#NORML #News
Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
media :: news
- Tue, 12 Jan 2019 04:20:21 PST

Patients Frequently Substitute Cannabis For Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Halifax, Canada: Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, benzodiazepines were attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation's medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two months of initiating cannabis therapy and that 45 percent did so by six months.

"Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter," authors concluded.

In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

The studies' findings are consistent with numerous other papers -- such as those here, here, here, and here -- documenting patients' use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

Full text of the study, "Reduction of benzodiazepine use in patients prescribed medical cannabis," appears in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Full text of the study, "Pills to pot: Observational analyses of cannabis substitution among medical cannabis users with chronic pain," appears in The Journal of Pain. Additional information is available in NORML's fact-sheet, "Relationship between marijuana and opioids."

Study: Oral CBD Administration Associated With Symptom Mitigation In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Tel Aviv, Israel: The administration of plant-derived oral extracts containing cannabidiol (CBD) is associated with overall improvement in subjects with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to clinical trial data published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Israeli researchers assessed the use of oral cannabinoid extracts in a cohort of 53 patients (median age of 11) with ASD over a period of at least one month. Oral extracts contained a 1 to 20 ratio of plant-derived CBD to THC. Subjects had no experience with cannabinoid treatment prior to the study.

Seventy-five percent of subjects reported "overall improvement" in their ASD symptoms, specifically in the domains of hyperactivity, sleep, self-injury, and anxiety. The most frequently reported adverse effects associated with treatment were somnolence and changes in appetite.

Investigators concluded: "Children with ASD commonly have comorbid symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity and anxiety. There is an increase in the use of cannabidiol in children with ASD. Based on parents' reports, our findings suggest that cannabidiol may be effective in improving ASD comorbid symptoms."

The findings are similar to those of other recent trials -- including those here, here, and here -- reporting that the use of CBD-dominant extracts reduces symptoms of ASD and is well-tolerated.

Full text of the study, "Oral cannabidiol use in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to treat related symptoms and co-morbidities," appears in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Report: Retail Cannabis Tax Revenues Surpass $1 Billion In 2018
Washington, DC: State and local excise tax collections on retail adult-use cannabis sales surpassed $1 billion in 2018 -- a 57 percent increase over 2017 levels, according to data compiled by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Annual excise tax revenues on adult-use cannabis sales ($1.04 billion) rivaled those for all forms of alcohol $(1.16 billion), the group reported. State-specific sales taxes on retail cannabis purchases also yielded an addition $300 million in revenue in 2018.

Authors of the report estimated that cannabis-specific taxes would raise an estimated $11.9 billion annually if the product were legally available at retailers nationwide.

Full text of the report is available online.

Survey: Three Of Four Military Veterans Would Consider Using Medical Cannabis

New York, NY: Seventy-five percent of military veterans say that they would consider using either "cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option," according to member survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The organization represents over 400,000 veterans nationwide.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the Department of Veteran Affairs are forbidden from providing medical cannabis recommendations, even in jurisdictions that legally permit private practitioners to do so.

Overall, 83 percent of respondents expressed support for legalizing medical cannabis access, and 68 percent believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs "should allow for research into cannabis as a treatment option." Proposed federal legislation to direct the agency to conduct clinical trials on the use of cannabis for PTSD and for other conditions is currently pending in the US House and Senate.

Twenty percent of veterans surveyed acknowledged having previously used cannabis for medical purposes. Other studies have estimated that as many as 41 percent of veterans acknowledge having consumed cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Available data documents that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain and may potentially mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, along with other conditions veterans commonly face.

Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, "Marijuana and Veterans Issues."

Study: Patients With Endometriosis Report Relief From Cannabis

Sydney, Australia: Women with endometriosis report that cannabis is most effective at self-managing their pain, according to data published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Australian researchers surveyed 484 endometriosis patients with regard to self-management strategies. Respondents reported that cannabis was the most effective option to relieve pain symptoms (rating a 7.6 on a 10-point scale). Among those who used cannabis, 77 percent reported being able to reduce their consumption of conventional medicines by at least 25 percent.

The use of either hemp oil or CBD extracts was self-reported by respondents to be the fourth most-effective self-management strategy (rating a 6.3 on a 10-point scale).

However, despite the subjective efficacy of cannabis and cannabis-related products, only a small percentage of those surveyed reported using them.

Authors concluded: "Cannabis, while only used by 13 percent of women in this survey, had the highest pain relief score and greatest reduction in medication usage of any strategy assessed. ... [F]uture clinical trials in this area are required to determine any possible role in endometriosis management utilizing legally obtained and quality assured medicinal cannabis."

Full text of the study, "Self-management strategies amongst Australian women with endometriosis: A national online survey," appears in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Report: Domestic Hemp Production Grew Three-Fold In 2018

Washington, DC: Farmers cultivated over 78,000 acres of hemp in accordance with state-specific agricultural programs, according to data compiled by the group VoteHemp.com. That's a three-fold increase over 2017 cultivation totals. Over 40 states have enacted statutes allowing for licensed hemp production, typically as part of a university-sponsored research program.

Over 40 separate universities in the United States conducted hemp-specific research in 2017, VoteHemp reported.

A spokesperson for the organization predicted that hemp production would likely increase to at least 125,000 acres in 2019 as a result of newly enacted federal legislation amending the plant's legal status under federal law.

The VoteHemp 2018 hemp crop report is available online.

Study: Marijuana Use Not Contraindicated With Liver Transplantation

Chapel Hill, NC: Neither the past or current use of cannabis is negatively associated with health outcomes in patients receiving liver transplants, according to data published in the journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed liver transplant patient outcomes over a period of ten years. Authors reported that patients' use of tobacco was significantly associated with higher mortality rates, but that cannabis use was not.

They concluded, "Overall, preā€transplant marijuana use, past or current, does not appear to impact liver transplant outcomes."

The finding is consistent with prior studies finding that a history of cannabis use is not contraindicated in patients receiving organ transplants. Nonetheless, it remains hospital policy in many states to automatically disqualify medical cannabis patients from being eligible to receive organ transplants.

Full text of the study, "Marijuana consumption in liver transplant recipients," appears in the journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

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