A Response to “Going to Pot” by Roxanne Khamsi

By Clint Werner, author of “Marijuana Gateway to Health”

In the June 2013 issue of Scientific American, “Science of Health” columnist Roxanne Khamsi wrote a surprisingly unscientific and biased piece on the health ramifications of legalizing marijuana that was sadly tainted with residue from last century’s reefer madness campaign. The title of the piece itself, “Going to Pot” is a loaded term that confers a negative association on the subject via cultural symbolism having nothing to do with the reality of what science is telling us about marijuana and how it affects the human organism and society. First, Ms. Khamsi is mistaken when she writes that doctors “may prescribe marijuana to treat or manage ailments.” In states with medical marijuana provisions, physicians write recommendations for their patients that allow access to dispensaries or cultivation cooperatives. Ms. Khamsi then asserts that “the safety of recreational use is poorly understood” and that “researchers worry that both short- and long-term use of the drug may harm the body and mind.” Researchers who are up-to-date on the science of marijuana have no such concerns regarding adult use. In terms of harming the body, recent research has revealed that regular use of marijuana actually seems to improve physical health. Population studies have shown that regular marijuana users have a reduced risk for developing lung cancer (Hashibe, Cancer Epidemiological, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2006), head and neck cancers (Liang, Cancer Prevention Research, 2009), bladder cancer (Thomas, American Urological Association meeting, 2013), lymphomas (Holly, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1999), as well as diabetes (Rajavashisth, BMJ Open, 2012). The diabetes protection data from the enormous NHANES report also revealed that subjects who smoked marijuana three times per week had a profound (> 50%) reduction in their blood levels of C reactive protein, a inflammation marker for heart disease, indicating that they experienced significant protection from developing cardiac disease. Research also revealed that regular, moderate marijuana smokers have improved lung function compared to non-marijuana smokers with no risk for developing COPD (Pletcher, JAMA, 2012). National Institute of Drug Abuse pulmonary researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin has said that he now endorses legalization since there is no basis for concern about the substance’s negative effects on lung function. Given the nearly century-long reefer madness campaign waged with untold billions of government dollars, it is hard for people to grasp that a denigrated and criminalized substance could have such positive health effects, especially when smoked, but science trumps myth and superstition with evidence. In terms of mental health, a just-published paper reports that “marijuana use consistently buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion” (Deckman, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2013), which could be one of the reasons that researchers found a truly startling drop in suicides, especially among young adult men, following the enactment of state medical marijuana laws (Anderson, IDEAS, 2012). Other research has shown that marijuana’s anti-depressant effects could be the result of neurogenesis, the production of healthy and functional new brain cells, which is promoted by the cannabinoids in marijuana (Jiang, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005). Another recently-published study found that “mortality risk was lower in cannabis users than in non-cannabis users with psychotic disorders” (Koola, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2013), indicating that marijuana is a beneficial treatment for mental problems rather than, as increasingly inferred, a causative agent. In attempting to explain the activity of marijuana’s cannabinoid molecules on the endocannabinoid receptors, Ms. Khamsi once again employs loaded language to imply a negative effect, writing that THC “triggers domino chains” which implies a collapse of order and function rather than an alteration in order and function, which is what is truly occurring. Ms. Khamsi then frets that using marijuana impairs “working memory.” Yes marijuana alters mental functioning; it shifts the mind into a blissful euphoria that redirects thought from the ordered and analytical to the relaxed and free-association style of thought that characterizes relaxation and insight. And unlike alcohol, which serves a similar function of quieting the work day mental noise, marijuana is not carcinogenic or lethal. Ms. Khamsi expresses the understandable concern that marijuana users will make our roadways more dangerous but this is not supported by data that shows us what actually happens when legal restrictions are eased. A comprehensive review of data from states with medical marijuana laws found that enactment of the laws led to a significant drop in traffic accident deaths by allowing for marijuana to substitute for alcohol, a far more impairing substance. Traffic accident fatalities dropped by 9 percent in medical marijuana states. (Anderson, pending publication in the Journal of Law and Economics, 2013). That is essentially the same level of protection afforded by the passage of mandatory sea belt laws and by increasing the age for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 years. According to research conducted by the automobile insurance company 4autoinsurance.com, marijuana users are safe drivers because, unlike alcohol drinkers, they are aware of their level of impairment and either refuse to drive, delay driving or drive more carefully than normal by reducing speed and not changing lanes. Regular marijuana users showed far less evidence of impairment than did novice and occasional users. Impairment testing is the only way to effectively police for marijuana-impaired drivers without ruining the lives of people who pose no threat on the roadways. The cannabinoid CBD steers THC away from the CB1 receptor, thus dulling or nullifying the mind-altering effects, but CBD does not reduce THC levels in the blood. Therefore, a driver using a high CBD strain of marijuana could test over the THC limit while experiencing no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Consequently, effective and fair impairment assessment techniques will need to be developed. Ms. Khamsi then returns to the health effects of marijuana, but ignores the previously cited benefits of reduced risks for developing numerous cancers, diabetes and other inflammation- and oxidation-based degenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. She then refers to the recent study of data from New Zealand that indicates that teenagers who use marijuana heavily have up to an 8 percent drop in IQ points. Those results were called into question upon review but still indicate a disturbing effect of heavy marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain. Neurologist Dr. Gary Wenk, who has written “a puff is enough” to protect the adult brain from age-related dementia, says that the effect of marijuana on a developing brain, especially in those under 15 years of age, is impairing. Regular use of marijuana by teens may also interfere with social and professional skill development by monopolizing the time and consciousness of teens that enjoy it. Ms. Khamsi correctly notes that black market marijuana is sometimes contaminated with “sand or glass beads” which are far more harmful to the user than cannabis itself. Black market marijuana is also frequently contaminated with insecticides not intended for use on plants that are consumed. Some of these products are neurotoxic and, ironically, may induce neurodegenerative illnesses by interfering with the functions of the endocannabinoid system. (Casida, Annual Review of Entomolgy, 2013) Smuggled marijuana is also stale and often riddled with mold. Given these threats to heavy teenage users, the question needs to be asked: How do we best reduce access to marijuana, especially the most harmful forms of marijuana, by teenagers? One study suggests that multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is the most effective approach for treating teenagers with what is termed “cannabis use disorder” (Rigter, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2012). MDFT essentially reestablishes parental authority and time management in teens’ lives. If parents remain involved in all aspects of their teenage children’s lives, MDFT would not be necessary to correct a deficit in parenting. The best way to prevent teenage substance abuse is for parents to rigorously monitor and guide their children’s activities. By doing this, parents might not prevent experimentation but they can create an environment where regular access to and use of marijuana is impossible. Shrinking and killing off the black market via legalization and regulation can assist parents in this task, by making marijuana more difficult for teens to obtain. Dealers do not card and taking marijuana away from the illicit drug black market will also protect teens from the multiple drug offerings of those dealers. If teens do obtain marijuana on the sly, at least, having been diverted from legal and tested supplies, it will be less likely to be contaminated with more harmful substances. Commercial medical marijuana venders such as Harborside Health Center, which Khamsi mentioned, contract with growers and test their marijuana for safety and potency. Legalization transforms marijuana cultivators from shady criminals into proud artisans. And despite the possible risk of heavy marijuana use to teenagers’ cognition, a study of adolescent binge drinkers found that those who used marijuana suffered significantly less alcohol-related brain damage than the booze-only drinkers (Jacobus, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2009). Consider the irony: Marijuana protects the brains of booze binge drinkers. Ms. Khamsi also mentions increases in emergency room visits and those seeking treatment for marijuana use. The emergency room statistic most frequently cited by opponents of legalization involve the detection of marijuana use via urinalysis, a method that only indicates if marijuana has been used within the last two to four weeks, therefore the data does not indicate that marijuana use caused the emergency room visit. It merely indicates that more people seem to be using marijuana overall (DAWN Drug Abuse Warning Network, HHS, 2008). In fact, two studies have found direct associations between marijuana use and a decrease in emergency room visits (Vinson, Missouri Medicine, 2006 and Gmel, BMC Public Health 9, 2009). The BMC study found that “relative risks decreased with increasing levels of use,” in other words, when more marijuana was used, fewer injuries occurred. This might seem odd until one recalls that a cannabinoid-blocking drug (rimonabant) was rejected for approval by the FDA due to its side-effects, which included an increase in accidents and injuries. Given that smoking marijuana reduces our risks for developing various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-based illnesses along with depression, suicidal tendencies and alcohol-caused traffic accidents, shouldn’t it’s use by adults be encouraged and safe, legal outlets be established? Science has spoken.

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A Response to “Going to Pot” by Roxanne Khamsi

By Clint Werner, author of “Marijuana Gateway to Health” In the June 2013 issue of Scientific American, “Science of Health” columnist Roxanne Khamsi wrote a surprisingly unscientific and biased piece on the health ramifications of legalizing marijuana that was sadly tainted with residue from last century’s reefer madness campaign. The title of the piece itself, “Going to Pot” is a loaded term that confers a negative association on the subject via cultural symbolism having nothing to do with the reality of what science is telling us about marijuana and how it affects the human organism and society. First, Ms. Khamsi is mistaken when she writes that doctors “may prescribe marijuana to treat or manage ailments.” In states with medical marijuana provisions, physicians write recommendations for their patients that allow access to dispensaries or cultivation cooperatives. Ms. Khamsi then asserts that “the safety of recreational use is poorly understood” and that “researchers worry that both short- and long-term use of the drug may harm the body and mind.” Researchers who are up-to-date on the science of marijuana have no such concerns regarding adult use. In terms of harming the body, recent research has revealed that regular use of marijuana actually seems to improve physical health. Population studies have shown that regular marijuana users have a reduced risk for developing lung cancer (Hashibe, Cancer Epidemiological, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2006), head and neck cancers (Liang, Cancer Prevention Research, 2009), bladder cancer (Thomas, American Urological Association meeting, 2013), lymphomas (Holly, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1999), as well as diabetes (Rajavashisth, BMJ Open, 2012). The diabetes protection data from the enormous NHANES report also revealed that subjects who smoked marijuana three times per week had a profound (> 50%) reduction in their blood levels of C reactive protein, a inflammation marker for heart disease, indicating that they experienced significant protection from developing cardiac disease. Research also revealed that regular, moderate marijuana smokers have improved lung function compared to non-marijuana smokers with no risk for developing COPD (Pletcher, JAMA, 2012). National Institute of Drug Abuse pulmonary researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin has said that he now endorses legalization since there is no basis for concern about the substance’s negative effects on lung function. Given the nearly century-long reefer madness campaign waged with untold billions of government dollars, it is hard for people to grasp that a denigrated and criminalized substance could have such positive health effects, especially when smoked, but science trumps myth and superstition with evidence. In terms of mental health, a just-published paper reports that “marijuana use consistently buffered people from the negative consequences associated with loneliness and social exclusion” (Deckman, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2013), which could be one of the reasons that researchers found a truly startling drop in suicides, especially among young adult men, following the enactment of state medical marijuana laws (Anderson, IDEAS, 2012). Other research has shown that marijuana’s anti-depressant effects could be the result of neurogenesis, the production of healthy and functional new brain cells, which is promoted by the cannabinoids in marijuana (Jiang, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005). Another recently-published study found that “mortality risk was lower in cannabis users than in non-cannabis users with psychotic disorders” (Koola, Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2013), indicating that marijuana is a beneficial treatment for mental problems rather than, as increasingly inferred, a causative agent. In attempting to explain the activity of marijuana’s cannabinoid molecules on the endocannabinoid receptors, Ms. Khamsi once again employs loaded language to imply a negative effect, writing that THC “triggers domino chains” which implies a collapse of order and function rather than an alteration in order and function, which is what is truly occurring. Ms. Khamsi then frets that using marijuana impairs “working memory.” Yes marijuana alters mental functioning; it shifts the mind into a blissful euphoria that redirects thought from the ordered and analytical to the relaxed and free-association style of thought that characterizes relaxation and insight. And unlike alcohol, which serves a similar function of quieting the work day mental noise, marijuana is not carcinogenic or lethal. Ms. Khamsi expresses the understandable concern that marijuana users will make our roadways more dangerous but this is not supported by data that shows us what actually happens when legal restrictions are eased. A comprehensive review of data from states with medical marijuana laws found that enactment of the laws led to a significant drop in traffic accident deaths by allowing for marijuana to substitute for alcohol, a far more impairing substance. Traffic accident fatalities dropped by 9 percent in medical marijuana states. (Anderson, pending publication in the Journal of Law and Economics, 2013). That is essentially the same level of protection afforded by the passage of mandatory sea belt laws and by increasing the age for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 years. According to research conducted by the automobile insurance company 4autoinsurance.com, marijuana users are safe drivers because, unlike alcohol drinkers, they are aware of their level of impairment and either refuse to drive, delay driving or drive more carefully than normal by reducing speed and not changing lanes. Regular marijuana users showed far less evidence of impairment than did novice and occasional users. Impairment testing is the only way to effectively police for marijuana-impaired drivers without ruining the lives of people who pose no threat on the roadways. The cannabinoid CBD steers THC away from the CB1 receptor, thus dulling or nullifying the mind-altering effects, but CBD does not reduce THC levels in the blood. Therefore, a driver using a high CBD strain of marijuana could test over the THC limit while experiencing no psychoactive effects whatsoever. Consequently, effective and fair impairment assessment techniques will need to be developed. Ms. Khamsi then returns to the health effects of marijuana, but ignores the previously cited benefits of reduced risks for developing numerous cancers, diabetes and other inflammation- and oxidation-based degenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. She then refers to the recent study of data from New Zealand that indicates that teenagers who use marijuana heavily have up to an 8 percent drop in IQ points. Those results were called into question upon review but still indicate a disturbing effect of heavy marijuana use on the developing adolescent brain. Neurologist Dr. Gary Wenk, who has written “a puff is enough” to protect the adult brain from age-related dementia, says that the effect of marijuana on a developing brain, especially in those under 15 years of age, is impairing. Regular use of marijuana by teens may also interfere with social and professional skill development by monopolizing the time and consciousness of teens that enjoy it. Ms. Khamsi correctly notes that black market marijuana is sometimes contaminated with “sand or glass beads” which are far more harmful to the user than cannabis itself. Black market marijuana is also frequently contaminated with insecticides not intended for use on plants that are consumed. Some of these products are neurotoxic and, ironically, may induce neurodegenerative illnesses by interfering with the functions of the endocannabinoid system. (Casida, Annual Review of Entomolgy, 2013) Smuggled marijuana is also stale and often riddled with mold. Given these threats to heavy teenage users, the question needs to be asked: How do we best reduce access to marijuana, especially the most harmful forms of marijuana, by teenagers? One study suggests that multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is the most effective approach for treating teenagers with what is termed “cannabis use disorder” (Rigter, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2012). MDFT essentially reestablishes parental authority and time management in teens’ lives. If parents remain involved in all aspects of their teenage children’s lives, MDFT would not be necessary to correct a deficit in parenting. The best way to prevent teenage substance abuse is for parents to rigorously monitor and guide their children’s activities. By doing this, parents might not prevent experimentation but they can create an environment where regular access to and use of marijuana is impossible. Shrinking and killing off the black market via legalization and regulation can assist parents in this task, by making marijuana more difficult for teens to obtain. Dealers do not card and taking marijuana away from the illicit drug black market will also protect teens from the multiple drug offerings of those dealers. If teens do obtain marijuana on the sly, at least, having been diverted from legal and tested supplies, it will be less likely to be contaminated with more harmful substances. Commercial medical marijuana venders such as Harborside Health Center, which Khamsi mentioned, contract with growers and test their marijuana for safety and potency. Legalization transforms marijuana cultivators from shady criminals into proud artisans. And despite the possible risk of heavy marijuana use to teenagers’ cognition, a study of adolescent binge drinkers found that those who used marijuana suffered significantly less alcohol-related brain damage than the booze-only drinkers (Jacobus, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2009). Consider the irony: Marijuana protects the brains of booze binge drinkers. Ms. Khamsi also mentions increases in emergency room visits and those seeking treatment for marijuana use. The emergency room statistic most frequently cited by opponents of legalization involve the detection of marijuana use via urinalysis, a method that only indicates if marijuana has been used within the last two to four weeks, therefore the data does not indicate that marijuana use caused the emergency room visit. It merely indicates that more people seem to be using marijuana overall (DAWN Drug Abuse Warning Network, HHS, 2008). In fact, two studies have found direct associations between marijuana use and a decrease in emergency room visits (Vinson, Missouri Medicine, 2006 and Gmel, BMC Public Health 9, 2009). The BMC study found that “relative risks decreased with increasing levels of use,” in other words, when more marijuana was used, fewer injuries occurred. This might seem odd until one recalls that a cannabinoid-blocking drug (rimonabant) was rejected for approval by the FDA due to its side-effects, which included an increase in accidents and injuries. Given that smoking marijuana reduces our risks for developing various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-based illnesses along with depression, suicidal tendencies and alcohol-caused traffic accidents, shouldn’t it’s use by adults be encouraged and safe, legal outlets be established? Science has spoken.

Marijuana Use Reduces Obesity

Marijuana use is significantly protective against obesity as well as the harmful illnesses that accompany the syndrome. This is because THC and other cannabinoids work as systemic biological health regulators, the are key to our ability to survive and thrive. We really do need to encourage more adults to use marijuana in some form to improve their health and guard against degenerative illnesses. Science continues to affirm this position. Med Hypotheses. 2013 Feb 11.                                               Cannabis and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC for weight loss?Le Foll B, Trigo JM, et al.

Abstract: Obesity is one of the highest preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the developed world [1]. It has been well known for a long time that exposure to cannabis produces an increase of appetite a phenomenon referred to as the 'munchies'. This phenomenon led to an exploration of the role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of obesity and associated metabolic syndrome. This effort subsequently led to the development of a successful therapeutic approach for obesity that consisted of blocking the cannabinoid CB1 receptors using ligands such as Rimonabant in order to produce weight loss and improve metabolic profile [2]. Despite being efficacious, Rimonabant was associated with increased rates of depression and anxiety and therefore removed from the market. We recently discovered that the prevalence of obesity is paradoxically much lower in cannabis users as compared to non-users and that this difference is not accounted for by tobacco smoking status and is still present after adjusting for variables such as sex and age. Here, we propose that this effect is directly related to exposure to the Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC present in cannabis smoke. We therefore propose the seemingly paradoxical hypothesis that THC or a THC/cannabidiol combination drug may produce weight loss and may be a useful therapeutic for the treatment of obesity and its complications.

via Cannabis and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC ... [Med Hypotheses. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI.

Is Cannabis Really That Bad?

Here is a fairly well-balanced look at what marijuana does and what, if any, risks there are from using it. Of course the author is a bit conservative when addressing the possible benefits, downplaying or dismissing them somewhat, but the evidence is solid, regular use of marijuana improves health more than it harms health. The Scientist Is Cannabis Really That Bad? Though some studies point to negative consequences of pot use in adolescents, data on marijuana’s dangers are mixed.

By Sabrina Richards | January 23, 2013

Marijuana is a tricky drug, alternately demonized as a gateway drug and lionized for its medical promise. And while the juries remain out on both sides of the coin, one thing is clear: its use is on the rise. According to the US Department of Human Health and Services, the number of people in the United States who admit to smoking pot in the last month climbed from 14.4 million in 2007 to over 18 million in 2011.

This increase may in part be due to the lack of strong evidence supporting the suspected risks of cannabis use. Indeed, though marijuana smoke carries carcinogens and tar just as tobacco smoke does, definitive data linking marijuana to lung damage is lacking. And a recent long-term study that seemed to conclusively link chronic marijuana initiated in adolescence to a lowered IQ in New Zealanders was quickly challenged by a counter-analysis that pointed to socioeconomic status as a confounding factor. According to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cannabis use increases in teenagers as marijuana’s perceived risks decline, and researchers—and undoubtedly some parents—are anxious to get to the bottom of the matter.

Take a deep breath

In 2012, a study at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) calculated that even smoking a single joint every day for 20 years might be benign, though most participants only smoked two or three joints each month. “I was surprised we didn’t see effects [of marijuana use],” said UCSF epidemiologist Mark Pletcher, who led the study.

One assessment of various epidemiological studies points to small sample size and poor study design as reasons for scientists’ inability to nail down a link between cannabis and cancer risk. But some suspect that such a link doesn’t exist, and that marijuana may even have cancer-preventive effects. A 2008 study, for example, suggested that smoking marijuana may reduce the risk of tobacco-associated lung cancer, calculating that people who smoke both marijuana and tobacco have a lower risk of cancer than those who smoke only tobacco (though still a higher risk than non-smokers).

But even Pletcher isn’t sanguine about marijuana’s effects on the lungs, and suspects that there may still be long-term lung damage that can be hard to detect. “We really can’t reassure ourselves about heavy use,” he explained.

Your brain on drugs

There is some evidence to suggest that stoned subjects exhibit increased risk-taking and impaired decision-making, and score worse on memory tasks—and residual impairments have been detected days or even weeks after use. Some studies also link years of regular marijuana use to deficits in memory, learning, and concentration. A recent and widely discussed report on the IQs of New Zealanders followed since birth found that cannabis users who’d started their habit in adolescence had lower IQs than non-users.

In this study, led by researchers at Duke University, “you could clearly see as a consequence of cannabis use, IQ goes down,” said Derik Hermann, a clinical neuroscientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany who was not involved in the research.

But not 4 months later, a re-analysis and computer simulation at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo countered the Duke findings. Ole Rogeberg contended that socioeconomic factors, not marijuana use, contributed to the lower IQs seen in cannabis users.

Rogeberg’s conclusion counters a sizeable literature, however, which supports a link between pot use and neurophysiological decline. Studies in both humans and animals suggest that people who acquiring a marijuana habit in adolescence face long-term negative impacts on brain function, with some users finding it difficult to concentrate and learn new tasks.

Notably, most studies on the subject suggest that while there may be negative consequences of smoking as a teen, users who begin in adulthood are generally unaffected. This may be due to endocannabinoid-directed reorganization of the brain during puberty, Hermann explained. The intake of cannabinoids that comes with pot use may cause irreversible “misleading of the neural growth,” he said.

In addition to the consequences for intelligence, many studies suggest that smoking marijuana raises the risk of schizophrenia, and may have similar effects on the brain. Hermann’s group used MRI to detect cannabis-associated neuron damage in the pre-frontal cortex and found that it was similar to brain changes seen in schizophrenia patients. Other studies further suggest that weed-smoking schizophrenics have greater disease-associated brain changes and perform worse on cognitive tests than their non-smoking counterparts.

But much of this research can’t distinguish between brain changes resulting from marijuana use and symptoms associated with the disease. It’s possible that cannabis-smoking schizophrenics “might have unpleasant symptoms [that precede full-blown schizophrenia] and are self-medicating” with the psychotropic drug, said Roland Lamarine, a professor of community health at California State University, Chico. “We haven’t seen an increase in schizophrenics, even with a lot more marijuana use.”

In fact, other research suggests that cannabis-using schizophrenics score better on cognitive tests than non-using schizophrenics. Such conflicting reports may be due to the varying concentrations—and varying effects—of cannabinoids in marijuana. In addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a neurotoxic cannabinoid that is responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering properties, the drug also contains a variety of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), which can protect against neuron damage. Hermann found that the volume of the hippocampus—a brain area important for memory processing—is slightly smaller in cannabis users than in non-users, but more CBD-rich marijuana countered this effect.

A deadly cocktail?

While data supporting the harmful effects of marijuana on its own are weak, some researchers are more worried about the drug in conjunction with other substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine. Some studies suggest, for example, that marijuana may increase cravings for other drugs, leading to its infamous tag as a “gateway drug.” A study published earlier this month supported this theory when it found that, at least in rats, THC exposure increases tobacco’s addictive effects. Furthermore, marijuana may not mix well with prescription drugs, as cannabis causes the liver to metabolize drugs more slowly, raising the risk of drug toxicity.

Despite these concerns, however, Lamarine thinks it’s unlikely that the consequences of cannabis use are dire, given the amount of research that has focused on the subject. “We’re not going to wake up tomorrow to the big discovery that marijuana causes major brain damage,” he said. “We would have seen that by now.”

Cannabinoid-associated cell death mechanisms in ... [Int J Oncol. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI

Marijuana=The Anti-Cancer Plant The cannabinoids in marijuana are powerful anti-cancer agents which work in many ways to suppress and destroy malignant cells. These actions are the dreams of cancer researchers and yet, marijuana remains illegal. Spread the news, using marijuana lowers your risk for developing cancer as well as diabetes and Alzheimer's disease!

Int J Oncol. 2012 Aug

.Cannabinoid-associated cell death mechanisms in tumor models review.Calvaruso G, Pellerito O, Notaro A, Giuliano M.SourceDepartment of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Abstract: In recent years, cannabinoids the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives have received considerable interest due to findings that they can affect the viability and invasiveness of a variety of different cancer cells. Moreover, in addition to their inhibitory effects on tumor growth and migration, angiogenesis and metastasis, the ability of these compounds to induce different pathways of cell death has been highlighted. Here, we review the most recent results generating interest in the field of death mechanisms induced by cannabinoids in cancer cells. In particular, we analyze the pathways triggered by cannabinoids to induce apoptosis or autophagy and investigate the interplay between the two processes. Overall, the results reported here suggest that the exploration of molecular mechanisms induced by cannabinoids in cancer cells can contribute to the development of safe and effective treatments in cancer therapy.

via Cannabinoid-associated cell death mechanisms in ... [Int J Oncol. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI.

Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III

Marijuana fights diabetes, cancer, dementia and more. Once again we see evidence that marijuana helps to improve and protect human health. Both THC and CBD have direct effects on the cellular degeneration that leads to diabetes by combating inflammation and harmful oxidation. How much longer will the public tolerate the inhumane policy of marijuana prohibition which harms us all? Check out this data: Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III

Tripathi B Rajavashisth,1,2 Magda Shaheen,corresponding author3 Keith C Norris,3 Deyu Pan,3 Satyesh K Sinha,1 Juan Ortega,1 and Theodore C Friedman1

Objective

To determine the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988–1994) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Participants

The study included participants of the NHANES III, a nationally representative sample of the US population. The total analytic sample was 10 896 adults. The study included four groups (n=10 896): non-marijuana users (61.0%), past marijuana users (30.7%), light (one to four times/month) (5.0%) and heavy (more than five times/month) current marijuana users (3.3%). DM was defined based on self-report or abnormal glycaemic parameters. We analysed data related to demographics, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol use, total serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, triglyceride, serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D, plasma haemoglobin A1c, fasting plasma glucose level and the serum levels of C reactive protein and four additional inflammatory markers as related to marijuana use.

Main outcome measures

OR for DM associated with marijuana use adjusted for potential confounding variables (ie, odds of DM in marijuana users compared with non-marijuana users).

Results

Marijuana users had a lower age-adjusted prevalence of DM compared to non-marijuana users (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.55; p<0.0001). The prevalence of elevated C reactive protein (>0.5 mg/dl) was significantly higher (p<0.0001) among non-marijuana users (18.9%) than among past (12.7%) or current light (15.8%) or heavy (9.2%) users. In a robust multivariate model controlling for socio-demographic factors, laboratory values and comorbidity, the lower odds of DM among marijuana users was significant (adjusted OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.55; p<0.0001).

Conclusions

Marijuana use was independently associated with a lower prevalence of DM. Further studies are needed to show a direct effect of marijuana on DM.

via Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III.

Study: Marijuana prevents spread of cancer - Salon.com

Marijuana protects our health in so many ways. Using cannabis reduces our chances for developing cancers, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, kidney failure and so much more. It's time for every person of good will to promote legalization because prohibition harms us all. Study: Marijuana prevents spread of cancer

Cannabidiol, a non-toxic marijuana-like compound, can stop metastasis in aggressive forms of the disease

By Kristen Gwynne, Alternet

Topics: AlterNet, Biology, Cancer, Drugs, Health, marijuana, Science, The Huffington Post, Life News, News

Study: Marijuana prevents spread of cancer (Credit: Reuters/Cliff DesPeaux)

Two scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have found that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-toxic marijuana compound that delivers many of weed’s benefits without the high, might stop metastasis in aggressive cancer, “potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.”

AlterNet

The pair, molecular biologist Pierre Desprez and researcher Sean McAllister, mixed CBD and cells with high levels of ID-1, the gene that spreads cancer, in a petri dish. What happened next was a bit of a miracle: ID-1 cells stopped spreading and returned to normal.

“What we found was that his cannabidiol could essentially ‘turn off’ the ID-1,” Desprez told the Huffington Post.

The duo have been studying CBD’s effects on cancer for years, and they first published a paper about the finding in 2007. The results just keep getting better.

“We started by researching breast cancer,” Desprez told HuffPo. “But now we’ve found that cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers — brain, prostate — any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present.”

via Study: Marijuana prevents spread of cancer - Salon.com.

Marijuana And Cancer: Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis In Aggressive Cancers

Marijuana may be your best bet for beating cancer! A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever."It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited," said Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery, to The Huffington Post. "We want to get started with trials as soon as possible."The San Francisco Chronicle first reported on the finding, which has already undergone both laboratory and animal testing, and is awaiting permission for clinical trials in humans.Desprez, a molecular biologist, spent decades studying ID-1, the gene that causes cancer to spread. Meanwhile, fellow researcher Sean McAllister was studying the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Finally, the pair collaborated, combining CBD and cells containing high levels of ID-1 in a petri dish."What we found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially 'turn off' the ID-1," Desprez told HuffPost. The cells stopped spreading and returned to normal."We likely would not have found this on our own," he added. "That's why collaboration is so essential to scientific discovery."Desprez and McAllister first published a paper about the finding in 2007. Since then, their team has found that CBD works both in the lab and in animals. And now, they've found even more good news."We started by researching breast cancer," said Desprez. "But now we've found that Cannabidiol works with many kinds of aggressive cancers--brain, prostate--any kind in which these high levels of ID-1 are present."

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