neutral cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD,” they wrote, “with little attention to the genuine phytocannabinoids of the plant, namely their acidic forms. We provide evidence that these compounds hold significant pharmacological potential.”

How precisely THCA and the other acidic precursors interact with the brain’s receptors to yield medical benefits remains unclear, the authors noted.


What Is Decarboxylation, and Why Does Your Cannabis Need It?

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.

6 Takeaways From Dr. Ethan Russo’s ‘Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis’

Ethan Russo is internationally renowned for his research on cannabis compounds and their roles in the body. As a neurologist and psychopharmacologist, Russo has established himself as a crucial champion of the integral roles plant-based medicine should play in modern therapeutics. After wrapping up a decade-plus run as Senior Medical Advisor for GW Pharmaceuticals in 2014, Russo co-founded PHYTECS, a biotechnology company devoted to researching and developing medical approaches to the human endocannabinoid system, for which Russo serves as Medical Director. (In his spare time, he hosts Reddit AMAs.)

(Courtesy of Ethan Russo)

Earlier this month, Dr. Russo joined forces with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to address one of North America’s gravest problems: the opioid crisis, which now claims the lives of 60,000 Americans and 2,500 Canadians a year, with opioid overdoses killing 80 people a day. Russo’s ASA-sponsored webinar, ‘Cannabis: An Unconventional Solution to the Opioid Crisis?’ laid out the surprising history of the tandem use of cannabis and opioids, and highlighted contemporary research confirming the efficacy of mitigating the problems of opioids with cannabis. Here are six takeaways.


The Biology of Cannabis vs. Opioids for Pain Relief

1. Combining cannabis with opioids is nothing new.

As Leafly has reported, cannabis’ potential in fighting the opioid epidemic ranges from replacing or enhancing opioids in the treatment of chronic pain to serving as an exit drug for those fighting opiate addiction. As Dr. Russo explained, none of this is unprecedented.

“The bane of many opiates…is that the relief of the moment is purchased at the expense of tomorrow’s misery.”

Sir John Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria

In the early 1800s, London physician Dr. John Clendinning chronicled his successful use of cannabis (then called “Indian hemp”) to treat migraines, noting that cannabis also helped lessen the intensity of a patient’s morphine withdrawal symptoms. During the US Civil War, cannabis was used as a tandem treatment with opium to treat dysentery. In 1868, Sir John Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria, came out swinging for cannabis’ superiority as a painkiller: “The bane of many opiates…is that the relief of the moment is purchased at the expense of tomorrow’s misery,” wrote Reynolds, alluding to the withdrawal symptoms and gastrointestinal distress that can accompany opiate use. “In no one case to which I have administered Indian hemp, have I witnessed any such results.”


How Cannabis Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic: An Interview With Philippe Lucas

2. A key appeal of early medical cannabis was its ability to kill pain without inducing nausea or sleep.

As 19th-century Philadelphia physician Hobart Hare wrote, “The advantages in [cannabis] use over opium consist chiefly in the absence of prostration and nausea after its ingestion, and in the partial lack of soporific power which it possesses compared to the opiate, for in certain cases sleep is not always desirable when pain is to be removed….I have found the efficient dose of a pure extract of hemp to be as powerful in relieving pain as the corresponding dose of the same preparation of opium.”

3. Using cannabis to treat opiate addiction is also nothing new.

In 1902, the American doctor Thomas D. Crothers hailed cannabis’ “temporary removal of the worst symptoms” of opioid addiction, and in 1944, the LaGuardia Commission tested extracts of cannabis on incarcerated opiate addicts and found they had much less severe withdrawal symptoms.


At This LA Rehab Center, Cannabis Is an ‘Exit’ Drug

4. Opioids kill 80 Americans a day. Cannabis has never killed anyone. The reason? The way cannabinoid receptors are deployed in the brain.

Opioid overdoses routinely cause death by overloading the opioid receptors in the brain’s cardiorespiratory centers, with the result being “respiratory depression” that causes users to simply stop breathing and die. As Dr. Russo noted, while the brain is rich in cannabinoid receptors, there are almost no cannabinoid receptors in the brain’s cardiorespiratory centers—which is why no one has ever gotten so high they stopped breathing.

5. It’s not just THC. CBD also has a place in fighting the opioid epidemic.

Studies of opiate-addicted rats have shown that administering CBD inhibits opiate-seeking behavior. Dr. Russo noted that high doses of CBD can effectively deactivate the drug-seeking part of brain, with no psychoactive “high” effect.


Cannabis as an Opioid Exit: 5 Real-Life Stories

6. While the US struggles to get up to speed on cannabis’ opioid-replacing potential, 29 other countries are racing forward.

Nabiximol is the legal-in-29-countries-but-not-the-US oral cannabinoid spray that effectively proves cannabis’ ability to replace opioids in pain-management plans. Dr. Russo noted the two-week cannabis trial among a European hospice population with opioid-resistant pain, where steady doses of Nabiximol brought a 30% reduction in patients’ pain. What’s more, researchers found significant success in sustaining the pain-killing properties of Nabiximol without escalating the dose—a veritable miracle in the world of pain management, where opioid dose escalation has previously been the name of the game.

To see video of Dr. Russo’s webinar in full, visit Americans for Safe Access.

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.

Taking Drugged Driving Seriously: What Does the Science Say?

I’ve been reporting on cannabis full-time for more than 15 years, so I like to think I’ve heard it all—pro and con—when it comes to the legalization debate. In all that time spent weighing facts and debunking disinformation, only one con argument has ever given me serious pause: What if a large number of newbie pot smokers suddenly get behind the wheel and all start riding dirty at once? 

There are many other supposed cannabis dangers that would warrant being taken seriously, if a small bit of independent investigation didn’t reveal them to be overblown or baseless.

For instance, science shows definitively that cannabis is not a gateway to harder drugs, is not addictive relative to other drugs (including caffeine), does not cause cancer or harm the lungs, and does not lead to an increase in violent crime.

Not that cannabis is completely harmless, of course. But if smoking herb turned you into a scatterbrained, violent heroin addict with lung cancer, that would be a serious concern. As hard data makes plain, however, it’s just not what happens.

Is “stoned driving” any different?


Will California’s New Drugged Driving Device Finally Get It Right?

Hot Button Issue

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions actively looking for excuses to crack down on legal cannabis, prohibition defenders are touting drugged driving as a reason to shut down the legal states.

Recently, the Denver Post published a major investigation of cannabis and driving. The story relied largely on data coming out of Colorado and Washington in the five years since those two states became the first to legalize the adult use of cannabis.

The series began with this headline: Traffic Fatalities Linked to Marijuana Are Up Sharply in Colorado. Is Legalization To Blame?

Well, Is Legalization To Blame?

Apparently nobody’s sure, because a smaller line directly below the headline stated: “Authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot.”

Authorities say the crash data can’t be definitively linked to legalized cannabis.

In my experience, the authorities have never been shy about blaming a myriad of social ills on cannabis. So why the hesitance this time? And what, exactly, does the Denver Post mean when they describe traffic fatalities “linked to” marijuana? That’s an awfully vague term.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Task Force—a federally funded law enforcement organization dedicated to suppressing illegal drugs—stated in a 2015 report that the term “marijuana-related” does not “necessarily prove that marijuana was the cause of the incident,” and applies “any time marijuana shows up in the toxicology report [of drivers]. It could be marijuana only or marijuana with other drugs and/or alcohol.”

Which means that if a drug test shows you smoked half a joint last week and drank a bottle of vodka twenty minutes ago, your car crash goes down in the books as “marijuana related.”


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Deal With Facts, Not Fear

Before we fully delve into the confusing science of stoned driving, let’s start by stating the obvious. Operating a motored vehicle while dangerously impaired on any substance—whether legal or illegal—is rightfully a criminal act.

Compared to sober drivers, THC-impaired drivers have a 5% greater risk of crashing. Alcohol-impaired drivers under the legal limit (.08) have a 225% greater risk.

So when the Post asked if “legalization” was to blame for traffic fatalities, that was a skewed way of framing the question. Nobody would argue that alcohol legalization is responsible for a drunk driving accident. We rightly blame the drunk driver, both in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Clearly, cannabis use can lead to driver impairment, which increases accident risk—but how much cannabis? And how much risk? That depends on a lot of factors.

While it’s literally impossible to fatally overdose on infused chocolates (unless you’re allergic to chocolate), you could fall asleep or space out at the wheel after eating them and cause a fatal accident. That’s a danger that imperils not just the driver, but anyone else in the car or on the road.

When Colorado legalized adult-use cannabis in 2012, it also included a per-se limit for drivers. State law specifies that “drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their whole blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI)… and no matter the level of THC, law enforcement officers base arrests on observed impairment.”


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Look at the Full Data Set

Putting aside for a moment the notorious difficulty of measuring cannabis impairment through blood tests or officer observation, the Post’s analysis raised serious questions about cannabis use and drugged driving.

One of the key findings in the Post report was this startling statistic:

  • From 2013 to 2016, the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana use jumped 145 percent — from 47 to 115.

That doesn’t sound good. But it’s a wholly misleading statistic. “Testing positive for marijuana” only means that cannabis metabolites remain in the driver’s blood, even though the driver may be completely sober. The body expunges alcohol within hours, but those non-impairing cannabis metabolites remain for days and even weeks. The test will register as metabolite-positive if the driver consumed cannabis anytime up to three weeks ago.

If Colorado officials conducted a similar test to find drivers who consumed alcohol within the past three weeks—if such a test existed—it would find 55% to 75% of the state adult population (the percentage range of people who consume alcohol at least once a month) register as alcohol-positive. But they’re no more “drunk” than a metabolite-positive driver is “stoned.”


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In fact, the Post data is doubly misleading, because the statistics on cannabis metabolites actually predate 2013. Annual reports by the state’s Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving published data on metabolite-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes during 2011 and 2012. Those numbers reveal 2013 not as a normal, pre-legalization baseline, but rather as a bit of an outlier–an unusually low year for metabolite-positive drivers in crashes.

What the full data set reveals is that the percentage of Colorado drivers who are involved in fatal crashes, and have consumed cannabis sometime in the past three weeks, pretty much mirrors the percentage of adults who consume cannabis in the population at large. Which is to say, around 12% to 13%. It was a little under 14% prior to legalization, it was a little over 14% after legalization. In between it fluctuated between 8% and 12%.

Colorado: Drivers in Fatal Crashes (click to enlarge)

Consider the Odds

While the Post report included pushback quotes from two representatives of prominent cannabis industry trade groups, they didn’t talk to anybody like Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML. He’s a longtime expert on these matters, with the peer-reviewed papers to prove it.

Armentano argues—I believe convincingly—that “increased prevalence of THC detection in drivers tells us little about accident risk,” as it could simply be evidence of increased use among the general public, increased testing by law enforcement, or both.

For Armentano, there’s only one metric that really matters: Odds ratios.

“To determine what role, if any, a drug plays in motor vehicle accident culpability we need to looks at odds ratios, which estimate the probability of an event occurring (e.g., motor vehicle crash) over the probability that such an event does not occur,” he says. “Odds ratios greater than 1 indicate a positive relationship, with stronger relationships reflected by higher numbers.”

And guess what? Drivers who test positive for active THC—not merely inactive metabolites—do increase their risk of crashing. But that increased risk is small compared to alcohol—or compared to opioids, texting, phone use, or even the distracting company of two other passengers in the car. When Colorado saw an upsurge in traffic fatalities last year, this was the headline in the Denver PostCDOT Director Blames Surge in Colorado Roadway Fatalities on an ‘Epidemic of Distracted Driving.’ 

The largest domestic case-control study to assess drugs and accident risk—published in a 2015 research note by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency—found that the odds ratios for THC-positive drivers and crashes, when adjusted for drivers’ age and gender, came out to 1.05. That means THC-positive drivers have a 5% greater crash risk than drivers with no drugs or alcohol in their system.

Context and Relative Risk

It’s worth taking a closer look at that 2015 NHTSA study, because federal officials put a lot of stock in it as “the first large-scale [case control crash risk] study in the United States to include drugs other than alcohol.” Data was collected from more than 3,000 crash-involved drivers and 6,000 control drivers (not involved in crashes) over a 20-month period in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The data was fresh and solid: Research teams responded to crashes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Drivers were considered THC-positive if they tested for active THC, not for non-impairing metabolites still in their blood days or weeks after consumption.

While THC-positive drivers were 5% more likely to be involved in a crash, the researchers found that drivers who’d taken an opioid painkiller had a 14% greater risk of crashing. Here’s a chart from that NHTSA study comparing THC (marijuana) with opioids (narcotic analgesics) and other drugs:

Source: “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk,” Compton and Berning, NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Feb. 2015

Those levels of increased risk were tiny, however, compared to the risk involved with alcohol. Drivers within the legal range of blood alcohol level as registered by a breathalyzer (BrAC) were found to be 20% to 222% more likely to be involved in a crash. At .08 BrAC, the legal limit, the risk increased to 293%. At 0.15 BrAC, drivers were more than 12 times (+1118%) more likely to be involved in a crash than a sober person. Here’s a chart from that same study, calculating the increased risk of crashing at rising blood alcohol levels:

Source: “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk,” Compton and Berning, NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Feb. 2015

By comparison, a driver who has taken penicillin is 25% more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers carrying two or more passengers are 120% more likely to crash. Drivers using mobile phones to talk or text are 310% more likely to crash.

A separate NHSTA study (“Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance”) further conceded it’s “difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects … Drivers with high concentrations showed substantial [impairment], but also no impairment, or even some improvement.” In other words, cannabis affects different drivers in different ways, depending on a number of factors.


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Favoring One Set of Data Over Another

Strangely, the Denver Post’s analysis relies heavily on data compiled by the NHSTA, yet they never mention these striking findings from the very same federal agency.

My own theory on that wide range of responses (from “substantial impairment” to “some improvement”): Cannabis affects inexperienced users very differently than seasoned consumers. A 2010 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology concluded that “heavy cannabis users develop tolerance to the impairing effects of THC on neurocognitive task performance.” And a 2012 study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology confirmed finding “minimal impairment in driving-related psychomotor tasks in chronic daily cannabis users.”

So while the correlation between blood alcohol concentration and impairment is relatively consistent for most people, it may be impossible to establish a THC test that can truly gauge impairment the way a breathalyzer can for booze. Though not for a lack of trying, which creates the danger of severely punishing drivers simply for being cannabis consumers, not for driving while impaired.

A New Form of Prohibition

Because if it becomes essentially illegal to drive to work the morning after smoking a joint, then it becomes essentially illegal to smoke a joint—at least for the vast majority of us who are far more addicted to our cars than we ever could be to cannabis.

Speaking of automobile addiction: What’s with those car-junkies over at AAA (a.k.a. “Triple A”) lobbying against legalization and pushing “grossly distorted” data . According to a Leafly report, “the organization’s newly embraced anti-legalization stance is a hard turn from AAA’s previous position—which is to say, no position at all.”

Maybe it’s time for all AAA members who care about this issue to contact them and demand they start telling the truth.


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The (Positive) Substitution Effect

For instance, what about the idea—hidden in all the data we’ve examined so far—that increased cannabis use could actually be making our roads safer by serving as a substitute for more dangerous behavior.

Increased cannabis use could be making our roads safer by decreasing alcohol intake.

Meaning that while cannabis use in and of itself does increase crash risk, in a zero sum game where someone’s either drinking beer, popping pills or smoking weed, then cannabis is most certainly the safest of those risk factors. A dynamic that, writ large, can have a sizable positive effect.

For example, one 2011 study found that widespread use of legally accessible medical marijuana actually produces a major improvement in public safety because of a correlated reduction in drinking and driving, and an overall reduction in opioid use.

“Specifically, we find that traffic fatalities fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana,” concluded University of Colorado Professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University Assistant Professor D. Mark Anderson.


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No, You Don’t Drive Better Stoned

So, to sum up—no, you definitely don’t drive better stoned, especially in high doses. And double-especially if you’re not used to being stoned, or to driving, or to both. Infrequent users of cannabis incur a higher risk of crashing based on the increased motor impairment that comes along with having less experience with THC and its effects.

Most experts recommend waiting at least three hours after your last inhale of cannabis before driving, and waiting far longer if you’ve eaten edibles, since they can sometimes take two hours before the onset of effects, which can then last six hours or longer. Also, please be aware that mixing alcohol and cannabis is more dangerous than using either alone. And don’t ever smoke in a moving vehicle, as it’s irresponsible and also the easiest way to get busted.

Oh, and if you happen to be a passenger in a car heading out for a long road trip, then I highly recommend getting really, really blazed before getting into the car, and then bumping some killer driving music once you hit the highway.

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.

How Cannabis Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic: An Interview With Philippe Lucas

Philippe Lucas has deep roots in Canada’s cannabis culture. After co-founding the Vancouver Island Compassion Society medical dispensary in 1999, Lucas applied himself to cannabis science, working as a graduate researcher with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia and serving as founding board member of both the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Canada and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. In 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his research on medical cannabis.

Philippe Lucas

(Full disclosure/fun fact: He’s also Vice President of Patient Advocacy at Tilray, the cannabis production company owned by Privateer Holdings, which also owns Leafly.)

Most recently, Lucas is the author of a new study: “Rationale for cannabis-based interventions in the opioid overdose crisis,” published last month in the Harm Reduction Journal. In the study, Lucas lays out a variety of roles that cannabis might play in combatting the opioid epidemic, which currently kills 38,000 people in the U.S. and Canada each year and ranks as the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.


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His study added an important perspective to the growing body of evidence supporting the notion of cannabis as healing tool in the opioid crisis. That idea is quickly moving into mainstream thought, as we’ve seen recently with the public pronouncements of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and, just this week, Dr. Oz.

Over the phone from his office in Nanaimo, Lucas let me interrogate him about specifics of the study.

Dave Schmader: What inspired you to undertake this study?

Philippe Lucas: Whether it’s medical use or recreational use, cannabis appears to be having an impact on the rates of opioid abuse. This study is a summation of the evidence, and I’ve taken that summation to suggest three opportunities for cannabis to intervene in the opioid crisis.


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And those are…?

First is introduction—if physicians start recommending the use of medical cannabis prior to introducing patients to opioids, those patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use that all too often leads to abuse or overuse or overdose.

“Patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use.”

The second opportunity is reduction, for those patients who are successfully using opioids in the treatment of their chronic pain or other conditions but are worried about increasing their use of opioids over time. The evidence suggests you can introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment and reduce the cravings for opioids, therefore potentially steering people away and reducing the risk of opioid overdose and opioid dependence.

The third part is cessation. Once individuals have become dependent on opioids and they recognize that dependence and are seeking treatment for it through opioid replacement therapy like methadone and suboxone, you can potentially introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment to increase the success rate of the methadone or suboxone treatment. The reason this point is so important is that when people with an opioid dependence fail out of treatment, that’s the period where they become the most vulnerable to potential overdose. Replacement therapy has failed, they’re at their most vulnerable, and they go back to the illicit drug market, potentially risking overdose.


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A key concept in the study is the “substitution effect.”

Yes. The substitution effect is an economic concept that suggests that the use of one substance never stands alone. In fact, the use of one substance can affect the use of another. When it comes to psychoactive substances, the use of a substance can be affected by changes in price, changes in legality or regulatory access, or changes in the product itself in terms of potency. And that can really affect the use of another drug.

“In medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths.”

A 2014 study showed that in medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths compared to neighboring states that didn’t have medical cannabis programs. There’s a growing body of research showing that simply making medical cannabis available in a number of US states and in Canada has reduced rates of not just opioid use, but also the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances,

often leading to total abstinence of those substances. So we’re looking at cannabis as a potential therapeutic agent, but also as a harm reduction agent when it comes to problematic substance use. This evidence suggests cannabis could be an exit drug to problematic substance use and addiction.


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In the study you write, “Cannabis augments the pain-relieving potential of opioids and can re-potentiate their effects.” Tell me about re-potentiation.

Research suggests that when you use cannabis alongside opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, you seem to get a synergistic effect—a greater effect than you might have if each was taken individually. People who have been using opioids for some time sometimes have to increase their dose, and cannabis presents another option for physicians, so instead of increasing the dose of opioids they can instead prescribe medical cannabis as an adjunct treatment in order to keep the patient at a lower dose of opioids, thereby reducing the risk of overdose.


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Another study quote: “[I]t would seem logical to seek to develop policies and associated education strategies to increase physician support for cannabis for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of chronic pain.” This does seem logical. What are the chances of it happening?

Right now we’re facing this tremendous public-health threat around the opioid overdose crisis. Opioid overdose is the most common cause of accidental death in Canada and the US right now. The over-prescription of opioids seems to be leading the way, in that four out of five people currently injecting opioids say that they started by using prescription opioids. There’s an oversaturation of the market and an over-availability on the black market.


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I think that if we can shift prescription patterns by physicians—so that instead of first prescribing opioids and then, if those opioids fail, moving on to medical cannabis—we can modernize those policies and instead focus on introducing medical cannabis first. That’s based on all the available evidence, which indicates that it’s far less harmful than prescription opioids in terms of dependence and risk of overdose.

Right now in Canada and in US states with medical marijuana, physicians are encouraged to prescribe opioids first and if those don’t work, cannabis is considered as a third- or fourth-line treatment option. We need to flip that around and make cannabis the second-line treatment option and move opioids to third or fourth options if indeed cannabinoids are not successful.

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.