#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: firstname.lastname@example.org media :: news - Wed, 20 Feb 2019 04:20:21 PST
WHO Expert Committee Calls For Changes In Cannabis' International Classification
Geneva, Switzerland: Members of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence have proposed amending the classification of cannabis under international law.
According to reporting in the British Medical Journal, the WHO policy reversal "takes account of the growing evidence for the medical applications of the drug," and marks the first time that the agency has reviewed its stance on cannabis in nearly 60 years.
The recommended changes, outlined in a letter by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, call for cannabis to be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Schedule IV is the most restrictive classification under the treaty. Instead, the committee advises that whole-plant cannabis and THC be designated as Schedule I controlled substances under international law.
"The current [international] scheduling of cannabis is as strict as that for heroin," the BMJ summarizes. "[T]he Committee believes that keeping cannabis at that level of control would severely restrict access to and research on potential therapies derived from the plant."
In a separate recommendation, the Committee reiterated its 2017 request that preparations containing "pure cannabidiol ... and not more than 0.2 percent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol" no longer be scheduled within the international drug conventions.
The Committee's policy recommendations now await action from the 53 participating members states of the United Nation's Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The Commission is anticipated to vote on the issue in March.
In October, NORML delivered over 10,000 public comments to the US Food and Drug Administration urging the agency to recommend that WHO reschedule cannabis internationally.
Study: Patients Substituting Cannabis For Anxiety Medications
Hamilton, Ontario: Patients with anxiety disorders report obtaining subjective relief from cannabis and often substitute it in place of conventional prescription drugs, according to data published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
A team of Canadian researchers surveyed over 2,000 patients registered in Health Canada's medical marijuana access program. Forty-four percent of participants reported using cannabis to treat symptoms of anxiety, and 92 percent said that it "improved their symptoms." Authors also reported that approximately half of the respondents reported substituting cannabis in place of either a psychiatric medication or a non-psychiatric medication prescribed by their physician.
The studies' findings are consistent with numerous other papers -- such as those here, here, here, here, and here -- documenting the use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.
Full text of the study, "Cannabis use behaviors and prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms in a cohort of Canadian medicinal cannabis users," appears in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
NBC Miami Report: Potency Of Commercially Marketed CBD Products Questioned
Miami, FL: Independent testing reveals that many commercially marketed CBD-infused products contain lower percentages of cannabidiol than are advertised on the products' label, according to an investigation conducted by NBC News in Miami.
Investigators submitted 35 commercially available products for third-party independent lab testing. "Of the 35 samples ... tested, 20 of them had less than half of the amounts of CBD advertised on the label," NBC reported. Some samples, such as a package of infused gummies claiming to contain 1,000 mg of CBD, contained no cannabidiol.
The NBC findings are consistent with those of prior studies -- such as those here, here, here, and here -- which similarly reported that many CBD-infused products are of variable potency. Another recent study identified the presence of the psychoactive adulterants DXM and 5F-ADM in a line of products marketed by the manufacturer Diamond CBD.
By contrast, recent third-party testing of a sampling of 29 leading CBD-infused products by Remedy Review reported that all but one product tested positive for the presence of CBD at levels similar to what was advertised. However, three of the products did test positive for the presence of either pesticides or fungicides. "These results ... indicate the need for independent monitoring and testing," the company stated in a press release.
Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Metabolic Benefits
Santander, Spain: Cannabis use is associated with sustained effects on weight and metabolism, including lower body mass index (BMI) and lower overall cholesterol levels, according to the results of a three-year longitudinal study published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Spanish researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and weight over a three-year period in a cohort of 510 subjects. Participants in the study were classified as either 'continuers,' 'discontinuers,' and 'non-users.'
At the study's initiation, cannabis users presented "lower weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol compared to non-users," investigators reported. Differences in weight, BMI, and LDL levels remained consistent over the three-years among those subjects who continued to consume cannabis. By contrast, those patients who discontinued using cannabis use over the course of the study "presented a higher increase in weight, body mass index, and triglyceride-high-density lipoprotein ratio than the 'non-users' and 'continuers.'"
Authors concluded, "Thus, we may interpret that cannabis consumption has a protective effect on metabolism, which is reflected in clinical terms."
The study's results are consistent with a number of prior trials -- such as those here, here, and here -- finding that a history of marijuana use is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Full text of the study, "Effect of cannabis on weight and metabolism in first-episode non-affective psychosis: Results from a three-year longitudinal study," appears in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Study: Majority Of Medical Cannabis Patients Are Seeking Pain Relief
Ann Arbor, MI: Most US patients registered to access medical cannabis cite chronic pain as their primary qualifying condition, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs.
Investigators from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor reviewed patient registration data from the majority of states that provide medical cannabis access. (Some states, notably California and Maine, possess voluntary registries and therefore do not compile patient profile data.)
They reported that in 2016, chronic pain was the most common qualifying condition reported by patients (65 percent). They added, "Of all patient-reported qualifying conditions, 85 percent had either substantial or conclusive evidence of therapeutic efficacy," as defined by the 2017 report published by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The authors of that report concluded that there exists conclusive or substantial evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, and spasticity.
Separate studies indicate that legal cannabis access is typically associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse. Studies have also identified a reduction in the prevalence of opioid-related mortality following statewide marijuana access.
Authors concluded: "[O]ur data show that the number of medical cannabis patients has risen dramatically over time as more states have legalized medical cannabis. ... [W]e believe not only that it is inappropriate for cannabis to remain a Schedule I substance, but also that state and federal policy makers should begin evaluating evidence-based ways for safely integrating cannabis research and products into the health care system."
Full text of the study, "Qualifying conditions of medical cannabis license holders in the United States," appears in Health Affairs. Additional information is available in NORML's fact-sheet, "Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids."