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cannabidiol

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director March 14, 2011

    By Fred Gardner

    Project CBD has just sent out its introductory pitch to California dispensaries. ProjectCBD.org is the medical marijuana movement living up to its name,” explains outreach coordinator Sarah Russo, optimistically, as she asks the dispensaries to participate in a “collective research effort.” But what are the chances that the dispensary owners, intent on building their own brands, will support a venture aimed at advancing the movement as a whole?

    CBD, in case you’re just joining us, is Cannabidiol —a component of the Cannabis plant known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and other beneficial medical effects. CBD is not psychoactive and actually counters the psychoactive effects of THC. It is the predominant cannabinoid in hemp —plants grown to produce fiber or growing wild. CBD levels go down and THC levels go up when plants are bred to maximize psychoactive effect, as they have been in the U.S. for many generations of plants and people.

    It was widely assumed for a long time that CBD had been almost entirely bred out of the Cannabis being grown in California for medical/commercial purposes. And because no analytic chemistry labs were testing Cannabis samples before the winter of 2008-09, there was no way to assess cannabinoid content. Overseas things were different. For many years researchers have been exploring the medical potential of CBD, and G.W. Pharmaceuticals conducted successful clinical trials and got U.K. government approval to market Sativex, a whole-plant extract with equal amounts of CBD and THC, for use by MS patients. Canada and Spain have also issued approvals for Sativex.

    The situation in California changed in 2008 when Steve DeAngelo arranged for a lab to test the Cannabis he was providing at Oakland’s Harborside Health Center. DeAngelo had to fund a start-up to accomplish this. When Harborside opened in 2006 he had phoned every analytic lab in the Bay Area and been turned down when he mentioned the C word. In the spring of ’08 he decided to back two entrepreneurs who were launching a lab —the aptly named “Steep Hill”— and to supply them with a large, steady stream of samples to test for mold and cannabinoid content (THC, CBD and CBN, a breakdown product indicative of freshness). At least eight more labs have started testing Cannabis in California since then, and there are labs in Montana and Colorado. ProjectCBD’s Russo says, “We seem to hear from a new lab every week.”

    It turns out that CBD is not all that rare —about one in every 600 samples tested by the labs is found to be high in CBD. Evidently, that’s the rate at which a mutation occurs resulting in an excess of the enzyme that transforms a precursor molecule of CBD and THC into one or the other. More than 25 CBD-rich strains have been identified, and Russo says, “We seem to hear about a new strain every week, too”

    The prospect of CBD-rich cannabis becoming available prompted the Society of Cannabis Clinicians to plan a data collection effort. Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, President of the SCC, had spent years listening to talks about CBD at meetings of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, wishing he could observe its effects on real patients. Hergenrather and co-worker Stacey Kerr, MD have now drafted a survey aimed at documenting patients’ answers to some basic questions about the effects of CBD-rich Cannabis. (For purposes of data collection, “CBD-rich” has been defined as 4% or more CBD, regardless of THC content. The amount of CBD that a given strain contains isn’t the only factor influencing the effects it will exert when ingested. The ratio of CBD to THC may be as or more important. Terpenoid and flavonoid content also appear to be very important.)

    Project CBD was launched to publicize and promote the SCC survey(s). Martin A. Lee, the author of Acid Dreams, had been writing about CBD for O’Shaughnessy’s and convinced your correspondent that its re(introduction) into the grassroots supply was going to be a huge, ongoing story and would warrant its own journal of sorts. Over the past year we put a lot of effort into encouraging production by plant breeders and growers who had strains testing high in CBD. Many dispensary owners have been reluctant to stock CBD-rich strains because their present customers are seeking —or are not adverse to— Cannabis that causes euphoria or sedation. In other words, THC content sells, it’s a sure thing. Why should a dispensary spend money and devote shelf space to a type of Cannabis that most medical users haven’t heard of and whose effects are unproven?

    Growers, in turn, have to anticipate the wants of dispensary buyers, and are reluctant to devote valuable garden space to plants for which there is no established market. ?Demand at the dispensary level might not take off until effectiveness is established. Which might not happen until significant numbers of patients have tried CBD-rich Cannabis and taken the SCC survey to report their results. Or, as Martin says, “there could be a tsunami of interest any day now.”

    ProjectCBD.org provides the whole story to date and a “CBDiary” noting recent developments. The big news as of March 1: for the first time, a California grower has “stabilized” a CBD-rich strain. Lawrence Ringo of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective is now offering seeds of “Sour Tsunami” that have a one-in-four chance of containing 10-11% CBD (and 6-7% THC).

    Read all about it here.

    Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice. His email is fred@plebesite.com.

    NORML’s updated primer on existing and potential cannabinoid and cannabis therapies is found here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 9, 2010

    First Unveiling of New Strain To Redefine The Medical Cannabis Industry

    New Released Scientific Data Supports Medicinal Value, U.S. Government Ignores Scientific Data

    Next week’s Patients Out of Time (P.O.T.) conference in Rhode Island features numerous speakers and interesting topics, but the announcement by Harborside Health Center of the development a new Cannabidol-centric strain of cannabis I suspect will be of great interest to patients, medical providers and cultivators.

    I think it also a shining example of why the Drug Enforcement Administration should not bust and harass laboratories contracted or operated by cannabis wellness centers that test and analyze cannabis that is sold into the medical collective for the very reason that these forensic labs provide necessary patient information regarding potency, purity and medicinal effects based on plant strain.

    Oakland, CA – The availability of a new type of medical cannabis strain will be presented for the first time by Steve DeAngelo, who has been featured on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and The New York Times as Executive Director of one of the nation’s top model and non-profit medical cannabis dispensaries, Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California.

    DeAngelo will announce the availability of this type of non-psychoactive cannabis that has been lab tested with California strains with CBD (Cannabidol) at the 6th Annual National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics on Friday, April 16th at 12PM Noon at The Crown Plaza Hotel, 801 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island.

    Conference information can be found at: www.medicalcannabis.com

    For three decades, DeAngelo has been an engaging speaker as he cuts through the stigma, and delivers the true facts about cannabis. His exciting and important presentation will include results of the first large scale analytical study of California’s medical cannabis supply, which revealed that one of the most medically efficacious cannabinoids—CBD—has been bred out of plants grown primarily for psychoactive effect. Only within the past year have CBD-rich cannabis varieties been identified, thanks to an analytical chemistry lab that DeAngelo helped launch.

    Recent research has demonstrated that CBD is effective in slowing or reversing a number of different types of cancer; as well as other serious illnesses. In response to the shortage of CBD rich cannabis varieties, Harborside has initiated a program to identify such strains, and encourage growers to propagate them. Because CBD modulates the psycho activity of THC, some patients respond better to varieties of cannabis which couple low THC levels with high CBD levels, because they enhance medical efficacy while reducing or eliminating psycho activity. This is particularly true for cannabis-naïve patients, who have no prior experience with it, prior to receiving a recommendation from their doctor. “Ultimately, there will be greater demand for CBD-rich cannabis, than there is for cannabis that just gets you high” predicts DeAngelo. “Only a small percentage of people enjoy the psycho activity of cannabis, but almost everybody can benefit from its medical properties”.

    The 6th Annual Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics is the only one of its kind in the United States for health professional to learn about the many benefits of cannabis therapeutics. Medical professionals can receive their CME (Continuing Education) credits for attending this forum through the University of California, San Francisco.

    The New York Times: “Harborside Health Center, a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., is looked upon as a model of how others could operate.”

    Contact : Gaynell Rogers/Media Relations

    415.298.1114

    mcmcgaynell@gmail.com

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 9, 2008

    While the prohibition of cannabis is absurd, the ban on the plant’s non-psychoactive components is even more mind-boggling — particularly when it’s apparent that these compounds possess amazing therapeutic properties. Case in point: cannabidiol (CBD).

    A just published scientific review by Sao Paulo University (Brazil) researcher Antonio Zuardi reports that there’s been an “explosive increase” of interest in CBD over the past five years. It’s apparent why.

    “Studies have suggested a wide range of possible therapeutic effects of cannabidiol on several conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral ischemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory diseases, nausea and cancer,” Zuardi writes. Let’s look at a few of these in detail, shall we?

    1. Antiepileptic action
    “In 1973, a Brazilian group reported that CBD was active in … blocking convulsions produced in experimental animals.”

    2. Sedative action
    “In humans with insomnia, high doses of CBD increased sleep duration compared to placebo.”

    3. Anxiolytic action
    “CBD induce[s] a clear anxiolytic effect and a pattern of cerebral activity compatible with an anxiolytic activity.”

    4. Antipsychcotic action
    “[C]linical studies suggest that CBD is an effective, safe and well-tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenic patients.”

    5. Antidystonic action
    “CBD … had antidystonic effects in humans when administered along with standard medication to five patients with dystonia, in an open study.”

    6. Antioxidative action
    “[I]t was demonstrated that CBD can reduce hydroperoxide-induced oxidative damage as well as or better than other antioxidants. CBD was more protective against glutamate neurotoxicity than either ascorbate or a-tocopherol, indicating that this drug is a potent antioxidant.”

    7. Neuroprotective action
    “A marked reduction in the cell survival was observed following exposure of cultured rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells to beta-A peptide. Treatment of the cells with CBD prior to beta-A exposure significantly elevated the cell survival.”

    8. Antiinflammatory action
    “CBD, administered i.p. or orally, has blocked the progression of arthritis.”

    9. Cardioprotective action
    “CBD induces a substantial cardioprotective effect.”

    10. Action on diabetes
    “CBD treatment of NOD (non-obese diabetic) mice before the development of the disease reduced its incidence from 86% in the non-treated control mice to 30% in CBD-treated mice. … It was also observed that administration of CBD to 11-14 week old female NOD mice, which were either in a latent diabetes stage or had initial symptoms of diabetes, ameliorated the manifestations of the disease.”

    11. Antiemetic action
    “The expression of this conditioned retching reaction was completely suppressed by CBD and delta9-THC, but not by ondansetron, [an] antagonist that interferes with acute vomiting.”

    12. Anticancer action
    “A study of the effect of different cannabinoids on eight tumor cell lines, in vitro, has clearly indicated that, of the five natural compounds tested, CBD was the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth.”

    In sum, the past 45 years of scientific study on CBD has revealed the compound to be non-toxic, non-psychoactive, and to possess a multitude of therapeutic properties. Yet, to this day it remains illegal to possess or use (and nearly impossible to study in US clinical trials) simply because it is associated with marijuana.

    What possible advancements in medical treatment may have been achieved over the past decades had US government officials chosen to advance — rather than inhibit — clinical research into CBD (which, under federal law, remains a Schedule I drug defined as having “no currently accepted medical use”)? Perhaps it’s time someone asks John Walters or the DEA?

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