Category Archives: Medical

Results of Unprecedented Cannabis Study Unveiled at Jerusalem Health Conference

5/29/2016 UPDATE:

The Israel National Institute For Health Policy Research has provided us with a copy of the initial results from the study Health Utilization and Characterization of Patients Using Medical Cannabis in Israel. Here are the real facts of the study:

Israel is seeing a significant increase in the use of medical cannabis. The law approves its use for non-cancer and cancer pain, nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and more. The number of licensed users in Israel currently reaches over 23,500 users. It was observed that no evaluation or follow-up of these patients was taking place.

The objective of the study was to follow-up with new users of medical cannabis, and only those who were medicating for pain, for four months to determine and characterize:

  • socio-demographic and disease profile
  • indications for cannabis prescription
  • methods of administration
  • exposure and dose
  • past treatments up until cannabis authorization
  • long-term side-effects and safety
  • compliance and drop-out
  • effectiveness of treatment in accordance with initial indications

213 patients were interviewed (65 of them cancer patients). The majority of patients had tried different treatment before cannabis and decided to give cannabis a try due to side effects or lack of efficiency of other treatments.

79.9% of cancer patients and 67.1% of non-cancer patients reported a variety of side effects, with the most frequent being hunger, dry mouth, elevated mood and tiredness.

79 non-cancer patients (interviewed eight months after approval) indicated a decrease in the worst pain reported in the last 24 hours from 8.5±1.6 before treatment to 7.1±2.7 in the first interview and 6.7±2.8 in the second interview (p<0.0001).

Only 9% of the patients reported on the first interview that they had stopped using medical cannabis.

The study concluded that monitoring of medical cannabis use is essential and will influence the future decision about this scientifically controversial issue, and that evaluating outcomes of medical cannabis has important health policy implications and should be a priority for policymakers.


ORIGINAL COPY:

The 6th International Jerusalem Conference on Health Policy, held May 23-25, provided a platform for exploring the dynamic evolution of health policy worldwide and acknowledging its complex, uncertain and interactive nature. Pesach Shvartzman, one of Israel’s leading family physicians and a prominent expert in both pain control and palliative medicine, took this opportunity to unveil the findings of an “unprecedented” cannabis study he has been heading since the latter part of 2013.

The study was performed to help determine whether patients experience any after-effects from cannabis use, how many of them stop using it and why. “We couldn’t find any similar study in the world,” Schwartzman said. “It’s a rapidly growing business and we need to know what we’re doing to our patients when we give them cannabis.”

“In Israel and the world there’s anecdotal evidence about the use of cannabis, showing that it can be beneficial in certain conditions. The most common condition is usually pain from a neurological source. There’s also evidence it helps in cases of multiple sclerosis. Some cancer patients testify that it helps in cases of appetite loss and nausea. In contrast, there are negative effects such as severe cases of psychosis.” – Prof. Shvartzman

Financed by the National Institute for Health Policy Research, and conducted together with Dr. Silvio Brill (who heads the Pain Treatment Unit at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and is also chairman of the Israel Pain Association) and Dr. Itai Gur-Arie (the head of the Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer’s Pain Management Unit), the study was to follow new cannabis users for two years. It was also to be based on interviews held with 1,500-2,000 patients who agreed to take part in the project. The premise of the study was to look at their socioeconomic characteristics, disease profiles, the medical indications for use, dosages, treatment given to the patient before giving cannabis, treatment safety, side effects, response and effectiveness of treatment and the patient’s use of health services before and after treatment.

The patients would be observed at three pain clinics and interviewed by phone during the first three months of their treatment and then every four months for two years, enabling the scientists to ascertain the cannabis’ success and effectiveness, as well as which uses are more effective and what kind of patients benefit the most from cannabis treatment. Most of the users reported in later interviews that their pain, nausea, anxiety, appetite and general feeling had improved. Fewer than one in 10 stopped taking the drug after the first interview and 6% after the second interview.

At the Health Policy conference, Shvartzman unveiled results of the study (as outlined in the update above) and concluded that most users experienced significant improvement in pain and function, but that cannabis also caused side effects, with more than 77% reporting side effects, all of which are minor. It is interesting to note here that the majority smoked the cannabis as opposed to ingesting oil or vaporization.

The study revealed the worse side effects of cannabis to be dry mouth and hunger.

The most frequent side effects were dry mouth (60.6%); hunger (60%); high moods (44%); sleepiness (23%); fatigue (28.6%); red eyes (32%); and blurred vision (13%). Let’s compare that to prescription drugs. Side effects of prescription drugs are inevitable, even with federal regulations that oversee these drugs. In fact, each year 4.5 million Americans visit an emergency room or doctor’s office for adverse prescription drug side effects and a startling 2 million other patients who are already hospitalized suffer the ill effects of prescription drugs even while under the care of medical professionals. This includes death, physical debilitation, heart conditions, stroke and cancer, just to name a few.

Shvartzman reported that some 42% of all the patients had been referred to medical cannabis by their doctors, while only 24% from a friend or family member. The prescriptions for the drug were most commonly given by palliative medicine specialists, orthopedists and other specialists, and only a tiny minority (0.4%) from the family physician. The majority of the participants (99.6%) sought medical cannabis as a treatment after conventional medications proved ineffective and nearly 56% said they wanted it because the previous drugs caused side effects.

The results of this study are promising, but before medicinal cannabis can be made more widely available and accepted as a viable treatment, even for conditions such as chronic pain in which the evidence of benefit is strongest, governments, businesses and so on will need to be more supportive of research on the medical uses of cannabis and provide the leadership necessary to change how the drug is currently scheduled.

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Results of Unprecedented Cannabis Study Unveiled at Jerusalem Health Conference
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

Results of Unprecedented Cannabis Study Unveiled at Jerusalem Conference

The 6th International Jerusalem Conference on Health Policy, held May 23-25, provided a platform for exploring the dynamic evolution of health policy worldwide and acknowledging its complex, uncertain and interactive nature. Pesach Shvartzman, one of Israel’s leading family physicians and a prominent expert in both pain control and palliative medicine, took this opportunity to unveil the findings of an “unprecedented” cannabis study he has been heading since the latter part of 2013.

The study was performed to help determine whether patients experience any after-effects from cannabis use, how many of them stop using it and why. “We couldn’t find any similar study in the world,” Schwartzman said. “It’s a rapidly growing business and we need to know what we’re doing to our patients when we give them cannabis.”

“In Israel and the world there’s anecdotal evidence about the use of cannabis, showing that it can be beneficial in certain conditions. The most common condition is usually pain from a neurological source. There’s also evidence it helps in cases of multiple sclerosis. Some cancer patients testify that it helps in cases of appetite loss and nausea. In contrast, there are negative effects such as severe cases of psychosis.” – Prof. Shvartzman

Financed by the National Institute for Health Policy Research, and conducted together with Dr. Silvio Brill (who heads the Pain Treatment Unit at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and is also chairman of the Israel Pain Association) and Dr. Itai Gur-Arie (the head of the Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer’s Pain Management Unit), the study was to follow new cannabis users for two years. It was also to be based on interviews held with 1,500-2,000 patients who agreed to take part in the project. The premise of the study was to look at their socioeconomic characteristics, disease profiles, the medical indications for use, dosages, treatment given to the patient before giving cannabis, treatment safety, side effects, response and effectiveness of treatment and the patient’s use of health services before and after treatment.

The patients would be observed at three pain clinics and interviewed by phone during the first three months of their treatment and then every four months for two years, enabling the scientists to ascertain the cannabis’ success and effectiveness, as well as which uses are more effective and what kind of patients benefit the most from cannabis treatment. Most of the users reported in later interviews that their pain, nausea, anxiety, appetite and general feeling had improved. Fewer than one in 10 stopped taking the drug after the first interview and 6% after the second interview.

At the Health Policy conference, Shvartzman unveiled results of the study (we have reached out to the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research, as well as the Jerusalem Post in an attempt to obtain a copy of the findings, but we have not received a response yet) and concluded that most users experienced significant improvement in pain and function, but that cannabis also caused side effects, with more than 77% reporting side effects, all of which are minor. It is interesting to note here that the majority smoked the cannabis as opposed to ingesting oil or vaporization.

The study revealed the worse side effects of cannabis to be dry mouth and hunger.

The most frequent side effects were dry mouth (60.6%); hunger (60%); high moods (44%); sleepiness (23%); fatigue (28.6%); red eyes (32%); and blurred vision (13%). Let’s compare that to prescription drugs. Side effects of prescription drugs are inevitable, even with federal regulations that oversee these drugs. In fact, each year 4.5 million Americans visit an emergency room or doctor’s office for adverse prescription drug side effects and a startling 2 million other patients who are already hospitalized suffer the ill effects of prescription drugs even while under the care of medical professionals. This includes death, physical debilitation, heart conditions, stroke and cancer, just to name a few.

Shvartzman reported that some 42% of all the patients had been referred to medical cannabis by their doctors, while only 24% from a friend or family member. The prescriptions for the drug were most commonly given by palliative medicine specialists, orthopedists and other specialists, and only a tiny minority (0.4%) from the family physician. The majority of the participants (99.6%) sought medical cannabis as a treatment after conventional medications proved ineffective and nearly 56% said they wanted it because the previous drugs caused side effects.

The results of this study are promising, but before medicinal cannabis can be made more widely available and accepted as a viable treatment, even for conditions such as chronic pain in which the evidence of benefit is strongest, governments, businesses and so on will need to be more supportive of research on the medical uses of cannabis and provide the leadership necessary to change how the drug is currently scheduled.

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Results of Unprecedented Cannabis Study Unveiled at Jerusalem Conference
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

Cannabis Infused Cooking Oil

Cannabis infused cooking oils, commonly referred to as canna oils, are popular among patients and caregivers looking to infuse everything from salad dressings to sauces to baked goods. Most oils are vegan-friendly and extremely easy to add into recipes, making marijuana-infused cooking oils a must-have when it comes to cooking with cannabis at home. Additionally, infused cooking oils may serve as a healthy substitute for butter in many recipes.

How to Make Cannabis Infused Cooking Oil (Canna Oil)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups olive oil (preferred) or canola oil (backup)
  • ~1 ounce cannabis buds, finely ground (or) ~2 ounces of leaf trim, dried and finely ground

Recipe

In a heavy saucepan (or a double boiler), slowly heat oil on low heat for a few minutes. You should begin to smell the aroma coming from the oil. Add a little bit of cannabis to the oil and then stir until it is fully coated with oil. Keep adding more cannabis until the entire amount of cannabis is mixed into the oil. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool before straining. Press the cannabis against a metal strainer with the back of a spoon to wring all the oil out of it. The oil is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Throw the leftover cannabis in the compost.

Cooking Suggestions

Any affordable virgin olive oil works nicely for this recipe. If you plan on using your Canna Oil for salad dressings or pasta, we recommend you use a fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

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Cannabis Infused Cooking Oil
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

Germany to Completely Legalize Medical Marijuana by 2017

Germany is working towards legalizing marijuana for medical purposes by the spring of next year.  Under a draft proposal introduced this week by German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe, seriously ill patients will qualify for medical marijuana if they have no other treatment options or existing treatments are ineffective.

Under the proposal, which was given preliminary approval by the German government Wednesday, dried cannabis flowers and extracts will be available at pharmacies, and the cost will be covered by the patient’s public health insurance.

“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way.” – Minister Hermann Gröhe

Germany already allows patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis access to medical marijuana with special approval from the government, but all expenses must be paid by the patient.  Approximately 650 Germans have received the necessary permissions, according to the Health Ministry.

“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” Minister Gröhe said in a press release issued Wednesday.

ministerThe proposed law will allow the domestic cultivation of cannabis by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, who will supply medical marijuana to pharmacies.  Until domestic crops are available, Germany plans on importing marijuana, likely from the Netherlands. Additionally, the new law would allow research studies on the effects of medical marijuana to be conducted on actual sick patients, which is supported by the country’s federal drug commissioner.

“The limited use of cannabis as medicine is reasonable, but it also needs to be researched further,” said drug commissioner Marlene Mortler, who emphasized that the proposal was intended for medical, not recreational, marijuana use.

Gröhe’s proposal still needs the approval of Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, before it becomes law.  That approval, however, is expected to be a mere formality he says, and he expects the program to be implemented by next spring.

“Without wishing to pre-judge the work of the Bundestag, it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017,” Groehe said.

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Germany to Completely Legalize Medical Marijuana by 2017
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

How Much is a Gram, Eighth, Quarter, Half, and Ounce of Weed?

Unless you’re one of the fortunate ones able to purchase cannabis in person at a local dispensary, you’ll generally get your medication from a delivery service, on a street corner, or from a friend [or even a friend of a friend]. Present laws and politics in most jurisdictions differ significantly so there is little chance to compare product, making much of the strain-specific and pricing information unreliable across the board. A strain from one source can differ almost entirely from a strain from another source, even though they have the same strain name.

More disturbing, is the fact that some people are paying more for low-grade cannabis than patients obtaining lab tested, high-grade medication with a doctor’s recommendation or MMJ card. So, how do you know when you’re overspending or getting a good deal? To become an educated cannabis consumer, you first need to become familiar with the different weights cannabis is typically packaged and sold in, as well as how much you should be prepared to spend at each of the different weights.

How much weed should I buy as a first-time patient?

That’s a tricky question — with no correct answer. Everyone is different, and each situation you find yourself in will require fast-thinking on your part as the buyer. Cannabis is typically weighed, packaged, and sold by the gram, eighth (⅛), quarter (¼), half (½), and/or 1 ounce (frequently referred to as a “zip”). The amount of cannabis you should consider purchasing at any given time is dependent on a variety of factors, including, but not limited too, how much you smoke on a daily basis, your desired use-case [vaporizing or packing your bowls take significantly less cannabis than rolling joints, blunts, etc.], the quality of the bud in question, and your budget at the time.

There is an obvious cost-savings when investing in larger quantities of cannabis, but many first-time patients will not need more than an eighth (⅛) of cannabis to last them for a few days [or even weeks for those who rarely medicate]. As such, it is recommended that first-time patients start low [1 gram – 1 eighth] -eventually working your way up to larger quantities as you become more and more familiar with the amount of cannabis that you personally need. Do not feel the need or pressure to overspend just to save some extra bucks, especially if you foresee yourself taking just 1-2 hits per session; you can [almost] always get more cannabis when you run out of your current stash.

how much is an eighth of weed

How much does an eighth of marijuana weigh?

How many grams are in an eighth of cannabis? Well, to be exact, an eighth of an ounce is 3.54375 grams; however, the standard practice most dispensaries use is to round it to 3.5 grams. Some generous dispensaries and deliveries will give you a free 0.5 grams, making an eighth 4.0 grams — although dispensaries that do this most likely make up the difference by increasing the cost of the eighth from the get-go.

The “size” of an eighth of cannabis depends on a couple of different factors. Compressed/bricked weed will be more compact thus taking up less space than a fresh flower which tends to be fuller. Many times Indica-dominant strains will have a more compact bud structure, whereas Sativa-dominant strains are often light, fluffy, and airy. Generally speaking, an eighth should yield around 15-35 doses, but could last longer if you are micro-dosing (or) it could last shorter if you are rolling your weed into joints, blunts, etc…

How much should a eighth of weed cost?

The simple answer: it depends. Location, availability, method of growth, and the grade and quality of the cannabis will all affect its price. Generally speaking, most eighths are sold between $30 and $75, with $60 being the average price for pristine, well-grown cannabis. Legal marijuana dispensaries [especially in California] frequently implement $30 “caps” for eighths to attract a larger patient base that are budget conscious. Essentially, this just means the dispensary will never raise the price of an eighth over their advertised ceiling/cap price.

If you are in Los Angeles or another Californian city, you should be wary of buying cannabis from these locations, as most of these dispensaries are working around a legal loophole and are technically considered illegal due to the fact they are not included on the list of storefronts that have pre-ICO status. Additionally, the low price point typically means the cannabis they vend is not lab tested for pesticides, mold, and/or potency — factors every patient should be looking for when buying cannabis.

How much cannabis do I need to feel the effects?

The average amount of cannabis you need to feel the effects is around 0.2 grams, but the amount does vary from patient to patient and plant to plant. A new patient may start to feel it working with as little as 0.05g, while someone who medicates on a daily basis may need .25 grams or more to achieve their desired effect. The more sparkling trichomes you see on your buds, the less product you need to use. If it is your first time using marijuana, it is recommended to start low and go slow (eg. use a very small amount — just 1-2 puffs worth). Allow a couple of minutes to feel and get comfortable with the effects before continuing to medicate.

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How Much is a Gram, Eighth, Quarter, Half, and Ounce of Weed?
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

Governor Signs Law Making Pennsylvania the 24th Medical Marijuana State

Surrounded by hundreds of patients and advocates at the state capitol, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bill on Sunday afternoon that will make the Keystone State the 24th state in the nation, plus the District of Columbia, to pass a law creating an effective, comprehensive medical marijuana program.

The bill, Senate Bill 3, was given final approval last week by both chambers of the Pennsylvania Legislature, and Wolf’s signature on the bill marks the end of a seven year battle to bring medical cannabis to the Commonwealth, a journey marred by roadblocks and detours.  Opposition from House Republicans almost killed the proposal last year, and recent changes to wording in the bill had many advocates worried that final concurrence between both legislative chambers could have prevented the bill’s passage before the end of the legislative session this summer, forcing the legislature to start the process over next year.

“I am proud and excited to sign this bill that will provide long overdue medical relief to patients and families who could benefit from this treatment.” — Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D)

The governor had advocated heavily for the passage of the legislation, and the state capitol in Harrisburg was lit green Sunday evening to celebrate the bill’s passage.

“I support the legalization of medical marijuana and I believe it is long past time to provide this important medical relief to patients and families across the Commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said last month while the bill was still in limbo in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

After the bill received final approval and concurrence from both chambers of the legislature, Gov. Wolf praised the legislature for passing a medical marijuana bill that, at times, appeared to be destined for failure.

“I applaud members of both parties in the House and Senate who have come together to help patients who have run out of medical options and want to thank the thousands of advocates who have fought tirelessly for this cause,”  Wolf said in a statement Thursday, after the bill’s final passage.

mmj symbolNow that Senate Bill 3 has been signed into law by Gov. Wolf, it will take effect in 30 days. The Pennsylvania Department of Health will then begin the process of implementing the medical marijuana program, which is expected to take between 18 and 24 months.  The Department of Health is required under the law to propose temporary regulations within six months.

Once the program is fully operational, medical marijuana products will be made available at state-licensed dispensaries to patients who are under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition.  Up to 150 medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in Pennsylvania.  There will be a total of 50 licenses available to companies, who may operate up to three dispensaries each. The state will issue up to 25 permits to growers and processors to supply the dispensaries with cannabis.

The Rules Outlined by the New MMJ Bill

Similar to recently implemented medical marijuana programs in New York and Minnesota, patients in Pennsylvania will not be allowed to smoke marijuana, and dried marijuana flower won’t be available at dispensaries for patients to purchase.  Language in the bill allows the Department of Health to consider allowing raw marijuana in the future, but that won’t likely be considered until the program has been operational for some time.

Medical marijuana will be available to patients as liquids, oils, pills and tinctures. Home-cultivation is not allowed by patients, and neither is medical marijuana purchased outside dispensaries — either on the black market or in other states.  Medical marijuana edibles will not be allowed for sale in dispensaries, but patients will be allowed to infuse their own edible products with medical cannabis products purchased at in-state dispensaries.

Medical marijuana patients from other states will not be allowed access to dispensaries, as there is no reciprocity included in the new law.

Patients must suffer from specific qualifying conditions in order to be eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. Patients suffering from the following ailments will qualify for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania once the program is operational, which is expected to take at least two years:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) / AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
  • Intractable Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

In addition, terminally ill patients, as defined as those with a prognosis of less than one year of life expectancy, will qualify for medical marijuana regardless of their medical condition.

Once the program becomes functional in about two years, a patient will need to be under the continuing care of a physician who is registered with the Department of Health in order to purchase medical marijuana. The physician will need to provide a signed certification to the patient stating that the patient has a serious medical condition that qualifies for the medical marijuana program. The patient will then need apply to the Department of Health for a medical marijuana identification card. Once the patient receives an identification card, they can then purchase medical marijuana products at an authorized dispensary in Pennsylvania.

Patients under the age of eighteen are eligible to participate in the medical marijuana program, but they must have a caregiver — such as a parent or guardian — who is approved by the Department of Health in order to obtain medical marijuana authorization.

The Long Road to Passage

Since 2009, many attempts to pass medical marijuana legislation in previous sessions failed in the legislature, including Senate Bill 1182 from the 2013-14 legislative session.  That bill had been approved by the Senate, but never received consideration in the House.  Then-governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, was staunchly opposed to medical marijuana and had threatened to veto the bill if it ever reached his desk.

When Tom Wolf, a Democrat, defeated Corbett in Pennsylvania’s 2014 gubernatorial election, patients and advocates were optimistic that the upcoming 2015-16 legislative session would see swift passage of a newly announced medical marijuana bill.  Enacting a medical marijuana program was among Wolf’s campaign platforms during the election, a stark contrast from his anti-marijuana predecessor.

In preparation for Pennsylvania’s upcoming 2015-16 legislative session, two unlikely state senators — conservative Republican Mike Folmer and liberal Democrat Daylin Leach — announced that they were teaming up to present a new attempt at passing a medical marijuana bill in the state.  Originally anticipated as CBD-only legislation aimed at helping children with epilepsy, by the time the bill was filed both Senators agreed that CBD-only legislation was too limited in scope, and Senate Bill 3 seemed fast-tracked to passage with bi-partisan support and encouragement from a newly elected governor.

It quickly became evident to advocates, however, that the road to bringing relief to sick Pennsylvanians would still be marred by roadblocks, speed bumps, and detours.  Opposition from House Republicans almost killed the proposal last year, and recent changes to wording in the bill had many advocates worried that final concurrence between both legislative chambers could have prevented the bill’s passage before the end of the legislative session this summer.

Meanwhile, patients and advocates were faced with overcoming many restrictions being placed into the bill’s language, successfully preventing CBD-only legislation, a proposed sunset expiration date on the program, strain limits, THC limits, and medication delivery methods that could have rendered the program unworkable.

The bill was first passed by the Senate last May, receiving overwhelming support in a 40 to 7 vote, but it quickly became clear that any further progress in the House would be unlikely.

After winning approval in the Senate, the bill was assigned to the House Health Committee, who’s chair, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga County) opposes medical marijuana.  Within days of the bill reaching his committee, Rep. Baker — a recipient of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies — announced that he had no intention of allowing his committee to take up the Senate-approved medical marijuana bill.

Advocates were not deterred by Baker’s stall tactics, and following a month of pressure on lawmakers, it was announced that one representative, State Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Ridley Park), intended to take the unusual step of filing a discharge resolution to strip the bill from Baker’s committee and bring it up before the full House of Representatives for a vote.

Only 25 signatures from lawmakers were needed, and the petition was closed with 40 signatures.  When Rep. Miccarelli rose to call the petition, in a surprising move, Health Committee Chair Matt Baker moved to instead call a vote to move SB 3 from his Health Committee to the House Rules Committee. The Health committee unanimously agreed, moving the bill to Rules and ending the stalemate.

What followed, however, was not the swift road to House concurrence with the Senate that advocates hoped for, prompting supporters, led by the Campaign for Compassion and joined by other groups from around the state, to create a “Still Waiting” room in the state house, where parents, patients and advocates established a daily presence to bring attention to legislative delays by Republican House leadership in passing the bill.

Nearly a year after passing overwhelmingly in the Senate, when the full House of Representatives was ready to take on the bill, an estimated 200 amendments to the bill were drafted, worrying patients further.  Finally, just before St. Patrick’s day this year, the House met to consider the proposed amendments, leading up to a final vote. Over the course of two days, House lawmakers debated and voted on dozens of amendments to the proposal, with very few passing, and many amendments were withdrawn by their sponsors before being considered by fellow lawmakers.

Failed Amendments Tried To Stop Momentum

Among the many failed amendments were several amendments proposed by Rep. Baker, and were aimed at reducing the effectiveness of the bill, including removing HIV/AIDS as a qualifying condition; limiting the number of dispensaries authorized in the state to only five; banning the use of vaporizers and edibles by patients; requiring authorization from two separate doctors to become eligible for medical marijuana; prohibiting patients on probation or parole from accessing medical marijuana; and setting a four-year expiration date for the program, similar to Illinois’ sunset clause.

The most significant changes to the bill by the House came as a result of the Marsico Amendment (A5835), which passed by a vote of 152-38.  Some of the notable highlights include:

  • Medical marijuana ID cards are to be issued by the state annually;
  • Medical marijuana will only be available as oils, tinctures, pills and topical formulas, as well as “a form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization”;
  • Edible marijuana products will not be available at dispensaries, but patients will be allowed to make their own at home;
  • A 10% limit on THC was imposed on marijuana grown in Pennsylvania.  However, this 10% cap was later removed with the passage of Amendment 5934 (see “Strain Limits” below);
  • No home cultivation by patients or caregivers;
  • The Department of Health (DOH) will oversee the medical marijuana program under at least three state-wide regions and determine all locations for grower/processors and dispensaries;
  • DOH cannot initially license more than 25 grower/processors and 50 dispensaries (each with up to three locations);
  • DOH is to regulate the price of medical marijuana at all phases of sale;
  • Dispensaries must have a pharmacist or physician on-site;
  • Establishes application and licensing fees:
    • For growers/processors, a $10,000 application fee, a $200,000 registration fee due at time of application, and a showing of $2,000,000 in capital, $500,000 of which must be on deposit in a financial institution. The $200,000 is returnable if no license is granted and there is a $10,000 annual renewal fee;
    • For dispensaries, a $5,000 application fee and a $30,000 registration fee (returnable if license not granted), and a showing of $150,000 on deposit in a financial institution. No additional fees are required for additional dispensary locations;
  • Imposes a 5% tax paid by grower/processor that cannot be passed on to the buyer at time of sale;
  • Requires detailed tracking, security, record-keeping, record-retention, surveillance to every stage of acquiring, processing, growing, manufacturing, selling, delivering, transporting, distributing, and dispensing requirement for medical marijuana;
  • Allows for medical marijuana research program.

A 10% limit of THC was imposed when the omnibus Marsico Amendment was passed in negotiations early in the week, but only lasted a few hours.  Later that day, an amendment was filed by Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) to remove the 10% THC cap.  That amendment passed by a vote of 97-91, removing the 10% cap in one of the largest wins for patients and advocates.

Following nearly three days of deliberation and compromise,  the bill was finally called for a vote by the House in the early evening of Wednesday, March 16, and was approved by a vote of 149-43, sending it back to the Senate for concurrence and setting the stage a potential showdown between both chambers that advocates feared could kill the bill for the year.

When the bill was returned to the Senate, primary author Mike Folmer was concerned that some of the wording in the bill, as amended by the House, could have rendered the law unworkable.  The Senate was faced with a difficult decision — correct the language and send the bill back to the House hoping it gets called for a vote before the end of the legislative session, or pass the bill as-is and work to correct the language in an upcoming legislative session.

A Victory for Patients in Pennslvania

Ultimately, Sen. Folmer concluded that changes to the bill were necessary, although many advocates were pushing for the bill to be passed as is for now and fixed later.  Many of the final changes to the bill, approved by the Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee on April 11, were technical and designed to “ensure the bill will work once it becomes law,” according to Folmer:

Folmer’s gamble paid off.  The full Senate voted to agree to the changes to the bill on April 12 by a vote of 42-7, with the House concurring the next day by a vote of 149-46. Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law on Sunday, April 17, making Pennsylvania the 24th medical marijuana state.

Patients will still be waiting for medical marijuana access for a couple more years, but now the end is in sight.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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Governor Signs Law Making Pennsylvania the 24th Medical Marijuana State
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

PAX 2 Vaporizer / Titan 2 Review – The Good, The Bad, The Hidden

Sponsored by Hydra Vapor Tech –

Most people are familiar with [or have at least heard of] PAX — and for good reason. The San Francisco-based startup found jaw-dropping success in 2007 when they released the original PAX as one of the first portable, dry-leaf vaporizers of its kind.

In a Fortune interview last year, the company boasted about how it generates more than half a million unit sales per year, a number they now claim is significantly understated when compared to their current sales numbers. PAX made headlines again in June 2015, when the vaporization tech company raised $46 million for overseas expansion and product development. Since the announcement, PAX has used its money and influence to be a trendsetter in the marketplace by releasing highly sought after products including an update to the original PAX vaporizer, as well as a new, compact e-cig known as the JUUL vaporizer.

Part of PAX’s popularity stems from the fact that its vaporizers — which are marketed as tobacco products — can also be used for cannabis. Vaporization is clearly the superior alternative to smoking herbs, as vaping at a safe temperature provides the plant’s medicinal compounds without the negative side effects of smoke [carcinogens and other unhealthy chemicals]. More and more people are making the healthy decision to quit inhaling combustable fumes, which has inevitably created a surge of new technology and general interest in vaporizing — much to the delight of PAX.

PAX 2 Vaporizer Ownership Tips & Suggestions

Whether you ultimately purchase the PAX 2 or not, will likely be dependent on a number of factors including your budget, heating preference [conduction vs convection], average use case [do you vape alone or in public group settings?], and more.  For those that do decide to become the owner of a new, shiny PAX 2 vaporizer, you may want to get familiar with your $279.99 investment to make the most of your experience. Below is a list of helpful tips and facts about the PAX 2 vaporizer that you might not discover right away:

  • Read up on how to use the PAX 2. Your PAX 2 is smart. Be sure to do your research and read our complete guide to using your PAX 2. Additionally, PAX put together a rather helpful how-to section on their website’s support section.
  • Change the filter screen ASAP. The filter PAX provides you with may be flawed in its design. Users claim the filter sticks and bends when you clean the oven. Another company offers these replacement screens for $15 which are specifically designed to allow more even heating and increased airflow when using your PAX vaporizer.
  • Save vaporized material for future use. Collect the vaporized cannabis in a baggie after each vape session until you store a significant amount of vaped material (> 20 grams). Use this material [in conjunction with fresh cannabis flowers] to increase the potency of your next edibles batch. Don’t throw money/medicine away each time you vape!
  • Be prepared for the unit to get hot. You may be surprised just how hot a PAX 2 vaporizer can get with continued use. It won’t create 2nd degree burns [at least I don’t think so…], but it’s definitely something you want to remember when putting your lips to the mouthpiece for an extended period of time.
  • Invest in a quality grinder. Don’t be cheap and use your hands to break up your material. When using the PAX 2 vaporizer, you want to have the heat evenly distributed across all plant material, which is only possible with the help of a herb grinder. There are plenty of quality, cheap grinders for sale online and/or at your local head shop — just be sure to look for one with a kief catcher.

PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.

How To Use The PAX 2 Vaporizer

There are five basic steps to getting started with your PAX 2 vape for the very first time.

1) Fill your oven with moderately-ground dry-herbs. On the bottom of your PAX 2 is a heating chamber/oven that can be opened by tapping the sides of the oven lid. Because PAX utilizes conduction heating, you’ll want to pack your oven contents firmly to increase the surface area of your dry herbs. Lightly push the contents down until your oven is halfway full at minimum, and then replace your oven lid. You can fill the oven all the way too, just make sure none of your dry herbs are above the edge of the oven.

2) Turn your PAX on. This can be achieved by pushing down on the mouthpiece and gently releasing your thumb. The PAX logo should light up. The mouthpiece is spring loaded so if you push down hard and release quickly your mouthpiece will pop up.

3) Select your desired temperature. While the unit is on [the PAX logo is lit up], press the mouthpiece for two seconds to enter temp set mode. Here you can cycle through the different temperature levels by repeatedly pressing the mouthpiece. There are 4 lights in the PAX logo — each light signifies a different level of heat [eg. 1 light = lowest heat setting; 4 lights = highest heat setting]. Once you’ve selected your desired heat setting, shake the unit or tap the mouthpiece down until you see the logo’s lights turn purple.

4) Wait for the lights to turn green to start vaping. Once you turn the unit on and fill the chamber, your PAX 2 will begin heating its oven to your desired temperature. Once this process is complete, the lights will turn green. Begin taking short 3-5 second draws to avoid burning your lips or throat. The PAX 2 utilizes “lip-sensing” technology, which means there is no need to push any buttons — simply inhale. If the temperature of the vapor is too hot [or not hot enough], you can adjust the temperature of the vape at any time by holding down the mouthpiece for 2 seconds.

5) Charge your PAX 2 vaporizer for 2-3 hours. Use the provided charging kit and lay the PAX unit on top so that the two charger dots on the back of the PAX align with the charger. The lights on the PAX will light up white when the unit is charging. The product packaging recommends 3 hours of charging for a “happy vape,” while the PAX website recommends just 2 hours, so anywhere in between 2-3 hours is probably a safe bet.

The Good

  • The PAX 2 is stealthy & modern. The PAX 2 unit is constructed with a high-grade anodized aluminum finish. It’s shiny, eye-catching exterior makes the vaporizer look more like a new Apple product than a product geared toward tobacco/cannabis enthusiasts.
  • It has an extended battery life. An average charge lasts around 3 days with generous usage — much better than the original PAX.
  • Set the temperature to your liking. Get the most out of your herbs by vaping at a wide range of temperatures. We recommend starting at the lowest temperature setting and working your way up to the highest temperature setting to ensure your material is completely vaporized.
  • There are new hidden tricks & features. Did you know that your PAX 2 vaporizer does more than vape dry-herb? Learn more by reading the “PAX 2 Hidden Tricks & Features” section below.

PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.

The Bad

  • The PAX 2 is expensive. Warning! The PAX 2’s price tag may leave you with sticker shock. Currently listed on their website at $279.99, the company is definitely committed to capturing the high-end market with this version.
  • The mouthpiece gets too hot. Like most portable vaporizers, the PAX 2 simply gets too hot to enjoy the vaporizing experience for an extended period of time. I find myself using the unit for just a few draws before it becomes intolerable. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just turning down the temperature either, as that will only result in wasted product [certain cannabinoids and compounds only vape at higher temperatures]. A true fix would include an updated mouthpiece that is farther away from the oven/heat source.
  • The PAX 2 utilizes conduction heating. Because your herb is in direct contact with the heat source, it requires you to stir your material more. Also, conduction heating [vs. the preferred convection heating method] allows for a higher risk of combustion — meaning you may not be truly vaporizing your bud after all.
  • There is a bit of a learning curve. The mouthpiece acts as the single button for the entire vaporizer, which has its perks and its downfalls. I found it fun learning how to use the PAX 2 while I medicate, but I can definitely see how some people that are strictly using this vaporizer for health reasons can find the lack of buttons much more confusing/annoying than simple. I’d like to see the next version have a manual temperature setting that can easily be set using up/down buttons, accompanied by a small digital display.
  • It does not produce thick, milky clouds of vapor. It’s hard to get that kind of experience with the PAX 2, though bumping up the temperature does provide some versatility in the amount of vapor. Even though you can’t always see the vapor when you exhale, the PAX 2 still gets you buzzed/medicated.

PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.

The Smart Way to Travel With Your PAX 2 Vaporizer

For those who live on the go, you should consider picking up a Titan 2 case to protect your $279.99 investment. The Titan 2 by Hydra Vapor Tech was designed specifically for the PAX 2 vaporizer, making it the first product of its kind. At under 5 inches in length, its sleek and compact design allows you to comfortably carry and store all of your vape tools. The Titan currently retails at just $39.95 and features a magnetic sliding door encased in a strong, anodized aluminum shell that is sure to protect your PAX 2 and all your necessary accessories. The cases come in 4 classic colors: aluminum, black, white, and gold.

PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.PAX 2 Vaporizer from PAX Labs, Inc.

According to the company’s CEO, Eric Oligschlaeger, the idea for the Titan 2 carrying case stemmed from popular demand. “After the success of the original Titan carrying case, and speaking with over 300 store owners, the demand for a PAX 2 case was overwhelming. Similar to the original Titan, we wanted the user to be able to carry all vital components safely with them in a sleek, stylish and concealable manner,” says Oligschlaeger.

The case is just small enough to be carried in your pocket on a walk down the street, if you don’t mind having a bit of a bulge coming from your pants. It’s perfect for taking with you while hiking as well; it makes me feel relaxed knowing that my PAX 2 won’t break in my backpack when it gets dropped/tossed around.

The medical grade silicone insert provided with your Titan 2 case securely holds your PAX 2 with a remarkable smell-proof cap and loose leaf container. This doubles as a way to easily remove your vaporizer to load on the go. The included stainless steel tool allows you to stir loose leaf for consistent draw.

PAX 2 Hidden Tricks & Features

There are at least two different versions of the PAX 2 that have been released by the company. The main difference between the two is the Simon mode. The first generation PAX 2 do not come equipped with Simon mode, at least as far as I know. Instead, older PAX units play the Funky Town tune when you shake the unit vertically. Nowadays, the PAX 2 comes equipped with Simon mode, so you can play memory games with your vaporizer while you medicate with your favorite herbs.

A video posted by King (@vaporreviewblog) on Apr 3, 2015 at 7:40am PDT

  • Simon Mode: To access Simon mode, spin the PAX 2 quickly until all four lights flash white three times. It may take 15-25 spins to get the lights to turn white. Once they do, the Simon game will begin. Hold the PAX 2 face up, horizontally in front of you. Observe the pattern displayed on the lights, then repeat the sequence by leaning the PAX 2 towards the appropriate light. The heater can be turned off in this mode by selecting a fifth available temperature [when all four lights turn blue].
  • Funky Town Tone – There is a rumor that you can unlock the tune to Funky Town when your PAX 2 turns on if you beat a 20-step gaming sequence in Simon mode. I haven’t had the chance to unlock it myself just yet, but it’s probably worth a try if you find yourself bored on a rainy day. You’ll know if you successfully unlocked the tune if your PAX 2 begins flashing its lights in red, blue, green, and yellow and it begins to play the Funky Town tune. To disable the tone, go into the temperature settings [by holding the mouthpiece down for two seconds] and press the button five times quickly. The PAX 2 will confirm by flashing the four lights red, blue, green, and yellow.

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PAX 2 Vaporizer / Titan 2 Review – The Good, The Bad, The Hidden
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News

The Dangers of Spice & Other Forms of Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic Marijuana Is Not The Same As Naturally Grown Cannabis

Synthetic cannabinoids laced on plant material were first reported in the U.S. in December 2008, when a shipment of “Spice” was seized and analyzed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Dayton, Ohio. Spice or some other 500 names of synthetic drugs being marketed as “legal highs” or “herbal highs” are far from being equal to cannabis. The cannabis community dislikes the term marijuana or any of its equivalents being used in conjunction with these very dangerous designer-style drugs, e.g., “synthetic marijuana” or “legal weed” because it is an unfair and dangerous comparison.

spiceSynthetic drugs are typically a mix of herbs and other shredded plant materials combined with mind altering, man-made chemicals (most often in oil or a crystalline powder form sprayed on the matter) to mimic the effects of the phytocannabinoid THC of the cannabis plant. Most of the chemical formulas are known only by letter-number combinations, for example: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-370, HU-210, CP 47,497, AM-1248, XLR-11.

Most people have no idea how synthetic cannabinoids are affecting millions of people all over the world. Sloppy manufacturing methods and the presence of foreign materials not disclosed to the consumer, make the health risks of one batch compared to another like a game of Russian roulette. The effects on people who use these drugs are many and varied, but it is usually bad news.

Awareness of the dangers of these harmful substances is on the rise as reports to Poison Control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen over the past few years.

Would You Believe the U.S. Government Helped Invent It?

It’s true. The U.S. government helped invent designer drugs such as Spice, K2, Joker, Funky Monkey and Mamba. Most of the chemicals used in their manufacture were designed by Clemson University scientist John W. Huffman using a grant from the government’s National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“JWH-018 can be made by a halfway decent undergraduate chemistry major in three steps from commercially available materials.” – John W. Huffman

Huffman first obtained the NIDA grant in 1984, which ultimately totaled $2,564,000, when the government asked him to synthesize the human metabolite of THC. In mid-1994, one of Huffman’s undergraduate students created JWH-018, a strong cannabinoid that is easy to make and is now the “JWH” chemical most likely to be found in synthetic products. Over the course of a decade, Huffman created nearly 500 “cannabinoids” that affect the brain in a much more powerful way than THC.

Is Synthetic Weed Legal?

For several years, these products have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia “head” shops, newspaper stands, convenience stores, and online. Easy access, lower prices and the belief that synthetic cannabinoid products are harmless likely contributed to their growing use. It is evident now that these products have a high potential for abuse and adverse side effects, including death.

In 2010, the DEA issued an emergency ban on five chemicals used to make synthetic drugs and placed them in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act- a classification reserved for drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Over the years, the DEA has added more and more synthetic cannabinoids to the list, but the list doesn’t begin to cover all of the chemical possibilities, leaving retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers legal room to sell different chemicals in their place. In 2009, DEA agents had already identified well over 200 synthetic drug compounds on the streets, with only a handful of them currently classified as banned. The synthetic drug business has become a multi-billion dollar industry here in the United States alone.

Congress has taken steps to ban many of these substances at the Federal level. The Office of Drug Control Policy has been working with Federal, Congressional, state, local, and non-governmental partners to put policies and legislation in place to combat this threat, and to educate people about the tremendous health risk posed by these substances.

In an effort to sidestep the laws, the chemical compositions of synthetic drugs are frequently altered in an attempt to avoid government bans by marketing the goods as potpourri, room deodorizer or incense, with a warning, “Not for human consumption.” And, it only takes a good chemist a short time to change a molecule and get a new synthetic drug on the streets, starting the entire cycle, all over again.

Are Synthetic Cannabinoid Products Safe?

Don’t be fooled by claims that products like Spice or K2 are safe and “natural.” That’s definitely not the case. The herbs are simply carriers of the active chemical ingredients, which are not natural.The actual ingredients and chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products are unknown and frequently change from batch to batch, making their effects unpredictable.

A significant number of negative side effects have been reported, including but not limited to, heart rate stimulation, blood pressure elevation, anxiety and agitation. There are also psychiatric effects such as confusion, anger, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions not unlike schizophrenia or other mental disorders that have led individuals to harm themselves or others, sometimes fatally.

Synthetic cannabinoids can be habit forming and withdrawal symptoms can include, headaches, agitation and depression. In 2011, California’s Poison Control reported there were 424 visits to hospital emergency rooms due to synthetic drug related problems and that number went up 10% the following year. U.S. News recently reported that in the opening weeks of July 2015, New York City saw over 600 emergency visits for serious, poisonous reactions to consuming synthetic marijuana.

How Can I Identify a Synthetic Drug?

There is no one catch-all description that captures all of the varied synthetic cannabinoid products available on the market today. In addition to herb mixtures, new variations of synthetic cannabinoids are becoming more common in liquid form and solid waxes. The smartest thing to do is to stay away from anything that says it’s a spice or a mamba.

What Steps Can I Take To Ensure My Own Safety?

Some will argue it is very easy to identify the differences between naturally grown cannabis and synthetic [man-made] drugs but the reality is that depending on the brand of synthetic marijuana you may encounter, it can be very difficult. Many describe spice as dried leaves having an appearance akin to oregano and other spices mixed together, usually light green to a brown color with stuff in it, like stems and seeds. It is typically harder to break up than actual cannabis and has a stench that is noticeably different than whole-plant cannabis.

If in doubt, remember:

  • Only obtain your cannabis from reliable sources. This is one of the biggest arguments behind the push for cannabis legalization, and for good reason. People should have the right to obtain medication from trustworthy and safe establishments without the worry of consuming a product that will hurt [or even kill] them. As such, it is recommended that you only purchase from licensed dispensaries/caregivers that lab test their products for pesticides and mold/mildew, if at all possible. For those who have no access to a legal dispensary, be sure you trust your source first and foremost.
  • Be wary of fine ground product. Real, whole-plant cannabis products are not typically sold in anything other than bud-form. Unscrupulous dealers [especially in states without legalization in place] will try to disguise synthetic drugs as “shake”, which is essentially finely ground material. When possible, always use full buds/flowers.
  • Use your nose. The smell of burning “designer drugs” has been described in many different ways depending on the brands… from unpleasant odors like burning stems, bleach, cold medicine, cheap potpourri, and a musty old chest to more pleasant odors like incense, strawberry, banana, vanilla or cinnamon… however, all agree that it smells nothing like actual cannabis. If your gut feeling is telling you something is wrong with a given batch of cannabis, you may want to consider avoiding the consumption of it altogether.

If you or someone you love has developed a dependence on synthetic designer drugs, it is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment the higher the possibility that you avoid some of these serious negative side effects.

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The Importance of Personalized Medicine and Its Role in the Cannabis Industry

Also known as “precision medicine, P4 medicine, and/or stratified medicine,” personalized medicine is the practice of tailoring medical decisions, prescriptions, practices, and interventions to a particular individual. The concept is simple, really: no two people share the same exact genetic content; seeing as genetics play a significant role in the efficacy of pharmaceuticals, why should two individuals with different genes be prescribed the same medical treatment? That’s where personalized medicine comes in. Personalized medicine focuses on the model that each individual should undergo diagnostic panels that include, but are not limited to, genome sequencing, blood tests, family history, and behavioral testing.

In traditional western medicine, the “trial and error” approach to medicine rests on the assumption that if it works for most people, it should work for you. This is an understandable practice—what other choice do physicians have other than trying to identify the solution that works for most people? If you are a physician and your treatment plan has worked for dozens of patients with the same ailments as your current patient, you may say to them: “Try this. If it doesn’t work, we will try another.” However, often times it is the case that a user could experience an adverse drug events (ADE). As a matter of fact, 770,000 people in the U.S. experience injury or death by ADE – an alarmingly high figure that could be lowered with an increasing adoption of personalized medicine practices.

“It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” – Hippocrates 460 BC

Hippocrates, back in 460 BC, is thought to have been the first to mention the concept of providing personalized medical treatments based on an individual’s characteristics. He can be quoted with saying “it’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” Karl Landsteiner made what was debatably the first step into personalized medicine when he recognized that people have different blood types. His discovery that mixing blood from individuals within the same blood group did not result in blood cell destruction – a finding that allowed Reuben Ottenberg to make the first successful blood transfusion in 1907. It wasn’t until WWII that physicians started to recognize the individualized reactions to drugs; an anti-malarial drug that was highly effective for Caucasians ended up giving a majority of African Americans anemia. It was later unveiled that African Americans are less likely to have a gene active that protected them from developing anemia in the presence of the compounds present in the drug.

Given the advent of genomics, which has provided clinicians with a newfound, vast wealth of information regarding the molecular bases of disease, personalized medicine has begun to peak the interest of mainstream medicine. If you know a person’s genome and know a certain type of drug has increased danger or efficacy to someone expressing that genome, then you can refine the treatment of their medical ailments and prevent a slew of negative side effects. According to economist projections, in 2020 genome sequencing could cost less than a dollar.

This is probably why pharmacogenetics, the practice of matching a drug to one’s genetics, is considered to be such a burgeoning industry. Personalized medicine need not extend into every single medical application. However, an unexpected application of personalized medicine is beginning to take foothold in none other than the cannabis industry.

How do you remember your first encounter with cannabis? Someone passed you a joint, you took a few puffs and experienced the classic relaxation, uncontrollable laughter and enjoyable buzz (or) you found yourself sleeping on the couch or paranoid everyone at the party was an undercover agent waiting to arrest you for being high (the mental equivalents of an ADE). The difference in reactions to the same joint across multiple individuals is almost certainly strain-specific. If you disliked cannabis your first time, it could be that you had a strain that wasn’t the right fit for you. With over 800 strains of cannabis being actively cultivated, all with drastically different cannabinoid ratios and terpene profiles capable of inducing considerably different subjective experiences and medical alleviations, strain choice is a critical, yet daunting, process.

Imagine the plight of a patient just prescribed medical marijuana for their medical ailments. Thousands of people walk into a dispensary every day, only to be greeted by dozens of cannabis strains they’ve probably never heard of before. They could rely on Internet reviews to guide their choice, but nowhere in the plethora of text would they find a reliable resource that would address the efficacy of that strain specifically for him/her. Thereby, the cannabis industry lends itself well to assisting in the ushering in of the upcoming era of personalized medicine, even if it is still too early to collect the necessary data sets to make the proper correlations for each type of cannabis strain/product.

While the science behind user-specific cannabis strain recommendations may be in its infancy, the notion of personalized medicine has been a long time coming. With cheap genetic profiling on the rise, the medical industry is likely to soon face a moral obligation to implement personalized techniques in the spirit of preventing the high rate of ADEs.

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Medical Marijuana Legalized in Australia

The Australian Parliament passed a measure Wednesday legalizing medical marijuana.

The amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act will allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes for the first time in Australia.

So How Will Australia’s New Medical Marijuana System Work?

Up until this point, The Commonwealth had laws in place that permitted the importation of raw cannabis material into Australia for medicinal purposes but cultivation of the plant wasn’t allowed. As the new bill explains, “the manufacturing provisions in the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 are considered inadequate to properly manage the risks associated with the potential for diversion of medicinal cannabis products and other narcotic drugs.”

“This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.”

The cultivation, production and manufacturing process will be regulated by a state or territory government agency. However, according to the new bill, there’s little to no change to Australia’s strict international obligations to drug safety, which means the process will be tightly controlled. “As a signatory to the Single Convention, Australia agrees that the licit use of narcotic drugs must be tightly regulated to ensure that public health is protected from the risks of diversion into illicit markets.”

Additionally, the Secretary of the Department of Health now has the power to order the destruction of cannabis produced by a license holder, granting the Secretary the ability to control the supply and demand in the hopes of preventing unnecessary accumulation.

There will be two separate types of medical cannabis licenses available under the new bill. The first license type authorizes the cultivation of cannabis to be manufactured into medicinal cannabis products. The second license type authorizes the research of medical cannabis and its potential uses.

MMJ Legalization Spurred by Passing of Daniel Haslam

The decision to legalize medical marijuana in Australia came exactly a year after 25-year-old Daniel Haslam lost his life to terminal bowel cancer. Haslam used medical marijuana to ease his pain and nausea before he passed away last February.

lucyDaniel’s mother, Lucy Haslam, started a medical cannabis advocacy group called United in Compassion and has continued to petitione for the Australian government to make the cannabis plant legal.

Australian Sen. Richard Di Natale brought up Haslam’s story before Parliament on Wednesday. “It is incredibly fitting that today we are passing this bill which is one step towards making medicinal cannabis accessible to people like Dan,” Di Natale said to a room full of anxious eyes.

“This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals,” Minister for Health Sussan Ley said in a statement.

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Medical Marijuana Legalized in Australia
 
 
Medical Marijuana Strain Reviews & Cannabis News