Pubdate: Thu, 11 Aug 2016
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Georgia Straight
Author: Charlie Smith


For several years, cannabis researchers have been zeroing in on the
health benefits of a marijuana extract known as cannabidiol, a.k.a.

It's long been believed that CBD does not get people stoned, unlike
the plant's psychoactive and better-known extract,
tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. And it has been argued that this helps
patients who might be seeking relief from pain and other conditions
but who don't want to get high every time they take their medication.

However, a recent study by four U.S. researchers led by John Merrick
at Pace Analytical Services in Oakdale, Minnesota, suggests that CBD
can be degraded into THC in a highly acidic environment, such as
inside a human stomach. If this result is confirmed in subsequent
studies, this would cast doubt on the widespread impression that CBD
does not tamper with people's perceptions of the world around them.

Merrick's experiment was designed to replicate what happens when CBD
enters the gastrointestinal tract. The researchers demonstrated that
psychoactive cannabinoids can be created when CBD is placed in
simulated gastric fluid. That's because of how CBD interacts with
acids over a period of time.

"Delivery methods that decrease the potential for formation of
psychoactive cannabinoids should be explored," the researchers concluded.

Kamloops emergency physician Ian Mitchell has a keen interest in
research into cannabis extracts. In a blog post entitled "How
heartburn can help get you high", Mitchell noted that the researchers
determined that there was "no degradation of CBD in the buffered
physiological solution". THC only emerged in a highly acidic

The compound would have to be transferred through the bloodstream to
the brain to result in any psychoactive effects. And Mitchell pointed
out in his post that the study didn't examine if THC levels in human
blood increase after CBD ingestion. In addition, Mitchell highlighted
that the researchers work for a company marketing "transdermal CBD",
which refers to the extract entering the body through the skin.

"By pointing out the problems with oral administration, their product
appears more appealing, so there is certainly the potential for a
conflict of interest," Mitchell wrote. "It doesn't mean the research
is wrong, but it would be ideal for it to be repeated by a lab with
less financial interest in its outcome."

In his concluding paragraph, Mitchell questioned the wisdom of
governments introducing CBD-only laws if this extract can be naturally
converted into THC.

"Transdermal CBD may make sense," he added, "but similar results may
be available with enteric coating."

The study was published in April in a journal called Cannabis and
Cannabinoid Research. In their paper, the researchers cited a previous
study showing that a significant number of pediatric patients with
epilepsy "showed a relatively high incidence of adverse events" after
taking CBD.

In a 2015 presentation to U.S. senators, the director of the National
Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, explained that there is
growing interest in CBD oil and high-CBD strains of marijuana for the
treatment of children with "intractable seizure disorders including
Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome".

"In addition to epilepsy, the therapeutic potential of CBD is
currently being explored for a number of indications including anxiety
disorders, substance use disorders, schizophrenia, cancer, pain,
inflammatory diseases, and others," Volkow said.

Her organization is working with the National Institute on
Neurological Disorders and Stroke on animal models of epilepsy to
examine how CBD can be used to treat seizure disorders, including
whether it can be used in conjunction with other medications.

Volkow also stated in her presentation that CBD has been shown in
animal models to reduce the viability of cancer cells and decrease the
growth of tumours.

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Three organizations with deep roots in B.C. have filed submissions to
a federal task force maintaining that the government and media "are
inflating the role of organized crime" in the marijuana industry.

Moreover, they stated in an August 9 news release that this is being
done "without providing evidence to substantiate the claims". (For
details, click the link to the left of this article.)

In addition, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, the Cannabis Trade
Alliance of Canada, and the Craft Cannabis Association of British
Columbia have warned that "these opinions could lead to overly
restrictive regulations."

The news release was distributed to coincide with submissions they're
making to the task force on marijuana legalization and regulation.

"We recommend that the government base the new cannabis regulations on
the best available evidence, to allow for a balanced approach that
further restricts the operation of organized crime, while allowing for
the involvement of a variety of independent producers and retailers in
the emerging legal market," said CDPC submission coauthor and SFU
criminologist Neil Boyd.

The task force has come under fire in a series of articles on written by marijuana-legalization activist Marc Emery.
The so-called Prince of Pot has objected to the appointment of former
justice minister Anne McLellan as chair, given her outspoken criticism
of marijuana legalization when she served in federal cabinets headed
by former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

In addition, Emery has pointed out that McLellan is a "senior advisor"
to the law firm Bennett Jones, which has marketed itself as a legal
authority on marijuana for federally licensed producers.

Storefront marijuana operations in Vancouver and other Canadian cities
attract clients who might otherwise deal with the licensed producers,
which distribute their cannabis products by mail.
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