Cannabis decreases tumor growth in half in three weeks

CaannaSOSApril 13, 2016
The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells; “When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays,” states Anju Preet, PhD, who was one of the researchers for the study.CabbabusPlant

Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50% compared to a control group. According to Preet, cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced – by nearly 60% – and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

Researchers predict that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

Over 6 years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

https://cannasos.com/blog/health/cannabis-decreases-tumor-growth-in-half-in-three-weeks

Coconut Oil and Cannabis Capsule – A Medical Miracle?

AlternativeDailyBanner

Humans have cultivated and used the flowering tops of the female cannabis CannabisCapsuleSMplant, known colloquially as marijuana, since history was recorded. Archaeologists in Central Asia even found over 2 pounds of cannabis in a 2,700 year-old grave of a shaman.

Written and pictorial evidence of cannabis use is scattered throughout numerous cultures indicating a wide acceptance and use of the plant for thousands of years.

Drug Classification Halts UseFederal prohibitions outlawing the therapeutic and recreational use of cannabis were first imposed by Congress with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Later, the plant’s organic compounds (cannabinoids) were classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

This classification puts the plant in the same pool as heroin and states that cannabis possesses “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”

In contrast, cocaine and methamphetamine – illegal for recreational use, may be consumed under a doctors supervision and are classified as Schedule II drugs. Examples of Schedule III and IV drugs include anabolic steroids and Valium. Analgesics that contain codeine are defined by law as Schedule V drugs, the most lenient classification.

In Support of Therapeutic Use

Federal lawmakers continue to use the dated drug classification as a means to defend criminalization of marijuana. However, there appears to be very little scientific basis for the categorization of the plant. As its prohibition has passed 75 years, researchers continue to study the therapeutic properties of cannabis.

There are over 20,000 published reviews and studies in scientific literature that pertain to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, almost one-third of these have been published in the last 4 years. A keyword search on PubMed Central (the US government library of peer-reviewed scientific research) shows 2,100 studies alone since 2011.

Modern culture is now catching up on what our ancestors knew, and public opinion and relaxing state legislation are leading the way for more people to use medicinal marijuana for a wide number of medical conditions. At present, marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

While the debate continues to boil at both state and federal levels, there has been a strong and growing trend of acceptance related to the growing body of scientific evidence indicating that marijuana may indeed contain some powerful medicinal properties that we would be foolish to overlook.

Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, wrote the following in a Mar. 26, 2004 article titled “Myths About Medical Marijuana,” published in the Providence Journal:

“The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.”

“Many of the chronically ill have successfully sought relief with the use of medical cannabis, an age-old remedy that now shows real scientific efficacy. Hundreds of thousands of the sick have replaced disabling narcotics and other psychotropic medications with nontoxic and benign cannabis. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Folks with spinal injuries able to give up their walkers, AIDS patients able to gain weight and keep their medications down, cancer patients finding relief from the terrible nausea of chemotherapy, chronic pain patients once again functional with their consciousness restored from narcotic lethargy, and folks once disabled from crippling psychiatric disorders and addictions, returned to sanity and society with the assistance of a nontoxic herb with remarkable healing powers.”

The American Nurses Association (ANA) wrote the following in its Mar. 19, 2004 “Position Statement: Providing Patients Safe Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” posted on the ANA website:

“The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes that patients should have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis. Cannabis or marijuana has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and conditions.”

Researchers at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research announced findings from a number of randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials on the medical utility of inhaled cannabis in 2010.

The studies used the FDA ‘gold standard’ clinical trial design and reported that marijuana should be the “first line of treatment” for patients suffering from neuropathy and other serious illnesses.

Neuropathy is a type of pain associated with diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injuries, HIV/AIDS and other debilitating conditions. The trials indicated that marijuana controlled pain as good or better than available medications.

Scientists continue to study the effectiveness of cannabinoids all over the world. In Germany there have been over 37 controlled studies, with over 2,500 subjects, assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana, since 2005. In contrast, most FDA-approved drugs go through far fewer trials with less subjects but are approved for use.

The research on cannabis has shifted from studying its ability to alleviate symptoms of disease such as nausea associated with chemotherapy to its potential role in modifying disease. Medical marijuana has been shown to slow the onset of Alzheimers disease and moderate autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Cannabis and Coconut Oil

Medical marijuana capsules infused in coconut oil are an alternative way to therapeutically use cannabis without having to inhale it through smoking. Infusing cannabis into coconut oil also allows for easy entry into the liver where it can be rapidly processed.

Coconut oil is used because of its high amount of essential fatty acids which makes it a good binding agent for the cannabinoids. Not to mention its amazing health properties. Half of the fat in coconut oil is comprised of a fat that is not frequently found in nature, lauric acid.

Lauric acid has been called a “miracle” ingredient due to its health promoting capabilities and is present in a mother’s milk. In fact, it can be found in only three dietary sources—small amounts in butterfat and larger amounts in palm kernel and coconut oil.

In the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal substance. Because monolaurin is a monoglyceride, it can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes and a number of pathogenic bacteria.

Testimony – A Success Story

While many remain suspicious of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, Stan and Barb Rutner are convinced of its efficacy. This couple has stood in the face of cancer a number of times and survived to learn from their experiences.

Barb had two bouts of breast cancer and Stan was diagnosed 20 years ago with non-Hodgkin lymphoma which, after treatment, disappeared. However, in 2011, it returned. Cancerous nodes in his lungs were diagnosed and later he was told that the cancer was in his brain. The outlook was grim indeed.

As he went through the harsh treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, Stan and his family wanted to find a natural solution that would help improve his quality of life and even prolong it. Hearing that cannabis was effective in helping with the pain and other effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients they were more than open to give it a try. According to Stan and Barb, medical cannabis was the golden ticket.

The Rutners daughter, Corinne and her husband did some research and it was CannabisCapsuleSMdecided that daytime cannabis capsule infused in coconut oil would be a good choice. After two weeks of taking the capsule, Stan was able to give up his oxygen tank that he was tied to around the clock. He began to gain weight, sleep better and get stronger overall. After several months, a brain scan revealed that Stan was completely cancer free.

The Rutners are convinced that cannabis works as an anti-cancer medicine. According to John, the Rutners son-in-law, “There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis pulled my father-in-law out of the wasting stages of cancer and enabled him to gain strength and in turn fight this horrible cell malfunction with success. While many would say that the chemo and radiation could have played a part, he would never have lived long enough to find out without cannabis oil.”

– Susan Patterson

Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.

Cannabis & Cancer

LasVegasLegalPrescribe Five Drugs or One Botanical? Your Choice.

By Brian D. Lawenda, M.D.                   6 March 2016

PrescriptionCannabisThere is much science about the medical efficacy of cannabis (marijuana) in oncology. Cannabis is a plant that is classified in the United States as a controlled substance, and by federal law, possessing cannabis in most U.S. states is illegal. That said,16 states and the District of Columbia permit its use for certain medical conditions with a physician’s prescription; however, doctors in these states may not legally do so without violating federal law and can lose their federal license to prescribe drugs and may also be prosecuted. Presently, three states—Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico—license producers and distributors of medical cannabis.

With that background established, let’s learn more as we delve into using cannabis in oncology.

What are the active compounds in cannabis?

More than 400 chemical compounds have been discovered within the cannabis plant. Of them, phytocannabinoids (or simply “cannabinoids”) are the main components that exert most of the plant’s pharmacological activity.

Further, there are more than 60 identified cannabinoids, but the four most well studied and characterized cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (d-9-THC); cannabidiol (CBD); cannabinol (CBN); and tetrahudrocannabivarin (THCV).

Cannabinoid compounds are currently available as either synthesized chemicals or whole plant extracts, including Dronabinol (or “Marinol”), an FDA-approved synthetic THC pill; Nabilone (or “Cesamet”), also an FDA-approved synthetic THC pill; and Nabiximols (or “Sativex”); a not-yet-approved FDA natural tincture spray containing both THC and CBD.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

Some of the most exciting cannabinoid research involves the discovery of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Incredibly, our bodies make their own cannabinoid chemicals that interact and stimulate cannabinoid receptors on our cells. Studies continue to uncover the numerous functions of our endocannabinoid system, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory activity
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Inhibiting tumor cell growth
  • Inhibiting blood vessel growth to tumors
  • Antiviral activity
  • Involved in learning and nervous system plasticity
  • Pain processing
  • Neuroprotective effects
  • Visual perception
  • Immune system modulation

Routes of use of cannabis

Cannabis may be taken by mouth (i.e., baked products, butters, teas, liquid sprays tinctures, gum, beer, etc.) or may be inhaled through smoking or vaporizing.

One of the safest and most consistent ways to deliver a controllable dose of cannabis is through vaporization. It takes over one hour for Dronabinol (Marinol) to reach full systemic effect, compared to minutes for smoked or vaporized cannabis.

Safety of smoking cannabis

Research has found that habitual use of marijuana does not appear to lead to abnormalities in lung function, nor does it increase the risks of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) or either lung or upper airway cancer. It is associated with an increase in symptoms of chronic bronchitis; however, the symptoms go away upon discontinuation of use. That said, I still would prefer that my patients vaporize versus inhale smoke.

Uses of cannabis in oncology

As an integrative oncologist, I recommend using various methods for helping patients manage commonly encountered side effects and symptoms of cancer treatment and the cancer itself. Whenever possible, I start by suggesting non-pharmacologic therapies that have been shown to be effective, safe and are inexpensive. If the symptoms are moderate-to-severe or unlikely to be able to be controlled with non-pharmacologic approaches, this is when I will recommend using natural botanical products and/or pharmaceutical drugs. Five commonly experienced symptoms in cancer patients are:

  • Nausea
  • Diminished appetite (and associated weight loss)
  • Pain
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Psychoemotional distress (i.e., anxiety, stress and depression)

Cannabis (as the whole plant compound) and the synthetic and extracted delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (d-9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have all been shown to have significant efficacy in improving these five common symptoms in clinical trials. Your physician would need to prescribe five different drugs to (with the associated side effects and costs) to manage these symptoms…or, they could prescribe one drug that improves all five symptoms. If only one or two of these symptoms are causing significant problems, I typically don’t recommend using a cannabinoid since other pharmacologic options may be more effective in treating those individual symptoms. However, it is quite common to see patients with the majority of these symptoms manifesting at once (particularly in advanced stages of disease and treatment).

For these patients, I think it is very appropriate to recommend a cannabinoid or cannabis by itself or in combination with other pharmacologic (i.e., Megace for poor appetite, Zofran for nausea, etc.) and non-pharmacologic therapies (i.e., mind-body therapies, etc.). Recently reported data indicate that the combination of inhaled cannabis (via vaporization) with opioid pain medications leads to a synergistic effect, which decreases the amount of opioids needed for pain control. This synergistic action helps patients by reducing the side effects of higher dose requirements of opioids (i.e., sedation and nausea).

Is there any validity in using cannabis as an anti-cancer agent?

There are no quality clinical studies in humans that prove whether cannabis is able to improve cancer-specific outcomes such as survival, recurrence or progression. However, there are interesting and promising preclinical studies (using cancer cells or animal studies) that demonstrate the anticancer activity of cannabinoids. Excerpts from studies posted by the U.S. NCI PDQ: Cannabis and Cannabinoids include the following statements:

  • “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.”
  • “Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”
  • “A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.”
  • “A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells.

The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.”

So, when asked by my patients if using cannabis or cannabinoids can help improve their cancer-specific outcomes I can only point to preclinical data on that question. We know that many seemingly amazing outcomes have been reported in preclinical studies, only to later have no effect in human studies. Therefore, it is important to recognize the limitations of projecting preclinical outcomes to human study outcomes. Safety of cannabinoids According to a 1995 review prepared for the World Health Organization, “There are no recorded cases of overdose fatalities attributed to cannabis, and the estimated lethal dose for humans extrapolated from animal studies is so high that it cannot be achieved by … users.”

In 2008, investigators at McGill University and the University of British Columbia reviewed 23 clinical investigations of medical cannabinoid drugs (typically oral THC or liquid cannabis extracts) and eight observational studies conducted between 1966 and 2007. Investigators “did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabinoid use” compared to non-using controls over these four decades. Pharmacologic studies indicate that a human would need to eat 1,500 pounds of cannabis within 15 minutes to achieve lethal levels of cannabinoids.

That said, cannabinoids are active drugs with potential side effects and risks. According to Cancer.gov, potential side effects of cannabinoids may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle relaxation • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slowed digestion • Dizziness
  • Depression • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

Both cannabis and cannabinoids may be addictive. Symptoms of withdrawal from cannabinoids may include restlessness and hot flashes, and less common nausea and cramping.

Brian D. Lawenda, M.D., an integrative oncologist. He trained at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School) in radiation oncology and studied medical acupuncture at Stanford-UCLA (Helms Medical Institute). He is the founder of IntegrativeOncology-Essentials[dot]com.

New York Times: Marijuana-Based Drug Found to Reduce Epileptic Seizures

By ANDREW POLLACK MARCH 14, 2016

Epidiolex contains almost pure cannabidiol, a component of the marijuana plant that does not make people high.

An experimental drug derived from marijuana has succeeded in reducing EpidiolexMMJPlantepileptic seizures in its first major clinical trial, the product’s developer announced on Monday, a finding that could lend credence to the medical marijuana movement.

The developer, GW Pharmaceuticals, said the drug, Epidiolex, achieved the main goal of the trial, reducing convulsive seizures when compared with a placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. GW shares more than doubled on Monday.

If Epidiolex wins regulatory approval, it would be the first prescription drug in the United States that is extracted from marijuana. The drug is a liquid containing cannabidiol, a component of marijuana that does not make people high.

As many as 30 percent of the nearly 500,000 American children with epilepsy are not sufficiently helped by existing drugs, according to GW. Parents of some of these children have been flocking to try marijuana extracts, prepared by medical marijuana dispensaries.

A number of states, in response to pressure from these parents, have passed or considered legislation to make it easier to obtain marijuana-based products. And some families have become “marijuana refugees,” moving to Colorado where it has been easier to obtain a particular extract, known as Charlotte’s Web, after the girl who first used it to control seizures.

Hundreds of other children and young adults have been using Epidiolex outside of clinical trials, under programs that allow desperate patients to use experimental drugs.

While many parents have reported significant reductions in seizures, experts have been cautious about anecdotal reports, saying that such treatments needed to be compared with a placebo to make sure they work. As such, the results from the GW trial have been closely watched.

“I’m very proud and happy about this study because it is science — we did things the way they should be done,” the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Orrin Devinsky of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center, said in an interview. “I would strongly advocate that in the United States we need to do systematic assessments of medical marijuana.”

The study involved 120 patients with an average age of 10 and an average frequency of 13 convulsive seizures a month at the start of the study, despite taking an average of three other drugs. Half of the children were randomly assigned to take the drug and the other half the placebo, in addition to the epilepsy medicines they were already taking.

The company said that for the patients who received Epidiolex, the frequency of convulsive seizures fell by 39 percent during the 14-week treatment period, compared with a four-week period just before the treatment started. For those getting the placebo, the reduction was 13 percent. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant.

Eight patients getting Epidiolex and one getting the placebo withdrew from the trial because of side effects. Major side effects included drowsiness, diarrhea, decreased appetite, fatigue, fever, vomiting and upper respiratory infection. But GW said that over all, the drug was well tolerated.

One caution is that the full details of the study were not released; the company said they would be presented at a medical conference.

EpidiolexPharma If it wins regulatory approval, Epidiolex would be the first prescription drug in the United States that is extracted from marijuana.

GW, which is based in London, said Monday that it would meet with the Food and Drug Administration to see if Epidiolex could be approved based on this single study. It is expecting the results of another trial for Dravet syndrome later this year, and the results of two trials in another form of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut.

There are no drugs approved specifically for Dravet syndrome, which typically starts in infancy and affects about 5,000 children in the United States, according to the company. It is not yet known if Epidiolex can help with the walking problems and intellectual disability that can come with Dravet, Dr. Devinsky said.

American depositary receipts of GW closed up about 120 percent on Monday. The company, which specializes in cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, already sells Sativex to treat spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. It is approved in many countries, though not the United States.

While Epidiolex could be the first prescription drug in the United States extracted from marijuana, two drugs already on the market, dronabinol and nabilone, are synthetic chemicals either similar to or identical to delta-9 THC, the component of marijuana that produces the highs.

Those drugs are approved to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. Dronabinol is also approved to treat weight and appetite loss in patients with AIDS.

GW executives say that an approved pharmaceutical should be favored by doctors and patients because the other medical marijuana products have not gone through the same rigorous vetting.

A study last year by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere found that medical marijuana products rarely contained the amount of ingredients stated in their labels.

The F.D.A. has been sending warning letters to some companies, many of them selling hemp oil, saying that they are illegally marketing their products as drugs and that cannabidiol cannot be sold as a dietary supplement because it is being studied for use as a drug.

But even if Epidiolex wins approval, some parents might stick with other products, either because they do not want to disrupt their child’s treatment or they prefer a fuller plant extract to the single ingredient in Epidiolex.

“My kid’s stable. I’m not touching it,” said Allison Ray Benavides, whose 6-year-old son, Robby, is using Charlotte’s Web, to which a little of the psychoactive component THC is added.

Robby used to have 15 to 25 seizures a day, even while taking the approved drug Depakote, and had to wear a helmet all day to protect his head from falls, said Ms. Ray Benavides, a medical social worker in San Diego.

Since starting on Charlotte’s Web more two years ago, while continuing with Depakote, he has had a total of only five seizures.

“I don’t need a double-blind placebo-controlled study to know something,” she said, while nonetheless welcoming the Epidiolex trial results.

Analysts expect Epidiolex to cost $2,500 to $5,000 a month, which would be more expensive than some of the medical marijuana products, which cost from about $100 to more than $1,000 per month. However, Epidiolex might be covered by insurance, unlike the other products.

USA State Rankings for Medical Marijuana Patients Per Capita

MMJ UsersPerCapitaBy Becky Olson                             1 February 2016

The number of medical marijuana patients in any given state depends on myriad factors.  But certain variables are more influential than others, and analyzing them can help entrepreneurs evaluate the size and potential of a specific market.

Take the qualifying conditions list, for example. Illinois by far has the longest list of specific conditions, yet it has one of the lowest MMJ patient densities per capita at less than one per 1,000 adults. By comparison, Colorado has one of the shortest conditions lists, yet it has the second highest density per capita at 26 patients per 1,000 adults.

So what’s driving this difference?

When allowed, generalized severe and/or chronic pain are by far the most commonly cited qualifying conditions for adult patients, while seizures takes the top spot for minors.

Colorado allows MMJ recommendations for severe pain, whereas Illinois does not.

Other states at the top of the list for patients per capita – including California, Oregon, Michigan and Washington State – all allow severe and/or chronic pain. (Note that some states such as California and Washington State don’t require patients to join a registry, in which case estimates for patient counts are developed based on similar markets.)

Post-traumatic stress disorder has also proven to give a healthy boost to patient counts when permitted. In New Mexico, for instance, it is currently the most commonly cited condition by patients.

But qualifying conditions aren’t the only consideration.

New York requires physicians to undergo a state-approved training course before they are permitted to recommend MMJ, limiting the number willing to do so (and therefore patient access).

Illinois requires patients to undergo full background checks and fingerprinting – invasive measures that have certainly kept a number of would-be patients away.

New Jersey has some of the highest prices in the country. When coupled with the fact that no products – including flower – can contain more than 10% THC, it has created a situation in which most patients continue to rely on the black market.

Other influential factors include caps on dispensaries, local moratoriums that leave communities without legal access, restrictions on MMJ products or consumption methods, and whether home cultivation is permitted.

Becky Olson can be reached at beckyo@mjbizmedia.com

Canadian Marijuana Sales Could Hit US$7 Billion

MJBusinessDailyMasthead
January 28, 2016      

An economist at CIBC, a major Canadian investment bank, is estimating in a new report that Canada’s marijuana market could surpass $7 billion annually – or about $10 billion in Canadian dollars – if legalization proceeds there.

CIBC World Markets economist Avery Shenfeld based the figure on marijuana sales figures on Colorado and Canadian marijuana consumption estimates.

But that figure would be reached “only if all the underground sales are effectively curtailed,” the report said.

Shenfeld also estimated that half of the sales would go to provincial and federal taxes. Shenfeld arrived at the tax revenue estimate based on the province of Ontario’s profits from state-controlled alcohol stores and payroll and other taxes there.

Shenfeld noted that other figures point to a much smaller Canadian marijuana market. For example, based on surveys indicating that just 12% of Canadians smoked marijuana in the last year, and a study in the International Journal of Drug Policy that estimated annual marijuana sales in British Columbia totaled about $280 million ($400 million Canadian), marijuana sales could be closer to about $2.1 billion ($3 billion Canadian) annually.

“Dividing that pie between governments and producers would not appear to leave a lot of room for a fiscal boost unless prices were raised substantially,” the report said.

Medical cannabis helping Alberta MS patient

FinancialPostLogo

 

 

December 8, 2015  By Special to Financial Post

Former high school teacher and anti-drug advocate Grant Cluff leans forward to light a much-needed marijuana joint.

It’s a fascinating sight.

Former high school teacher and anti-drug advocate Grant Cluff leans forward to light a much-needed marijuana joint. He inhales deeply. Breathing out a dense plume of smoke, he slumps against the backrest of his mobility scooter. The muscle pain and stiffness throughout his body immediately subsides.

A tense expression gives way to a look of utter relief. His eyes brighten up. He smiles. “Now I can relax,” he says. His herbal medicine – until recently, dismissed by society as merely a recreational drug for slackers – is already working.

A lifelong Calgary resident, Cluff, 68, proudly served his community for two decades as a social studies teacher. But his career was cut short in 1988 by the onset of multiple sclerosis – a painful, debilitating and incurable disease.

MS Patient Grant CluffFor 13 years, he was administered cocktails of up to a dozen kinds of pharmaceutical drugs. But they did him more harm than good, he says. “They weakened my muscles, making my condition deteriorate even faster, and to the point that I could no longer walk,” he explains. “Some medications even burned holes in my stomach, causing painful gastrointestinal bleeding.”

By 2001, he was at his wit’s end. So Cluff tried to commit suicide by drinking half a bottle of rum and choking down around 50 painkillers. He was revived at a local hospital. As a last resort, he finally followed a friend’s advice: he tried smoking a little marijuana for the first time. It was an instant godsend. Cluff became a convert. Within one week, he had cast aside all of his meds for good.

“The benefits were almost immediate, translating into far less muscle spasticity and less pain,” he says. “Now I don’t need any pharmaceutical drugs any more, mostly because the marijuana treats just about all of my ailments.”

Since then, he’s even lost about 50 pounds of excess weight and his mood and overall quality of life have improved dramatically. “These days, I can even do as many as 10 push-ups. That’s not bad,” he quips with a chuckle. As he heads off on his electric scooter to his local coffee shop, he adds, “All in all, I’m pretty happy.”

The benefits of medical marijuana for Cluff are obvious. This is why he and thousands of others with similarly debilitating diseases are given legal access to it.

But what about other Albertans with chronic health issues? Do they all have to be as seriously ill as Cluff to earn the right to use this herbal medicine? What about people whose quality of life is diminished by sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression? Opinion polls suggest they’re all equally deserving.

The medical community is gradually being won over, too. This profound paradigm shift comes in response to growing scientific evidence in support of marijuana’s healing powers. In fact, this once-demonized plant is proving to be a panacea for a broad diversity of medical conditions.

Medical marijuana may even help alleviate an emerging health-care crisis, namely the over-prescription of powerful painkillers and anti-depressants. Not only do many of these drugs come with dangerous and/or debilitating side effects, they can be dangerously addictive, too. So doctors and patients alike are looking to safer drug substitutes, such as cannabis.

All of this helps explain why marijuana sales are moving out of the shadows of back alleys and into the mainstream. It’s no longer a seedy, secretive, and fragmented industry. Instead, it has such new-found respectability that it’s even well-represented in Canada’s highly-regulated capital markets.

An example of this quantum business evolution can be found with Aurora Cannabis – a publicly listed company that trades on the CSE exchange under the symbol ACB. By becoming Alberta’s first-ever provider of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for patients in need, Aurora just made history. More specifically, Health Canada has just granted Aurora a sales licence. This follows extensive laboratory testing of Aurora’s latest harvest for quality control by an independent, licensed third party.

To achieve this validation, the company has demonstrated that it’s proficient in standardizing each of its various strains of medical marijuana. In other words, every variety is identical from plant to plant in terms of composition, potency and medical efficacy.

This preoccupation with quality control is critical to Aurora’s future success. That’s because physicians are professionally obliged to seek out licensed growers who can guarantee a very safe and effective product. With this in mind, Aurora aims to become the ‘go to’ supplier for most Albertans.

Now Aurora isn’t quite what some readers might expect. It’s not run by swaggering, tattoo-covered ‘entrepreneurs’ with questionable backgrounds and suitcases full of cash. Instead, its founders are very successful, buttoned-down Albertan businesspeople. And they have ambitious goals. Over time, Aurora intends to cultivate as many as 50,000 plants at any one time, involving enough varieties – up to a dozen – to treat a wide spectrum of ailments. They include cancer, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and even migraines.

Meanwhile, government-approved patients all across Alberta can now order exactly what they need. In so doing, they’ll be validating the birth of a new-age, high tech agricultural industry.

By way of a little perspective, it’s worth discussing the federal government’s decision in 2013 to clean up Canada’s problematic cannabis growing cottage industry. The new system is aimed at overriding a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that allows certain medical patients to grow their own cannabis, or to instead use a designated small-scale grower.

However, the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana under this outdated system has been poorly regulated since its inception. And much of the cannabis has found its way on to the black market, thereby lining the pockets of organized crime.

Another longstanding problem is that it’s commonly grown in mouldy, unsanitary and poorly-ventilated warehouses or household basements. This can expose patients with compromised immune systems to potentially dangerous bacterial pathogens. Furthermore, the overuse of toxic pesticides is very prevalent.

But that’s all changing. Thanks to the feds’ industry shake-up, patients are finally gaining access to medical marijuana from the likes of Aurora – which carefully cultivates its plants in a sanitized, laboratory-like environment under the government’s watchful eye.

Yet the barriers to entry to this fast-growing, science-driven industry are high. Only well-managed corporations with millions of dollars of startup capital are able to meet the government’s stringent new growing requirements. Since the fall of 2013, only 22 of them have earned coveted growing/sales licences, whereas hundreds of other operators have been turned down.

Among the few government-endorsed market entrants is Aurora, which benefits from being one of the only purpose-built growing facilities in the world. It is located on rural land near the village of Cremona, 90 kilometres north of Calgary.

The company’s expansive 55,200-square-foot facility (the size of a football field) cost upwards of $11 million to construct. Its white-washed interior looks much like a medical laboratory.

Large, brightly-lit rooms pulsate with fans, filters, 1,000-watt lights, HVAC ventilation, irrigation systems and all sorts of other apparatus to ensure optimal growing conditions.

Ironically, since there are no tell-tale smells emanating from the building, the only real hint of what goes on inside comes from all the government-mandated security measures, all of which ensure that no one can sneak anything out and no one can break in either. Hence, the perimeter has razor-wire-topped fences as well as plenty of motion and infrared sensors. There are also 174 security cameras throughout the facility that operate 24 hours a day.

Nothing is left to chance. After all, there’s a lot at stake. It’s no less than the opportunity to become a power player in an emerging multi-billion dollar global industry. This is according to Aurora’s personable and down-to-earth CEO, Terry Booth.

“Currently, Aurora’s facility is capable of growing 5,400 kilograms per annum, which could translate into revenues of up to $70 million. These projected revenues would include extractions, such as cannabis oils. All told, we’re expecting very healthy profit margins.”

Beyond the domestic market, Booth relishes the prospect of Aurora becoming a legal exporter to an ever-growing list of progressive-minded countries. Most of them endorse pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for medical needs but don’t produce their own.

Yet these lucrative medicinal markets merely represent the tip of the iceberg. Once cannabis becomes licensed for recreational use in Canada, production and distribution are expected to be strictly regulated in a similar manner to alcohol. Consequently, Booth estimates that up to eight million Canadians will eventually become consumers. Whatever the figure may be, analysts agree that the recreational market would eclipse the medical marijuana sector.

For now, Booth is content to savour the sense of being part of history: His company can now sell ‘locally-grown’, pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana to fellow Albertans. And they include people like Cluff. He’s forever thankful for the day that he shed his prejudices against what has become his herbal saviour.

“When I was a school teacher, I was anti-drugs and felt that marijuana has no value to society. Now nobody knows better than me that this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

 

This story was produced by Postmedia Works on behalf of Capital Markets Media for commercial purposes. Postmedia’s editorial departments had no involvement in the creation of this content.

http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=MjE0Mjg1NjA%3D&one_button_service_group=reprints

 

 

Canada: Kathleen Wynne backs Bill Blair to spearhead marijuana legalization

Submitted by Marijuana News on Tue, 01/12/2016

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is pleased Prime Minister Trudeau has asked former Toronto police chief Bill Blair to lead legalization of marijuana.

Trudeau&Blair

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former Toronto police chief Bill Blair to lead the government’s efforts to legalize marijuana.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is pleased Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now Scarborough Southwest MP, to lead the marijuana legalization efforts.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill Blair. I think that he’ll do a great job and his taking on of that role is the beginning of that national conversation that I said we have to have,” Wynne told reporters Monday at Queen’s Park.

The premier added that she was heartened that Blair is embracing her proposal to have cannabis sold through government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario outlets.

“I’m encouraged that he had, as a preliminary approach, that he thinks that it might make sense to use a distribution network that’s in place, . . . (although that’s) not a foregone conclusion,” she said.

“He’s got a lot of people to talk to and he’s got a lot of questions to ask and a lot of decisions to make over the coming months, so I look forward to that conversation.”

Blair, a rookie MP who is parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, will work with a three-member cabinet team and a soon-to-be-named federal-provincial-territorial task force to develop the policy for legalizing marijuana.

On Friday, Blair said Ottawa will look to Colorado and other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana sales.

“We have pretty robust systems of regulation for other intoxicants in this country, mostly overseen by the provinces, and so we’ve already got a model, a framework we can build on here,” he said.

“I think there are certain modifications or adjustments that we may have to make for cannabis as opposed to alcohol, but I think there is already a strong system in place for the control and regulation” of marijuana sales here.

The police veteran, who himself has never smoked marijuana, pointed out that it is “very difficult” for under-aged Ontarians to buy booze at the LCBO.

“You’re going to come up against a government employee who’s got regulations to enforce and is going to ask for identification and if a person’s under age, they’re not going to be able to buy that,” said Blair.

“And that’s a far better way to regulate access (to marijuana) for kids than leaving it up to some criminal in a stairwell. Frankly, in most urban centres across this country, it is far easier for a kid, an under-aged youth, to acquire marijuana than it is to acquire alcohol.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/01/11/marijuana-legalization-wynne-backs-blair-to-spearhead-effort.html

Big Pharma Sweating Bullets As 80% of Cannabis Users Give Up Prescriptions Pills for Pot

Submitted by Marijuana News on Mon, 01/11/2016

A new survey conducted by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC helps NoToPharmaexplain why Big Pharma is so afraid of cannabis. The pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, both powerful influences in Washington, have long lobbied against cannabis legalization in order to protect their profits.

However, the tide has turned as decriminalization of medical and recreational cannabis sweeps the nation and the continent. With legalization, more and more people are discovering how this plant can provide a safe alternative to the dangerous effects of prescription pills.

The survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis. Adults under 40 were likely to give up all three of these for medical cannabis.

In addition, 52% said they substituted cannabis for alcohol and 32% said they substituted it for illicit substances. These results indicate a very promising trend of people moving away from dangerously addictive and deadly substances in favor of a miracle plant that has never caused an overdose death.

“The finding that cannabis was substituted for all three classes of substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and may have implications for abstinence-based substance use treatment approaches. Further research should seek to differentiate between biomedical substitution for prescription pharmaceuticals and psychoactive drug substitution, and to elucidate the mechanisms behind both.”

As The Free Thought Project has reported before, the U.S. is in the midst of a painkiller epidemic, with overdose deaths skyrocketing as Big Pharma has secured its grip on government and mainstream medicine. Opioid painkillers and heroin have driven overdose deaths to the point where they are now the leading cause of fatal injuries in the U.S. Alcohol is also killing Americans at a rate not seen in 35 years.

The results of this survey confirm that cannabis is the answer to all of these problems.

Americans for Safe Access has a comprehensive breakdown of conditions that cannabis can treat, and comparisons to prescription pills.

  • Chronic Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Movement Disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis

We are just beginning to confirm the benefits of cannabis on other conditions such as anxiety which is normally treated with pills such as Xanax, insomnia which is normally treated with pills such as Ambien, and antidepressants which are treated with pills such as Zoloft. All of these prescription drugs can cause debilitating addiction or severe side-effects.

Although the war on drugs put a stop to medical cannabis research for decades, in recent years we have seen a surge in studies being performed, as prohibition crumbles and the Schedule 1 classification of “no medical benefit” is exposed as a lie.

Why I’m Leaving Big Pharma for Medical Cannabis

GregEngelTilrayCEO

Greg Engel, Tilray CEO

I have dedicated my entire career to the health care industry because it’s important to me to spend my life doing something that helps people. Now, after more than 25 years, I have decided to leave behind the big pharma establishment in order to embark on a new journey on the cutting edge of health care, as the first CEO of Tilray, Canada’s leading licensed producer of medical cannabis.

Here are the top five reasons why:

1. Patients deserve better. Last year, Canada made history when it became one of the first countries in the world to create a federally-sanctioned, commercial medical cannabis industry that treats medical cannabis more like medicine than contraband. The change in regulations sparked a much-needed, national dialogue about what we should expect of our healthcare system and the role that medical cannabis should play as a treatment option for patients in need. Under the old regulatory system, more often than not, medical cannabis was grown in dangerous and unsanitary conditions without any form of oversight or standards to ensure consistency, quality, safety and integrity. That’s changed under the new system as we are transforming the industry to be more like the pharmaceutical industry. It is incumbent upon us to continue that progress by advancing our scientific understanding of cannabinoids and the role they can play as a therapy for patients with a variety of different medical conditions.

2. The challenge. My entire life I’ve been fascinated by innovation and entrepreneurship. Who doesn’t want to be at the epicenter of one of the world’s newest, fastest-growing and most complicated industries with the opportunity to help people understand the potential of a very promising product in a much different way?

Cannabis has been in the pharmacopeia for thousands of years but has only started gaining mainstream acceptance as medicine in the past couple of decades. Misinformed negative perceptions, societal taboos and harmful stereotypes continue to prevent medical cannabis from gaining wider acceptance among people it could help.

At Tilray, I have the opportunity to help change that by working with an industry-leading team of former law enforcement officers, patient advocates, PhD research scientists, botanists and horticulturalists who are committed to unlocking the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis to help improve patients’ quality of life. These are professionals dedicated to advancing our scientific understanding of the safety and efficacy of the plant, and I’m honored to be in a position to share their work with the world.

3. Ground-breaking, global potential. Today, as big pharma struggles to differentiate itself beyond incremental advances in treatment, to gain reimbursement for promising but costly therapies, and to rationalize the high price tag for biologics to treat rare diseases, the helping professions need to be open to alternative treatment options that have huge potential to radically transform the lives of patients suffering from a wide range of conditions.

Medical cannabis has that potential. We all agree we need more scientific evidence to help us understand how medical cannabis can benefit patients. I believe the industry is poised to play an important role in that pursuit. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and world-class teams, we will be able to study the plant and support new clinical research, such as how medical cannabis may help people suffering from conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.

As Canadians, we have the potential to lead the world in medical cannabis research and production. We are operating in the most advanced medical cannabis market in the world and we are poised to develop the talent and operational expertise necessary to lead the industry globally as regulations change in different jurisdictions. One day Canada will be known for medical cannabis just like hockey, maple syrup, and poutine.

4. It’s personal. I have seen first-hand, through my sister-in-law’s fight with brain cancer and her related symptoms, how beneficial medical cannabis can be when appropriately prescribed to patients in need. It makes abundant sense for our healthcare system to be looking at therapeutic options that can help at times of greatest need and, especially, when traditional treatments don’t work.

5. The time is now. The fledgling Canadian medical cannabis industry needs fearless leadership, with directly relevant experience from the traditional health care sector. Up until this point, the industry has been plagued by a lack of professionalism, controversy and risk. In order to increase awareness and acceptance for medical cannabis, we need to build an industry of professional companies who are as committed to ethical, transparent business practices as they are to producing quality products and turning a profit.

As this industry gains its footing, I am looking forward to playing a leading role in fostering genuine cooperation between patients, physicians, government, private enterprise, public health organizations and scientific researchers to reach new understanding about what role medical cannabis can play as a treatment option for thousands of Canadians suffering from difficult to treat symptoms associated with a diverse array of conditions and diseases.