Research Shows Cannabis Restores Memory and Could Reverse The Aging Process

One of aging’s most obvious signs is a decrease in cognitive function and learning ability. Usually, these issues express themselves in the form of memory deficiency. While this decrease in memory retention and recall is considered normal, it is often associated with more serious disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Bonn and their colleagues from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered a potential treatment to reverse aging in the brain.

In their research, which was published in the journal Nature Medicine, the team showed how that a cannabis-based treatment successfully reversed the biological state of the brains of mice 12 months and 18 months old. This is notable, as mice age remarkably fast and serve as a viable animal model when research potential treatments in humans.

The team used two-month-old mice as a control group. The older mice were given an active ingredient in hemp called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for a period of four weeks in non-intoxicating doses. Their tests revealed that mice who received THC displayed cognitive abilities as good as the control group mice.

Meanwhile, those older mice who received a placebo displayed the usual learning capacity and memory performance appropriate to older mice. The findings that stem from this are simply remarkable. “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” said researcher Andreas Zimmer, from the University of Bonn’s Institute of Molecular Psychiatry [emphasis added].

Resetting the Clock

This age-reversing effects of cannabis occur as THC imitates the effect of naturally produced cannabinoids in the body, which are crucial for some of the brain’s important functions. “With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces,” Zimmer explained. “When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain.”

Furthermore, the researchers realized that cannabis reverses aging by making the brain cells in the mice younger. To this end, they saw that links between nerve cells increased and their molecular signature resembled those of young animals. “It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock,” Zimmer added.

The treatment, once tested and proven to be effective in humans, could help improve the conditions of people suffering from dementia. This disease, which affects more than 47 million people worldwide, often leads to cognitive disabilities — memory loss and behavioral disorders — that hinder a patient from performing day-to-day tasks.

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Svenja Schulze, science minister of North Rhine-Westphalia,outlines exactly how helpful this study could be for future treatment in the elderly. “The promotion of knowledge-led research is indispensable, as it is the breeding ground for all matters relating to application,” he stated in the press release. “Although there is a long path from mice to humans, I feel extremely positive about the prospect that THC could be used to treat dementia, for instance.” To that end, Zimmer and his team are now preparing for human clinical trials.

The study adds to the number of potential benefits cannabis seems to have, particularly in treating neurological disorders. That said, as has been previously noted, much of this is still early work, and more peer review research is needed on the medical effects and uses of cannabis-based treatments before they can be deployed. Moreover, these studies use carefully controlled conditions, and as a result, similar benefits are not seen in individuals who use the drug recreationally.

How You Can Help Make Marijuana Legal Nationwide

American drug policies have a problem – they’ve been driven by fear rather than facts for over a century. Although there had been notable gains over the past eight years towards more evidence-based drug policy, many worry that we may be heading in the wrong direction under the Trump administration. That’s why on April 22nd, drug policy researchers and advocates are taking to the streets of D.C. for the national March for Science, wielding facts and compassion in the face of ignorance and hatred.

From the first opium laws in the 1800s targeting Chinese immigrants to the crack laws of the 1980’s which disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated black men, the history of drug policy in the US illustrates how racism, xenophobia, and stigma can be weaponized in the name of “public health” and “safety.”

Paradoxically, the evidence suggests that drug prohibition has actually contributed to poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates among drug users, while also facilitating the growth of an illicit drug market which threatens the safety and well-being of people around the globe. In addition, targeting racial and ethnic minority groups for harsher penalties has had a ripple effect on individual users and their communities by depriving them of social and familial supports as well as economic opportunity.

There are some serious barriers to expanding our research-base in regards to drugs and drug policies; largely due to limited funding for research with scheduled substances and little incentive to challenge the status quo. Drug scare tactics work- they befuddle, confuse, and terrify the public and policymakers alike while justifying an even harsher crackdown on users. Images of face-eating zombies to crack babies are more mobilizing than the reality that the vast majority of people who use drugs never get addicted or the therapeutic benefits of some substances, such as marijuana, are worth exploring.

Many American policymakers continue to think they can arrest their way out of our drug problems even though evidence shows that a “tough on drugs” approach is more harmful (and costly) than helpful. A look abroad shows us that nations which have decriminalized drugs, embraced harm reduction, and expanded treatment access have demonstrated positive outcomes for the health of drug users and their communities-at-large. At the same time there is a growing number of American lawmakers who have been forced to face the limitations of prohibition at home, realizing that evidence-based strategies offer a promising alternative to an overreliance on the criminal justice system as a solution to the public health problem of substance use.

But the good news is that there is a lot of solid research about drugs and drug policy, including high quality, accurate information about a range of substances, and what to do about them. Drug and drug policy research is a rich, interdisciplinary field that can help us sort the fact from the fiction and, more importantly, help us make smart policy choices that will improve the health and safety of individuals, families, and communities.

Take the current opioid crisis as just one example. A large body of research from Canada and Europe has shown that drug consumption rooms (safe and hygienic places where people can use drugs) can reduce overdose deaths and the transmission of blood-borne diseases, while linking people to treatment, medical care, and services. Once viewed as too controversial to be implemented in the U.S., several jurisdictions are now seriously considering them. Research has also given us life-saving naloxone – a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and has been responsible for saving thousands of lives. And thanks to science, more and more people are finding help through medication-assisted treatments, such as methadone and buprenorphine, for opioid use disorders.

While these signs of progress are encouraging and desperately needed, the Trump Administration’s disdain for science and approach to drug policy are worrisome. Trump not only eschews science, he is actively undermining it. For example, under Trump’s budget proposal, the National Institutes for Health would take a $1.2 billion cut focused primarily on research grants. NIH is responsible for the vast majority of drug research in the country. His desire to gut the Affordable Care Act and move to Medicaid block grants will make access to substance use treatment all the more difficult, especially if it is no longer considered essential health coverage. And his racially coded “law and order” rhetoric, along with the appointment of old school drug warriors, like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, marks a return to a punitive drug war strategy of the past that a significant body of scholarship has deemed an abject failure.

We know better, and we must do better. Scholars who work in drug policy and all those who care about effective, evidence-base drug policy cannot stand by and watch all the progress we’ve made be undermined. Too much is at stake. That’s why it’s time for researchers to leave their labs and their classrooms and take to the streets. It’s time to turn from the misinformation, fear, and stigma that too often drive drug policy and insist on approaches that ground our policies in science and compassion.

Can Drugs Actually Be Good for Your Health?

Many consider drugs to be one of the primary catalysts for some of the world’s best art, music and cultural development. Typically it’s because they stimulate our minds to work in ways we never thought possible, and enhance the positive feelings at a party, making it seem more fun. And their role in America’s peace and love movement of the ’60s is simply undeniable. In short: Drugs, man—a lot of people love ‘em.

Drugs, and their impact on our lives, are a lot more nuanced than a casual bong rip and a ride to the 7-Eleven for some chimichangas (glorious as they are). If you have a headache, you take a laboratory-engineered pill that helps it go away. You’re depressed? Take some Zoloft, bud! You’re anxious? Xanax! Can’t sleep? No problem! Take a couple Lunestas and call me in the morning. Oh, your dick ain’t working right? One word: Viagra!

But what about the party stuff? The illicit substances that you have to get from a street pharmacist instead of a regular one. Weed may be getting more legal by the minute thanks to its medically-proven benefits (and well, the sheer amount of money that can be made from a legalized marijuana industry), but mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, and are far from being available in a legit way. Do they have any medicinal merit?

Believe it or not, according to science—some of them do! Teams of scientists and researchers from all over the world have spent extensive amounts of time thoroughly testing and experimenting with all sorts of drugs, and as it turns out, some of them are more useful than their ability to make us crave tacos at 3 in the morning.

Cannabis

Whether or not you’re a big smoker is pretty inconsequential to some of the incredible breakthroughs we’ve seen in medical marijuana over the last couple decades. We’ve known about its power to help ease the side effects of chemotherapy for a few decades now, but studies on the drug have come an incredibly long way in just the last few years.

Studies have demonstrated that marijuana and its extracts can drastically reduce the effects of epileptic seizures. One study tested 162 patients over 12 weeks with an extract that was 99% cannabinoids (aka: the stuff that doesn’t get you stoned). The study found that 36.5% of patients noted a reduction in seizures that either rivaled or beat the current medication they were taking, and 2% became completely seizure-free. If you want to see something less technically scientific, and more anecdotal, this video is both baffling and extremely powerful.

Studies also show marijuana can significantly reduce or even prevent completely the psychological symptoms of PTSD and depression. While the claims have only been tested in mice, the results are extremely positive. In the PTSD trial, researchers found that administering cannabinoids after a traumatic event stimulated changes in the brain centers that are in charge of storing traumatic memories. In the depression study, scientists found that mice that were chronically stressed or suffering from anxiety also suffered a shortage of endocannabinoids (which affect cognition, emotion and behavior). After receiving cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid levels in the mice were restored, thereby alleviating at least some of the symptoms of depression.

And, of course, recent studies have indicated that marijuana can not only alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment, but that cannabinoids can actually kill cancer cells. They were so conclusive, the National Cancer Institute actually changed the information on its website to reflect the results of the studies.

DMT

DMT is a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound that people generally smoke. Recreationally speaking, the high is short, super potent, and is generally described as a kind of out-of-body experience with intense hallucinogenic visions. People who’ve taken it say it’s like being momentarily transported to another dimension.

However, DMT and Ayahuasca (a brew containing DMT used in ancient Amazonian healing and enlightenment rituals for centuries), are more than just party drugs. South American shamans would administer the drug to people because not only was it rumored to have tremendous potential to heal, but also because it was believed to be a gateway to the spiritual world. In fact, it is known to South America’s indigenous peoples as “the teacher plant.”

Medicinally, DMT helps people conquer their addiction problems. In one study, a small group of 12 people struggling with a variety of different types of substance abuse issues took Ayahuasca over the span of six months. At the end of the six months, respondents reported using less tobacco, booze and cocaine, but their cannabis and opiate use stayed the same.

DMT and Ayahuasca have also recently raised a lot of eyebrows for their effect on depression. Though legitimate clinical research studies are still in their infancy, there are a couple of very convincing reports that note the drug’s ability to drastically reduce the effects of depression, even weeks after it is consumed.

Mushrooms

If you talk to people about their recreational drug preferences, ‘shrooms are probably the first or second one on everyone’s list. Known for its psychedelic, mood-altering effects, studies on mushrooms have found that the psychoactive drug in them, psilocybin, actually prompts psychological growth.

John Hopkins School of Medicine researchers gave the drug to 18 volunteers who participated in five eight-hour sessions where they were given the drug in varying doses in order to determine what its effects would be. Each of the 18 volunteers was college-educated, and all believed in spiritual experiences (although only 78% participated in “religious activities”).

Though the sample size was admittedly small, 94% of the people who participated in a follow up survey conducted 14 months after the first study said it was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives. More so, their friends, colleagues and family members (awkward) reported that the experience had made their ‘shroom-tripping friends kinder and happier.

Other studies have concluded that psilocybin succeeds where conventional depression medication falls short. Their study included 12 volunteers diagnosed with chronic depression (an average of 17.8 years), none of whom had responded well to standard medications. Within just one week of receiving an oral dose of psilocybin, the patience reported a strong improvement in their symptoms. Within three months, five of the volunteers—nearly half—were in complete remission.

MDMA

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, known more colloquially as Molly, Mandy or Ecstasy, was first synthesized in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck. Since its first “discovery,” people have been absolutely fascinated with and blown away by MDMA’s effect on the human psyche.

Of the MDMA studies conducted over the years, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea that the drug works wonders to alleviate the effects of both PTSD and severe, untreatable depression. While there is an array of PTSD studies from which to select, the information is pretty similar: Give people MDMA and they don’t just feel better, they get better.

One study noted that after just three MDMA sessions, 85% of participants no longer had any PTSD symptoms whatsoever. And after a 3.5-year follow up, many of those participants dramatically reduced and even stopped taking their PTSD medications completely.

Ketamine

While ketamine is used primarily for anaesthetic purposes, it is also a massive party drug that people take because not only is it a muscle relaxer and painkiller, but it provides a euphoric, sometimes even mild hallucinatory experience, even in lower dosages. People report feeling fuzzy, tingly and a dissociative-but-aware, near-out-of-body experience while on the drug.

Over the years, Ketamine has found a massive following in the psychiatric community for its medicinal uses. Ketamine has been used to treat otherwise untreatable bouts of clinical chronic depression in some patients, and has even been used successfully to inhibit suicidal thoughts in others.

At this point—probably because of the drug’s availability to clinical doctors—there is a massive library of studies that question whether or not ketamine is a viable option for people suffering depression, and the answer is typically a resounding yes.

In trial after trial, doctors report that in low dosages, ketamine is extremely effective in treating severe depression, and that its side effects are few, but its results are great. There’s even an entire “Ketamine Advocacy Network.” Go figure.

LSD

For literal decades, people have claimed lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a miracle substance that’s healthy for the body and mind. Of course, everybody knows that’s not always true.

Nevertheless, everyone from the CIA to clinical psychologists have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to study the sometimes mystifying effects of LSD, particularly on the human brain.

Most recently, a study by Swiss scientists tested 12 terminally ill patients who were, for all intents and purposes, about to kick the bucket. The participants in the study universally found that higher dosages of LSD helped them cope with their circumstances and had profound positive effects on their anxiety.

In a story from The New York Times about LSD’s resurgence as a therapeutic medical treatment, the leading doctor on the study, Peter Gasser, put the results into perspective quite plainly: “Their anxiety went down and stayed down.”

Peyote

Ahhhh, peyote. Native Americans have prescribed it for everything from tooth pain to spiritual enlightenment, and while that may sound more than a little ridiculous, there’s research to back it up. Harvard researcher Dr. John Halpern is a popular source to discuss the effects of peyote on the human psyche for medicinal effects because he has spent quite a large amount of time studying and researching it.

In a 2005 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Halpern found that not only did his team find zero evidence that the Native Americans whom he studied had any neurocognitive issues from their life-long use of the drug, but that they even outperformed the average on several sections of the Rand Mental Health Inventory tests (typically used to diagnose psychological problems and determine mental health).

Halpern has also studied peyote’s power to fight against more serious addictions to things like alcohol and even heroin, and saw positive results. Of course, it’s just one of many studies that have concluded that peyote (and its naturally occurring alkaloid, mescaline) do help in the treatment of addiction.

Peyote is one of those drugs that hasn’t been studied too in-depth by American medical organizations, so there aren’t a lot of widely available studies or clinical trials. However, there are plenty of outside sources that talk scientifically about the physical health benefits of peyote as a pain reliever. Applied directly to the afflicted area in a solve (usually made from bees wax), or ingested orally in lower doses, people find it to be a powerful inhibitor of things like joint pain, toothaches and muscle aches.

Is Marijuana the New Green of St. Patrick’s Day?

With an increasing number of states opting to legalize marijuana, it would make sense if weed became the party substance of choice on St. Patrick’s Day. It is green, after all.

And there is a little bit of momentum to that effect. Some St. Paddy’s events around the country are going to sell weed as well as booze, and some people have even termed the holiday “St. Fatty’s Day” in homage to fat blunts.

But the holiday doesn’t promise to be as much of a weed celebration as one might assume. Via an informal inspection of public social media, those who are opting to smoke pot instead of drink—and are scoffing at everyone else about hangovers—seem to be those who smoke a lot anyway. This won’t be any 4/20, a day when those who are unfamiliar with weed try it out. No, 4/20 remains the St. Paddy’s Day of weed, and St. Paddy’s Day remains, among other things, a drunken shitshow.

Actually, though, if pot were to be embraced as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Irish would probably be very much on board. The ugly stereotype of the drunken Irishman is probably what’s led to alcohol entrenching itself in St. Paddy’s Day culture, but weed is extremely popular in Ireland. Medical marijuana was recently legalized in the country, and about half of Irish citizens are down to make it legal for recreational purposes, too.

Seniors Buy Fewer Prescription Drugs In States That Have Legalized Marijuana

As the nation debates the Affordable Care Act and the future of Medicare, a federal agency is reporting that legalizing marijuana may be one way to control costs. The agency, surprisingly enough is the National Institutes of Health.

According to a grant application on the NIH website:

Over half of the United States population now resides in a state where some form of marijuana use is legal. Individuals in these states are less likely to report that marijuana use is harmful, and longitudinal data suggest an increase in marijuana use among older adults from 2008 to 2012. Interestingly, patient expenditures from 2010 to 2013 for FDA-approved prescription drugs under the Medicare Part D Plan dropped in states with legalized medical marijuana use. This emerging trend suggests that older adults may be substituting prescription drugs with marijuana.

The NIH made the statement in a research  project grant application named “Marijuana, Prescription Opioid, or Prescription Benzodiazepine Drug Use Among Older Adults” that is designed to “support innovative research that examines aspects of marijuana and prescription opioid and benzodiazepine use in adults aged 50 and older.”

The NIH grant application lists the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) as partners in the research.

Opioid and benzodiazepine use by older adults is associated with increased incidence of falls, respiratory failure, sedation, confusion, and cognitive impairments, the NIH reports. And the percentage of opioid and benzodiazepine use among  the over-50 crowd has doubled since 2007. Prescription drug use patterns during older age are more problematic for women as they are prescribed these drugs more often, consume them in larger quantities, and use them for longer durations of time.

The NIH reports that these alarming trends are accompanied by rising deaths due to drug overdoses among those approximately in this same age group. A recent study revealed that a third of participants over the age of 60 were using at least one potentially inappropriate medication, defined as medications with risks that outweigh the potential benefits of the drug.

The Marijuana Industry is Projected to Create More Than 250,000 Jobs by 2020

As more and more states begin to legalize marijuana use—despite the president’s opposition to recreational marijuana—you probably figured the new industry will create some jobs.

How many jobs will be created, however, may surprise you. The legal cannabis market is projected to create more than 250,000 jobs by 2020, according to a report from New Frontier Data.

That’s more jobs than are projected for transportation, agriculture, utilities, or the federal government, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New Frontier’s data projections are based only on the states that have already passed legalization. It does not include other states—even those that will likely legalize marijuana use in the next few years.

The U.S. marijuana industry is expected to be worth more than $24 billion by 2025. It was estimated to be worth $7.2 billion last year.

“While we see a potential drop in total number of U.S. jobs created in 2017, as reported by Kiplinger, as well as an overall expected drop in GDP growth, the cannabis industry continues to be a positive contributing factor to growth at a time of potential decline,” said New Frontier CEO Aguirre De Carcer, according to Forbes.

Aguirre De Carcer added that the numbers “confirm that cannabis is a major economic driver and job creation engine for the U.S. economy.”

The industry already employs between 100,000 to 150,000 people.

Study Shows No Proven Link Between Weed-Smoking and Lung Cancer

The scope and methodology behind marijuana-related studies is often hindered by the fact that the weed-fearing gatekeepers have made it really difficult for researchers to, you know, research. But a fresh comprehensive study spotted by Esquire offers one of the most detailed looks at weed’s health effects yet, boasting 395 pages of raw research power.

“This report summarizes the current state of evidence regarding what is known about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including effects related to therapeutic uses of cannabis and potential health risks related to certain cancers, diseases, mental health disorders, and injuries,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report states.

The report’s findings stem from the committee’s deep research into more than 10,000 scientific abstracts dating all the way back to 1999, aka the year Backstreet Boys’ Millennium was released. That’s probably definitely a good sign. Though the total haul of conclusions reached in the report are a bit too daunting to cram into a slice of Complex, here are some grav-worthy highlights:

  • Conclusive or substantial evidence shows that cannabis or cannabinoids are an effective method of treating chronic pain.
  • Conclusive or substantial evidence shows that cannabis or cannabinoids are an effective method of treating nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
  • Moderate evidence shows that cannabis or cannabinoids are good for people plagued by forms of sleep disturbance, i.e. sleep apnea or chronic pain.

Seemingly obvious findings aside, it’s nice to hear that studies have—since 1999—consistently suggested those things to be probable. But the biggest highlight is likely this little number: There is moderate evidence of “no statistical association” between smoking cannabis and lung cancer. Additionally, there is moderate evidence of no statistical association between weed use and head and neck cancers.

Findings From One Of The Most Comprehensive Studies Ever On Marijuana’s Health Effects

The change in national attitudes towards cannabis and in legal access to marijuana around the US over the past several years is staggering.

As of last fall, 57 percent of adults in the US said that marijuana should be legal, with only 37 percent taking the opposing view, which is essentially a reversal of the opinions held just a decade ago.

And after November’s elections, a full 20 percent of the US population lives in a state that has voted to legalise recreational use – and far more live in states with some access to medical marijuana.

But this obscures a crucial fact. From a scientific perspective, there’s still a ton we don’t know about cannabis.

A massive new report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives among the most comprehensive looks ever (and certainly the most up-to-date) of exactly what we know about the science of cannabis.

The committee behind the report, representing top universities around the country, considered more than 10,000 studies for their analysis, from which they were able to draw nearly 100 conclusions.

In large part, the report reveals how much we still have to learn – but it’s still surprising to see exactly how much we know about certain health effects of cannabis.

This summation was sorely needed, as is more research on the topic.

“The policy has outpaced science, and it’s really too bad,” Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider.

“As a scientist, I think the goal is always to try very hard to get to the findings and to be able to disseminate those findings, so that we can make good decisions grounded in science. [Cannabis] has been around for thousands of years; it’s not like we just made it in a lab.”

Having good research is essential so that we know “how best we can use it; what are the safest ways; and what are the real risks”, Gruber added.

Surprising findings on cancer, mental health, and more

Before we dive into the findings, there are two quick things to keep in mind.

First, the language in the report is designed to say exactly how much we know – and don’t know – about a certain effect.

Terms like “conclusive evidence” mean we have enough data to make a firm conclusion; terms like “limited evidence” mean there’s still significant uncertainty even if there are good studies supporting an idea; and there are different degrees of certainty falling in between these levels.

For many things, there’s still insufficient data to really say anything positive or negative about cannabis.

Second, context is important. Many of these findings are meant summations of fact, not endorsements or condemnations.

For example, the report found evidence that driving while high increased the risk of an accident. But the report also notes that certain studies have found lower crash rates after the introduction of medical cannabis to an area.

It’s possible that cannabis makes driving more dangerous and that crashes could go down after introduction if people take proper precautions.

We’ll be working on providing context to these findings over the next few days but wanted to share some of the initial findings first.

With that in mind, here are some of the most striking findings from the report:

  1. There was conclusive or substantial evidence (the most definitive levels) that cannabis or cannabinoids, found in the marijuana plant, can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, which is “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana, according to the report.

    With similar certainty, they found cannabis can treat muscle spasms related to MS and can help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

  2. The authors found evidence that suggested that marijuana increased the risk for a driving crash.
  3. They also found evidence that in states with legal access to marijuana, children were more likely to accidentally consume cannabis.

    We’ve looked at these numbers before, and seen that the overall increases in risk are small – one study found that the rate of overall accidental child ingestion went from 1.2 per 100,000 population two years prior to legalisation to 2.3 per 100,000 population two years after legalisation.

    There’s still a far higher chance parents call poison control because of kids eating crayons or diaper cream, but it’s still important to know that some increased risk exists.

  4. Perhaps surprisingly, the authors found moderate evidence (a pretty decent level of certainty and an indication that good data exists) that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking.

    However, they did find some limited evidence suggesting that chronic or frequent users may have higher rates of a certain type of testicular cancer.

  5. Connections to heart conditions were less clear. There’s no evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the risk of a heart attack, though there was some limited evidence that cannabis smoking might be a trigger for a heart attack.
  6. There was substantial evidence that regular marijuana smokers are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis and that stopping smoking was likely to improve these conditions. There’s no real evidence to say that that cannabis does or doesn’t increase risk for respiratory conditions like COPD or asthma.
  7. There was limited evidence that smoking marijuana could have some anti-inflammatory activity.
  8. Substantial evidence suggests a link between prenatal cannabis exposure (when a pregnant woman uses marijuana) and lower birth weight, and there was limited evidence suggesting that this use could increase pregnancy complications and increase the risk a baby would have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.
  9. In terms of mental health, substantial evidence shows an increased risk for developing schizophrenia among frequent users, something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place.

    There was also moderate evidence that cannabis use was connected to a small increased risk for depression and an increased risk for social anxiety disorder.

  10. Limited evidence showed a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence (which is also shown to increase the risk for problematic use).
  11. One of the most interesting and perhaps most important conclusions of the report is that far more research on cannabis is needed. Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis was connected to an increased risk doesn’t mean marijuana use caused that risk.

And it’s hard to conduct research on marijuana right now.

The report says that’s largely because of regulatory barriers, including the Schedule 1 DEA status of marijuana and the fact that researchers often can’t access the same sorts of marijuana that people actually use.

Even in states where it’s legal to buy marijuana, federal regulations prevent researchers from using that same product.

Without the research, it’s hard to say how policy makers should best support legalisation efforts – to say how educational programs or mental health institutions should adapt to support any changes, for example.

“If I had one wish it would be that the policy makers really sat down with scientists and mental health practitioners” as they enact any of these new policies, Krista Lisdahl, an associate professor of psychology and director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology lab, told Business Insider.

It’s important to know what works and what doesn’t and what needs to studied more. This report does a lot to show what we’ve learned in recent years, but it also shows just how much more we need to learn.

In studying cannabis, “we’re not really after the good or the bad, we’re after the truth,” says Gruber.

Science Proves That Marijuana Users Are More Chill Than Drinkers

We all know the stereotype of the belligerent drunk and of the peace-hugging, artistically inclined stoner. But it took a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject trial to bestow on that perception the imprimatur of science. Turns out that marijuana users are cooler. We knew that.

The trial, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands and published in the July 2016 issue of Psychopharmacology, was simplicity itself: First, scientists assembled a task force of heavy drinkers and inveterate stoners. Next, they randomly intoxicated half the group with their drug of choice (i.e. booze or weed), and exposed them to a series of aggro-inducing activities—namely matching a list of words to violent images and playing a computer game with options for defensive and offensive play. A third group—the control—performed the same tasks, but didn’t get to take any drugs. Afterward, researchers reviewed the data and asked the subjects to rate how aggressive they felt.

In all cases, the subjects were more riled up, both in feeling and in action, at the end of the test. However, the drinkers as a group were more aggressive than the control, and the stoners less so.

It turns out that sometimes there are reasons that stereotypes become stereotypes.

When Will Marijuana Be Legal In Florida? Our State’s Medical Dispensary Rules Make Getting Treatment Difficult

Patients in Florida suffering from a variety of ailments will technically be eligible to use legal medical marijuana as a form of treatment on Tuesday. However, the state still has months to go before dispensary rules and regulations must be officially implemented, which could potentially leave patients without access to medical cannabis for quite some time.

On Election Day, 71 percent of voters approved Florida’s Amendment 2, a measure legalizing medical pot for people diagnosed with HIV, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS and a slew of other illnesses under a doctor’s prescription.

The state formerly passed legislation allowing low THC dosages of non-smokeable medical marijuana in 2014, but Florida’s Department of Health still has six months to update current dispensing rules to satisfy the new laws along with another nine months the department has to implement the new regulations. Only seven dispensaries are authorized to provide marijuana across the state under the former law, and only five weed nurseries are licensed to grow the plant in the state so far, so many Floridians could be without a place to purchase their legal medical marijuana until the end of 2017 or even 2018.

Along with the Department of Health dragging their feet to implement a new dispensing structure, local cities and counties throughout Florida are still fighting to keep dispensaries from popping up in their communities. Pasco and Manatee Counties have both requested bans on the drug in their communities, according to Sunshine State News, while Panama City Beach has suggested putting an all-out ban on growing, cultivation and dispensing for at least eight months while city and county officials study the plant and watch how it affects communities in other areas of Florida. Hillsborough County has already instituted a ban on medical marijuana, which will be in place until April.

“I suggest that we consider a moratorium on this until (the) state settles down on what their (laws) will be and the county does the same so we don’t do something and have to undo it three or four times,” Panama City Beach Councilman John Reichard said during a City Council meeting in early December.