No Evidence of Cannabis ‘Hangover’ Effects in Recent Study

The University of Sydney (UoS) announced its findings on Feb. 6, sharing that there isn’t any evidence of cannabis “hangovers,” or effects of cannabis that continues hours or days after consumption. The study is slated to appear in the print version of the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research soon but is currently available for viewing online. The authors analyzed 20 different research studies that examined THC and its lingering effects, or lack thereof, at least eight hours after consumption occurred.

According to Dr. Danielle McCartney, UoS research fellow at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, there wasn’t much evidence of cannabis affecting individuals long term. “Most studies didn’t detect ‘next day’ effects of cannabis use, and the few that did had significant limitations,” McCartney said in a press release. “Overall, it appears that there is limited scientific evidence to support the assertion that cannabis use impairs ‘next day’ performance. Though, further research is still required to fully address this issue.”

Of the 20 studies reviewed, 61% reported no “next day” effects, 35% reported “unclear or unambiguous ‘next day’ effects,” and only 4% reported negative “next day” effects (which were noted as low-quality studies, or studies that were published over 18 years ago).

“We can’t really comment on the magnitude of these effects because they weren’t all that well reported,” McCartney said. “They didn’t appear to be associated with a specific dose of THC, route of THC administration or type of assessment.”

Pinpointing impairment in individuals continues to be a challenge for cannabis consumers, especially when it comes to detecting such effects on drivers or those who work in specific types of workplaces. “THC can persist in blood and oral fluid for an extended period of time,” McCartney explained. “So it is important to find out whether impairment can persist, too. People are being advised not to drive or perform other safety-sensitive tasks for 24 hours after cannabis use. However, we found little evidence to support this recommendation.”

The research authors cautioned legislators to consider how individuals who use medical cannabis, and are not impaired, still suffer from lack of accurate testing methods. “However, policy makers should bear in mind that the implementation of very conservative workplace regulations can have serious consequences (e.g., termination of employment with a positive drug test) and impact the quality of life of individuals who are required to abstain from medicinal cannabis use to treat conditions such as insomnia or chronic pain for fear of a positive workplace or roadside drug test,” the authors wrote.

Such evidence of this is seen in a study that appeared in Natural Scientific Reports in March 2022, which also found that THC levels in blood or breath tests do not correlate to impairment. The study was also led by McCartney, and also came to a similar conclusion. “Higher blood THC concentrations were only weakly associated with increased impairment in occasional cannabis users while no significant relationship was detected in regular cannabis users,” McCartney said. “This suggests that blood and oral fluid THC concentrations are relatively poor indicators of cannabis-THC-induced impairment.”

Many patients continue to be negatively affected by the lack of accurate testing, potentially preventing them from using cannabis as a medicine. A recent study from the University of Michigan found that 31% of adults use cannabis to treat chronic pain. Another study from December 2022 found positive effects of cannabis for those who suffer from bipolar disorder. The same goes for other psychedelics such as psilocybin, which was recently found to be beneficial to calm patients and help them when undergoing an MRI.

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Australian Cannabis Patients Turning to Prescriptions Over Illicit Market, Study Shows

New research from the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative seeks to take a closer look at cannabis consumers’ habits. The results found that most Australians medicate with illicit cannabis, though the number of patients accessing medicinal cannabis has risen dramatically over the years. The study’s findings were recently published in Harm Reduction Journal.

It’s the third Cannabis as a Medicine Survey (CAMS20), following two previous iterations, CAMS16 and CAMS18. The authors note that, even though Australia has had its legal framework for medicinal cannabis since 2016, prior surveys indicated most consumers were still using illicit cannabis products, while regulatory data indicated an increase in medicinal cannabis prescriptions since 2019.

Researchers administered a cross-sectional anonymous survey to 1,600 participants from September 2020 to January 2021. Participants were eligible if they were over 18 years of age, used cannabis for self-identified medical reason(s) in the past year, and a resident in Australia.

The survey ultimately found that 37.6% of respondents received a legal prescription for medical cannabis, a major increase from the 2.5% of respondents who reported prescription use in the 2018 iteration of the CAMS survey. Those who exclusively used prescription cannabis were often older, women, and less likely to be employed.

Prescribed participants were more likely to use cannabis to treat pain than those using illicit cannabis (52% vs. 40%) and were also less likely to treat sleep conditions (6% vs. 11%). Mental health conditions were also common indications for both groups (26% and 31%, respectively). Additionally, prescribed medicinal cannabis was predominately consumed through oral routes (72%), while illicit cannabis was more often smoked (41%).

As far as medicinal cannabis access, and despite the fact that medical patients in Australia have drastically increased over the past several years, few participants (10.8%) described the existing model for accessing prescribed medicinal cannabis as “straightforward or easy.”

Survey participants mostly called out the cost of medicinal cannabis as a barrier, with an average cost of $79 per week, highlighting the need to reexamine the cost of treatment for patients. People using illicit cannabis also reported that they had trouble finding medical practitioners with the ability or willingness to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

The study’s lead researcher, Professor Nicholas Lintzeris from the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, said this data suggests that Australia has seen a transition from illicit use toward the legal use of medicinal cannabis.

“A number of benefits were identified in moving to prescribed products, particularly where consumers reported safer ways of using medical cannabis. People using illicit cannabis were more likely to smoke their cannabis, compared to people using prescribed products who were more likely to use oral products or vaporised cannabis, highlighting a health benefit of using prescribed products,” Lintzeris said.

Respondents also reported positive outcomes from their medical cannabis use overall, with 95% stating that using medical cannabis has improved their health.

Professor Iain McGregor, academic director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, added that there are advantages in using medicinal cannabis instead of its illicit counterpart, including safer routes of administration, greater certainty of access, and better communication between patients and doctors.

“Patients can also be informed of the exact THC/CBD composition, which is an ongoing problem with illicit product,” McGregor said. “There should be further efforts to transition patients from illicit to regulated, quality-controlled, cannabis products.”

In the study conclusion, authors echo similar sentiments, noting the progress and uptick in medicinal cannabis prescriptions since the regulatory framework was first introduced in 2016. While they similarly note the benefits of using medicinal cannabis, authors recognized the barriers that may keep illicit cannabis users from securing a prescription.

In closing, the authors suggest further research to address the barriers respondents reported in accessing medical practitioners willing to prescribe medicinal cannabis in Australia. The CAMS series is conducted every two years, and if the stark contrast between this survey and the previous iteration is any indicator, hopefully the upcoming iteration will close some of these gaps in patient access to medicinal cannabis in the future.

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Study Shows Roadside THC Tests Do Not Indicate Impairment

As the laws surrounding cannabis relax around the world, drug impairment and driving is a growing concern. Each country has its own method of dealing with this issue. For many governments, the best option has been to use roadside THC saliva tests. However, when it comes to determining cannabis impairment, saliva samples are not accurate. […]

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