Cannabis Prohibition Is A Leading Cause Of Premature Death

Cannabis is one of the very few drugs that does not cause death. But can use of cannabis also prevent premature death? A study out of Indiana, Cannabis use is associated with a substantial reduction in premature deaths in the United States, shows just that!

In fact, cannabis prohibition turns out to be a leading cause of death in the USA.

The study’s author, Thomas M. Clark is Professor and Chair of Department of Biology at Indiana University South Bend, His meta-analysis found:

Cannabis use is associated with decreased rates of

obesity,

diabetes mellitus,

mortality from traumatic brain injury,

use of alcohol and prescription drugs,

driving fatalities, and

opioid overdose deaths.

Obesity threatens human well-being across the planet. Especially in the USA, but also now world wide, this plague of pounds drives degenerative diseases and health care costs. Obesity is a chronic low-grade inflammation, inflicting insidious damage daily. Fat cells displace organs and produce cellular toxins. Obesity kills at least one out of eight Americans.

Diabetes is the key metabolic disease killing Americans. Dr. Clark writes:

Evidence strongly supports reduced obesity and diabetes mellitus in people who use Cannabis. The most common finding of studies to date have shown lower BMI, waist circumference, or rates of obesity in Cannabis users.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an all-too-frequent cause of premature death, but a condition responsive to medical marijuana. Clark notes:

Cannabinoids have well known neuroprotective effects, reducing damage from excitotoxicity, Ca++  influx, free radical formation, and neuroinflammation following traumatic brain injury (TBI), ischemia, and neurotoxins.

Dr. Clark reports lowered rates of premature death for alcohol and opioid addiction and death in cannabis users, reduced rates of dangerous deaths, and lives saved from cancer.

Clark concludes,

Conclusions: Cannabis use prevents thousands of premature deaths each year, and Cannabis prohibition is revealed as a major cause of premature death in the U.S.

Premature death reduction is basic to harm reduction, the strategy smart governments are using to address drug problems. At the same time, the USA is now poised to renew its decade-long war on marijuana, a drug nearly harmless while hugely helpful at reducing premature death.

Prohibition of access to medical cannabis is a violation of human rights. Such prohibition is a moral evil, not only because it subjects people from arbitrary abuse from the state, but also because it denies them a crucially effective medication, leading to premature death.

De-scheduling is the new Rescheduling: Moving the Cannabis Reform Goalposts

The draconian Schemarijuana and pillsdule I status of cannabis in federal drug law for the last half century has been of one country’s most harmful deceits. For decades cannabis reformers have sought to have marijuana down scheduled from the totally restrictive Schedule I, to Schedule II. But any simple rescheduling still would leave cannabis an illegal federal drug. Much better, and now on the table, is  de-scheduling, removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (and the clutches of the DEA). Cannabis could be and should be classified with alcohol and cigarettes, even though it is far safer than these legal substances.

Schedule I

The marijuana-law reforming CARERS Act, now languishing at the neglect of Senator Chuck (Ghastly) Grassley, seeks to down-schedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II. This single step has been a long-sought goal of reformers and would be significant; many of the worst legal harms would be removed by that modest rescheduling. Research on health benefits of cannabis would become possible, as marijuana would no longer be defined as medically useless. Mandatory minimum sentences, enforced because of cannabis’ Schedule I status, would no longer apply.

Still, cannabis does not belong in Schedule II, with cocaine and other harsher drugs. Also, the IRS 280e regulation that inflicts severe tax impacts on marijuana businesses, would still be in play. Banking would remain impossible. Cities and counties in legal states could still prohibit, relying on the argument that it is against federal law.

The DEA itself down-scheduled synthetic marijuana in the form of the pharmaceutical pill, to Schedule III. Ironically, Marinol is 100% THC, far stronger than the strongest pot, and taken as a pill without the dose management capabilities of smoking or vaping. This down-scheduling, by the way, belies President Obama’s assertion that he could not reschedule should he so choose. The DEA, after all, is part of the Justice Department, which in turn reports to the president.

Even down-scheduling to Schedule IV or Schedule V would place cannabis with substances far more dangerous. Nearly any drug can kill; cannabis cannot kill. The main problem with cannabis being scheduled at all in the Controlled Substance Act is with that status cannabis remains a federally illegal drug.

Descheduling Cannabis

Marijuana never should have been a federally criminally controlled drug; it must not continue to be so in the future.

Although the fit is far from perfect, cannabis could be more fairly government regulated if it were treated like alcohol and cigarettes. These two supposed non-drugs are in fact the most dangerous, and kill millions around the planet each year. Cannabis kills zero each year world wide. Still, such a classification, out of the Controlled Substance Act and out of the hands of the DEA, would enable intense medical marijuana research and an entrepreneurial boom. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Firearms could be the regulatory agency.

One Presidential Candidate Supports De-Scheduling: Senator Bernie Sanders

As reported in MarijuanaPolitics.com, the presidential candidate recently proposed the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015. Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert is quoted:

Sen. Sanders is simply proposing that we treat marijuana similarly to how we treat alcohol at the federal level, leaving most of the details to the states. It is a commonsense proposal that is long overdue in the Senate

Lacking passage of this bill, exactly how cannabis gets totally de-scheduled is questionable. Were Bernie Sanders to attain the presidency, he could down-schedule to the least restrictive Schedule V. But whether he could remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act on this own, without congressional agreement, is unclear.

 

 

“Concussion” Is Teachable Moment For Cannabis And Brain Trauma

Will Smith - Concussion

Will Smith – Concussion

Cannabis reduces traumatic brain injury!

Far too few know this benefit of medical marijuana use and treatment. The general public, the NFL, and coaches across the country may soon get that opportunity.

The SONY movie, “Concussion,” examining brain trauma in the NFL, presents a unique opportunity to educate about benefits of cannabis for traumatic brain injury. Will Smith plays a forensic pathologist who discovers the chilling extent of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players, setting them up for depression, dementia, and early death.

The Christmas 2015 movie has already elevated the issue of traumatic brain injury to the public and NFL players. Although the movie does not address how cannabis can minimize brain injuries, the time will be ripe for such education.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon may be the best educator on this timely issue.

This a retired Harvard psychiatrist and pioneering authority on marijuana’s medical benefits has already specifically addressed the issue of CTE in the NFL, when he petitioned  the organization to fund research into cannabis and brain trauma. Dr. Grinspoon has been educating on the positive health effects of cannabis for decades, since it helped his son with cancer in the 1970s. He has written a dozen books, several on medical marijuana, calling it The Forbidden Medicine.”  He has editorialized in The New York Times that marijuana is a “wonder drug“, where he lists the truly wondrous medical benefits provided, including relief from neuropathic pain. He writes:

If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug.

 

Cannabis and Brain Injury

Head injury and traumatic brain accident. Fotolia

Head injury and traumatic brain accident. Fotolia

Much of the research showing the protective effects of cannabinoids against traumatic brain injury comes from Israel. Studies reported in 2013 in this small, high-tech country showed that THC and similar cannabinoids can reduce injury both before and after trauma.

Irony alert: This research showing the brain-protective benefits was done at the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases. Sheldon Adelson, that is, the American right-wing gambling billionaire and major benefactor to Israel. Ironically, he put several million dollars into a 2014 Florida campaign to PREVENT medical marijuana in that state. With the help of his money, Floridians were denied the benefits of medical cannabis, such as reducing brain injury and dementia, discovered in his own center! WTF?

Other Israeli researchers concentrated on 2-AG, the human body’s own cannabinoid molecule, along with anandamide, that fits lock-and-key into the same receptors activated by plant cannabinoid in marijuana. They discuss how cannabinoids work on the biological and molecular levels to reduce traumatic brain injury (TBI) and with it minimize the disabling disease CTE. The brain trauma of a concussive hit does not all take place and finish with the hit. In the hours following, inflammation is a destructive factor, caused in part by cytokines, cell messengers, such as the dangerous TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-1beta. 2-AG also reduces blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability, another neuroprotective effect.

More ways cannabinoids reduce traumatic brain injury.

Head trauma, such as a massive acceleration/deceleration of a head during helmet to pad collision, common in NFL football, begins a lengthy neurological response process, often inflicting more harm to the brain. This response is primarily inflammatory. For a specific site, even the whole brain, the culprit is “excitotoxicity, the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate and similar substances.” This neurotransmitter overload degrades and kills brain cells, and they die a messy death, creating further toxicity in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), nasty molecules that damage cell structures and your DNA.

So as soon as a football player takes a concussive hit, from then for hours, and longer,  the resulting excitotoxicity attacks neurons and other cells:

  • Dangerous cytokines deliver massive numbers of inflammatory molecules.
  • Glutamate increases wildly, along with other neurotransmitters.
  • NMDA receptors are activated by excess glutamate which causes a flow of calcium and sodium into cells, generating free radicals.
  • Dying mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouse release toxic Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), bully molecules swinging dangerous free radical electrons, and smashing up nerve cells.
  • Vasoconstriction reduces blood flow to the brain.

Amazingly, cannabinoids in cannabis exert a healing calm to excitotoxicity and help reduce neurological damage in all areas.

  • Antioxidants action: Even without activating the  endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids themselves are potent anti-oxidants, the perfect remedy to the oxidative stress, as they neutralize these rowdy ROS molecules.
  • Retrograde signalling, found only in the endocannabinoid system, calms neuronal firings with “backwards” retrograde signaling across synapses to reduce nerve cell activity.
  • Apoptosis, cell death is reduced, lowering the resulting volume of inflammatory molecules.
  • Cannabinoids promote vasodilation, restoring healing blood flow to the brain by counteracting the endothelin (ET-1)-induced vasoconstriction that aggravates brain damage.
  • Anti-inflammatory actions are all neuroprotective. And they result in reduced brain swelling.

So, obviously, the investigation of cannabis in reducing traumatic brain injury and CTE in football players and sports participants who suffer concussions presents a life-saving opportunity. Their are ample reasons for undertaking this research and hopefully the NFL will take up Dr. Grinspoon’s challenge to fund it.

First, do no harm. The NFL’s knee jerk mandate of prohibiting cannabis use by players may be doing huge harms by denying them the medicine that can help prevent, treat, and minimize injuries from the brain trauma they suffer as players.

Beyond that, what can we do as fans of football, and for some, as parent of young players, to help get the NFL to sponsor this vitally needed research into concussion and cannabis?.

Copyright © 2015  Don Fitch

 

Congressman Steve Cohen Calls for End of Schedule I for Cannabis

By Don Fitch

Steve Cohen

Congressman Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen, US Congressman from Tennessee, has called out Attorney General Eric Holder to end the ludicrous Schedule I legal status for cannabis. The Tennessee democrat (TN-09) is one of several US congresspersons working against continued marijuana prohibition.
Congressman Cohen is absolutely right when he speaks about the evils of Schedule I status, the most restrictive and punitive, for cannabis and hemp. These negatives include:

• Asset Forfeiture: Schedule I means marijuana “crimes” are among the most serious federal offenses, enabling draconian stealing of personal assets by the government.

• IRS 280E: This rule may cripple most cannabis businesses by disallowing common business deductions because of the illegality (especially Schedule I) of the product.

• Mandatory Minimums: Long prison terms for any “crime” involving cannabis are supported by the pernicious Schedule I tag.

• Medical Marijuana Research: Total control (and nearly total restriction) is granted to the DEA and NIDA, who cling to the “no medical use” definition to disallow medical research.

• Hemp: Imported seeds for the first Kentucky hemp planting were delayed at the border by the DEA last summer, requiring the intervention of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. To survive, the new American hemp industry needs cannabis rescheduling. Continue reading

Hemp And Cannabis in Southern Oregon Skirmish

As Oregon’s legal marijuana market goes official on July 1, 2015, two different aspects of cannabis agriculture are at odds.

Some of the world’s finest wines are produced from grapes grown in southern Oregon. In nearby fields, some of the planet’s choicest cannabis strains benefit from the same climate. The medical marijuana plants appear like small trees, protruding with arm-sized buds worth big money when harvested, dried and trimmed.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis Flower Without Seeds

The aromatic female cannabis flowers glisten as they await the wind-borne arrival of pollen from male cannabis so they can produce seeds and complete their reproductive cycle. But the pollen never arrives, as growers are quick to uproot any male plants. Pollination would ruin the monetary and medical value of the crop as surely as a late season hail storm. Sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) cannabis can sell for up to two thousand dollars a pound; seeded marijuana has no market value.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp crop.

Now a new player is entering the Oregon cannabis agriculture: hemp. Like medically valuable sinsemilla, hemp is also marijuana, cannabis sativa. Unlike sinsemilla, hemp is grown for the seeds; they are the most valuable part of the hemp crop, although the entire plant is useful in dozens of ways. Indeed, hemp seeds themselves and the oil produced from them are arguably the world’s most nutritious food. They are sources of essential oils and proteins that our bodies cannot produce themselves, and they provide perfectly balanced omega 3 fatty acids, excellent nutrition for brain and body. If you were abandoned on a desert island with the choice of one food, hemp seeds might be your single best pick. Continue reading

Bad Day for Medical Liberty: US Supreme Court Denies Cannabis Rescheduling

© freshidea - Fotolia.com

© freshidea – Fotolia.com

Depressingly, the first thing the US Supreme Court did on its first Monday was to deny reconsideration of cannabis scheduling.

By refusing to appeal a lower ruling, the court locks in Schedule I (highly dangerous, no medical value) by allowing the DEA to make that decision. Read the gory details at StopTheDrugWar.org. This come out on the same day that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia admits that he fully believes in the devil. His mindset would better fit Spain during the Inquisition than the USA in the 21st century. Yet we are stuck with his rulings.

There seems little chance now that the draconian Schedule I felonizing of cannabis will change, probably for decades to come. After all, it was just over 25 years that DEA law judge Francis L. Young told the truth about marijuana, including the fact that in no way should it be Schedule I. Yet a quarter century later, it still is. During these 25 years 20 million Americans have been unjustly arrested under these cruel laws.

With Schedule I intact,  the DEA and US Attorneys can continue to  jail Americans for decades along with seizing their property for the benefit of the agencies. States may legalize cannabis for medical or personal use all they want but as long as possession of any marijuana by anybody remains a stiff federal offense, the medical potential of cannabis will be blunted. The DEA and NIDA will still have control over research using cannabis, meaning they can continue to block nearly all medical marijuana research in the USA. This is probably the most cruel result.

It will also stifle and delay hemp production and use the USA.

For no good reason, tens of millions of Americans will have to continue to fear their government.

Who now is going to down-schedule or de-schedule  cannabis out of the hands of the DEA?

  • Certainly not the DEA itself. The felonization of cannabis is worth billions to the agency every year, no way they would consider changing it.

  • Barack Obama is highly unlikely to consider this desperately needed change; his presidency has been marked by increasing attacks on medical marijuana dispensaries and he has rejected any change of scheduling.

  • Even after 2016, it is unlikely the new president would make any change. Hillary Clinton has echoed Obama’s hard line. Joe Biden is one of the worst of the drug war criminals, enthusiastically creating the Drug Czar office and supporting harsh and authoritarian programs and policies his entire career. Although some libertarian republicans support ending drug prohibition and defunding the DEA, most republicans are staunch authoritarians who fully cheer and fund the war on drugs.

  • These leaves its to congress to change the scheduling.  Big hope there, huh?  Even if congress was not dysfunctional,  many congresspersons are former prosecutors, drug-war beneficiaries like Senator Jeff  “I love the DEA” Sessions, of the Judiciary Committee. Powerful house dinosaurs like Texas republican Arlen Smith headed off any reduction of federal persecution of medical cannabis in states where legal.

Future Americans will look back at us an wonder how we could have kept such dishonest and cruel laws so long.

Copyright © Don Fitch, 2013

 

 

So Sayeth Sanjay! On cannabis, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years.”

Medical Marihuana

Medical Marihuana
© goshiva – Fotolia.com

This writer called it a heart-breaker at the time in early 2009 when neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta said he “would vote no on pot.”  Dr. Gupta’s dismissal of medical marijuana was disappointing because, as I noted, he was “brilliant, telegenic, a neurosurgeon, had huge recognition and an is excellent communicator.” Now forward 4 1/2 years and Sanjay Gupta’s views have come around 180 degrees. Incredibly, he now says, “Well, I am here to apologize. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof.”

Sanjay now knows, after long investigation, that “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”  He pretty much calls out the DEA as the liars that they are.  One may question why such a brilliant man could have ever believed DEA lies, but the important thing now is that he knows better, and is communicating the truth.

He should have called his documentary Cannabis, rather than Weed,  the term preferred by cops. But for now, truth wins out as Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks out.  See it on CNN August 11, 2013.

Your Brain on CBD: Neurogenesis and Brain Growth!

Neurogenesis in hippocampus

© Sebastian Kaulitzki – Fotolia.com

We rightfully mourn the loss of brain cells, neurons, as we age. As they die we lose memories and capabilities – even our personalities. We are only as robust as our brains, composed mainly of neurons. Formerly, it was thought the as adults we already have all the brain cells we will ever have, and the path was only downward as we lose neurons to stress, alcohol and aging. Happily, this bleak picture was changed when neuroscientists discovered that, under certain conditions, even adult brains can grow new neurons, neurogenesis. New neurons refresh and rejuvenate, and lift mood.

The principal area where neurogenesis can take place is in the hippocampus, a dual area deep within the brain. Although small, hippocampal health appears important to memory and brain organization. It can be damaged. Excess alcohol and many drugs can cause it to lose neurons and shrink, resulting in fading memories and depression.

On the other hand, several conditions seem to spur brain growth. Physical exercise is one: rigorous physical activity spurs the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, most probably providing a rejuvenating effect and boosting memory. Physical activity is crucial in keeping old brains young. Your hippocampal health is one of dozens of great reasons to exercise every day of your life.

Certain anti-depressant drugs are also associated with neurogenesis.  Indeed, it is now thought that the depression relieving effects of SRIs- serotonin reuptake inhibitors – might have more to do with neurogenesis than increasing serotonin levels. Some now believe that the depression lifting effects of these drugs are due to new, young brain cells refreshing the hippocampus.

In 1995 it was reported that cannabinoids, too, can spur neurogenesis. Cannabinoids are molecules from three different sources: 1) Our body produces endocannabinoids that activate our endocannabinoid regulatory systems, pricipally anandamide and 2-AG. 2) Phytocannabinoids come from the plant Cannabis Sativa, AKA marijuana. THC is the best known and produces the psychoactive and some of the medicinal effects of cannabis.  3) Cannabinoids can also be synthesized in the lab.

A Canadian research group reported that Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects. This research used a synthetic cannabinoid to activate the same CB1 receptors activated by the plant cannabinoid THC. They attributed the anxiety-relieving and depression-lifting effects of long-term treatment were “likely via promotion of hippocampal neurogenesis.”

Another new study has shown that the cannabinoid CBD from cannabis also promotes neurogenesis. Researchers from the Complutense University in Madrid, along with Brazilian researchers found that CBD relieved stress in mice and it did so by increasing neurogenesis in the hippocampus. They concluded, the “anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis: involvement of the endocannabinoid system.”

CBD, Cannabidiol is an exceedingly interesting molecule, brimming with beneficial health effects. It is one of over 60 cannabinoids produced by the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. Unlike the better known THC, CBD is not psychoactive, although it may modulate the effects of THC. Both cannabinoid molecules interact, in different ways, with our cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. The medical potential of CBD has been inadequately studied because of the idiotic illegality of Cannabis Sativa. Even so, the known health effects are impressive: Like THC, CBD is an antioxidant with neuroprotective properties. Like THC, CBD is anti-inflammatory. It relieves pain.  CBD appears to have anti-tumor properties.

So on top of all these medical benefits, CBD may well contribute to neurogenesis, brain rejuvenation and growth! What’s not to like? Well, the DEA does not like these medical benefits and does not allow research on them because it likes the draconian Schedule I – no medical benefits – of cannabis to extend the lucrative war on drugs. This bureaucratic turf battle keeps the DEA in the dough but denies Americans the health-giving, even life-saving benefits of medical cannabis, even non-psychoactive CBD-dominant strains.

Americans should demand access to natural plant molecules such as CBD, along with THC, THCV and dozens of other medical cannabinoids. CBD and these other cannabinoids can help prevent many maladies, can treat dozens of diseases and can provide palliative comfort to the rest.  Along with refreshing and growing our very brains with neurogenesis. If Americans gain their medical freedom with a down-grading of cannabis from ridiculous Schedule I tyranny, the planet’s other six billion people would also gain greater access. Study of this remarkable  plant cannabinoid would blossom world-wide as anti-cannabis doctrine crumbles in the face of huge medical and health benefits.

Copyright © 2013 Don Fitch

THCV: A Marijuana Cannabinoid for Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention?

Fotolia

Fotolia

The cannabis sativa plant, marijuana, produces dozens of cannabinoids. The THC cannabinoid that elicits psychoactivity, and numerous medical benefits, is but one of over 60 phyto (plant-based) cannabinoids found in cannabis. Cannabidiol or CBD, is a second, now under intense study for its anti-inflammatory and other health properties. Another of these phytocannabinoids is  tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV. Cannabis strains favoring this cannabinoid might serve as tools for weight loss and preventing diabetes.

Medical research on cannabinoids has flourished in recent years and most research points to health positive effects of medical cannabis for a wide range of conditions. Cannabis has been found to be neuroprotective, anti-painantioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatoryanti-tumor as well as cardioprotective. One area, though, where research is less positive is in the metabolic effects of cannabinoid receptor activation. Activation of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, an effect of THC and human endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG, seemed to correlate with some health-negative metabolic conditions. Conversely, blockage of this activation with synthetic cannabinoid antagonists (e.g. rimonabant) correlated with health positive cardio-metabolic changes. As listed by the European RIO study, some positive changes induced by blocking CB1 receptors include positive changes in body weight, waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, adiponectin, fasting insulin and insulin resistance.

Because of these effects on the endocannabinoid system, it has long been assumed that cannabis consumption would tend to cause weight gain. These metabolic effects and enhanced eating because of amplified taste, i.e. “munchie effects” would theoretically make marijuana users ravenous and fat. To the surprise of many, several studies have now found that cannabis users are actually less fat than their abstaining counterparts. As reported here, marijuana users tend to be less obese and less diabetic than non-users.  Their waists were smaller. These real life observations seem to contradict the supposed munchie effect and predicted effects of CB1 activation. Such health positive indication by cannabis users may even be amplified with development of THCV-heavy cannabis weight loss products e.g. edibles for appetite suppression.

For some people eating does often follow use of THC-heavy marijuana.  Indeed, important medical uses of cannabis include treatment of the wasting syndrome and lack of appetite from chemotherapy. But by no means does everyone using cannabis each time become ravenous. Depending on the person, the setting and the cannabis, consuming cannabis is often a prelude to cardiovascular exercise, not gluttonous indolence. As much as taste enjoyment is enhanced by cannabis for some, for others (or for the same people at other times.) the sensory enjoyment of exercise is enhanced. With cannabis, activities like running can hurt less and feels better, even ecstatic. Might a higher THCV-content cannabis both dampen appetite and create an energetic cannabis experience encouraging exercise?

For a short time in 2005 and 2006, it looked this CB1 receptor antagonist, the synthetic cannabinoid rimonabant, might be a powerful anti-obesity drug. Problems arose for this promising weight loss and metabolic drug, though, from its blockage of the endocannabinoid system. Ananadamide and THC are blissful, because they activate this system. Blockage of the system, it seems, is anti-blissful, with feelings of anxiety and depression common. Also worrisome was blockage of the positive health effects of medical cannabis, e.g. glaucoma reduction and pain relief. For example, cannabis is an anti-nausea drug offering immense relief to chemotherapy patients. And indeed, nausea was another of the symptoms bothering those taking this synthetic “anti-marijuana.” Depression and nausea are probably not part of an effective weigh loss program.

After approval in Europe and other countries, rimonabant was rejected by the FDA. It has since lost favor in Europe. An obese world lost a potentially useful weight control product. Could there be other options? As it turns out one of the phyto-cannabinoids from the cannabis plants, THCV, may have potential. Although its interactions with THC, other cannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptor system are complex, recent research found that THCV is a CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonist. Seemingly, this would make for “downer cannabis,” blocking the CB1 receptors that THC activate, but that does not seem to be the case. It is possible THCV intensive cannabis might offer the appetite reduction and  and positive cardiometabolic effects of Rimonabant without the negatives of the synthetic drug. This is especially true when the THCV is mixed, with other cannabinoids, as found in cannabis. A cannabis with high THCV and low or moderate THC and CBD might be ideal.

Seminal cannabis researcher and discoverer of THC, Raphael Mechoulam, in British Journal of Pharmacology in 2005, discussed the apparent unique properties and posed several research questions. He notes, as has Scottish researcher Roger G. Pertwee, that THCV content can be very high in hashish from Pakistan. Despite these high levels of the supposed CB1 receptor antagonist THCV, Pakistani hashish has no apparent  “downer” aspect depressing the user. Perhaps this is due to the presence of the other 60 cannabinoids.

THCV’s appetite-reducing and fat loss potential await studies, as do new cannabis cultivars enhancing this cannabinoid. Except, of course, no studies on the medical potential of cannabis are allowed in the USA by the DEA.  Americans, so in need of useful weight loss products, will have to wait until the research is done in places like Israel, Spain and Portugal.

Copyright © 2013 Don Fitch

Another study shows cannabis user are thinner and healthier!

Another major study finds cannabis users are thinner and have better cardiometabolic levels than controls. This may surprise many as activation of the endocannabinoid system, which is a function cannabis use, is associated in much of the research by increased feeding (the munchies) and poor cardiometabolic indicators, such as bad lipid levels. Indeed, until shown in 2006 to have negative, even dangerous psychological effects, cannabinoid receptor antagonists which essential have the opposite effects of cannabis were anticipated to be powerful weight loss drugs with positive cardiometabolic effects, mentioned in an earlier post here. The FDA quashed introduction of these drugs, e.g. rimanobant  when they were found to be powerfully depressing. It makes sense; cannabis provides mild feelings of well-being and enjoyment, the antagonist, opposite drug seems to provoke the opposite emotion, depression.

The new study, reported in The American Journal of Medicine, demonstrates a positive impact of marijuana use on key cardiometabolic indicators. Titled The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults, the study shows all these key parameters are healthier in marijuana consumers. The study was written up in The Atlantic by Lindsey Abrams and reveals that the cannabis users were healthier in indices crucial to the health of Americans and billions of other world wide with less obesity, better glucose and insulin levels and less insulin resistance. As diabetes is a major killer and disabler, the fact that cannabis use might help is astounding.

With the USA teetering on the edge of a health care cost crisis, due in good part to obesity and diabetes, one might think that the American medical care system would be eager to explore and research cannabis with controlled studies in the prevention and treatment of these conditions. But this will not take place as the DEA has a lock on all research on marijuana and allows none.