All posts tagged: cannabis

The Effect of Cooling Temperature on Growth Rates

Clothing the emperor- dynamic root–shoot allocation trajectories in relation to whole-plant growth rate and in response to temperature

In Summary

An article was recently published discussing how cooling the temperature of the environment a plant is growing in effects the overall growth pattern. Researchers specifically found that root–shoot biomass allocation and whole-plant growth rate varied ontogenetically in contrasting species in response to cooling. These variations in growth rates were seen in various strains of grass and flowering plants. The authors conclude that the findings of this study highlight the importance of measuring temporal growth dynamics rather than “snapshot” comparison, like height. Further research should expand to other species of plants beyond grasses and generic flowering plants found in most garden stores. 

Mass-produced cannabis plants tend to be grown in hydroponic set-ups like the plants in this study and are known to be sensitive to changes in growth factors. As the cannabis industry continues to grow the number of growers needed is increasing, stimulating the job market, but the number of at-home cultivators is also growing. For growers at home, it is important to note that the cannabinoids produced in a strain can vary depending on growth factors such as temperature, the mineral content of the soil, etc. They can purchase seeds of their favored strain grown in Colorado and grow an entirely different plant at their home in California. Consumers should be sure to consume a small dose or perfectly replicate growing conditions to ensure safe and effective consumption. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Effect of Cooling Temperature on Growth Rates
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Factors that Predict Cessation of Cannabis Use

Cessation of cannabis use- A retrospective cohort study

In summary

A retrospective cohort study conducted in Germany recently found that cessation of cannabis use can be predicted by a range of factors. Among those factors was older current age, being female, nonmigrant status, less sensation seeking, using psychological treatment, more peer cannabis use during youth and a more negative first experience with cannabis. Researchers also found that if survey-responders did not increase their frequency of use over the course of three years they were more likely to cease cannabis use. All of these factors are easy to determine early on and may lead to better prevention methods for those at a high risk of abuse.
As recreational and medical use continues to grow it seems that identifying risk factors for those who may abuse the benefits of cannabis increases in importance. If certain people are at risk of misusing cannabis and causing harm to their daily lives, for example by consuming psychoactive compounds and being unable to operate functionally within their environment, then their cannabis intake should be regulated and proper prevention methods should be put in place. Medical dispensaries are good for those just starting with cannabis because they have the freedom to experiment and figure out their ideal consumption methods and cannabinoid profile but it also allows patients the freedom to consume cannabis products that may not be very beneficial for them. It will be interesting to watch the changes in standardization as the prevalence of cannabis continues to grow.

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDFactors that Predict Cessation of Cannabis Use
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Birth Defects Rose in Colorado Post-Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis teratology explains current patterns of Coloradan congenital defects- the contribution of increased cannabinoid exposure to rising teratological trends

In summary

Researchers have recently found that the frequency of major birth defects has increased in Colorado since the legalization of cannabis. It has been hypothesized that prenatal exposure to cannabis has caused these birth defects as the reported use of pain relievers, cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco did not increase. The specific birth defects that increased in frequency were atrial septal defect, spina bifida, microcephalus, Down’s syndrome, ventricular septal defect, and patent ductus arteriosus, but further research needs to be conducted to determine any causation. 

The effect of prenatal exposure to cannabis on birth rates, birth outcomes, and the health of the mother is rather uncertain. Studies focussing on cannabis use during pregnancy are limited and what little has been reported is inconsistent. Currently, governing bodies of obstetricians advise that pregnant mothers cease any cannabis use. If someone who needs cannabis for a medical purpose that improves their quality of life becomes pregnant they need to seek out alternative methods of treatment, even if they are using cannabis because they are resistant to more common treatment methods. Research is needed so that pregnant women can safely continue their medication or so that alternatives can be found so that women do not need to suffer for the duration of their pregnancy and possible breastfeeding period. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDBirth Defects Rose in Colorado Post-Cannabis Legalization
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Cannabis Use Causes Increased Impulsivity

Cannabis and alcohol use, affect and impulsivity in psychiatric out-patients’ daily lives

In Summary

A recent study revealed the increased impulsivity seen throughout the day in psychiatric out-patients who consumed cannabis. Cannabis was also found to increase momentary hostility in psychiatric patients, namely those suffering from bipolar disorder. The study also compared the difference of activity between alcohol and cannabis, finding that although alcohol also caused an increase in impulsivity it was only momentary rather than prolonged. By observing the effects of alcohol and cannabis in patients researchers were able to determine that the two compounds are part of separate processes and operate on different time-scales. 

Very little research has been conducted that addresses drug interactions with cannabis. As the prevalence of cannabis use continues to rise as state governments continue to legalize medical and recreational cannabis it is imperative to understand how cannabis affects everyday medications. For those who need blood thinners, muscle relaxants, etc., drug interactions can be dangerous, even fatal, emphasizing the importance of understanding how cannabis interacts with other medications at the cellular level. Pharmacists and physicians need more knowledge to be able to thoroughly inform patients consuming marijuana of the potential risks. Future research should be conducted, as well as chemical modeling studies, to ensure the safety of cannabis users. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis Use Causes Increased Impulsivity
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The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Requires Guidance when Recommending Medical Cannabis

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology position statement- use of cannabis in gastroenterological and hepatic disorders

In summary

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology has stated that guidance is required on the issues of relevance for gastroenterologists who discuss cannabis benefits and harms with patients. In their statement, they reviewed the current evidence for cannabis use among common gastroenterological and hepatic disorders providing a brief statement and commentary.  Inflammatory bowel disease is not thought to benefit from cannabis use. Alcohol liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and GI symptom control are thought to benefit from cannabis due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects. Further evidence is needed before the association can fully sign off on the medical use of cannabis for their patients but they acknowledge the potential of cannabis-based medications. 

Despite the fact that cannabis is now legal for medical and recreational use cannabis is not an approved therapeutic substance by Canada’s governing medical body. The legalization for recreational use across the country was recent (2018) and it should be interesting as a country where legalization is varied to watch the research and other policies that come out in the near future. Perhaps the findings of the Canadian government will provide American politicians the evidence they need to support or reject the medical benefits of cannabis.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Requires Guidance when Recommending Medical Cannabis
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Addictive Disorders are Associated with Neuroticism, Low Agreeableness, and Low Conscientiousness

Big Five personality traits and alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and gambling disorder comorbidity

In summary

In a recent study published by the American Psychological Association researchers determined that addictive disorders, like cannabis use disorder, are associated with neuroticism, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness. Neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness are some of the Big Five personality traits, which was the taxonomy chosen by the researchers to examine possible personality underpinnings of addictive behavior and comorbidity. As all three of the traits were equally associated with substance use disorders they may explain the co-occurrence of addictive behaviors but these traits also may more broadly associate the propensity to develop any psychiatric disorder. Further research is needed to fully elucidate the relationship between neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness for substance use disorders as the research may lead to the development of better prevention programs. 

The idea of cannabis use disorder is interesting as the endocannabinoid system does not act upon the reward system, making the threat of addiction almost nil. Cannabis is often pedestilized by advocates for its safety profile, especially when compared to other pain medications like opioids, yet there are still some concerns for dependency. The endocannabinoid system is ever changing, especially as we learn more about it. Very little research has been done that assesses cannabis dependency although it is known that, like with most substances, frequent users gain a tolerance to cannabis.  Tolerance to cannabis can be reset with abstinence, supposedly for a 48 hour period, but again more research is needed. Tolerance, addiction, and dependence all need to be properly defined and standardized across the medical community, not just the advocates, because addiction and dependence can be frightening words that should not be thrown about.

The study is available for review or download here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xQqAEU3sr5niKtarRR_nUutUwDE6E4um/view?usp=sharing

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Benjamin Caplan, MDAddictive Disorders are Associated with Neuroticism, Low Agreeableness, and Low Conscientiousness
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Drug Resilience is Age-Dependent

Behavioral effects of chronic WIN 55,212-2 administration during adolescence and adulthood in mice

In summary

 A recent study has revealed that adolescents appear resilient to some effects of cannabis yet early use leads to increased impulsivity later on in life. Researchers administered 3.0 of a cannabis receptor 1 (CB1) agonist, WIN55,212-2, per day for 21 days to one group of mice in adolescence and another in adulthood before testing their impulsivity, judgment, and learning abilities. Adolescent mice who had been given cannabis performed as well as controls at the learning activity while the adult group experienced a serious delay, suggesting an age-dependent difference in the cannabinoid system. Adolescent mice who had been given cannabis and then tested later as adults demonstrated increased impulsivity suggesting that exposure to cannabis during development does have a lasting effect on processes. Further research will need to validate these findings in non-human primates or be examined in naturalistic observation studies. 

When considering the implications of a study like this one it is important to note the varying accuracy of cannabis research conducted in murine models. While rats and mice are convenient physiological models due to their availability and economic value they do not always provide the most accurate representation of specific biological systems in humans. The endocannabinoid system of rats has been shown in previous featured studies to act differently than the human or primate endocannabinoid system meaning that any scientific evidence for cannabis-based medicine found from murine studies cannot be conclusive without further validation.

The study is available for review or download here
https://drive.google.com/open?id=12Yzwxy5Vd1MXmyBjeGCIcHOmHIiO6VIg

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Benjamin Caplan, MDDrug Resilience is Age-Dependent
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Legalizing Medical and Recreational Cannabis May Decrease Adolescent Use

Association of marijuana laws with teen marijuana use- new estimates from the youth risk behavior surveys

In summary

 Earlier this July a letter was published providing evidence that adolescent cannabis use may actually decrease post-legalization of medical and recreational cannabis. An analysis of Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys from the past two decades revealed that legalizing medical cannabis had little to no effect on cannabis use among adolescents in 8th and 10th grade but that legalization of recreational cannabis actually led to an overall decrease of adolescent cannabis use across the states. The authors hypothesize that the rate of adolescent use may decrease as illegal drug dealers are replaced by legal, regulated dispensaries. This evidence may prove compelling for the possible rescheduling of cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act. 

Adolescent substance use, like that of alcohol, has been found to be detrimental to brain development. There have been varying results regarding the effects of adolescent cannabis use on brain development yet some caretakers are given special permission to administer cannabis-based products to children experiencing rare forms of epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Cannabis-based medications may be a more ethical and far less dangerous substance to administer to children so that they aren’t set up for a substance use disorder at a young age.  Research focussed on adolescent cannabis use needs to be conducted for better regulations and to better advise the parents and pediatricians of adolescents who have accidentally consumed cannabis or need a cannabis-based medical intervention.  

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDLegalizing Medical and Recreational Cannabis May Decrease Adolescent Use
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The Relationship Between Social Support in Socially Stigmatized Populations and Substance Use

An inverse relationship between perceived social support and substance Use frequency in socially stigmatized populations

In Summary

Researchers have recently attempted to elucidate the relationship between perceived social support and frequency of substance use in socially stigmatized groups revealing contextual differences. The two groups utilized in this study, substance-using male prison inmates and primary-methamphetamine using men who have sex with men, showed different results in the study, leaving the researchers with more questions than answers. In the inmates’ group perceived social support was negatively correlated to life-time substance use for alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis yet the methamphetamine-users only demonstrated the same negative correlation for a 30-day period. The authors are uncertain as to the differences in results but suggest that future research delves into the psychosocial or contextual differences behind these two groups. 

Looking into the substance use frequency and patterns of stigmatized or marginalized groups are not often done leaving many populations without specialized treatment or prevention programs. Our culture, peers, family, and environment all come together to shape who we are and mold how we think about the world and our place in it. People begin using substances for different reasons although some motivations are common among certain populations. By examining the underlying motivation for substance use frequency members of the healthcare community may be able to develop custom prevention or treatment methods by utilizing psychology or another science to drastically decrease the frequency of substance use disorders in all populations. 

The study is available for review or download here

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Relationship Between Social Support in Socially Stigmatized Populations and Substance Use
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The Relationship Between Cannabis and Nicotine may Reveal Novel Treatments

Acute separate and combined effects of cannabinoid and nicotinic receptor agonists on MMN-indexed auditory deviance detection in healthy humans

In Summary

Researchers have attempted to elucidate the relationship between nicotine and cannabis revealing a possible benefit for sensory and cognitive processes. A cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) agonist, nabilone, and nicotine were compared against each other and combined and compared with a placebo, resulting in the region and deviant-dependent effects. Temporal regions of the brain were not affected by coadministration of nabilone and nicotine, while frontal regions showed improved cognitive function. Future research should continue to develop therapies that combine CB1 agonist while minimizing the need for nicotine in order to develop therapies for the dysregulation of sensory and cognitive processes. 

So little is still understood about the interactions of the endocannabinoid system, nicotinic receptors, and the opioid system. If the mechanisms underlying these various systems were well understood perhaps novel therapies could be developed to aid in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. Cannabis poses much less risk for addiction than opioids or nicotine as cannabis does not enact upon the reward system. Cannabis holds promise to lessen the troubles associated with the opioid academic by treating current addicts and preventing future addiction by serving as an adjunct therapy. Further research is needed to validate these hypotheses, but the current data provides hope for more ethical treatment methods.

The study is available for review or download here

View more studies like this in the CED Foundation Archive 

To explore related information, click the keywords below:

Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Relationship Between Cannabis and Nicotine may Reveal Novel Treatments
read more