Skip to Content

Alternet

Syndicate content AlterNet.org: Drugs
Updated: 2 hours 54 min ago

Marijuana Legalization And Crime: The Only Facts You Need To Know

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:25
Researcher: Cannabis legislation 'is not predictive of higher crime rates.'

It’s been one of the primary claims made by the opponents of cannabis regulation for generations: Increased marijuana use will lead to more violent crime. Here are the facts about marijuana legalization and crime.

Earlier this year, Attorney General revived the debate when he declared:

“We’re seeing real violence around that (marijuana legalization). Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

The nation’s top cop didn’t provide any data or clarify where he received his information. (“Experts are telling me ..” is clearly not verifiable.)

But data provided by official state agencies simply does not support the claims of the attorney general. States that regulate and license the production and distribution of cannabis have not seen “more violence around marijuana.” Nor have they seen an increase in violent crime. Statistics demonstrate that many jurisdictions have experienced a drop in violent crime following legalization efforts.

An important caveat: Advocates on both sides of the issue will toss around numbers in an attempt to support their argument. But correlation does not necessarily imply causation. One thing is certain: The fear-mongering of increased crime surrounding marijuana regulation is a canard.

A 2014 study published by researchers at the University of Texas demonstrated that the enactment of “medical marijuana laws precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. … In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”

Robert Morris from the University of Texas, analyzed data supplied from the FBI and found:

“[Medical marijuana legislation] is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault. … Given the relationship between alcohol and violent crime, it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes.”

Another study published by researchers at UCLA reported that the growth of medical marijuana outlets in urban areas “was not associated with violent crime or property crime rates.” The researchers suggested that medical marijuana dispensaries may reduce neighborhood crime because of the security precautions taken by business owners.

In the state of Washington, which legalized adult recreational consumption three years ago,  violent crime fell 10 percent statewide.

In Seattle, the state’s largest city, overall crime numbers in February 2017 were the lowest in five years. So far this year, there has been a major drop in crime rates.

Rates of violent crime and property crime fell in the city of Denver following legalization. Crime rates have similarly declined in Portland, Oregon according to a recent CATO think-tank policy report.

According to CATO’s researchers:

“The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.”

No credible data exists that supports an association between increased violent crime and regulated cannabis.  Studies suggest that violent crime goes down in states with legalized medical marijuana.

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

Trump Opioid Panel Will Recommend Nationwide Drug Courts, Tightened Prescribing Rules

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 08:17
The draft proposal is definitely a mixed bag.

 

 

Trump opioid panel will recommend nationwide drug courts, tightened requirements for prescribers

WASHINGTON - President Trump's commission on combating the opioid epidemic plans to encourage the federal government to establish drug courts in every federal judicial district, adjust reimbursement ...

/* >

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

Here Is Why Congress Believes Marijuana Is the Same as Heroin and Meth

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 08:06
This ridiculous idea is the fault of the Controlled Substances Act, but why is Congress trying to dupe the public?

Earlier this week, Congressman Tom Garrett, a Republican freshman from Virginia, introduced legislation aimed at federally decriminalizing marijuana. The bill — “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” — would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list,  joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco instead of heroin and meth.

“I have long believed justice that isn’t blind, isn’t justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce,” Garrett said in a statement.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is the lead co-sponsor on this bipartisan bill.

The proposed legislation is identical to the bill introduced in 2015 by Sen. Bernie Sanders, which failed to even get a hearing.

Before we get into why Garrett proposed the legislation, it’s worth reviewing the basics of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and why marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug — the highest tier that includes heroin. According to the federal government, Schedule I drugs have a “high potential for abuse” and “no medically accepted use.”

Here is what you need to know about the CSA and the scheduling of marijuana:

How Did This Happen?

It all started in 1970. Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which was immediately signed by President Richard Nixon, who felt strongly that marijuana use was tearing the fabric of the nation. He associated marijuana users with hippies and anti-war protesters. The act established five schedules — or categories — by which all drugs would be classified.

The inclusion of cannabis as Schedule I was supposed to be temporary, subject to review by a commission that would recommend a categorization based on science.

Two years later, the blue-ribbon commission’s recommendation was in. The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse issued two substantial reports: Marihuana: A Signal In Misunderstanding and Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective.

The commission concluded that marijuana was not a serious threat to public health and recommended changes to the scheduling. In fact, the so-called Shafer Commission — named after the Raymond Shafer, the chairman of the panel and former Pennsylvania governor — recommended that small amounts of cannabis should be legal to possess. The report stated:

“The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use.  It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance. … Therefore, the Commission recommends … [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense.”

Nixon, who hand-picked all 13 members of the Shafer Commission, ignored its recommendation.

Side note: Cocaine and methamphetamine, opium and other clearly more dangerous drugs fall under Schedule II.

What About Medical Marijuana?

Yes, what about the medicinal use of an herb that the federal government states no medically accepted use.” Twenty-eight states disagree and have passed legislation that allows for the medical marijuana programs.

Even more head-scratching is this: In 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services received U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507. The patent clearly states that the compounds found in cannabis act as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. The patent summary states:

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.

Since all states are not required to keep data on patients using medical marijuana, it is unclear how many Americans are using the plant for health reasons. One national estimate claims the number to be 2.6 million. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center estimates:

Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans say they have tried marijuana, and 12 percent in the past year, which the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health says is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. The government survey showed that 18.9 million Americans 12 or older (7.3 percent) had used marijuana in the prior month.

The Pew report does not differentiate between medical use and other use.

What About CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant. It has no effect on brain function and is proven to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant. Are CBD-only medications legal? Nope. Inexplicably, even cannabis devoid of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is considered by the federal government to be Schedule I.

The DEA announced in December that cannabis extracts, including CBD, fall under Schedule I.

So, What About Rescheduling?

It is unlikely that the federal government will do anything soon to change the status of cannabis, despite the fact that more Americans live in states that approve of medical marijuana than states that don’t.

Rescheduling could be achieved via Congress, or through the executive branch. Congress thus far has rejected all bills to reschedule. There is also a provision in the CSA that allows the attorney general the latitude to reschedule administratively.

As mentioned at the top of this article, Congressman Garrett has introduced legislation. But that is seen by most political experts as a symbolic gesture. Just last year, the DEA rejected a call to reschedule.

The first attempt to reschedule occurred in 1972, the same year the act went into effect. NORML petitioned the federal government to move cannabis to Schedule II.

There have been numerous other attempts over the years and all have been unsuccessful.

Note: The 2016 platform of the Democratic Party called for removal of marijuana from Schedule I, “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization” of marijuana.

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

Cannabis and Sleep Disturbances: What You Need to Know

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:16
Is your marijuana use helping or hindering your ability to get a good night's rest? Highlights: 
  • Sleep disturbances are the most common health problem in America. Those with sleep issues are poorly served by prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills and other pharmaceuticals, which have serious risks.

  • CBD and other plant cannabinoids show promise for treating insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep-related disorders.

  • CBD co-administered with THC improves sleep more efficaciously than single-molecule medications.
  • Chronic, heavy consumption of THC-dominant cannabis can disrupt healthy sleep patterns.
  • Our ability to be awake, fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested is part of an internal biological process regulated by circadian rhythms and the endocannabinoid system.
Shut-eye overview

Although sleep is essential for our health, its biological purpose is not fully understood. Oddly, the seemingly inactive state of sleep is actually a dynamic and critical process that helps us store memories, build immunity, repair tissue, regulate metabolism and blood pressure, control appetite and blood sugar, and process learning, along with a myriad of other physiological processes – all of which are regulated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institute of Health (NIH), new findings suggest “sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.”

Poor sleep is the number one reported medical complaint in the Unites States and a serious public health concern. The average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep per day. Yet, 10-30 million Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep.

Over 60 percent of American adults report having problems sleeping several nights per week.

Over 40 million Americans suffer from more than 70 different sleep disorders. The most common sleep-related ailments include:

  • Insomnia - when one cannot fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Sleep apnea - which involves impaired breathing while sleeping.
  • Restless leg syndrome - characterized by tingling, discomfort and even pain in the legs that increases at night and is relieved by movement.
  • Circadian rhythm disorders - when one’s internal clock is off and one’s sleep patterns are disturbed.
  • Parasomnias - which entails abnormal movements and activities while sleeping, including sleep walking and nightmares.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness - when an individual experiences persistent drowsiness during daylight hours from narcolepsy or another medical condition.

Poor sleep is a risk factor for serious illness. Compared to people who get enough sleep, adults who are short-sleepers (less than 7 hours per 24-hour period) are more likely to experience one or more of 10 chronic health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and depression.

Those with chronic illnesses are at greater risk for insomnia, which exacerbates their discomfort. Comorbid medical disorders – including conditions that cause hypoxemia (abnormally low blood oxygen levels) and dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing), gastroesophageal reflux disease, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases – have a 75-95 percent increased risk of insomnia.

Pills that kill

In 2016, according to the industry research firm MarketsandMarkets, Americans spent $3.38 billion on prescription sedatives and hypnotics, over-the-counter (OTC) sleep drugs, and herbal sleep aids. It’s projected that the market for such products will experience about a 4.5 percent growth rate between now and 2021.

The quest for good night’s sleep can be hazardous to one’s health. Daniel F. Kripke, MD, sleep expert and co-founder of Research at Scripps Clinic Vitebri Family Sleep Center, discusses the dangers of sleep aids in his paper “Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit.”

Dr. Kripke reviewed 40 studies conducted on prescription sleeping pills, which include hypnotic drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien, Edlmar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist), temazepam (Restoril), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), triazolam (Halcion), flurazepam (Dalmane and Dalmadorm), quazepam, and other barbiturates used for sleep. Of these 40 studies, thirty-nine found that consumption of hypnotics is “associated with excess mortality” to the tune of a 4.6 times greater risk of death for hypnotic users.

Grim statistics: 10,000 deaths per year are directly caused by and attributed to hypnotic drugs, based on medical examiner data. However, large epidemiological studies suggest the number of fatalities may actually be closer to 300,000-500,000 per year. The difference can be attributed to underreported use of hypnotics at the time of death and the fact that prescription hypnotics are rarely listed as the cause of death.

Dr. Kripke concludes that even limited use of sleeping pills causes “next day functional impairment,” increases risk of “on-the-road driver-at-fault crashes,” increases falls and accidental injuries especially among seniors, is associated with “2.1 times” as many new depression incidents compared to randomized placebo recipients, and increases the risk of suicide. Furthermore, the use of opioids combined with hypnotics – two known dose-dependent respiratory suppressants – can be extremely dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol and other drugs.1

Alarming data

Another concern: Data from controlled hypnotics trials resulted in 12 cancers in hypnotic participants compared to zero cancers in the placebo group. (When the FDA conducted the same audit, they found 13 cancers.) But it is unclear if the hypnotics were a causative factor in these cancers or if they were promoting progression of cancer that had previously gone undetected. Animal and in vitro (test tube/petri dish) studies also attest to the pro-cancer potential of hypnotics. To learn more visit Dr. Kripke’s website.

In addition to these risks, meta-data (combined data) from placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials showed participants in the hypnotic groups had a 44 percent higher infection rate than the placebo participants.

Are over-the-counter sleep aids any better? These also have adverse side effects. Most OTC sleeping pills (Benadryl and others) have the antihistamine diphenhydramine as the primary ingredient. It can knock you out, but it’s unlikely to provide truly restful sleep.

In an email exchange with Project CBD, Dr. Kripke writes: “Usage of diphenhydramine is associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease, though which is cause and which is effect is certainly unclear. One well-known aspect of diphenhydramine is that it is anticholinergic [blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine], that produces some heart symptoms sometimes as well as digestive symptoms such as constipation. In some patients, also, diphenhydramine at night causes rather a lot of daytime sleepiness.”

A large number of OTC sleep aids also include acetaminophen, a pain reliever that has a narrow therapeutic window – meaning at one dose it’s therapeutic, but the slightest increase can be toxic to the liver. All too often consumers don’t read the warning labels about these drugs and consume them with alcohol and other meds. This can cause liver toxicity and/or fatal respiratory suppression.

OTC sleep aids are intended only for occasional or short-term use – never more than two weeks at one time. Although it is not typically reported in the published literature, those who use OTC and prescription sleep aids find that once they start it’s hard to stop.

The endocannabinoid system and sleep

Given the problems with conventional soporifics, medical scientists have been exploring other ways to improve sleep by targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS). As the primary homeostatic regulator of human physiology, the ECS plays a major role in the sleep-wake cycle and other circadian processes.

Italian scientist Vicenzo DiMarzo summarized the broad regulatory function of the endocannabinoid system in the phrase “Eat, sleep, relax, protect and forget.”

How we fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up, and remain awake is part of an internal biological process regulated by our circadian rhythms and our endocannabinoid system. Circadian rhythms govern a diverse array of actions in the body, including hormone production, heart rate, metabolism, and when to go to sleep and wake up.

It’s as if we have an internal biochemical timer or clock that keeps track of our need for sleep, guides the body to sleep and then influences the intensity of sleep. This biological mechanism is affected by external forces such as travel, medication, food, drink, environment, stress and more.

Key question: Does the endocannabinoid system regulate our experience of circadian rhythms or vice versa?

Evidence of a strong relationship between the two is observed in the sleep-wake cycle fluctuations of anandamide and 2-AG (the brain’s own marijuana-like molecules), along with the metabolic enzymes that create and break down these endogenous cannabinoid compounds.

Anandamide is present in the brain at higher levels at night and it works with the endogenous neurotransmitters oleamide and adenosine to generate sleep. Conversely, 2AG is higher during the day, suggesting that it is involved in promoting wakefulness.

The highly complex sleep-wake cycle is driven by a variety of neurochemicals and molecular pathways.2 Both anandamide and 2AG activate CB1cannabinoid receptors that are concentrated in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain associated with regulating sleep.

CB1 receptors modulate neurotransmitter release in a manner that dials back excessive neuronal activity, thereby reducing anxiety, pain, and inflammation. CB1 receptor expression is thus a key factor in modulating sleep homeostasis.

This is not the case, however, with respect to the CB2, the cannabinoid receptor located primarily in immune cells, the peripheral nervous system, and metabolic tissue. Whereas CB1 receptor expression reflects cyclical circadian rhythms, no such fluctuations have been described for the CB2 receptor.

The challenge of studying and treating sleep disturbances is complicated by the fact that sleep disorders are symptomatic of many chronic illnesses. In many cases, poor sleep results in chronic illness, and chronic illness always involves an underlying imbalance or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system. Although we still have much to learn about the relationship between the ECS and circadian rhythms, it’s clear that adequate quality sleep is a critical component of restoring and maintaining one’s health.

Cannabis for slumber

Cannabinoids have been used for centuries to promote sleepiness and to help people stay asleep. In the acclaimed medical reference Materia Medica, published in the 18th century, cannabis was listed as a ‘narcotica’ and ‘anodyna’ (pain reliever). Its reintroduction to Western medicine by Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy in 1843 led to studies that underscored the remedial properties of “Indian hemp” for sleep disorders.

“Of all anaesthetics ever proposed, Indian hemp is the one which produced a narcotism most closely resembling the natural sleep without causing any extraordinary excitement of the vessels, or any particular suspension of secretions, or without fear of a dangerous reaction, and consecutive paralysis,” German researcher Bernard Fronmueller observed in 1860.

Nine years later Fronmueller reported that in 1000 patients with sleep disturbance, Indian hemp produced cures in 53 percent, partial cure in 21.5 percent, and little or no effects in 25.5 percent.

Sleep-related problems continue to drive a large percentage of people to seek relief with cannabis.

Poor sleep and lack of sleep cause physiological changes in the body after just one night, resulting in slower reaction times, deceased cognitive performance, less energy, aggravated pain and inflammation, and in many cases overeating or cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate “comfort” foods.

A 2014 study by Babson et al notes that approximately 50 percent of long-term cannabis consumers (over 10 years) report using cannabis as a sleep aid. Among medical marijuana patients, 48 percent report using cannabis to help with insomnia.

Another study revealed that 40 percent of insomniacs also suffer from anxiety and depression or another a psychiatric disorder. (Roth, 2007) Would it surprise you to learn that people with mood disorders who use cannabis have the highest rates of sleep benefit at 93 percent? (Babson & Bonn-Miller, 2014)

“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep.” So said Thomas Aquinas.  CBD, THC, CBN

What about specific plant cannabinoids for sleep?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is alerting or mildly stimulating in moderate doses, while its psychoactive counterpart delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) tends to be sedating. However, the science is somewhat paradoxical.

Research data and anecdotal accounts indicate that CBD and THC have differential effects on sleep – both can be alerting or sedating depending on dosage.

The biphasic dose response triggered by CBD and THC is one of the factors that may contribute to conflicting research results with respect to cannabinoids and sleep.3

The association between low-dose cannabidiol and increased wakefulness underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for narcolepsy and other variants of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Curiously, CBD can help people fall asleep as well as stay awake. An insomnia study indicated that the administration of 160 mgs of CBD decreased nighttime sleep interruptions and increased total sleep time, suggesting that high-dose CBD therapy can improve the quality and duration of sleep.

In addition to showing promise as a safe and effective alternative to conventional psychiatric treatments for insomnia, cannabidiol can reduce symptoms of REM behavior disorder (RBD), which is characterized by the acting out of vivid, intense, and sometimes violent dreams. A preliminary study examined the efficacy of CBD in patients with both Parkinson’s disease and RBD and the results were encouraging.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent form of sleep disorder breathing that affects nine percent of American adults. Research involving animal models of this condition has shown that THC and the endogenous cannabinoid oleamide are effective in reducing sleep apnea events. (Babson 2017) Human studies indicate that dronabinol, a FDA-approved synthetic version of THC, reduces sleep apnea and is safe and well tolerated.

Additionally, cannabinol (CBN), most commonly associated with aged cannabis, is said to potentiate the sedative properties of THC when these two cannabinoids are used together, although this notion may be more modern-day marijuana folklore than scientific fact.

Pain and sleep

Besides the desire for good sleep, treating pain is another common reason for using cannabis. Chronic pain is a major public health issue that directly affects around 20 percent of U.S. adults, many of whom also suffer from diminished sleep. Sometimes it’s hard to know if the pain is causing sleeplessness or if sleeplessness is triggering the pain.

Patients seeking both pain relief and better sleep may achieve positive results with cannabinoids and other cannabis components.4 In their paper “Cannabis, Pain, and Sleep: Lessons from Therapeutic Clinical Trials of Sativex®, a Cannabis-Based Medicine,” Russo et al summarized 13 studies that examined varying cannabis preparations for pain and sleep.

Of particular interest is a Phase II study, involving 24 patients with intractable multiple sclerosis, which compared three different preparations: Tetranabinex (a high THC product); Nabindolex (high CBD); and Sativex® (an almost a 1:1 THC:CBD sublingual remedy).

Different cannabinoid ratios helped in various ways: “Compared to placebo, the CBD-predominant extract significantly improved pain, the THC-predominant extract yielded significant improvement in pain, muscle spasm, spasticity and appetite, and combined THC:CBD extracts (Sativex®) significantly improved muscle spasm and sleep.”

The authors concluded that a combination of CBD and THC (15 mg of each) “improved sleep synergistically.” Of the thirteen studies profiled in this paper, seven showed improvements in sleep. Six of the seven were conducted with Sativex®, the 1:1 CBD:THC sublingual spray, indicating that balanced a cannabinoid profile facilitates sleep improvements among patients with chronic pain.5

The gift of forgetting

The use of cannabis is prevalent among those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A small open trial conducted in Israel showed that 5 mg of smoked THC twice a day resulted in improved sleep and reduced frequency of nightmares in patients with PTSD. (Mechoulam, 2015) This directly correlates with similar test results involving nabilone, a synthetic THC-like drug.

Memory processing occurs when we are asleep, so it stands to reason that someone suffering from PTSD– especially those who experience nightmares – would benefit by using cannabis or cannabinoids to sleep better.

At first glance, it may appear that cannabis is merely a coping mechanism for PTSD patients; it is sometimes negatively characterized this way in the medical literature. Thus far, the majority of studies involving cannabinoids and PTSD have been conducted from an addiction perspective – will cannabis harm PTSD patients and turn them into addicts? – but that may be changing.

Increasingly researchers are recognizing the limitations of the addiction framework, which overlooks the crucial role that the endocannabinoid system plays in helping us forget painful memories, a normal process that is somehow dysregulated when one experiences PTSD.

In some cases, THC and other plant cannabinoids can provide enough relief so that PTSD sufferers are able to embark upon the task of making sense of their traumatic memories and begin the healing process. None of that can happen without quality sleep.

“If you can’t sleep your world goes to hell in a hand basket real fast,” said Al Byrne, a U.S. Navy veteran and medical marijuana advocate.

Many military veterans and victims of sexual abuse are using cannabis to treat their PTSD-related symptoms. A 2016 case study provided clinical data that validated the use of CBD-rich oil as a safe and effective treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with PTSD.

Pharmaceuticals provided minimal relief for a 10-year-old girl who had been sexually abused as a young child. And her meds caused major adverse side effects. But a CBD-rich oil regimen resulted in “a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep.”

This is not an isolated example. CBD-rich oil, an increasingly popular treatment for anxiety and sleep problems, has emerged in recent years as a viable alternative to Big Pharma drugs.

Dosing for slumber

Cannabis therapeutics is personalized medicine – and this is certainly true with respect to using the herb and its components to treat sleep disorders. The effectiveness of cannabis as a sleep aid is highly variable, depending on the individual user, how the remedy is administered, its cannabinoid ratio and aromatic terpene profile, the timing and dosage – all these factors come into play and influence different outcomes.

Success may rest upon how well one manages the psychoactive qualities of cannabis. As with any medicine, there are some risks involved when consuming cannabis to sleep better. Short-term use of cannabis may decrease sleep onset latency (how long it takes to fall asleep). But this improvement may weaken over time. Tolerance develops with chronic consumption, which can impair long term sleep quality.

Too much of a good thing can be problematic for frequent recreational cannabis users, who may begin to experience a reduction in slow-wave deep sleep, leaving the individual feeling like they are not well rested. Could this be because recreational users tend to prefer large amounts of THC-dominant cannabis varieties?

Sleep disturbance, ironically, is perhaps the most notable withdrawal symptom when a heavy user stops smoking marijuana. Compared to kicking addictive pharmaceuticals, cannabis withdrawal is a minor discomfort with symptoms typically lasting for a few days (sometimes a few weeks) after cessation. And cannabis, unlike prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids, has never killed anyone.

Medical cannabis users often experience better outcomes with lower doses, especially when they are treating something in addition to sleep disturbances, such as pain, spasticity, or post traumatic stress disorder. Based on the available literature reviewed by Project CBD, it appears that a 1:1 CBD:THCpreparation will most likely confer restorative sleep. Cannabis-naïve patients may find relief with as little as 2.5 mg of THC and 2.5mg CBD. A somewhat higher dose – 5 to 15 mg each of THC and CBD – may work wonders for experienced cannabis users.

The combination of odiferous terpenes present in a given cannabis strain or product can also significantly impact sleep. Individual terpenes have sedating or stimulating effects, thus affecting the sleep-wake cycle. Terpenes can be therapeutic in their own right. As important modulators of cannabinoids, terpenes contribute significantly to how a given cannabis strain or cultivar makes one feel.

Sedating terpenes include terpinolene, nerolidol, phytol, linalool, and myrcene. In addition to causing the infamous “couch-lock” effect at high levels (+0.5%), myrcene can be mildly stimulating at lower levels. Those trying to address pain and sleep issues should consider cannabis remedies that include beta-caryophyllene, as this terpene is also a strong anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever.

Practical Tips for Improving Sleep

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 27 percent of respondents indicated that they used complementary, non-pharmaceutical therapies for fatigue and 26.4 percent for sleep deprivation.

Here are a few simple lifestyle modifications and holistic healing options that may improve your sleep quality.

  1. Create an inviting sleep environment. Having a comfortable bed in a relaxing environment is key to quality sleep. Reduce outside or harsh overhead lighting and maintain a comfortable temperature for sleeping. And, reduce noise. If you are a light sleeper consider using a white noise machine to drown out unwanted sound. Salt lamps may help clean the air by reducing negative ions (and provide enough light to get to the bathroom without intruding on sleep).
  2. Have a sleep routine. Going to bed and waking at the same time seven days a week is optimal. Additionally, it is helpful for some people to have a relaxing bedtime routine that lets the mind know it is time to get sleepy. This may include a small warm cup of milk or green tea 45 minutes to an hour before bed, or a few simple yoga stretches to relax, or an Epsom salt bath.
  3. Avoid overstimulation. It is best not to have a television in the bedroom and not to watch violence shows before bedtime, especially for those with adrenal fatigue. Avoid reading or using your phone, laptop or tablet in bed.
  4. Exercise daily. Regardless if your preference is jogging, weightlifting, gardening, walking or tai chi, do some form of exercise every day. But avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime.
  5. Avoid stimulants after 1PM. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, certain herbal supplements and drugs may leave you feeling “hyper” and overstimulated, which can impede the brain’s ability to transition into sleep.
  6. Aromatherapy. Many of the sedating essential oil components present in cannabis can also be found in other plants at your local grocery or natural products store, along with misters that spay the oil into the air. Aromatherapy can be relaxing and very helpful to induce sleep. Lavender essential oil, for example, can be help to manage certain sleep disorders.
  7. Use sleep supporting herbs. It is best to work with a healer or someone knowledgeable about herbs and supplements instead of buying whatever sleep cure is touted on the internet. Herbs that have sleep-promoting properties include Valerian, Kava, German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Passion Flower, California Poppy, Hops, Lemon Balm, Linden, Skullcap, and Oats. Visit the American Herbalist Guild to find a qualified practitioner.
  8. Nutritional supplements. Consult your physician about products made with Kava, calming minerals, and taking the right kind of magnesium at night.
  9. Other therapies. In addition to cannabis, safe holistic healing alternatives include cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, and bright light therapy for circadian rhythm disorders.

Footnotes

1 In 2014, there were 47,055 accidental opiate overdose deaths. Dr. Daniel Kripke estimates one third of them also involved various hypnotics as a cause of death. It should be noted that cannabis has been shown to improve safety and effectiveness of opiates making it possible for the patient to take a lower dose, thereby reducing the risk of side-effects including death. In some cases, cannabis can replace both the opiate as an effective painkiller and the hypnotic.

2 Highly complex, the sleep-wake cycle is driven by various neurochemicals and brain pathways. Neuroscientist and sleep researcher Dr. Eric Murillo-Rodriguez, says that “Sleep is generated by sleep-promoting neurons placed in the anterior hypothalamus that utilize GABA to inhibit wake-promoting regions in the hypothalamus and brainstem. Then, the brainstem regions inhibited during wake and slow wave sleep become active during rapid eye movement sleep (REM).”

3 In “The effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep: a systematic review of human studies,” Gates et al scrutinized cannabis-related sleep studies prior to 2012. But they found “little consistency in the results [of] six studies with objective sleep measures. Slow wave sleep was described as increasing for a week in one study, whereas three studies reported a decrease in slow wave sleep, and one study showed no change. Rapid eye movement sleep was reported to increase in one study, decrease in a second study, while four studies showed no effect. Stage two sleep [see sidebar] was reported to increase in two studies, while four studies showed no effect. Sleep latency was reported to increase in one study, decrease on a high THC dose in a second study, while two studies showed no effect and two studies did not measure sleep latency.”

4A 2014 article by Babson & Bonn-Miller indicated that over 83 percent of surveyed patients taking cannabis for pain said they experienced improved sleep.

5Nicholson et al had similar results in a double-blind placebo-controlled with a 4-way crossover design study evaluating the effect of cannabis extracts on nocturnal sleep, early-morning performance, memory, and sleepiness in eight subjects ages 21-34 years old. A cross-over design is one where each group of participants take two or more interventions; in this case four different preparations were tested, including THC (15 mg) alone; THC and CBD together (5 mg each and 15 mg each); and a placebo. They scientists found that “although impaired memory was observed the next day when 15 mg THC was given alone overnight, there were no effects on memory when 15 mg THC was ingested with 15 mg CBD.” They also found that the effects of THC and CBD appeared to be dose dependent as evidenced by the fact that 7.5 mg of THC did not impair memory, but 15 mg did.

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

Sources

  • Americal Sleep Association. (2017, July 7). Sleep Statistics. Retrieved from American Sleep Associaton:https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep/sleep-statistics/
  • Babson, Kim A., Bonn-Miller, Marcel O. (2014). Sleep Disturbances: Implications for Cannabis Use, Cananbis Use Cessation, and Cananbis Use Treatment. Current Addiction Reports, 109-114.
  • Babson, Kimberly A. and James Sottile, Danielle Morabito. 2017. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: Review of the Literature.” Current Psychiatry Report.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 2). Sleep & Sleep Disorders. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
  • Ferguson, G. and Ware, M.A. (2015). Review Article: Sleep, Pain and Cananbis. Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy,https://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/review-article-sleep-pain-and-cannab….
  • Gates, Peter J and Lucy Albertella, Jan Copeland (2014). The effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep: a systemc review of human studies. Sleep Medicine Reviews,https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Gates/publication/260604558_T….
  • Gyllenhaal, Charlotte, et al. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp 229-251, 2000.
  • Kripke, D. (2016). Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit [version 1;.F1000 Research, https://mechanism.ucsd.edu/teaching/f16/cogs200/Kripke%202016%20F1000Res….
  • Lee, Martin A. Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific. New York: Scribner, 2013.
  • Mechoulam, R. (2015). Cannabis - The Israeli perspective. Basic Clinical Physiology Pharmacology,https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Raphael_Mechoulam2/publication/2823….
  • Mechoulam, Raphael and L.A. Parker (2013). The Endocannaboind System and the Brain. The Annual Review of Psychology, 21-47.
  • Murillo-Rodriquez, Eric and Jose Carlos Pastrana-Trejo, Mireille Salas-Crisostomo, and Miriel de-la-Cruz (2016). The Endocannabinoids System Modulating Levels of Consciousness, Emotions and Likely Dream Contents. CNS &Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets, 370-379.
  • Murillo-Rodriguez, E. (2008). The role of the CB1 receptor in the regulation of sleep. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 1420-1427.
  • National Institute of Health. (2017). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from National Institute of Health: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understa…
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke. (2017, July 23). Brain Basics; Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understa…
  • Nicholson, A. N., Turner, C., Stone, B. M., & Robson, P. J. (2004). Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 305-313.
  • Pava, Matthew J., Alexandros Makriyannis, David M. Lovinger (2016). Endocannabinoids Signaling Regulates Sleep Stability. PLoSOne, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152473.
  • Pava, Matthew J. et al (2014). Endocannabinoid Modulation of Cortical Up-States and NREM Sleep. PLoSONE,http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0088672.
  • Prospero-Garcia, Oscar et al (2016). Endocannabinoids and sleep. Neuroscience and Beobehavioral Reviews, 671-679.
  • Russo, Ethan B. (2007). Cannabis, Pain and Sleep: Lessons from Therapeutic Clinical Trials of Sativex, a Cannabis-Based Medicine. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 1729-1743.
  • Russo, E. B. (2001). Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs. Bringhamptom: The Hawthorne Press, Inc.
  • Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effect. British Journal of Pharmacology, 1344-1364.
  • Roth, T. (2007). Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, S7-S10.
  • Shannon, Scott and Janet Opila-Lehman. (2016) Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Permanente Journal. Fall 2016.
  • Scheet, F. A. (2016). Hungry for Sleep: A Role for Endocannabinoids. Sleep, 495-496.
 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds

The Kids Are Alright: Today's Teens Aren't As Into Drugs, Alcohol, or Theft

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:00
Teen substance abuse disorders have declined by nearly half in the past 12 years, even as pot legalization spreads and the opioid epidemic festers.

Today’s teens are far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs, and are also less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according to a study of more than 200,000 teens.

The findings come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of 12- to 17-year-olds from all 50 states that is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The data include information from 2003 through 2014, the last year for which survey numbers are available. A total of 210,599 teens—13,000 to 18,500 each year—were part of the study.

The number of substance-use disorders among 12- to 17-year olds declined by 49 percent over the 12-year span, along with a simultaneous 34 percent decline in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting, assault, stealing, selling drugs, or carrying a handgun.

The drop in substance abuse among teens parallels findings in other recent surveys, but until now no one has looked at how the drop-off may be linked to other behavioral issues.

“We’ve known that teens overall are becoming less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and that’s good news,” says Richard A. Grucza, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis and first author of the study in Psychological Medicine.

“But what we learned in this study is that the declines in substance abuse are connected to declines in delinquency. This suggests the changes have been driven more by changes in adolescents themselves more than by policies to reduce substance abuse or delinquent behavior.”

Previous studies show that teens are delaying sex and using seat belts more often than their parents and grandparents. The new work focused on substance-use disorders—involving alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opioids, and the abuse of other prescription drugs or nonprescription drugs—and delinquent behaviors.

“It’s not clear what is driving the parallel declines,” Grucza says. “New policies—including things like higher cigarette taxes and stricter anti-bullying policies—certainly have a positive effect.

“But seeing these trends across multiple behaviors suggests that larger environmental factors are at work. These might include reductions in childhood lead exposure, lower rates of child abuse, and neglect, and better mental health care for children.”

Although heroin and opioid abuse have become epidemic in many areas of the United States, the use among teens has fallen, the survey data show.

“Opioid problems continue to increase among adults,” Grucza says. “But among the 12- to 17-year-old population, we saw a drop of nearly 50 percent.”

Based on the survey data, Grucza and his team estimated that in 2014 there were nearly 700,000 fewer adolescents with substance-use disorders than in 2003. And because it’s possible for a person to be addicted to nicotine while abusing alcohol or marijuana, the researchers estimate the total number of substance-use disorders among adolescents declined by about 2 million.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health supported the work.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Original Study DOI: 10.1017/S0033291717002999, 

 

 Related Stories
Categories: News Feeds