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Research finds cannabis terpenes as a promising for pain therapies

Research finds cannabis terpenes as a promising for pain therapies

managing pain with cannabis terpenes

When it comes to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of Cannabis sativa, an unsolved mystery is whether there exists an “entourage effect,” whereby the pain-relieving effects of the plant as a whole are greater than any of its individual parts. 

New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences has found evidence that favors the entourage effect theory and positions Cannabis terpenes, the part of the plant that provides flavor and aroma, as a promising new target for pain therapies that would require lower doses and produce fewer side effects.

A lot of people are taking cannabis and cannabinoids for pain. We’re interested in the concept of the entourage effect, with the idea being that maybe we can boost the modest pain-relieving efficacy of THC and not boost the psychoactive side effects, so you could have a better therapeutic.”

– John Streicher, PhD, lead researcher, member of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center and associate professor of pharmacology at the College of Medicine – Tucson

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants and are the basic component in essential oils. The terpene linalool, for example, gives lavender its distinctive floral scent. In addition to terpenes, Cannabis sativa contains naturally occurring compounds known as cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Researchers found that Cannabis terpenes, when used by themselves, mimic the effects of cannabinoids, including a reduction in pain sensation. When combined with cannabinoids, the pain-relieving effects were amplified without an increase in negative side effects. The paper, “Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity,” was published in Scientific Reports.

Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

is delta 8 thc safe to consume?

If you’re a cannabis or Hemp/CBD consumer, you have more than likely heard of Delta-8 THC. But is Delta 8 THC safe?

Fourteen states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Utah — have already banned Delta-8. For a consumer looking to possibly try Delta 8 for the first time, this could be a cause for concern.

If Delta 8 was totally safe, then why would states be banning it en masse? That’s what we’re going to break down.

The answer to the question, “is delta 8 THC safe?” isn’t so black and white. Just like a couple years ago when many were unsure about the safety of CBD products, D8 THC is in a similar phase.

Is Delta 8 THC safe to consume?

The short answer is we don’t know. That is partially the reason that so many states have already moved to make it illegal. With zero — and we mean zero — regulation, it is much easier to just ban Delta 8 than go through the same process as CBD.

To clarify, CBD has had a rocky road over the last few years. After the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, all hemp and its derivatives (aside from Delta 9 THC) became fully legal. CBD, CBG, CBN and others all became legal at this time, which sparked the CBD movement.

As soon as the CBD industry began exploding, the FDA was forced into action. Regulating the safety of consumable CBD products like gummies, ointments or other topicals was essential. While some states decided to ban CBD altogether like some are doing now with Delta 8, most saw the growing market and recognized that regulation was necessary.

However CBD does not create a psychoactive effect like Delta 8 does, nor is it synthetically derived. And that’s where the issues with Delta 8 arise.

How Delta 8 THC is made

CBD has been bred into hemp in higher concentrations over the last few years, which is then extracted to make various products. Delta 8 exists in such small traces in hemp and cannabis that it can’t be extracted on its own and produces negligible results.

Due to this, Delta 8 is actually made through the synthetic conversion of CBD.

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. That can be a turn off for a lot of people.

The new “spice”?

We see you clenching your fists about to throw your phone from reading that title. No, we don’t believe that Delta 8 THC is as dangerous as spice. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be just as dangerous.

You may remember in 2019 when hundreds of people wound up in the hospital (and several actually dying) due to dangerous chemicals being cut into illicit, black market vaporizer cartridges. Vape cartridges are currently the most popular way to consume Delta 8, and they are completely unregulated just like illegal cartridges sold on the street.

It is not inconceivable that a producer looking to cut costs and make more money could cut their products with something potentially dangerous to consumers. And that is the risk that many take when they place an order from an online Delta 8 THC retailer.

So is Delta 8 THC safe? Let’s be real here. It is just as likely that a consumer might get an unsafe distillate cartridge on the street as you are to get a dangerous Delta 8 product from a “reputable” online Delta 8 retailer. That’s the reality.

Some states might start treating Delta 8 like CBD in the future, regulate it and make it safe. There’s also the chance that federal government, such as the DEA or FDA gets involved. Similarly to states with cannabis legalization, Delta 8 could also be made legal on a state by state basis. Some argue it is already legal.

In other words the safety, legality and trustworthiness of Delta 8 THC products is anybody’s guess. And guessing is exactly what you do when order some Delta 8 online or grab it from the head shop.

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.

CULTA Launches Maryland’s First Cannabis Tissue Culture Program

CULTA Launches Maryland’s First Cannabis Tissue Culture Program

CULTA medical marijuana dispensary Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland medical cannabis cultivator CULTA has launched the state program’s first tissue culture lab in an effort to further hone its approach to craft cannabis and extracts. Chief Cannabis Officer and co-founder Mackie Barch said that it’s a natural next step in the company’s growth plans and cultivation goals.

The team took their first tissue culture clones on April 8. (The news comes just a few months after CULTA moved its headquarters to a new office in Bethesda to accommodate a long-term growth strategy, which includes plans to add 100 more employees across its farm in Cambridge, retail dispensary in Baltimore and new HQ.)

CULTA’s current collection of 26 cultured strains includes: Dosido 22-22, Poochie Love and Scooby Snacks #2. New mothers are expected in the coming months. The plan is to bank all of CULTA’s genetics in the lab by the end of the year.

The prime motivation was “to ensure redundancy of our genetics, the ability to create clean new moms and to be able to store genetics for long periods of time,” Barch said. “The long-term implications are to ensure we don’t lose prized genetics to disease and age. Additionally, we can store more genetics in a safer manner and bring them back as needed.”

Cannabis strains can be moved in and out of production without a lot of additional cost. This flexibility translates to a greater engagement with sales trends in Maryland.

Looking ahead, the lab will also allow CULTA to develop an in-house breeding program.

“Plant tissue culture is not a hard process to do, but it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to master,” CULTA Tissue Culture Lab Supervisor Isaac Fisher said. “Lab experience is extremely beneficial, especially if it involves microbiology, mycology, botany or biochemistry. No new employees we’re brought on specifically for the Tissue Culture lab. I have past experience working in a molecular genetics lab, but started out at CULTA doing outdoor cultivation and then working in the extraction lab before helping start the tissue culture lab.”

Michigan university becomes first to offer cannabis chemistry scholarship

Michigan university becomes first to offer cannabis chemistry scholarship

A university in Michigan is adding a cannabis chemistry degree to its curriculum

A degree in cannabis chemistry? Yes please.

Lake Superior State University established the nation’s first chemistry program focused on cannabis when it launched The Cannabis Center of Excellence in 2019 — and now, the school is offering its first scholarship.

Steadfast Labs, a Michigan-based research facility with the goal of ensuring access to safe cannabis medicine, has established an annual $1,200 scholarship for cannabis chemistry students at LSSU, the school announced Monday.

To qualify, applicants must be sophomores or older and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students who live in Wayne and Oakland Counties, areas that the company services, will also be given preference.

“This donation not only continues our trendsetting ways in this vital new field but also makes our already affordable tuition even more reasonable,” said Dr. Steven Johnson, Dean of the College of Science and the Environment at LSSU. “By funding this scholarship, Steadfast Labs again demonstrates their commitment to supporting future chemists who will enter the workforce and provide public safety in the cannabis field.”

“It is our great pleasure to grant this unprecedented scholarship for a cutting-edge program in an innovative industry,” said Avram Zallen, founder and CEO of Steadfast Labs. “This grant is another opportunity for Steadfast to help LSSU students pursue careers in this exciting and important industry. “

The school offers degrees in cannabis chemistry, cannabis production, cannabis science and cannabis business, with the goal of “positioning cannabis studies as a national leader of academic inquiry.” The program markets itself as the first in the U.S. to focus on the quantitative analysis of cannabis-related compounds and contaminants, including THC, CBD and terpenes.

“The scholarship reinforces key components of our vision statement: being vanguard-focused and driving social mobility,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley.

Last month, officials announced the university upgraded its cannabis analysis instrumentation to analyze residual pesticides and mycotoxins in cannabis products, as well as identify persisted pollutants.

Other schools around the country, including Cornell University and the University of Maryland, have introduced classes that focus on the cultivation and use of marijuana, along with the legal issues surrounding cannabis. There continues to be growing employer demand for college graduates with expertise in marijuana, with job growth in the sector rapidly expanding as states legalize the cannabis.

Areas With More Marijuana Dispensaries Have Fewer Opioid Deaths

Areas With More Marijuana Dispensaries Have Fewer Opioid Deaths

States with legal cannabis have seen decreases in opioid related deaths

Increasing access to marijuana dispensaries is associated with a significant reduction in opioid-related deaths, according to a new study.

“Higher medical and recreational storefront dispensary counts are associated with reduced opioid related death rates, particularly deaths associated with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl,” the paper, published on Wednesday in the British Medical Association journal’s BMJ, concluded.

It’s a finding that “holds for both medical and recreational dispensaries,” the study says.

Researchers looked at opioid mortality and cannabis dispensary prevalence in 23 U.S.states from 2014 to 2018 and found that, overall, counties where the number of legal marijuana shops increased from one to two experienced a 17 percent reduction in opioid-related fatalities.

Increasing the dispensary count from two to three was linked to an additional 8.5 percent decrease in opioid deaths.

Further, the study found that this trend “appeared particularly strong for deaths associated with synthetic opioids other than methadone, with an estimated 21 percent reduction in mortality rates associated with an increase from one to two dispensaries.”

“If consumers use cannabis and opioids for pain management, increasing the supply of legal cannabis might have implications for fentanyl demand and opioid related mortality rates overall.”

“While the associations documented cannot be assumed to be causal, they suggest a potential association between increased prevalence of medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries and reduced opioid related mortality rates,” the researchers wrote. “This study highlights the importance of considering the complex supply side of related drug markets and how this shapes opioid use and misuse.”

This is far from the first piece of research to draw a connection between legal cannabis access and reduced harms from opioids. Multiple studies have found that marijuana effectively treats conditions like chronic pain for which opioids are regularly prescribed, and surveys show that many patients have substituted addictive painkillers with cannabis.

“Cannabis is generally thought to be a less addictive substance than opioids,” the new study says. “Cannabis can potentially be used medically for pain management and has considerable public support.”

“Our findings suggest that increasing availability of legal cannabis (modeled through the presence of medical and recreational dispensary operations) is associated with a decrease in deaths associated with the T40.4 class of opioids, which include the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl,” it continues. “This finding is especially important because fentanyl related deaths have become the most common opioid related cause of death.”

Earlier this month, a separate study determined that medical cannabis use is associated with significant reductions in dependence on opioids and other prescription drugs, as well as an increase in quality of life.

Read the full story from Marijuana Moment