Synthetic Cannabis Extremely Dangerous Vs. Marijuana, Driving Study Reveals

Synthetic Cannabis Extremely Dangerous Vs. Marijuana, Driving Study Reveals

spice_synthetic_cannabinoid_dangers

The criminalization of cannabis has lead to the creation of a synthetic cannabinoid analogue black market that is far more dangerous than the cannabis plant, a new study reveals. 

A revealing new study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology shows that people under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids (also known as “spice”) undergo far greater impairments than those using marijuana. In the study, entitled  “Differential physiological and behavioural cues observed in individuals smoking botanical marijuana versus synthetic cannabinoid drugs,” researchers sought to measure performance and behaviour by reviewing arrest reports generated by law enforcement drug recognition experts (DRE) to evaluate motorists arrested for impaired driving.

Researchers used the following study methods:

Data were from a retrospective, convenience sample of de-identified arrest reports from impaired drivers suspected of using synthetic cannabinoids (n = 100) or marijuana (n = 33). Inclusion criteria were arrested drivers who admitted to using either synthetic cannabinoids or marijuana, or who possessed either synthetic cannabinoids or marijuana; who also had a DRE evaluation at the scene; and whose blood screens were negative for alcohol and other drugs. Exclusion criteria were impaired drivers arrested with other intoxicants found in their drug or alcohol blood screens. Blood samples were analyzed for 20 popular synthetic cannabinoids by using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC-COOH were quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Statistical significance was determined by using Fisher’s exact test or Student’s t-test, where appropriate, to compare the frequency of characteristics of those in the synthetic cannabinoid group versus those in the marijuana group.”

The results were reported as follows

16 synthetic cannabinoid and 25 marijuana records met selection criteria; the drivers of these records were arrested for moving violations. Median age for the synthetic cannabinoid group (n = 16, 15 males) was 20 years (IQR 19-23 years). Median age for the marijuana group (n = 25, 21 males) was 20 years (IQR 19-24 years) (p = 0.46). In the synthetic cannabinoid group, 94% (15/16) admitted to using synthetic cannabinoids. In the marijuana group, 96% (24/25) admitted to using marijuana. Blood was available for testing in 96% (24/25) of the marijuana group; 21 of these 24 had quantitative levels of THC (mean + SD = 10.7 + 5 ng/mL) and THC-COOH (mean + SD = 57.8 + 3 ng/mL). Blood was available for testing in 63% (10/16) of the synthetic cannabinoid group, with 80% (8/10) of these positive for synthetic cannabinoids. Those in the synthetic cannabinoid group were more frequently confused (7/16 [44%] vs. 0/25 [0%], p ≤ 0.003) and disoriented (5/16 [31%] vs. 0/25 [0%], p ≤ 0.003), and more frequently had incoherent, slurred speech (10/16 [63%] vs. 3/25 [12%], p = 0.0014) and horizontal gaze nystagmus (8/16 [50%] vs. 3/25 [12%], p = 0.01) than those in the marijuana group.”

The researchers concluded:

Drivers under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids were more frequently impaired with confusion, disorientation, and incoherent, slurred speech than drivers under the influence of marijuana in this population evaluated by drug recognition experts.”

This study drives to the heart of the problem that results from criminalizing of marijuana, namely, the subsequent creation of a burgeoning black market of synthetic cannabis analogues. The synthetic “spice” market is a direct result of the effort to evade laws that make possessing and using marijuana plants illegal. The novel new synthetic cannabinoids exist in a legal loophole:

There are many different structures of synthetic cannabinoids because the Controlled Substance Act has outlawed certain structures. A chemist can alter an already known structure by changing a minor detail creating a new legal drug.” [Source]

These synthetic analogues, like all novel chemical compounds, have no history of being used by the human body and therefore can cause a wide range of physical and psychological adverse effects which, in the case of driving under their influence, can lead to serious injuries and death.

In the study, motor vehicle crashes occurred in 31% (5/16) of the cases involving synthetic cannabis users and in only 4% (1/25) of the cases involving marijuana users. While the sample size of the study was small, it may be an indication relative degree of impairment between the two substances is significant. This is also reflected in the fact that disorientation and confusion occurred, respectively, in 31% and 44% of drivers under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids, but did not occur in any of the drivers under the influence of marijuana. Also, incoherent speech and horizontal gaze nystagmus [an involuntary jerking of the eye] were 4 to5 times more common in those under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids.

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Comparisons between synthetic cannabis and marijuana users.

The inherent therapeutic value of cannabis and its many natural cannabinoids is becoming more commonly recognized (use our cannabis database to view the first-hand research) and on a state-by-state basis, the fundamentallyirrational criminalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use is being overturned.  One positive result of this shift may be a deceleration of the concerning increase in the use of synthetic cannabinoids.

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Why Cannabis Is the Future of Medicine

Why Cannabis Is the Future of Medicine

The future of medicine rests on the the fundamental right we all have to use things that spring from the Earth naturally as healing agents. Why should cannabis, used for at least 10000 years by humankind to alleviate suffering, be excluded from this inexorable mandate?

The politics of cannabis are exceedingly complex, and yet the truth is simple: this freely growing plant heals the human body – not to mention provides food, fuel, clothing and shelter, if only we will let it perform its birthright. In a previous article, we investigated the strange fact that the human body is in many ways pre-designed, or as it were, pre-loaded with a receptiveness to cannabis’ active compounds — cannabinoids — thanks to its well documented endocannabinoid system.

But the medical-industrial complex in the U.S. does not want you to use these freely growing compounds. They threaten its very business model and existence. Which is why it synergizes so naturally with the burgeoning privatized prison sector, which now has the dubious title of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. The statistics don’t lie:

“far surpassing any other nation. For every 100,000 Americans, 743 citizens sit behind bars. Presently, the prison population in America consists of more than six million people, a number exceeding the amount of prisoners held in the gulags of the former Soviet Union at any point in its history.”

According to a recent Al-Jeezera editorial, “One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the “tough on crime” attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s.”

Cannabis/marijuana is presently on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list.  Since 1972, cannabis has been listed on the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs which have “no currently accepted medical use”. Opioids, stimulants, psychedelics and a few antidepressants now populate this list of substances that can put you in jail for possessing without a prescription.

The notion that marijuana has no ‘medicinal benefits’ is preposterous, actually. Since time immemorial it has been used as a panacea (‘cure-all’). In fact, as far back as 2727 B.C., cannabis was recorded in the Chinese pharmacopoeia as an effective medicine, and evidence for its use as a food, textile and presumably as a healing agent stretch back even further, to 12,000 BC.[1]

When it comes to cannabis’ medical applications, cannabis’ ‘healing properties’ is a loaded term. In fact, it is extremely dangerous, as far as the medical industrial complex goes, who has the FDA/FTC to enforce it’s mandate: anything that prevents, diagnoses, treats or cures a disease must be an FDA approved drug by law, i.e. pharmaceutical agents which often have 75 or more adverse effects for each marketed and approved “therapeutic” effect.

Indeed, the dominant, drug-based medical system does not even acknowledge the body’s healing abilities, opting for a view that looks at most bodily suffering as fatalistic, primarily genetically based, and resulting from dysfunction in the mechanical design of a highly entropic ‘bag of enzymes and proteins’ destined to suffer along the trajectory of time.

And so, an at least two trillion dollar a year industry stands between you and access to the disease alleviating properties of this humble plant.

As Emerson said, “a weed is an herb whose virtues have yet to be discovered,” and yet, by this definition, cannabis is not a weed, but given that is has been extensively researched and used for thousands of years for a wide range of health conditions, it should be considered and respected as a medicinal herb and food. Sadly, the fact that the whole herb is non-patentable is the main reason why it is still struggling to gain approval from the powers that be.

Let’s look at the actual, vetted, published and peer-reviewed research – bullet proof, if we are to subscribe to the ‘evidence-based’ model of medicine – which includes over 100 proven therapeutic actions of this amazing plant, featuring the following:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Pain
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathies
  • Insomnia
  • Multiple Splasticity
  • Memory Disorders
  • Social Anxiety Disorders
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer
  • Opiate Addiction
  • Anorexia
  • Bladder Dysfunction
  • Bronchial Asthma
  • Chemotherapy-induced Harm
  • Constipation
  • Crack Addiction
  • Dementia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Heroin Addiction
  • Lymphoma
  • Nausea
  • Neuropathy
  • Obesity
  • Phantom Limb
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Endotoxemia
  • Myocardia Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Diabetes: Cataract
  • Tremor
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Fatigue
  • Fulminant Liver Failure
  • Low Immune Function
  • Aging
  • Alcohol Toxicity
  • Allodynia
  • Arthritis: Rheumatoid
  • Ascites
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes Type 1
  • High Cholesterol
  • Liver Damage
  • Menopausal Syndrome
  • Morphine Dependence
  • Appetite Disorders
  • Auditory Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epstein-Barr infections
  • Gynecomasia
  • Hepatitis
  • Intestinal permeability
  • Leukemia
  • Liver Fibrosis
  • Migraine Disorders
  • Oncoviruses
  • Psoriasis
  • Thymoma

Moreover, this plant’s therapeutic properties have been subdivided into the following 40+ pharmacological actions:

  • Analgesic (Pain Killing)
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitor
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiproliferative
  • Apoptotic
  • Chempreventive
  • Antidepressive
  • Antiemetic
  • Bronchodilator
  • Anti-metastatic
  • Anti-neoplastic
  • Antioxidant
  • Cardioprotective
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Anti-tumor
  • Enzyme inhibitor
  • Immunomodulatory
  • Anti-angiogenic
  • Autophagy up-regulation
  • Acetylocholinesterase inhibitor
  • Anti-platelet
  • Calcium channel blocker
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Cylooxygenase inhibitor
  • Glycine agents
  • Immunomodulatory: T-Cell down-regulation
  • Intracellular adhesion molecule-1 inducer
  • Matrix mettaproteinase-1 inhibitor
  • Neuritohgenic
  • Platelet Aggregration Inhibito
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A inhibitor
  • Anti-apoptotic
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Anti-psychotic
  • Antiviral
  • Caspase-3 activation
  • Chemosensitizer
  • Immunosupressive agent
  • Interleukin-6 upregulation
  • Tumor suppressor protein p53 upregulation

Thanks to modern scientific investigation, it is no longer considered strictly ‘theoretical’ that cannabis has a role to play in medicine. There is a growing movement to wrench back control from the powers that be, whose primary objectives appear to be the subjection of the human body in order to control the population (political motives) — what 20th century French philosopher Michel Foucault termed biopower, and not to awaken true healing powers intrinsic within the body of all self-possessed members of society. Even the instinct towards recreational use – think of the etymology: to re-create – should be allowed, as long as those who choose to use cannabis instead of tobacco and alcohol (and prescription drugs) do not cause harm to themselves or others. How many deaths are attributed to cannnabis each year versus these other societally approved recreational agents, not to mention prescription drugs, which are the 3rd leading cause of death in the developed world?

Ultimately, the politics surrounding cannabis access and the truth about its medicinal properties are so heavily a politicized issue that it is doubtful the science itself will prevail against the distorted lens of media characterizations of it as a ‘dangerous drug,’ and certainly not the iron-clad impasse represented by federal laws against its possession and use. All we can do is to advocate for the fundamental rights we all possess as free men and women, and our inborn right towards self-possession, i.e as long as what we do does not interfere with the choices and rights of others, we should be free to use an herb/food/textile that sprouts freely and grows freely from this earth, as God/Nature as freely made available.

I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?

~ Willie Nelson

“Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?” – Bill Hicks


 

[1] Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years

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Is Industrial Hemp The Ultimate Energy Crop?

Is Industrial Hemp The Ultimate Energy Crop?

By Thomas Prade, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Bioenergy is currently the fastest growing source of renewable energy. Cultivating energy crops on arable land can decrease dependency on depleting fossil resources and it can mitigate climate change.

But some biofuel crops have bad environmental effects: they use too much water, displace people and create more emissions than they save. This has led to a demand for high-yielding energy crops with low environmental impact. Industrial hemp is said to be just that.

Enthusiasts have been promoting the use of industrial hemp for producing bioenergy for a long time now. With its potentially high biomass yield and its suitability to fit into existing crop rotations, hemp could not only complement but exceed other available energy crops.

Hemp, Cannabis sativa, originates from western Asia and India and from there spread around the globe. For centuries, fibres were used to make ropes, sails, cloth and paper, while the seeds were used for protein-rich food and feed. Interest in hemp declined when other fibres such as sisal and jute replaced hemp in the 19th century.

Abuse of hemp as a drug led to the prohibition of its cultivation by the United Nations in 1961. When prohibition was revoked in the 1990s in the European Union, Canada and later in Australia, industrially used hemp emerged again.

This time, the car industry’s interest in light, natural fibre promoted its use. For such industrial use, modern varieties with insignificant content of psychoactive compounds are grown. Nonetheless, industrial hemp cultivation is still prohibited in some industrialised countries like Norway and the USA.

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Energy use of industrial hemp is today very limited. There are few countries in which hemp has been commercialised as an energy crop. Sweden is one, and has a small commercial production of hemp briquettes. Hemp briquettes are more expensive than wood-based briquettes, but sell reasonably well on regional markets.

Large-scale energy uses of hemp have also been suggested.

Biogas production from hemp could compete with production from maize, especially in cold climate regions such as Northern Europe and Canada. Ethanol production is possible from the whole hemp plant, and biodiesel can be produced from the oil pressed from hemp seeds. Biodiesel production from hemp seed oil has been shown to overall have a much lower environmental impact than fossil diesel.

Indeed, the environmental benefits of hemp have been praised highly, since hemp cultivation requires very limited amounts of pesticide. Few insect pests are known to exist in hemp crops and fungal diseases are rare.

Since hemp plants shade the ground quickly after sowing, they can outgrow weeds, a trait interesting especially for organic farmers. Still, a weed-free seedbed is required. And without nitrogen fertilisation hemp won´t grow as vigorously as is often suggested.

So, as with any other crop, it takes good agricultural practice to grow hemp right.

Hemp has a broad climate range and has been cultivated successfully from as far north as Iceland to warmer, more tropical regions. Flickr: Gregory Jordan

Being an annual crop, hemp functions very well in crop rotations. Here it may function as a break crop, reducing the occurance of pests, particularly in cereal production. Farmers interested in cultivating energy crops are often hesitant about tying fields into the production of perennial energy crops such as willow. Due to the high self-tolerance of hemp, cultivation over two to three years in the same field does not lead to significant biomass yield losses.

Small-scale production of hemp briquettes has also proven economically feasible. However, using whole-crop hemp (or any other crop) for energy production is not the overall solution.

Before producing energy from the residues it is certainly more environmentally friendly to use fibres, oils or other compounds of hemp. Even energy in the fibre products can be used when the products become waste.

Recycling plant nutrients to the field, such as in biogas residue, can contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions from crop production.

Sustainable bioenergy production is not easy, and a diversity of crops will be needed. Industrial hemp is not the ultimate energy crop. Still, if cultivated on good soil with decent fertilisation, hemp can certainly be an environmentally sound crop for bioenergy production and for other industrial uses as well.

Thomas Prade receives funding from the Swedish Farmers’ Foundation for Agricultural Research, the EU commission, the Skåne Regional Council and Partnership Alnarp.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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The Hidden Side-Effects Of Colorado’s Cannabis Boom

The Hidden Side-Effects Of Colorado’s Cannabis Boom

In November 2012, Colorado became the first US state to legalise cannabis. As other states look set to follow suit business may be booming, but there’s a dark side to the ‘silver bullet’ of legalisation.

Ginger mango dew drops, rice crispy and chocolate truffle may all sound more like children’s sweets than cannabis treats, but they’re the entrepreneurial inspirations of Tripp Keber, a man unashamedly looking to cash in on cannabis legalisation. “I’m not here wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt. I do not have dreadlocks in my hair. I’m business.” With everything from marijuana medical centres to cosmetics, food and drinks, it’s easy to see why other states like DC and Illinois are keen to follow Colorado’s suit. According to lobbyist Matt Brown, the city of Aurora in Colorado, “has missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars of investment”, because it didn’t follow Denver’s suit in legalising the drug. But that’s only one side of the story. Aaron Huey, who runs a rehab centre for addicted teens, is fiercely critical of the legalisation. “I never had this number and never at this time of year. This is the first time I’m experiencing this. So is it getting worse? Our numbers say so.” With big alcohol and tobacco companies said to be watching closely and some predicting federal legalisation within ten years, is dope America’s newest big business opportunity?

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