How Medical Marijuana Can Help America’s Seniors

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Did you know that senior citizens are the fastest growing population of new medical marijuana patients? Now that the stigma of medical marijuana is lifting, it’s no surprise that seniors are taking more control of their health and the medication they are putting into their bodies with this shift. If medication is just medication, what makes medical marijuana better for senior citizens than traditional medications?

Cut Down (Or Eliminate) Prescription Medication

One of the main complaints both senior citizens and their caregivers discuss is their daily medications. Often, both parties feel they take one medication to offset the side effect of another. This can lead to an endless cycle of medication. Studies have been shown that medical marijuana targets conditions that affect many senior citizens like chronic pain, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and inflammation. Not to mention helping treat the symptoms of such diseases as cancer and cancer treatment, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Many strains of medical marijuana have also been shown to work for a variety of pain-related symptoms. This leads to a reduction in the use of pharmaceutical pain medications, including opioids.

Treating Depression and Mood Disorders

Studies have shown that senior citizens who consume medical marijuana are less likely to be diagnosed with depression. Symptoms of depression in senior citizens can manifest in seclusion, lack of motivation, and rapid decline in health. Mood-boosting medications, such as medical marijuana, play a large role in declining depressive moods and increased sociability. This is largely caused by two factors:

  • Cannabis Community: Unlike some prescription drugs or alcohol abuse, cannabis is largely used as a social or communal activity. Being a part of an active community leads to lower isolation rates.
  • Happy Together: The mood-boosting properties of THC and CBD do more than just promote happiness. The therapeutic benefits of laughter include relaxed muscles, a decrease in pain, increased immune function, and a decrease in stress levels.

The Manageable Side Effects of Medical Marijuana

Just like with any medication, medical marijuana does have its side effects. These side effects tend to be harmless, and easier to control than many prescription drugs. Side effects tend to include:

  • Dry mouth, or excessive thirst
  • Excessive appetite (helpful for those suffering from disease-induced appetite loss)
  • Sleep issues like fatigue or insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Short-term memory loss

Many patients often deal with these side effects by finding an alternative strain or adjusting their dosage to fit their lifestyle.

How To Become A Medical Marijuana Patient

It may be a bit overwhelming to be a new medical marijuana patient, but you can start by following a few simple steps.

  1. Research your state’s medical marijuana laws. Medical marijuana is not protected on a federal level and is not available in all states.
  2. Look into different strains and what treatment options they can offer. What works for one person might not work for you, but if you have an idea of what you’re looking for, dispensary owners will be able to help or find an alternative.
  3. Speak with a medical doctor to see if medical marijuana is right for you. Like any medicine, it may interact with your current medications.

Are you a senior citizen new to medical marijuana? How have you seen a change in your overall health?

This article was originally published on www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 28, 2018.

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How Medical Marijuana Can Help Curb The Opioid Epidemic

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In the beginning of February, the Food and Drug Administration requested Endo International PLC to take its Opana ER painkiller off the market, saying the drug’s benefits no longer outweigh the risks. This marked the first time the agency called for a removal of an opioid painkiller for public health reasons. Opioid addiction and death by overdose are at an all-time high in the United States, causing patients, doctors, and even lawmakers to search for alternative pain relief options — mainly medical marijuana.

In the most-detailed examination to date, the RAND Corporation found that states with legalized medical marijuana were associated with lower levels of opioid deaths. It was also concluded that opioid deaths began to rise once again in 2010, around the same time states began tightening requirements on sales by dispensaries.

With regards to the findings, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, the study’s co-author and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center stated, “Our findings are consistent with previous studies showing an association between the legalization of medical marijuana and lower deaths from overdoses of opioids.”

She also stated that the mechanism for the finding was due to loosely regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. ‘This is a sign that medical marijuana, by itself, will not be the solution to the nation’s opioid crisis today.”

Working Towards FDA Approval

Experts say an FDA-approved marijuana-based painkiller would ensure consistent dosing, potency, and availability. As we all know, marijuana is considered a schedule 1 substance — a dangerous drug with no medicinal value — meaning there are no FDA-approved painkillers with marijuana derivatives. But, that’s not stopping companies like Intec Pharma Ltd, Nemus Bioscience, and Axim Biotechnologies Inc from developing new drugs for testing.

“Doctors like to be able to write a prescription and know that whatever they wrote is pure and from a blinded, placebo-controlled trial,” Nemus’s CEO Brian Murphy said in an interview with Reuters.

Rival Axim, based in New York, is conducting preclinical studies on a chewing gum containing synthetic CBD and THC. The company is hopeful they can submit an FDA application to start a trial on opioid-dependent patients this year. Israel-based Intec announced the start of study testing its painkiller made from naturally-derived CBD and THC extracts.

Alternatives and Legislation

Pfizer Inc and Biogen Inc are current drugmakers that are developing a non-opioid painkiller, and are in the advanced clinical studies. While that’s great news, opioids are still widely prescribed, especially for post-surgical patients.

Other independent scientists are looking to find non-pharmaceutical alternatives to opioids, but have extreme difficulty accessing the government-approved marijuana to even conduct the research.

“It’s taken me seven years to get the DEA license,” said Dr Sue Sisley, who is planning to conduct an FDA-regulated study evaluating whether marijuana can help opioid-dependent patients.

And while both big corporations and independent researchers work to find alternatives, a recently unveiled, Republican-led healthcare bill proposed large cuts to the Medicaid budget, cutting what is essential coverage for drug addiction treatment, which advocates say will hamper the fight against opioid abuse.

At medicalmarijuana.com, we support the fight to find safe, alternative ways to treat pain relief. How has medical marijuana, or alternative pain relievers helped you in your quest for a pain-free life. We’d love to hear from you.

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 20, 2018.

How To Use Medical Marijuana When Smoking Is Not An Option

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With the stigma of medical marijuana fading quickly, more and more patients are starting the journey to natural pain relief, without the use of opioids or traditional pain medication. But for some, the idea of smoking a product for relief can be intimidating and off-putting. We’ve broken down the most common non-smoking medical marijuana delivery systems so you can decide which one is right for you.

Vaporizers

Vaping has become one of the more popular ways to consume medical marijuana in recent years. With traditional smoking, the plant gets hot enough for combustion to occur and smoke to form, which can be hard for some people to inhale. When vaping, the plant is heated at a much lower temperature, releasing the medical benefits without the smoke. Vaporizers can range anywhere from large home units, to pocket-friendly pens. While you can find some less expensive start-up kits, vaporizers and accessories usually run anywhere from $100-$300 USD.

  • Pros: No combustible smoke. Immediate relief.
  • Cons: Expensive start-up costs. Device needs warm-up time. Device needs to be recharged

Oils and Tinctures

Many people opt to use an oil or tincture as their delivery method. Both are usually ingested under the tongue or along the inside of the cheek. Most are available in a dropper or a spray bottle. For both the oil and tincture, THC and CBD are extracted from the plant by either alcohol extraction or approved extraction machines. For making the oil, the extracted cannabinoid is added to a carrier oil (such as coconut oil). For a tincture, the plant is placed in an alcohol and left to cure for a couple of months. After cured, the liquid is strained. Both oils and tinctures should be placed in a dark bottle and stored in a cool, dark place.

Oils and tinctures are some of the highest and most-potent products available but come with the benefit of being able to control your dosage for more consistency. When starting oils or tinctures, it’s best to try one droplet or spray and wait 10 minutes and then add a dose every 10 minutes to achieve the desired effect. Once you know what dosage works for you, you can drop or spray as needed.

  • Pros: Easy to control your dose. Easy on the lungs. The preferred method for disabled individuals and children
  • Cons: Expensive for those who need a higher dosage

Edibles and Drinks

Edibles go beyond the pot brownies of the 60’s and 70’s. But, the world of edible marijuana has grown more diverse in recent decades, even including world-renowned marijuana food chefs. One of the easiest ways to introduce medical marijuana into your everyday diet is to create a butter or oil and cook your food the way you normally would.

As for drinks, your local medical marijuana dispensary probably sells marijuana-infused juices, smoothies, and teas. You can also make your own at home by steeping a bud, a small piece of wax, or a bit of tincture in hot water and adding it to your beverage of choice.

One thing to remember, the cannabinoids are released through the digestive tract, so it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in. Because of this, it can be hard to ingest the correct dose, so start small and start slow.

  • Pros: Great for stress relief. Long-lasting results,
  • Cons: Can be difficult to calculate dosage. Longer wait time for relief.

Topicals and Patches

For patients that want localized-pain relief without the effects of feeling “high,” topicals are the way to go. Marijuana-infused topicals can include creams, balms, lotions, patches, and even lubricants. They are absorbed through the skin, and though the topical contains THC, most topicals won’t enter the bloodstream, only your cannabinoid receptors. There is some debate over the efficacy of topicals and patches, though many claim to have almost immediate localized pain relief.

  • Pros: Localized pain relief. No “high” feeling.
  • Cons: Does not help with cancer symptoms, epilepsy, glaucoma, or PTSD. The efficacy is debatable amongst the medical marijuana community.

Capsules

For those that want their medicine to look like actual medicine, you can’t get any more traditional than a capsule, or pill. Capsules are able to deliver the most controlled dose on the market and don’t require any preparation or clean up, which is a big plus to new or intimidated consumers.

  • Pros: Precise dosing. No prep or cleanup.
  • Cons: Takes time to achieve the desired effect.

Suppositories

Suppositories, though not the first choice for the consumers are actually the most efficient way to deliver the benefits of medical marijuana. Because it is administered rectally, it is absorbed into the bloodstream much quicker and delivers around 80% of the medicinal effects. This is due to a lack of interaction with the liver, which metabolizes THC before it reaches your bloodstream. Suppositories will not give you the high of traditional marijuana and have no known side effects. There are also vaginal suppositories meant to relax muscles around the ovaries, cervix, and uterus, without any psychotropic effects.

  • Pros: Highest efficacy of product. Immediate and long-lasting effects.
  • Cons: Can be difficult or embarrassing to administer. Must be refrigerated.

Are you using a form of non-smoking medical marijuana? Have you noticed a difference in your pain levels, or how you feel after taking your dosage? We’d love to hear from you!

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 15, 2018.

Do You Have One Of These Common Medical Marijuana Ailments?

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With the many changes happening with medical and recreational marijuana, it can be hard not to be curious. Many patients are hoping to move to a more natural approach to pain relief and relief from constant sickness. It can be hard to determine whether or not medical marijuana is a good fit for your condition. We’ve put together the most common ailments that doctors prescribe medical marijuana for.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment-Related Symptoms

One of the first non-disputed ailments used to treat the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, the general term applies to more than 100 conditions. Each has their own characteristics, but symptoms usually include fatigue, substantial pain, fever, cough, severe weight loss. Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery often lead to pain and a whole host of other side effects. THC has been proven to reduce nausea and vomiting and helping the patient regain their appetite.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disorder that debilitates your central nervous system and is often fatal. Symptoms include painful joints, headaches, muscles spasms and tremors, bowel issues, and painful headaches. The current course of treatment for MS can lead to heart damage and cause sufferers to be more susceptible to infections. Medical marijuana has been shown to reduce pain and seizure-like symptoms.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes patients to convulse and in some cases lose consciousness. While the cause of epilepsy is unknown, in many cases it is the result of infections, tumors, and brain damage. Side effects of traditional medications used to treat epilepsy include difficulty sleeping, changes in mood, double vision, and general unsteadiness. Some Epilepsy sufferers use medical marijuana in conjunction with traditional medications. Some find that medical marijuana helps to control their convulsion so well, they no longer have the need for traditional medication.

Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Just like those suffering from cancer or AIDS, depression and anxiety are medical conditions that can affect the way someone goes through everyday life. Sufferers of extreme anxiety can have intense reactions such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating. People with depression can feel these symptoms while also including, insomnia, feelings of apprehension or dread, restlessness, and an inability to concentrate.

Many treatments are available for both issues, though for some it had be hard to determine which one. Medical Marijuana has been shown to reduce extreme anxiety, as well as produce a calming effect, leading to someone suffering from anxiety and/or depression to continue their everyday activities. A CBD-heavy strain is usually the first course of action with medical marijuana.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease affecting the eyes which lead to ocular pressure, vision problems, and eventually blindness. Severe pain, vomiting, nausea, and tunnel vision are a few of the symptoms that an estimated three million sufferers endure. Traditional treatments such as surgery are used to lower the intraocular pressure.

In 2003, The American Academy of Ophthalmology stated that medical marijuana and its derivatives can lower the intraocular pressure of the eye when administered by an IV, or orally. This reduction in pressure results in a slower progression of the disease.

AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV. It causes a severe breakdown of the immune system, making it very difficult for the body to combat other diseases and infections. Even though there have been significant advances in treatment options, the disease is almost always terminal. Throughout the course of the disease, patients may suffer from extreme weight loss, vomiting and nausea, excessive fatigue and weakness, chills, and fever.

Medical marijuana has been shown to increase appetite, combating what is known as “wasting syndrome,” and allowing the patient to receive nutrients through food again. Medical marijuana also reduces nausea and vomiting, and relieves pain. Many AIDS patients who use medical marijuana find they no longer need to take opioids to decrease their severe pain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease that affects a person’s ability to move. It is estimated that about one million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease. Typical signs of Parkinson’s range anywhere from a subtle tremor to increased jerking or shaking movements, and can cause partial paralysis of the body. As the disease progresses, the patient may begin to suffer from dystonia, changes in speech, difficulty swallowing, hunched posture, and loss of fine and gross motor skills.

Many of the typical medications prescribed for Parkinson’s come with significant negative side-effects. Medical marijuana can offer a combination of anti-anxiety, antioxidant, and pain relief. Medical marijuana is currently available to Parkinson’s patients in 28 states.

Medical marijuana has shown to be effective for treatments of over 100 more ailments in a variety of different states. If you want to know if your ailment is covered in your medical marijuana state, contact your local dispensary for a complete list of what’s available to you.

Are you currently using medical marijuana to treat your symptoms? How has it helped you in your journey? We would love to hear from you.

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on February 7, 2018. 

 

The Need For “Organic” Marijuana

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When taking medication, consumers want their product to be as clean as possible. With the continued rapid growth of not just medical marijuana but recreational marijuana, growers are looking for ways to cut the expense of pesticide “cleaning” and eliminate future potential lawsuits.

States and Pesticide Removal

The State of Colorado brought up the concern of cannabis being grown with pesticides in 2012, but could not receive guidance for funding for research from the federal government due to marijuana federal illegality. In combination with this and growers opposition to changes in the decontamination process, the state of Colorado has kept inspections at low priority. While many entrepreneurs have taken this opportunity to pivot into becoming “cleaning” services for growers, some growers and retailers have continued with their original practices, leaving them susceptible to lawsuits.

But Colorado is not the only state with concerns. The State of Oregon recently counter 900 failures of pesticide removal from marijuana, including one instance where 370 batches had to be recalled due to excessive pesticide levels. And, in 2016, the City of Seattle issued alerts to consumers of the potential risks of pesticide ingestion when inhaling.

What Happens When You Inhale Pesticides

While the known effects of inhaling pesticides are limited due to lack or research, it is known that pesticides when smoked enter your bloodstream similarly to being injected. Currently, the medical community is relating the effects of pesticide smoke inhalation to those that have had overexposure to pesticides in other forms, most notably field workers and people that have ingested high levels through food.

  • The minor effects of overexposure can lead to: abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, as well as skin and eye problems.
  • Long-term effects of overexposure can lead to: Cancers including, leukemia, lymphoma, brain, kidney, breast, prostate, pancreas, liver, lung, and skin cancers. Neurological issues and limited brain functions. Reproductive issues including birth defects, fetal death and altered fetal growth, and impaired fertility in males.

The Need For “Organic” Weed

Companies like Clean Green provide certification to growers that use clean, sustainable, natural and organically-based practices. Because the term “organic” is federally regulated by the USDA, and marijuana is not yet a federally recognized crop, it cannot legally be recognized as organic, no matter how environmentally friendly the cultivation process is.

In May of 2017, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington signed a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Ann Rivers, paving the way for Washington to create what is believed to be the first system in the United States to certify marijuana as organic. The new law creates “a voluntary program for the certification and regulation of organic marijuana products.”

Sen. River said to the media “This is consumer-driven. As we have moved forward in the legal marijuana market, we’re hearing people say, ‘We don’t want any pesticides, fungicides, none of that stuff in our weed.’”

What are your concerns regarding pesticides and marijuana? Let us know!

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on January 7, 2018.

Why The Weed Industry Needs More Diversity

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As the marijuana industry continues to grow, growers and retailers are looking for ways to become a more diverse community and business. The marijuana industry is especially inclusive in regards of age, but is somewhat lacking with regards to women and people of color. But, with the introduction of professional networking groups like Minority Cannabis and Women Grow, that is on the road to change.

Women In the Marijuana Industry
A recent survey from the Cannabis Consumers Coalition has stated that a number of women consuming marijuana is now roughly equal to that of men. Jane West, cannabis entrepreneur and founder of the group Women Grow believes women should be flooding the marijuana industry.

“First, I want every woman to know that there’s a place for you in this industry, and there will never be a better time to find it,” West says. “The legal cannabis industry doesn’t have the entrenched patriarchal power structures that dominate most of professional life, and the sector is growing fast, so jump in and find a way to apply your skill set. Create your vision, and think big.”

People of Color in the Marijuana Industry
A recent investigation from Buzzfeed found that of the 3,600 storefront marijuana dispensaries, only around 1% are black-owned companies. Many believe this to be a direct result of the increased likelihood of marijuana-related arrests in the black community. According to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana use is roughly equal amongst black and white individuals, though black individuals are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. While over half the United States have some form of legalized marijuana, some of these states bar people who have been convicted of drug crimes from owning, working, or investing in legal marijuana businesses.

While issues like diversity and decriminalization are controversial topics for the marijuana industry, more people of color are speaking out through conventions, panels, and the media to make sure their voices are heard.

Marvin Washington, New York Jets defensive lineman and cannabis investor thinks minorities have an historic chance to turn around the industry, and the perception of people of color within the industry, around. “We have the opportunity to do this right and make sure the people that suffered when cannabis was in the black market . . . have the opportunity to participate in the upswing,” he said.

Why Diversity Matters
The inherent value of bringing new cultures and perspectives to an industry is only a small reason diversity in the legal marijuana industry is important. Removing the negative social stigma of marijuana, as well as easing some of the legal barriers that inhibit marijuana dispensary expansion, will bring more jobs and more economic growth, especially in minority communities. Danielle Schumacher at THC Staffing Group, a business dedicated to helping diversify the legal marijuana industry agrees.

“Diversity is far more than just a moral issue,” Schumacher noted. “In the 21st century, it’s a business and economic necessity.”

Originally published at www.medicalmarijuana.com on November 8, 2017.

How Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Can Increase Home Values

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It’s no secret that medical and recreational marijuana have a striking amount consumer benefits, but here’s a surprising benefit you might not be aware of — increased home values! A recent study published in the academic journal Real Estate Economics concluded that homes within 0.1 miles of Denver’s 103 marijuana dispensaries saw increased home valuations by up to 8.4%. Based on average housing prices in those areas, the value was estimated to be $27,000 for a typical, single-family home.

Conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Georgia, and California State University, these claims are based on real estate appreciation since January 1, 2014, when recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado.

What This Means For State Governments

Researchers and politicians from states that have enacted or are looking to pass marijuana legalization bills are now looking to factual, statistical evidence from cities like Denver on the benefits of having a local dispensary. For example, local San Francisco lawmakers have been making great strides to keep marijuana retailers in already zoned locations, despite the plea of the city’s Chamber of Commerce to do just the opposite.

Moussa Diop, a leading researcher of the study states, “The presence of retail marijuana establishments clearly had a short-term positive impact on nearby properties in Denver. This suggests that in addition to the sales and business taxes generated from the retail marijuana industry, municipalities may experience an increase in property taxes.”

Others suggest that it’s not only the prospect of growing and legally using marijuana that is causing the increased demand for housing but the job prospects associated in those legalized states.

“The legalization affects both the demand and the supply in the residential housing market,” says economics professor Cheng Cheng, an author on the study. “Areas where it’s legal are “going to attract more home buyers, including marijuana users as well as entrepreneurs and job seekers.”

What This Means for Politicians

Many of our current lawmakers (and some real estate investors with serious cash) have feigned concern over whether marijuana dispensaries will damage local property values. But, with these long-term, factual based statistics proving just the opposite, politicians and lobbyists alike have the opportunity to spin what constituents are already asking for into a positive for them — “I’m pushing for legalization because it’s good for my community.”

If you live close to a legal dispensary and have seen first hand the increase of your home valuation, we’d love to hear from you!

Originally posted at www.medicalmarijuana.com on October 25, 2017.