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Cannabis News & Research 3/19/21

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Two main stories today. A big one from Mexico and a good study on PTSD.

Mexico

Mexico has passed a law legalizing recreational marijuana, making it the largest country in the world (130 million people). This will put pressure on the United States to do the same. Both the northern and southern neighbors will have legal recreational cannabis. It is surprising that it is taking so long for the US to do the same. The so-called land of the free has been anything but that since cannabis was banned in the early 20th century.

Now Mexico will allow its citizens to apply for permits to grow small quantities of cannabis at home. Growing your own, as it is often called, is a very important part of legalizing cannabis. It enables citizens to be free from the inflated prices of cannabis in pharmacies. Hopefully the US will allow this to happen when it finally legalizes cannabis.

Study Shows Marijuana Doesn’t Help With PTSD

A study of veterans with PTSD was published this week. The group was assigned to either high THC, high CBD, half THC and half CBD, or hemp cannabis. The hemp had no THC or CBD and was a placebo group that you could compare the others to. All participants were veterans who already treated themselves with cannabis. They were asked to stop using it for at least two weeks prior to the study (it’s unclear what percentage actually stopped), and then they were randomly assigned to one of the four groups.

All participants in the high THC (9% THC) group knew they were receiving an active form of cannabis treatment. The doctors who conducted the study also found that this group was receiving the high-THC strain. This shows that studies of high-THC cannabis cannot be blinded, which means that participants and doctors always know they are receiving THC because they feel the high THC.

Groups were treated for three weeks and then given a two-week break from treatment before being re-randomized to receive high-THC, high-CBD, or half-and-half-THC-CBD cannabis. The second time, no placebo was given.

The primary purpose and outcome studied was to reduce PTSD symptoms after three weeks of treatment with the various forms of cannabis or placebo. The result was that all four groups had relatively large reductions in symptoms. The problem is that the placebo group also had a large reduction in symptoms, so the cannabis groups with THC were not considered to be significantly different from a hemp strain with no THC or CBD. This makes the study a negative conclusion.

However, there are some key findings in the study. First and foremost, this was one of the first studies to enable PTSD patients to self-medicate as much cannabis as needed. Patients were given much more take-away cannabis than they actually consumed. This is a great way to conduct the study as it is more like real world conditions that patients can choose how much to use. The study found relatively mild to moderate side effects, and overall it was found that the study was very safe and that research into cannabis on patients is safe. This should encourage other scientists to conduct similar studies, hopefully with more participants, without fear that reaching a high value could have serious adverse effects.

Another finding was that participants in this study preferred the high-THC strain over the others. When they used the diluted strain of THC, which contained a mixture of THC and CBD, they used a lot more of it for treatment. For this reason, we recommend that patients buy flowers with the highest levels of THC so that they do not have to use so much to treat their symptoms. This is more cost effective for patients.

It is unclear whether the placebo group in this study used cannabis at home that was their own and whether this was taken into account. They agreed not to do this before starting the experiment, but some of the participants may have failed to keep that promise. Chances are they were consuming their own cannabis, and this is why the placebo group who smoked hemp saw such a significant change in PTSD symptoms. In fact, participants in the study used much less hemp placebo than the other groups, suggesting they may have used their own strains at home as substitutes as well.

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Beth Edmonds