In the fall of 2015, the Indiana Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee gathered at the Statehouse for yet another study on the potential legalization of cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, for children with intractable epilepsy. In the back of the room, waiting to testify in support, were the head of the Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana, multiple doctors, and the parents of kids who had found relief from seizures by illegally using CBD oil, an extract derived from the cannabis plant that has no psychoactive properties—it doesn’t get users high.
It proved to be a winning argument—when Republican Senator Jim Tomes introduced a bill to legalize the substance for epileptic patients the following legislative session, it died a quick death in an unfavorable committee. CBD oil supporters were devastated, but they learned from the experience. In subsequent years, armed with new studies showing other health benefits of the oil and emboldened by rising public support, they refined their approach and focused on educating lawmakers. It finally worked. This past March, the legislature passed SB52, legalizing CBD oil for all Hoosiers, a bill that Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law.
The Indianapolis Star and other outlets covered the entire saga, but a piece of related legislation passed with far less media attention. In some ways, it’s a direct result of the efforts on the CBD oil front. Without a single dissenting vote, the House also approved HR-2, calling for a study committee to look into something that would have seemed inconceivable a few years ago: legalizing medical marijuana.
The resulting public outcry caused Governor Holcomb to issue a moratorium and demand that the legislature find a solution during the ensuing session, which they did, overwhelmingly. Of the 144 members of the General Assembly who voted on SB52, only 11 remained, as one lawmaker put it, “sympathetic to the prosecutor’s case.” But as IPAC attorney Negangard feared, it didn’t stop there. With an increasing number of Hoosiers in favor of dismantling more marijuana laws and a study of the curative properties of cannabis underway this summer, CBD oil may be just the beginning.
Read more at Indianapolis
Another cannabis stock is gearing up to trade publicly on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE). Tree of Knowledge Inc. (TOK) is the latest company to apply for a listing application on the market, following a growing list that includes headline-making companies such as MedMen (CNSX:MMEN) and The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX:TGOD.
A group of business and medical professionals founded TOK in 2015 with the goal of building a trusted CBD product line. The company also has an advisory board with leaders from diverse sectors from medicine to professional sports. Since then, the company has expanded to three continents and has grown its brand of CBD products called EVRCBD—oils, capsules, tinctures and vape pens.
Courtland Capital and TOK announced their merger agreement in April. Courtland is in the process of forming a Nevada subsidiary company to merge with TOK, whereby TOK shareholders will receive Courtland common shares, owning approximately 88 percent of the outstanding undiluted Courtland shares. The company plans to delist from the TSX Venture Exchange and instead pursue the listing on the CSE. Courtland will change its name to TOK in the reverse merger.
TOK Chairman Michael Caridi explained that TOK and Courtland make a great partnership moving forward in their quest to becoming a medical cannabis industry leader. Caridi cites the sheer magnitude of the medical cannabis market, and looks forward to the “ability to mature and expand [their] reach into the markets [they] are in and plan on entering.”
At a hearing on Capitol Hill earlier this year, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander asked an important question: Why are most of the treatment for opioid addiction more opioids?
In response, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, did their best to assure the senator – and thus the nation – that scientists are hard at work developing treatments for addicts that are not just more of the same.
Hacking the Human Brain
The hopeful news regarding the opioid crisis is that scientists are searching for promising targets in developing non-opioid treatments for addiction. For example, this year a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to approve the high blood pressure medicine lofexidine as the first non-opioid medication to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Earlier this year, the NIH launched an initiative called Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) that takes an important step forward in doing just that. It funds research into potential new treatments aimed at the brain reward pathway – the regions of the brain where neurons release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which gives you a jolt of pleasure, makes you feel good and signals you to repeat this pleasurable behavior in the future.
Continue Reading at The Conversation
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – More than 150 people gathered Wednesday for a conference on the Opioid Crisis.
The event called “Opioid Crisis Next Door” included speakers addressing challenges to treating opioid abuse, the experience of people in treatment, Naloxone use, coalition-building and other matters.
“It’s about all of us coming together,” said Pat Schou, executive director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network. “Coalitions shouldn’t just be healthy people or public health people or the coroner or police officers or legal. It’s about everybody together.”
National speaker psychiatrist Dr. Omar Manejwala described the opioid crisis as a “wicked problem”: lacking a definitive definition and a stopping rule that shows when a solution has been found.
London’s first licences cannabis producer is gearing up for a major expansion.
INDIVA is holding a private open house on Wednesday to kick off the expansion of its facility in a south London industrial park.
INDIVA spokesperson Susan Mutterback said the company is focused on the medical cannabis market but can expand to include the recreational marijuana market when it becomes legal.
Niel Marotta, the CEO of the publicly traded company, is based in Ottawa but Pete Young, the master grower, is based in London and was a director of the London Compassion Society, which has been providing medicinal marijuana to its carefully screened members since 1995.
At full capacity, INDIVA expects the London facility to produce more than three million grams of high-quality dry flower annually using the latest hydroponic growing systems and LED lighting. The plant will also be able to process more than 1,000 kilograms of cannabis oil. The expansion is expected to be completed later this year. Full production capacity should be reached in 2019.
The London Free Press
Nearly three months ago, a group of Denverites made a big splash with their campaign to decriminalize magic mushrooms, chanting “free the spores” and holding up signs that read, “I am a psilocybin patient,” outside of the Denver City and County Building.
They vowed to turn Denver into a safe space for psychedelics users and, they said, private research. After all, Denver has a history of progressive drug policies; it decriminalized possession of cannabis in 2005, years before statewide recreational legalization.
But the campaign Denver for Psilocybin — backed by members of the cannabis community such as weed doctor and neuroscientist Michele Ross and Straight Hemp CEO Devin Alvarez — has faced hurdles in its bid for the ballot since making its bold announcement in early March. It’s still struggling to get its petition language approved and has been denied twice by the city, most recently on May 7. With little time left to gather signatures before the August deadline, there’s a chance that Denver residents may not see the initiative this November.
Even if Denver for Psilocybin has its petition approved on the third attempt, it would be on a huge time crunch to turn in the requisite 4,726 valid signatures in a little more than a month.
Read the full article at Westword
It’s banned in six states and three American cities but still legal — for now — as far as the feds are concerned.
Kratom is the controversial herbal supplement you might not know about.
Fans who take kratom in capsule form or drink it in tea say it can can alleviate a host of ills. Some say it is a natural cure for opioid withdrawal symptoms; federal health officials say that is not true.
Federal authorities cracked down this week on kratom sellers as talk arose again of making it illegal at the federal level.
The drug agency is “still waiting for analysis” before taking that step, special agent Melvin Patterson of the Drug Enforcement Administration told KIRO in Seattle this week.
The DEA has already considered designating kratom a Schedule 1 drug, which would effectively ban it.
Federal concerns about health risks and potential abuse of the supplement manifested in a public health advisory from the Food and Drug Administration last year that said the FDA was aware of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of products containing kratom.
Continue Reading at The Kansas City Star
SOME 382,000 Americans have overdosed on opioids—a group of drugs that includes prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetics—since the year 2000. That is greater than the number of American combat deaths in the second world war and the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. Despite this epic toll, there are early signs that at least one battle may be ending.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the best data for tracking the opioid epidemic. Its latest data, which cover the 12 months to the end of October 2017, show that opioids were responsible for some 46,041 deaths (see chart) in that period. While provisional and subject to revision, that number was at least not dissimilar to the previous month’s figure of 46,202.
The precise workings of the epidemic in recent months are not well understood, but a few elements stand out. The first is that deaths from prescription medication are likely to have been pushed down by lower availability of those drugs. Official data from the CDC show that prescription rates were nearly 20% lower in 2016 than at their 2012 peak. IQVIA, a health consultancy, reckons that prescriptions fell by another 10% in 2017. Donald Burke, dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, thinks there is “almost certainly cause and effect” between prescription rates and deaths.
Experts agree that the most effective way to fight addiction is with medication-based treatment, such as methadone. But just one-third of Americans live in counties with treatment centers providing these kinds of drugs. For real progress it is necessary to look north. Vancouver has pioneered the use of safe-injection sites. Seattle and other progressive enclaves of America would like to follow their lead but they face stern opposition. America’s attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, has threatened to prosecute such sites under the “crack house statute”. Such sites, claims the Department of Justice, will only “encourage and normalize heroin use”.
Like many other fitness-minded young professionals, a 25-year-old Boston resident named Cameron adheres to a fairly typical pre-workout routine. There’s the 20 minutes of stretching, generally followed by some light cardio.
As marijuana legalization has pushed the drug further toward the mainstream — and a longstanding social stigma has begun to dissipate — more individuals are taking up before hitting the weight room, sports field, or mixed martial arts mat.
While the idea might seem inherently counterintuitive — weed, after all, is a substance more commonly paired with Doritos than deadlifts — there is a passionate contingent that swears by it.
“It’s a weird phenomenon, but it’s an increasingly common phenomenon,” says Peter Grinspoon, a primary care doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of the book “Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction.” “The fact that a lot of people are saying it helps them can’t be ignored.”
Research into marijuana’s benefits has been notoriously scant, due in large part to the drug’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 substance — meaning that, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, it’s deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” And the few studies that do exist offer relatively little insight into the drug’s effects during physical activity, beneficial or detrimental.
Read the full article at Boston Globe
Migraine typically runs in families, with about 90 percent of people with migraine having close relatives with this disorder. It affects 1 of every 7 adults in the U.S. It is three times more common in women than men.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, though. According to the research group Global Burden of Disease, migraine was ranked the sixth most disabling disease. What is more, among neurological disorders, migraine is the second most disabling after stroke.
The FDA announced approval on May 17 of a novel preventive treatment for migraine headaches. Aimovig is the first in a new class of migraine-specific drugs that works by blocking an action of a protein that is increased in people with migraine during headache attacks.
If over-the-counter medications are not effective, a class of drugs called triptans can be very effective. Triptans, the first drugs developed specifically for migraines, were developed in the 1980s and have remained the best option for treatment of individual migraine attacks. Triptans are not pain killers but rather work through serotonin receptors involved in the development of migraine.
Triptans can also cause medication overuse headache. And, they have the potential to cause the spasm of blood vessels. Therefore, triptans should not be used if a person has had a heart attack, stroke or peripheral vascular disease.
Read more at The Conversation
Zhou Xing Ci’s family have farmed poppies for as long as anyone remembers, scraping the flowers’ sticky brown sap to produce opium.
Along with many other farmers in the hills of eastern Myanmar, the crop – much of which ends up as heroin sold on foreign streets – has in recent years put Myanmar behind only Afghanistan as the world’s leading source of opium.
A Chinese company working with farmers like Zhou hopes the silk-producing larva can help the farmers, and their country, quit the drug.
“Growing opium is too tough. It’s only one harvest every year and a rain can easily destroy a whole year’s work,” said Zhou.
The UN agency has assisted more than 1,000 farmers to switch from opium to another cash crop, coffee, since 2014, said Troels Vester, UNODC country manager for Myanmar.
Still, 41,000 hectares of poppy was planted in Myanmar last year, the agency said. Farmers in conflict areas were less likely to have moved to licit crops, it added.
In the corner of Myanmar where Zhou lives, bordering China’s Yunnan province, various armed groups operate and the law is barely enforced, providing a haven for opium traders, as well as heroin producers and meth-lab operators.
Read more at News.com
The war on drugs was lost the moment it started but it continues relentlessly, morphing into a narrative favored by dystopian novelists.
One of the growth areas of academic finance in recent years has resulted in psychologists winning Nobel prizes for economics. The ways in which we are different to the rational, utility-maximising caricature of the textbooks has been usefully explored by researchers and has yielded a stream of insights that have guided policymakers in many jurisdictions.
Researchers are fond of finding weird anomalies in human behaviour that conflict with standard predictions, coming up with theories about why we behave in this way and then suggesting policy “nudges” that lead to better outcomes for both individuals and societies.
Each year, drug use rises. The range and availability of drugs rise. Terrorists rely on valuable income from drugs. The United Nations estimates that up to 85 per cent of Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation is under the control of the Taliban, with half of its income coming from heroin – and most of the world’s supply of that drug is from those fields. Even waging actual war doesn’t work.
In the UK, the Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society for Public Health have joined the calls for decriminalization. All these bodies are keen to stress that they do not condone drug taking but have just looked at the facts and concluded that the current legal framework is not fit for purpose. It simply doesn’t work: drug use is not deterred. Drug users need education and treatment, not legal sanction.
Continue Reading at Irish Times
In the United States, medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states. Not only that, but the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in 10 states. You can walk into a licensed store in places like California, Oregon and Colorado and purchase cannabis nearly as easily as buying beer.
Similar dynamics are taking place in Canada. Medical marijuana consumption was first legalized in 2001, and in 2017 legislation paved the way for the legalization of recreational use throughout all of Canada — a development that’s expected to be implemented in the summer of this year.
We analyzed data from Priceonomics customer Wikileaf, a company that tracks cannabis prices at dispensaries across the US and Canada and aggregated the data at the national level and find out the answers.
We discovered that cannabis is 30% less expensive in Canada than the United States. When you look at different cities, the price differential can be even more pronounced. Legal marijuana is 39% cheaper in Vancouver than San Francisco, for example.
Across dispensaries tracked by Wikileaf in the United States, the price of an eighth of marijuana is $40.0, compared to $27.9 in Canada, where it is 30% cheaper.
Read more at Priceonomics
Psychoactive drugs chemically alter the brain and change the way we feel, think, perceive and understand our world.
We are in a psychoactive drug epidemic in our country, most notably the opioids, because of their tragic death toll.
Here are nine things that matter when it comes to drugs:
1. Age. It’s one thing to start drinking or smoking dope when you are 21. It is very different when at 12 or 13 or 15, even 18.
2. Set. Set means the unique biological, neurological, psychological and experiential qualities of the user. Set creates a personal vulnerability and selective responsivity do substances.
3. Route of Administration. How fast a substance gets to and bathes our neurons with its receptor-loving chemical configuration makes a big difference.
Continue Reading at Scientific America
A low unemployment rate and the spreading legalization of marijuana have led many businesses to rethink their drug testing policies for the first time in decades. A small but increasing number are simply no longer testing for pot.
“There is a lot of conflict there, and many employers, they just don’t know what to do,” said Kathryn Russo, a lawyer at Melville, New York-based firm Jackson Lewis. Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states plus Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states.
Here are some questions small businesses need to consider when deciding on what drug testing policies to follow:
– IS IT A FEDERALLY REGULATED POSITION, OR SAFETY-SENSITIVE?
If your business is regulated by the federal Department of Transportation or is a defense contractor, you are likely legally required to drug test for all drugs illegal at the federal level, including marijuana.
– DON’T DISCRIMINATE
In states where medical marijuana is legal, small businesses increasingly risk running into legal trouble if they deny a job to someone who has obtained a medical marijuana prescription.
Read more at Eyewitness News
Chewing betel nut isn’t as common here as it used to be and, to my knowledge, not many people here chew it with tobacco leaves as they do in southeast Asia. There, many users are addicted to that combination, which can create a sense of euphoria and alertness. Strangely enough, scientists at the University of Florida have found that compounds derived from betel nut could help cigarette smokers and betel nut chewers kick their habits.
The researchers say the two addictions share many traits and they want to develop drugs that target both. They’re studying compounds from the areca nut (the scientific name of betel is Areca catechu) to make new molecules that work better than existing smoking-cessation drugs.
“Some new findings say that things we know are bad for our health may actually be helpful. The first bad boy? Chewing betel nut.”
A drug that helps with two different kinds of addiction is really a good thing, but here’s one for you: What if eating chocolate helped prevent and treat diabetes? “Yeah, right!” you say.
Read more at Post Guam
The Trump administration’s proposed tariffs on thousands of Chinese-manufactured products would target dozens of key products used by drug makers, as well as medical devices including pacemakers and artificial joints.
More than 80 percent of the ingredients used to make U.S.-consumed drugs are produced outside of the country, according to the Food and Drug Administration. China, along with India, accounts for most of the bulk ingredients and the FDA has called China a “major provider.”
For brand-name drugs, raw ingredients used by manufacturers are typically a tiny fraction of the cost of a product. They can be more important for generic medications that are essentially low-cost commodity products.
President Trump’s opioid response plan might have multiple prongs, but when he unveiled it Monday, he clearly was most interested in the prong that gets “very tough” on drug dealers. We know this because he said so approximately 5,000 times during a speech announcing the new plan in New Hampshire, a state chosen as the backdrop because it is one of those hardest hit by opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
Trump’s get-tough approach is little more than a reboot of the failed “War on Drugs” from the 1980s, in which the federal government spent enormous sums trying — and failing — to stop the crack cocaine crisis by throwing people in prison, a disproportionate amount of whom were African American and Latino.
His first speech on the topic in October, while vague, promised action on this “public health emergency.” A few days later the commission he convened to study the problem and come up with evidence-based solutions released a 131-page report with 56 recommendations, none of which suggested killing people.
Read the full article in Los Angeles Times
New research on the evolutionary genetics of fungi reveals that the compound that makes some mushrooms ‘magic’ may have evolved as a defensive mechanism to discourage invertebrates from eating them.
Psilocybin occurs in a diverse group of fungi, with genetic analysis indicating that it may have evolved several times. This led a group of researchers from the Ohio State University in the US to suspect that a mechanism known as horizontal gene transfer may be occurring.
Horizontal gene transfer involves the movement of genetic material between species, carried by mobile cells such as bacteriophages. It is a process associated with stressful environments, and is rare in complex multicellular organisms.
Researchers found that distantly related fungi in dung and decaying-wood niches showed less variation in their genome content than close relatives in alternative niches. This suggest that the genomes are shaped in part by shared ecological pressures.
It appears that the biological niche of the psilocybin-containing mushrooms provides a clue. In humans, psilocybin causes profound altered states of consciousness and other symptoms such as increased heart rate and dilated pupils.
Read more at Cosmos Magazine
“Magic” mushrooms seem to have passed their genes for mind-altering substances around among distant species as a survival mechanism: By making fungus-eating insects “trip,” the bugs become less hungry — and less likely to feast on mushrooms.
The researchers studied a group of mushrooms that all produce psilocybin — the chemical agent that causes altered states of consciousness in human beings — but aren’t closely related. The scientists found that the clusters of genes that caused the ‘shrooms to fill themselves with psilocybin were very similar to one another, more similar even than clusters of genes found in closely related species of mushrooms.
HGT isn’t really one process, as the biologist Alita Burmeister explained in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health in 2015. Instead, it’s the term for a group of more or less well-understood processes — like viruses picking up genes from one species and dropping them in another — that can cause groups of genes to jump between species.
The researchers suggested — but didn’t claim to prove — that the crisis in this case was droves of insects feasting on the defenseless mushrooms. Most of the species the scientists studied grew on animal dung and rotting wood — insect-rich environments (and environments full of opportunities to perform HGT). Psilocybin, the scientists wrote, might suppress insects’ appetites or otherwise induce the bugs to stop munching quite so much mush’.