These days it seems that cannabis news is moving at a mile a minute. New companies are popping up every week and touting new technologies that will supposedly revolutionize the market. Many of these developments are happening in the medical sector, and are expanding the already considerable scope of what cannabis is capable of. The past few weeks alone have seen a number of incredible updates. Didn’t catch them? Don’t worry, the Chief’s got your back with this week’s roundup of medical cannabis news.
Cannabis In The Sports Section
One of the more interesting stories to come out in the past week is a recent deal between Canopy Growth Co. and the NHL Alumni Association to conduct studies into the effectiveness of cannabis as an alternative to addictive opioids. It’s no secret that opioids are terribly addictive and are contributing to an epidemic of drug overdoses throughout North America. It seems that Canopy believes that cannabis may be the answer.
The plan is for Canopy to fund a randomized double-blind study which will involve roughly one hundred former NHL players. The study is expected to return results in about a year and will employ high-resolution imaging, biomarkers, ocular, and vestibular testing to see if cannabinoids—in particular, CBD—can be used to wean these former players off of addictive opioids. CBD is already known to treat inflammation, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain, though some scientists do not yet consider these claims conclusively proven. This study should help to convince even the skeptics.
Of the 100 former players, 80 will be given CBD oil pills, while the remaining 20 will be given placebos. As the study is double-blind, neither the players nor scientists will know which subjects have been given placebos until the study is complete and all data compiled. Subjects will undergo MRI scans and diffusion tensor image scans to monitor the movement of blood and water in the brain to watch for evidence of injury or cognitive impairment. Further, they will provide blood samples and use provided software to perform daily tests to establish emotional and cognitive well-being. For example, one such test monitors speech patterns by having subjects read passages aloud.
The NHL Alumni Association was selected for the study due to the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries and diseases like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) among its members. Many of these former players are prescribed opioids, and many have admitted to abusing the medications in the past. The hope is that this study might better and more conclusively substantiate the medical potential of CBD, and establish cannabis as a healthier and safer alternative to opioids in treating certain conditions.
Headway In Cancer Treatments
Some of the most eagerly anticipated results in the field of medical cannabis are those regarding the practicality of using cannabis to treat cancer. People have been using cannabis to treat symptoms associated with cancer—namely nausea and lack of appetite resulting from chemotherapy—but there are scientists out there busy at work to see if everyone’s favourite plant may be able to be used combat cancer itself.
One such company is Pascal Biosciences, a Canadian company which is making particularly robust strides in treating a specific and notoriously aggressive type of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Historically, the prognosis for glioblastoma was terribly grim because of the few treatment options available to patients, but the folks at Pascal Biosciences think they may be onto something big. Nearly twenty years ago, scientists discovered that high amounts of THC can actually kill glioblastoma cells, however the amount of THC required resulted in horribly debilitating psychotropic effects.
Pascal Biosciences might have a solution. By tweaking a synthetic cannabinoid called ST-403, they have managed to increase the effectiveness of THC’s cancer-fighting abilities while simultaneously drastically reducing its psychotropic effects. This increased specialization has brought ST-403 further and further away from THC or CBD in many respects, and has also fine-tuned its devastating attack on glioblastoma cells. This compound is not something that you would want to fire up in a joint, but that’s kind of the point—when it comes to fighting cancer you want a toxic compound, something that is toxic to the cancer cells and less so to other cells.
Pascal Biosciences acknowledges that there is a lot of work ahead, but they hope to begin clinical trials on humans as early as late 2019.
Grow Organic, Simpler Than Ever
Like any plant for consumption, pesticides and other contaminants are a concern for many when it comes to their cannabis. To this end, some consumers are turning to at-home cultivation in the hopes of finding the most healthful product available.
To this end, companies like LEAF have come through with fully-automated growing solutions for even the busiest wannabe farmers. These contraptions grow cannabis automatically in a self-contained unit which uses hydroponics, electronic lighting, and even temperature and humidity systems that can be controlled from your smartphone. Of course, there are cheaper ways to grow at home, but devices like this mean that ganja farming has never been so easy, and this revolution in at-home cultivation will put greater control into the hands of patients and consumers when it comes to how their cannabis is grown and exactly what goes into it.