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Why Marijuana Breathalyzers Don’t Work Well Just Yet!

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As more states continue to legalize cannabis each year, there have been some concerns among authorities regarding impaired driving.

 

There already are effective technologies, particularly breathalyzers, that can do roadside testing for alcohol consumption among drivers. However, it seems that this reality is still very much far off when it comes to testing for cannabis impairment and while it’s already successful for alcohol, the same technology simply cannot work for cannabis.

 

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney discovered that marijuana breathalyzers are still inefficient in testing for THC. For the study, they reviewed 28 older existing trials analyzing THC concentrations in the saliva and blood of drivers, and measured their performance. All they found were inconsistent findings. Specifically, they focused on studies that assessed the attention and reaction time of drivers, which are skills critical for safe driving. Though they did find significant links between impairment among inexperienced marijuana consumers and THC levels, when the drivers were already experienced users, the associations were gone.

 

“Higher blood THC concentrations were only weakly associated with increased impairment in occasional cannabis users while no significant relationship was detected in regular cannabis users,” explains the lead author, Dr. Danielle McCartney. “This study suggests that blood and oral fluid THC concentrations are relatively poor indicators of cannabis-THC-induced impairment.”

 

In addition, for a cannabis breathalyzer to work effectively, they would need to use a different biomarker because measuring cannabis impairment the same way you would with alcohol just can’t be reliable. “This contrasts with the much stronger relationship between blood and alcohol concentrations and driving impairment,” says the researchers.


EPOCH

 

Late last year, scientists created EPOCH, a breakthrough rapid THC detection technology, which stands for Express Probe for On-site Cannabis Inhalation. It functions by concentrating saliva levels to check for the current amount of THC on it, and it states whether or not THC is more or less than 1 nanogram per ML of saliva within a 12-hour period.

 

They have widely discussed its accuracy and sensitivity, though there are still some skeptics. The developers argue that the new device can work many ways aside from just determining who drives high. “We envision that our device will be beneficial for on-site testing of THC use,” explains Hojeong Yu, a Harvard Medical School post-doctoral fellow, and Hakho Lee, Harvard Medical School associate professor of radiology, to Inverse.

 

“These are generally performed in specialized laboratories and could take days to process,” they write.  “Test results could also be ambiguous in determining the last time of cannabis consumption because residual THC and its metabolites are often present in bodies weeks after cannabis intake, and it is challenging to separate acute recent from chronic use,” they say.

 

“This is not only for roadside testing but moreso for testing at workplaces and public areas,” they add.

 

“Such tools may possess value in identifying those who have had relatively recent exposure to cannabis,” said Paul Armetano, NORML deputy director, to Inverse. “But I’ve cautioned that such detection technology is unable to determine whether someone is under the influence from cannabis and, therefore, a positive test result should not be perceived as prima facie evidence of impairment.”

 

Why Cannabis Impairment Is Tough To Measure

 

The development of alcohol breathalyzers took decades for the technology to be successful. However, there are still many that believe the margin of error among them is still high. But the challenge presented by measuring cannabis impairment is completely different, and it has its own unique set of issues.

 

For one, cannabis stays in the human body much longer than alcohol; in fact, as soon as you start drinking, the body already metabolizes it. That’s why it isn’t as easy as it sounds to measure how much THC affects the driver, as it can stay in the body for a month or even longer, after the initial high has already worn off. Even though urine and blood tests can determine the presence of THC, it isn’t enough for the police and doesn’t provide enough evidence that the driver was impaired at the very moment if an accident occurred.

 

There’s also the fact that while the amount of alcohol you drink is directly correlated with how drunk you’re acting (and driving), the same is not true with cannabis. A person can have much more THC in their body because they have more fat cells, as THC clings to the fat cells, and it won’t mean that they were driving stoned.

 

What also makes it so complicated is that each human processes and metabolizes cannabis differently, which is why it has such a drastically different effect on everyone. For example, a person who smokes 2 puffs of a bong may not even feel stoned, while the same amount can completely throw someone off. When it comes to alcohol, 0.08 has been determined by scientists as the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration yet this number cannot be determined with pot. That hasn’t stopped certain states from establishing laws that would determine how much THC is needed to say that you are driving high but there really is no global or national consensus.

 

Though it would be good to quantify things, cops still do have training on how to recognize if a person is high. They check for response times, red eyes, dilated pupils, and look for smell or sign of cannabis smoke in the car. So while we’re waiting for scientific breakthroughs and until scientists can identify an effective biometric, cannabis breathalyzers may just not work until then.

 

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Oregon Hemp: New Rules (Part 3)

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The end of 2021 was marked by significant regulatory changes adopted by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (the OLCC), including new rules for hemp and cannabinoids. Today I will cover a few of the big changes affecting artificially derived cannabinoids, including CBN and Delta-8 THC.

In the big picture, Oregon stakeholders knew new regulations would be adopted in December 2021, but most hoped for less stringent final rules. Unfortunately for the industry, the OLCC decided to proceed with the adoption of rather stringent regulations, including burdensome rules impacting the manufacture and sale of finished hemp products sold in the State.

Two of the most noteworthy changes impacting these products include:

  1. the prohibition on the sale and distribution of “adult use cannabis items” to minors as well as restrictions on the ability to sell these products outside the recreational market, which I covered last week; and
  2. burdensome requirements imposed on “artificially derived cannabinoids,” including the popular and lucrative cannabinoid: cannabinol (CBN), which is the topic of today’s post.
Reason for artificially derived cannabinoid rules

Back in March 2021, the OLCC released a public statement in which the agency expressed growing concern about the general availability–including to children–of unregulated, intoxicating products derived from hemp. Delta-8 THC was a primary example. To address this public health threat, the OLCC initiated the rulemaking process for Delta-8 THC and other psychoactive components of hemp that then fell outside the OLCC market. It also adopted emergency rules in July, which banned the sale of these “artificially derived cannabinoids” to minors under the age of 21.

Yet, in the month following the enactment of this emergency rules, the OLCC expanded the definition of the term “artificially derived cannabinoids” to include “semi-synthetic cannabinoids created from chemical reactions with cannabis-extracted substances,” including non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN.

Authorized artificially derived cannabinoid-related activities

The new OLCC rules distinguish between intoxicating and non-intoxicating artificially derived cannabinoids by imposing different sale restrictions on these products. Specifically:

  • Beginning July 1, 2022, the sale of artificially derived cannabinoids won’t be allowed if sold outside of the OLCC recreational market; and
  • Following the July 1 deadline, the sale of intoxicating artificially derived cannabinoids, such as Delta-8-THC, will be strictly prohibited inside and outside the OLCC market.

It is worth pointing out that the cutoff for the sale of CBN product is extended to July 1, 2023. Until then, OLCC licensees can continue to transfer, sell, transport, purchase, accept, return, or receive CBN and products containing artificially derived CBN as long as:

  1. The CBN product was manufactured in a facility with an Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) food safety license by an OLCC processor or ODA hemp handler;
  2. The CBN product is not intended for human inhalation;
  3. The CBN product is going to be sold at an OLCC-licensed retailer; and
  4. The CBN product meets the labeling requirements in OAR 845-025-7145.

After the July 1, 2023 deadline, OLCC licensees will be able to transfer, sell, transport, purchase, accept, return, or receive artificially derived cannabinoids and products containing artificially derived cannabinoids, including CBN products, provided the following conditions are met:

  1. The artificially derived cannabinoid is not impairing or intoxicating;
  2. The artificially derived cannabinoid or product is not intended for human inhalation;
  3. The artificially derived cannabinoid was manufactured in a facility with an ODA food safety license by an OLCC processor or ODA hemp handler;
  4. The artificially derived product meets the labeling requirements in OAR 845-025-7145;
  5. The artificially derived cannabinoid has been reported as a naturally occurring component of the plant Cannabis family Cannabaceae in at least three peer-reviewed publications; and
  6. The manufacturer of the artificially derived cannabinoid provides OLCC with a “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determination for the artificial cannabinoid.

Why the new rules hurt

Most of all, requirement #6 above is incredibly burdensome. This is because: (1) the FDA has yet to establish a federal regulatory framework for hemp-derived products (also, the agency has yet to approve any premarket approval submitted by hemp companies), and (2) this pre-approval process is long and onerous.

Many in the Oregon hemp industry see the OLCC’s decision to impose a GRAS determination requirement on artificially derived cannabinoids as arbitrary and unfair. Indeed, the OLCC does not impose such GRAS determination on naturally derived cannabinoids sold in the state. But regardless of where hemp companies making and selling artificially derived cannabinoid products stand on this issue, all will be required to make the necessary changes to comply with the new OLCC rules.

For previous posts covering the new OLCC rules, check out the following:



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Is a Runner’s High the Same as a Marijuana High? New Medical Study Looks at Working Out and Cannabis

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Researchers at the University of Colorado are investigating the relationship between marijuana and physical exercise. The project, titled “Study on Physical Activity and Cannabis Effects (SPACE),” looks to study the impacts of working out under the influence of cannabis.

 

Cannabis in the Fitness and Sports Industry

Weed has made headline news in the sports and fitness industry in the last decade. Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, record-setting swimmer Michael Phelps, Mike Tyson, and even the NBA’s MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have contributed in different ways to tearing down the old myths about weed being a performance inhibitor. These individuals are just a few global celebrities who have embraced cannabis in their fitness journeys while maintaining their excellent winning ways. They also faced backlash due to their roles in cannabis activities. One of the loudest backlashes this year was received by Sha-Carri Richarson after she tested positive on her routine marijuana drug test just before the Olympics.

The newfound fame of cannabis within the sports industry could mean that athletes have found a new meaning for the term “runner’s high.” Athletes have broken free and are still breaking free from the past stigmas that have hindered the widespread use of cannabis in the United States.

This also comes with more scrutiny, as these athletes are often criticized for promoting the drug. This scrutiny gets more intense after a loss. Most speculations claim that the banned drug is the leading cause of the L.

 

Modifying Runner’s High

Fitness enthusiasts are now fond of the habit of including cannabis with workout routines. Some of these gym nuts claim it helps them find more pleasure in their routines. Some strains of cannabis provide users with more vigor and focus, which comes in handy for newcomers and expert fitness enthusiasts. Most of the available information on the connections between cannabis and physical exercise has been provided by unverified sources. These anecdotal claims have not been investigated, hence it is too early to conclude on the unique relationship between these two factors.

 

The UC “SPACE” Study

In this new study, the latest low-key terrific way of getting high while working out was studied scientifically for the first time. The study’s lead investigator, Laural Gibson, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Psychology Department at Colorado University, said that the SPACE study is the only human study done to investigate the positive and negative impact of legal market cannabis on physical exercise.

Laurel Gibson has only a year left to complete her Ph.D. program, as she is expected to receive her doctorate by 2023. She stated at the start of her SPACE study that all volunteers in the project would have to have prior cannabis use experience, and she also promised to compensate all participants who shared how cannabis products affected their workouts.

The program selects men between the ages of 21 and 40 and women who are at least 21 years old but no more than 50. These participants must be able to use cannabis and exercise simultaneously to ensure accurate results in this study.

The project will be in three phases. First, the volunteers will be required to fill out a survey report, after which they will spend some time on the treadmill in the presence of the research staff. In the second and third phases, the volunteers will be asked to fill out more questionnaires and spend more time on the treadmill. Gibson stated that the volunteers would stay longer than 30 minutes on the treadmill. She also disclosed that each of the volunteers would use the preferred cannabis product at home before coming onto the college campus. She explained that this has to be done at home because cannabis is a federally prohibited substance, so it is contraband on the college campus premises.

The study has already started, and many anticipate that the results will be enough to convince many of the positive impacts of cannabis, which far outweigh its negatives.

 

Probing Further

Gibson says she wants to understand the motivation behind the increasing number of athletes (experts and amateurs) who are including marijuana in their diets.

Heather Mashoodi, an ultramarathoner and SPACE project volunteer stated that she frequently runs 100 miles per week during training. While speaking to CU’s Boulder Today, she said that audiobooks, podcasts, and nature keep her motivated each day. Wherever she loses motivation, she eats a marijuana-infused gummy. She limits herself to half a gummy.

Athletes like Mashoodi are the main reason why the SPACE study was started. The project hopes to explore how these athletes can manage the effects of cannabis while working out. It plans to investigate how the drug helps in recovery, boosts an athlete’s motivation, and makes workout routines more fun.

In addition to all these, Gibson plans to investigate further a previous survey conducted by Professor Angela Bryan. This survey studied the habits of hundreds of cannabis consumers in five states across the country. In the survey report, Professor Bryan wrote that about 80% of the participants remarked that they used cannabis minutes before or after exercising. Regarding reasons for use, 52% said it increased their motivation to exercise, 70% indicated that it heightened the fun of working out, and 78% noted that it helped with their recovery process.

 

Conclusion

New studies like the SPACE project will help to prove that the standing stoner stereotype is wrong. With more studies like this, as well as the advocacy of legendary athletes, the myth that stoners are sloths or goof-offs when it’s time to achieve their goals will be a thing of the past. If high-performing stars like Kevin Durant and Ricky Williams consistently perform at the highest level despite their affiliations with cannabis, then the challenging stigmas will significantly lessen.

Till the study is fully completed and a comprehensive report released, we all would have to make do with the personal reviews from athletes like Stephen Jackson and Clifford Robinson, both of whom have told the world about the great results that followed after consuming cannabis before their games. They also laid much emphasis on the fact that the drug did not give them an unnatural edge over the competition.

 

RUNNERS, WEED, AND GETTING HIGH, READ MORE…

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Why is Weed Not Yet Legal in 2022?

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We’re at a point in human history where we are beginning to shift our gaze to the stars, to colonize other planets and experimenting with psychedelia as a legitimate means of dealing with psychological issues and in the United States – CANNABIS IS STILL ILLEGAL!

To be fair, in most parts in the world cannabis is still illegal, but even places like Thailand which was known for its harsh laws against drug trafficking – are planning on legalizing cannabis soon. However, for the most part, the United States have lagged behind. This is a shame considering that there are billions of dollars of legal commerce occurring within the United States and the current illegality of the substance on a national level only exists to stifle progress.

Today we’re going to be taking a closer look at why cannabis – despite it’s insane amount of public support – is still illegal in the United States and most of the world still.

 

It takes time to deprogram…

The PsyOp known as “drug prohibition” has been in full swing since the early 1900s but truly culminated into policy in the 1970s under the Controlled Substance Act. In this document, all drugs were essentially placed in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry who then essentially said “all drugs that are not ours are bad!”

This concept then was reinforced by the United States Government through the systematic messaging known as “anti-drug propaganda”. Anyone who lived during the 1980s and the 1990s are familiar with programs such as D.A.R.E where teens and kids were the target of their messaging. As a result, people have been induced to the idea that “drugs are bad (if they are illegal)” for over five decades and whether you like it or not – this type of messaging creates a belief structure.

 

What we have seen happen over the past ten to twenty years is a mass deprogramming effort where people awoke to the fact that,

  1. Cannabis is not as dangerous as they say and in fact is the safest drug known to humanity

  2. Prohibition doesn’t deter drug use and in fact makes both the drugs and the environment more hostile in nature.

 

Fighting Private Interests

Pharma paid millions in anti-cannabis science up until the point where they could begin to profit from it. Pharmaceutical companies would tell you, “We wanted cannabis legal, to make medicine!” however, this is verifiably false if you take a look at Pharma funding anti-cannabis science

The reason they would want to do this is because unlike their other drugs, anyone can grow cannabis in their homes. If you didn’t need to buy medicine from a pharmacist but could easily grow it at home – wouldn’t you prefer the natural option?

Pharma wouldn’t like that!

However, it’s not just pharma that is against cannabis legalization. There are a few industries that stand to lose a lot of money and power if cannabis is legalized including, Private Prisons, Police Unions, Rehabilitation clinics, etc.

The main reason things have been moving so slowly is because of these private interests throwing a stone in the road to slow down progress. How many of your Congresspersons own stock in Big Pharma? Considering that over 50 of them failed to report their stock portfolio – violating the terms of their employment and breaking the law – there are 38 Senators who actually own stock in the same companies that are making money off the pandemic right now.

What this reveals to us that the Congresspersons and Senators pretend that they are representing the people when in fact they are representing their people aka private interest. I think to help solve this every politician should wear the logo of the companies that sponsor them – like NASCAR! That way you can easily see who is in whose pocket.

 

Biden “Brandoning” things up!

Whether you thought Biden was America’s hope or detriment is of no concern. Biden has been routinely consistent in his anti-cannabis stance and even though his party and the country would benefit right now from legalization – the idea hasn’t even crossed their political minds.

Think about it, Biden is one of the least popular presidents in US history and now – with recent polling, shows to be even more unpopular than the Great Orange one himself – Donald Trump. One would think that the Democratic party would have legalized by now considering that they had the majority of the government – yet, no such move was made. No support was voiced by the President, no attempts to even try to cross that bridge has been made.

Of course, I can’t blame Biden solely for this – it is in fact the Democratic Party that is failing the American people because as we have seen over the years…YOU are not their concern. They want to cater to their sponsors and need to maintain the status quo. This is why Bernie – who was far more favorable and positioned to beat Trump – was benched and Biden took over. The Democrats don’t care about their base and they don’t care about legalization from a “Party” perspective.

There are Democrats that are pushing hard for legalization, but if you look at how Kamala Harris used cannabis to gain votes and then abandoned the platform the moment she was elected shows you that the entire Democratic Party has been Brandoning it up.

This isn’t to say that the Republicans are void of blame – far from it, prohibition is a bi-partisan issue and virtually all politicians play a role in maintaining the status quo. Don’t think because I’m singling out the Democrats that the Republicans are safe, it’s just the Democrats’ turn on the spit roast.

 

Maybe 2022 can be different?

It is my hopes that their stalling tactics have run out, and that this year in the first part of 2022 we will have some major shifts in policy. Ending Federal Prohibition would be the final nail in the coffin and would mark the beginning of a new era. Let’s hope that this year, your elected officials can actually do their job of respecting the will of the people.

 

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