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Benefits of Medical Marijuana

The Role of Endocannabinoid System and CBD to Our Health

Daniel King

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ECS and CBD

At school, our teachers taught that there are 11 organ systems in the body such as circulatory, respiratory, urinary, integumentary (skin), reproductive, skeletal, digestive, endocrine, muscular, nervous, and lymphatic systems. All of them play a significant role in our survival and quality of living. But there is one organ system that is getting prominence these days following the legalization of medical cannabis and CBD: the endocannabinoid system.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The knowledge about the endocannabinoid system is often limited to researchers or doctors working with medical marijuana. Scientists have discovered this group of organs while they were finding out how cannabis is doing wonders in the body. Since ancient times, there have been medical records describing the various benefits of marijuana to our ancestors’ health.

The curiosity about the plant’s incredible healing powers has been revived in the modern era, mainly because of the discovery of receptors spread throughout all parts in the body: in the brain, organs, glands, connective tissues, and immune cells. In 1990s Dr. L.A. Matsuda discovered the structure of the cannabinoid receptor, CB-1. During that time, scientists were attempting to understand how THC, the substance in marijuana primarily responsible for intoxication, affected the body. What they discovered was an astonishing network of cannabinoid receptors (CBr) found in cells of parts of the nervous system.

After the discovery of CB-1, they later identified other cannabinoid receptor types, including CB-2, located primarily in the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and many of the other major organs in the body. Later on, they found Anandamide, a cannabinoid-like chemical produced by the body  Anandamide communicates with both the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors, regulating the immune system and other bodily functions. More The endocannabinoids and its receptor are later collectively named the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Many medical experts consider the ECS as the most important physiologic system responsible for establishing and maintaining our health. And why not? It is a system of physiology found in the body of every person that always keeps the internal balance at the cellular level. It is mainly responsible for regulating homeostasis or a stable internal environment despite variations and rapid changes outside our bodies.

The body produces endocannabinoids nearly all the time to achieve homeostasis, especially when it senses that the body is out of balance. The disruption in the internal balance can come from stress, invasion of bacteria or any other outside factors.

Cannabis, Endocannabinoid System, CBD

ECSBut as we grow old or when the ECS fails to function well due to diseases, disorders and other reasons, our body needs help from the outside to maintain its function at the optimal level. Here is where medical cannabis gives out its contribution to modern medicine. CBD and other compounds derived from the plant such as CBC and THC has the unique capacity to interact with the ECS. These cannabinoids mimic the functions of endocannabinoids.

Researchers have found many benefits of taking medical cannabis to a person’s health. No less than the WHO has acknowledged the number of benefits medical marijuana can give to our health and wellness, including treatment to chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, some types of cancer, and many health conditions. Aside from enhancing our health, marijuana’s communication with the ECS can also help in carrying out our tasks better.

Future of Cannabis and ECS

But while scientists already have a clear idea of the effects of cannabis in our body, they still need more research on the nature and functionality of endocannabinoids and ECS. Likewise, they need to study further the effects of taking cannabinoids to supplement the body’s production of endocannabinoids to find out more medical benefits of this wonder plant in the future.

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Benefits of Medical Marijuana

DC Opens Marijuana Dispensaries to Out-of-State Patients

Daniel King

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DC Opens Marijuana Dispensaries

On Thursday, August 8, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC announced that they will now accept medical marijuana cards from patients coming from any of the states in the U.S. with equivalent medical marijuana programs.

The new program will allow patients to purchase up to four ounces of medical marijuana each month. Patients from other states will only need to show their state-issued medical marijuana card to buy their medicines at any D.C. dispensary.

“This emergency rule making is patient-centric,” said Mayor Bowser in a statement. “It ensures medical marijuana patients from other states can obtain their needed medicine. It will also promote public safety by allowing visitors to obtain their medicine at one of the District’s six — soon to be seven — authorized marijuana dispensaries rather than forcing them to go without or patronizing the illegal market.”

The new policy will now expand the list of reciprocal acceptance from 19 to 27 states. The new additions include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. The District is also currently reviewing four other states to include in the list, namely Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

DC’s Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment

First introduced in 2016, the Medical Marijuana Reciprocity Amendment includes a reciprocity arrangement that allows medical marijuana users to use their out-of-state registration cards to purchase medical cannabis in the District. The amendment took effect in April of 2018 and approved 19 states as part of its list of reciprocal acceptance. Under the said policy, patients enrolled in a medical marijuana program from other jurisdictions can access medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

A year later, Mayor Bowser proposed the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2019, which allows the sale of recreational cannabis in Washington, D.C. with a 17 percent tax. It requires cannabis-focused businesses to meet a threshold of 60% ownership by D.C. residents, and 60% DC-native employees.

“We want to be able to regulate, we want to be able to make sure we are collecting our fair share in taxes, we want to invest those taxes in ways that affect communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire DC residents,” she said at the time. The bill is currently under DC Council review.

The latest emergency rule making is regarded by many to have opened an avenue for non-resident patients to access medication when visiting the nation’s capital.

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Benefits of Medical Marijuana

How Cannabis Affects the Human’s Brain

Stacey Wellington

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Cannabis and the Brain

Despite the political and social controversy surrounding cannabis, its medical benefits remain to be part of the public consciousness. From its pain-relieving features to its stress-reducing effect, this green plant has managed to leave a hopeful light in the medical community.

For years, many doctors and scientists have already attested to the incomparable promises the drug suggests, especially to the body’s command center. With this, various studies and researches are continuously being conducted to further expand on marijuana’s effect on the human brain.

Want to know what these several important discoveries are?

Here, we have compiled all the necessary findings modern science have discovered, and what further possibilities relating to cannabis and the brain may lie directly ahead.

Read on.

Cannabis and the Brain: How Does It Work?

Over the years, many substantial details about the relationship between cannabis and the brain have already been discovered. From identifying the active ingredient of the plant to determining how it specifically interacts with the brain, scientists have managed to arrive at different discoveries that have stunned the world.

After several decades of research, a new system called the endocannabinoid system has been unveiled to the public. From there, the question surrounding the enigmatic plant and the body’s command center has become an easier topic to grasp.

Human Brain and Cannabis

As explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a person smokes marijuana, the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, will pass through the lungs, go into the bloodstream, and reach the brain. Due to THC’s similar chemical structure with the brain chemical anandamide, the body recognizes the chemical and allows THC to attach and activate the chemical messengers of the endocannabinoid system called cannabinoid receptors.

Depending on the quantity consumed and the method of consumption, THC is likely to overwhelm the whole EC system. This, in turn, could interfere with the ability of the cannabinoid receptors to limit the amount of dopamine in the brain. This, in turn, throws the entire system off balance and stimulates the brain’s reward system, or a group of neural structures responsible for the body’s pleasure system. As a result, the brain generates higher dopamine levels, contributing to the feelings of euphoria or “high” associated with cannabis consumption.

From there, various mental and physical functions will be disrupted, and different effects are likely to occur in the body.

Here are a few you should know:

Health Benefits of Cannabis:

Over the decades, many medical breakthroughs have stemmed from a broad range of cannabis-related studies. Here, we present a few of the most promising medical solutions marijuana suggests to patients.

  • Mental health benefits

Although there is much more to learn about the effects of the plant to one’s mental health, various medical studies already prove marijuana’s potential in treating mental health disorders, especially depression, social anxiety, and PTSD.

In a study conducted by scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), the researchers have discovered how chronic stress may suppress the brain’s production of endocannabinoids or the natural chemical compounds responsible for maintaining homeostasis, which includes physical and emotional health. This, in turn, could lead to depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression,” explained RIA senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane, Ph.D. “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”

Moreover, in other preliminary studies, it was discovered that cannabis-based products help regulate emotional functions, such as mood and stress response. This stems from marijuana’s active ingredients, such as THC and CBD, which have been reported to reduce anxiety and tension by inducing relaxation.

However, the said discovery only remains true if cannabis is to be consumed in low dosage.

  • Enhance Cognitive Functions

As opposed to the common notion of how cannabis impairs cognitive functions, various studies revealed that the plant can actually pose a tremendous impact on one’s memory. In fact, in a study led by Harvard Medical School Affiliate McLean Hospital’s Staci Gruber, Ph.D., preliminary evidence suggests that marijuana consumption may not impair but may actually improve executive functioning in adults.

Due to the plant’s anti-inflammatory effects, many substantial pieces of evidence have been collected suggesting the drug’s ability to slow down the brain’s gradual degenerative process brought by aging.

In a review published in the Surgical Neurology International journal, researchers from the University of Pittsburg Medical Center discovered how recent neurological studies have used phytocannabinoids, or the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, in treating malignant brain tumors, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and childhood seizure disorders Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.

‘CBD research in animal models and humans has shown numerous therapeutic properties for brain function and protection, both by its effect on the ECS directly and by influencing endogenous cannabinoids,” the researchers explained. “Broadly, CBD has demonstrated anxiolytic, antidepressant, neuroprotective anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory benefits. CBD decreases the production of inflammatory cytokines, influences microglial cells to return to a ramified state, preserves cerebral circulation during ischemic events, and reduces vascular changes and neuroinflammation.”

To date, researches concerning cannabis and other neurological disorders continue to dominate the medical realm. In fact, in a recent study, researchers have discovered how cannabis present antipsychotic effects on the brain, which suggest possible treatment for schizophrenia and dementia.

  • Could spur creativity

As opposed to the common stereotypes associated with marijuana users, various studies reveal that the use of cannabis could lead to increased mental creativity.

In fact, in a study conducted in 2012, researchers have suggested that cannabis’ ability to generate psychotomimetic symptoms, which include delusions and/or delirium, could actually lead to an increased level of creativity. According to the researchers, when a person experiences an altered state of mind, he or she is likely to see the world in a different perspective, engage in divergent thinking, and go beyond the limits of normal perception.

Some believe that this sudden spur of creativity could stem from the increased number of dopamine in the brain, which is associated with good cognitive flexibility.

  • Protect the brain after stroke

In a study conducted from the University of Nottingham, researchers have discovered how marijuana suggests possible neuroprotective treatment for stroke – at least for mice.

During the said research, the authors found how cannabinoids could help shrink the area of the brain affected by stroke, posing the drug’s potential to reduce brain damage.

“This meta-analysis of pre-clinical stroke studies provides valuable information on the existing, and importantly, missing data on the use of cannabinoids as a potential treatment for stroke patients,” explained lead author Dr Tim England. “The data are guiding the next steps in experimental stroke treatment in order to be able to progress onto initial safety assessments in a clinical trial.”

Given CBD’s and THC’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, the two compounds continue to attract attention from various medical groups and researchers. However, to date, recent medical studies identify CBD as a better long-term protective solution compared to THC.

  • Control Epileptic seizure

The use of cannabis for treating epilepsy has been studied and debated for years. However, despite the lack of sufficient data, many pieces of research have already established a few substantial pieces of evidence that put marijuana as a possible hope for patients suffering from epileptic seizures.

In fact, in a study conducted in 2003 published the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, it was found that marijuana extract and synthetic marijuana have stopped the seizures of epileptic rats for about 10 hours. This has revealed THC’s ability to control seizures by binding the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation.

In 2018, Epidolex, a drug derived from CBD, became the first FDA-approved cannabis-derived drug for treating two potentially fatal forms of severe childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome

  • Protect the brain from concussion and trauma

Just like in the case of stroke, some researchers believe that cannabis could help the brain repair itself after a traumatic injury due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

In fact, in a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, experiments have been done involving mice to prove marijuana’s ability to minimize the bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after a traumatic injury.

Earlier this year, Dr. Ethan Russo of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute presented his recent findings of the relationship of cannabis to head injuries. During his talk, he presented that CBD and THC may help prevent glutamate excitotoxicity or the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed.

He also presented THC and CBD as possible treatment solutions for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) symptoms experienced by football players and other athletes.

Conclusion:

For years, cannabis has stood as one of the stars in medical science. Although there is much more to discover about its effect on the body’s central command, these recent discoveries have opened up a space for patients and medical professionals to find the light amid the seemingly impossible quest for treatments.

Which among these medical findings surprised you the most?

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Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Cannabis Oil Confiscation Risked Life of An Epileptic Girl

Stacey Wellington

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Cannabis Oil and Epilepsy

Tannine Montgomery, the mother of Indie-Rose Clarry, said that border patrol endangered the life of her daughter by impounding the girl’s supply of medicinal cannabis oil. Clarry suffers from Dravet syndrome, causing her to undergo epileptic seizures and panic attacks. She has been using cannabis oil for 14 months as part of her treatment.

A Suffolk resident, Montgomery flew in from the Netherlands carrying a private prescription for medical marijuana and cannabis oil she bought in the Netherlands. However, officers of the Border Force at the Stansted airport stopped Montgomery and seized the medication.

According to the mother, confiscating prescription marijuana is an act of “condemning [her daughter] to becoming comatose” and at “high risk of unnecessary death.”

Montgomery also noted that she had been able to import medical marijuana products even without a license. This was possible as border guards “previously allowed her” to enter the United Kingdom carrying the product.

Medical Marijuana Legislation in the UK

However, medical marijuana laws in the UK state that such importation is illegal without the right license. Montgomery was aware of such provisions as she said that the current acquisition method is much more affordable than importing the medication with a license.

Medical marijuana has been legalized in the country since November 2018. However, epilepsy sufferers and parents of patients have been having a hard time acquiring medical cannabis products due to tight laws.

Another report by The Guardian said that only physicians specializing in medicinal cannabis can prescribe such medications. Products also cannot be imported without a prescription. This means that many doctors cannot issue prescriptions, making it harder for patients and their families to access such treatments.

Medical marijuana manufacturers have been urging the UK government to loosen regulatory laws. Aurora Cannabis CEO Cam Battley said that this move fails patients and their families, while also letting go of economic opportunities.

Cannamedical CEO David Henn noted that existing rules will result in companies offering marijuana products at more expensive prices. He also warned that a no-deal Brexit will almost completely block UK residents’ access to medicinal cannabis.

Meanwhile, Montgomery told health secretary Matt Hancock to intervene in order to prevent patients and families from suffering. She also expressed frustrations over her daughter’s qualification and access to the medication. The girl suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, which is qualified for a medical cannabis prescription.

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