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Can cannabis provide an alternative to opioid painkillers in the UK?

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The past few years have seen a rise in the use of opioids as pain killers, but these medicines are highly addictive. Medical cannabis expert and neurologist, Professor Mike Barnes, discusses whether cannabis can provide a positive alternative.

A study from Manchester University demonstrated that prescriptions for the addictive opioid codeine jumped by a factor of five between 2006 and 2017, and that one in seven of all new opioid users became long-term users within the first year.

Medical cannabis expert and neurologist, Professor Mike Barnes of Maple Tree Consultancy, spoke to Medical Cannabis Network editor Stephanie Price to highlight how the UK could benefit from the use of cannabis as a painkiller rather than the addictive opioid pain killers widely prescribed by clinicians today.

The dangers of opioids

Concerns have been raised in recent years that the UK could be following the path of the United States and Canada – which have been battling with an opioid addiction crisis since 2013. However, since the legalisation of medical cannabis in Canada and the United States, the plant is becoming more commonly used as an alternative to opioids due to its pain killing properties.

“Opioid prescriptions are a big issue – there were 75,000 overdose deaths in the United States last year. Of course, there is a bigger population in the United States and its slightly less of a problem in this country, but nevertheless, there are many thousands of people in this country who die every year from opioid overdoses,” said Barnes.

“The problem with them is that you only have to take a little bit more than the prescribed dose then it effects your breathing, and if it’s an older person, who might already have some compromise to their health, like an airway disease for example – it doesn’t take that much to die from opioid overdosage. So, it is a big issue – and the other thing, more importantly, they are not very good for managing chronic pain.

“They are very good for acute pain after an operation or injury for example. They are probably the best thing for severe, acute pain, but for chronic pain they are not very good and that is well recognised. So, the fact they are not very effective and that you can die from them, I agree with NICE that we should discourage their use for chronic pain.”

A 2019 report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), ‘Ageing cohort of drug users’, highlighted that the ageing cohort of drug users (aged over 35) in the UK now account for a ‘significant proportion of patients in specialist community drug treatment services’ and that ‘predominant among these are those with problematic opiate/opioid use.’

“There are still young people, of course, who use opioids, so it is still an issue, however, an increasing issue is older people – not necessarily old – but anyone with a chronic pain condition, who are put on opioids, then they become hooked on them. Even if the underlying issue is later gone, the problem is that they then have to get off the opioids. It is an increasing issue with the middle-aged and older populations.”

The benefits of cannabis

The Government has recently increased the level of warning labels on opioid packaging so patients are more aware of the dangers and have encouraged doctors to speak to their patients about these dangers. Barnes highlights that cannabis has a better safety profile than opioid painkillers, and fewer side effects.

“CBD is painkilling and has other beneficial effects, THC is more directly painkilling – and they work very well for chronic pain. So, as a painkiller I think they are much better than opioids. The other good thing about cannabis is that its side effect profile is much better than opioids – I will not say it has no side effects, because it does have some, however, they are very few and are relatively mild – such as drowsiness and a dry mouth.

“The other benefit is that you cannot die of a cannabis overdosage – no one has ever died of a cannabis overdosage, so it is remarkably safer than opioids.

“There is such a thing called ‘cannabis dependency syndrome’. You cannot get addicted to cannabis in the same way you can become addicted to heroin – however, you can become dependent on it like with alcohol and tobacco. About 19% of people who use alcohol become dependent on it – for cannabis dependency it is 9% so it is less than alcohol or tobacco and, of course, that is mainly the ‘street users’ who become dependent. It is very unusual when cannabis is medically prescribed and that is because the CBD ratio is strong in medically prescribed cannabis, whereas the street cannabis is high in THC and low in CBD and is much more prone to cause this cannabis dependency syndrome. So, unlike opioid, proper medically prescribed cannabis you do not get dependent on.

“Figures from the United States show that if you are on opioids, and then you are on cannabis as well the opioids, you can reduce the opioid dosage by 25%, which makes it safer. That is average but will not be the same for everyone. For some people, they are able to come off opioids 100%. Also, you reduce opioid deaths by 25% – that in turn saves money. So, overall – I think using cannabis as an alternative is a very good idea.”

What can the UK do?

Despite the 2018 rescheduling of cannabis for medicinal use, many doctors still do not prescribe cannabis-based medicinal products due to lack of education, unclear guidelines, and the need for approval, points out Barnes.

“We need an education programme for doctors as there is a lot of ignorance as they have never been taught about it. There is also a benefit from better guidelines – the guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians say there is not any evidence to prescribe cannabis for pain, however, it is now licensed as a medicine in 50 countries and 49 of those countries prescribe it for pain. So, they are saying that Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany are all wrong. This flies in the face of evidence as there is a lot of evidence that cannabis has painkilling properties. So, both NICE and the Royal College of Physicians need to recognise that we need better guidance.

“The government has said they have changed the law, however, it could do more, such as helping to improve the supply chain, encouraging doctors to prescribe, and leaning on NICE to perhaps review how it has reviewed cannabis. It could support training programmes, however, the majority of it is the reluctance of the doctors.

“The framework is there to prescribe it tomorrow and one thing the government could do is to take away the obligation of an NHS doctor of having to get approval to prescribe cannabis.”

Source: Health Europe

Cannabis Prohibition in the UK – Harm Reduction or Moral Panic?

Cannabis is the most used recreational drug in the world, despite being prohibited in most countries. The use of the drug dates back thousands of years, with evidence of medicinal and recreational consumption being found in many ancient societies, including Egypt, India, and China. This use continued largely unhindered into the 19th century when lawmakers began to pass legislation to prohibit its use.

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In fact, many drugs that are illegal or only circumstantially legal today once enjoyed widespread use and even medical acclaim all around the world. Up until the 1900s, drugs such as opium, cocaine, and cannabis were commonly prescribed as medical products as well as being used for recreational purposes. However, in the last century, these drugs underwent a drastic reputation change.

Some historians believe that these changes in public opinion were the result of moral panics, constructed by the ruling elite as a way to control certain groups of the population. In the case of cannabis, these groups were distinguished by ‘race’ or their potential disruption to traditional values. One Royal Commission reflected the view that the majority of drug policy, and the ‘war on drugs’ was based on ‘moral panic’ as opposed to evidence-based harm reduction.

We’re taking a look at the timeline that led to the prohibition of cannabis in the UK, and how this helped to form stereotypes that many still hold today.

What is Moral Panic?

A moral panic is a social phenomenon characterised by a period of public anxiety and fuelled by several sources, to a perceived moral issue in society. In short, a moral panic is usually based on a ‘disproportionate’ reaction to an interpreted evil. According to Professor Stanley Cohen, who coined the term in his 1972 book Folk Devils and Moral Panics, there are usually five necessary stages to a moral panic:

“[1] A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”: (In this case, cannabis and cannabis users); [2] its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; [3] the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; [4] socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; [5] ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible.”

The UK’s Cannabis Moral Panic

In modern society, recreational drug users have been repeatedly made the victims of moral panics – either directly or indirectly. This led Cohen to write extensively on ‘drug problems’ and how drug users or ‘drug fiends’ have been made into folk devils or scapegoats for wider societal concerns.

A History of Cannabis in the UK

The UK’s experience of cannabis began with the introduction of hemp as early as 800-1000 AD. Like in many areas around the world, these first plants are thought to have been cultivated for practical uses such as for clothing, paper, weapons, rope, and ship sails. However, the crop soon fell out of favour with farmers, probably due to the introduction of other crops.

The 16th century, however, saw the re-introduction of hemp and the crop surged in popularity once again. Famously, Henry VIII even instructed all farmers to dedicate a quarter of an acre of their land to the plant. Hemp crops have remained in the British Isles to this day, albeit with increasingly restrictive conditions applied to cultivation.

cannabis moral panic
Hemp Crops

Recreational strains of the cannabis plant – characterised by higher concentrations of the psychoactive compound THC – were brought to the UK at a much later date. These strains were likely bred intentionally by farmers from elsewhere in the world specifically for their mind-altering potential. However, there is also evidence that cannabis plants that grow at high altitudes naturally develop higher levels of THC.

Evidence collected from across Asia and the Middle East suggests that these strains were used in religious ceremonies as well as for medicinal and recreational purposes.

When did High-THC Strains Become More Common in the UK?

It is assumed that high-THC ‘recreational’ cannabis was not seen to a significant degree by Britons until the colonisation of Eastern countries like India. British soldiers in colonial India witnessed the recreational use of ‘hemp drugs’ among the native populations in the 1800s. Many speculated that the use of the drug led to insanity and immorality among its users, with some reporting that “the lunatic asylums of India are filled with Ganja smokers.”

However, the extensive Hemp Drugs Commission Report, found that these claims were unsubstantiated by evidence. The report was based on an extensive survey of the observations of over 1,000 British and Indian sources across the country. It concluded that “these drugs do not tend to crime and violence”. As a result, no action was taken at the time to prohibit the use of cannabis in India. By the time this report was published, British doctors and researchers had already ‘discovered’ the medicinal potential of cannabis, leading to an increasing prevalence of the plant in Britain.

Cannabis was prescribed for a variety of ailments in Britain in the ensuing years and was even prescribed to Queen Victoria to treat menstrual pains. Doctors in the UK were able to prescribe cannabis until 1971 when the Misuse of Drugs Act.

So, When was Cannabis made Illegal in the UK?

Cannabis use wasn’t prohibited in the UK until 1928, following the International Drug Conference in Geneva. This law change meant that cannabis was to be considered as harmful to individuals and society as cocaine and opium. However, the law did little to curb the recreational use of cannabis as little resources were given to this purpose until the 1950s/60s.

It is now widely accepted that the USA’s War on Drugs was a thinly-veiled attempt to target and control minority populations – namely Mexicans and Black Americans. Many historians and policy experts believe that the hardening of UK drug policy in the 1950s/60s was designed to meet similar ends.

The Timeline of the UK’s Cannabis Moral Panic

In the 1950s, the UK ‘welcomed’ large populations of immigrants from a number of previous British colonies. A large proportion of these immigrants moved to the UK from the Caribbean, and many brought their use of recreational cannabis with them. Anti-establishment groups of the 1960s were also grouped together to create the ‘flower power, hippy pot-smoker’ stereotype.

The ruling elite has consistently framed the cannabis use of these groups as an issue of immorality. In response to the perceived threat to the accepted order represented by these groups, harsher policies and punishments for cannabis use were brought in. This culminated in the ‘real’ launch of the UK’s War on Drugs, with extensive legislation, including the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, targeting cannabis users.

Source: Cannex

Is the UK Behind in the Cannatech Race?

Technology offers many new possibilities for cannabis producers and consumers alike and has the power to take the CBD industry to a new level. Cannatech is changing everything about cannabis;  how it is grown (bespoke greenhouses), manufactured, purchased, delivered, customised—and, of course, consumed.

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What is Cannatech?

New technologies, known as cannatech, are changing the cannabis industry. One such technology is nano-encapsulation; this makes CBD soluble and gives rise to CBD infused drinks. Another innovation is customised consumption which connects consumers with personalised brands and products. From a cultivation perspective, technology is being used to sequence cannabis DNA, extract, purify and test compounds and help develop products. 

Who is Ahead of the CBD Game?

Countries such as Israel, The Netherlands, USA and Canada are leading the way in canntech, having received investment in projects and, in some cases, government funding.  Despite the UK being home to the world’s single largest legal cannabis cultivation site, 18 hectares at British Sugar’s Wissington facility, cannatech is still behind. This is even more surprising considering the increasing numbers of THC licences being granted by the Home Office and onslaught of brands entering the UK CBD market.

Missed Opportunity for the UK

Professor Mike Barnes, Neurologist and Co-Founder of Maple Tree Consultancy, believes the UK are behind in the Cannatech race. By legalising cannabis, the UK can build on their existing tech foundations and accelerate research and development in cannabis. This could catapult the UK to the front of the cannatech race and aid the UK in other technological spheres. For example, agri-tech. Cannabis is the ideal crop for testing new agri-tech methods. Subsequently, they could pioneer new indoor farming methods and ensure food production in the future. 

The Future of Cannatech

These innovative new technologies are changing the face of cannabis production and consumption. The expansion of the industry could mean increased economic growth and job opportunities. With cannabis consumption still illegal in the UK it is impossible to know for sure what may happen. However, many cannatech apostles think that the UK is home to untapped potential. From an economic and technological perspective, the UK may have the opportunity to lead the global cannatech race. The result could be a huge boost to the economy. 

Source: CNN

The Navy revised its ban on hemp and CBD to include topical products like lotions and shampoos

Several containers of lip or skin balm containing Cannabidiol or CBD, derived from the Cannabis plant, are displayed on the shelf of a store in Walnut Creek, California.

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(CBD) products. Now they’ve expanded its ban to include topical products like lotions and shampoos.

The Navy says the new rules were made to “protect sailors from potential tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exposure that could negatively impact mission readiness and disqualify a Sailor from continued service.”
“It is impossible for consumers to determine how much THC a product actually contains in the current environment where label claims are not trustworthy,” the Navy said in an online statement.
Department of Defense officials say “it’s not reasonable or practical” for them to test every hemp product to figure out which products could prompt a positive urinalysis result, according to the statement.

Hemp, CBD and marijuana: What’s legal in the US?

CBD is the chemical found in hemp and marijuana plants, and even though CBD is derived from marijuana, it’s simpler for companies to use hemp-derived CBD because the extract is legal in all states. But even though it’s legal, it’s unregulated, which mean it’s important to question health claims that may appear on labels.
 
Health care workers working long shifts are finding CBD helpful on their days off for restorative sleep pain and inflammation, low back and neck pain, and panic attacks.
Studies have also revealed that CBD may be a compound of choice for those struggling with drug addiction, and it may even have the potential to help opioid addicts avoid a relapse through reducing cravings and anxiety, according to study author Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai (AIMS) in New York.
In December 2018, Congress voted to legalize the cultivation of hemp after months of debate and negotiation between lawmakers.
For decades, the federal government has treated hemp just like any other cannabis plant. Since 1970, it had been classified as a schedule 1 drug on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, alongside heroin, LSD and marijuana. The DEA defines schedule 1 drugs as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
The 2018 bill took hemp off that list.
CBD is commonly known to be in things like oils, supplements and vapes, but it’s showing up in shampoos, lattes, body lotions, gummy bears and dog treats. It’s being sold in coffee shops and farmer’s markets, mom-and-pops and high-end department stores, and even drugstore chains like CVS.
Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes.

Enforcing a drug-free workplace

“This really is about the health of the force and ensuring the Navy remains a drug-free workplace,” LA Parker, Drug Detection & Deterrence branch head for the 21st Century Sailor office said in the online statement. “We have to be fit to fight and can’t take a risk in allowing our Sailors to consume or use these types of products.”
Sailors and Marines with a valid medical prescription for CBD products approved by the Food and Drug Administration are still allowed to use them.
The Navy said they don’t restrict the use of “durable hemp goods like rope and clothing.”
If a service member tests positive for THC or other substances without a valid prescription, they could be discharged, and the discharge characterized as “Other Than Honorable.”
“Every Sailor has a personal responsibility to diligently avoid intentional or accidental exposure to THC and other prohibited substances,” the statement said.

Source: CNN

The Navy revised its ban on hemp and CBD to include topical products like lotions and shampoos

Several containers of lip or skin balm containing Cannabidiol or CBD, derived from the Cannabis plant, are displayed on the shelf of a store in Walnut Creek, California.

Read More

(CBD) products. Now they’ve expanded its ban to include topical products like lotions and shampoos.

The Navy says the new rules were made to “protect sailors from potential tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exposure that could negatively impact mission readiness and disqualify a Sailor from continued service.”
“It is impossible for consumers to determine how much THC a product actually contains in the current environment where label claims are not trustworthy,” the Navy said in an online statement.
Department of Defense officials say “it’s not reasonable or practical” for them to test every hemp product to figure out which products could prompt a positive urinalysis result, according to the statement.

Hemp, CBD and marijuana: What’s legal in the US?

CBD is the chemical found in hemp and marijuana plants, and even though CBD is derived from marijuana, it’s simpler for companies to use hemp-derived CBD because the extract is legal in all states. But even though it’s legal, it’s unregulated, which mean it’s important to question health claims that may appear on labels.
 
Health care workers working long shifts are finding CBD helpful on their days off for restorative sleep pain and inflammation, low back and neck pain, and panic attacks.
Studies have also revealed that CBD may be a compound of choice for those struggling with drug addiction, and it may even have the potential to help opioid addicts avoid a relapse through reducing cravings and anxiety, according to study author Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai (AIMS) in New York.
In December 2018, Congress voted to legalize the cultivation of hemp after months of debate and negotiation between lawmakers.
For decades, the federal government has treated hemp just like any other cannabis plant. Since 1970, it had been classified as a schedule 1 drug on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, alongside heroin, LSD and marijuana. The DEA defines schedule 1 drugs as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
The 2018 bill took hemp off that list.
CBD is commonly known to be in things like oils, supplements and vapes, but it’s showing up in shampoos, lattes, body lotions, gummy bears and dog treats. It’s being sold in coffee shops and farmer’s markets, mom-and-pops and high-end department stores, and even drugstore chains like CVS.
Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes.

Enforcing a drug-free workplace

“This really is about the health of the force and ensuring the Navy remains a drug-free workplace,” LA Parker, Drug Detection & Deterrence branch head for the 21st Century Sailor office said in the online statement. “We have to be fit to fight and can’t take a risk in allowing our Sailors to consume or use these types of products.”
Sailors and Marines with a valid medical prescription for CBD products approved by the Food and Drug Administration are still allowed to use them.
The Navy said they don’t restrict the use of “durable hemp goods like rope and clothing.”
If a service member tests positive for THC or other substances without a valid prescription, they could be discharged, and the discharge characterized as “Other Than Honorable.”
“Every Sailor has a personal responsibility to diligently avoid intentional or accidental exposure to THC and other prohibited substances,” the statement said.

Source: CNN

First clinical trial of LSD-MDMA combination will test whether ‘candy-flipping’ the party drugs can safely treat anxiety, depression and PTSD

A new clinical trial by New York City startup Mind Medicine will be the fist to test whether the combination of party drugs LSD and MDMA could safely treat mental health disorders (file)

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A group of scientists is launching the world’s first clinical trial of a combination of two psychedelic drugs, LSD and MDMA, to treat mental health conditions. 

The New York City-based firm Mind Medicine will kick of its trial of the two compounds in January 2021. 

It’s the latest study in a bold and growing body of research looking to employ drugs’ tendencies to increase feelings of empathy, connection and positivity to help treat disorders like depression, anxiety and PTSD where other medications have failed. 

Already, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a nasal spray form of ketamine, another party drug, to treat depression. MDMA – a compound known as ‘ecstasy’ or ‘Molly’ on the street – was given the FDA’s ‘breakthrough’ designation for treating PTSD. 

But the new trial will be the first to combine MDMA and the infamous psychedelic drug LSD (a pairing known as ‘candy-flipping’ by hippies and ravers) in an effort to treat crippling mental disorders. 

A new clinical trial by New York City startup Mind Medicine will be the fist to test whether the combination of party drugs LSD and MDMA could safely treat mental health disorders (file) 

The study has enrolled 24 patients. At various points in the study, random groups within the trial cohort will get 100 μg of LSD (also known as acid) plus a placebo, the same dose of acid and 100 mg of MDMA, 100mg of MDMA and a placebo or placebo versions of each drug. 

In total, the trial is slated to take one year. 

LSD has been tested for many years to treat anxiety, depression, addiction and PTSD. 

It is known as a ‘serotonergic hallucinogen,’ meaning that it can help to make more of the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter, serotonin, available to the brain. 

Scientists have been testing the compound since the 1970s but, in recent years, researchers have gotten more serious and designed studies by more strict and serious protocols. 

Some of these have suggested that people with anxiety or depression not only found relief that pharmaceutical treatments had failed to give them, but that the shift was ‘robust’ and long-lasting. 

But critics have noted that the benefits were also seen in the placebo groups from some of those trials. 

And while the wild hallucinations are thought to improve connections in the brain that promote empathy and feelings of interconnectedness, the psychedelic experience is not the same for everyone. 

‘Psychedelic substances like LSD may also cause unpleasant subjective effects like negative thoughts, rumination, anxiety, panic, paranoia, loss of trust towards other people and perceived loss of control, depending on the dose of LSD used, the personality traits of the person consuming it (i.e. ‘set’), the environment in which it is consumed,’ Mind Medicine warns in their clinical trial description. 

‘Inducing an overall positive acute response to the psychedelic is critical because several studies showed that a more positive experience is predictive of a greater therapeutic long-term effect of the psychedelic. Therefore, there is a need for methods which are capable of reducing bad drug effects while enhancing good drug effects to optimize a psychedelic experience.’

Mind Medicine CEO says that the trial is not to help 'people have a better rave' and will be testing the purely clinical potential benefits of the drugs, which are thought to make more serotonin and oxytocin available to improve mood and empathy

Mind Medicine CEO says that the trial is not to help ‘people have a better rave’ and will be testing the purely clinical potential benefits of the drugs, which are thought to make more serotonin and oxytocin available to improve mood and empathy 

Put another way: the LSD experience is an intense one, for better or worse.   

The Mind Medicine researchers hope that MDMA, an amphetamine derivative, can act like a booster for LSD, further increasing serotonin in patients’ brains. 

‘MDMA is known to trigger oxytocin’ – colloquially known as the ‘love hormone’ –  ‘release which may contribute to its effects to increase trust, prosociality, and enhanced empathy. The state of well-being induced by MDMA including increased activation and emotional excitation is known to be associated with a better response to psychedelics,’ they write in the trial description. 

With its breakthrough designation, MDMA is ahead of LSD in terms of the approval typeline. 

But the research team is confident that, if all goes as they hope, the benefits of the pair of drugs will overcome their stigma and schedule 1 DEA classification. 

‘I think we’re most focused on as a company, and what the wider psychedelic-inspired medicine community is focused on, is what can be the outcome, forget the substance,’ Mind Medicine founder and co-CEO JR Rahn told Forbes. 

‘If we can solve depression, anxiety, PSTD, does it really matter what the substance is? Shouldn’t we be more focused on the outcome and the benefit to society?’ 

As of yet, the trial isn’t targeted at any one of those disorders, but hopes to establish the safety of the drug combination and identify which condition it shows the most promise for easing. 

And, Rahn added, the potential approval of these therapies will not be equivalent to legalizing them for partying.   

When dosed with these drugs, a trial participant will ‘definitely have a hallucinatory experience,’ but it will be confined to a supervised study setting. 

‘What we don’t want is people think they can take this every weekend. This is medicine, it should be treated as such,’ he told Forbes. 

‘We are not developing this so people have a better rave.’  

Source: Mail Online

LSD Could Replace Morphine as a Painkiller, According to New Study

Researchers found that microdosing acid works as an effective, non-addictive method of pain relief.

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It is the first study to revisit the potential of LSD in pain relief since restrictive prohibition policies were put in place in the 1960s and 1970s—and researchers believe further studies could lead to the possible use of the substance as a non-addictive pain medication.

“This study in healthy volunteers shows that a low dose of LSD produces an analgesic effect in the absence of a psychedelic effect,” lead researcher Jan Ramaekers, a professor of Psychopharmacology and Behavioral Toxicology at Maastricht University, said in a statement. “The magnitude of the analgesic effect appears comparable to analgesic effects of opioids in the same pain model.”

A sample of 24 healthy volunteers for the study each received single doses of 5, 10 and 20 micrograms of LSD, or a placebo, over the course of several days. Researchers then assessed their pain tolerance levels by asking them to submerge their hands in a tank of cold water (three degrees celsius) for as long as they could manage.

The study consistently indicated that a 20 microgram dose of LSD reduced pain perception by 20 percent, meaning the volunteers were able to remain immersed in the cold water for substantially longer, as compared to the placebo. Subjects who had microdosed also reported a decrease in the subjective experience of painfulness and unpleasantness.

Researchers further observed that the analgesic effects of the LSD were equally strong one-and-a-half hours after administration as they were five hours after administration—indicating that an acid dose as small as 20 micrograms may have a longer-lasting “halo” effect on pain management. And they stressed, importantly, that these pain responses were seen at dose levels unlikely to produce profound mind-altering effects.

 

More research is needed before LSD supplants the likes of Endone and Panadol Forte as the go-to drug for pain relief—but if these early indications are anything to go by, the implications of clinically-prescribed analgesic LSD could be a major, potentially life-saving breakthrough when it comes to addressing the opioid crisis in countries like the United States and Canada.

“The present data suggests low doses of LSD could constitute a useful pain management treatment option that is not only effective in patients but is also devoid of the problematic consequences associated with current mainstay drugs, such as opioids,” said Amanda Feilding, Founder and Director of the Beckley Foundation and co-director of the Beckley/Maastricht Microdosing Research Programme. “Over 16 million people worldwide are currently suffering from Opioid Use Disorder and many more will become hooked as a result of oversubscription of pain medication.

“I am encouraged by these results as I have long believed that LSD may not only change the sensations of pain but also our subjective relationship with it,” Feilding added. “We must continue to explore this with the aim of providing safer, non-addictive alternatives to pain management, and to bring people in pain a step closer to living happier, healthier and fully expressed lives.”

Source: VICE

We’re experiencing a growing mental health crisis. We need more innovative solutions.’

Psilocybin mushrooms

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The statistics on mental health are shocking.

One in five Australian adults has a chronic mental illness, and nearly half of us will experience mental illness in our lifetimes.

On top of this, COVID-19 is having a further devastating impact. Statistics from Lifeline show it answered almost 90,000 calls for help in March, a 25 per cent increase over the same time last year – the equivalent of one call every 30 seconds.

Yet there are growing concerns that psychiatrists and psychologists lack the tools to help.

Despite record-breaking increases in prescription rates of psychiatric medications, rates of mental illness indicate that we’re losing the battle.

Tania de Jong AM, co-founder of charity Mind Medicine Australia, says current treatment options are unable to adequately address the “mental health tsunami” being created by the COVID crisis.

“It is a dire situation,” de Jong says. 

“We’re experiencing a growing mental health crisis, and the majority of people are not going to get better. 

“We owe it to those who are suffering to explore more innovative solutions.”

The promise of psychedelic medicines

Mind Medicine Australia believes one solution lies in psychedelic medicines.

The charity, founded in 2019 by de Jong and her husband Peter Hunt AM, is seeking to establish, safe, accessible and effective medicine-assisted psychotherapy in Australia for major mental illnesses.

The primary focus has been on the use of medicinal psilocybin (magic mushrooms) for depression and possibly OCD and addiction, and medicinal MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

de Jong, who is also the founder of charity Creativity Australia and social inclusion program With One Voice, says it is a “major paradigm-shifting opportunity in the treatment of mental illness”.

“The case for these medicines in a medically-controlled, therapeutic environment is extremely strong,” she says.

“We’re experiencing a growing mental health crisis, and the majority of people are not going to get better.”

Under current treatments, only around 35 per cent of people who suffer with depression experience remission from antidepressants or psychotherapy. The remission rates for PTSD are even lower.

With psychedelic-assisted therapy, de Jong says patients can experience a reduction in symptoms within a few sessions.

“These medicines are getting 60 to 80 per cent remissions after just two to three treatments in combination with therapy,” de Jong says.

“With the results we’re seeing, why wouldn’t we make these medicines available?”

It is important to be clear. Mind Medicine Australia does not advocate for recreational use. The focus is wholly clinical.

It has four key strategic pillars: education and awareness; ethical and legal frameworks to ensure access to medically approved therapy; therapist professional development program (it just launched the Southern Hemisphere’s first Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies); and the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Centre of Emerging Mental Health Therapies.

It’s part of a global resurgence of interest in psychedelic science.

There are over 120 current or recently completed clinical trials around the world, including Australia’s first clinical trial at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy designation” in 2018 putting it on the fast track to getting approved and prompting hopes that it could be legal for therapy by 2021.

Earlier this month, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu granted permission for four terminally-ill Canadians to consume psychedelic drugs. 

But while there is growing support, psychedelics remain out of reach for patients in Australia.

‘An interesting quandary’

Psychiatrist Dr Al Griskaitis, who works with depression, anxiety disorders and occupational PTSD and is the co-founder of the PSYCH collective, blames bureaucratic inertia.

He has been working with one patient with severe PTSD for around three years, who has tried “every conceivable treatment under the sun”, but remains extremely unwell.

Having seemingly reached the end of the road, Griskaitis approached the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) through a special access scheme, seeking approval to use MDMA assisted therapy.

“And they approved the use of it, which as far as I know is an unprecedented move. So that was very exciting. I was overjoyed. My patient was optimistic,” he explains.

But they soon hit another hurdle. MDMA is considered a schedule nine drug. This means it is a prohibited substance, that has no medical use and is potentially harmful, in comparison to a schedule eight substance which is a controlled drug, that has a medical use.

“New South Wales Health has told me there is no provision for anyone to use a schedule nine item in New South Wales, unless it is in a research context,” Griskaitis says.

If the patient was in Victoria they could proceed as Victoria does not have this legal impediment. Griskaitis says it presents an interesting quandary.

“The TGA has said yes you can use it for your patient but New South Wales Health has no provision for that. The law is tying their hands,” he says.

“So, even with approval, I’m not in a position where I can legally prescribe it for my patient, until there is a change which is going to require a thousand committees.”

Mind Medicine Australia is currently putting in rescheduling applications for MDMA and psilocybin – the first step in making these treatments available to patients.

Griskaitis said it remains extremely frustrating that there is a viable treatment – that the TGA has approved – but the legal framework prevents him prescribing.

A matter of urgency

He says while there can’t be a free-for-all on people using psychedelics and there should be adequate gatekeeping, he believes MDMA could have life changing consequences for people who are resistant to other treatments.

“I think we could really move the needle on the suicide rate,” Griskaitis says.

“I see so many veterans and patients with PTSD, it is a lot of my practice. They’re getting all the treatments, they’re just not working. The suffering is extreme.”

For some patients, moving through the stages of PTSD recovery can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

“When you get people to disclose their trauma narratives it is like reliving the trauma, it is devastating,” Griskaitis says.

“What happens with the MDMA is that that process happens without all the retraumatization.”

He worries that if MDMA is not made legally available, the risk is that people will go underground.

“There are patients out there who can’t wait that long. That’s the thing we all need to bear in mind.”

“People are desperate out there. If the choice is suicide, why wouldn’t you?” he says.

de Jong agrees. She says it is forcing people to take risks that don’t necessarily need to be taken.

“We get heartbreaking emails every day with people begging us to help them get access to these treatments,” she says. 

“At the end of the day, most people don’t want to break the law and there is no quality control of the underground. But the longer that it takes for these treatments to be available above ground, the more people will go underground and search them out.”

With the mental toll associated with COVID only making things worse, she says it is a matter of urgency.

“There are patients out there who can’t wait that long. That’s the thing we all need to bear in mind,” she says. 

“If there are treatments that can heal people that are available now, then we need to run and not walk to them, because the level of suffering in the community is profound.”

Source: Probono Australia

CBD increases blood flow in regions of the brain linked to memory

New research has for the first time shown that a single dose of CBD can increase blood flow in the hippocampus, a brain region connected to memory and emotion

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A new study, led by researchers from University College London, is offering some of the first robust evidence showing how cannabidiol (CBD), a key compound in cannabis, increases cerebral blood flow in memory processing regions of the brain such as the hippocampus.

CBD is just one of more than 100 different cannabinoids found in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound most often associated with the plant’s psychoactive euphoric effects. CBD on the other hand is increasingly being found to confer a number of positive health outcomes. It recently became the first cannabis-derived compound ever approved by the FDA, used to reduce seizures in severe forms of epilepsy.

“There is evidence that CBD may help reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety,” says lead author on the new study, Michael Bloomfield. “There is some evidence to suggest that CBD may improve memory function. Additionally, CBD changes how the brain processes emotional memories, which could help to explain its reputed therapeutic effects in PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. However, the precise mechanisms underlying the effects of CBD on memory are unclear.”

Considering the long-standing stereotype of a dopey forgetful cannabis user, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest a compound in cannabis can improve memory function. But recent research has found some of the negative psychiatric conditions linked to cannabis use may be primarily due to THC, and CBD can potentially negate those ill effects.

This new research looked to measure the acute effects of CBD on cerebral blood flow in brain regions associated with memory processing. Baseline blood flow measurements were the key metric studied, based on prior research findings suggesting higher resting hippocampal blood flow can be linked to better memory performance.

Fifteen healthy subjects were recruited and brain scanned after being given either a placebo or a 600 mg capsule of CBD. Cerebral blood flow was measured using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called arterial spin labelling.

The results revealed significant increases in hippocampal blood flow following a single CBD dose. However, the study interestingly noted similar blood flow increases were not seen in other nearby brain regions of the medial temporal lobe. Blood flow increases were also seen in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region known for decision making.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that CBD increases blood flow to key regions involved in memory processing, particularly the hippocampus,” says Broomfield. “This supports the view that CBD has region-specific blood flow effects in the human brain, which has previously been disputed.”

Additional tests conducted on the cohort found the single dose of CBD did not confer any improvements to memory task performance. So this research certainly does not conclude CBD is an acute memory-boosting compound. Instead, the study points to compelling new research directions investigating the potential for CBD to help treat neurological conditions known to be related to region-specific blood flow abnormalities.

“If replicated, these results could lead to further research across a range of conditions characterized by changes in how the brain processes memories, including Alzheimer’s disease, where there are defects in the control of blood control flow, along with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Broomfield.

The new study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Source: University College London

Expanding the boundaries of medical cannabis clinical evidence

Expanding the boundaries of medical cannabis clinical evidence

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In this article, Amit Sade, of Sade Group, discusses expanding medical cannabis clinical evidence and removing barriers to practice.

Science and technology are essential tools for innovation. Harmoniously engaged, they play a crucial role in bettering quality of life, sustaining health and prolonging longevity. We live an era where emerging technologies have profound impact on almost every industry; thus, key players need to refocus their strategies in order to stay relevant and thrive.

Alongside these challenges, and amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare ecosystem is facing exciting opportunities to transform vision into reality for the benefit of patients, healthcare providers and society as a whole.

New approaches to medical development

For the past half century, medical developments have relied on clinical trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy.

Ubiquitously referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of clinical investigation,1 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have long been viewed as the topmost level of scientific evidence for determining whether specific medical interventions work. Accordingly, patient care has been dominated by evidence-based medicine with its emphasis on RCTs and clinical guidelines to standardise medical decision making.2

Nonetheless, drug development has been a costly and lengthy process with an extremely low success rate and lack of consideration of individual diversity.3 Traditional RCTs may not provide sufficient information on how well the drug works under real world conditions in varied contexts (eg polypharmacy or comorbidities) and across patient subpopulations.4

The alternative ‘Big Data’ approach has been expanding at an exceptional pace based on the development of highly advanced electronic databases, machine learning and native language processing, along with the growing emphasis on treatments tailored to the individual and the need to shift the focus from evidence-based medicine to medicine-based evidence.

The hope and hype of real world data

When used in the healthcare context, the term ‘real world data’ (RWD) usually refers to patient-level data gathered outside the conventional clinical trial setting. Such data may be generated in the course of normal clinical practice or it may be reported directly by patients.4Clinical evidence that is derived from the analysis of RWD is then considered as real-world evidence (RWE).

Technological evolution, alongside increased pressure from regulators, payers, prescribers and patients have resulted in:

  • The ability to capture RWD from a variety of resources – web searches, mobile devices, wearables, at-home genetic kits, social media platforms and online patient communities; and
  • Competence to analyse the data proliferation to generate meaningful insights.

Evidently, RWD has been gaining attention across the community; and is expected to expand as a result of the various initiatives and efforts carried out in the sector.5

Can real world data support the practice of medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis is a revolutionary product that is garnering mass acceptance globally. It has the potential to create a huge impact on the healthcare industry to cure cases that are not treatable by traditional medicines.6 A recent study in Canada even demonstrated that certain strains of cannabis can inhibit viral activity caused by the novel coronavirus.7

A comprehensive review of over 10,000 recent studies conducted and published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) concluded that there is ‘conclusive and substantial evidence’ that pharmaceutical grade cannabis is effective for alleviating chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.8

Despite the myriad of studies that have examined cannabis use in all its various forms, it is still claimed that conclusive evidence regarding the short and long-term health effects of cannabis use remains elusive.8 The inevitable conclusion is that solely relying on the evidence-based approach when examining scientific research into cannabis may not be sufficient to fully comprehend the therapeutic value of medical cannabis data. Legalities and evidence-based recommendations aside, the reality is that many patients seek out medicinal cannabis, either as a substitute or complement to standard medications.

Physicians and patients’ perception and knowledge about medical cannabis

Findings from one of the largest surveys of medical cannabis published to date9demonstrated that patient-reported outcomes favour strong efficacy for a broad range of medical conditions (pain, anxiety, depression, migraine and muscle spasticity). Participants reported an 86% reduction in symptoms a result of cannabis use, with nearly 60% of medical users reporting substituting cannabis for prescription medications.

A survey of primary care providers10 revealed that:

  • A majority of healthcare providers (58.1%) believe that medical cannabis is a legitimate medical therapy and believe that providers should be offering it to patients; and
  • One half of providers were not ready to answer questions about medical cannabis, and wanted to learn more about it.

These findings suggest critical gaps in research, medical education and policy regarding medical cannabis. There seems to be a clear discrepancy between policy and implementation; and a noticeable need for cannabis education.

Realising the promise of medical cannabis through a novel shared technology platform

Determined to bridge the knowledge and evidence gap, Israel-based Sade Group is developing a novel Big Data platform which will constitute a shared technology base for the entire ecosystem of medical cannabis.

Integrating real-world health data with human and machine intelligence, Sade’s hybrid healthcare solution (see Fig. 1) will provide the much needed evidence to manage individual patients while enhancing professional engagement and improving treatment retention rates.

“Harnessing our experience, talent and passion, we’ve embarked on a quest to turn patient centeredness from rhetoric to real practice. Realising the immense potential of medical cannabis requires the entire industry to work together to finally attain the guidance and evidence sorely needed to manage individual patients,” said Yaron Gissin, Chief Innovation Officer of Sade Group.

Founded by a team of highly experienced life science executives and cannabis breeders, Sade is focused on realising the promise of medical cannabis through key activities including:

  • A Data Analysis and Recommendation Engine (DARE™): a real time healthcare network built upon human and machine learning to power better care for patients;
  • The development of a smart, connected medical device – a unique mechanism enabling the administration of a precise, consistent dose of medical cannabis oil, along with improving its stability and quality;
  • Cultivating medical grade cannabis varieties, through advanced agriculture and breeding technologies, in its huge state of the art indoor hydroponic facility in Macedonia; and
  • Partnerships and investment in plant genetics mapping, analysis and clinical research.

“We dare to share. By creating a consortium of medical cannabis stakeholders that is continuously exchanging knowledge and experience, our unique Big Data platform will constitute a huge database of real-world evidence. Tapping into the vast amounts of validated data may enable to provide people with treatments that are based on the best available evidence,” said Amit Sade, CEO of Sade.

Sade is calling on companies, researchers and individuals to join this emerging vibrant ecosystem. No matter what perspective you may bring – patient associations, health organisations, caregivers, local producers – we’d like to hear from you.

Source: Health Europa

Will Brexit be a Golden Opportunity for UK-Based CBD Businesses?

Although the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January, it is currently still in it’s agreed-upon transitional period until the end of this year. The two sides are now negotiating a trade deal which will clarify their future relationship. At the moment, neither the public nor the CBD industry know what to expect.

 

However, experts project that Brexit might, in fact, offer a golden opportunity for CBD businesses.

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CBD is one of the most common chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is classed as a cannabinoid, along with THC. However, CBD, on the contrary to its cousin THC, does not cause the ‘high’ often associated with cannabis.

It is a naturally occurring chemical known for its supposed health and wellness benefits. Among its reported benefits are its ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to ease the symptoms of spasticity-related conditions.

That is why the looming decision of the European Commission (EC) to class CBD as a narcotic, rather than a novel food, has sparked fury in the industry.

According to the UK government, “novel foods are foods which have not been widely consumed by people in the UK or EU before May 1997. This means that the foods don’t have a history of consumption.”

An EC spokesman told Foodnavigator that they had “doubts about CBD”:

“For the moment, the preliminary analysis says that it could not be qualified as food but it’s not a final decision.”

So, long story short, if it’s classed as a narcotic, it won’t be able to get through the EU’s Novel Food process – cutting off hundreds of products and businesses from the market.

What is it going to be then?

It must be stated that the UK, as a member of the EU, has adopted a number of EU rules and regulations. Brexit would mean that, depending on the agreement, this won’t be the case after 31 December 2020.

Although some believe Brexit will hit the UK economy hard, others are convinced that the CBD industry could be one of the few that clearly benefit from the country’s departure from the trade block.

A Spokesperson for The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry told Canex that the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) would have their own novel food authorisation process, therefore, CBD businesses would be able to be granted license much quicker.

They told us: “It could offer a golden opportunity. The most direct change will be the UK removing itself from commitments to the European Commission.

“EFSA has just announced that they are putting all novel foods applications on hold until the EC decides whether CBD should be classified as a narcotic. If they do, CBD would become a controlled substance in Europe.

“FSA and the UK Home Office say they do not think CBD is a narcotic so this offers a great opportunity to companies wishing to sell in the UK.”

Liz McCulloch, Director of Policy for Volteface, added:

“If the UK continues to take the view that CBD is a novel food, while the EU treats it as a narcotic, this will pave the way for the UK to have one of the more liberal regimes in Europe and a comparatively lucrative market.

“The government should capitalise on this opportunity by introducing policy reforms that will build a domestic CBD extraction industry and make the UK a hub of research and development.”

Freedom

Experts believe that, if the FSA said that CBD was indeed a novel food, then it would see the UK a global leader of the CBD market post-Brexit.

The ACI spokesperson said: “The main point is that the CBD has to have a novel foods validation from the FSA by 31 March 2021. Without that, the raw material or finished product would not be legal to sell in the UK.

“After Brexit, the UK will have more control over its domestic hemp market, ideally CBD products sold in the UK and beyond will also be grown here in the future.”

After all those years of debating and fighting, there might be an area that would benefit from Brexit.

It may not be 100% certain, and there is still an awful lot to do until 1 January 2021, but if the UK plays their cards right, the CBD industry might be able to flourish in the upcoming age of uncertainty.

Source: Cannex

FDA report evaluates CBD product labeling accuracy

As more and more states have been legalizing products derived from cannabis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were keen to answer the question: How many of these product labels accurately report their content?

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Across the United States, lawmakers have increasingly been legalizing products derived from cannabis, most often allowing their consumption for medical purposes, and in some cases, recreational use.

However, with increased legalization, specialists have raised concerns regarding potential risks, particularly those linked to the use of unregulated cannabis-derived products.

Such products can contain one or two of the main active compounds present in cannabis: cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

While both of these substances interact with the same receptors in the human body once ingested, they can produce different effects. While CBD is unlikely to lead to a “high,” THC is a psychoactive substance that can elicit this response.

So far, products containing CBD have not been consistently regulated. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been working to address this issue, to help protect consumer health.

The agency recently submitted a report to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.

This report surveyed products containing CBD. Its goal was to determine if product labels accurately portray their content of cannabis-derived substances.

CBD content mislabeled, THC not specified

The FDA tested 147 product samples claiming to contain CBD, which were marketed for human or pet use. They conducted these inspections between 2014–2019.

Initial laboratory tests took place between 2014–2018, during which the agency tested 78 products. The FDA selected goods for testing based on manufacturers or sellers that they did not consider to be credible.

Specifically, the agency examined products manufactured by companies known to:

  • make unsubstantiated health claims
  • sell products reported to cause adverse effects
  • sell products online
  • produce and sell products across several states.

Of the 78 products, 88% contained cannabinoids, though only 86% claimed to contain CBD. A large number of the goods analyzed also included THC or cannabinoids, which were undisclosed on the label.

In 2019, the FDA also tested 41 cosmetic products marketed as containing CBD. Of these, 14 showed a specific CBD concentration on labels. However, eight contained “less than 80% of the CBD amount indicated,” according to the report.

Only four of the 14 products contained “within 20% of the CBD amount” specified, and two products had more than 120% the amount of CBD listed.

The analysis further revealed that of the 41 cosmetics that contained CBD, 12 products also contained THC, though this substance was unspecified on their labels.

Furthermore, in 68 cosmetics that claimed to contain hemp oils, testing revealed that they “did not contain any measurable cannabinoids.”

The FDA also tested 31 products for potential contamination with toxic heavy metals, though found that none contained any dangerous concentrations of these substances. However, they consistently mislabeled their CBD and THC content.

Therefore, 10 of the 31 products did not specify how much CBD they contained. And in the 21 that did, only seven had a CBD concentration within 20% of the amount listed on their labels.

“Of the 10 products that did not indicate the amount of CBD included in the product, six contained CBD and four did not,” the report also specifies.

“In addition,” it adds, “15 of the 31 products (48%) contained THC.”

Source: Medical News Today

Is Big Money Coming Back Into The CBD Sector?

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During the last year, the cannabidiol (CBD) industry has been under pressure and we believe that the market has become saturated with new brands.

In early 2019, several CBD companies were being assigned unicorn valuations ($1+ billion) as investors piled into these businesses. The CBD sector was driven higher by hype and by the prospects of a household name like Coca-Cola (KO) entering the industry through strategic acquisitions.

Fast forward to today and the leading CBD brand, Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (CWEB.TO) is valued at approx. $500 million while other CBD brands are trading at a significantly lower valuation.

Although the CBD industry has come off its highs from 2019, the sector continues to be an attractive growth market. According to the Brightfield Group, the global CBD market is expected to be as large as US$24 billion by 2025.

During the last month, we noticed an increase in activity in the CBD industry and this caught our attention. Today, we want to highlight 2 CBD companies that have benefited from this trend and will continue to monitor these opportunities.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings: An Industry Leader

Last week, Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (CWEB.TO) (CWBHF) significantly strengthen its balance sheet and reported to have completed a C$77.625 million equity financing. Following the completion of the private placement, the company is fully funded and well-positioned to execute on previously announced growth initiatives.

This is the largest capital raise of the year for a CBD company and Charlotte’s Web plans to use the proceeds to fund business development and for general working capital purposes. We are favourable on how the management team has been executing on the CBD market and expect the capital from the financing to play an important role in the growth of the business.

We believe that Charlotte’s Web is the most attractive investment in the CBD space and expect the previously announced acquisition of Abbacus to play an important role in continued growth. The company has an industry-leading brand, the largest network of retail partners, robust EBITDA margins due to vertical integration, and a best-in-class management team.

2020 has been a challenging year for Charlotte’s Web and the shares have been under considerable pressure so far this year. We believe that the business is in the early innings of a major growth cycle and are of the opinion that it is a top brand in the space.

Aurora Cannabis: Enters the US CBD Market Via Acquisition

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO) (ACB) recently enhanced its leverage to the CBD industry through the acquisition of a leading US brand and this is an opportunity that we have been closely following.

Last month, Aurora Cannabis acquired Reliva, a leader in the sale of hemp-derived CBD products in the United States. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to Aurora on an Adjusted EBITDA basis and we find this to be significant.

The transaction combines Aurora’s leading Canadian recreational brands, and Canadian and European medical market position with a leading US CBD brand. The deal represents the culmination of a multi-month strategic evaluation of the US hemp-derived CBD industry and the market seems to be excited about the acquisition.

The combined company is expected to be positioned as a leading player in the world’s largest cannabinoid market and we are bullish on the amount of value that can be created between the businesses. The transaction will create a large and diversified pure-play international cannabinoid company and we are favourable on what each company brings to the partnership.

We are excited about the acquisition is because it combines Aurora’s scientific and product innovation expertise with Reliva’s nation-wide distribution footprint and speed to market experience. The combined company will leverage Aurora’s existing scientific expertise to further advance cannabinoid product innovation, and we will monitor how Aurora is able to increase market share in the US.

Last month, Aurora Cannabis completed a reverse stock split and the post-split trend has been volatile. Although the shares have come significantly off its May lows, the recent volatility has kept us cautious and we will monitor how the acquisition is able to support the growth of the business.

Source: Technical 420

Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil in the UK

“The hottest new medicine in mental health,” claims a professor in psychiatry at King’s College London. From claims that it treats severe forms of epilepsy to a key ingredient in plant-based restaurants in London; you guessed it right, CBD is the buzzword in the UK trendy health market today.

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Experts now estimate that this market will be worth about £1bn by 2025. But is this cannabis hype real or just another health fad like the tummy flattening tea?

Let’s look at what CBD is, effects on the body, how you can take it, legality in the UK, and where to shop authentic CBD products.

What is CBD?

Also known as Cannabidiol, CBD is an active and naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids –which also includes the more famous THC – contained in the cannabis plant.

Marijuana and the hemp plant are the two primary species of the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major active ingredient in the marijuana plant that gets users “high.” On the other hand, CBD is mainly derived from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the Hemp.

Unlike THC, which has psychoactive effects on users, CBD is not psychoactive. Therefore, with CBD oil, you enjoy pain relief and other benefits without the mind-altering effects associated with marijuana.

The hemp plant is getting too much attention as a source of CBD oil because it has not only higher CBD levels but also low THC levels (less than 0.2%).

CBD Oil Potency- Effect on Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a cell signalling system discovered by scientists exploring the effects of THC on the body. It regulates multiple body processes, such as the nervous system, metabolism, mood, and sleep. Therefore, it plays a huge role in the body’s homeostasis- the balance of the internal environment.

The ECS works through endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. The endocannabinoids ensure the internal functions run smoothly by binding to the receptors. It binds on a receptor depending on the body’s system experiencing imbalance.

For instance, if you experience spinal pain, they will attach to receptors on your central nervous system (CB1 receptors) and relieve it. Moreover, once the endocannabinoid molecules have done their job, the enzymes break them down.

It is still early days in the research regarding the effects of CBD oil on the ECS. However, scientists believe that CBD prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoid molecules after they have attached to the receptors.

Besides, unlike THC that binds on the receptors, CBD doesn’t trigger the receptors directly. Instead, it modifies how they bind to other cannabinoids. This leads to a range of good effects on your body, such as improving your immune system, mood, and relieving pain.

What are the CBD Oil Health Benefits?

CBD oil gained the UK’s mainstream attention after the story of an epileptic 13-year-old, Billy Caldwell, who had his CBD medicine confiscated at Heathrow, hit the headlines in 2018. This not only led to the legalisation of medicinal cannabis oil but also opened up a whole lot of avenues for CBD use.

The recent surge in CBD’s popularity is because of its multiple therapeutic benefits. While CBD oil is not prescribed as a cure for any illness, its ability to relieve the symptoms of various conditions is unprecedented. Here are some of the benefits;

  • Treatment of epilepsy disorders in children such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).
  • Chronic pain management
  • Reducing acne
  • Reducing muscle spasticity in MS patients
  • Reduction of drug dependence
  • Relieving anxiety and depression
  • Helps with sleep

Types of CBD and Products in the UK

People often categorise the types of CBD in terms of gels, edibles, oils, vapes, and pills, among other groups. However, these are CBD products- which we will look into later in this review. The CBD types are best grouped into; full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.

The CBD spectrum refers to the composition of cannabinoids in a product after the extraction from the Cannabis plant. Some common methods of extraction involve the use of CO2 and Butane. The former is considered the “gold standard” since it allows for the extraction of the full cannabinoid spectrum.

Various cannabis strains have a different cannabinoid profile. For instance, the Hemp has a lot of CBD and close to none THC, while Pennywise has equal measures of CBD and THC. After extraction, the company can then refine the extract to their desired spectrum.

It is highly likely when you go shopping for CBD oil; the products will be labelled using these terms. So what do they mean?

  • Full Spectrum: It contains not only CBD and THC but also all the other naturally-occurring cannabinoids and compounds such as terpenes and essential oils in the cannabis plant. With this spectrum, you’ll enjoy the full therapeutic effects of the plant –commonly known as the entourage effect.
  • CBD Isolate: This is mainly extracted from the Hemp. It contains the purest form of CBD produced by isolating it from other compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This is the most recommended type for consumers with concerns about THC and the “high effect.”
  • Broad Spectrum: The extract here has all the cannabinoids and compounds in the plant EXCEPT THC. There it delivers the entourage effect but without THC’s psychoactive effects.

Here are the various forms of CBD products available;

  1. CBD Oil drops: They are taken orally. The CBD is commonly infused into a carrier oil such as olive oil or hemp oil for easier absorption. When placed under the tongue, these oils take about half an hour to 2 hours to kick in. The effect can last up to 8 hours.
  2. CBD gummies: CBD-infused gummy bears are the 2nd most searched for CBD product after ‘CBD oils’ with this demand many new exciting brands like ZenBears have entered the UK market offering a lab-tested, vegan-friendly, CBD gummies product.
  3. CBD Hemp tea: The hemp tea is made by first drying the plant’s parts and brewing them to yield a full spectrum of cannabinoids, oils, phytonutrients, and terpenes. Besides making tea, you can smoke, bake, or cook the dry herb.
  4. CBD topicals: These include face creams and body salves. CBD topicals are absorbed directly into the blood vessels; hence can be used to target areas with muscle pain directly.
  5. CBD capsules: You can take these orally. Most CBD supplements come in the form of capsules, and since they are absorbed in the GI tract, just like edibles, take a bit longer to kick in- approx. 1-2 hours. However, the effects also last longer, about 8 hours.
  6. CBD E-liquids/ vapes: Similar to oil drops, the CBD is contained in a carrier – in this case, a solution of vegetable glycerine such as propylene glycol – that allows you to vape it. Since you inhale it through the respiratory system, the effects take about 5-10 minutes to kick in and last about 3 hours in your system.

Is CBD Legal in the UK

While cannabis is still listed as a controlled substance (Class B drug), most CBD products are legal in the UK. After the UK allowed the prescription of the first cannabis-based medicine in 2015, there has been various regulation on the production, extract profile and marketing of CBD products.

The law stipulates that it is legal to buy and use CBD oil as a nutritional supplement as long as it is made from Hemp and does not contain more than 1mg of THC per finished product.

The products must also be labelled according to the Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003 and shouldn’t be advertised or sold as medicine.

Where to Buy Authentic CBD Oil in the UK

CBD Shops a leading CBD retailer in the UK recently published a medically-reviewed CBD oil guide to help consumers find high-quality CBD products. They advise it is always best for consumers to remain vigilant when shopping for CBD, for instance, always check if your supplier provides a 3rd party lab report showing the CBD dosage in the product. This will help you avoid untrustworthy high street suppliers who are taking consumers for a ride with mislabeled and low-dose products.

Source: Healthcare Packaging

CBD oil for dogs – 7 ways to avoid a scam

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LinkedIn Pages are being updated with the ability to create virtual events, in response to the rapid shift from in-person to online conferences.

CBD is more popular than ever in the holistic wellness space.

Every day, more and more people are turning to CBD for the incredible benefits it can provide in maintaining more optimal health.

But it’s not just people who are reaping the benefits of cannabis and the CBD oil that comes from this miracle plant. These days, pets are joining the CBD bandwagon as well, thanks to dedicated and discerning animal lovers who want the absolute best for their dogs and cats. 

Unfortunately, with the demand for CBD products higher than ever, especially where it concerns CBD oil for dogs and CBD dog treats, more and more companies are entering the industry every day, often without undergoing rigorous quality audits. And with no formal regulations in place to police best practices among CBD manufacturers, too many people are falling victim to CBD oil scams that can end up costing them hundreds out-of-pocket.

s you begin your search for the right CBD product for your pup, here are 7 ways to avoid a scam and ensure you’re only investing in the highest quality of CBD.

What Is CBD and What Is It Used For?

CBD is something called a cannabinoid, one of the naturally occurring compounds which can be found in the cannabis plant. 

The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD (short for “cannabidiol”) and THC (short for (“tetrahydrocannabinol”). THC is the cannabinoid most known for its psychoactive effects, which result in the “high” recreational users pursue.

Beyond CBD and THC, there are over 100 other cannabinoids present in cannabis, and each one exhibits a different effect when it interacts with certain receptors in the body.

Cannabinoids have become increasingly popular in holistic health because of the way they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (or “ECS”) in particular.

The ECS is a biological system that can be found inside every mammal, including your dog. The ECS plays a role in regulating different functions in the body. Some of these functions include immune system response, sleep, and even brain processes.

Given these amazing benefits, it was only a matter of time before pet owners began using CBD for their dogs and cats, with many reporting incredible results for conditions like joint discomfort and mobility, anxiety, allergies, seizures, appetite, among others.

CBD Oil for Dogs: Is It Safe?

One of the first questions people ask when it comes to using CBD oil for dogs is whether or not the product will get their dog high.

The answer is a definite no!

Here’s why:

There are two varieties of the cannabis plant: hemp and marijuana.

The CBD products you see for sale online and in stores will usually be derived from the hemp variety of the cannabis plant. This is because hemp-derived CBD is the only kind of CBD that’s legal in all 50 states.

On the other hand, products derived from marijuana, the other variety of the cannabis plant, are only legal in states where marijuana has been legalized.

Hemp-derived CBD is also the only kind of CBD that can be used in pet products. This is because the THC levels in marijuana-derived CBD are too high and therefore toxic to animals.

CBD oil for dogs that are derived from the hemp plant, however, will typically contain THC levels that are less than 0.3%, which is perfectly safe for animal consumption.

So no, hemp-derived CBD will not get your dog high.

But does CBD have other side effects on dogs?

Every dog is different, so it varies from one pet to another. The most that pet parents observe is about of lethargy when they’re introducing CBD oil or another type of CBD product to their dog for the first time.

That said, the power is always in your hands when it comes to controlling just how much CBD your dog receives each day. High-quality CBD pet products will always indicate dosage on their packaging so you know exactly how much CBD is in every CBD treat or drop of CBD hemp oil!

Before You Buy CBD: 7 Ways to Avoid a Scam

Sadly, the CBD pet industry isn’t regulated, meaning just about anyone can open shop and start selling CBD products to pet owners.

Too often, this has resulted in well-meaning animal lovers getting ripped off. From CBD products that contain ZERO CBD to companies that have had run-ins with the FDA for making false claims about their products, you’ll find a variety of scams on the internet when it comes to cannabis companies, hemp oil, and pet CBD.

So how are dedicated pet parents supposed to discern the good from the bad when it comes to CBD products?

Below, we’ve listed out 7 ways you can easily avoid a scam when you’re in the market for the perfect CBD product for your pet! There aren’t many brands that check all these boxes but there are a few – Honest Paws CBD is our favourite but more about them shortly.

1. Only Purchase Hemp-Derived CBD.

This warning cannot be stressed enough. Again, hemp-derived CBD is the only type of CBD that’s safe for animal consumption, as its THC levels will typically be less than 0.3%.

CBD that is derived from the marijuana variety of the cannabis plant is NOT safe for your pets. It can make them extremely sick—or worse.

When selecting a CBD product for your pet, read the label and packaging thoroughly to ensure that your hemp oil or CBD-infused product of choice is hemp-derived. If it isn’t, turn the other way and don’t look back. Any company selling marijuana-derived CBD for your pet is pushing an unsafe product onto unsuspecting consumers.

Furthermore, look deeply into the hemp source of your CBD product. Does the CBD come from hemp that’s grown here in the USA? Farming practices and standards differ all over the world. By purchasing a CBD extracted from hemp that’s grown on American soil, you can ensure the highest quality in your CBD product of choice.

2. Ensure Your CBD is Full Spectrum.

When you begin shopping for CBD oil for dogs or pet CBD that comes in other forms, you’ll likely come upon terms like full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolates.

While all of these variations of CBD can be incredibly beneficial toward supporting your dog’s health, it’s important to know that the language CBD isolate companies use in their marketing isn’t entirely accurate.

Essentially, CBD isolates products are ones that have separated CBD from the other naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant. With these products, you’re getting 100% CBD and nothing else. As a result, many companies tout their products as a purer and more potent form of CBD.

However, a 2015 study found that this isn’t actually the case. As it turns out, full-spectrum CBD, which contains all of the hemp plant’s beneficial compounds (terpenes, flavonoids, and all of the hemp plant’s cannabinoids beyond just CBD) actually provides more substantial results.

If that’s the case, you might be wondering, then why do companies sell CBD isolate at all?

The short answer: profit.

CBD isolate is cheaper to make, so companies can enjoy bigger margins by selling their CBD isolate products at the same price point as a more robust, full-spectrum product.

If you want the full bang for your buck, though, and more importantly, if you want your dog to reap the full benefits of hemp-derived CBD, then purchasing full-spectrum CBD products is the way to go. 

3. CBD Products Should Be Organic & All Natural.

Over the years, the organic movement has experienced increasing popularity. Study after study has come out linking any number of household toxins to cancer and other health issues. As a result, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they purchase and the products they use around their home.

This same level of caution should be applied when purchasing CBD oil for dogs. This is especially important given the fact that the hemp plant has the amazing ability to draw up toxins from the soil, meaning you should only purchase CBD derived from hemp plants that have been grown using organic methods and best practices (no chemical modification, no pesticide treatment, no radiation processing).   

Additionally, ensure that your CBD was processed using a CO2 extraction. This extraction method kills any microbial bacteria, insect mites, mold, or mildew that’s on the hemp plant, guaranteeing a cleaner, purer, and significantly healthier high-quality hemp oil.

CBD pet products should also ideally be human grade as well as non-GMO, soy-free, dairy-free, corn-free, and gluten-free to better support your dog’s health.  

4. Buy From an NASC-Compliant CBD Company.

NASC stands for The National Animal Supplement Council.

This council is the only one of its kind in the United States and was formed due to a lack of regulations in the animal supplement industry.

When you purchase CBD oil for dogs or other CBD pet products from an NASC-compliant company, you can enjoy the peace of mind that you’re conducting business with a company that is ethical and 100% committed to manufacturing only the safest and highest quality of products.

This is because companies with a certification from the NASC are required to undergo regular and rigorous quality audits. These audits ensure they’re meeting the highest current standards in the animal health product industry.

Given the popularity of CBD and the ease with which just about anyone can start selling CBD products online—safe or not!—purchasing NASC-compliant CBD ensures that what you’re giving your dog is safe and premium quality. Considering the cannabis space is largely unregulated, you don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your canine friend’s health.

 5. Ask for a Certificate of Analysis.

The availability of a Certificate of Analysis is common practice in the CBD space, so if a company refuses to provide you with one, that’s a red flag that should have you running in the other direction. Chances are they’re peddling a product that contains no CBD whatsoever.

A Certificate of Analysis is one of the most important aspects of purchasing pet CBD in particular. This document is issued by an accredited laboratory and basically provides a detailed overview of the chemical makeup of your CBD product.

On a Certificate of Analysis, you’ll find a list of all the cannabinoids and terpenes that are contained within the product. The document will also verify whether any heavy metals, toxins, pesticides, or microbial were found in the product.

When it comes to CBD oil for dogs and other CBD pet products, what’s most important is verifying the THC levels in your product. Remember, for pets, the THC level should always be below 0.3%. Anything higher than that is unsafe for animal consumption.

The most transparent companies will usually make their Certificates of Analysis publicly available right on their website, allowing you to download the document and review its information right from the comfort of your home.

6. Ensure the CBD Has Been Lab Tested By a Third Party.

This goes hand in hand with the importance of a Certificate of Analysis for your CBD product.

It’s not enough for a company to provide you with this document—you also need to confirm that the CBD was lab tested by a third party. This ensures that the lab isn’t affiliated in any way with the company you’re purchasing from, allowing total transparency surrounding the CBD product at hand and more accurate test results that you can trust.

Additionally, take a close look at your Certificate of Analysis. The name of the lab that tested your CBD should be included somewhere on the document, along with the lab’s address, phone number, and website. Conduct some research into them to get an idea of their testing methods and how long they’ve been in business.  

As a pet parent, you only want the best for your dog, and these critical details will help you find pet CBD that you can put your full trust in.

7. Research the CBD Company’s Reputation:

Plenty of companies in the pet wellness space have had run-ins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for companies to make false claims about their products or about nonexistent research studies that have been conducted to position their CBD oil for dogs or CBD treats as miraculous cure-alls or as the best in the business. Simply run an online search for “FDA dog CBD,” and you’ll find a list of past offenders.  

That said, it’s essential for pet owners to research the CBD companies they come across when comparing brands. Have they ever received a warning from the FDA? Are they in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? How many reviews do their products have and what do those reviews say? How many customers do they serve?

Though it may be tedious, this all-important detective work on your behalf will ensure that you’re only dealing with a reputable and trustworthy company that cares about producing high-quality CBD pet products. 

The #1 Rated CBD Oil for Dogs

When you’re in the market for the perfect CBD for dogs, it can be challenging to wade your way through the plethora of options available in the pet wellness industry.

Using the CBD shopping list above, though, you’ll be armed with the know-how you need to discern which pet CBD is high-quality and which is better left untouched, ensuring your four-legged friend is only receiving the best of the best when it comes to CBD oil for dogs, CBD dog treats, and more!  

And if it’s the #1 Pet CBD that you’re after, then you don’t need to look any further than Honest Paws.

With over 40,000 happy customers and hundreds of glowing reviews for their CBD products, they’re taking the CBD world by storm and setting the gold standard when it comes to premium quality CBD for dogs, cats, and even horses.

Their CBD oils, CBD pet treats, and CBD-infused peanut butter and coconut oil are top of the line and check all of the boxes on the above CBD shopping list.

Dog lovers will be particularly interested in their full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD oils for dogs, which are packaged in CBD tincture form, complete with a dropper that makes it easy to administer the CBD at mealtime or sublingually (under your pet’s tongue). Each CBD tincture comes in a variety of potency levels and is condition-specific, allowing you to choose a CBD hemp oil blend that’s unique to your dog’s situation: from promoting calmness and supporting mobility to offering relief from discomfort and optimizing wellness. Just look at the reviews for any of these CBD oil tinctures—they’re the best in the business!

Does your pup enjoy tasty, mouthwatering dog treats? Honest Paws offers CBD dog treats in a variety of flavours that dogs already enjoy, like peanut butter dog treats, poultry dog treats, and creamy coconut dog treats!

And what’s more, Honest Paws is one of the few NASC-certified CBD companies in the pet wellness space.

This, combined with a track record of world-class customer service and products that go above and beyond, make Honest Paws top dog when it comes to CBD done right and the #1 pick for any pet owner ready to dive into the world of CBD.

CBD for Dogs: The Bottom Line

Dogs are not just pets—they’re much-loved members of our families.

As a pet parent, you care about the health and happiness of your four-legged friends

That’s also why the hemp plant and the many benefits that CBD oil can provide have become more popular than ever.

Unfortunately, there will always be those who try to take advantage of well-meaning consumers who only want the best for their animal friends. With the recommendations above, however, you’ll be better equipped to avoid CBD scams and have all the knowledge you need to pick out the right CBD product for your dog, thus improving their quality of life and making you both happier for it!

Source: LA Weekly

LinkedIn Pages Can Now Host Virtual Live Events

LinkedIn Pages Can Now Host Virtual Live Events

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LinkedIn Pages are being updated with the ability to create virtual events, in response to the rapid shift from in-person to online conferences.

Virtual events are made possible by combining two existing features: LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live.

The two features can now work together, allowing marketers to stream live video content directly to LinkedIn Events attendees.

LinkedIn Pages Can Now Host Virtual Live Events

We’re in the midst of a social media live video boom right now, and LinkedIn is included in that.

According to LinkedIn’s data, live video is driving significantly more engagement than other types of videos.

Live video on LinkedIn is seeing 23X more comments per post and 6X more reactions per post than native video.

It’s the most effective solution for generating real-time engagement between a LinkedIn page and its followers.

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LinkedIn Pages Can Now Host Virtual Live Events

Why Host a Virtual Event on LinkedIn?

In an announcement, LinkedIn emphasizes the following benefits of hosting a virtual event on its platform:

  • A safe and trusted environment: Using LinkedIn Live, you can choose to live stream to your Page followers or Event attendees, so you can meet audiences where they are.
  • Attract the right professional audiences: Make your event open to Page followers only and send direct invitations to your first-degree profile connections.
  • Additional buzz and engagement: Build buzz for your event or live broadcast by posting an update to your Page or Event feed.
  • Greater longevity: Live broadcasts will be saved in the page’s Video tab for later viewing.

While on the topic of benefits, it’s also worth mentioning that virtual events are free and easy to set up.

How to Host a Virtual Event on LinkedIn

In order to create virtual events, your Page will first have to apply for access to LinkedIn Live and get approved.

To get approved for LinkedIn Live your page must have at least 1,000 followers.

LinkedIn also notes it only approves pages that actively engage with their communities by responding to comments and creating back-and-forth dialogue.

For those approved for LinkedIn Live, the process of creating a virtual event is as follows:

  • Create a LinkedIn Event
  • During the creation process indicate that it is “online-only.”
  • On the day of the event, open your third party broadcast tool and select the event as the stream destination, rather than your organization’s Page.

Currently, third-party broadcast tools that integrate LinkedIn Live and LinkedIn Events include Streamyard, Restream, Wirecast and Socialive. Wowza is coming soon.

As soon as the stream starts all event attendees will be notified.

Deciding on the Right Time to Go Live

Not sure when to go live?

Here’s a pro tip!

You can figure out the optimal time to go live by reviewing the “Followers” tab under Analytics.

Using the data in this tab you can see where most of your audience is located.

Then, go live at a time that allows the largest segment of your audience to join (e.g. during the word day or right after).

This new functionality is available now as part of a regular quarterly update to LinkedIn pages.

Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

‘No flower, no hemp industry’: EIHA talks novel foods, questions THC limits in food, and fights for a ‘whole plant’ approach

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) defies CBD’s novel food status, makes the case for increasing the accepted THC level to 0.3% in the field, and advocates for the use and marketing of hemp’s leaves and flowers. FoodNavigator speaks to the lobby group’s managing director, Lorenza Romanese, to find out more.

 

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Pic: GettyImages/Aleksandr_Kravtsov
Pic: GettyImages/Aleksandr_Kravtsov

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is a Brussels-based membership organisation representing hemp farmers, producers and traders across the bloc.

Believing that the European hemp sector has the potential to speed up the transition towards a zero-emission, bio-based and sustainable economy – in line with the European Green Deal – the lobby group has published The Hemp Manifesto​.

“Hemp is an impressive carbon sink: while the plant fixes CO₂ in the soil, thanks to its deep root system, its derived biomaterials further increase the overall capture balance of the crop,” ​writes EIHA of hemp’s sustainability benefits.

“One hectare of hemp can capture up to 13.4 tons of CO₂, making is as efficient as one hectare of tropical forest.”

Yet regulatory barriers in Europe are preventing the hemp sector from achieving its full potential, according to EIHA’s managing director, Lorenza Romanese.

“EIHA wrote the manifesto for policymakers,” ​she told FoodNavigator. “The Secretariat has sent it to the European Parliament, obtaining as a response around 15 meetings with MEPs to discuss our proposals.”

These include the restoration of the maximum delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level from 0.2% to 0.3%; for operators to be able to harvest, produce, and market products from the whole plant; and perhaps most importantly for EIHA, that hemp and hemp preparations containing cannabinoid content not be considered a novel food.

cbd food aedkais
The hemp plant has been consumed for centuries, says EIHA ©GettyImages/aedkais

‘Hemp extracts have been consumed by people for decades’

Extracts of Cannabis Sativa L – including cannabidiol (CBD) – was added to the Novel Foods Catalogue in January 2019.

This means that products containing hemp extracts require pre-market authorisation from the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA), which is dependent on the completion of a full scientific dossier demonstrating safety.

As per the EU definition, a Novel Food is a food that has not been consumed to a significant degree prior to 1997. On this point, EIHA does not agree.

According to the lobby group, historic evidence confirms that hemp extracts rich in cannabinoids, including CBD, were part of our diet for many centuries. As such, EIHA maintains that whole-plant hemp extracts are not novel foods.

“We are fully engaged on the novel food issue,” ​Romanese told this publication. Indeed, EIHA is putting together a novel food application for EFSA and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), to support its 300-plus members.

“We have a lot of food companies at EIHA [66% of which are SMEs], if we don’t submit a joint novel food application for the whole sector, small- and medium-sized businesses will be particularly at risk.”

A ‘whole plant’ approach

EIHA’s stance on CBD’s inclusion on the Novel Foods register feeds into its position on using all elements of the hemp plant.

As of January 2019, there is ‘uncertainty about the upper part of the plant’, said Romanese, referencing the Commission and Member States’ decision concerning the plant’s flower, leaves, and extract.

“For me, the beauty of hemp is in the stalks, is in the leaves, and probably in the roots of hemp [as well]. The beauty of hemp is taking the plant as a whole – that is the key economic model Europe should perform.”

However, some Member States still forbid the use and marketing of leaves and flowers. “Giving operators the possibility to market all parts of the plant would reduce waste and maximise the profitability of the crop. This could result in higher incomes for farmers and other operators along the supply chain,” ​noted EIHA in the manifesto.

cbd LARISA SHPINEVA
The hemp plant has been consumed for centuries, says EIHA ©GettyImages/LARISA SHPINEVA

For the lobby group, the market is jeopardised because there is ‘no harmonisation at the Member State level’.

Romanese admitted she is perplexed by Belgium’s approach concerning the dried hemp flower (cannabis light). “Smoking the dried flower is not novel, but if you take the same part of the plant, compress it, and extract one drop of CBD, then that is considered a novel food.”

EIHA is campaigning for the use of the whole plant, without which, the sector could be compromised. “No flower, no hemp industry,” ​she reiterated.

The increasing maximum THC level in the field

Listed amongst EIHA’s proposals to the European Commission is the restoration of the maximum THC level to 0.3% (as had previously been the case in the EU), up from the current 0.2% limit. THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis.

And now, while the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is under consultation by the European Council, is the time to push this message, according to EIHA.

As per the original Commission proposal on CAP Strategic Plans, the maximum THC content must be below 0.2%. Yet this limit across Europe restricts the choice of varieties for farmers, argues the trade association, meaning that the European hemp industry is at a competitive disadvantage against producers in other markets – where the maximum THC level can range from 0.3% to 1.0%.

Switzerland and Canada are two such countries with higher THC limits in the field. “We need to look at other examples,” ​Romanese told this publication. “Switzerland and Canada plant higher varieties and both have less strict controls on the field compared to EU farmers – in Europe, one-third of the field is taken out for the controls, while in Canada is it enough to examine the seeds.”  

Ultimately, EIHA believes this modification would help align the sector with international standards and allow farmers to start breeding new and more adapted varieties – to satisfy both their own and consumers’, needs.

Source: Food Navigator

UK Demand For CBD Products Soars Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

The 10 best CBD gummies to buy this year | VentureBeat

While Covid-19 continues to devastate the global economy, there are some businesses for which the pandemic has created opportunities rather than problems.

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One good example is the UK’s nascent market for cannabidiol (CBD) products, where entrepreneurs and small businesses report soaring demand since the crisis began.

Research published today by Alphagreen.io, the UK’s largest marketplace for certified CBD products, suggests that more than 8 million Britons are now buying CBD products, with spending exceeding £150m in the first four months of 2020 alone. That puts the market on target to achieve revenues of £450m over the year as a whole, which would represent 50% growth compared to 2019.

Alphagreen.io CEO Alexej Pikovsky explains that the marketplace commissioned the research after noticing a sharp spike in demand for CBD products in the UK from the beginning of March onwards, as the Covid-19 crisis began to bite. He said: “The key here is that with people feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping and, in some cases, feeling let down by the traditional health system, they have looked for alternatives.”

Alphagreen.io’s study, based on a survey of 5,000 adults, found that 8.4 million Britons had either bought CBD products this year or intended to do so. Some 42% of purchasers are focused primarily on relieving or managing pain, with 21% seeking to tackle their insomnia, and 19% hoping to address anxiety. The study also showed that 38% of purchasers were taking CBD products alongside conventional medicines.

Dr Dani Gordon, a specialist in medicinal cannabis and CBD products, said the research suggested the uptick in demand was part of a broader trend. “People are increasingly turning to more natural health and wellness solutions to add to their self-care routines,” she said. “Patients are looking towards natural remedies to mitigate and soothe symptoms of common conditions such as anxiety, as well as other mental and physical health concerns.”

One interesting question is whether the increased interest in CBD products in the UK will endure beyond the current crisis. Certainly, much of the demand in the marketplace is relatively recent – Alphagreen.io’s research suggests 53% of purchasers made their first purchase in the last 12 months.

Pikovsky believes the increased demand will be sustained, as Britons become better informed about CBD products and the market matures. He launched Alphagreen.io last year to provide a single portal for purchasers in what is a highly-fragmented marketplace where consumers aren’t always sure which brands to trust. The marketplace requires providers to supply certified data on their products in order to maintain their listings.

Online sales are an important part of the story. In the marketplace’s survey, 38% said they bought their CBD products online, compared to 14% who purchased from health shops and 13% who sourced products from pharmacies.

However, it will take time for more people to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the marketplace, with the research showing that older consumers are much more sceptical about the reliability of CBD products. There is also confusion about the differences between CBD products, which are typically available over-the-counter, and medicinal cannabis, which requires a prescription.

Nevertheless, one effect of the Covid-19 crisis does appear to be a surge in demand in the UK’s CBD market, helped by the fact that many people have more time to research what is available. Demand for other health products, including vitamin supplements, also appears to be increasing rapidly.

Source: Forbes

Cannabis companies offer compassion programs to offset CBD costs

As a cannabis patient myself, I want to highlight CBD brands out there who go above and beyond to help customers through compassionate care programs. These programs offer significant discounts on CBD products for patients who are disabled or have chronic illnesses.

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Below you’ll find a list of brands that offer compassionate care programs along with a few of their best products geared toward medical patients. Check it out and revel in the generosity that’s at the heart of this industry.

Bluebird Botanicals Assistance Programs

One trusted name in CBD is Bluebird Botanicals. Bluebird offers a wide range of CBD products including tinctures, capsules, isolates, and topicals. They carry both broad-spectrum and isolate options.

Products are GMP and US Hemp Authority Certified, are glyphosate-free and are grown using regenerative agriculture methods. You can also browse their site for full third-party lab test results by lot number, ensuring you always know exactly what’s going into your product.

Bluebird Botanicals’ assistance program has been around since 2015. It offers 20% off products for qualifying participants. Those who qualify include people with long-term disabilities, low-income families, teachers, students, civil servants, and veterans.

 

“Our founder and CEO’s wife, Jessica Beatty, is responsible for the inspiration behind the assistance program. She had been working as a customer service representative and had frequent phone conversations with customers very much in need of CBD. She was so moved and often brought to tears by these customers’ emotional stories that she knew Bluebird needed to formalize an assistance program to help groups like veterans, low-income families, and those with long-term disabilities afford,” says Grace Kaucic, Senior Communications Manager at Bluebird.

The quality of the CBD you get from Bluebird is among the best I’ve found. I’m a big fan of their Concentrated Hemp Extracts as they deliver large doses of full-spectrum CBD in each dropper—25 mg per ml, to be exact. They also have a THC-free CBD oil that uses organic fractionated coconut oil (MCT) as the carrier oil. Two droppers of the full spectrum oil had me feeling pain-free and relaxed for the remainder of my day.

RopaNa Compassionate Care Program

RopaNa is a Vermont-based brand devoted to addressing the need for knowledge, quality, and transparency in the CBD industry. It’s a pretty fitting mission considering the term “Ropa Na” is Sanskrit for “to heal one’s self.”

The founders of RopaNa, Andrew and Rachael Switz are committed to their customers’ health. Andrew holds a degree in Horticultural Sciences while Rachael has a certification from the American School of Clinical Pathology in Molecular Biology. These backgrounds inspired the two to produce CBD oils made from organic hemp-extracted using organic ethanol. Full-spectrum and isolate products are available, with third-party lab results posted on the site for easy access.

RopaNa’s compassion care program offers a 35% discount to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabilities. The compassion program is also extended to other groups like caretakers and non-profits.

I’m a huge fan of RopaNa’s Entourage Full Spectrum Nectar tincture. It not only uses organic, ethanol extracted hemp with MCT oil but also features other minor cannabinoids. The Nectar tincture, for instance, contains CBD as well as CBG, CBN, and CBC. It’s the most effective hemp tincture I’ve tried for both pains and alleviating a stressed, anxious mood.

Looking for something with no trace of THC? Opt for their Nectar CBD isolate tincture or for their, CBD Goddess Rub topical cream.

Lazarus Naturals’ CBD Assistance Program

Based in Portland, OR, Lazarus Naturals is another brand committed to improving access to CBD for all. They were also one of the few brands I tested whose products were all consistent in terms of quality. Everything I tried here not only worked, but it worked well, including capsules which don’t normally do the trick for me.

Lazarus Naturals’ assistance program is one of the most generous out there, offering discounts between 40-60% depending on your needs. Those who qualify include customers on long-term disability, low-income citizens, and veterans.

That being said, there are a lot of great products—both full-spectrum and isolate options—to choose from. Lazarus has CBD tinctures, capsules, topicals, oils to cook with, and full-spectrum CBD RSO. My top picks here were the aforementioned CBD RSO and full-spectrum CBD capsules (25 mg). The capsules are super easy to slip into a purse or pocket for on-the-go relief whenever you need it.

Zion Medicinals Compassionate Care Hemp Oil Program

Zion Medicinals was formed by Brian Caruso, a doctor of chiropractic medicine, and his wife, Jess, who suffers from Lyme disease. The two worked together to maximize the therapeutic properties of hemp, a struggle which inspired the creation of their hemp oil products.

Zion Medicinals relies on ethanol extraction instead of CO2. Zion also uses spagyric processing with their oils which, according to their website, is meant to reintroduce additional salts, minerals, oils, and acids.

The end result is a line of hemp oils that are full-spectrum and made from single-sourced Colorado organic hemp. They’re one of the few hemp oils I tested that was able to make a dent in my neuropathic pain.

Zion’s compassionate care program enrols patients in a program which ships CBD to them on a regular monthly basis. Qualified patients who enrol are then eligible for 40% off their monthly shipment.

“This program is our way of paying it forward and helping those in the late stages of their life who want some relief naturally,” says Caruso.

cbdMD Disability Discount

The folks over at cbdMD also have their own discount available for customers with disabilities. Those who qualify are eligible to receive 40% off cbdMD products. cbdMD also offers a 30% discount for veterans.

You can find just about every CBD product type on the site, ranging from tinctures to gummies, bath bombs, topicals, and beyond.

My favourite cbdMD products are the CBD PM oil for sleep and the CBD freeze roller. The tincture is broad-spectrum made from the US, non-GMO grown hemp and has a certificate of analysis (CoA) available on the site. It also contains melatonin to help put you to sleep, and by god is it effective. I actually managed to sleep throughout the entire night without waking up once—a miracle for me. The roller was equally as effective: It began to spread and relieve tired, sore muscles almost immediately.

CanniMed Compassionate Pricing (Canada)

CanniMed is a Canadian medical cannabis producer that was recently purchased by Aurora. They have a wide range of medical cannabis products available including dried flower, vapes, capsules, and topicals. One of their most popular and beloved items is their 1:20 CanniMed CBD oil. Many patients use it for pain relief, anxiety, and focus.

The compassionate pricing program allows qualifying customers to receive a 25% price reduction on all medical cannabis products. Customers must be living on disability or must be receiving aid from government subsidy programs to qualify.

Tilray Compassionate Pricing (Canada)

Canadian monolith Tilray also provides a compassionate pricing program, which is centred around one product: Tilray 2:100 CBD oil. The oil itself is as medicinal as it gets; recent research shows that it’s proven to be effective for children with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) due to Dravet Syndrome.

Pediatric and palliative patients are eligible to receive a 25% discount on the 2:100 CBD Oil if they qualify. Tilray also has a compassionate pricing discount of 25% geared towards low-income customers. It’s heartening to know even patients without insurance may still qualify for the program.

Editor’s note: Tilray and Leafly, now independent companies, were both previously owned by Privateer Holdings.

Source: Leafly 

Navigating COVID-19 in the Cannabis industry in the UK

Navigating COVID-19 in the Cannabis industry in the UK | Cannabis ...

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There is no doubt all industries are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic; however, cannabis businesses face a unique set of challenges.

Business operations, consumer behaviour and financials will be analysed more than ever as businesses seek to position themselves during the pandemic and beyond when lockdowns will eventually be alleviated. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” COVID-19 is an opportunity for cannabis firms to restructure their business model from a direct, consumer, wholesale and partnership level; eradicate inefficiencies and reassess launch or expansion plans.

Like many other sectors, the cannabis market should still expect to lose revenue due to factors like store closures, disrupted supply chains and restricted transport.

The outlook may seem bleak, but it’s not all doom and gloom when looking at the CBD and medical cannabis markets in more detail.

CBD consumption  

With social distancing measures still in place, cannabis firms which offer an online sales platform are seeing a surge in business. During COVID-19, there has been a greater focus on staying healthy and boosting immune systems which are driving consumers to a variety of health-focused products including CBD.

The structure of cannabidiol (CBD), one of 400 active compounds found in cannabis.

Fortunately, many of the physical retailers who stock CBD products in the UK have been permitted to stay open, despite a nation-wide lockdown, so some consumers are bulk buying their usual products while others are turning to e-commerce and delivery services. This demonstrates how quickly some firms have adapted to keep their businesses afloat.

However, border restrictions have tightened and as many supplies and logistics workers remain in quarantine, the CBD market could see challenges in maintaining supply lines as the pandemic continues.

This comes in addition to CBD firms working to process a Novel Food Application and fulfil the necessary requirements by March 31, 2021. Despite lobbying from the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and despite the impact the global pandemic is having on the sector, the deadline has not been extended.

CBD businesses need to capitalise on the opportunities arising during this downturn; be creative and pin-point ways to keep CBD consumers engaged. By building on their brand and refreshing where necessary, they can attract consumers and develop a loyal customer base. Sustaining a strong online presence and enhancing social media and marketing strategies can lead to an increase in online sales. The brands which can leverage awareness and embody trustworthiness will be the winners.

CBD cannot cure COVID-19

As the epidemic continues into May, there has been no shortage of scammers attempting to try and short-change a fearful, confused population. Unfortunately, the cannabis industry has seen some shameful claims by CBD and hemp companies, notably in the US, who claimed their products could cure or fight off the symptoms of COVID-19.

CBD has been positioned as having several positive health effects by manufacturers and retailers – most notably in reducing pain and inflammation, decreasing anxiety and helping sleep – which may be on the rise within this unsettling environment.

The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine (IACM), issued a statement on the coronavirus pandemic saying, “there is no evidence that individual cannabinoids or cannabis preparations protect against infection … or could be used to treat COVID-19.” Trials have been launched in Israel to explore whether CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can be an effective COVID-19 treatment. Until this has been clinically proven, cannabis firms must not make unsupported claims.

Medical Cannabis

During COVID-19, health systems are under unprecedented pressure, which is impacting patient access to all medical treatments, including cannabis.

The medical cannabis industry has swiftly adapted to these challenges by rolling out video consultations and other online consultation services to enhance patient access.

While the Home Office activity for licencing will be limited during this time, companies must work with regulators to keep supply lines open, so that those in need receive their medicine without relying on black-market activity.  On April 29, the government published emergency legislation to allow patients to continue accessing controlled drugs for the duration of the epidemic, from pharmacies, without a prescription. This only applies to patients with ongoing NHS treatment, so there is still a long way to go, as private cannabis clinics must fill the gap in the meantime.

The global pandemic has impacted us all, and many patients are concerned about how they will access vital services. Many patients receiving medical cannabis have underlying health conditions which make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and those with chronic neurologic conditions like epilepsy are in danger of suffering potential side effects.

Several of the qualities needed to survive the coronavirus pandemic – awareness, self-containment and support – are basic skill sets to carers. Beyond the pandemic, policy shifts, investment and education are needed to lift the barriers to medical cannabis access, and this will require all businesses operating in the cannabis industry to drive change.

2020 is a defining year for cannabis 

The cannabis industry is resilient against socio-economic, political and policy drivers- this we’ve seen time and time again. Now we must create an even stronger UK industry, where products are safely and readily available to those who need them. As the cannabis market matures and the competition things out, only quality cannabis products and services will be in play. Those that can innovate their approach to production, distribution and consumption during the pandemic can be the catalyst for long-lasting changes for the cannabis industry to operate for the better.

Source: Cannabis Industry Journal

CBD Article – Tim Byrne

If you see creating capital value through building a strong distribution network, you need to ask what does that mean?

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Business is like gardening if you do not keep on top of things they get out of control. Its great planting new plants and seeds in the ground that you have prepared but unless you continue to weed and prune, it all becomes overgrown and ultimately requires a complete re-start.

As horrendous as is it perhaps the current pandemic gives us an opportunity to apply the same principle to our businesses. Many in the space have seen successful and seen rapid growth. While I am sure that many have continued to see growth over their internet sales longer terms plans have been severely disrupted.

I believe this time gives a real opportunity to secure, shape and review where the market is, to revisit and refresh strategy and make plans for the other side of the crisis.

As we have said in previous blogs there remain significant challenges in the market, oversupply in certain sectors, continued uncertainty about the shape and progress of regulation and legislation and the lurking power of the ‘big boys’ with their deep pockets and know-how.

The starting point must be what was your original goal? Was it to build a business to sell (or the one that always makes me laugh ‘to float’) for capital gain or to make some cash from sales? If the former you will only make capital if you have something worthwhile to sell, this might be via innovation or strong distribution. Properly protected innovation creates capital worth.

If you see creating capital value through building a strong distribution network, you need to ask what does that mean? Strength in one channel and in one region is unlikely to attract the buyer of your business that you want. Secondly is it realistic to think that you can build strong distribution without strong brands? Think about ‘strong distribution’, it does not have to mean big and broad, it could be narrow and niche with hidden growth.

If your aim is simply to make a few ‘bob’ through sales the window of opportunity continues to exist but is narrowing. The market is overcrowded with wild claims about purity and quality, so the consumer has no idea which products to choose. The winners will be those that have trusted Brands because consumers believe the marketing. I guess that’s why so many companies are trying to provide products for white label enabling them to ride on the back of established brands. The cautionary note is that as a supplier of ingredients with oversupply what are the long-term prospects of making money?  

Having spent time reviewing and honing your strategy, you next need to review your team. With lots of furloughing and redundancy, what team do you need to meet your business goals? I suggest that you look at those businesses that have already achieved some success, their teams are not simply teams of salespeople but teams of sales, marketing, scientists, regulators and innovators. Is your team the right one to deliver your strategy?

One last thought. We currently live in a world, that quite rightly talks about those on the front-line of fighting this dreaded virus, but life will return to normal, and the front line will quickly become the economy. With a global decline in GDP’s and output as business people, we must play our part and convert the potential of this market into real profits, wealth and jobs.

By Tim Byrne, Chairman The Ginger Group.

The best cure: which drugs may treat Coronavirus

One of the most prevalent thoughts about the novel coronavirus is that it will make us all follow the healthy lifestyle and kick any harmful addictions, such as quitting smoking.

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One of the most prevalent thoughts about the novel coronavirus is that it will make us all follow the healthy lifestyle and kick any harmful addictions, such as quitting smoking. There might be some truth to these assumptions as a strong immune system may be helpful not to catch the virus that easily or experience it in a mild form. In the time when there is no universal treatment or an approved vaccine, people rely on whatever is possible.

However, worldwide scientists work on finding the cure against the novel coronavirus. So far, there are two major approaches: test the currently available on the market drugs and supplements and see if any will fight off the virus and create the new vaccine. So stop worrying. In this article, we will consider a bunch of the methods and approaches towards coronavirus treatment on the scientific radar.

What is COVID-19?

 

Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Younger people tend to develop mild or moderate respiratory illness and don’t require special treatment. Older people and those who have associated medical conditions such as heart diseases, chronic respiratory disease, and HIV are more likely to experience more severe illness. COVID-19 in children is relatively rare and mild, and a minimal amount of them have developed severe or critical symptoms.

Mostly, the virus spreads via airborne droplets from the nose or mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Therefore, any unprotected contact is enough to transmit the virus.

The COVID-19 virus affects people in different ways, depending on their age and health condition.

According to the WHO, the most reported symptoms include:

  • fever
  • exhaustion
  • dry cough

Other symptoms may include:

  • shortness of breath

People who develop mild symptoms but otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider or a COVID-19 information line to get advice. People who suffer from fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing or any other worsening of symptoms should contact their doctor for medical attention.

The best approach is to stay away from the invalid rumours, get information from the valid resources such as WHO and not to fall into panic. However, there are some other tips that help to prevent and slow down the virus transmission.

How to prevent the spread of the disease?

 

As long as there is no chance to hide into a glass dome and avoid contact with the infection, try to follow these simple hygiene recommendations. To prevent infection and to slow down the transmission of the disease, do the following:

  • Wash your hands with water and soap, or clean them with a sanitiser regularly.

So far, there are no vaccines or specific medications recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19. Infected people receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness get supportive care. Many people who had the misfortune to catch the virus can recover and eliminate it from their bodies. Unfortunately, vaccines against pneumonia, such as a pneumococcal vaccine, do not protect against the novel coronavirus.

Although these vaccines are not effective against the novel virus, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is recommended to protect your health.

Antibiotics also don’t work against viruses and should not be used for prevention or treatment. However, people hospitalised for the 2019-nCoV may receive antibiotics due to bacterial co-infection.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is new and differs from currently known viruses; therefore, it needs its own vaccine. Numerous ongoing clinical trials keep evaluating potential treatments for the novel disease.

Potential AntiCovid Drugs and Supplements

 

Researches focus on two approaches to the treatment of the novel coronavirus. The first one is using the drugs, supplements and treatment methods currently available on the market that happen to provide antiviral effects. Another one is creating the vaccine, which may take a long time and money to happen.

Let’s see what drugs are currently considered or developed by researchers.

Chloroquine

Chloroquine and less toxic hydroxychloroquine are used for the prevention and treatment of malaria. Due to their ability to reduce immune activity, these drugs are also used to treat autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In March 2020 the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorisation that allows patients with COVID-19 to be treated using drugs with no clear evidence of their efficacy, approving limited emergency use for both drugs as a treatment for COVID-19. The medicines have quickly gotten into the media spotlight and were mentioned even by the President of the United States, Donald Trump. However, the European drugs regulator has claimed that while studies on both drugs are ongoing in COVID-19, they must not be used outside authorised uses. The use in clinical trials or nationally agreed protocols is allowed.

Indeed, Chloroquine has shown some antiviral effects. It is able to change the pH of the parts in which viruses get into the cell, hindering the virus’ ability to reproduce. A 2020 study by Chinese scientists with cultured cells infected by SARS-CoV-2 has shown that chloroquine administration may keep the virus from spreading.

The International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents Meanwhile has published the results of a small-scale study evaluating the effectiveness of antimalarial drugs, such as Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19. The combination of hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic called azithromycin helped to reduce both the duration and symptoms of COVID-19.

Even though Chloroquine has been used for a long time as an antimalarial drug, it may cause severe side effects, including death, if taken incorrectly. Even if taken as intended, the medication can cause stomach distress or permanent damage to a vision. Healthcare providers are warned that the optimal dosing of the drug and duration of treatment for COVID-19 are unknown and instructed to control heart activity concerning potential drugs’ side effects.

The promising results of studies with Chloroquine are considered the very first step that should lead to more complex clinical studies and competing peer studies to prove its effectiveness. Multiple clinical trials by government agencies and academic institutions are ongoing. Study results published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents has found that the combination of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin (brand names Zithromax or Azithrocin) might be effective in treating the COVID-19 coronavirus and shortening the duration of the virus in patients.

Remdesivir

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences. Remdesivir is an analogue of adenosine; therefore, it can incorporate into emerging viral RNA chains and cause their premature termination. Remdesivir was used as a treatment for Ebola virus disease, Marburg virus infections, and single-stranded RNA viruses, including coronaviruses (including MERS and SARS viruses).

Remdesivir can interfere with the RNA, needed for virus replication. In the body, it is metabolised into a nucleotide analogue that is similar to adenosine, the RNA essential building block. It weakens the ability of the virus to produce its new RNA copies by suppressing an enzyme called RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. That is especially effective against viruses that only use RNA as their genetic material, without the DNA stage. A 2020 study with the use of a clinical isolate of 2019-nCoV in vitro, has shown that Remdesivir might inhibit virus infection efficiently in a human cell line. Therefore, Remdesivir can act as a broad-spectrum antiviral, which is useful for diseases caused by RNA viruses such as cold, influenza, and Covid-19.

Gilead Sciences has announced clinical trials with plans to enrol up to 1000 patients and has also made the drug available for compassionate use in emergency cases. The European Union’s health regulator has not approved Remdesivir for COVID-19 but recommended it for compassionate use, including its use for clinical trials.

Favilavir (Avigan, Favipiravir)

Favilavir is an antiviral drug developed by Toyama Chemical, Fujifilm group of Japan, that has activity against RNA viruses. In animal studies, it has shown an effect against influenza viruses, yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, foot-and-mouth disease virus.

Favilavir can selectively inhibit viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, an enzyme that activates the replication of RNA from an RNA template. It may also generate lethal RNA transversion mutations, creating a nonviable viral phenotype. In practical terms, it means that drugs may prevent patients with low or moderate viral load from becoming sicker.

In February 2020 regulatory officials in China approved Favilavir as an investigational therapy for the use as a treatment for the COVID-19. The approval was based on the efficacy of the medicine against the infectious disease in clinical tests with 70 patients conducted in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. However, some minor effects had also been recorded. At present, the generic version of Faviliavir was being mass-produced in China and promoted with the label Avigan. However, further work on pharmacy and clinical pharmacology research is required. Despite the positive results of the clinical trials and mass production of the Favilavir, it should be approved by the FDA to be considered as an effective treatment medicine for coronavirus. Japan’s government is also waiting on the results of their own clinical trials before producing the drug on a mass scale domestically.

Lopinavir-ritonavir (Kaletra)

Lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r), known under the brand name Kaletra and others, is a medication for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. The drug was created by Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie). It is generally used with other antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV-1 infection in adults and pediatric patients 14 days and older. Ritonavir enhances the effect of lopinavir, and the combination of two drugs significantly reduces the morbidity and mortality in patients with HIV / AIDS. LPV/r has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and in Europe.

A 2004 study has shown that LPV/r might be a promising treatment optionfor COVID-19. In essence, patients treated with these drugs in combination with ribavirin had a decreasing viral load and rising peripheral lymphocyte count. Countries heavily affected by COVID-19, such as Italy, were recommended the drug combination for the novel coronavirus treatment.

There are numerous ongoing trials, evaluating the lopinavir-ritonavir effect on COVID-19. Two trials examined how the drug’s combination could act against pneumonia induced by COVID-19. An ongoing randomised controlled trial from Tongji Hospital of lopinavir-ritonavir is testing abidol hydrochloride, oseltamivir and lopinavir/ritonavir in the treatment of viral pneumonia. Another study conducted in South Korea is investigating whether hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir can reduce the viral load from a respiratory specimen in COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms. The World Health Organization is conducting a multi-centre, adaptive, randomised, open clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir and standard of care in adult patients with COVID-19. However, a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that treatment with lopinavir-ritonavir brought no difference from standard care in the time to clinical improvement in patients with cases of severe COVID-19.

Therefore, the current clinical trial in South Korea and the Tongji Hospital are expected to prove or refute the effectiveness of LPV/r against COVID-19.

The most common adverse effects of lopinavir/ritonavir are diarrhoea and nausea. Other common adverse effects include asthenia, abdominal pain, headache, vomiting, and rash. People with structural heart diseases, preexisting conduction system abnormalities, cardiomyopathies or ischaemic heart disease should use these drugs with caution.

Tocilizumab (Actemra)

Tocilizumab is an immunosuppressive drug, developed by Hoffmann–La Roche and Chugai and mostly used for the treatment of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is sold under the trade names Actemra and RoActemra.

A 2020 research from China has shown that Tocilizumab may be an effective treatment for patients diagnosed as severe or critical COVID-19. Within a few days, the treatment caused positive results: temperature and oxygen intake lowering, lung lesion opacity absorption, normalisation of lymphocytes and C-reactive protein level. No significant reactions were observed.

Genentech from the Roche Group and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority have launched a randomised, controlled trial (COVACTA) to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous Actemra (Tocilizumab) and care standards in adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

Actemra (Tocilizumab) has been approved in China for the treatment of patients with the COVID-19, who have also developed severe lung damage and have high levels of IL-6 in the blood. The studies have suggested that an elevated level of IL-6, a biomarker for inflammation and high-level immune response, may be lethal for people with community-acquired pneumonia.

The mechanism of Tocilizumab includes an interruption of the process of ‘cytokine release syndrome’ (CRS), a complication in the form of severe inflammatory response.

However, Actemra is not currently approved for this use by the FDA. The most frequent adverse effects observed in clinical trials are upper respiratory tract infections, common cold, headache, high blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.

REGN3048–3051 and Kevzara

REGN3048–3051 is the combination of neutralising monoclonal antibodies REGN3048 and REGN3051 developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. First-in-human clinical trial supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) researches if it may act effectively against coronavirus infection. The tolerability and safety of this drug will be tested in 48 patients. The antibodies of the drug can bind to S-protein of MERS coronavirus. The studies on mice in the case of MERS lead to the potent neutralisation of the MERS in blood and lowered viral loads in the lungs.

Pharmaceutical companies Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sanofi SA have also announced plans to launch clinical trials on their arthritis drug Sarilumab (trade name Kevzara) in patients with severe COVID-19 infection. It can inhibit interleukin-6 (IL-6), which causes an overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of infected patients.

EIDD-2801

EIDD-2801 is a broad-spectrum oral antiviral. It can interfere with the virus to replicate once it infects a cell, which makes it similar to remdesivir, a drug currently being studied in COVID-19 patients. Both drugs can mimic ribonucleosides — the components of RNA molecules — causing errors when the drugs get into viral RNA during replication and preventing the virus spread. Researchers have shown that EIDD-2801 may be used as either a prophylactic or a therapeutic medicine for SARS-CoV-2. The drug has also shown efficacy against other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

EIDD-2801 has one advantage over Remdesivir: it can be used as a pill, while Remdesivir must be given intravenously. It means that it can be administered outside of a clinical setting for prophylaxis.

EIDD-2801 was first tested in cells cultured in the laboratory. When those tests appeared to be encouraging, the scientists gave the drug to mice infected with coronaviruses. A paper describing the study results was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. When EIDD-2801 was used as a prophylactic, it could prevent severe lung damage, reduce the viral load and weight loss in infected mice if given from 12 to 48 hours after the infection began.

Here is an exciting aspect of the drug: viruses that can carry Remdesivir resistance mutations happen to be more susceptible to EIDD-1931 and vice versa. It means that both drugs may be combined to improve efficacy and prevent resistance.

Clinical studies of the drug in humans were expected to begin in spring 2020. If EIDD-2801 proves to be effective, it may be used not only for the COVID-19 pandemic but also in managing other coronavirus outbreaks in future.

Anakinra (Kineret)

Anakinra is a biopharmaceutical drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It is a recombinant and modified type of the human interleukin 1 receptor antagonist protein, marketed by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

Studies have shown that patients with severe COVID-19 may have cytokine storm syndrome, an excessive immune response. Usually, COVID-19 is treated with supportive measures. The most often cause of mortality and respiratory failure is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The disorder named sHLH comprises hyperinflammatory syndromes and is defined by a “cytokine storm” with multiorgan failure. This process increases the number of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-12, and IL-18, as well as interferon gamma and tumour necrosis factor. The disease is characterised by continuous high fever, hepatosplenomegaly, central nervous system manifestations, and thrombocytopenia.

In adults, sHLH is generally caused by viral infections. Pulmonary involvement, such as ARDS, occurs in approximately half of all patients.

Studies have shown that Anakinra may calm the cytokine storm, meaning its administration may be useful for patients with COVID-19. The most common side effects following Anakinra use include injection site reactions, headaches, and higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Galidesivir

Galidesivir, also known as BCX4430 and Immucillin-A, is an antiviral drug, an analogue of adenosine. The drug was developed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals to treat hepatitis C but then developed as a potential treatment for Ebola and Marburg virus diseases, and Yellow fever. Galidesivir shows broad-spectrum antiviral effect against RNA viruses, such as bunyaviruses, paramyxoviruses, arenaviruses, flaviviruses, coronaviruses, and phleboviruses. It acts as a nucleoside RNA polymerase inhibitor and disrupts the viral replication.

So far, Galidesivir is being evaluated for yellow fever in a Phase II trialaccording to the contracts with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

SNG001

SNG001 includes naturally occurring IFN-β, administered through a nebuliser. It was initially produced to prevent severe lower respiratory tract infections in the lungs that were caused by cold and flu to reduce the severity of the infection caused by the coronavirus.

The human body can produce its own interferon-beta to alleviate inflammation caused by the body’s immune response. Scientific research shows that IFN-β deficiency in the lungs might explain the high susceptibility of vulnerable patient groups who have developed severe lung disease during viral infections. SNG001 may provide IFN-β directly to the lungs, replenishing the deficiency.

Clinical trials led by the scientists at the University Hospital Southampton in patients with asthma have shown that treatment with inhaled SNG001 lowered viral lung pathology and lung load in an in vivo swine flu driven model of viral pneumonia. The pilot phase has shown positive results. The drug has been well-tolerated in clinical trials in more than 200 respiratory patients. Phase II of clinical trials in patients with asthma have shown that SNG001 is well-tolerated, might enhance the lungs’ antiviral ability and improve lung function during cold or flu infection.

TAK-888

TAK-888 is anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) produced by Japanese pharmaceutical giant Takeda. In March 2020, Takeda announced the development of TAK-888 for the treatment of high-risk individuals. To develop the treatment, scientists will need to get plasma from people successfully recovered from the COVID-19.

Plasma derived-therapies, including hyperimmune globulins, have earlier been shown to be effective in the treatment of severe acute viral respiratory infections and are considered as a potential treatment for COVID-19

The blood-derived antibodies from recovered patients are found to improve the immune system responses in infected patients. The novel treatment has shown promising preliminary results in activating the immune system against the disease. The plasma with antibodies is planned to be administered into critically ill patients. Takeda intends to make the plasma product available for COVID-19 patients in 9–18 months.

Ivermectin

Ivermectin is a medication used for the treatment of parasite infestations, such as head lice, scabies, river blindness, trichuriasis, lymphatic filariasis, and ascariasis. The drug works by increasing the parasite’s cell membrane, resulting in their paralysis and death. Ivermectin is FDA-approved for a number of parasitic infections and has an established safety profile for human use. Usual side effects of the drug include red eyes, dry and burning skin. It is not clear if Ivermectin is safe for pregnant women, but may be probably acceptable during breastfeeding.

Ivermectin has been shown to stop many viruses, such as HIV, dengue, Zika and influenza, from replicating, at least in the laboratory. The latest laboratory data from Monash University and the Doherty Institute suggests that Ivermectin is able to stop SARS-CoV-2 from replicating in up to 48 hours. Their report shows that Ivermectin is worthy of further consideration as a potential SARS-CoV-2 antiviral.

Ivermectin is thought to stop the processes that allow proteins to move within the virus. These proteins enable the virus to replicate and enhance the infection.

To evaluate possible benefits of the drug in COVID-19 patients, the scientists plan to examine a dosing regimen as, during the clinical trial, a single daily dose was found to be safe but no clinically benefit.

AmnioBoost

AmnioBoost is a natural amniotic fluid supplement by Lattice Biologics. The fluid is taken from healthy, non-related, living donors during a Caesarian delivery. AmnioBoost contains useful proteins, growth factors and signalling molecules that support a healthy tissue environment and help to restore balance to the synovial milieu and cushions. Due to its benefits, AmnioBoost is used for the treatment of joint pain and chronic adult inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Lattice Biologics is exploring the efficacy of AmnioBoost in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is one of the most common causes of death in COVID-19 infection and is associated with older age, co-morbidities such as diabetes, disease and inflammation severity. AmnioBoost has shown efficacy in alleviating the inflammatory conditions caused by several diseases, including coronavirus. The drug is thought to reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines while boosting the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and facilitating staffing tissues with naturally occurring anti-inflammatory cells. That helps to fight off the inflammatory processes caused by several diseases. Such an opinion is supported by the clinical study conducted in China, suggesting that allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) might treat or significantly improve functional outcomes in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

Antibody treatment

Several pharmaceutical companies have begun working on antibody treatment for the patients infected with COVID-19.

The Indianapolis drugmaker Eli Lilly is working with AbCellera to start testing an antibody therapy designed for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 in humans. AbCellera identified more than 500 human antibodies that could be potent against the virus from a blood sample of a recovered coronavirus patient.

AbCellera received a blood sample from a US patient recovered from COVID-19, then screened more than 5 million immune cells searching for those that could make functional antibodies. As a result, the company has identified more than 500 unique fully human antibody sequences that might help patients to neutralise the virus and recover from the disease. The next step was to find the most antibodies effective in neutralising the novel virus. Most of these antibodies will be identified in cooperation with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They will be tested for their ability to neutralise the virus.

Vir Biotechnology, Inc. has announced a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center to research and develop human monoclonal antibodies against coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. Vir Biotechnology, Inc. has identified numerous monoclonal antibodies that can bind to SARS-CoV-2. These antibodies were taken from people who had recovered from a SARS infection. The current research aims to define if these antibodies may be an effective treatment or prophylaxis against SARS-CoV-2.

Convalescent plasma

This treatment involves taking blood plasma from people who have recovered from the COVID-19. Their plasma contains antibodies that could fight against the virus and improve immune response.

The trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the journal PNAS have shown promising results on patients critically ill with COVID-19.

The first trial researched if the administration of convalescent plasma transfusion might be useful in the treatment of severely ill patients with coronavirus disease. In this trial, five critically ill patients with COVID-19 and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were administered convalescent plasma with high virus-specific IgG and IgM ELISA titers. The trial resulted in viral load decline and the improvement of clinical conditions of these patients as well as the body temperature reduction, improved chest imaging and Pao2/Fio2. It increased neutralising antibody titers, which is important for the restriction of viral infection. Four patients who were on mechanical ventilation and ECMO no longer needed respiratory support in 9 days after plasma transfusion. The results of the study have shown that antibodies from convalescent plasma may benefit the clearance of the virus and improve the symptoms of the disease.

Cannabis and CBD

 
There are no studies, confirming that cannabis or its compounds, such as CBD, may prevent or treat coronavirus. However, useful properties of cannabis are considered to have the potential for the treatment of the novel coronavirus.

CBD products and cannabis is a natural way to positively affect the immune system. In many cases, it is the immune system’s response that does harm not the viral infection. Due to its bi-directional activity, CBD may act as an immunosuppressant and immunomodulator, adjusting the immune system response and suppressing over-reactions, and increasing under-reactions.

Studies suggest that cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors can affect the immune system, viral replication, and viral pathogenesis.

By suppressing the immune system and calming a heightened immune response, CBD may bring benefits in a number of health conditions, such as autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. The studies on mice have shown that prophylactic treatment with cannabidiol might reduce inflammation in the case of an acute lung injury. Therefore, CBD administered therapeutically, such as during an inflammatory process, may cause a potent anti-inflammatory effect and improve the lung function.

CBD can also act as an immunomodulator during viral infection. Doing so, it may cause long-lasting effects, ease motor deficits in the chronic phase of the disease and activate cytokine production.

According to multiple studies, CBD may cause more cell deaths in virally infected cells, which is helpful for the immune system. Cannabidiol may also suppress virus replication, which has been shown in a study for the treatment of viral hepatitis.

Adaptive and dynamic components regulate the accuracy and speed of immune responses. Late or inadequate immune responses may prolong and challenge the disease, while an uncontrolled response can make immune responses to act against their own healthy cells and tissues. The immune system components, such as a cytokine, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and its receptor IL-2R, play an important role in maintaining the immune balance. CBD can either suppress or encourage IL-2 and IFN-γ production, as well as maintaining the optimal activity of T cells that is important when managing novel coronaviruses.

Moreover, a study on mice has shown that prophylactic treatment with CBD may reduce inflammation during acute lung injury. CBD products may also interact with the inner endocannabinoid system, providing the balance in the immune system response to novel viruses. However, further studies on humans are required.

By Alphagreen Team

Source: Alphagreen Blog

 

Cannabis being used in makeup products is on the rise

Sephora announced the launch of its ‘High Beauty’ range earlier this year. With cannabis becoming legalised in Canada and US state Oklahoma voting to legalise medicinal marijuana recently, there has been much discussion about the health benefits of the plant.

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Further to its use as an ingredient used to treat various health conditions, cannabis has also recently been having quite a moment within the beauty industry.

CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the marijuana plant, has been used by several brands in products including mascaras and moisturisers.

As long as products only contain trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the key compound in cannabis which causes users to experience being high, then they can legally be sold to consumers.

According to Brightfield Group, a company that specialises in cannabis and CBD market research, CBD is the “next hot, functional beauty ingredient”, that may have a similar impact on the beauty industry as shea butter and aloe.

Furthermore, due to the increased interest in cannabis for medicinal, recreational and cosmetic use, the CBD industry is expected to reach an estimated value of $22bn (£16bn) by 2022.

In September this year, French beauty label Sephora launched its first cannabis-infused cosmetics brand called “High Beauty”.

The line launched with two products: “High Expectations”, a cannabis facial oil, and “High Five”, a cannabis facial moisturiser.

Melissa Jochim, the founder of High Beauty, explained that there’s been a shift in attitude in the way in which people perceive marijuana, as it’s now viewed by many as a wellness product as opposed to simply a recreational drug.

“It just hasn’t been mainstream until people started seeing it as a lifestyle ingredient, or one for wellbeing,” she said, according to Civilized.

Estée Lauder’s Origins brand also became one of the first mainstream beauty companies to release cannabis-infused products earlier this year.

On the company’s website, it states that all ingredients used to manufacture the certified products in the range are 100 per cent natural and that it only uses “the highest grade, locally grown cannabis and marijuana.”

WHIO-TV, a news station in Ohio, undertook an investigation into beauty products being sold in America that contain CBD.

The team discovered that many of the products come with assurances that CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with the ability to help people improve the condition of their skin, smooth their wrinkles and thicken their eyelashes.

“These topical products, they’re not going to make you high or anything like that. They don’t have the psychoactive components in them,” Dr Gregory Samano, a family doctor based in Florida told the news station.

“I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to show a lot of progress as time goes on.”

Click here to check out 10 of the best cannabis beauty products on the market, including an £80 day cream by MGC Derma, a £20 hand and body wash by Malin+Goetz, a £7.69 soap by Dr Bronner’s and a £70 facial oil by Votary.

Source: The Independent

 

CBD Article – Tim Byrne

“Think about ‘strong distribution’, it does not have to mean big and broad, it could be narrow and niche with hidden growth”.

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Business is like gardening if you do not keep on top of things they get out of control. Its great planting new plants and seeds in the ground that you have prepared but unless you continue to weed and prune, it all becomes overgrown and ultimately requires a complete re-start.

As horrendous as is it perhaps the current pandemic gives us an opportunity to apply the same principle to our businesses. Many in the space have seen successful and seen rapid growth. While I am sure that many have continued to see growth over their internet sales longer terms plans have been severely disrupted.

I believe this time gives a real opportunity to secure, shape and review where the market is, to revisit and refresh strategy and make plans for the other side of the crisis.

As we have said in previous blogs there remain significant challenges in the market, oversupply in certain sectors, continued uncertainty about the shape and progress of regulation and legislation and the lurking power of the ‘big boys’ with their deep pockets and know-how.

The starting point must be what was your original goal? Was it to build a business to sell (or the one that always makes me laugh ‘to float’) for capital gain or to make some cash from sales? If the former you will only make capital if you have something worthwhile to sell, this might be via innovation or strong distribution. Properly protected innovation creates capital worth.

If you see creating capital value through building a strong distribution network, you need to ask what does that mean? Strength in one channel and in one region is unlikely to attract the buyer of your business that you want. Secondly is it realistic to think that you can build strong distribution without strong brands?

Think about ‘strong distribution’, it does not have to mean big and broad, it could be narrow and niche with hidden growth.

If your aim is simply to make a few ‘bob’ through sales the window of opportunity continues to exist but is narrowing. 

Source: Ginger CBD & Cannabinoid Science

By Tim Byrne

 

Why is CBD on everyone’s lips?

CBD is one of the biggest buzzwords in food and drink. It’s been hailed the next big thing, with more and more chefs and producers using CBD in their recipes. So what is it? And why is it so trendy?

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In The Food Programme, Charlotte Smith talks to the owner and chef at the UK’s first cannabis-infused restaurant, meets other experts in the field – and even samples CBD herself – to try and find out what all the fuss is about.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a chemical extracted from the cannabis plant. Unlike its sibling tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s non-psychoactive and won’t get you high.

Why would you take it and what does it do to you?

CBD is thought to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm, with many arguing that it helps to relieve pain and inflammation and reduce anxiety. So far the studies aren’t clear as to whether eating small amounts has any effect or not but, despite this, it’s now a popular alternative for those seeking a remedy for anxiety or pain who don’t want to take a mind-altering drug.

Many people who take CBD believe it can help with a general sense of wellness as part of a holistic approach to looking after the body and mind.

What does it look like and how would you take it?

You can buy CBD in an oil in most health food shops. Minor Figures, who make canned coffee and oat milk, and are now producing CBD infused coconut oil. Their strategy is to sell it to cafes to display on their counter, so customers can pick up a bottle when they’re grabbing a coffee. Lexie Forrester, who does marketing for the company, describes it as “a rescue remedy following the over-consumption of coffee.” She claims if you’re feeling jittery after too many ground beans, a couple of drops under the tongue can calm you down.

The UK’s first cannabis-infused restaurant in Brighton, The Canna Kitchen, has an extensive menu of food incorporating the chemical, and even does a range of cannabis infused mocktails. Head chef Charlotte Kjaer says their ethos is all about healing whole foods, a plant-based diet and putting hemp in the spotlight it deserves. Customers can choose whether to have CBD suspended in hemp oil added to their dish or not, normally in the form of dressings, pesto or sides like tahini. This supposedly stops it losing its beneficial properties during the cooking process.

What does it taste like?

CBD has a distinct, earthy flavour so the oil can really change the flavour profile of food. For this reason it benefits from being paired with sweet foods, which counteract the natural bitterness. It’s no surprise that CBD gummy bears are so popular! You can also find CBD in coffee, cake, and chocolates in cafes and shops all over the country. One vendor even offers a CBD croissant.

What’s happened to make CBD popular now?

According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, the number of people buying CBD in Britain doubled between 2017 and 2018 to 250,000. Why has it become so trendy all of a sudden?

Harry Sumnall is professor in substance use at Liverpool John Moores University and he’s been studying the rise of CBD in the UK. He believes one reason CBD is increasing in popularity is a growing public awareness of the potential medical benefits. The media attention around the cases of a two young boys with intractable epilepsy who are seemingly gaining benefits from CBD has played its part.

But it’s the United States that’s really leading the charge in this area. California was the first state to legalise cannabis for medicinal use in 1996 under the Compassionate Use Act, and this kick-started a wave of legalisation across many other states. The drug is mostly being sold for people to smoke, but edible cannabis has become more and more popular – giving birth to a new, exploding food industry.

Is the future of CBD in drinks?

If we’re looking to America to predict the way the market goes here, then the future is in drinks. In the United States, money from multinational companies is pouring into cannabis infused alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Even well known, worldwide brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi are considering moving into cannabis and investing billions of dollars into the development of CBD products.

Is CBD here to stay?

At the moment CBD isn’t regulated, so you aren’t necessarily getting what is considered a functional amount of CBD in your product. Manufacturers can put a couple of drops in a bar of chocolate and charge ten pounds for it, without proving there is any benefit or effect at all. Also, the safety of CBD is currently being reviewed by the Food Standards Agency. At the moment manufacturers do not have to prove that the CBD their product contains is safe. If this changes, as it may soon do, it will pose a large challenge to producers and retailers of CBD products.

However, CBD doesn’t appear to be ‘just a phase’ and however its regulation evolves it looks set to stay on our shelves. The market is growing at an extraordinary rate, with some estimates putting the potential CBD market at around two billion Euros a year. So although you might not see cannabis-infused products on every street corner just yet, you may not find that you have to look too far for too much longer.

 

Source: BBC 

 

A list of the best CBD oil companies in the UK in 2020   Martha Stewart is launching CBD products for humans and their pets

Culinary expert Martha Stewart is launching her own line of cannabidiol (CBD) products for humans and their pets.

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The 77-year-old has announced that she will be teaming up with Canopy Growth – one of the world’s largest marijuana producers – to develop a line of CBD health products.

However, fans of the Emmy award-winning television show host will have to wait a while until they can try her products because her first venture is going to cater specifically to animals.

“I am delighted to establish this partnership with Canopy Growth and share with them the knowledge I have gained after years of experience in the subject of living,” Stewart said in a statement.

“I’m especially looking forward to our first collaboration together, which will offer sensible products for people’s beloved pets.”

While Stewart’s association with a cannabis company may seem like an unlikely partnership, Canopy Growth said she was an obvious choice.

“As soon as you hear the name Martha, you know exactly who we’re talking about,” Canopy chairman and co-CEO Bruce Linton said in a statement.

“Martha is one of a kind and I am so excited to be able to work alongside this icon to sharpen our CBD. product offerings across categories from human to animal.”

CBD: What is it and how is it being used in the UK?

Canopy Growth has revealed that several clinical trials for the pet products are already underway and that Stewart will be advising the company as they develop.

With the partnership, Stewart follows in the footsteps of her close friend Snoop Dogg, who invested in Tweed, a Canopy Growth subsidiary, in 2016.

The pair currently star together on their cooking-meets-talk show Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.

In 2018, it was reported that the number of CBD consumers doubled following a rise in readily-available cannabis-derived products around the world.

CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the marijuana plant and doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) –  the main psychoactive perception and mood-altering component of cannabis.

This means that products containing CBD won’t lead to hallucinogenic effects like the recreational use of marijuana is known to do.

Instead, CBD is typically sold in products, like oils, that advertise benefits such as pain relief and reducing anxiety.

However, it remains unclear as to how these types of products affect animals.

According to Forbes, there are a number of examples where CBD might help a domestic animal including for treatment of anxiety when travelling or going to the vet.

There are already a number of “pet-friendly” products available to buy online but while people may be medicating their pets with CBD, there remains very little research on the subject.

In Colorado – the first US state to legalise recreational marijuana in 2012 – Dr Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist and assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has completed two clinical studies on the effects of cannabidiol in dogs with osteoarthritis or epilepsy.

An initial investigation involving 30 healthy research animals found that CBD was tolerated while preliminary results of the epilepsy investigation were promising enough that McGrath began a three-year crossover study with a $350,000 (£264,358) grant from the American Kennel Club in January 2018.

Speaking to The Independent, the RSPCA said that more research needs to be done before CBD can be recommended as an aid to distressed animals.

“We are not aware of any studies which show proven benefits of CBD oil for pets,” said Caroline Allen, chief veterinary officer at the RSPCA.

“If anyone has concerns about their pet’s health, we would always advise them to contact their vet.”

 

By Sarah Young

Source: Independent

Cannabis reduces OCD symptoms by half in the short-term.

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People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, report that the severity of their symptoms was reduced by about half within four hours of smoking cannabis, according to a Washington State University study.

The researchers analyzed data inputted into the Strainprint app by people who self-identified as having OCD, a condition characterized by intrusive, persistent thoughts and repetitive behaviors such as compulsively checking if a door is locked. After smoking cannabis, users with OCD reported it reduced their compulsions by 60%, intrusions, or unwanted thoughts, by 49% and anxiety by 52%.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, also found that higher doses and cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD, or cannabidiol, were associated with larger reductions in compulsions.

“The results overall indicate that cannabis may have some beneficial short-term but not really long-term effects on obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said Carrie Cuttler, the study’s corresponding author and WSU assistant professor of psychology. “To me, the CBD findings are really promising because it is not intoxicating. This is an area of research that would really benefit from clinical trials looking at changes in compulsions, intrusions and anxiety with pure CBD.”

The WSU study drew from data of more than 1,800 cannabis sessions that 87 individuals logged into the Strainprint app over 31 months. The long time period allowed the researchers to assess whether users developed tolerance to cannabis, but those effects were mixed. As people continued to use cannabis, the associated reductions in intrusions became slightly smaller suggesting they were building tolerance, but the relationship between cannabis and reductions in compulsions and anxiety remained fairly constant.

Traditional treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder include exposure and response prevention therapy where people’s irrational thoughts around their behaviors are directly challenged, and prescribing antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce symptoms. While these treatments have positive effects for many patients, they do not cure the disorder nor do they work well for every person with OCD.

“We’re trying to build knowledge about the relationship of cannabis use and OCD because it’s an area that is really understudied,” said Dakota Mauzay, a doctoral student in Cuttler’s lab and first author on the paper.

Aside from their own research, the researchers found only one other human study on the topic: a small clinical trial with 12 participants that revealed that there were reductions in OCD symptoms after cannabis use, but these were not much larger than the reductions associated with the placebo.

The WSU researchers noted that one of the limitations of their study was the inability to use a placebo control and an “expectancy effect” may play a role in the results, meaning when people expect to feel better from something they generally do. The data was also from a self-selected sample of cannabis users, and there was variability in the results which means that not everyone experienced the same reductions in symptoms after using cannabis.

However, Cuttler said this analysis of user-provided information via the Strainprint app was especially valuable because it provides a large data set and the participants were using market cannabis in their home environment, as opposed to federally grown cannabis in a lab which may affect their responses. Strainprint’s app is intended to help users determine which types of cannabis work the best for them, but the company provided the WSU researchers free access to users’ anonymized data for research purposes.

Cuttler said this study points out that further research, particularly clinical trials on the cannabis constituent CBD, may reveal a therapeutic potential for people with OCD.

This is the fourth study Cuttler and her colleagues have conducted examining the effects of cannabis on various mental health conditions using the data provided by the app created by the Canadian company Strainprint. Others include studies on how cannabis impacts PTSD symptoms, reduces headache pain, and affects emotional well-being.

Source: Science Daily

Why Magic Mushrooms Are The Next Big Booming (and Legal!) Drug Market

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Like marijuana before it, psychedelic drugs, once considered illicit, are now going mainstream. Although the substances, their effects, and the chemical compounds at their core are quite different, psychedelics—specifically psilocybin—have followed the trail blazed by marijuana to mainstream acceptance and Wall Street excitement.

The psychedelic market just took a massive step towards legitimacy in the eye of corporate America. Earlier this month, the U.K.-based pharmaceutical company Compass Pathways became the first psychedelic company to break into U.S. markets. The news is a big step towards the legitimacy of the legal psychedelic marketplace—which is forecasted to be nearly a $6.9 billion business by 2027.

Other psychedelics aren’t far behind. The Biotech company HAVN Life which creates both lab and retail products, went live in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange earlier this month. In March, Toronto-based MindMed became the first publicly traded psychedelic company. The upward momentum suggests a similar pattern that was seen upon the move towards the legitimatization of cannabis years ago as companies like Tilray, Aurora Cannabis, and Canopy Growth popped up in the marketplace.

At this point, marijuana and psychedelics both have been accepted by most in the medical community as robust treatment options for patients. Most agree that cannabis offers a number of positive benefits, like anti-inflammatory properties, while psychedelics like psilocybin are increasingly being used to treat severe, drug-resistant depression.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration first granted Compass Pathways a breakthrough therapy status, which accelerates the clinical study process, to study psilocybin particularly for parents struggling with Major Depressive Disorder. Since then the FDA has embraced the drug, granting similar designations to Compass and other large companies such as pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, but also smaller competitors such as Mind Medicine and Numinus Wellness.

The rise of these treatment options comes alongside some sobering news from the Centers for Disease Control.  According to a recent survey, one out of four adults ages 18-24 considered suicide in June, while 10 percent of adults overall reported suicidal ideation.

 

There is, however, an uphill battle for the recreational market. Michael Auerbach of Subversive Capital, an early investor in Compass Pathways, sees no robust path for psychedelics. “There is less of a diversified recreational market for psychedelics as there is for cannabis as it is used in a massive swath of consumer products,” Auerbach tells Observer.

At the same time, there is no shortage of companies launching psychedelic-tinged products that they hope will appeal to the consumer marketplace. Canadian Better Plant Sciences is developing a variety of consumer products, including the development of mushroom-infused coffee blends announced last month. Alphamind brands is developing concentrated powder, teas, and chocolate. Alphamind’s parent company, Hollister Biosciences Inc, developed similar products in the cannabis space.

Red Light Holland, which just launched a pure truffle product, has applied to uplist on the OTC markets.

Red Light Holland’s latest product also allows potential users to try a VR headset, which will help give users an understanding of what the drug feels like and if it something they want to try.

“With the trajectory stateside, it’s only a matter of time before we break into the U.S. market for recreational use,” Todd Shapiro, the CEO of the Amsterdam-based psychedelic company, says. “Think of us as the over the counter-alternative to what companies like Johnson & Johnson have in the works. We hope to see this following the path of Cannabis in Canada; where it was medical first, then recreational adult-use second. But of course, that can take a long time! And ultimately, information and education plus responsible use is key.”

DENVER, CO – MAY 07: Posters in support of Ordinance 301, which would decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, sit at an election night watch party on May 7, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. If the bill passes, it would make the possession, use or cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms by people aged 21 and older the lowest law enforcement priority in the city. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Psilocybin is following marijuana in legalization pattern, too, as more cities and states move to decriminalize the substance. Last week Ann Arbor, Michigan, the city council voted unanimously to decriminalize magic mushrooms. This comes after the May 2019 election that saw Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin. Oakland soon followed with its own law, decriminalizing and plant and fungi psychedelics.

Psychedelics are on the ballot in DC this November. Last month the DC Board of Elections approved a measure to decriminalize a variety of psychedelics in the district. In Oregon, the legalization of psychedelic mushrooms is on the ballot. If it passes, the legalization is a huge indicator of what’s to come. Oregon has long been ahead of the curve on U.S. drug policy. It was the first state to decriminalize cannabis.

“The changing laws really justify new market opportunity,” Garyn Angel, the CEO and Founder of Magic Brands, tells Observer. Magic Brands a wellness company that historically focused on CBD products, with recent intentions to expand into the psychedelic space on the heels of the emerging marketplace. “Changing sentiment really opens up the potential for healing psychedelics can provide without the stigma some feel the product has,” Angel adds.

Medical experts leading the research on the clinical benefits of psychedelics as a medical treatment are very sceptical about the recreational marketplace.

“The credible companies that I know about that are interested in psychedelics are developing them as medicines through established regulatory pathways like the FDA or international equivalents, rather than for a recreational marketplace. Psychedelics have very real risks, and these can be appropriately mitigated with the types of safeguards that we use in research and medical settings,” Dr Matthew Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, tells Observer.

“The so-called ‘bad trip’ can sometimes lead to harm when such safeguards are not in place. However, some people find such challenging experiences to be clinically beneficial,” he adds. “With the right safeguards, psilocybin has been given to healthy people with no disorders, and people with a variety of disorders like depression, whether or not the depression is treatment-resistant, and various substance use disorders.”

Whether the decriminalization and budding marketplace will have a net positive effect is still an open question. There is a massive historical precedent with a growing number of the municipalities adjusting their laws on the decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana largely in recognition that prohibition does not work for a myriad of reasons—good news for proponents of the psychedelic marketplace.

Source: The Observer

Give cannabis to elderly people with chronic pain, doctors say

Experts say cannabis-based medicines, including those that contain THC, should be used instead of opioids

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Elderly people with chronic pain including back and joint injuries should be prescribed cannabis instead of conventional painkillers, doctors have said, as polling shows that three quarters of over-55s would consider taking it.

Doctors said cannabis-based medicines, including those that contain THC, the chemical that makes recreational users “high”, should be used instead of opioid medications.

Draft guidance published last month by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggested prescription guidelines for patients with chronic pain will soon move away from drugs like paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin and opioid medications such as tramadol, codeine and morphine.

The draft guidance suggests more than a million chronic pain patients in the UK should instead be prescribed group exercise programmes or acupuncture.

But doctors have suggested that patients with back pain could instead benefit from taking cannabis oil, which was legalised for a prescription for some conditions in the UK in 2018.

Although cannabis oil is not widely available on the NHS, some private clinics prescribe it if other medication has not worked.

A new poll by Open Cannabis, a campaign to widen access to cannabis medicines in the UK, suggests almost three quarters of people over the age of 55 would consider cannabis medication if it was offered to them, compared to two-thirds of the population as a whole.

The proportion of people over the age 75 with chronic pain in the UK could be as high as 60 per cent, research published by the BMJ suggests.

Use prescriptions to keep patients away from dealers

Dr Steve Hajioff, a former chair of the British Medical Association, said cannabis should be made available legally using prescriptions to prevent patients turning to black market drugs for pain relief.

“Cannabis-derived medicines can help fill the gap in helping people with chronic pain, as we move away from some pain-management procedures and using opioid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” he told The Telegraph.

“Patients who could benefit from cannabis-based medicines need to be made aware of the legal routes to access these treatments in the UK, so that they are not exposed to the dangers associated with the illegal market.”

There is no reliable data on how many people in the UK using cannabis illegally for pain relief, but it is thought the number could be in the millions.

Cannabis was legalised for medicinal purposes in the UK in 2018 following a campaign by children with treatment-resistant epilepsy who used oil from the plant to control their seizures.

Patients can now legally be prescribed medicine containing THC, the chemical compound in cannabis that makes recreational users “high” and which is otherwise banned under UK law.

Products that only contain CBD, another chemical in cannabis, are already legal and are widely sold in high street shops.

But despite the law change, few if any prescriptions have been issued on the NHS, after NICE guidelines said doctors should be wary of handing the oil to patients before full medical trials have taken place.

There have been no randomised controlled trials in the UK for medicinal cannabis, and none are expected until at least 2021.

A small study in Canada in 2010 suggested that cannabis could have an impact on long-term pain, which can include back pain and joint pain.

The NHS said a “much larger trial would be needed for a longer period” to assess the effects of cannabis properly.

A spokesman for the Open Cannabis campaign said: “Our long term aim is to show the government that medical cannabis is safe and effective and should be available through the NHS for a wider group of people.” 

Source: The Telegraph

Magic mushrooms should be made legal in the same way as cannabis so they can be used to treat depression, leading doctors say

Leading experts have called for ‘shrooms’ to move from schedule one to two. But the team said recreational use of the Class A drug should remain illegal. Psilocybin, the psychoactive chemical, has promise in boosting mental health.

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Magic mushrooms should be rescheduled in Britain to treat depression, top doctors have said. 

Leading experts have called for a change in the law to allow ‘shrooms’ to be used in a similar way as medicinal cannabis.

But they said recreational use would remain illegal, with Brits caught in possession of the Class A drug facing a jail-term of up to seven years. 

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown psilocybin — the psychoactive chemical in magic mushrooms — has promise in boosting mental health, fighting off depression and helping PTSD sufferers. 
 
Leading experts have called for a change in the law to allow 'shrooms' to be used in a similar way as medicinal cannabis

Leading experts have called for a change in the law to allow ‘shrooms’ to be used in a similar way as medicinal cannabis

Experts from Oxford, Manchester and King’s College London universities have called for magic mushrooms to be rescheduled. 

Psilocybin is currently listed as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it’s thought to have no medicinal value and therefore cannot be legally possessed or prescribed.

But the group say moving the substance to Schedule 2 on a research-only basis will enable the ‘sorely needed exploration of fresh mental health treatments’.

Schedule 2 drugs, such as ketamine and cannabis, are those that can be prescribed and supplied by doctors and pharmacists.  

But rescheduling it on a research-only basis means researchers won’t have to apply for multiple licences from the Home Office for each study.  

In a paper submitted to the Home Office, the group argued rescheduling psilocybin could ‘help avert a looming mental health crisis’.

Both the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) and Adam Smith Institute (ASI) backed the calls for a law change.

THE PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS BEING STUDIED FOR THEIR MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS 

In recent years, scientists have increasingly looked to psychedelic drugs as promising therapies for treatment-resistant mental illness.

Currently, such mind-altering drugs are largely illegal in the US.

But ongoing clinical trials suggest that drugs once beloved by hippies and club kids might have medical benefits, too.

Scientists are investigating:

KETAMINE

The club drug and tranquilizer has been in tests for treating depression for several years.

In March 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first nasal spray version of the drug.

Ketamine works much more quickly than traditional antidepressants, and scientists believe it encourages new neural connections that can help overwrite unhealthy, depressive thought patterns.

PSILOCYBIN

The active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms,’ psilocybin is a powerful hallucinogen.

It, too, acts far more quickly than traditional drugs and is being analyzed for use in patients with both depression and PTSD.

Psyilocybin helps encourage neurplasticity and is thought to quiet down the ‘default mode network’ in the brain, and activate the ‘salience network’ that is involved in medication.

In August, the FDA cleared the largest clinical trial for psilocybin to-date.

MDMA

The club drug MDMA – sometimes called ‘Molly’ – is currently in trials to treat PTSD.

MDMA appears to quiet activity in the amygdala and hippocampus, regions of the brain involved in emotional processing and fear responses, which are over-active in those with PTSD.

Patients participating in MDMA trials take a dose of the drug, and remain in an eight-hour session with two therapists who guide their experience.

LSD

The psychedelic compound LSD has a similar structure to the brain chemical, serotonin.

LSD’s discovery played a role in our discovery of how serotonin works in the brain and why imbalances of the neurochemical are involved in depression and anxiety.

Trials using LSD-assisted therapy to treat anxiety are ongoing and have shown early promise.

 

Figures suggest a fifth of Britons have symptoms of depression or anxiety at any one time. Around one in three cases of depression do not respond well to existing treatments.

Dan Pryor, head of programmes at the ASI, said: ‘There hasn’t been a breakthrough in depression research for decades.’

He added Britain has a chance to ‘change millions of lives for the better’ and put the UK at the forefront of research by rescheduling psilocybin.    

Dr James Rucker, a psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said psilocybin’s current scheduling is ‘unnecessary’.

He added that the substance is not dangerous or addictive when compared to other drugs.     

David King, director of research at the CDPRG added: ‘The evidence suggests they [psilocybin-based therapies] may work where other treatments have failed. 

‘One might think the government would be supporting this vital research however possible — but the opposite is true.

‘It is controlled by UK law under the strictest possible regulations.’ He added that the regulations do not prohibit research but ‘make it far more difficult’.

Mr King said: ‘Parliament has known about these barriers to research for 20 years but no progress has been made. We cannot afford to wait any longer.’ 

Former Justice Minister Crispin Blunt, chair of the drug reform group, said: ‘As a veteran myself, I am acutely aware of the urgent need for effective treatment options for this population.’

He said the ‘unacceptable de facto block on the science’ has left thousands unable to alleviate their symptoms or unable to benefit from new treatments.’

Mr Blunt added the ‘law must change’ to allow psilocybin to be through ‘the rigours of research and large scale randomised controlled trials’ to prove it works. 

He said that the ‘overdue’ move would allow thousands in ‘unnecessarily prolonged distress to access the treatment they both deserve and require’.  

Prior to the approval of esketamine — a drug derived from the horse tranquiliser and party drug — by European officials last year, the last major advancement in the treatment of depression came over 30 years ago with the licensing of SSRIs.

British company Compass Pathway has received ‘breakthrough therapy designation’ in the US for trials of psilocybin.

The approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) means it will be fast-tracked through drug-development, if proven to work.

But the firm will be struck by huge costs and delays when it moves to the next-stage of trials, The Telegraph reports, suggesting experts hope it will be used in the UK.  

Psilocybin, found naturally in over 100 species of fungi, induces temporary changes in mood by activating serotonin receptors in the brain.

Portrayals in stone carvings and rock paintings suggest people first discovered the hallucinogenic powers of ‘magic’ mushrooms as early as 9000 BC.

Psilocybin is one of several psychedelic drugs that have recently reemerged from the shadows with promises to treat mental illnesses and addictions.

Research from New York University published earlier this year found taking a single dose of the drug reduced anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

And King’s College London scientists in December found healthy volunteers had no side effects when given the chemical.

Imperial College London experts say psilocybin may have a ‘reset’ effect on the brain that helps patients overcome depression.  

In the US, psilocybin, the active ingredient in the mushrooms, is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to grow or possess.

Source: Mail Online

Study finds CBD may be powerful nootropic by boosting brain blood flow

Study finds CBD may be powerful nootropic by boosting brain blood flow

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A new study from University College London found that cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major compounds found in cannabis, increases blood flow to a key brain region responsible for emotions and memory. The discovery may shed light on how CBD produces some of its observed effects, including reducing anxiety and easing dementia symptoms. The findings build upon a growing body of research into CBD.

Cannabidiol, more commonly called CBD, has grown in popularity as a medicinal substance, with users claiming a variety of benefits ranging from better sleep to pain relief and more. Select past research has linked the compound with improvements in psychiatric issues, such as easing PTSD, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms in sufferers.

As well, there have been indications that CBD may help reduce dementia symptoms in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, though more work is necessary to determine how extensive this benefit may be. The new study from University College London has potentially found the mechanism to explain this impact on the brain.

The study, which was small with only 15 ‘young adult’ volunteers who had zero or very little history of using cannabis products, used brain scans to monitor the blood flow in brain regions linked to memory. Some of the participants were given 600mg of CBD orally, while the others were given a placebo.

The MRIs performed before and after taking the compound revealed that compared to the placebo group, participants given CBD experienced ‘significant’ increases in blood flow in the hippocampus, but didn’t experience a decrease of blood flow in other parts of that same brain region.

As well, the CBD triggered similarly significant blood flow increases in the orbitofrontal cortex in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for things like making decisions and planning. Additional research is necessary to determine whether the findings can be replicated. As well, it will be necessary to research whether repeated doses of CBD will still give the same effect.

Source: Slash Gear

Cannabis Epilepsy Drug Rescheduled: What Does this Mean?

A CBD-based medical cannabis product – Epidyolex/Epidiolex – was rescheduled in the UK last month. The drug, licensed for the treatment of some forms of Epilepsy, was fast-tracked to the NHS last year, following recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 

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In June (2020), the Home Office move Epidyolex to schedule 5 of the Controlled Substances Act. Prior to the move, Epidyolex – along with other medical cannabis products – was classified as a schedule 2 drug after being moved from schedule 1 in November 2018. The move is expected to make it easier for patients in the UK to access the medication.

According to the Home Office announcement on the rescheduling of Epidyolex:

“This will reduce administrative processes for companies wanting to supply Epidyolex to patients with severe epilepsy.”

What is Epidyolex?

A number of clinical studies have assessed the potential of cannabis products as a treatment option for epilepsy. Many of these studies have found that cannabinoids may reduce spasticity in some forms of the condition. High profile patient cases in the UK include Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell whose families have passionately campaigned for easier access to the medication.

Epidyolex – Epidiolex in the USA – is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals is a majority CBD-based cannabis product. Pure CBD (cannabidiol) is legal in the UK, as it does not produce the ‘high’ often associated with cannabis. However, medical products such as Epidyolex are controlled in the country due to small amounts of THC – mostly known for its psychoactive effects.

Access to Medical Cannabis Products in the UK

Medical cannabis was only effectively legalised in the UK in late 2018, following the rescheduling of the drug. The move from schedule 1 to schedule 2 allowed specialist doctors to prescribe medical cannabis products for a limited range of conditions.

However, access to medical cannabis products has remained limited in the time since the rescheduling. This is largely due to a lack of clinical evidence, needed for the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to make meaningful recommendations on the use of the products. NICE’s 2019 report only recommended the use of medical cannabis products for a handful of conditions.

The rescheduling of Epidyolex represents the first time that a cannabis-based medicine has been placed in Schedule 5 of the Controlled Substances Act. It is hoped that the move will reduce red-tape for specialist prescribers. In addition, the length of validity for prescriptions will be extended, and patients may gain access to increased quantities of the medication.

Epidyolex and GW Pharmaceuticals

Epidyolex is the only medical cannabis product recommended as an adjunct therapy for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes of epilepsy. Another GW Pharmaceuticals drug, Sativex, became the first medical cannabis product to be classified on schedule 4 of the Controlled Substances Act. Unlike Epidyolex, Sativex contains significant concentrations of THC.

Source: Canex

Did women use cannabis as medicine in ancient Egypt?

An empire that spanned 3,000 years, from 3100 BCE to 332 CE, ancient Egypt amassed enormous wealth thanks to its rich agricultural lands and abundance of minerals such as gold, granite and, turquoise.

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Protected from invasions by the area’s unique geography of desert, coastline, and Nile river floods, the region also benefitted from relative political stability—especially when compared to neighboring regions where warlording was fierce and ongoing.

Wealth and stability in ancient Egypt allowed for specialized education to flourish, especially medicine. Egyptian doctors—both men and possibly women—were the best in the ancient world and highly sought after by foreign kings and queens. Even as Egypt’s political power faded, scholars say medical knowledge flowed up from Alexandria into the bourgeoning empires of Greece and Rome, and not the other way around.

Ancient Egyptian remedies included things like honey, crushed insects, opium, and also cannabis, according to some scholars (but not all). Archeologists think a woman’s role in medicine was mostly relegated to gynecology and obstetrics, with medical treatments listed in ancient scrolls that include cannabis. In the late antique era, many more women functioned as professional practitioners of magic and spells. Could cannabis have been among the common herbs used in their rituals? 

Related

Ancient cannabis queens: 5 legendary weed-loving women

Was cannabis used in ancient Egypt?

Whether through human activity or blown in with the desert sands, cannabis pollen was found in the tomb of Ramses II, circa 1200 BCE, along with two additional soil samples from pre-dynastic periods (prior to 3200 BCE). While archaeologists maintain there is weak physical evidence of cannabis use in ancient Egypt, there are written references to a plant some scholars are confident was indeed cannabis.

In 2350 BCE, the Pyramid Texts from the Old Kingdom were carved into stone. On these stone tablets is the hieroglyphic symbol smsm.t—or “shemshemet”—which references “a plant from which ropes are made.” Archeologist W.R. Dawson argued in a 1934 edition of The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology that this is a reference to hemp. Not all scholars today agree, but many accept that shemshemet refers to cannabis, as it’s also written in medicinal contexts on ancient scrolls, called papyri. 

Whether or not ancient Egyptians used cannabis for its euphoric qualities is also debated by archeologists—“let’s get high!” was not explicitly written down by ancient scribes. However, medicine and magic were inextricably linked in the ancient world: ritual fumigations accompanied by spells and incantations were as much a part of medicine as diagnostics.

Could cannabis have been used in fumigations for the unwell, spiritually compromised, or to rouse the gods? There is no hard proof, but it’s possible.

Women, medicine, and magic

Women in ancient Egypt had full rights under the law and enjoyed more freedoms than their contemporaries in neighboring lands. They held property, personal wealth, and ran their own businesses. While peasant girls (and boys) weren’t typically educated, daughters from wealthier households were privately schooled alongside their brothers.

In the medical field, midwifery was largely the domain of women, while it’s thought mostly men became physicians. In Women of Ancient Egypt (2013), Egyptologist Barbara Watterson writes of a school of midwifery at the Temple of Neith (goddess of creation) in the city of Sais.

A school thought to have trained women, one can speculate Agnodice of Athenswent here to learn. As the legend goes, Agnodice, from the 4th century CE, went south to Egypt for medical training after being denied it in her native Greece. Upon her return to Athens, disguised as a man, she was so good at her job that jealous Greek doctors accused her of seducing patients and put her on trial.

In addition to obstetrics, midwifery students learned of herbs, spells, incantations and special amulets to protect mothers and newborns from malevolent spirits. Writes Watterson: “The earliest ‘doctor’ was a magician, for the Egyptians believed that disease and sickness were caused by an evil force entering the body.”

It wasn’t just educated women that deployed herbaceous healing spells—or curses. From the late antique era, between 250 and 750 CE, multiple manuscripts have been found for common folk containing magic recipes. Listing things like “wild herbs, froth from the mouth of a black horse, and a bat,” these spells were drawn up and carried out by professional herbalists and healers who were often old women.

Because we know Greek and Roman doctors were writing about cannabis in the same time period, and the plant had long been used in neighboring Syria and Mesopotamia, it’s easy to speculate cannabis was also included in these laypeople’s spells for love, luck, health, and revenge. The Coptic Magical Papyri Project is currently collecting hundreds of these recovered manuscripts on magic in an attempt to decode and organize them all, with a projected completion date of 2023.

Seshat: Goddess of medicine, learning, and cannabis

Seshet, egypt, medical cannabis

The goddess Seshat, with her seven-pointed-star headdress. (Bradhenge/AdobeStock)

We can’t talk about ancient Egypt, medicine, magic and cannabis without mentioning goddess Seshat or Seshet: patroness of scribes, mistress of builders, goddess of the House of Life—a term to include all medical schools.

Seshat’s headdress, a seven-pointed star, bears a striking resemblance to cannabis. It was thought that when mortal scribes committed words to paper, Seshat received a copy and catalogued it with the gods. When temples were built, rituals in honour of Seshat included “stretching of the cord” which some scholars say was hempen rope.

It was uncommon for a female deity to preside over men, making Seshat a curious choice to officiate medical schools. Because we know that writing things down in ancient times was expensive, time-consuming, and mostly reflected the interests of those who could afford scribes (i.e., men of influence), it’s possible more women were active in medicine, magic, and the healing arts than what was recorded a few thousand years ago. 

What is clear is ancient Egyptian elites placed immense value in writing down diagnostics and medico-magical treatments, which could have been used by anyone trained to read, male or female.

A timeline of ancient medical cannabis use

If we follow that shemshemet is cannabis, there are a number of applications cited by ancient papyri that make sense today, given modern cannabis’ track record of easing pain, nausea, and anxiety. Here’s what’s been found so far:  

1880 BCE: The Kahun Papyrus is considered the first textbook on gynecology and believed to be a copy of a much older document. While it doesn’t mention shemshemet directly, it does include fumigation, suppositories, edible medicines, and massages made from plant, animal, and mineral matter for almost all maladies of the uterus.

1700 BCE: According to ethnobotanist Ethan Russo, the Papyrus Ramesseum IIIhas the earliest mention of cannabis as an eye treatment: “celery, hemp, is ground and left in the dew overnight. Both eyes of the patient are to be washed with it early in the morning.”

1500 BCE: A complete medical tome, the Ebers Papyrus is 65 feet (20 meters) long, listing hundreds of spells and remedies. Shemshemet is mentioned:

  • To “cool the uterus”: shemshemet is ground in honey and used as a vaginal suppository. Whether this was for laboring women, menstruation, or a different gynecological issue is unclear.
  • To dress a painful toenail, shemshemet was mixed with honey, ochre, and other herbs as a poultice. (Many Egyptians worked barefoot in flooded agricultural fields, making infected toenails a common problem.)

1300 BCE: The Berlin Papyrus offers a treatment for aaa, thought to be schistosomiasis, or fluke worms, which enter the bloodstream via the soles of the foot. Driving away aaa included fumigating the patient with a combination of shemshemet, ground up insects, and grains. Another passage mentions cannabis made into an ointment for fever.

1200 BCE: The Chester Beatty Papyrus offers a rectal suppository made of shemshemet, goose fat, and acacia leaves to treat diarrhea (likely cholera). Another prescription for headaches is said to include cannabis.

800 BCE: In the Greek epic The Odyssey, Helen of Troy sprinkles into wine “a drug that can lull all pain and anger,” a remedy shown to her by an Egyptian woman. Called “nepenthe,” some scholars say the drug in question was opium, while others argue the effects described in the story are closer to cannabis.

In the first century CE, Greek historian Diodorus Siculus documented Egyptian women using nepenthic potions reminiscent of Homer’s Odyssey. Egyptian wine vessels excavated from the Coptic era (third and fourth centuries CE) also contain traces of cannabis, making it plausible nepenthes were cannabis-based.

100-200 CE: Ethan Russo offers that the word for cannabis changed to msˆyduring these centuries. A papyrus from this time mentions treating abscesses with cannabis poultices, and tumors with cannabis heated along with minerals and other plants. “The latter passage is particularly interesting in its specification for heated cannabis, suggesting decarboxylation of phytocannabinoid precursors might have been operative,” he wrote.

Egyptology is an evolving science. The painstaking academic care used today to uncover and classify artifacts, along with technologies that can back up educated guesses, were not in place when Western archaeologists lifted ancient objects from their resting places in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

As such, what has been written (in the West at least) about ancient Egypt can be refuted in the future with a new discovery or by re-evaluating old assumptions with a fresh perspective. The controversy surrounding ancient Egyptian use of cannabis, and medical women who wielded the herb, may not be inconclusive forever.  

Source:Leafly

CBD – Overcoming the Cannabis Stigma

CBD stigma

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Cannabidiol (CBD) has seen immense growth in popularity over the last few years, appearing in everything from fizzy drinks and face masks to chocolate and pillows! Yet, despite this popularity, CBD’s unshakable association with ‘marijuana’ or ‘cannabis’ continues to put some people off.

Although society is becoming more educated and open to the potential of CBD (and other cannabinoids), there remains a stigma around cannabis derivatives. So, we are aiming to debunk some of the myths and clarify the grey areas in the hope of getting rid of this stigma, once and for all.

CBD Does Not Get You High

A common misconception that people may have when they learn that CBD is derived from cannabis is that it will get you ‘high’. The most common cannabinoid found within the cannabis plant is THC. This is also the main psychoactive compound found within the plant. However, CBD – the second most prevalent cannabinoid – does not have the same psychoactive effects.

Although it would be wrong to claim that CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects – as it has been found to effect some brain activities, such as relieving feelings of anxiety – it does not cause a ‘high’ often associated with the consumption of cannabis. Instead, many users report feelings of subtle calm and relaxation without impairment to cognitive function.

CBD is legal in the UK

Another concern some people may have when discovering that CBD is derived from cannabis is the issue of legality. Cannabis has been illegal in the UK for decades, causing some confusion over its derivatives. However, CBD is 100% legal in the UK.

CBD can be – and usually is – extracted from low-THC cannabis plants, also known as hemp. Although everyone has probably heard of hemp, there are still some who don’t really know what it is. In the UK, it is legal to grow industrial hemp that contains less than 0.2% THC. These plants still contain significant amounts of CBD.

However, although it is legal to grow these plants and to use and sell CBD, it is not yet legal in the UK to extract CBD from hemp. Confused? You’re not the only one. You can find more information on this legal contradiction in our article about UK hemp laws. The important thing, though, is that CBD products are legal.

CBD oil is available to everyone

CBD oil and products can be bought online and in health shops throughout the UK. However, the strength and effectiveness of some of the CBD products on the market may be questionable.

CBD stigma
CBD oil ‘tincture’

This is down to a lack of regulations on the relatively new industry. Last year, The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis announced the launch of their venture, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI). This new cannabinoid association will work with its members to ensure they reach the high standards required to create an effective and trustworthy industry.

The difference between Cannabis oil and CBD oil

One of the main factors guiding the stigma around CBD products is its confusion with Cannabis Oil. But what is the difference?

The answer can be complicated, but as a rule, CBD oils contain only trace levels of THC. The official law relating to the production of CBD oil states that any product must not contain more than a maximum of 1mg of THC (no matter how big the container is). This rule has drawn criticism for being unclear and ineffective.

In comparison, products known as Cannabis oils may contain higher levels of THC, making them illegal in the UK and many other European countries. Cannabis oils or products containing more than trace levels of THC can only be attained in the UK with a medical cannabis prescription.

Cannabis was moved to schedule 2 of the Controlled Substances Act in November 2018, allowing for the medical use of the drug. However, there are yet to be any NHS prescriptions granted for medical cannabis prodict.

You do not have to smoke CBD

CBD and the products containing them can come in many forms. From oil and creams to lozenges, tablets, and teas. A lot of health-conscious people do not like the idea of smoking anything – so this is good news.

CBD oil is an extremely versatile product, as it can be taken in many forms, including those listed above. CBD ‘smokables’ are actually illegal in the UK, even if they contain 0% THC. Again, this is down to controversial laws that do not permit the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant to be utilised in any capacity. However, a new campaign to change this policy – Pleasant Lands – has been recently launched by Voletface.

Source: Canex

European Hemp Industry Body Approves Unprecedented CBD Studies

Members of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) — the only pan-European organization in the industrial hemp sector — approved “unprecedented” studies on the two most popular cannabinoids (CBD and THC) as part of the association’s joint novel food application.

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On Monday, members of this organization voted in favour of creating a “special contribution structure” that will unite hemp companies and help them cope with the “exorbitant costs” of researching and analyzing the toxicology of CBD and THC

In January 2019, EU authorities decided to classify hemp extracts and all hemp-derived products, which contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids as “novel foods.” This means that producers must have all their CBD supplements and edibles evaluated before the EU approves them for sale. 

The EIHA opposed this decision from the start, saying that all the parts of the hemp plant, and the compounds that naturally occur within the plant, are traditional foods and shouldn’t fall under EU Novel Food Regulation.

Once the decision was made official though, members of the EIHA decided to pool resources and submit a joint application with “a range of CBD extracts” for novel foods to EU authorities. The interest was rising with membership applications being sent “on almost a daily basis.” 

The European CBD market has potential with manufacturers being ready to meet rising demands and place their products on the market. In 2017, European hemp producers grew over 105,000 acres of the plant, up from 82,000 acres in 2016, the EIHA estimates. Even smaller European countries are poised to become major cannabis exporters. 

Last month, the organization revealed the cost and the scope of the application, which involves studies and laboratory analysis on the toxicology of cannabidiol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. 

EIHA estimates that the investment in the joint application will come up to €3.5 million ($3.9 million) over the following two to three years. This is an increase from the originally estimated cost of €1.8 million ($2 million). 

EIHA President Daniel Kruse stated that the only way CBD manufacturers can deal with the costs of the required toxicological analysis and studies is if they join forces. This move will not only help hemp companies handle expenses better, but it will also ensure that all EIHA members “benefit equally.”

It is still unclear which products will be included in the joint novel food application filed by the EIHA and which will be submitted separately to the UK’s Food Standards Authority and the European Food Safety Authority.

In the UK, CBD producers have until March 31, 2021, to collect the required data and submit their novel food application for validation by EU and UK authorities. 

2020 was supposed to be a big year for weed on the Old Continent. At the start of last year, the WHO made several recommendations regarding cannabis, one of which was recognizing the plant’s medical properties. However, cannabis legislation in Europe is stalled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as in the US where even the states anticipated to legalize adult-use in 2020 had to push back plans due to the coronavirus. 

Source: Lound Cloud Health

Buying CBD capsules in the UK

 

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CBD capsules are a great way to ensure that they can be used no matter where or how busy you are. One of the reasons that these capsules have become so popular in the UK is because they are easily portable and quick to consume. They are perfect for those days when someone doesn’t have the time to measure out oil tinctures.

Generally, CBD capsules are made from the same oil that is found in tinctures. Many brands only use a few additional ingredients to make CBD capsules. These are some of the sellers that offer CBD capsules in the UK.

Provacan

Provacan is one of the leading CBD brands in the UK. They say to make all of their products using full-spectrum CBD that has been sourced from EU-grown organic Cannabis Sativa plants, meaning that it can ensure purity and consistency throughout all of its products. 

The all-natural formula that Provacan uses to create its capsules results in both tasteless and smooth tablets, making them easy to consume.

Just like Provacan’s oil tinctures, the capsule is made using a combination of the plant extract and organic coconut oil. Only one extra ingredient is used to form the capsules: Pullulan capsule coating. It results in a very similar experience to what you would expect when using CBD oil tinctures.

These capsules are available in three strength options: 6mg, 24mg, and 96mg. It is exceedingly rare to find a specific brand that offers so many different strength options when shopping for capsules. As capsules are ready to use straight out of the packet and do not allow for customisation when it comes to dosage, having various options is very important. Speak with a healthcare professional who will advise what’s best for you.

CBDfx

CBDfx has designed its gel caps in a way to slot perfectly into your daily vitamin regimen. Made using high-quality, full-spectrum CBD oil, these capsules make an effective addition to the dietary supplements, providing you with a wide range of potential health benefits.

All of the CBD used in their capsules is sourced from organic farms and undergoes a CO2 extraction method to ensure that all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids are retained. By using industrial hemp plants, CBDfx ensures that its full-spectrum CBD is rich in terpenes, amino acids and fatty acids while also containing less than 0.3% THC.

CBDfx has made taking CBD as simple as possible, with each capsule containing a precise pre-measured 25mg. You can even choose between capsules in 750mg tubs or eight-count (200mg) packets that you can carry with you wherever you go.

Love Hemp

Their capsules are packed with abundant natural cannabinoids, terpenes and phytonutrients, making them an effective addition to the dietary supplement routine. Love Hemp has two capsules for customers to choose from: the standard CBD soft gel capsules, and the immune CBD vegan capsules. Both capsules are made using a rich hemp extract that is guaranteed to be completely free from THC.

The regular soft gel capsules are available in two concentrations, with a choice between 300mg and 750mg containers. Both options come in an easy to transport container that contains 30 capsules. The vegan capsules come in the same super portable container. However, each pack contains 60 capsules. The vegan capsules are packed with 10mg of broad-spectrum CBD, as well as essential vitamins and minerals to support a vegan diet.

Not only are these capsules suitable for vegans, but they are also gluten-free, making them a better option for anyone with special dietary needs.

Holland & Barrett

Holland & Barrett has one of the widest range of CBD capsules available in the UK, featuring many popular brands. The shop’s flagship brand, Jacob Hooy, is the perfect option for anyone looking to try these capsules for the first time.

There are four Jacob Hooy capsule options when shopping at Holland & Barrett, allowing you to choose both how many capsules you wish to purchase and the dosage of each pill. Customers can choose between 10mg, 15mg and 20mg capsules, offering complete control.

Jacob Hooy capsules are made using vegan-friendly ingredients, including a blend of hemp seed oil and hemp paste. Jacob Hooy’s vegetarian, gastric acid-resistant capsules are easy to swallow and discreet, making them ideal for times when you need a small dose of CBD while on the go.

The editorial unit

The material contained in this article is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of this article’s information without taking appropriate professional advice.

Source: The Up Coming 

Cannabis industry in turmoil but pharma, CBD are the real long-term plays (GWPH, ACB, CRON, WEED)

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  • Cannabis has always been relatively easy to grow, for a cash crop. The plant is native to the Himalayas, from the Asian steppes around Mongolia to the border of Afghanistan.

    It grows on all four continents. In the wild, it will grow at high altitudes, in cold, dry climates or in hot, humid island fields. It grows in soils both thin and fertile.

    The oldest written record of cannabis harks back to its use as a surgical anaesthetic in China in 4000BC, while the Vikings and medieval Germans used it as a painkiller for everything from toothache to childbirth.

    It was several hundred years ago, 1753 to be exact when the famous Swedish botanist Carl Linneaus became the first man to classify Cannabis Sativa in terms of modern taxonomy. But people have been using the plant in all its forms for over 12,000 years.

    Slow growth

    The ease with which it can be grown means that when industrial production comes into play, massive oversupply becomes an issue. It’s not yet clear that there is a huge and growing market for adult use. Estimates for the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the industry between now and 2025 vary from around 12% to 17%.

    One liquidity analysis report by weed investment bank Ello Capital — staffed by former JP Morgan execs — found that Canadian cannabis producers have on average just six months’ worth of cash, compared to US companies that have 14 months of operating capital.

    Market expectations have been tempered and stock prices have compressed, with significant concentration and focus on liquidity concerns in the industry,” they wrote. This is a far cry from the speculative boom that grew up around weed stocks as regulations fell away two years ago.

    All 20 companies surveyed by Ello have seen their share prices fall by more than 45% from their all-time highs. 

    The big picture

    Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB; TSE: ACB) is a useful cypher for the market at large. The Canadian producer has seen its cash burn increase and reserves shrink with heavy operating losses.

    Investors are concerned it could run out of money entirely.

    It was a popular punt with speculators in the early days of the industry, when Canada legalised recreational cannabis use in 2018.

    And sovereign wealth funds including South Korea and the Swiss central bank have recently upped their stakes.

    More recently, things have not been shaping up well.

    Shares of the Edmonton company have fallen by 94% on the Toronto Stock Exchange over the last 12 months, from $140 in May 2019 to trade at less than $9 today.

    Weak Q2 results, before the coronavirus hit, saw Aurora’s revenue fall 26% and it reported a loss of more than $80.2 million, more than double the $39.7 million loss from Q1.

    After seven years in the role, CEO Terry Booth stepped down in February 2020 while this disastrous set of results worked their way through the market. The company also shed 500 jobs amid a larger cost-cutting exercise. March filings reported by Bloomberg show that Booth sold off more than two-thirds of his stake in Aurora.

    Then came news of the plans to make a 1-for-12 reverse stock split. The New York Stock Exchange had threatened to delist Aurora because its stock had fallen so heavily, trading below $1 for more than 30 days in a row.

    Aurora then diluted shareholders again with another placing.

    CBD switch

    The Aurora story took another turn with better than expected Q3 results. Prices surged 53% on 19 May on volume 1,000% higher than its average, with 102 million shares changing hands. And yet while revenues were at the top end of estimates Aurora still reported steep losses.

    The upswing pulled up the rest of the weed market, with Ottawa’s Hexo (NYSE: HEXO) adding 50% and the cannabis ETF THCX rising nearly 9%

    Brokers are heavily split on the company’s potential. Ladenburgh Thalmann said, “We think ACB can become a solid cash-flow generator simply from the Canadian operations.”

    But Jeffries, a much larger brokerage house, downgraded Aurora to ‘underperform’ following the Q3 reveal, saying a re-rating was “neither sustainable nor justified.

    Analyst Owen Bennett wrote in a client note: “We think near-term sales and gross margin headwinds are not fully appreciated.”

    Aurora’s long-awaited $40 million all-share takeovers of Reliva, a CBD manufacturer, failed to quell the broker’s fears for the future.

    Bennett added: “There is still no permanent CEO to lead this CBD push, the CBD space is experiencing significant headwinds currently

    [and]

    there is further dilution at a questionable multiple.”

    But the growth of the CBD space is undeniable. Reliva sells products like gummies, CBD water, chews and gels in 20,000 locations across the States.

    CBD is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. Few long-term peer-reviewed studies exist, but anecdotally it is quite widely used by athletes to treat inflammation injuries and is often touted as a cure-all for pain management. The US NFL has recently relaxed its policy on players who test positive for THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a high, while former players continue to lobby for CBD’s legal use in the game.

    The 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump, effectively legalised the use of industrial hemp in the US. But it did not quite remove all obstacles to the wide-scale sale of CBD products. The Food and Drug Administration still has an issue with the way CBD products are marketed to the public with unproven claims of therapeutic benefit.

    And this regulatory uncertainty hit another weed producer recently: Cronos Group. It told investors in a recent conference call that it had put back the launch of a CBD brand because of regulatory uncertainty.

    Cronos bought upscale CBD startup Lord Jones for a whopping $300 million in 2019. It was widely noted at the time that the takeover price was at least 100 times the junior company’s previous year revenue of $2 million to $4 million.

    Bigger = Better?

    Canopy (TSE: WEED), by far the largest weed producer by market cap, also cut 500 jobs in May, closing two grow centres as it reported slower than expected sales. This defies earlier interest from beer, wine and spirits giant Constellation Group, which since 2017 has totalled around $4 billion in investments.

    When depressive moves like this are being made, and the market still sells off, it’s a potential sign that there’s long-term value to be had.

    Brokers, in general, are fairly downbeat on the short-term. Production is again the issue. Referencing Canopy, Jeffries analysts Owen Bennet and Ryan Tomkins wrote recently:

    It has been clear that [the company’s] vast production space has been far in excess of what’s currently necessary.” Canopy’s annual capacity is two and half times larger than the 200,000kg total sales, they added in a client note.

    ETFs

    Exchange traded funds have proven a popular method of exposure to the sector. But investors have not had a happy time here, either.

    The world’s largest weed ETF is ETFMG Alternative Harvest (NYSEARCA:MJ), whose top weighting is in Nasdaq-listed British biopharma group GW (NASDAQ:GWPH). Meanwhile, Cronos Group (TSE:CRON) — down 75% from its 2019 all-time high — Corbus, Canopy and Tilray round out the top five.

    The losses across the cannabis industry are pretty stark. The Alternative Harvest ETF’s net assets have dropped from $673 million to $506.3 million since the start of 2020. The ETF has witnessed three-year losses of 22.74% and is down a crushing 64.48% in the last 12 months.

    The second largest weed ETF, Canada’s Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences, fell by 33% last year.

    Brighter future

    However, there is one bright spot to note, and it points to growth away from generalised adult use and towards pharmaceuticals.

    Recent Q1 2020 results from GW Pharmaceuticals show that it sold far more of its cannabis-derived epilepsy drug Epidiolex than expected. 

    Q1 net sales of the drug reached $116.1 million, and there are commercial launches in France, Spain and Italy on track for later this year.

    Net losses were slashed from $50 million last quarter to $8 million this time around, while revenues hit $120.6 million, up from $36 million in the same quarter last year.

    While clinical programs have been delayed to the second half of the year because of the Covid-19 restrictions, there are several significant trials in the pipeline.

    We already know that pharma firms will become systemically important between now and 2030. If I were thinking of a cannabis play, GWPH would be at the top of my list.

Source: Evening Standard

Tech start-up using magic mushroom extracts to treat clinical depression raises £64million from investors including billionaire Paypal founder Peter Thiel

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  • Compass Pathways researching psilocybin, which is found in ‘magic mushroom’
  • The company plans to trial a synthetic form on patients with clinical depression
  • If it is a success and approved, Compass hopes to market the product by 2025
  • The firm is being backed by investors such as billionaire Paypal founder Peter Thiel 

Tech firm Compass Pathways has raised the money from its investors, which include Peter Thiel, the billionaire Paypal co-founder.

Its researchers are carrying out studies into psychoactive substance psilocybin, found in the wild-growing psilocybin mushroom – a class A drug in the UK.

The company hopes to carry out clinical trials on patients using a synthetic form of psilocybin, in the hope the compound can be used to treat clinical depression, anorexia and bipolar disorder.

American entrepreneur George Goldsmith is chief executive of Compass Pathways, which he founded in 2016 with wife Ekaterina Malievskaia (pictured together)

American entrepreneur George Goldsmith is chief executive of Compass Pathways, which he founded in 2016 with wife Ekaterina Malievskaia (pictured together)

If future trials are a success, the company hopes to have the treatment on the market by 2025.

American entrepreneur George Goldsmith, chief executive of Compass Pathways, which he founded in 2016 with wife Ekaterina Malievskaia, told The Times: ‘People with depression get caught in negative thought loops.

‘What psilocybin can do is reset the thought loops, in combination with therapy.

‘The medicine creates an openness and a new way of looking at things.’

According to statistics by the World Health Organisation, there are around 100 million patients worldwide whose depression does not respond to standard treatments.

In more than two-thirds of cases, these treatments involve prescription drugs or a referral to a mental health experts, including psychiatrists. 

Compass Pathways raised £64m from investors to carry out trials on psilocybin, the active ingredient in 'magic mushrooms' (above)

Compass Pathways raised £64m from investors to carry out trials on psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’ (above)

Compass Pathways’ treatment involves patients taking a man-made version of psilocybin – branded COMP360 – while being cared for by a specialist.

A trial last year on 89 people, run by King’s College in London, showed ‘no adverse side effects’ to the treatment.

King’s College London scientists found doses of the compound were safe when taken by healthy volunteers.

Some patients experienced a ‘high’ similar to one endured by those who take the party drug, having hallucinations and euphoria during a six-hour ‘trip’, but no negative effects were reported.

Now Compass Pathways plans to run a new trial, involving more than 200 patients at sites across Europe and North America.

The trial would move its treatment closer to approval from American regulator the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as regulators in Europe. 

The firm has been backed financially by investors including Paypal Founder Mr Thiel, who has invested around £25million, as well as German Biotech firm Atai Life Sciences and Japanese pharmaceuticals group, Otsuka.

Over recent years there has been a surge of interest in using MDMA and LSD for hard-to-treat issues.

A medicinal nasal spray which contains a synthetic form of ketamine was approved for depression last year.

As well as depression, studies are looking into the efficacy of the substances on PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and alcohol dependency.

What are ‘magic mushrooms’? 

A Psilocybin mushroom is a mushroom which contains psilocybin and psilocin.

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is a hallucinogen.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it causes visual or auditory hallucinations, but changes in sensual perception of their environment.

There are thought to be around 150 species of ‘magic mushroom’ worldwide, around a dozen of which are in Europe.

But many poisonous mushrooms look very similar to ‘magic mushrooms’ and it’s easy for pickers to mistake them – sometimes with fatal consequences.

The most common ‘magic mushroom’ in the UK are known as ‘liberty caps’ and are often dried out once picked before they are either eaten or brewed into tea. 

Some people can get mild hallucinations from taking the mushrooms, which are classified as a Class A drug in the UK – making it illegal to have, give away or sell.

Possession can get you up to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Source: FRANK 

Source: Evening Standard

Could CBD help ease your covanxiety?

It’s boom time for CBD as the capital looks for ways to relax in lockdown. Phoebe Luckhurst has a bluffer’s guide to mellowing out…

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The world just won’t stop, will it? Duly, nor will the anxiety, the sleeplessness and the unshakable sense of all being unwell. There is no panacea — unless someone has a secret passage into an alternative reality in which none of this happened. Anyone?

Failing that, you could also try CBD. Advocates (and there are many) say it relieves pain, calms racing minds and can help you sleep better. For those who missed the wellness train the first time it left the station CBD — or cannabidiol — is a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants, which doesn’t contain the active THC that gets you high. And in lockdown, there’s been a boom: CBD brand Trip — which makes CBD cold brews and oils — reports that its sales have doubled since March 23, and it has witnessed a 300 per cent increase in website traffic engagement.

Business magazine Fortune observes a rise in what it’s calling the comfort economy: luxury loungewear, bedding — and CBD gummies. Market research firm Brightfield Group projects the European CBD market will grow to nearly $1.7 billion (almost £1.4 billion) by 2023 — the UK and Austria are currently its biggest customers.

Relax: these are some of the products you can order to your home now.

 
Trip’s new CBD oil

Oil me up

Trip’s new CBD oils — available in wild mint and orange blossom flavours — are available to order now, ahead of their launch on May 1. They’re gluten-free, palm-oil free and vegan (obvs), and are blended with chamomile — dispense a few droplets under your tongue, or add to coffee. They are available in original strength (300mg CBD) or strong (1,000mg) (drink-trip.com). Or, if your joints are creaky after too many bedroom HIIT classes, try Grass & Co’s Ease CBD Hemp Body Oil, a blend of tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint and arnica designed to soothe weary muscles (selfridges.com).  Pure Sport CBD’s Muscle & Joint Balm includes a blend of lavender, peppermint and lemongrass and is designed to be massaged into tight muscles to speed up recovery (puresportcbd.co.uk).

Chill out

Take the edge off your caffeine high with a CBD cold brew coffee. Zealots love Hamilton Street Cold Brew, which in peacetime is sold in zeitgeist wellness emporium Glow Bar in Mortimer Street (remember Soho? Does it still exist?). For now, you can order from their website (hamiltonstreetcoldbrew.com). Meanwhile Trip promises that its cold brew, made with Guatemalan beans and brewed in east London, delivers “jitter-free energy” (and, as it’s served up in a can, it’s also 100 per cent recyclable).

 
Pureearth’s Balance CBD shot

Feeling juicy

Or, you could double up and get your five a day at the same time. Try Purearth’s new CBD shots, Calm CBD Chaga and Cacao and Balance CBD Pineapple and Nettle (purearth.co.uk). Intune’s grapefruit and mint drink is a blend of CBD botanicals, fruit juice and spring water. Get some rays (in your living room), fill a tumbler with ice and lie back and let the good times roll (planetorganic.com).

Source: Evening Standard

Developing skills for the post-coronavirus world

8 Job Skills To Succeed In A Post-Coronavirus World

With nearly all of us at home and plenty of us with time on our hands, now is a great time to invest in yourselves with some training.

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The Government has launched free training courses, which will help ensure candidates have the best prospects when the crisis is over. Encouraging agency workers and other candidates to take advantage of these free courses will pay off in the long term, improving their skill set, job prospects as well as the relationship with your agency.

For recruiters, these free courses can complement more focused learning such as REC’s training courses to improve your teams’ skills. While you can’t mandate training for furloughed team members and candidates, they might be thankful for the opportunity to upskill.

New government Skills Toolkit

The Government has launched The Skills Toolkit. This online platform gives free digital and numeracy courses to everyone. The courses, which range from beginner level to advanced, are provided by organisations such as Google, the Open University and Cisco.

With many candidates looking to use this period productively, accessing this tool and getting their CVs ready for the post-crisis economy is to be encouraged.

Importance of digital skills

Maths and digital skills are highly valued by employers. It’s not just technology jobs that require digital skills. It has become a requirement across all sectors and at all skill levels, with an estimated 82% of job vacancies requiring some form of digital skills.

However, there is strong evidence that many of us lack the basics. A 2019 study by Lloyds Bank found that 17.3 million working people (53%) in the UK do not have the essential digital skills that are required for their work.

At the other end of the scale, demand for people with high-level digital skills is greater than the supply of suitably qualified employees, and the gap is growing. In a CBI report from last year, 99% of businesses said that they will need more advanced digital skills in the next five years.

Recruitment training

For recruiters who are looking to upskill, the REC has a great range of training courses. Due to the current situation, our training courses are all online and there is a 25% discount. These range from an introductory course on recruitment practices to advanced courses in recruitment law.

The Department for Education has asked for REC members to promote the new toolkit to candidates currently furloughed. Please do encourage candidates to have a look at the courses on offer, especially via LinkedIn.

 

 New study to look at the impact of COVID-19 on cannabis patients

 A new study will be looking at the impact of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 – on patients who use medical cannabis.

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A preliminary study looking at the impact of COVID-19 on cannabis patients, led by the University of Miami, will be utilising epidemiology expertise, and looking at data collected on the patterns and trends of medical cannabis patients during the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently, medical cannabis patients are facing delays in the procurement of medicines due to the crisis, making them a vulnerable group that may be impacted by the virus.

Cannabis use in a time of crisis

The researchers will be using an anonymous survey to obtain from medical cannabis patients regarding their mental health and physical health, as well as examining changes in patient’s frequency of use of cannabis, dosage, and route of administration based on COVID-19-related closures and updates.

Denise C Vidot, PhD, trained epidemiologist and assistant professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, is leading the preliminary study. She said: “The global qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, though not uniform, all include individuals with compromised immune systems and other chronic health conditions. Therefore, this is a population that we cannot forget about in our joint effort to ‘flatten the curve’.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that population-based data is vital to make informed decisions. My team and I understand that the plural of anecdote is not data. So, we are combining our skills to do our part to provide that data. Our goal is to have cannabis users from every country complete this survey, so the data is more generalisable.”

Another topic that experts will be investigating is the sharing of inhaled cannabis products, such as joints and vapes, among users – what could be a contributing factor to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

By Stephanie Price

Source: Health Europa

Super Drugs for Superbugs: How Cannabinoid Science Links CBG to MRSA Treatment

For nearly 40 years, the antimicrobial effects of cannabis-sourced compounds have been known to researchers. A new study sheds light on the particularly potent efficacy of an up-and-coming cannabinoid, CBG.

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Super Drugs for Superbugs: How Cannabinoid Science Links CBG to MRSA Treatment

An increase of mutating microbes around the globe has led medical experts to call antibiotic resistance an “apocalyptic threat” and raises an alarm for needed research into finding new solutions now. The most recent antibacterial drug developments date back more than 30 years at this point. With many of the chemical components of cannabis known to have antimicrobial effects as a way for the plant to protect itself, research into how these benefits can translate into the human disease has begun in earnest. In terms of antimicrobial action, one such cannabinoid, cannabigerol (CBG), has proven particularly potent.

The antimicrobial and antifungal implications of CBG were first investigated in 1982 by the Elsohly et al team at the University of Mississippi. But research remained superficial until larger concentrations of the compound could be easily obtained, either from lab synthesis or access to the CBG-rich plants that are now being cultivated after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

In a 2008 study on antibacterial cannabinoids, investigators demonstrated potent activity against a variety of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains by both CBD and CBG via topical application. The researchers also pointed out that the potential synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes, many of which also have antimicrobial potential, should be considered to improve patient outcomes.

Additionally, a 2018 study reported that endocannabinoids, like anandamide (AEA), are able to inhibit the spread of MRSA infections by decreasing biofilm formation which can increase the spread of bacterial colonization on the skin. Drugs that mimic the effects of AEA in the body, like THC, or drugs that inhibit the degradation of AEA in the body by the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), may prove agents of promise in the fight against biofilm-associated MRSA infections.

In recent news, a study out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario published in bioRxiv preprint demonstrated that CBG was more effective against MRSA USA300, a highly virulent and prevalent form, than the four other major cannabinoids tested: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), and cannabinol (CBN).

As effective as vancomycin, a drug widely considered the last line of defence against drug-resistant bacteria, CBG was shown to be successful at treating MRSA. Unlike vancomycin, which has already begun to exhibit bacterial resistance, this superbug displayed no such energy for overcoming the CBG therapy. The cannabinoid was also more potent than conventional antibiotics in inhibiting the thin, slimy biofilms associated with disease persistence and against dormant “persister” cells that have a role in chronic and relapsing infection, rapidly eradicating populations below detectable levels.

More Than MRSA

Additionally, researchers in this new study were able to further elucidate the beneficial effects of CBG against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative drug-resistant bacteria. These two broad categories of bacteria classification are associated with cell wall permeability. The double cell membrane of Gram-negative organisms makes treatment trickier. Without a little help from compounds that can dissolve the outer shell while preserving the inner cell layer, conventional antibiotic treatments have a difficult time getting through. And regular mutations in drug-resistant types make treatment nearly impossible.

Gram-negative bacteria make-up 75% of the antibiotic-resistant infections highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the study’s authors, and are responsible for an array of deleterious diseases, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea as well as pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic plagues. Particularly virulent strains like Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause deadly healthcare-associated infections like pneumonia and various sepsis syndromes.

Once investigators demonstrated the ability of CBG to effectively work on the inner membrane of Gram-positive MRSA in a rodent model, they tested its efficacy on Gram-negative E. coli after the outer membrane was made permeable by the addition of polymyxin B, an antibiotic already in use to treat Gram-negative infections. By breaking down the disease cell membrane, polymyxin B provided CBG access to its point of action. While these results are significant, serious side effects are associated with this added compound, including kidney failure, whereas one of the most promising aspects of cannabinoid therapies is the low rate of both serious side effects and toxicity to healthy cells.

The results of the study demonstrated the potential for CBG therapy against MRSA infection and disease persistence by inhibiting bacteria, repressing biofilm formation, eradicating already present biofilms, and effectively eliminating problematic persister cells. The non-intoxicating, non-sedative nature of the cannabis constituent further highlights its therapeutic potential against drug-resistant bacteria with a very low rate of resistance development. Now that CBG has been made more readily available to researchers, human trials will be the next step in determining whether this super drug is an effective therapy against superbugs.

Source: Cannabis Dispensary

CBD athleisure: Does Acabada Premium ProActiveWear infused with Cannabidiol actually work?

CBD is everywhere these days, whether it’s mixed into your morning smoothie or into your favourite face cream. Now, one brand is weaving into the fabric of your shorts.

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 Yes, you read that right – CBD, or Cannabidiol, is part of the newly-launched athleisure line Acabada to make recovery part of your workout. 

Each piece of the clothing line is made with fabric infused with up to 25 grams of 99.9 per cent pure CBD.

Microscopic CBD droplets are first wrapped in a protective polymer coating, much like a chic science project. This creates a ‘shell’ for the CBD, which prevents it from evaporating while you sweat. The microcapsules are then embedded into the fibre of the fabric, which stays sleek and lightweight.

 
(Acabada)

The infused fabrics placed throughout the clothing are meant to align with major muscle groups. And once you start moving, they activate accordingly. The CBD targets muscles, making it easier for you to recover from tough workouts. It’s supposed to fight post-workout soreness, so the next time you go to an intensive workout you don’t have that same inability to walk upstairs the next day.

So do they work? I gave the super chic biker shorts a test drive at two separate workouts, wearing them to a workout with my personal trainer as well as to an outdoors Pilates class. And while the classes certainly weren’t Dogpound, both were intense. The shorts did not make the workout easier (unfortunately) but I wasn’t quite as sore as usual. I’d have to take them to a boot camp class to know for sure how they aid in recovery, but that also means that I’d have to do a boot camp class.

(Acabada)

Even if you don’t believe in the healing powers of CBD (it’s said to help with insomnia and anxiety), the shorts, leggings and tanks are still chic.

Elevated bike shorts especially are hard to find in the athleisure department, however, Acabada delivers. Their shorts are just tight enough to have the Spanx-like power necessary to wear them exclusively with a sports bra, with pleather-esque details to take you from barre to bar. To be honest, I’d wear them with or without the CBD – because their magic power is really sucking everything in.. 

 
(Acabada)

If you’re worried about sweating out the CBD (as I was), it doesn’t disappear easily. The CBD is said to last through 40 different wash and wear cycles – and let’s be honest, most people don’t wash their leggings that regularly.

Unfortunately, if you decide to try the latest Victoria’s Secret-angel approved workout – you’re still going to feel it the next day. These pieces do help recovery go by a little bit easier though and you’ll look stylish in the process.

Source: Evening Standard

CBD Article – Robert Burton

“As adviser’s top investors in the cannabinoid space, we have seen, in the blink of the eye, prices for CBD isolate fall through the floor…”

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As adviser’s top investors in the cannabinoid space we have seen, in the blink of the eye  (well the last six months), prices for CBD isolate fall through the floor; from quoted prices in excess of  $10,000/kg to less than $1,000. This is a direct result of oversupply. As an international consultancy, we are constantly approached by new growers and processors and wholesaler/retailers from around the world bringing more and more product to the market.

Those using CDB in their products cannot find distribution fast enough to mop up the supply, and with major retailers nervous about the regulatory environment, access to consumers is skewed to greater reliance on direct sales than it ought to be. The good news is the oversupply is being solved in part by the numerous new entrants piling into the market, however, without sufficient distribution, this merely increases stock holdings and consequently working capital stretch.

The demand growth for CBD products remains strong with an oversupply of product the re-balancing will inevitably require a reduction of payers in the market. The latter will happen from a combination of a reduction in investment and the liquidation of some of the current players. This always happens in new markets but appears to be happening in this market particularly soon after its inception, but that is probably as a result of just how many players have piled in looking for a quick buck.

There is nothing new in this market dynamic and the expected result will be a rebalancing of supply both at the grower and processor level and of wholesalers. Those with deep pockets and a long-term view will be fine, those with short demands on cash (maybe exacerbated by new regulatory costs) may need a chat and a cup of tea with their investors.

Source: Ginger CBD & Cannabinoid Science

By Robert Burton

A list of the best CBD oil companies in the UK in 2020   

CBD oils are ill-understood by many of the public in the UK, and the misinformation isn’t helped by outlandish claims made by CBD oil companies online and in health and wellness stores.

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There are few government regulations in place to check on companies selling CBD Oil.

A recent BBC investigation of Trust Me I’m a Doctor uncovered that low-quality CBD oils are common both online and in stores – some of which contain no CBD at all.

Consumers are left asking questions such as “how to buy the best CBD oil?”, “how to buy the best CBD oil near me” and for those people that are new to CBD, “what is CBD?”.

So here is a guide to some of the best-known brands currently on the market to help you decide which is the best product for you, and information on how to make sure you buy the best CBD oil possible.

Best CBD Oil Companies in the UK

Here’s a list of the best CBD oils available to buy in the UK

 

  1. Balance CBD

Balance CBD’s premium oil tinctures are described as one of the best CBD oils for both beginners and seasoned CBD users.

Produced by a small family-run company, they started off in the USA, won many accolades and have now expanded to the UK.

All of their CBD oils are made in Edinburgh, they’ve spent a long time perfecting their products. All CBD products are 100% organic and vegan, their CBD products are free from artificial flavours, additives, preservatives, sweeteners, gluten and animal testing.

All customers have access to a helpful beginner’s guide to CBD which contains information about CBD, dosage, and how to effectively use CBD.

Unlike most of the CBD oil companies in the UK, Balance CBD oils come in a 30ml bottle rather than a 10ml bottle, with CBD strengths varying from 500mg to 1500mg. This means that you get more CBD for your money.

As well as this, they provide a copy of their lab certificate so you can see exactly what is in the CBD oil that you’re consuming.

The company’s CBD Muscle Relief Cream, one of their many CBD products was recently selected to be featured in the 2020 Golden Globe Awards Gift Bag and they’ve also featured in the Manchester Evening News.

  1. Original Alternative CBD

Original Alternative CBD is one of the oldest companies operating in the UK CBD oil market. They have developed a reputation for top-quality CBD and providing customers with a great experience.

They offer a range of different CBD oils that are made from hemp that’s grown organically across Europe.

Their products leave a strong earthy taste in your mouth and are available in dosages from 500mg to 1200mg. They’re a great choice for seasoned and experienced CBD users.

Original Alternative CBD provide high-quality CBD oil, they are well respected and reviewed and with every bottle, you’re able to see their verified lab results.

  1. CBDFx

Well known in the CBD industry around the world, CBDFx has made its way to the UK CBD oil market.

They use the top-notch CO2 method to extract their CBD oils and their products are made using organic hemp. You can buy them in the UK in-store and online.

They offer a wide range of CBD oil flavours for you to try and work out what the best CBD oil is for you. So if you don’t like the natural earthy flavours, you can choose to take CBD oil in a flavour such as lemon, blueberry or lychee!

However, the flip side is that CBDFx can be a little expensive with the cheapest CBD oil for sale at £60. All of their CBD oil bottles contain a QR code to let you see exactly what is in the bottle, so you can be sure that you’re getting a great product!

  1. Endoca

Endoca sells a great range of CBD oils that are created from some of the finest organic hemp extracts.

Endoca has one of the best CBD oils for beginners – a 300mg CBD oil tincture that sells for around £30, and another extra strength CBD 1500mg CBD oil for seasoned users which sells for around £120.

Endoca CBD oils are not available in any flavours – they’re raw and strong. If you find the taste to be too bitter, then we found that Endoca CBD oil is great to mix in with your evening meal.

Endoca also sells a great range of other CBD products, such as capsules and balms. All of their products have been lab-tested, and their high quality means that they are included on our list of best CBD oils.

  1. Provacan

Provacan is one of the best CBD oil companies in the UK. Provacan is one of the few CBD oil companies in the UK that let you buy CBD oils in a variety of different dosage levels. They have CBD oils suited to new users, intermediate users, and power users.

In the CBD industry, Provacan is known for its high-quality products. They use organic hemp sourced from Europe, and every CBD product is lab tested.

One of the only downsides is that these CBD oils can be a little expensive – for example, one 600mg CBD oil sets you back £40, however, they do offer fast shipping if you buy CBD oil online.

Along with CBD oil, Provacan sells a wide range of other CBD products which means that there’s more than one way in which you can get your dose of CBD!

 

What to look for when buying CBD Oil

  • There are several different things you need to consider before you buy CBD oil online, or in store.
  • Ingredient Quality: What ingredients were used to create the oil? Where were the ingredients sourced from? What quality-control measures are enacted to ensure purity?
  • Taste: How does the product taste? Is there a lingering aftertaste?
  • Transparency: What is the availability of information about the product? Does the CBD oil company make its means of production, third-party test results, and sales/ refund policies clear?
  • User Reputation: What is the reputation of the brand? Does the CBD oil company have good reviews and comments across the internet?
  • Customer Service: What is the CBD oil company’s customer service like? Are they responsive? Do they provide clarity, and is the brand’s customer service team helpful?
  • Website Experience: How easy is it to use their website while browsing? How easy is it to select products and place orders?

Frequently Asked Questions About CBD

What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is found within the Cannabis and Hemp Plant.

There is often confusion between cannabis and hemp.

The key difference is that cannabis, also referred to as marijuana is used mainly as a recreational drug because it is abundant with the compound THC – tetrahydrocannabinol.

Hemp, on the other hand, is abundant with CBD and very little THC. For this reason, hemp is used for CBD products, and it’s why only CBD products derived from hemp are legal in the UK.

How Does CBD Work?

Our bodies contain a network of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system helps regulate various other systems of the body, such as our nervous system and immune system. It is also tied to virtually every organ that we have.

Think of CBD as a power source that is used by the endocannabinoid system. As CBD is consumed, it is transformed into endocannabinoids which is believed to help the endocannabinoid system to function more efficiently.

This is why some people feel a balance within their bodies after they take CBD , a feeling which may be attributed to the fact that  humans, along with other mammals, have dedicated cannabinoid receptors.

Is CBD Legal in the UK?

Yes. However despite this, there is a great deal of confusion around the legal status of CBD Oil in the UK.

The vast majority of the 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are listed as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act – however, CBD Oil is an exception.

In 2018, the Home Office said that CBD derived from European industrial hemp is legal if it contains less than 0.2% THC.

 

Industrial hemp is a plant that can be used in building materials and clothing; however, CBD oil can also be extracted from these plants as a legal cannabinoid, and this is the reason CBD oil is legal in the UK.

Does CBD Make You High?

No, CBD oil does not make you high – if you buy from trusted CBD oil companies.

CBD oil is only legal if it contains less than 0.2% THC. This is not enough to get you high. However, there have been cases of people failing drug tests. This is because they bought CBD that was incorrectly labeled, if you buy CBD oil from a trusted source and you know what’s in the bottle, you will not experience a high.

Our list of best CBD oil companies also contains THC free CBD oil. If you take THC free CBD oil, then there is no chance that you will get high.

What is the difference between Full-Spectrum and THC-Free CBD Oil? (Heading 3)

THC-Free CBD oil is exactly what the name says. It is CBD oil, without any THC. The THC has been completely removed from the bottle of CBD oil.

Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, contains all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.

The benefit of full-spectrum CBD is something called the entourage effect, which we will explain next.

What is the entourage effect in CBD?

The entourage effect is essentially all of the cannabinoids interacting with each other and working together.

Cannabinoids work together to create unique effects, this combined synergy is referred to as the entourage effect.

How do I use CBD Oil?

CBD is a versatile supplement, and there are several different ways to consume it. Some people add it to their food or drink, others just use the provided droppers and apply it under their tongue.

Applying the full dose of CBD oil directly under your tongue, and holding it for 60-90 seconds before swallowing is the best method to use CBD oil.

This maximizes the bioavailability and ensures proper circulation through your body’s systems.

How do I store CBD Oil?

When CBD oil isn’t being used, it should be stored in an area with minimal heat and moisture, such as the pantry or a cupboard. Some people like to keep their CBD oil in the fridge; however, this might thicken the oil over time. If this happens, simply run the bottle under warm water and then shake it to bring back that original consistency.

Make sure you buy the best CBD oil

There are many CBD oil companies in the market. As the recent BBC investigation showed, not all of them have consumers’ best interests in mind.

At the end of the day, the best way to buy CBD oil is to do your research – buying CBD oil from the high street means that you won’t have access to lab reports, so choosing the best CBD oil for you might mean buying CBD online.

However, even if you buy CBD oil online, you have to be careful.

Always make sure that you can verify what’s in the bottle, QR codes and lab reports help with this.

The brands featured in this article are well-reviewed and talked about.

 

By Fionnuala Bourke

Source: Wales Online 

Medical cannabis treatments in the UK to be limited over doctors’ fears and lack of regulation despite the new law

“‘It’s frustrating because these families have tried everything available to them but their doctors still won’t prescribe medical cannabis,’ says Hannah Deacon’

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Only a minority of patients who stand to benefit from potentially life-changing medicinal cannabis prescriptions will be able to access it after laws change on 1 November, experts have warned.

Despite the potential to help thousands with conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea from cancer treatment, The Independent has learned that most doctors are so far refusing to prescribe.

Medicinal cannabis prescriptions have already been approved for Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, two boys with rare forms of epilepsy whose parents’ campaigns were instrumental in changing legislation.

But other families in a similar position who have applied for licenses through a temporary approval panel are being “frustrated” by flat refusals from their doctors.

Alfie Dingley’s mother, Hannah Deacon, helped coordinate a public campaign to access the cannabis extract helping Alfie “live a normal life” and now works as an ambassador for cannabis campaign group End Our Pain.

She has been working with 16 families who have been trying to access cannabis for their epileptic children, but in all but two cases the families were refused by their doctor when they asked to try the treatment, while the families who had their paediatrician’s support were rejected by the temporary approval panel and told to try a medicine not currently licensed in the UK.

“It’s very frustrating because all the families are coming back to me saying ‘my doctor still says they won’t do it’,” Ms Deacon added. “They have all tried everything available to them, and their children are still very, very sick. So they’re prime candidates for trying cannabis medicine – it might not work for them as it does for Alfie, but when you’re in that situation you just need to try everything.”

The cannabis treatment used by Alfie is a “whole-plant extract” which contains dozens of cannabinoids and chemicals called terpenes. Many patients report greater benefits from these extracts than cannabis-derived pharmaceutical products which contain just one or two cannabinoids, but they cannot be tested or licensed in the same way as conventional medicines.

 
Six-year-old Alfie Dingley, his parents Drew Dingley and Hannah Deacon and actor Sir Patrick Stewart (left) handed in a petition to Number 10 asking for Alfie to be given medicinal cannabis to treat his epilepsy (PA)

This could pose legal problems for doctors.

“If a neurologist prescribed private, medicinal cannabis for multiple sclerosis symptoms and some side effect or harm happens to the patient, even if it’s mild, then legally that neurologist is in great difficulty if there is no license for that [cannabis preparation],” Dr Waqar Rashid, a consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital specialising in MS told The Independent.

In Dr Rashid’s view, the only system that could protect doctors and their patients would be to prescribe through a registered medical trial – potentially limiting numbers and increasing costs.

“To say people can prescribe this from November is not correct, really,” he said. “Even with the best will in the world we’re looking at very selective numbers of neurologists prescribing this and it would need the infrastructure to support it.”

Other doctors are looking to expand this base of understanding among doctors and hope to make it more mainstream in time.

“The big barrier to prescription will be the doctors really,” Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist and consultant on medicinal cannabis who helped secure Alfie Dingley’s prescription. At the minute it’s a blanket ‘no’ where families have applied. One said ‘it’s a passing fad’ but others have said we’re not doing it because there’s no evidence from double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials [used for licensing other drugs].”

“That’s sort of understandable in one way[…] but you have to remember these children continue to be on many different anti-convulsants, and their epilepsy is not controlled. You have to take into account the side effects of that existing medication and damage to the developing brain of continued seizures.”

Professor Barnes has established the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, which has already enlisted around 60 doctors for its inaugural event next month and will include training on key areas like dosage and side effects.

Over time he hopes this will give a “small core” of doctors who can help establish cannabis treatment in their hospitals and specialities. They will also be a way of overcoming the reservations of cash-strapped NHS clinical commissioning groups which will be required to fund the treatments and are also stuck without guidance from the government.

Home Office legislation reclassified cannabis and set out it should only be prescribed by specialist doctors – rather than GPs. Detail of how this is regulated and funded is due from the Department of Health and Social Care before 1 November – but has yet to be released leaving the health service in the dark.

Meanwhile, patient groups and charities are already being approached by patients enquiring about the potential of cannabis treatment, and have urged the government not to allow delays that could penalise patients who can’t afford to go private.

“This law change is a landmark moment and could have a huge impact for people with multiple sclerosis,” Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said.

“More than 100,000 people in the UK live with this often painful and exhausting condition and cannabis for medicinal use could help roughly one in 10 of them get relief from pain and muscle spasms.”

“However, we’re concerned that people won’t be able to access cannabis for medicinal use on a wide scale from 1 November. It is critical specialist doctors have the support and information they need to prescribe in a fair and timely way on the NHS.”

Why is CBD on everyone’s lips?

CBD is one of the biggest buzzwords in food and drink. It’s been hailed the next big thing, with more and more chefs and producers using CBD in their recipes. So what is it? And why is it so trendy?

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 In The Food Programme, Charlotte Smith talks to the owner and chef at the UK’s first cannabis-infused restaurant, meets other experts in the field – and even samples CBD herself – to try and find out what all the fuss is about.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a chemical extracted from the cannabis plant. Unlike its sibling tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s non-psychoactive and won’t get you high.

Why would you take it and what does it do to you?

CBD is thought to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm, with many arguing that it helps to relieve pain and inflammation and reduce anxiety. So far the studies aren’t clear as to whether eating small amounts has any effect or not but, despite this, it’s now a popular alternative for those seeking a remedy for anxiety or pain who don’t want to take a mind-altering drug.

Many people who take CBD believe it can help with a general sense of wellness as part of a holistic approach to looking after the body and mind.

What does it look like and how would you take it?

You can buy CBD in an oil in most health food shops. Minor Figures, who make canned coffee and oat milk, and are now producing CBD infused coconut oil. Their strategy is to sell it to cafes to display on their counter, so customers can pick up a bottle when they’re grabbing a coffee. Lexie Forrester, who does marketing for the company, describes it as “a rescue remedy following the over-consumption of coffee.” She claims if you’re feeling jittery after too many ground beans, a couple of drops under the tongue can calm you down.

The UK’s first cannabis-infused restaurant in Brighton, The Canna Kitchen, has an extensive menu of food incorporating the chemical, and even does a range of cannabis infused mocktails. Head chef Charlotte Kjaer says their ethos is all about healing whole foods, a plant-based diet and putting hemp in the spotlight it deserves. Customers can choose whether to have CBD suspended in hemp oil added to their dish or not, normally in the form of dressings, pesto or sides like tahini. This supposedly stops it losing its beneficial properties during the cooking process.

What does it taste like?

CBD has a distinct, earthy flavour so the oil can really change the flavour profile of food. For this reason it benefits from being paired with sweet foods, which counteract the natural bitterness. It’s no surprise that CBD gummy bears are so popular! You can also find CBD in coffee, cake, and chocolates in cafes and shops all over the country. One vendor even offers a CBD croissant.

What’s happened to make CBD popular now?

According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, the number of people buying CBD in Britain doubled between 2017 and 2018 to 250,000. Why has it become so trendy all of a sudden?

Harry Sumnall is professor in substance use at Liverpool John Moores University and he’s been studying the rise of CBD in the UK. He believes one reason CBD is increasing in popularity is a growing public awareness of the potential medical benefits. The media attention around the cases of a two young boys with intractable epilepsy who are seemingly gaining benefits from CBD has played its part.

But it’s the United States that’s really leading the charge in this area. California was the first state to legalise cannabis for medicinal use in 1996 under the Compassionate Use Act, and this kick-started a wave of legalisation across many other states. The drug is mostly being sold for people to smoke, but edible cannabis has become more and more popular – giving birth to a new, exploding food industry.

Is the future of CBD in drinks?

If we’re looking to America to predict the way the market goes here, then the future is in drinks. In the United States, money from multinational companies is pouring into cannabis infused alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Even well known, worldwide brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi are considering moving into cannabis and investing billions of dollars into the development of CBD products.

Is CBD here to stay?

At the moment CBD isn’t regulated, so you aren’t necessarily getting what is considered a functional amount of CBD in your product. Manufacturers can put a couple of drops in a bar of chocolate and charge ten pounds for it, without proving there is any benefit or effect at all. Also, the safety of CBD is currently being reviewed by the Food Standards Agency. At the moment manufacturers do not have to prove that the CBD their product contains is safe. If this changes, as it may soon do, it will pose a large challenge to producers and retailers of CBD products.

However, CBD doesn’t appear to be ‘just a phase’ and however its regulation evolves it looks set to stay on our shelves. The market is growing at an extraordinary rate, with some estimates putting the potential CBD market at around two billion Euros a year. So although you might not see cannabis-infused products on every street corner just yet, you may not find that you have to look too far for too much longer.

 

Source: BBC 

 

The vaping deaths backlash is in danger of doing more harm than good

A rash of vaping-related lung illnesses has pushed states and countries to ban e-cigarettes. But critics worry that the response might end up leaving people in harm’s way.

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In a little over a decade, e-cigarettes have risen from relative obscurity to become devices used by 41 million people globally. Juul alone – the most popular e-cigarette brand in the US – was valued at $38 billion (£30bn) when the tobacco firm Altria snapped up 35 per cent of the company in December 2018.

Now vaping’s stratospheric rise appears to be stalling. After a rash of vaping-related lung diseases in the US, states are starting to clamp down on the devices. On September 24, the governor of Massachusetts announced a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products. In California, the Department of Public Health urged citizens to stop vaping until investigations into the mysterious disease are complete. New York, Michigan and Rhode Island all responded by banning the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes, pre-empting similar regulations being considered at a federal level by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Globally, the vaping backlash is also gaining traction. In September, the Indian cabinet announced a ban on the production, import and sale of vapes, joining Singapore and Thailand where vaping is also banned. After banning the sale of flavoured oil cartridges, Israel is also considering a total ban on e-cigarettes.

But the vaping ban might end up causing more harm than good. Critics of the recent vaping backlash say that it may squander the opportunity for more useful long term anti-tobacco regulation or make smokers less likely to quit cigarettes altogether.

“The US has a dominant position, particularly in tobacco control, which means that other countries will pick up ideas from the US and do the same,” says Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health. Most of the restrictions in the US so far have either concentrated on flavoured e-cigarette pods or lumped all e-cigarettes together.

Neither approach seems to address the suspected cause behind the recent cases of lung illness. Of the total 805 cases of lung injury and 12 deaths reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it looks like the majority occurred in people who vaped e-cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the principal psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Out of those 805 patients, the CDC has data on vaping use from 514. Some 77 per cent of those patients reported using THC-containing products in the month before the onset of their symptoms, with 36 per cent of them saying they only vaped THC-containing before they got ill.

And these percentages might be underestimates says Eric Lindblom, a former FDA tobacco control official now at Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute. Of the four states with the highest number of reported cases – California, Texas, Wisconsin and Illinois – only one (California) has currently legalised recreational cannabis use. Patients in states where cannabis is illegal might be less willing to admit that they had been vaping THC.

Despite the evidence strongly hinting that vapes containing THC are at least partly responsible for this outbreak of lung illness, no state has brought out specific regulation targeting THC vapes. “It seems kind of backwards given that the problem is clearly much more closely linked to vaping cannabis THC products,” says Lindblom. “It totally doesn’t address the mystery illness in any way.”

So what are lawmakers responding to? It could be that the recent spate of lung illnesses has provided a flashpoint for frustrations over another big problem with vaping: the number of young e-cigarette users in the US. In 2018 an FDA survey found that over 20 per cent of US high school students – just over three million young people – were e-cigarette users. The same survey identified flavoured e-cigarettes as a factor that attracted young vapers to e-cigarettes.

That might explain why so much of the vaping backlash has centred on flavoured e-cigarette products. But Arnott warns that banning flavoured pods altogether might put people off quitting smoking. “What we don’t want it for people to be scared back to smoking or for smokers – who are often looking for a reason not to quit – to think ‘oh well, I might as well carry on with smoking’,” she says.

In the US, cigarette smoking is still responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year, but Arnott is worried that the backlash against vaping might make people misunderstand the difference in risk between cigarettes and vapes.

“The relative risk compared to smoking is the initial thing to be concerned about, but if people are going to carry on vaping for the long term then you need to worry about what the long term impacts might be and whether it would be better for them to quit vaping as well,” she says. Public Health England has backed e-cigarettes as a way of getting people to quit smoking, saying that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking cigarettes, although e-cigarettes are not prescribed by the NHS as a stop-smoking tool.

Europe appears to have avoided the outbreak of vaping-related lung illness, which might be thanks to tighter EU regulations that restrict the makeup and marketing of vapes. In the US, e-cigarettes have been largely escaped regulation, although after May 2020 vaping firms will have to be approved by the FDA in order to be sold within the country.

But if it’s approached in the right way, the rash of vaping illness could be an opportunity for useful regulation to be passed, says Lindblom. “The only time that it really happens is when there’s an emergency,” he says. As well as only allowing e-cigarettes that had been proven to have a net benefit to public health, the backlash could provide an opportunity to re-examine regulation of menthol cigarettes, which are often a gateway into smoking for young people. Menthol cigarettes are already illegal in Canada and in the EU they will be banned from May 2020.

Whatever happens, Lindblom and Arnott agree that regulators should be looking for ways to reduce the total number of smokers. That might mean encouraging people to switch to e-cigarettes, but it also shouldn’t preclude tighter regulation of conventional cigarettes, Lindblom says. “You want a system where people are thinking about this thing in a smart way instead of just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

By MATT REYNOLDS

Source: Wired