Medical Marijuana Laws and Adolescent Marijuana Use

One of the biggest hurdles with medical cannabis legislation is convincing the public that new laws will do more good than harm. In California, the rate of adults who have used medical cannabis is reportedly one in 20, which leaves 19 in 20 uninterested (or dishonest on surveys). Assuming the proportion of adults is roughly equal in other states, this means a large majority of voters are not voting with the mindset, “this enables me to use medical cannabis,” but instead voting with the mindset, “this enables others to use medical cannabis.” While those voters may realize the societal benefits of medical cannabis (such as decriminalization and reducing healthcare costs), their primary concerns will still be, “will this negatively affect me or my loved ones?”.  At the forefront of this discussion is the impact of medical cannabis laws on the opinions of teenagers toward cannabis. As reported in a recent study by Columbia University, almost 20% of high school seniors reported they’d be more likely to use cannabis if it were legalized for medical use, with 55% of adolescents believing cannabis would be easier to acquire. As a lawmaker, this is cause for alarm. To determine the best course for society, we must weigh the advantages of medical cannabis against possible disadvantages. However, just because teens believe themselves more likely to use cannabis because of medical cannabis laws does not necessarily make that true. Thus, researchers at Columbia set out to conduct a survey to establish the rate of adolescent…

Cannabinoids in Pain Management, A Review

Pain management is one of our most revisited topics here on the Cornerstone blog. Our commitment to reporting studies related to pain management should come as no surprise to readers; pain relief accounts for a substantial portion of all medical cannabis use. Usually we update you on new findings within the field; however, today we are going to take a step back for a more general review, courtesy of Ethan Russo and Andrea Hohmann. Medicine, as Russo points out, really began with plants. Our early ancestors would have noticed the effects of consuming plants within their environments and then learned to use those effects. Though we like to think of mankind as superior creators when compared to plants, humans are comparatively inefficient at producing pharmaceuticals. Plants have the surprising ability to produce complex chemicals like THC from sun, water, and dirt, whereas we have to build labs with precision machinery, electrical power, and contamination control! As a result, the first functional medicines were not human synthesized and instead came from plants. From coca leaves to morphine, these chemicals wove themselves into the history of human civilization. However, in modern times, plant-based chemicals are not generally accepted as medicine. This isn’t necessarily due to a bias against plants, but more importantly because plant-produced compounds are naturally inconsistent. In the case of cannabis, the way the plant is grown can greatly affect the profile of chemicals produced, not to mention the potency. Different buds on the same plant might even have significantly…

Inhibiting Re-Uptake To Enable Treatment: The Endocannabinoid System and New Medicines

In popular culture, we like to think of an inventor as someone who notices a problem, thinks really hard about a solution, and solves that problem with a novel device or approach. Oftentimes however, discovery proceeds in reverse: first a solution is found and then a clever inventor looks for a problem that the solution might apply to. For instance, the invention of the Post-it Note® occurred when a scientist attempting to develop a better superglue accidentally developed a glue with low adhesion but high re-usability. Although that scientist attempted to promote the glue, the company that had financed the research tossed it to the side, chalking it up as a failure. After all it was not the superglue they wanted. Six years later a colleague managed to develop a use outside of the company; he noticed he could apply it to the back of a bookmark to keep it from falling out without developing a permanent bond that would tear the page. Thus the Post-it Note® was born and subsequently became one of 3M’s most successful products. Drug development, as Christopher Fowler argues, might also proceed more effectively this way. Fowler, a clinical neuroscience researcher at Umea Unversity of Sweden, recently reviewed studies involving inhibitors of cannabinoid metabolism. Metabolism, whether specific to nutrients or in this case chemicals in general, simply means how something is broken back down to be disposed of or recycled by the body. The idea is that rather than supplying the brain with more cannabinoids,…

The US Race to Catch Up on Cannabis Research

You may have already seen this month’s issue of Time Magazine; it features a lab rat smoking a joint. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that this would be the cover of a fairly conservative magazine aimed at middle-age readers, I would have laughed. However, the feature article is actually a very fair and unbiased look at the global state of cannabis research. This is thanks in part to Bruce Barcott, the article’s principal co-writer and author of the book, “Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America”. As a journalist Barcott has an incredible degree of familiarity with cannabis and seems to take a mostly positive stance. The TIME article echoed this sentiment by suggesting that cannabis does indeed help, and has the potential to help many but is also not harmless and may cause serious damage if used during pregnancy or by adolescents. This is not far from Cornerstone’s stance. To be fair, lately TIME seems to be trading legitimacy for readers in the race to stay relevant against newer media. For instance, making Kanye West the cover of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” – I’m a Yeezy fan, but if he’s really the most influential person in the world (or even top 100), then we’re all in serious trouble. However, other well-respected publications have published similar articles, such as this month’s National Geographic article, “Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana’s Secrets”, and CNN’s 2013 Chief Medical Correspondent feature “Why I Changed My Mind on…