25% Of Idaho Prescription Opioid Users Also On Benzos

Researchers from ISU’s College of Pharmacy went through all the prescriptions that were reported to the Idaho Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in 2017. They found about 201,000 people with short-term opioid prescriptions, meaning they had been taking opioids for less than 90 days and another 101,000 who had long-term prescriptions. Out of the ones who had been taking opioids for longer than 90 days, 25,000 were also prescribed benzodiazepines or another depressant.

Opioids, which includes common painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, are generally prescribed for chronic pain, while benzodiazepines, which includes drugs such as Xanax and Klonopin, are often prescribed as sleeping aids, anxiety or to prevent seizures. The problem with combining them is that, since both are depressants, it raises the risk of overdose and death, said James Berain, a student pharmacist who was one of the researchers. There are very few instances, such as end-of-life care, Berain said, where combining them would be appropriate.

What surprised the researchers, Berain said, was that 56 percent of people who were prescribed both opioids and benzodiazepines got them from the same doctor. Berain said they expected to see more cases where people were getting them from different doctors.

Post-Register

How Might The Drugs We Take Affect Our Children Or Grandchildren?

Amid all the thousands of trials that examine whether drugs are safe for us to use, Vance Trudeau asks who is looking out for our children and grandchildren.

We are the most highly medicated generation in history. Yet Trudeau, who studies hormones and the brain at the University of Ottawa, says we know little about what effects the drugs are taken today may cause decades from now, to future generations.

“These are major, major, important questions,” he said. “In the last 10 years, there are now a few key examples where scientists are showing the effects of certain chemicals that get transferred across generations.”

But how aware are we of possible effects of drugs on future human generations?

“We’re not. That’s why these three studies are super important. Now we have to wake up and ask the question: What are the effects on the next generation?

“Not all pharmaceuticals will give a generational effect. But there is now a pattern developing (where) we have to start asking the question: Is there something beneficial passed on or is there something negative passed on?

The question falls into the field known as epigenetics, literally “beyond genetics.” This looks at how our chromosomes undergo physical changes through our lives, and how we may pass down some changes we acquire during our lifetime to our children, and even to our grandchildren as a kind of “biological memory.”

Read more on Ottawa Citizen

Weed Becomes Legal This Week In Michigan: 6 Things To Note

MICHIGAN — Weed will become legal across Michigan this week, a month after voters approved Proposal 1 on the November ballot. On Thursday, the law takes effect and marijuana will be legal for recreational purposes, in addition to medicinal, which voters approved back in 2008.

There are still some things to be worked out, but here are six things we know for sure now that weed will become legal:

1. Authorities are looking at convictions
2. How to get marijuana
3. Marijuana won’t be allowed just anywhere
4. Renters may still face problems
5. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal
6. Workplaces can still ban it

See the full article at Patch

What Gets You Higher – Vaping Weed Or Smoking It?

Inhaling vaporized pot will get you way higher than smoking the same amount of it, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.

With the legalization of marijuana continuing to spread across the world, more and more people are turning to the sticky green plant for both recreational and medicinal purposes. At present, 30 US states and Washington DC approve the use of medicinal cannabis, and nonmedical use is permitted in nine. Numerous countries in the EU and elsewhere have also approved marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, sparking a massive retail industry and a changing perception of reefer madness.

“Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users, and accordingly these data should be considered about the regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use,” wrote the authors in the study published in JAMA Network Open.

As vaporizing becomes an increasingly popular way to consume weed and policy changes make cannabis more readily available, the authors say understanding the method for consuming marijuana and how it can impact a person is an important step in ensuring your high is just pleasant, man.

IFL Science 

Opinion: A primer On Cannabis Oil Cartridges

The popularity of cannabis oil vaporizer cartridges, otherwise known as “tanks” among cannabis users, is exploding at a rate faster than any other product on dispensary shelves.

According to data submitted by Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry, cannabis vaporizer cartridge sales increased by 400 percent in 2016 alone. If you’ve been a medical cannabis patient here in Massachusetts before the first recreational shops opening Nov. 20, you’ve witnessed shortages in this hot commodity.

Cannabis vaporizer cartridges are small tanks, typically made of glass or plastic, and pre-filled with a cannabis concentrate. Similar to traditional e-cigarettes, the cannabis cartridge screws into a rechargeable battery containing a button which atomizes, or activates, the vapor almost immediately once pressed.

The three most-common cannabis extracts you will find in cartridge form are those derived from distillation, CO2 extraction or live resin extraction. They will often be split up this way on the product menu. But it’s still unclear to many novices what these things mean, so here’s a brief breakdown of each.

Distillation

The distillate is clear, highly refined oil which can be made from any cannabis extract, regardless of quality. The heat strips away most of the cannabinoids and the terpenes, often leaving only THC and CBD behind.

CO2 extraction

The most-popular cannabis vaporizer cartridges by far, are those made with oil collected from CO2 extraction. CO2 extracts are the most compatible with vaporizer cartridges because they do not require additives of any kind to meet the viscosity needed to function in the battery atomizers made for them.

Continue Reading at Metro West Daily News

Brazilian Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Bill

A key Senate committee in Brazil approved a bill to allow the use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes on Wednesday.

The measure, which was brought about in response to an online citizen-led petition that received about 119,000 votes, would remove criminal penalties for growing, possessing and consuming cannabis for patients who receive prescriptions from doctors.

The Senate’s Social Affairs Committee signed off on the legislation, but before the full Senate gets to vote, it will also have to pass in the Commission on Constitution and Justice. Then, if the Senate does approve the bill, it must be reviewed by the Chamber of Deputies.

In a letter expressing support for the bill, Sen. Marta Suplicy (MDB-SP) said evidence demonstrates that cannabis can effectively treat a wide range of conditions—from pain to epilepsy—and she stressed the importance of taking the issue seriously.

“We cannot relegate the issue to mere political discussion,” she said, according to a translation. “More than anything, we need to empathize and put ourselves in the place of the other. In this way we can, as legislators, defend the true essence of health care, which is to mitigate human suffering.”

Brazil loosened its marijuana laws in 2006, but possession is still punishable by community service and participation in a drug education program, regardless of whether cannabis is used for therapeutic purposes.

Marijuana Moment.

Scientists Find Psilocybin Microdosing Can Boost Cognitive Creativity

Recent research on LSD indicates the drug has potential to treat mental disorders and improve our understanding of human consciousness. Meanwhile, studies in recent years have explored the effects of psilocybin—the psychoactive compound occurring naturally in magic mushrooms—on quitting smoking; lowering violent crime; treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and triggering spiritual epiphanies.

Now, an Oct. 25 study in Pharmacology—the official journal of the European Behavioral Pharmacology Society—adds to this growing body of knowledge. It examines another potential benefit of psilocybin. Researchers from Leiden University in The Netherlands studied the cognitive effects of micro-dosing psilocybin truffles (technically not mushrooms, but instead the hardened vegetative part of a fungus). They found that tiny doses can stimulate brain function and boost creativity without harming reasoning abilities.

Microdoses contain about 10% of the psychoactive components of a standard dose of psilocybin. The idea is to get the benefits but not the downsides of the drug, minimal effects that can stimulate thinking but not lead to extremes, like hallucinations.

For this study, the researchers tested the effects of about .035 grams of a psychoactive truffle on 36 subjects. (They later did a chemical composition analysis of the truffles to make sure psilocybin was evenly distributed throughout the truffles.) They investigated three types of thinking by presenting the subjects with different three tasks—developed by psychologists to test cognition—which was performed both before and after ingesting the drug. The scientists studied subjects’ convergent thought, which involves identifying a single solution for a single problem; their fluid intelligence, or reasoning and problem-solving; and their divergent thinking, the ability to recognize many solutions.

Read more at Quartz

What’s The Deal With Cannabis Capsules?

MedReleaf Corp. and CanniMed by Aurora received Health Canada approval to sell cannabis oil soft-gel capsules, and CannTrust Holdings Inc. announced a range of new cannabis oil, vegan-based, hard-shell capsules—Tilray had introduced the product in Canada last year.

One of the main benefits of capsules is that they include a pre-measured dose and are a viable option for cannabis consumers who are opposed to using syringes to measure their dose.

“Based on third-party research conducted by Cannabis Evidence, an online resource in the field of medical cannabis research, three in four patients out of 709 screened preferred alternative formulations to smoking cannabis. The majority of these patients prefer a capsule/tablet over other oral dosage forms like oils,” reports Kaivan Talachian, Pharm.D., and R.Ph, vice-president of professional services at CannTrust.

While capsules help ensure correct dosages, the complications of determining the appropriate dose for cannabis don’t end there. “Cannabis tends to impact people in different ways, and can’t be prescribed in the same way as traditional medicine. There is a need for continuous dialogue between patients and doctors to ensure that their cannabis therapy is working as intended,” cautions Dr. Mahabir.

Cannabis capsules offer a straightforward way to know precisely how much an individual has consumed, and can potentially be a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis and inhaling harmful carcinogens.

Read more at Growth Op

Federal Authorities Tight-Lipped on When Kratom’s Future Will Be Revealed

Kratom Powder

For months, the fate of the opioid-like plant kratom has hung in the balance. Will the US government make it illegal next year? Next week? With every fresh piece of news, scientists and kratom users alike tense up, ready for the hammer to fall. But the anticipated day hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s still not clear when it will. The moment seemed nigh on November 13, when Business Insider posted a story in which a US Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson seemed to suggest that the decision would be announced any day now.

DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson told Inverse that Erin Brodwin’s article for BI “wasn’t a very accurate portrayal” of his comments, though his telling of the facts outlined a distinction without a difference. “There’s no telling when the documentation will be submitted to the [Federal Register],” he said. “It could be next week, it could be the week thereafter, it could be the next month, it could be sometime next year.”

Whatever the timeline may be, the fact remains that a ruling is coming. Regardless of what Patterson really meant, the DEA’s stance on kratom raises serious questions about whether federal authorities are considering the latest research, the experiences of scientists, or the reality of illegalizing drugs when deciding the future of kratom, a controversial substance that has shown promise in helping people with chronic pain and opioid use disorder. The Federal Drug Administration submitted its recommendation to ban kratom powders & its extracts to the DEA in 2017, and researchers at the DEA have been reviewing the recommendation since then.

Continue reading at Inverse.com

The Problems with the UK’s Legalization of Medical Cannabis

Since last Thursday, medical cannabis has been legal in the UK. This means specialist doctors are now able to prescribe cannabis products for conditions where there is a proven medical benefit, potentially helping thousands of people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic pain, and nausea as a result of chemotherapy, among other ailments.

This landmark change in the law occurred after several stories came to light of sick children suffering under prohibition, including Billy Caldwell. The severely epileptic 12-year-old hit headlines earlier this year when the Home Office confiscated the Canadian-bought cannabis oil that made his condition manageable. Nationwide horror at the situation prompted Home Secretary Sajid Javid to order a review of the law, after which it was decided that cannabis should be changed from a Schedule 1 drug (no medical value) to a Schedule 2 (can be prescribed).

An MS Society statement said: “It’s likely that nothing will change in the short-term for the one in ten people who get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medical cannabis. We’re calling for the interim guidance of prescribing medical cannabis to be urgently reviewed so that access to the treatment isn’t so restricted.”

Despite the limited scope laid out in the guidelines, Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to imply that doctors are being given a certain level of flexibility. He said: “Doctors need to use their clinical judgment, and having guidance in place helps. Ultimately, the need to treat a person and the responsibility for that falls on the shoulders of a doctor—that’s what they do.” Indeed, there will be no direct policy from a government that limits the conditions for which medical cannabis can be prescribed.

Read the full article at Vice

Report Says: More Women Are Using Marijuana During Pregnancy

Between 2002 and 2016, the percentage of pregnant women who reported smoking cigarettes while expecting fell significantly: from 17.5% to about 10%, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. Alcohol use also fell modestly during this period, from nearly 10% to about 8.5%. But cannabis use among pregnant women — while still relatively rare — is on the rise, increasing from almost 3% of pregnant women to almost 5%.

Those figures were based on responses to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. About 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44 responded to the survey between 2002 and 2016; roughly 3,500 of these women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development.

Meanwhile, the decline in smoking cigarettes while pregnant corresponds with an overall decrease in the number of Americans who smoke. The percentage of smokers in the U.S. hit a new low recently, dropping from 45.1 million cigarette users in 2005 to 36.5 million, or about 15% of the population, in 2015. The researchers did find, however, that decreases in smoking were less pronounced among specific subgroups of pregnant women, including black women, women ages 26 to 44 and those who did not finish high school.

There is far less research on the health effects of marijuana, but in general, the CDC and other public health organizations have warned expectant mothers not to use the drug while pregnant, due to potential developmental harms for infants. Similar warnings exist for smoking cigarettes while pregnant.

Time

Cannabis Extract Relieves Chronic Pain Minus The High

In the wake of cannabis legalization in Canada, a team of scientists has delivered encouraging news for chronic pain sufferers by pinpointing the effective dose of marijuana plant extract cannabidiol for safe pain relief without the typical “high” or euphoria that THC produces. The findings of their study have been published in the journal PAIN.

Cannabis indica and sativa are the two main cannabis strains that produce the pharmacological principles known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The team demonstrated that CBD does not act on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors like THC, but through the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

“In animal models of neuropathic or chronic pain, we found that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated,” says the study’s first author Danilo De Gregorio, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

Lead author Gabriella Gobbi sees this as a new advancement for the evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine with CBD likely offering a safe alternative to THC and opioids for chronic pain, such as back pain, sciatica, diabetic, cancer, or post-trauma pain.

“Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC,” says Gobbi, a professor of psychiatry.

Despite widespread public usage, little clinical studies exist on CBD, which became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, following the passage of Canada’s Cannabis Act.

Futurity

STUDY: Cannabis Oil Improves Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

According to a new study, cannabis oil can “significantly” improve Crohn’s disease symptoms.

“(S)tudies have shown that many people with Crohn’s disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” Dr. Timna Naftali, an Israeli gastroenterologist who also teaches at Tel Aviv University, said in a written statement. “It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this.”

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause severe belly pain and chronic diarrhea.

Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 percent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 50 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.

Read more at CTV News

Spanbauer: Modernize The War On Drugs

Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on Oct. 17, making it “the largest national marijuana marketplace.”

In order to facilitate the demand on the new industry, Canadian recreational marijuana businesses are trying to lure inexperienced marijuana workers and their weed wisdom from states where marijuana is legal, such as Colorado. These offers come with the possibility of salaries reaching as high as $250,000 and the promise of a larger and undeveloped market to conquer.

The federal legalization of marijuana now seems eminently upon us as more states will vote on the matter in the upcoming November elections. Also, more than half the United States population is in support of federal legalization. However, looking at how far cannabis culture has come, it is clear that federal measures must be taken for reasons of equality.

America should take a page from Canada’s book and legalize recreational marijuana. This should be done for hundreds of reasons, the least of which being because over half of our population is in favor of it, and because it would introduce billions of dollars into our economy and open up new jobs. This needs to be done because marijuana is a harmless drug that should not be federally regulated in the ways that physically addictive and life-destroying drugs such as opioids are.

The focus needs to move from pot to the more serious drugs affecting our streets and taking the lives of young people across the nation. Once we can begin to reform drug legislation to fit these needs, our country will finally begin to heal.

Read the full article at Iowa State Daily

Magic Mushroom Drug Evolved to Mess with Insect Brains

There’s something odd about the many species of magic mushrooms: they’re not related to each other.

Usually, you’d expect such a complex and powerful chemical as psilocybin – the magical ingredient — to be produced by a closely related group of organisms whose common ancestor discovered it once.

But not in this case. Scores of mushroom species – one even lichenized — from five different distantly-related families make it. A team of American scientists wondered about that and had a hunch about why it might be.

Although mushroom-making fungi, considered sophisticated and complicated for the fungal world — have only rarely been caught sharing DNA this way, the fact that they have made an exception for these genes implies psilocybin is a seriously hot item.

In humans, psilocybin is converted to psilocin on ingestion, which activates one of the same receptors as feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin and produces the wild effects for which the drug is known. Serotonin, incidentally, is the same molecule on which antidepressant serotonin-reuptake inhibitors like Prozac act. However, serotonin is not the private preserve of humans. All animals with left-right symmetry – including insects — produce serotonin, as well as some plants and fungi.

A plant has an apparent motive for stockpiling a chemical arsenal: salad bar prevention. But what about mushrooms? The majority of psilocybin-producing mushrooms are either wood or dung decayers. In those environments, they are not only being eaten by insects but also competing with them for food. Termites are major fungal competitors inside decaying logs, but a variety of other wood- and dung-eating insects compete with fungi for food.

Psilocybin may help tilt the playing field in the fungus’s favor by causing insects to, I don’t know, maybe blank on what they went in that log for again? Another serotonin antagonist to a receptor called 5HT-2A causes Drosophila fruit flies to somehow neglect to eat the fruit they’re sitting on. Whatever they’re experiencing, though, is unlikely to be fun. Insects lack the dopamine-based reward systems also triggered by many of the drugs that make them so pleasurable and addictive to humans (although psilocybin acts on serotonin receptors and is non-addictive).

Read the full article at Scientific American

Ohio Board of Pharmacy wants to ban Kratom

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy wants to ban the herbal supplement Kratom.

If you’re not sure what that is, it’s an all-natural product that comes from the Kratom plant found in Southeast Asia, primarily Indonesia — and some use it as pain relief.

It can be purchased in several forms including powder, capsules and liquid extracts.

Hemptations owner E.R. Beach told WLWT his customers have been requesting Kratom for more than seven years and tell him it helps with anxiety and pain relief.

“We’ve seen an increase in business. Everyone from veterans that are trying to get off of opiates to people that are trying to use something all natural to help with whatever it is this may help them with,” Beach said. “Science hasn’t found that it is addictive in any way. But I believe it is giving pain relief to people.”

Click here to read what Beach told WLWT.

Coral Cove Cannabis Retreat Is Jamaica’s Best Kept Secret

It is a safe bet that anyone traveling to Jamaica on vacation is open to the experience of, if not directly looking for, an opportunity to legally consume cannabis. Cannabis tourism in Jamaica is taking off, as properties across the Caribbean island are highlighted for their ingenuity in the fast-growing industry. Coral Cove is the perfect example of one such retreat.

Originators of the cannabis tourism experience, Higher Way Travel carved out a niche by bringing cannabis tourists to Hawaii for the Cannabis Expo in 2017 and ensuing festivities. Run by April Black, wife of infamous pot personality Bobby Black, Higher Way Tours have since branched out into facilitating tourist experiences in Jamaica.

Coral Cove is off the proverbial beaten path. There are some unpaved roads and potholes on the way there, but the remoteness and seclusion of the location make it the antithesis of a tourist trap. The resort is named after the abundance of coral that is artfully incorporated into the masonry work on the property.

The retreat resides far away from prying eyes. People who want to walk around without winding up on social media or be gawked at by other guests will especially appreciate this homey hamlet, with its private, secluded waterfront cove. Although, the cove itself is heaven on Earth for aspiring influencers who are eager to snap selfies in exotic locales.

Continue Reading at Forbes

Magic Mushrooms? How Fungi Could Help Bees Fight Disease

“Colony collapse disorder” — or massive die-offs of bees — has caused international alarm in recent years, with experts blaming mites, viruses, and pesticides for the phenomenon.

The UN warned last year that bees were at risk of global extinction — but new research suggests fungi extracts could effectively inoculate bees against some of the most devastating viruses attacking them (AFP / Fred TANNEAU / MANILA BULLETIN)

Some countries have already moved to ban certain pesticides, and beekeepers use poisons to tackle mite infestations that can take out whole colonies.

But new research published Thursday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggests fungi extracts could effectively inoculate bees against some of the most devastating viruses attacking them.

The research was inspired by the observation that honeybees appear to feed on fungi in the wild, and a “growing body of evidence (that) indicates honey bees self-medicate using plant-derived substances”, the study says.

Mushroom extracts are already used against several viruses in humans and the authors reasoned fungi might have similar properties for bees.

Read more at Manila Bulletin

Giving Drugs to Animals Shows Similarity to Humans

When headlines appeared recently announcing that scientists had given the party drug ecstasy to octopuses, it wasn’t clear whether the more noteworthy behavior was on the part of the marine invertebrates or the humans. But there was a scientific reason for this small pilot study, which suggested that the drug has a similar effect on both species: making us friendlier.

While the brains of octopuses look very different from ours, and we have been diverging for more than 700 million years, we and these intelligent invertebrates share some of the same genes and molecular mechanisms for transporting signals around the brain and nervous system. We share, for example, a nearly identical version of a gene called SLC6A4, which codes for a protein that transports serotonin around the brain. This system, in us, is critical for regulating mood and social behavior and is the target to which the drug ecstasy binds. In humans, ecstasy, or MDMA, decreases inhibition and increases social behavior.

As a way to probe the similarity between species, researchers soaked octopuses in a bath containing the drug and observed their behavior in a three-chambered enclosure. Two spaces contained toys and the other, a male octopus.

When not on the drug, the animals avoided the male and went for the toys. The species studied, the California two-spot octopus, is not particularly social in the wild, and both sexes are particularly averse to hanging around with males. When on the drug, however, they preferred a male octopus to the toys.

Continue Reading at Bloomberg

Study Suggests More Older Women May Benefit From Bone Drugs

A bone-strengthening drug given by IV every 18 months greatly lowered the risk of fracture in certain older women, a large study found. The results suggest these medicines might help more people than those who get them now and can be used less often, too.

Broken bones are a scourge of aging. A hip fracture can start a long decline that lands someone in a nursing home. The risk is most common in women after menopause.

Estrogen keeps bones strong; they weaken after menopause when levels of that hormone drop. It often gets worse after 65, and women of that age are advised to have a bone mineral density scan — a low-dose X-ray to estimate bone strength.

If osteoporosis is found, treatment usually is Fosamax, Boniva or generic versions of these drugs, which help prevent bone from being lost faster than the body is able to renew it. Some people don’t stick with the pills or endure digestive side effects, so the medicines also can be given by IV, usually once a year.

More of this News at The Star