HHS official wants states to know the risks of pot legalization

The top HHS official in charge of preventing substance abuse called for a grassroots effort to inform states of the long-term health risks of marijuana as more states pursue legalization.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistance secretary for mental health and substance use within HHS, implored attendees at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Prevention Day event to work with states on the health risks of marijuana. Katz, who heads up SAMHSA, said that marijuana today has a higher count of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that creates its mind-altering effect, compared to 20 years ago.

“It is taking time to get attention to the issue, but you all can help with that,” McCance-Katz told the audience of addition prevention advocates and community leaders. “There has to be a huge sea change in order for this to be altered at this point.”

Full story at Modern Healthcare

Increased risk of harm from cannabis across Europe

Cannabis resin and herbal cannabis have significantly increased in potency and in price, according to the first study to investigate changes in cannabis across Europe.

The study, published today (Sunday 30 December) in the journal Addiction by researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London, draws on data collected from across 28 EU Member states, as well as Norway and Turkey by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The findings show that for herbal cannabis, concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (‘THC’ — the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis) increased by a similar amount each year, from 5% in 2006 to 10% in 2016.

Full story at Science Daily

Does CBD oil work for menopause symptoms?

Cannabidiol is a chemical that occurs in hemp plants and marijuana. It is possible that cannabidiol oil could help to treat the symptoms of menopause. Researchers have looked at other herbal and natural remedies as treatment options, but have not yet proved that any of them are consistently effective.

Recently there has been much interest in cannabidiol (CBD) oil due to its potential health benefits, which range from relieving pain to treating depression and anxiety.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabinoid, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not cause the high that people typically associate with marijuana. For this reason, it is legal to sell and consume CBD in most countries. Its legality in the United States, however, varies between states.

Full story at Medical News Today

A new target for marijuana

Cellular-level changes to a part of the brain’s reward system induced by chronic exposure to the psychoactive component of marijuana may contribute to the drug’s pleasurable and potentially addictive qualities, suggests a study in young mice published in JNeurosci. The results could advance our understanding of marijuana’s effects on the developing brain as the drug’s rapidly changing legal status increases its recreational and medical use in the United States.

Drugs of abuse impact the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain, which is rich in dopamine neurons. Using juvenile and adolescent mice, Jeffrey Edwards and colleagues investigated the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana responsible for its effects on cognition and behavior, on VTA GABA cells, an understudied inhibitory cell type in the reward system that regulates dopamine levels.

Full story at Science Daily

Reversing the negative effects of adolescent marijuana use

Researchers at Western University have found a way to use pharmaceuticals to reverse the negative psychiatric effects of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. Chronic adolescent marijuana use has previously been linked to the development of psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia, in adulthood. But until now, researchers were unsure of what exactly was happening in the brain to cause this to occur.

“What is important about this study is that not only have we identified a specific mechanism in the prefrontal cortex for some of the mental health risks associated with adolescent marijuana use, but we have also identified a mechanism to reverse those risks,” said Steven Laviolette, professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Full story at Science Daily