Marijuana Treatment Reduces Severe Epileptic Seizures

A rigorous study validates a cannabis-derived treatment for a rare, drug-resistant childhood epilepsy

Marijuana Treatment Reduces Severe Epileptic Seizures
Credit: bdspn Getty Images

 

Medical researchers have confirmed what some desperate parents have been claiming for years—that a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce epileptic seizures in some children.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the findings stem from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study—the most scientifically rigorous type of investigation possible. “This study clearly establishes cannabidiol as an effective anti-seizure drug for this disorder and this age group,” says principal investigator Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Langone Medical Center. “It certainly deserves to be studied in other types of epilepsy.”

A total of 120 children and teenagers with Dravet syndrome—a rare disorder marked by drug-resistant seizures that can be nearly continuous in some cases—were part of the study. They were divided into an experimental group, which received the test drug, and a placebo group, which was given a medically inactive compound. Over the course of 14 weeks the youngsters receiving CBD experienced a median number of 5.9 convulsive seizures per month (down from 12.4) compared with 14.1 convulsions per month (down from 14.9) for the placebo group. The new findings are consistent with previous, less-stringent studies of the same drug, a compound called Epidiolex, made by U.K.–based GW Pharmaceuticals. (GW funded the new study.)

As the current paper points out, “interest in cannabidiol for the treatment of epilepsy was generated by media reports of efficacy in children with Dravet syndrome.” The star of many of those reports was Charlotte Figi, now 10, of Colorado, who was having hundreds of seizures a month by age three when her parents decided to treat her with cannabidiol. Unlike the better-known marijuana component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol does not make users high. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, and the conditions approved for treatment can vary from state to state. Sixteen states have laws that specifically allow the use of CBD to treat seizures.

The Figis treated their daughter with a specially prepared CBD-containing oil, now known as Charlotte’s Web, which is derived from hemp, a type of cannabis containing less than  0.3 percent THC by weight. They reported dramatic improvement. As word spread, more families tried CBD and the positive anecdotes piled up. “That’s certainly one of the motivations for this research,” Devinsky says. He notes there is also plenty of animal model data as well as anecdotes from the late 1800s about Indian hemp, another type of cannabis, that was used to treat epilepsy. And there are even mentions of the approach in Sumerian tablets going back 3,800 years. “The parents added fuel to the fire,” he says, “but that anecdotal evidence was there for millennia.”

All of the patients in the new trial fit the criteria for severe, drug-resistant epilepsy and were taking other seizure medications. Whereas there was a statistically and clinically significant median reduction in convulsive seizures of 39 percent in the treated group, only three of the 52 patients receiving cannabidiol became completely seizure-free. And 93 percent of those patients reported troublesome side effects—including sleepiness (the most common symptom), vomiting, fatigue, decreased appetite, diarrhea and elevated levels of liver enzymes. Eight of the cannabidiol patients stopped participating in the study as a result of the more severe side effects. The study authors indicate some of those issues could have been caused by interactions with other epilepsy drugs. Also, there was no significant reduction in nonconvulsive seizures, which are essentially brief staring spells in which a person is unaware of his or her surroundings for several seconds. The study notes this could be because cannabidiol only affects convulsive seizures or because nonconvulsive seizures “cannot be reliably counted by parents in developmentally delayed children.”

Nevertheless, 62 percent of caregivers in the cannabidiol group said their child’s overall condition improved during the trial, compared with 34 percent in the placebo group. After the trial caregivers of participants in both the placebo and experimental groups were given the option of continuing treatment with cannabidiol in what is called an open-label extension of the study. More than 100 families from both groups took researchers up on the offer.

Sam Riggio, director of operations for Realm of Caring, a cannabis research, education and advocacy group, understands how even treatments with limited benefits can have a big impact on Dravet patients. Riggio and his wife Tara moved to Colorado from Illinois in 2013 when they heard about cannabidiol in a Dravet group on Facebook. (At the time, the hemp supply in the U.S. was spotty. Charlotte’s Web had a reputation as safe and effective for children, but it was only available to Colorado residents.) Their daughter Francesca, who will be seven next month, was having seizures that never lasted less than 15 minutes and sometimes went on for long as 70 minutes. She had her first seizure at six months and at 18 months suffered a severe reaction to an epilepsy drug that left her with profound cognitive deficits. Then her parents started her on cannabidiol. “It wasn’t the answer for her like it was for Charlotte and some of the other kiddos,” Riggio says, “but it provided her enough cushion that she could come off the three pharmaceuticals she was on.” In the years since, while Francesca remains nonverbal with the cognition of an 18-month old, most of her seizures now last less than two minutes and resolve on their own. Her parents have not had to call 911 nor have they had to rush her to the emergency room. “That’s a huge improvement for her quality of life,” says Riggio, who credits the changes to cannabidiol.

Devinsky hopes these latest findings will persuade the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to change its classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, a ruling that hampers medical research and treatment. (Drugs on Schedule I, such as heroin, are deemed by the DEA to have “no currently accepted medical use.”) “To put CBD as a Schedule I drug violates scientific data and common sense,” Devinsky says. He points out that some opiates, which kill thousands of Americans a year, are Schedule III drugs, a less restricted category. “Cannabis is approved in 20 countries for spasms in multiple sclerosis,” he says, “so to say there’s no evidence of efficacy is simply untrue. Those studies came out a decade ago, this study is coming out today. They have to de-schedule this drug. It’s just not fair to the research and clinical communities, or to the patients. It’s medieval.”

Going forward, GW Pharmaceuticals plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of Epidiolex in the next few months as a treatment for Dravet syndrome and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, another seizure disorder. No one really knows yet how cannabidiol reduces seizures in Dravet, but Devinsky says the leading theory is that the cannabidiol binds to a receptor in nerve cells called GPR55, modulating the calcium activity and excitability of the cells. He also says cannabidiol has many other effects on nerve cells and that there is much to learn.

For Riggio, a gold-standard, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial will do just fine for now. “It’s exciting because it’s a new option for people who feel like they are out of options,” he says. “And it confirms what we’ve seen anecdotally—and the more data we have to back that up, the more confidence we have to use this sooner and hopefully avoid a lot of side effects that my daughter had to endure.”

By David Noonan on May 25, 2017

Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/marijuana-treatment-reduces-severe-epileptic-seizures/
Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

New Arizona Opioid Hotline Will Recommend Treatments — but Not Medical Marijuana

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won’t recommend it

Cannabis might work as a treatment for opiate addiction. A state anti-opiate hotline won't recommend it.

Using cannabis instead of opiates could save lives, studies say, but Arizona’s new opioid hotline for health care providers — and, soon, for the public — won’t recommend it as an alternative.

The free Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line is set to go live in a few days. It will be “one of the nation’s first real-time, comprehensive hotlines for healthcare providers seeking consultation for complex patients with pain and opioid use disorder,” according to a state news release.

But one treatment option the health care providers and patients won’t hear about on the hotline is medical marijuana.

“It’s not part of the protocol,” said Dr. Dan Brooks, medical director for the Banner Poison and Drug Information Centers. “We don’t have any initial plans to talk about marijuana” as a treatment option.

The hotline is viewed as one possible piece to solving a crisis that has caused bodies to pile up at morgues around the country. More people than ever are dying from the abuse of heroin, pills like OxyContin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Arizona alone had 942 suspected opioid deaths from June 15 to February 22, according to the state’s Opioid Epidemic web page.

“Preventing opioid overdoses and deaths in our state needs a multifaceted approach, and the new hotline is a major step forward as it will give medical providers immediate access to experts who can help to ensure safe prescribing and to identify treatment options for patients, which may or may not include opioids,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, says in the release.

“No two patients are the same and treatments vary based on individual needs, so we need to make sure we are providing tailored resources to our medical community.”

The state DHS and Poison and Drug Information Centers plan to create new advice for health care providers. Recommendations will include “specific opioid-related information for providers, such as safe prescribing limits for opioid-naive patients, identification of potentially dangerous drug combinations, and chronic pain treatment options,” the release says.

For some patients, the hotline experts may advise the use of drugs like methadone or Vivitrol but not marijuana

Not that the nurses, doctors, and pharmacists who answer the 24-hour hotline won’t talk about cannabis at all.

“If they have questions about marijuana, we’ll answer questions,” Brooks said.”I don’t know anyone who’s advising marijuana as an alternative.”

Yet cannabis, some experts point out, has been effective in treating pain, and could be considered an advisable substitute for opiates.

Studies show that states with medical-marijuana and adult-use legalization laws have seen sharp drop-offs in their opiate overdose deaths. (None of the studies have so far included a look at Arizona’s statistics, it seems.)

Will Humble, former state DHS director and executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, stopped short of saying the hotline should recommend cannabis as a specific treatment option for specific patients. But clearly, he said, the staff should talk about its potential benefits as an opiate alternative.

Continue reading “New Arizona Opioid Hotline Will Recommend Treatments — but Not Medical Marijuana”

3 Ways Cannabis Helps You Tap The Full Potential Of Yoga

Make sure your body and mind are ready in the first place to be connected, unlocked and upgraded to receive the full effects of this dynamic duo.

yoga

Weed during yoga (or Ganja Yoga/High Yoga), is another intriguing, relatively uncharted aspect of cannabis done right. Somewhat controversial among some in the yoga community, the one thing that most individuals agree on is that cannabis helps push mental and physical boundaries while practicing yoga.

Tapping the full potential of yoga and cannabis

5 reasons why women love weed exercise 3 Ways Cannabis Helps You Tap The Full Potential Of Yoga
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With this practice, two of this world’s greatest relaxing and calming practices are united, but some caution is recommended. If your body doesn’t react well to cannabis or doesn’t go well with yoga for that matter, you might want to try easing into it step by step.

Tapping the full potential of this dynamic duo can easily convert to being a classic Clash of the Titans. So, make sure your body and mind are ready in the first place to be connected, unlocked and upgraded.

Research has proven that the physical benefits of yoga are multiplied through the use of cannabis. Benefits like stress reduction, pain reduction, lowering of blood pressure etc. are all bundled with yoga.

Cannabis helps our body to kind of digest these benefits better and quicker. On the other hand, doing yoga while high can help digest (literally this time) cannabis more efficiently.

That optimal absorption of cannabis results in further increasing and lengthening the positive effects of CBD ad THC inside our system.

1. Body and mind boost

What Does Smoking hero 1 3 Ways Cannabis Helps You Tap The Full Potential Of Yoga
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Simply put, yoga promises relaxation, bliss, and spiritual awareness; cannabis helps our body react well to these virtues. The blend of a little bit of cannabis during yoga might boost the ability of our mind to make meaning out of the vacation that is yoga.

The initial toughness and difficulties of yoga positions and movements can be significantly eased through the trademark qualities of cannabis.

2. Short term vs long term

yoga 3 Ways Cannabis Helps You Tap The Full Potential Of Yoga
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We know however great weed’s effects are, they won’t last forever. But yoga is something that has the basic benefit of ensuring our physical capacity not only gets a short boost but a long-term improvement.

Therefore, people looking for the cure of health ailments, like scoliosis, for example, can make great use of this partnership.

3. Boosting your meditation as well

10 add adhd yoga 3 Ways Cannabis Helps You Tap The Full Potential Of Yoga
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Reportedly, cannabis has a great deal of impact in meditation as well. We know that weed can act as a broadcasting antenna wired directly to our brains. It kind of amplifies the quality and speed of feelings and thoughts inside of our brain.

Yoga is an excellent outlet to calm and clean our mind through meditation. And as cannabis also brings a whole lot of the good ‘cleansing’ of the brain with itself, the combination of weed and yoga might be the best joint-venture hitherto unseen.

With all these profits stemming from a pinch of weed in the recipe of yoga, it might be time you tried it yourself. And after you boost your mind and soul with this exercise, don’t forget to ‘boast’ about it in your social circle. Maybe they could also try a bit of the Dynamic Duo.

Source: https://herb.co/marijuana/news/cannabis-yoga

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

 

Senator Calls Out Big Pharma For Opposing Legal Marijuana

A prominent Democratic U.S. senator is slamming pharmaceutical companies for opposing marijuana legalization.

“To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. “It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.”

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“On the federal level, we really need to say it is a legal drug you can access if you need it,” she said.

Gillibrand, in an appearance on Good Day New York on Friday morning, was responding to a question about whether marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads people to try more dangerous substances.

“I don’t see it as a gateway to opioids,” she said. “What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.”

Legalization advocates have long speculated that “Big Pharma” is working behind the scenes to maintain cannabis prohibition. And in 2016, Insys Therapeutics, which makes products containing fentanyl and other opioids, as well as a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC, donated half a million dollars to help defeat a marijuana legalization measure that appeared on Arizona’s ballot that year.

Facts!

Numerous studies have shown that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid overdose rates.

Research published this month, for example, concluded that “legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms,” suggesting that “some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether.”

Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics.

Last week, Gillibrand became the second cosponsor of far-reaching Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states that have racially disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws.

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” she said at the time. “Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address.”

Gillibrand is also a sponsor of far-reaching medical cannabis legislation and recently signed a letter calling for new protections for state marijuana laws to be inserted into federal spending legislation.

“I think medical marijuana could be treatment for a lot of folks,” she said in the interview on Friday. “A lot of veterans have told us that this is the best treatment for them. I do not see it as a gateway drug.”

Many political observers have speculated that Gillibrand will run for her party’s presidential nomination in 2020. She and at least two other potential Democratic contenders have already endorsed marijuana legalization.

Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment news and founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Follow Tom on Twitter for breaking news and subscribe to his daily newsletter.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/02/23/senator-calls-out-big-pharma-for-opposing-legal-marijuana/#524b8b651bac

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

Bill requiring testing of medical marijuana for contaminants passes Arizona Senate

Sen. Sonny Borrelli

Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services

SB-1420

PHOENIX — Sometime next year, medical marijuana users could get a guarantee of sorts that the drugs they are buying are as good as they’ve been promised.

And they’ll know if it has mold, disease-causing bacteria or other adulterants.

With only three lawmakers in dissent, the Senate voted Thursday to require the state Department of Agriculture to test what’s being sold at the state-regulated dispensaries around the state. SB 1420 now goes to the House.

But two other measures dealing with medical marijuana met a different fate.

State Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, was unable to get sufficient votes for HB 2066, which would have allowed state health officials to use some of the money collected from medical marijuana patients in fees for programs to create and publicize messages aimed at youth about the “dangers of marijuana.”

The idea angered state Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, who pointed out that voters made marijuana legal for medical use in 2010. He called such an education program “a back-door way to try to tell voters they made a mistake.”

And Rep. Pamela Powers Hanley, D-Tucson, objected to anything claiming there are dangers in marijuana “since it is a plant that never killed anybody.”

Leach had no better luck with HB 2064, which would have barred medical marijuana from being marketed or placed in any package “attractive to minors.” That includes the use of cartoons, images of minors, symbols or celebrities to market to minors, and any design that resembles another product available to children, like candy.

Leach said the idea is to prevent accidental poisonings, saying children have ingested marijuana by mistake, particularly when it looks like candy. If marijuana is a medicine, he said, it should be packaged and sold as such.

“When you buy an opioid, when you buy your cholesterol medicine … it’s not packaged as a gummy worm,” he said.

But Powers Hanley said she feared the language of the bill was too broad and could allow the health department too much latitude in determining what kind of packaging was acceptable.

At least some of that could end up being addressed in legislation crafted by Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City. One provision of SB 1420 requires marijuana products be sold in childproof containers, with the patient’s name and state-issued medical marijuana identification number on the label.

The heart of Borrelli’s bill, however, is the testing that would begin July 1, 2019. The senator said he wants to be sure that people who have been given a doctor’s permission to use marijuana for specific medical reasons are ingesting only what they want and not what they do not.

What is found in testing would have to be disclosed on the label to the buyer.

But the bill also contains what he calls a “quality control” provision, as different strains of marijuana are promoted, at least in part, by the level of THC, the psychoactive ingredient. SB 1420 would require the Department of Agriculture to ensure that what people are buying is “labeled correctly.”

His legislation says if testing finds that the label doesn’t reflect the quality, or that the disclosure does not list any additives or other chemicals, the product has to be returned to the dispensary to redo the label.

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

How Arizona Could Stop Ripping Off Medical-Marijuana Patients, Make Program Better

A bill at the Arizona Legislature would mandate state-regulated testing for medical cannabis, lower patient registration fees, and make other improvements to the 2010 law.

A bill at the Arizona Legislature would mandate state-regulated testing for medical cannabis, lower patient registration fees, and make other improvements to the 2010 law.

        Arizona rips off medical-marijuana patients by collecting fees that are much higher than what it costs for the state Department of Health Services to run the program.

Last year, for instance, DHS could have funded its $11.7 million in expenditures by collecting $5.7 million from patients. Instead, the state agency collected $18.9 million from them. The extra money went into a useless overflow account that now sits at more than $33 million.

“I wish I would have thought about writing the rule to include a variable fee.” — Former Arizona DHS Director Will Humble

A bill co-sponsored by nearly the entire Legislature, Senate Bill 1420, would change the equation. It would bring down the cost of a medical marijuana card from $150 a year to something more reasonable — something lower-income or fixed-income people could afford.

For many people, the best part is that it would also mandate state-regulated testing for mold and other contaminants in medical marijuana.

But would the bill trade the state program’s high annual surpluses for annual deficits that could end up costing  taxpayers?

Continue reading “How Arizona Could Stop Ripping Off Medical-Marijuana Patients, Make Program Better”

Trump administration cautions against hemp expansion

The Trump administration doesn’t want to see hemp expanded nationwide in the next Farm Bill because of concerns about overproduction, an official said Wednesday.

Greg Ibach, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said current hemp regulations are “fairly narrow” and that the Trump administration doesn’t necessarily want to see that change when the Farm Bill is rewritten this year.

The 2014 Farm Bill allowed hemp production for the first time in a generation – but only in states with authorized hemp research projects.

“Opening the door wide open nationwide, with no restrictions, may not be in the best interests of the hemp industry,” Ibach said, providing the most thorough comments yet from the Trump administration about hemp.

“One of the challenges we maybe have in the hemp industry is to make sure that demand and production coincide,” he told the media, including Marijuana Business Daily, after speaking at the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture in Denver.

Asked how the USDA and Trump administration envision hemp being regulated, Ibach said there’s danger to opening up the market to all states.

“We need to be careful so that we don’t kill the market for hemp by overburdening the market with supply before there is demand for it,” Ibach added.

He said oversight of hemp should belong to the U.S. Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, not the USDA.

The DEA appeared in court last week to argue that CBD, a molecule derived from hemp and marijuana, is an illegal drug and not authorized by the Farm Bill.

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Kristen Nichols can be reached at kristenn@mjbizdaily.com

Contact Natural Healing Care Center (click) for more information on Cannabis as medicine, or for any other questions call 520-323-0069

 

Source: https://mjbizdaily.com/worried-hemp-overproduction-trump-administration-cautions-expansion/

 

 

 

Why Did Cannabis Become Prohibited in the First Place?

Cannabis leaf and handcuffs
The history of cannabis prohibition is filled with bureaucratic betrayal, political scandal, corporate greed, and zero science.

 

Cannabis reform has been arguably the biggest public policy topic of this decade. Cannabis reform touches on law, social justice, economics, and a number of other areas in public policy.

You will be hard-pressed to find a public policy topic that is as dynamic as cannabis reform. A recent poll from April of this year found a record level of support for ending federal cannabis prohibition – 61%!

This record level of support is not surprising given cannabis’ ability to help treat a number of conditions, and the fact that cannabis is safer than many legal substances.

With so many obvious reasons to end cannabis prohibition in America, it begs the question, ‘why was cannabis ever prohibited in the first place?’

Racist origins

Harry Anslinger, the father of cannabis prohibition, was a well-known racist who built a career from outright lies.

Cannabis was legal in America for a long time. It was not uncommon for cannabis to be found in products that were in homes across America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Cannabis was a common ingredient in medicines that were widely distributed all over the country, and it was seen as being a safe substance to use.

That changed during the 1910’s and 1920’s when America saw an influx of immigrants from Mexico and the growing popularity of genres of music that were associated with minority communities.

Authorities were looking for a way to search, and/or detain and/or deport immigrants and people of color, and they found exactly what they were looking for via cannabis prohibition.

Harry Anslinger, the driving force behind federal cannabis prohibition in the 1930’s, was quoted as saying at the time, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

The Hearst and DuPont theory

Even today, corporations and entire industries benefit immensely from cannabis prohibition.

In his groundbreaking book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, legendary cannabis activist Jack Herer offered up the theory that cannabis prohibition was also driven by the financial interest of William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont company.

The theory certainly has some validity, as Hearst (newspapers made from timber) and DuPont (petrochemical products) definitely had a financial Continue reading “Why Did Cannabis Become Prohibited in the First Place?”

Why Is Cannabis Illegal? The Story of Cannabis Prohibition Will Shock You

gavel with cannabis buds
Ever ask yourself why cannabis was made illegal in the first place?

The real reason why cannabis is illegal is shocking.

Humans around the globe have cultivated the plant for thousands of years, yet it is only in the last 100 that cannabis prohibition has rocketed around the globe.

But, why the sudden change?

Here’s why cannabis is illegal:

Humans and cannabis have a long history

If you really want to know why this plant is illegal, you have to familiarize yourself with the history of cannabis.

Not just when cannabis was made illegal, but its long history leading up to prohibition…

Cannabis is thought the be one of the oldest agricultural crops.

Humans have used cannabis for over 10,000 years, dating our relationship to the plant at the start of the Neolithic era.

The Neolithic era marked the very beginnings of modern agriculture. However, some experts speculate that the cannabis-human connection began earlier than that.

The herb is one of a handful of plants that has been used for millennia in a variety of different ways, including as food, fiber, medicine, and as a spiritual aid.

It’s also thought to be one of the oldest plants traded for economic value.

Cannabis seeds dated as old as 10,000 years have been found in fossilized Japanese pottery relics, along with scraps of woven cannabis fabrics.

Yet, Japan isn’t the only prehistoric location to show evidence of cannabis remains and cultivation.

The multitude of uses for the plant meant that it was likely an extremely valuable herb to have handy.

The archeological evidence thus far suggests that cultivated cannabis likely originated in Central Asia, spreading to many different regions and continents with human migration.

Access to cannabis not only gave people the means to make durable housing materials and clothing, but nutrient-rich hemp seed provided a brain-healthy dose of essential omega fatty acids. Oils from the herb were possibly even used as some of the first cooking oils.

people harvesting hemp
Our ancestors valued cannabis as a staple crop and medicine.

In medical applications, some of the earliest records of cannabis as a healing aid come from ancient China.

Emperor Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao Ching was one of the first to write about the uses of cannabis as medicine. It’s estimated that he lived sometime between 3494 and 2857 BCE. His manuscripts are dated as early as an estimated 4700 years before present time.

According to these writings, cannabis was used to treat ailments like menstruation, constipation, rheumatism, and absentmindedness.

Throughout ancient history, the herb was also frequently used as a women’s medicine in many different cultures.

Other ancient uses of the plant include pain relief, an anesthetic, an antibiotic, migraine relief, antiparasitic, sedative, and many more.

Doctors used to prescribe cannabis

Fast forward several thousand years.

Cannabis continued to be used in the form of hemp in countries all over the world. The first U.S. President, George Washington, even grew hemp on his plantation, Mount Vernon.

Washington used the hemp for industrial purposes, particularly for fishing nets and perhaps rope and cloth sails for boats.

Several countries around the world, such as India, had fully integrated the cannabis plant into medical practice.

In Western countries, cannabis tinctures and preparations were frequently used and prescribed by doctors.

Continue reading “Why Is Cannabis Illegal? The Story of Cannabis Prohibition Will Shock You”

Patent No. 6,630,507: Why the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabis plant compounds

Marijuana proponents have been highlighting the government-owned Patent No. 6,630,507. But the issue and the patent itself aren’t black and white.

It may not have quite the same ring to it as a certain seven-digit number made famous in song in 1981, but 6,630,507 has been growing increasingly internet-famous since last week.

Following the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s inaction on rescheduling marijuana, legalization proponents have responded by taking to the internet to highlight Patent No. 6,630,507 — telling the DEA to “talk to the hand” by writing “6,630,507” on their palms, hashtagging the number and linking to past articles on the topic.

Since not all Americans are intimately familiar with patents — and because of the reams of misinformation out there regarding this patent in particular — here’s a handy explainer about Patent No. 6,630,507:

U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids — chemical compounds found within the plant species cannabis sativa — to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, such as cirrhosis.

U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2003.

The recent social media flurry has consisted of posts varying in allegations and accuracy — some have claimed that the government patented the marijuana plant in its entirety. But the overall intent is one that is symbolic in nature, said Sam Mendez, an intellectual property and public policy lawyer who serves as the executive director of the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law & Policy Project.

“Naturally, it shows that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy that there is ‘no accepted medical use’ for cannabis according to federal law,” Mendez said. “And yet here you have the very same government owning a patent for, ostensibly a medical use for marijuana.

“It’s certainly hypocritical, but there’s no laws against doing so.”

Mendez, patent lawyers, the research arm of the HHS and the New York biopharmaceutical firm that’s working as an exclusive licensee under the patent also caution that the existence of Patent No. 6,630,507 isn’t necessarily so black and white.

“(The federal government is) a very large organization with hundreds of thousands of federal employees and innumerable number of departments,” he said. “It’s much more complicated than to think about them as a single organism. … The government is allowed to file and obtain patents, and that has no bearing on the Controlled Substances Act.”

More broadly, the existence of Patent No. 6,630,507 shines a light on what could result from legalization — an explosion of marijuana-related patents, he said.

No. 6,630,507’s inception

The National Institutes of Health has roughly 6,000 doctoral-level scientists in its employ, working mostly in Maryland, said Mark Rohrbaugh, who holds doctorates in biochemistry and law and is special adviser for technology transfer at the NIH. When one of those scientists invents a new technology or makes a new discovery, the NIH evaluates the result and determines whether to file for a patent.

In this case, the researchers discovered that non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis may potentially have antioxidant properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of certain neurological diseases, she said.

“This patent describes the therapeutic potential for cannabinoid chemical compounds that are structurally similar to THC, but without its psychoactive properties, thereby treating specific conditions without the adverse side effects associated with smoked marijuana,” Myles wrote via e-mail. “It should be noted that the patent is for the use of cannabinoid compounds similar to and including those that naturally occur in marijuana (cannabis), but not for the whole marijuana plant.”

The DEA’s decision has nothing to do with the NIH’s cannabis-related patent, Rohrbaugh said. The patent doesn’t yet prove the chemical compound is effective in the stated treatment, he said, adding that the compound would have to be purified, synthesized in a lab setting, subjected to extensive testing in animals and humans, and ultimately require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to show that it’s safe and effective for the intended purpose.

The intent behind patenting and licensing NIH discoveries is to not have technology that could potentially benefit the public sit idle, he said.

To ensure this, it sometimes requires looping in the private sector, he said. Laws in the 1980s further established the technology-transfer capabilities of entities such as the federal government and universities to have discoveries accessible to others who are in a better position to progress research and potentially commercialize the developments. The entities behind the discoveries typically receive payments as part of the licensing agreement.

Willie Nelson holds up a container of his branded marijuana with "6630507" written on it. Following the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's inaction on rescheduling marijuana, legalization proponents have responded by taking to the internet to highlight Patent No. 6,630,507, which covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. (Photo courtesy of Willie's Reserve)
Willie Nelson holds up a container of his branded marijuana with “6630507” written on it. Following the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s inaction on rescheduling marijuana, legalization proponents have responded by taking to the internet to highlight Patent No. 6,630,507, which covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. (Photo courtesy of Willie’s Reserve)

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