DIY Cannabis Oil Skincare You Can Make at Home

Hempseed oil has an extensive history of being used during shamanic rituals, inside love potions and in fragrances. Today, consumers are surrounded by various hemp-derived cannabis oil skincare and other beauty products on pharmacy shelves, down grocery store aisles and even in mothers’ bathrooms.

Hemp, which can be purchased from outside of the U.S. in all 50 states, only contains about 0.3 percent to 1.5 percent THC and originates from the same plant as marijuana  — Cannabis Sativa L. Hemp refers to the commercial use of the cannabis plant’s stalk or seeds, while the term marijuana pertains to the medicinal, spiritual or recreational use, which involves smoking or vaporizing cannabis flowers.

THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis, is an antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory properties. According to clinical research, cannabinoids contain anti-aging and antioxidant properties. The journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology confirms that cannabinoids are responsible for lipid production, and thus they can get dry skin or stubborn acne under control.

While scientists pretty much unanimously agree that smoking any substance promotes advanced aging, THC actually does the opposite when applied topically to the skin. According to various studies, THC makes the marijuana plant naturally resilient to pathogens, while it has proven to absorb high levels of UVB rays. This means that the plant’s seeds are protected from radioactive damage, as it can then be applied as a neuroprotective antioxidant for human skill cells. As an antioxidant, THC can combat wrinkles and fine lines. Scientists now are even researching ways that it can ttreat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Hemp is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 making it an ideal component of any skin treatment. It’s also a great alternative ingredient to toxic chemicals present in many petroleum-based lotions and serums. To integrate cannabis oil skincare into a health and beauty regimens, skip out on heading to the store to purchase hemp-infused beauty products. All that’s needed is hemp oil or, better yet, cannabis oil to start cooking up some homemade facials.

All of the following facial recipes are made with cannabis oil, but if it’s not available simply substitute hemp oil.

Green Goddess Facial

Antioxidant-rich avocado contains a ton of vitamin C, which is needed for the creation of elastin and collagen, both responsible for maintaining skin’s firmness. Patchouli essential oil was added to the mix, since it tightens and tones sagging skin. The potent flower is also known to be a natural antidepressant, while it helps treat anxiety and other stress-related disorders. Use patchouli sparingly, because its scent can be overwhelming and off-putting to some. Finally, cocoa powder rejuvenates dull skin, while safeguarding your skin from sunburn.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup of cannabis oil
  • 2 teaspoon of natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-4 drops of patchouli oil (optional)

Preparation

Step one: Cut open the avocado, removing its pit and spooning its flesh into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients.

Step two: Mash the mixture into a smooth texture, trying to avoid chunks.

Step three: Rub the mixture in a circular motion on your face using fingertips.

Step four: To get the full spa treatment, boil some water and put it in a heatproof bowl. Be sure to tie your hair back. Next, put your green face over the bowl, with a towel over both you and the bowl. This will open up your pores, allowing your skin to absorb the facial’s nutrients.

Step five: Leave the facial on for 20-30 minutes. Afterward, take a warm wet washcloth and wash off the mixture in a circular motion.

Coco Oasis Exfoliant

Coconut oil is one of the trendiest new ingredients to put into any beauty elixir and with good reason. It’s a great skin softener and scientific research is ongoing to prove it can help treat acne, eczema and psoriasis. Combined with sugar or salt, it takes on the role of an awesome exfoliant, scraping off dead skin and purifying pores. Agave nectar has been noted to have incredible remedial potential, providing relief from bacteria and infections. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cannabis oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of agave nectar
  • ¼ cup of sugar, white granulated sugar, or brown sugar

Preparation

Step one: Stir together the agave and coconut oil in a medium bowl.

Step two: In another bowl, mix the cannabis oil with the sugar until it becomes a little more crumbly.

Step three: Combine the two mixtures and stir until mostly smooth. When finished, it should be a bit grainy to effectively exfoliate.

Step four & five: Repeat these same steps as in the Green Goddess recipe.

TELL US, have you ever made your own cannabis oil skincare products?

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Thailand Set to Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Things have moved slowly since Thailand’s parliament voted to approve a medical marijuana program in December 2018—which is hardly surprising, given that Southeast Asia has some of the world’s most draconian cannabis laws. But on Aug. 4 the Thai cabinet signed off on a proposal to finally allow commercial cultivation, including for export.

The proposal, submitted by the Public Health Ministry, is in the form of a package of amendments to the country’s harsh Narcotics Drugs Act. If it clears parliament, which seems likely, it could mean the rapid emergence of a new industry in Thailand.

“The law will promote the pharmaceutical industry and increase competitiveness, which will be important for Thailand in becoming a leader in medical cannabis,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters

Thailand’s Cannabis Contradiction 

Thailand faces strange contradictions where cannabis is concerned. The country was ruled by a military junta for years after a 2014 coup d’etat, with powers restricted to the country’s parliament, known as the Legislative Assembly. New elections in June 2019 seem to have mostly been a formality, with junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha becoming prime minister. The army and King Maha Vajiralongkorn still have broad emergency powers, and this extends to drug enforcement. Police in Thailand are actually empowered to order spot urine tests of anyone they stop who is suspected of cannabis use—motorists or pedestrians. A positive test is treated as possession. 

Yet cannabis has deep roots in Thailand’s culture. The country has a centuries-long tradition of cannabis use in folk medicine, and it is home to rare and highly prized sativa landraces.

Thailand is now moving to close this contradiction. Last September, the largest legal cannabis crop in Southeast Asia was planted in a greenhouse complex at Maejo University. In the northern Chiang Mai province—traditionally home to both widespread cannabis and opium cultivation—the university is Thailand’s oldest and most respected agricultural institution. The 12,000 plants are now being used for production of cannabis oil.

Four hospitals around the country are currently piloting treatments with this oil: Khlong Muang Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima province, Chiang Phin Hospital in Udon Thani, Ban Na Yao Nuea Hospital in Sakon Nakhon and Ban Na Pak Khow hospital in Phatthalung. All but the last, are in Thailand’s northeast highlands, a region known as Isan, where the tradition of cannabis use and cultivation is strongest.

Earlier last year, Rangsit University (just outside Bangkok) launched a “Ganja Studies Department,” and research facility, with an eye toward laying the groundwork for a thriving cannabis industry in the country.  

But the 2018 law only allowed cultivation and extraction under the close supervision of universities or other state entities. The new legislative package will open things up considerably.

The Public Health Ministry passed the proposal on to the cabinet following public hearings in June, the Bangkok Post reports. Significantly, it also passed muster with the military-controlled Narcotics Control Board. Prior to going before the Legislative Assembly, the proposal will have to undergo one final hurdle – it will need to be screened by the prime minister’s Council of State.

Role for Traditional Healers 

A unique aspect of the proposal is the role it carves out for traditional medical practitioners and folk healers. Dr. Marut Jirasrattasiri, director-general of the Department of Thai Traditional & Alternative Medicine, told reporters that cannabis clinics run by such healers are waiting to go online at some 300 public health centers around the country, and have received 60,000 requests for treatment this year. 

Under the proposal, farmers would be able to cultivate to supply such health centers, or work under contract to supply pharmaceutical companies. Traditional healers, who constitute a strong lobby in Thailand, petitioned to be included in the law. They raised concerns about the global industry privatizing what has been a genetic commons for peasant cannabis cultivators in the country for centuries, if not millennia. The tension between capitalist enterprises and local control will likely continue under the newly expanded program.

The program still emphasizes oils, extracts and tinctures. Permitting the use of smokable flower has not been broached.

Nonetheless, cannabis advocates at both ends of the industry-peasantry spectrum are greatly enthused. Paisarn Dunkum, secretary-general of Thailand’s Food & Drug Administration, predicted this sentiment to the Bangkok Post saying, “This will be another step for our country to become a leader that applies cannabis systematically in the medical field.”

TELL US, do you think Thailand would benefit from legal cannabis?

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Louisiana Medical Marijuana Program Expands

Louisiana’s path to a medical marijuana program has been a tortuous and frustrating one. State lawmakers passed a law instating a limited program in 2015, but cannabis products did not begin to reach patients at the nine approved pharmacies until August of last year. There are still fewer than 4,500 patients registered to access cannabis products under the law.

After what has been an agonizing delay for many patients, Louisiana’s legislature has finally taken moves to expand the program. 

The program will still allow only extracts, tinctures and other such preparations — not actual herbaceous cannabis, either smoked or vaped. And only two “agricultural centers” are permitted to cultivate and process — one at Louisiana State University and one at Southern University, both in Baton Rouge and the latter a historically Black university. LSU, partnering with the private Wellcana Group, finally produced enough cannabis to begin supplying the approved pharmacies a year ago, Associated Press notes. The Advocate, the state’s biggest newspaper, reported the happy news that Southern University, partnering with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, finally shipped out its first tinctures and other products last month.

And now, under a trio of new laws that were passed in June and went into effect Aug. 1, the ability of patients to access these products will be expanded. At last, the program seems poised for growth.

A Trio of New Bills 

The most significant of the new measures, House Bill 819, expands the discretion of physicians to recommend cannabis. Rather than having to conform to the list of conditions named in the 2015 law, doctors can now approve cannabis products for “any condition” that they consider “debilitating to an individual patient,” providing that the condition is one the doctor “is qualified through his [or her] medical education and training to treat.” 

The 2015 law, known as Therapeutic Marijuana A, lists the standard conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

According to the national advocacy group NORML, Louisiana joins a handful of other states — including California, Virginia and Maine — that have enacted similar measures giving physicians the ability to recommend cannabis preparations to any patient they believe may benefit from them. 

When Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill in June, NORML hailed it as meaningful progress. 

“This is common sense legislation that provides physicians, not lawmakers, the ability and discretion to decide what treatment options are best for their patients,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said in a statement. Continuuin, he said, “Just as doctors are entrusted to make decisions with regard to the supervised use of opioids and other medicines — many of which pose far greater risks to patients than cannabis — the law should provide doctors with similar flexibility when it comes to recommending cannabis therapy to a bona fide patient.”

Another of the new measures to take effect addresses the question of cannabis use in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. HB 418 provides immunity from prosecution to “any facility that is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health that has patients in its care using medical marijuana.” HB 211 similarly provides immunity for banks and other financial institutions that provide services to state-licensed cannabis businesses. 

Slowly Moving Towards Social Justice 

As an AP account observes, these three bills were part of a modest wave of progressive legislation passed by Louisiana lawmakers this year. Other measures limit the use of solitary confinement on pregnant prisoners and increase the ways those sent to prison as juveniles can seek parole. 

Local activists feel that progress is long overdue in the Pelican State. In 2016, a “JustSouth” index produced by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University sought to measure social justice across the Southern states. It ranked Louisiana dead last on measures of poverty, racial disparity and exclusion. The Research Institute’s Jeanie Donovan called it a “a grim picture” in comments to NOLA.com

Low-income families, immigrants and workers of color are worse off in Louisiana than anywhere else in the United States, the report found. The average low-income household in Louisiana earned only $11,156 in 2014. The Research Institute calculated that a two-person family needs to earn “$45,840 a year to afford basic necessities,” Donovan said.

These conditions reflect the region’s history of “slavery, Jim Crow segregation and continuing inequality,” added the Rev. Fred Kammer, director of the Research Institute. 

The other Gulf states ranked almost as poorly. Alabama placed 48th, Texas 49th and Mississippi 50th. Florida had the highest ranking in the region, at 41st place. 

Hardly coincidentally, Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation.

TELL US, does your state have medical cannabis?

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7 Diseases That Can Be Treated with Medical Marijuana

Over the past four decades, treating diseases with medical marijuana has been on the rise. The credibility of cannabis has grown in the medical community as a possible solution to treat chronic conditions and diseases. While marijuana hasn’t demonstrated that it is the ultimate solution or cure to end a disease in general, it can help soothe the effects of chronic diseases, inhibit diseases from developing at a rapid pace and possibly become a replacement for opioids to handle emotional and physical pain.

This is how marijuana positively contributes to the following seven diseases:

1. Depression

A study from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions tested how marijuana affected chronic stress in rats and used this information to coincide with equivalent human responses. In this experiment, researchers found that when the rats were bound by rodent restraints for long periods of time — a source of chronic stress —  the production of their brain’s endocannabinoids rapidly decreased. In regards to human beings in long-term stressful situations, these receptors influence how well a person can process thoughts, gauge emotions and behave, and they even can impact a person’s cognitive ability to handle pain and anxiety. When there is a lack of endocannabinoid production in the brain, an individual is at risk of developing depression. Marijuana can play a role in restoring cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in the endocannabinoid system, and helping ease the depressing.

2. Anxiety

Like depression, anxiety reduces the endocannabinoid production in the brain and inhibits an individual’s ability to cope with pain and stress. However, the use of marijuana to treat anxiety can go either way: It can either deplete anxiety or increase it. While marijuana is meant to bring a person into a tranquil state, some individuals possess a brain chemistry that simply does not react well with the plant’s chemicals. In other cases, marijuana has been able to prevent unwanted anxiety attacks, stimulate a calmer “fight-or-flight response” to stress and all-together provide the user with a “high” that releases any tension in the body.

3. Epilepsy

Given that epilepsy is a cause of seizures (also known as “electrical storms”), medical scientists have created a specific CBD formula that is proven safe for individuals to use because it possessed little to no effect on the sensitive psychoactivity of epilepsy patients. Some of the first tests with marijuana, such as a 2015 test at the NYU Langone Medical Center, actually demonstrated that it had the ability to suppress seizures. Because of this, researchers and developers have been able to manipulate marijuana compounds to tailor to an individual’s epileptic condition, keeping in mind that this disease affects multiple people differently.

4. Alzheimer’s

Marijuana diminishes the intensity of hallucinations, improves poor sleeping habits and stops aggressive outbursts suffered by individuals with Alzheimer’s. The main source of Alzheimer’s is its rapid production of beta-amyloid proteins, which cause plaques to develop in the brain and dangerously reduce the necessary peptides in amino acids that enable one to properly function. Most importantly, marijuana can slow this build-up of proteins to prevent existing Alzheimer’s from deteriorating an individual’s brain.

5. HIV/AIDS

 The HIV virus weakens the immune system, but marijuana softens the impact of disorienting and uncomfortable symptoms of a weak immune system, such as nausea, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, severe headaches and fevers. Furthermore, in this particular study from Spain in 2008, marijuana was proven to prevent chemical reactions in the body that create HIV compounds.

6. Cancer

While marijuana does not fundamentally cure cancer or diminish its symptoms, it is able to reduce the discomfort in certain treatments that many cancer patients undergo. Cancer patients who use medical marijuana endure a lessened amount of inevitable nausea and vomiting caused by their chemotherapy treatments. Furthermore, cannabinoids improve appetite and can ease the neuropathic pain that is a result of severe nerve damage caused by chemotherapy.

7. Drug Addiction

Though it seems counter-intuitive, recovering addicts can use medical marijuana to reverse the effects of opioid addiction, decrease unwanted drug cravings and even diminish the emotional and physical symptoms of addiction. This is due to the chemical compounds of cannabidiol, which binds to brain receptors that induce a safer “high” and counteract impairments and mental damage caused by long-term drug abuse. Lastly, marijuana can even replace addictive painkillers since it targets the same nerve receptors as opioids without putting the user at risk for chronic addiction.

TELL US, what diseases do you treat with cannabis?

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Veteran Faces 5 Years in Prison for Medical Marijuana

For those who recall Alabama’s status during the Civil Rights era, there is a disturbing sense of a historical cycle coming around again. With the country suddenly focused on a long-overdue reckoning with racial justice, a particularly egregious case from the Deep South state has made national headlines, and cannabis is at the heart of it.

The Sean Worsley Case

Sean Worsley is an African American veteran who served in Iraq and won a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. A traumatic brain injury and other wounds have left him with chronic pain that he treats with cannabis. He also uses the herb for post-traumatic stress — to calm his nightmares. The modest few grams (about two or three joints worth) that may land him in Alabama prison were purchased legally under the medical marijuana program in Arizona, where he lived. Currently, the COVID-19 emergency is the only thing stalling his incarceration.  

The story was broken by the local Alabama Political Reporter but has received some wider coverage, including a write-up in the Washington Post on July 14.

Back in August of 2016, Worsley and his wife Eboni were arrested on a family road trip from Arizona to Mississippi and North Carolina. After visiting Eboni’s family in Mississippi, the couple headed east to North Carolina. Their stop for gas in Alabama’s Pickens County proved to be a life changing error.

A local police officer in the town of Gordo approached the Worsleys at the gas station, telling them their music was too loud, supposedly a violation of the town’s noise ordinance. In the wry comment of progressive advocacy group Alabama Appleseed, Worsley was accosted for “playing air guitar while black.” 

The officer asked if he could search the vehicle, and the Worsleys consented, believing they had broken no laws. They were apparently unaware that cannabis is still illegal in Alabama even if purchased legally in another state. The small stash was found, along with a scale, grinder, rolling papers and a pipe. 

The officer also found some pain pills, for which Eboni had a prescription. But the pills weren’t in the original bottle, which was also deemed a crime. Some unopened bottles of alcohol were also found — a violation, as Pickens is a dry county. Both Sean and Eboni were arrested.

Sean was charged with marijuana possession—and it was bumped up to a felony because (despite the small quantity) it was deemed for “other than personal use” on the basis of the scale. Eboni was charged on the pill and liquor violations.

After the Worsleys were released on bond, they had to pay an additional $400 to get their car out of impound—and then had to have it professionally cleaned, because the venison they were bringing for Sean’s family in North Carolina went bad.

Back in Arizona, the couple fell on hard times. Sean lost his VA benefits after failing to appear for a court date back in Pickens County. Then, about a year after the bust, the Pickens County judge suddenly revoked bonds in all the cases he was hearing. Sean and Eboni had to borrow money to rush back to Alabama, under pain of not getting the bond refunded—and being charged with failing to appear in court.

Sean was able to avoid prison time in a plea agreement that included a four-figure fine and five years of probation, as well as drug treatment. The charges against Eboni were dropped. 

Sean’s VA benefits were restored in August 2019, but in order to save money, he had failed to pay the $250 renewal fee for his Arizona medical marijuana card. In a traffic stop in Arizona this year, he was arrested for possession of cannabis without a valid medical marijuana card. Now he was determined to be in violation of probation, and Pickens County demanded that he be extradited back to Alabama.

On April 28, the Pickens County judge sentenced Sean Worsley to five years in prison. He would already be serving that time if not for the fact that new sentences are temporarily on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 16, a 13th Alabama inmate died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Alabama Political Report.

Alabama’s prisons, in addition to being chronically overcrowded, are plagued by violence.

But Sean is not free. He’s being held at the Pickens County jail until he can start formally serving his sentence. And he is not being allowed release while the sentence is on appeal.

“I feel like I’m being thrown away by a country I went and served for,” Sean wrote in a letter to Alabama Appleseed. “I feel like I lost parts of me in Iraq, parts of my spirit and soul that I can’t ever get back.” 

A campaign for clemency for Worsley has been launched by the Last Prisoner Project. The family also has a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal fight.

Medical Marijuana on Hold  

While COVID-19 is holding up the start of Sean Worsley’s prison term, the health crisis also defeated an effort to finally pass a medical marijuana law in Alabama this year. 

On March 13, the Alabama Senate approved SB 165—known as the Compassion Act—by a vote of 22-11. The Compassion Act, sponsored by Republican, Sen. Tim Melson, would allow doctors to recommend cannabis and establish a system of licensed dispensaries. It was expected to pass in the House. 

But just days after the bill passed in the Senate, Alabama’s legislative session was cut short by the health emergency. It never went to a House vote. This means it is effectively dead for this year, The Hill reports.

A similar bill made it through the Senate last year, but died in the House, WBHM public radio noted.

States the Marijuana Policy Project: “Alabama’s lack of medical marijuana protections is becoming more and more of an outlier. Thirty-three states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, allow medical cannabis, and Mississippi voters will get to decide the issue directly in November. Polling shows 75% of Alabama voters support medical cannabis. But because Alabama doesn’t have a citizen initiative process, the only way to bring a compassionate law to the state is for state lawmakers to pass a bill.” 

Last year, Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a decriminalization bill that would have dropped the penalty for possession of an ounce or less to a fine of up to $250. But the House version died in committee, and the full Senate did not vote on the bill. This year, Sen. Bobby Singleton introduced a similar decriminalization bill, but it did not even clear committee before the legislature’s early adjournment.

Alabama continues to have some of the harshest cannabis laws in the United States.

TELL US, should all states recognize medical marijuana?

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It’s Not Your Parents’ THC – Welcome Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester

The ‘Father of Cannabis’, Israel’s Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who brought us isolated THC, is back once again with a synthetic cannabinoid even stronger than THC and CBD! Welcome Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester. It’s definitely not your parents’ THC.

Raphael Mechoulam was born in Bulgaria in 1930, where he lived with his Jewish family through the holocaust (his father being sent to – and surviving – a concentration camp) before emigrating to Israel in 1949. In Israel, he earned his biochemistry PhD from Weizman University, and was on his way.

In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam isolated the cannabinoid THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. This was followed up some years later by the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and after that the discovery of ananomide, the brain’s own version of a cannabinoid. Mechoulam was also the first to recognize the synergistic effect (or entourage effect) of the different parts of cannabis working together. By 1980 he was showing how CBD, or cannabidiol, could be used for epileptic patients to treat seizures, PTSD, and schizophrenia, as well as a plethora of other life functions.

For a scientist of his stature, Mechoulam has never received the accolades as scientists in other fields, likely because cannabis has for so long been demonized, even the medicinal use of it. Now as cannabis-based medications are becoming more popular (and more legal), the ‘Father of Cannabis’ is finally getting his due.

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The new discovery

The nearly 90-year-old Mechoulam is still at it. The last few months saw the unveiling of his newest finding: cannabidiolic acid methyl ester (HU 580), which comes with its own quite brazen claims. HU 580 is a synthetic cannabinoid, which is a fully stable, acid-based molecule. Dr. Mechoulam described the following:

“Originally there is an acid that appears in the plant, and those acids are these mysterious worlds of compounds that are much more potent than cannabinoids.” These acids are unstable, however, and their benefits are essentially lost. Mechoulam and his team found a way to modify these acids such that they can be stable enough for their medicinal abilities to be accessed.

Did he do it alone?

No, the new discovery came in conjunction with EPM, a global biotech company, and a company looking to bring together cannabis medicine and pharmaceuticals, for better or worse… What was EPM’s part in it? The patented compound is known as EPM 301. According to Mechoulam, “EPM developed a method to work with the original substances of cannabis.”

This was added to by EPM CEO Reshef Swisa, who stated, “We took a cannabidiol acid and we stabilized it by a simple chemical procedure, called esterification; then the compound is stable.” The final product – a now patented compound – was presented as a collaboration between Mechoulam and the US-based EPM.

Has it been shown to work?

Once they got it stable, the team could start testing the behavior of this new synthetic cannabinoid acid, and they quickly found it to be a strong anxiety and nausea suppressor. This can be seen in the 2017-2018 release of a study by Dr. Mechoulam and his team, in which they looked into the effects of cannabidiolic acid methyl ester in rats, and discovered these anxiety and nausea reducing effects.

This was followed up by yet another study on rats, this time with Dr. Mechoulam and his team looking into the usefulness of cannabidiolic acid methyl ester on depression-like behavior. They found in the conclusion that: “These findings expand the very limited existent results, suggesting that HU-580 is a potent anxiolytic agent. Taken together with its chemical stability, HU-580 emerges as a candidate for a future antidepressant medication.”

$2 Million Going To Cannabis Cancer Research Led By Professor Mechoulam

How is it different or better?

There are new findings coming out about the cannabis plant every day. New terpenes identified, new cannabinoids isolated, new ailments it can help with. THC and CBD – the two main cannabinoids of the cannabis plant – are looked into the most, but as Dr. Mechoulam stated, these molecules are secondary to unstable acids that come first, and that harnessing these much more powerful unstable acids could mean harnessing the yet-untouched power that comes with them. And that’s exactly what cannabidiolic acid methyl ester is, a stabilized form of one of these much more intense cannabinoid acids that is now capable of producing its effects.

As part of an April 2019 keynote speech given by Mechoulam at the ICBC International Cannabis Business Conference, Mechoulam stated: “It turns out that cannabidiol acid in the studies we have undertaken so far is more potent than cannabidiol itself. The chances are that slowly and to a certain extent, cannabidiol acid will prove to be parallel to cannabidiol oil in its activity because in many aspects, it’s much more active.”

How active within a human body, and how strong these synthetic stabilized acids end up being, will certainly be topics for upcoming research. The possibilities of what they might provide – especially as conceivably stronger forms of CBD and THC, opens a whole new avenue in the world of medicinal cannabis.

Mechoulam’s Goal

One of the things Dr. Mechoulam hopes to gain with this new compound, is an alternative treatment for people using opioids and steroids. As CBD has already been shown to be a useful treatment for chronic pain, it’s quite possible this new acid will provide even stronger benefits. Both aforementioned drug classes cause many issues and having access to a less dangerous alternative in both cases could be quite useful for those suffering from ailments that require these drugs.

According to the Forbes article, Mechoulam said, “We compare our compound not only to cannabinoids, but to the existing drugs that are applied today… So, for example, in IBD we compared our compounds to two conventional products: one is the prednisone (the steroids) and one is a biological drug. And in both of them, we managed to prove that the activity of our compound is very similar to the common one.”

In terms of steroids, Dan Peer, the managing director of the Center for Translational Medicine and also the head of the Cancer Biology Research Center stated: “It’s an interesting molecule that potentially doesn’t have side effects… It works like a steroid. If it doesn’t have adverse effects, then you have a replacement, which is great.”

The Role of Cannabinoids in Treating Chronic Pain

One possible downside

One possible downside to this new finding is its immediate patenting by EPM. Granted, EPM was a part of creating the stabilized acid, but it also means that they’ll have sole rights to it. As a company openly looking to bridge the gap between pharmaceutical companies and this new medical cannabis market, it’s a little unnerving to think that they now hold the power that any pharmaceutical company has over its patented drugs…something that has always set the world of natural medicine (which cannabis belongs in) apart from the pharmaceutical world.

That a plant can’t be patented. This loophole of using a synthetic process on a plant to open the door for patenting, and then throwing that patent to a company looking to mold the medical cannabis industry into just another pharmaceutical one – well, it’s a bit sad to me. And rather see-through. It’s no secret that pharmaceutical companies have been taking a lot of heat because of the current opioid epidemic.

For them, cornering the medical cannabis market is a way to save face, and not lose revenue. But can we really trust this same market that purposefully (or at the very least with absolutely no regard) got millions of people addicted to potentially deadly medications for their own profits? Because the more ‘pharmaceutical’ this becomes, the more of that we’re likely to see.

Pharmaceutical companies tend to get a bad wrap – and rightly so. Their lack of care for the masses can be seen quite clearly in insanely and unnecessarily outrageous prices, the entrance of dangerous drugs onto the market, and the concealing of testing results that do not support their purposes. The idea of taking the cannabis market, and turning it into a pharmaceutical market, seems like an ominous sign.

On the other hand, in order to better manipulate these plants and their constituent parts to get the best product, there’s no denying that we’re not working directly with the plant anymore, but rather a processed version of it, and that this processing is necessary to get the potency and effects desired. It’s certainly a conundrum.

Conclusion

So how powerful is HU 580? It’s hard to say, but it certainly seems promising. After all, if we know the precursor acids to CBD and THC are technically much stronger, and if we can now access them like we couldn’t before, through new processes of stabilization, it could mean that we finally have access to the most powerful parts of the cannabis plant. And there’s no telling yet just how strong that might be, or what it can mean. The only thing for sure? This is so not your parents’ THC!

Thanks for stopping by CBD TESTERS, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Stop by regularly and make sure to subscribe to the Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter to keep up-to-date on all the most interesting industry topics.

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Alleviating Anxiety & Depression with Cannabis

Feeling anxious or depressed? You’re not alone. Anxiety and depression are two of the more common issues we hear about at the dispensary where I work, especially around the holidays. As a patient consultant and educator, I see hundreds of patients a week and help them find relief with cannabis. Here are some of the successful medicating strategies I’ve learned:

There is no standard dosing that fits everyone.

Much comes into play when you’re looking at the right amount of cannabinoids for an individual — personal metabolism, genetics, hormone levels, how much you’ve eaten, and how you feel that day in general.

THC in lower doses soothes both anxiety and depression.

Some patients get nervous about trying THC, but starting with a small amount and working up to the desired goal can be a way to avoid unwanted effects. A small puff of sativa lifts a mood and motivates without causing anxiety and a very low-dose Sativa edible or sublingual preparation can create the same effect.

CBD is an excellent solution for treating depression and anxiety.

High-CBD flowers, edibles and sublinguals are available in many different ratios. I explain to patients that cannabidiol is about homeostasis rather than euphoria. CBD generally takes people to a base level where they can be functional and calm without the grogginess of benzodiazepines. Experimentation with various ratios is essential, as we all metabolize cannabinoids differently. More balanced ratios (1:1-1:4) often are helpful for depression while larger ratios (18:1 and higher) are exceptionally useful for anxiety and anxiety-causing disorders such as OCD. As with THC, microdosing is key — the goal is to find the optimal amount for balance and relief in the body. It’s important to note that large amounts of high-ratio CBD can act as a depressant.

Strain selection is important for appropriate therapy.

Different strains contain specific terpene profiles that influence effects. Sativas are uplifting and for overcoming a depressive episode. Some strains can exacerbate anxiety — another reason microdosing is the best approach to successful medicating. Hybrids are effective for both depression and anxiety.  They can range from calming and functional to uplifting and creative. Be aware of strains that cause negative effects for you personally and look out for those genetics in new strains you try. Indicas can be helpful for anxiety, but be careful when you’re dealing with depression as they can exacerbate mood, making it harder to get out of bed or leave the house if there is too much sedation.

PHOTO Gracie Malley

All plants, including cannabis, have naturally-occurring terpene molecules, which create the unique scents of strains and display specific effects in the body.

Terpenes that alleviate depression are beta caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene) and limonene. Beta caryophyllene, one of the more common terpenes found in cannabis, can be found in hops and black pepper and is known to have more stimulating effects. Limonene, more often found in sativa-dominant strains, is also found in citrus and has uplifting antidepressant properties. Terpenes that help anxiety are linalool and myrcene (β-myrcene). Linalool, primarily in indica-dominant strains, has anti-anxiety properties and is found in lavender. Myrcene, another common terpene found in cannabis that is also in mangoes. Note that both terpenes have sedating properties not ideal for treating depression.

Mode of medication is important.

Smoking/vaporizing cannabis metabolizes differently in the body than consuming edibles. When smoking or vaporizing dried flowers the effects are felt almost immediately, including the therapeutic effects of the flower’s terpenes. Edibles are great for microdosing and have a longer therapeutic effect. Higher dosages of edibles can be problematic — the way we metabolize them produces a drowsier feeling towards the end of the experience whether they be sativa or indica which is undesirable in cases of depression. They can also create a next-day “stoned-over” effect, which can make motivation difficult.

It’s amazing to have patients come in to say they’ve been able to stop taking Xanax, Ativan, etc. These drugs are debilitating, addictive and make it hard to have a functional and productive lifestyle. As cannabis use evolves and becomes normalized, people are discovering they can take control of their depression and anxiety on their own terms using natural medicine that lacks the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

This article was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you used cannabis to treat your depression or anxiety? What were the results?

The post Alleviating Anxiety & Depression with Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System

If you’re new to cannabis, you’ve likely asked “How does it work?”

Elise Keller was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and she explores this same question in her TED Talk entitled “The Surprising Connection Between Cannabis and Mind-Body Health.”

Keller considered herself to be a healthy person. Frustrated by her diagnoses, she sought out ways to come to terms with cancer and move forward.

At the recommendation of her nurse and other patients, she tried medical cannabis, which helped immensely with her pain, nausea and anxiety. After meeting patients with a range of illnesses who all are using cannabis for treatment, Keller wondered how it is possible that cannabis can help with so many unrelated illnesses.

“In a nutshell, I learned that the reason cannabis was working for so many different conditions is because it interacts directly with our body’s own endocannabinoid system, responsible for maintaining balance in the body,” Keller explained in her presentation. “Used properly, the plant can help activate, tone and support the endocannabinoid system when it’s out of balance,” she further explained.

Many are unfamiliar with the endocannabinoid system, which has even been dubbed the body’s own “master system” due to its role in maintaining balance over all bodily networks.

In her 15 minute TED Talk, Keller offers a digestible break down of how the endocannabinoid system works, explaining how mind, body and medicine are equally important in keeping it strong and healthy.

Understanding how the cannabis plant interacts with this system can further support one’s journey towards achieving truly integrated whole-person health.

Watch the video to learn about Elise Keller’s own discoveries around cannabis and mind-body health.

TELL US, do you use cannabis as medicine?

The post Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System

If you’re new to cannabis, you’ve likely asked “How does it work?”

Elise Keller was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, and she explores this same question in her TED Talk entitled “The Surprising Connection Between Cannabis and Mind-Body Health.”

Keller considered herself to be a healthy person. Frustrated by her diagnoses, she sought out ways to come to terms with cancer and move forward.

At the recommendation of her nurse and other patients, she tried medical cannabis, which helped immensely with her pain, nausea and anxiety. After meeting patients with a range of illnesses who all are using cannabis for treatment, Keller wondered how it is possible that cannabis can help with so many unrelated illnesses.

“In a nutshell, I learned that the reason cannabis was working for so many different conditions is because it interacts directly with our body’s own endocannabinoid system, responsible for maintaining balance in the body,” Keller explained in her presentation. “Used properly, the plant can help activate, tone and support the endocannabinoid system when it’s out of balance,” she further explained.

Many are unfamiliar with the endocannabinoid system, which has even been dubbed the body’s own “master system” due to its role in maintaining balance over all bodily networks.

In her 15 minute TED Talk, Keller offers a digestible break down of how the endocannabinoid system works, explaining how mind, body and medicine are equally important in keeping it strong and healthy.

Understanding how the cannabis plant interacts with this system can further support one’s journey towards achieving truly integrated whole-person health.

Watch the video to learn about Elise Keller’s own discoveries around cannabis and mind-body health.

TELL US, do you use cannabis as medicine?

The post Mind-Body Health: Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid System appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Michael Pollan & The Landscape of the Mind

Michael Pollan is best known for his groundbreaking, best-selling books on food — which collectively have helped spark a revolution in the way we think about what we eat and where it comes from — but he also has a longstanding interest in cannabis. As far back as 1995, he traveled to the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam for a New York Times Magazine cover story on the growers and breeders behind the world’s highest-potency strains, a group of illicit horticulturalists he called “the best gardeners of my generation.”

“I had come to Amsterdam to meet some of these gardeners and learn how, in little more than a decade, marijuana growing in America had evolved from a hobby of aging hippies into a burgeoning high-tech industry,” he wrote. “Fewer than 20 years ago, virtually all the marijuana consumed in America was imported. ‘Home grown’ was a term of opprobrium — ‘something you only smoked in an emergency,’ as one grower old enough to remember put it. Today… American marijuana cultivation has developed to the point where the potency, quality and consistency of the domestic product are considered as good as, if not better than, any in the world.”

At the time, such high praise from one of the world’s leading journalists was virtually unheard of in the world of cannabis. In the article, Pollan even admitted to making his own furtive attempt to grow cannabis back in the 1980s, which he dubbed “a fiasco.” Later, he included cannabis as one of four species profiled in “The Botany of Desire,” his best-selling book that took a “plant’s eye view of the world.”

And now Pollan has gone a significant step further into the study of psychoactivity with his latest book, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.” Pollan defines psychedelics as substances that not only affect the mind (like cannabis), but are fully “mind manifesting,” noting the term itself was coined in 1956 by Humphry Osmond “to describe drugs like LSD and psilocybin that produce radical changes in consciousness.”

At a stop on his national tour to promote the book, he sat down for an interview that touched on everything from DMT extracted from toads and the brain’s “default mode network,” to the benefits of dissolving your ego and Pollan’s personal experiences taking various psychedelics with a series of underground guides.

Cannabis Now: You write about the ineffable nature of psychedelics, meaning the experience of taking them is difficult or impossible to describe in words. Given that challenge, I love your description of tripping as being like “shaking the snow globe” of the mind. But what does that mean exactly?

Michael Pollan: The snow globe metaphor comes from Robin Carhart-Harris, one of the leading neuroscientists studying psychedelics today, and the researcher who’s probably done the most analytical work to try to understand how psychedelics affect us and why they might be therapeutic. He’s even been using MRIs and other brain imaging tools to see what happens neurologically during a psychedelic trip. Just imagine being injected with psilocybin [the active compound in “magic” mushrooms] or LSD and then sliding into an MRI. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, so these are volunteers to whom we should all be grateful.

Anyway, what the researchers discovered really surprised them. Turns out one particular brain network called the default mode network was downregulated (i.e. suppressed) during the psychedelic experience.

What does that system do? And why might disrupting it prove beneficial?

The default mode network is a network of brain structures that are tightly linked, so they communicate a lot with each other. And what they do is connect structures in the cortex — the most evolutionarily recent part of the brain, where executive function takes place — to much older and deeper structures involved in memory and emotion. So this is a very important transit hub.

The brain has a hierarchical structure, and the default mode network kind of rides over the whole thing. It’s involved with self-reflection and self-criticism. It’s where our minds go to wander when we’re not doing something. It’s where we get our ability to think about the future or the past. And finally, it’s involved in what’s called “the autobiographical self” — a function of the brain that integrates all of your experiences into the story of your life and keeps that story going. Because without that story, you don’t really exist as an independent self.

Michael Pollan Illustration Cannabis Now

Illustration Ryan Garcia for Cannabis Now

If the ego had an address, it would be the default mode network. So how interesting that when psychedelics temporarily put that network offline, people report “melting away” with no sense of self.

Now, why dissolving one’s ego might be helpful — that’s a whole other discussion. For starters, it’s possible that having a hyperactive default mode network could be responsible for various kinds of mental illness, especially those that involve obsessive rumination and getting stuck on really destructive stories about yourself. For instance: “I can’t get through the next hour without a cigarette.” Or: “I’m unworthy of love.”

That kind of rigidity of thinking is characteristic of anxiety, depression and addiction, which happen to be the three indications which, so far, psychedelics have proven the most valuable in treating.

What about the risks?

Psychedelics are not addictive or drugs of abuse. If you give rats a lever that dispenses cocaine, they’ll press it until they die, but give them the same lever with LSD and they’ll pull it once and never again. So the risks are largely psychological — and there are people who have psychotic episodes triggered by psychedelics, especially people at risk for schizophrenia.

Before moving forward with my own psychedelic experiences, I actually went to my cardiologist and told him what I was planning, and the only psychedelic he warned me off of was MDMA (ecstasy). He basically greenlighted the others, so off I went, on a series of really interesting journeys, all but one of which were guided by trained underground therapists.

Ideally, I would have participated in one of the fully legal clinical trials currently underway, but I didn’t qualify for any of them and perhaps they didn’t want a journalist hanging around anyway. So I took psilocybin from psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, 5-MeO-DMT from dried toad venom and ayahuasca. They were all very interesting experiences that taught me important things about myself and allowed for a certain stock-taking of life that I found invaluable.

Why do you think the authorities have been, at least until relatively recently, so hostile to psychedelics and the psychedelic mind state?

When psychedelics arrived in the United States, largely in the 1950s and ’60s, they arrived naked. Which is to say that these incredible molecules showed up, with very powerful properties, and unlike many other cultures which had long traditions of ceremonial and shamanistic use, we didn’t know how to use them. In those other cultures the psychedelic experience was regulated, guided and to some extent controlled by elders with decades of experience, but that’s not what happened here.

And so, while a lot of people had very positive experiences simply taking psychedelics at a concert or during a walk in the woods, some got into trouble. The experience of feeling your ego dissolve can be ecstatic but it can also be terrifying. And if there’s no one there to help you with that, you can get into a very dark place and have a panic reaction.

So that partly explains how the authorities reacted. But another big part of this is that psychedelics became a sacrament for the counterculture. Which was a very positive thing for the counterculture, but not for members of the establishment who were trying to send young men off to Vietnam to fight a war.

Psychedelics therefore became very frightening to the authorities.

Your experiences varied pretty widely, based on the specific psychedelic and set-and-setting. Which did you find most useful?

The most valuable experience was my guided psilocybin trip, where a lot of interesting things happened, but what was perhaps most helpful was having my sense of self dissolve completely. I saw myself blown into the wind like a sheaf of little Post-it notes, and I was fine with it. I had no desire to compile myself back together.

The consciousness that was perceiving this was not my usual consciousness. Aldous Huxley [author of “Brave New World”] would say it was “the mind at large.” And this is what I think has helped terminal cancer patients who’ve been given psychedelics to help deal with end-of-life anxiety. Taping into this kind of universal consciousness that doesn’t have the usual ego defenses attached to it can be incredibly liberating. It also could have been terrifying, but I felt safe and that’s really what’s important about having a guided experience.

You’re going to have to put down all of your mental defenses when taking a high-dose psychedelic trip and if you do that in a situation where don’t feel safe or trust the person that you’re with, it can be terrifying. But I did trust my guide, and so I was able to let go and surrender to the experience.

And the insight I brought away was, “Wow, I’m not identical to my ego.”

Ego is really important. Ego gets the book written, but it also gets in our way, and walls us off from other people and from strong emotions. I think ego consciousness is at the root of tribalism and the environmental crisis, because it separates us from nature. So to find out there’s another ground on which to stand, for me that was a real epiphany. I could have gotten there probably via 20 or 30 years of psychoanalysis, but I got there in an afternoon and that’s the power of psychedelics when used in the right context.

Then, after the experience comes the most important part, which we don’t talk about enough because we tend to focus on the trip itself. But if you’re engaged in therapist-assisted psychedelic therapy, as I was, there’s a formal session where you share your experience with the therapist and attempt to integrate it into the rest of your “normal” life.

When I reported my surprise at finding that I’m not the same as my ego, and how liberating that felt, the therapist said, “Well, that’s really worth the price of admission isn’t it? You’ve had a taste of another way to be and now you can cultivate that feeling and exercise that new muscle.”

TELL US, do you see a medical value in psychedelics?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

The post Michael Pollan & The Landscape of the Mind appeared first on Cannabis Now.