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A sketchy outline of the cannabis genome already exists, but it’s highly fragmented, scattered into about 60,000 pieces. Kane’s ambitious goal, which will take many years to achieve, is to assemble those fragments in the right order. “The analogy I use is, we have 60,000 pages of what promises to be an excellent book, but they’re strewn all over the floor,” he says. “We have no idea yet how those pages fit together to make a good story.”
Hemp and Marijuana come form the same plant family, but are completely different in function, cultivation and application. Marijuana generally has a high level of THC (a psychoactive compound that makes you feel “high”) and is used for medicinal or recreational purpose. Hemp contains a negligible amount of THC (but is high in CBD) and is used in dietary supplements, skin products, clothing and paper.
Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., Hallak, J. E., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Martin-Santos, R., … & Guimarães, F. S. (2012). A critical review of the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol: 30 years of a translational investigation [Abstract]. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 18(32), 5,131–5,140. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716160
By 1942, cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because of persistent concerns about its potential to cause harm. In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which included cannabis with narcotic drugs for the first time. In 1970, with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis was classified as a Schedule I drug, giving it no accepted medicinal use.
What Meagan saw in Colorado impressed her—the growing knowledge base of cannabis producers, the kinship of parents coping with similar ordeals, the quality of the dispensaries, and the expertise of the test labs in ensuring consistent cannabis-oil formulations. Colorado Springs had become a mecca for a remarkable medical migration. More than a hundred families with children who had life-threatening medical conditions had uprooted themselves and moved. These families, many of them associated with a nonprofit organization called the Realm of Caring, consider themselves “medical refugees.” Most couldn’t medicate their children with cannabis in their home states without risking arrest for trafficking or even child abuse.
The CBD oil we offer has a couple different applications. You can hold a sublingual dose under the tongue for 30-60 seconds (recommended for fastest absorption), apply the oil topically to your skin (can be applied directly to a problem area or mixed with your favorite moisturizer), or blend the oil in a health-conscious smoothie. We will include further dosing instructions with the product.
The case study notes that advanced chemotherapeutic agents had failed to control the blast counts (cells in the blood and bone marrow) in the patient and had devastating side effects that ultimately resulted in death. The cannabinoid therapy, on the other hand, had no toxic side effects and only psychosomatic properties, with an increase in the patient’s vitality.
In the meantime, some physicians are forging ahead — and cashing in. Joe Cohen is a doctor at Holos Health, a medical marijuana clinic in Boulder. I asked him what CBD is good for, and he read me a long list of conditions: pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, anxiety, psychosis, muscle spasms, hyperactive immune systems, nervous system degeneration, elevated blood sugar and more. He also claimed that CBD has anti-cancer properties and can regenerate brain cells and reduce the brain’s levels of amyloid beta — a kind of protein that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. I asked for references, noting that most of these weren’t listed in the Academies report or a similar review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “I think you just have to Google search it,” he said. It’s true that a preliminary study found hints that cannabinoids might reduce beta amyloid proteins in human brain cells, but the study was done in cells grown in a lab, not in people. As for cancer, the FDA sent warning letters last year to four companies that were selling products that claimed to “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure” cancer.
Cannabidiol has been found to act as an antagonist of GPR55, a G protein-coupled receptor and putative cannabinoid receptor that is expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen in the brain. It has also been found to act as an inverse agonist of GPR3, GPR6, and GPR12. Although currently classified as orphan receptors, these receptors are most closely related phylogeneticaly to the cannabinoid receptors. In addition to orphan receptors, CBD has been shown to act as a serotonin 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist, and this action may be involved in its antidepressant, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective effects. It is an allosteric modulator of the μ- and δ-opioid receptors as well. The pharmacological effects of CBD have additionally been attributed to PPARγ agonism and intracellular calcium release.
Pharmaceutical companies producing oils are subject to a pharmaceutical production licence for controlled drugs, issued by government regulators. Currently there are no pharmaceutical companies producing cannabis oil as a medicine. This might change in the future when a standardised, GMP-certified production method becomes available, setting the standards for the production of cannabis oil as a pharmaceutical product.
“I don’t like to take stuff like ibuprofen or prescription medications,” says Andrew Talansky, a professional triathlete from Napa, California, who, as an elite cyclist, rode in the Tour de France. “I’m always looking for natural alternatives.” When Talansky heard an increasing number of athletes talking about CBD, “I went from skepticism to being interested to asking advice on how to use it,” he says.
This has been the year medical cannabis hit the mainstream. The government has announced that it is relaxing laws on when cannabis medicines can be prescribed by doctors, following high-profile cases such as that of Billy Caldwell, the 13-year-old boy hospitalised by his epileptic seizures after he was denied legal access to the cannabis oil that helps control them. Meanwhile a new generation of cannabis medicines has shown great promise (both anecdotally and in early clinical trials) in treating a range of ills from anxiety, psychosis and epilepsy to pain, inflammation and acne. And you don’t have to get stoned to reap the health benefits.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread use of CBD is price. High-quality tinctures from brands like Floyd’s of Leadville and PlusCBD cost $35 or more; the bottles contain enough tincture to last about a month if you’re using an eyedropper’s worth per day. Prevail’s 2-ounce topical salve, which the company says should last most users between 30 and 45 days, costs $133. A one-month supply of a daily gel typically costs $30 to $60.
You can rub CBD oil on your skin or drop it under your tongue; you can eat it as a sugarcoated gummy or drink it as a Goop-approved cocktail. There's evidence (some scientific, plenty anecdotal) that it helps with epileptic seizures, opioid addiction, PTSD, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain, and much more. If you believe the hype, CBD can do just about anything for your physical and mental health — and it won't get you high as a kite.
How do you take it? CBD products comes in a variety of forms, including tinctures, gel caps, and topical applications. One athlete-focused company, Floyd’s of Leadville, offers a protein recovery powder and a carb drink that contain CBD. (That’s Floyd as in Floyd Landis, the former professional cyclist who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for failing a drug test and who helped to expose Lance Armstrong’s doping.) Another athlete-focused company, PurePower Botanicals, offers capsules that combine CBD with herbs and other purported medicinals, such as turmeric. PurePower says that the non-hemp-derived ingredients increase the effectiveness of the products’ CBD.
In the United States, cannabidiol is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that production, distribution, and possession of CBD is illegal under federal law. In addition, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration added "marijuana extracts" to the list of Schedule I drugs, which it defined as "an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant." Previously, CBD had simply been considered "marijuana", which is a Schedule I drug.
If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”
DiPatrizio says, “There may be some benefits outside of improving epilepsy outcomes, but a lot more research is required.” Any research on athletic claims would almost certainly come from the industry; there are more urgent public health CBD topics to investigate than whether it reduces runners’ knee pain. For the foreseeable future, runners interested in CBD’s effectiveness will have to rely on anecdotal, subjective reports.
We would never sacrifice quality by providing a synthetic CBD or CBD isolate blend. We use a whole plant extract that is rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial oils. The Hadassah Medical School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem sought to compare the effectiveness of a completely purified CBD extract versus a full-spectrum extract of cannabis flowers containing large quantities of CBD. The conclusion of the study was that the whole plant extract, which contained a large percentage of CBD but also contained traces of the other cannabinoids, proved far more effective than CBD-only solutions in alleviating inflammation and pain sensation.
I lean over to sniff one of the powdery, tightly clustered flower buds, purple-brown and coursing with white wisps. These tiny trichomes fairly ooze with cannabinoid-rich resin. This strain is called Highway Man, after a Willie Nelson song. Hybridized by Hague, it’s a variety loaded with THC. The best parts will be trimmed by hand, dried, cured, and packaged for sale at one of Mindful’s dispensaries. “This whole room will be ready for harvest in just a few days,” Hague notes with the subtle smirk of a competitive breeder who’s won international awards for his strains.
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