Tag: Science and Technology

Study: No Link Between Cumulative Cannabis Use and Kidney Disease

Study: No Link Between Cumulative Cannabis Use and Kidney Disease | Phillip Smith

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Neither current nor the long-term cumulative use of cannabis is associated with negative effects on the kidneys, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Investigators at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco assessed the […]

Study: No Link Between Cumulative Cannabis Use and Kidney Disease | The Daily Chronic


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Study Linking Cannabis Use and Increased Risk of Metabolic Syndrome Is Inconsistent With Prior Data

ATLANTA, GA — The findings of a recent, well-publicized study correlating long-term cannabis use with a slightly increased risk of metabolic syndrome are inconsistent with those of several prior observational studies.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of risk factors linked with an increased likelihood of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Investigators at the Georgia State University School of Public Health assessed the association between subjects’ duration of cannabis use and MetS in a cohort of 3,051 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during the years 2011 and 2012.

Researchers reported that subjects’ cannabis use history was correlated with a “small, yet consistent increase in odds” for hypertension, obesity and other MetS risk factors. For many factors, the data showed “an initial decrease in values but [then an] eventual increase.” Authors of the study were unable to control for subjects’ diet, an important risk factor for MetS.

They concluded, “Extended duration of marijuana use could possibly increase the risk for the development of metabolic syndrome. … Longitudinal research is required to define the true relationship between marijuana use and metabolic syndrome.”

Researchers acknowledged that their findings are largely inconsistent with those of prior studies. Specifically, a 2016 study involving a significantly larger cohort of NHANES participants reported that “current marijuana use is associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome.”

Several other observational trials have similarly reported that those with a cannabis use history are less likely to be obese, possess lower BMI, and are less likely to suffer from adult onset diabetes as compared to non-users. A 2017 longitudinal study reported that those who consume cannabis long-term suffer no greater likelihood of cardiovascular disease by middle age than do those with no history of use.

Recent clinical trials data also finds that the administration of specific cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC-V, are positively associated with reductions in blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Full text of the study, “Relationship between years of marijuana use and the four main diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome among United States adults,” appears in the Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy.

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Alcohol Use, Not Cannabis, Associated With Changes in Brain Structure

BOULDER, CO — Alcohol consumption is associated with negative changes in gray matter volume and in white matter integrity, while cannabis use is not, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

Investigators from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Oregon Health & Science University evaluated neuroimaging data among adults (ages 18 to 55) and adolescents (ages 14 to 18). Authors identified an association between alcohol use and negative changes in brain structure, but identified no such association with cannabis.

“Alcohol use severity is associated with widespread lower gray matter volume and white matter integrity in adults, and with lower gray matter volume in adolescents,” they concluded. By contrast, “No associations were observed between structural measures and past 30-day cannabis use in adults or adolescents.”

Researchers acknowledged that their findings were similar to those of prior studies “suggesting that regionally specific differences between cannabis users and non-users are often inconsistent across studies and that some of the observed associations may actually be related to comorbid alcohol use.”

A 2015 brain imaging study published in The Journal of Neuroscience similarly reported that cannabis use was not positively associated with adverse changes in the brain, but that alcohol “has been unequivocally associated with deleterious effects on brain morphology and cognition in both adults and adolescents.”

Longitudinal data published in June in the British Medical Journal reported, “Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy.”

Full text of the study, “Structural neuroimaging correlates of alcohol and cannabis use in adolescents and adults,” appears in Addiction.

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Study: Vaporization Offers “Attractive Alternative” to Smoking Marijuana

A woman uses a vaporizer to medicate with cannabis. (Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance)

BALTIMORE, MD — Vaporizing cannabis mitigates subjects’ exposure to carbon monoxide and allows them to self-regulate their dose – making it preferable over smoking or oral administration, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators affiliated with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) assessed the effects of smoked, vaporized, and oral cannabis administration upon frequent and occasional consumers in a placebo-controlled study. Authors reported that “expired carbon monoxide was significantly increased following smoking compared to vaporization.”

They concluded: “[T]hese data offer compelling evidence for the strength of vaporized cannabis over smoking or oral routes for medicinal administrations; effects occur quickly and doses can be titrated without exposure to carbon monoxide. … Vaporization offers an attractive alternative to inhaled cannabis administration, particularly for medicinal administration, producing similar effects to smoked cannabis while reducing exposure to toxic by-products.”

Vaporization devices heat herbal cannabis to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion. Prior clinical trials assessing vaporization devices have similarly concluded that they are “safe and effective” cannabis delivery systems.

Full text of the study, “Subjective and physiological effects, and expired carbon monoxide concentrations in frequent and occasional cannabis smokers following smoked, vaporized, and oral cannabis administration,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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A Single Dose of Cannabidiol (CBD) Reduces Blood Pressure, Study Finds

Oral CBD administration is associated with reduced blood pressure in healthy volunteers, according to clinical trial data published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Investigators from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom assessed the effects of a single oral dose of 600 mg of CBD extract versus placebo in nine male subjects.

Cannabidiol administration reduced resting systolic blood pressure and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle of the heart in one contraction).

Compared to placebo, CBD intake was associated with reduced BP levels following exercise and in response to stress.

Increased heart rate was observed following CBD administration, but no “adverse events” were reported by participants either during or following the study sessions.

Authors concluded:

“Our data show that a single dose of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure response to stress, particularly cold stress, and especially in the post-test periods. This may reflect the anxiolytic and analgesic effects of CBD, as well as any potential direct cardiovascular effects. … Further research is also required to establish whether CBD has any role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as a hypertension.”

Full text of the study, “A single dose of cannabisiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study,” is online here.

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Study: Cannabis Extracts Associated With Reduced ADHD Symptoms

LONDON — The administration of whole-plant cannabis extracts is associated with improvements in cognition and behavior in subjects with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

British scientists conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of cannabis extracts in 30 adults with ADHD.

Treatment was associated “with a nominally significant improvement in hyperactivity/impulsivity and a trend for improvement in inattention. There were further indications for improvement in activity and cognitive performance, and emotional lability.”

Investigators concluded:

“ADHD may represent a subgroup of individuals that gain cognitive enhancement and reduction of ADHD symptoms from the use of cannabinoids. These findings provide preliminary evidence using an experimental design for the self-medication hypothesis of cannabis use in ADHD; and support the need for further research into the effects of cannabinoids on ADHD symptoms and impairments.”

Full text of the study, “Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a randomised-controlled trial,” appears in European Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Review Identifies 140 Controlled Clinical Trials Related to Cannabis

Scientists have conducted over 140 controlled clinical trials since 1975 assessing the safety and efficacy of whole-plant cannabis or specific cannabinoids, according to a new literature review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.

A team of German researchers identified 140 clinical trials involving an estimated 8,000 participants. Of these, the largest body of literature focused on the use of cannabis or cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain. Authors identified 35 controlled studies, involving 2,046 subjects, assessing the use of marijuana in pain treatment. In January, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive review acknowledging that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain.

Cannabinoids have also been well studied as anti-emetic agents and as appetite stimulants. Researchers identified 43 trials evaluating marijuana or its components for these purposes, involving total 2,498 patients. They also identified an additional 14 trials examining the role of cannabis or cannabis-derived extracts in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Researchers also identified several additional trials evaluating the use of cannabis for Crohn’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, and various other indications.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that new drugs typically gain FDA approval on the basis of one or two pivotal clinical trials.

Full text of the study, “Medicinal uses of marijuana and cannabinoids,” appears online here.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) Found to Reduce Seizure Frequency in Phase III Trial

The oral administration of CBD (cannabidiol) reduces seizure frequency in children with intractable epilepsy, according to placebo-controlled, randomized trial data published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A team of investigators from the United States and England evaluated the effects of pharmaceutically standardized cannabidiol extracts (aka Epidiolex) versus placebo in 120 children and young adults with treatment-resistant Dravet syndrome.

They reported:

“The median frequency of convulsive seizures per month decreased from 12.4 to 5.9 with cannabidiol, as compared with a decrease from 14.9 to 14.1 with placebo.”

In April, researchers announced similar results in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, another severe form of epilepsy.

The lead author of the new study, Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center said that the findings warrant the immediate rescheduling of marijuana under federal law. “Cannabis is approved in 20 countries for spasms in multiple sclerosis,” he said. “So to say there’s no evidence of efficacy is simply untrue. … They have to de-schedule this drug. It’s just not fair to the research and clinical communities, or to the patients. It’s medieval.”

The manufacturer of Epidiolex, British biotechnology company GW Pharmaceuticals, is seeking FDA approval for its product for the treatment of severe seizure disorders.

Full text of the study, “Trial of cannabidiol for drug resistant seizures in the Dravet syndrome,” appears in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Additional information regarding the efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy is available online from NORML.

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Study: Marijuana Does Not Lead to an Increase in Psychotic Symptoms

PHILADELPHIA, PA — There exists “minimal evidence” in support of an association between cannabis use by itself and the onset of psychotic symptoms in young people, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Investigators from the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Psychiatry assessed the relationship between drug use and the onset of psychotic symptoms in a cohort of 4,171 young people ages 14 to 21. Authors reported that “neither frequent nor early cannabis use predicted increased odds of psychosis spectrum classification” after researchers adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., concurrent use of other substances, comorbid psychopathology, and trauma exposure).

They concluded:

“Overall, we found minimal evidence for associations between cannabis use by itself and psychosis spectrum symptoms.”

The findings are similar to those of a 2015 longitudinal study reporting that early-onset cannabis use is not positively associated with a greater risk of psychosis or other mental health disorders in mid-life.

A 2016 literature review published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports concluded that cannabis use likely does not cause the psychosis, but rather, that subjects susceptible to the disorder may be more likely to engage in habitual use of the substance.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis use, polysubstance use, and psychosis spectrum symptoms in a community-based sample of U.S. youth,” appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Study: Inhaled Cannabis Controls Tics in Patients With Tourette’s Syndrome

Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

Inhaled cannabis is effective and well-tolerated in patients with Tourette’s Syndrome, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

A team of researchers at the University of Toronto retrospectively assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in 19 TS patients.

Researchers reported, “All study participants experienced clinically significant symptom relief,” including including reductions in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, impulsivity, anxiety, irritability, and rage outbursts. Eighteen of 19 patients experienced decreased tic severity.

Cannabis was “generally well tolerated” by study subjects.

They concluded:

“Overall, these study participants experienced substantial improvements in their symptoms. This is particularly striking given that almost all participants had failed at least one anti-tic medication trial. … In conclusion, cannabis seems to be a promising treatment option for tics and associated symptoms.”

Placebo controlled data has previously determined that oral THC dosing also improves tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in TS patients. However, patients utilizing inhaled cannabis have generally shown greater overall improvement.

An abstract of the study, “Preliminary evidence on cannabis effectiveness and tolerability for adults with Tourette Syndrome,” is online here.

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