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What Cannabis Can (and Can’t) do for Chronic Pain. Pot for Pain Relief?

What Cannabis Can (and Can’t) do for Chronic Pain. Pot for Pain Relief?

(Story by Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY) reprinted 1/26/2023. 
A growing, but still incomplete body of research suggests the cannabis plant, the source of marijuana, can help fight some kinds of pain.

Rob Sims grew up hearing stories about what opioid addiction could do. The former Detroit Lions guard, whose father, Mickey, also played in the NFL, watched a number of his dad’s friends get hooked. Some died. He vowed his own story would be different.

Then, playing for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008, early in his pro football career, Sims tore a pectoralis muscle in his chest. Primed for his best year ever, Sims was sidelined.

After surgery, he received an open-ended prescription for opioids. “Take when you have pain,” the bottle read. “That’s seared in my memory,” he said. As a football player, “I have pain all the time.”

Scared by the lesson he had learned as a child and with little to do besides focus on his recovery, he remembers thinking: “This could go in a bad way.”

That’s when he turned to marijuana.

It remains unclear whether cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain. Plenty of circumstantial evidence supports the idea, but exactly how, what kinds of products and what can be expected from them has yet to be determined.

“There’s some caveats before it’s ready for broad, prime-time usage for chronic pain,” said Dr. Devan Kansagara, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and a staff physician at the VA Portland.

It’s possible that cannabis helps with the psychological aspects of pain, said Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cannabis may improve pain indirectly, for instance, through decreasing anxiety so that someone may be able to deal with pain better,” she said.

Rob Sims was a guard with the Detroit Lions and now runs a cannabis business with fellow former Lion Calvin Johnson Jr., right. © Carlos Osorio, AP

Detroit Lions guard Rob Sims during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, Dec 9, 2012.© Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports

One recent examination of previous studies found the benefits of cannabis were equal to the benefits of a placebo, which means that if people thought it would help, it did.

“There’s very limited evidence out there to support that cannabis is effective against pain,” said Karin Jensen, the Swedish neuroscientist who led the study. So far, most of the information showing its usefulness is anecdotal.

“People who use cannabis to relieve pain may have the experience that it helps – there is no doubt about that,” she said. “What’s needed is solid scientific evidence to determine how much of the relief is due to the cannabis and how much is due to other things, such as the placebo effect.”

The general public is already largely convinced.

Marijuana remains illegal in 12 states, but as of 2019, 18% of U.S. adults reported using cannabis at least once in the previous year, and 4% to 5% use it daily or nearly daily, Kansagara said.

In a 2017 study, the majority of people who used medical marijuana or self-medicated with the drug said they did so to relieve pain, and 65% of those who requested medical marijuana licenses said they wanted it to treat pain.

The marijuana plant provides a wide range of chemicals, including THC, which has psychotropic effects/

But cannabis comes with cautions.

At least 5% of Americans ages 12 and up abuse or are dependent on marijuana, and the risk for dependence increases the younger someone starts. Marijuana use directly affects parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision-making, coordination, emotion and reaction time. And long-term or frequent marijuana use, particularly at higher doses, has been linked to increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia.

It’s not possible to predict ahead of time who will react badly to marijuana, said Dr. Charles Berde, co-founder of a pediatric pain clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital.

THC, the part of the plant that has psychotropic effects, “has narrow uses for nausea and appetite stimulation in patients with severe weight loss due to AIDS or cancer,” but the data for CBD for treatment of chronic pain is “murky,” Berde said. “All the more reason to be hesitant to prescribe it.”

Cannabis and pain relief

When a body is in pain, the brain releases its own pain relievers. There are special receptors in the brain designed to take in these natural cannabinoids and offer relief.

Ingesting or inhaling weed fills up those receptors, too.

Providing more cannabinoids than these receptors can accept overloads them making the person’s own internal cannabinoids ineffective, said Dr. Jordan Tishler, a cannabis specialist physician in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and founder and president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists.

That’s why higher doses don’t provide any additional pain relief compared with lower ones and can have “all sorts of risks,” he said. Side effects from cannabis can include increased heart rate, dizziness, impaired concentration and memory, slower reaction times and, more rarely, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and dependence.

Tishler said many patients come to him taking far too much cannabis, which increases the risk for side effects. He works to convince them that 5 mg to 20 mg a day will treat their pain better than the 200 mg they’re using.

Cannabis is now sold in many different forms.

“Just because (cannabis) doesn’t lead to breaking the law and incarceration and those sorts of troubles doesn’t mean people can’t have their lives significantly altered by getting overly involved with this particular substance,” he said.

There are also open questions about cannabis, including whether the pain-killing benefits seen in short-term studies will last. Some painkillers, like opioids, can actually make people more sensitive to pain. It’s not yet clear whether cannabis can have this effect.

“You’d like to see what happens with these products over a longer period of time, ideally,” Kansagara said. “I would like to see that before recommending wholesale to patients.”

Although legalization and decriminalization are making a difference, cannabis remains hard to study. Until recent years, it was extremely difficult to gain access to cannabis for research, and there was little federal funding for such work. In early December, President Joe Biden signed a law that will make it easier to research cannabis.

Dr. Donald Abrams, speaking in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act ballot measure in San Francisco on May 4, 2016. © Jeff Chiu, AP

Gold-standard studies compare a treatment versus a placebo, but it’s impossible to keep people in the dark about whether they’re getting high, said Dr. Donald Abrams, an oncologist and professor emeritus at University of California, San Francisco, who studies cannabis.

When Abrams studied cannabis use in his HIV patients, some critics thought patients must be too stoned to notice their pain. But Abrams said the patients reported that it did alleviate their pain.

Dosages of cannabis aren’t standardized, which adds to the difficulty of comparing one study against another, he said.

That’s why trials of cannabis for pain relief have shown mixed results, said Wil Ngwa, an associate professor of radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who’s working to create such standards for drug trials.

This lack of standardization also means people have to use trial and error to find an effective dose for them, according to Staci Gruber, who directs the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital, a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital outside Boston.

In one study, Gruber followed 37 volunteers using cannabis for chronic pain. After six months of treatment, participants reported lower levels of pain, better sleep, more coherence and less use of conventional painkillers.

‘Positives, not negatives’

Sims experienced the same benefits.

Daily marijuana use after his pec injury helped cut the pain, allowing him to lift more weight and recover faster. “I was able to come back stronger than I was before.”

Playing NFL ball, Sims said, is like living through a train wreck every Sunday. The best players – the ones whose careers last the longest, he said – “have learned how to recover quicker and get ready for that next train wreck.”

During his career, marijuana helped Sims rebound and improved his sleep, which allowed him to push his workouts.

Asked about side effects from his marijuana use, Sims pointed to his athletic and financial successes. “I wouldn’t call those side effects,” he said, laughing. “I see positives, not negatives.”

In 2021, Sims co-founded the cannabis company Primitiv Group with fellow former Lion Calvin Johnson Jr. Sims and Johnson acknowledge they used cannabis during their professional careers, though there was a zero tolerance policy then, which has loosened only slightly since. Both men believe the restrictions should be lifted.

About a decade ago, Sims persuaded his wife, Natalie, to try cannabis, when a bout with the bowel syndrome Crohn’s disease left her on a morphine drip in an emergency room.

“This can’t be how we live for the rest of our lives,” he told her. She uses cannabis now and finds relief, Sims said.

“It made me very passionate about pain and help for pain.”

Challenges of cannabis care

Cannabis doesn’t make pain go away, like Advil might get rid of a headache, Tishler said.

Instead, “it makes it so it doesn’t bother you so much,” he said. “It divorces the pain from the suffering.”

Whether it’s the THC or the CBD in cannabis or both that might be helpful against pain remains an open question, Kansagara said. THC is what makes people feel “high.” CBD appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be useful to some.

Smoking joints isn’t a good approach for relieving chronic pain, said Tishler, who recommends his patients use edibles instead. The effect of inhaled cannabis wears off in three to four hours, while a gummy might last eight to 12 hours.

The yo-yo effect, when pain comes and goes over a few hours, can exacerbate suffering, Tishler said. “Short-acting actually turns out to be a bad approach in general in pain management.”

In Massachusetts, where medical cannabis has been legal since 2013 and recreational since 2016, doctors are more comfortable giving their patients permission to use cannabis, Tishler said. But they rarely bring it up themselves.

So, Tishler is trying to educate his peers. “If you were thinking the patient needs opioids, think cannabis first. Don’t wait for the patient to bring it up – it’s your job to bring it up,” he tells them.

Similarly, he’d like to get cancer patients on cannabis early in their care, rather than waiting until agony sets in. “Once people are at the end of their rope, things are worse and harder to treat than if we had started when things were still kind of OK.”

Most of the advice on what product to use now comes from the patient care advocates or “budtenders” who work behind the counter at dispensaries, Gruber noted with some concern. They typically don’t know the person’s medical history or history of cannabis use or whether they use other substances such as alcohol, other drugs or prescription medication. Product labels can often be misleading about their THC and CBD content.

The trial-and-error approach can be difficult and challenging for patients with major medical problems.

“Knowing what’s in your weed is critical, but also how you’re going to respond to it is an important consideration. And that’s something we don’t spend a lot of time on,” Gruber said. “You have to educate patients. They’re desperate for it, but it’s not easy, because we’re all different and cannabis is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.”

Research may change future use.

For cannabis to reach its full potential as a painkiller, more research is needed, experts say.

“It’s really untapped right now, because of that lack of research,” Johnson said.

That’s why NFL players and owners have been supporting cannabis research. Owners have donated more than $1 million this year to two cannabis research programs.

“We need to become better educated about all these issues,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer© Rebecca Blackwell, AP

Ngwa, at Hopkins, collaborates with Sims and Johnson to lead some of that research.

He’s also looking at better ways to treat cancer pain with cannabis.

His studies suggest that not enough of the painkiller gets to a tumor when the cannabis is inhaled or ingested, so he has been exploring smart-drug delivery systems than can target the drug directly to the tumor. So far, he has tested only pancreatic tumors but hopes to rapidly expand to other cancer types.

Ngwa is concerned that preliminary research like his will encourage people to self-medicate, taking doses that may not be helpful. “You really have to wait for the clinical trials, but when people are desperate, they just do (anything). I definitely worry about that,” he said.

Until more is known, Sims will keep up his cannabis routine.

Now 39, he has dropped 50 pounds from his 320-pound playing weight, which has helped reduce the lingering bone-on-bone pain in his right knee. He rubs a Primitiv topical on it knee every day.

“My passion behind the plant and what it’s done for my family reigns supreme.”

Contact Karen Weintraub at kweintraub@usatoday.com.

Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

Consuming medicinal cannabis oil improves sleep in adults with insomnia

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Happy New Year! CBD FIRST THING – Time to Get Going NOW in 2023

As 2022 has now past us by, although, not as soon as some had wished. It is now time to assess 2023.

You may be considering the questions no one in this New Year may be asking.

Embarking on new regimens, such as new embraces.

In the world old of CBD, AS IF, IT HAS become, as COMPLICATED In YOUR LIFE, as it has become in mine. You Have to Zero in on what is right for your condition. And this takes time and patience. We have found that as you zero in on the right CBD for you, you’ll no doubt run through a list of considerations, including potency, flavor, price, and type (oil, topical, gummy, etc.). But once you’ve decided on all of that, there’s another factor to think about-

 

There are a few tried and true guidelines for when to take your CBD. What you choose will depend on your particular lifestyle and the reasons you’re taking CBD in the first place, but these suggestions might be helpful in your exploration of the optimal schedule.

CBD FIRST THING

Mornings tend to follow a routine of sorts that can prepare us for the day ahead. From those first few moments of waking up, to warm showers and some kind of breakfast, we get ourselves ready to face whatever’s on the docket. Taking CBD first thing ensures that it’s checked off the list and you won’t have to remember it later. You can keep your CBD 

next to your bed or in the kitchen so you don’t have to worry about bringing it with you to work or out on your errands.

Another perk of taking CBD in the morning, especially before breakfast, is that your stomach is empty. This means that if you’re taking any form of ingestible CBD, those cannabinoids will have front-and-center attention in your body without any other distractions in the digestive system. Another advantage of taking CBD in the morning is that for many of us, those morning hours set the tone for the rest of the day. So rather than pushing through early on, many people prioritize feeling their best during those beginning hours so that they can more easily tackle whatever comes next.

WIND DOWN WITH CBD

There are two sides to every coin, and while mornings may be a priority for some, nighttime is just as often the target time for those who suffer from sleep issues or difficulty winding down after a busy day. When the hubbub of activity starts to die down and yet you’re still feeling frenetic inside, or your aches and pains start to really flare after a long day, then taking CBD in the evening might be good for you. It’s still suggested to try to take any ingestible CBD on a relatively empty stomach, so avoid taking with meals if possible.

 

If sleep support is what you’re after, you might want to try taking your CBD oil 30-45 minutes before bed. It will help if you also transition into lower light, detach yourself from electronic devices/screens, and get comfortable so that you’re truly ready for bed. If you’re taking gummies, then you might try taking them about an hour before bed, as it takes a bit longer for the body to engage with CBD through the digestive system.

THE AS-NEEDED APPROACH

Here’s one of the amazing things about CBD– it’s not something that you can easily overdose on, and the side effects of taking way too much are relatively benign. This is why there are serving suggestions on many CBD products, but in many usage guidelines you’ll see the option to take “as needed.” Often, people will take CBD oil in the morning or evening and carry their CBD gummies or cream around with them throughout the day to use as the need arises. People often ask if it’s ok to take multiple forms of CBD in the same day and the answer is yes.

Are you looking to get the most out of your CBD and want to know how much to take? With cannabidiol now legal in many states, many people are learning about its therapeutic benefits and want to know how they can benefit from them.

Whether you’re curious about CBD and want to try it out, or are already a regular user, you may find yourself wondering about what level of dosage is right for you. As with any kind of substance we consume—holistic, natural, pharmaceutical, or otherwise—CBD should be measured and researched before use. That’s why we created this CBD dosage chart to help you decide.

Why Dosage Matters

Why does CBD dosage matter? Well it matters because everybody and every body is different! As with many things in life, you need to approach slowly and learn about your body’s threshold. Some people drink one cup of coffee and feel refreshed, whereas others may need several cups to feel fully awake, and others still may take one sip and feel unpleasantly jittery for the whole day.

The same principle applies to CBD dosage, so if you’re a newbie remember to start low and go slow. It is generally recommended to start with 5-10mg of CBD per day over a week, and then slowly increase if needed.

Here are some of the considerations that go into determining dosage:

  • Weight: A higher body weight will generally mean a higher amount of CBD is needed in order to feel the desired therapeutic effects. The same principle applies inversely for a lower body weight: generally a smaller dose is effective.
  • Ailment and severity: Depending on what ailment you’re looking to soothe, and how intense the discomfort or pain it is, dosage will vary.
  • CBD Tolerance: Your personal receptiveness to CBD is determined by your endocannabinoid receptors. This factor varies person to person. Think of it as similar to how certain people have a higher or lower tolerance to drinking alcohol.
  • CBD product type and bioavailability: Your dosage will vary based on what method you are using to consume it, as well as how much cannabinoids are in the product itself. Reputable sellers will include information about the level of cannabinoids in the product, whether it’s a gummy, oil, tincture, vape cartridge, or loose bud. Oil and edibles are consumed orally, meaning they go through your digestive system and take effect slowly. When you smoke or vaporize, CBD enters the bloodstream through the lungs and the effects are felt more quickly. Us

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

You also don’t necessarily have to take CBD every day! One huge advantage to the as-needed approach is that you’ll only be taking it when you feel it’s really necessary, so you likely won’t build up a tolerance which might then require higher dosage. While chronic pain sufferers may be better served by regular use, if you’re really only using CBD for the occasional ache or pain, then you can let your body choose for you!

While it’s suggested that you take CBD regularly when you first start, that’s mostly so that you can learn how your body reacts and you can zero in on the best dosage for you. That is most easily discovered when you’re consistent and give the body a chance to learn more about CBD. Once you’re clear on the best dosage for your body, feel free to take it on whatever schedule (or non-schedule) works best for you!

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Wholesale Marijuana Flower Prices Plummet. Michigan subject of new dynamics.

Wholesale marijuana flower prices plummet.

Michigan, in particular, subject to new dynamics.

 

 

Prices of wholesale recreational marijuana in Michigan are now as low, or lower, than those in older adult-use states

– underscoring how new markets are ramping up more quickly and, in some cases, becoming glutted.

Industry insiders say cannabis flower in Michigan is readily available for less than $1,000 a pound on the wholesale market – and often for much less – because of oversaturation as more and more cultivation companies come online in a state with no limit on business licenses.

Connie Maxim-Sparrow, a cannabis consultant and marijuana business license holder based in Muskegon, Michigan, characterized the state’s current market conditions as “unstable” – in particular, cannabis growers are spending at least $800 to grow a pound of flower and getting only $600 for it on the wholesale market.

According to Maxim-Sparrow, a year ago a midgrade pound of indoor-grown wholesale flower that tested at around 20% THC potency would sell for $1,800-$2,200.

Now, that same grower is lucky to get $600 a pound, and she’s heard of some selling for as low as $300.

The dynamics playing out in Michigan could offer a harbinger of what’s to come in other new markets.

In particular: As more multistate operators learn how to quickly set up shop in new regions with many producers, the pace of a newly legalized state’s market hitting an oversaturation point is speeding up.

This is more likely to happen in states without licenses caps or that have many growers – unlike limited-license markets that seem more common on the East Coast.

Michigan began marijuana sales at the end of 2019, and the wholesale market prices now more closely resemble those in older markets such as Colorado or Oregon, where wholesale prices have been falling for a year or more.

Colorado’s adult-use sales launched in January 2014, while Oregon’s market launched in October 2015.

Both markets took longer than Michigan’s to experience product saturation and falling prices.

Survival tactics

To survive, cannabis companies across Michigan are tightening their belts, relying on vertical integration and trying to build brand recognition to be more competitive.

Others are limiting their expansion plans or selling out as a wave of consolidation sweeps through the state’s industry.

A few Michigan marijuana retailers have downsized, including major retail chain Lume Cannabis, which closed four of its roughly 30 stores earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Michigan regulators in March implemented new rules, including lower application fees and the removal of licensing tiers, that will further open up the market.

“Everybody’s panicking,” Maxim-Sparrow said.

“Some of us knew this was coming – others are getting caught off guard by the oversupply issue.”

The learning curve for entering the cannabis industry is steep. Start with the fundamentals.

Any cannabis company executive who has been watching what has happened in other mature marijuana market with relatively unlimited licensing, including Colorado and Oregon, should have seen the market headed in this direction, industry insiders aid.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” said Tyson Macdonald, adviser to and former chief financial officer of Cloud Cannabis Co., based in Troy, Michigan.

“It is definitely happening with an accelerated pace in Michigan.”

Macdonald partially attributes that to a regulatory structure that allows for stacking of cultivation licenses, which has created very large facilities, many of which came online around the same time.

Not limiting licensing also sped up the situation.

Cannabis businesses executives “should have absolutely been aware that this market was going in this direction when there was not a single cap on a cultivation or processing license,” Maxim-Sparrow said.

 

The pricing situation

Over the past year and half, the state has seen a “ton of new capacity come online,” said Ankur Rungta, co-founder and CEO of C3 Industries, a vertically integrated Michigan marijuana company that also has operations in Massachusetts, Missouri and Oregon.

Rungta, who started out in the cannabis industry with a business in Oregon, said he saw a similar market drop there with overproduction in 2017 and again in 2018.

“Our first market was Oregon, so if anybody should have seen it coming, it was us,” he said.

Yet, Rungta said, the speed of how quickly the Michigan market has become saturated has taken him by surprise.

“We’re definitely getting into a fully supplied or even oversupplied marketplace,” he added.

“That’s definitely putting a lot of pressure on the wholesale market. People are buying the same amount of cannabis; it just costs half of what it used to cost before.”

That’s before the coming fall harvest of outdoor-grown flower hits the market.

“A lot of people are looking at this fall and saying, ‘What’s going to happen?’” Rungta said. “I don’t know that we’ve hit the bottom, to be completely honest with you.”

Macdonald said retailers and manufacturers can buy anything they need for less than $1,000 a pound for wholesale flower.

At Michigan stores, ounces of flower sell for as low as $59-$99, according to Macdonald.

“And a lot of that at the $79-$99 price point, it tests pretty well,” he said. “It’s not terrible product.”

Access isn’t the issue

Some municipalities in Michigan have opted out of allowing marijuana retail stores.

One major area that has yet to open a recreational cannabis store is metro Detroit.

The city finally began accepting license applications for adult-use marijuana businesses on April 20.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a question of consumer access – despite many municipalities opting out of legal cannabis sales.

Maxim-Sparrow said most customers probably must drive only half an hour at most to find a store.

“If you look at a map of Michigan, there’s very few areas that don’t have access,” Rungta said.

Cities such as Ann Arbor are glutted with retail stores, said Mahja Sulemanjee-Bortocek, CEO and founder of High Haven, which owns cannabis business licenses in Bay City, Michigan.

She would like to see municipalities show a better understanding of the economics of cannabis before licensing too many stores in one place.

“They look at it as a revenue stream for them through taxes, which it certainly is,” Sulemanjee-Bortocek said.

But the towns and cities will lose that revenue stream if the retailers can’t turn a profit and stay open, she added.

“It’s a short win for them. Not a long-term situation,” Sulemanjee-Bortocek said.

Turning to vertical integration

Some companies are banding together to increase their brand power through collaborations and white labeling.

Others are trying to become vertically integrated but are running out of capital as they try to build out their retail or cultivation businesses.

Rungta said that a vertically integrated business structure is becoming more important, so a company can have a “hedge or cushion against some of the wholesale volatility that’s out there.”

He expects more businesses will head in that direction over time.

His strategy is to both move a “sizable chunk” of business through company-owned retail stores while also selling on the wholesale market.

The successful companies are those who saw this coming and built their business model around current pricing, not when the market opened and prices were much higher.

Rungta said the companies that will survive have a clear strategy such as offering a value product or a premium product with a business structured accordingly and a reasonable margin to support their operations.

By “reasonable,” he said a 40% gross margin is a good baseline.

“Those people are having success and, in some cases, continuing to even grab market share,” he said.

But, Rungta said, the branding and quality need to match the product for it to work.

As this all plays out, expect to see more consolidation as business are swallowed up by larger ones and some even go under. The amount of capital a business has could be the deciding factor.

“In this environment, it’s challenging for everybody,” Rungta said. “But it’s most challenging for the smaller businesses.”

Bart Schaneman can be reached at bart.schaneman@mjbizdaily.com.

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Marijuana Companies laying off hundreds of workers, deemed “essential”.

Marijuana companies lay off hundreds, retrench amid economic woes

Women, minority execs show few gains in U.S. cannabis industry, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report.


While business around the world shuttered as COVID-19 spread, the marijuana industry was deemed “essential” in nearly 30 states and stood to gain from the pandemic.

But more than two years later, amid rising inflation and fears of a recession, North American cannabis companies are cutting hundreds of jobs, closing retail outlets and cultivation facilities or shuttering altogether.

The marijuana industry mirrors mainstream companies that saw similar demand and now are struggling to right-size their businesses.

Sales of Peloton bikes spiked when gyms closed and people sought fitness alternatives; but the New York-based company has axed more than 4,000 jobs so far this year.

The pandemic-era e-commerce boom that boosted Shopify’s business also appears to have cooled, and the Canadian company, which makes the technology that powers online stores, has laid off about 1,000 workers.

The cannabis industry layoffs and retrenchment have affected plant-touching companies large and small as well as tech businesses such as Akerna of Colorado, Dutchie of Oregon and delivery operator Eaze of California.

The factors behind the cannabis retrenchment are numerous. They include falling wholesale marijuana prices, cash-strapped consumers and structural changes affecting the industry, experts said.

Among the more notable plant-touching companies that have been caught up in the fallout in recent months:

  • California-based cannabis advertising giant Weedmaps cut 10% of its roughly 600-member workforce, citing market contractions in California, Colorado and Oklahoma.
  • Arizona medical marijuana grower Nature AZ Medicine laid off around 100 employees as medical sales drop and recreational sales spike.
  • Michigan-based Lume Cannabis closed four of its roughly 30 stores in the state but did say it plans to open three additional stores in more populated areas. The realignment, disclosed in July, comes at a time when marijuana prices in Michigan have tumbled because of market saturation.

Corporate turnarounds

In addition to inflation and economic woes, cannabis businesses are grappling with staffing issues.

For one, many public marijuana companies are undergoing turnarounds, which often translate into the shedding of employees.

“The guys who come in to handle turnarounds don’t understand the market and cannabis,” said Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of Siva Enterprises, a California-based marijuana consulting firm.

Edmonton, Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis said in June that it was cutting 12% of its workforce as part of a corporate restructuring.

The company expects the move will save up to 90 million Canadian dollars ($69 million) and put it on the path to profitability. The company’s goal is to turn its first profit next year.

Another Canadian public company, Canopy Growth Corp., disclosed in August it cut 245 employees – or about 8% of its workforce – as part of sweeping changes across the company designed to help stem recent losses and nudge the struggling producer to profitability.

Canopy said it expected the cuts and adjustments to generate up to CA$150 million in savings in 12-18 months.

Canopy also closed its cultivation facilities on 23 acres in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, last year.

Echoes of the dairy industry

“The legal cannabis business is volatile,” said Daniel Sumner, professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis and co-author of “Can Legal Weed Win? The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics.”

“It’s a new industry,” he said, “and companies are coming and going and being acquired in all parts of the industry – not just growing and processing and selling.”

Consolidation in the marijuana industry is similar to what happened to Wisconsin’s dairy industry, which lost 10% of its farms in 2019 and 44% over the past 10 years.

“Production went way up, but the number of farms went way down,” Sumner said. “It’s consolidation. A lot of that consolidation means if you’re a manager, you call it labor-saving efficiencies.

“But if you’re a worker, you lost your job.”

Despite the cost of other products rising because of inflation, the price of marijuana has declined, another factor impacting companies’ ability to retain employees.

In Colorado, for example, the wholesale price per pound of marijuana was $709 as of July 1 – an all-time low – and down 46% from $1,309 a year ago and nearly 60% from $1,721 in January 2021, according to Colorado Department of Revenue data.

“Farm-level cannabis costs coming down is the reality of this business,” Sumner said. “It’s partly improved management; some is technology.”

But, Sumner said, like other agricultural crops, price declines in the marijuana industry should be expected.

“Adjusting for inflation, we now spend 10% of our income on food – not 4% like we did two generations ago – and there’s no reason to think cannabis won’t follow that trajectory.”

 Structural changes

And just as practices shifted from a customer-focused approach at grocery and liquor stores where someone would tell you about the products, practices at cannabis retail stores also are likely to see changes that result in the need for fewer employees.

“Everybody used to buy their beef or their fish from the person who really knew beef and fish – you walked in and talked to the baker, the butcher or the fish monger about what you want,” Sumner said.

“That’s the way it’s handled in cannabis now. But cannabis is moving away from it. It will be cheaper and more available, but there won’t be the services and employment.”

Like other industries, venture capital funding also has become scarce for cannabis businesses seeking investors to fuel their growth.

Without financing, it’s tough to keep as many employees as possible on staff, said Karson Humiston, founder and CEO of Denver-based cannabis recruiting network Vangst.

“People are really tightening the belt and working to preserve cash because funding is hard to come by,” Humiston said.

“When companies have a harder time raising capital, they need to make sure they have enough cash to weather the storm. The first thing to go is expensive headcount.”

The majority of job cuts are at the senior level – not hourly employees who work in grows or retail shops, Humiston said.

And with many multistate operators using more gig employees than in the past, Vangst is having its busiest summer ever.

“People are still purchasing and consuming cannabis, so these hourly workers are essential,” she said.

“Cannabis still needs to be grown, packaged and delivered to customers. Those are hourly roles.”

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DEA Announces How Much Marijuana, MDMA, Psilocyn, LSD, Mescaline, 5-MeO-DMT, MDA, 2-CB Can Be Produced For Research In 2023

DEA Announces How Much Marijuana, MDMA, Psilocyn, LSD, Mescaline, 5-MeO-DMT, MDA, 2-CB Can Be Produced For Research In 2023

Story by Lara Goldstein 

The DEA has shared its final production quotas for research drugs for 2023 and is now aiming for further manufacturing goals of several psychedelic compounds than the already substantial increases regarding 2022 initially proposed, reported Marijuana Moment.

DEA Announces How Much Marijuana, MDMA, Psilocyn, LSD, Mescaline, 5-MeO-DMT, MDA, 2-CB Can Be Produced For Research In 2023© Provided by Benzinga

The compounds include marijuana, MDMA, psilocyn, LSD, mescaline, 5-MeO-DMT, MDA, and 2-CB.

The agency stated that it is “committed to ensuring an adequate and uninterrupted supply of controlled substances in order to meet the estimated legitimate medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the U.S., for lawful export requirements, and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks.”

As such, 2023’s production quota numbers for psilocyn would go from the original 8,000 grams to 12,000 grams, 5-MeO-DMT from 6,000 to 11,000, MDMA from 8,200 to 12,000 grams, MDA from 200 to 12,000 grams, and 2-CB from 25 to 5,100 grams.

Related video: Recent data shows a decline in marijuana sales (CBS Denver)

 

In the case of marijuana, the DEA suggested the production of 6.7 million grams -or 14,770 pounds- for medical and scientific purposes, more than double that of 2022. Licensed cultivators can now apply to become federal marijuana suppliers under the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA.)

Several companies have already made recommendations to raise DEA’s 2023 proposed quotas in view of pre-clinical and clinical research particularly for PTSD, TRD, schizophrenia and anxiety.

The proposal also received a comment regarding the creation of “diversified categories” for production and research on psilocybin-containing fungi fruiting bodies/sclerotia/liquid culture similar to cannabis (flower), fruiting body extract (akin to cannabis extract), and psilocybin and psilocyn separately as purified compounds (akin to delta-9-THC), as well as applying that same system for mescaline and other plants, fungi and lifeforms producing these compounds.

But the agency replied stating that the suggestions “do not impact the analysis involved in establishing” the production quotas for each substance.

Nonetheless, the DEA seems to be listening to what is taking place in the psychedelics space, as it has recently backed down on banning two psychedelic compounds claimed to have scientific value as well as a separate project to list five tryptamines as Schedule I substances.

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Can Cannabis Prevent Covid Infections? Research Now on POTUS Agenda.

Cannabis News Week: Can Cannabis Prevent Covid Infections?

Story by Tony Owusu

Researchers from Oregon State University are expected to present evidence that cannabis is an even greater miracle drug than previously known.

After decades of suppression, the medical benefits of cannabis are well known and are often used by advocates to push for more freedom for both recreational and medicinal users

But there are new studies being conducted constantly, and the medical community may just be scratching the surface of understanding the benefits of marijuana.

Researchers at Oregon State University are expected to present information on using natural products, including hemp, to treat covid-19 at a virtual event called “Natural Products and Hemp: Under-appreciated Sources for Covid-19 Therapeutic Agents” on Dec. 6.

This event comes about a year after the school published a study that found that compounds in cannabis could prevent the virus that causes covid from infecting human cells.

Richard van Breeman, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Oregon State and a team of researchers found that a pair of cannabinoid acids bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which then blocks a critical step in the infection process

The findings were published in the Journal of Natural products and, according to the university, set records for downloads and online views when it was released.

So, apparently there is an appetite for this type of research.

Righting an SBA Wrong for Cannabis

Access to capital has hampered the cannabis industry immensely even while state’s move to make the drug more legal than it has ever been in the United States.

Capital, especially for potential small business owners looking to get into the business, is nearly impossible to get due to the federally illegal nature of the drug.

But U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) has a plan to right some of those wrongs.

Sen. Rosen introduced legislation that would make regulated cannabis businesses eligible for loans and other programs from the federal Small Business Administration under the Fair Access for Cannabis Small Businesses Act.

The legislation will give proprietors access to the popular SBA 7(a) loans that other small businesses have access to, as well as disaster loans, microloans, and the Small Business Investment Company program.

“The unfair barriers to basic federal support and resources have hurt our state’s legally-operating cannabis small businesses,” said Sen. Rosen.

 

“This legislation will level the playing field so that cannabis small businesses… have access to the same federal resources and loans that other legal businesses are entitled to.”

Rosen’s legislation, when paired with the oft-discussed SAFE Banking Act, would create a regulatory framework that would ensure a diverse pool of players in the cannabis industry, according to Khadijah Tribble, CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council.

“Senator Rosen’s landmark legislation would help advance equity and innovation in the cannabis industry by leveling the playing field for independent cannabis operators,” Tribble said.

A Decade of Recreational Cannabis

We all know the tropes. Weed smokers are lazy stoners with little motivation and the constant munchies.

While the tropes have some basis in reality, cannabis can definitely relax a person to the point where they don’t want to move, but new research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that the tropes don’t tell the whole story.

Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology, and Brian Keegan, an assistant professor of information science, recently debunked some of the most prevalent misconceptions following the 10-year anniversary of recreational cannabis’ legalization in the Centennial State.

Data suggests, according to the researchers that pot smokers “tend to use cannabis in conjunction with exercise in some form or fashion and that’s either using before exercise or using it after exercise for recovery purposes,” said Bryan, according to CPR.

“We also have larger epidemiological data, not collected by my lab, but where we see patterns such that cannabis users have lower rates of type two diabetes, better waist-to-hip ratios and better insulin function,”

For decades, marijuana has had an image problem — of which the most prominent has been the “lazy stoner.”

Sunken into the couch, the marijuana user only gets up from their comfortable spot between commercial breaks to raid the fridge and pantry in search of munchies. Or so it used to be believed.

Today, liberalization of marijuana laws across the United States and changing attitudes about the drug have also helped to change what the image of a marijuana user looks like.

Furthermore, increasing interest in cannabis from the medical and scientific communities has provided valuable insight about the drug’s potential.

Recent research has consistently indicated that cannabis users are less likely to be obese and have a lower BMITrusted Source than the average American.

As for the munchies, a study published in March of this year found that over a three-year period, marijuana users put on less weight than those who didn’t use marijuana products.

Now, in a new study from the University of Colorado (UC) in Boulder, researchers are asking a bold question: What if instead of making people lazy, marijuana could actually get users to engage in more physical activity than they normally would?

A new kind of runner’s high?

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, looked at self-reported data from more than 600 marijuana users in states where the drug has been legalized.

The average age of users was 37.5 and was split almost down the middle in terms of sex, with slightly more males than females.

The vast majority — more than 80 percent of respondents — endorsed using cannabis in some form either directly before or directly after exercise.

Getting high and exercising also resulted in more physical activity as well.

Even after controlling for demographic factors like age and gender, co-users (those who used marijuana before or after exercise) on average took part in 43 more minutes of aerobic exercise per week and 30 more minutes of anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting.

And co-users also surpassed the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations of a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week by nearly 10 minutes.

“The average cannabis user in our study was exercising a lot more than your average American,” said Angela Bryan, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC-Boulder and one of the study’s authors.

“It seemed that not only were cannabis users in general exercising quite a bit, but they were combining cannabis and exercise behavior at pretty high rates,” she said.

While it’s unclear why this association appears, the study does offer some clues.

Co-users frequently cited marijuana as increasing enjoyment of exercise and aiding in workout recovery. Less frequently, they said that it helped with motivation and physical performance.

According to Dr. Bryan, it’s possible that co-users were just having more fun.

“That can help people do it for longer as well. If you’re more motivated and you’re having more fun while you’re doing it, you’re enjoyment is higher. And we know from decades of exercise work that that’s going to be associated with more physical activity,” she said.

Hazy findings

However, the study is far from demonstrating any clear causal relationship between marijuana use and increased physical activity.

Others have weighed in saying that the self-reported nature of the study makes it hard to draw any real conclusions.

“These results may be more reflective of the fact that marijuana is a more significant part of these respondents’ overall lifestyle.” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) told Healthline.

“It would be interesting to know if many of these respondents would similarly report that marijuana provides increased enjoyment with other routine activities, as well, such as eating dinner, watching television, playing video games, etc,” he said. “My presumption is that a similar trend would emerge if these questions were asked.”

Other confounding factors, which the authors point out, include the fact that states where marijuana is legal are “without exception more physically active than the national average.”

In short, there’s plenty of work still to be done on the issue.

But from a public health perspective, if marijuana is in fact helping some users get up off the couch instead of lounge on it, then ultimately that’s something worth investigating.

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Inspirational Technologies – is Committed to Your Health Wellness Beauty and Enrichment
Reporting on Today’s Internal Botanical and Skin Product Benefits

4 Hemp Club was Inspired by Steven Smith’s vision to

“Have an older generation 4H Club, where an older community of adults could carry on what the younger 4H Club envisioned.

Our 4H Platform Uses HEMP as an Agricultural Focal Point, deserving of research, development and with the

4 Hemp key points being Health Hope and Happiness, thru Hemp“.

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