Oxford Univ Study: Pain and Cannabis

Brain imaging insight into 

cannabis as a pain killer.

 


The pain relief offered by cannabis varies greatly between individuals, a brain imaging study carried out at the University of Oxford suggests.

The researchers found that an oral tablet of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tended to make the experience of pain more bearable, rather than actually reduce the intensity of the pain.

MRI brain imaging showed reduced activity in key areas of the brain that substantiated the pain relief the study participants experienced. 

'We have revealed new information about the neural basis of cannabis-induced pain relief,' says Dr Michael Lee of Oxford University's Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB). 

He adds: 'Our small-scale study, in a controlled setting, involved 12 healthy men and only one of many compounds that can be derived from cannabis. That's quite different from doing a study with patients. My view is the findings are of interest scientifically but it remains to see how they impact the debate about use of cannabis-based medicines. Understanding cannabis' effects on clinical outcomes, or the quality of life of those suffering chronic pain, would need research in patients over long time periods.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Pain. The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Long-term pain, often without clear cause, is a complex healthcare problem. Different approaches are often needed to help patient manage pain, and can include medications, physiotherapy and other forms of physical therapy, and psychological support. For a few patients, cannabis or cannabis-based medications remain effective when other drugs have failed to control pain, while others report very little effect of the drug on their pain but experience side-effects.

'We know little about cannabis and what aspects of pain it affects, or which people might see benefits over the side-effects or potential harms in the long term. We carried out this study to try and get at what is happening when someone experiences pain relief using cannabis,' says Dr Lee.

The Oxford research team carried out a series of MRI scans with each of the 12 volunteers at the FMRIB centre in Oxford. 

The Rest of the Research: University of Oxford

Hemp Energy: Sounds like a joke, but it’s not!


Among the many uses of hemp: food, textiles, paper and even fuel.

We’re still a ways from a hemp-powered car, but industrial hemp has made a number of headlines in past years, especially as an alternative energy source, as people have begun to take a closer look at the low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of Cannabis sativa. Universities have studied the plant, politicians have explored the subject and at least one government has dived head on.

First, a bit of background on hemp and its biofuel qualities. In a blog post for The Guardian about alternative fuels, Giulio Sica explains the qualities that make hemp a good energy source:
[Hemp] has been successfully used for many years to create bioethanol and biodiesel, is environmentally friendlier to produce than sugar beet, palm oil, corn or any of the crops mentioned in the report and can grow in practically any temperate to hot climate leaving the ground in better condition than when it was planted.
Growing hemp is easier than many other plants. The plant is efficient, bred to improve quality, yield, stress tolerance and decreased cost per ton. 

Furthermore, hemp grows quickly while also requiring less energy and fertilizer, and doesn’t require chemicals after planting. It can even help the farm by breaking the disease cycle of other crops. Sica considers it "a perfect crop to offset the carbon currently produced by fossil fuels."

Cannabis seeds, often discarded, contain the plant’s oils that can be turned into fuel. At the University of Connecticut, researchers found industrial hemp to contain viable qualities for producing biodiesel. Hemp biodiesel produced by graduate students at the school had a 97 percent conversion efficiency. It will be interesting to see the university’s role in this alternative fuel source, since it owns a patent on a biodiesel reactor system that can make fuel out of various inputs, including hemp.

Courtesy: How Stuff Works

STUDY: Alcohol is bad for the Brain not Marijuana

The researchers, from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, performed the study on 92 16- to 20-year-olds. The scientists scanned their brains both before and after an 18-month period. Over the course of the 18 months, half of the teens, who already had an extensive track record with alcohol and marijuana, continued their vices as they had before. The other half continued to abstain or drink a minimal amount, like they too had done before the study.

In addition to the brain scans, the study also required a detailed toxicology report and substance use assessment. The teens also were interviewed every six months. Researchers did not check the teens’ cognitive ability, but simply took brain scans.

The researchers found that, after the year and a half was over, kids who had drank five or more alcoholic beverages twice a week had lost white brain matter. That means that they could have impaired memory, attention, and decision-making into adulthood. The teens that smoked marijuana on a regular basis had no such reduction.
 Read the rest of the Study: Salon

MMJ GROW TIP Want Bigger Plants? Get to the Root of the Matter


Plant scientists have imaged and analyzed, for the first time, how a potted plant's roots are arranged in the soil as the plant develops. In this study, to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on 30th June, the team has also found that doubling plant pot size makes plants grow over 40% larger.

From their 3-D MRI root scans, the researchers observed that potted plants quickly extend their roots to the pot's walls. It is likely that the plants use their roots to 'sense' the size of the pot, although the details of how the roots relay the message about the pot's size remain the plants' secret.

They also looked at 65 independent studies across a wide range of species including tomato, corn, pine tree, cactus, wheat, and cotton plants, and found that all species reach larger sizes when grown in a bigger pot. On average, doubling pot size allowed plants to grow 43% larger.

Dr Hendrik Poorter (Forschungszentrum J├╝lich, Germany) who led the study, said: "There has been commercial interest in seeing how small pots can be, but our aim was to see how big a pot needs to be to avoid affecting plant experiments."

The work is relevant for gardeners too. Poorter added, "After this study, I immediately changed the pot size for all the plants I had in my house."

Read More: Science Daily

Study: Cannabis Associated With Lower Diabetes Risk


Adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than those with no history of cannabis consumption, according to clinical trial data published in the British Medical Journal.
 
Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles assessed the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use among adults aged 20 to 59 in a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults. The study included four groups: non-marijuana users (61.0%), past marijuana users (30.7%), light (one to four times/month) (5.0%) and heavy (more than five times/month) current marijuana users (3.3%). Diabetes was defined based on self-report or abnormal glycaemic parameters.

Researchers hypothesized that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes would be reduced in marijuana users because of the presence of various cannabinoids that possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.

Investigators reported that past and present cannabis consumers possessed a lower prevalence of adult onset diabetes, even after authors adjusted for social variables (ethnicity, level of physical activity, etc.), despite all groups possessing a similar family history of DM. Researchers did not find an association between cannabis use and other chronic diseases, including hypertension, stroke, myocradial infarction, or heart failure compared to nonusers.

Past and current cannabis users did report engaging in more frequent physical activity than nonusers, but also possessed higher overall levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. By contrast, the highest prevalence of marijuana consumers were found among those with the lowest glucose levels.

Read More: NORML


Cannabinoids May Slow Brain Aging


Marijuana users aren’t known for their memory prowess but a new review suggests that drugs similar to marijuana’s active ingredients may hold promise for preventing— or even reversing— brain aging and possibly Alzheimer‘s and other degenerative brain diseases.

Since the mid 2000′s researchers have been building an appreciation for the power of marijuana-like substances that make up the brain’s cannabinoid systems. In animal experiments, for example, synthetic compounds similar to THC—marijuana’s main psychoactive component—have shown promise in preserving brain functions. A 2008 study even demonstrated that a THC-like substance reduced brain inflammation and improved memory in older rats.

The latest review, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggests that activating the brain’s cannabinoid system may trigger a sort of anti-oxidant cleanse, removing damaged cells and improving the efficiency of the mitochrondria, the energy source that powers cells, ultimately leading to a more robustly functioning brain.

Previous studies have linked cannabinoids to increased amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that protects brain cells and promotes the growth of new ones. Since new cell growth slows or stops during aging, increasing BDNF could potentially slow the decline in cognitive functions.

Activation of cannabinoid receptors can also reduce brain inflammation in several different ways, which may in turn suppress some of the disease processes responsible for degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Andras Bilkei-Gorzo of the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn in Germany and an author of the study, is encouraged by the expanding knowledge of the brain’s cannabinoid system and its potential for leading to new understanding of aging in the brain. “[C]annabinoid system activity is neuroprotective,” he wrote, and increasing it “could be a promising strategy for slowing down the progression of brain aging and for alleviating the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders.”

Still, Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, who conducted some of the research Bilkei-Gorzo included in the review, is aware of the delicate nature of cannabinoid research, given the controversial nature of medical marijuana issues. “The literature is a mess and he’s done a nice job organizing it,” he says. “He was positive about developing cannabinoid drugs without going overboard.”

Read More: TIME Health and Family

What to do if the Police are at the door.


Don’t be intimidated by police at your door. These rules will help protect your rights and improve your odds of avoiding a home search.

No Warrant, No Search!
The Supreme Court has ruled that the home is entitled to maximum search protection. Even if they have probable cause to believe something illegal is going on inside your home, the 4th Amendment requires police to get a signed search warrant from a judge to legally enter and search.


The major exception to the search warrant requirement is where consent is given to an officer’s request to enter. If, for example, an officer is legally invited into your home, any illegal items that are out in the open –  or in “plain view” — can be seized as evidence, which can lead to an arrest. That being the case, it’s always wise to keep any private items that you don’t want others to see out of view of your entrance area.


Don’t Let Them Inside
Determine the Reason for the Visit
Educate Friends and Family

More at: Flex Your Rights


Does Marijuana Boost Creativity?


For quite some time, numerous highly acclaimed artists, scientists, writers, musicians, and creative people of all sorts have claimed that marijuana holds enormous potential to enhance creativity and inspire the imagination.
 
Now, new scientific studies are beginning to confirm these claims, and researchers are starting to understand the psychological mechanisms behind how cannabis can improve the creative process.

There’s a common myth, perpetuated by the mainstream media, that people often mistakenly think that they’re brilliant and creative while under the influence of cannabis, only to find that their creations are worthless, or that their insights are meaningless nonsense, upon returning to normal everyday consciousness.

Let’s dispel this pervasive myth about cannabis right now, by taking the many anecdotal reports to heart, and looking at what the scientific studies have to say.

From Charles Baudelaire to George Carlin, Shakespeare to Carl Sagan, Louis Armstrong to Paul McCartney, Norman Mailer to Jack Nicholson, the list of accomplished creative people who have claimed a positive influence from their use of cannabis is truly impressive.

Read More: THCbiz

Marijuana helps relieve pain caused by MS


SAN DIEGO, California – Patients suffering from the nervous system disorder Multiple Sclerosis (MS) receive positive effects from smoking weed. A new study presents objective evidence that confirms earlier hypotheses on its results.The results can be found in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The researchers conducted a placebo controlled experiment. Half of the patients received cannabis cigarettes, whereas the other half received an identical placebo cigarette. The groups would switch after a short wash-out period. It turns out that the smoked weed worked better than the placebo cigarettes in reducing symptoms such as spasms and muscle contractions. These symptoms are hard to top with regular medication, which as a consequence will have a large influence in the quality of life of the patient.

Up until now there were signs of possible positive effects from cannabis, but that was nothing more than just anecdotes or oral intake, instead of smoking it. This is the fifth study of the University of California center for Medicinal Cannabis Research into the effects of marijuana usage on disease. Up until now all of these studies have found a positive effect.

Courtesy: The Stoned Society

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Busted for Pot

When can Police Search your Car?



While police generally need a warrant to search you or your property — during a traffic stop, police only need probable cause to legally search your vehicle. Probable cause means police must have some facts or evidence to believe you’re involved in criminal activity.

In other words, an officer’s hunch without evidence of illegal activity is not enough to legally search your car. Before searching, he must observe something real. Common examples of probable cause include the sight or smell of contraband in plain view or plain smell, or an admission of guilt for a specific crime. The presentation of any of these facts would allow an officer to perform a search and make an arrest.

Be aware that minor traffic violations (e.g. speeding, broken tail-light, or expired registration) are not considered probable cause.

Okay. So how can I keep police from searching my car?

Simply understanding the legal definition of probable cause probably won’t be enough to prepare you for the pressure and confusion of a real police encounter.  
READ MORE:  FlexYourRights.org

The Fourth Amendment 
to the Constitution of 
the United States of America

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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