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Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases with The Help of Cannabis

Stacey Wellington

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Neurodegenerative diseases are real, and more than five million people in the United States. Moreover, at least 1 billion people across the globe are battling with one or more neurodegenerative disorders. It is worse than it sounds because many of these diseases can be fatal, leaving patients disabled, unable to think clearly or walk independently.

Over the years, scientists have been studying and researching neurodegenerative diseases to gain more understanding about them. These include its causes, how to prevent them, and the possible ways to relieve or treat them.

One such promising treatment for these brain disorders is cannabis. In this article, we are going to explore how cannabis can help treat neurodegenerative diseases. However, we need to know what these diseases are and the most common types of neurodegenerative disorders.

What Are Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of conditions that have a progressive impact on the functions of the neurons or nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord, which leads to the gradual degeneration and annihilation of the building blocks of the nervous system. As the neurons continue to weaken, the individual begins to experience movement, mental, and other forms of impairments.

Age, brain injury, genetic mutation, and environment have been branded as some of the factors that increase the risks of developing neurodegenerative disorders. Common symptoms of these diseases include weakness, paralysis, heart problems, movement difficulties, cognitive impairment, and breathing problems.

Most Common Neurodegenerative Disorders

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that there are more than 600 neurological disorders. However, the most common types that affect the millions are Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a medical condition that gradually destroys the metal faculties of affected persons. This neurodegenerative disorder promises patients the terrible fate of slowly losing their memory and ability to function. AD has seven stages, with the first stage having no impairment or apparent symptoms. The 7th and final stage, however, is the most severe phase of the disease. The patient loses body control and the ability to speak or identify friends and family.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Unlike AD, Parkinson’s disorder causes impaired coordination. It is a degenerative condition that progressively affects a patient’s ability to control their balance and movement. Many people affected by Parkinson’s disease suffer from uncontrollable trembling and loss of speech. It has five stages, with each becoming more severe as the disease progresses.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Just like other neurodegenerative diseases, MS is progressive. However, it is immune-mediated, meaning it is caused by a system designed to keep the body healthy, and no one knows why this happens. Although the disease is not life-threatening, severe cases of MS can lead to paralysis and impaired vision. There are four different types of Multiple Sclerosis, which are: relapsing.

  • Relapsing-Remitting, MS (RRMS)
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
  • Primary-Progressive, MS (PPMS)
  • Progressive-Relapsing, MS (PRMS)

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis, popularly known as marijuana, is a flowering plant with Sativa and Indica strains. Although cannabis contains hundreds of natural chemical compounds, its primary compound, the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is mainly responsible for the psychoactive effect that causes highness when marijuana is consumed. 

In the past, the government frowned against the use of cannabis. However, that is changing fast as the cannabis plant has seen increased legalization over the last few years because of  its therapeutic properties that can be used to treat a growing list of medical conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases.

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary compound in Cannabis Sativa. It contains psychoactive properties that give users a high feeling when they consume weed. THC can be used in many ways, depending on your preference. You can smoke it by using rolling papers or vape it with the use of portable vaporizers. 

This psychoactive compound is useful for treating or preventing ailments like epileptic seizures, pains, Alzheimer’s, pains of multiple Sclerosis, and muscle spasms.

CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is another primary compound found in marijuana. However, unlike THC, cannabidiol does not contain psychoactive properties that can get one high when consumed. CBD is like the opposite of THC. Instead of getting you high, it counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC in the body. CBD is available in the form of oils, supplements, gels, extracts and concentrates even sourced out from the highest THC strain marijuana.

CBD also offers tons of therapeutic benefits and can be used for conditions like seizures, nausea, migraines, inflammation, mental disorders, chronic pain, and depression.

How It Can Help with Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cannabis products containing both THC and CBD could help in treating neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis in the following ways.

Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation of neurons is a common symptom among different neurological disorders like AD and PD. Anti-inflammatory properties can be found in THC and CBD, which makes cannabis a viable tool for combating these diseases. Such anti-inflammatory properties can help combat the neuroinflammatory processes that cause neurodegenerative diseases.

Cannabis could be used to improve and maintain the strength of the ECS, which in turn can prevent or reduce the progression of neurological disorders.

Antioxidant Effects

THC and CBD compounds in cannabis contain antioxidants properties that help to protect against neurodegenerative disorders. These chemicals can be used to counteract the degeneration of neuron and nerve cells in the brain.

Side Notes

One of the science behind medical cannabis is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).This body system is a vital neuromodulatory system, protects the body against poor lifestyle, environmental toxins, and other harmful stressors while helping us maintain homeostasis. However, once the integrity of your ECS starts to fail, you face a high risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.

Environmental factors such as food, water, lifestyle, metals, microorganisms, and pollutants have a direct and indirect impact on the brain. For instance, toxins like heavy metals can act as either electron acceptor or donor, which leads to the formation of reactive oxygen species that causes oxidative stress.

Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. She is a recreational marijuana supporter and her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, working on different projects and studies everything above and under cannabis roots.

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Arts & Culture

CBD Oil a Growing Trend in the Japanese Market

Carissa Stevens

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CBD Oil Japan

CBD Oil has definitely been gaining ground in various parts of the world, especially in the more progressive socio-political climate of the United States. More than half of the states in the US have legalized cannabis and its cannabinoids for medicinal purposes, while 10 of them has allowed recreational consumption.

Because of the medicinal properties of CBD, a particular chemical compound found in cannabis, more and more people in the United States are taking on a more positive attitude toward cannabidiol. This cannabinoid is also legal in many parts of Europe.

While the relatively positive perception of CBD in more progressive regions comes as no surprise, learning that this compound is becoming a trend in the more conservative country of Japan is fairly unexpected. Read on to know more about CBD oil in the Japanese market.

How Popular is Cannabidiol in Japan?

Cannabidiol is fast gaining popularity in Japan. In fact, it is becoming more popular by 100% year over year. CBD Oil and Cannabidiol products are so popular that they are now available in various health food stores in the country. They come in various kinds, especially in cosmetic products and oils.

Reasons Why Cannabidiol is Popular in the Japanese Market

You may be wondering why this cannabinoid has become so popular in this largely conservative country. Here are some of the factors that contribute to its popularity.

It is Legal in Japan

Perhaps one of the most important reasons why cannabidiol has become so well-liked in Japan is the fact that it is legal. Residents can purchase this product online and offline. However, there are legal guidelines to follow when buying online, especially from abroad. The only legal CBD products are those containing less than 0.03% THC. Any amount over this percentage will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a 3 million yen fine.

Because of this, you want to purchase products from a Japanese manufacturer, as they legally produce such items. Buying offline in Japanese stores is the safer bet, especially as those sold within the country are more likely to follow regulations.

If you are curious whether you can cultivate a cannabis plant, even hemp, for CBD, keep in mind that these plants are bound to contain THC levels, which you cannot control as you grow the plant. So, it is safe to say that it is not legal to grow a plant even for cannabidiol.

Its Benefits

Another important factor that contributed to the popularity of this cannabinoid is that it is known to have skincare and health benefits. In terms of skincare, CBD is known to regulate the skin, which means that you can use it to control sebum production if over-oiliness is your problem, and it can also increase it if dry skin is the issue. Infused products include toners, serums and creams.

In terms of health and wellness, this compound has been proven to be effective in pain relief, anti-inflammation, energy-boosting, mood-enhancing and anti-stress. It also has calming and relaxing effects, perfect for those struggling with mental health issues.

Ms. World Japan’s CBD Oil Brand

Ms. World Japan 2016 Priyanka Yoshikawa also contributed to boosting the demand for this compound. She launched her own brand of infused products, focusing primarily on skincare and oils. With the support of such a prominent figure, this chemical is bound to gain popularity in the country.

Japan is taking the next step toward health and wellness with its lenient policies on CBD products. With this country acknowledging the benefits of such products, this cannabinoid is definitely getting the recognition it deserves.

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Cannabis News

Cannabis Sales in Illinois Reaches an All-Time High

Carissa Stevens

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Cannabis Sales in IL

As businesses have slowly been opening around the globe, one of the industries that have greatly benefitted from this is the cannabis industry. In Illinois, the report from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation showed that marijuana dispensaries in the state have reached a massive revenue for June, with more than $47.6 million worth of products sold.

Following this, NBC Chicago states that Illinois sales set an all-time high record within the state. Prior to Illinois’ current record, the previous record held by the region during May 2020 was $44.3 million.

According to the Daily Herald, approximately 994,545 marijuana items were sold, with around $48 per purchase. Marijuana Moment says monthly sales have risen by 5,000 more in June.

The increase of cannabis sales in the state was largely attributed to the out-of-state residents driving by to make purchases. NBC Chicago revealed that individuals who lived outside of state contributed a whopping $12.3 million worth of sale for the month of June alone.

Meanwhile, the Daily Herald reports that $35.2 million of the $47.6 million sold by the dispensaries come from in-state residents.

Patch states that sales in Illinois significantly rose by more than 21 percent. Meanwhile, the state’s pre-tax spending rose by less than 3.5 percent.

When asked about Marijuana Moment about the rising sales, the Office of Economic Analysis said in May that, “Expectations are that some of these increases are due to temporary factors like the one-time household recovery rebates, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, and the shelter in place style policies.”

Tax revenues will reportedly be released later this month by the Department of Revenue. The state is slated to make around $13 million in marijuana taxes and associated sales.

Currently, the state of Illinois imposes taxes on marijuana products based on its level of potency. THC products ranging sold in marijuana dispensaries are taxed accordingly with anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent depending on its potency. According to the Daily Herald, these taxes go to a variety of dedicated coffers.

Among the groups that will benefit from the tax revenue distribution is the state’s general funding with a 35 percent allocation, communities affected by the war on drugs with 25 percent of funding, and 20 percent will go to substance abuse and mental health programs in the state. Meanwhile, 10 percent will be given to the overall bill backlog of Illinois.

Since its legalization in January 2020, marijuana dispensaries in the state of Illinois have successfully amassed $239.1 million worth of cannabis products. Patch reveals that more than $52.5 million was garnered by the state within the first five months of legalization.

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Cannabis Legalization

Hobo Cannabis Wants Delivery Service to be Legal in BC

Carissa Stevens

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Cannabis store chain Hobo Cannabis is urging legislators to make delivery service legal in British Columbia, said CBC. This call is a step toward stopping illegal dealing in the province. The licensed dispensary, along with other certified vendors, argued that they are “at a disadvantage against unlicensed competitors who deliver weed.” The report emphasized that BC does not have cannabis laws allowing the delivery of cannabis products.

This issue has been a concern for many licensed vendors for a long time, said Harrison Stoker, vice president of Donnelly Group, the company that owns Hobo Cannabis. However, the illicit delivery of cannabis products has become more rampant over the past few months because of the virus pandemic, as customers choose to get their products delivered to protect themselves from the public health risk.

According to Stoker, “The illicit market [in BC] is very intelligent, very strategic and very mature in their business models.” He also said that the pandemic was a prime time for the illegitimate industry. Stoker asserts that legalizing delivery services can help them compete with such illegal sellers. It could also help fight the black market.

The CBC report noted that consumers can have their products legally delivered through mail by going through the government-operated BC Cannabis Store. However, packages take a few days before they arrive, as opposed to delivery options that could be same-day.

The article also cited Weedmaps, a cannabis-focused website, which offers a list of delivery services in the Lower Mainland. It even guarantees quick delivery, usually within one hour. Stoker argues that modern times call for a more updated approach as “people expect these kinds of modern retail features.”

By allowing licensed stores to deliver, customers do not have to opt for black market products. Instead, they can choose among authorized products just like what happens in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, where delivery is legal.

Meanwhile, the province’s Ministry of Public Safety said that it is now evaluating the possibility of legalizing deliveries. It has also been taking steps to crack down on the illicit industry, despite facing significant challenges because many of them operate online. The Ministry is in charge of the legal cannabis program in the province.

Mark Haden from the UBC School of Population and Public Health with experience in writing about drug regulation said that legalizing deliveries is a great short-term move. The better action in the long-run is to “bring the illegal sector into line with the law.”

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