The Unintended Consequences of More Potent Pot

“The legalization of recreational marijuana in almost a dozen states shows how America’s attitude toward the drug may be changing. But the drug has changed too: Newly developed strains of marijuana are far stronger than what people were smoking in the past, leading to unintended consequences like addiction and marijuana toxicity.

“Typically, young children around the age of 2 are getting into caregivers’ — whether it’s parents’, grandparents’, babysitters’ — marijuana products, often edible products,” said Dr. Sam Wang.

Wang’s findings from Colorado’s Children’s Hospital are included in a new nationwide study that showed a 27% increase in children and teenagers getting emergency treatment for marijuana toxicity. Seventy percent of the cases occurred in states with legalized marijuana.

An exponential increase in marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, is at the center of the crisis. THC content has spiked from 3.7% to more than 20% — and some cannabis concentrates contain close to 100% THC.

Twenty-year-old Colton said that his addiction to marijuana began when the drug was legalized five years ago while he was attending high school in Colorado.

States that legalized recreational marijuana has generated almost $3 billion in tax revenue since 2014 when Colorado first started sales.

“The state was highly focused on how much tax revenue it could generate from marijuana sales,” Brandt said. “Nobody really spent a lot of time thinking about, well, how this going to impact some of the younger community?”

For Brandt, the impact became clear when Colton was failing in college, couldn’t quit cannabis and asked to go to rehab.

CBS News

Many Teens Are Using Ultra-Potent ‘Marijuana Concentrates’

A striking proportion of teens are using highly potent forms of marijuana known as marijuana concentrates, at least in one state, a new study suggests.

The study, published today (Aug. 26) in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed data from nearly 50,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders in Arizona. The researchers found that one-third of participants said they had used marijuana, and nearly a quarter said they had used marijuana concentrates at least once in their lives.

Marijuana concentrates are substances with very high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana responsible for the drug’s intoxicating effects. Sometimes known as “butane hash oil,” “dab,” “wax,” “crumble” or “shatter,” these concentrates typically contain three times more THC than does the dried marijuana flower.

It’s important to note that the new study only included teens in Arizona, and the percentage of teens who use marijuana concentrates in other states is unknown. More studies will be needed to understand if the trend is confined to Arizona, or whether it’s happening in other states as well.

The usage rates could be similar in other states that have legalized medical cannabis, as Arizona has, Meier said. However, some states have legalized medical cannabis but not marijuana concentrates, so their use might be lower in those ones, she added. It’s also unclear whether states that allow recreational marijuana in addition to medical marijuana have higher rates of teen marijuana-concentrate use.

A yearly national survey known as Monitoring the Future, which looks at drug use among teens across the U.S., has also examined rates of marijuana-concentrate use to some extent. However, that survey classifies “concentrated THC” as a hallucinogen, and so only teens who report the use of hallucinogens are asked about the use of concentrated THC. As a result, this type of questioning tends to underestimate use, Meier said. In 2018, the Monitoring the Future survey found that just 1.1% of 12th graders reported the use of concentrated THC.

The new study also found that teens who used marijuana concentrates had much higher rates of electronic cigarette use. Indeed, teens who used marijuana concentrates were three times more likely to report using e-cigarettes, compared to those who used other forms of marijuana. (Teens are probably using e-cigarettes to vape marijuana.)

Read the full article at Live Science

Will Oakland Lead the Psychedelic Revolution?

“The city of Oakland breeds hell-raisers. Visionary writers such as Jack London and Amy Tan have called the Town home, as did radical politician Earl Warren, who paved the way for eliminating segregation in schools. Actress Zendaya is a local legend in the making. Then, of course, there are the Black Panthers and MC Hammer and his pants.

That’s been the case time and again, including Oakland’s treatment of marijuana, as it was one of the first places to decriminalize it long before legalization swept over larger swaths of America. And once recreational use arrived, it became the first city to put an equity program in place that prioritized permits and support for people of color who had previously been arrested for selling weed in the illegal market.

Now it appears that Oakland’s next sights are on psychedelic plants. The City Council unanimously passed a resolution in June decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms and other “entheogenic plants,” such as ayahuasca and iboga. This came on the heels of Denver’s move to decriminalize solely psilocybin mushrooms just weeks before. Under the resolution, Oakland law enforcement will not investigate and prosecute adults over 21 possessing magic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants.

The news begs the question, Is this the next frontier in the drug-legalization movement? And if so, will Oakland be the city to lead it?

Oakland resident Carlos Plazola cofounded Decriminalize Nature Oakland with other advocates of entheogenic-plant medicine in January after he endured a revelatory magic-mushroom experience that helped him source his anxiety and anger issues to childhood trauma. Councilman Gallo sponsored the resolution, saying he sees the plants as another form of medicine that people can try when other treatments fail to help them. He also said he personally knows about the healing powers of plants, as his Native American grandmother used them for traditional medicine.

Nearly 100 people were in the City Council chambers in support of the vote, some sharing their stories about how psychedelic plants have helped them with addiction and depression.

While there’s a lot more research to be done, some studies have shown psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy’s efficacy helps reduce depression and anxiety for cancer patients as well as alcohol dependence. Santa Cruz–based MAPS has long researched psychedelic medicine, and FDA-supported, large-scale clinical trials exploring psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression are underway in North America and Europe.

Read the full article at The Bold Italic

Better Buy: Medical Marijuana vs. Canopy Growth

“The global cannabis market is no doubt an exciting one, and there are many companies auditioning for your investment dollars. Cannabis stocks range from penny stocks to multi-billion-dollar global companies, so there’s quite a lot to choose from when thinking about how to play the space.

Two companies on opposite ends of the cannabis spectrum are Canopy Growth Company (NYSE: CGC) and Medical Marijuana, Inc. (NASDAQOTH: MJNA). Canopy, based in Canada, is the largest cannabis company in the world by market capitalization, and has Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), the owner of beer brands such as Corona and Modelo, as its largest strategic investor. Constellation invested $4 billion in Canopy last August for a 38% stake, along with warrants that give it the option to potentially purchase a controlling stake in the company.

Meanwhile, Medical Marijuana is a very small stock that trades over-the-counter in the United States at a market capitalization of just $200 million. Unlike Canopy, which focuses on medical and recreational marijuana sales in non-U.S. countries where cannabis has been legalized, Medical Marijuana decided to focus on the cannabidiol (CBD) market in the U.S. Though THC products, which contain the psychoactive agent in cannabis, remain federally illegal, the 2018 Farm Bill, passed in December, legalized the cultivation of hemp in order to produce CBD without THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis. Medical Marijuana did have about $20 million in sales last quarter, which means there is a real potential business there.

Comparing operating results
Canopy currently generates much more revenue than Medical Marijuana, but it’s not as much as you might think. Last quarter Canopy made just over CA$106 million in revenue, more than 400% growth over the prior-year quarter, while Medical Marijuana made just over $20 million in revenue, nearly double the amount in the prior-year quarter.

Canopy is certainly larger and growing faster than Medical Marijuana, but considering Canopy’s stock is valued at roughly 68 times that of Medical Marijuana’s it’s not a stretch to think the scrappy upstart could be the better bet.

Compare that with Canopy, which posted a staggering CA$335 million net loss just last quarter, and a loss of CA$670 million for the year. The losses were due to Canopy’s heavy spending on expansion in Canada and 15 countries around the world. Even after the end of the last quarter Canopy continued its spending spree, buying Germany’s C3 Cannabinoid Compound Company, the UK’s This Works Products, a CBD company, then paying $300 million for the right to purchase Acreage Holdings (NASDAQOTH: ACRGF) for $3.4 billion should the U.S. legalize cannabis at the federal level.

Read the full article at Yahoo Finance

We Can Make It Safer To Inject Drugs. Will We?

“Close the bathroom door at Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT), and you have two minutes and 50 seconds. Then the alarm sounds, warning staff to check on the person inside. People sometimes inject drugs in SPOT’s bathroom, just as they do in the bathrooms of Starbucks or McDonald’s.

The longer you wait to reverse an overdose, the harder it gets. SPOT, run by Boston Health Care for the Homeless, has had to shorten that window, from five minutes to four, to three, and now, to two minutes and 50 seconds — even a 10-second margin means life or death.

Many people use drugs far from the clinicians who could save their lives if they overdose. And the drugs they use have become more lethal — fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times more potent than heroin, is now common throughout Massachusetts.

Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) would provide people more support and clinical care in those most vulnerable moments. SIFs are facilities where people can use drugs under clinical supervision. None currently exist in the United States (with the exception of one underground SIF), but they’ve operated for years in Canada, Europe and Australia. Advocates and lawmakers in the U.S. want to establish SIFs here, too. They meet a need that facilities like SPOT can’t.

Public opinion is shifting in favor of SIFs. Data from a new WBUR poll shows that 50% of respondents support SIFs. And many of SIFs’ once-vocal critics, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, have become supporters.

But there’s a notable exception: U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling, who published an op-ed decrying SIFs in The Boston Globe in January. Lelling is a Trump appointee whose nomination didn’t cause immediate outrage — he had, if not bipartisan support, at least bipartisan respect — but that changed recently, when he was accused of being “overzealous, grandstanding, and politically motivated,” after he indicted a sitting Massachusetts judge for not being sufficiently harsh to an undocumented immigrant.

Continue Reading at WBUR

Oregon Bill Allowing Interstate Weed Exports Passes Senate Vote

”A bill that could eventually allow Oregon to import and export cannabis across state lines—and give the state’s pot industry a head start when national cannabis laws change in the future—passed a vote in the Oregon Senate Wednesday. It will now move on to the House floor.

Currently, Oregon’s legal weed market is a closed system: no pot is supposed to cross state lines, even into other states where it is legal. Senate Bill 582 would change that by giving Oregon’s government the go-ahead to work with other states to determine policies and regulations for cross-state cannabis imports and exports—that is, after federal laws governing cannabis catch up to state laws.

The bill, which passed the Senate 19-9 in a mostly party-line vote, has been touted as a potential solution to Oregon’s oversaturated pot market, and as a way to prevent growers from turning to the black market in order to make a profit.

But the bill won’t be a quick fix. Because the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, it’s currently illegal to cross state lines with it. In fact, SB 582 includes the provision that it won’t go into effect until one of two things happen: Either federal law is changed to allow interstate cannabis trading, or the US Department of Justice issues guidance allowing it.

Read the full article at Portland Mercury

Opium, Coffee and the Politics of Foreign Aid

“IT LOOKS like a fairly standard development project photo op: United States ambassador Mr. Scot Marciel, pushing a coffee seedling into the ground. The May 2018 image shows the diplomat, dressed in leather shoes and a white shirt, kneeling on the distinctive pinkish-red soil of Shan State, surrounded by curious-looking farmers, one of whom is capturing the moment with a smartphone camera.

Myanmar is the second-largest producer of opium globally, after Afghanistan. Although Myanmar produces significantly less than at its 1990s peak, when the Golden Triangle region was the global center of illicit drug production, the UN still estimates that 520 tonnes of opium were produced in 2018. The production and sale of opium generate billions of dollars in profits each year.

Little of it though ends up with the estimated 70,000 smallholder farmers in remote and inaccessible areas of the country who make their living from the latex obtained from the plant. The average income of a household in a poppy-growing village in southern Shan is less than US$3,000 a year, which is just enough to make ends meet. At the same time, there is a high degree of risk involved: police officers conduct regular campaigns to destroy poppy fields and farmers are occasionally prosecuted.

Many opium farmers have few alternatives, due to conflict and insecurity, lack of infrastructure, and the terrain and climactic conditions. But on the slopes of mountainous Shan State, you can cultivate surprisingly high-quality coffee. Such is the quality that its sale could generate income similar to that of opium cultivation, exciting development agencies that see it as a viable alternative crop.

This is what brought Marciel to Shan: the planting was staged in aid of a US Agency for International Development-financed project that is supporting coffee production in the region. It sounds like a positive development, but not everyone is happy.

“Like a conquistador ramming the Spanish flag into the soil of South America.” That’s how Mr. Jaime Eduardo Perez Mayorga describes the photo of the kneeling ambassador. The Colombian sits with rolled up sleeves at his desk, the sweat on his forehead making his short, black hair shine. Mayorga works for UNODC, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. What bothers him is that the place where the ambassador planted the coffee tree, in Hopong Township within the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone, is in the middle of his project area. With support from German and Finnish taxpayers, UNODC has been working there for 10 years.

Continue Reading at Frontier Mynmar

CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil: What’s the Difference in 2019?

”With marijuana usage rising as more U.S. states legalize the controversial but commercially available herb, a cottage industry has developed around the use of marijuana with various claims of healthy attributes on multiple medical fronts.

Officially, marijuana is deemed as Schedule I herbal substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning the drug offers “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the federal government. That categorization was adjusted after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which included a provision that separated hemp from marijuana, as noted in the Controlled Subject Act.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant.”

Virtually all of the health care products derived from the cannabis plant centers around two primary components – CBD (Cannabidiol) oil and hemp oil. Each is used and sold as natural health remedies and, even as they share certain characteristics, they have some important differences, too.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant and is known scientifically as cannabidiol. CBD is one of 120 known chemical compounds embedded in marijuana plants and differs from hemp in that it contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.

What Is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil is also derived from Cannabis sativa, which contains the chemical element trans-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabis component that gives marijuana its psychosomatic kick. Hemp oil is extracted from the leaves, petals, and seeds from a hemp plant.

What both CBD oil and hemp oil do have in common is neither is linked to THC and therefore won’t provide that psychological “high” so often attributed to THC.

Instead, the human body manages cannabinoids through its endocannabinoid system, also known as ECS, which can process CBD and hemp oil through the body and is managed by the human brain, which uses cannabinoids to regulate the body’s physiological reactions to the herb, and help better manage key human elements like eating, sleeping, dealing with pains and illnesses, and improving mood.
Hemp
Continue Reading at The Street

Valerian Oil Market to be at Forefront by 2015 to 2021

“Valerian is a perennial flower that is native to the European and Asian region; now it is widely grown in h America for its medicinal properties. The scientific name of Valerian is Valeriana officials, and there are around 250 varieties of valerian cultivated globally. The history of valerian goes back to Ancient Greek and Roman times where it was widely used for its medicinal properties. Valeriana officinalis extract contains four distinct classes of phytochemical constituents that are volatile oils, sesquiterpenoids, valepotriates, and volatile pyridine alkaloids.

Valerian crop can be cultivated easily by direct seeding, transplanting, or by dividing the roots. It can be grown in a wide range of soils preferably moist, fertile, and well-drained loam. Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, Russia, China, and Eastern European countries are the major producer of valerian. Valerian root can be distilled into oils and ointments, or it can be dried for use in teas or capsules.

Valerian Oil Market Segmentation

Valerian oil market can be segmented by application, by function, and by regions. By application, the valerian oil market is segmented into pharmaceutical, personal care, and food & beverage. By function, the segment is further segmented into medicinal and aroma. Valerian oil market is further segmented by region as, Latin America, North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and the Asia Pacific. In regional segments, Europe and North America dominated the market for valerian oil accounting for significant market share, whereas, Latin America and other developing markets such as Asia-Pacific and MEA possess the growth opportunities for valerian oil over the forecast period.

Valerian Oil Global Market Trends and Market Drivers:

The global valerian oil market size is growing exponentially with increasing applications in aromatherapy coupled with increasing demand for fragrances and flavors in food and personal care industry over the forecast period.

Valerian is an effective nervine that has calming, stimulating, and antispasmodic properties. Valerian oil provides a multitude of health benefits, such as it helps in preventing muscle cramps, uterine cramps, intestinal colic, protects skin infections, reduces wrinkles, treatment of insomnia and sleep disorders. It also helps in regulating blood pressure, which reduces risks associated with heart attacks, anxiety, and depressions eventually anticipating the growth of global valerian oil market over the coming years. It also helps in improving metabolic function, boosts energy levels in the body, alleviates menstrual pain, eliminating constipation and diarrhea, and cures gastrointestinal discomfort.

Growing consumer preference for natural products has led to the development of innovative applications in personal care and beauty products. Increasing disposable consumer income and rapid industrialization are other major factors driving the market growth.

Read more on New Daily Herald

Arecanut Gets Its First GI Tag For ‘Sirsi Supari’

“For the first time in the arecanut sector, ‘Sirsi Supari’ grown in Uttara Kannada has received the Geographic Indication (GI) tag. It is cultivated in Yellapura, Siddapura and Sirsi taluks.

Totgars’ Cooperative Sale Society Ltd., Sirsi, is the registered proprietor of the GI.

The Registrar of Geographical Indications, under the Union government, Chennai issued the certificate to the society on March 4, 2019. Its GI number is 464.

This particular variety has a unique taste due to differences in chemical composition. The total average flavonoids content in it is around 90 whereas in others it is around 80.

The total carbohydrates in ‘Sirsi Supari’ are 23% to 26%, total arecoline is 0.11% to 0.13%, total tannin content is 14.5% to 17.5%.

Ravish Hegde, General Manager of the cooperative, told The Hindu that the process of obtaining the tag had begun in 2013. It took about six years to get it owing to scientific research proof to be submitted to prove its uniqueness.

Read the full article at The Hindu

Inside the Push to Legalize Magic Mushrooms for Depression and PTSD

“IT WASN’T. The former corporate executive from Colorado retired in 2006 after an MRI revealed his spine was riddled with a dozen tumors called hemangiomas, which later spread to his brain. Todd was told he would die before the end of 2008.

Somehow, Todd has survived—he credits medical marijuana, which he now uses daily—but he is still considered terminal. “It could be tomorrow. It could be five years from now,” he says in a call.

However, the 54-year-old spent the past decade plagued by a host of mental health problems, including PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. He was suicidal and tormented by violent night terrors. Nothing, not even massive doses of Xanax or Valium, could temper his panic attacks or end-of-life anxiety.

That was about a year ago. Todd began taking homegrown psilocybin, the highly illegal alkaloid in so-called magic mushrooms. Known for prompting profound hallucinations, psilocybin was placed in the restrictive Schedule I category in 1970, meaning the US government recognizes no medical use for the drug and says that it carries a high risk of abuse.

Todd says there have been clear benefits from psilocybin with few side effects. He hasn’t had a single PTSD episode since he began taking it. His depression evaporated. The mushrooms even help ease the pain—agony that feels like being “shot in the back”—from the nerve-crushing tumors in his spine and skull.

Indeed, magic mushrooms are having a therapeutic moment. In North America, at least four organizations, each with unique strategies, are working to expand access to psilocybin for anyone with mental health issues, dying or not. These groups hope to undo decades of psilocybin prohibition by removing criminal penalties for possession or cultivation, or by providing access to psilocybin in a therapist’s offices, or both.

Read more at Wired

The Failing Battle Against Drug Production in Colombia

”Despite several strategies to eradicate domestic cocaine production, Colombia continues to struggle with the massive amount of drugs that are cultivated and manufactured within its borders. Government control measures include the arrest of major drug lords and the dismantling of their cartels, as well as the prosecution of corrupt politicians and police officers involved in the drug trade.

Colombia is a world leader in cocaine cultivation and a major heroin supplier to the world. Coca leaves, the key ingredient in cocaine production, are grown in Colombia’s Andes Mountains. This area has been the focus of crop eradication for decades.

From 2000 to 2005, the United States appropriated about $4.3 billion for the Andean Counter-Drug Initiative, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. The funds were targeted to eradicate the coca and opium poppy plants used to produce the illicit drugs.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization affiliate, found in 2015 that the aerial pesticide spray glyphosate (also known as Roundup) exposed Colombian farmers and villagers to a possible carcinogenic. Consequently, the Colombian government banned its use after it had been on the market for nearly two decades.

The next strategy was to send government workers into remote mountainous areas where farmers cultivate cocaine and heroin ingredients and offer them crop substitution as a new solution. The goal was to entice farmers to replace their illicit crops with legitimate ones, such as fruits and vegetables.

The goal of the peace treaty was to end the epidemic of violence and formulate a definitive solution to Colombia’s drug problem. As part of the deal, Bogota promised to provide health and education services along with potable water in rebel lands. FARC members were also granted amnesty for their crimes.

However, the Insight Crime Foundation, which tracks organized criminal groups, estimates that as many as 2,800 FARC members rejected these peace efforts. They rearmed themselves, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the treaty.

Read more at In Homeland Security