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Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Associated with Reduced Prescriptions, Improved Symptoms in Cancer Patients

Haifa, Israel: The use of cannabis products over a six-month period is associated with statistical improvements in cancer-related symptoms as well as significant reductions in subjects’ use of prescription painkillers, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Frontiers in Pain Research.

Israeli researchers assessed the long-term use of cannabis in a cohort of several hundred oncology patients.

Consistent with studies of other patient cohorts, cannabis use was associated with symptom mitigation, improved quality of life, and reduced prescription drug use. Among those participants who completed the trial, nearly half ceased their use of analgesics.

Authors concluded: "The main finding of the current study is that most cancer comorbid symptoms improved significantly during six months of MC [medical cannabis] treatment. ... Additionally, we found that MC treatment in cancer patients was well tolerated and safe. ... In conclusion, this prospective, comprehensive and large-scale cohort demonstrated an overall mild to modest long-term statistical improvement of all investigated measures including pain, associated symptoms and, importantly, reduction in opioid (and other analgesics) use."

Full text of the study, "The effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis for treating cancer related symptoms in oncology patients," appears inFrontiers in Pain Research.

Clinical Trial: CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Safe and Effective in Pediatric Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder

João Pessoa, Brazil: The administration of CBD-rich cannabis extracts is safe and effective in mitigating symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial data published in the journal Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

Brazilian researchers evaluated the use of CBD extracts versus placebo in 60 children (ages 5 to 11) with ASD over a 12-week period.

Compared to the placebo group, subjects receiving CBD extracts experienced significant improvements in their ability to engage in social interactions. They also experienced reduced anxiety and agitation. Only a minority of subjects administered CBD exhibited adverse events, namely dizziness and insomnia.

The study’s findings are consistent with those of other trials similarly reporting improvements in patients’ ASD symptoms following their use of cannabinoid products. Survey data published in October by the publication Autism Parenting Magazine reported that 22 percent of US caregivers or parents have provided CBD to an autistic child. Survey data from the United Kingdom recently reported that autistic adults were nearly four times as likely as controls to report having used CBD within the past year.

Full text of the study, "Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol-rich cannabis extract in children with autism spectrum disorder: Randomized, double-blind and controlled placebo clinical trial," appears inTrends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

Survey: One in Five Patients with Arthritis Acknowledge Using Medical Cannabis

Toronto, Ontario: Arthritis patients frequently reported consuming cannabis for symptomatic relief, according to survey data published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

A team of Canadian investigators surveyed 799 patients at eight rheumatology clinics in Ontario. (Cannabis is legal in Canada for both medical purposes and for adults.)

Just over 20 percent of those surveyed acknowledged either having consumed cannabis within the past two years or being current users of cannabis products. Compared to non-users, those who consumed cannabis were more likely to be younger and were more likely to report suffering from severe pain.

Cannabis consumers reported using it to treat pain, anxiety, and to promote sleep. Seventy-eight percent of them reported medical cannabis to be "at least somewhat effective" at mitigating their symptoms.

The study’s findings are consistent with French survey data, published in 2021, which reported that "nearly 20 percent of patients suffering from rheumatologic diseases actively consume cannabis."

Longitudinal data published in April reported that osteoarthritis patients decrease their daily opioid intake and experience improvements in their overall quality of life following the initiation of medical cannabis therapy. Authors of the study concluded: "Our findings indicate that providing access to MC [medical cannabis], helps patients with chronic pain due to OA [osteoarthritis] reduce their levels of opioid usage in addition to improving pain and QoL [quality of life]. Furthermore, a majority of patients did not feel intoxicated or high from MC, and of those who did, only a small percentage said it interfered with their daily activities. ... Our findings support the literature in that MC reduces the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain."

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use by rheumatology patients in routine clinical care: Results from the Ontario Best Practices Research Initiative," appears in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

Ninth Circuit Rules on Legal Status of Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC Products

San Francisco, CA: A three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected arguments that delta-8 THC products which are chemically synthesized from hemp-derived CBD fall beyond the scope of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Plaintiffs in the case were asking the court to protect trademarks for their proprietary delta-8 THC products. Defendants in the case argued that the company’s trademarks were not protectible because the 2018 Farm Bill was never intended to legalize such products for human consumption.

The three-judge panel was unpersuaded by the defendant’s arguments, opining: "[The defendant] is effectively asking us to recognize the following limitation: that substances legalized by the Farm Act must be somehow suited for an industrial purpose, not for human consumption. ... [But] this limitation appears neither in hemp’s definition, nor in its exemption from the Controlled Substances Act. ... Regardless of the wisdom of legalizing [ingestible] delta-8 THC products, this Court will not substitute its own policy judgment for that of Congress. If [the defendant] is correct, and Congress inadvertently created a loophole legalizing vaping products containing delta-8 THC, then it is for Congress to fix its mistake."

The Court also rejected the argument that delta-8 THC products were outside of the scope of the Act because many such products are the result of a chemical synthesis and are not extracted directly from hemp plants (which contain only nominal amounts of delta-8 THC). Judges opined that the process used to manufacture the end product was irrelevant as long as it was initially sourced from either hemp or hemp-derived CBD. "[T]he source of the product - not the method of manufacture - is the dispositive factor for ascertaining whether a product is synthetic," it ruled.

Provisions of the 2018 Act explicitly legalize the possession of cannabinoids "that are naturally occurring constituents" of hemp, but it "does not impact the control status of synthetically derived" cannabinoids.

NORML has expressed caution regarding the safety of commercially available, hemp-derived delta-8 THC products because neither the products nor their manufacturing processes are regulated. Lab analyses of unregulated delta-8 products have consistently found them to contain lower levels of the compound than advertised on the products’ labels. Some products have also been found to possess heavy metal contaminants and unlabeled cutting agents.

In response to the ruling, attorney Garrett Graff - whose firm specializes in issues related to hemp - told New Frontier Data: "I’m not sure that this opinion will change the cannabinoid landscape all that much. Companies selling hemp-derived cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC were already emboldened to do so, despite the regulatory uncertainties. These companies didn’t necessarily need the court’s opinion to feel emboldened to do so. That said, even with this court’s position under federal law, this opinion does not necessarily change the laws of states which have affirmatively regulated (or prohibited) delta-8 THC and other intoxicating cannabinoids. Those state-level regulations still present potential legality challenges."

While several states have recently moved to prohibit the sale of hemp-derived delta-8-products, several others remain largely silent on the issue.

The case is AK Futures LLC v. Boyd Street Distro, LLC.

Study: High Doses of CBD Do Not Impact Cognitive Function, Simulated Driving Performance

Sydney, Australia: The oral administration of up to 1500 mg of CBD does not induce feelings of intoxication and is not associated with changes in simulated driving performance, according to data published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

A team of Australian researchers assessed the impact of varying dosages of CBD (ranging from 15 mg to 1500) versus placebo in 17 subjects. Study participants engaged in a series of simulated driving tests at approximately one hour and four hours after dosing. Investigators separately assessed subjects’ cognitive performance via their completion of a variety of computerized tasks. Participants were also asked whether they felt either "stoned" or "sedated" at any time during the trial.

Consistent with prior research, authors reported that CBD administration was not associated with either weaving or any other significant changes in simulated driving performance. Participants also failed to show any significant differences in either cognitive function or in their subjective feelings of well-being following CBD dosing.

Authors concluded: "The results of this study suggest that acute, oral CBD treatment at doses up to 1500 mg does not induce feelings of intoxication and is unlikely to impair cognitive function or driving performance. However, further research is required to confirm no effect of CBD on safety-sensitive tasks in the hours immediately post-treatment and with chronic administration."

Full text of the study, "Effects of cannabidiol on simulated driving and cognitive performance: A dose-ranging randomized controlled trial," appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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