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Hot off the press cannabis, marijuana, cbd and hemp news from around the world on the WeedLife News Network.

Medical cannabis research shows great potential but still faces barriers

'The mainstreaming of medical cannabis is going to depend a lot on state level industries’ ability to develop products that appeal to customer’s health needs,' UW professor says.

Recent studies on the use of medical cannabis provide differing evidence regarding the benefits or risks of the drug in medicinal treatments and applications.

The discussion surrounding cannabis is becoming more prevalent within the medical field as its use recreationally and medicinally increases nationwide. At the University of Wisconsin, experts are examining the history, potential advantages and potential downsides of using cannabis as a treatment in a variety of patients.

 

One of the groups looking at these effects is UW’s Continuing Education Program for pharmacists, which includes a class called Cannabinoids as Medicines. The class is run by Faculty Director of the Carbone Cancer Center Natalie Schmitz and professor of pharmacy and neurology Barry Gidal.

Schmitz and Gidal’s course aims to address the knowledge gap that exists within the medical field when it comes to implementing medical cannabis as an option for patients, while giving students a combination of perspectives from experts on psychiatry, oncology and pharmacy.

Schmitz said the class is important given the current coalescence of cannabis’ increasing application and an undereducated sector of medical experts on the topic, shown through a survey recently done on Wisconsin pharmacists.

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Woman's tumour shrank after taking CBD oil daily for more than two years

A case study of a U.K. woman whose lung tumour shrunk without the aid of conventional treatments while she was taking a daily dose of cannabidiol (CBD) oil has scientists suggesting it may be worth studying the use of CBD oil further.

The report, published in BMJ Case Reports in October, describes how the woman’s tumour shrunk from 41 mm to 10 mm in roughly two and a half years.

Cannabinoids are similar to endocannabinoids, which are manufactured by the human body to help in various processes, such as nerve function, energy metabolism, pain and inflammation and immune function, among others.

 

While cannabinoids have been studied as a primary cancer treatment before, the results have been inconclusive and inconsistent, making it difficult to pinpoint if it actually had any impact.

In this case report, a woman in her 80s was diagnosed with “non-small cell” lung cancer in June 2018 after months of a suspicious cough. She was a life-long smoker, smoking roughly 68 packs a year, and had a background of “mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” the report stated.

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Trulieve Cannabis Corp (OTCMKTS: TCNNF) Reopens Three Medical Cannabis Dispensaries In Miami and One In Arrowhead, Jacksonville

Trulieve Cannabis Corp (OTCMKTS: TCNNF) has reopened three formerly Harvest House of Cannabis branded medical cannabis dispensaries in Miami.

The reopening means unrivaled product selection and in-store experience for medical cannabis customers through every step of the process. This supports the company’s ambition of expanding medical cannabis access to patients across the states. The company hopes to exceed the expectations of Miami’s discerning and diverse patient base through exceptional in-store experience, online orders, and state-wide delivery.

The medical marijuana patient population growing rapidly in Miami 

Trulieve Chief Marketing Officer Valda Coryat said, “Trulieve celebrates the diverse and rapidly growing patient population in Miami. We look forward to broadening our community connections in the Miami area and providing an inclusive environment where patients and caregivers can turn for the medical cannabis products they rely on, the brands they trust, and a consistent experience, no matter which location they visit.”

The company has, in recent years, partnered with several organizations in Miami, and it looks forward to continuing with physician partnerships, community support, and marijuana education programs. Its Miami-area programs and partnerships include Epilepsy Florida, Miami Pride, Florida for Care, Pridelines, American Legion, and CannaMoms.

Trulieve reopens Arrowhead dispensary in Jacksonville, its 102nd location 

Also, Trulieve announced the reopening of the Arrowhead area of Jacksonville, Florida dispensary, which is the 102nd Trulieve store in Florida that was formerly Harvest House of Cannabis. Trulieve had announced at the beginning of October the closing of Harvest Health and Recreation Inc. acquisition, and it closed all Harvest locations in Florida for rebranding to Trulieve.

The company will continue opening more dispensaries in the state, considering patient demand and registry are growing. The location joins the other five medical marijuana dispensaries the company has opened in Jacksonville. With the reopening, customers will enjoy 25% discounts at the Arrowhead location, and new customers can receive a 50% discount at any Trulieve location.

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Medical Marijuana Use May Aid in Breast Cancer Symptom Management

Patients with breast cancer are turning to medical marijuana to manage symptoms of their disease and treatment, although conversation with health care teams are not occurring as often.

Responses from a recent survey demonstrated that 42% of women with breast cancer reported using medical marijuana to address symptoms related to the disease including pain, insomnia, anxiety/stress, and nausea/vomiting.

In addition, most patients reported using medical cannabis during treatment despite the risk for side effects, according to the study published in Cancer.

Dr. Marisa C. Weiss, founder and chief medical officer of BreastCancer.org, and director of breast radiation oncology and breast health outreach at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and her team conducted this survey to learn more about what patients with breast cancer, particularly their interest in medical cannabis for symptom management, sources of information they refer to and whether they spoke with their health care professionals before using, among other topics.

“While people are actively under treatment, you want to make sure that all the things that they’re doing are helpful or at least harmless, but not harmful,” Weiss told CURE®. “It became clear over time, while taking care of cancer patients, that many of them were utilizing the increasing number of medical cannabis programs across the country.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved publicly available medical marijuana programs. Many of these states include cancer as a main qualifying condition to obtain access to medical marijuana. Even though cancer is included in the list of accepted conditions, there should be some caution on its use based on the cancer treatment a patient is using, Weiss said.

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What is PGR cannabis and how can you spot it?

In the mad scramble to capitalize on the higher demand for weed due to increased legalization, some cultivators have resorted to questionable growing methods. Arguably, the most notorious of these “cultivation hacks” is the use of PGRs. Short for “plant growth regulators,” PGRs are artificial hormones that can alter a plant’s development. The good news is, they are frequently employed to help increase cannabis bud production. The bad news is, these PGRs may seriously alter the flavor of cannabis, and questions remain about the effectiveness and safety of PGR cannabis. 

As demand for high-THC cannabis continues to climb, PGRs will become an increasingly hot topic in cultivation circles. With this in mind, consumers deserve to know how their cannabis is grown and what they’re putting in their bodies. 

PGR weed vs. natural weed: is there really that much of a difference? 

According to a recent review in the ​​Journal Drug Testing and Analysis, pesticide contamination is a growing problem in cannabis. On a molecular level, researchers have found traces of various pesticides and PGR molecules in various samples of cannabis. Therefore, if someone is consuming PGR weed, these chemicals are surely getting inside the body–the effects of which are largely unknown. 1

But PGRs don’t merely change the chemical structure of weed. According to most anecdotal testimonies about PGR cannabis on Reddit, this weed has a distinctly different flavor, effect, and texture than naturally-grown weed. 

Since PGRs work by interfering with the natural hormones of the plant, it’s no wonder these buds often have depleted cannabinoid and terpene concentrations. Instead, what customers get are artificially dense nugs with mild trichome counts. Likely, you won’t feel the same level of a high or smell any dankness with PGR weed. 


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Seniors Are Using Cannabis More Than Ever in the U.S.

Just-released results for 2020 say 6 percent of adults aged 65 and over reported using CBD or marijuana in previous seven days.

They grew up being told that cannabis could be fatal, or at very least make it hard for them to think clearly. Today’s senior citizens were first-hand witnesses to a one-of-a-kind federal propaganda campaign that for decades demonized a plant now known as medicine.

It took a while, but the stigma seems to finally be wearing off. More people aged 65 and older than ever are now regularly using cannabis for a variety of reasons — relief, treatment or even just for fun.

The annual National Survey of Drug Use and Health notes the number of adults 65 or older who reported cannabis use in the previous seven days rose from 5.1 percent in 2019 to 6 percent in 2020. More seniors also reported using marijuana at any point their lifetime, from 32 percent in 2019 to 36 percent in 2020.

Researchers suggested the spike represents a cultural shift in which older adults are becoming more willingness to open up about their past use.

“Marijuana use has increased across all ages, but most significantly in older adults,” the report said. “Causes for such an increase can likely be attributed to increasing legal availability at the state level.”

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Medical Cannabis Market Anticipated to Reach $33.2 Billion By 2027

The medical cannabis market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 18.4% crossing the value of $33.2 Billion by 2027.

While cannabis has a long history of medical use as a pain reliever and antispasmodic agent, for much of the modern era there existed a general lack of awareness among scientists and physicians of its medical benefits.

The discovery of the potential of the active ingredient, THC, in the 1960s, 1980s and early 1990s, promoted inquiry into the therapeutic potential of cannabis and its extracts and derivatives, according to a release from Financial News Media. This revealed cannabis can provide relief from certain types of conditions, such as severe chronic pain, and led to the development of various herbal medical cannabis products.

Today, the alternative medication is used/researched for Cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, arthritis, glaucoma, epilepsy, migraines, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, PTSD, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's, and Tourette Syndrome. Cannabis has been legalized for medical usage in a large number of nations, due to its therapeutic effects.

According to data from a report by Market Research Future, the Medical Cannabis Market is anticipated to register a CAGR of 18.4% crossing the value of USD 33,210 Million by 2027.

The report states, "(Cannabis is) also used in conjunction with other medicines, either to improve their efficacy or to mitigate negative side effects. Apart from business leaders, many corporate and government institutions are funding the research and development of cannabinoids for medical applications."

Clinical studies, research and development operations, and the commercialization of cannabis-based indications are also likely to fuel the medical cannabis market's advancement, the report said.

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4 Things Older Adults Should Know About Using Marijuana

With each passing year, older adults have been getting more and more into marijuana. With that said, there are some potential issues to be aware of.

Thanks for marijuana legalization, the herb has been going through a phase of reevaluation. People of all ages are more open to trying it, whether for recreational or medicinal purposes, especially when faced with the side effects of prescription medications. One of the fastest growing demographics are Baby Boomers.

A survey conducted on adults over the age of 55 between 2016 and 2018 found that men are increasing the amount of marijuana they consume, particularly those between the ages of 60-64. There are many reasons why this could be happening, among them, the fact that the drug has lower stigma, making it more likely for people to be honest with their answers, that there are more options and drug availability, and more.

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Other contributing factors include a global leaning towards more natural medicines. This is especially effective for older adults looking for pain relief and sleep aids, preferably those that don’t come with significant side effects.

While young adults remain the largest consumers of cannabis in the U.S., the rise in older adult use and seniors is a little exciting, even if it’s of some concern to researchers. When discussing older adults and marijuana use, there are a few factors that could influence the effect that marijuana has on them. Here are four of the most pressing:

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Survey Says Ohio Medical Marijuana Program Still Struggling

There appears to remain a high level of dissatisfaction among Ohio medical cannabis patients with the state’s program.

While Ohio’s medical marijuana program commenced in September 2016, the first legal sales of medicines within the state didn’t kick off until 2019.

In its latest survey, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center reveals there are still plenty of challenges occurring in the program, although the level of dissatisfaction has improved over previous years.

55% of respondents reported some level of dissatisfaction the program, with close to 55% reporting being “extremely dissatisfied”  or “somewhat dissatisfied” this year, compared to 62% in 2020 and 67% in 2019.

The most common reason for dissatisfaction cited was the high price of marijuana – the Center estimates the average patient ends up paying approximately $920 more than a patient over the border in Michigan.  Ohio’s licensing fees also tend to be among the highest in the USA, perhaps contributing to the high cost of medical marijuana in the state.

Following cost, other major reasons for dissatisfaction were the inability to home grow and lack of employment protection. Also a source of dissatisfaction are limits on how much product a patient can purchase in any given 90-day period.

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Medical marijuana emergency rules in effect as 'analogue' products go unregulated

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority continues to stay busy accommodating new licensed businesses, addressing a growing trend of THC "analogs" on dispensary shelves and adapting to new emergency rules now in effect, agency Director Adria Berry said Tuesday.  

The additional rules became active on Monday, with an intention to give the authority more power to act and enforce its own rules while also adding clarifications for operators from how long records must be kept to requirements for packaging of pre-rolled joints. 

Outside of the emergency rules, which are now in the public comment period and on track to become permanent in the next year, the authority has made 30 hires in the past month, filling 12 inspector positions. 

"One of the glaring issues we had was just not getting out and inspecting across the state, that's really the biggest thing we've been hearing," Berry said. 

Berry says in addition to the new hires a renewed focus on inspections and a replacement of the agency's compliance director are driving the agency forward. 

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FDA Approves First Psilocin Clinical Trial

Exclusively-natural psychedelic drug discovery company Filament Health Corp. (OTCQB: FLHLF) (NEO: FH)  received authorization from the FDA authorization to initiate the first clinical trial using naturally-sourced psychedelic substances. The news caused the stock to jump over 11% in early trading.

The company said that this approval is the first for the direct administration of psilocin rather than its prodrug psilocybin and will administer Filament’s three proprietary botanical drug candidates. The phase 1 trial is led by the Translational Psychedelic Research Program (TrPR) at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

“We are excited to announce this milestone as validation of our ability to cultivate variable psychedelic biomass and transform it into pharmaceutical-grade drug candidates,” said Chief Executive Officer, Benjamin Lightburn. “Our innovative technology has allowed us to create IP-protected botanical drug candidates of oral psilocin, sublingual psilocin, and oral psilocybin, and to enter them into an FDA-approved natural psychedelic clinical trial. Our candidates enjoy significant IP protection, unlike most other psychedelics currently under clinical investigation.”

The phase 1 trial has been designed to include 20 healthy subjects and will examine the effects of Filament’s three proprietary botanical drug candidates: PEX010 (oral psilocybin), PEX020 (oral psilocin), and PEX030 (sublingual psilocin). As a result of the need for psilocybin to convert into psilocin before becoming active in the human body, the direct administration of psilocin may yield several therapeutic benefits such as faster onset time, greater consistency, increased bioavailability, and lessened side effects. These potential attributes are being studied in the authorized trial. In addition, psilocin is an ideal candidate for sublingual delivery because of the bypassing of the gut, where the conversion to psilocybin is thought to primarily occur. To date, synthetic manufacturers have been unable to produce a stable formulation of psilocin and enter it into a clinical trial.

“My team and I are very excited to begin dosing Filament’s drug candidates in our clinic,” said Dr. Josh Woolley, MD/Ph.D., Director of TrPR and the study’s Principal Investigator. “The oral and sublingual administration presents an opportunity to learn about psilocin’s effects compared to psilocybin and perhaps set a new standard for psychedelic assisted therapy.”

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Move Aside, Delta-8, Texas Smoke Shops Are Filling Up with Legal Delta-9 THC Products

For Texas smoke shops and other distributors, everything was going just fine selling delta-8 THC and other products like it. Then, the Texas Department of State Health Services showed up and crashed the party.

Last month, DSHS effectively banned THC isomers — chemical variations of the substance in marijuana that gets users high — by announcing that these products, including delta-8, were all Schedule 1 controlled substances. Condemnations and lawsuits followed, but in the meantime, some shops are stocking up on delta-9 products they say are legal and still get consumers stoned.

Before DSHS issued its statement on Oct. 15, the consensus was that the delta-8 smokables, edibles and vapes were legal because federal and state law allowed for the sale of products that included less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot.

DSHS argued that House Bill 1325 permits only hemp products with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, while "all other forms of THC, including delta-8 in any concentration" are "considered Schedule I controlled substances." (Neither Texas law nor federal legislation specifically mention delta-8.)

Ben Meggs, cofounder of Bayou City Hemp Co., said the move has sent shockwaves throughout the industry, forcing many smoke shops to remove their delta-8 and other THC isomer products from the shelves. Meanwhile, it's also hit farmers and consumers hard. “It’s a pretty big blow to them when they’ve built so much around this," Meggs said.

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Cannabis Use In Young Adults With Chronic Pain

More than one in five young adults who experience chronic pain say they use cannabis and/or CBD oil to manage it according to a recent survey.

The Harris Poll survey, carried out on behalf of the Samueli Foundation, found 65% of young American adults aged 18-34 report experiencing chronic pain. That’s significantly higher than in older adults (52%).

The most common forms of pain reported by young adults were back-related (32%), neck and knees (20% each)

Younger adults are also more likely to use cannabis and/or CBD oil for managing that page – 22% vs 11%.

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Integrative Health Programs at Samueli Foundation, says while there’s evidence medical cannabis is useful for treating pain associated with some conditions, it’s lacking when it comes to using cannabis for common chronic conditions.

“Instead, young people should be working with their physicians to first try non-drug treatments that are recommended by the medical community, such as massage therapy, yoga, physical therapy, and exercise.”

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Medical Marijuana in Mississippi Still Not a Done Deal

 

STATE WIDE–Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that state lawmakers are not done negotiating a new medical marijuana bill to replace Initiative 65, which was voted on by the people and thrown out by the state Supreme Court. The main hang-up is how strong the medical cannabis could actually be.

"How much marijuana could any one individual get at any point in time, and what is the THC content of that medical marijuana,” he said at a Monday news conference.

Reeves has not called a special session and that might not happen because lawmakers are just two months away from their regular yearly stint in Jackson, and a special session costs for each day lawmakers are in session.

Reeves also said it is not clear how long negotiations on the bill might take.

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Is Cannabis A Study Aid? Here’s What You Should Know

Now that colleges and universities are back in session all over the country, it’s natural for the topic of marijuana and its effects on studying to enter the conversation.

Cannabis is the average co-ed’s drug of choice. While a lot of people encounter cannabis when they’re younger, it’s not until college that their stoner persona solidifies. New college students are entering a stage where they’re able to smoke to their heart’s content without worrying about their parents or the smell of their rooms. It’s natural for them to want to smoke all the time. But does it help them study?

Like most things marijuana, school performance while under the influence depends on a variety of factors, mainly whether or not the student actually studies while high, and the ways in which their body responds to the drug, which is affected by method, dosage and personal experience.

Photo by tortugadatacorp via Pixabay

While a lot of people use marijuana to enhance TV and food consumption, as marijuana has been reappraised they’ve found that cannabis can enhance creativity, and help them perform a variety of activities better, whether that is working out or lowering their anxiety when getting some work done.

Depending on the dosage and strain that’s being consumed, marijuana could help users narrow their focus of the topic that they’re studying or provide new ideas that people wouldn’t have had while sober. It might make the topic at hand more engaging and entertaining, putting people in a better mood when starting to study. If the user tends to feel anxiety when studying, marijuana might help curb those impulses.

When it comes to group study sessions, marijuana might facilitate deeper conversations and more engagement from the group, something that works if the user enjoys learning alongside others and talking out problems and topics.

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Psychedelics and mental health: This may be the next big thing in pharma technology

Virtual therapy got a big boost last year from meditation apps like Headspace and Calm, luring the user into a meditative state using words and music. In the midst of a global mental health crisis, it should be no surprise many of us are seeking such digital tonics: A report by GlobalData on mobile health apps estimates a combined total of 90 million users for meditation apps Headspace and Calm as of June 2020.

Headspace and Calm rely strictly on visuals and audio to aid meditation, but some new apps are willing to discuss the use of psychedelics for meditation, changing the mental health discussion and opening new windows of opportunity in healthcare investment. Psychedelics are nowadays shaking off the stigma of the 1960s hippy counterculture, and becoming increasingly regarded as acceptable, legitimate pharmaceuticals which may soon become mainstream options in mental health care.

The caution and taboo around psychedelics is no surprise: Psychedelic substances in use, cultivation or distribution remain mostly illegal around the world. The few major jurisdictions bucking the trend include the Netherlands, where “magic truffles” can be experienced. In the US psilocybin, the psychedelic which naturally occurs in the fungi kingdom, has been decriminalised in the cities of Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Somerville, Washington DC and Cambridge. The US state of Oregon is the first to both decriminalize psilocybin and also legalise it for therapeutic use.

While still in the early stages of medical acceptance, psilocybin may one day join ketamine as a controlled psychedelic substance that is also used as physical and mental medication. In a recent example of the normalising relationship between psychedelics and mental health, Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-derived nasal spray Spravato was approved by the FDA in 2019 for treatment-resistant depression, showing the increased profile of psychedelics in today’s pharmaceutical industry.

Present state of psychedelics and mental health

One person keeping track of psychedelic acceptance is Sylvia Jablonski. CIO and co-founder of Defiance ETFs, Jablonski is focused on next-gen thematic investment. Psychedelics is one of Defiance’s areas of focus, alongside exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in areas such as 5G and quantum computing.


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Families of epileptic children to protest outside parliament seeking greater access to medicinal cannabis

‘Our families are at the end of their tether,’ parent says

Families of children with severe epilepsy are set to protest outside parliament in a call for greater access to medicinal cannabis.

Specialist doctors have been allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients since 2018, when the government changed its rules over the treatment.

But the End Our Pain campaign group says patients are facing an “almost total block” on access to NHS prescriptions and families were being forced to go private.
 
The group said they understand only three children with severe epilepsy have been prescribed whole plant extract medicinal cannabis - which has been hailed as “life-transforming” treatment for paediatric epilepsy - on the NHS since it was legalised.

Families are planning to gather outside parliament on Tuesday to call for more accessible treatment, with a digital poster van showing physical changes in children taking medicinal cannabis.

 

Parents are also set to stand outside Department for Health and visit No10 to deliver a petition in the day of action.

“Our families are at the end of their tether. We have done everything we can possibly do,” Joanne Griffiths, whose son Ben has not been able to get an NHS prescription, said.

“We have marched, petitioned, lobbied parliament and met with health ministers countless times, yet three years on we still cannot access the NHS prescriptions for the medicine our children are reliant on. “

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Report: CBD Content on Labels Differs From Levels Found in Actual Products

More than half of 29 hemp tea and coffee products that underwent recent analysis showed that in the U.S. CBD levels varied widely from what was stated on the label, a study has found. Israel-based Leafreport, a CBD reviewer, reportedly found products that were off by anywhere from 11.5% to 62% from the labeled CBD content. (article originally appeared on Benzinga.com)

Leafreport sent 29 CBD tea and coffee products to SC Labs, in Santa Cruz, California. Lab technicians there tested the products and recorded the results in documents called certificates of analysis (CoAs).

Leafreport compared the level of CBD shown on the CoAs to the advertised amount and looked at what other cannabinoids were detected by the tests, especially if the manufacturer claimed to use broad-spectrum or full-spectrum hemp extract.

The study found that out of 14 teas and coffees advertised as containing broad or full-spectrum hemp extract, 11 (79%) were “accurately” labeled while only three contained CBD, reported Hemptoday.

Key Findings

Out of 14 teas and coffees that were advertised to contain broad or full-spectrum hemp extract, 11 (79%) were accurate and 3 only carried CBD;,14 (48%) of the tested products had CBD levels within 10% of the label, which is required for an A rating;A little over half (52%) of the tested tea and coffee products had inaccurate CBD levels. They were off from the labeled CBD content by anywhere from 11.5% to 62%;The most common rating was an A, (48%) given to products that were within 10% of the advertised CBD amount.

“We also found that consistency remains a major issue. For example, when we tested two different products from the same brand, one always performed better than the other.” noted the report.

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How Effective Is CBG For Pain Relief?

Cannabigerol (CBG) shows great promise as a potential analgesic to manage pain in some medical conditions.

Pain is a common symptom in almost all diseases in the world. Since the dawn of civilization, medical workers have looked for ways to effectively manage pain, and have been successful in finding some. But, the quest is still on for better treatments to relieve pains.

The widespread acceptance of cannabis, as well as the new legislation supporting the plant’s use, has paved a way for scientists to discover what compounds make cannabis an effective therapeutic. Now, the world has learned that most cannabinoids are responsible for the medical abilities of cannabis.

The recent clinical studies and experiments being carried out on cannabis plants have revealed that one of its minor cannabinoids can be a better and more effective treatment for pain. This compound is cannabigerol (CBG).

Photo by Lukas Dvorak/EyeEm/Getty Images

Compared to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol is a fairly ignored compound. There is a lesser demand for it and like other minor cannabinoids, phytochemicals, and terpenes, very little research has been carried out on it.

What Is CBG And Why Is Everyone Comparing It To CBD?
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‘It’s mind-boggling’: the complex, and growing, use of medicinal cannabis in Australia

Tens of thousands of people are turning to the drug to treat a range of conditions – but the evidence is patchy and costs can be high

 

When Helen was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in her early 40s, her doctor prescribed her a range of opioids. She tried morphine, meperidine and a few others, but none helped ease the constant pain her chronic condition caused.

Long before medicinal cannabis was legal in Australia, while Helen was travelling across North America, a doctor at a dispensary suggested she try cannabidiol oil. “He gave me this bottle of tincture and taught me to use one or two drops under my tongue,” Helen says. “My pain decreased dramatically. I was stunned.”

But once she returned from her trip, her only option was the black market.

Helen is one of hundreds of thousands of Australians who have turned to medicinal cannabis to treat numerous conditions, which they feel have not been helped by traditional therapies. But as the industry grows after its legalisation in 2017, the evidence remains inconclusive and the costs, for many, prohibitive.

Today in Australia, medicinal cannabis products are only available on prescription. Data from the Therapeutic Goods Administration reveals that more than 172,000 people have been approved access to medicinal cannabis through its special access scheme.

Only two products have received approval from the TGA and are registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. One is Epidyolex, prescribed for rare but severe, drug-resistant forms of epilepsy in children. The other one is Sativex, approved in 2012 to treat muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

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