Tag: Health

Is Drug Testing Negatively Impacting America’s Workforce?

Nearly 60% of the U.S. population lives in a state with some form of legal cannabis, and eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult use. Despite this impressive progress, however, so far the issue of employer drug testing continues to be unaddressed from a state or federal level.

For employees who work for a federally regulated company, whether cannabis is legal within the state is not the point; rather, many companies operating in these legal states still require drug testing prior to being hired, as well as regular drug testing throughout employment. This policy is particularly widespread among Fortune 500 companies, and it has started appearing in state legislatures as a requirement for unemployment benefit elibility. Even the FBI and CIA have struggled to find qualified candidates that can pass a drug test, with former director James Comey finally advising candidates to apply even if they are cannabis consumers.

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No Exceptions for Colorado

62% of Colorado companies still require drug tests, and 94% of those companies still test for cannabis.

In Colorado, the state with the longest-running and most robust legal cannabis industry, seven percent of local businesses dropped cannabis from their pre-employment drug tests, and three percent removed it from their drug tests entirely, according to a 2016 survey from the Mountain States Employers Council. However, that doesn’t mean that living and working in Colorado gives you a free pass on cannabis use. The study also shows that 62% of Colorado companies still require drug tests, and 94% of those companies still test for cannabis. Additionally, if you’re found to have THC in your system, 49% will terminate you immediately.

A landmark case in Colorado made waves when a paraplegic worker, Brandon Coats, was fired from his job at Dish Satellite Network for consuming cannabis during his off-duty hours to ease muscle spasms. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Dish Network was within its rights to fire him because marijuana is illegal under federal law and the company must conduct business under the same federal regulations.

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Protecting Workers for Off-Duty Cannabis Use

In Oregon, Senate Bill 301 was introduced during the 2017 legislative session in an effort to protect workers from being fired for off-duty cannabis use. The bill would have expanded on a similar measure to prevent employers from firing workers for using any substance that is legal in Oregon, so long as it is only consumed in off-duty hours and does not affect the employee’s productivity. Ultimately, the bill died in the Senate, but its introduction is in clear alignment with the increasing acceptance of cannabis in mainstream society.

There are very few states that offer protections for workers caught using cannabis, even for medicinal reasons.

There are very few states that offer protections for workers caught using cannabis, even for medicinal reasons and even if they are not consuming during work hours. Arizona, Delaware, and Minnesota are currently the only states that offer limited protections for law-abiding medical marijuana patients, but in cases that challenged the law, more often than not, the courts sided with employers.

For those living in states where cannabis is still penalized, the situation can be even more dire. In Wyoming and Wisconsin, officials have been drug testing citizens applying for unemployment benefits. Other states have already mandated such measures, but the cost has clearly outweighed the benefits. ThinkProgress gathered data from seven states that require drug testing for government assistance and found that state governments collectively spent nearly $1 million for the tests, but fewer than 1% of the total welfare applicants tested positive.

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Drug Test Costs vs. Benefits

On average, employer drug tests cost between $30 and $50 per test, and with approximately 40 to 50 million workplace drug tests being conducted each year, the costs add up to more than $1.5 billion annually for the biomedical industry. But do these tests save employers cash in the long term?

With at least 25% of applicants failing drug tests, participation in the workforce is declining and small, rural economies are feeling the strain.

The pros of implementing a drug-free workplace can include insurance discounts as well as a decrease of drug-related insurance claims. In certain industries that involve safety-sensitive positions where employees are often operating heavy equipment, such as manufacturing plants or construction, the risks of having drugs in an employee’s system are more evident. These risks, however, very much depend on the type of drug being ingested.

A recent article from the New York Times highlights a blue-collar county in Ohio where nearly half of all job applicants fail prospective employers’ required drug tests and lose the opportunity for employment. Mandatory pre-employment drug testing is also a deterrent for would-be applicants, as they’d rather not take the risk and opt to apply elsewhere instead. With at least 25% of applicants failing drug tests, participation in the workforce is declining and small, rural economies are feeling the strain.

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Alan B. Kreuger, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, published a report on the subject last year, noting the decline of labor force participation is at a 40-year low. The paper found that nearly half of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 take pain medication of some kind every day. Does this indicate a problem with pain or a problem with opiates? More than likely, both.

Ohio is the main stage for a lawsuit filed against five pharmaceutical drug companies that may be contributing to the overabundance of prescribed opioids and the ensuing decline of eligible, drug-free workers. Insys, the makers of the powerful opiate Fentanyl, is also facing a major lawsuit for allegedly offering kickbacks to physicians for prescribing the addictive drug.

In the opioid epidemic, Ohio has been hit the hardest by overdose deaths. A reported 3,050 people died of opioid overdoses in 2015, and estimates show that the number of deaths rose by at least 30 percent in 2016.

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The Opioid Epidemic

There’s a clear contrast between testing positive for cannabis versus testing positive for opiates. With no way for an employer to know whether an applicant used cannabis hours ago or weeks ago, because THC metabolites may remain in one’s system for weeks after use, many potential employers will tell the applicant to come back when they’re clean.

Opiates, however, leave the body within hours of ingestion. Saliva tests will only be able to detect heroin for the first 5-6 hours after the last dose, and urine tests generally detect opiates for 2-7 days after use. In order to test positive for opioids, an individual must be a regular or near-daily user, whereas he or she would have only needed to smoke cannabis once in the past month to fail a drug test.

For employers, especially small businesses, the declining workforce is not the only major financial impact. Opioids have proven to be highly addictive compared to cannabis, and drug treatment is often the only course of action. The cost of drug treatment can impact not just employees and their dependents, but the employers that provide health coverage as well. The aforementioned New York Times piece cites a company that has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in opioid drug treatment program costs for addicted employees and their dependents who are covered under the company’s healthcare program. Rehabilitations costs can range from $1,000 to $60,000 per person, with no guarantee of full recovery.

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Is Cannabis Better for Chronic Pain Than Opioids?

For those who deal with chronic, debilitating pain, cannabis has been proven to be analgesic and can effectively relieve suffering without many of the side effects and addiction potential of opioids. Cannabis has also been proven to significantly reduce the use of opioids by 64% on average, decreasing withdrawal symptoms while offering pain relief. While employer-mandated drug tests are unlikely to disappear any time soon, there are a number of valid reasons to seriously reconsider whether it’s worth the time and cost to test for cannabis alongside other, arguably more harmful substances. The future of America’s workplace could, in the long run, depend on drug testing reform.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

How Cannabis Is Used for Nausea and Vomiting Relief

When medical cannabis laws made their debut in the latter half of the 1990s, they were intended to protect cancer patients from prosecution. These patients found a medication that combatted the harsh, nauseating side effects of chemotherapy, and though cannabis’ efficacy was largely anecdotal at the time, we can now look at the science of cannabinoids to better understand why it works to suppress nausea and vomiting.

What Is CINV and How Is It Treated?

Overpowering. That’s how cancer patients describe the onslaught that occurs within the first 24 hours after starting chemotherapy. Certainly patients fear the hair loss, but the most dreaded side effect is the extreme bouts of nausea and vomiting (called emesis). This isn’t just regular nausea–chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is severe and usually occurs right away, with a peak window of 6-24+ hours after treatment.

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Traditional pharmaceuticals are used as anti-nausea (anti-emetic) therapies to prevent or minimize CINV. Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid prescribed for inflammatory conditions, is most commonly prescribed; as it turns out, it is also very effective in treating CINV. Serotonin receptor agonists called 5-HT3 (ondansetron, palonosetron, and aprepitant) have been effective when used with dexamethasone. Even antihistamines, antidepressants and anticonvulsants have been tried.

But what happens if these drugs don’t alleviate symptoms? Many chemotherapy patients don’t respond to traditional drugs and report that they can leave them feeling more drugged, more lethargic, and even delusional.

Cannabinoids have shown success in treating the symptoms of CINV. Two medicines, nabilone  and dronabinol, are orally-administered synthetic cannabinoids (not to be confused with synthetic cannabis like K2 and Spice). The two are slightly different variations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (Δ9-THC), which naturally occurs in a cannabis plant. Dronabinol is marketed as Marinol from the US-based Banner Pharmacaps, and nabilone is sold as Cesamet by the Canadian company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. Both are available in oral and inhaled solutions, and both have been approved for treatment of CINV.

Doctors will usually prescribe traditional medications first, but then try Marinol or Cesamet for patients who don’t respond to other pharmaceuticals.

Research on Synthetic Cannabinoids for Nausea Relief

In 1985, dronabinol and nabilone were both approved by the FDA for treatment of CINV. Since then, nearly 30 clinical trials have been conducted and show that synthetic cannabinoids are superior to traditional dopamine receptor antagonist medications for CINV.

Specifically, several clinical trials (1975-1996) involved 1,366 patients. Sixteen trials studied nabilone, and thirteen trials studied dronabinol. Placebos were used, and metoclopramide was used as a control. Cannabinoids alleviated CINV more effectively than either metoclopromide or placebos in all trials.

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With synthetic cannabinoids, patients reported beneficial effects such as euphoria, but they also noted negative side effects like drowsiness, depression, drops in blood pressure, and even hallucinations and paranoia. For some patients, the side effects were so intolerable that they dropped out of the studies.

Scientists are also running trials in which the synthetics are used in conjunction with traditional pharmaceuticals, like the addition of dronabinol to dexamethasone. Various studies show a dramatic reduction in emesis, but some of the adverse side effects of the synthetic cannabinoids are still present, albeit less severe than previous studies.

A typical dronabinol dosage is 5mg taken 3 to 4 times daily; for nabilone, a 1-2mg dose is typically taken twice daily. Both are usually given about 1 to 3 hours prior to the start of chemotherapy.

Surprisingly, the medical community still considers these synthetic cannabinoids to be a controversial treatment, despite being approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago. Nabilone and dronabinol are still not as well-studied in clinical trials as their traditional counterparts. Although there is anecdotal evidence regarding drug combinations, very few studies have been designed to look CINV solutions involving a formulation of cannabis and other drugs.

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How Do Cannabinoids Work to Prevent Nausea?

Nabilone and dronabinol work by blocking the binding of serotonin and dopamine, both of which are associated with CINV, at receptor sites. Some of the body’s endocannabinoid receptors exist within emetic reflex pathways, making them a promising target for managing CINV. The dorsal vagal complex (DVC) in the brainstem is the overall regulator of emesis (nausea/vomiting), and it is responsible for communication between signals in the blood (like chemotherapy) and the nerve cells that initiate emesis. The DVC and gastrointestinal tract have endocannabinoid receptors, and all have shown to exhibit anti-emetic responses when the receptors are activated by Δ9-THC.

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Natural Cannabis and Nausea Treatment

According to the National Cancer Institute, as of April 2017, only 10 human trials have studied the effect of inhaled cannabis for treatment of CINV. In some cases, inhaled cannabis was used because dronabinol failed. One trial found that inhaled cannabis was effective for patients who received high doses of methotrexate.

Natural cannabis can also be used for all types of nausea, not just CINV. Most evidence has come from strains containing some degree of THC. The therapeutic outcomes, of course, depend on the THC concentration. Other formulations involve THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in different ratios. Cannabis strains are specifically grown to have different ratios/concentrations to achieve a particular pharmacologic effect.

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CBD is non-psychoactive, and although research has only been done in animals, several animal studies have shown it to be effective at reducing nausea. Rats and mice don’t vomit in response to a toxin, so other species such as cats and ferrets must be studied. However, it’s possible to determine the degree of nausea in rats by studying the conditioned gaping response.

In a 2012 rat study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBD was found to be effective on nicotine-induced nausea. Other animal studies found that low doses of CBD were effective in several types of induced vomiting and anticipatory vomiting, but so far it has not been effective on nausea and vomiting induced by motion sickness.

Many people have started using CBD to treat nausea and vomiting, based on preliminary results showing that CBD activates a neurotransmitter that decreases the sensation of nausea. More research—to identify appropriate combinations, dosages, and drug interactions—is needed for both natural and synthetic cannabinoids used for CINV as well as other types of nausea.

Unfortunately, natural cannabis is not yet a part of the global standard Clinical Practice Guidelines for Oncology, and in the US, because medical marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, researchers remain somewhat reluctant to register studies on clnicaltrials.gov. The recourse patients have is to pursue nausea treatment options in states that have approved medical cannabis use.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Nearly Half of All Americans Have Tried Cannabis, Poll Finds

A new Gallup poll found that 45% of Americans have tried cannabis at least once—the highest percentage recorded since Gallup began asking the question in 1969.

Chart courtesy of Gallup.com

The survey found that young adults—men in particular—with household incomes of less than $30,000 per year are most likely to say they currently consume cannabis. Gallup reports that 13% of men said they smoke cannabis, compared to 7% of women who responded affirmatively.

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Gallup first asked US residents if they consumed cannabis back in 1969. At that time only 4% said they had tried marijuana at least once. The rise in consumption over the past 50 years is paralleled by the increasing support for cannabis legalization, according to Gallup. A study released last year by the polling group found that 60% of Americans believe that cannabis should be legal, which was also a record level of support.

The study released yesterday indicates that current cannabis consumption starts to decline with age. Those aged 30-49 are more likely to say they have tried cannabis (51%) than those aged 50-64 (49%).

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Ontario Unions Lead the Way for Employer Coverage of Medical Cannabis

Warren “Smokey” Thomas, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union, has a reputation as a strong leader and a man of conviction, so when he told colleagues he thought the union should consider providing coverage of medical cannabis for employees, they took heed.

“It was discussed at a few meetings and nobody disagreed with him,” Ilana Goodman, administrator of employee relations at OPSEU, told Leafly. “Everyone thought it was a great thing to do.” Last month, OSEU began rolling out a new benefit providing medical cannabis coverage for its roughly 300 employees.

The union, which represents 130,000 public sector employees in Ontario, is among a growing number of employers providing coverage of medical cannabis in response to heightened demand and an expanding body of evidence supporting its therapeutic benefits.

The president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union, who has reviewed research on medical cannabis, urged employers to ‘keep up with the times.’

“Cannabis can be an effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions,” Thomas, who has reviewed research on medical cannabis, said in a press release. He added that laws around medical cannabis continue to modernize, and urged employers to “keep up with the times.”

Before introducing the expanded coverage plan, union officials had to work out the logistics. It took them several months to determine which ailments would be covered and how much coverage would be provided. Ultimately, they decided not to limit the number of eligible conditions and to provide up to $3,000 coverage per year. Union officials also took steps to ensure the union could provide medical marijuana coverage for employees without breaching their confidentiality.

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Officials attended educators’ presentations to determine whether it was better to have medical professionals or union officials educate union employees about cannabis. “Ultimately, we decided we didn’t need to place a heavy focus on educating employees; we want to leave that piece to the experts,” says Goodman. “From what we understand, most clinics you go to will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.”

Thomas, who is also a registered practical nurse, has said the union would consider providing medical cannabis coverage for its members by lobbying for it to be included in collective agreements. Goodman says that could happen “down the line” if coverage for union employees proves to be successful.

Local 625 of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), which represents 1,500 construction and skilled trades workers in Southwestern Ontario, has already taken that step. Its insurance provider now covers the cost of medical cannabis for eligible employees and union members.

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Specifically, the expanded benefits plan covers medical cannabis for retired or permanently injured members. Members who are still working are covered only for medical cannabis oil products with reduced levels of THC. To ensure the system is not abused, the union requires members to pay for prescriptions up front and get reimbursed. Business manager Robert Petroni says that requirement will enable the union to determine who is prescribing the medical cannabis and how much is being prescribed. For other prescriptions, members don’t have to pay out of pocket.

This expanded medical coverage, announced in May, is the culmination of two years of consultations with various pharmacies and cannabis suppliers. Petroni says the union undertook those consultations in part because officials had heard through word of mouth that members were already using medical cannabis. Another motivation in expanding medical coverage, he says, was concern over the use of opioids. He hopes the introduction of medical cannabis coverage will reduce the use of opioids, which are highly addictive and a brutal health risk, with opioid overdoses killing at least 2,300 Canadians in 2016.

In March, Canadian retailer Loblaw Companies announced it would provide medical cannabis coverage for its 45,000 employees. However, Loblaw only covers cannabis used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis and the side effects of chemotherapy, and some industry insiders believe the company’s move to become the first big Canadian employer to cover medical cannabis was inspired in part by its business plans. Last fall, the retailer’s drug store division filed an application with the federal government to become a licensed producer of medical cannabis hoping only to distribute it.

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Meanwhile, Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy at Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), reports that no Canadian insurer provides medical cannabis coverage as part of a standard plan and cites several reasons for that.

First, cannabis doesn’t have a Drug Identification Number (DIN), which is issued by Health Canada for drugs that have been evaluated by a federal drug regulatory body and approved for sale in Canada. Weir told Leafly that the lack of DIN is “a major concern” for insurance providers.

Another factor is the potential effects of cannabis on employees’ performance. Insurers and employers are wondering, ‘How do we allow employees to use cannabis while ensuring they stay productive at work?’” she told Leafly. “There is no definitive test for impairment from cannabis. This contributes to wariness [among insurers and employers].”

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OSEU sees impairment, whether from alcohol or any drug, as a single issue. Goodman says this issue is addressed in a fitness-for-duty brochure that union officials are now preparing.

LiUNA’s Petroni has no doubt that medical coverage of cannabis will become widespread in the not-so-distant future. “I think we’re a little bit ahead of the curve here and I think others are going to catch up,” he told the Chatham Daily News.

Weir of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association agrees. She says many insurers are waiting to see how legislation legalizing recreational marijuana, expected to be introduced next summer, will affect medical cannabis in terms of pricing and taxation before they consider including coverage of medical cannabis as standard practice. Nonetheless, she expects a few more insurers to provide coverage at the request of employers in the coming months.

OPSEU’s Goodman concurs. “We pride ourselves in being proactive and forward-thinking,” she told Leafly. “This is the wave of the future.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Marijuana Stigma Hurts Doctor–Patient Relationship, Study Says

The receding but still powerful stigma surrounding cannabis often gets in the way of a healthy doctor-patient relationship. It can be so difficult to speak honestly and openly about medical cannabis use, in fact, that the stigma may actually harm a patient’s health.

Some patients so fear being labeled a ‘stoner’ that they’ll endure needless pain, anxiety, or insomnia.

Those were some of the many findings in a review published earlier this week in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. Jennie Ryan and Nancy Sharts-Hopko, researchers at Villanova University, reviewed five studies of medical cannabis patients published between 2003 and 2015, and discovered these common themes regarding MMJ patients and the harmful effects of “reefer madness” stigma:

  • Many medical marijuana patients remain fearful of “being labeled a pothead or stoner.”
  • Concern over that stigma may be so great that some patients will suffer unnecessary pain rather than talk to their doctor about using medical cannabis.
  • Some patients who use medical cannabis may conceal their use from their doctor, risking negative drug interactions and/or incorrect diagnoses.
  • To avoid revealing their medical marijuana use to their doctor, some patients may forego checkups or clinical visits altogether.
  • The perception of stigma can be so strong that it creates stress and anxiety in a patient, further deteriorating their health.

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That apprehension about talking with a healthcare provider about medical cannabis is hardly unfounded. Some patients reported neutral or positive reactions from their doctors when they asked about MMJ as a treatment or disclosed their own use. But many reported negative encounters when the subject was broached.

“Several participants were warned of the addictive potential of marijuana and were counseled on addiction management,” the authors wrote. “For some participants, the negative feedback caused anger toward and frustration with the healthcare providers who seemed uneducated about the potential benefits of marijuana.”

Those negative interactions often weren’t resolved—they just resulted in the patient mistrusting the doctor and avoiding further trips to the clinic.

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The Blurred Medical-Recreational Line

Many experienced legalization advocates are familiar with the sometimes fractious relationship between medical marijuana advocates and those who campaign for full adult-use legalization. That schism is also reflected in the Villanova study.

To avoid being perceived as stoners, the authors found, many MMJ patients were quick to delineate the difference between medical and recreational use. Some patients reported that the psychoactive effects of cannabis contributed to the overall therapeutic value of the drug. (Among cannabis researchers this has been identified as the entourage effect.) Others insisted they used cannabis exclusively for medical reasons and never became intoxicated.

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“There is no clear line to delineate the psychoactive effects from the therapeutic effects of marijuana,” the authors noted. Nevertheless, they added, maintaining a line between recreational and medical use “becomes important for patients seeking to avoid stigma and for the many patients living in states where only medical use is legal.”

Authors Ryan and Sharts-Hopko conclude the study with a note encouraging nurses in the neuroscience field to become educated about medical cannabis and conduct open conversations with their patients. “It is critical,” they write, “that neuroscience nurses be familiar with the current literature regarding medical marijuana, as evidence supporting marijuana’s use in the treatment and management of neurological diseases continues to grow.”

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Leafly Investigation: Why Are CBD Prices So Confusing?

Hard to Know What You’re Getting

Even as public awareness of CBD’s healing potential has grown, it remains difficult to assess the quality, safety, and, importantly, the origin of most CBD products, thanks to the 80-year federal prohibition of cannabis and the resulting lack of both research and regulation.

“God knows what toxins are in the hemp processed in countries like China or Romania.”

Dr. Ethan Russo, leading cannabis researcher

Even though the law does not classify CBD as a Schedule I narcotic, the DEA claims that it is. (CBD, unlike THC, is not psychoactive.) That discrepancy leaves a lot of gray area when it comes to knowing how to operate. “It’s why some manufacturers don’t list CBD on the label,” says Heather Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Realm of Caring, a patient research and advocacy nonprofit in Colorado. “They may list ‘hemp extract,’ which is code for the entire cannabinoid content, but not necessarily CBD.”

Until recently, hemp growing and production was banned in the United States. As a result, much of the CBD being used today is extracted from hemp grown in Europe, or in some cases, China. (Google “CBD powder” and Alibaba and see what comes up.) This is troubling. Hemp has an extraordinary ability to absorb toxins from polluted soils—it’s a natural soil remediator. After the 1988 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, hemp was planted around the contaminated disaster site for exactly that reason. Oils extracted from plants grown near soils contaminated by pesticides or industrial effluents may contain those impurities in concentrated amounts. In today’s CBD market, manufacturers are under no obligation to tell consumers where their hemp was grown or to test it for contaminants.

Caveat emptor: Chinese-sourced CBD powder can be ordered in bulk for less than 2¢/mg on Alibaba.com.

“God knows what toxins are in the hemp processed in countries like China or Romania, which don’t have the same laws about pesticide use that we have,” says Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist, ethnobotanist, and one of America’s leading researchers into medical cannabis. “I don’t trust any of it and I don’t think anyone else should either.”

It’s a tough choice for patients: $200/month for CBD or $11/month for Advil.

The good news is that it’s increasingly possible to source higher-quality, laboratory-tested CBD derived from organic hemp grown in Western European countries—Austria, Germany, the Netherlands—with strong environmental regulations. High-quality hemp oils from Europe now wholesale for 0.5 cents to 1 cent per milligram. If encapsulating, bottling, and labeling that oil doubles the production cost, a manufacturer filling a pill bottle with 30 20-mg capsules (a standard dose) and selling that bottle online for $60 (8 cents/mg) is realizing at least a 400% markup. 

While that may suit American manufacturers, it’s challenging for financially strapped patients who must cough up $200 to $300 a month—the equivalent of a monthly car lease—for CBD meds. In a rational world, health insurance would cover much of that cost. But the federal government still refuses to treat cannabinoid medicine with any sort of rationality. For people on fixed or low incomes, CBD isn’t a sustainable option, especially compared to an NSAID like Advil, which clocks in at about 6 cents per pill, or about $11 per month.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, the renowned Harvard psychiatrist who wrote the 1972 best seller Marihuana Reconsidered, dubbed medical marijuana “the people’s medicine,” precisely because it could be made economically or grown at home. But at this price, CBD is more of a luxury product than an affordable treatment, less for the people and more for the pashas.

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The Price of Risk

I’m a patient, but I’m also a small business owner. I understand the challenge of conducting business in the cannabis space, which in many states is still considered a criminal activity. The media crows about “marijuana millionaires,” but the weight of prohibition can often be crushing to a small business with high startup costs, low revenue, and a fair amount of risk.

Federal law doesn’t directly address the status of CBD. But the DEA claims it’s illegal.

CBD producers shoulder a greater risk than the maker of any “normal channel” medicine. With the Trump administration sending mixed signals on hemp oil—the DEA’s notorious December 2016 Federal Register rule had manufacturers fretting that the government would ban it outright—the risk could suddenly turn hazardous.

Still, it’s difficult to fathom why CBD, derived from an easily grown and processed weed, is ten times more expensive than a precious metal.

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Is Green the New Silver?

Prohibition imposes a criminal risk factor, certainly. But cocaine carries a far greater risk factor than CBD. And at $100 per gram, cocaine sells for the same exact price—$2,835 per ounce. So legal risk can’t be the only reason.

As I asked industry manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and researchers to explain the high price of CBD, five answers were consistently floated: inefficient farming and production, the costs of introducing a new product into an unregulated market, insufficient consumer information, limited patient access, and greed.

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Wanted: Better Hemp Farming

Modern hemp farmers say that hemp cultivation methods in the United States are antiquated and inefficient. “Farmers spend way too much money using outdated methods on something which grows quite simply,” says Jacob Goldstein, co-founder of two-year-old Green Mountain CBD in Vermont.

Green Mountain CBD co-founders Jacob Goldstein, right, and Alejandro Bergad.

Goldstein, who counts Seventh Generation founder Alan Newman as one of his primary investors, sells one of the lowest-cost CBD products on the market.

Growers “are cloning plants before transferring them to soil, which requires massive manpower and expensive real estate and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Goldstein told me. “We don’t do clones, so we don’t need $1000/square foot climate-controlled grow rooms and we don’t need all the manpower required to get them into the ground.”

Instead, Green Mountain breeds its own high-CBD seed crops indoors, which, Goldstein says, makes for stronger roots and heartier plants. Green Mountain then cultivates the plants on its small, 14-acre farm. Medical marijuana is legal in Vermont, so Green Mountain has fewer concerns about state law enforcement officials raiding the farm. Some hemp farmers in other states haven’t been so fortunate.

Other hemp producers use pricey extraction processes, often with harsh solvents such as butane or hexane that require further processing to remove. Green Mountain pares its costs by extracting with coconut oil, which Goldstein claims has the added benefit of enhancing the bioavailability of the CBD in each dose.

That all sounds good. But Green Mountain doesn’t employ scientists to test its products and guarantee consistent and reliable dosing. That may be another way to minimize production costs, but it means consumers are essentially trusting the Green Mountain brand to deliver the 600 mg of CBD it promises on the label—and deliver them without pesticide residues or other adulterants.

The Stanley Brothers’ CW Hemp Capsules.

CW Hemp, the Colorado makers of the oil that successfully treated Charlotte Figi, does test its products through a third-party lab. The company also has a staff microbiologist test regularly for molds and other microbes. CW Hemp’s revenues allow the company to voluntarily follow CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) methods, even though it’s not required. “That’s the gold standard, and it adds costs,” says Jesse Stanley, CW Hemp co-founder and vice president.

The company grows its own famously CBD-rich plants. Patients registered with Realm of Caring, the nonprofit group created by the Stanley brothers, can purchase its CBD oil in bulk for as little as 5 cents per milligram. If you’re not registered with Realm of Caring, CW Hemp will ship its CW Simply capsules anywhere in the United States for 6 cents per mg. It’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting, though, because CW Simply says each capsule contains 15mg of “Charlotte’s Web extract oil.” Does that mean each capsule contains 15mg of CBD? We’re meant to infer it, as Charlotte’s Web is synonymous with low-THC, high-CBD cannabis. But we can’t know for sure. The company may be skittish about actually listing CBD due to federal legal concerns—but that doesn’t do a patient any favors.

Brand Assurance

Green Mountain was founded about two years ago. The company sells its products exclusively online and does very little marketing. When I told a fellow patient about the company’s products, he was skeptical. “I’ve come to know and trust some of the pricier manufacturers precisely because they’ve invested millions in establishing that brand,” he said. “They’re less likely to cheat me, because they have more at stake.”

Well… possibly. It’s true that the costs of building a trustworthy brand, while unseen by consumers, are not insignificant. In an industry where the usual markers of quality assurance (FDA approval, state-mandated testing) simply don’t exist, brand equity becomes an important indicator of quality.

In the absence of an authority to police the brands, though, consumer awareness guarantees nothing. Reputations can be built on unsubstantiated claims. In 2015, the FDA tested 26 CBD products produced in California, Washington, and Arizona and discovered that many contained miniscule amounts of CBD—or none at all. One year later the FDA repeated the test on 22 CBD products from other states: same result.

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Botanical Bells and Whistles

Here’s another way to command a high price: Create sophisticated formulations, package them beautifully, and sell them for a premium. The beauty industry was built on this formula. Most of the $300 potions on the shelves at Sephora cost about $2 to make, according to Perry Romanowski. Romanowski is a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of BeautyBrains.com, a site that educates consumers about the science behind the cosmetic industry.

CBD companies know this strategy well.

“Not all CBD products are created equal,” says Kurt Forstmann, hemp category manager for Colorado-based Dixie Brands, one of America’s largest and best-known cannabis companies. “The vast majority are just squirting CBD in coconut oil and calling it medicine. Our products have synergistic ingredients that potentiate the medicinal qualities, and many of them are as expensive as CBD.”

Dixie’s Aceso brand: CBD only, in a beverage powder.

A year and a half ago, Dixie created the Aceso brand, which offers THC-free CBD products to consumers around the country, regardless of the legal status of their state. Aceso’s “Calm” formulation combines L-theanine (a Green Tea extract), plus two pharmaceutical-grade terpenes: linalool, which is found in lavender; and limonene from grapefruit. It’s packaged as a beverage powder, with 7.5 mg of CBD per sachet, at a price of 22 cents per mg. (The company’s CBD capsules, offered under the Dixie Botanicals brand, offer CBD at about 20 cents per mg.)

Aceso Calm certainly smells luxurious. But are those terpenes an integral part of a medically effective entourage effect, working in harmony with the CBD—or do they just please the olfactory sense? They jury’s still out, again, due to the lack of scientific studies. We do know one thing for sure: The addition of terpenes do enhance the cost.

Even if those supplementary ingredients equal the costs of CBD, though, Dixie’s products are still three to four times the price of Green Mountain’s. To give Dixie its due, the company spends a lot of money double-testing every batch of imported CBD oil for heavy metals, pesticides, microbes, and solvents—once when the oil arrives at their facility, and again after the final product is assembled. “We don’t trust anyone in this business,” Forstmann says.

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Hemp-Sourced Vs. Cannabis-Sourced

Another way of judging the value of hemp-derived CBD is to compare it to the CBD extracted from more expensive cannabis flowers.

Unlike the other manufacturers surveyed in this article, Aunt Zelda’s, a small patient collective based in Bodega Bay, CA, makes its CBD tinctures and balms using cannabis flower, which is usually about two to four times more expensive than hemp. Their CBD oils, which are typically blended with THC, cost 2.25 cents per mg to manufacture, and that cost includes lab testing, tinted bottles, packaging, compliance, labor, rent, and utilities.

Unlike most CBD manufacturers, Aunt Zelda’s posts its independent lab test results online. A 600-mg bottle of their CBD-THC oil costs $13.50 to produce. It wholesales for $27. California distributors tack on another 30%, which ratchets the price up to $34. Dispensaries double that—a typical markup in any retail business—to about $70.

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Aunt Zelda’s delivers CBD to the patient at 11.6 cents per mg—but only in California. Because their oils contain more than 0.3% THC, they sell only to authorized California medical cannabis patients. And it’s not easy for patients to find; retail partners listed on Zelda’s website do not actually list Zelda’s CBD on their own menus. Aunt Zelda’s might make some of the highest-quality CBD in America, but it’s extremely difficult for most patients buy.

Today’s CBD market is young and unnaturally warped by prohibition. As it matures, prices will stabilize—and hopefully decline.

Aunt Zelda’s is a nonprofit patient-based service. Revenue is important, but it’s not the sole driver of the operation. That raises a question. If Zelda’s meticulously crafted, high-end cannabis-sourced product sells for 11.6 cents per mg, how can a bottle of CBD tincture made from cheap imported hemp oil, of unknown quality and purity, sell online for two to five times the price?

The answer can be found in a complicated mix of factors. Today’s CBD market is young. Four years ago it was practically nonexistent. It’s also unnaturally warped by cannabis prohibition, legal uncertainties, the absence of FDA regulations, and insufficient consumer information and access. Some companies are producing high-quality, locally sourced, lab-tested, and toxin-free CBD. Others are importing cheap hemp oil of unknown quality and slapping a CBD label on a bottle. It’s extremely difficult for patients to know the difference. Aunt Zelda’s produces excellent CBD guaranteed by lab results—but almost nobody outside California can buy it.

Manufacturers are rushing in with products and tossing out prices to see what sticks. If you believe in market efficiency, a middle price zone will eventually emerge when today’s massive inefficiencies subside. Companies will learn how to increase their quality and decrease their prices and still turn a profit.

That occurs, however, only when markets mature. Right now, “there are a lot of snake oil salesman trying to profit off people in need,” Jesse Stanley told me. “It’s unfortunate, but those dynamics are very real.” In the long run, though, Stanley believes the scamsters and low-quality manufacturers will be driven out, and the promise of this theoretically affordable plant-based medicine will have its due. “CBD is a new product that is revolutionizing the way we treat disease,” he said, “and I think we’ll see amazing things in the future.”

Gordon Baker, a medical cannabis researcher and patient advocate, contributed to this report.

Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Using Cannabis to Treat Depression

We hear a lot about how cannabis has helped people suffering from a wide variety of physical ailments, from cancer to glaucoma to AIDS. Stories about using cannabis to treat psychological disorders such as depression, however, are less common. Fortunately, as cannabis sheds the stigma that has long been associated with its use, more people are speaking out about how cannabis has helped them deal with mental illness. Doctors and researchers are also beginning to come out in favor of cannabis and its potential to treat psychological disorders.

 

What is Depression?

Depression is a complex mood disorder that often leaves sufferers unable to work, eat, sleep or have fun due to their inability to feel joy or pleasure. Several forms of depression exist:

  • Major depression — constant inability to enjoy life for six months or more
  • Dysthymia — at least two years of mild depression with stable periods
  • Bipolar disorder or manic depression — depression with rapid mood changes, often accompanied by hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, rapid speech, and insomnia
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — depression triggered by seasonal changes

The World Health Organization estimates 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression globally. That makes it the leading cause of disability worldwide.

What Are the Causes of Depression?

  • Abuse — physical, sexual or emotional
  • Conflict — with family, friends or loved ones
  • Genetics
  • Isolation
  • Loss — such as the death of a loved one
  • Major transitions or life events
  • Serious illness  
  • Stress — chronic stress is one of the leading causes of depression
  • Substance abuse  

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

No two people are the same, but hopelessness and lethargy are common symptoms, along with low self-worth, guilt, or shame. It can leave a person tired and unable to concentrate or suppress negative thoughts, leading to short tempers and irritability. It can be difficult to make decisions or remember things. Depression can also spur reckless behavior along with significant weight fluctuation and sleep issues. Insignificant tasks may become excruciatingly exhausting and time-consuming.

Depression can ultimately lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recorded more than 42,000 reported suicides in 2014. That’s a life every 15 minutes. Although depression affects more women than men, more than 75 percent of suicides in 2014 were men.

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Current Treatments for Depression

Since a combination of biological, psychological and social factors can cause depression, there is no straightforward treatment or cure. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. Eliminate stressors, add meditation to your routine, exercise regularly to boost endorphins, eat nutritious and balanced meals, and sleep 7 to 9 hours each day.

Psychotherapy can be utilized to help recognize and express emotions while building the skills needed to cope with adversity, trauma, and loss. Forms of therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, or interpersonal therapy.

Antidepressants alone don’t treat depression, and many can take several weeks to take effect. Side effects include dizziness, disorientation, and weight gain. Be sure to talk to your doctor.

How Does Cannabis Help Depression?

Cannabis has been used to treat depression throughout history. In 1621, English clergyman Robert Burton recommended its use in his book The Anatomy of Melancholy, while doctors in India during the same period were actively using it to treat their patients’ depression.

Cannabis is a faster-working alternative to antidepressants that stimulates the endocannabinoid system and speeds up the growth and development of nervous tissue with little to no troublesome side effects. This natural remedy offers patients peace of mind and battles stress by enhancing mood, providing energy and focus, relieving anxiety, inducing hunger, and combating insomnia.

Occasional or daily cannabis consumers have lower levels of depressive symptoms than non-users, a 2006 study found. Researchers at McGill University, in Montreal, discovered that THC in low doses can serve as an antidepressant and produces serotonin — but they also found that high doses of THC can worsen depression symptoms. The cannabinoids THC and CBD are known to exert sedative, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects on consumers.

The University Medical Center Utrecht, in the Netherlands, touted marijuana as a cure for depression and other mental illnesses after conducting a study that found THC can alter the response to negative images or emotions by activating the endocannabinoid system in the brain. Another study linked cannabis use to improved cognitive function in people suffering from bipolar disorder.

Further research needs to be done, but as long as the federal government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug, research will continue to be limited. Moreover, depression is not a qualifying condition in most states to obtain a cannabis recommendation. Nonetheless, we do know stress is one of the leading causes of depression, and moderate use of cannabis appears to alleviate stress and stabilize moods.

Samir Haj-Dahmane, a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions who studies chronic stress and depression, concurs: “Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression,” Haj-Dahmane says. “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Cannabinoids and the Gut: How the Endocannabinoid System Impacts Metabolism, Obesity and Inflammation

This article is sponsored by CannaVest, one of the leading suppliers of agricultural hemp-derived CBD from seed to finished products.


 

 

 

Gut Microbiome

Young woman clutching stomach in pain

New research published over the last five years is revealing more about the trillions of bacterial companions that reside in our guts, and the important symbiotic health functions they provide each of us as their hosts. Amazingly, the human gut microbiota is composed of about 100 trillion cells (10 times more than the number of cells that make up the entire human body). Each individual harbors about 160 species (out of 1000 to 1500 found in the intestine), with some of these species found in the core microbiome of the majority of humans. However, relative profile and composition of our gut microbiome is heavily influenced by geographical location, diet and lifestyle factors such as physical activity. Prebiotics (non-digestible food ingredients, such as fiber) and probiotics (live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when administered orally) are also commonly used to change the composition of the gut microbiota.

Previous research has demonstrated that the gut microbiome can influence many other bodily systems and functions beyond simply gut health and digestive function. These microorganisms play an important role in mediating our immune systems, inflammation, defense against unwanted pathogens, metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates, and even our central nervous system with links to mental performance, depression and anxiety. It is usually shifts in general populations of gut bacteria or changes in the gut “ecosystem” (rather than a single bacterium) that creates dysfunction or disease.

The Endocannabinoid System

Digital render of human head and brain with nerve synapses

To briefly review, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of specialized fatty-acid-based signaling chemicals (think “keys”), their receptors (think “locks”), and the metabolic enzymes that produce and break them down. These endocannabinoid chemical signals act on similar brain and immune cell receptors (CB1 and CB2), as do the active compounds found in cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The term endocannabinoid refers to the fact that this system of bioactive lipid-based hormones (e.g., anandamide, 2-AG and many others) and receptors is endogenous – that is, it originates within the human body. Through direct and indirect actions, endocannabinoids are known to influence a wide range of physiological systems, including appetite, pain sensation, inflammation, temperature regulation, intra-ocular pressure, muscle control, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation, mood, and memory. Together, this biological system of lipid mediators, proteins and receptors can be referred to as the ‘endocannabidiome.’

On the other hand, phytocannabinoids – of which well over 90, including CBD and THC, have been found to exist – are chemical plant derivatives that interact with this same endocannabinoid system of hormones, receptors and enzymes. Phytocannabinoids are most commonly found in cannabis plants.

Gut Microbiome-Endocannabinoid System Crosstalk

Microbiome in petri dish being held near window

Emerging evidence is suggesting that the gut microbiota and the endocannabinoid system are intertwined. It has been established that endocannabinoids are widely produced in the organs that contribute to energy balance, metabolism and bodyweight (such as the brain, liver, pancreas, fat tissue and muscle tissue). In addition, endocannabinoids have been shown to control gastric emptying, gastrointestinal motility, satiety, appetite, regulation of fat intake, and blood sugar response after a meal. Meanwhile, the gut microbiota contributes to energy balance by regulating fat storage in adipose tissue as well as insulin sensitivity. Herein are some major overlapping functions between the gut microbiome and the endocannabinoid system.

The first experimental study showing a direct link between change in the gut microbial population and the endocannabinoid system came from Rousseaux, C. et al. in 2007, where administration of a Lactobacillus probiotic increased the presence of intestinal cannabinoid receptors and reduced abdominal pain in rats. Obesity is also known to cause changes in the gut microbiota with gut-barrier dysfunction that results in “leaky gut,” or increased permeability to bacterial components that ramp up systemic inflammation. This gut permeability has been shown to increase endocannabinoid production by immune cells and fat tissue. The increased endocannabinoid system tone in fat tissue has also been demonstrated to increase adipogenesis (new fat formation). Moreover, experiments where animals were given CB1 receptor activators (which act like THC on CB1) have also caused fat cells to grow, expand and divide more rapidly.

Gut barrier function and intestinal permeability have recently been studied to improve with administration of probiotic bacteria by increasing levels of certain endocannabinoids, while decreasing others. Hence, it is clear that the interactions between the gut microorganisms and the endocannabinoid system can act as either “gate keepers” or “gate openers” for gut-barrier function. Improving this gut-barrier function via both the microbiome and the endocannabinoid system has been shown to improve fat tissue metabolism, blood sugar response, energy balance, inflammatory response and overall health.

While there is still much more to learn about the roles of modifying specific gut bacteria, their metabolites, and their effects on the bioactive lipid components of the ECS, there is irrefutable evidence of a ‘gut-endocannabinoid axis’ akin to the ‘gut-brain axis,’ and it remains clear that any health benefits obtained by using probiotics and prebiotics involve the endocannabidiome. This is yet another example of the complex interplay involving systems biology and the ECS.

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References

Cani PD, Plovier H, Van Hul M, Geurts L, Delzenne NM, Druart C, Everard A. Endocannabinoids – at the crossroads between the gut microbiota and host metabolism. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2015 Dec 18.

Geurts L, Everard A, Van Hul M, et al. Adipose tissue NAPE-PLD controls fat mass development by altering the browning process and gut microbiota. Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 11;6:6495.

Bajzer M, Olivieri M, Haas MK, Pfluger PT, et al. Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1)antagonism enhances glucose utilisation and activates brown adipose tissue in diet-induced obese mice. Diabetologia. 2011 Dec;54(12):3121-31.

Rousseaux C, Thuru X, Gelot A, et al. Lactobacillus acidophilus modulates intestinal pain and induces opioid and cannabinoid receptors. Nat Med. 2007 Jan;13(1):35-7.

Muccioli GG, Naslain D, Bäckhed F, et al. The endocannabinoid system links gut microbiota to adipogenesis. Mol Syst Biol. 2010 Jul;6:392.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

CTE in Professional Football Players, and the Potential of CBD to Address the Crisis

This article is sponsored by CW Botanicals. CW Botanicals is the exclusive supplier of Charlotte’s WebTM products, the World’s Most-Trusted Hemp Extract. CW Botanicals’ mission is to provide products of the highest possible quality and purity, while contributing to the sustainability of the communities they have the privilege of serving.


The Charlotte’s Web line of high-cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis extract products first began to make headlines three years ago with its ability to effectively reduce seizures in pediatric epilepsy patients. Now, CW Botanicals extracts are being studied as a means of addressing a condition affecting a completely different demographic: retired professional football players suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.

The Science and Politics Behind CTE

Football players at sunset

As described by Boston University’s CTE Center, “[CTE] is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head…[This] brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”

With an ever-present stream of head injuries on the field, and an ongoing off-field discourse over the safety of the sport, the topic of brain damage in football has been spending more and more time in the spotlight. This has only been accentuated by the release of the movie Concussion, which tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the link between CTE and football in 2002. The same topic, as well as the extent to which professional football’s governing body sought to obfuscate it, was brought to light by a Frontline investigative documentary in 2013.

As the surge of CTE research and media attention has brought the public’s eye to the seriousness of the issue, studies demonstrating the neuroprotective and neurogenerative properties of CBD have suggested that this cannabinoid may have the potential to treat those suffering from CTE. At the same time, professional football players both retired and active have been expressing their discontent with the fact that cannabis – medical or otherwise – remains on the league’s list of banned substances.

CBD as a Potential Treatment for CTE

Cannabis plants growing in a lab

“What we do know are that the symptoms of CTE include memory loss, depression, and aggression and that CBD is proven to benefit the endocannabinoid system, which regulates a variety of physiological process in the human body, including mood and memory,” says Ryan Kingsbury, Chief of Strategy for CW Botanicals. “Based on this it’s reasonable to presume that the use of CBD could prevent or at the very least delay the progression of CTE.”

To investigate this hypothesis, CW Botanicals has partnered with Realm of Caring (ROC), a Colorado-based non-profit that focuses on advancing CBD research. “When you look at the research with regards to CBD as a neuroprotectant, I think that’s what should be very exciting for current players, former players and [the league] in general,” says Heather Jackson, CEO of ROC. “There’s not a lot of research specific to CTE yet, but we’re hoping to change that and lead that effort.”

Over the coming months, ROC will be working with Johns Hopkins University to develop a large-scale study investigating CBD’s impact on individuals affected by CTE, and Jackson especially hopes to focus on football players in these efforts. “We know that CBD modulates neurons, says Jackson. “We know that it acts on the receptor 5-HT1A. It acts on the opioid receptors. It enhances adenosine. New research is suggesting it increases bloodflow. We know all of these things, and they all relate to the symptoms of CTE.” With regard to professional football, she continues, “We need to get more [professional football league] players using it…the system needs to change, and this needs to be on their approved substance list.”

“Changing the Face of Cannabis”

PR Shot of Nate Jackson, former NFL player for the Denver Broncos

Though players are informed during the season of upcoming drug tests – allowing them to discontinue use in preparation for these tests, and suggesting that the league is aware of the widespread consumption of cannabis products among its players – a positive test is still grounds for fines, suspension, and even dismissal from the league. The fact that cannabis use is punished more harshly than domestic violence charges has brought harsh criticism upon the league over the last two seasons.

“[Professional football’s governing body] has always been concerned about its public image, but when it comes to cannabis they’re really misinformed. The league is largely run by older, wealthy men who grew up hearing about the evils of cannabis so there’s a generational gap to contend with,” says former professional football tight end and New York Times bestselling author Nate Jackson. “Let’s see what happens when the league is presented with a study showing the effects of cannabis use on its players and comparing the results to what the opiates and other league-approved pharmaceuticals, which are passed out like candy, do to players.”

Activism has been fomenting via organizations like the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition (GCC), whose mission statement demands consideration of cannabis’s potential to fill the void of non-addictive treatments for ailments that plague American football. Meanwhile, a growing number of former professional football players have spoken openly about using CBD supplements like Charlotte’s Web.

“Since I started taking CBD regularly, there are no more slow-moving, dreadful days with headaches, joint stiffness and wandering thoughts” says Jake Plummer, former professional football quarterback. “I feel as if I’ve stopped aging since taking [Charlotte’s Web].”

Realm of Caring CEO Heather Jackson believes cannabis has great potential to help football players. “[Football’s governing body] has stated publicly that they will follow the research on this,” she says. “As we continue to show them the science, they are going to have to acknowledge it. The players are going to be instrumental in that…One of the things we are doing is changing the face of cannabis.”

Plummer adds, “What the Realm of Caring is doing cannot be overlooked by [the league] if they are serious about the long-term mental and physical health of their current and former players. CTE is a serious condition and CBD could be the answer.”

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Image Sources: NPR


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

New Study Confirms That Cannabis Can Help Migraine Sufferers

Cannabis has long been used for the treatment of migraines, but only in recent years have scientists closed in on the reasons why. A new study published this week from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado looked at the effects of inhaled and ingested cannabis in migraine sufferers, and the results confirmed what previous studies had begun to unearth.

Researchers reviewed reports from 121 adult participants and collected the following data:

  • The average number of migraine headaches decreased from 10.4 per month to 4.6
  • Almost 40% of subjects reported positive effects
  • 19.8% of subjects claimed medical marijuana helped to prevent migraines
  • 11.6% of subjects reported that cannabis stopped migraine headaches
  • About 85% of subjects reported having fewer migraines per month with cannabis
  • About 12% saw no change in migraine frequency with cannabis
  • Only about 2% experienced an increase in migraine frequency

Inhalation methods appeared to provide the fastest effects and were more likely to stop migraine headaches in their tracks. As expected, edible cannabis took longer to provide relief and was more likely to induce negative side effects like sleepiness and overly intense euphoria (which was reported in 11.6% of participants).

Past studies attempted to understand why cannabis tends to help migraines, citing endocannabinoid deficiencies and activation of CB2 receptors as possible explanations. This particular study didn’t help to answer those questions, but it did add to the growing body of research supporting the use of cannabis as a migraine medication, given the fact that over 85% of participants saw a reduction in migraine frequency.

The next frontier in this field of research is figuring out which cannabinoids, strains, and delivery methods are most effective in treating headaches and migraines. In the meantime, we’ll have to continue relying primarily on anecdotal evidence. If you’re struggling with migraines, be sure to explore all the strains other Leafly users have used to manage their pain here.

Which strains, products, or delivery methods have you found most effective in treating migraines? Share your thoughts with the community below!

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.