Athletes Using Cannabis for Recovery, Survey Finds

A newly published survey from researchers at Kent State University sought to find out whether “cannabidiol (CBD) use and/or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use … shows promise to enhance exercise recovery.”

The researchers said that the study “aimed to determine if individuals are using CBD and/or THC as a means of recovery from aerobic and/or resistance exercise, as well as additional modalities that might be used to aid in recovery.”

The anonymous survey involved 111 participants who “were regularly using cannabis (CBD and/or THC) as well as were currently exercising,” and the questions “pertained to level of cannabis use, methods used for consumption of cannabis, exercise habits, exercise recovery strategies, and demographics.”

“Eighty-five percent of participants reported participating in aerobic training. In addition, 85% of participants also reported regular participation in resistance exercise. Seventy-two percent of participants participated in both aerobic and resistance exercise. Ninety-three percent of participants felt that CBD use assisted them with recovery from exercise, while 87% of participants felt the same regarding THC use,” the researchers said.

“Individuals who habitually use cannabis, CBD or THC, and regularly engage in exercise do feel that cannabis assists them with exercise recovery. More data are necessary to understand the role of cannabis in exercise recovery as well as perceived ergogenic benefits of cannabis by individuals who both regularly participate in exercise and habitually use cannabis,” they wrote in their conclusion. 

Even world class athletes have long dabbled in cannabis, often preferring it to booze because it doesn’t result in a hangover. And as laws surrounding recreational pot use have changed throughout the United States, professional sports leagues have also adjusted their own drug policies. 

NBA legend Kevin Durant said this summer that he personally lobbied league commissioner Adam Silver to do away with the ban on marijuana.

“I actually called him and advocated for him to take marijuana off the banned substance list,” Durant, a star for the Phoenix Suns, said at a conference hosted by CNBC. “I just felt like it was becoming a thing around the country, around the world … the stigma behind it wasn’t as negative as it was before. It doesn’t affect you in any negative way.”

The NBA and its players’ union brokered a new collective bargaining agreement earlier this year that eliminates drug testing for cannabis.

“Marijuana will be removed from the Prohibited Substances List (‘PSL’),” the contract reads. “A team that has reason to believe one of its players is under the influence of marijuana or alcohol while engaged in NBA or team-related activities, or has a dependency issue involving marijuana or alcohol, may refer the player to a required evaluation treatment program.”

One of the greatest scorers to ever play the game, Durant has been open about his own marijuana use. At the CNBC conference, Durant said that Silver likely had an inkling that he had toked up before their meeting.

“Well, he smelled it when I walked in, so I ain’t really have to say much,” Durant said. “He kind of understood where this was going. And I mean, it’s the NBA, man. Everybody does it, to be honest. It’s like wine at this point.”

The researchers at Kent State University said the changing policies and mores surrounding marijuana in the United States prompted them to conduct their survey.

“Over the past decade, cannabis use has become more widespread in the United States, both medically and recreationally. As of 2021, 52.5 million individuals in the US reported use of cannabis in the past year, accounting for 18.7% of the country’s population (Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 national survey on drug use and health 2021),” they wrote. “Cannabis plants are composed of a variety of cannabinoid compounds, most notably cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), both of which bind endocannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) (Pagotto et al. 2006). While CBD has a low-binding affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, both receptors bind THC. Contrary to THC, CBD does not induce psychotropic effects. It has, however, been demonstrated to acutely stimulate parasympathetic nervous system activation resulting in reduced heart rate, reduced systolic blood pressure, and increased vasodilation . Conversely, THC has been demonstrated to impair cognitive function and up-regulate sympathetic nervous system activity, leading to acute increases in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and vasoconstriction.”

The researchers noted that both “CBD and THC have the potential to enhance recovery from aerobic and resistance exercise due to analgesic, anti-inflammatory effects as well as the ability to enhance sleep quality.”

“Both compounds have also assisted in acutely reducing subjective feelings of pain intensity in chronic-pain patients, while acute CBD intake has been demonstrated to attenuate muscle damage following resistance exercise in resistance-trained men and women. Survey data in both recreationally active and athletic populations has demonstrated that individuals use cannabis to assist with exercise recovery, pain relief resulting from muscle-soreness, to reduce inflammation, and enhance sleep,” they said.

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Man with Tourette Syndrome Pleads with NHS To Increase Cannabis Prescriptions

Conor Ryder, from Dorset, England, a man living with Tourette syndrome, is urging the government to make medicinal cannabis more accessible through the National Health Service (NHS), the BBC reports. Currently, he spends thousands on prescriptions from a private clinic as it’s the only treatment, in his experience, that effectively manages his severe tics. The NHS is the U.K.’s publicly funded healthcare system.

Medical marijuana became legal in the U.K. in 2018. But the government insists they need more research to ensure its safety before making it more widely available. 

Cannabis remains illegal on a federal level and for adult use. 

Due to the scarce availability of NHS prescriptions, Ryder pays £300 every month, which, to afford, he dips into his savings. 

“I spoke to my doctor and he said that he… didn’t want to refer me, so I went and referred myself off. I went and looked at the clinics,” Ryder told the BBC. 

Ryder’s situation isn’t unique. Private cannabis clinics across the United Kingdom have grown substantially since legalization, with statistics indicating they’ve issued over 140,000 prescriptions in the past five years. The medicine they sell just isn’t always affordable for patients like Ryder. 

As research published in June of 2023 suggests, building on additional research that also indicates cannabis for the condition, evidence backs up what Ryder says, indicating that THC and CBD can improve the side-effect profile of Tourette syndrome. These include repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that one can’t always control — and can disrupt one’s personal and professional life. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, tics usually appear between the ages of two and 15, with the average age around six. Tourette syndrome is more commonly seen in males, who are about three to four times more likely to develop it than females.

In this study, they did a double-blind, cross-over trial with people who have severe Tourette’s syndrome. Using random assignment, they gave participants an oral oil-based tincture with increasing amounts of THC and CBD for six weeks, followed by six weeks with a placebo, or the other way around, with a four-week break in between. 

The researchers used the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) to measure their tics’ severity. They also used video assessments of tics to assess how they affected their daily life, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. 

It’s worth noting that all of these comorbidities are also often treated with medical marijuana. 

They then checked if the results were related to the levels of cannabis compounds in the blood in addition to performing cognitive tests at the start and end of each treatment.

The results suggest that people in the active treatment group significantly reduced their tic scores more than those in the placebo group. This means that the treatment with THC and CBD helped reduce the severity of their tics. However, some people in the active treatment group reported problems with their thinking, memory, and concentration. The research indicates that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can help people with severe Tourette syndrome by reducing their tics and improving their quality of life. 

Mr. Ryder is not surprised to learn that the private sector of the cannabis industry is booming. For him, medical marijuana has become an absolute necessity. Diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age 13, he lives with various noticeable tics, from animal-like sounds and loud bangs to physical gestures like winking, blinking, and shoulder rolling.

These tics cause him significant distress and currently make him unable to hold down a job, further compounding his struggle to pay for his medicine in a vicious cycle. But he’s able to manage his symptoms with medical marijuana and a vaporizer. 

“It’s something I dreamed of as a kid, taking a small pill and it would just disappear, and now I have it basically. I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to work and maybe be able to manage it because that’s the only way if it doesn’t become available on the NHS. Every medication that they’ve been able to give me, they’ve made me into basically a zombie. Cannabis is the only thing that controls the tics,” he tells the BBC. 

The Department of Health and Social Care says that medical marijuana could be paid for by the NHS where there was “clear evidence of their quality, safety and effectiveness,” the BBC reports. “It is important to carefully review evidence on unlicensed cannabis-based treatments to ensure they are proved safe and effective before they can be considered for roll-out on the NHS more widely.” 

An NHS spokesperson continued that: “While there is limited evidence on the safety of these unlicensed products, we continue to encourage manufacturers of these products to engage with the UK medicines regulator, which would provide doctors with the confidence to use the products in the same way they use other licensed medicines.”

There are currently over 300,000 kids and adults living with Tourette Syndrome in the U.K.

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9-Year-Old Girl with Autism, Epilepsy Petitions To Use Cannabis at School

Nine-year-old Krystal Mattis is unable to attend full days at school because she uses cannabis tincture to treat epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder. 

Sabrina and Tim Mattis, her parents, told CBS News they want their daughter to receive a full-time education, which up until now she has been unable to do because of her symptoms. In order to attend a full day at school, Sabrina and Tim said Krystal needs a dose of her tincture at lunchtime. The tincture is a mixture of CBD and THC mixed in with some juice.

The school, however, told Sabrina and Tim that Krystal has to consume her medicine away from school property and come back to class afterwards if she wants to use cannabis during the day.

“I feel it’s unfair. It’s unjust,” Sabrina Mattis said to CBS. “She just deserves to be at school a full day and have her medicine like any other kid.”

On top of her regular doctor visits and the various therapies required to treat her disorders, Krystal is nonverbal and uses a device to communicate, according to the CBS article. Sabrina and Tim Mattis said that taking her in and out of school would only serve to further disrupt their daughter’s schedule and unnecessarily confuse her. 

“To take her back, that just throws her out of her routine. The chances of her not understanding the whole situation and having discomfort more likely to not have a good rest of the day, as opposed to us just going there administering her dose and leaving and it’s barely an interruption,” Tim said to CBS.

Krystal Mattis, courtesy WCCO

Unable to sway the school and unwilling to take away what they described to CBS as a game changer medication for their daughter, Sabrina and Tim Mattis opted to keep Krystal in class for half-days. However, their fight would continue a bit higher up in the Minnesota state government. Sabrina reached out to Minnesota DFL Rep. Zack Stephenson, who authored the adult-use cannabis bill which was just recently passed in the state of Minnesota. 

Rep. Stephenson told CBS he spoke with the family and told them an exemption exists to the adult-use cannabis statute in Minnesota state law for using medical cannabis on school grounds as long as it was not ingested through smoking or vaporization, the language of which CBS said they emailed to Krystal’s school district asking for comment but they only received a brief statement saying that the district “cannot comment on a student’s medical interactions with our schools.” The district cited data privacy laws which almost all American educators, doctors and social workers are universally bound by.

Rep. Stephenson also said that keeping the Minnesota medical cannabis program intact would remain a top priority for him while helping to write and draft laws about Minnesota’s blooming adult-use market, saying the following:

“There is a strong distinction between medical and adult-use cannabis,” Rep. Stephenson said to CBS. 

According to the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Dashboard, the Minnesota medical cannabis program currently has a little over 18,000 participants which include 452 patients between the ages of five and 17. The vast majority of Minnesota medical patients use cannabis to treat chronic pain (59.3%) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (32.3%) but the next most reported use is for severe and persistent muscle spasm disorders like epilepsy with 2,217 patients statewide. Another 802 Minnesota patients use cannabis to treat autism spectrum disorder.

The Mattis’ fight will continue as the school district has yet to change their decision regarding Krystal. As cannabis legislation progresses state by state, individual cases like this will undoubtedly be making headlines a bit more often and the line between patient’s rights and illegal activity will undoubtedly continue to blur while legislation at both the state and federal level attempts to rewrite and undo decades of cannabis prohibition laws.

“We hope to bring justice for children on medical cannabis, so they can be allowed to take their medicine at school, just the same as any other child in the state of Minnesota. That’s what we’re hoping,” Sabrina said to CBS.

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DEA Doubles Down on Decision To Fire Agent Who Tried To Replace Opioids With CBD

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently defended their decision to fire an “outstanding” special agent fired earlier this year for using CBD oil to replace his pain medication, a decision which caused him to test positive for cannabis on a drug test.

According to court documents, Special Agent Anthony Armour filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in May of this year against the DEA. A response brief was filed recently in which the DEA fully defends their decision to terminate Agent Armour, calling his actions “reckless” and “incompatible with the agency’s sole mission to enforce our Nation’s drug laws.”

Armour served as a DEA agent for 15 years before he was subjected to a random drug screening which came back positive for THC. Armour reportedly came forward voluntarily with samples of the CBD products he was using for lab analysis, two out of three of which came back under the .3% THC limit set by the Controlled Substances Act, and the third came in at .35% which is within the acceptable margin for error. 

Armour also stated in his lawsuit that he was using the CBD products to treat pain from injuries sustained playing football and during his career in law enforcement. Needless to say, as a member of the DEA, Armour was fully aware of the dangers of opioids and alleged that he was using the CBD as an alternative to his pain medication, pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized commercial hemp products (and a whole slough of other weird shit).

“For Armour and many others in this country, this change meant new opportunities—particularly as to CBD, a non-THC cannabinoid in the cannabis plant,” the lawsuit said. “Armour hoped CBD oils could play a role in his pain management. That he did is unsurprising. From Martha Stewart to Wrigley Field, CBD has become embedded in American culture.”

Despite Armour’s rationale and despite the lawsuit he filed, the DEA doubled down on their decision in their court response brief filed August 30.

“Mr. Armour was an outstanding DEA agent when he took a chance in 2019. He believed it was unlikely that CBD products would cause him to test positive for marijuana, but he knew it was possible, and he bought those unregulated products on the internet and consumed them anyway,” the brief said. “Mr. Armour argues that he ‘displayed negligence or poor decision-making,’ and DEA properly held him accountable for his poor decisions when they resulted in a verified positive drug test. DEA lost trust in Mr. Armour and properly removed him.”

The response brief was filed just days prior to the Department of Health and Human Services official recommendation to move cannabis to Schedule 3, putting the ball into the DEA’s court to decide whether or not to honor the recommendation of the DHHS. It is not immediately clear if rescheduling cannabis would allow federal employees like Agent Armour to use cannabis products. 

The filing went on to say: “This was an unfortunate ending to a lengthy and productive career in Federal law enforcement. But DEA is charged with enforcing our Nation’s drug laws, and Federal employees are responsible for what they put in their bodies. There is a clear and genuine nexus between a removal for illegal drug use and the efficiency of the service at a drug enforcement agency.”

The DEA has clarified since terminating Armour in 2020 that agents are under no circumstances to use any CBD products for exactly this reason. All hemp contains at least trace amounts of THC (hemp and cannabis are the same plant after all) and thus, it’s far too easy to accidentally or mistakenly test positive for THC while using such products. They have also clarified that synthetic cannabinoids and some of the hemp-derived cannabinoids are not legal products in their purview. Their tireless fight against opioid abuse also carries on, if not in a somewhat contradictory fashion.

“One wonders then, why they are in federal court defending the termination of a special agent who was taking these dangerous drugs off the street for doing nothing other than, for his pain, ingesting a product advertised as CBD oil that, unbeknownst to him, would test right at the border between hemp and marijuana—precisely because he didn’t want to use opiates,” an attorney for Armour said to Marijuana Moment on Friday.

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Israel: Other Than THC, All Other 140 Cannabinoids Are Safe

Summary: The Ministry of Health in Israel is considering the exemption of nearly all 140 active ingredients in cannabis from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, with the exception of THC, the psychoactive component. This move is aimed at ensuring safer cannabis products for the Israeli public.

Major Changes in Cannabis Regulation in Israel: All Cannabinoids But THC Are Safe

The CEO of the Ministry of Health of Israel, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, has established a professional committee to examine the exemption of almost all 140 active ingredients found in cannabis from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. This comes in light of the previous government’s decision to exempt CBD, known for its many medicinal properties, from the ordinance, a decision that was later revoked.

The main active ingredient that will be examined is CBD, attributed with anti-inflammatory properties. It can assist in treating depression, intestinal diseases, and other issues and is included worldwide in various cosmetics and food supplements. However, the committee will not consider the use of THC, the psychoactive ingredient known to produce a “high.“.

In the appointment letter issued by CEO Bar Siman Tov, he defined the committee’s roles, including recommending appropriate regulatory, testing, and enforcement mechanisms for products or substances that are not recommended to remain classified as “dangerous drugs.” This includes determining levels of non-contamination that contain THC and any other cannabinoid that is recommended to be included and remain under the ordinance.

The committee will hear from numerous experts, including patient representatives, and is expected to submit its recommendations by January 1, 2024.

It should be noted that the previous government had already decided to exempt CBD from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, but the decision was canceled when it fell. The current committee has been given the mandate to recommend the exemption of almost all 140 active ingredients in the green plant, except for the “intoxicating” substance. If this happens, it will be great news for the cosmetics and food supplement industry in Israel.

Source: MAKO

And we would like to know what will be the status of synthetic cannabinoids, such as HHC and whether or not Delta-8 THC will be regarded as THC or not (however, knowing Israel, we can predict that both psychoactive cannabinoids won’t be included in the safe list…).

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Researchers Identify Mechanism Behind CBD’s Anti-inflammatory Effects

In a recent study, researchers have gained critical insight into the mechanism behind cannabinoids, with a particular focus on the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD and how it works to reduce inflammation, New Atlas reports. Inflammation is responsible for everything from skin breakouts (hence CBD’s presence in beauty products) to medical conditions such as asthma, autoimmune disease, and even cardiovascular problems. 

As a refresher, cannabinoids are a class of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids) and naturally produced in the human body (endocannabinoids). These compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters that plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, and make a great argument that the human body is naturally set up to benefit from partaking in the cannabis plant. 

Cannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more prevalent in immune cells and peripheral tissues. The interaction between cannabinoids and these receptors affects a wide range of bodily functions, many of which we are still learning and understanding, including mood, pain response, fighting inflammation, and more. 

While inflammation is crucial to the body’s defense mechanism, excessive inflammation can have adverse effects, such as chronic pain. CBD has an important role, especially from a harm reduction standpoint, in replacing opioids in pain management. Inflammation is the root cause of a plethora of medical conditions, and knowing that cannabinoids, especially CBD, can balance it will likely be understood as one of the most significant medical understandings of our time. 

In part thanks to such research, cannabis continues to rise from the purgatory of the War on Drugs and into the medical community’s embrace. 

The Department of Health and Human Services recently recommended in a leaked letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that cannabis be reclassified from a Schedule I, a classification for substances that are considered to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, to a Schedule III, which demonstrate accepted medical benefits under the Controlled Substances Act. 

This latest research continues to give cannabis more scientific merit as the U.S. inches towards, if not descheduling, and federal legalization, as most activists would greatly prefer, to at least downgrading cannabis from a Schedule I drug. This current classification becomes increasingly glaringly absurd as the body of research on the plant’s medical grows. 

Cannabis plants contain over 100 different cannabinoids and counting, including cannabidiol (CBD), the all-star delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and the lesser-known cannabigerol (CBG). CBD has been legal since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the growing of hemp plants containing less than 0.3 percent CBD. 

While researchers already knew cannabinoids had anti-inflammatory properties, particularly CBD, the precise machinations behind their actions haven’t been fully understood. Researchers from Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, set out to change that, embarking on a mission to explore eight bioactive cannabinoids, including CBD, THC, and CBG. Their mission is to unveil how these compounds work with essential pro-inflammatory enzymes and investigate their relationship with lipid mediators (LMs), the conductors of every inflammation stage, which can wreak havoc on the body if their presence becomes chronic. And they succeeded in helping us all understand why CBD, despite its frequent detractors, does play a vital role in inflammation reduction

“We found that all eight cannabinoids we studied had anti-inflammatory effects,” said Lukas Peltner, the study’s lead author. “All the compounds we studied were found to inhibit the formation of pro-inflammatory messenger substances in cells while enhancing the formation of inflammation-resolving substances.”

And of all the cannabinoids they researched, CBD emerged as the winner regarding immune response regulation. Breaking down the science: The researchers pinpointed CBD’s activation of the 15-lipoxygenase (15-LOX) enzyme, which produces pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). These SPMs are responsible for halting the inflammatory process, aiding tissue regeneration, and restoring the body’s homeostasis. Their work also shows that CBD can suppress the production of inflammatory molecules known as leukotrienes.

The results were first demonstrated on cell cultures and then confirmed on mice. Although, plenty of humans who use CBD could tell you that it can, indeed, reduce inflammation, explaining the cannabinoid’s ability to do everything from make one’s skin glow to take the edge of pain. 

“CBD thus induces a switch in the affected cells, so to speak, which steers the inflammatory process from the promoting to the inhibiting side,” said Paul Jordan, one of the study’s corresponding authors.  

While this understanding is welcome to the cannabis community, it’s worth noting that many medical marijuana patients, especially those who use the plant for pain rather than a night cream, also enjoy and benefit from the psychoactive effects of THC. Remember, CBD has value but doesn’t come with euphoria, something many patients should enjoy guilt-free. This is why, more than ever; we need federal legalization so that folks can enjoy CBD from full-spectrum cannabis flower, which better allows for the entourage effect, the understanding that cannabinoids work better when they’re together. 

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Chinese Heroin vs. Canadian Cannabis

In Canada, especially in Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s a battle between Chinese heroin (fentanyl) and Canadian cannabis. Outside the allowable parameters of the debate is the solution: how cannabis is used for rehabilitation and how to safely self-rehab with cannabis usage. You can quit meth with cannabis rehab. Rehab for alcohol should include cannabis-based medicines. Or forget the rehab centre altogether. Safely self-rehab with cannabis usage from the comfort of your home. People are struggling with substance use. It’s not […]

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How Conservatives Can Win Over Stoners

How can Canada’s Conservatives win over stoners? Or whatever you want to call Canada’s class of cannabis connoisseurs, entrepreneurs, employees, casual consumers, and medical patients. A lot of these people voted Liberal in 2015. I’m sure many plan to again. And can you blame them? Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre isn’t exactly drug-friendly. His vision to make Canada the freest country on Earth depends on how you define freedom. It’s a topic we’ve covered before. Suppose Conservatives want to win over […]

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New Covid Variant: BS 24.7

There’s a new covid variant out of Canada – BS 24.7. Symptoms include loss of self-awareness, emotional de-regulation, lack of empathy toward those perceived as “other,” loss of self-resilience, healthy relationships, problem-solving skills, and basic autonomy. Fortunately, like past covid strains, ample evidence suggests that raw cannabis (particularly CBDa) can prevent infection. So, if you’re immune compromised and have legitimate concerns about new flu viruses, pick up some CBD flower and eat it raw. Meanwhile, the rest of us must […]

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How Many Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Does It Take To Screw in a Lightbulb?

Things have taken a very strange turn in the saga of the cannabis plant, as if anyone needed an extra dose of weirdness added to the mix. A loophole in the Farm Bill passed in 2018 has inadvertently created a huge money grab for hemp producers: hemp-derived cannabinoids which are isolated, concentrated and put into gummies, vapes, sprays and any number of other consumables able to be sold all across America and overseas.

This fun little segment of American hemp history has turned into a smorgasbord of strange new compounds designated with odd combinations of numbers and letters which can be daunting to almost any American consumer such as Delta-8 THC, THC-O, HHC, CBGA etc. I too have found myself “sketched out” as the kids say by smoke shop remedies for a good long while. Not because they’re all bad. The kratom conversation is insufferable to say the least but it does manage to, very occasionally, help people get off opiates, so I don’t want to detract from the value of allowing products that exist because of convenient loopholes to be sold. However, I do want to use all of my powers and skills to disseminate information that may help consumers be safer when trying diet highs and wavy supplements from their local Cheaper Cigarettes store. Harm reduction is the name of the game!

I reached out to some players in the hemp-derived cannabinoid space, which for timeliness sake will henceforth be referred to as “HDC’s” because I find mundane tasks reprehensible. I spoke to two gentlemen on the record and one off, all of whom are owners and/or operators of some of the largest if not the largest companies in the HDC space, so to speak and I have been enlightened to the ways of the weird weed chemicals.

I shouldn’t even call them that. Let’s back up. To begin with, we need to understand the difference between “hemp” and “marijuana.” Scientifically, biologically and logically speaking, there is absolutely no distinction other than the legal designations they have received. They are the same plant from the same family and the only difference is hemp plants have been bred to have low THC, making them legal under the current limit of .3% THC, and commercial cannabis has been bred to have high THC. 

“It’s all cannabis, regardless of the concentration of one arbitrary chemical constituent,” said Matthew Guenther, President of the American Cannabinoid Association. “What the passing of the Farm Bill has proven is that 0.3% Delta-9 THC was always an arbitrary limit.

The ancestral lineages/locations of origin of hemp vs what people generally consider to be marijuana are probably different, sure, but everything has been so hybridized over the years that making a distinction at this stage in the game is pointless. This is why the Indica/Sativa classifications are somewhat controversial, because they are misnomers at best (WEIRDOS has covered all of this if you want to follow these nice juicy looking hyperlinks). 

As such, when the laws classifying hemp and marijuana were written they were written based on Delta-9 THC percentage, meaning anything above .3% Delta-9 THC was illegal and known as “marijuana” and anything below that threshold is considered hemp. So when the 2018 Farm Bill legalized “hemp,” it opened up the floodgates for, by one industry executive’s count, 42 newly isolated compounds from the cannabis/hemp plant.

“They all start with hemp, not all of them are necessarily extracted directly out of the hemp plant. Most minor cannabinoids such as CBN, THCv, Delta-8 THC, Hemp Derived Delta-9 THC, THCp, CBGa isolate, CBDa isolate, you have to make through an isomerization process, hydrogenation, pressure reaction, or through other semi synthetic processes.” said Bret Worley, CEO of MC Nutraceuticals. “In order to make a Delta-8 molecule, you take CBD, through a ring closure reaction you create Delta-8 THC catalyzed by acidic conditions in heptane. After the ring closure reaction you neutralize the solution, remove the solvent and distill.”

The effects of these compounds are hard to generalize as there are, at the risk of being redundant, kind of a lot of them now but from what I’ve pieced together from in person testimonies it’s almost like if a traditional cannabis experience was a big pie, each minor cannabinoid is a tiny piece of that pie. You’re not going to get the whole experience but you’ll get a piece of it. 

“I have a high tolerance so I didn’t expect much but I did feel something. I wouldn’t really call it a high though, it honestly felt more like benzos,” a friend of mine relayed to me regarding his experience with Delta-8 gummies. Another told me it felt the exact same as weed to her and that she bought it in a smoke shop semi-unknowingly.

“It’s still psychoactive, obviously, but I see it more as like a soccer mom weed,” Worley said, referring to Delta-8 THC.

Some of these compounds, like CBN, seem to be good for sleep. Some of them seem to be good for digestion, and some of them may have the potential to help fight cancer, etc. etc. The problem is we don’t really know enough yet to be able to firmly say those things or speak to their safety. That said, no one I talked to who had money on the line seemed worried about the possibility of long-term repercussions, they seemed excited to find out more.

“That’s why it’s important that federal regulations are put in place to regulate what is essentially an entire new class of consumer product,” Guenther said. “What we’re fighting for is for the federal government to get involved and actively regulate the products we know are currently safe and effective, so that people don’t start producing and keep producing unknown untested compounds.”

Guenther referenced the Spice and K2 epidemic, which for those who don’t remember had some VERY strange and unwanted effects on its users. That’s not what HDC’s are. Spice and K2 are synthetic cannabinoids, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse has the following definition of:

“Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana (or fake weed), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.”

These differ from HDC’s because HDC’s are ultimately derived from the cannabis/hemp plant itself whereas synthetic cannabinoids are not.

One very interesting and unexpected result of this whole confusing mad scientist clusterfuck is apparently: weed is legal?

If you’ve noticed any “THCA flower” in your local smoke shop, that’s (probably) not hemp flower sprayed with weird chemicals, it’s just weed that was processed and tested a certain way so that the “THCA” in the flower does not decarboxylate and convert to “Delta 9-THC.” In certain states, they don’t have laws about “total THC limit” they have laws about Delta 9-THC because that’s the one that has traditionally been associated with the “high.” Thus, Donald Trump sorta kinda made it legal to ship, sell, and consume weed in a lot of states that have some of the strictest “marijuana” laws. Do you see where I’m going with this? 

It doesn’t stop there. There is technically regular ol’ Delta-9 THC in “hemp” plants. Since the plant itself tested under .3% THC, any Delta-9 THC extracted from it is perfectly legal.

“They’re absolutely identical. It is the exact same chemical as Delta-9 THC. It’s just a much more effective way of getting there,” Guenther said.

Wheels are in motion on the federal level regarding HDC’s and no one is quite sure which way things are going to go. The DEA and FDA appear to be working on regulations and rules but their official commentary has been limited. The DEA considers Delta-8 to be a controlled substance and DEA Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Chief Terrence Boos said in February that Delta-8 THCO and Delta-9 THCO are illegal because they can only be produced synthetically. The FDA is also supposed to release rules about Delta-8 and other minor cannabinoids sometime soon, not to mention the long anticipated federal movements on cannabis legalization or re/descheduling.

In other words, nobody knows what the hell is going on! We basically have two markets right now, the legal hemp market where they can kind of sell weed (to the tune of a huge profit) but consumers don’t really know what it is and then the individual state cannabis markets where operators are getting creamed, over-regulated and over-taxed but consumers know what they’re buying. Eventually those two markets have to merge, and the way that plays out depends on what the feds do. Don’t change that channel folks, the next episode of marijuana madness will begin shortly after a brief period of utter confusion.

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