Impact of Medical Marijuana Legalization on Opioid Use, Chronic Opioid Use, and High-risk Opioid Use.

“Medical marijuana legalization was found to be associated with a lower odds of any opioid use. In states where marijuana is available through medical channels, a modestly lower rate of opioid and high-risk opioid prescribing was observed. Policy makers could consider medical marijuana legalization as a tool that may modestly reduce chronic and high-risk opioid use.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30684198

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-018-4782-2

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Pills to pot: observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain.

“Chronic pain is common, costly and challenging to treat. Many individuals with chronic pain have turned to cannabis as an alternative form of pain management.

We report results from an ongoing, online survey of medical cannabis users with chronic pain nationwide about how cannabis affects pain management, health, and pain medication use. We also examined whether and how these parameters were affected by concomitant recreational use, and duration of use (novice: <1 year vs. experienced: ≥1 year). 1,321 participants (59% female, 54% ≥50 years old) completed the survey.

Consistent with other observational studies, ∼80% reported substituting cannabis for traditional pain medications (53% for opioids, 22% for benzodiazepines), citing fewer side effects and better symptom management as their rationale for doing so. Medical only users were older (52 vs. 47, p<0.0001), less likely to drink alcohol (66% vs. 79%, p<0.0001), and more likely to be currently taking opioids (21% vs. 11%, p<0.0001) than users with a combined recreational + medical history. Compared to novice users, experienced users were more likely to be male (64% vs. 58%, p<0.0001), take no concomitant pain medications (43% vs. 30%), and report improved health (74% vs. 67%, p=0.004) with use.

Given that chronic pain is the most common reason for obtaining a medical cannabis license, these results highlight clinically important differences among the changing population of medical cannabis users. More research is needed to better understand effective pain management regimens for medical cannabis users.

PERSPECTIVE: This article presents results that confirm previous clinical studies suggesting that cannabis may be an effective analgesic and potential opioid substitute. Participants reported improved pain, health, and fewer side effects as rationale for substituting. This article highlights how use duration and intentions for use affect reported treatment and substitution effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30690169

https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(18)30735-1/fulltext

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Medical cannabis patterns of use and substitution for opioids & other pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances; results from a cross-sectional survey of authorized patients.

 

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“The findings provide a granular view of patient patterns of medical cannabis use, and the subsequent self-reported impacts on the use of opioids, alcohol, and other substances, adding to a growing body of academic research suggesting that increased regulated access to medical and recreational cannabis can result in a reduction in the use of and subsequent harms associated with opioids, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30691503

https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-019-0278-6

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A survey of the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about medical cannabis among primary care providers.

 Image result for bmc family practice“Healthcare providers play a critical role in facilitating patient access to medical cannabis. However, previous surveys suggest only a minority of providers believe that medical cannabis confers benefits to patients. Significant new knowledge about the potential benefits and harms of medical cannabis has recently emerged. Understanding current attitudes and beliefs of providers may provide insight into the ongoing challenges they face as states expand access to medical cannabis.

METHODS:

We conducted an electronic survey of primary care providers in a large Minnesota-based healthcare system between January 23 and February 5, 2018. We obtained information about provider characteristics, attitudes and beliefs about medical cannabis, provider comfort level in answering patient questions about medical cannabis, and whether providers were interested in receiving additional education.

RESULTS:

Sixty-two providers completed the survey (response rate 31%; 62/199). Seventy-six percent of respondents were physicians and the average age was 46.3 years. A majority of providers believed (“strongly agree” or “somewhat agree”) that medical cannabis was a legitimate medical therapy (58.1%) and 38.7% believed that providers should be offering to patients for managing medical conditions. A majority (> 50%) of providers believed that medical cannabis was helpful for treating the qualifying medical conditions of cancer, terminal illness, and intractable pain. A majority of providers did not know if medical cannabis was effective for managing nearly one-half of the other state designated qualifying medical conditions. Few believed that medical cannabis improved quality of life domains. Over one-third of providers believed that medical cannabis interacted with medical therapies. One-half of providers were not ready to or did not want to answer patient questions about medical cannabis, and the majority of providers wanted to learn more about it.

CONCLUSIONS:

Healthcare providers generally believe that medical cannabis is a legitimate medical therapy. Provider knowledge gaps about the effectiveness of medical cannabis for state designated qualifying conditions need to be addressed, and accurate information about the potential for drug interactions needs to be disseminated to address provider concerns. Clinical trial data about how medical cannabis improves patient quality of life domains is desperately needed as this information can impact clinical decision-making.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30669979

https://bmcfampract.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12875-019-0906-y

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Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy.

Scientific Reports

“There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) worldwide. Recently anecdotal evidence of possible therapeutic effects of cannabis products has emerged.

The aim of this study is to characterize the epidemiology of ASD patients receiving medical cannabis treatment and to describe its safety and efficacy.

We analysed the data prospectively collected as part of the treatment program of 188 ASD patients treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017. The treatment in majority of the patients was based on cannabis oil containing 30% CBD and 1.5% THC. Symptoms inventory, patient global assessment and side effects at 6 months were primary outcomes of interest and were assessed by structured questionnaires.

After six months of treatment 82.4% of patients (155) were in active treatment and 60.0% (93) have been assessed; 28 patients (30.1%) reported a significant improvement, 50 (53.7%) moderate, 6 (6.4%) slight and 8 (8.6%) had no change in their condition. Twenty-three patients (25.2%) experienced at least one side effect; the most common was restlessness (6.6%).

Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30655581

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37570-y

“Medical cannabis is an effective, well-tolerated, and most importantly, a safe treatment for autism in children, helping to reduce a range of symptoms in those with the condition, a new study finds.” https://www.studyfinds.org/cannabis-safe-effective-treatment-autism-young-children/

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Self-management strategies amongst Australian women with endometriosis: a national online survey.

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“Endometriosis has a significant negative impact on the lives of women, and current medical treatments often do not give sufficient pain relief or have intolerable side effects for many women. The majority of women with primary dysmenorrhea use self-management strategies (including self-care techniques or lifestyle choices) to help manage period related symptoms, but little is known about self-management in women with endometriosis.

The aim of this survey was to determine the prevalence of use, safety, and self-rated effectiveness of common forms of self-management.

Cannabis, heat, hemp/CBD oil, and dietary changes were the most highly rated in terms of self-reported effectiveness in pain reduction. Physical interventions such as yoga/Pilates, stretching, and exercise were rated as being less effective.

Self-management was very commonly used by women with endometriosis and form an important part of self-management.

Women using cannabis reported the highest self-rated effectiveness.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30646891

https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-019-2431-x

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Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer.

 Related image“In the last decades, a lot of attention has been paid to the compounds present in medicinal Cannabis sativa L., such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and their effects on inflammation and cancer-related pain.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) currently recognizes medicinal C. sativa as an effective treatment for providing relief in a number of symptoms associated with cancer, including pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and anxiety.

Several studies have described CBD as a multitarget molecule, acting as an adaptogen, and as a modulator, in different ways, depending on the type and location of disequilibrium both in the brain and in the body, mainly interacting with specific receptor proteins CB1 and CB2.

CBD is present in both medicinal and fibre-type C. sativa plants, but, unlike Δ9-THC, it is completely nonpsychoactive. Fibre-type C. sativa (hemp) differs from medicinal C. sativa, since it contains only few levels of Δ9-THC and high levels of CBD and related nonpsychoactive compounds.

In recent years, a number of preclinical researches have been focused on the role of CBD as an anticancer molecule, suggesting CBD (and CBD-like molecules present in the hemp extract) as a possible candidate for future clinical trials.

CBD has been found to possess antioxidant activity in many studies, thus suggesting a possible role in the prevention of both neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. In animal models, CBD has been shown to inhibit the progression of several cancer types. Moreover, it has been found that coadministration of CBD and Δ9-THC, followed by radiation therapy, causes an increase of autophagy and apoptosis in cancer cells. In addition, CBD is able to inhibit cell proliferation and to increase apoptosis in different types of cancer models.

These activities seem to involve also alternative pathways, such as the interactions with TRPV and GRP55 receptor complexes. Moreover, the finding that the acidic precursor of CBD (cannabidiolic acid, CBDA) is able to inhibit the migration of breast cancer cells and to downregulate the proto-oncogene c-fos and the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) highlights the possibility that CBDA might act on a common pathway of inflammation and cancer mechanisms, which might be responsible for its anticancer activity.

In the light of all these findings, in this review we explore the effects and the molecular mechanisms of CBD on inflammation and cancer processes, highlighting also the role of minor cannabinoids and noncannabinoids constituents of Δ9-THC deprived hemp.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30627539

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/1691428/

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Medical Cannabis Users’ Comparisons between Medical Cannabis and Mainstream Medicine.

 Publication Cover“An evidence-based approach is needed to shape policies and practices regarding medical cannabis, thereby reducing harm and maximizing benefits to individuals and society.

This project assesses attitudes towards and utilization of medical cannabis and the mainstream healthcare system among medical cannabis users. The research team administered brief hard copy surveys to 450 adults attending an annual public event advocating for cannabis law reform.

Among usable responses (N = 392), the majority (78%) reported using cannabis to help treat a medical or health condition.

Medical cannabis users reported a greater degree of use of medical cannabis and a greater degree of trust in medical cannabis compared to mainstream healthcare.

In comparison to pharmaceutical drugs, medical cannabis users rated cannabis better on effectiveness, side effects, safety, addictiveness, availability, and cost.

Due to the medical use of cannabis, 42% stopped taking a pharmaceutical drug and 38% used less of a pharmaceutical drug.

A substantial proportion (30%) reported that their mainstream healthcare provider did not know that they used medical cannabis.

Other issues identified included lack of access to mainstream healthcare, self-initiated treatment of health issues, little knowledge of psychoactive content, and heavy cannabis use.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30616501

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2018.1563314?journalCode=ujpd20

“A Growing Number of People Are Trading Their Pain Meds for Weed, Study Finds. As more states legalize marijuana, a new study shows that many patients are choosing medical cannabis to supplement or even replace pharmaceutical drugs. Nearly half of users in the study said they’d completely stopped taking a pharmaceutical drug because of medical marijuana.” https://www.menshealth.com/health/a25953041/medical-marijuana-pain-cannabis-prescription-drugs-study/

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The effects of cannabinoids on the endocrine system.

“Cannabinoids are the derivatives of the cannabis plant, the most potent bioactive component of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The most commonly used drugs containing cannabinoids are marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil.

These compounds exert their effects via interaction with the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Type 1 receptors (CB1) are localised mostly in the central nervous system and in the adipose tissue and many visceral organs, including most endocrine organs. Type 2 cannabinoid receptors (CB2) are positioned in the peripheral nervous system (peripheral nerve endings) and on the surface of the immune system cells.

Recently, more and more attention has been paid to the role that endogenous ligands play for these receptors, as well as to the role of the receptors themselves. So far, endogenous cannabinoids have been confirmed to participate in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis of the body, and have a significant impact on the endocrine system, including the activity of the pituitary gland, adrenal cortex, thyroid gland, pancreas, and gonads.

Interrelations between the endocannabinoid system and the activity of the endocrine system may be a therapeutic target for a number of drugs that have been proved effective in the treatment of infertility, obesity, diabetes, and even prevention of diseases associated with the cardiovascular system.”

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The Misclassification of Medical Marijuana.

Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

“Marijuana has a complicated legal, social, and economic history in the United States, as well as an uncertain future. Marijuana has been consistently tied to racial minority groups since its arrival in the United States in the 1900s, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions further propagated that notion. AG Sessions even recently wrote a memo that directly contradicted Obama-era policy, demonstrating that the current legal status of marijuana in both state and federal government is currently up for debate. While several states have legalized marijuana for medical or even recreational purposes, federal law still categorizes cannabis as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The comparison between marijuana, opioids, and ketamine in this article demonstrates that marijuana has been unnecessarily withheld and stigmatized by the federal government. Also reviewed is the impact of stringent marijuana-based legal policies upon the racial makeup of prison populations. The implications of current policy upon potential and future research are also discussed, with the determination that current policy has stymied research and prevented a more accurate determination of the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30593477

“Cannabis was initially marked as Schedule I for reasons related to race and class. The federal government has restricted access to marijuana on the basis of its unknown risks and lack of proven benefits despite the fact that synthetic cannabinoids have been demonstrated to elicit FDA-approved benefits. This article demonstrates that marijuana should be removed from the Schedule I listing, as would be consistent with the labeling of ketamine and opioids, and reclassified as a Schedule III or Schedule II drug. Given the beneficial medical use, possible side effects, and potential for abuse and addiction of each drug, medical cannabis has been unfairly kept from the public through its unnecessary classification as a Schedule I drug.”

http://jaapl.org/content/46/4/472.long

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