THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, has a pretty bad reputation and it’s the reason why cannabis continues to be illegal in most of the world to this day.
Contrary to popular belief, however, THC does a lot more for the body and mind than just getting us stoned (although that’s certainly another plus side). It actually has numerous therapeutic uses – including benefits for the brain, digestive system, and more. Benefits that are often hard to come by with other natural remedies.
Cannabis use dates back thousands of years and has been used both recreationally and medicinally throughout the course of its history. As far as the modern, Western world goes, cannabis has been on its way to the mainstream for the last few decades. Beginning in 1970s when some cultural and spiritual changes were going on, then moving forward to 1996 when California became the first state to legalize cannabis use for medicinal reasons.
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What is THC?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, and it’s also the only known psychoactive one. In a way, THC has become synonymous with cannabis itself, as when most people refer to cannabis, pot, weed, etc., they’re usually talking about the THC-dominant variety. Due to the intoxicating effects it creates, it’s illegal in most countries, including the United States where it continues to be listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic – despite the fact that its safety profile is great and the risk of addiction and subsequent issues is minimal.
Regardless of the high and the politics though, THC does a lot more than just get people “stoned”. It has some very real and incredibly powerful medical benefits including pain relief, brain regeneration, and treatment for PTSD and depression – but we’ll cover this more in-depth a couple sections down.
Although controversial, studies on the therapeutic power of THC have been going on for decades. In 1964, THC was isolated for the first time by Israeli chemist and Professor, Raphael Mechoulam. It was the very first cannabinoid to be extracted from the plant and studied. This breakthrough marked the beginning of an era of cannabis research, leading to the discovery of other cannabinoids and compounds, as well as the human endocannabinoid system.
THC and the Endocannabinoid System
The reason cannabinoids are so effective and are able to target such a varied range of conditions is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors that can be found throughout the bodies of all mammals. We naturally create cannabinoids in our bodies – called endocannabinoids – which bond to these receptors to regulate different processes in our bodies and maintain internal balance and harmony.
So far, researchers have been able to identify two separate endocannabinoids: 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA), as well as two main receptors: CB1 and CB2. 2-AG is a full agonist of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors but it has a more direct association with the CB2 receptor. Because of this, 2-AG is thought to have a substantial influence over the immune system.
Anandamide – or AEA – is frequently referred to as the “bliss molecule” and it has a major impact on our state of homeostasis. AEA can help manage things such as appetite, sleep wake cycles, pain response, and then some. Our bodies continuously cycle through anandamide. It breaks down very easily, so it doesn’t stay in the body for long. However, our bodies create it on-demand to maintain homeostasis.
There is a condition referred to as ‘cannabinoid deficiency’, characterized by a body’s inability to produce endocannabinoids. Some experts theorize that many illnesses we suffer from, stem from this shortage of endocannabinoids.
THC is the only major cannabinoid that directly activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain – even CBD (cannabidiol) does not. Other compounds can actually interfere with the way THC impacts the CB receptors, which is precisely why dosing and ratios (THC:CBD), as well as the option to use different cannabinoids, are important factors when it comes to successfully using cannabis-based therapies.
One of the most common, non-recreational uses of cannabis has always been to treat pain. Whether that pain stems from inflammation, headaches, injury, chemotherapy, menstrual cramps, injury, or neuropathic pain – cannabis seems to be able to offer relief in every scenario. Due to the increase in opioid-related deaths, people are turning to cannabis as a way to safely treat their symptoms.
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide live with chronic pain, defined as persistent pain lasting longer than 6 months. Many of these individuals suffer from neuropathic pain or nerve-related pain. Many prescription medications are available to manage pain, but they are dangerous, addictive, and become increasingly less effective over time.
Studies show that THC activates pathways in the central nervous system that block pain signals from reaching the brain. Even an FDA-approved trial in 2013 confirmed THC’s effectiveness for curbing pain. Individuals experiencing neuropathic pain were given low doses of THC (1.29%) in the form of vaporized cannabis. The results, according to the documents, were that “A low dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo.”
Nausea, Wasting Syndrome, and other Digestive Issues
Anecdotal evidence, or personal accounts, will tell you that THC is actually one of the best remedies on earth for treating digestive issues. However, that’s unfortunately not enough to be considered evidence for most people. Luckily, there are a few emerging studies that back up these sentiments.
For example, this study looked at the effects of using THC to treat children suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea. According to the research, “vomiting was completely prevented and the side effects observed were negligible”.
Further proving its effectiveness, a synthetic version of THC has been used in a prescription drug – Marinol – since the 1980s; although Marinol pales in comparison to real THC and the entourage effect of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids all working together. Additionally, THC can effectively increase appetites and in those who need it most. It’s basically a one and done solution to many issues relating to the stomach and digestive system.
Brain Regeneration and Growth
Did you THC is actually good for the brain? Despite its reputation for causing forgetfulness and “killing brain cells”, when used by elderly patients, it can actually help them focus better and improve their memory. That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by a German-Israeli research team who ran a series of THC tests on elderly mice. Not only did the older mice perform as well as the young, sober mice, but their brain tissue physically changed and showed traits of cognitive youth following THC administration.
THC regenerates non-functioning brain cells and promotes growth of new ones via the activation of the CB1 receptor. More specifically, THC causes brain cells in the hippocampus to grow. THC can also stimulate long-term potentiation, which is a process that helps improve the brain’s ability to learn and store new information, and it can even help protect spacial memories. It’s for this reason that small doses of cannabis can be helpful in treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.
And just to round out the list of reason why THC is good for the brain, we also have a study that suggests people with THC in their systems are 80% more likely to survive and recover from serious head trauma.
Natural Sleep Aid
According to The Sleep Foundation and the National Institute of Health, “roughly 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep disruption, and approximately 10 percent have associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia.”
Insomnia can come and go, and for many people it goes away naturally and never returns. But for others, it’s there to stay, and when sleep is disrupted, every single organ, system, and function within the body will suffer. In the short term, inadequate sleep can affect mood and judgement, the ability to learn and retain information, and it can increase the possibility of an accident or injury. Over a longer period, lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early death.
Many will attest to the use of THC as a sleep aid, as it can make you feel quite tired, especially when you’re using an indica strain with high levels of THC, and particularly when you are coming down from a “high”. Scientific research on this topic also has the same implications.
This study found that THC can “significantly decrease the time it takes to fall asleep in physically healthy insomniacs.” A small 2008 study indicated that THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep a patient gets which leads to less dreams, but that’s not the case for everyone and a lack of dreaming doesn’t necessarily correlate with poor sleep.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
An estimated 8 percent of Americans currently live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); that’s around 24.4 million people. PTSD is a mental and emotional disorder that can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event. It’s common in war veterans, rape victims, and other people who have been exposed to violence and trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD can include but are not limited to: agitation, anger, rage, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares, social isolation, visual and auditory hallucinations, flashbacks, and the list goes on. It can be an extremely debilitating and crippling condition.
THC has been proven to be a safe, consistent, and effective treatment option for PTSD. As a matter of fact, some psychiatrists say that cannabis rich in THC is the only worthwhile treatment for PTSD, which is a powerful sentiment. Numerous studies confirm that THC provides relief for many of the PTSD-related symptoms mentioned above.
Antibacterial Against Resistant Microbes
Antibiotic resistance is growing to alarmingly high levels all over the world, in both developed and developing nations. Overtime, bacteria mutates and develops various mechanisms that make it less susceptible to antibiotic treatments. Numerous different infections – including tuberculosis, pneumonia, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, foodborne pathogens, and others – are becoming more difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat.
One of lesser known benefits of using cannabinoids, and THC in particular, is to fight microbes. A small study conducted on rodents showed that THC can change their gut microbes, which is not only a sign that THC can impact bacteria, but that it can also be used for weight management.
A more elaborate study published in the Journal of Natural Products indicated that cannabinoids are indeed effective at fighting various bacteria. So effective in fact, that researchers at MIT were able to use cannabis-based creams to kill antibiotic-resistant pathogens that no other medication could destroy.
As you can see, there is much more to THC than meets the eye. It’s not just a fun cannabinoid (although yes, it is oh so fun), it’s also a powerhouse of therapeutic benefits. It needs to be studied more, but the fact that it’s still illegal and not being researched, when it can be used to help so many people, is unconscionable. We all have the right to medicate with products that are safe, natural, non-addictive, and that work for us and our individual needs.
Thank you for tuning in to CBD Testers, your source for all things relating to cannabis and hemp. Check back frequently and make sure to subscribe to the Medical Cannabis Business Newsletter for more articles like this one.
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Headlines: Stitt Activates National Guard, Record Madical Marijuana Sales & McKnight Center Season
Local headlines for Tuesday, June 2, 2020:
- Governor Stitt activates the National Guard in Oklahoma. (NewsOK)
- National Guard joins police in dealing with protestors at Woodland Hills Mall. (Tulsa World)
- OHP releases few details on truck driver injuring protestors. (Tulsa World)
- OKC Black Lives Matter leaders issue demands. (NewsOK)
- Tulsa BLM organizers praise the weekend protests. (Tulsa World)
- Tulsa mayor advocates for change in policing. (Tulsa World)
- Dress for Success moves forward after weekend fire. (NewsOK)
- Vandalism mars reopening plan for OKC businesses (Journal Record)
- Church leaders plans discussion over racism. (NewsOK)
- Health officials add 67 new cases but no new deaths to numbers from COVID-19. (Tulsa World)
- Oklahoma County Jail inmate tests positive for COVID-19. (NewsOK)
- Former health leader stays on as consultant. (NewsOK)
- Another record month for medical marijuana sales (NewsOK)
- The agency dealing with a backlog of unemployment is making changes. (NewsOK)
- Sentencing reform advocates turn in 260,000 signatures for State Question 805. (Journal Record)
- Rally organizers push for Tesla to come to Tulsa. (Tulsa World)
- Costco buys Hertz building for new headquarters. (NewsOK)
- McKnight Center plans online chats for upcoming season. (Tulsa World)
Chart: Florida’s medical cannabis market booms despite pandemic, US economic woes
Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Florida’s medical marijuana industry continues to surge, with sales remaining well above pre-pandemic levels.
Demand for medical marijuana is at an all-time high, providing yet another example of the durability of cannabis demand in times of economic distress.
Over the first 10 weeks of 2020, dispensaries in Florida sold an average of 22,800 ounces of smokable MMJ per week.
However, dispensaries sold nearly 36,400 ounces during the seven-day period beginning March 13 – an increase of 38% from the previous week – just as COVID-19 fears began to enter the mainstream.
Florida’s program reports weekly sales figures beginning on a Friday and ending the following Thursday.
The seven-day period beginning April 17 was another record week for sales in Florida, with patients purchasing a collective 39,290 ounces of smokable flower.
That week happened to align with two major sales catalysts:
- The first round of coronavirus stimulus checks hitting Americans’ bank accounts.
- The unofficial cannabis holiday, 4/20.
While flower sales have been more volatile than usual on a week-to-week basis, they remained higher than at any point before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, this sustained period of elevated demand is driven by an increase in consumption among existing patients, not just from new patients entering the market.
In the first 10 weeks of the year, the average medical marijuana patient in Florida purchased 2 grams of smokable flower per week.
For the past four weeks of data – or the seven-day period beginning May 1 through the seven-day period ending May 28 – the average patient purchased 2.9 grams of flower per week, an increase of 43%.
Besides allowing existing MMJ patients to renew their registrations via teleconference instead of in person, Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use didn’t take any substantive measures to bolster the industry amid the coronavirus crisis.
But regulators likely didn’t need to.
The state classified medical marijuana dispensaries as essential businesses early in the pandemic, and MMJ retailers have been allowed to deliver product to patients since the market launched.
The big question for both Florida’s MMJ market and the cannabis industry at-large is whether sales will continue to hold strong in the event that the additional, temporary coronavirus unemployment benefits run out before the economy is able to recover.
Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]
For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.
Chinese man arrested for growing cannabis in warehouse
Police take Wu Ding Bin, 41, to the warehouse where there about 1,000 cannabis plants were being grown, in Prawet district, Bangkok, on Tuesday. (Screenshot from TV Channel 3 news)
A Chinese man was arrested in Bangkok’s Bang Kapi district on Tuesday and charged with growing 1,000 cannabis plants in a warehouse for online sale.
Pol Lt Gen Pakapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said Wu Ding Bin, 41, was detained near his room on Soi Ramkhamhaeng 24/3.
Police allege that Mr Wu and four Chinese accomplices grew organic cannabis of foreign varieties at a rented warehouse on Soi On Nut 82 in Prawet district, sold the cannabis online and delivered the product through courier services.
“Marijuana of foreign varieties is priced at up to 700,000 baht per kilogramme,” Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said.
The suspect had visited Thailand in 2018 and left Afterwards he revisited on a student visa, claiming to learn Muay Thai.
The suspect denied knowledge of the cannabis grown in the warehouse, claiming he was only an electrician. The Bangkok police chief said surveillance camera footage showed the man paid frequent visits to the warehouse while carrying a big bag.
The warehouse had been air-conditioned and lit up around the clock. The electricity bill was 70,000-100,000 baht a month, while the monthly rent was about 40,000 baht.
Before the arrest, the gang had cut off electricity at the warehouse and let the plants die, Pol Lt Gen Pakapong said.
He said police apprehended Mr Wu because a Hong Kong Chinese man, Ma Ho Yin, 36, was arrested at a building on Soi Ramkhamhaeng 27 with about 300 cannabis plants growing there on May 3. He told police Mr Wu was doing the same thing.
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