Earthy Now is a company, a concept, and a way of living. What does it mean and what’s the significance? The end of the year is a good time for reflecting on our relationships and values, and looking outside of ourselves for connections. Let’s explore what it means to be Earthy Now. 

Is it Earthy? 

“Earthy” is a commonly-used word to describe aspects of fragrances & flavor, people, colors, and cannabis. But it’s still hard to pin down exactly—there may not be one single definition in any of these categories because context matters. Luckily, there is a scientific basis for all of this, so let’s start there. 

Fragrance & flavor

Do you know there’s a word for the smell of rainfall on dry soil? The word is petrichor, based on the greek words for rock (petra) and for the fluid in the Greek gods’ veins (ichor) [1]. This quite literally relates to the earth becoming airborne and smelling like earth, or smelling earthy. 

Part of this mechanism involves actinomycetes, thread-like bacteria that grow in soil. When conditions are dry, actinomycetes slow down. As soil becomes damp with fresh rain, actinomycetes awake and produce a terpene called geosmin, which has a distinct musty odor associated with petrichor [2]. 

Geosmin also contributes to the aromas and flavors of beets, beans, and water. Sometimes earthy flavors are experienced as rough, course or crude, so why do people recognize it so well? The human nose can detect geosmin at very low concentrations—as low as 5 parts per million [3]. This sensitivity speaks to the connection between earthiness and people. Let’s look at that next.

An Earthy personality

Have you been described as earthy, or have you used it to characterize someone you know? People who are authentic and practical are considered “down to earth,” or simply, earthy. They aren’t in the clouds or otherworldly, they are of the earth. Sometimes that can additionally mean open and direct in dealings with others, or relate to humbleness. Earthiness can overlap with outdoorsiness too—people who have comfort in, and intimate knowledge about, nature and coexisting with it, are also called earthy. 

Generally earthy is a positive attribute for people. An archaic use of the word puts it closer to earthly, which would have a more religious based concept, indicating mortal life on earth versus the opposite heavenly or spiritual things [4]. This could still be a positive depending on your stance. 

See the colors

When designers or artists are choosing colors for their work whether that be a painting, or the interior of a building, or a clothing line, they may look at earth tones. Earth tones can be colors of the earth in different forms—soils and clays that vary widely based on location. They can also refer to colors found in nature but usually these tend toward the more drab or subtle colors in nature, not necessarily the brighter natural palettes seen in flora and fauna. Another word would be neutral colors, those that don’t clash, that can easily visually relate to their neighbors [5]. 

See a pattern here? Easy going people are earthy…easy on the eyes colors are earthy….

Smell the freedom

Do you have a favorite strain of cannabis? 

Marijuana is strictly illegal according to the United States government but 36 states and territories sanction its medicinal or adult recreational use [6]. The recent legislative changes implemented by the 2018 Farm Bill mean that the entire country now has access to cannabis in the form of hemp. 

Is hemp cannabis legal? 

Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis, which naturally contains Delta-9 THC, the single cannabinoid that is under federal-control, and the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. The amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. The 2014 Farm Bill defined the legal limit at .3% so cannabis with less than that is considered legal hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [7]. 

Federally-compliant earthy cannabis strains

This all means that there are earthy cannabis strains available to most adult Americans! What makes them earthy? 

The cannabis experts at Leafly tell us, “the aroma of many classic cannabis strains can be described as earthy, resembling rich soil [8].” They elaborate that the qualities can be piney, woody, hashy, and fresh, as if you are experiencing a plant directly “from the ground.” Here are some recommended strains of cannabidiol (CBD) flower with the earthy flavor palette.

Locally Earthy, wherever you are

Think globally, act locally – the practical advice is so common that it’s become a cliche but still guides people who care in how to help the earth fight back against over-exploitation, pollution, and destruction. The members of the Earthy Now cannabis collective live and work in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and appreciate the earth’s beauty, importance, and fragility on a daily basis. We strive to be part of the solution—to help bring the healing power of cannabis from nature to people. 

To influence major change it’s crucial to build networks of like-minded earthy folks who can work together. We start by partnering exclusively with independent organic American farms in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont. We visit each crop to see and feel the plants in nature. 

Keep cannabis clean and green

Organic agriculture is the healthy and sustainable way to respect the earth while harnessing the incredible powerhouse it is for production. It keeps our products natural and free from contaminants in inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. This is especially important for cannabis which is a bioaccumulator, meaning it is a type of plant that excels at drawing pollutants from the soil without releasing them as waste, and could be contaminated by these elements if grown in non-organic conditions [9]. Research has found that microbes, heavy metals, and pesticides are the most commonly found contaminants in cannabis intended for human consumption, and these can mean exposure to Salmonella, cadmium, fungal spores, and even carcinogenic mycotoxins [10]. It is unnatural and unnecessary to consume these harmful byproducts in cannabis and by doing things the earthy way, we avoid the dangers.

Keeping things real, natural and clean are earthy attributes we celebrate in our business and lives. 

Why now

Why wait? Humans have effectively used cannabis for millennia. Americans are no different and our culture is thankfully finally starting to address a misguided war on drugs and its devastating effects on our fellow citizens, friends and families. There is a changing public understanding of cannabis and an eagerness to use it legally. We have more states develop medical and adult recreational use programs every year, despite the continued federal criminalization of marijuana. We have opportunities to use federally-compliant hemp-derived cannabinoids including THC in the stubborn states due to the gains made through the Farm Bills. 

Cannabis is a gift from the earth and there is no better time to share its healing power. With the current surge of pro-cannabis activity, decades of backward and inequitable prosecution and persecution of those who embrace cannabis for its natural benefits can be overcome. Our human endocannabinoid system has evolved to specifically access cannabis’s benefits, connecting our brains and bodies to the earthy way of being, in the past, today and for the future. 

We invite you to join us in our efforts. We are Earthy Now and forever. 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrichor
  2. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-11-01/What-causes-the-earthy-smell-after-rain–Lgf4vwSxIA/index.html
  3. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/molecule-of-the-week/archive/g/geosmin.html
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earthy
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_tone
  6. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  7. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  8. https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cannabis-strains-with-earthy-flavors
  9. https://santelabs.com/2020/07/hemp-bioaccumulation-the-good-and-the-bad/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177718/

Earthy Select Delta-8 Delta-10 Full spectrum oils

Terpenes are all around us and are what makes things have smells—they are the “scent molecules of nature [1].” They are not found only in cannabis, although cannabis does seem to have a special relationship with terpenes. The holiday season is upon us so it’s a good time to look at how these wondrous chemicals can help us share the best of times with our families and friends. 

Terpenes in the world

There are over 20,000 terpenes in nature. Most plants produce terpenes, which are responsible for creating aromas and are the building blocks of essential oils. Flowers, leaves, roots, flowers, and some animals produce terpenes [2]. Terpenes are wide-ranging in their potential roles in a plant and are used for everything from attracting pollinators to recovering from damage [2].  

A particularly impressive plant use of terpenes was found in a 2005 study. Researchers found that when damaged by a herbivore, the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, or thale cress, releases terpenoids that attract carnivorous mites to help defend the plant [3]. 

Terpenes affect people too. Inhaling scents from plants and essential oils can alter a person’s mood and stress levels [2]. This is known as aromatherapy and offers claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. Terpenes can also be used topically via essential oils, which aren’t actually oils. Rather, they are a combination of terpenes, alcohols, and esters that act like an oil when distilled [2]. 

Common sources

Some common sources rich in terpenes are easily recognizable. For instance, orange essential oil comes from the rind of sweet oranges and it is almost 95% limonene, but also contains over a dozen other terpenes [4]. Studies show that orange essential oil has effectiveness against some types of bacteria and fungi, and has additional therapeutic benefits [5]. 

Pine trees give us the most common terpene, pinene. It is produced by conifer trees and other plants [6]. Pinene is used in turpentine, fungicidal agents, flavors, fragrances, and antiviral and antimicrobial agents [7]. A range of pharmacological activities have been reported, such as antibiotic resistance modulation, anticoagulant, antitumor, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects [7]. 

Terpenes in cannabis

Cannabis has over 150 terpenes across various strains. The mix of which ones exist, and the levels of each in a particular strain are responsible for the strain’s aroma and flavor profile, and perhaps its effect set [8]. Due to inconsistency in genetics and production methods, the terpene set in a strain can vary a bit crop to crop [8]. 

Common terpenes in cannabis

Myrcene – Earthy, clove-like citrus scent. Has the ability to enhance absorption through the skin, and may increase the effect of other cannabinoids. Known for relaxing effects of its own. 

Limonene – Bright, citrusy scent. Limonene’s uplifting aroma can act as a mood elevator.

Pinene – Fresh, earthy, pine tree scent. As a therapeutic remedy, it can be used to evoke the inspiration of a pine forest.

Caryophyllene – Spicy and peppery scent. The only terpene that binds to CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which makes it a helpful ingredient for therapeutic purposes. 

Linalool – Sweet, floral scent. This terpene is at the center of lavender’s relaxing properties. 

Eucalyptol – Cooling, minty scent. Evokes clarity, refreshment, and creativity. 

Entourage effect 

Part of the special relationship between cannabis and terpenes involves the entourage effect. “The entourage effect is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant [9]” 

Other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids may all be part of an entourage effect, aiding the efficacy of all the components of the plant. Without it, some cannabinoids don’t seem to work the same way. Scientists have found that the mixture of all the components of the plant has different effects than isolated compounds. GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of one of the only sanctioned cannabis-based drugs, Sativex (called nabiximols in the U.S.), found that a whole plant extract was more effective than a single compound for certain therapies [9]. Another researcher said that single component drugs like Marinol, a synthetic THC pill, have less therapeutic value than those with more cannabinoids [10]. 

Research on the entourage effect is still relatively minimal and some scientists want more data before being convinced of the effect and any benefits it provides [11].  But some producers lean on the popular anecdotal notions of entourage effect and see an opportunity to create custom blends of terpenes and cannabinoids in order to offer consumers specific designed effects [10].

Top terps

The holidays can be fun and celebratory times you get to spend with loved ones. or frustrating and depressing trials you have to spend with them. Terpenes can help you through either way. Here are some top terpenes and how their aromatic goodness will enhance your holidays. 

Caryophyllene – This terpene is prominent in common spices like basil, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, lavender, cloves, black pepper. These all appear in our favorite holiday recipes so caryophyllene will be a big part of enjoying the season! In addition to imparting deliciousness and complexity to our food, the terpene has been used to enhance relaxation in aromatherapy properties which e a good thing for holiday stresses too. 

Limonene – This terpene is a mood lifter to keep spirits up for shopping, decorating, and event preparation. Try some after a meal, especially if you tend to overindulge at the previously mentioned smorgasbord. Don’t forget the clean up – limonene is very common in cleaning products, for when the party is over. As everyone pitches in, the limonene aroma will keep it fun. 

Linalool – This terpene gives lavender its rich sweet scent and is responsible for the relaxation people experience when inhaling lavender. With all of the family activities and shopping this time of year, linalool can help you deal with the crowds and relatives you don’t quite get along with, and other holiday stressors. 

Humulene – This terpene is prominent in hops. Hops are of course in beer and add a bitter balance to malt’s sweetness while contributing to the aroma and flavor. Many of us will enjoy this earthy, woody terpene in beer and other alcoholic beverages for fun and easing into the festivities. Non-drinkers can enjoy hops as an herb! 

Myrcene – This terpene is found in high quantities in cannabis. It helps the efficacy of other cannabinoids and seems to be a major factor in the entourage effect, as well as producing its own relaxation effects. A pre-roll or gummy might be just what you need to really enjoy the holidays. Thanks to the Farm Bill, even if you are not in a state that gives you the freedom to use cannabis for medical or adult recreational use, you can enjoy premium hemp derived products to gain the benefits of myrcene. 

Primed for success

Now that you know a little more about what these chemical compounds are and do, we hope you put your nose to use and get to know them better. Terpenes are all around us and the holiday season is a great time to start exploring their characteristics and effects. Check out the references below to learn more and we hope you have fun this holiday season!

References

  1. https://hemptonfarms.com/blog/terpenes-guide/
  2. Freedman, Andrew. Terpenes for well being: A comprehensive guide to botanical aromas for emotional and self-care, Mango Publishing, Florida, 2021
  3. https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1116232
  4. https://www.scielo.br/j/gmb/a/nFwzVgKfDfCSn7VQ8bf9xWh/?lang=en#:~:text=The%20terpenes%20that%20constitute%20the,valencene%2C%20and%20d%2Dcadinene.
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/orange-essential-oil-uses
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinene
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920849/
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168945219301190
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entourage_effect
  10. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/index.html
  11. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-of-the-parts-is-marijuana-rsquo-s-ldquo-entourage-effect-rdquo-scientifically-valid/

Earthy Select Delta-8 Delta-10 Full spectrum oils

Cannabinol or CBN is increasingly available on the market in a variety of forms, often suggested for relaxation or as a sleep aid. Where does it come from, and what’s it good for? This article will take a look into this famous cannabinoid. 

What is CBN? 

CBN is a cannabinoid and a cannabinoid is simply a chemical substance found in the cannabis plant (1), and there are over 100 identified cannabinoids (2). CBN is found in low concentration in the plant and is mainly a product of the aging of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa). When cannabis is aged, THCa in the plant converts to cannabolic acid (CBNa), and when decarboxylated by air,  heat or light, converts to CBN (3). 

CBN is considered to have psychotropic properties, and can have up to 25% potency compared to Delta-9 THC (4). 

Like cannabidinol (CBD), CBN is available in many products such as gummies or sublingual oils, and taken by people for its therapeutic effects. With CBN consumers generally include relaxation and sleepiness as reasons why they use it, but cannabinoids of all kinds affect people differently depending on their personal chemistry, dosage level, and other factors. 

Is CBN legal? 

Yes but that may depend on its source. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis, which naturally contains Delta-9 THC, the single cannabinoid that is under federal-control, and the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. The amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. The 2014 Farm Bill defined the legal limit at .3% so cannabis with less than that is considered legal hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant (5). 

Under current federal regulatory conditions, people are able to make, sell, buy, and use products made with CBN, as long as the amount of delta-9 THC is under .3% of the source materials’s dry weight and the product is from hemp. 

History

Cannabinol is “famous” for being the first cannabinoid to be isolated from cannabis in the late 1800s (6), the first to have its structure determined in the early 1930s, then being the first to be synthesized in 1940 (6). Early research from the 1940s and 50s found that CBN had psychotropic qualities of THC, but at much lower potency (6). 

Major research into cannabinoids was largely stymied in the United States because of a decades-long racially-motivated prohibition on the plant (7). However, the Farm Bills’ changes have prompted renewed interest and there has been research on CBN for its sedative, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA properties (4).

Manufacturing

CBN can be extracted from hemp and for the end products to be federally-compliant, it must come from hemp. The methodologies detailed here are not exhaustive but intended to give an overview. 

Enrich the content

Natural aging is one way to produce CBN in cannabis, regardless of type or strain. THC in hemp oxidizes to CBN when exposed to oxygen and light. This is part of the decarboxylation process, which activates compounds in cannabis (8). Applying heat is a common strategy to accelerate the process. Typically a lower temperature is used for decarboxylation but higher temperatures over 150° C may be useful for increasing CBN amounts in biomass, and may be able to remediate concentrations of THC higher than the federally-compliant level of .3% Delta-9 per dry weight (9). 

Ultraviolet light may be an alternative to heat for the same effect since light also facilitates the CBN conversion (9). These methods are to increase CBN in the plant material so its biomass is primed for extraction of the CBN. 

Go Live

The extraction process is similar to that used for most popular cannabinoids but can vary a bit per material type. One version of CBN extraction begins by soaking the biomass in a solvent of choice (typically either CO2 or ethanol) to separate out the terpenes and cannabinoids from the biomass. The resulting solution is put into an evaporator that uses heat and a vacuum to remove the solvent. This results in a refined CBN crude extract concentrate which is then further distilled to create a purified distillate (3). 

In CO2 extraction, carbon dioxide is pressurized in metal tanks until it becomes a supercritical fluid, then the fluid pulls out the desirable compounds from the hemp flower. The fluid is then separated, leaving only concentrates. Ethanol extraction is done by soaking raw hemp in ethanol to pull trichomes into the solvent. The solid material is then removed; the liquid is filtered and the alcohol purged from the extracted material (10). 

There is an additional “one-pot” process, patented in 2020, that converts hemp CBD to CBN using a solvent plus iodine (14). This method mixes toluene with biomass to maximize and extract cannabinoids, then uses iodine to convert the resulting solution to CBN in a catalytic conversion (15). 

Producers say that there is no single best method for extraction, rather that depends on the particular goals. Some think ethanol is the most efficient method, but that CO2 better preserves the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as the flavonoids and carotenoids in the final product, retaining more of  the whole plant’s essence (11). The iodine method is touted as being overall simpler and more efficient than the others (14). 

Uses and outlook

CBN is widely considered to be sedating. This idea may originate from a common assumption that older cannabis has a more sedating effect due to the natural concentration of CBN that accumulates in it over time. Anecdotal experience with older marijuana causing sleepiness may also be a factor in this idea. However there may be other reasons for this reaction. 

It may be that the combination of CBN and THC actually causes the drowsiness factor, due to the entourage effect’s synergistic treatment of both cannabinoids. Entourage effect refers to how the interaction of various cannabinoids present in a particular cannabis product may alter the effect on the consumer (12). Even the small amount of THC in hemp (less than .3% per dry weight) can add to the entourage effect without producing the intoxication associated with higher THC cannabis.

Another possibility is that rather than the CBN in older cannabis causing the sedative effects, it could be the older terpenes. In older cannabis, “the monoterpenoids have evaporated leaving the more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids,” according to Dr. Ethan Russo, neurologist and cannabis researcher (13). So the CBN to sedation relationship may be better described as correlative but not causative. 

Is CBN right for you? 

Whether or not you are familiar with using CBD you may find a benefit to using CBN. For a new consumer it can be a gentle onboarding to the effects of hemp derived cannabinoids. For a more experienced consumer, CBN may be better able to target a desired therapeutic need state.

No matter your experience level, trying CBN for yourself is the way to know first hand if it’s right for you. Remember to always purchase from a reputable brand that independently tests their products for safety, purity, and potency.

References

  1. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/cannabinoids/
  2. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  3. https://deltaseparations.com/how-to-extract-cbn-oil-cannabinoil/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054358917300273
  5. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  6. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406
  7. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/06/23/marijuanas-racist-history-shows-the-need-for-comprehensive-drug-reform/
  8. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-decarboxylation
  9. https://extractionmagazine.com/2020/08/24/converting-thc-to-cbn/
  10. https://mjbizdaily.com/choosing-the-right-cannabis-extraction-method/
  11. https://mjbizmagazine.com/digital-issues/2018-10-Oct/60/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  13. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/what-is-cbn-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabinoid
  14. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00946
  15. https://patents.justia.com/patent/10954208

Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years according to the National Cancer Institute, but to date, “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition (1)” 

Where is the disconnect? This article will discuss what we know about cannabis and cancer, and why we don’t know more. 

History of abuse

In the United States, a decades-long racially-motivated prohibition on cannabis (2), and its war on drugs, means that research with the cannabis plant was and is still largely forbidden. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD stating that, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse (3)”

Marijuana is the typical word for cannabis with psychoactive properties. The main psychoactive substance in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Its chemical formula includes many isomers, but the term THC usually refers to Delta-9 THC (4), which is the specific cannabinoid that is cited in federal regulations. Another version of cannabis has the psychoactive parts removed, and it is defined as hemp. This versioning of cannabis into marijuana and hemp  occurred relatively recently as part of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills issued by the U.S. Congress. The differentiating feature is the amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the dry material that is used to make a product and the government sets that at .3% Delta-9 THC. Cannabis with more than that is considered a controlled substance, and cannabis with less than that is federally-compliant hemp (5). This is just one example of the complexity of the field of cannabis research. 

These are recent changes and it is encouraging that cannabis as hemp is now able to be scientifically studied more easily, albeit still with plenty of federal regulations (6). What about marijuana? 

How to research cannabis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows, and issues guidance for, research on marijuana but the rules are stringent (7). The regulations may impede research in some cases but dedicated researchers find workarounds. Researchers at University of Colorado outfitted mobile research vans just to collect data on cannabis consumers, since they are not allowed to permit the drug in labs on campus and cannot be present when it is consumed (6). Their team cannot even verify the purity and safety of the cannabis being used. 

These researchers and others could obtain licensure and federally-sanctioned cannabis from the one permitted provider, a research facility at the University of Mississippi but that supply is dubious. One physician likened it to muddy garbage (8). The stock was acquired long ago and not updated. Researchers consider it weak and not representative of what is widely available on the open market today (15).

States’ rights

At the same time that the DEA says there is “no currently accepted medical use” of cannabis, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs have been approved in 36 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (9). 

States like California, the first state to allow medicinal cannabis use in 1996 (10), and Michigan include cancer as a medical condition that justifies approval for a state medical cannabis card (11,12). This is another obvious and troubling example of the complex nature of the cannabis vs. cancer landscape. People are being prescribed cannabis by doctors in some states, yet the FDA says there is “no currently accepted medical use” of cannabis in all states. 

Earthy Now High CBD Low THC Cannabis flower

Federal rights

Is the agency being disingenuous? The FDA has actually approved cannabis derived and cannabis related health products that are available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider (7). 

The cannabis-derived drug product is called Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD). It has been approved for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. The FDA has concluded that this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use (7). 

Three synthetic cannabis-related drug products have also been approved. Marinol and Syndros both contain the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic Delta-9 THC, and are approved for therapeutic uses including for nausea from cancer chemotherapy and for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients (8). Cesamet contains the active ingredient nabilone, another synthetic cannabinoid that is similar to THC, and is “indicated for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments (13).”

This begs the question, how can cannabis derived and related drugs be approved by the FDA and in use by doctors and patients, and have “no currently accepted medical use?”  Clearly this position needs to change if we are to take the FDA seriously, and to move forward with any additional medical use of cannabis, which will require gathering and analyzing data to make informed and responsible decisions about health care. 

Right to information

The FDA’s contradicting positions, and the difficulty of obtaining and studying cannabis, are likely major factors in the lack of substantial research data. Even so there has been valuable information published. To avoid making any unjustified health claims, we won’t look at the results of these studies in this paper, but much of this published information has the potential to influence possible courses of treatment for certain health issues.

It is difficult to quantify the full extent of literature available. Many databases are available only to those associated with research institutions and libraries that can afford to license access to them (16). One freely-available scholarly collection of research is PubMed Central® (PMC), a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). A search of this research database for studies that include “cannabis”  and “cancer” in their abstracts, returns 248 results. A general search for the two terms (not only in abstracts) returns over 10,000 results

It’s a lot to parse, but even a cursory skim shows repeated mentions of the potential and promise of cannabis to improve the situation of humans suffering from cancer. You are encouraged to look at this research and determine if you think there is more reason than not for federal legalization of cannabis for medical or adult-use.  

Light at the end

One study from 2019 is illuminating in the area of cannabis’s potential as a remedy. The authors did a literature review of almost 8,000 research articles related to cannabis, cannabinoids, and marijuana for high priority symptoms of cancer and its treatments (14). They concluded that, “cannabis offers many opportunities for supportive and palliative care in cancer and recent changes in the social climate and legalization of cannabis will hopefully facilitate randomized studies to more accurately weigh the risks and benefits of cannabis use and optimize dose and administration methods (14)”

This is a good indicator of the state of the science and will ideally lead to more and better research, data, and analysis that we can all rely on for improving access to cannabis for healthy living and recovery.  


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq
  2. https://www.britannica.com/story/why-is-marijuana-illegal-in-the-us
  3. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabinol
  5. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text?overview=closed
  6. https://ovpr.uchc.edu/services/rics/research-involving-cannabis-hemp-and-marijuana/
  7. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
  8. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/25/legal-weed-scientists-1074188
  9. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  10. https://cannabis.ca.gov/resources/laws-and-regulations/
  11. https://cannabis.ca.gov/consumers/medicinal-cannabis/#eligible-medical-conditions
  12. https://www.michigan.gov/mra/0,9306,7-386-83746-449306–,00.html
  13. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/018677s011lbl.pdf
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676264/
  15. https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2019/10/14/cannabis-medical-marijuana-research-000984/ 
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embargo_(academic_publishing)

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