Category Archives: Pharmacology

The Bayer-Monsanto Deal Won’t Eat the Cannabis Industry. Yet.

Submitted by Marijuana News on Fri, 09/16/2016 – 08:10

 

The news that Monsanto is being bought by Bayer probably won’t be well received in the cannabis sector. The deal brings together two research powerhouses that, reportedly, have long eyed cannabis as a possible new business. The worry is that the combined firm will have the financial and political influence to do to cannabis what it has already done to corn, tobacco, and other cash crops—namely, use pricy patented cannabis seeds (Roundup Ready Blue Dream, anyone?) that favor large-scale operators and rigidly control how all cannabis farmers farm. The merger, in other words, could be the first step toward Big Cannabis.

In truth, it’s far from certain just how worried “small cannabis” should be. On the one hand, Bayer clearly has designs on the multi-billion-dollar cannabis market. The German firm has been working with GW Pharmaceuticals on a cannabis-based medicinal extract since 2003. And while Monsanto says it “has not and is not working on GMO marijuana,” the company will soon enjoy access to Bayer’s cannabis expertise, which, given Monsanto’s control-through-litigation tactics, might lead one to imagine some pretty bleak scenarios.

That said, it’s hardly clear that this merger makes those scenarios—or Big Cannabis generally—any more plausible.

First, as a practical matter, the merger itself is still just a theory. Monsanto’s shareholders accepted Bayer’s $66 billion buyout offer, but the mega-dealneeds approval from American and German regulators. And given the firms’ massive market share (it would control more than a quarter of the world’s seed and fertilizer business) on top of strong antitrust sentiment worldwide, that approval is hardly assured. And, as a side note, 60 to 80 percent of all mergers fail.

Second, even if approved, a Bayer-Monsanto enterprise likely wouldn’t launch a cannabis product until federal prohibition is lifted. It’s the same reason Big Tobacco hasn’t completely taken over cannabis, despite a decades-old interest in doing so: Massive corporations need massive volume sales, which, in the case of cannabis, is hard to do without a fully open national marketplace. Yes, some in Big Pharma are now reportedly lobbying in favor of legalization—but there’s hardly a sector-wide consensus, as the recent anti-legalization effort by Insys Therapeutics underscores.

Third, even if the feds legalized cannabis tomorrow, a Bayer-Monsanto mega-corporation probably won’t result in any retail cannabis products for some time. It’s true that Bayer has already partnered with pharmaceutical firms that are doing trials of cannabis drugs. Also, Monsanto may be less than candid when it says it hasn’t (yet) tinkered with cannabis’s genetics. But however far along their respective cannabis research efforts are, turning research into commercial product takes years, especially in a market as heavily regulated and politically fragmented as cannabis will continue to be.

Fourth, when it comes to the rise of Big Cannabis, a Bayer-Monsanto merger would merely add to a process that is already well underway. The seed and drug industries are hardly the first mainstream sectors to try to colonize cannabis. Since the start of state legalization, nearly every outside industry with a conceivable cannabis play—tobacco of course, but also food and beverage, clothing, health & wellness, tourism, and Silicon Valley venture capital—has been scrambling to bring the cannabis sector out of the margins and into the mainstream.

More to the point, as the cannabis community itself has matured, it has been moving incrementally toward a business model that, if one didn’t know better, looks surprisingly corporate. For example, with competitive pressures squeezing retail margins, a steady stream of independent retailers have been selling out to larger, more cost-efficient retail chains. This is especially the case in Colorado. Likewise, in a mirror image of the larger faming business, struggling small-scale cannabis farms are being consolidated into larger scale operations whose managers (and investors) are anxiously adopting any method, or technology, that might help them boost output and lower costs. Five or ten years from now, will those farms turn their noses up at a genetically engineered cannabis strain that promises more bang for the buck? More to the point, will their customers?

And therein lies the rub. It may be tempting to see mergers like this one as a threat to the traditional cannabis community, a culture that values a diverse mix of independent small-scale operators. Make no mistake: A merger of this magnitude does promise big changes for global agriculture. But in a cannabis sector that is looking more and more like any other consumer sector, the larger factor may the changing priorities of the cannabis consumer. In the end, the customer’s dollar determines which products—and companies—succeed or fail.

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Cannabis-Related Disorders

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Background

In January, 2014, Colorado became the first state in the United States to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, marking the beginning of what will likely become the end of marijuana prohibition. Marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937, when Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making the drug illegal. The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the legislation at the time of its passage. Additionally, from 1850-1942, marijuana was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia, the official list of recognized medical drugs . Cannabis was marketed as extract or tincture by several pharmaceutical companies and used for ailments such as anxiety and lack of appetite.

Despite the medical establishment’s views on the benefits of marijuana, the passage of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, defined as a category of drugs not considered legitimate for medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, phencyclidine(PCP), and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).[1]

A significant paradox and disconnect continues to exist between the federal government’s outdated policies versus changing state laws, the general public’s perception and acceptance of marijuana, and even the President himself. In discussing his own marijuana use with New Yorker editor David Remnick, President Obama commented, "As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol." He elaborated that marijuana was actually less dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."[2]

Currently, 21 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with many others actively considering the issue. Additionally, a recent survey by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal shows that the majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana.[3] Recent federal policy changes have attempted to redress the inconsistencies between federal and state law. In 2009, the Justice Department issued a federal medical marijuana policy memo to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and US Attorneys instructing prosecutors not to target medicinal marijuana patients and their providers for federal prosecution in states where medicinal marijuana has been legalized. In the summer of 2010, the Department of Veteran Affairs issued a department directive to "formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for years."[4]

In the Netherlands, where the distribution of marijuana has been legalized, the effect of decriminalization has had little effect on the consumption rate of cannabis.[5] In 2004, Reinarman et al looked at the consumption of marijuana rates between San Francisco and Amsterdam to see what effect decriminalization had on these different populations.[6] The results showed that the consumption habits between the two populations were negligible. Little evidence has shown that the decriminalization of cannabis has changed the consumption habits of the populations involved.[7]

While there is a rich history of anecdotal accounts of the benefits of marijuana and a long tradition of marijuana being used for a variety of ailments, the scientific literature in support of medicinal uses of marijuana is less substantial. Considered one of the first scientifically valid papers in support of marijuana’s medicinal benefit, in 2007, Dr. Donald Abrams and colleagues published the results of a randomized placebo-controlled trial examining the effect of smoked cannabis on the neuropathic pain of HIV-associated sensory neuropathy and an experimental pain model. The authors concluded that smoked cannabis effectively relieved chronic neuropathic pain in HIV-associated sensory neuropathy and was well tolerated by patients. The pain relief was comparable to chronic neuropathic pain treated with oral drugs.[8]

According to Harvard Medical School’s April, 2010 edition of the Harvard Mental Health Letter[9] : Consensus exists that marijuana may be helpful in treating certain carefully defined medical conditions. In its comprehensive 1999 review, for example, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that marijuana may be modestly effective for pain relief (particularly nerve pain), appetite stimulation for people with AIDS wasting syndrome, and control of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.

These widely held beliefs in the medical community supporting the medicinal benefit of marijuana are starting to gain support in the form of rigorous empirical evidence demonstrating its clinical benefit and limited potential for harm. In 2012, the AMA published a landmark study that followed more than 5,000 patients longitudinally over 20 years. The results of the study were somewhat surprising. Although many had assumed that regular exposure to marijuana smoke would result in pulmonary function damage, similar to the deleterious effects seen with regular tobacco smoke exposure, the study convincingly demonstrated that regular exposure to marijuana smoke did not adversely affect lung function. Even more surprising, regular marijuana smokers demonstrated increased total lung function capacity.

The authors report, “Marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms. Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”[10]

The AMA is urging the federal government to change the classification of marijuana from a Schedule I drug to enable further clinical research on marijuana. Additionally, Harvard Mental Health Letter’s authors point out that while marijuana works to relieve pain, suppress nausea, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and act as a sedative, the evidence that marijuana may be an effective treatment for psychiatric indications is inconclusive.[11]

In a recently published systematic review published as a “Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology”, the authors performed a systematic review of medical marijuana from 1948 to November 2013 to identify the role of medical marijuana in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), epilepsy and, movement disorders. The authors concluded that medical marijuana was found to be effective for treating MS-related pain or painful spasms.[11]

While marijuana may have medicinal benefits, its use in excess by some individuals can lead to marked impairment in social and occupational functioning. Published in 2013, the fifth edition of TheDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) included significant changes to substance-related and addictive disorders. DSM-5 combined the previously separate categories of substance abuse and dependence into a single disorder of substance use, specific to the substance (eg, Alcohol Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder)

DSM-5 recognizes the following 5 cannabis-associated disorders[12] :

  • Cannabis Use Disorder

  • Cannabis Intoxication

  • Cannabis Withdrawal

  • Other Cannabis-Induced Disorders

  • Unspecified Cannabis-Related Disorder

CONTINUE READING….

Please review the article in it’s entirety online thru link above.  There are many people vying for the "Cannabis use disorder" syndrome for the purpose of promoting physician care and pharmaceutical drugs. In my opinion this is because they need something new to pick up the slack in their business because Cannabis legalization  is continuing to grow across the Nation.

Be aware of what your Physician is trying to do to you with this Diagnosis code which will be permanently instilled into your medical records, along with your prescription drug use thru the monitoring programs now in existence.

We are being wrapped up nice and tight with a new bow tie….CANNABIS ABUSE.

These additional articles previously posted on site are also related to this issue: (smk)

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/06/26/marijuana-addiction-drug-research-gets-3-million-grant-as-obama-encourages-legalization/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/06/26/the-protection-of-commerce-in-the-form-of-pharmaceutical-industrial-complex/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/06/22/docs-dont-like-medical-marijuana/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2013/01/06/patrick-kennedy-on-marijuana-former-rep-leads-campaign-against-legal-pot/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2012/07/13/why-do-clinics-deny-painkillers-to-medical-marijuana-patients/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2012/05/30/government-forced-nci-to-censor-medical-cannabis-facts/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/09/24/all-roads-in-kentucky-lead-you-through-hell/

http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/09/14/a-summary-of-two-doctors/

Big Pharma Shaking in Their Boots as 80% of Cannabis Users Give Up Prescriptions Pills for Pot

 

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By Justin Gardner on January 8, 2016

A new survey conducted by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC helps explain why Big Pharma is so afraid of cannabis. The pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, both powerful influences in Washington, have long lobbied against cannabis legalization in order to protect their profits.

However, the tide has turned as decriminalization of medical and recreational cannabis sweeps the nation and the continent. With legalization, more and more people are discovering how this plant can provide a safe alternative to the dangerous effects of prescription pills.

The survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis. Adults under 40 were likely to give up all three of these for medical cannabis.

The most startling revelation, and one that will have Big Pharma running to their crony lawmakers, is that 80% of respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs.

In addition, 52% said they substituted cannabis for alcohol and 32% said they substituted it for illicit substances. These results indicate a very promising trend of people moving away from dangerously addictive and deadly substances in favor of a miracle plant that has never caused an overdose death.

“The finding that cannabis was substituted for all three classes of substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and may have implications for abstinence-based substance use treatment approaches. Further research should seek to differentiate between biomedical substitution for prescription pharmaceuticals and psychoactive drug substitution, and to elucidate the mechanisms behind both.”

As The Free Thought Project has reported before, the U.S. is in the midst of a painkiller epidemic, with overdose deaths skyrocketing as Big Pharma has secured its grip on government and mainstream medicine. Opioid painkillers and heroin have driven overdose deaths to the point where they are now the leading cause of fatal injuries in the U.S. Alcohol is also killing Americans at a rate not seen in 35 years.

The results of this survey confirm that cannabis is the answer to all of these problems.

Americans for Safe Access has a comprehensive breakdown of conditions that cannabis can treat, and comparisons to prescription pills.

Chronic Pain

Arthritis

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Movement Disorders

Multiple Sclerosis

We are just beginning to confirm the benefits of cannabis on other conditions such as anxiety which is normally treated with pills such as Xanax, insomnia which is normally treated with pills such as Ambien, and antidepressants which are treated with pills such as Zoloft. All of these prescription drugs can cause debilitating addiction or severe side-effects.

Although the war on drugs put a stop to medical cannabis research for decades, in recent years we have seen a surge in studies being performed, as prohibition crumbles and the Schedule 1 classification of “no medical benefit” is exposed as a farce.

CONTINUE READING…

human brain grown in a jar? apparently, yes…

Modern science is the stuff of a Frankenstein nightmare with the promise of growing a brain in a jar

Can you grow a brain in a jar? Scientists claim they’ve done just that. And the implication could not be more chilling

By John Nash For The Daily Mail

Published: 19:09 EST, 20 August 2015 | Updated: 20:04 EST, 20 August 2015

This is the stuff of Frankenstein nightmares. Imagine yourself as a functioning brain kept in a laboratory jar. White-coated scientists are torturing you by feeding an endless stream of terrifying images and sensations into your nervous system.

Even if you could cry out for help — no one could legally come to your rescue.

For years, philosophers have pondered the ethics of conducting such Nazi-style experiments, as a theoretical basis for moral arguments. But this issue is no longer theoretical. The age of a human brain in a jar is fast becoming reality.

This week, American biologists announced that they had crossed a critical threshold in the science of growing a human brain and keeping it alive in a laboratory.

Rene Anand, a professor of biological chemistry and pharmacology at Ohio State University, astonished military experts by announcing that his team has successfully grown a near-exact replica of a five-week-old foetus’s brain.

It is only about the size of a pencil rubber. But it contains 99 pc of the cells that would exist in the brain of a human foetus, making it the most fully formed brain ‘model’ ever engineered.

It even has its own spinal cord and the beginnings of an eye, Professor Anand told the 2015 Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He has engineered the brain using stem-cell technology, which involved turning adult skin cells into stem cells which are capable of growing into any type of body tissue. It is a breakthrough that paves the way to cloning human brains.

The work is not finished. Prof Anand now plans to continue growing his lab brain until it resembles that of a 12-week-old fetus.

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3205485/Can-grow-brain-jar-Scientists-claim-ve-just-implication-not-chilling.html#ixzz3jRiUwp00
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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3205485/Can-grow-brain-jar-Scientists-claim-ve-just-implication-not-chilling.html#ixzz3jRiNhacE
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THE PROTECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE FORM OF PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.cms.gov/medicare-cover…/…/icd-9-code-lookup.aspx…&

ICD-9 Code Lookup

Find an ICD-9 Code by searching on keyword(s).

ICD-9 Code ICD-9 Code Description
304.30 CANNABIS DEPENDENCE UNSPECIFIED USE
304.31 CANNABIS DEPENDENCE CONTINUOUS USE
304.32 CANNABIS DEPENDENCE EPISODIC USE
304.33 CANNABIS DEPENDENCE IN REMISSION
305.20 NONDEPENDENT CANNABIS ABUSE UNSPECIFIED USE
305.21 NONDEPENDENT CANNABIS ABUSE CONTINUOUS USE
305.22 NONDEPENDENT CANNABIS ABUSE EPISODIC USE
305.23 NONDEPENDENT CANNABIS ABUSE IN REMISSI

This is what the FDA and DEA have for us. Instead of repealing the laws on “Cannabis” and “Cannabis Abuse” They have CODES to charge your insurance company for and 3 Million Dollars to PHARMA to come up with a new DRUG (cleared by the FDA of course) to COMBAT MARIJUANA ADDICTION — This is nonsense at its best!

THE PROTECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE FORM OF PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND THEY WILL SELL IT TO YOU AS IF THEY ARE “HELPING YOU” COMBAT ADDICTION.

It will additionally be mandated that those brought into the welfare or child protective services or psychiatric medical care be forced to succumb to the use of this drug (not unlike what is being done now with anti-depressants and other “mental” drugs).  If it isn’t stopped in its tracks now this is your future!

Everyone already knows (or should know) that MMJ itself helps to combat addiction to most everything…. GW PHARMA has already concluded in their advertisment that Cannabis (Sativex) is NOT ADDICTING…. So why are they doing all of this??? To protect commerce and convince you that they are only helping you. What a crock of shit….

sk.

 

 

Marijuana addiction drug research gets $3 million grant as Obama encourages legalization

By Kelly Riddell – The Washington Times – Thursday, June 25, 2015

 

 

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The National Institutes of Health is dedicating $3 million to fast-track the development of drugs to treat marijuana addiction — an estimated 4.2 million Americans are hooked on cannabis — even as the president encourages its legalization and more states look to enact laws for its recreational use.

“Cannabis use is an increasing public health concern in the United States that requires immediate attention,” reads the government’s grant proposal, issued in May. “Given the high prevalence of marijuana use and its associated disorders and the large number of people who seek treatment, there is a critical need to discover and develop safe and effective treatments for [cannabis use disorders].”

The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse plan to award $3 million to fund three projects aimed at fast-tracking research on drugs to help curb marijuana abuse, and the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications to treat pot addiction.

In its proposal, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, with an estimated 2.4 million people trying it for the first time last year, and has the highest number of Americans dependent on or abusing it.

The institute’s call for research seems to divert from policies touted by the Obama administration, which has been the most progressive in history allowing for marijuana use.

In March, President Obama said he was “encouraged” by efforts at the state level to allow greater access to marijuana. In an interview with The New Yorker last year, he said, “I don’t think [marijuana] is more dangerous than alcohol.”

During Mr. Obama’s tenure, the Department of Justice said it would not prosecute or enforce laws against the production and sale of marijuana at the state level. To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing pot to be used for a variety of medical conditions. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia have permitted recreational use of pot.

The administration’s most recent move loosening the federal restrictions on weed was made Monday, when it lifted a bureaucratic requirement for those wishing to conduct scientific research on the drug.

For committing $3 million in taxpayer money to find a treatment to a drug that the administration is looking to make more accessible, the National Institute on Drug Abuse gets this week’s Golden Hammer, The Washington Times’ weekly distinction highlighting waste, fraud and abuse — or in this case hypocrisy — in the federal government.

“The public discourse has shifted in recent years to only want to talk about the benefits of marijuana. But addiction is the huge elephant in the room that many lawmakers want to sweep under the carpet,” said Kevin Sabet, who served in the Obama administration as senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The problem is huge and, as marijuana becomes more legal, we’re going to be seeing it more often.”

According to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the number of heavy marijuana users has increased sevenfold in the U.S. since its lowest point in 1992. Although the heavy marijuana users represent only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, daily and near-daily marijuana users consume 80 percent of the marijuana in the country.

“The entire medical community is aware of marijuana addiction and how big a problem it is,” said Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a former president at the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “If we go back to the time of Prohibition — from a public health standpoint it was an enormous success, there was a per capita drop in the consumption of alcohol, in accidents related to alcohol, and liver disease was reduced by two-thirds. After it ended, all of these stats went back to where they were before.”

He predicted similar results as marijuana prohibition eases.

“Ending the prohibition of marijuana, what we’ll see is a dramatic increase in its use and the total number of people affected by issues like intoxication and addiction,” he said.

Mr. Gitlow estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of youths and 10 percent of adults who try marijuana will become addicted to it. Qualities commonly associated with pot addiction are apathy, loss of concentration, paranoia and increased likelihood of psychosis, which leads to increased psychiatric admissions, he said.

Story Continues →

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/25/marijuana-addiction-drug-research-gets-3-million-g/#ixzz3e8y20im5
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The Golden Triangle was recently replaced as the world’s dominant opium producer by a new regional power known as the Golden Crescent,

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Asia’s opium hubs

The opiates that addicts swallow, snort and inject often begin their journey to India from the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent. The former is Southeast Asia’s primary hub for opium cultivation. Located along the Mekong river, where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge, the illicit trade thrives — exceeding $16.3 billion per year, according to a 2014 UN report. Though eradication efforts in the late ’90s and early 2000s caused the area’s opium cultivation to decline, it began surging again in 2006, partly because improvements in transportation made it easier to move the drug from place to place.

The Golden Triangle is currently the world’s second-largest opium producer. A 2014 report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the region’s opiate poppy cultivation rose to 63,800 hectares last year, compared with 61,200 hectares in 2013, nearly triple the amount harvested in 2006. Myanmar is the region’s leading opium cultivator.

Poverty and a lack of economic opportunity fuel illicit opium farming throughout the Golden Triangle, say researchers. In one survey in Burma, village farmers said they cultivated opium poppy just to provide for basic essentials such as food, education and housing. Researchers say economic development in these areas may be the best way to prevent opium growing.

The Golden Triangle was recently replaced as the world’s dominant opium producer by a new regional power known as the Golden Crescent, an area comprising Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer and Pakistan primarily serves as an illicit drug trafficking route.

A 2014 World Drug Report said war-torn Afghanistan accounted for 90 per cent of global opium production. In 2013, the country cultivated an estimated 5,500 tons of oven-dried opium, which translates into roughly four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Further, the already substantial opium cultivation area is growing. According to the report, the farming area increased by 36 per cent from 154,000 hectares in 2012 to 209,000 hectares in 2013. This uptick in Afghanistan’s opium cultivation continues despite the fact that the USA has invested more than seven billion dollars to combat the issue. A 2014 report from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction described how the country’s opium cultivation was at an all-time high, despite more than a decade of US-led counter-narcotics efforts.

Afghanistan’s illicit opium production and trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry where the Taliban-funded terrorist organisations reap the most profit. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that in 2009 the Afghan Taliban earned around $155 million from the illicit opium trade, while Afghan drug traffickers acquired $2.2 billion — a grim reminder of how drugs fuel crime and terrorism as well as addiction.

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/supplements/asia-s-opium-hubs/67888.html#vzM0UJoVOcxbDmA7.99

Not feeling well? Perhaps you’re ‘marijuana deficient’

Scientists have begun speculating that the root cause of disease conditions such as migraines and irritable bowel syndrome may be endocannabinoid deficiency.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 4.29.30 PM

Source: Alternet, 3.24.10

For several years I have postulated that marijuana is not, in the strict sense of the word, an intoxicant.

As I wrote in the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009), the word ‘intoxicant’ is derived from the Latin noun toxicum (poison). It’s an appropriate term for alcohol, as ethanol (the psychoactive ingredient in booze) in moderate to high doses is toxic (read: poisonous) to healthy cells and organs.

Of course, booze is hardly the only commonly ingested intoxicant. Take the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to the Merck online medical library, acetaminophen poisoning and overdose is “common,” and can result in gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) “within hours” and hepatotoxicity (liver damage) “within one to three days after ingestion.” In fact, less than one year ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for tougher standards and warnings governing the drug’s use because “recent studies indicate that unintentional and intentional overdoses leading to severe hepatotoxicity continue to occur.”

By contrast, the therapeutically active components in marijuana — the cannabinoids — appear to be remarkably non-toxic to healthy cells and organs. This notable lack of toxicity is arguably because cannabinoids mimic compounds our bodies naturally produce — so-called endocannabinoids — that are pivotal for maintaining proper health and homeostasis.

In fact, in recent years scientists have discovered that the production of endocannabinoids (and their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body) play a key role in the regulation of proper appetite, anxiety control, blood pressure, bone mass, reproduction, and motor coordination, among other biological functions.

Just how important is this system in maintaining our health? Here’s a clue: In studies of mice genetically bred to lack a proper endocannabinoid system the most common result is premature death.

Armed with these findings, a handful of scientists have speculated that the root cause of certain disease conditions — including migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other functional conditions alleviated by clinical cannabis — may be an underlying endocannabinoid deficiency.

Now, much to my pleasant surprise, Fox News Health columnist Chris Kilham has weighed in on this important theory.

Are You Cannabis Deficient?
via Fox News

If the idea of having a marijuana deficiency sounds laughable to you, a growing body of science points at exactly such a possibility.

… [Endocannabinoids] also play a role in proper appetite, feelings of pleasure and well-being, and memory. Interestingly, cannabis also affects these same functions. Cannabis has been used successfully to treat migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma. So here is the seventy-four thousand dollar question. Does cannabis simply relieve these diseases to varying degrees, or is cannabis actually a medical replacement in cases of deficient [endocannabinoids]?

… The idea of clinical cannabinoid deficiency opens the door to cannabis consumption as an effective medical approach to relief of various types of pain, restoration of appetite in cases in which appetite is compromised, improved visual health in cases of glaucoma, and improved sense of well being among patients suffering from a broad variety of mood disorders. As state and local laws mutate and change in favor of greater tolerance, perhaps cannabis will find it’s proper place in the home medicine chest.

Perhaps. Or maybe at the very least society will cease classifying cannabis as a ‘toxic’ substance when its more appropriate role would appear to more like that of a supplement.

See Also:
Are You Cannabis Deficient?

Cannabinoids: Some bodies like them, some bodies need them

Comments from an earlier version of this article

CONTINUE READING…

A Way to Brew Morphine Raises Concerns Over Regulation

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.MAY 18, 2015

All over the world, the heavy heads of opium poppies are nodding gracefully in the wind — long stalks dressed in orange or white petals topped by a fright wig of stamens. They fill millions of acres in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Laos and elsewhere. Their payload — the milky opium juice carefully scraped off the seed pods — yields morphine, an excellent painkiller easily refined into heroin.

But very soon, perhaps within a year, the poppy will no longer be the only way to produce heroin’s raw ingredient. It will be possible for drug companies, or drug traffickers, to brew it in yeast genetically modified to turn sugar into morphine.

Almost all the essential steps had been worked out in the last seven years; a final missing one was published Monday in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

“All the elements are in place, but the whole pathway needs to be integrated before a one-pot glucose-to-morphine stream is ready to roll,” said Kenneth A. Oye, a professor of engineering and political science at M.I.T.

Yeast cells on this Petri dish are producing the pigment betaxanthin, which researchers used to identify key enzymes in the production of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, the metabolites in the poppy plant that could lead to morphine, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical agents. Credit William DeLoache/UC Berkeley

This rapid progress in synthetic biology has set off a debate about how — and whether — to regulate it. Dr. Oye and other experts said this week in a commentary in the journal Nature that drug-regulatory authorities were ill prepared to control a process that would benefit the heroin trade much more than the prescription painkiller industry. The world should take steps to head that off, they argue, by locking up the bioengineered yeast strains and restricting access to the DNA that would let drug cartels reproduce them.

Other biotech experts counter that raising the specter of fermenting heroin like beer, jokingly known among insiders as “Brewing Bad,” is alarmist and that Dr. Oye’s proposed solutions are overkill. Although making small amounts of morphine will soon be feasible, they say, the yeasts are so fragile and the fermentation process so delicate that it is not close to producing salable quantities of heroin. Restricting DNA stifles all research, they argue, and is destined to fail just as restrictions on precursor chemicals have failed to curb America’s crystal meth epidemic.

A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration said his agency “does not perceive an imminent threat” because no modified yeast strain is commonly available yet. If that happens, he said, D.E.A. laboratories would be able to identify heroin made from it.

An F.B.I. agent who has been following the yeast strains since 2009 said he was glad that the debate was beginning before the technology was ready and before lawmakers moved to restrict it.

“We’ve learned that the top-down approach doesn’t work,” said Supervisory Special Agent Edward You, who said he coined the “Brewing Bad” term and had held workshops for biotech students and companies. “We want the people in the field to be the sentinels, to recognize when someone is trying to abuse or exploit their work and call the F.B.I.”

No scientific team has yet admitted having one strain capable of the entire sugar-to-morphine pathway, but several are trying, and the Stanford lab of Christina D. Smolke is a leader. She said she expected one to be published by next year.

No one in the field thought there should be no regulation, she said, but suggestions that home brewers would soon make heroin were “inflammatory” because fermenting manipulated yeasts “is a really special skill.” Implications of research like hers should be calmly discussed by experts, she said, and Dr. Oye’s commentary “was getting people to react in a very freaked-out way.”

Robert H. Carlson, the author of “Biology Is Technology,” said restrictions were doomed to fail just as Prohibition failed to stop the home brewing of alcohol.

“DNA synthesis is already a democratic, low-cost technology,” he said. “If you restrict access, you create a black market.”

What is considered one of the last important missing steps, a way to efficiently grow a morphine precursor, (S)-reticuline, in brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, was published in Nature Chemical Biology on Monday by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Canada’s Concordia University.

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Kenneth A. Oye, a professor of engineering and political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that drug-regulatory authorities are ill-prepared to control a process that can create heroin’s raw ingredient. Credit Stuart Darsch

The leader of the Berkeley team, John E. Dueber, said it was not trying to make morphine but 2,500 other alkaloids for which reticuline is a precursor, some of which might become antibiotics or cancer drugs.

Nonetheless, he said, since he realized his research has implications for the making of morphine, he sent his draft paper to Dr. Oye, suggesting the debate become more public.

One crucial question is whether the technology is of more use to the pharmaceutical industry or drug cartels. Dr. Oye argues it is the latter.

Companies are always seeking painkillers that create less addictive euphorias or do not paralyze breathing muscles, and having a predictable process they could tweak would be useful, but they already have a cheap, steady supply of opium from India, Turkey and Australia, where poppies are grown legally by licensed farmers.

That chain will be hard to disrupt. Since the 1960s, when it was created to convince Turkey to crack down on heroin, the International Narcotics Control Board has set quotas. Thousands of small farmers, their bankers and equipment suppliers depend on the sales, and they have local political clout just as American corn farmers do.

Also, pharmaceutical companies can already synthesize opiates in their labs. Fentanyl, a painkiller 100 times as powerful as morphine, is synthetic, as is loperamide (Imodium), an antidiarrheal opiate.

Heroin sellers, by contrast, must smuggle raw materials out of lawless Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar and Mexico. Their supply lines are disrupted when any local power — from the Taliban to the United States Army — cracks down. Brewing near their customers would save them many costs: farmers, guards, guns, planes, bribes and so on.

One frightening prospect Dr. Oye raised was how viciously drug cartels might react if Americans with bioengineering know-how started competing with them. Gunmen from Mexican drug gangs have taken control of many secret marijuana fields in American forests.

His commentary suggested several possible steps to prevent misuse of the technology. The yeasts could be locked in secure laboratories, worked on by screened employees. Sharing them with other scientists without government permission could be outlawed.

Their DNA could be put on a watch list, as sequences for anthrax and smallpox are, so any attempt to buy them from DNA supply houses would raise flags. Chemically silent DNA “watermarks” could be inserted so stolen yeasts could be traced. Or the strains could be made “wimpier and harder to grow,” Dr. Oye said, perhaps by making them require nutrients that were kept secret.

Agent You said he did not want to comment on Dr. Oye’s suggestions, but was glad a threat had been identified by scientists before it was a reality, adding, “If this occurred across the board, it would make the F.B.I.’s life a heck of a lot easier.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 19, 2015, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Makings of a New Heroin. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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