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SCIENCE

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 6, 2019

    The transdermal application of plant-derived CBD reduces fascial pain in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD aka TMJ), according to clinical data published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

    Polish investigators conducted a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial assessing the efficacy of twice-daily transdermal CBD administration on 60 patients with TMD over a period of 14 days.

    Compared to placebo, patients receiving CBD therapy experienced symptomatic improvements, including reduced myofascial pain severity and decreased masseter muscle (the muscle around the jaw) activity. Subjects receiving treatment reported no adverse effects.

    Authors concluded, “Further research is needed in this field, but CBD, as an alternative to THC, should be taken into consideration in the therapy of masticatory muscles in patients with TMD.”

    Full text of the study, “Myorelaxant effect of transdermal cannabidiol application in patients with TMD: A randomized, double-blind trial,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 3, 2019

    Marijuana and OpioidsAdult-use retail cannabis access is associated with a decline in the sales of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid medications, according to data published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.

    Investigators from the University of New Mexico and California Polytechnic State University assessed trends in the demand for OTC sleep aids in the years prior to and immediately after the enactment of adult-use marijuana regulation.

    Researchers reported: “For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales, suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes. … [O]ur results indicate that enough individuals are switching from OTC sleep aids to recreational cannabis that we can identify a statistically significant reduction in the market share growth of OTC sleep aids in conjunction with access to recreational cannabis using.”

    Authors reported that the negative associations were driven by reduced sales of diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl)- and doxylamine-based sleep aids (e.g., Unisom) rather than herbal supplements like melatonin. Separate studies have similarly identified an association between cannabis access and the reduced use of various types of prescription medications, such as opioids and benzodiazepines.

    Authors concluded: “Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries … and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary. … Our results are consistent with evidence that legal access to medical cannabis is associated with reductions in Scheduled II-V prescription medications, many of which may be used in part as sleep aids.”

    An abstract of the study, “Using recreational cannabis to treat insomnia: Evidence from over-the-counter sleep aid sales in Colorado,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 26, 2019

    The occasional use of cannabis during late adolescence is not independently associated with adverse effects on cognitive abilities in young adulthood, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder assessed the impact of cannabis use on cognition, executive function, and working memory in 856 individual twins. Cannabis consumers were compared to their non-using twins in late adolescence and then again in their early twenties. Most of the cannabis consuming participants in the study reported occasional use of the substance, but not daily use.

    Authors found “little support for a causal effect of cannabis use on cognition. This conclusion is consistent with those from previous twin studies, which suggest that cannabis use does not cause a decline in cognitive ability among a normative cannabis using sample.”

    They concluded, “Results suggest that cannabis use may not cause decline in cognitive ability among a normative sample of cannabis users.”

    The findings are consistent with several prior studies which also failed to show significant changes in either cognitive performance, brain morphology, or intelligence quotient due to cannabis exposure. Specifically, a 2018 literature review published in JAMA Psychiatry concluded: “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals. Furthermore, abstinence of longer than 72 hours diminishes cognitive deficits associated with cannabis use.”

    An abstract of the study, “Investigating the causal effect of cannabis use on cognitive function with a quasi-experimental co-twin design,” appears online here. Additional citations are highlighted in the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Performance.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 25, 2019

    Patients suffering from persistent pain conditions who frequently use cannabis are far less likely to use non-prescription opioids, according to longitudinal data published in the journal PLOS One.

    A team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed drug use trends in chronic pain patients over a multi-year period (June 1, 2014 to December 1, 2017).

    Authors reported “an independent negative association between frequent cannabis use and frequent illicit opioid use.” Specifically, subjects who consumed cannabis daily “had about 50 percent lower odds of using illicit opioids every day [as] compared to cannabis non-users.”

    Investigators did not identify a similarly significant association between occasional cannabis use and daily non-prescription opioid use.

    They concluded, “These findings provide longitudinal observational evidence that cannabis may serve as an adjunct to or substitute for illicit opioid use among PWUD (people who use drugs) with chronic pain.”

    The findings are consistent with those of prior studies — such as those here, here, and here — which report that pain patients reduce their use of opioids following access to medical cannabis therapy.

    Late last week, federal officials affirmed that no funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration could be spent toward programs that propose the use of medical cannabis for those suffering with opioid dependence issues.

    Full text of the study, “Frequency of cannabis and illicit opioid use among people who use drugs and report chronic pain: A longitudinal analysis,” is online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, ‘Relationship Between Marijuana and Opioids.’

  • by NORML November 7, 2019

    CBD-infused products sold online frequently possess significantly lower percentages of CBD than advertised, according to a report published by the online watchdog group LegitScript.com.

    Investigators lab-tested 30 CBD products obtained from leading online retailers. Twenty of the thirty products possessed significant deviations in CBD content as compared to what was advertised. Sixteen of the 20 products contained lower percentages of CBD than the amount stated on the product’s label — a finding that is consistent with prior analyses. Some of the products also tested positive for the presence of solvent residue and elevated levels of heavy metals – findings that are also consistent with those of other studies.

    Authors also evaluated the marketing practices of 300 leading online CBD retailers. They reported that 92 percent of sellers marketed products in a manner that was non-compliant with current FDA guidelines –- such as by engaging in the sale of CBD-infused foods or by defining their products as ‘dietary supplements.’ Just over half (55 percent) of online retailers also made unsubstantiated health claims about their products. Most sellers also failed to provide information regarding the source of their CBD supply, and 63 percent did not post lab results specific to the purity of their products.

    Full text of the LegitScript report, “Online CBD Sales: Why It’s Still Buyer Beware,” is available online here. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet ‘FAQs About Cannabidiol.’

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