By Steve Elliott
Nicotine changes the way marijuana affects the brain, according to a new study from scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas.
When marijuana and tobacco are combined, according to the study, which was published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, memory gets stronger as the hippocampus, an area of the brain which affects learning ability and memory, gets smaller, reports Sean Martin at the International Business Times. The more cigarettes smoked per day, the smaller the size of the hippocampus, and the greater the memory performance, according to the research.
The team concluded that the effects of marijuana on the brain aren't usually analyzed with tobacco taken into consideration. The research team was led by Francesca Filbey, director of cognitive neuroscience of addictive behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth.
"Approximately 70 percent of individuals who use marijuana also use tobacco," Filbey said (although I'd question that number). "Our findings exemplify why the effects of marijuana on the brain may not generalize to the vast majority of the marijuana using population, because most studies do not account for tobacco use. This study is one of the first to tease apart the unique effects of each substance on the brain as well as their combined effects.
By Steve Elliott
Yet another scientific study has been added to the mountain of evidence debunking to so-called "gateway theory," which maintains that marijuana use leads to harder drugs.
Teens instead smoke cannabis for very specific reasons, researchers report in the new study, and it is those same reasons which sometimes prompt them to try other drugs, reports Dennis Thompson at HealthDay News.
Youths who use marijuana because they are bored, for example, are more likely to also use cocaine, while kids using weed to achieve insight or understanding are more likely to try psilocybin mushrooms, according to the findings, recently published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
"We found that marijuana use within itself wasn't a risk factor for use of other drugs," said lead author Joseph Palamar, assistant professor in the department of population health at New York University's Langone Medical Center. "People do generally use marijuana before other drugs, but that doesn't marijuana is a cause of [using] those other drugs."
The researchers based their conclusions on data gathered from Monitoring the Future, on ongoing study of the behaviors of American high school students. About 15,000 high school seniors are questioned each year.
The study reveals “boredom,” “experimentation,” and “insight” are reasons for use related to increased and decreased risk of use of other drugs.
Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in the U.S. Approximately 70 percent of the 2.8 million individuals who initiated use of illicit drugs in 2013 reported that marijuana was their first drug.
Despite extensive research examining potential links between marijuana use and other drug use, the literature is currently lacking data regarding which illicit marijuana users are most likely to engage in use of other illicit drugs.
A new study, published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse by researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), examines how reasons for illicit marijuana use relates to the use of other drugs individually, rather than grouping them into a single “illicit drug” group.
“Aside from marijuana, a wide range of illicit drugs are prevalent, each having different use patterns, and different effects and dangers associated with use,” said Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). “Our research helped to identify subtypes of illicit marijuana users who use other drugs, as this may be able to inform prevention efforts.”
By Steve Elliott
A pair of Australian grandparents on Friday made the biggest-ever donation to medical marijuana research to investigate its use in treating childhood epilepsy and other diseases.
Barry and Joy Lambert's granddaughter Katelyn suffers up to 1,400 seizures a day, and medicinal cannabis could save her life, reports Alicia Wood at The Daily Telegraph. Lambert said he and his wife made the $33.7 million gift after seeing Katelyn respond to cannabis treatments for her debilitating condition, Dravet syndrome.
"Our vision is to make Australia a world leader in researching how to realize the powerful medicinal potential of the cannabis plant," Lambert said. "The experience of our granddaughter, who suffers debilitating epilepsy, has opened our eyes to the extraordinary possibility of cannabinoids treating not only her condition but a range of chronic illnesses that often don’t respond to conventional treatments.
“We believe this investment in the future of Australian science and medicine will provide the much-needed evidence to rapidly advance the use of medicinal cannabinoids in the treatment of childhood epilepsy and other serious illnesses,” Lambert said.
As the possibilities for cannabis-based treatments continue to make headlines in the medical world, One World Cannabis, a medical-cannabis research company, has announced that the initial results of its landmark study on treating multiple myeloma with cannabis-based solutions were extremely promising. After a series of tests using cannabis-based treatments, researchers were able to eradicate 60 percent of multiple myeloma cells.
The disease is one of the most deadly hematologic cancers and individuals diagnosed with the disease often have about a 50 percent survival rate.
OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp. on Wednesday announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, One World Cannabis Ltd., an Israel-based developer of cannabinoid-based therapies targeting a variety of different indications, has received the first basic science study (lab) results on the effect of several combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on multiple myeloma cell line RPMI8226.
Based on the results, One World Cannabis will submit the clinical trial protocol to the IRB (Helsinki committee). The company expects to receive institutional review board approval for the study within 6-9 weeks.
The OWC multiple myeloma study was done by three repetitive tests on the effect of cannabis extract with various combination ratios of THC/CBD and pure THC and CBD (50 percent concentration). The results present more than 60 percent malignant cell death. More results of pure THC and CBD are under further analysis.
Lancet Study Dismantles Main Argument of Opponents of Medical Marijuana
A new Columbia University study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that teen marijuana use does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws. The study, led by Dr. Debra Hasin, looked at past-30-day marijuana use among over one million adolescents over a 24-month period.
While rates of use were higher to begin with in medical marijuana states, rates of use did not change after laws went into effect.
This is not the first study to find that medical marijuana laws do not have an impact on teen use – but this study is the most comprehensive and valid, given the large sample size, the long study period and adjusting results for other factors that might contribute to marijuana use, such as gender, age and geographic location. Additionally, the study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has been critical of the impact of medical marijuana laws on teen use.
“Medical marijuana relieves pain and suffering for millions and does not lead to an increase in teen marijuana use,” said Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and professor at UC Berkeley. “This should end the ‘What About The Kids’ argument used by opponents who try prevent access to marijuana for the sick and dying.”
By Steve Elliott
Ancient hunter-gatherers who depended on the wild, before agriculture was invented, not only forged for food -- they foraged for marijuana, according to science.
The medical benefits of cannabis, while still officially denied by the U.S. government (which holds a patent on the damn stuff) was well understood by our forebears, probably instinctively, at least 12,000 years ago, reports Stephen Morgan at Digital Journal.
A team of anthropologists from Washington State University, led by Dr. Ed Hagen, wanted to see how cultures worldwide used cannabis historically. They especially wanted to see if ancient marijuana users were subconsciously influenced more by health reasons than just wanting to get high.
Humans throughout history have probably sought out cannabis, in the same way we searched out foods beneficial to us, according to Dr. Hagen.
"In the same way we have a taste for salt, we might have a taste for psychoactive plant toxins, because these things kill parasites. If you look at non-human animals, they do the same thing, and what a lot of biologists think is they're doing it to kill parasites," Dr. Hagen said, reports Ellie Zolfagharifard at the Daily Mail.
By Steve Elliott
Could using cannabis help protect against parasitic infection? A study from Africa seems to show that it does.
In a population of Congo Basin foragers called the Aka, 67 percent of men—but just 6 percent of women—use cannabis, and the practice seems to protect against infection with parasitic worms.
The large sex difference, which is also seen in tobacco use, might be a consequence, in part, of women's avoidance of smoking during childbearing years.
The results highlight the need for more research on the high rate of cannabis use in Aka men.
“Recreational drug use is rarely studied in hunter gatherers,” said Dr. Edward Hagen, senior author of the American Journal of Human Biology study. "In the same way we have a taste for salt, we might have a taste for psychoactive plant toxins, because these things kill parasites," he said, reports Science Daily.
“We’re intrigued by the possible link between cannabis use and parasitic worms, which resembles the self-medication behavior seen in numerous species.
"We need to be cautious, though, in generalizing from one study in a unique population to other populations,” Dr. Hagen, a Washington State University anthropologist, said.
The Aka, as one of the world's last group's of hunter-gatherers, offer anthropologists a unique window into a way of life covering some 99 percent of human history; they might also offer an alternative hypothesis explaining human drug use.
DEA Increasingly Scrutinized as States Legalize Marijuana and Public Opinion Turns Against Failed Drug War
A senior F.B.I. official and former U.S. Attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.
Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration’s hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities, the surveillance state, and other Drug War problems. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead showing remarkable deference to the DEA’s administrators.
Dr. Hart Will Take Questions from Listeners
Dr. Carl Hart, Columbia University professor and the best-selling, award-winning author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele on Thursday, May 14, from 1 – 2 p.m., EDT for a discussion on how our current approaches to teaching our children about drugs fail – and actually make them more vulnerable to the harms of drug use.
Hart is also expected to explore the impact of drugs on the developing adolescent brain, as well as the myths and prejudices at the roots of drug prohibition.
Dr. Hart has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show," and other national media outlets. He is a dedicated scientist, activist and educator who has spent his career researching drugs and their impact on human beings.
His work addresses the rampant misinformation about drugs and their perceived harms, dispelling the prevailing myths that link crime, drugs and poor people of color.
Dr. Hart’s talk is the fifth in a series of quarterly telephone town halls sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance. The conversations seek to bring some of the most learned and influential people working in the field of drug policy before the general public so that together we can create an ever-more informed and shared understanding about drugs and society.
By Monica Pupo,
Hemp News Correspondent
Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a recent study showed that the use of marijuana to relieve chronic pain is very common. Plus, patients reported greater relief with cannabis use than when using only opioid drugs.
The research included 1,514 people who live in Australia and received opioid prescription for treatment of non-malignant chronic pain. According to scientists, "Associations between demographics, pain, personal characteristics of each patient and the use of cannabis for pain."
The results showed that one in six - or 16% - had used cannabis for pain relief, and 6% in the previous month. Almost half (43%) of the sample had also used cannabis for recreational purposes.
A quarter of participants reported that would use marijuana for pain relief if he had access. Those who already use cannabis for pain on average are younger, reported higher pain intensity and greater pain interference in their daily lives.
The conclusion of the study shows that "cannabis use in order to relieve the pain seems common among people living with non-malignant chronic pain - and users report greater pain relief with the combination with opioids, than when the opioids are used alone."
To read Monica Pupos blog, please visit http://maryjuana.com.br
By Steve Elliott
It's a repeating pattern. Last year, the mainstream press gave lots of attention to a study suggesting that daily marijuana use could cause abnormalities in the brain. But now that new research, using better techniques, indicates that claim simply isn't true, it doesn't get nearly as much coverage.
The authors of the new study, "Daily Marijuana Use Is Not Associated with Brain Morphometric Measures in Adolescents or Adults," which was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that alcohol use was actually responsible for the brain changes found in previous studies, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times.
An abstract of the study describes how scientists could not replicate recent research that claimed cannabis use "is associated with volumetric and shape differences in subcortical structures."
The MRI brain-scan reports of 29 adults and 50 adolescents who use cannabis daily were compared with MRI scans of the same numbers of adult and teen non-users of cannabis.
By Steve Elliott
A new study from the University College of London of 2,612 children in the United Kingdom examined children's IQ scores at age 8 and again at age 15, and found "no relationship between cannabis use and lower IQ at age 15. Even heavy cannabis use had no associated with reduced IQ scores.
But alcohol was a different story. "In particular alcohol use was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline," the study's author's wrote, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. "No other factors were found to be predictive of IQ change."
"This is a potentially important public health message -- the belief that cannabis is particularly harmful may detract focus from and awareness of other potentially harmful behaviors," noted the study's lead author, Claire Mokrysz.
"The current focus on the alleged harms of cannabis may be obscuring the fact that its use is often correlated with that of even more freely available drugs and possibly lifestyle factors," agreed reviewer Guy Goodwin of Oxford University. "These may be as or more important than cannabis itself."
A 2012 Duke University study of just 38 subjects had made world headlines when it claimed to find a link between heavy marijuana use and IQ decline among teens. Columbia University's Carl Hart noted the very small sample of heavy users in the study led him to question how relevant were the results.
Groups Come Together to End Marijuana Prohibition, Increase Cannabis Research and Promote a Compassionate Health Care Response to Drug Use and Addiction
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs Present a Panel Discussion at the Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 11
Moms United to End the War on Drugs is bringing together a coalition of family members, health care professionals and criminal justice professionals to end cannabis prohibition that has been so destructive to our families and communities.
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs will be holding a panel discussion at the Sherman Street Event Center in Denver, Colorado (1770 Sherman Street) on Thursday, September 11, at the Exhibit Hall Stage at 12:30 pm. Speakers include Mary Lynn Mathre from American Cannabis Nurses Association; Dr. Jeff Hergenrather from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians; Theresa Daniello from Moms United to End the War on Drugs; and Leonard Frieling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
In 1937, laws were put into place prohibiting the use of cannabis in the United States. In the past decade, more than six million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. For several decades, people who use drugs and people with addictive illness have been banished to the criminal justice system.
Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for a non-violent offense. Every year 750,000 people are arrested for marijuana, wasting law enforcement resources and throwing non-violent offenders into the criminal justice system.
By Steve Elliott
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Monday said it needs hundreds of pounds of marijuana for research this year, more than 30 times the amount of cannabis it originally ordered for 2014.
The DEA accordingly adjusted its annual production quota of marijuana for the U.S. government, which is grown on The University of Mississippi's campus at Oxford, reports Pete Kasperowicz at The Blaze.
Ole Miss pot is used exclusively by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct research on marijuana, but don't expect any studies on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The NIDA, by definition, refuses to fund any studies looking for medical uses, but instead will only authorize studies which look for the harms of marijuana.
Despite what The Blaze reported -- that the NIDA pot was for "medical marijuana research" -- the agency "does not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana," an NIDA spokesperson told The New York Times in 2010. "As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use," NIDA spokeswoman told the Times.