Tag Archives: Medical Marijuana

Lancet study: Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health

30 Oct

The National Institute on Drug (NIH) Abuse article What is medical marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.
However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.
Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use.
Why isn’t the marijuana plant an FDA-approved medicine?
The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.
Read more about the various physical, mental, and behavioral effects of marijuana in our Marijuana DrugFacts.
Medical Marijuana Laws and Prescription Opioid Use Outcomes
A new study underscores the need for additional research on the effect of medical marijuana laws on opioid overdose deaths and cautions against drawing a causal connection between the two. Early research suggested that there may be a relationship between the availability of medical marijuana and opioid analgesic overdose mortality. In particular, a NIDA-funded study published in 2014 found that from 1999 to 2010, states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower rates of increase in opioid analgesic overdose death rates compared to states without such laws.1
A 2019 analysis, also funded by NIDA, re-examined this relationship using data through 2017. Similar to the findings reported previously, this research team found that opioid overdose mortality rates between 1999-2010 in states allowing medical marijuana use were 21% lower than expected. When the analysis was extended through 2017, however, they found that the trend reversed, such that states with medical cannabis laws experienced an overdose death rate 22.7% higher than expected.2 The investigators uncovered no evidence that either broader cannabis laws (those allowing recreational use) or more restrictive laws (those only permitting the use of marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations) were associated with changes in opioid overdose mortality rates.
These data, therefore, do not support the interpretation that access to cannabis reduces opioid overdose. Indeed, the authors note that neither study provides evidence of a causal relationship between marijuana access and opioid overdose deaths. Rather, they suggest that the associations are likely due to factors the researchers did not measure, and they caution against drawing conclusions on an individual level from ecological (population-level) data. Research is still needed on the potential medical benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids.
Read more in our Marijuana Research Report. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-safe-effective-medicine https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

Resources:

Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/marijuana-medical-benefits-large-review/

Marijuana and Cannabinoids | NCCIH
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/marijuana

Science Daily reported the Lancet study: Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health:

Meta-analysis finds inadequate evidence that cannabinoids relieve depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.
The new findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, find insufficient evidence medicinal cannabinoids improve disorders overall or their symptoms, although there is a very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may lead to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety in individuals with other medical conditions, such as chronic pain or multiple sclerosis.
Medicinal cannabinoids include medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids, and their synthetic derivatives, THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Around the world, these are increasingly being made available for medicinal purposes (e.g. in the United States, Australia, and Canada), including for the treatment of mental health disorders. However, there are concerns around the adverse effects of this availability, as there is a large body of evidence indicating that non-medicinal cannabis use can increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.
Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, Australia, and lead author of the study says: “Our findings have important implications in countries where cannabis and cannabinoids are being made available for medical use. There is a notable absence of high-quality evidence to properly assess the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared with placebo, and until evidence from randomised controlled trials is available, clinical guidelines cannot be drawn up around their use in mental health disorders.”
She continues: “In countries where medicinal cannabinoids are already legal, doctors and patients must be aware of the limitations of existing evidence and the risks of cannabinoids. These must be weighed when considering use to treat symptoms of common mental health disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids.”
This study follows The Lancet Series on Drug Use, which includes a paper on cannabis where the authors assess the current and possible future public health impacts of the legalisation of cannabis production, sale, and use in the Americas. They summarise the overall evidence on medicinal use of cannabinoids, regulation, and how medicinal use may have affected recreational use.
The authors set out to examine the available evidence for all types of medicinal cannabinoids. They included all study designs and investigated the impact on remission from and symptoms of six mental health disorders in adults: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis.
They included published and unpublished studies between 1980 and 2018 and included 83 eligible studies, 40 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (the others were open-label trials, where participants knew which treatment they were taking). Of the 83 studies, 42 looked at depression (including 23 RCTs), 31 looked at anxiety (17 RCTs), eight looked at Tourette syndrome (two RCTs), three were on ADHD (one RCT), 12 were on PTSD (one RCT), and 11 were on psychosis (six RCTs).
In most RCTs examining depression and anxiety, the primary reason for cannabinoid use was for another medical condition such as chronic non-cancer pain or multiple sclerosis. In the studies looking at the other four disorders, the cannabinoid was used to treat the mental health disorder. Few randomised controlled trials examined the role of pharmaceutical CBD or medicinal cannabis; most looked at THC, with or without CBD.
The authors found that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) improved anxiety symptoms among individuals with other medical conditions (seven studies of 252 people), though this may have been due to improvements in the primary medical condition. The authors suggest further research should explicitly study the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety and depression…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191028213912.htm

Citation:

Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health
Date: October 28, 2019
Source: The Lancet
Summary:
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.

Journal Reference:
Nicola Black, Emily Stockings, Gabrielle Campbell, Lucy T Tran, Dino Zagic, Wayne D Hall, Michael Farrell, Louisa Degenhardt. Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30401-8

Here is the press release from the Lancet:

NEWS RELEASE 28-OCT-2019

The Lancet Psychiatry: Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health

Meta-analysis finds inadequate evidence that cannabinoids relieve depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis
THE LANCET
Meta-analysis finds inadequate evidence that cannabinoids relieve depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders – combining 83 studies including 3,000 people – suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.
The new findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, find insufficient evidence medicinal cannabinoids improve disorders overall or their symptoms, although there is a very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may lead to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety in individuals with other medical conditions, such as chronic pain or multiple sclerosis.
Medicinal cannabinoids include medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids, and their synthetic derivatives, THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Around the world, these are increasingly being made available for medicinal purposes (e.g. in the United States, Australia, and Canada), including for the treatment of mental health disorders. However, there are concerns around the adverse effects of this availability, as there is a large body of evidence indicating that non-medicinal cannabis use can increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.
Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, Australia, and lead author of the study says: “Our findings have important implications in countries where cannabis and cannabinoids are being made available for medical use. There is a notable absence of high-quality evidence to properly assess the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared with placebo, and until evidence from randomised controlled trials is available, clinical guidelines cannot be drawn up around their use in mental health disorders.” [1]
She continues: “In countries where medicinal cannabinoids are already legal, doctors and patients must be aware of the limitations of existing evidence and the risks of cannabinoids. These must be weighed when considering use to treat symptoms of common mental health disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids.” [1]
This study follows The Lancet Series on Drug Use, which includes a paper on cannabis where the authors assess the current and possible future public health impacts of the legalisation of cannabis production, sale, and use in the Americas. They summarise the overall evidence on medicinal use of cannabinoids, regulation, and how medicinal use may have affected recreational use. [2]
The authors set out to examine the available evidence for all types of medicinal cannabinoids. They included all study designs and investigated the impact on remission from and symptoms of six mental health disorders in adults: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis.
They included published and unpublished studies between 1980 and 2018 and included 83 eligible studies, 40 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (the others were open-label trials, where participants knew which treatment they were taking). Of the 83 studies, 42 looked at depression (including 23 RCTs), 31 looked at anxiety (17 RCTs), eight looked at Tourette syndrome (two RCTs), three were on ADHD (one RCT), 12 were on PTSD (one RCT), and 11 were on psychosis (six RCTs).
In most RCTs examining depression and anxiety, the primary reason for cannabinoid use was for another medical condition such as chronic non-cancer pain or multiple sclerosis. In the studies looking at the other four disorders, the cannabinoid was used to treat the mental health disorder. Few randomised controlled trials examined the role of pharmaceutical CBD or medicinal cannabis; most looked at THC, with or without CBD.
The authors found that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) improved anxiety symptoms among individuals with other medical conditions (seven studies of 252 people), though this may have been due to improvements in the primary medical condition. The authors suggest further research should explicitly study the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety and depression.
Pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) worsened negative symptoms of psychosis (one study, 24 people) and did not significantly affect any other primary outcomes for the mental health disorders examined. It also increased the number of people who had adverse events (ten studies; 1,495 people) and withdrawals due to adverse events (11 studies; 1,621 people) compared with placebo across all mental health disorders examined.
The study highlights the limited evidence and the low quality of the evidence that exists around using cannabinoids for treatment of mental health conditions. There is a need for high-quality research to understand the effects of different cannabinoids on a range of outcomes for people with mental health disorders.
Professor Degenhardt says: “Cannabinoids are often advocated as a treatment for various mental health conditions. Countries that allow medicinal cannabinoid use will probably see increased demand for such use. Clinicians and consumers need to be aware of the low quality and quantity of evidence for the effectiveness of medicinal cannabinoids in treating mental health disorders and the potential risk of adverse events. Given the likely interest but scant evidence to guide patient and clinician decisions around cannabinoids for mental health, there is an urgent need for randomised controlled trials to inform whether there are benefits of cannabinoids for these indications.” [1]
The authors highlight that their analysis and conclusions are limited by the small amount of available data, small study sizes, and the differences in findings between small studies. There is no recommended approach for addressing these issues in systematic reviews, but they tried to minimise them by keeping the focus of the review narrow. They also note that most studies are based on pharmaceutical cannabinoids, rather than medicinal cannabis, but plant products are most often used by those taking cannabinoids for medicinal purposes in the USA.
In a related Comment article, Professor Deepak Cyril D’Souza of Yale University School of Medicine, USA, says: “The process of drug development in modern medicine is to first demonstrate efficacy and safety in clinical trials before using the drug clinically. With cannabinoids, it seems that the cart (use) is before the horse (evidence). For cannabinoids to be used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders they should be tested in RCTs and subjected to the same regulatory approval process as other prescription medications.”
###
NOTES TO EDITORS
This study was funded by Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Commonwealth Department of Health, Australia, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the US National Institutes of Health. It was conducted by researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, the University of Brisbane, Australia and King’s College London, UK.
The labels have been added to this press release as part of a project run by the Academy of Medical Sciences seeking to improve the communication of evidence. For more information, please see: http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/AMS-press-release-labelling-system-GUIDANCE.pdf if you have any questions or feedback, please contact The Lancet press office pressoffice@lancet.com
[1] Quote direct from author and cannot be found in the text of the Article.
[2] Paper available here (begins page 29): http://www.thelancet-press.com/embargo/EMBARGOED-druguseseries.pdf
A press release for this report is also available.
Peer-reviewed / Meta-analysis / People
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Addiction wrote in Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with 37.6 million users in the past year,1 and marijuana use may have a wide range of health effects on the body and brain. Click on the sections below to learn more about how marijuana use can affect your health.
ADDICTION
About 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6. 1-3
Some of the signs that someone might be addicted include:
• Unsuccessful efforts to quit using marijuana.
• Giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana.
• Using marijuana even when it is known that it causes problems fulfilling everyday jobs at home, school or work.4
People who are addicted to marijuana may also be at a higher risk of other negative consequences of using the drug, such as problems with attention, memory, and learning. Some people who are addicted need to smoke more and more marijuana to get the same high. It is also important to be aware that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana (i.e., marijuana potency or strength) has increased over the past few decades. The higher the THC content, the stronger the effects on the brain. In addition, some methods of using marijuana (e.g., dabbing, edibles) may deliver very high levels of THC to the user.5 Researchers do not yet know the full extent of the consequences when the body and brain (especially the developing brain) are exposed to high concentrations of THC or how recent increases in potency affect the risk of someone becoming addicted. 5
References
1. Lopez-Quintero, C, et al. (2011). Probability and predictors of transition from first use to dependence on nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine: results of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Drug Alcohol Depend. 115(1-2): p. 120-30.
2. Hall, W, Degenhardt L. (2009). Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use. Lancet. 374(9698): p. 1383-91.
3. Budney, AJ, Sargent JD, and Lee, DC. (2015). Vaping cannabis (marijuana): parallel concerns to e-cigs? Addiction. 110(11): p. 1699-704.
4. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Is marijuana addictive?external icon (2017) Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
BRAIN HEALTH
Marijuana use directly affects the brain — specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time.1
What are the short-term effects of marijuana on the brain?
Heavy users of marijuana can have short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning, which can affect relationships and mood.
What are the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain?
Marijuana also affects brain development. When marijuana users begin using as teenagers, the drug may reduce attention, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.
Marijuana’s effects on these abilities may last a long time or even be permanent. This means that someone who uses marijuana may not do as well in school and may have trouble remembering things. 1-3
The impact depends on many factors and is different for each person. It also depends on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana (i.e., marijuana potency or strength), how often it is used, the age of first use, and whether other substances (e.g., tobacco and alcohol) are used at the same time.
Marijuana and the developing brain
Developing brains, like those in babies, children, and teenagers are especially susceptible to the hurtful effects of marijuana. Although scientists are still learning about these effects of marijuana on the developing brain, studies show that marijuana use by mothers during pregnancy may be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior problems in their children. 3-7
References
1. Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Yücel M, et al. (2013). Structural and functional imaging studies in chronic cannabis users: a systematic review of adolescent and adult findings. PloS One. 8(2):e55821. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055821.
2. Filbey, FM, et al., Long-term effects of marijuana use on the brain. (2014) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 111(47): p. 16913-8.
3. Goldschmidt, L, et al. (2002). Richardson, Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 22(3): p. 325-36.
4. Fried, PA, Watkinson, B, and Gray, R. Differential effects on cognitive functioning in 9- to 12-year olds prenatally exposed to cigarettes and marihuana. Neurotoxicol Teratol, 1998. 20(3): p. 293-306.
5. Leech, SL, et al., (1999). Prenatal substance exposure: effects on attention and impulsivity of 6-year-olds. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 21(2): p. 109-18.
6. Goldschmidt, L, et al., (2008) Prenatal marijuana exposure and intelligence test performance at age 6. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 47(3): p. 254-63.
7. El Marroun, H, et al., (2011). Intrauterine cannabis exposure leads to more aggressive behavior and attention problems in 18-month-old girls. Drug Alcohol Depend. 118(2-3): p. 470-4.
CANCER
Marijuana and cannabinoids (the active chemicals in marijuana that cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system). The main active cannabinoid in marijuana is delta-9-THC. Another active cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), which may relieve pain and lower inflammation without causing the “high” of delta-9-THC. Although marijuana and cannabinoids have been studied with respect to managing side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, there are no ongoing clinical trials of marijuana or cannabinoids in treating cancer in people.9 Studies so far have not shown that cannabinoids help control or cure the disease.2 And like many other drugs, marijuana can cause side effects and complications.
Relying on marijuana alone as treatment or for managing side effects while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.2
How can marijuana affect symptoms of cancer?
Studies of man-made forms of the chemicals found in the marijuana plant can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.1 Studies have found that marijuana can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).1
At this time, there is not enough evidence to recommend that patients inhale or ingest marijuana as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy.
Is there a link between marijuana and cancer?
Smoked marijuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system.3
Researchers have found limited evidence of an association between current, frequent, or chronic marijuana smoking and testicular cancer (non-seminoma-type).4
Because marijuana plants come in different strains with different levels of active chemicals, it can make each user’s experience very hard to predict. More research is needed to understand the full impact of marijuana use on cancer.
References
1. National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for researchexternal icon. Washington, D.C.
2. National Cancer Institute. (2017). Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Patient Versionexternal icon. Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General pdf icon[PDF – 36MB]external icon. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
4. Gurney, J, et al. (2015). Cannabis exposure and risk of testicular cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cancer. 15: p. 897.
CHRONIC PAIN
Even though pain management is one of the most common reasons people use medical marijuana in the U.S., there is limited evidence that marijuana works to treat most types of chronic pain.
A few studies have found that marijuana can be helpful in treating neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves). 1 However, more research is needed to know if marijuana is any better or any worse than other options for managing chronic pain.
References
1. National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for researchexternal icon. Washington, D.C.
HEART HEALTH
Using marijuana makes the heart beat faster.1 It could also lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease. 2-6 However, most of the scientific studies linking marijuana to heart attacks and strokes are based on reports from people who smoked it. Smoked marijuana delivers THC and other cannabinoids to the body, but it also delivers harmful substances to users and those close by, including many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke, which are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system. 3 So it’s hard to separate the effects of the compounds in marijuana on the cardiovascular system from the hazards posed by the irritants and other chemicals contained in the smoke. More research is needed to understand the full impact of marijuana use on the circulatory system to determine if marijuana use leads to higher risk of death from these causes.
References
1. Sidney, S. (2002) Cardiovascular consequences of marijuana use. J Clin Pharmacol. 42(11 Suppl): p. 64S-70S.
2. Wolff, V, et al. (2013). Cannabis-related stroke: myth or reality? Stroke. 44(2): p. 558-63.
3. Wolff, V, et al. (2015). Characteristics and Prognosis of Ischemic Stroke in Young Cannabis Users Compared With Non-Cannabis Users. J Am Coll Cardiol. 66(18): p. 2052-3.
4. Franz, CA and Frishman, WH. (2016) Marijuana Use and Cardiovascular Disease. Cardiol Rev. 24(4): p. 158-62.
5. Rumalla, K, Reddy, AY, and Mittal, MK. (2016). Recreational marijuana use and acute ischemic stroke: A population-based analysis of hospitalized patients in the United States. J Neurol Sci. 364: p. 191-6.
6. Rumalla, K, Reddy, AY, and Mittal, MK. (2016). Association of Recreational Marijuana Use with Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 25(2): p. 452-60.
LUNG HEALTH
How marijuana affects lung health is determined by how it’s consumed. In many cases, marijuana is smoked in the form hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), in pipes or water pipes (bongs), in bowls, or in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. Smoked marijuana, in any form, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels. 1-2 Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. 3 Smoking marijuana can also lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. 4-8 These symptoms generally improve when marijuana smokers quit.9-10
Secondhand marijuana smoke
The known health risks of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke—to the heart or lungs, for instance—raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke poses similar health risks. While there is very little data on the health consequences of breathing secondhand marijuana smoke, there is concern that it could cause harmful health effects, including among children.
Recent studies have found strong associations between those who said there was someone in the home who used marijuana or a caretaker who used marijuana and the child having detectable levels of THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. 5,11 Children exposed to the psychoactive compounds in marijuana are potentially at risk for negative health effects, including developmental problems for babies whose mothers used marijuana while pregnant. 8 Other research shows that marijuana use during adolescence can impact the developing teenage brain and cause problems with attention, motivation, and memory.12
References
1. Tashkin, DP. (2013) Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 10(3): p. 239-47.
2. Moir, D, et al. (2008). A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chem Res Toxicol. 21(2): p. 494-502.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General pdf icon[PDF – 36MB]external icon. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
4. Aldington, S, et al., Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms. Thorax, 2007. 62(12): p. 1058-63.
5. Moore, C, et al. (2011). Cannabinoids in oral fluid following passive exposure to marijuana smoke. Forensic Sci Int. 212(1-3): p. 227-30.
6. Tan, WC, et al. (2009). Marijuana and chronic obstructive lung disease: a population-based study. CMAJ. 180(8): p. 814-20.
7. Taylor, DR, et al. (200). The respiratory effects of cannabis dependence in young adults. Addiction. 95(11): p. 1669-77.
8. National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for researchexternal icon. Washington, D.C.
9. Hancox, RJ, et al. (2015). Effects of quitting cannabis on respiratory symptoms. Eur Respir J, 2015. 46(1): p. 80-7.
10. Tashkin, DP, Simmons MS, and Tseng, CH. (2012). Impact of changes in regular use of marijuana and/or tobacco on chronic bronchitis. COPD. 9(4): p. 367-74.
11. Wilson KM, Torok MR, Wei B, et al. (2017). Detecting biomarkers of secondhand marijuana smoke in young children. Pediatr Res. 81:589–592.
12. Broyd, SJ, et al. (2016). Acute and Chronic Effects of Cannabinoids on Human Cognition-A Systematic Review. Biol Psychiatry. 79(7): p. 557-67.
MENTAL HEALTH
Marijuana use, especially frequent (daily or near daily) use and use in high doses, can cause disorientation, and sometimes cause unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia. 1
Marijuana users are significantly more likely than nonusers to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t really there). 2
Marijuana use has also been linked to depression and anxiety, and suicide among teens. However, it is not known whether this is a causal relationship or simply an association.
References
1. National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: Current state of evidence and recommendations for researchexternal icon. Washington, D.C.
2. Volkow ND, Swanson JM, Evins AE, et al. (2016). Effects of cannabis use on human behavior, including cognition, motivation, and psychosis: a review. JAMA Psychiatry. 73(3):292-297. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3278.
POISONING
Edibles, or food and drink products infused with marijuana and eaten, have some different risks than smoking marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Unlike smoked marijuana, edibles can:
• Take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. So some people eat too much, which can lead to poisoning and/or serious injury.
• Cause effects that last longer than expected depending on the amount, the last food eaten, and medications or alcohol used at the same time.
• Be very difficult to measure. The amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is very difficult to measure and is often unknown in edible products. Many users can be caught off-guard by the strength and long-lasting effects of edibles.
It is also important to remember that marijuana affects children differently than adults. Since marijuana has become legal in some states, children have accidentally eaten marijuana products that looked like candy and treats, which made them sick enough to need emergency medical care. 3
If you use marijuana products, keep them in childproof containers and out of the reach of children. For additional questions, you can contact your health care provider, your health department, the Poison Helplineexternal icon at 1-800-222-1222, or 911 if it’s an emergency.
RISK OF USING OTHER DRUGS
The concept of marijuana as a “gateway drug”—where using marijuana leads a person to use other drugs—generates a lot of disagreement. Researchers haven’t found a definite answer yet. 1-2 However, most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” drugs. 1
It is important to remember that people of any age, sex, or economic status can become addicted to marijuana or other drugs. Things that can affect the likelihood of substance use include:
• Family history.
• Having another mental health illness (such as anxiety or depression).
• Peer pressure.
• Loneliness or social isolation.
• Lack of family involvement.
• Drug availability.
• Socioeconomic status. 2
References
1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Is marijuana a gateway drug? (2017). Rockville, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
2. Robertson EB, David SL, Rao SA. (2003) Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents. A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders pdf icon[PDF-725KB]external icon. National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2nd edn. NIH Publication no. 04-4212 (A). Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (2017) Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2016external icon.
Reference
1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Healthexternal icon. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
2. Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Yücel M, et al. (2013). Structural and functional imaging studies in chronic cannabis users: a systematic review of adolescent and adult findings. PloS One. 8(2):e55821. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055821. https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html

THE JURY IS OUT ON THE MEDICAL USES OF MARIJUANA.

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Indiana University study: CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure

7 Jan

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in How might cannabinoids be useful as medicine?

Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are THC and CBD.
THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems.Unlike THC, CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t make people “high.” These drugs aren’t popular for recreational use because they aren’t intoxicating. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions. Many researchers, including those funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are continuing to explore the possible uses of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids for medical treatment.
For instance, recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study with rodents suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that treatment with purified extracts of THC and CBD, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation….10
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

There is a question among medical providers about marijuana’s usefulness in glaucoma treatment.

David Turbert, contributing writer: Dayle Kern wrote in American Academy of Ophthalmology article which was reviewed by Dr. J. Kevin McKinney, MD, MPH, Does Marijuana Help Treat Glaucoma?

Medical marijuana is promoted as a treatment for many diseases, including glaucoma. And now that the sale and possession of marijuana has been legalized in states like Colorado and Washington, it can be easier than ever to self medicate as a glaucoma treatment without consulting your ophthalmologist. But does it really work?
Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve becomes damaged over time, reducing side vision. It sometimes leads to blindness. One cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma is higher-than-normal pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure or “IOP”).
Currently, the only way to control glaucoma and prevent vision loss is to lower your IOP levels. Your ophthalmologist can treat glaucoma with medication, such as prescription eye drops, or surgery, depending on the type of glaucoma and how severe it is.
Learn more about: Glaucoma treatment options
The idea that marijuana can be helpful in treating glaucoma dates to the 1970s. Studies conducted then showed that smoking marijuana lowered the IOP of people with glaucoma. As a result of this research, additional studies were conducted examining whether marijuana or its active ingredient, a compound known as THC, could be used to keep IOP lowered. This research was supported by the National Eye Institute, a division of the federal National Institutes of Health.
The research found that when marijuana is smoked or when a form of its active ingredient is taken as a pill or by injection, it does lower IOP. However, it only lowers IOP for a short period of time—about three or four hours.
This short period of time is a major drawback for the use of marijuana as a glaucoma treatment. Because glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day, you would need to smoke marijuana six to eight times a day around the clock to receive the benefit of a consistently lowered IOP. Because of marijuana’s mood-altering effect, smoking so much of it daily would leave you too impaired to drive, operate equipment or function at the peak of your mental ability….
Scientists are still exploring whether the active ingredients in marijuana may yet offer a glaucoma treatment. However, such developments require much more research and are many years from becoming a reality.
So, while marijuana can temporarily lower your IOP, it’s not recommended for treating glaucoma. Prescription medication and surgical treatments have been tested and proven as effective treatments for the condition. On June 27, 2014, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reiterated its position that it does not recommend marijuana or other cannabis products for the treatment of glaucoma. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/medical-marijuana-glaucoma-treament

An Indiana University study questioned the use of marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma.

Science Daily reported in CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure:

One of the most commonly proposed uses of medical marijuana is to treat glaucoma.
But a study from researchers at Indiana University has found that a major chemical component in the substance appears to worsen the primary underpinning of the disease: a rise in pressure inside the eye.
The chemical that causes this rise in pressure is cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is increasingly marketed to consumers in products such as oil, gummies, creams and health food. It is also approved in many states as a treatment for conditions such as pediatric epilepsy.
The study was reported Dec. 14 in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science….
The study, which was conducted in mice, specifically found that CBD caused an increase in pressure inside the eye of 18 percent for at least four hours after use.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, was found to effectively lower pressure in the eye, as has been previously reported. But the study found that the use of CBD in combination with THC blocked this effect.
Specifically, the study found that male mice experienced a drop in eye pressure of nearly 30 percent eight hours after exposure to THC alone. A lower pressure drop of 22 percent was also observed after four hours in male mice.
The effect was weaker in female mice. This group experienced a pressure drop of only 17 percent after four hours. No difference in eye pressure was measured after eight hours.
The results suggest that females may be less affected by THC, though it isn’t clear whether this extends to the substance’s psychoactive effects.
“This difference between males and females — and the fact that CBD seems to worsen eye pressure, the primary risk factor for glaucoma — are both important aspects of this study,” Straiker said. “It’s also notable that CBD appears to actively oppose the beneficial effects of THC.”
By comparing the effect of these substances on mice without specific neuroreceptors affected by THC and CBD, the IU researchers were also able to identify the two specific neuroreceptors — named CB1 and GPR18 — by which the first substance lowered pressure inside the eye.
“There were studies over 45 years ago that found evidence that THC lowers pressure inside the eye, but no one’s ever identified the specific neuroreceptors involved in the process until this study,” Straiker said. “These results could have important implications for future research on the use of cannabis as a therapy for intraocular pressure.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181217151537.htm

Citation:

CBD in marijuana may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure
Research in mice suggests over-the-counter substance could possess unknown side effects
Date: December 17, 2018
Source: Indiana University
Summary:
A study has found that CBD — a major chemical component in marijuana — appears to increase pressure inside the eye of mice, suggesting the use of the substance in the treatment of glaucoma may actually worsen the condition.
Journal Reference:
Sally Miller, Laura Daily, Emma Leishman, Heather Bradshaw, Alex Straiker. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Differentially Regulate Intraocular Pressure. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science, 2018; 59 (15): 5904 DOI: 10.1167/iovs.18-24838

Here is the press release from Indiana University:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 17-DEC-2018
Study suggests CBD may worsen glaucoma, raise eye pressure
Research in mice suggests over-the-counter substance could possess unknown side effects
INDIANA UNIVERSITY
One of the most commonly proposed uses of medical marijuana is to treat glaucoma.
But a study from researchers at Indiana University has found that a major chemical component in the substance appears to worsen the primary underpinning of the disease: a rise in pressure inside the eye.
The chemical that causes this rise in pressure is cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is increasingly marketed to consumers in products such as oil, gummies, creams and health food. It is also approved in many states as a treatment for conditions such as pediatric epilepsy.
The study was reported Dec. 14 in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
“This study raises important questions about the relationship between the primary ingredients in cannabis and their effect on the eye,” said Alex Straiker, an associate scientist in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study. “It also suggests the need to understand more about the potential undesirable side effects of CBD, especially due to its use in children.”
The study, which was conducted in mice, specifically found that CBD caused an increase in pressure inside the eye of 18 percent for at least four hours after use.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, was found to effectively lower pressure in the eye, as has been previously reported. But the study found that the use of CBD in combination with THC blocked this effect.
Specifically, the study found that male mice experienced a drop in eye pressure of nearly 30 percent eight hours after exposure to THC alone. A lower pressure drop of 22 percent was also observed after four hours in male mice.
The effect was weaker in female mice. This group experienced a pressure drop of only 17 percent after four hours. No difference in eye pressure was measured after eight hours.
The results suggest that females may be less affected by THC, though it isn’t clear whether this extends to the substance’s psychoactive effects.
“This difference between males and females — and the fact that CBD seems to worsen eye pressure, the primary risk factor for glaucoma — are both important aspects of this study,” Straiker said. “It’s also notable that CBD appears to actively oppose the beneficial effects of THC.”
By comparing the effect of these substances on mice without specific neuroreceptors affected by THC and CBD, the IU researchers were also able to identify the two specific neuroreceptors — named CB1 and GPR18 — by which the first substance lowered pressure inside the eye.
“There were studies over 45 years ago that found evidence that THC lowers pressure inside the eye, but no one’s ever identified the specific neuroreceptors involved in the process until this study,” Straiker said. “These results could have important implications for future research on the use of cannabis as a therapy for intraocular pressure.”
###
Other IU authors on the paper included Heather Bradshaw, an associate professor in IU Bloomington Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The study was supported in part by the National Eye Institute.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to

The Glaucoma Research Foundation discussed glaucoma treatment in Should You Be Using Marijuana to Treat Your Glaucoma?

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation:

Long-term Safety Concerns
Concerns also exist regarding the long-term safety of marijuana use, due to its associations with permanent lung damage when smoked, and possible permanent adverse effects on cognition and mental health. With regular use, tolerance to the eye pressure-lowering effects develops, meaning that increasing drug levels would be required to prevent progression of glaucoma. Finally, lack of regulation and quality control makes efficacy and safety of marijuana unpredictable. Research efforts to develop THC eyedrops that can effectively lower eye pressure while minimizing side effects are underway but have not yet been successful.
For these reasons, while marijuana does lower eye pressure, it is not recommended as a medical treatment for glaucoma. If you use marijuana, let your eye doctor know since it may have an impact on your eye pressure readings. Also, it is very important to continue your current glaucoma therapy and regular monitoring as recommended by your eye doctor.

Kathryn E. Bollinger, MD is a glaucoma specialist and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology within the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Her research focuses on development of novel neuroprotective treatments for glaucoma.
Kevin M. Halenda, MD is a second-year ophthalmology resident at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. He is a graduate of Emory University School of Medicine and Princeton University.                                                                                                                   https://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/should-you-be-using-marijuana-to-treat-your-glaucoma.php

As with treatment for any medical condition, the advice of competent medical personnel must be consulted.

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