The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated a study on the properties of cannabis to evaluate its “therapeutic use and side effects.” WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) began by evaluating and issuing a report on cannabidiol (CBD) which is known to be one of the therapeutic compounds in cannabis. Their findings suggest that the compound should not be scheduled as an illicit substance internationally and goes on to discuss the medicinal potential of the compound. CBD is often turned into an oil that is commonly used to treat and prevent seizures as well as work as a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Unlike THC, which is the psychoactive compound in cannabis, CBD does not make you high. While it can ease both anxiety and depression, it has no psychoactive properties.
CBD Oil Deemed Safe
WHO announced that “recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence.” The ECDD conclude “that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol and postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.”
What to Expect from the 2018 Review
According to The Cannabist, the May 2018 ECDD review will include a full evaluation of cannabis including the cannabis plant and cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures of cannabis, delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and isomers of THC. The results will allow the WHO to educate and advise the rest of the world how cannabis should be used and treated with regards to both medicine and the law. With legalization spreading across the country and the world, this advice could prove to be critical.
The Schedule I Classification
Cannabis is still regarded as a Schedule I drug in the U.S. placing it in the highest risk category. The Schedule I classification requires a substance to be at a high risk for addiction, unsafe to test on humans and have no medicinal benefits. This classification has already been proven to be incorrect, yet the law still stands unchanged despite the cost of charging and incarcerating citizens as well as the human price for not having access to safe and powerful medicine. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not only openly supported prohibition and incarcerated citizens to the full extent possible for cannabis related charges, he has also launched a campaign to ask Congress to allow him to crack down on medical marijuana, ultimately harming the children, veterans and terminally ill who desperately rely on the plant for medical relief.
Currently, 29 states have legalized medical marijuana and 8 states have legalized it for recreational purposes. According to the most recent polls, 83 percent of U.S. citizens are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and 67 percent are in favor of legalizing it for recreational use. Official reviews such as these ones will undoubtedly help governments around the world, including the U.S., to make the most informed choice for their citizens.
On January 1, 2018, the sale of recreational marijuana is scheduled to become legal in the state of California and Los Angeles is expected to become the biggest city in the country with legal marijuana. The preliminary regulations that were voted into law on Wednesday passed with a 12-0 vote. Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to officially sign the rules into law, keeping in mind that the regulations are a work in progress that will be refined over time.
A Model City
According to the Huffington Post, City Council President Herb Wesson expects LA to be a model for other cities across the country who may be expecting to end prohibition soon. “We are LA. We are a big city. We do big stuff, that’s who we are, that’s how we roll,” Wesson said. “And there are cities throughout this country that are looking at us today.”
The Rules and Regulations for Los Angeles
The complex set of regulations include rules about selling and growing marijuana and zoning. Marijuana retailers must be at least 750 feet away from schools, libraries and parks while growers and manufacturers must be at least 600 feet away from these public domains. Marijuana related businesses will be zoned to more industrial areas rather than being allowed to be located in heavily trafficked locations. There will be a limited number of retailers and marijuana related businesses and retailers will need to adhere to strict security measures including ways for ensuring that customers are over 21 and the implementation of security cameras. Once the regulations have been fully integrated and business is up and running, local and state government are expected to collect up to a billion a year in tax revenue.
“The Largest City in the Largest State in the Country”
Tom Angell, chairman of the drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority said “marijuana is about to become legally available and taxed in the largest city in the largest state in the country. That’s a major benchmark, and it shows how far this movement for cannabis policy change has come from just a few short years ago when almost no one thought legalization was a realistic possibility.”
Californians voted recreational marijuana into law last November and there have been many challenges for lawmakers to overcome in the process of legalizing the plant. California was the first state in the country to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and the industry would need to go through some evaluation before integrating a recreational marijuana industry in the state. Many were concerned that regulations would not be ready in time to start marijuana sales on January 1st. However, all appears to be on schedule now with forward progress eminent.
Another major obstacle to marijuana in 2017 has come from Attorney General Jeff Sessions who has been passionately and loudly opposed to the plant for many years. Nonetheless, with the majority of Americans being in favor of legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, progress has still managed to take place. California is now 1 of 8 states who have elected to end prohibition with many other states making plans to legalize through legislature in the near future. LA is looking to be the model for how a big city handles the legal marijuana industry.
Denver based company MassRoots has released its 3rd quarter revenue for the last 3 months and the results are less than favorable. The company, which has more than a million registered users and over 25,000 shareholders, has filed its quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the quarter ending September 30, 2017 and the report has shown a startling drop in revenue. While this time last year, the company made $209,003 and spent $2,094,211, this year the quarter has ended with $11,516 in revenue, accrued from paid advertising on the platform and costs $7,533,530, that went to paying stock based compensation.
The Need to Refocus
The decrease of $197,487 in revenue comes at a time when the company is undergoing a major transition in leadership. Isaac Dietrich resigned during the last quarter and Scott Kveton has been named as the interim CEO. MassRoots board member Vincent “Tripp” Keber made a statement in the press release issued by the company that indicated that things could shift based on the change in leadership. “The Q3 financial results do not reflect what we believe to be MassRoots’ potential and reaffirms the board’s decision last month to make a leadership change,” explains Keber. “In this regard, we have asked our interim CEO Scott Kveton to refocus efforts with the plans he has put into motion for a direct-to-consumer & B2B play by leveraging our installed base of users and recent acquisitions.”
Earlier this year, the company purchased Whaxy, a fully white labeled ordering software for licensed cannabis businesses for end-to-end transactional automation as well as Odava, a point-of-sale software for licensed dispensaries. MassRoots already offers its members the chance to buy cannabis through the app and read reviews so the best choices can be made. It helps consumers by connecting them to the best purchasing decisions and cannabis businesses by allowing consumers to buy their weed directly through the platform.
“Moving forward we intend to focus our efforts to push the business to cash-flow positive as quickly as possible by maximizing revenue streams from the investments made over the last 3 years and continuing our cost-cutting efforts,” says interim CEO Scott Kveton. “We thank our shareholders for their continued support,” concluded Kveton. “We look forward to sharing some exciting developments and reporting back on our progress over the coming weeks.”
Doubt About MassRoots’ Future
Despite the positivity put forward by board members and Kveton, some are not so confident. According to The Cannabist, officials claim that the company will need to raise 2.5 million by the end of the year in order to stay in business. The company seems hopeful nonetheless with plans in place for getting the business prospering again. With so many states now electing to legalize recreational cannabis, the potential for profit and expansion is increasing exponentially. 20 percent of the country has legalized the plant and 4 of those states, which includes California, are expected to start their retail sales of cannabis in 2018. With this in mind, the company has a lot to gain from the future of cannabis.
Mapping the genetics of various plants can have immense benefits for growers who want to produce the highest possible quality plants and yield the biggest rewards. Understanding the way that a plant functions can help farmers avoid nasty pesticides and over fertilization while increasing how abundant that plant is able to grow. In the case of examining marijuana genetics, understanding the plant could help to treat millions of people with debilitating conditions. Marijuana genetics are very complex but understanding them could help in a multitude of ways. This is why scientists at University of California, Davis have joined with the biotech company Front Range Biosciences (FRB) to look at the marijuana plant and understand how it works.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Most specifically, researchers will be looking at hemp. Marijuana plants come in a male and female variety. The female plant is the one that contains more THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the high. Hemp is the male counterpart and it contains very little THC but rather contains more CBD, the compound often used as an anti-inflammatory and relaxant among other things. The female variety of marijuana has been looked at a lot by farmers and other marijuana enthusiasts. Many have done this in order to grow the strongest and best crops. On the other hand, hemp has not received the same level of evaluation. Hemp has been used for centuries to make clothes, paper and oils among many other things. It can also be used to harvest CBD so that it can be used in oils and in other medicinal formats.
The Hemp Genome
“People have gotten really good at breeding high-THC for the recreational side,” explained Jon Vaught, CEO and co-founder of FRB, while talking with Vice. “There’s really not a lot of work to do there. We’re not really focused on that.” Now, instead of doing more research on the female marijuana genetics, the scientists at UC Davis, who in the past have mapped the genetics of the cabernet sauvignon grape and the arabica coffee bean, have turned their attention towards hemp.
“We have successfully applied cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies and computational approaches to study challenging genomes of diverse crops and associated microorganisms,” said Dario Cantu, an assistant professor in the department of viticulture and enology at UC Davis. “We are now excited to have the opportunity to study the genome of hemp. Decoding the genome will allow us to gain new insight into the genetic bases of complex pathways of secondary metabolism in plants.”
Vaught also told Newsweek “UC Davis is renowned as the leading agriculture university in the world and we are excited to work with Dr. Cantu’s team to improve this crop to reduce pesticide residues and excessive application of fertilizers, in preparation for production targeting medically beneficial compounds.”
“Unofficial” Cannabis Research
Marijuana has been a plant that has been surrounded in controversy for decades. Its medicinal benefits however have not been able to be denied. It has been found to be effective at treating countless conditions including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, PTSD, glaucoma, insomnia, depression and many more. Nonetheless, despite heavy anecdotal evidence, there has been no government funded research done to understand how the plant could be treating so many conditions. There has however, been unofficial research done at prestigious universities and medical facilities across the country and around the world. Unfortunately, without an official government stamp of approval, the research is ignored by the FDA and the DEA who still regard marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Challenges of a Schedule I Drug
Schedule I drugs are considered to be the highest risk drugs. Heroin and LSD also hold this classification. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medicinal benefits, be unsafe for testing on humans and are considered to be highly addictive. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 29 states plus Washington D.C. The latest polls reveal that 83 percent of Americans believe the plant should be legal for medicinal use. At this stage, 64 percent of the country also believe it should be legalized for recreational use. Despite a number of Senators and Congress people requesting that the plant be rescheduled or descheduled altogether like alcohol and cigarettes, the DEA says there is not enough evidence to prove its medicinal value. Of course, initially all medical marijuana testing was considered illegal, making it impossible to prove its medicinal uses.
Last August, the DEA agreed to allow researchers to apply to conduct medical studies on marijuana. However, all applications have been ignored by the Department of Justice. This has essentially put another block on truly researching the plant and understanding how it may be used medicinally. The DOJ is run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is a long time prohibitionist and, in his new role as Attorney General, he has been fighting to crack down on marijuana.
Various Studies into Marijuana Genetics
All marijuana research is contributing to making the plant available for medical and practical purposes. Marijuana genetics can point to the many ways it may be useful. This is not the first time marijuana genetics have been explored. Scientists at Hyacinth Bio in Montreal, Canada have found a cannabinoid in the plant called cannabidivarin that may be used to treat epilepsy. This is just one example of how the study of marijuana genetics may be helpful in multiple ways. Another team at Oregon Health and Science University aims to map the genetics of every single marijuana strain on record. This particular project focuses on the female plant which is the type most often used for medical and recreational purposes.
As the plant continues to be legalized throughout the country and more and more medicinal benefits of marijuana continue to be discovered, the genetic map of the plant helps us to get a clear understanding of how the plant works and, more importantly, how it can be used for its unique compounds and gifts. Understanding hemp, a plant that has been used for so many centuries to make essential daily items, will no doubt be a breakthrough for scientists looking to crack open the secrets of the marijuana plant.
A recent article, published in Forbes has shed some light on the FDA and its position on marijuana. According to experts, the administration is open to further research and study of the plant and its medicinal uses when it comes to treating veterans. There is an abundance of research available, showing the plant’s ability to effectively treat many conditions suffered by veterans, including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nonetheless, the VA and its doctors and hospitals are not at liberty to review the plant as a possible form of treatment due to federal law.
Schedule I Classification
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug which places it alongside heroin as the highest risk drug. The category is for substances that are considered to be highly addictive, unsafe for human testing, and contain no medicinal properties. As a result, research on the plant has been banned. Last August, the DEA lifted the ban for scientists willing to go through the rigorous application process. However, the Department of Justice has not approved any applications and government approved medical research of the plant remains blocked.
Why Veterans May Urgently Need Cannabis
Dr. Sue Sisley has been trying to assemble a study to research the medicinal effects of the plant on 76 veterans who suffer from treatment resistant PTSD. However, she has experienced great difficulty moving forward with the project. 22 veterans are reported to commit suicide every day, although Sisley suspects this number may be higher. “As a scientist, I’m skeptical of subjective claims,” said Sisley. “[But] we have a mountain of anecdotal reports from veterans claiming that cannabis is lifesaving.” More than this, families of veterans suffering from the condition have reported that after treatment with cannabis, they have their family member back. Her research could help countless veterans, yet the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will not support forward movement on this.
“An Atmosphere of Fear”
“I’m assuming that [Attorney General] Sessions has created an atmosphere of fear around the word ‘cannabis’ and so nobody’s willing to step out,” said Sisley. “The FDA deserves major commendation because they, at least, are responsive.” Sessions is a long time prohibitionist who has been very vocal about his dislike of marijuana. He has even gone so far as to write Congress, requesting permission to use federal funds to crack down on medical marijuana across the country. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington D.C. to treat patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, seizures, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and more. Many children who would otherwise be debilitated by seizures are able to live normal lives thanks to the use of medical marijuana.
The FDA has been supportive of medical marijuana research, however they are blocked on being able to take any action to implement it. “We’ve had good experiences working with the FDA,” said Brad Burge, communications director at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. “We have a long relationship with the FDA–a lot through our MDMA research. They’ve been open to approving research protocols into Schedule I drugs. It’s other regulatory agencies that have been standing in the way.”
Marijuana has won big in New Jersey this week as Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in Tuesday’s election. Murphy will take over from long time prohibitionist Gov. Chris Christie, who had made it clear that he would never allow marijuana to be legalized during his term. Christie even went so far as to promise to veto any legal marijuana bills that would pass. Now, come January 2018, he will be succeeded by Murphy who is outwardly in favor of ending prohibition and Senate President Stephen Sweeney has made it clear that as soon as the governor gets settled, they will be actively moving forward with those plans.
Scutari’s Marijuana Bill for New Jersey
Sen. Nicholas Scutari has already sponsored a recreational marijuana bill. According to New Jersey Politics Scutari led a delegation of New Jersey lawmakers to Colorado to explore and investigate the recreational marijuana industry in a state where it is legal. Lawmakers were incredibly impressed with how well functioning the industry in Colorado is and the many positive changes it has been able to contribute to the community.
The Benefits of Legalization
Legalization in Colorado has led to almost 29,000 new jobs, reduced drug arrests by 80 percent as well as a reduction in opioid related overdoses and deaths. It has generated approximately $135 million in tax revenue that has gone towards building schools and other services for the community. Teen use has not risen and there appears to be no visual impact of legalization. “These are neighborhoods you would be proud to say you represented or lived in,” says Scutari.
“We Intend to Move Quickly”
Sweeney was also enthusiastic after the visit which included meeting with public health officials and lawmakers, business owners, and visits to dispensaries and manufacturers. “I was on board before we went but I am absolutely sold that this industry can be regulated. It’s safe, it’s well managed. Colorado has done an amazing job. This is a game changer for the state. I’m committed to it. We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it,” said Sweeney.
About Phil Murphy
Murphy is a former U.S. ambassador to Germany who has been very vocal about wanting to end prohibition in New Jersey. “The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana. And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just,” he said in his primary victory election speech in June according to Marijuana Moment. Murphy appears to be committed to putting a stop to mass incarceration and eliminate “prisons for profit.” He has made it clear that the legalization of recreational marijuana is an essential part of this process.
Should New Jersey legalize recreational marijuana as quickly as they are planning to, it would be the ninth state to legalize the plant for personal recreational use. Other states are set to follow as many contemplate legalizing the plant through legislature rather than a public vote. According to the most recent polls, 64 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing the plant for personal use.
For the longest time, we have been fed ideas about pot smokers being forgetful and generally lacking initiative and intelligence. Prohibition propaganda and weed focused movies and characters have portrayed smokers as dopey but studies now suggest that this isn’t the case at all. There are multiple studies that have explored the effects of cannabis on the cognitive functions in humans and the results have been very interesting and exciting. It would appear that medicinal cannabis actually improves cognitive function which is our ability to learn and act on what we know with clarity. It also relates to memory. The ramifications of this are quite profound as it indicates that the plant may be able to reverse many of the effects of aging along with degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Splendor in the Grass?
A recent study, titled “Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function” was published in Frontiers in Pharmacology and illustrates the restorative power that medicinal cannabis has on the body. The study was led by Staci Gruber, PhD who is the director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital. McLean Hospital is Harvard Medical School’s largest psychiatric affiliate. It examined 24 medical cannabis patients over the course of 3 months as they participated in their medicinal cannabis program to treat various conditions.
Benefits Beyond Treating Symptoms
Throughout the 3 month period, the patients’ cognitive functions were tested using a variety of tests including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test. It turned out that the medical cannabis was treating more than just their initial medical symptoms. The medical cannabis patients actually performed better and there was a clear improvement in all tasks that involved activity in the frontal cortex. This is the area that governs decision making, personality expression, social activity, cognitive behaviors and generally aligning thoughts and actions with internal goals. It rules our ability to make plans and predict outcomes of all kinds and adjust our behaviors and thoughts accordingly.
A Drop in Opioid Use
As well as being able to improve cognitive function, also known as “executive” function, the medical cannabis was also able to improve so much more. Patients reported that their original medical conditions were better along with noting improvements in their sleep and overall health and wellbeing. An exciting aspect of this was a decrease in the need for medications such as opioids that may have adverse side effects. “We saw a 42 percent reduction in opioid use,” reported Gruber. “This is significant, particularly for those of us in Massachusetts and other areas of the country where the opioid epidemic is ravaging so many. This preliminary finding certainly warrants deeper and broader investigation.”
Massachusetts is one of 4 states that legalized cannabis for personal use by adults over 21 last November. California, Nevada and Maine also chose to end prohibition, joining Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and D.C. in having a legal recreational marijuana industry. 29 states have already legalized medicinal cannabis and statistics show that there is an approximate 33 percent drop in opioid related deaths in those states. There are approximately 23 percent less opioid related hospital visits. At a time where the opioid epidemic has reached such extreme proportions, this is important news.
Improved Cognitive Functions in Mice
The Harvard study is not the only one that illustrates the beneficial impact that cannabis has on cognitive function. There are several studies that show how it can improve memory and diminish symptoms relating to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Another study led by Andreas Zimmer from the University of Bonn, Germany and published in Nature Medicine showed marijuana’s ability to improve the cognitive function of mice that had decreased in function due to their age. The study focused specifically on age related decline. Once again the news was good.
Researchers gave three groups of mice low doses of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Each group represented different ages. One group was 2 months old and the other two were 12 and 18 months old, representing mature and old age. 3 different experiments were conducted on the mice. The first was a water maze that the mice had to learn to navigate. In the second, they had to locate an object and the third tested partner recognition. When the mice weren’t treated with THC, the mature and old mice performed worse. When only the mature and old mice were given the THC, they performed the same as the young mice. When all 3 groups were given THC, the mature and old groups performed much better but the young mice performed far worse.
In general, the mature and old mice who were treated with the low dose of THC performed at least as well as the young mice at any given task. Their cognitive functions, which were very poor before being given the THC, were vastly improved. It was as though they reverted back to youth. The younger mice, however, fared much worse when given the THC. Their performance declined and they did not do well.
How Medicinal Cannabis Could Improve Cognitive Functions
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is made of CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found all through the body and organs. The system governs health and the regulation of sleep, appetite, mood, digestion and pretty much every function of the body. Humans then create natural cannabinoids that trigger the receptors and create homeostasis in the body. Age, however, reduces the function of the ECS as less cannabinoids are produced naturally. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD which are found in cannabis are known to restore the ECS as that trigger and regulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors. In the mice that were younger, with healthy ECS, the THC decreased performance. It was only in the mice with an impaired ECS from aging that benefits from the THC were observed.
While a lot of evidence has been gathered to show the benefits of medicinal cannabis on cognitive function much more research is needed still. Nonetheless, these studies reflect what possibilities lie ahead once we are able to understand and harness the power of cannabis.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated a crackdown on marijuana product manufacturers for claiming their products can be effective as a treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. The FDA claims companies are “illegally selling products online that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes.” As a result, they have issued warnings to 4 companies: Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises, Green Roads of Florida, That’s Natural and Natural Alchemist. Each of these companies manufactures products that contain the marijuana compound cannabidiol (CBD) and make health claims on the packaging that are based on the medicinal aspects of the compound that is often recommended by doctors for a variety of conditions, including cancer and Alzheimer’s.
“We’re Not Going to Look the Other Way”
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release that “substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors. We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products.”
A Blockade Against Federal Research
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have classed marijuana as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD. Schedule I drugs are considered to be the highest risk drugs, having no medicinal benefits, highly addictive and unsafe for testing on humans. As a result, all medical testing on the plant has been banned in any official capacity. This makes all non-governmental medical research on the plant unusable for official purposes and makes it impossible to prove or disprove the plant’s medicinal benefits for official government purposes. The DEA decided to start allowing scientists to apply to conduct medical research on the plant but the Department of Justice, headed by long time, vocal prohibitionist Jeff Sessions, has prevented any forward movement on approving any of these applications. Therefore, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug with the immense amount of research proving the plants medicinal benefits blocked for use by the government, including the FDA and DEA.
Research Into Medical Benefits of Marijuana
Nonetheless, there is an abundance of research that has been conducted all over the world proving that marijuana does have the ability to shrink tumors and cure cancer as well as treat and even reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. There are countless studies that show the medicinal benefits of cannabis including ones that show it can shrink some tumors including the most aggressive brain tumors as well as stopping it from spreading through the body. These have been conducted by leading scientists at St. George’s University of London and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville as well as other prestigious medical laboratories.
Despite attempts by officials to block the release of evidence that would reveal marijuana’s medicinal benefits, 29 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes and 8 states as well as D.C. have legalized the plant for personal recreational use as it has been found to be healthier and safer than both cigarettes and alcohol and therefore regulated in this way by those states. As education about the many medical benefits of marijuana are discovered and released in popular medical journeys, more people are finding their own truth about the plant. The last Gallup poll indicated that 64 percent of the country are in favor of legalizing the plant for personal use and a recent Yahoo/Marist poll conducted earlier this year indicated that 83 percent of the nation are in favor of legalizing the plant for medical use.
The state tax revenue generated by marijuana sales in states where it is legal is usually high but California may be pushing too hard. In some places around the state, up to 45 percent sales tax may be placed on the plant which could ultimately backfire as people lean on the black market more. One of the benefits of legalizing marijuana in many states is the reduction in crime that usually occurs as a result. Once prohibition comes to an end, many are hoping to find it easier to just go to the store for their cannabis products as opposed to relying on the black market. The exorbitant tax will make this challenging.
California’s Enormous Role in America’s Cannabis Industry
California residents chose to end prohibition and legalize cannabis for personal, recreational use last December and the infrastructure for that industry is estimated to be up and running by 2018. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Now it joins 7 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing the plant for recreational use although the state is already home to a large black market industry. A lot of the cannabis that goes around the country is grown in California and, in order to tame the black market, the regulations need to support this transition.
High Taxes Will Likely Feed the Black Market
The main issue now lies in the fact that taxes may rise too high to support this and the black market will continue to operate as though it is business as usual. There is estimated to be a high sales tax, between 22.25 percent and 24.25 percent depending on the location, which includes a 15 percent excise tax and then on top of this there are extra state and local fees that range between 7.25 percent and 9.25 percent. This brings the total up to 45 percent in some areas. This kind of high tax rate may be too much for those who are already used to purchasing the plant on the black market and, therefore, the anticipated reduction in crime may not come to pass.
“High tax rates raise prices in legal markets, reinforcing the price advantage of black markets,” says global credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings. “California’s black markets for cannabis were well established long before its voters legalized cannabis in November 2016 and are expected to dominate post-legalization production.”
Temptation to Stay Off the Grid
Fitch states that local marijuana businesses will need to pay tax that is between 1 and 20 percent of gross receipts or $1 to $50 per square foot of cannabis plants. This kind of high tax rate may also entice retailers and growers to stay off the grid. Ultimately, a balance would need to be struck in the same way that other states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon have successfully structured their recreational cannabis industry. If all parties do not benefit and consumers can’t afford the product, then the industry will have a tough time, according to Fitch.
The regulations for recreational marijuana are still being written and there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. It is due to be available for sale next year.
Knowledge of the medical benefits of marijuana as an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and general pain reliever has been spreading across the country and the world as more research continues to surface. However, its medicinal ability to reduce tumors has many excited and for good reason. There is an abundant amount of research that has been conducted in recent times that has shown that marijuana has a multitude of ways it can save lives. Its ability to reduce the size of tumors is definitely one of those ways. In fact, marijuana has been found to reduce the size of the most aggressive brain tumors.
Testing Specific Cannabinoids
In 2014, a study conducted by Katherine A. Scott, Angus G. Dalgleish and Wai Liu at St. George’s University of London investigated the effects of 2 of the cannabinoids found in marijuana: THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling of euphoria whereas CBD does not produce a high but is known to be a relaxant that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. When doses of these 2 cannabinoids were given to mice infected with glioma, the tumors were halved in size. When the cannabinoid treatment was administered alongside radiotherapy, the tumors stopped growing. Some of them were reduced to 1/10 of their size.
A Significant Breakthrough for Glioma
This is not the first time marijuana has been found to be effective in reducing the size of tumors. This is, however, the first time the cannabis treatment was used in conjunction with radiotherapy and the results were both enlightening and encouraging. While much more research is needed and human tests are necessary, the ability to make a dent towards a treatment for such an aggressive and lethal cancer is a big deal. Glioma is a very aggressive form of cancer and survival rates are approximately 5 percent over a 3 year period. The symptoms include nausea, headaches, vision changes, altered behavior and personality changes.
How THC and CBD Are Affecting Glioma
One of the main questions being contemplated is how THC and CBD are able to garner these results. The researchers hypothesize that the compounds may be preparing the neural pathways for radiotherapy treatment. “We think that the cannabinoids are hitting a number of cell signaling pathways which primes them to the effects of irradiation,” says Liu. The study says; “Taken together, our data highlight the possibility that these cannabinoids can prime glioma cells to respond better to ionizing radiation, and suggest a potential clinical benefit for glioma patients by using these 2 treatment modalities.” Much more research is needed in order to truly understand the full scope of how these cannabinoids impact glioma.
THC Appears to Have a Great Effect on Cancer Than CBD
Marijuana’s ability to treat cancer and stop the spread of HIV is one that is embraced in all 29 states and Washington D.C. where the plant has been legalized for medical purposes. There seems to be multiple ways that the plant helps. Both THC and CBD have been found to be very effective in treating cancer although THC seems to have the strongest cancer fighting properties with its ability to reduce tumors. However, the effects of the THC are strengthened by adding CBD to the treatment and low doses are considered just as effective as a higher dose.
How Cannabis Promotes Apoptosis
Marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment for cancer due to its ability to encourage cell death. In a normal healthy person, when a cell becomes aged or damaged, it goes through a kind of programmed cell death. Unfortunately however, cancer cells do not undergo this process which is known as apoptosis. Rather, the cancer cells will just continue to grow and spread. Studies have found that marijuana supports apoptosis by cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct on their own. On top of this, it has been found to protect the other cells from developing cancer. Marijuana stops the growth of malignant cells, called proliferation, and encourages those cells to die. This has been documented to be particularly helpful in treating cancer in the lungs, pancreas, uterus, testes and breast tissue.
Preventing the Spread of Cancer
It also stops cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Metastasis is what happens when a person starts with breast cancer and ends up with cancer in the lungs or other parts of the body due to it spreading to other locations. Marijuana research conducted at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville found that marijuana was able to prevent cancer from spreading in the body to healthy tissue. It is also able to cut off the supply of nutrients to existing cancer cells which ultimately kills them. Tumors need to feed and this process is known as angiogenesis. They generally steal oxygens and nutrients from healthy parts of the body and this is how they grow. Marijuana is known to cut off the supply of food to tumors by stopping the development of new blood cells to tumor cells.
Activating the Healing Properties of the Endocannabinoid System
All in all, this research shows that marijuana has a powerful effect on cancer. An aspect of this may be caused by marijuana’s effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors found all through the body and its organs. The ECS moderates homeostasis in the body, affecting cognitive thought, metabolism, mood, appetite, sleep and maintaining the overall health of our cells. The cannabinoids in marijuana trigger the CB1 and CB2 receptors to restore health. Israeli researchers found that “changes in endocannabinoid levels and/or CB2receptor expressions have been reported in almost all diseases affecting humans, ranging from cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, neurodegenerative, psychiatric, bone, skin, auto-immune, lung disorders to pain and cancer, and modulating CB2 receptor activity holds tremendous therapeutic potential in these pathologies.”
Marijuana’s ability to restore balance to these receptors is intricately linked to its ability to treat many conditions. Much more research is needed if we are to have a proper understanding of exactly how the effects of marijuana can help to reduce tumors but for now we are moving in the right direction.