Medical Oncologists’ Beliefs, Practices, and Knowledge Regarding Marijuana Used Therapeutically: A Nationally Representative Survey Study

Thirty U.S. states have enacted medical cannabis laws, and all but one of them include cancer in the list of conditions allowed. Such laws give cancer patients across the country access to a substance that remains illegal under federal law.

Anecdotal reports suggest marijuana is helpful in managing symptoms of chemotherapy, like pain and nausea. But it's unlikely curious patients are getting clear guidance from their doctors on whether they should try marijuana, which form might work best and how much to take. A new survey of 237 oncologists from around the country finds that while roughly 80 percent talk with their patients about marijuana, fewer than 30 percent feel they have sufficient knowledge to advise them about its medicinal use.

Despite their shaky knowledge of the drug, nearly half of all oncologists do recommend medical cannabis to their patients, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. But more than half of those suggesting it, don't consider themselves knowledgeable to do so, says Dr. Ilana Braun, a cancer psychiatrist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass. and the study's lead author.

"Unfortunately, at this time, the evidence base to support medical marijuana's efficacy in oncology is young," Braun says. "So, often oncologists are borrowing from clinical trials for other diseases, or extrapolating from evidence on pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids."

The survey only asked about medical marijuana, defined as non-pharmaceutical cannabis products that providers recommend for therapeutic use. It did not include pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids, such as a synthetic analog of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is FDA-approved for the treatment and prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

The study found most of the conversations about medical marijuana were initiated by the patient. This is not at all surprising, says Dr. Jerry Mitchell, a medical oncologist at the Zangmeister Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio, who was not affiliated with the study. He says he gets asked about medical marijuana by patients several times a week.

"This is a product that is well-known," says Mitchell. "It's a product cancer patients think will help them, and they're going to ask their doctors about it, which is what they should be doing. They should be advocates for their own health."

Mitchell, who serves on his state's medical cannabis advisory board, says he can't be the one to initiate those conversations because there is currently no legal outlet to obtain the drug in Ohio. Although Ohio passed a law in 2016 to create a medical cannabis program, dispensaries don't open there until September of this year.

Oncologists' ignorance about medical marijuana leaves many cancer patients to go it alone in figuring out which cannabis products — and what dosages — might work best to help them manage the debilitating symptoms that often come with chemotherapy.

Larry Lenkart, 60, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last September. He experiences severe pain, stomach cramps and nausea that lasts as long as 10 days following each round of chemotherapy. He's had 11 rounds so far.

"Chemo feels like the worst flu you've ever had — just ongoing and ongoing," says Lenkart, who lives in Springfield, Ill.

His oncologist readily agreed to certify that he had a qualifying condition for his state's medical cannabis pilot program, but did not offer additional guidance on what to do once he received his medical cannabis card.

So Lenkart sought out information online and received advice from friends and staff at the dispensary. After four months of trial-and-error, he says he's still trying to figure out what works: edibles, oils, vape pens or marijuana buds.

"The dosing part is what you have to really fiddle with," says Lenkart.

In the end, Lenkart says, marijuana is helping with his symptoms of nausea, pain and mental fogginess. "It makes an unbearable situation bearable," he says.

In the absence of rigorous evidence, anecdotes like this may be affecting medical practice.

Mitchell says there's a lack of high-quality evidence to support the use of medical cannabis for cancer-related illnesses, and this could explain why many providers feel ill-equipped to guide patients on the matter. Randomized controlled trials simply do not exist.

But, Mitchell says he suspects many oncologists consider recommending medical cannabis after weighing the available evidence — including anecdotal — against what is known about the alternatives.

For example, for chronic pain treatment: "You've got opioids, which clearly have problems," Mitchell says. "You've got nonsteroidals, which can work but are sometimes not effective for substantial cancer pain. Well, that's all we have in our toolbox. And if that's the case, then you have to back up and say, 'Well, perhaps I'm okay with anecdotal evidence.' "

Indeed, Braun and her colleagues found roughly two thirds of oncologists believe medical marijuana is useful in combination with standard treatment for symptoms including pain, poor appetite and unwanted weight loss.

They also found oncologists in states with medical marijuana laws were more likely to feel knowledgeable about medical marijuana compared to their peers in states where it remains outlawed. But in either case, they were just as likely to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.

Providers in western states were more likely to discuss and recommend medical marijuana compared to those in the south. Working in an out-patient setting and having a higher practice volume were also variables that made a provider more likely to recommend medical marijuana.

Braun says she does not know why these discrepancies exist, but she plans to drill down into those questions in follow-up studies.

She is also planning to conduct clinical trials to study the use of medical marijuana for cancer-related symptoms.

In preparation for those studies, Braun says she has come face-to-face with the challenges associated with doing research on a Schedule 1 drug, which is considered, along with heroin and LSD, to have no medical use and high abuse potential.

"I'm in the process of installing an alarmed safe behind locked doors" in order to store the controlled substance, she says. "It's complicated."

Braun says she "strongly believes federal restrictions should be loosened to facilitate medical marijuana's potential beneficial attributes, not just its risks."

Mitchell agrees.

Without randomized controlled trials, he says it's hard for oncologists to know the tradeoffs they're making when they recommend medical marijuana over treatments that are "standard of care."

"And that's a big problem," Mitchell says. "That's a big knowledge gap."

This story was produced in partnership with Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

MyCannX CEO Named among Cannabis’ Leading Ladies

Women have always been a force for equal rights and influential change. As new legal fights come to the forefront, so do the inspirational women waiting right behind to lead the charge. In an article by Leafly, in honor of Women’s History Month, they chose to name the eight women who are helping to pave a brighter future for the legalization of cannabis.

The list below names just a few of the women, from all walks of life, including lawyers and entrepreneurs. Their continued dedication is sure to improve the quality of life for millions of citizens, especially those unnecessarily charged with misdemeanors and felonies for possession.

Diane Goldstein
She dedicated 21 years working as the first female lieutenant for the Redondo Beach Police Department in Southern California. The drug arrests Diane made in her time greatly helped to shape her perspective on the war on drugs, particularly cannabis, especially after an arrest made on a family member. She is an Executive Board Member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and regularly writes and speaks on the benefits of cannabis legalization.

Jasmine Hupp
After serving as Director of Digital Media for Women 2.0, which helps women start their own high-growth businesses, she became the founder and CEO of Women Grow. This group was created as a community for women to feel empowered in the cannabis industry. The business has a national leadership summit and local branches in more than 30 cities.

Renee Gagnon
She is the first, and only, transgender woman CEO who created a cannabis company and made it public. Thunderbird Biomedical Inc., was founded in 2013, even before receiving her license under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations from Health Canada in February 2014. The company was bought out in 2015, after which she began working with Gill Polard, a fellow female cannabis entrepreneur. They co-founded a supply chain known as International Cannabis Centres Inc.

Kate Brown
The Governor of Oregon has been extremely receptive to the positive benefits of cannabis legalization. In addition to supporting it for medical and adult-use, she signed legislation that allows the sale of edibles and that lets banks and credit unions work with cannabis companies without the fear of criminal liability.

Hilary Bricken
An attorney at Harris Bricken, PLLC since 2010, she became an advocate for cannabis legalization in Seattle. She created the firm’s Canna Law Group and is the chair. Hilary was named “Deal Maker of the Year” by Puget Sound Business Journal and “Industry Attorney of the Year” by Dope Magazine.

Julie Netherland, Shawnta Hopkins-Greene, and Melissa Mentele, are among the list that have fought for the push in passing cannabis legislature. They have created companies, run for office, and helped pass policies all in attempt to better the lives of those impacted negatively by the justice system. Their continued efforts are an inspiration to those still trying to add their voice to the cannabis battle. And with the fight far from over, there is plenty of room for more voices!

[Source]

April 2018 - Older Adults’ Perspectives on Medical Marijuana

Most accept its use with doctor’s recommendation, but want more research, U-M/AARP National Poll on Healthy Aging finds

ANN ARBOR, MI – Few older adults use medical marijuana, a new national poll finds, but the majority support its use if a doctor recommends it, and might talk to their own doctor about it if they developed a serious health condition.

Four out five of poll respondents between the ages of 50 and 80 said they support allowing medical marijuana if it’s recommended by a physician. Forty percent support allowing marijuana use for any reason.

And two-thirds say the government should do more to study the drug’s health effects, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

While more than two-thirds of those polled said they thought that marijuana can ease pain, about half said they believed prescription pain medications were more effective than marijuana.

The poll was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 2,007 Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. It was sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

“While just six percent of our poll respondents said they’d used marijuana for medical purposes themselves, 18 percent said they know someone who has,” says U-M’s Preeti Malani, M.D., director of the poll and a specialist in treatment of older patients. “With medical marijuana already legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and other states considering legalizing this use or all use, this is an issue of interest to patients, providers and policymakers alike.”

She notes that the poll results indicate older Americans have a sense of wariness, rather than wholehearted acceptance, around medical use of marijuana. This may be surprising to those who think of the Baby Boom generation – who are now in their mid-50s to early 70s -- as embracing marijuana use in their youth in the 1960s and 1970s.

With medical marijuana already legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and other states considering legalizing this use or all use, this is an issue of interest to patients, providers and policymakers alike.
Preeti Malani, M.D. DIRECTOR, NATIONAL POLL ON HEALTHY AGING

Marijuana and pain

The poll sheds new light on older Americans’ attitudes toward the use of marijuana to control pain – one of the most common conditions cited in state medical marijuana statutes.

Just under one-third of respondents said they feel that marijuana definitely provides pain relief, and another 38 percent said it probably does. But only 14 percent thought marijuana was more effective than prescription pain medication, while 48 percent believed the opposite and 38 percent believed the two were equally effective. When it came to controlling dosages for pain relief, though, prescription pain medicine won out: 41 percent thought it would be easier to control dosage with medication.

The poll also asked respondents about negative effects of both substances. In all, 48 percent thought prescription pain medicines are more addictive than marijuana, and 57 said that such medicines have more side effects than marijuana.

“These perceptions of relative safety and efficacy are important for physicians, other providers and public health regulators to understand,” says Malani. Marijuana use, particularly long-term use, has been associated with impaired memory, decision making and ability to perform complex tasks.

The widespread support by older Americans for more research on the effects of marijuana is especially significant, she says, given the growing legalization trend in states and the continued federal policy that marijuana use is illegal. 

“Although older adults may be a bit wary about marijuana, the majority support more research on it,” says Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP. “This openness to more research likely speaks to a desire to find safe, alternative treatments to control pain.”

Research on marijuana’s effects and related issues can be done under carefully controlled circumstances, but few studies have included older adults. The new poll results indicate an appetite for further government-sponsored research, including government-standardized dosing.

Malani, a professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School who specializes in infectious diseases and geriatrics, notes that providers should be routinely asking older patients about marijuana use.

Only one in five poll respondents said their primary health care provider had asked whether they use marijuana. A slightly lower percentage said they thought their provider was knowledgeable about medical marijuana – but three-quarters said they simply didn’t know how much their provider knows about the topic.

Still, 70 percent of those who answered the poll said they would definitely or probably ask their provider about marijuana if they had a serious medical condition that might respond to it. That means providers need to be ready to answer questions and provide counseling to patients, especially in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The poll results are based on answers from a nationally representative sample of 2,007 people ages 50 to 80. The poll respondents answered a wide range of questions online. Questions were written, and data interpreted and compiled, by the IHPI team. Laptops and Internet access were provided to poll respondents who did not already have it.

Washington, DC Reciprocity Goes into Effect

Washington, DC: Legislation to Expand Medical Cannabis Retail Access

Update: B22-446 passed out of the Health Committee on 3/14.

Legislation B22-446, is set to expand patients' access to medical marijuana under District law on april 9, 2018.

This measure seeks to increase access among qualified patients by: establishing same-day registration, permitting home delivery, establishing safe-treatment facilities, establishing reciprocity with other jurisdictions, allowing existing dispensaries to expand their operations, and capping taxes, among other changes.

These changes will assure that District patients — as well as those visiting from other jurisdictions that have similar programs in place — will have safe, consistent and reliable access to affordable medicine.

 

23 Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Marijuana

States around the country — 29 of them, plus Washington DC — have legalized medical marijuana. 

The American public largely supports the legalization of medical marijuana. At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.

Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug's medicinal uses.

Even the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.

There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high.

But scientists say that limitations on marijuana research mean we still have big questions about its medicinal properties. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more research, we won't know how to best make use of those compounds.

More research would also shed light on the risks of marijuana. Even if there are legitimate uses for medicinal marijuana, that doesn't mean all use is harmless. Some research indicates that chronic, heavy users may have impaired memory, learning, and processing speed, especially if they started regularly using marijuana before age 16 or 17.

For some of the following medical benefits, there's good evidence. For others, there's reason to continue conducting research.

Jennifer Welsh contributed to an earlier version of this story.

The best-supported medicinal use of marijuana is as a treatment for chronic pain.

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said there was definitive evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids (which are found in the marijuana plant) can be an effective treatment for chronic pain.

The report said that is "by far the most common" reason people request medical marijuana.

There's also strong evidence medical cannabis can help with muscle spasms.

That same report said there's equally strong evidence marijuana can help with muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis.

Other types of muscle spasms respond to marijuana as well. People use medical marijuana to treat diaphragm spasms that are untreatable by other, prescribed medications.

It doesn't seem to harm lung capacity, and may even improve it.

There's a fair amount of evidence that marijuana does no harm to the lungs, unless you also smoke tobacco. One study published in Journal of the American Medical Association found that not only does marijuana not impair lung function, it may even increase lung capacity.

Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity.

It's possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.

The smokers in that study only toked up a few times a month, but a more recent survey of people who smoked pot daily for up to 20 years found no evidence that smoking pot harmed their lungs, either.

The National Academies report said there are good studies showing marijuana users are not more likely to have cancers associated with smoking.

 

It may be of some use in treating glaucoma, or it may be possible to derive a drug from marijuana for this use.

One of the most common reasons that states allow medical marijuana use is to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.

Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the National Eye Institute: "Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma."

For now, the medical consensus is that marijuana only lowers IOP for a few hours, meaning there's not good evidence for it as a long term treatment right now. Researchers hope that perhaps a marijuana-based compound could be developed that lasts longer.

It may help control epileptic seizures.

Some studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), another major marijuana compound, seems to help people with treatment-resistant epilepsy.

A number of individuals have reported that marijuana is the only thing that helps control their or their children's seizures.

However, there haven't been many gold-standard, double-blind studies on the topic, so researchers say more data is needed before we know how effective marijuana is.

It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet's Syndrome.

During the research for his documentary "Weed," Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treated their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC.

The Figi family's daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays.

According to the film, the drug decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state were using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures when the film was made — and it seemed to be working.

The doctors who recommended this treatment said the cannabidiol in the plant interacts with brain cells to quiet the excessive activity in the brain that causes these seizures.

Gupta notes, however, that a Florida hospital that specializes in the disorder, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Drug Enforcement agency don't endorse marijuana as a treatment for Dravet or other seizure disorders.

 

A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading, at least in cell cultures.

CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007.

Other very preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumors in mice or cell cultures have shown that THC and CBD can slow or shrink tumors at the right dose, which is a strong reason to do more research.

One 2014 study found that marijuana can significantly slow the growth of the type of brain tumor associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people.

Still, these findings in cell cultures and animals don't necessarily mean the effect will translate to people — far more investigation is needed.

It may decrease anxiety in low doses.

Researchers know that many cannabis users consume marijuana to relax, but also that many people say smoking too much can cause anxiety. So scientists conducted a study to find the "Goldilocks" zone: the right amount of marijuana to calm people.

According to Emma Childs, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author of the study, "we found that THC at low doses reduced stress, while higher doses had the opposite effect." 

A few puffs was enough to help study participants relax, but a few puffs more started to amp up anxiety. However, people may react differently in different situations.

THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease

Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, a study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests.

The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC (the active chemical in marijuana) slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill brain cells and are associated with Alzheimer's.

A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seems to preserve memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Another study suggested that a THC-based prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients.

All these studies are in very early stages, though, so more research is needed.

The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn't respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days, they reported that they were in less pain.

The THC in marijuana seems to bind to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain.

 

It seems to lessen side effects from treating hepatitis C and increase treatment effectiveness.

Treatment for hepatitis C infection is harsh: negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression. Those side effects can last for months, and lead many people to stop their treatment course early.

But a 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy. Only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessen the treatment's side effects.

Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment's effectiveness: 54% of hep C patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in comparison to only 8% of nonsmokers.

Marijuana may help with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis could benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest. 

University of Nottingham researchers found in 2010 that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. The study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

The body makes THC-like compounds that increase the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. But the cannabinoids in marijuana block these compounds, making the intestinal cells bond together tighter and become less permeable.

But the National Academies report said there isn't enough evidence to be sure whether marijuana really helps with these conditions, so more research is needed.

It relieves arthritis discomfort.

Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers announced in 2011.

Researchers from rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After a two-week period, people on Sativex had a significant reduction in pain and improved sleep quality compared to placebo users.

Other studies have found that plant-derived cannabinoids and inhaled marijuana can decrease arthritis pain, according to the National Academies report.

Marijuana users tend to be less obese and have a better response to eating sugar.

A study published in the American Journal Of Medicine suggested that pot smokers are skinnier than the average person and have healthier metabolism and reaction to sugars, even though they do end up eating more calories.

The study analyzed data from more than 4,500 adult Americans — 579 of whom were current marijuana smokers, meaning they had smoked in the last month. About 2,000 people had used marijuana in the past, while another 2,000 had never used the drug.

The researchers studied how the participants' bodies responded to eating sugars. They measured blood-sugar levels and the hormone insulin after participants hadn't eaten in nine hours, and after they'd eaten sugar.

Not only were pot users thinner, their bodies also had a healthier response to sugar. Of course, the study couldn't determine whether the marijuana users were like this to begin with or if these characteristics were somehow related to their smoking.

While not really a health or medical benefit, marijuana could spur creativity.

Contrary to stoner stereotypes, marijuana usage has actually been shown to have some positive mental effects, particularly in terms of increasing creativity, at least in some contexts. Even though people's short-term memories tend to function worse when they're high, they actually get better at tests requiring them to come up with new ideas.

Researchers have also found that some study participants improve their "verbal fluency," their ability to come up with different words, while using marijuana.

Part of this increased creative ability may come from the release of dopamine in the brain, which lowers inhibitions and allows people to feel more relaxed, giving the brain the ability to perceive things differently.

 

Cannabis soothes tremors for people with Parkinson's disease.

Research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson's disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients.

Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and a lot of research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there, supportedby the Israeli government.

Marijuana may help veterans suffering from PTSD.

In 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health awarded $2 million to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (one of the biggest proponents of marijuana research) to study marijuana's potential for people with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, help regulate the system that causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain.

Marijuana is approved to treat PTSD in some states already — in New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason for people to get a license for medical marijuana.

But there are still questions about the safety of using marijuana while suffering from PTSD, which this study — which has taken a while to get off the ground — will hopefully help answer.

Animal studies suggest that marijuana may protect the brain after a stroke.

Research from the University of Nottingham shows that marijuana may help protect the brain from damage from a stroke by reducing the size of the area affected by the stroke — at least in rats, mice, and monkeys.

This isn't the only research that has shown neuroprotective effects of cannabis. Some research shows that the plant may help protect the brain after other types of brain trauma.

Marijuana might even protect the brain from concussions and trauma.

Lester Grinspoon , a professor of psychiatry at Harvard and marijuana advocate, recently wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. In it, he said the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana, and that the league should start funding research into the plant's ability to protect the brain instead.

"Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data," Grinspoon wrote.

Goodell said he'd consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it's an effective neuroprotective agent.

At least one recent study on the topic found that patients who had used marijuana were less likely to die from traumatic brain injuries.

It can help eliminate nightmares.

This is a complicated one, because it involves effects that can be both positive and negative. Marijuana disturbs sleep cycles by interrupting the later stages of REM sleep. In the long run, this could be a problem for frequent users.

However, for people suffering from serious nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD, this can be helpful, perhaps in the short term. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages of sleep. By interrupting REM sleep, many of those dreams may not occur. Research into using a synthetic cannabinoid — similar to THC but not the same — showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with PTSD.

Additionally, even if frequent use can be bad for sleep, marijuana may be a better sleep aid than some other substances that people use. Some of those, including medication and alcohol, may potentially have worse effects on sleep, though more research is needed on the topic.

 

Cannabis reduces some of the pain and nausea from chemotherapy and stimulates appetite.

One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going through chemotherapy. There's good evidence that it's effective for this, according to the National Academies report.

Cancer patients being treated with chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. This can cause additional health complications.

Marijuana can help reduce these side effects, alleviating pain, decreasing nausea, and stimulating the appetite. There are also multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, for the same purpose.

Marijuana can help people who are trying to cut back on drinking.

Marijuana is safer than alcohol. That's not to say it's risk-free, but cannabis is much less addictive than alcohol and doesn't cause nearly as much physical damage. 

Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders.

Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that some people use marijuana as a less harmful substitute for alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common reasons patients make that substitution are that marijuana has less negative side effects and is less likely to cause withdrawal problems.

Some people do become psychologically dependent on marijuana, and it is not a cure for substance abuse problems. But from a harm-reduction standpoint, it can help.

Still, it's worth noting that combining marijuana and alcohol can be dangerous, and some researchers are concerned that this scenario is more likely than one in which users substitute a toke for a drink.

Medical marijuana legalization seems to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

While there are a number of factors behind the current opioid epidemic, many experts agree that the use of opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain has played a major role. It's very risky to take powerful drugs that have a high risk of causing overdose and high addiction rates. Marijuana, which can also treat chronic pain, is far less risky.

Several studies have shown that states that allow medical marijuana have fewer opioid deaths. This effect seems to grow over time, with states who pass these laws seeing a "20% lower rate of opioid deaths in the laws' first year, 24% in the third, and 33% in the sixth," according to Stat News.

It's hard to say that deaths went down because of medical marijuana legalization and not other reasons. But because the effect seems to get stronger the longer marijuana remains legal, researchers think marijuana is a likely cause of the decline in opioid deaths.

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2017.

Ex-Bear Jim McMahon: Medical marijuana got me off narcotic pain pills

Former Super Bowl champion and Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon says an unfairly demonized drug helped him recover from the pain of his football career: medical marijuana.

McMahon was in Chicago this week, where he attended Tuesday's Bears reunion marking the 30th anniversary of their Super Bowl victory. He was also featured in an ESPN "30 for 30" screening of a documentary about the team, which includes a focus on his health struggles. 

Now 56, McMahon has been plagued by debilitating health problems following his 15-year career and multiple concussions in the National Football League. He has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and has severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems. He also said he suffered a broken neck.

As a result, he joined a pending class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of negligence and misconduct in handling concussions.

Since going public with his health issues, McMahon said he has recently been feeling significantly better after chiropractic neck treatments to relieve the pressure.

But the key to getting off the prescription narcotic painkillers he took throughout his career, he said, was medical marijuana.

McMahon got his medical marijuana card in Arizona, where he lives, after it was approved by a voter referendum in 2010. Before that, he said, he'd been taking 100 Percocet pills a month for pain in his shoulders, neck and arms.

"They were doing more harm than good," he said. "This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway."

On a typical day, McMahon will smoke marijuana in the morning to help him get up, a little in the afternoon depending on how he feels, and before bed, saying he couldn't sleep without it.

He prefers the indica strain for its higher content of THC, the part of the plant that gets users high. But he says he maintains a clear head without the "fuzziness" he got from pain pills.

The former "punky QB" said he initially tried to get into the medical marijuana business, but it didn't work out. Though his interview was arranged through a representative from Cresco Labs, which grows and sells medical marijuana in Illinois, McMahon said he has no financial ties to the industry, but went public to help other people who are suffering.

His comments come as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner considers whether to approve eight more medical conditions to add to the list of about 40 that qualify for medical marijuana here. A state advisory board recommended adding the new conditions, including pain that doesn't respond to conventional treatment.

The majority of patients in some other states that have legalized medical marijuana, like California and Colorado, qualify to use it to treat pain. But Illinois, which has perhaps the strictest law allowing medical marijuana in the nation, does not allow it for pain, as lawmakers have expressed concerns that the category is too broad and vague and would allow for abuse.

And despite McMahon's endorsement, marijuana is not recommended for medicinal use by the American Medical Association, among others. Some critics worry that marijuana may merely replace one drug with another, or be used in combination.

But while prescription painkillers have caused what authorities call an "epidemic" — deaths linked to the drugs quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, with more than 22,000 deaths that year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it is considered virtually impossible to reach fatally toxic levels of marijuana alone.

Still, regular cannabis use has been shown to cause cognitive impairment, particularly in adolescents. Many doctors oppose smoking any drug, because of the damage it causes the lungs, though marijuana also can be eaten, vaporized or taken as an oil or lotion.

Advocates and critics agree research on marijuana is lacking, but it has shown some effectiveness for pain relief.

After reviewing conflicting studies, the Institute of Medicine concluded in 1999 that marijuana's components can provide mild to moderate relief from pain, comparable to codeine.

The National Academy of Sciences reported that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, have shown significant but not conclusive promise for pain relief, particularly in cancer patients.

rmccoppin@tribpub.com

Twitter @RobertMcCoppin

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This Family Of Doctors Wants To Change The Way You Think About Weed

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Dr. Janice Knox was several years into retirement in Oregon when she was asked to fill in at a “card mill” ― a facility where patients can be diagnosed with conditions that qualify them for a medical card to buy cannabis.

This was a few years ago, and public sentiment about medical marijuana wasn’t quite what it is today. “I had the mindset that most people had at the time ― ‘marijuana is a terrible drug, it’s just a drug,’” Knox told HuffPost.

When she arrived at the clinic, the makeup of the waiting room was “not who I was expecting,” she said.

“There were businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers. I just couldn’t believe who I saw,” Knox said. “They were coming because conventional medicine had failed them. They wanted a better quality of life.”

“People were coming in with their last dime to get a card,” she added. “I was stunned.”

Equally surprising to Knox was how she, a practicing anesthesiologist for 35 years, had been taught so little about the mechanisms and effects of cannabis ― a substance that people said eased their suffering, even from symptoms related to chronic diseases.

“I knew nothing about this medicine. I felt so embarrassed as a physician that that’s where I was. So I really made it a point to learn everything that I could about it,” Knox said. Since then, she’s tried to “change the narrative” about who uses cannabis and why.

 From left to right, Drs. Jessica, Janice, David and Rachel Knox operate a cannabis therapeutics clinic in Oregon.

From left to right, Drs. Jessica, Janice, David and Rachel Knox operate a cannabis therapeutics clinic in Oregon.

Dr. Janice Knox grew the American Cannabinoid Clinics from her existing wellness clinic.

In 2014, Knox founded the American Cannabinoid Clinics from her existing wellness clinic in Portland, Oregon, where marijuana has been legal for medical purposes since 1998 and legal for recreational use since 2015. Other than Knox, there are very few U.S. medical professionals who specialize in cannabis therapeutics. Fortunately, three of them are members of her family. 

Knox’s husband, David, is a former emergency room doctor. Their two daughters, Rachel and Jessica, are physicians who received both medical and business degrees from Tufts University.

At his wife’s urging, David Knox also visited the “card clinics” where his wife had been providing care. Like Janice, he was struck by the diversity of patients and conditions for which the plant seemed to offer relief.

“It was an eye-opener. The potential is just incredible,” he said, adding that he’s seen patients successfully reduce or eliminate their use of opiates for chronic pain after beginning cannabis therapeutics. (Federally funded research has also found this result, which could have meaningful implications amid America’s ongoing opioid crisis.)

People were coming in with their last dime to get a card. I was stunned.Dr. Janice Knox

At their clinic, the Knoxes practice what they call “integrative cannabinoid medicine.” They counsel new and experienced cannabis patients alike on the best treatment options for their conditions, the best way to deliver the medicine (e.g. vaping, topical, ingesting), and how to mitigate undesired effects. These are all aspects of cannabis medicine that a general practitioner might not know as much, or indeed anything, about.

“We’re looking at the whole patient, and how to use cannabis optimally, so the patient can get the best benefit from the minimal dosage without side effects or complications,” David said.

Rachel Knox, 35, wasn’t particularly surprised by her parents’ new career path. She and her mother share an interest in natural medicine. For Rachel, this interest only grew stronger in a medical school and residency environment where emergency treatments for the most urgent symptoms of chronic illness were rarely followed up with meaningful conversations with patients about maintenance and prevention.

“We weren’t being taught how to prevent or reverse chronic illness in our medical education,” she said. “We had this longing for more. My curiosity for natural medicine grew out of that frustration in conventional medicine.”

“My sister and I really felt like if we were going to pursue medicine, we should do something different with it,” she went on. “When my mom and my dad said they had started writing cannabis authorization for patients, that fit right into the natural options I wanted to investigate for patient care.”

Dr. Rachel Knox’s involvement in cannabis therapeutics grew out of her interest in natural medicine.

Cannabis provides therapeutic effects mainly through its impact on the endocannabinoid system, which regulates various processes throughout the body such as organ function and immune response. Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine produced a sweeping report on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, concluding that restrictions on possession and consumption have made it difficult to develop research-based consensus on its medical utility.

The barriers to conducting meaningful research on the effects of a federally prohibited substance are considerable. Trials involving cannabis have to be approved by three government agencies and an independent review board, the Knoxes said. After that, there’s the matter of procuring the cannabis itself.

“Right now you can’t ship cannabis across state lines, so you have to rely on a secure source within that state to do that,” Rachel said.

The American Medical Association has long referred to cannabis as a “public health concern” ― but it recently issued a policy update calling for a review of the plant’s Schedule I designation, which categorizes marijuana as a drug with no medical benefits and restricts its availability for research. Heroin and bath salts are also Schedule I substances

The U.S. still officially considers cannabis a Schedule I substance with no medicinal value.

Given the limits on research and accessibility, many doctors are reluctant to discuss cannabis-related treatment options with patients. Many of the Knoxes’ patients come to the clinic because they’re not sure whether their general practitioners condone medical cannabis, or even know very much about it.

The Knoxes have seen more than 3,000 patients at the American Cannabinoid Clinics. Very few, they said, have any interest in getting high. In fact, many would prefer to avoid it.

“Patients will tell me eight or nine times, ‘I don’t want to get high,’” David said. 

Many patients, especially seniors, come in asking for CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, Rachel added.

“What surprises the patients most who say that is when we come back and tell them, ‘This condition that you have actually will respond better with some THC on board, let us talk to you about how to use THC to avoid those adverse effects,’” she said. “I had a patient today who was surprised to hear that she could use THC without getting high.”

Patients are also “shocked” to learn they don’t have to smoke the cannabis to feel better, Janice said.

“People have this image of a smoker smoking the joint, and when you tell them, ‘No, you don’t have to do it that way, you can use it incrementally and won’t get a THC high’ ― I think that’s really shocking to them,” she said, adding that placing medicine under the tongue, rubbing it into the navel, and delivering THC through a rectal suppository are all effective and in some cases superior alternatives to smoking cannabis. 

Patients will tell me eight or nine times, “I don’t want to get high.”Dr. David Knox

Though based in Oregon, the Knoxes see patients from neighboring states such as California and Washington. Rachel Knox is vice chair of the Oregon Cannabis Commission, which oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, and serves as the medical chair for the Minority Cannabis Business Association. Janice Knox sits on the board of Doctors For Cannabis Regulation, which promotes safe practices and improved quality of medical cannabis products.

Through their clinics and ancillary work in the industry, the Knoxes hope to help more medical practitioners integrate cannabis therapeutics into their practices and promote more specialization in cannabinoid medicine. They plan to launch their own training program for medical professionals later this year.

“We need to be helping trained clinicians in the practical implementation of cannabis therapeutics in the same way we do it at the clinic,” Rachel said. “Patients should feel comfortable that the doctor they’re talking about cannabis with is knowledgeable about this medicine.”  

 

Amanda Duberman

Deputy Editor, HuffPost Personal

MyCannX CEO Named by INSIGHT NEWS in The Cannabis Industry: A Portrait of Women in Charge

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For those not indoctrinated, the cannabis industry is not filled with stoners. In fact, that image is largely being left behind, helped no doubt, by the National Cannabis Industry Association’s decision a few years ago to drop Tommy Chong as its ambassador in front of Congress, in order to present a more conservative appearance.

Today, the marijuana industry is filled with entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, and Wall Street types. And more and more, with women in leadership roles.

While the industry is still not on parody with the population (meaning that 50% of the companies are run by men, 50% by women), it is doing a much better job in terms of gender equality than most other U.S. sectors.

Marijuana Business Daily published a report in October 2015 that showed 36 percent of executives in the cannabis industry are women, compared to a 22 percent average for all U.S. industries. Then, in August to September 2017, they published four installments of a series of charts regarding women and minorities in the cannabis industry; the updated statistics show 27 percent of executives in the cannabis industry are women, compared to a 23 percent average for all U.S. industries. However, women comprise 42 percent of the executive positions at ancillary services companies and 35 percent of medical dispensaries/recreational stores.

How does that compare with the gender ratio in other industries? Among venture capital-financed, high-growth technology startups, just 9 percent are led by women, according to a July 2016 Harvard Business Review article.

Long before states began permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, smoking pot was traditionally portrayed in pop culture as a male pastime.  Studies suggest men are still more likely than women to consume cannabis. In popular culture, such as The Big Lebowski and Seth Rogen movies, the common weed smoker has been portrayed as a lazy dude. While all pot smokers have been caricatured, the female smoker has been particularly marginalized and infantilized—when she shows up in movies and TV at all. And, overwhelmingly, the marijuana industry has taken a similarly sexist approach to try to appeal to men: trade shows abound with so-called “booth babes” hocking wares, and trade magazines like High Times feature women in bikinis with strategically placed marijuana leaves smoking large, phallic bongs.

In spite of this cultural oppression, women are making strides in this budding industry. We profile some of the leaders of the sector below.

 

Jazmin Hupp

As the founder and CEO of the influential cannabis group Women Grow, Jazmin Hupp has created a community by women, for women, to empower women in the cannabis space. Since it’s launch in 2014, Women Grow has connected over 25,000 entrepreneurs at events in 45 cities across the US & Canada. The organization hit $1 million in revenue in 2015, with no outside funding. In 2016, they earned 6 billion media impressions. Jazmin was named a “genius entrepreneur” by Fortune Magazine and Forbes considers her one of the “top businesswomen” in the cannabis industry. Today, as a consultant, she helps others get into the business.

 

Sally Nichols

In 2014, while working in startups, Sally Nichols received a tip about the high growth potential of weed. “I learned quickly that what we imagine as the face of cannabis was only scratching the surface,” she says. “I assumed maybe writers or artists were open to cannabis, but what I found is the banker down the street loved it more than anybody.” Her company, GirlVentures, provides start up consulting and early stage investing, “in all the categories your mother warned you about,” according to her website, including alcohol, real estate, cannabis and intimacy.

 

Genifer Murray

The co-recipient of the “Cannabis Woman of the Year Award,” Genifer is an entrepreneur and a visionary. She has held several influential positions within the cannabis industry:

  • She was the founder and president of CannLabs, one of the first cannabis testing facilities in the nation.
  • She was a founding member of the Women’s CannaBusiness Network.
  • She served on the Governor’s Task Force in Colorado to help implement Amendment 64 to end cannabis prohibition.
  • She founded GENIFER M Jewelry, a line of cannabis-inspired jewelry that includes collections for men and women, as well as lines with proceeds that support charitable groups including women’s breast cancer.

Genifer also worked as Chief of Staff at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), a national trade association advancing the interests of the legal and regulated industry, which supports tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity in the United States.

 

Kary Radestock

The co-recipient of the “Cannabis Woman of the Year Award,” Kary turned her corporate expertise and knowledge about packaging and printing to good use in the cannabis industry. She co-founded Hippo Premium Packaging, a unique company that combines the talents and services of a full-service advertising agency, with the resources of a packaging company.

Kary works to help her clients succeed by providing them with an array of services, including: marketing strategy, brand development, social media, public relations, graphic and website design, printing and packaging.

She believes that there will come a day in the not-too-distant-future when cannabis businesses will have to compete with Big Pharma and Big Tobacco, so she helps her clients build strong brands today, so that they will not only survive, but that they will thrive.

 

Jessica Peters

Jessica is president of Moxie Meds, a female-focused company that produces all natural cannabis medicine, “grown, produced and thoughtfully designed specifically for women by women.”

Available in a variety of combinations to heal what ails you—from anxiety to PTSD to period cramps and pain—Moxie Meds grows their CBD-rich flowers following organic standards to create what is known as FECO (full extract cannabis oil), using organic ethanol to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes.

 

Tahira Rehmatullah

Tahira is the only woman on the executive team at Hypur Ventures – an investment company that has taken positions in companies ranging from a cannabis insurance provider to Dope Magazine.

Formerly General Manager of Marley Natural, Rehmatullah now works as a consultant by helping cannabis entrepreneurs and early stage venture leaders bring their ideas to life.

A graduate of the Yale School of Management, Rehmatullah became drawn to the industry after watching her grandfather’s battle with cancer. By using her management expertise, she now helps others turn their passion for cannabis into a sustainable business.

 

Tanya Hart

Tanya is the co-founder and CEO of Titan Hempand Titan BioPlastics. A native of the UK, Hart has spent  nearly three decades working in the wine industry, and appeared regularly on Chicago TV as a wine expert. As an early entrant into the cannabis sector, Hart saw opportunity in developing CBD products, which turned her interest into developing a sustainable source for hemp. Her further research into the many potential uses of industrial hemp, led to the formation of Titan BioPlastics, which develops hemp-based solutions for a variety of industries, including automotive, construction, solar panels, water purification systems, batteries, touch screens, and super capacitors.

 

Amy Ansel

Amy is the co-founder along with Tanya Hart, and COO of Titan Hemp and Titan BioPlastics.

Ansel is a well-known fixture in Seattle cannabis circles, and her friendly manner makes just about everyone who meets her, like her. As an ex-Microsoft executive, Ansel brings a blend of corporate professionalism and organizational expertise to this emerging industry that has grown so quickly, many managers are running just to keep up.

 

Shawnta Hopkins-Greene

Shawnta Hopkins-Greene is the founder and CEO of MyCannX. The company’s mission is to provide safe, legal, and affordable access to medical marijuana treatment for patients suffering from chronic illnesses, by connecting patients with cannabis-friendly doctors.

As a mother to a special needs child, and witness to family members finding tremendous benefit from the use of medical marijuana, the issue of safe and legal access kept coming to the forefront of her life. Seeing the benefits of medical marijuana and knowing that there is still quite a way to go in the movement across the nation, she was personally motivated to be a part of the change.

 

Raea Campbell

Raea is the founder and CEO of Bōsm Wellness – a female-focused company specializing in products that empower women to connect to themselves by using naturally healing and protective personal care products in conjunction with learning and adopting a self-care practice that nourishes and protects breast health.

Campbell took what for many women is devastating news and transformed it into a positive opportunity to share light and well-being with the world. Her mother’s diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer inspired Raea to dive deeply into ancient healing wisdom and new scientific research in search of the best possible tools to battle and prevent disease. What she emerged with was a meaningful alternative to Western methods and a deeply held passion for whole plant options for self-care. Raea dreams of the day when everyone everywhere can access safe and legal cannabis.

5 Things That May Surprise You About Cannabis Use Among the Elderly

5 Things You May Be Surprised About Regarding Cannabis Use Among the Elderly

Whether you talk about it or it’s hidden within stigma and shame, there’s a chance that if you live in a state that has legal medical marijuana, your parents or grandparents may be using it as part of their health and lifestyle.

MyCannX has built its foundation on being a support for all demographics who are curious about cannabis, including those who have misconstrued information or opinions about cannabis use and how it's affecting the over 55 population in America. We are here to be a bridge between those who aren’t sure about cannabis but remain open to hearing about its benefits for people throughout their life cycle, and cannabis therapies in your state.

Here are 5 things you may (or may not) be surprised to hear about cannabis as it pertains to the golden years, right in our country:

1. Cannabis is preventing seniors from reaching for the pharmaceuticals

We stand behind cannabis because of the way it is changing pain management in our country, which had taken a wrong turn with so many becoming dependent on opioids, creating an epidemic worse than pain itself.

Over 55% of prescription opioids that were prescribed in 2013 were given to seniors, making seniors one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to the risk of dependency. An increased rate of hospital visits by seniors that were drug-related accompanied the prescription choices that were intended to help.

Now, cannabis doctors are helping seniors turn to cannabis for alternative pain relief, finding hope and a way out of the physical and emotional misery of pain through CBD and legal cannabis with the help of organizations like MyCannX.

2. Cannabis topicals reduce the symptoms of arthritis

Arthritis is a common pain and inflammation-related disease that usually has a later onset in life. The prevalence of arthritis, with an estimated 54.4 million receiving a recent diagnosis, and the pain and inflammation associated with it, has led to the clinical study of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD as having great potential for the future of arthritis treatment.

CBD, when introduced to inflamed areas helps reduce the inflammation at the pain site while protecting the body from the emotional and physical burden of pain through pain relief.

3. Research shows possibilities for cannabis to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Unfortunately, the USA is very behind in producing clinical research supporting the efficacy of cannabis on human health and the brain, despite clinicians making progress that shows significant hope CBD and its possibilities for the treatment and prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s. While their findings are promising, they are experiencing roadblocks due to the federally illegal status of cannabis.

Emergent research within Europe is looking at how the brains of mice are seeing the restoration of brain cells when being exposed to CBD, contributing to the very real hypothesis that cannabis can help restore bring function and reverse the aging process of the brain.

While the Alzheimer’s-related organizations remain critically careful, they share an overall message of openness and optimism towards the emergent research on CBD and the debilitating disease.

4. Cannabis brings functionality with debilitating diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson’s and MS

Too many people suffer from diseases that prevent them from enjoying the functions of everyday life with degenerative neurological disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis making even the easiest tasks difficult.

While these diseases are far from cures due to their complexity, cannabis has stepped up to be a viable option for treatment for the symptoms of these conditions. There have been significant efforts around medical cannabis for its anti-seizure properties, giving people their lives back. For Parkinson’s Disease, there is promise surrounding cannabis’ ability to eliminate the neurotoxins of the brain that make mobility and speech difficult. With late-onset Multiple Sclerosis (MS), cannabis is being looked at for its abilities to increase signals between body and brain, helping MS sufferers find relief from blurred vision, muscle stiffness, and mobility issues.

In small, but significant ways, cannabis is providing hope for those who are experiencing later-life diagnoses of conditions that no longer mean reduced quality of life in the should-be golden years.

5. Cannabis can help seniors through important life transitions

Cannabis can act as a powerful mood elevator that helps combat anxiety and depression.

For some, the golden years can become tarnished with difficult, but inevitable life transitions that are often a strain on the mental health of seniors. From illnesses and health concerns, to loss of spouses, to transitions in work, and for many, transitions in living situations, the senior years can be traumatic. Anxiety and depression among seniors is something that all too often gets overlooked.

Thousands of Americans are turning to medical cannabis, and are paying attention to the investigations into the effect of CBD on anxiety and depression, recognizing that cannabis can alter the way the brain receives serotonin and change the way the body and mind respond to threats and fears.

CBD rich products that don’t contain high levels of THC may be exactly what a senior may need to accompany them through life’s inevitable, but difficult, transitions.

Explore Cannabis Use Among Seniors with MyCannX

MyCannX is dedicated to ensuring you have all the information necessary to understand how medical cannabis can help you achieve your optimal health in your later years, making your golden years truly golden. Connect with us to get your cannabis card or learn more about the ways that cannabis can change the lives of seniors.

Help the cannabis movement clear the smoke about cannabis by helping us spread information about the ways that cannabis is used by the wonderful citizens of America. If you found something interesting in this article, please share it amongst your circle so we can all work towards cannabis education together!

References

https://www.coloradopotguide.com/colorado-marijuana-blog/article/seniors-and-cannabis-why-the-elderly-are-turning-to-marijuana-for-treatment/

https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/marijuana-alzheimers-treatment-dementia-disease-drug-laws-us-salk-institute-research-david-schubert-a7621991.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170508112400.htm

 

 

 

MyCannX Celebrates Acceptance and Celebrates Life This January

January is an important month. We’ve already talked about the importance of honoring January as Cervical Health Awareness Month, but there are two more important days in January that deserve recognition.

January 20: International Day of Acceptance

There was a time where people with disabilities were not able to be socially included and struggled with isolation through lack of accessibility. Those days are over.

January 20 has been designated the International Day of Acceptance, where we are encouraged to reflect on abilities and what has been made possible through acceptance and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

International Day of Acceptance was created by the late Annie Hopkins, who made it her life goal to show people that she wasn’t going to let her disabilities hinder her. She began 3E Love, a company that brought the heart symbol to the wheelchair symbol to that sought to unify people with disabilities and ignite conversation between people of all abilities.

Annie passed away in 2009 from complications from a medical procedure, but her message lives on and serves as an inspiration for her brother Steve, who took on her vocation, and all those who continue to celebrate January 20 in Annie’s honor.

Cannabis and People with Disabilities

MyCannX highlights International Day of Acceptance because we recognize that medical marijuana has a role to play in the lives of people with disabilities. Here are a few ways that MyCannX is advocating for medical marijuana access for those with disabilities:

·         Epilepsy. We have been amazed at the ways medical marijuana has been providing a better quality of life for children and adults suffering from epilepsy. We are encouraged by the emergent studies that examine seizure reduction, especially when it comes to the lives of children, who are experiencing dramatic changes through cannabis, allowing them to live carefree lives away from the fear of their seizures.

·         Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s Disease can be an often-debilitating disease that keeps those suffering from it from being socially included due to the severity of their tremors. We are encouraged by the emergent research suggesting that cannabis has neuro-regenerative properties that are showing promise for possibly reversing the severity of the disease.

·         Pain Management. People with disabilities may suffer from chronic pain issues. MyCannX has stepped up to advocate for medical marijuana as an alternative pain management approach, with CBD (cannabidiol) being an active component in interrupting the pain signals to our brains.

·         Anxiety and Depression. When the physical limitations of one's body prevent social participation, anxiety and depression can become real problems. The mental health community is being encouraged by the emergent research on how CBD rich strains can help the brain receive serotonin through the endocannabinoid receptors, naturally boosting mood.

As the medical marijuana community grows, we look forward to becoming an important voice for those with disabilities who can see the benefits of medical cannabis for their lives.

Those who live with disabilities and may be interested to get their cannabis card are encouraged to reach out through MyCannX, so we can be your guide for medical care and access.

January 22: Celebration of Life Day

Isn’t life beautiful? Celebration of Life Day is a day that encourages people of older generations to celebrate the lives of their children and grandchildren. It’s also a day to celebrate life at any age.

Celebration of Life Day asks us to take a pause to reflect on the beauty, and miracle of life. In a world that is often fraught with stories of illness, death, and bad news, this day encourages us to look at the bright side and the miracle of life.

It asks people to look at their family members and honor them, make it known how special they are, and their integral role in making this world a better place. It asks us to honor and cherish the dignity that each person deserves just by virtue of being alive.

Bringing Cannabis into Celebration of Life

Celebration of Life Day encourages us to spend quality time with our loved ones, marveling in the miracle of life.

For many, cannabis may be the one thing that is adding quality of life when other medical treatments have failed. This is something that needs to be talked about.

Perhaps Celebration of Life Day can be the day that you reflect on all the components of your life that add to its quality: family, friendships, health, enjoyment of life, and how cannabis has taken its place in lifestyle and health care.

Here are a few tips on how to broach the topic of cannabis and how it brings about quality of life with your loved ones on January 22, Celebration of Life Day:

·         Reflect on the advances that cannabis has made in health care, and how cannabis can help people achieve their best selves;

·         Discuss together how the legal cannabis movement has provided quality of life for many citizens, and how you, together, can advocate for more access for people;

·         Commit to spreading the word on how cannabis has changed lives; share the success stories, break the stigmas, and show your support for this miracle plant

·         Discuss how getting your cannabis card can help increase the enjoyment and quality of life of those suffering from debilitating medical conditions. This can be your moment for cannabis education, citing all the ways that cannabis has been able to change lives. You can read some uplifting stories on the MyCannX blog.

January 20 and January 22 both represent opportunities in which we can hold important and meaningful dialogues about life, health and ensuring that everyone has access to the supports, like cannabis, that provide quality of life for people. Be sure to use MyCannX as a resource as you explore cannabis, and allow us to be your link to getting medical care through cannabis.

 

 

 

 

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month: Where Does Cannabis Come In?

Congress declared January as Cervical Health Awareness Month as a method of raising literacy on the various health issues facing women. MyCannX is interested to share in this exploration of cervical health by exploring the ways that cannabis and cervical health, and cervical cancer, have been linked in the cannabis community discourse.

Cervical Health and Cervical Cancer

January became Cervical Health Awareness Month due to the fact that nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and nearly 4,000 women will die from this devastating disease.

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide and is usually diagnosed between the age of 35 and 55 years of age. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is found to be within 99% of cases of diagnosed cervical cancers (but not all women with HPV develop cervical cancer), recognizing the importance of sexual health and prevention.

Perhaps different from other cancers, cervical cancer is thought to be a disease that develops over time, giving women opportunities to intervene to slow the development of the disease and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

The Link Between Cannabis and Cervical Cancer

MyCannX helps people explore the medicinal benefits of cannabis for the often-harsh side effects of going through cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. We recognize the existing body of research that points to cannabis as providing anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and in some-cases anti-tumor properties that are causing people to wonder why cannabis hasn’t always been the answer to tackling the epidemic of cancer.

While we wait for more research to emerge that supports the often-reported miraculous effects cannabis is having on the actual disease itself, stories are emerging that support how cannabis could seriously affect cancer’s place within health care. Cervical cancer, in particular, is taking its place among the medicinal cannabis discourse as evidence builds that cannabis may inhibit cervical cancer cell growth.

Last year scientists at North-West University in South Africa used in vitro methods to test the efficacy of CBD (cannabidiol) in killing cervical cancer cells. It was observed that that CBD induced a process called apoptosis, where cancer cells literally kill themselves.

This study is extremely promising in terms of the ways we see the potential for cannabis to treat cancer, yet we must continue to replicate these findings so to grow the body of research surrounding cannabis and cervical cancer.

Other Ways Cannabis is Affecting Women’s Health

There has been a strong emergent movement in support of raising awareness to all the ways cannabis can benefit women’s health. Here are a few important ways that cannabis is proving to be a perfect pairing for a woman’s unique body:

·         Providing relief for reproductive pain. Most women will be able to share their account of menstrual pain and cramping, but many women are also suffering from chronic pain conditions. One common condition is dysmenorrhea which manifests with extreme cramping. Other debilitating conditions and diseases affecting their reproductive system include endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which causes extreme pain. Cannabis can provide pain relief by working with the endocannabinoid system to interrupt the pain signals to the brain.

·         Taking the edge off in menopause. Middle-aged women will be able to find relief through cannabis for symptoms of menopause. Women going through menopause can experience hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, which can bring severe discomfort for the menopausal woman.

·         Using cannabis as a nutritional supplement. Cannabis leaves contain so many essential nutrients including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that can provide an extra boost to a woman’s diet. When you place cannabis leaves (decarboxylated) into your diet, you experience the overall health benefits of antioxidants, protein, and cannabinoid (CBD).  Why not juice it, or toss some into your morning smoothie?

Talk to your cannabis doctor, and learn more about how cannabis is providing women with a slew of health benefits for overall health. Discuss your particular stage in life and the ways that your reproductive health is affecting your overall well-being. Consider the ways that you can bring cannabis into your daily lifestyle as a health supplement while exploring the various ways that the cannabis plant is promoting women’s health.

What Can You Do for Cervical Health Awareness Month

Congress declares certain months as awareness months in an effort to spread the word about prevention and early detection of diseases that can be treated and prevented.

What can you do in honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month? MyCannX offers a few tips:

·         Talk to your doctor about scheduling a Pap Test (also known as a Pap Smear) to be able to screen for the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells on the cervix;

·         Discuss HPV and how you or your young daughter can take steps towards prevention through vaccinations;

·         Talk to your doctor about the emergent discourse on cannabis and cervical health and share what you’ve learned;

·         Consider getting your cannabis card within your state to explore how you can use cannabis as a regulator of your health, or if you have cancer, to explore how cannabis can help you manage the symptoms of the disease and its treatment

·         Spread the word about cervical health – help thousands of women avoid diagnosis and early death.

Connect with MyCannX

MyCannX understands that there is a lot more research that needs to be conducted to understand the link between cannabis and cervical cancer, and we are dedicated to helping spread the information that we know.

If you have experiences with cervical cancer and cannabis therapies, connect with MyCannX to share your story. If you’re curious about how you can talk to a cannabis doctor about treating the symptoms of cervical cancer and its treatments, we can help you explore booking an appointment to get your cannabis card.

We are here on your journey with you and we remain dedicated to advancing what we know, and exploring what we’re yet to find out, about the possibilities of cannabis for cervical health.

 

Let Cannabis Be Your Companion to Achieving Health-Related New Year Resolutions

Whether its losing weight, exercising more, eating healthy, getting a hold on treating persistent medical concerns, or taking steps towards our mental health self-care, the start of a new year is an opportunity to turn a new page and begin important steps towards improving and maintaining your optimal health.

Sadly, only 8% of people stick to their New Year Resolutions, which is why it always pays to be proactive with your plan of attack for maintaining your focus towards health-related resolutions.

Cannabis can help. Here are some important ways that cannabis can accompany your journey towards health in the new year, making it easier (and more fun) to stick to those resolutions:

THCV to Support Weight Loss

It’s important that a balanced diet is important of any lifestyle. Cannabis has been long-associated with “the munchies” which is a stereotype that has kept the weight-conscious away from the plant.

It’s true, cannabis can have an effect on your appetite, which is why it’s been an important support for those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, which can kill the appetite. Appetite stimulant strains are excellent in these contexts.

However, for the individual whose barrier to maintaining a balanced diet and healthy weight is issues with food and making unhealthy choices, there are appetite-suppressing strains that can help curb the desire to open the fridge or snack cupboard.

Cannabis cultivators are becoming interested in the cannabis molecule called THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), which is showing to act as a very strong appetite suppressant.

Certain medical marijuana strains contain higher levels of this THCV. An example is Black Beauty, which contains 7% THC and 4% THCV, known to give users an energizing “high” while decreasing your desire to snack. Strains like these allow you to focus on productive activities rather than allowing idle hands to find their way to the ice cream freezer.

Microdosing Cannabis to Support the Fitness Experience

Fitness and physical activity is part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and overall health. This year, cannabis will begin to emerge stronger in the community of athletes and fitness enthusiasts as more discover the promises of cannabis for maintaining fitness goals.

More major sports communities, like the World Anti Doping Agency, have removed CBD as a banned substance for major athletes around the world. This comes with the recognition that this form of medical marijuana is an important alternative to opioids for pain management and muscle inflammation.

Those who practice high-intensity fitness activities sometimes turn to cannabis as a way to gain the energy required to get “in the zone” for fitness but are using through a method called microdosing to enjoy the benefits of energy-producing cannabis strains without a strong high.

Microdosing involves taking periodic, small doses of your medical cannabis over an extended period of time rather than large amounts in a session. Through microdosing at various parts of your fitness experience, you allow your body to enjoy the benefits the cannabis without necessarily having to experience strong psychoactive effects of the THC. Microdosing is very much about taking the “less is more” approach to cannabis use.

Infuse Cannabis into Your Diet

It’s important that your diet is balanced to include many vitamins and minerals that promote your overall health. Did you know that your cannabis can be infused into your meals as a way to deliver the amazing health benefits of cannabis right to your endocannabinoid system?

Cannabis dining with executive chefs has exploded in legal cannabis markets, where people are going to great lengths to combine cannabis and the culinary experience.

There is a reason why the edibles market was the fastest-growing market in 2017 in the legal cannabis market: people love eating their cannabis.

It’s important for those who are interested in cannabis edibles to note that there are differences in methods of ingestion for cannabis, and edibles posses powerful differences compared to combusting (smoking) cannabis. When ingested, cannabis edibles are stronger since they go right into your bloodstream and endocannabinoid system, which is ensuring that the legal cannabis market adheres to strong compliance standards for labeling and packaging.

When exploring edibles, it’s important to understand dosage and the products you’re ingesting to ensure you’re taking the right amount for your body and desires with your medical marijuana.

People are using DIY oil infusers like the LEVO infuser while exploring how cannabis oils, market edible products, and juicing cannabis leaves can benefit both their overall health and their diets.

Cannabis as a Support for Mental Health

The dialogue about cannabis and mental health is a strong one, with the general belief that high-THC strains are not overly productive for the brain that struggles with depression and anxiety.

However, there is a strong emergent discourse on the way CBD-rich strains can increase the effectiveness of the serotonin levels of the brain as well as help in the regeneration of neurons. These are both brain functions that are targeted by the pharmaceutical market’s anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.

Cannabis is taking a strong place in the mental health struggle as many people don’t find the current pharmaceutical approach to be effective enough in treating mental health disorders without harmful side effects.

Taking the medical cannabis approach to mental health involves understanding the powerful ways the CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system.

Exploring Cannabis as an Alternative to Pharmaceuticals

There’s no denying that we live in a society where doctors are too quick to prescribe, and pharmacists are all to quick to fill prescriptions of pharmaceuticals that may cause more harm than good.

Have you ever gone through what you’re being prescribed and wondering if what you’re taking is actually benefitting you?

Since medical cannabis took off, the cannabis community has been sure to share the ways that people have been able to replace certain* medications with medical cannabis. People are strongly emerging in support of replacing opioids with cannabis, a recent North American study citing that 30% of those surveyed were successful in doing so. Anti-inflammatories and benzodiazepines are also seeing some replacement by the mighty plant.

Cannabis is also a strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory, which is why so many athletes are using CBD rather than the painkillers and anti-inflammatories you can find both over the counter and by prescription.

Can Medical Cannabis Set You On Path for a Healthy 2018?

Maintaining overall health means being dedicated to taking a balanced approach to the way you see your health. It’s all about what you do, and how you approach the various aspects of a healthy lifestyle that can determine your success. While cannabis won’t be the thing that changes your 2018, it can significantly support you in your goals towards overall health.

MyCannX is dedicated to ensuring you have all the information necessary to understand how medical cannabis can help you achieve overall health in 2018. Connect with us to get your cannabis card and understand the ways cannabis can be your companion as you use the year to achieve the healthiest version of yourself.

*Note that it’s extremely important to discuss any medication changes with your health care professional before proceeding to explore cannabis as an alternative

FAQ: What you need to know about medical marijuana in Maryland

Medical marijuana is now available in Maryland, more than four years after the General Assembly passed a law legalizing it.

Standing up the industry — with growers, processors, dispensaries and doctors — took longer than expected. The law needed to be tweaked, rules to needed to written and legal battles fought over who won licenses.

Here’s what prospective users need to know about medical marijuana.

Who is eligible to get a prescription for medical marijuana in Maryland?

State law says the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission “is encouraged to approve” medical marijuana prescriptions for:

  • Patients with chronic or debilitating diseases or medical conditions who have been admitted to hospice or are receiving palliative care;
  • Patients with a chronic or debilitating disease whose symptoms include (or for which the treatment produces side effects that include) cachexia, anorexia, or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe or persistent muscle spasms; and
  • Patients who are diagnosed with any condition that is severe, for which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and for which the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by the medical use of marijuana.
  • The commission specifically lists glaucoma and post-traumatic stress disorder as qualifying conditions.

    What’s the process to get a prescription?

    Consumers first must register online as a patient with the commission. In addition to Maryland residents, non-Maryland residents who are in the state receiving medical treatment are eligible to register.

    Patients must submit an electronic copy of a government-issued photo identification (driver’s license, passport or military ID), proof of address, a clear recent photo and the last four numbers of their Social Security number. More information about the process is available on the commission’s website.

    For minor patients under age 18, a parent or legal guardian age 21 or older must first register with the commission as a caregiver before registering the patient.

    After registering, patients must obtain a written certification (recommendation) from a provider registered with the commission. The provider will need the patient’s commission-issued Patient ID number to issue the certification through the commission’s secure online application. If a certification is not used to purchase medical cannabis within 120 days, it becomes null and void.

    Patients also can purchase ID cards for $50 from the commission after receiving a written certification. ID cards are not required to buy medical marijuana.

    More than 17,000 consumers in Maryland have registered for medical marijuana.

    Do I need to go to a special doctor to get one?

    Like patients seeking medical marijuana, doctors and other medical providers recommending medical cannabis to patients also must be registered with the commission.

    More than 500 providers — including doctors, nurses and dentists — have signed on to the program, according to recent data from the commission.

    MedChi compiled a list of member doctors by region who are licensed by the Board of Physicians, licensed by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and who asked to be listed. MarijuanaDoctors.com also provides a list of verified medical marijuana doctors in the state.

    Where can I get it?

    Five of the state’s 10 licensed dispensaries are currently open in Cumberland, Bethesda, Rockville, Ijamsville and Frederick, and most have limited supplies. Here’s a map.

    The others, including locations in Columbia and Ellicott City, are expected to open in the coming weeks.

    And more are in planning and development, but by law there can be no more than two dispensaries in each of the state’s 47 legislative districts (not including licensed growers, which may also hold dispensary licenses).

    Are different strains or products available at different dispensaries?

    Yes. Many dispensaries offer different strains of dried marijuana with different properties designed to help treat various ailments. In addition to the dried plant, some dispensaries also offer liquids that can be vaporized, oils, concentrates, topical ointments, wax, pills and accessories. Some extracts can be added to foods at home, but edible marijuana products are not available from Maryland dispensaries.

    How much does it cost?

    The price varies. At Kannavis, a dispensary in Ijamsville, dried product sells for about $50 to $60 per eighth-ounce, or $100 to $112 per quarter-ounce. A half-gram vape cartridge of extract from the shop costs $90.

    Will insurance pay for it?

    ealth insurance companies are not required to cover medical cannabis costs, but private health insurers can develop policies that will cover medical cannabis.

    Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States does not cover medical marijuana, according to a spokesman. Coverage information for UnitedHealthcare and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield was not immediately available.

    The federal government still classifies pot as an illegal drug. What impact does that have here?

    Customers cannot travel to other states with medical marijuana from Maryland. The Transportation Security Administration does not screen for marijuana, but it likely will be confiscated if found during a search.

    Can patients or doctors grow their own medical marijuana?

    No.

    How much medical marijuana can I possess at one time?

    Patients can carry up to 120 grams (about four ounces) unless a physician determines a patient needs more. In extract forms, ustomers are allowed to obtain up to 36 grams of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) per month.

    What happens if I am stopped by law enforcement and carrying medical marijuana?

    Patients do not have to consent to a search, nor do they have to disclose that they possess medical marijuana. If medical cannabis is found during a search, the patient should present their patient ID card or direct law enforcement officials to the marijuana commission’s database.

    What about workplace drug tests?

    aryland law does not prevent employers from testing for marijuana use, and it does not protect employees who test positive for any reason.

    Is there a chance recreational marijuana use could be legalized in Maryland?

    Several Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill during the 2017 General Assembly session to hold a statewide referendum on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, while regulating and taxing it. The bill didn’t get much traction, but the issue isn't going away. Several states that legalized its recreational use are seeing significant revenue from marijuana sales.

    What’s next for medical marijuana?

    Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams said a trial should determine whether state regulators acted outside the law when they chose which companies won lucrative licenses to grow the drug. A trial date has not yet been set.

    Meanwhile, lawmakers are expected to address concerns about the lack of minority ownership among the companies that won licenses, which could mean an increase in the number of authorized growers and/or processors. From a consumer’s prospective, that eventually could lead to greater supply of the drug and potentially lower costs.

    Regardless, the current medical marijuana law calls for the cannabis commission to evaluate whether there are enough growers in the state to meet demand and to issue however many licenses are necessary after June 1, 2018.

  • BY: Sarah Meehan Contact Reporter

     

Medical marijuana has arrived in Maryland, and sales have begun

By Fenit NirappilRachel Siegel and Aaron Gregg December 2

At least 200 would-be customers were lined up outside Rockville’s first medical marijuana dispensary Friday afternoon when one of the owners announced that a cannabis shipment — including elixirs, tablets and flowers — had arrived.

Bill Askinazi promised that everyone in line would go home with at least some marijuana, then said computer issues were delaying the start of sales, and rushed back inside.

Call it a soft opening for Maryland’s long-awaited medical marijuana program, with at least two stores opening Friday after nearly five years of bureaucracy and delays.

In addition to Askinazi’s Potomac Holistics, Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cumberland, near the Pennsylvania border, served its first customers late that night.

Five other dispensaries also told The Washington Post that they plan to start selling cannabis products in coming days. Wellness Institute of Maryland, in Frederick, said it had already made limited sales through a trial program but declined to provide further details.

Some people drove for more than an hour to get to the Rockville dispensary. Denise Broyhill came from Annapolis and was the dispensary’s second customer. She exited the store just after 5:30 p.m., holding a newly bought cannabis flower and 20 yellow tablets.

Broyhill, who spent $104, said she is seeking pain management for a neurological problem, and was excited — and “relieved” — to be able to try something “new and different.”

David Johnson, 38, who suffered nerve damage during a surgery nearly a decade ago, was third in line after arriving at 10:20 a.m. “I’m looking forward to no pain, no stress,” he said. “I know you can’t smoke it in the parking lot, but I won’t make it too much past here.

The launch of the industry doesn’t mean medical marijuana will be easy to buy. Because of low supply and high demand, dispensaries are limiting initial sales to patients who preregistered. And cannabis entrepreneurs say the first batches may be especially expensive because quantities are limited, only a few growers are ready to deliver, and businesses want to recoup hefty start-up costs.

“After six months, we’ll be on par with what people will be paying in the black market,” said Charlie Mattingly, who runs Southern Maryland Relief dispensary in Mechanicsville. “I just need my foot in the door; I’m not trying to gouge anybody in the first year . . . Every new market and new state starts a little bit high.”

Health insurance plans do not cover the drug, which is illegal under federal law.

Allegany Medical said in a Facebook post that pot would cost $680 for an ounce, about a one-month supply. That’s several times the cost in states like Colorado, California, Washington and Oregon, which have the country’s largest legal marijuana markets. Sajal Roy, manager of Allegany Medical, said he expects the price to drop to about $560 by January. Michael Klein, who runs Wellness Institute of Maryland in Frederick, said his dispensary would sell medical marijuana for between $440 and $520 an ounce when it opens Monday. Mattingly said his prices would start at $400 per ounce and gradually drop.

Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of U.S. states and the District. But in Maryland, for now, there are few places to buy it.

Ninety-two dispensaries that received preliminary licenses from the state nearly a year ago have yet to win final approval, and their deadline to do so is a week away. It’s unclear whether the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission — which on Friday announced the appointment of health care executive Joy Strand as its third executive director in as many years — will extend the deadline.

Advocates say the launch of the program in Maryland is still a cause for celebration.


Green Leaf Medical LLC chief executive Philip Goldberg, right, and his brother and general counsel, Kevin Goldberg, walk through one of the company’s flower rooms Wednesday in Frederick, Md. The facility is one of 14 growing Maryland’s medical marijuana.

“The most important thing is that patients will be getting an opportunity for a new class of therapeutic drugs that will continue to expand as the science continues to expand,” said Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), a physician who led the charge in the state legislature for medical marijuana.

Darrell Carrington, a lobbyist for medical marijuana companies, said some dispensary owners have been struggling to secure zoning approvals from local governments and to find landlords willing to rent to their businesses.

“It’s going to be a little bit more drama, regrettably, at the beginning,” he said. “However, everyone is over the moon that we finally have a program,” he said.

In Frederick County, Kannavis of Ijamsville said it was planning to open Saturday.

Southern Maryland Relief said it would start sales Sunday, depending on the timing of shipments, while Peninsula Alternative Health on the Eastern Shore was looking at a Monday opening. Two dispensaries in Howard County planned to open later in December.

The Facebook post from Allegany Medical that listed the $680-per-ounce price prompted a variety of reactions.

“Guess I’ll stick with black market,” one Facebook commenter responded.

“I’ll pay to be legal,” another posted.

The opening of marijuana dispensaries angered some who oppose legalization. DeForest Rathbone, a resident of St. Mary’s County and founder of the National Institute of Citizen Anti-Drug Policy, accused Maryland of creating “a de facto drug cartel . . . to promote and enable lucrative marijuana businesses to sell their dangerous, addictive, mind-altering, child-brain-poisoning, family-destroying pot products throughout the entire state of Maryland.”

Although medical marijuana has won support from both Democrats and Republicans, who see the industry as a source of jobs and an alternative to addictive opioids, the opening of dispensaries has stirred opposition in some communities.

At Allegany Medical in Cumberland, the phones kept ringing and customers stopped in frequently all afternoon, only to learn that the armored truck carrying the drug hadn’t arrived yet. One receptionist joked she would need a bottle of wine at the end of the night.


A security employee stands by a case of marijuana distribution devices while waiting for the first patients to arrive at Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary on December 1, 2017 in Cumberland, Md. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

At 5:08 p.m., general manager Mark Van Tyne announced bad news: The shipment of marijuana, originally expected at 5 p.m., was delayed to 7:30 p.m. Even though the dispensary was supposed to close at 6 p.m., he promised that patients who had orders placed and couldn’t wait would still get their drugs.

Walter Elliott, who is being weaned off opioid pills for chronic back pain, was among the few willing to stick it out. “I wouldn’t miss it,” the 60-year-old Frostburg resident said. “I haven’t even smoked marijuana in 20 years or more, but you have to do something to help people get off the opioids.”

The shipment arrived around 7:30 p.m., but lags in the computer system tracking marijuana slowed sales for another few hours. At least 25 people were still waiting in the lobby just before 10 p.m. as the first order was being packaged.

Soon after, the Cumberland dispensary made its first sale. Elliott left with his marijuana at 12:30 a.m.

The dispensary, in a building across the street from Interstate 68, had giant “medical marijuana dispensary” signs unfurled outside. The lobby had a Christmas tree in the corner and wreaths hanging on the wall alongside posters of the drug.

5 Influential Women Cannabis Entrepreneurs To Pay Attention To

Despite the data showing a dip in women CEOs in the cannabis industry, women in cannabis have come out strong both in support of the mighty plant and the advancement of women in the workplace. Here are 5 women cannabis entrepreneurs who are taking the cannabis industry by storm. These are artists, visionaries, clinicians, educators, and mothers who have all stepped out to end the stigma around cannabis while using their fine business savvy to cultivate their own economic growth.

Bess Byers

Her name is Bess Byers but people call her CannaBess, the woman who is taking over the cannabis photography world by storm. While pursuing a career in politics, she found herself in DC where she learned to grow cannabis. There, she found the opportunity to blend her love for photography with the cannabis industry’s needs for branding, lifestyle shoots and professional photography for growers and labs. CannaBess has supported her own interests in politics through her photography and cannabis enthusiasm, and her end goal is to be in politics where she can be an agent for change in the de-scheduling of cannabis.

Jeanine Moss

For the woman who likes to carry around her marijuana and all her top accessories without giving herself away with the wafting smell of dank buds, there are AnnaBis handbags. Founded by Jeanine Moss after realizing that she had nowhere to store her cannabis products on a night out, the medical marijuana patient was moved to blend high-end fashion and handbag design with cannabis. The high-end, classy bags come in beautiful designs and colors and uses a special technology that uses thin layers of resin film that is typically used in the medical, food and electronics industries to line the bag. It’s designed to keep aromas in the bag while being easy to clean. A portion of the sales of bags goes to Realm of Caring, which provides support services and resources to provide a better quality of life for those affected by disorders and diseases like cancer, MS, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and Parkinson’s through the use of cannabinoid extracts.

Jessica Peters

The brainchild of Jessica Peters, a clinician specializing women’s health, Moxie Meds produces cannabis tinctures for women specifically for aiding in the relief of symptoms of menstrual cramps, hormonally-related stress, menopause, and other reproductive concerns. Jessica has an impressive resume in specializing in pediatric care and women’s reproductive health. She has been a CBD Specialist at Harborside Clinic and has become a cannabinoid and terpene specialist through her Research and Development work. Moxie Meds created their products based on tinctures being the most ancient method of consuming cannabis for medicinal purposes with the most precise method of dosing. Her products focus on two aspects of the woman’s health experience: relief and recovery.

Jessie Gill

Jessie Gill is the cannabis nurse and the brand personality behind MarijuanaMommy.com, a brand that seeks to break cannabis stigma through education while promoting cannabis as a part of a healthy and active lifestyle. As a hospice nurse, Gill learned many lessons about how to truly live when she was faced with her own tragedy. She turned to marijuana after wanting something different than the huge number of opioids and painkillers she had to take. Marijuana changed her life. Her brand is built on her amazing personality and ability to bring relatability to any mom exploring cannabis or who has been a long-time user. She has some great “mom approved” gifts that she recommends while cultivating an extensive recipe resource for all things cannabis edibles.

Shawnta Hopkins-Greene

Shawnta Hopkins-Greene is the ultimate connector for the cannabis industry among curious patients in emerging cannabis states and physicians able to provide a marijuana recommendation. MyCannX LLC seeks to end stigma, while educating both physicians and new and curious patients on the benefits of cannabis.  At her community level, she has partnered with the National Holistic Healing Center in Washington DC where she and her partner Chanda Macias collaborate to engage comminutes of color in discussions on the war on drugs as well as facilitating “cannamoms” in discussion groups. Hopkins-Greene’s advocacy work is based on seeing the number of Cannabis Patient Registrations increase while helping people break down the barriers to understanding cannabis and its benefits for health.

Do Women Rule Cannabis?

If you ask any woman, there really is no “grass ceiling” needing to be broken within the cannabis industry, but women are still coming out fiercely as brands, influencers, and entrepreneurs to make their mark on the industry. As more female-led and driven cannabis brands to emerge within the industry, women are banding together under supportive networks like WomenGrow and Women of Cannabiz, who are dedicated to elevating the role of women entrepreneurs in the industry.

18 Things Medical Marijuana Does (Because It's Not About Getting 'Stoned')

Editor’s note: Medical marijuana/cannabis is not legal in all states and countries. For a list of states where medical marijuana is legal, click hereThis piece is based on the experience of individuals. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

There’s a stigma that anyone who uses marijuana is just trying to get “high.” But that characterization isn’t exactly fair when it comes to medical marijuana. People with chronic health conditions may use it to treat pain, nausea and other debilitating symptoms — getting “stoned” is not the goal.

Labeling medical marijuana users as simply looking for a high adds to the stigma, making it more difficult for people with chronic illnesses to try it and see if it helps relieve any of their symptoms. So we asked our Mighty community to share why they’ve tried medical marijuana and how it affects them. Hint: it’s about treating illnesses, not searching for a high.

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “I use it because it’s safer and more effective than medications I’ve tried and comes in a number of useful preparations for all of my needs. Apart from Fentanyl and Tramadol (which gives me night terrors), cannabis is the only thing that has helped relieve pain (nerve, muscular, surgical, etc.). It has also been excellent for almost all of my other issues: insomnia, nausea, lack of appetite, depression/suicidal thoughts, anxiety, etc.”

2. “I’ve had three brain tumors as a result of pituitary Cushing’s disease and kidney failure so it has helped me with my headaches, nausea, pain, sleeping, appetite — everything. It also helps keep me calm which keeps my cortisol levels fairly in check. People think I’m joking when I say I would be dead without it, but I couldn’t be more serious.”

3. “I started because of endometriosis and really bad cramps. I then started having digestive issues. Ended up diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in October 2015. Cannabis helps with pain and nausea that Crohn’s, and the medications I take to treat it, give me. Broke my ankle two months ago and been using higher CBD cannabis to help the inflammation, pain, and swelling… I use vaporizers and make edibles. The edibles last longer pain-wise and help out my guts keeping inflammation down. Added bonus side effect: helps my anxiety out.”

4. “I use it as a topical and I smoke. I like using the topical for my joint pain and back pain. It really does help. And you can get it without THC if need be. I smoke it with THC to help me sleep. It works so well.”

5. “The only cannabis I’ve had access to try is grown for recreational use to get people high, and that worsens my pain. It’s horrible. It would be awesome if the medical stuff actually helped but maybe I have the wrong brain chemistry. I wouldn’t know because it’s not available where I live… so far my experience with marijuana has only been negative… I’m glad it can help some people with chronic illnesses though.”

6. “I am not pharmaceutical friendly (I have bad reactions to many prescriptions) and this seemed like it was a healthy more effective way of getting pain relief and helping many of my symptoms from my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome that include seizures, fainting, tachycardia, pain in almost all my joints and bones, shaking, and many more. Marijuana helped more then any other medication I’ve been on.”

7. “I have been using marijuana regularly since I was 19 and had kidney failure. It assisted with pain management from surgeries, eased my mind from anxiety, gave me back my appetite and gave me the comfort I needed in a very uncomfortable situation. Vaping concentrates is my preferred method to avoid smoking while getting a quick dose of cannabis.”

8. “I was taking three different pain medications and they weren’t doing much other than taking the edge off. With marijuana I’ve noticed huge improvement with daily pain, as well as my mood and general outlook on life! I actually feel hopeful again.”

9. “Sadly, I tried it and it did not help me. I tried different plant types and different forms. I always had a bad reaction. Made my limbs feel like they were on fire. I also had a bad episode with a brownie… hallucinations. Never again. Tried the CBD oil drops too. It did nothing for pain but just made me numb. I still felt the pain pushing through. I am not against it if it helps someone in tremendous pain. For me it was a bad experience.”

10. “I use it for migraines; it changed my life in a positive way. Pain was less and less every day. Finally after 21 years of daily pain I have control over my life.”

11. “I have used medical marijuana several times and several different strands and in several different forms. For me, it didn’t work at all. For the amount of money it was costing me out of pocket it was not nearly worth it. I do know it does work for people though and power to them. I really was hoping that it would work and it would help me get off of my narcotic prescriptions. I just wasn’t one of those people unfortunately.”

12. “It doesn’t work for my pain at all, gives me terrible anxiety, and makes me non-functional. I get frustrated because no matter how many times I try different kinds in different forms people never fail to tell me I just haven’t tried the right strain or type in the right form. Plus, it’s very expensive. I have no income and am disabled. I couldn’t afford it even if it did work. I’m totally pro marijuana and I fully support its use and legalization, but it’s really frustrating when everyone treats it as a cure-all magic drug that works for everything and everyone.”

13. “It allows me to relax the muscles and joints that are in constant pain. I can sleep, eat without having the stomach issues and I feel more like the old me before my body was invaded by these autoimmune issues.”

14. “Tried CBD, it did nothing for my pain. I was disappointed and was hoping something could give me some kind of relief but I guess I wasn’t lucky enough in the dosage I was at. Just gave me terrible dry mouth.”

15. “I have used medical marijuana for nearly a decade because it is by far the best medication for my fibromyalgia pain, as well as helping to relax my body enough to be able to sleep. I honestly don’t know if I would still be here if it weren’t for this remarkable miracle plant.”

16. “I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome so there’s a lot of chronic pain and chronic fatigue (lots of other stuff but that was the basics) and the few times I’ve used medical marijuana I was able to be productive, cheerful, and active for days and days afterwards even after only using a little bit of medical weed.”

17. “I tried it because I wasn’t getting any help from doctors as far as pain relief for quite some time. Decided to try smoking marijuana after advice from several people. I thought it may help my anxiety as well, but it didn’t help anything at all. I was just more tired. I also tried lollipops with hemp, but they didn’t help pain either.”

18. “I have endometriosis and fibromyalgia. Lyrica and the other approved drugs for fibromyalgia never helped me and I cannot take ibuprofen because of high blood pressure. Taking a 10 mg 1:1 pills every eight hours is the only way I can be remotely functional during my period. It’s also helped me combat painsomnia.”

 

Erin Migdol