September 16, 2014

The CBD Research that Time Forgot

7/28/2011 – Time magazine made a flawed, sensationalistic attempt at covering cannibinoid research in a recent article. The piece details the effects of a synthetic cannabinoid (called JWH-133) and its ability to deter cocaine addiction in an animal model by activating the CB2 receptor in the brain. The implications of this study imply that cannabinoids could be potentially used as an “exit” drug for cocaine users. But Time confused the synthetic drug used in the study with a natural substance called cannabidiol or CBD.

Unfortunately, the seemingly good news about CB2 receptors and the treatment of cocaine addiction was over-shadowed by a plethora of inaccurate scientific information.

Here are the three main points that Time forgot:

  • CBD does not activate CB2 receptors at a reasonable concentration. This crucial information was published in 1996. In test tube experiments, CBD can only activate the CB2 receptor at a concentration unachievable through any known or conventional route of administration. If, for instance, a patient had an IV hooked up to a vat of nearly pure CBD, then there might be enough CBD to affect receptor dynamics and thus lead to the activation of CB2 receptors. In short, CBD may be able to treat cocaine addiction, but not by acting through cannabinoid receptors.
  • Time magazine glaringly overlooked the most relevant research done on the effects of actual CBD (not a synthetic cannibinoid like JWH-133) and cocaine addiction by Raphael Mechoulam, one of the most noted Cannabis researchers in history. Dr. Mechoulam is credited as the first scientist to isolate THC as the primary ingredient in Cannabis back in 1964 and he continues to produce groundbreaking cannabis research. His important 2004 study looked at CBD and cocaine addiction but the research cited by Time never even mentions CBD.

One of the most basic concepts in cannabinoid science is that THC activates CB1 and CB2 receptors, but CBD does not activate CB1 and CB2 receptors. To refute this fundamental understanding of cannabinoid receptors is an insult to the scientific community and ultimately does more harm than good. As a scientist, this type of research is extremely complex and all news organizations will need to do a better job when conveying information to the public.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam - The scientist that Time forgot

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Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact    science@freedomisgreen.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

New Study Shows Marijuana is Not Linked with Cognitive Impairment

Marijuana has a long-held reputation of “making you dumb.” This has been upheld by studies in the past that have discounted factors like gender and education (what?!)

But this recent study followed nearly 2,000 young Australian adults for eight years and found that marijuana has little long-term effect on learning and memory.

The idea that marijuana makes you dumb has long been embodied in the stereotype of the slow, stupid stoner, seen in numerous Hollywood movies and TV comedies and going unquestioned by much of American culture. But a new study says no: the researchers followed nearly 2,000 young Australian adults for eight years and found that marijuana has little long-term effect on learning and memory— and any cognitive damage that does occur as a result of cannabis use is reversible.

Participants were aged 20-24 at the start of the study, which was part of a larger project on community health.  Researchers categorized them as light, heavy, former or non-users of cannabis based on their answers to questions about  marijuana habits.

Light use was defined as smoking monthly or less frequently; heavy use was weekly or more often. Former users had to have not smoked for at least a year. Fully 72% of the participants were non-users or former users; 18% were light users and 9% were heavy current users. Prior studies have found that drug users do accurately report their consumption levels in surveys like this as long as anonymity is guaranteed and there are no negative consequences for telling the truth.

Exercise May Help Treat Cannabis Dependence

Given the lack of FDA approved medications for the treatment of drug use, exercise may represent a form of behavioral modification suitable to treat different forms of drug dependence. Building up a “Runner’s High”  from intense exercise may overwrite  pathways in the brain by reinforcing the body’s natural reward system.

A group of subjects who smoked an average of 5.9 joints a day, reduced their daily intake of Cannabis to an average of 2.8 joints a day during the exercise portion of the experiment.

This data agrees with existing scientific evidence which demonstrates the positive effects of exercise on reducing drug craving. Given the low cost of exercise it could represent a treatment accessible to people who do not have access to health insurance or have failed to receive HMO approval for drug abuse medications.  More studies are needed to confirm the benefits of exercise on drug dependence but, in theory, this could be applied to other drug issues.  For regular consumers and underground medical users in states that do not have a consistent supply,  exercise may also help in times without access.

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