New study explores cannabis effect on short term memory

7 10 2010

The effect of weed on your short term memory has long been a standard in any cannabis-comedy routine. Now, researchers are unlocking the effect of cannabis on memory.

A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that variations in the chemical makeup of different strains of marijuana are associated with different levels of cognitive impairment while high.

Tetrahydocannabinol (THC) is commonly recognized as the ingredient in marijuana that causes a “high” in users, but researchers have long known that pot contains other active substances as well. While THC can cause the widely advertised hallucinations and paranoia, another chemical found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), is believed to be responsible for the calmer, sedating part of the experience. The two chemicals have opposing effects on one of the brain receptors affected by cannabis, the CB1 receptor.

Some clinical studies have proposed that CBD acts as a balancing force to regulate the strength of the psychoactive agent THC.
Marijuana with relatively high ratios of CBD:THC is less likely to induce anxiety than marijuana with low CBD:THC ratios. CBD is also believed to regulate the body’s metabolism of THC by inactivating cytochrome P450, an important class of enzymes that metabolize drugs.
To determine the effect of different levels of CBD, researchers studied 134 cannabis-using volunteers while they smoked their own stash of marijuana, at home. They gave them various cognitive tests, either while stoned or abstinent. Then, they took samples of the pot back to the lab for testing.

The amount of cannabidiol contained in the marijuana varied widely — from 0.14% or less to 0.75%. Researchers found that individuals that smoked the weed with the lowest CBD had significant impairments in their ability to recall words, while those whose pot had higher levels of the chemical had no impairment at all. (The study authors controlled for any variance in levels of THC.)

Interestingly, however, unlike previous studies, the new research did not find that CBD reduced the hallucinatory and paranoia-inducing effects of THC that can be associated with psychotic episodes.

While some growers have bred “skunk” marijuana, which has extremely high levels of THC, less intense varietals with increased CBD can also be found. If this research holds up, the mellower high may be the smarter choice.

Source:cannabisfantastic





Cannabis gateway theory challenged by new research results

3 09 2010

DURHAM, N.H. — New research from the University of New Hampshire shows that the “gateway effect” of marijuana — that teenagers who use marijuana are more likely to move on to harder illicit drugs as young adults — is overblown.

Billboard paid for by US tax payers in Portland

Whether teenagers who smoked pot will use other illicit drugs as young adults has more to do with life factors such as employment status and stress, according to the new research. In fact, the strongest predictor of whether someone will use other illicit drugs is their race/ethnicity, not whether they ever used cannabis.

Conducted by UNH associate professors of sociology Karen Van Gundy and Cesar Rebellon, the research appears in the September 2010, issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in the article, “A Life-course Perspective on the ‘Gateway Hypothesis’.”

“There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot,” Dr. Van Gundy, told CBS News. “But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed – not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade.”

“In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the ‘drug problem,’ ” Van Gundy and Rebellon say.

The researchers used survey data from 1,286 young adults who attended Miami-Dade public schools in the 1990s. Within the final sample, 26 percent of the respondents are African American, 44 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are non-Hispanic white.

The researchers found that young adults who did not graduate from high school or attend college were more likely to have used marijuana as teenagers and other illicit substances in young adulthood. In addition, those who used marijuana as teenagers and were unemployed following high school were more likely to use other illicit drugs.

However, the association between teenage marijuana use and other illicit drug abuse by young adults fades once stresses, such as unemployment, diminish.

“Employment in young adulthood can protect people by ‘closing’ the cannabis gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities,” Van Gundy says.

In addition, once young adults reach age 21, the gateway effect subsides entirely.

“While marijuana use may serve as a gateway to other illicit drug use in adolescence, our results indicate that the effect may be short-lived, subsiding by age 21. Interestingly, age emerges as a protective status above and beyond the other life statuses and conditions considered here. We find that respondents ‘age out’ of marijuana’s gateway effect regardless of early teen stress exposure or education, work, or family statuses,” the researchers say.

The researchers found that the strongest predictor of other illicit drug use appears to be race-ethnicity, not prior use of marijuana. Non-Hispanic whites show the greatest odds of other illicit substance use, followed by Hispanics, and then by African Americans.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state’s flagship public institution, enrolling more than 12,200 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.

Past research had already largely invalidated the gateway theory. Most recently, in January a study was released indicating that marijuana use actually discourages hard drug use.
A 2002 RAND study dismissed the gateway theory and raised doubts about the legitimacy of federal drug policies based upon its premise.




Will California be the pioneer in drug policy changes?

21 07 2010

Legalize-cannabisCalifornia — In 1971 a group of teenagers in San Rafael, north of San Francisco, started meeting after school, at 4:20 p.m., to get high. The habit spread, and 420 became code for fun time among potheads worldwide.

Ever since, California has remained in the vanguard of global cannabis culture. Oaksterdam University in Oakland is today unique in the world as a sort of Aristotelian lyceum for the study of all aspects — horticultural, scientific, historical — of the weed.

Legally, California has also been a pioneer, at least within America. In 1996 it was the first state to allow marijuana to be grown and consumed for medicinal purposes. Since then, 13states and the District of Columbia have followed, and others are considering it.

But this year California may set a more fundamental, and global, precedent. It may become the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize, regulate and tax the consumption, production and distribution of marijuana. Read the rest of this entry »





Houses made of hemp could help combat climate change!

27 10 2009

professor pete walker - university of bath

We have recently come across this very interesting press release from Professor Peter Walker at the University of Bath (U.K) who is leading the research into the use of hemp-lime in construction.  Buildings and other infrastructure currently accounts for almost 20% of the UK’s eco-footprint.  This is another example of how this wonderful plant can help save reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Recently we brought you the news that Hanes – one of the worlds biggest consumer brands – has been investing in a new hemp technology called Crailar which requires only a fraction of the water needed to make cotton; and we are very happy to announce that it is the subject of another of our articles, a Dutch company called Hempflax who has won the contract to supply the raw materials to Hanes – i.e. the HEMP!

Here’s the press release:

Houses made of hemp, timber or straw could help combat climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of building construction, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

Currently the construction industry is a major contributor of environmental pollutants, with buildings and other build infrastructure contributing to around 19% of the UK’s eco-footprint.  Researchers at the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials are researching low carbon alternatives to building materials currently used by the construction industry.  Although timber is used as a building material in many parts of the world, historically it is used less in the UK than in other countries. Researchers at the Centre are developing new ways of using timber and other crop-based materials such as hemp, natural fibre composites and straw bales. Their work using straw bales as a building material has already been featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs series.

Professor Peter Walker, Director of the Centre, is leading the research. He said: “The environmental impact of the construction industry is huge. For example, it is estimated that worldwide the manufacture of cement contributes up to ten per cent of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions.  “We are looking at a variety of low carbon building materials including crop-based materials, innovative uses of traditional materials and developing low carbon cements and concretes to reduce impact of new infrastructure. As well as reducing the environmental footprint, many low carbon building materials offer other benefits, including healthier living through higher levels of thermal insulation and regulation of humidity levels.”

Their research is being presented at the Sustainable Energy & the Environment showcase at the University of Bath.  The exhibition will be opened by David Willetts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills, and will be attended by industrialists, research councils, local and national government representatives and other key stakeholders from across the South West.  The exhibition coincides with the launch of the Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment (I-SEE) at the University of Bath, which will bring together experts from diverse fields of science, engineering, social policy and economics to tackle the problems of climate change.

Read the rest of this entry »





Cannabis Patents – Cannabinoid Patch

12 10 2009

United States Patent US6113940:
Cannabinoid patch and method for cannabis transdermal delivery.

Cannabis as a medicine, medicinal marijuana, seeds, hemp, sativa, patentWe  found this patent application in the U.S for a cannabis patch similar to the nicotine patch which has been commercially available for years. Several companies (and even the U.S government – see our previous article “U.S Government Patents Cannabis“) have recently started to take notice of the medicinal properties of cannabis and have started a rush to patent any possible application of this wonderful natural herb. Part of this trend could be linked to the legalization movement which has successfully highlighted several medical advantages to cannabis over traditional pharmaceuticals, particularly the lack of significant negative side-effects when treating serious illness.

Here are the links to both the Patent outline and the Application in .pdf form





Hanes invests in Hemp!

17 08 2009

After a decade trying to prove that hemp could be soft as cotton, one American company is starting to draw the attention to its product from some of the world’s biggest consumer brands.

Naturally Advanced CEO, Ken Barker poses with hemp fibres.

Based in Portland, Oregon – Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. – has developed an enzyme treatment which makes organic fibres (principally hemp and flax) suitable for producing clothes and other uses.  This treatment is known as “Crailar Fiber Technology”.  Here’s the information that Naturally Advanced provides about Crailar on their website:

“CRAILAR employs a simple, efficient 100% organic, enzyme bath and scales easily to leverage the global industrial hemp industry. In addition, CRAILAR Organic Fiber will be cost-comparable to organic cotton. Therefore, CRAILAR enables the transformation of hemp into a better sustainable alternative to organic cotton. ”

Read the rest of this entry »





Cannabis to be legalized in Jamaica?

14 08 2009

Champs de Cannabis au Jamaïque

Exports of Jamaica’s primary agricultural products – sugar, bananas and bauxite – have slumped severely since the start of the global financial crisis. As this crisis deepens, many prominent Jamaicans are calling for the cultivation and exportation of marijuana to be legalized for medicinal purposes.

Read the rest of this entry »








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