Cannabis May Raise Risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Viral Shah, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, Adult Clinic School of Medicine University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Shah

Viral Shah, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics
Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, Adult Clinic
School of Medicine
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cannabis use is increasing in Colorado and many patients with type 1 diabetes (which is an autoimmune form of diabetes that requires life insulin therapy) are using cannabis. Therefore, we surveyed adult patients with type 1 diabetes to study the association between cannabis use and glycemic control and diabetes acute complications (such as diabetic ketoacidosis) in adults with type 1 diabetes.

Main findings of the study:  The risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (a serious condition where body produces high levels of acids called ketones in patients with diabetes)  was two times higher among adults with type 1 diabetes who reported using cannabis in the past 12 months compared to adults with type 1 diabetes who reported not using cannabis. Continue reading

Prenatal Heavy Cannabis Exposure May Diminish Cognitive Functioning Into Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience College of Veterinary Medicine Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-7620

Dr. McLaughlin

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-7620

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The use of cannabis during pregnancy is a growing health concern, yet the long-term cognitive ramifications for developing offspring remain largely unknown. Human studies exploring the long-term effects of maternal cannabis use have been sparse for several reasons, including the length and cost of such studies, as well as the fact that experimentally assigning mothers to smoke cannabis during pregnancy is obviously ethically impractical. Animal models of maternal cannabis use have been advantageous in this respect, but they have been limited by the drugs used (synthetic cannabinoids vs. THC vs. cannabis plant) and the way that they are administered. In our study, we used a more translationally relevant animal model of maternal cannabis use that exposes pregnant rat dams to whole plant cannabis extracts using the intra-pulmonary route of administration that is most common to human users. Our preliminary data indicate that twice-daily exposure to a high-dose cannabis extract during pregnancy may produce deficits in cognitive flexibility in adult rat offspring. Importantly, these rats did not experience general learning deficits, as they performed comparably to non-exposed offspring when required to follow a cue in their environment that dictate reinforcer delivery. Instead, deficits were observed only when rats were required to disregard this previous cue-based strategy and adopt a new egocentric spatial strategy in order to continue receiving the sugar reinforcers.

Continue reading

Is there an Association between Cannabis and Acute Kidney Injury in CKD Patients?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Big bags of medical #marijuana on Cannabis Culture News LIVE - watch now on www.pot.tv" by Cannabis Culture is licensed under CC BY 2.0Praveen Kumar Potukuchi, B.Pharm, MS
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Several case reports have indicated that synthetic cannabinoid use is associated with acute kidney injury (AKI). However, it is unclear whether similar adverse effects could occur with medicinal or recreational cannabis use. Previous research has shown that the use of medical marijuana /cannabis for an average of two weeks resulted in no serious adverse effects and no incidence of AKI.

However, there are no studies which investigated the effects of marijuana/cannabis use on the incidence of AKI in patients with advanced CKD.

Continue reading

Should You Get a Ticket For Driving Stoned?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

Prof. Kleiman

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD
Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy
NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: As state after state legalizes the sale of cannabis, the question of cannabis-impaired driving is getting more attention. There is evidence that the practice has become more common, both because cannabis use – and especially heavy, frequent use – has increased and because a distressingly large fraction of cannabis users believe, falsely, that stoned driving is safe.

The natural response to the problem is to treat cannabis on a par with alcohol: fairly severe criminal penalties for impaired driving, with impairment defined by a specific level of the drug in the body. The paper argues that this would be a mistake, for four independent reasons:

– While cannabis makes driving riskier, it does so by about a factor of two, with no strongly observed dependency on dosage. Alcohol, by contrast, has a steep dose-effect curve. At the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content by weight, the relative risk of drunk driving is at least eight; at 0.15%, which is fairly common, the relative risk has been estimated at 30-50. So there is no justification for punishing stoned driving as severely as we punish drunk driving.

– The lack of evidence of a strong dose-effect relationship suggests that a legal standard based on the content of cannabinoids in blood may not be appropriate.

– Even if a blood standard were valid, the lack of a breath test would make enforcing that standard nearly impossible as a practical matter.

– The long and unpredictable course of cannabis metabolism means that frequent users will be at risk of failing a drug test even when they are neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired. Worse, they would have no way of judging in advance whether or not driving would be legal. The result would be a re-criminalization of cannabis use through the back door.  Continue reading

Katexco Pharmaceuticals To Develop Cannabis Derivative CBD to Suppress Inflammatory Conditions

Jonathan Rothbard, MA, PhD Steinman Lab Stanford Medicine Co-founder Katexco Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Rothbard

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Rothbard, MA, PhD
Steinman Lab Stanford Medicine
Co-founder Katexco Pharmaceuticals

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this new company? How did Katexco get its name?

Response: Researchers with Stanford University, Jonathan Rothbard and Lawrence Steinman, formed Katexco Pharmaceuticals. Katexco will focus on developing oral therapies for inflammatory diseases based on cannabis and nicotine receptors.

Katexco will work to develop the first drug to focus on a key receptor on immune cells that are involved in inflammatory disease. The first primary target indications include gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, gout and multiple sclerosis.

Katexco is from the Greek word to restrain or regulate, and we are trying to restrain the immune system in inflammatory disease.

Continue reading

Cannabis Improved Symptoms, but Not Inflammation of Crohn’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Timna Naftali MD
Specialist in Gastroenterology
Meir Hospital and Kupat Holim Clinic,
Tel Aviv University, Israel

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In previous studies we could see that Crohn’s patients improve symptoms when taking cannabis but we did not have good data about actual inflammation.

So, in this study we added a colonoscopy to see if we can detect any change in inflammation. We also wanted to find a better mode of consuming cannabis, other than smoking.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

 Response: The take home massage would be that cannabis may help the patients feel better, but is not a replacement of conventional medical therapy. It should be used as an adjuvant to other treatments in appropriate cases.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Regarding future research, there are many points that should be addressed:

  • Cannabis in laboratory trials does have an anti-inflammatory effect. We have to find a way of translating this effect to clinical treatment
  • What is the best way of administering cannabis? (We certainly do not want to recommend smoking)
  • What is the best dose/combination?
  • What are the long term effects?
  • Which patients, if any, will benefit most?

Citation:

UEG 2018 abstract:
https://live.ueg.eu/week/
Cannabis induces clinical response but no endoscopic response in Crohn’s disease patients

Oct 22, 2018 @ 9:18 pm

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Strong Genetic Component to Psychotic-Like Experiences with Cannabis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Nicole Karcher, PhD
Post-doctoral scholar with the NIMH Training in Clinical Sciences fellowship
Department of Psychiatry
Washington University School of Medicine  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: For over fifteen years, researchers have debated the role that cannabis use plays in the development of both psychotic disorders as well as subthreshold psychotic symptoms, such as psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). There is still a lack of consensus regarding the nature of the association between cannabis use and psychosis risk, with some research finding evidence for genetic overlap, while other research finds evidence for potentially causal pathways.

The current study examined data from twins and siblings from two different samples, the U.S.-based Human Connectome Project and the Australian Twin Registry, with a total of 4,674 participants. Overall, psychotic-like experiences were associated with three separate cannabis use variables [frequent (≥100 times) use, a Cannabis Use Disorder diagnosis, and current cannabis use]. Furthermore, the current research found evidence for both shared genetic and individual-specific contributions to the association between PLEs and these three cannabis use variables. More specifically, while the association between cannabis use and psychotic-like experiences was largely attributable to shared genetic factors, cannabis users were more likely to endorse PLEs in comparison to the relative who used cannabis less.  Continue reading

Recreational Cannabis Linked to Acute Pancreatitis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tarek Alansari, MD Metropolitan HospitalTarek Alansari, MD
Metropolitan Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cannabis is the most frequently consumed recreational drug in the world. The use of cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted by the general public in the United States. The estimates of the prevalence of cannabis use in the United States is about 9.5% in the adult population and the prevalence of dependence or abuse approaches 2.9%. Those under the age of 35 years are the most frequent consumers. According to Business Insider as of June 2018, recreational cannabis is legal in 9 states and medical cannabis is legal in 30 states. Recent surveys show that about 35 million Americans are frequent cannabis users.

Aiming for symptomatic relief, some patients with different gastrointestinal disorders have turned to cannabis without fully understanding the effect of its use for their individual condition.
Biliary tract disease, ethanol abuse, infections, autoimmunity, and genetics are well known causes of acute pancreatitis. However, medication-induced pancreatitis remains a less common etiology. In about 20% of cases of acute pancreatitis despite of the great improvement in genetic testing and imaging modalities, the workup still fails to reveal an etiology. These cases are labeled idiopathic.

Cannabis use is emerging as a rare, possibly overlooked cause of acute pancreatitis with few cases reported in the literature. In the United States, only 5 cases of cannabis – induced acute pancreatitis (AP) have been reported till September 2017. The review of literature revealed that only 26 cases of cannabis-induced AP have been reported worldwide. Continue reading

Cannabinoid Drugs May Slightly Increase Pain Threshold

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Cannabis” by Don Goofy is licensed under CC BY 2.0Martin De Vita, MS

Doctoral Candidate
Clinical Psychology Department
Syracuse University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Despite widely held beliefs that cannabis is effective for pain relief, experimental trials have produced mixed results. As result, the analgesic properties of cannabinoid drugs have remained poorly understood. We aimed to clarify these findings by extracting data from every available experimental pain study and analyzing the results as a whole. We found that numerous aspects of pain were being influenced in different ways. We found that cannabinoid drugs did not significantly reduce the intensity of experimental pain, but they did produce small-sized reductions in pain unpleasantness. Cannabinoids produced significant analgesic effects on pain threshold and tolerance. There was no significant effect of cannabinoids on mechanical hyperalgesia. Continue reading

Cannabis Users Have Increased Neural Activity, Even at Rest

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Francesca M. Filbey PhD Professor Program Head, Cognition and Neuroscience PhD Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth UT Dallas

Dr. Filbey

Dr. Francesca M. Filbey PhD
Professor
Program Head, Cognition and Neuroscience PhD
Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth
UT Dallas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The cannabis literature has generally focused on changes in brain function when engaged in a task. We were interested in examining whether these differences are present when not engaged in a task (i.e., during resting state) to understand baseline functional organization of the brain. Changes to baseline functional organization may reflect changes in brain networks underlying cognition. We also wanted to investigate whether specific brain waves, as measured by electroencephalography (EEG), are associated with measures of cannabis use, such as craving.

Continue reading

More Than 2 Million High School Students Have Used Marijuana in an E-Cigarette

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katrina Trivers, PhD, MSP Lead author and lead epidemiologist Office on Smoking and Health CDC

Dr. Trivers

Katrina Trivers, PhD, MSP
Lead author and lead epidemiologist
Office on Smoking and Health
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Although we’ve seen considerable declines in the use of regular cigarettes among U.S. youth over the past several decades, the tobacco product landscape is evolving, and the use of other tobacco products have become increasingly popular. For example, as of 2014, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among US youth. During 2011-2015, e-cigarette use increased 900% among U.S. high school students before declining in 2016. No change was observed in 2017, with about 2 million youth, including 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students, reporting they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

This is a public health concern because the use of any form of tobacco product is unsafe among youth, irrespective of whether it’s smoked, smokeless, or electronic. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that the aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes is not harmless. It can contain harmful ingredients, including nicotine, carbonyl compounds, and volatile organic compounds known to have adverse health effects. The nicotine in these products is of particular concern given that nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.

In recent years, many youth have also been using other psychoactive substances in e-cigarettes, including cannabinoids and other illicit drugs. This could have been fueled, in part, by shifts in the social acceptability and access to cannabis as several states have or are considering legalized cannabis sales for adults. A previous CDC study found that in 2015, almost 1 in 3 students reported using e-cigarettes with non-nicotine substances. However, it wasn’t possible to identify what exactly those substances were based on the question. Given the high concurrent use of tobacco and other substances, including cannabis, a more detailed question was added to a future survey to assess the use of cannabis in e-cigarettes among U.S. youth. This study presents the findings from that question.

Continue reading

Patient-Reported Symptom Relief Following Medical Cannabis Consumption

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jacob M. Vigil, PhD
Department of Psychology
University of New Mexico

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

 

Response: For the past several years we have been using observational research designs as a means to overcome some of the logistical and legal barriers for conducting patient outcomes medical cannabis research. In partnership with the software developers of the Releaf App which currently is the largest repository of user-entered information on the consumption and effects of cannabis use in the United States, we have been able to measure how patients choose to consume cannabis and the effects of those choices in real-time.  Since its release in 2016, the commercially developed Releaf App has been the only publicly available, incentive-free patient educational software program designed for recording how individual cannabis usage sessions correspond to immediate changes in symptom intensity levels and experienced side effects.

Continue reading

Breast Milk Can Contain THC From Cannabis For Almost a Week

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

cannabis

Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH
Principal investigator
Professor in the Department of Pediatrics
UC San Diego School of Medicine
Drector of clinical research at Rady Children’s Hospital
San Diego 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although cannabis is one of the most common recreational drugs used by pregnant and breastfeeding women, there is little current research regarding potential exposure of the breastfed infant.  As a result, pediatricians are lacking concrete evidence to help support advice to breastfeeding mothers who use cannabis.  This is particularly important as cannabis products available today are substantially more potent than products available in years past.

Our group in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Better Beginnings was interested in first determining how much if any of the ingredients in cannabis actually transfer into breastmilk and how long these metabolites might stay in the milk after the mom’s last use.  We invited mothers who are participating in our UCSD Human Milk Research Biorepository from across the U.S. and Canada to respond to questions about use of cannabis products over the previous 14 days and to provide a breast milk sample.

Fifty mothers participated in the study.  Samples were analyzed by investigators from the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

Our major finding was that low, but measurable levels of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, were found in about 2/3 of the samples.  Although the number of hours after mother’s last use of cannabis that THC was still measurable varied widely, the longest time since mother’s last use that THC was still present was about 6 days.  Continue reading

Accelerated Aging Seen on Brain Imaging with Schizophrenia and Cannabis Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder Costa Mesa, CA

Dr. Daniel Amen

Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD
Amen Clinics, Inc., Founder
Costa Mesa, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging.

SPECT was used to determine aging trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age of the patient.

Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging.  The study found that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging), bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).  Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different types of brain patterns for these disorders.

Continue reading

Brain Imaging Reveals How Prolonged Intermittent Cannabis Can Induce Memory Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences
Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and
Francisco Mouro, PhD
Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine
University of Lisbon, Portugal

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines.

In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication.  Continue reading

Study Identifies How Medical Marijuana May Ease IBD Symptoms

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Beth A. McCormick, Ph.D. Professor and Vice Chair | Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems Founding Executive Director | University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research Board of Editors | Gastroenterology University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester, MA 01655

Dr. McCormick

Beth A. McCormick, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chair | Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems
Founding Executive Director | University of Massachusetts Center for Microbiome Research
Board of Editors | Gastroenterology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Worcester, MA 01655

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been extensive, but to date mostly anecdotal, support for a beneficial role for cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents to provide benefit for symptoms in individuals suffering from intestinal inflammatory disease (IBD).

Our studies have provided one possible rationale for these previous findings: that there is a constitutively active efflux system at the luminal surface of cells that line the intestine that pumps out one class of lipids of the family known as endocannabinoids. In doing so, the intestine floods this surface with these endocannabinoids in a manner that counteracts the actions of a particular potent stimulators of intestinal inflammation that appears to be over-active in certain forms of IBD. This is most significant because a number of cannabinoids and cannabis-derived agents can mimic the actions of this class of endocannabinoids. Moreover, while cannabinoids and endocannabinoids have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory actions, these studies have identified one mechanism used by the body to localize and focus this protective function at a critical site where pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory events intersect, providing new insights into how to treat that imbalance in these process that occurs in certain forms of IBD.

Therefore, there is the immediate opportunity to use this research to identify new therapeutic strategies to treat individuals suffering from IBD that could include either agents extracted from marijuana plants or novel molecules selected based upon superior properties made obvious by this newly defined mechanism.

Continue reading

Pancreatic Cancer: Cannabidiol + Chemotherapy Improved Survival (in mice)

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof Marco Falasca Head Metabolic Signalling Group  School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences | Faculty of Health Sciences Curtin University Western University

Prof. Falasca

Prof Marco Falasca
Head Metabolic Signalling Group
School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences
Curtin University
Western University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Each year around 9,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease is particularly aggressive and has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers.

Indeed, the life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available. Given the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is less than seven per cent, the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed.

In this study, we decided to concentrate on a protein, named GPR55, found in high levels in pancreatic cancer. Our results show that GPR55 promotes pancreatic cancer progression. Consequently, we decided to use its inhibitor cannabidiol, a naturally occurring constituent of medicinal cannabis, as a pharmacological strategy to block GPR55 activity.

Strikingly, mice with pancreatic cancer that were treated with cannabidiol alongside chemotherapy, survived almost three times longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone, our study reports.  Continue reading

COPD: Vaporized Cannabis Did Not Reduce Breathlessness or Improve Exercise Capacity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

cannabis

Sara Abdallah, PhD Student, first author and
Dennis Jensen, PhD Associate Professor,
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Associate Dean – Infrastructure, Faculty of Education
Director, McGill Research Center for Physical Activity and Health
Canada Research Chair in Clinical Exercise & Respiratory Physiology
Associate Member, Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program
Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suffer from severe breathlessness at rest and on minimal exertion despite receiving optimal drug therapy for their underlying disease (e.g., bronchodilators). In these patients, breathlessness significantly diminishes exercise capacity and quality of life. Thus, research focused on identifying adjunct therapies for management of breathlessness in patients with advanced COPD is clinically relevant.

A series of studies conducted in the 1970’s found that smoked cannabis caused bronchodilation (i.e., improved airway function) in healthy individuals and in patients with asthma. More recently, it has been demonstrated that delta-9 (∆9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the major cannabinoid constituent of cannabis) inhibits cholinergic contractions in isolated human bronchi and that a positive association exists between measure of lung function (e.g., forced expiratory volume in 1-sec) and cannabis use in patients with COPD. These studies lead us to hypothesize that inhalation of vaporized cannabis may alleviate exertional breathlessness and improve exercise tolerance in patients with advanced COPD by improving airway function at rest and during exercise. Continue reading

Study finds Cannabis Use Not Associated With Increased Suicide Risk in Patients with Psychiatric Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Leen Naji, BHSc, MD
Family Medicine Resident
McMaster University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cannabis use has consistently been linked to suicide attempt in the general population, but little data exists linking the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt amongst patients with psychiatric disorders. This is important data as we know that patients with psychiatric disorders are both more likely to use cannabis and to attempt suicide. Therefore, our goal was to study the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt amongst patients with psychiatric disorders. Additionally, since we know that women are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders, are more likely to attempt suicide and are more likely to incur the deleterious consequences of drug use at lower doses, we sought to compare the association between cannabis use and suicide attempt in men and women amongst our study population.

We conducted our analysis on a large sample of over 900 adults with psychiatric disorders (465 men, 444 women), of whom 112 men and 158 women had attempted suicide. The average age of our study sample was 40 years.

We found that cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of suicide in patients with psychiatric disorders, though this association may vary when looking at specific subpopulations and/or amount of cannabis use. For instance, we found that heavier cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of suicide attempt amongst men with psychiatric disorders. Specifically, there was a 3% increased risk of suicide attempt for every day of cannabis use per month in men with psychiatric disorders. We also found that amongst those with psychiatric conditions, women, unemployed individuals and those with a mood disorder were at increased risk of suicide attempt.   Continue reading

Age of First Pot Smoking Does Matter

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Natalie Castellanos Ryan, PhD

École de Psychoéducation
Université de Montréal
Outremont Canada 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Our study followed a group of boys living in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods in Montreal (N=1030) from early childhood to 28 years of age to investigate:

1) whether the age at which one starts to use cannabis across adolescence is associated with the risk of developing drug abuse by early adulthood, when one controls for  arrange of known risk factors for cannabis use and problems assessed across development (risk factors in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood); and

2) the developmental pathways from early risk factors to drug abuse problems.

To examine these associations, the study collected  self-reported cannabis use information from these boys annually from ages 13 to 17 years and drug abuse symptoms at 28 years, as well as teacher, parent and child reported information on a number of environmental (family and friend) and child characteristics (e.g., impulsivity, delinquency, school performance) across childhood and adolescence. Alcohol and other drug use was also assessed across adolescence and early adulthood.

Continue reading

Less Restrictive Marijuana Laws Linked To Reduced Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant

Hefei Wen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management & Policy
University of Kentucky College of Public Health 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Marijuana is one of the potential, non-opioid alternatives that can relieve pain at a relatively lower risk of addiction and virtually no risk of overdose. Medical and adult-use marijuana laws, has made marijuana available to more Americans. Yet no study to date has focused on the effect of medical and adult-use marijuana laws on opioid prescribing in particular.

Our study provides some of the first empirical evidence that the implementation of medical and adult-use marijuana laws between 2011 and 2016 was associated with lower opioid prescribing rates and spending among Medicaid enrollees.   Continue reading

States with Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Had Bigger Drop in Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with

“Cannabis sativa” by Manuel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

David Bradford, Ph.D.
Busbee Chair in Public Policy
Department of Public Administration and Policy
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: To give you some background, in 2016, part of our research team (Bradford and Bradford) published the first study to directly examine the impact that medical cannabis laws (MCLs) may be having on prescription use. We used yearly physician-level Medicare Part D data, looked at nearly all prescription drugs used to treat 9 broad categories of illness/diagnoses, and found substantial reductions in prescriptions. We published a follow-up study in 2017, this time using data from Medicaid Fee-for-Service.

Again, we found significant substitution away from prescription medications. In both of these studies, pain was included in the list of conditions for which cannabis may be used in patients, and in both studies, pain prescriptions fell. One of the unanswered questions from both of those studies, though, was what *type* of pain medications were being reduced.  From a public health standpoint, when we’re worried about opioid overdose, it matters whether the substitution away from pain medications is coming from substitutions away from things like NSAIDs or whether there is substitution away from opioids.

Continue reading

Teen Marijuana Use Did Not Increase After Passage of Medical Marijuana Laws

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“medical marijuana : strains and varieties” by torbakhopper is licensed under CC BY 2.0Professor Deborah Hasin PhD
Department of Epidemiology in Psychiatry
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: We began to think about this study after we published an earlier report (Hasin et al., The Lancet Psychiatry 2015) showing that after state medical marijuana laws (MML) were passed, U.S. teen marijuana use did not increase compared to the period before the laws were passed and to overall national trends. However, people continued to question whether MML led to teen increases in marijuana use. Therefore, in the present study, we combined findings from 11 large-scale national studies of teens to provide a more definite answer.

The findings were clear that teen marijuana use did not increase after passage of medical marijuana laws.  Continue reading

More Car Crashes on 4/20 Marijuana Celebration Day

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. John A Staples, MD, FRCPC, MPH Scientist, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences Clinical Assistant Professor University of British ColumbiaDr. John A Staples
MD, FRCPC, MPH
Scientist, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of British Columbia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Around 64 million Americans live in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Many policymakers are trying to figure out what that means for traffic safety.

On April 20th, some Americans participate in an annual “4/20” counterculture holiday that celebrates and promotes the use of cannabis. Some 4/20 events such as those in Denver and San Francisco involve thousands of participants. Much like celebrations at midnight on New Year’s eve, public 4/20 events sometimes mark 4:20 p.m. by a countdown followed by synchronized mass consumption of cannabis. We thought this was a perfect natural experiment to evaluate the influence that cannabis intoxication has on the risk of motor vehicle crash.

To examine this question, we analyzed 25 years of data on all fatal traffic crashes in the United States. We compared the number of drivers in crashes between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20th to the number of drivers in crashes during the same time interval on control days one week earlier and one week later.

We found that the risk of crash involvement was 12% higher on April 20th than on control days. In the subgroups of drivers younger than 21 years of age, the risk of crash involvement was 38% higher on April 20th than on control days.

Assuming fewer than 12% of Americans celebrate 4/20, our results suggest that substance use at April 20th celebrations more than doubles the risk of fatal crash.

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Marijuana Dispensaries Have Ability To Reduce Opioid Overdoses and Substance Abuse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Powell  PhD Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School RAND, Santa Monica     MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?   Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.  We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?  Response: We find that the introduction of medical marijuana dispensaries has the potential to reduce opioid-related harms quite significantly.  More broadly, it also suggests that, when we think about the opioid crisis, improving access to pain management alternatives may be a useful mechanism for reducing dependence on opioids.        MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?  Response: During most of the time period that we studied, prescription opioids were driving the opioid crisis, but it has recently transitioned to the point where heroin and illicit synthetic opioids are playing more prominent roles.  We are hesitant to suggest that medical marijuana access will have the same scope in a climate in which synthetic opioids and heroin are the primary substances of abuse.  Future work could do more to explore the potential of different types of medical marijuana laws to reduce overdoses related to these substances.        Citations: Do medical marijuana laws reduce addictions and deaths related to pain killers? ☆ •David Powella, , ,  •	Rosalie Liccardo Paculaa, b,  Mireille Jacobsonb  RAND, Santa Monica, United States  NBER Cambridge, MA, United StatesUniversity of California, Irvine, United States Received 14 November 2015, Revised 15 August 2017, Accepted 30 December 2017, Available online 3 February 2018  Journal of Health Economics Volume 58, March 2018, Pages 29–42  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.12.007     The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Dr. Powell

David Powell  PhD
Economist; Core Faculty, Pardee RAND Graduate School
RAND, Santa Monica 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been some research suggesting that the adoption of state medical marijuana laws leads to reductions in prescriptions for opioid analgesics among certain populations and opioid-related overdoses overall.  However, medical marijuana laws are very different across states and they have changed over time as well.  We wanted to understand what components of a medical marijuana law could potentially lead to reductions in overdoses and substance abuse.  We focused specifically on the role of dispensaries, given their importance in providing access to medical marijuana, and tested for different effects in states with and without legally-protected and operational dispensaries.

We found that dispensaries are critical to reduce opioid-related overdoses and substance abuse.  We also found evidence that more recently-adopting states have experienced smaller reductions in overdoses and opioid substance abuse, potentially because the more recent adopters tend to enforce more stringent guidelines for dispensaries than the early adopters.   Continue reading