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Can Marijuana Be The Answer For Pain?

Like many of her friends, Alexandra Callner, now 58, experimented with recreational marijuana when she was younger.

“I had tried it, and hated it, in my 20s,” Callner says. “When I was around pot smokers, I thought, ‘Ugh, losers.’ ”

But, that was before her knee arthritis became so bad, it robbed her sleep, night after night. She took two over-the-counter pain pills a day, but the pain would wake her up at night. And the drugs were hard on her stomach.

“It was making me kind of nauseous,” she says of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. Plus, she needed to stay active to manage her dog boarding service in Pasadena, CA.

Then came another solution. “A neighbor said, ‘Try this,’ ” Callner says. It was a joint.

Callner got a medical marijuana card, and then she tried it. “I slept through the night.”

That was a year ago, and it’s now her nightly ritual. “Every night, I get into bed, read about an hour, take one or two puffs, and then I am off to sleep,” she says. “The pain is much lighter.”

About 50 million Americans like Callner live with chronic or severe pain. Patients and doctors are seeking treatments besides the potent prescription painkillers like opioids and the nonprescription medicines that Callner found tough to tolerate.

So could marijuana be the next pain reliever of choice?

Lack of Research

Donald Abrams, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, helped review research on marijuana for a 2017 report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

There is a lack of evidence about the health effects of marijuana, he says.

Adds Angela Bryan, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder: “The evidence we have thus far suggests that cannabis is moderately effective for pain relief.” But most studies haven’t compared marijuana with other ways to relieve pain, she says.

Cannabis is the scientific name for the marijuana plant. Researchers prefer to use “cannabis” instead of “marijuana” because marijuana is associated with recreational use, Abrams says.

Why the lack of evidence from research in the U.S.?

Although medical marijuana in some form is legal in 30 states and Washington, D.C., it’s still illegal on the federal level. It’s classified as a Schedule I drug — putting it in the same category as other drugs of “high potential for abuse” that have ”no currently accepted medical use,” such as heroin and LSD.

That means federal rules put limits on what researchers can do.

“In the state of Colorado [which allows medical and adult private use], I can go to any dispensary and buy whatever I want to treat whatever I want,” says Bryan, who’s also co-director of the CU Change Lab, which explores health and risk behavior. “You would think that means researchers can, too. The problem is, researchers are in a federal institution [at the University of Colorado]. If we do anything in violation of federal law, we could have all federal funding withdrawn.”

Bryan’s team has grants for four research studies on marijuana, including one on lower back pain. Participants come to the university for their initial assessment, but then must go to the dispensary on their own to buy the marijuana, she says. Declassifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug would make her research easier, Bryan says, or at least as easy as alcohol research.

“If I want to do a study on alcohol, I bring someone in, give them wine, get blood [samples], and see what happens when they use alcohol.”

Bryan says she could use marijuana supplied by the government. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a license to the University of Mississippi to cultivate marijuana for research. The marijuana from dispensaries is different and more potent  than that supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse farm, she says.

Patient groups, including those for veterans, are among those pushing for more research. Nick Etten, a former Navy SEAL, founded the Veterans Cannabis Project in 2017. “We are bringing stories to the Hill,” he says, ”of veterans who have found relief from their health issues through cannabis.” He reaches out to individual U.S. legislators, he says, to elevate marijuana as a health issue and to persuade them to declassify marijuana.

In 2016, the National Football League Players Association created a pain management committee to study ways to help players deal with injuries and chronic pain, says Brandon Parker, a spokesman. “Marijuana is just one of several alternative pain relievers being studied by the committee,” he says.

Research Scorecard

The National Academies’ report looked at data from 1999 on, reviewing more than 10,000 scientific studies, of which only seven were directly related to pain relief. One of the seven looked at data from 28 studies.

Abrams says the evidence on marijuana and pain is strongest for helping nerve pain (neuropathy) and cancer-related pain. The committee also concluded that certain oral cannabinoids improved muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Cannabinoids are one of more than 60 chemicals in the cannabis plant. Abrams says it makes sense that marijuana may help relieve pain because the body has cannabinoid receptors, or places where the chemical attaches to cells.

Cannabinoid
The above wheel serves as a resource to determine which cannabinoids
may help treat symptoms associated with mood, eating/gastrointestinal disorders,
neurological disorders, pain, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions.

Here is a sampling of research or reviews published in the past year:

  • Israeli researchers found marijuana gave substantial pain relief to more than half of 1,200 cancer patients who used it for 6 months.
  • In a review of 16 published studies including more than 1,700 participants with chronic nerve pain, German researchers found that marijuana-based remedies increased the number of people who reported a 50% or more reduction in pain relief. But they also concluded that the risks may outweigh the benefits. People taking marijuana-based remedies were more likely to have sleepiness, dizziness, and confusion.
  • In a small study of 47 patients with Parkinson’s disease, Israeli researchers found a 27% improvement in pain with marijuana use.
  • Medical marijuana helped to ease pain in 26 patients with fibromyalgia, a condition in which the body has ”tender” points. Half the patients stopped taking any other medicines for fibromyalgia, but 30% did have mild side effects.
  • A study from the European Academy of Neurology found that cannabinoids given at various doses eased pain in migraine patients by 40% or more. It helped cut pain in people with cluster headaches, too, but only if the patient had a history of childhood migraine.
  • Marijuana and cannabinoids may have modest effects on the pain and muscle spasticity that come with multiple sclerosis, according to an Australian review that looked at 32 studies.

Not for Everyone

Experts also saw potential downsides to marijuana. The European Academy report found that marijuana use may:

  • Make you more likely to be involved in a car accident
  • Raise the chance of unintentional marijuana overdose injuries among children, something that has happened in states where marijuana use is legal
  • Lead to more frequent bronchitis if smoked on a regular basis
  • Raise the odds of having schizophrenia and, to a lesser extent, depression

Smoking marijuana is also linked to delivering a lower birth weight baby, although the relationship with other pregnancy and childhood outcomes is not clear, the report says.

Abrams says marijuana can raise heart rate and either raise or lower blood pressure. Frail older people with balance issues have a risk of dizziness and falling.

Will Marijuana Replace Opioids?

Some research suggests that marijuana could take the place of opioids. Two recent studies found that states with medical marijuana laws or legalized recreational use may have a decline in opioid prescriptions.

In another study, researchers polled nearly 3,000 medical marijuana patients, including about a third who said they had used opioid pain medicines in the past 6 months. Most said the marijuana provided relief equal to their other medications, but without the side effects. While 97% said they were able to lower the amount of opioids they took if they also took marijuana, 81% said that taking marijuana alone was more effective than using both marijuana and opioids.

That finding makes sense to Alex Jordan, 29, an artist who works at the Green Valley Collective, a marijuana dispensary in the Los Angeles area. She manages her chronic pain with daily use of marijuana joints and products that contain cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid.

Her experience helps her guide her customers, who range from young adults to those over age 80, to an effective remedy. “I would say 60% of our users use [marijuana] to manage some kind of pain, whether it be physical or mental,” she says.

Without it, her pain is severe – usually a 4 to 7 on a 10-point scale, she says. It started after she was in a car accident in 2011. The van she was riding in hit black ice and flipped seven times. The accident left her with a broken sternum (breastbone), six broken ribs, six crushed vertebrae, and collapsed lungs, making breathing difficult. Morphine helped relieve the pain in the hospital. Later, she says, “I could get any pill I wanted” for pain relief. She wore a neck brace for 2 months and a back brace for 6, but the pain persisted.

She wanted off the potent painkillers and had used marijuana recreationally in years past. She experimented with different options until she found her current regimen. And to make access easier, she and her husband moved from New York City to Los Angeles, where recreational marijuana is legal, last year. Before the move, the pain had gotten so bad, she had trouble putting on a shirt. These days, she’s working regularly and branching out as a freelance artist.

“The lack of pain is a wonderful thing,” she says. “It brings me to tears.”

 

By Kathleen Doheny        April 20, 2018
WebMD Article Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on April 20, 2018

Sources

Article: Can Marijuana Be The Answer For Pain?
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendation’s for Research,” January, 2017.
National Conference of State Legislatures: “State Medical Marijuana Laws.”
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML): “Legalization.”
Donald Abrams, MD, oncologist and professor of clinical medicine, University of California, San Francisco.
Angela Bryan, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder; co-director, CU Change Lab.
Nick Etten, founder, Veterans Cannabis Project.
Brandon Parker, spokesman, National Football League Players Union.
Alexandra Callner, owner, Spoiled Dog Pet Care, Pasadena, CA.
Alex Jordan, artist; budtender, Green Valley Collective, North Hollywood, CA.
JAMA Internal Medicine: “The Role of Cannabis Legalization in the Opioid Crisis.”
European Journal of Internal Medicine: “Prospective analysis of safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in large unselected population of patients with cancer.”
Cochrane Database System Review: “Cannabis-based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults.”
Clinical Neuropharmacology: “Medical Cannabis in Parkinson Disease: Real-Life Patients’ Experience.”
Journal of Clinical Rheumatology: “Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia.”
Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports: “The Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Treating Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review of Reviews.”
World Health Organization: “Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report,” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Thirty-ninth Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 6-10, 2017.

 

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9 Remarkable Healing Properties Of CBD

Cannabis has been stigmatized for decades, but scientists and society cannot deny that the plant’s active ingredients, known as Cannabinoids, provide a natural remedy to a host of health issues. While CBD, extracted from the cannabis plant, is structurally similar to THC, part of the allure is that it won’t get you high.

“CBD is now the most researched cannabinoid on the market and rightly so because the studies go back to the 1940s proving its effectiveness on the nervous and immune systems, with no toxicity, side effects, nor psycho-activity,” says Jared Berry, CEO of Isodiol, a company that produces hemp-extracted CBD for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmetic companies.

Cannabis is known to have 85+ different cannabinoids, many of them potentially having health benefits.

“Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological life, from the sub-cellular to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond,” writes NORML, a foundation that works to reform marijuana laws.

According to research, cannabinoids synergize and help support humans’ built-in Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It was in 1992 that scientists discovered that the ECS plays a direct role in homeostasis, which regulates every metabolic process in the body, such as pain sensation, appetite, temperature regulation, stress reactivity, immune function, and sleep, as well as other processes. Even more interesting is that muscle and fat tissue also utilize these receptors to control their processes.

So basically, CBD communicates with our body’s main command center to keep things running as they should. Pretty amazing.

While the government has arguably made selling CBD quite difficult, the US Department of Health and Services ironically patented cannabinoids in 2001.

The FDA and DEA refuse to change their stance on cannabis.

“Naturally, this shows a certain amount of hypocrisy that there is ‘no accepted medical use’ for cannabis according to federal law,” Sam Mendez, an intellectual property and public policy lawyer who serves as the executive director of the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law & Policy Project recently told the Denver Post.  “And yet here you have the very same government owning a patent for, ostensibly, a medical use for marijuana.”

Politics aside, let’s look at just nine of the myriad ways CBD can help improve  health.

EPILEPSY
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by unusual nerve cell activity in the brain. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with this condition. Many turn to mind-numbing medications, brain surgeries and invasively implanted electrical stimulation devices, with little to no relief.

Yet, 20 years of research has shown that CBD has anti-seizure activity, and has been used successfully to treat drug-resistant, epileptic children with no side effects.

“CBD oil is also really good option for people with seizures, because you want a method of delivery they can’t choke on. As an oil, it can be rubbed on the gums and under the tongue,” adds Payton Curry, the founder of Flourish Cannabis, and a huge proponent of CBD. Curry views cannabis as a vegetable, and uses everything from the bud to the root stock to maximize its non-psychoactive properties.

DEPRESSION
These days, just thinking of the future of the health care system in this country and the assaults on our environment is enough to get a person down and out.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in any given year, persistent depressive disorder PDD, affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population ages 18 and older. That’s about 3.3 million American adults.

In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

CBD has shown to have antidepressant-like actions, enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.

ANXIETY
We live in a Xanax-addled society. Anxiety Disorders today affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States, which equates to approximately 40 million adults, between the ages of 18 to 54.

One of CBD’s most promising implications is in the realm of anti-anxiety. Studies show that CBD can positively impact behavior and reduce psychological measures of stress and anxiety in conditions such as PTSD, social anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

CBD also significantly reduced cognitive impairment and discomfort in speech performance, and significantly decreased angst surrounding public speaking.

Even some pet owners have reported that using CBD oil on their dogs has calmed them down, writes Gunhee Park, Co-Founder of Ministry of Hemp.

While more research is needed to illustrate optimal dosage for anti-anxiety, consider this an opportunity to experiment and learn what works for you.

OXIDATIVE STRESS
Today, chronic disease is on the rise like never before with oxidative stress playing a significant causative role. Oxidative stress occurs when the body has too many free radicals and can’t counteract the damage. People fall prey when eating a nutrient deficient diet or when they experience an onslaught of toxins and the body can’t keep up and detox, causing more symptoms of dis-ease.

Oxidative stress is associated with a number of ailments including neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, gene mutations and cancer.

How amazing that CBD is particularly beneficial in the treatment of oxidative stress-associated diseases of the CNS, because cannabinoids’ ability to cross the blood brain barrier and exert their antioxidant effects in the brain.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Chronic low-level inflammation can severely erode your health; the silent lurker contributes to at least seven of the 10 leading causes of mortality in the United States, which include heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and nephritis.

While real organic food and proper nutrition should be the base of any anti-inflammatory protocol, CBD has shown to significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing dependency or tolerance.

CHRONIC PAIN AND NEURO-PROTECTION
Studies also indicate that this magical compound can help reduce chronic pain, which is fantastic considering America is witnessing a serious and deadly opioid epidemic. To put things in perspective, we are now losing more people to opioids than from firearms or car crashes – combined.

Cannabis can regulate immune functions and shows positive effects where neurons have been damaged, which makes it a safe and effective treatment for ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and MS. CBD has also slowed down cell damage in diabetes patients and worked effectively to block progression of arthritis.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
As if CBD wasn’t already a home run, CBD also plays a positive role on our metabolism, and body weight regulation.

In a published study in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

CBD was found to:

  •       Stimulate genes and proteins that enhance the breakdown and oxidation of fat.
  •       Increase the number and activity of mitochondria, which increases the body’s ability to burn calories).
  •       Decrease the expression of proteins involved in lipogenesis (fat cell generation).
  •       Help induce fat browning.

SLEEP
Not sleeping can wreak havoc on your psyche and physique. According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder today.

Evidence suggests that CBD oil can improve quality of sleep and reduce anxiety. I can attest. One study found that CBD blocked anxiety-induced REM sleep suppression, resulting in better quality of sleep. Another study found that the oil reduced participants’ cortisol levels, which are linked to anxiety and stress in the body.

When it comes to doses for treatment, Gunhee writes that CBD dosing experiments have shown that small doses of CBD have an “active” effect, meaning it actually helps you stay active and focused while interestingly, large dosages have the opposite effect: sedation.

ADDICTION
How ironic that we can use a compound belonging to a Schedule 1 Drug (marijuana) to stop the addiction of other narcotics.

CBD is thought to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction. A limited number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine and psychostimulant addictions. One of the most promising application is using CBD to curb the habits of cigarette smokers.

CBD can even be effective for the treatment of cannabis withdrawal syndrome and certainly helped me kick Xanax for good.

Many of these could replace synthetic drugs that have flooded the market and allow patients and customers to use a natural non addictive plant compound as a remedy.

In the words of Gunhee, co-founder of Populum: “…maybe that’s the exact reason why progress has been so slow; approval of CBD as a legitimate supplement and drug would be a significant blow to big pharmaceutical companies.”

By: Maryam Henein       May 12, 2017       About        Follow at @MaryamHenein


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World Health Group: Pot’s CBD Has Health Benefits

A compound found in the cannabis plant is not harmful, has health benefits, and does not have abuse potential, experts at the World Health Organization say.

The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence focused on cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.

After reviewing evidence from animal and human studies, the committee concludes that “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

The experts produced the report in November, while the WHO announced its conclusions this week. In May, the committee will study cannabis and cannabis-related substances more fully.

Other major studies have shown marijuana and its products can relieve pain, nausea related to cancer treatment, and multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms. But using cannabis has well-known short-term and long-term health effects, such as learning and coordination problems.

Because federal law makes it a crime to have marijuana and CBD, researchers must pass strict government scrutiny just to study its usefulness.

DEA View of CBD
The conclusion of the WHO flies in the face of the view of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It says that CBD must be treated the same as THC and other cannabinoids from a cannabis plant, and it should remain a Schedule I drug.

NORML Response
Marijuana advocates applauded the WHO’s conclusion. “It was terrific to see WHO acknowledge what other scientific research has already stated,” says Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

In an email statement, he adds: “While we are pleased to see the WHO finally acknowledge that absurdity of international restrictions, the continued domestic classification and criminalization of cannabidiol as a Schedule I controlled substance is out of step with both available science and common sense. It is yet another example of the U.S. government placing ideology over evidence when it comes to issues related to the cannabis plant.”

 

CALM Response
Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM), took issue with the report.

“We need to maintain a strict scientific perspective and protocols when it comes to new drugs,” he says. “We need double-blind studies related to marijuana and all components, research on the harms versus the benefits, identification of the side effects and specific ailments identified through these studies – even for CBD,” he says.

He says some ongoing drug studies of CBD do show promise in treating seizure disorders, but he also sees potential problems with the drugs, along with concerns about contamination and other potential harms with over-the-counter products.

What Is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is any part of the marijuana plant that you use to treat health problems. People use it to get relief from their symptoms, not to try to get high.

Most marijuana that’s sold legally as medicine has the same ingredients as the kind that people use for pleasure. But some medical marijuana is specially grown to have less of the chemicals that cause feelings of euphoria.

The experts also say that CBD might be able to treat epilepsy (where most research has focused), although results are mixed. Other conditions it might treat are Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, anxiety, depression, and other maladies. CBD may ease inflammation, provide antioxidants, and relieve pain.

Based on its research, the committee concluded that current information does not call for scheduling of the drug. In the U.S., CBD is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. These are defined as drugs with no medical use and likely to be abused.

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes. Other states, including Georgia, have legalized the possession of CBD to treat specific disorders.

It remains a federal crime, however, to have or sell any form of marijuana, including CBD. Despite those federal regulations, CBD is an ingredient in popular products sold over the counter as oils, extracts, supplements, and gum to treat many ailments.

CBD usually is given as a capsule or dissolved in liquid to be taken orally, under the tongue, or as a nasal spray. CBD does not produce the high that another cannabinoid – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -does, experts say. In fact, CBD appears to have effects opposite of THC.

The WHO announcement drew a positive response from marijuana advocates and criticism from those who don’t want it to be legal.

By Kathleen Doheny   Dec. 15, 2017       Article Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on December 15, 2017

Sources
World Health Organization: Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report, Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Thirty-ninth Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 6-10, 2017.
Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM).
Justin Strekal, political director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Governing: “State Marijuana Laws in 2017 Map.”
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “Nearly 100 Conclusions on the Health Effects of Marijuana and Cannabis-Derived Products Presented in New Report; One of the Most Comprehensive Studies of Recent Research on Health Effects of Recreational and Therapeutic Use of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products.”

source: WebMD


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Britain Reclassifies CBD As Medicine While U.S. Still Calls It A Dangerous Drug

Imagine you are the parent of a child with a life-threatening form of epilepsy. Your young one experiences hundreds of debilitating and horrific seizures on a weekly basis. If you are like most parents, then you’d do anything you could to find a medicine that helped them.

That’s the story of Paige and Matt Figi, whose daughter Charlotte had a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome. In fact, Charlotte’s grand mal episodes were so bad that her heart actually stopped several times. Paige and Matt tried every potential remedy doctors recommended, from medication to a medically induced coma, but nothing seemed to work.

Article:  Raw Honey and Coconut Oil: 5 Fantastic Uses of This Superfood Duo
After exhausting all conventional options, Matt and Paige stumbled across a Youtube video of a California boy with Dravet’s who had been helped by cannabis. The Figis made the courageous decision to give CBD oil — a non-psychoactive extract derived from medical marijuana — a chance. Miraculously, the cannabis-based medicine proved to be a life-changing and life-saving treatment.

Indeed, Charlotte’s seizures decreased dramatically from several hundred a week to just two or three a month. In addition, she began to make progress on multiple fronts, so much so that she started doing many things normal for her age such as walking and riding a bicycle. As her mother Paige put it, “[Before treatment] I didn’t hear her laugh for six months. I didn’t hear her voice at all, just her crying. I can’t imagine that I would be watching her making these gains that she’s making, doing the things that she’s doing [without the medical marijuana]. I don’t take it for granted. Every day is a blessing.”

The British government reclassifies CBD as medicine

A growing body of clinical studies are confirming anecdotal reports Charlotte’s story. A scientific and medical consensus is emerging. Cannabis-based medicines like CBD oil are helping patients with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and numerous other conditions.

Recently, the UK moved to reclassify CBD as a legitimate medicine. The decision, made by Britain’s Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means that CBD products can now be distributed and used for medicinal purposes within the United Kingdom.

As a spokesperson for the agency put it, “We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. MHRA will now work with individual companies and trade bodies in relation to making sure products containing CBD, used for a medical purpose, which can be classified as medicines, satisfy the legal requirements of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.”

 

what-is-cbd
 => US and Britain Are Opposed When It Comes To CBD Oil
=> American classifies CBD oil as a Schedule I drug along with heroin
=> Medical marijuana has proven health benefits

The DEA blows it by classifying CBD as a Schedule I drug

As our neighbors across the pond were crafting policy based on the evidence the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in this country was busy ignoring it. In mid-December, the agency stealthily moved to classify CBD as a Schedule I substance. That designation encompasses drugs that have a high potential for abuse (like heroin) and no accepted medical use.

The DEA insisted that the establishment of a new drug code covering CBD was simply a bureaucratic measure intended to make it easier to track and distinguish research involving CBD extracts and marijuana. As Russell Baer, a DEA spokesperson explained, “It’s an internal accounting mechanism for us. The purpose is to drill down and get more accurate information about research that’s being conducted with CBD in particular.”

However, critics and legal experts are not convinced. They believe that the DEA’s actions are a ruse to ensure that all cannabinoids — including non-psychoactive CBD — remain illegal. In fact, they contend that the DEA’s action amounts to an illegal power grab.

For example, as Robert Hoban, a law professor at the University of Denver notes, “This action is beyond the DEA’s authority. The DEA can only carry out the law, they cannot create it. Here, they’re purporting to create an entirely new category called ‘marijuana extracts,’ and by doing so wrest control over all cannabinoids. They want to call all cannabinoids illegal. But they don’t have the authority to do that.”

The science behind medical marijuana

The DEA’s actions are probably unlawful. But they are demonstrably unscientific, irrational and inhumane as well. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the body’s endocannabinoid system — a network of receptors responsible for hormonal signaling and homeostasis — is critical to our emotional and physical well-being.

Indeed, the endocannabinoid system is so crucial to regulation of our emotional and physical health that it’s possible to think of this network as the intersection of the mind and body. Deficiencies or impairments in the endocannabinoid system are believed to be behind a wide range of conditions including mood disorders, immune dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines.

Cannabinoids in marijuana mimic the body’s natural system

The body manufactures endocannabinoids naturally. However, scientists like Dr. Ethan Russo speculate that lack of exercise, stress, bad diet and poor quality sleep may contribute to endocannabinoid deficiencies, which can manifest as chronic pain, fatigue and immune dysfunction.

The cannabinoids found in marijuana, of course, mimic the function of the endocannabinoids that the body manufactures. The centrality of the endocannabinoid system to health and the fact that cannabinoids found in marijuana can help address deficiencies goes a long way in explaining why cannabis-based medicines are proving so effective for immune disorders like MS, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Cannabis is also proving efficacious for a host of other maladies, from epilepsy to chronic pain to metabolic disorders as well. Dr. Ethan Russo sums up the growing recognition among health practitioners well when he writes, “Cannabis is the single most versatile herbal remedy and the most useful plant on Earth. No other single plant contains as wide a range of medically active herbal constituents.”

Even with DEA verdict, Americans support medical marijuana

Britain’s decision to reclassify CBD as medicine is simply an acknowledgment of the scientific evidence. On the other hand, on the face of it, the DEA’s move to designate CBD as a Schedule I substance reeks of hypocrisy and a willful blindness to scientific and medical facts. The agency’s decision is not just contrary to reason, sane public policy and compassion. It is also decidedly at odds with public opinion — at least 89 percent of Americans now support the use of medical marijuana. The DEA’s edict is destined to go up in smoke.

By Scott O’Reilly    January 13, 2017