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Study: Patients with Insomnia Report Improvements with Medical Cannabis

Ottawa, Canada: Patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders report subjective improvements following the use of cannabis and a significant percentage of them report being able to either reduce or discontinue their use of prescription medications, according to data published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal.

Canadian investigators assessed the impact of marijuana on sleep disorders in a cohort of 38 patients authorized to access medical cannabis products. Patients were assessed at baseline and then three months after initiating cannabis.

Investigators reported that 71 percent of patients experienced subjective improvement in their sleep. Thirty-nine percent of the study's subjects were able to either "completely discontinue [their use of] insomnia medications or reduce their use from nightly administration to as-needed administration with the use of medical cannabis."

The study's results are consistent with other observational studies, such as those here and here, finding that patients with sleep disorders typically experience improvements in their symptoms from cannabis.

Authors concluded, "[O]ngoing clinical trials of cannabinoids in patients living with insomnia are integral to ensuring evidence-based decisions on the role of cannabinoid therapies in the treatment of sleep disorders."

Full text of the study, "Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review," appears in theCanadian Pharmacists Journal.

Survey: Use of Medical Cannabis Associated with Sustained Improvements in Anxiety, Depression

Calgary, Canada: Patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression report sustained improvements following the use of cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

Canadian investigators surveyed over 7,000 patients authorized to access medical cannabis products. The average age of subjects in the study was 50 years old. All of the study's subjects belonged to a licensed Canadian medical cannabis clinic.

Authors reported "statistically significant improvements" between subjects' baseline and follow up scores on validated measurements of anxiety and depression. Symptom improvements were sustained for at least one year.

"To our knowledge, this study is the largest completed to date examining the impact of medical cannabis use on anxiety and depression outcomes utilizing longitudinal data and validated questionnaires," they concluded. "It provides evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression that otherwise is not currently available, demonstrating that patients who seek treatment with medical cannabis for anxiety and depression can experience clinically significant improvements. This study offers reasonable justification for the completion of large clinical trials to further the understanding of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression."

Full text of the study, "Medical cannabis use in Canada and its impact on anxiety and depression: A retrospective study," appears in Psychiatric Research.

Survey: Parkinson's Disease Patients Report Improved Symptoms, Decreased Prescription Drug Use Following Cannabis Initiation

Aurora, CO: Patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD) report improved symptom management and reduced prescription drug use following the use of cannabis, according to survey data published in the journal Movement Disorders Clinical Practice.

A team of investigators with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus surveyed 1,881 PD patients regarding their use of cannabis products.

Respondents most commonly reported improvements in sleep, pain, anxiety, and agitation following their use of either CBD or whole-plant cannabis products. Those subjects who primarily used high-potency THC products also reported improvements in nausea, appetite, depression and tremor, but were also more likely to report worsening symptoms of bradykinesia (slowness of movement). Consistent with prior studies, many respondents reported either decreasing or discontinuing their use of certain prescription drugs - particularly those prescribed for pain and anxiety.

"These survey results offer a broad overview of realโ€world cannabis use patterns and experience among a large group of people living with PD and provide initial results regarding the differential symptomatic effects of higher THC versus higher CBD products," authors concluded. "In summary, people with PD report that cannabis subjectively improves some PDโ€related symptoms, with higher THC products conferring more frequent benefits than higher CBD products. ... Next steps should include more rigorous, controlled studies, informed by the results herein, to more objectively study the effects of varying types of cannabis on PD symptoms, as well the impact of the different methods of ingestion and specific doses."

Human trials from Israel and Brazil have documented improvements in PD patients' symptoms and quality of life following their use of either inhaled cannabis or oral CBD extracts.

Full text of the study, "Higher risk, higher reward? Self-reported effects of real-world cannabis use in Parkinson's Disease," appears in Movement Disorders Clinical Practice.

Analysis: 'Hemp Derived Delta-9-THC' Products Seldom Come as Advertised

Tustin, CA: Many commercially available products marketed as 'hemp-derived delta-9-THC' are mislabeled and most are not lab tested for heavy metals or other potential impurities, according to an analysis provided by the consumer research firm CBD Oracle.

Investigators purchased 53 commercially available products and had them independently lab tested.

They reported that nearly two-thirds of the products contained synthetically derived THC, despite many claiming to be 'all natural.' This result is not surprising because hemp typically contains only trace quantities of either delta-9-THC or delta-8-THC. In most cases, unregulated products that are promoted as containing either 'hemp-derived' delta-8-THC or delta-9-THC actually contain THC that has been chemically converted from hemp-derived CBD. Manufacturers engaged in synthesizing THC are not subject to regulatory oversight and often use potentially dangerous household products to facilitate this process.

The study's authors also reported that over half of the products contained THC levels that differed significantly from what was advertised on the product's packaging - a finding that is consistent with other analyses of unregulated, hemp-derived products. Most of the mislabeled products contained far lower percentages of THC than advertised, with some products containing zero percent THC. Authors further noted that most of the products' manufacturers failed to test them for impurities, like pesticides and heavy metals.

In response to the analysis, Erika Stark of the National Hemp Association said: "The FDA needs to create a reasonable framework that accounts for all cannabinoids. New cannabinoids products are going to continue to be developed. ... At this pace, we're all going to die of old age before there's proper regulation in place to address all of these issues."

NORML and other groups have repeatedly urged the US Food and Drug Administration to provide regulatory guidelines overseeing the production, testing, labeling, and marketing of hemp-derived products containing either CBD or THC. Nevertheless, more than three years following the passage of federal legislation legalizing hemp production, the FDA has yet to promulgate rules regulating the marketing and sale of these commercially available products.

Full text of the CBD Oracle report is available online.

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