Your Weekly Cannabis Reader
Any intellectually honest medical professional or scientific researcher would draw the conclusion that cannabis is a valuable and safe medicine with the ability to treat several diseases. This consensus shows the ridiculousness of the plant’s Schedule 1 status. This Schedule 1 classification obviously halts, and in many cases prevents, any extended cannabis research. Draw your own conclusions as to who benefits the most from this. As legalization slowly takes hold nationwide, it should finally open the door for much needed research on what cannabis can treat, what it can’t, how much to ingest and how to ingest it, and so on.
I spend a lot of time reading about cannabis and its potential and I do my best to share what I learn with people who might benefit from cannabis. The biggest challenge is finding quality research on the medicinal uses of cannabis. Studies on mice or studies of a dozen college students are interesting, but they’re not convincing. The US government, particularly the DEA, has made it very difficult to do quality cannabis research in this country. We are drowning in a sea of anecdotal evidence of the healing properties of cannabis, but we are starved for details about which strains work best for what conditions, how much to take, when to take it, and the best way to consume it for the desired results. I could go on, but the point is that we need rigorous scientific studies in order to fully realize the potential of cannabis and plant medicine. I’m grateful to the people who have been brave enough to use themselves as human guinea pigs, but we need to give the scientific community the ability to research this plant and help us understand how it works with our bodies.
“In so many cases, it isn’t trafficking rings that introduce a person to opioids. It’s the household medicine cabinet. That’s the source,” Lynch told students before fielding questions from the audience. Madison Central High School student Tyler Crafton then asked Lynch whether or not recreational marijuana use could also lead down the same path of addiction to stronger drugs such as opiates. “When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin,” Lynch said. “It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids – it is true that if you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be inclined to experiment with drugs, as well,” Lynch added. “But it’s not like we’re seeing that marijuana as a specific gateway.”
Rather than being a gateway drug, states with medical marijuana actually see a substantial decrease in deaths from opiate overdoses. It’s fantastic to see a high-ranking government official acknowledge that cannabis is not a contributor to the opiate epidemic.
The self-interest of many people supporting the legalization of cannabis is obvious. They like cannabis, want to buy it legally, and don’t want to be subject to criminal sanctions for growing, selling or using it. Now, what’s the motivation for the alcohol industry and manufacturers of opiate pain medication to oppose the legalization of cannabis? Self-interest, of course. If people can use cannabis legally, they will use less alcohol. If people can use cannabis legally, they will not require opiate medication as often for pain relief. There is all sorts of data that can be examined in support of either claim, including data on the pharmacological activity and relative safety of each of these three drugs. But the important issue here is that some folks who sell alcohol and others who sell opiate pills believe it is in their self-interest to keep cannabis illegal.
While I’m not sure this is the best argument for legalization, this article does a great job of showing the self-interest of those fighting against legalization. Who benefits from prohibition? People who are selling something that might be replaced by legal cannabis, namely the manufacturers of alcohol and certain prescription drugs. Who else benefits from prohibition?
Jim McAlpine likes to use cannabis before a workout. He always has. When he was a teenager, toking up before practice, he thought he was “just a stoner” but by the time he was 18, McAlpine realized his workouts were better if he hit the gym stoned. Finding just the right dosage deeply accentuated his focus, he started referring to cannabis as his supplement. In contrast to McAlpine, Wendy Crittenden, an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area, only recently discovered the fitness benefits of cannabis. Tired of the crippling allergies she always experienced outdoors Crittenden decided to take the addition of edibles out for a test run. She ingested a small dosage before a San Francisco 5k and had one of the best races of her life.
Here in Tahoe it’s easy to find people using cannabis while they workout or to help themselves recover from sport-related injuries. This practice is hardly new, but the end of prohibition makes it easier for people to talk about it. Many people find that cannabis makes it easier to appreciate a hike or to relax into a challenging line on the mountain or to push up that last hill on a bike. It also helps soothe the inevitable sore muscles or minor injuries associated with frequent athletic activities. Do you incorporate cannabis into your workouts?
In fact, prior to menopause, women are most sensitive to psychoactive THC right before ovulation,when estrogen levels are highest. Estrogen directly engages endocannabinoids. In fact, the enzyme that breaks down certain endocannabinoids (enzyme FAAH) is regulated by estrogen. As estrogen levels begin to drop, endocannabinoid levels change. The implications of these changes are under-researched at this point, but a handful of early studies shed some light on the possibilities. Animal research has shown that estrogen recruits endocannabinoids to help regulate emotional response and mood. As estrogen levels decline, disruptions in the way the body handles endocannabinoids may contribute to menopause-associated mood swings. Some suggest that endocannabinoid deficiency may contribute to early menopause. Endocannabinoid deficiency is a theoretical condition in which the body does not have a proper endocannabinoid tone, leading to a wide range of health problems.
Cannabis alleviates a host of symptoms associated with menopause, making the experience far more comfortable. It helps regulate both body temperature and mood, fighting hot flashes and mood swings. It also mitigates bone loss, a common side-effect of menopause. Menopausal women often benefit from cannabis’s well-documented effects on pain and insomnia. Some women experience decreased weight gain and an increased libido, two effects of consuming cannabis that would benefit from more research. Have you used cannabis to help with menopause or other hormone shifts?
Evidence suggests that migraines are the result of a variety of triggers interacting with a dysfunctional brain stem center involved in pain regulation. These triggers activate the trigeminovascular system (neurons in the trigeminal nerve that supply cerebral blood vessels with nerves), and consequently the dilation of cerebral blood vessels, which in turn activate brain circuits associated with pain and inflammation. Anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) are endogenous cannabinoids naturally found in the nervous system that, together with cannabinoid receptors, form the endocannabinoid system (ECS). When anandamide and 2-AG interact with cannabinoid receptors, they inhibit blood vessel dilation and modulate the pain mechanisms activated by an individual’s triggers (e.g. changes in atmospheric pressure, chocolate, or caffeine).
Migraines are a debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the US alone, so any new treatment option is good news. Cannabis is showing promise of treating not only the pain associated with migraines but also the associated nausea and vomiting that some people experience.