Top Cannabis Science Headlines: February Roundup
Our top picks from the month’s research, business and policy news across the cannabis industry
Lauren Robertson |
Every week, we carefully curate the top stories from across the fields of medical research, testing, processing, and plant science. We also bring you the latest in the world of cannabis business and legislation. Want it all in your inbox? Sign up here.
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The basis of bong lung
With cannabis use increasing globally, it’s important to understand its impacts on the lungs. For years, doctors have been aware that some people who smoke a lot of cannabis present with a severe form of emphysema colloquially known as “bong lung.” However, it has historically been challenging to study the effects of smoking cannabis due in part to its illegal status in many parts of the world. Now, research from the University of Otago has found that – contrary to previous assumptions – smoking cannabis leads to a different pattern of lung function changes compared with smoking tobacco. Importantly, cannabis appears to lead to over-inflated lungs and increased resistance to airflow. The results form part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, arguably the world’s most complete dataset on lifetime cannabis use and lung function in adults.
You might not be alone. For a while now, cannabis use has been linked to a range of behaviors sometimes called “amotivational syndrome” – in other words, laziness. But the evidence is mixed and many questions remain. Does lower motivation pre-date cannabis use or perhaps contribute to the use of cannabis? Is it only associated with long-term use? Are these observed effects to do with motivation or just the drug impacting motor performance? To add to the body of evidence, researchers examined the effects of oral THC (and placebo) on motivation in women. Why only women? Simply because this paper is part of a wider study looking at the interaction between ovarian hormones and THC. The women were given a task that consisted of making repeated choices between a hard and an easy task worth varying amounts of money. They found that THC appears to have dose-dependent acute amotivational effects, but the neurochemical mechanisms remain a mystery – for now.
Matters of the heart
With so much conflicting research, there are still many uncertainties surrounding the effects of cannabis on cardiovascular health. Wanting to get to the heart of the problem (literally), researchers decided to investigate the effects of cannabis on myocardial infarction (MI). Using the UK Biobank, they found that the effects of cannabis were comparable to those of red wine; with cannabis use, MI incidence decreased and was also less likely to occur. However, the authors did agree that a confounding factor could be the reduction of psychological stress that comes with cannabis use, which in itself diminishes the risk of MI… On a slightly less positive note, a different group of researchers found that CBD affects cardiac electrophysiology by acting on a diverse range of ion channels and urged caution in administering CBD to carriers of cardiac channelopathies or to individuals using drugs known to affect the rhythm or the contractility of the heart.
In the Zone
In a recent study, researchers explored the effects of cannabis on ADHD symptoms, ADHD medication side effects, and ADHD-related executive dysfunction. Notably, 12 percent of participants had an ADHD diagnosis, while the rest reported ADHD-related symptoms. Participants reported positive effects of cannabis on hyperactivity and impulsivity, and positive impacts on ADHD medication side-effects, such as difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Interestingly, it was also found that more frequent use of cannabis mitigated some ADHD-related executive dysfunction. However, it’s important to bear in mind that all these effects are self-reported, potentially calling into question the reliability of the data. Nevertheless, the study does point to an interesting direction of future research into first-line ADHD treatment options that act on the endocannabinoid system.
What else is going on?
Research + Medicine
Review explores cannabis pharmacokinetics, suggesting high potential for nanotechnology delivery systems to improve therapeutic effects. Link
Inhaled THC significantly lowers intraocular pressure; more research needed to determine efficacy in ocular hypertension and glaucoma. Link
Bod Australia, a cannabis-centric healthcare company, to start clinical trials using medicinal cannabis to treat long COVID in collaboration with Drug Science UK. Link
Study finds cannabis use during pregnancy associated with early postnatal complications and reduced fetal growth, even when accounting for confounding factors. Link
Multiple molecules linked to endocannabinoid system reported as potential therapeutic targets in treating migraines. Link
Low-dose naltrexone and cannabidiol, used in sequence, appear to enhance effects of chemotherapy. Link
Researchers elucidate role of cannabinoid receptors in early embryonic development. Link
Whole genome sequencing reveals mechanistic basis behind CBD’s potential to enhance efficacy of antibiotics. Link
Testing + Processing
Method based on liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry useful in evaluating CBD concentration and convertible THC in Japanese CBD oil. Link
Hyperspectral imaging shows promise as tool for differentiating CBD hemp cultivars and growth stages. Link
Business + Regulation
After legalization of medical cannabis in Utah, lawmaker wants state to consider legalizing psychedelic drugs for mental health patients. Link
Amazon “pleased to endorse” Republican-backed bill to federally legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Link
NFL grants one million dollars in research funding to study effects of cannabinoids on pain management and neuroprotection from concussion in elite football players. Link
As part of its path toward decriminalization, cannabis possession in Israel now only punishable by fine. Link
Pending government approval, Canadian cannabis brand Copilot will open first in-airport cannabis store in Prince George Airport in British Columbia. Link
Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 aims to eliminate unworkable testing requirements, set reasonable THC thresholds, and end policy banning people with drug convictions from growing legal hemp in the US. Link 1, Link 2
Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana bans vaporized medical cannabis products containing ingredients that have not been approved by FDA. Link
Medical cannabis company, Kanobo, purchases GP Service (private telemedicine and online primary healthcare service provider in UK), potentially facilitating patient access. Link
Rise of the Planet of the (Bored) Apes
Much like the American football ending to last week’s newsletter, I am not going to pretend I understand non-fungible tokens. And I am certainly not going to endorse them. But I can’t deny that the current NFT boom is somewhat intriguing.
And now it appears the cannabis industry wants in on the action. That’s right, the cannabis community now has access to its very own Metaverse. (If you’re still confused about some of these terms, and I certainly don’t blame you, I highly recommend this breakdown here).
In March 2022, the first ever NFT-powered cannabis brand, Crypto Cannabis Club, is set to launch. The Club already released a collection of “NFTokers” in August 2021, which offered the lucky owners “membership benefits.” But now the brand is looking to send 1/8th ounce packages of premium cannabis flower direct to consumers featuring custom artwork from the Crypto Cannabis Club.
I’ve just about exhausted my vocabulary on this topic now, but if you’d like to find out more about the brand, check out this piece from Forbes. I’m sure many of you will have strong opinions about NFTs one way or another; some of you will be just as lost as I am. Either way, do get in touch if you want to discuss this topic a little further (or simply want to help educate me).
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