Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, and How It Works

When you think of a therapy session, you probably think of someone sitting on a couch talking about their life, while a professional looking person listens, and aids in the process. But what if one other component could be added to the scenario. Like 100 micrograms of LSD, or 20 mg of psilocybin? Psychedelic-assisted therapy is coming back in style, and there’s a really good reason why.

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What is a psychedelic drug?

Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs, which are a subset of psychoactive drugs. Psychedelics are specifically associated with altering a person’s perception, mood, cognition, general sense of time and space, and emotions. As hallucinogens, they can also cause a person to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell things that are not actually there, or to experience things in a distorted way. Psychedelics can be found in nature, or made in laboratories. Examples of psychedelic drugs include LSD, magic mushrooms, DMT, MDMA, ayahuasca, peyote, and many, many more.

Psychedelics tend to promote empathy and feelings of connection between people, self-introspection, and mystical experiences, which vary by the drug taken, and in what amount. They encourage feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and overall wellbeing. They can also have some negative effects, especially when too much is taken. These can involve a fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, sweating and chills, vomiting, and numbness. As with any substance on earth being used as a medicine, it is important to understand dosing.

Psychedelic drugs have different modes of action, but many are serotonergic, like LSD and psilocybin, which means they interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, generally causing a rush of the neurotransmitter, and then blocking reuptake to promote absorption, essentially saturating the brain with serotonin. Serotonin (aka 5-HT) is a neurotransmitter associated with many functions including mood regulation, involuntary muscle control, and sending signals throughout the brain.

Along with promoting a lot of good feelings, and being investigated more and more for medical benefits, some psychedelics also come with the possibility of a bad trip. A bad trip is everything that a good trip is not. Negative and scary hallucinations, and feelings of anxiety and panic. This is often associated with simply taking too much of a drug, and can be mitigated by understanding dosing.

Psychedelic therapy

What is psychedelic-assisted therapy?

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is the combination of talk therapy with the administration of a psychedelic drug during the session. Examples of drugs that can be used for psychedelic therapy include, but are not limited to, LSD, psilocybin (the main psychedelic component of magic mushrooms), MDMA, ayahuasca, and DMT. Psychedelic drugs are tested in high doses, as well as micro-doses. The basic model for the psychedelic-assisted therapy process goes as follows:

1 – The preparation phase involves initial sessions held prior to any drug ingestion. This often involves talk therapy sessions, in which a clear picture can be made of the person’s issues, and the therapist can prepare the patient for the psychedelic experience. Preparation is done by helping with basic guidance, like encouraging the patient to go through a door if they see one in their experience, or to approach scary characters and ask questions rather than running away, so as to promote a person dealing with challenging situations. It is important in this phase that the patient and therapist create a good relationship, as that has an impact on how comfortable and positive the patient feels when entering the next phase.

2 – The next phase is the psychedelic session phase. The two big aspects to consider when going into a session of this nature, are the mindset of the patient as they go into it, and the physical setting around them, which should promote general comfort. In testing, the space is generally set up to be like a living room. A typical session can last as long as eight hours, or as long as the effects of the drug that was taken. Generally, sessions involving drugs will have two therapists in attendance, which I assume is partially a security measure since the patient is put into an altered state.

The patient can sit or lie down, can wear sunglasses if it helps them, and is sometimes given music to listen to. For a psychedelic session, the compound is generally administered in the form of a pill at a micro-dose level – though this is not a rule and many programs will seek larger doses. Models vary when it comes to how many drug-assisted sessions a patient undergoes, and the dosage taken. Therapists will guide patients through the experience, but perform limited, if any, analysis at this time.

3 – The final phase is the integration phase. This happens soon after the psychedelic-assisted therapy session, and can be done as one session, or multiple sessions. In this phase, facilitated by the therapist, the patient can process their psychedelic session, and work to make sense of their experience, and to gain some sort of positive meaning out of it.

mental illness

Psychedelic-assisted therapy isn’t a new invention

While it might seem like using psychedelics in therapy is a fantastic new discovery in mind-expansion to help treat mental disorders, it’s really not new at all. What is happening now, is a re-emergence of a field of study and therapy that started in the mid-1900’s, beginning with the use of LSD.

LSD was originally synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann for Sandoz Laboratories. Hofmann, incidentally, also brought us the first isolated psilocybin compound from magic mushrooms, making him one of the more important characters in modern psychedelic research. The drug didn’t make its way to the States till almost 1950, where it caught the attention of psychotherapists.

One of the early pioneers into psychedelic therapy research was psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. Humphrey Osmond was one of a group of psychiatrists that got into LSD research for the treatment of alcoholism and other mental disorders in the 50’s.

He was actually the guy that coined the term ‘psychedelic’, and tried it himself before starting to offer it to patients in 1953. In one of his first experiments into alcoholism (limited as it was), Osmond gave one 200 microgram dose of LSD to two alcoholics, one of whom quit immediately, and one of whom quit six months later.

His collaboration with Abram Hoffer in 1951 started the Saskatchewan trials (named after the location of Weyburn Mental Hospital where the research took place.) Over 2,000 patients later, at the end of the 1960’s, the methodology of one single dose of LSD coupled with psychotherapy had consistently in their research showed positive benefits for treating alcoholism with 40-45% of test subjects not relapsing within a year.

Psychedelics in the UK

These positive results were mirrored by a UK psychiatrist Ronald Sandison who had already begun using alternative methods in psychotherapy like art and music. He began treating patients with LSD brought back from a trip to Switzerland where he met Albert Hofmann. His trials in the UK returned similar results to the Saskatchewan trials, and in 1954 Sandison published this study in which 36 psychoneurotic patients were administered LSD over the course of a year, leading to 14 recovered patients, only two without improvement, and the rest with some level of improvement.

psychedelic medicine

Sandison even opened the first LSD therapy clinic in the 1950’s. It could accommodate up to five patients, and included individual psychedelic sessions, and group discussion sessions. In 2002, Britain’s National Health Service agreed to pay £195,000 to 43 patients of Sandison’s in out-of-court settlements, though whether this was out of actual damage suffered, or opportunism to collect for the usage of a drug that had become illegal, is hard to say.

Osmond’s method of LSD therapy that included one large dose with psychotherapy, was termed ‘psychedelic therapy’, while Sandison’s approach of using multiple smaller doses that increase in size, also with psychoanalysis, was termed ‘psycholytic therapy’. Between the years of 1950-1965, over 40,000 patients were treated with LSD, over 1,000 scientific papers were published, and six international conferences on the subject were held. All of the research and treatments ended by 1970 when psychedelic drugs were formally illegalized by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty.

Benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy

Research will continue to build on the topic, but what is out there is certainly promising. In one systematic review from 2020 called Psychedelics and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy, the authors looked at research from 2007-2019, reviewing a total of 161 articles. The most significant results were related to MDMA for the treatment of PTSD and psilocybin for the treatment of depression and anxiety (related to cancer). The authors also noted promising results related to the use of LSD and ayahuasca for mental disorders.

In another systematic review from 2018 titled Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research and Development, the review authors investigated research related to psychotherapy involving psychedelics like ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and ibogaine. Clinical results supported use of these drugs, even for treatment-resistant conditions, and backed-up that psychedelics have proven to be both safe and effective. The review authors also made a point of how psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can challenge the notion of standard diagnostics, saying the model:

“…has important consequences for the diagnostics and explanation axis of the psychiatric crisis, challenging the discrete nosological entities and advancing novel explanations for mental disorders and their treatment, in a model considerate of social and cultural factors, including adversities, trauma, and the therapeutic potential of some non-ordinary states of consciousness.”

Conclusion

Though the coupling of psychedelic drugs and psychotherapy might not technically be a ‘new’ version of treatment, it is new to current generations that were born in the wake pf psychedelic illegalization. In a way, the use of psychedelic-assisted therapy is simply going back to our own relatively recent history. Just imagine how far along research could have been if these drugs had not been illegalized in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened, and now, this old form of therapy, is becoming the new thing once again.

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Resources

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The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowers?  A Complete Look At Cannabis and Depression
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
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The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals. Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021 Denver Residents Vote to Decriminalize “Magic Mushrooms”
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New Jersey Wants Home Cultivation for Cannabis   Nature’s Magic – The Health Benefits of Psilocybin Mushrooms Plant Power: Everyday Plants That Activate the Endocannabinoid System

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The Benefits of Treating Arthritis With Cannabis Topicals

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition characterized by joint swelling, pain, and stiffness, along with a decreased range of motion.

As a consultant for cannabis patients, I often work with those who are suffering from arthritis and looking for alternative ways to manage the painful condition. Often these patients come to me when they have exhausted the conventional options.

When arthritis gets severe, painkillers (such as opiates) are usually the primary treatment that these patients are receiving. But opiates have their limits. Patients adjust to their dose and it has to be continually increased. In some cases, opiates can actually increase sensitivity to pain. Many have already reached the highest allowable dose and will receive less and less relief from the drug as time goes on. Patients who have been relying on that pain relief are suddenly left without any recourse.

Thankfully, cannabis offers new hope for safely and effectively managing arthritis. As a potent painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent, cannabis has helped many with their arthritic symptoms. It can also be used safely in conjunction with opiates, so patients who are still using opiates, or tapering off of them, don’t have to worry about dangerous interactions. Research shows that cannabis use actually allows patients to decrease their opiate use, and in states where cannabis is legally accessible, opiate-related deaths have gone down by 25 percent.

In addition, research suggests that cannabis can do more than just ameliorate the symptoms of the condition, it may also be able to reverse it, leading to increasing improvements in mobility, inflammation and pain. Research shows that arthritis patients actually have a higher level of CB2 receptors in their damaged joints, than most.

One study, conducted in Canada, researched the effects of topical applications of cannabis on rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers behind it believed that saturating the patients CB2 receptors with cannabinoids will not only aid with pain relief but may actually repair the joint damage that has already been done.

Treating Arthritis with cannabis topicals

In my own experience with arthritis patients, topical applications of cannabis have been extremely helpful. Patients often complain that the topical isn’t doing much at first, but with regular saturation, they experience a gradual but significant change in their pain and mobility.

Those looking to try treating arthritis with cannabis topicals should start by finding a topical cannabis product that they can regularly apply. For patients with mild arthritis, you might start with a regular strength topical. I am a big fan of Leafy Botanicals’ hard lotion balm, as well as their massage oil. These topicals not only work well, but they smell delicious, with hints of lavender and rosemary.

For those with more severe arthritis, I recommend Fleurish Farm’s extra strength balm. This incredibly potent product was designed specifically with arthritis sufferers in mind, and I have seen it deliver immediate pain relief to some of the most severe arthritis patients I have worked with. This whipped balm is unscented and made entirely of oils that score a zero on the pore clogging scale, so it is light and hypo-allergenic enough for even the most sensitive skin. It’s also infused with high-quality rosin, a solventless cannabis concentrate, which contains powerful terpenes in addition to the cannabinoids found in most topicals.

Whether you are using topicals, edibles or inhaling it, cannabis can help ease the pain of arthritis and may even lead to long lasting improvements in joint health. If you are one of the 50 million people struggling with daily arthritis pain, cannabis just might be the perfect solution. Talk to an MD who specializes in cannabis to find out if it is right for you.

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MDMA – The New Way to Treat PTSD

For sufferers of PTSD, the world can be a scary place. Modern medicine has attempted many ways to treat the disorder ranging from medications to therapy tactics, but they don’t always work. Building evidence shows that alternative remedies like the psychedelic drug MDMA might be a better long-term answer to treat PTSD.

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What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder, which means it is diagnosed subjectively. It effects people who have gone through a traumatic experience, whether they were actually a part of it, or just witness to it. This can include things like being physically attacked, witnessing atrocities of war, living through natural disasters, or being the target of bullying or psychological abuse. PTSD is diagnosed separately from other anxiety-based mental illnesses based on the experiencing of a traumatic event.

PTSD was known as ‘shell shock’ during World War I, and was referred to as ‘Battle Fatigue’ after world war II. It is associated with disturbing, and often very intense thoughts concerning past traumas. This can include reliving the event in flashbacks or nightmares, fear, sadness, anger, and feelings of detachment and estrangement from other people. Sufferers of PTSD often display strong negative reactions to situations that others would find non-triggering, and may avoid situations or people entirely that remind them of their past trauma.

Subjective diagnoses make for a difficult time adding up statistics, however, according to psychiatry.org, approximately 3.5% of adults in the US suffer from PTSD per year, and its estimated that about one out of every eleven people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Women are the predominant sufferers, outnumbering men 2:1, and the three ethnic groups where PTSD symptoms show up the most in the US, are Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans – all minorities that have experienced a lot of overall violence, intolerance, and general contempt aimed at them throughout history.

medical psychedelics

What is MDMA?

3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, known colloquially as ecstasy, or molly (which is slang for ‘molecular’), is a man made psychoactive drug which is derived from the safrole oil, found primarily in sassafras plants. MDMA has properties of both hallucinogens and stimulants, acting primarily through its interaction with serotonin receptors. It forces the brain to released large amounts of the neurotransmitter, while blocking its reuptake to aid in extra absorption. MDMA comes as either pressed pills, or as a powder that can range from brown to white.

MDMA is known for promoting a feeling of connectedness between people, of reducing fear and anxiety, and increasing feelings of empathy. It was created by Merck Pharmaceutical back in 1912, however its effects were not well understood until the 1970’s when chemist Alexander Shulgin created a new method to synthesize the drug, and tested it out along with a few of his psychotherapist friends. This is around when it started being used in psychotherapy practices, as a treatment method coupled with therapy sessions, known as psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Despite showing usefulness in dealing with mental disorders, MDMA was illegalized in 1985. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan’s administration enacted the Comprehensive Crime Control Act which allowed for emergency banning of drugs by the government. When the subject of MDMA came up in 1985, after other psychedelic drugs had already been illegalized, this act was used to immediately illegalize the compound by placing it in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty, ending therapeutic uses of it.

The illegalization of psychedelics started with smear campaigns during the Vietnam war which culminated in the passage of the Staggers-Dodd bill in 1968 illegalizing LSD and psilocybin specifically. This was followed up with the creation of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty in 1971 which outlawed most of the rest, with the exception of MDMA, which was outlawed later.

While the topic is obviously a controversial one, statements made by John Ehrlichman – former Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Nixon in 1994, made evident that the war on drugs wasn’t necessarily about drugs at all. Creating further concerns about why drugs like MDMA were illegalized. In his statement he claimed:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people… We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

MDMA treat PTSD

MDMA to treat PTSD

So, what do we really know about the ability of MDMA to treat PTSD symptoms? In 2020, a systematic review was released that investigated articles published up until the end of March 2019, that used key terms like ‘treatments for PTSD’ and ‘MDMA pathway’. All articles came through PubMed and ScienceDirect.

It was found in the identification and review of these articles (and their sources) that many small scale investigations had been done that show MDMA aids in reducing psychological trauma. The review authors made a very important point, though. They emphasized that none of the research showed MDMA as a cure for PTSD, as that specifically had not been researched.  What the review was identifying, and what had been studied, was the usefulness of MDMA assisted psychotherapy, and its ability to help people who have been unable to resolve their trauma issues through other avenues.

The big story today with MDMA revolves around currently in-progress trials. As of last summer, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) had begun Phase 3 of clinical trials into MDMA. MAPS is conducting double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials at multiple sites, testing the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. The participants are 200-300 PTSD sufferers who are all 18+ in age, but with varied histories to produce their traumatic experiences.

These trials follow the Phase II trials which had promising outcomes, and are the last hurdle required by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in order to be assessed for legalization in the treatment of PTSD. Should it get the pass, MDMA would be able to be prescribed along with therapy, in outpatient settings with residential stays – to allow users to have their experience in a safe and controlled environment.

How likely is the FDA to approve MDMA to treat PTSD? It is, after all, a psychedelic drug in Schedule I, which defines it as highly dangerous with no therapeutic value. Apparently, back in 2017, the FDA identified MDMA as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ for PTSD.

The FDA defines a ‘breakthrough therapy’ as a “drug that treats a serious or life-threatening condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement on a clinically significant endpoint(s) over available therapies.” This definition is meant to help speed up research progress in order to get products to market. In 2019, the same designation was made by the FDA for psilocybin in magic mushrooms.

medical MDMA

More about MAPS Phase 3 trials

Phase 3 trials were designed according to an agreed upon Special Protocol Assessment between MAPS and the FDA to make sure trials and outcomes would be in line with regulation. The trials take place at 15 different sites between three countries: the US, Canada, and Israel. Participants receive three therapy sessions with either MDMA or placebo over a 12-week therapy period, along with three preparatory sessions and three integration sessions, without any drugs. The MDMA/placebo sessions are spaced every 3-5 weeks.

The (CAPS-5) – Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale – is the primary measurement tool for success in the study. This is a loosely structured interview used in most PTSD trials, and requires assessment by raters who are ‘blinded’, or do not know where the study participant falls in terms of actual drug or placebo. The study investigators will use other measurement tools as well including, but not limited to: Beck Depression Inventory and Inventory of Psychosocial Functioning.

‘Phase 3’, of course, implies that this is not the beginning of the study. Phase 2 findings of the study indicate the following about MDMA and its ability to treat PTSD: it can cause a reduction in fear and defensiveness; increase introspection and communication, as well as empathy and compassion; and generally improves the therapeutic experience of those suffering from PTSD. Phase 2 consisted of 107 patients.

Two months following the MDMA-assisted treatment in Phase 2, 61% of patients were no longer identified as having PTSD. One year following treatment, 68% no longer qualified as PTSD. All participants had chronic PTSD that was treatment resistant, and had been suffered from for an average of almost 18 years.

Conclusion

It’s getting heated in the race to see which psychedelic drug gets the first US medical legalization (as the US so often sets the standard for other parts of the world). Psilocybin from magic mushrooms is certainly making waves, but it looks like MDMA might take the win. With the FDA already drooling at the mouth to approve, and the pharmaceutical world getting its ducks in a row, it looks like very shortly MDMA will officially be approved to treat PTSD, with a change in global legalization measures likely to follow.

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Resources

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The New Italian Cannabis Contradiction
Delta 8 Flowers – Milder Than Cannabis, But Very Relaxing and Uplifting
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowers?  Delta-8 THC Flowers: Everything You Need To Know.
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
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The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals. Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021 Denver Residents Vote to Decriminalize “Magic Mushrooms”
Cannabis and the South: How Things Change Plant Power: Everyday Plants That Activate the Endocannabinoid System Ask A Doctor – General CBD/PTSD Discussion
The New Rise of Medical Psychedelics
New Jersey Wants Home Cultivation for Cannabis   Is Medical Cannabis A Solution For Veteran PTSD Suicide Epidemic? Nature’s Magic – The Health Benefits of Psilocybin Mushrooms

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Can LSD Treat Your Mental Illness?

For several decades, psychedelics have been uniformly outlawed, with massive campaigns from the late 1900’s used to raise fear and controversy over their effects. Now, as the world acclimates to the medical and recreational use of cannabis, psychedelics are being looked at once again for their medical benefits. In fact, one of the leading points of research is the use of LSD to treat mental illness.

When it comes to psychedelics, cannabis is one of the most popular, and its not hard to see why. THC has medical benefits and makes people feel good. However, for some people, regular THC is just too much. If you’re one of those people, check out our Delta-8 THC deals, and experience THC with slightly less psychoactive effect, and less anxiety.

What is LSD?

LSD, known more scientifically as Lysergic acid diethylamide, is a hallucinogenic psychedelic drug, which was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman. He was also the first person to experience its effects when he accidentally ingested a small amount in 1943. As a psychedelic, it is known for altering perception, feelings, and thoughts, as well as causing visions and sensations that are not actually there (hallucinations). LSD is in a class of drugs called ergolines which are often used to treat disorders like Parkinson’s. Unlike some compounds like DMT, LSD is manmade, though derived from the ergot fungus.

How exactly LSD works to cause the effects its associated with, is still not completely defined. However, certain aspects have been found in research. In one study put out in 2017 from the University of North Carolina, it was found that LSD interacts with serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in mood and brain communication. The particular receptor it effects is called 5-HT2AR. One of the interesting things that happens when LSD attaches to this receptor, is that the receptor closes over the molecule, preventing it from leaving quickly. This could very well explain why the drug can last for many hours, even after it has left the bloodstream.

The serotonin receptor it attaches to can activate two signaling pathways through G-proteins and β-arrestins within cells. With LSD, it primarily works through the β-arrestins. The researchers on this study found that different drugs in the ergoline group effect serotonin receptors differently, and found evidence that the compounds themselves can modify the structure of the receptor in order to activate different effects.

Research

There has actually been plenty of research into how LSD can aide in the treatment of mental illness. Back in 2014, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done to investigate how safe and effective LSD is in treating the anxiety experienced by patients with life-threatening illnesses.

12 patients were used in the study, and they were given drug-free psychotherapy sessions, along with two psychotherapy sessions with LSD. A two-month follow-up showed a positive trend according to the (STAI) State-Trait Anxiety Inventory in terms of reductions in trait and state anxiety. The reductions in anxiety related to the LSD were sustained for 12 months. No serious adverse effects were noticed, and minimal adverse effects subsided within one day. The overall outcome of the study was LSD safely decreased anxiety.

In a systematic review of LSD in psychiatry, 11 studies were identified  concerning LSD and mental health that consisted of randomized and controlled clinical trials. These were done between the years of 1950-1970 when it was not illegal to use LSD in medical testing, and when LSD was regularly studied for use with addiction, anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic diseases. As part of the 11 studies that made the cut, 567 subjects were administered LSD in doses of 20 to 800 micrograms. The overall finding was that LSD has positive results in psychiatric symptoms, particularly for alcoholism. A grand majority of the study authors from the review cited positive, if short-term, improvements. This was not always seen in long-term follow-ups.

LSD in the treatment of mental illness today

Yet another systematic review was done on studies into LSD from after 1970. This review, called the Modern Clinical Research on LSD was published in 2017. The review looked at five recent studies in London, Zurich and Basel. All studies were placebo controlled. The London studies were single-blind, non-randomized, the Switzerland studies were randomized, double-blind. In all studies, low-moderate doses of LSD were used between 40-80 micrograms. (It takes about 100-200 micrograms for a full LSD effect).

In terms of subjective effects according to validated psychometric scales, the response in controlled settings was mainly positive. Average group ratings for liking the drug and having positive effects reached 90% of the maximum possible on the VAS scale after 200 micrograms had been administered. At 200 micrograms, only a small percentage increase was made for the average of those who had a negative drug effect (<25%), however negative ratings did go up with the increase.

No high levels of anxiety or panic occurred, necessitating no sedation of patients to stave off negative effects. The main feelings experienced during testing were: bliss, altered perceptions, audiovisual synesthesia (think crossed wires and mixed-up responses), and derealization and depersonalization in positive ways. Higher doses included more insightfulness.

LSD for mental illness

In terms of the synesthesia, LSD produced spontaneous experiences, indicating it alters spontaneous processes, rather than creating an induced response. At under 100 micrograms, LSD promoted suggestibility, and at 200 micrograms it inspired mystical experiences during psychotherapy combined with LSD. Similar studies that have been done on psilocybin have shown that more intense mystical experiences are tied to long-term positive benefits.

However, these mystical effects were correlated at a high level with blissful states as well, meaning the long-term response could be more related to blissful experiences than mystical ones. In these studies, LSD promoted feelings of happiness, well-being, openness, closeness to other people, and trust.

In terms of negative effects, they generally didn’t last more than 10-24 hours, and included headache, difficulty with concentration, decrease in appetite, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, exhaustion and feeling unbalanced. No severe adverse responses were noticed in any of the modern testing. LSD, in general, is considered non-toxic physically.

Why is it illegal?

When looking at all the positive scientific research, and the lack of detrimental side effects, it starts to look very strange that LSD has been illegalized, while pharmaceutical medications to treat the same things often have lower success rates and harsher side effects. While the US government might stick with a tagline of psychedelics being dangerous and having no medical value, there is another underlying story which makes a bit more sense.

LSD and psilocybin were first illegalized in the late 60’s after a years long smear campaign which coincided with the Vietnam war. America was off fighting a battle that didn’t technically involve it, and causing a massive death toll, and unspeakable and unnecessary violence and destruction to residents of Vietnam.

There was already a pretty heavy anti-war movement during that time. Want to speculate on how much bigger and harder to control that would’ve been if the country was focusing on the war as it should have been? The question of why America wanted to be in that war so badly is a whole debate in and of itself, but regardless of the ‘why’s, there are still some heavy truths. In 1994, a guy named John Ehrlichman, who had been the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs in Nixon’s administration, made this statement:

psychedelics

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Is it really any wonder that in 1968 the US passed the Staggers-Dodd bill illegalizing both LSD and psilocybin? Or that in 1971 the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty gave it a Schedule I ranking? And is it really any wonder that this was heavily pushed for by richer countries with developed pharmaceutical industries, while poorer countries that didn’t have industries that could benefit the same way, were against the illegalization?

What now?

Things can change easily from good to bad, but they can also change from bad to good. Growing scrutiny towards agencies like the DEA for blocking scientific discovery in order to restrict access, and a renewed interest in medical testing, has re-opened the door which had been closed on LSD. Last month, the company MindMed even announced the beginning of the very first clinical trial ever to incorporate LSD and MDMA to test the possible benefits in dealing with mental illness.

Mindmed is a biotech company specializing in medicines and therapies using psychedelics. The trials are being done in Switzerland, which has been the base for a lot of psychedelics testing. Considering it’s a biotech company doing them, the logic answer would be that they want to make a product to sell eventually. My guess is, by the time they’re ready, it’ll be more legal globally to make LSD products to treat mental illness. After all, think about how fast the cannabis industry changed in the last few years.

Conclusion

The ongoing legalizations of cannabis, which is also a psychedelic, though a much less intense one, do signal a change in things. LSD has shown a spectacular profile for aiding in mental illness, with so few adverse reactions, that its silly what people are taking instead. It’s hard to say what the future holds, but it might very soon be the legalization for LSD medically.

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The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowersDelta-8 THC Flowers: Everything You Need To Know.
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
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The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals.  Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021 Gallup Poll Finds Americans Use CBD Mostly For Pain Management
Using CBG To Treat Clinical Depression The New Rise of Medical Psychedelics America Is Cannabis Friendly – It’s Official
A Complete Look At Cannabis and Depression
Will Cannabis Tourism Be Over in Amsterdam?   Compared to Prescription Medication, Medical Cannabis Not Always Affordable Alternative
CBD’s Role in the Treatment of Multiple Mental Health Disorders

The post Can LSD Treat Your Mental Illness? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Florida Bill Aims to Legalize Medical Magic Mushrooms

For the last several decades, it was almost unthinkable to consider what Florida lawmakers are now considering. In light of the recent flurry to change legal restrictions on cannabis, the psychedelic field is starting to get its own flurry of attention. With new research coming out to back the medical properties, a Florida lawmaker produced a bill that aims to legalize magic mushrooms for medicinal purposes.

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What are magic mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms are a group of fungi that grow wild or are cultivated, that contain the compound psilocybin. Some of the mushroom genera that fit into this category include: Panaeolus, Conocybe, and Psilocybe – the most well-known.

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic and psychoactive compound. Much like LSD it is a serotonergic psychedelic, which means it activates serotonin receptors in the brain. Albert Hoffmann, the same guy who brought us LSD in 1938, was also the first guy to isolate psilocybin in 1958. As hallucinogens, magic mushrooms can cause users to see, hear, and physically feel things that are not actually there. Psilocybin is also associated with feeling euphoric, altering mood, altering perception, an intensified sense of connection to other people, distortion in time and reality, a high level of introspection, and spiritual experiences.

Mushrooms can be dried out before being consumed, or eaten raw, and effects can last about six hours. Psilocybin is a Schedule I compound according to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a drug scheduling treaty, much like the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances treaty which was signed in 1961. Schedule I on both treaties denote a dangerous drug with no medical value.

Florida legalize magic mushrooms

Is it legal?

Psilocybin in technically banned due to being in Schedule I of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty. The treaty is an international UN treaty from 1971 that sets legal guidelines for drugs throughout the world. It was originally illegalized in the US in 1968 with the Staggers-Dodd bill, before becoming illegal all over the world through the scheduling treaty, which ignored all medical benefit of the compound.

However, this is not the whole story. While psilocybin and psilocin (another psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms) are Schedule I drugs, the mushrooms themselves are not regulated under any treaty, and are part of longstanding medical, religious, and spiritual traditions all over the world. In a letter dated September 13, 2001, Herbert Schaepe – the secretary of the board for the (INCB) International Narcotics Control Board, which is the independent body that monitors the implementation for the UN’s International drug treaties – specified the following to the Dutch Ministry of Health:

“As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention.”  

Where are they legal in the US?

In fact, different countries have different legalization policies for mushrooms, making a disconnect between the UN treaty, and individual laws of countries. In the US, mushrooms are illegal under federal law, however there are already states with decriminalization policies in place, including: Ann arbor, Michigan; Denver, Colorado; Oakland and Santa Cruz in California; and Washington DC. Psilocybin was legalized in Oregon during the 2020 presidential election, for the treatment of mental health disorders, under supervision. Oregon even decriminalized its recreational use, along with several other drugs, under Measure 110. All of this went into effect on February 1st 2021.

On November 3rd, 2020, Oregon passed Measure 109, making it the first US state to legalize psilocybin use medically. The state has two years to complete an operational regulation structure. The law, which passed with 56% of the vote by Oregon voters, will allow adults 21+ to have access to psilocybin products for ‘personal development’ so long as they pass a screening. This would take place only in licensed facilities. It should be remembered that Oregon already allows legal adult-use marijuana through Measure 91 which was approved back in 2014.

New Florida bill to legalize magic mushrooms

Oregon isn’t the only state to update its view on magic mushrooms and psilocybin. Last month, Florida House Representative Michael Grieco introduced a bill that would legalize magic mushrooms (psilocybin) medicinally for people with mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Called the Florida Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act, it calls for the creation of state-funded clinics where micro-dosing of psilocybin by licensed professionals, can be done. The magic mushroom experience would take place with the health care professional, and the patient would be offered a counseling session afterwards as well. Said Grieco:

“When people think of ‘magic mushrooms,’ they think of listening to Pink Floyd and tie-dye T-shirts, but we should take this seriously… We have veterans and Floridians who have deep depression and post-traumatic stress disorder who are resistant to other medications.”

psychedelic medicine

His 59-page proposal is partially based on Oregon’s aforementioned bill that legalized psilocybin for medicinal use. It should be noted, that while psilocybin and magic mushrooms are illegal federally in the US, the US (FDA) Food & Drug Administration twice in 2019 made the designation of psilocybin as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ for major depression.

This isn’t just cute wording either. Giving such a designation is meant to quicken development for medications. As per the FDA, “A breakthrough therapy designation is for a drug that treats a serious or life-threatening condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement on a clinically significant endpoint(s) over available therapies.”

What about Connecticut, California, New Jersey and Hawaii?

Not every state to introduce a new measure, is introducing one as extreme as the Florida bill that would legalize magic mushrooms medicinally. However, on February 18th, 2021, California democratic Senator Scott Weiner introduced a bill that would decriminalize psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, LSD, ketamine, MDMA, mescaline, and DMT for both personal and therapeutic use in California.

The bill actually specifically excludes peyote, since its considered an endangered plant which is highly important to Native American traditions. This is not the same as what Florida is proposing, or that Oregon has with Measure 109, but it would make the possession and use of these drugs not a criminal offense. The bill would also expunge the criminal records of those who had psychedelic possession convictions.

Said Weiner, “The war on drugs has been a complete failure… It hasn’t stopped people from using drugs and it hasn’t stopped addiction.” This idea was expanded on by policy and advocacy counsel Ismail Lourido Ali of (MAPS) Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, who said:

medical psychedelics

“Psychedelic use can come with some risks, but criminalization only increases those risks by creating an unregulated market in which difficult-to-verify dosages and the presence of adulterants like fentanyl threaten public health.”

Then there’s Connecticut where Representative Josh Elliot, along with four other legislators, put forth a bill that would create a task force for researching the medical benefits of psilocybin. This is significantly more limited than California’s bill, but shows a definite interest in knowing more about psilocybin and how it can help.

Both California and Connecticut are following in line with Hawaii which introduced bill SB 738 at the end of January 2021, which would legalize magic mushrooms for therapeutic use. The bill would also officially remove both psilocybin and psilocyn from Hawaii’s Schedule I drug list. The bill is not otherwise terribly specific, literally saying only that the Department of Heath will adopt rules to go along with the law.

And don’t forget New Jersey! On February 4th, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy – who has done quite a bit to pass cannabis legalization measures in New Jersey, signed a bill that works to semi-decriminalize magic mushroom use. The law took effect immediately, and downgraded up to one ounce of psilocybin from a third-degree crime, to a ‘disorderly person’s offense’. It’s not a true decriminalization in that users can still end up with six-month jail sentences and $1,000 in fines. However, this is much better than the previous three-five years in prison.

Conclusion

It’s hard to say if the new Florida bill to legalize medical magic mushrooms will go through, but if it doesn’t this time, it’ll have that much more push the second time around. Plus, with state after state adopting new decriminalization and medical legalization policies for psilocybin, and psychedelics in general, it seems that just like with cannabis, we might see a very quick shift to psychedelic acceptance.

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The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowersDelta-8 THC Flowers: Everything You Need To Know.
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The New Rise of Medical Psychedelics

As the battle for cannabis legalization continues globally, the re-acquaintance to its medical use has reopened the door for other drugs that have also been labeled as narcotics, or scheduled so that people have no access to their medical benefits. One of the major classes of drugs that has shown great promise therapeutically, is psychedelics. With a greater level of liberal acceptance, there has been a recent rise in the medical use of psychedelics.

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What are psychedelics?

A psychedelic is a drug containing psychoactive compounds capable of altering a person’s mood, perception and cognition. This can include naturally occurring and man-made substances. Examples of psychedelics include: mescaline, which can be found in San Pedro cactus and peyote; DMT, one of the main ingredients in ayahuasca; LSD; and psilocybin, which is what makes magic mushrooms so magical.

Psychedelics are known to produce life-altering experiences, wherein the user can find insights into life and consciousness. It are these attributes that have been the main instigator for the recent rise in research of medical psychedelics.

Psychedelics, much like cannabis (which is technically a psychedelic), occur naturally in different plants around the globe, and have been used for millennia in different ceremonial, religious, and medical practices throughout history. Unlike cannabis, they were not all outlawed together in one sweeping move, but rather, became illegalized over time. In the US, the criminalization of psychedelics started in 1968 with the Staggers-Dodd bill which specifically illegalized LSD and psilocybin.

The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more scientific term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted less to be scientific, however, and more to allow the field to operate without the stigma attached to psychedelics from the smear campaigns of the 1960’s. The term entheogen comes from Greek where it means ‘building the god within’.

LSD

History of illegalization

When it comes to the illegalization of cannabis, it is becoming understood more widely that there was more to it than a fear for public safety. The entire movement to illegalize was spearheaded in the government by Harry Anslinger, with media giant William Randolph Heart pushing the anti-hemp movement from outside, in an effort to kill the enemy of his paper industry.

Some might see it as a similar manner of business, when psychedelics were demonized in the 60’s and70’s, as when cannabis was in the 1930’s onward. In the case of psychedelics, much of the news, controversy, and general story around them, took place during the Vietnam war, and served as a good distraction from the horrible ridiculousness of that mess and the unnecessary violence and deaths that came from it. Think about what actually came out of that war. The nothingness that was accomplished in the face of the massive death toll that was taken. How easy is it to get your population to go along with such antics? And would focusing on the truth of it have made it a harder sell?

In 1970, the US congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which enforced stricter measures for pharmaceutical companies, requiring stringent reporting, and better security of drug stocks. These aren’t bad things, of course, but they led to the current model of drug scheduling, which has, essentially and with much bias, ruled many drugs out.

The Single Convention on Narcotic Substances is a treaty that was formed out of international discussions concerning drug controls in 1970. This was followed up with the Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971, a similar treaty which also orders drugs into classes based on their potential level of harm and usefulness. In both treaties, schedule I is associated with the most dangerous drugs with no medical benefit, but a high addiction possibility, and schedule IV denotes safer drugs with medical purpose. Psychedelics took the schedule I spot in 1970, ruling out their use as medicines.

Putting psychedelics in this scheduling category seems to have been the result of industry issues, much like with cannabis. During the discussions for the treaties, bigger and more developed countries with bigger and more developed pharmaceutical industries, pushed for the illegalization of these natural compounds, whereas countries with less development, and which didn’t have competing industries, were not for their illegalization. As with cannabis, the bigger, stronger countries won out, and forced these decisions on everyone else.

In fact, in 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under Nixon, made this statement about the war on drugs that was fought under Nixon, highlighting an alternate reason for pushing anti-drug measures at that time:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

And then it got worse. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan’s administration put out the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which allowed for emergency banning of drugs by the government. This was put into effect the following year when the subject of MDMA came up, and was used to immediately illegalize it. And this despite a judge’s decision to schedule it as Schedule III, and allow it for medical use. This action entirely stymied any research progress into the drugs, and slowed the rise of medical psychedelics to a halt.

magic mushrooms

Psychedelics in history

As with anything else, putting together the history of psychedelic use in antiquity, is dependent on ancient texts, findings, and rituals. While there is a current rise in the use of medical psychedelics, this does not imply that they were used for the same exact purpose back then, as they are today.

One of the interesting finds related to psychedelics, is the discovery of a pouch in southwestern Bolivia, dated to a thousand years ago. The pouch contains traces of several psychedelic compounds including harmine and DMT (dimethyltryptamine) which denote the use of ayahuasca, bufotenine (from toad skin), and psilocin – another psychedelic constituent of magic mushrooms. The pouch also contained traces of cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine, which would have likely come from coca leaves.

The discovery came from the Sora River Valley. The pouch – made of three fox snouts – was part of the contents of a leather bag, which mass spectrometry carbon dating has put between the years of 900-1100 CE. It is thought that because of the dating period, that the pouch likely belonged to a member of the Tiwanaku, which pre-dated the Incas. The use of ayahuasca denotes the earliest evidence of it that has been physically found.

The reason this part is interesting is because the two compounds that were found that ayahuasca is made from, come from two separate plants that work in combination to produce the effects. This means that the ancient population this comes from, was putting two plants together to gain a psychoactive effect that wouldn’t be felt if they were used on their own. Another interesting aspect of the find is that the plants used to make ayahuasca were not from that area, so whoever procured them, had to go out and find them somewhere else.

Other findings

According to this study, Mayan culture is associated with the drinking of balché, a drink consisting of Lonchocarpus bark extracts that create a mildly intoxicating effect, which is strengthened through the use of honey. This was used in group ceremonies to reach intoxication. Peyote for mescaline, hallucinogenic mushrooms for psylocibin, and ololiuhqui seeds for lysergic acid amide (a precursor to LSD), were used by the Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs, and Zapotecs.

During the period when the Olmecs were around, it was also customary to use bufotoxins which come from the skin of the Bufo spp. toad. At the same time, wild tobacco, Jimson weed, Salvia divinorum, and water lily were used for psychoactive effects. And while the exact use is arguable, mushroom stones dating back to 3,000 BC have been found in the Mesoamerican region in religious/ritual contexts which could indicate the use of mushrooms that far back. Archeological evidence of the use of peyote goes back as far as 5,000 years.

Mesoamerica isn’t the only location where psychedelic remains have been found. Researchers into psychedelic use in the near-East have turned up botanical remains in the form of residues, pollen, fibers and fiber impressions, and carbonized seeds. Where were they found? Traces of Blue Water Lily extract, a potent narcotic plant, were found in none other than Tutonkamen’s tomb from the 14th century BC. And in the late bronze age temple Kamid el-Loz in Lebanon, a storage jar containing 10 liters of Viper’s Bugloss was found, which is a very strong hallucinogen.

Things to consider…

One thing to take into account, is that there is a great amount of controversy over whether something like the use of ayahuasca can actually be traced back through history, with a lot of evidence pointing to confusing stories that come more from Western tourism, than actual history. Researchers into the topic have continually found a mesh of newer ideologies masquerading as old-school folklore as a means to sell a product. In fact, the whole idea of how ayahuasca is used today to treat mental illness, is not how it seems to have been used in history, when shamans took it to contact the supernatural, and battle evil beings.

psychedelic toad

Does this mean that psychedelics weren’t used in history? Of course not, but it does shed light on the idea that what we consider real history, might have been altered because of tourism. It should also be remembered that there are a lot of kinds of psychedelics that would have factored into different cultures and time periods. For example, the aforementioned study into hallucinogenic drug use in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica, which has findings based on archeological, ethno-historical, and ethnographic evidence, found plenty of indication of hallucinogenic drug use in that area, for that time period.

Rise of medical psychedelics

There is quite a bit of medical research into psychedelics, as well as historical evidence to its uses, going back thousands of years. According to the more recent medical research, psychedelics have shown a possible ability to aid in depression, PTSD, and with addictions. It should be remembered that cannabis itself is considered a psychedelic drug, with research into a multitude of categories including: insomnia, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, spastic disorders, inflammatory diseases and so on.

Psychedelics have not just been touted as a treatment for different mental illness. They have shown strength in dealing with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and have even shown possibility in treating autoimmune disorders. If these benefits prove consistent over time, it will likely help boost the current rise in medical psychedelics.

However, despite all the relevant research into the useful benefits of these compounds, the DEA has continuously rejected information, and stood in the way of scientific progress. Kind of makes a person wonder what the agency is even there for. The report highlighted found that the DEA has continuously slowed down scheduling decisions, while increasing speed on banning drugs, in order to restrict all access.

It took an entire 30 years in all to respond to requests to reschedule marijuana, with gaps of 16 years, five, and nine in between requests and responses. The DEA even overruled its own judge to illegalize MDMA by putting it in schedule I. This, of course, has never gotten in the way of military testing of these compounds, which seems to be perfectly okay with the same agency.

Conclusion

With cannabis opening the door into the medical (and recreational) use of drugs like marijuana, the rise in medical psychedelics is sure to keep going. Just like with cannabis, it will likely be found over time, that the notions we have related to these drugs are way more attached to long-lasting smear campaigns, than the actual dangers they pose. And that just like cannabis, they can offer incredible medical benefits that have been suppressed for quite some time now.

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Cannabis and the South: How Things Change

When it comes to the North vs the South in America, there is usually a pretty evident divide when it comes to social issues. From abortion to religion in schools to drugs, the South is generally slower to adopt new policies. In the case of cannabis and the south, a lot of change has happened in the last few years, signaling a massive shift in overall public perspective.

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Sometimes change comes slow to the South, and this is evident from resistance to legalized abortion, pushing religion being taught in schools, letting go of slavery (let’s not forget that one), and the decriminalization and legalization of different drugs. But even those slow with the pickup, eventually come around. Whether it’s the changing of society through new generations being born, or the insertion of new information that changes minds. Whatever the case here, and as highlighted by the last election, how cannabis is viewed in the South, has seen much change and improvement in the last few years.

The last US election, and what is the ‘South’?

The last US election was quite the circus, with a persistent battle that continued after results were in, as to who actually won. As it stands, Joe Biden was officially sworn in to the white house in January, effectively ending that conundrum. But perhaps bigger news than a post-election presidential standoff, is the inclusion of several more states when it comes to cannabis legalization. In fact, for the first time, it became evident that cannabis is no longer shunned in the South, with new laws reflecting this change in perspective.

It wasn’t just the South that saw these changes. Four new states became legal for cannabis recreationally: Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and New Jersey. On the medical front, South Dakota (pulling double duty) and Mississippi joined the ranks of the legal for medical use group. Of all these states to change policy, the one that stands out the most, is Mississippi.

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Why is Mississippi interesting? Because it’s a southern state, and the only southern state to be on the list of changed state policies for this past election. When talking about southern states, there is not actually a strict definition. Being a ‘southern state’ does not necessarily mean being in the south of the country as California, New Mexico, and Arizona, all of which are touching Mexican borders, are not considered part of the south. On the other hand, West Virginia, which isn’t really all that south, is generally included in southern states. The following are considered the southern states of America: South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, Florida, and Texas.

Many people define the ‘South’ simply by the inclusion of states that fought for the confederacy during the civil war. This is in contrast to the US federal government which includes Delaware, Washington, DC, and Oklahoma.

Then there’s the deep south states, also known as “the Cotton States”, since these states relied on cotton farming prior to the civil war. The deep south only applies to the southeastern corner of the country, and includes: Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. These states were the biggest supporters of slavery, and keeping it intact.

Where is the South now with cannabis?

The first thing to know, is that of the 15 States, one district, and two territories (Guam and Mariana Islands) that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, none of this exists in the South, no matter how it is defined. So far, all progress made in cannabis legalization in the South, has to do with a change to medicinal legalization policies and decriminalization policies.

For the purpose of this article, we will not use the federal government’s definition of the South, but the one more generally used that I listed above, so Delaware, Washington, DC, and Oklahoma are out. The southern states that have legalized for medicinal use so far are: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Texas (kind of), and Mississippi.

In terms of decriminalization measures, the following southern states have some sort of cannabis decriminalization, though what this means varies greatly by location: Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee (partially) and Virginia. Of the southern states, Maryland, Mississippi, and Virginia have both a full medical legalization, and a decriminalization measure.

The biggest holdouts for cannabis legalization are in the South, highlighting how some places change more slowly. Southern states where cannabis is completely illegal (or close to it) are: South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Medical cannabis

Of course, the interesting part is that even these holdout states, aren’t as illegal as we generally think they are. In fact, no US state is totally cannabis illegal since the last farm bill, and the only state to have no written cannabis policies on the books is Idaho (which isn’t a part of the South, but is even more cannabis unfriendly than Kentucky.)

I’ll start with Texas, even though I didn’t put it on the holdout list. Texas has no formal medical policy, but it did approve limited medical use in 2015, which was expanded in 2019, and it does have licensing for cultivation and sale. In that sense it kind of does have a real medical policy, but the limitations of it are what keep Texas on this list.

In South Carolina there’s Julian’s Law which allows very limited use for people with certain kinds of epilepsy that do not respond to standard treatments. It applies only to CBD, and is vague about cultivation and sale, meaning there isn’t technically a solidly legal way to obtain such medications. So though there is technically a legal protection offered through the law, the gray area of the law still allows for patients to get in trouble.

Alabama Carly’s Law, which allows for an affirmative defense for having CBD oil for debilitating diseases, and Leni’s Law, which expanded on this allowance to any individual with seizures where a doctor recommended the use of CBD oil.

Kentucky really is a very restrictive state. In fact, the only legal cannabis option is CBD oil, which was legalized to a sort of gray area in 2014, with a doctor’s recommendation, and under clinical trials specifically at the University of Kentucky.

This does not include the ability to produce and sell, nor is it a standard law as it relates to clinical trials. However, because it exists, Kentucky does outdo Idaho, making the most restrictive state, not in the South! In 2020, a medical legalization bill was introduced, but never made it through because of corona. Representative Jason Nemes, stated he will resubmit the bill again in 2021.

Tennessee – This is an interesting state, because while the population overwhelmingly wants both medical and recreational legalizations, the state does not support an overall voter initiation policy, meaning a ballot measure cannot be started by citizens, only by the government, which has repeatedly shut down legalization bills. Having said that, Tennessee does, as of 2015, allow the use of high-CBD oil for seizure sufferers, although much like South Carolina, there are no laws to govern a regulated system.

recreational cannabis

Another thing about Tennessee is that it did pass bills for decriminalization in Nashville and Memphis, only to have them repealed. While the repeal was meant to prevent local governments from making any further decriminalization bills, that was not the case, and as of July 2020, Nashville was successful in partially decriminalizing recreational cannabis, in that minor possession charges will no longer be prosecuted.

Georgia is on the list because it tends to come up on these lists, but this too, is incorrect. Georgia is actually a bit like Virginia. It passed a bill in 1980 for the medical use of cannabis for cancer and glaucoma patients, but essentially never acted on it, leaving it sitting for about 30 years. In 2015, Haleigh’s Hope Act was passed allowing medical marijuana for certain illnesses. This was expanded on in the next few years, but only in 2019 was a bill passed to set up a regulated market for in-state cultivation and sale of low-THC cannabis products.

What this means

What it means is that, while we often talk about how parts of America are still completely cannabis illegal, this actually isn’t true at all. What it comes down to, is that Kentucky is the most restrictive, having no real medical policy, but still isn’t 100% cannabis illegal. The only 100% cannabis illegal locations are not in the South at all.

This doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, as there is plenty of that. All of the states mentioned today are, indeed, very strict about cannabis policies, but to say that cannabis is fully illegal in them, is completely untrue at this point. It also means that out of 50 states, one district, and five territories, Idaho and American Samoa are the only ones that don’t allow any form of cannabis under any circumstances, and Kentucky is right behind, with about the flimsiest policy out there.

I should take a second to point out the difference between a full medical legalization, like Pennsylvania or Florida, and a bill that legalizes certain and specific things, like in Kentucky or South Carolina. The latter two have laws on the books that allow medical cannabis, but they are highly specific, and have no actual regulated market in which these legalizations can be useful. In that sense, they aren’t real medical programs at all. But Idaho doesn’t even have that, and neither does American Samoa, and that is still a big difference. Pennsylvania and Florida have fully functioning medical cannabis policies, complete with regulation systems, dispensaries, and laws of protection for users.

Conclusion

A whole article could be written on why cannabis policy in the South has seen less change than in other locations, but that’s a story for another time. The more important aspect to ‘why’, is the idea that the ‘why’ is changing. At this rate, it’s not weird to think that all of these states will get past their issues in the next few years, and it’s even quite possible that Virginia will give us the first recreationally legal state in the South.

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France To Give Out Cannabis for Free

Okay, it’s an admittedly vague title, but it’s still true. France’s upcoming medical pilot program involves supplying medical cannabis to patients for free, and though the program was postponed, France just released the companies that won the bid to supply this free marijuana.

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Let’s be honest, France is not the most liberal when it comes to marijuana. Unlike its neighbors Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany, France does not allow for any decriminalization, personal use, or medical legalization measures. In fact, not only is France still rather conservative when it comes to cannabis, but the country was willing to allow a whole lawsuit with the EU (which it lost) just to keep CBD out. (Of course, this move was likely for the protection of pharmaceutical interests, but we’ll get into that later.) Now, with the recent announcement of a medical pilot program, France is promising to give out cannabis for free, and already lined up the companies that will provide it.

France and cannabis

The idea that France is about to give away cannabis for free is certainly a 180⁰ turn from its current laws. It is illegal to both use and possess cannabis in France. France doesn’t even make a designation between personal possession and trafficking, meaning how a case is treated is determined by the amount of cannabis in question, and what the prosecutor decides. So, if a person happens to get caught with a bunch of marijuana for their own personal medical use, it could actually be determined as trafficking. Punishments range from fines of €3,750 – €75,000, and prison sentences of 1-5 years. Cultivation is also illegal as use and possession are illegal, and no medical program exists…yet.

Selling and supply crimes are always illegal, and in France a person can incur 5-10 years in prison, along with a fine. If an offender has been found to be part of a criminal organization for trafficking, they can face life in prison, and a €7.5 million fine.

France and cannabis

In 2018, as more and more countries relaxed their cannabis policies, France stepped it up a notch, handing out on-the-spot fines to users. Something that started out as a test in small communities before being enforced as a federal policy. The fines certainly aren’t paltry, with those caught being forced to pay €200, although the amount can be decreased to €150 if paid within two weeks, and increased to €450, if left outstanding for over 45 days. Though the excuse for them is to curb drug violence, there isn’t much about such fines that would do this, making it much more likely as a play to grab money from citizens.

Interestingly, France falls into the industrial hemp loophole, something that is seen in many places due to contradictory or inconsistent cannabis laws. France never actually illegalized the production of hemp, and is the only Western European country that didn’t do this. While it didn’t produce much hemp in the last century, hemp production did increase again between 1993-2015, with half the hemp in Europe at that time originating from France, making France the second biggest hemp producer after China.

What this means is that there’s a lot of hemp around. And what we know about human nature (I feel pretty confident stating this as a fact) is that if something is available, and it’s desired, it’s going to be used. It might be illegal to ingest any form of cannabis in France, but there’s more than enough access to it for those who want it.

So, what’s the deal with medical?

As mentioned in the previous part, France hasn’t been all that quick to start a medical cannabis program. And, in fact, only just laid the framework for a medical cannabis pilot program last year. In October of 2020, the French Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran, signed a decree for a new medical cannabis pilot program in which France said it would provide medical cannabis for free to patients in need. Last summer, due to reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, the beginning of the program was pushed back from late 2020, to early 2021.

Will it benefit everyone in need? No, unfortunately not. Approximately 3,000 patients suffering from: chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer symptoms – or cancer treatment symptoms, palliative issues, and painful spasticity from multiple sclerosis or other comparable central nervous system disorders, would receive this free treatment.

The program is slated to run for approximately six months, which makes ostensibly more sensible than – for example – Ireland, which instituted a five-year pilot program, or Switzerland which started a 10-year program. In this way, France is acting much more pragmatically, expecting to get a decent answer in half a year. Considering how quickly the cannabis world changes, anything longer seems absurd. For the program, cannabis would be distributed as dry flower and oil.

medical cannabis prescription

This program is of interest to those requiring medications for their ailments, but it also seems to have another purpose. It was announced that specific companies could apply to supply this program, with the idea that whichever companies were chosen would be most likely to gain hold of the cannabis market upon an official medical legalization. Application requirements were published for any company or organization that wanted to participate in cultivating and supplying this cannabis, with a close date of November 24th for applications.

And the suppliers will be…

When it comes to cannabis, there’s what it can do for a person, and what it can do for a company. In France, the announcement of a pilot program wherein France will give away cannabis for free, got a lot of companies salivating at the mouth. In a country with no official cannabis policies, any legalization would mark the beginning of a legal industry, and any company to get its foot in the door first would likely rule the roost. Which made it big news when France just revealed which companies won the ability to do this.

The companies picked are not French-based, but will work with French-based companies. Which means, out the door, France might have just given its future market to foreign investment over local business. This is a much worse thing to do in a poor country where the locals require the work and money to survive. In France, it feels like less of a crime against humanity, but it’s still something of note. Anyway, the following companies will now provide the pilot program, and accept no money from doing it in the process, providing the cannabis at their own cost:

  • Althea and Little Green Pharma – both Australian based companies. Althea was authorized one lot as a substitute, and Little Green Pharma was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and one as a substitute.
  • Aurora Cannabis and Tilray – Both based out of Canada. Aurora was authorized three lots as a main supplier, Tilray was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and two as substitutes.
  • Panaxia – an Israeli-based company which was authorized two lots as a main supplier, and two as a substitute.
  • Emmac Life Sciences – a UK based company which was authorized for two lots as a substitute.

There is absolutely nothing guaranteeing that any of these companies will remain suppliers in the future. All companies that applied were analyzed according to their supply abilities, manufacturing practices, and final products. You’ll notice how no US companies were picked.

Every lot that is designated to a company has a specification. Three lots are THC dominant, three are balanced between THC and CBD, and three lots are CBD dominant. Each lot has a main supplier from the list above, and a substitute supplier also from above, each of which works with a local French company. The French companies working in tandem are: Ethypharm, Medipha Sante, Neuraxpharm France, Boiron, Intsel Chimos, and Laboratoires Bouchara Recordati.

Why I find France to be dicey

France vs the EU

This part is admittedly my opinion, but I’ll give it anyway since I think it should be said. France certainly looks like the honorable gentleman, offering cannabis for free to those in need, but there’s another side to all this that shouldn’t be forgotten. France recently did something that doesn’t seem to be well understood by the public, is often glossed over in news articles, and which makes the country’s actions questionable on a grand level.

France recently went through with an entire legal battle with the EU over the ability to keep CBD products made by EU standards, from crossing EU borders into France. The case of France vs the EU came with a bunch of implications, as it was heard by the top court of the EU – the European Court of Justice (CJEU) – in Luxembourg, and essentially set case law concerning cannabis (at least as far as CBD) in the EU, as well as setting a precedent for any country attempting to make restrictions on cross-boarder trading within the EU. France, quite luckily, did not win. This not only made France have to accept CBD coming from other EU countries, it made CBD legal throughout the EU.

The case itself is super interesting, but it’s not the issue. That a country might stand up for its own beliefs or desires is not strange or weird in any way. The issue is that the entire time France was pushing this legal battle, and acting concerned about the dangers of CBD – which it never was able to show at all – it was allowing the pharmaceutical version to be sold. France never banned synthetic CBD, only natural CBD!! Synthetic CBD is essentially the same as its natural counterpart, but is made in a lab by massive pharmaceutical and biotech companies. France was ruling out local farmers and producers in order to sell the products of pharmaceutical companies, and pretending that the ban on CBD was out of fear for its citizens.

In this case the pharmaceutical company is GW Pharmaceuticals, and the product in question is Epidiolex. France never had a problem with CBD at all, it just fought a years-long legal battle to help out GW pharmaceuticals. Is it really a shock that a country that would pull this, would also immediately sell out its new industry to the highest global buyer over promoting the industry for its own citizens? Of course, it is possible France is using these companies merely to get information before dumping them and allowing its own companies to take over. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Conclusion

Can’t say it’s not progress that France will give away cannabis for free to patients in need. In fact, it’s a really great beginning that will hopefully be followed up on with a really great medical program. That France is a little bit sneaky when it comes to cannabis can be overlooked so long as it does the right thing by its people in the future. However, I tend to think an eye should always be kept on a country that spent years on a lawsuit to sell out its own people for the benefit of a pharmaceutical company. But that’s just me.

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William O’Shaughnessy & The Start of Cannabis Medicine

The idea of medicinal marijuana has blossomed out in the last several years, opening up new markets, changing regulatory restrictions and legal mandates, and showing that popular opinion can easily change over time. How it started in the first place is not a story known to all. In fact, most people have no idea that it was an Irishman named William O’Shaughnessy who brought cannabis medicine to the Western world.

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Cannabis in history

Before getting into recent history, let’s go back to ancient times. The history of cannabis use as a medicine goes back thousands of years with tons of natural medicine traditions using the plant all over the world for different purposes. In Ayurveda it was used to increase appetite and digestion; to decrease diarrhea, as well as other gastrointestinal issues; as an anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant; for nervous system issues; skin infections; as an aphrodisiac, or to calm sexual feelings (in later stages of the application); issues with genital and urinary tract function; respiratory issues; infectious diseases; and a host of other problems. If you look at what’s being covered here, it includes ailments of nearly every kind that were being treated by cannabis.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cannabis seeds were used as laxatives – although they were simultaneously used to help stop diarrhea, to alleviate thirst, and relieve flux. If it seems weird that cannabis was employed for opposing issues (constipation and diarrhea), this could be explained by a normalization effect on a person’s liver. Repeated vomiting was also treated with cannabis seeds, and regular use of these seeds was said to “render the flesh firm, and prevent old age.”

The Chinese also supposedly used cannabis as an antidiabetic by boiling the seeds in water to make a paste. Cannabis was used for skin ailments, ulcers, wounds, hair loss, and diseases of the lymph nodes which included degenerative, incurable, and intractable illnesses. These are just some examples of how Traditional Chinese Medicine used cannabis. Though many texts have not been made available to the English-speaking world, it is known that cannabis was used in medical applications for at least 1,800 years, and possibly as long as 4,000 years.

cannabis ayurveda

Cannabis use was seen in Egyption times as well. Called shemshemet, it was used to treat insomnia, nausea, internal hemorrhoids (by way of suppositories), and even eye conditions like glaucoma because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties, which help bring down eye pressures. This anti-inflammatory effect made it good for all kinds of ailments that involve inflammation. Cannabis plant residue has been found on Egyptian artifacts dating back over 4,000 years, and medical marijuana is mentioned in several ancient Egyptian texts including:

  • The Ramesseum III Papyrus (1,700 BC)
  • Eber’s Papyrus (1,600 BC) (This is the oldest known complete text, and thought by many to be a reprint of a text from as long as 1,500 years before this one was made.)
  • The Berlin Papyrus (1,300 BC)
  • The Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1,300 BC)

By 1,000 years ago, medicinal marijuana use was so widespread in Egypt, that texts found from that time actually encourage citizens to plant their own medicinal cannabis for their own personal use, or to use for trade.

Cannabis history & the Anglo-Saxons

I feel it would be remiss not to mention the history of cannabis in the location that William O’Shaughnessy specifically came from, since this sheds some light on the cannabis culture that existed in his part of the world. It is not one of the more popular or well known cannabis stories, but it is certainly relevant here.

It is thought by many that a nomadic Indo-European tribe – called the Scythians – brought the plant to Eastern Europe around 500 BC. From there it seems likely that Germanic tribes brought it over to Germany, and when the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain during the 5th century, its thought that the plant at this time entered the British region. Cannabis has a mention in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Herbal’, also known as the ‘Old English Herbal’, which is an illustrated book of botanical medicine attributed to 4th century writers, and which has many similarities to Ayurveda.

This indicates that it was being used for medical treatments, however, what it really became known for in this region, was its fiber. Hemp fiber was used for all sorts of things, particularly by the military. Supplies like rope and sails were made from hemp, for which Russia had been the main supplier. In fact, much like the US grow laws that were enacted in colonial America, and which forced farm owners to grow cannabis for hemp, so too was the case in Britain when in 1533 King Henry VIII also forced landlords to use at least part of their land to grow hemp.

medicinal cannabis

This was made more intense by Elizabeth I who actually started leveraging fines on landlords who did not comply. One of the issues with growing hemp in that part of the world is that it’s not the best climate for it, and this eventually led to Britain importing most of its hemp from Canada and other British colonies. It seems that as time went on, the medical value of the plant was practically lost to its industrial uses. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that William O’Shaughnessy re-discovered cannabis medicine, and brought it into focus in Western medicine.

Who is William O’Shaughnessy?

Born in Limerick, Ireland in 1808, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy studied chemistry and forensic toxicology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, graduating in 1829. At the age of 22, in 1931, while working with cholera patients, O’Shaughnessy helped create the basis for IV replacement therapy. This was done through analyzing the blood of cholera patients and finding a need for more oxygen, as well as finding that they had deficiencies in water, salt, and free alkali, which was improved through infusions of salt.

A couple years later, in 1933, O’Shaughnessy moved to Calcutta, India, as part of the British East India Company, after being rejected for Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of London. And it was here that O’Shaughnessy began his inquest into medical cannabis.

O’Shaughnessy had not set out specifically on the course of cannabis medicine, and in fact, focused on several subjects like chemistry, galvanic electricity, underwater conduction, and botanical pharmacology – which spawned his work on medical marijuana. O’Shaughnessy published his first papers on the use of cannabis medicine and its applications while in Calcutta. In his research he examined folk uses of the plant to validate the information coming from natural medicine traditions, he also found new applications for the plant, and encouraged use of it by his readers for many different purposes including acute rheumatism, as a sleep aid, digestive problems, as a treatment for pain, and a host of other ailments.

Simply writing about these things isn’t what got him recognized, however. He gained popularity instead through real world applications. One of his first big breakthroughs publicly was in being able to quell the rheumatic pain and convulsions of an infant by using cannabis. At approximately 40 days old, the child was unable to eat and was wasting away, as no standard treatment was helping. The parents’ were so distressed that they agreed to the treatment, and cannabis tincture was placed on the baby’s tongue. It eased the convulsions, but greater doses had to be used consequent to tolerance. The infant, however, made a full recovery.

When he later returned to England, he found even greater public success when he was able to quiet the extreme muscle spasms caused by tetanus and rabies, which he did using a cannabis resin. In terms of tetanus, it didn’t rid the sufferer of the disease, but it did greatly reduce symptoms. About tetanus, O’Shaughnessy stated that it was: “next to hydrophobia (rabies), perhaps the most intractable and agonising of the whole catalogue of human maladies.” At that time, having tetanus meant violent convulsions and eventually death, making O’Shaughnessy’s cannabis treatment a godsend to sufferers.

In 1842 he published Bengal Dispensatory and Pharmacopoeia which dedicated 25 pages to the use of cannabis in medicine. This stands as one of the most comprehensive research outputs related to cannabis for that time period.

What about now?

William O'Shaughnessy cannabis medicine

I think it’s fair to say that O’Shaughnessy would have been double face-palming if he knew just how sideways all his findings went in the upcoming century. While O’Shaughnessy set off a flurry of new research into cannabis medicine and the advent of tons of medical products, all of this was suppressed and then forgotten in light of changing global cannabis laws.

It started with the US 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, and led to the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances treaty, and an essential global ban on both medical and recreational cannabis, as well as hemp production. Over time, the idea of cannabis medicine became non-existent. In fact, not only did it become non-existent in Western medicine and illegal in Eastern medicine, but it became disliked – even hated – with all that accumulated medical evidence being either completely forgotten, or no longer believed.

It took till the 1900’s and researchers like Raphael Mechoulam to re-discover cannabis medicine (which was still suppressed for many decades), and then the eventual easing of laws in different global locations as the expressed danger of cannabis was seen more and more to be unrealistic, while its useful properties were once again brought to light.

Right now in Ireland, O’Shaughnessy’s home country, cannabis is illegal to posses or use with no decriminalization or personal use laws present. Punishments include involuntary community service, fines, and jail time depending on the circumstances of the case. Selling and supply crimes are predictably illegal with prison sentences of up to 10 years for offenders. Cultivation is illegal as well.

Even when it comes to medical cannabis, Ireland only finally updated its laws in 2019, and only to permit a 5-year long research program that allows very limited access to medical cannabis, and only for a very small number of issues. William O’Shaughnessy established some of the very applications of cannabis medicine being researched now, and his own home country still does not pay attention.

Conclusion

It is now getting close to 200 years after William O’Shaughnessy published his Bengal Dispensatory and Pharmacopoeia, and around 4,000 years since the use of cannabis was determined in some locations. Yet now, in 2021, we’re still arguing the legalities and uses of it. Yes, William O’Shaughnessy might have been the father of modern cannabis medicine, but only now is the Western world really taking notice.

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Cannabis for Eating Disorders Like Anorexia

It almost sounds counterintuitive to say it, but yet another possible application of cannabis is in the treatment of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It’s quite possible that the ability of marijuana to build an appetite, while also helping with symptoms of anxiety, makes it a great treatment option for those suffering from certain eating disorders.

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What is an eating disorder

An eating disorder fits under psychiatric disorders which means first and foremost, there is no medical definition, as in, there is no formal proof that can be made. The definition according to psychiatry, is a disorder “in which the people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become pre-occupied with food and their body weight.” This, of course, extends to both ends of the spectrum, those who are overeating for their body weight, and those who are undereating for their bodyweight.

As always with psychological disorders, as there is no medical definition or confirmation, these disorders are identified only through the diagnosis of a doctor, and are therefore subjective in their interpretation. It is also quite possible, because of a lack of a medical definition, that different professionals can levy entirely different diagnoses on the same patient. Having said that, all the examples listed below highlight basic eating disorder categories, each with its own individual symptoms.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), approximately 20 million women and 10 million men will develop an eating disorder at some point in life. The National Institute of Mental Health thinks its even higher, stating that approximately 25% of college students have an eating disorder. It should be remembered that binge eating is included here, and that these statistics come from subjective diagnoses.

Examples?

anorexia nervosa

1) Six of the more well-known eating disorders are as follows: The most well known is anorexia-nervosa. This eating disorder is characterized by a limitation in food intake, often to the point of extreme malnutrition and physical emaciation. Sufferers often have distorted body images whereby they see themselves as looking different (generally in a negative capacity) then how they actually look, with this discrepancy being focused on weight. Anorexia can affect men or women, but is more commonly seen in women.

2) Bulimia-nervosa is also very well known. It is characterized by a binge/purge pattern in which the sufferer will at times eat large amounts of food (exercising no control in the process), and then work to purge themselves of the food by vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or excessive exercise. While some publications (including the one referenced) name fasting as a method of purging, this would have to be an extreme fast that is intense enough to effect health (it isn’t uncommon to eat a lot at one point, and not get hungry – or choose not to eat – for a much longer than normal period of time.) Much like anorexia, this is more commonly experienced by women.

3) Binge eating is also very common, maybe the most common of all, although to the majority of people it is simply known as ‘overeating’. In binge eating cases, the sufferer will consume excessive calories, experience a lack of control while doing so, but unlike in bulimia cases, will not attempt to expel the excess calories. For this reason, this eating disorder is often associated with being overweight or even obese. In fact, the purging or not purging of the calories is what separates binge eating from bulimia, and in most other ways including the lack of control, large amounts of food and small consumption time, and overall feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame, the two are about the same. Simply overeating here and there does not constitute entry into this category. Getting an actual diagnosis implies an existing pattern of extreme behavior.

4) The top three disorders are known to most, but here is where it gets a little weird. The next disorder on the list is pica. In pica cases, the individual is likely to be hungry for all kinds of things that aren’t exactly food. This can mean ice, soil, soap, hair, pebbles, detergent etc. As you might imagine with some of the inputs on this list, this can cause some severe issues if the wrong material is ingested, both in a person accidentally poisoning themselves, as well as considering all the infections and injuries that such non-foods can cause internally. Pica can be experienced by anyone, but is generally seen in children, the pregnant, and those with mental disabilities.

5) Next is rumination disorder, which also has a kind of strange definition that those of us in the regular eating world, were probably not aware of. A person with this disorder regurgitates food which has already been swallowed, and then re-chews the food, and swallows once again, or spits it out. This is, essentially, what animals that chew their own cud do, however this is obviously not a characteristic of basic humanity. The reflux occurs within about 30 minutes of a meal, and is completely voluntary, unlike with acid reflux. This disorder can affect men and women, of any age, and often resolves itself when seen in infants. It is a newly recognized disorder.

6) Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is generally seen in infants and children only, but can persist into adulthood. It involves a disturbance in eating which can be due to having no interest, or an issue related to the temperature, taste, texture, or smell of something. This is only identified in extreme cases and shouldn’t be confused with simply being picky. People with this disorder might even be diagnosed with other conditions like failure to thrive if they can no longer mature due to lack of nutrients. This disorder has nothing to do with food availability.

How could cannabis help?

cannabis for eating disorders

The first thing to consider when looking at cannabis for eating disorders is that – as previously mentioned – they are not medically defined. They are only defined through a grouping of symptoms which leads to a subjective diagnosis. Cannabis and eating disorders can be studied by observing changes in behaviors related to food when cannabis is consumed.

Cannabis has been used for quite some time to treat the anorexia associated with diseases like cancer and AIDS – called cachexia, where the inability to eat causes the person to waste away. Cannabis has been used in this way since it was reintroduced back into Western medicine more recently, with plenty of research being done which supports the use of cannabis in this way. Less research has been done on anorexia nervosa, which is voluntary, whereas cachexia is not.

However, there are some studies. Cannabis could be useful for helping with the underlying anxiety of some eating disorders, and by supporting a healthy appetite. This study from 2017 which investigated the effects of delta-9 THC on anorexia-nervosa symptoms found no overall increase in BMI, but it did show significant positive results in terms of self-reporting for body care, feelings of ineffectiveness, and general depression. The study authors concluded that delta-9 could be effective in the treatment of psychological symptoms associated with anorexia.

One study even found that using cannabis makes food smell and taste better to the eater, which could be a big draw for those attempting to keep themselves from food.

A systematic review from 2017 investigating the efficacy of cannabis for different psychological and neurodegenerative diseases, included two studies done on cannabis and anorexia. In one study with 11 female participants being given titrated amounts of THC, similar weight gain was shown to diazepam – aka valium. It should be noted that three patients in the THC group had to be withdrawn due to negative side effects, which begs the question of why doses were not individualized based on needs. However, they were not, so it is unclear if the issues experienced could have been alleviated with smaller doses. What is clear is that valium, as a benzodiazepine, is a highly addictive drug, and getting the same benefit from cannabis would mean a significantly safer alternative.

The second study in the review used dronabinol as the form of THC. Dronabinol is a pharmaceutical cannabis medication that does contain THC in it. The placebo-controlled study consisted of two four-week periods with a four-week clean-out period in between. The study presented evidence that dronabinol encouraged weight gain, as much as .73kg compared to the placebo group.

binge eating

Some speculate that issues like anorexia and bulimia are related to imbalances in the endocannabinoid system, for which cannabis can be useful in regulating. It is speculated that these disorders result from impairments in this system, with the hypothesis that cannabis, as an agent that effects the endocannabinoid system, could be used for positive benefit. As noted by Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry which put out a report in 2011, “The role of endocannabinoids in appetite control is clearly important. These new data point to important connections between this system and eating disorders.” There is obviously much more to be investigated here.

Issues with cannabis for eating disorders

When it’s said that cannabis can be good for eating disorders, its important to specify which ones. Cannabis has been known to cause episodes of binge eating, so it wouldn’t be the likely answer for someone who is already having issues controlling their overeating. It also might be questionable for those suffering from things like pica – where it could encourage more unnecessary and dangerous eating, or bulimia where it could encourage even bigger binges.

The dose used is also very important to consider when it comes to cannabis for eating disorders. In one study, three participants were removed due to negative side effects with THC, but this was done rather than assessing personal limitations for THC consumption. Accounting for the fact that different people will handle things differently, and require different amounts of medication, is a generally important point in medicine. Not accounting for this is a massive detraction for any study using standardized doses, especially if the study authors did not consider this. However, having said that, it’s important to remember that high doses of THC can cause a cannabis overdose with negative side-effects, and this should always be considered when treating someone who already has mental issues.

Conclusion

New applications for cannabis are being discovered (and rediscovered) every day. Cannabis might not be best for all eating disorders, but it might be useful for those suffering from anorexia-nervosa. These days, everything is about body image and weight. The idea that cannabis might help anorexia sufferers to feel better about themselves, or even add on a few pounds, is incredibly useful, and highlights another great example for medical cannabis.

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Resources

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