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NFL Paying $1 Million to Fund Cannabis Research

NFL Paying $1 Million to Fund Cannabis Research

the NFL is funding cannabis research

After putting out a formal request for information about pain management alternatives to opioids in February, the NFL and NFL Players Association are providing $1 million to fund research on cannabinoids and pain relief, according to Front Office Sports.

“While this represents a different stance by the league, it’s still conservative compared to players who use cannabis or cannabis products – particularly CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has gained mainstream acceptance,” per FOS.

The NFL did shorten the window during which it tests players for THC and raise the threshold to trigger a positive test last season, but players can still be fined several weeks’ salary and be forced to join a treatment program for testing positive for the inhibiting chemical in marijuana. Though it shouldn’t be the case, that currently makes the use of CBD – which both past and current players swear by – somewhat of a grey area in the NFL.

In the February information request, the NFL-NFLPA’s pain management committee said it was looking for information including:

  1. The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players. Medications may include, but are not limited to, cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (“CBD”).
  2. The impact of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players.
  3. The potential therapeutic role of medications and non-pharmacological interventions that are considered adjunctive to routine post-surgical orthopedic pain management in NFL football players.

Nothing is for certain, but it seems like a good assumption the new funding will be used to delve into some of the areas mentioned above.

“This isn’t an NFL or a sports issue; this is a societal issue,” the NFL’s chief medical officer Allen Sills told Bloomberg.

Washington State Announces ‘Joint for Jabs’ Covid Vaccine Program

Washington State Announces ‘Joint for Jabs’ Covid Vaccine Program

Washington state joint for jabs

A vaccine can now get you some pre-rolled bud in the state of Washington.

The state’s liquor and cannabis board announced on Monday that in an effort to support coronavirus vaccinations, it will temporarily allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to give a free joint to adults who get their first or second dose at a vaccine clinic at one of the retail locations.

Call it the latest bounty in an ever-expanding list of incentives popping up across the country meant to push Americans to get their shots. “Joints for jabs” and similar campaigns have been around for months, with cannabis activist groups and local dispensaries offering joints for vaccinations. Now, a state is promoting the program.

Health experts have repeatedly said vaccine demand would wane and each new shot in an arm would be harder to achieve either because of hesitancy, access or logistical challenges for the population left unvaccinated.

“Since the start of the pandemic itself, we’ve always had about a quarter of the population that’s been like, ‘Uh, I really don’t know,’ ” said Rupali Limaye, a behavioral and social scientist that studies vaccine hesitancy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It makes sense we’re at this place where we’re having to persuade people to get the vaccine.”

She said it was “pretty fascinating” to see how creative states can get with their incentives, especially as health officials and local leaders figure out how to tailor messaging, and incentives, around different segments of the population. Officials in New Jersey and D.C., for example, said they were targeting younger populations with campaigns offering free beer for shots.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also announced a suite of other vaccine incentives last week — including lottery prizes, sports tickets and game systems — to help encourage unvaccinated residents.

“For some people it may be enough to say, ‘You get a doughnut.’ For others, they may need something more, like a college scholarship,” Limaye said. “To me, it matches the general principles of how we should focus on behavioral science, by meeting people where they are.”

Vaccination incentive campaigns have ballooned in recent weeks — getting a vaccine can make you a millionaire, or at least get you a free beer. These marketing strategies from local leaders and corporations have taken on added urgency as vaccination levels across the country fall. The Biden administration has itself pushed an array of incentives to get more people vaccinated ahead of the Fourth of July, a deadline set by the president to get 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated.

In recent days, the nation’s daily average doses has dropped to under a million, down more than two-thirds from a mid-April peak of more than 3.3 million daily average doses, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. The lag puts Biden’s national goal at risk, even as more than a dozen states have already reached the 70 percent milestone.

 

Read Full Story on Washington Post

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

cannabis sales rose over 17 billion dollars in 2020

Shortly after Nevada officials announced that licensed cannabis stores and medical dispensaries could reopen after lockdown, Nicolas MacLean said cars were lined up for five blocks waiting for curbside pickup.

Like many industries in Las Vegas, the cannabis industry used to rely on tourists for sales, but that changed when the pandemic hit, MacLean, who serves as the CEO of Las Vegas-based cannabis producer Aether Gardens, told The New York Times.

“Locals are very discerning – they want something they aren’t going to find on the black market,” MacLean said. “Especially when you are stuck at home.”

The year of 2020 saw extraordinarily strong sales of legal cannabis in the US, up 46% from 2019 to a record $17.5 billion (R245 billion), according to cannabinoid market research firm BDSA.

“I expect this will be the first year Nevada does over a billion in cannabis sales,” MacLean said. “And it happened on the back of what I think no one expected.”

In western Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis use is legal, Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions, said government restrictions and later social-distancing requirements forced her to radically change her sales strategy.

At first, only medical dispensaries were allowed to remain open, while recreational-use retailers were forced to close.

“To have liquor stores deemed essential and not adult-use cannabis – especially when the law passed in Massachusetts was about regulating cannabis like alcohol – was surprising and unfortunate,” Sanders told The Times.

As Canna Provisions was allowed to re-open, the shop’s particular boutique-style in-person shopping experience had to change in favour of over-the-phone preorders.

“Our county is an internet desert,” she explained.

Now when customers call, they speak with a salesperson who can answer their questions and walk them through the available topicals, edibles, and smokables – a method, she said, is “working” for business.

“In our Lee store, preorders have become almost 100 percent of our business, so we bought more handsets and hired more people to answer the phones, and our revenue is up,” she said.

Religious Americans Split Over Cannabis Legalization

Religious Americans Split Over Cannabis Legalization

Christian cannabis support is higher than evangelicals

When it comes to supporting the legalization of cannabis, the religious community in the US is divided.

According to the latest polling from Pew Research Center, 60% of all US adults support legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, with only 8% that want to keep it illegal and 31% supporting medical cannabis only. 

However when these results are broken down and analyzed on the community level, the polling is much more complex, and interesting.

Christian Cannabis Legalization Support

Overall, religiously affiliated individuals are less likely to support broad cannabis legalization. White evangelical Christians were the least supportive of legal cannabis, with only 44% supporting full legalization and another 43% supporting medical only.

However, the protestant population — that is the general Christian population that isn’t evangelical or Catholic — is much more supportive of cannabis legalization at 53%. Additionally, white, non-evangelical Christians support broad cannabis legalization by a margin of 62%.

That’s 2% higher than the national average.

Black non-evangelical Christians are nearly identical in their support, with 63% supporting full legalization. Catholics are similar to protestants in their support also at 53% overall with 58% support specifically from the white Catholic community but only 51% support from hispanic Catholics.

Religiously Unaffiliated Most Supportive

Compared to the former, religiously unaffiliated individuals are the most supportive of broad cannabis legalization. Overall, 76% support legalization, with 88% and 86% support coming from Atheists and Agnostics respectively.

Opinions about whether marijuana should be legal for recreational and/or medical use also differ based on how often people pray and how important they say religion is in their lives. 46% of adults who pray every day say marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use, compared with roughly seven-in-ten (72%) of those who pray less often.

Similarly, people who say religion is “very important” in their lives are less likely to favor broadly legal marijuana than those who say religion is less important (44% vs. 71%).

Why Delta-8 is Being Made Illegal

Why Delta-8 is Being Made Illegal

Delta-8 THC is illegal

As quickly as Delta-8 THC blew up, it’s being made illegal by states across the country.

It was only a matter of time.

Consumers and entrepreneurs have been an enjoying a regulation free, sub-legal way to get high and profit from Delta-8 THC. Now the DEA and USDA have taken notice, and in addition to the numerous states already taking action to make Delta-8 illegal on their own terms, the official law regarding Delta-8 is becoming more clear.

In fact, the current laws regarding hemp may already have it covered.

What is Delta-8 THC?

A very, very close relative to Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, Delta-8 THC is separated by just one subtle difference in its molecular structure. The similarity in molecular structure also leads to similar psychoactive effects although slightly suppressed.

Studies done on Delta-8 THC have revealed it to be roughly 75% the potency of traditional Delta-9 THC. With modern extraction technology and isolation techniques, manufacturers of D8 THC are able to produce products that get users high.

The reason that D8 THC is able to operate currently with near impunity is because of the wording of the 2018 Farm Bill. In the bill, “Hemp” is defined as:

The plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Because the definition specifically includes Delta-9 THC and nothing else, this has been used by manufacturers as a de facto legalization of other tetrahydrocannabinols. However, looking a little more deeply into current rules and regulations on the books by the DEA and USDA, and depending on your definition of “synthetic”, the future of Delta-8 may have already been decided.

Synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinols

In August of 2020, the DEA released a set of interim rules regarding hemp. In this ruling they say, “For tetrahydrocannabinols that are naturally occurring constituents of the plant material, Cannabis sativa L., any material that contains 0.3% or less of D9 -THC by dry weight is not controlled, unless specifically controlled elsewhere under the CSA,” CSA being the Controlled Substances Act.

However in the same paragraph further down, we get to the part that matters to Delta-8 THC advocates; “For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols, the concentration of D9 -THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.

By establishing a difference between naturally occurring cannabinoids that are produced in hemp and those that are derived and enhanced synthetically, the DEA virtually made a ruling against Delta 8. This is because, to the likely surprise of many (including myself), Delta 8 THC while naturally occurring in hemp, is in fact synthetically made from CBD when produced for retail sale.

How Delta 8 THC is Made

All cannabinoids, from CBD to THC and beyond begin as CBGA. Because of the shared molecular structure of cannabinoids, manipulating them is simpler than it may seem. While Delta-8 is relatively new, producers have been using these methods to manipulate cannabinoids for a long time to find exotic new cannabinoids.

While Delta-8 THC exists in a wide range of cannabis strains, it is in minuscule, trace amounts. To extract and purify Delta-8 from raw plant material with less than one percent of the targeted cannabinoid is unprofitable. This is why producers have begun converting other, more prevalent cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-9 THC into Delta-8.

The process of creating Delta 8 from CBD is nothing new, and is actually a patented isomerization process. It involves dissolving CBD in a solvent like heptane. An acid is then added into the solution and stirred constantly up to 18 hours on a heat plate. Once the chemical reaction is complete it will separate, where it can then be washed and dried and tested.

Compared to how your average Delta-9 extract is made, Delta-8 is a more lengthy, “synthetic” process. The Delta-8 is not there in the beginning, it is created in the end. And that’s why it’s a problem.

What does this mean for Delta 8 THC?

Unfortunately for producers and consumers alike, the great days of Delta-8 THC are likely coming to an end sooner rather than later. Over a dozen states have already banned Delta-8 THC, and more are considering passing their own laws against the cannabinoid. With the ruling by the DEA being brought into the open, it will be difficult for manufacturers to argue that Delta-8 is not in fact a synthetic cannabinoid.

In other words, those who continue to manufacture and sell Delta-8, even right now, are technically manufacturing and distributing a Schedule 1 substance. States in which Delta-8 THC has not been explicitly banned likely don’t need to worry about prosecution for the time being, as no official ruling on Delta-8 specifically has been passed down.

But as concern grows and more states ban Delta-8, it is going to become more difficult and less profitable for manufacturers to continue making it. Soon enough, Delta-8 will likely be another banned substance nationwide.

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas marijuana concentrates and psychedelics got a big win in the state senate

The Texas Senate has approved House-passed bills to reduce criminal penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But because senators amended both pieces of legislation, they must first head back to their originating chamber before they can be sent to the governor’s desk.

Meanwhile, advocates are closely monitoring a separate bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program, which cleared the House and was referred to a Senate committee on Thursday. But the fate of that proposal remains murky as a legislative deadline approaches. It must be acted on in the Senate State Affairs Committee in order to advance to the floor, and the end of the session is nearing.

Under HB 1802, which passed the Senate on Saturday in a 25-5 vote, the state would be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center. As amended by a House committee, it would also mandate a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.

The Senate adopted a balanced budget amendment to the bill clarifying that the psychedelic studies wouldn’t be carried out unless there’s funding allocated the effort—a situation already accounted for by a contingent rider for the funds.

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also served as U.S. energy secretary, has called on lawmakers to approve the psychedelics legislation.

The cannabis concentrates measure that also advanced through the Senate is a modest reform compared to another proposal to more broadly decriminalize marijuana possession that recently passed the House but has since stalled. But if enacted, HB 2593 would mark the first time that Texas has reduced penalties associated with marijuana since the 1970s.

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