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Cannabis Research Fraud? – Over Half of the $1.5 Billion Spent on Marijuana Research Was to Find Harmful and Adverse Effects

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A Tale of Two Studies

Exploring the nature of cannabis science

 

The pursuit of scientific truth is a noble endeavor, but it is not without its complexities and contradictions. Even as researchers strive for objectivity, the realities of funding, politics, and preconceived notions can influence the direction and interpretation of scientific inquiry. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the contentious field of cannabis research.

 

A 2020 analysis published in Science magazine revealed a striking disparity in cannabis research funding. Of the $1.56 billion directed to the topic between 2000 and 2018 in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, roughly half was spent on investigating the potential harms and adverse effects of recreational cannabis use. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the largest funder, allocated more money to studying cannabis misuse and its negative consequences than to exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabis and its derived compounds.

 

This imbalance underscores a troubling reality: not all scientific research is created equal. Just as the tobacco industry once enlisted medical professionals to promote smoking, some cannabis research may be steered toward finding and emphasizing negative outcomes. Studies that dare to suggest therapeutic benefits or challenge prevailing narratives often face bureaucratic hurdles and skepticism from agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

 

Against this backdrop, today we’ll examine two cannabis studies published just months apart. Though similar in design, these studies arrived at markedly different conclusions about the cognitive impacts of cannabis use. By juxtaposing their findings, we’ll shed light on the contradictory nature of cannabis research and the importance of critical thinking when interpreting scientific results.

 

As we delve into these studies, it’s crucial to remember that science is an ongoing process of discovery, not a collection of immutable truths. While some research may be tainted by agendas or biases, other studies earnestly seek to expand our understanding of this complex plant and its effects on the human body and mind. Only by approaching each study with a discerning eye and a willingness to question assumptions can we hope to navigate the murky waters of cannabis science and emerge with a clearer picture of the truth.

 

In the coming paragraphs, we’ll take a closer look at these two divergent studies, their methodologies, and their implications. By doing so, we aim to equip readers with the tools to critically evaluate cannabis research and make informed decisions in the face of conflicting scientific narratives.

 

 

 

The first study we’ll examine is titled “Regular cannabis use alters the neural dynamics serving complex motor control,” published in the journal NeuroImage in 2023. This study aimed to investigate the effects of regular cannabis use on the brain mechanisms underlying motor planning and execution. The researchers used magnetoencephalographic (MEG) imaging and time series analysis to compare the neural oscillatory dynamics of 18 regular cannabis users and 23 demographically matched nonuser controls during a motor sequencing task.

 

At first glance, the study appears to be well-designed and comprehensive. The researchers controlled for age, sex, race, and alcohol use, and participants underwent detailed interviews and screenings to assess their substance use patterns and overall health. MEG data were carefully processed and analyzed, and the results were presented with statistical rigor.

 

However, upon closer inspection, several inconsistencies and potential biases emerge. First and foremost, the study’s conclusion that regular cannabis use negatively impacts cognitive function seems to overreach the actual findings. While the researchers did observe differences in neural oscillatory patterns between cannabis users and nonusers, these differences did not translate into any significant impairments in task performance. In fact, the study explicitly states that “there were no group differences in task performance (e.g., reaction time, accuracy, etc.).”

 

This discrepancy raises questions about the researchers’ interpretation of their data. If cannabis users performed just as well as nonusers on the motor sequencing task, can we really conclude that their neural differences reflect a negative impact on cognitive function? It’s possible that the observed neural alterations represent compensatory mechanisms or adaptations that allow cannabis users to maintain normal performance despite chronic exposure to the drug.

 

Another potential issue lies in the study’s premise and framing. The researchers seem to approach the topic with the preconceived notion that cannabis use is inherently harmful, as evidenced by their emphasis on identifying “deficits” and “impairments” in the cannabis-using group. This bias may have influenced their interpretation of the neural data and led them to overstate the significance of the observed differences.

 

Furthermore, the study’s sample size of 41 participants (18 users and 23 nonusers) is relatively small, which limits the generalizability of the findings. The researchers also acknowledge that they could not control for the type, dose, or frequency of cannabis use among their participants, introducing additional variability that could confound the results.

 

Despite these limitations, the study’s authors assert that their findings “demonstrate that regular cannabis use is associated with alterations across multiple brain regions involved in motor control” and that these alterations “may be precursors of behavioral deficits that may emerge in the future.” While these statements are presented as definitive conclusions, they seem to rely more on speculation than on the actual evidence presented in the study.

 

Now, let’s take a look at another study on a similar subject matter and how they concluded…

 

 

The second study we’ll explore is titled “Medical cannabis does not impair cognitive function when used as prescribed,” published in the journal Drug Science, Policy and Law in 2022. This study took a different approach to investigating the cognitive effects of cannabis use, focusing specifically on patients using prescribed medical cannabis to manage various health conditions.

 

In this open-label trial, 40 participants (22 females) with a mean age of 41.38 years attended a single laboratory session where they self-administered their prescribed medical cannabis under supervision.

 

The researchers assessed cognitive performance using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) and Druid application (app) before and after cannabis administration. They also measured subjective drug effects using visual analog scales at multiple time points.

 

The study’s methodology has several strengths. By focusing on medical cannabis users following their prescribed regimens, the researchers captured a more realistic picture of how cannabis affects cognitive function in a clinical context. The use of validated cognitive assessment tools like CANTAB and Druid adds credibility to the findings, as does the inclusion of subjective measures to gauge participants’ experiences.

 

However, the study is not without limitations. The open-label design and lack of a placebo control group may introduce bias, as participants’ expectations could influence their performance and subjective ratings. The single-session format also provides only a snapshot of the acute effects of medical cannabis, leaving questions about long-term cognitive impacts unanswered.

 

Despite these caveats, the study’s results paint a strikingly different picture than the previous study on regular cannabis users. Participants’ performance on the CANTAB Multitasking Test and Rapid Visual Information Processing test actually improved over time, while all other cognitive measures showed no significant changes. These findings suggest that, when used as prescribed, medical cannabis may have minimal acute impact on cognitive function in patients with chronic health conditions.

 

The stark contrast between the conclusions of these two studies highlights the complex and often contradictory nature of cannabis research.

 

While the first study found neural alterations in regular cannabis users that were interpreted as potentially harmful, the second study found no evidence of cognitive impairment in medical cannabis patients following their prescribed regimens.

 

These divergent findings underscore the importance of context and nuance in interpreting scientific results. Factors such as the reason for cannabis use (recreational vs. medical), the specific products and doses consumed, and individual differences in health status and other variables can all influence the observed outcomes.

 

Moreover, these studies remind us that science is not a monolith but an ongoing process of inquiry and discovery. As new evidence emerges, our understanding of complex topics like cannabis and cognition evolves, sometimes in unexpected directions. While it’s natural to seek definitive answers and clear-cut conclusions, the reality is often messier and more ambiguous.

 

As consumers of scientific information, it’s crucial that we approach research findings with a critical eye, considering the strengths and limitations of each study and the broader context in which they exist. Only by embracing the inherent uncertainty and variability of scientific inquiry can we hope to make informed decisions and policies around contentious issues like cannabis use.

 

 

 

As we’ve seen through the examination of these two studies, the relationship between scientific research and public policy is far from straightforward. While science should ideally inform policy decisions, the reality is often more complex and politically charged.

 

The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance in the United States is a prime example of how scientific evidence can be overshadowed by historical, cultural, and political factors. Despite a growing body of research suggesting that cannabis has medical value and a lower potential for abuse than other Schedule I drugs, federal law continues to prohibit its use and severely restrict research efforts.

 

This disconnect between science and policy has far-reaching consequences. It perpetuates stigma and misinformation around cannabis use, hinders patients’ access to potentially beneficial treatments, and stifles scientific progress in understanding the plant’s complex effects on the human body and mind.

 

Moreover, it underscores the need for a more nuanced and evidence-based approach to drug policy. Rather than relying on simplistic categories and blanket prohibitions, policymakers should engage with the scientific community to develop regulations that prioritize public health, harm reduction, and social justice.

 

However, as the contrasting findings of the two studies we examined demonstrate, scientific evidence is rarely unequivocal or immune to bias. Researchers’ assumptions, methods, and interpretations can all shape the narrative around a particular topic, leading to conflicting conclusions and public confusion.

 

This is why it’s crucial for both policymakers and the general public to approach scientific findings with a critical eye. Rather than taking sensationalized headlines or cherry-picked results at face value, we must dig deeper into the methodology, sample sizes, limitations, and potential conflicts of interest behind each study.

 

We must also recognize that science is an iterative process, and that our understanding of complex issues like cannabis and cognition will continue to evolve as new evidence emerges. This means embracing uncertainty and nuance, rather than clinging to simplistic narratives or entrenched positions.

 

Ultimately, the sticky bottom line is that science and public policy are inextricably linked, but the relationship between them is often messy and contentious. As responsible consumers of scientific information and engaged citizens, we have a duty to approach research findings with a critical eye, to demand evidence-based policies from our leaders, and to advocate for a more transparent and accountable scientific enterprise.

 

Only by fostering a culture of informed skepticism and open-minded inquiry can we hope to untangle the complex web of science, politics, and public opinion surrounding issues like cannabis use. It’s a daunting task, but one that is essential for creating a more just, healthy, and evidence-based society.

 

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What Rescheduling Marijuana Means for California’s Cannabis Industry

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California‘s cannabis industry suffers from a seemingly unending list of problems: high taxes, prohibitionist cities, a related lack of retail licenses and oversupply of non-retail licenses, a monster illegal market with no end in sight, burdensome and often senseless regulations, and so on. Unfortunately, rescheduling won’t solve most of these problems–at least not directly. Today I want to look at what rescheduling could mean for California’s cannabis industry.

If you’re not already up to speed on rescheduling, check out my colleague Vince Sliwoski’s explainer of the DEA’s notice of proposed rulemaking to move marijuana from schedule I (where it sits next to heroin) to schedule III, or any of the following posts of ours:

With that out of the way, let’s look how rescheduling could affect (or not affect) California’s cannabis industry.

First and foremost, rescheduling does not mean that state-legal cannabis markets will be federally compliant. In other words, all California cannabis businesses will still violate federal law. The biggest change would be that  IRC § 280E – which prohibits cannabis businesses from making standard federal tax deductions – will go away. But the statewide cannabis industry won’t be federally “legal.”

What that means is that rescheduling will have no impact on things like the prohibition on interstate commerce, which has kept California walled off from other states (at least California’s legal market). So for now, California’s still on its own.

Rescheduling also won’t impact state law where it counts. Things like local control, burdensome regulations, fighting the illegal market, and so on, will stay the same. Importantly, local and state tax law won’t change: California and many local cities tax cannabis businesses as if they are piggybanks. While 280E relief will undoubtedly help, it makes it much less likely that the state will revisit its own excise tax or think about how it could cap local gross receipts taxes.

So with all that out of the way, is there any good news? I think the answer is a clear yes. Here’s why:

  • Even without state and local tax relief, 280E relief alone will be a monumental change for the industry.
  • Investments into California’s cannabis industry are likely to increase as investors who previously stood on the sidelines become more comfortable with the idea of investing into a (slightly) less regulated industry.
  • Other ancillary service providers may also be more open to providing services to the industry for similar reasons. More ancillary service providers may reduce costs within the cannabis industry.
  • It’s possible that state governments also decide to be more bold. For example, states could decide to roll the dice on interstate commerce compacts after rescheduling, even in spite of schedule III issues.
  • Although the impact on the illegal market will likely be small, the removal of 280E liabilities could entice people who would otherwise have remained unlicensed to become legal and complaint operators.

We’ve got a long way to go before rescheduling happens. And while nobody can really say for sure how things will shake out, it seems like there are some definite positive outcomes for California’s cannabis industry. So stay tuned for more updates.



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The End of the US Hemp Industry is Near

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The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp, distinguishing it from marijuana based on its low THC content. However, an emerging loophole has allowed the proliferation of psychoactive hemp-derived products, particularly delta-8 THC, which has led to significant regulatory and public health concerns. In response, a proposed amendment to the Farm Bill seeks to address these issues by banning hemp-derived cannabinoid products, including delta-8 THC. This proposed amendment, filed by Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), aims to redefine hemp and close the existing loophole around intoxicating hemp. The amendment has sparked a heated debate among industry stakeholders, regulators, and lawmakers.

If you have followed the legal hemp market over the past 8 years and attended shows like the Benzinga Cannabis Conference, you know that the only thing keeping the US hemp industry alive, and on life-support at best, is the sale of commerical retail products that create revenue, ie, Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC products derived from hemp.  While hemp-crete and hemp twine are nice stories, the only “cash crop” hemp has right now is selling “hemp that gets you high” to Americans that don’t have acccess to legal weed.

As mentioned by a few VCs and investment firms at the industry trade shows, the only think keeping hemp alive in America is Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products and sales.

That “loophole” in the original 2018 Farm Bill may be closing, and for good, with a new amendment put forward this week.

 

 Key Provisions of the Proposed Amendment

The amendment includes several critical provisions designed to tighten regulations on hemp-derived products:

  • Redefinition of Hemp: Redefines hemp to exclude products containing detectable levels of THC and cannabinoids synthesized outside the plant.

  • Ban on Delta-8 THC: Explicitly bans hemp-derived products that contain psychoactive cannabinoids, such as delta-8 THC.

  • Enhanced Regulatory Oversight: Aims to provide clearer guidelines and stricter controls over the production and sale of hemp-derived products.

 Concerns Leading to the Amendment

Proponents of the amendment argue that the current lack of regulation has led to several issues:

  • Marketing to Children and Teens: Psychoactive hemp products are often marketed in colorful packaging, resembling candy and snacks, raising concerns about their appeal to children and teenagers.

  • Unregulated Market: The proliferation of hemp-derived cannabinoids has resulted in an unregulated market where the safety and quality of products are inconsistent.

  • Public Health Risks: There are concerns about the potential health risks associated with the unregulated sale and consumption of these products.

 Industry Opposition and Concerns

Industry stakeholders and advocates for the hemp industry have voiced strong opposition to the proposed amendment. Their main arguments include:

  • Impact on CBD Products: The amendment could criminalize many non-intoxicating CBD products that naturally contain trace amounts of THC.

  • Economic Consequences: The ban could devastate the hemp industry, resulting in significant job losses and economic decline.

  • Access to Health Products: Many Americans rely on hemp-derived products for health and wellness, and the ban could deny them access to these beneficial products.

 Economic Implications

The hemp market is currently valued at approximately $28 billion, with a significant portion of this market driven by hemp-derived cannabinoid products. The proposed amendment could have profound economic implications, including:

  • Job Losses: Potential loss of tens of thousands of jobs in agriculture, retail, and manufacturing sectors.

  • Market Decline: A potential decline in sales and overall market value as many products would no longer be legally available.

  • Investment Uncertainty: Increased regulatory uncertainty could deter future investments in the hemp industry.

Regulatory Challenges

The hemp industry has faced numerous regulatory challenges since the legalization of hemp in 2018. Key regulatory hurdles include:

Lack of FDA Regulation: The FDA has yet to establish clear regulations for hemp-derived CBD products, creating a patchwork of state-level regulations and contributing to market instability.

  • Safety and Quality Standards: The absence of federal guidelines has led to inconsistent safety and quality standards across the industry.

  • Youth Access: The unregulated sale of psychoactive hemp products has raised concerns about youth access and potential misuse.

Legislative Process and Potential Outcomes

The amendment’s approval by the House Agriculture Committee is the first step in a potentially contentious legislative process. The Senate, which has yet to release its version of the Farm Bill, will play a crucial role in determining the amendment’s fate. Key considerations include:

  • Senate’s Stance: The Democratic-controlled Senate may take a different approach to the regulation of hemp-derived cannabinoids, potentially leading to a conflict between the two chambers.

  • Bipartisan Negotiations: Successful passage of the amendment will likely require bipartisan support and negotiations to reconcile differing viewpoints.

  • Final Legislation: The final version of the Farm Bill will need to balance the interests of public health, industry stakeholders, and regulatory clarity.

Broader Implications for Cannabinoid Regulation

The proposed amendment raises broader questions about the regulation of cannabinoids in general:

  • Defining Cannabinoids: The amendment’s language excluding detectable levels of THC and synthesized cannabinoids could impact the regulation of other cannabinoids, such as CBD.

  • Regulatory Parity: Proponents argue that the amendment would create regulatory parity and facilitate state-level regulation of intoxicating hemp products.

  • Future of Cannabinoid Products: The regulation of cannabinoids will continue to evolve, with ongoing debates about the safety, efficacy, and legality of various products.

 Public Health Considerations

The shift towards greater regulation of hemp-derived cannabinoids has significant public health implications:

  • Consumer Safety: Enhanced regulatory oversight could improve consumer safety by ensuring that hemp-derived products meet consistent quality and safety standards.

  • Health Risks: The unregulated sale of psychoactive hemp products poses potential health risks, particularly for vulnerable populations.

  • Research and Education: Increased research and public education efforts are needed to fully understand the health impacts of hemp-derived cannabinoids and inform regulatory policies.

Industry Adaptation and Future Outlook

The hemp industry will need to adapt to the proposed regulatory changes if the amendment is enacted. Key strategies for adaptation include:

  • Compliance and Certification: Producers and manufacturers will need to invest in compliance and certification processes to meet new regulatory standards.

  • Product Innovation: The industry may shift focus towards non-psychoactive hemp applications and develop new products that comply with stricter regulations.

  • Advocacy and Engagement: Ongoing advocacy and engagement with policymakers will be essential to ensure that the industry’s interests are represented in regulatory discussions.

 Conclusion

The proposed Farm Bill amendment to ban hemp-derived cannabinoid products represents a significant shift in U.S. agricultural and regulatory policy. While proponents argue that it addresses critical public health and safety concerns, industry stakeholders warn of devastating economic consequences and the potential loss of beneficial products. As the amendment moves through the legislative process, the hemp industry faces a period of uncertainty and adaptation. The outcome of this debate will shape the future of hemp regulation, balancing the need for consumer protection with the growth and innovation of a burgeoning industry.

 

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Just Say No to Pesticides on Your Weed

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How To Prevent Pests In Your Homegrown Cannabis Plants Without Using Harmful Chemicals

 

Just like every other plant, cannabis plants will also attract its fair share of pests and bugs when you try to grow them at home. Even professional cannabis growers have to deal with pests!


Pests come in the form of insects, fungus, mites, and bacteria. For homegrown marijuana, the most common offenders include aphids, thrips, spider mites, botrytis, cabbage loopers, whiteflies, powdery mildew, fungus gnats, and root aphids. When they go on undetected or without any treatment, they can cause a wide array of damage to your precious cannabis plant.

 

The worst-case scenario is that your plant can end up being so unhealthy and damaged, that you might even have to end up throwing it away before you can harvest anything. Sometimes, the pest problem can hide itself so effectively that you won’t even know it’s there until you’ve harvested your weed, and are opening your buds apart to smoke. Then, it would be far too late to do anything!

 

Many weed growers end up resorting to strong, harmful chemical pesticides and fungicides to prevent pest problems or nip them in the bud. However, these chemical pesticides and fungicides can also be dangerous for humans and the environment. They are, after all, made with chemicals – and some of these chemicals are known to be carcinogenic.

 

But don’t worry: there are several other ways cannabis home growers can deal with pests without harmful chemicals and strong pesticides.

 

Prevention Is Key

 

Truly understanding your home grow setup and operation is the first and most important step to preventing pests. This can take some time and resources in the beginning, but it will save you time and money in the long run!

There are certain factors involved with specific grow setups as well as environments. For example, when growing marijuana outdoors, the most common pests to deal with include aphids, Eurasian hemp borers, corn earworms, and hemp russet mites among others. You’ll also have to learn to prevent squirrels, deer, raccoons, and other bigger animals since humans aren’t the only ones that are attracted to weed!

 

Meanwhile, there’s a different set of beasts to deal with indoors because other factors are involved. These include humidity, ventilation, and air circulation. But regardless of whether you are growing indoors or outdoors, keep in mind that soil plays a critical role in preventing pests. Many growers have found success in using beneficial nematodes, which are microscopic and thus invisible roundworms that eat pests that thrive in soil. Nematodes are excellent for eliminating root aphids and fungus gnats; you can drench the soil in it or mix it up in water before irrigation.

 

Companion Planting

 

Companion planting is a common and widely practiced technique in farming as well as gardening. You can apply the principles of companion planting for cannabis cultivation; it entails planting certain plants or herbs next to cannabis which are known to create a symbiotic or beneficial environment. For example, certain plants or vegetables are known to equally feed off water, while other plants consume more water and thus leave their companion plants thirsty.

 

Meanwhile, some companion plants are effective in helping repel insects and diseases, which is why they are favored among cannabis growers. When it comes to companion planting, some plants to consider include marigolds, lavender, basil, and nasturtiums.

 

Beneficial Insects

 

Believe it or not, some insects can actually be good for your cannabis harvest. Lacewings and ladybugs are two of the most valuable types of insects for cannabis growers, especially if you are growing outside.

To ensure an abundant population, you can purchase beneficial insects and let them roam free in your greenhouse or grow area. They are fantastic for all kinds of plants, not just marijuana. Ladybugs and lacewings are particularly effective because they feed on spider mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, and other soft-bodied pests as well as larvae.

 

Organic Pesticides

 

There are several different kinds of effective organic pesticides and fungicides in the market, too. You can use them as a complement to other pest-prevention techniques that you are already doing. Adding organic pesticides to cannabis crop care and maintenance can help greatly deter pests especially if you find that other techniques are lacking or not working as well.


Organic pesticides come in the form of neem oil, insecticidal soap, and botanical sprays. Neem oil is a top choice when it comes to organic pest control, even among household plants! Keep in mind to use neem oil only during the vegetative growth cycle of marijuana.

 

 Just dilute two teaspoons of neem essential oil into a gallon of water, then spray. Or, you can also buy ready-to-use neem spray. Neem oil can be sprayed directly on the foliage, or you can also drench the soil in neem oil no matter what stage of growth your cannabis plant is in. It’s extremely effective in killing and preventing cannabis pests including leafhoppers, crickets, aphids, mealybugs, and so much more.

 

If you’re going to end up using foliar sprays, it’s important to buy the best-quality organic, natural sprays that you can afford. That’s because any ingredients used in those sprays are going to end up in the cannabis flower, which means that you’re going to end up smoking it. When it comes to the best time to use foliar spray on cannabis, it’s during the flowering cycle because it can help keep cabbage loopers and other pests off during this phase.


Conclusion

 

There are many creative ways you can get rid of pests effectively, whether you are growing cannabis indoors or outdoors. Follow these tips to ensure a healthy harvest without compromising your health or that of the environment – there’s no need to use nasty and highly toxic chemical sprays

 

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