How to Get a Job in the Marijuana Industry

Tony the Editor-in-Chief at THCoverdose.com sent me this piece and several shorter ones that showcase Cannabis jobs and how to get them.   The article is informative and provides helpful tips and ideas about landing jobs in the cannabis industry.  Enjoy!

Imagine getting to work in the marijuana industry. It’s a new industry that still needs its pioneers. The possibilities are endless, and best of all, it’s in the freakin’ marijuana industry!

Today, we’re going to show you how to get a job in the marijuana industry. And where did we get our information?  Straight from the mouths of the people in charge of hiring at various harvesting companies, dispensaries and even some people in the smoking accessories space. Whatever you want to do in the marijuana industry, this guide will teach you what you need to do to get the job.

How Can Someone Improve Their Chances of Getting a Job in the Marijuana Industry?

When doing our research, we asked companies that are at ground zero of the legal marijuana boom one simple question: How can someone improve their chance at getting a job in the marijuana industry?

Once you get your foot in the door, the growth potential is amazing. The market is projected to be $30 billion by 2021, with no signs of slowing its growth. The money is there. The jobs are there. The only problem? Actually getting your feet in the door.

Because of this phenomenal growth, and the massive amounts of money floating around, the marijuana space is starting to attract top talent. Growing marijuana for a living is everyone’s dream job, but what do you put on your resume? That you’ve been growing in your closet the past ten years? Probably not.

Before you start your journey to working in this cannabis space, you need to think about why you want to do. The jobs are demanding, and, depending on the job you want, may require you to devote a lot of time to studying cannabis. Master grower, extraction technician and even chef all require precision and years of hard work to master. The cannabis industry is for the ambitious and the talented. If you think you have what it takes, keep reading to find out how you can get your chance.

Brief History of the Cannabis Job Market

The beginning of the 106-year prohibition of marijuana all started with Massachusetts requiring a prescription to get marijuana. And then in 1937 when the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act made cannabis illegal at a federal level. Since then we’ve hit major milestones on the path to winning our cannabis back.

In 1973 Oregon first decriminalized possession, and then again in 1996 when California Prop 215 first made marijuana legal again in the United States. One by one states are starting to follow California’s lead in legalizing medicinal marijuana, and this brought its fair share of jobs. It wasn’t until 2012, however, when both Colorado and Washington both legalized cannabis for recreational use, that the job market exploded. 2015 brought 18,000 jobs to Colorado alone. And as of today, in total, the marijuana industry has created an estimated 123,000 jobs! Plus, with more and more states legalizing cannabis on a recreational level, that number is projected to hit 283,422 jobs by 2020.

Does the Pay Reflect the Market Size?

Of course, we all want to work with cannabis. It’s something we love and strongly believe in. Plus, cannabis culture is filled with positive vibes and people trying to make the world a better place. But, at the end of the day, rent is due on the 1st of the month, every month. So, how good is the pay in the marijuana industry? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs in the industry and how their salaries play out.

Grow Master

You can’t think about working with cannabis without wanting to grow it! And, while you don’t start off as a grow master, this should ultimately be your end goal if you want to grow cannabis. We’ll get into the duties of a grower, as well as how to get a job growing, in just a bit. Moneywise, though, you can expect to make over $100,000 per year plus a cut of the profits.

Store Managers

Managing a store (head shop or dispensary) is a good way to take job skills from another job sector into the marijuana industry Since not a lot of other skills transfer over, if your resume demands it, you can manage a store and command $75,000 a year plus bonuses. Sure, it all depends on the sales of your store, but with business continuing to increase a good manager will be worth more and more.

Dispensary Owner

Now, this isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re an adventurous entrepreneur that wants in the space, this is one route you can go. With some stores doing $20+ million in sales annually you can make some good change being at the top of the food chain. Be prepared, however, to face struggles with storing money, jumping through red tape and the threat of a federal crackdown.

Extraction Technician

Extracts have BLOWN UP in the past few years. For good reason, they rock. With the demand for them increasing, so is the demand for extraction technicians. This isn’t the easiest job to get, however.

To be looked at on this side of the business, your schooling is going to need to back you up. A lot of these techs have Ph.D.’s in chemistry, and it involves a lot of lab work, but you can expect to earth $75,000 to $125,000 per year.

 Bud Trimmers

If you have no experience, but really want to get your hands on the bud, this is your best bet.

Usually, an entry-level position that can lead to better-paying jobs like a grower, bud trimmers earn $12-18 per hour. You can read more on bud trimmer salaries here.

Bud Tenders

Another entry-level position, however, it is ultra-competitive. To land a job as a budtender, you need to really study your strains, know the effects they have and what they are suggested to treat. Your job is to help the consumer land on the perfect cannabis for their situation. You can expect anywhere from 31,200 to $42,000 per year as a budtender.

Edibles Chefs

Love cooking? If so, combine your love of cannabis with cooking, and you can make some damn good money. It’s not as simple as just cooking, though. You are expected to make good tasting edibles while also maintaining perfect dosing amounts. The casual cook can use our cannabis cooking calculator found here, but a profession edibles chief will have to lab test everything. They make $50,000-$100,000 per year depending on your experience and talent.

The List Goes On and On

There are more jobs in the space then you think. We need accountants, lawyers, doctors, sales reps and marketers. There’s glassblowing, working in head shops and online headshop warehouses. If you fancy yourself a writer, you can even get paid to write about cannabis by publishing companies like THCoverdose. Remember, you don’t just have to have your hands on the buds to carve yourself a niche in the marijuana industry.

 

Novel Delivery Methods for Medical Cannabis Users

There is no doubt that vaping is better than smoking cannabis but even vaping can lead to respiratory problems. Moreover many medical cannabis users do not want the negative stigma commonly associated with “smoking weed.” Finally, in certain states, including New York, where medical cannabis is legal, dispensaries are not allowed to sell leaf or plant-like material to patients.  This is causing medical cannabis companies to figure out creative ways in which to deliver cannabinoid-based products and remain compliant with individual state mandates and cannabis regulations.

Interestingly, many of these so-called innovative delivery methods for cannabis are routine delivery technologies that have already been tested, refined and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). or example,  Colorado-based Next Frontier Biosciences, founded by former biotechnology executives and research scientists,  recently created a micro dosing-based, nasal mist delivery system intended for the pain management market segment. Likewise, similar companies with biotechnology and healthcare backgrounds are also developing time-release transdermal patches, sublingual sprays and suppository-based systems.  These developments suggest that the medical cannabis industry is beginning to mature and is likely to become mainstream in the not-too-distant future.

What Does It Take To Be An Executive In The Legal Cannabis Industry?

It is no secret that there are enormous sums of money to be made in the legal cannabis business. Not surprisingly, compensation packages for the executives who run profitable cannabis-based business are also likely to be large. That said, because cannabis and its products are illegal in the US, the talent pool is relatively shallow for executives with previous cannabis experience. Consequently, most new cannabis executives are likely to be recruited from other industries including pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, consumer healthcare and tobacco.  This is because, like the cannabis industry, these industries are highly regulated and will be under intense scrutiny from state and even federal agencies.

Gilbert J. Carrara Jr, MD, who oversees retain recruiting services at Battalia Winston International, recently described the skills sets and characteristics that he believes will be required for successful cannabis industry executive. They include:

Tough Mindedness

Because of the state-to-state complexity of cannabis legislation and negative perceptions surrounding cannabis use, executives in this industry cannot be thin-skinned or easily discouraged. If a person cannot accept repeatedly being told “no” or “go away” then he/she is not likely to be executive material in the legal cannabis industry.

Flexibility

The legal cannabis industry is in its infancy and it will continue to evolve and grow in wildly unpredictable and unanticipated ways. At present, change is the norm in the cannabis industry executive who are flexible, can pivot on a dime and remain open to sometimes new unconventional ideas on a regular basis will do just fine.

Adaptability

Like executives in other industries, cannabis industry executives must be adaptable because they will be required to communicate with a diverse group of stakeholders. That said, cannabis executives must be comfortable discussing scientific and medical topics with government and healthcare officials and equally as comfortable addressing business concerns with consumers.

Passion & Drive

Unlike other industries, simply having a resume with the requisite college degree and executive skill sets may not be sufficient for success in the cannabis industry. Because cannabis and its products are not legal at the Federal level in the US, the road ahead for cannabis executives is likely to be a long and very rocky one. To that point, the success of the industry will likely depend upon executives who have the desire and passion to continue to push things forward even when the likelihood of success is not certain.

As a former professional recruiter, I can tell you that finding a qualified “right fit” candidate at the technical or executive levels is never an easy task. And a limited talent pool does not make things any easier.  But, even though the existing executive talent pool may not be a great one, cannabis industry executives are needed; so choose wisely!

 

 

Cannabis and Sex: Is There A Connection?

A recent study conducted by Stanford University researchers Andrew Sun and Michael Eisenberg entitled “Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study” suggests that smoking cannabis increases sexual activity in both men and women (1).

The researchers asked  28,176 women (average age= 29.9 years) and almost 22,943 men (average age =29.5 years)  men how often they had sex (heterosexual) in the four weeks prior to the survey and how frequently they used cannabis in the past year.  The study employed a multivariate statistical model that controlled for demographic, socioeconomic and geographical/culture characteristics.  More than 60% of the men and women were Caucasian and 76.1% of men and 80.4% of women reported at least a high school diploma.

Results from the study found that women who did not use marijuana over the four-week period had sex on average six times  whereas women who used cannabis daily had sex 7.1 times on average. Similarly, men who did not use cannabis had sex 5.6 times on average whereas men who used cannabis daily reported having sex 6.9 times on average during the four-week period.

Based on these results, which were statistically significant (P<.001), the researchers suggested that cannabis use may lead to greater heterosexual sexual activity.  It is important to note, however, that while the study results may have been statistically significant, the real life implications of these findings may  not be relevant.  More important, the researchers did not offer any explanations about the connections between cannabis and sex. Further, although the statistical design of the study controlled for a variety of variables,  other variables were not considered or addressed. For example, did the persons who participated in the survey have cannabis in their systems before, during or after sex.  Was cannabis consumed before, during or after sex?   What was the time differential between cannabis and actual sex? Put simply, there needs to be a greater examination and more in depth analysis of the direct effect of cannabis on sexual activity before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Sadly, many cannabis users who read this post (or similar articles in the lay press) are likely to point to this study as another reason why it is good to regularly smoke cannabis.  That said, despite assertions to the contrary, there is evidence which suggests that smoking cannabis daily may negatively affect your health e.g., lung irritation and other respiratory issues.  LIke most things in cannabis science, many more studies must be conducted before scientifically accurate conclusions and facts can be established.

Despite the possible limitations of this study, there was something positive that came out of it.  One of the study’s authors offered “that if a patient asks whether his frequent marijuana use is getting in the way of his sex life, he will tell them that “it may not be the culprit. For most people, we tell them instead to go to the gym and lose 20 pounds”

References

  1. Sun AJ, Eisenberg ML. Association between marijuana use and sexual frequency in the United States: a population-based study. J. Sex Med 2017; 14:1342-1347.

 

O Canada-Part Deux

Those zany Canadians are at it again!  Yesterday, the Canadian government announced that it will invest almost $47 million (Canadian) over the next five years in a cannabis education and awareness campaign.

According to a press release,  the campaign will include “factual and evidence-based information on the health and safety risks of cannabis use and drug-impaired driving. The campaign will build on ongoing social media efforts, advertising and interactive events to engage youth on the facts.”

The goal of the campaign is to provide Canadians, especially young adults and youth, with clear factual information so that they understand how cannabis could affect them.  A critical part of the initiative is to equip parents and teachers with factual evidence-based scientific information so that they can have meaningful discussions with young Canadians about the risks of cannabis use, especially drug-impaired driving.  To that end, this fall, Public Safety Canada will launch an initiative to inform citizens about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

Because medical cannabis is legal nationwide  in Canada (and recreational use is soon to follow)  making an investment in cannabis education and awareness makes sense.  An informed and educated public ought to reduce some of the anxiety and possible dangers associated with cannabis use.

Perhaps, the US ought to follow Canada’s lead and make similar investments to educate the American public about medical and recreational cannabis use. At present, the amount of misinformation far outweighs the facts. This is extremely troubling since tens of millions of Americans are currently regular cannabis users.

 

A Little Dab Will Do You: Or Maybe Not?

Inhalable, noncombustible cannabis products are playing a leading role in the use of the medical and recreational cannabis products. Specifically, the practice of “dabbing” has exponentially grown in popularity in states where medical and recreational cannabis consumption has been legalized.

Dabbing involves inhaling vapors produced by placing a small amount of cannabis extract (a “dab”) on a small heated surface (the “nail”), which is connected to a water pipe ( 1 ). The most popular dabs are known as butane hash oil (BHO) dabs mainly because the concentrate is produced by passing the solvent butane over cannabis buds and leaves ( 2 ). Butane is subsequently removed from the extract under vacuum at room temperature or by heating in an oven. Differences in processing can lead to different dab consistencies that are colloquially known as shatter, budder, crumble, pull-and-snap, wax, etc (3, 4).

BHO have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) concentrations ranging between 50 and 90% (2). Consumers consider dabbing to be a form of vaporization, and, therefore, view it as easier on the lungs than smoking ( 5).

While delivery of harmfully-large amounts of cannabinoids (Pierre) may represent a potential danger to consumers, little is known about the toxicants that the process may produce. According to a recent paper entitled “Toxicant formation in dabbing: the terpene story (4) by a group of Portland State University researchers the high heat commonly used to heat dabs (concentrated cannabis extracts) exposes users to high levels of methacrolein (lung, throat and eye irritant), benzene (carcinogen) and other potential toxic degradation products which are known to pose human health risks (4).

The authors determined that the source of the potentially harmful degradation products may be the terpenes (compounds that give cannabis its odor and flavor) that are routinely concentrated in BHO dabs (4).  Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis, followed by limonene, linalool, pinene, caryophyllene, and humulene (4). Also, cannabis can contain trace amounts of up to 68 other terpenic compounds (6). Terpene content in BHO can range from 0.1 to 34% (4).

Another potential health risk is residual butane (a known carcinogen) that can be left behind if BHO dabs are not processed correctly (1, 2). Because of this, CO2 oil (another extraction method for dabbing) and alcohol extracts are the only allowable medical extracts to be sold under medical cannabis regulations in New York, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania (4). While commercially prepared BHO is on the rise in mature markets like California and Denver, much HBO is still made via “backyard-chemist” style operations so users beware.

Finally, while the results of this study are intriguing, I believe that much more research will be required to determine whether or not high heat terpene breakdown products pose actual health risks to dabbers.

References

  1. Stogner JM, Miller BL. The dabbing dilemma: A call for research on butane hash oil and other alternate forms of Cannabis. Subst. Abuse 2015; 36:393– 395
  2. Stogner JM, Miller BL. Assessing the dangers of “dabbing”: mere marijuana or harmful new trend? Pediatrics 2015: 136: 1– 3
  3. Pierre JM, Gandal M, Son M. Cannabis-induced psychosis associated with high potency “wax dabs” Schizophr. Res. 2016; 172:211– 212
  4. Meehan-Atrash J, Luo W, Strongin RM. Toxicant formation in dabbing: the terpene story ACS Omega, 2017; 2:6112–6117
  5. Gieringer D, St. Laurent J, Goodrich S. Cannabis vaporizer combines efficient delivery of THC with effective suppression of pyrolytic compounds J. Cannabis Ther. 2004; 4:7 – 27
  6. Ross SA, ElSohly MA. The volatile oil composition of fresh and air-dried buds of Cannabis sativa J. Nat. Prod. 1996: 59:49– 51

Several Major Universities To Offer Cannabis Courses and Even Grow Some on the Side!

In a previous blog post I wrote that several community colleges and lesser know universities were offering summer and/or continuing education classes about cannabis.  While these course offerings were impressive, most were community-based and specifically designed to support local cannabis growers and the emerging cannabis business in these locales.

More recently, however, several major universities including Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of Vermont and the University of California-Davis announced that they will offer courses designed to provide students and healthcare professionals with an understanding of the physiology, medical and legal implications of cannabis use.

And, quite surprisingly, Louisiana State University has entered into a private agreement with a Las Vegas-based biopharmaceutical pharmaceutical company GB Sciences to cultivate and supply cannabis for disease indications that the company plans to treat including chronic pain, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. While LSU entered into this agreement, it is not clear whether or not it relationship with GB Sciences may affect its sources of federal funding because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Nevertheless, it is becoming abundantly clear that academia sees an opportunity to get into the cannabis business one way or the other. Below is a sampling of the cannabis courses and seminars that are currently being offered.

The University of Vermont offers a medical marijuana and cannabis certification course for clinicians who want the latest information regarding medical cannabis and possible healthcare applications of the plant.

The Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University offers a seminar style course on the legalization of cannabis that will examine the social and historical backdrop of intoxicant prohibition, and assess the legal reforms and political debates now having an impact on the control and regulation of marijuana distribution and use.

The University of Washington offers a course for healthcare professionals on the use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain.

The University of California-Davis will offer a course to biology majors that will cover the biology of cannabis and cannabinoids as well as their physiological effects in multiple systems, underlying mechanisms and therapeutic values. It also will survey the history of cannabis use, cover the endocannabinoid system and discuss potential medical targets for cannabis and their relative effectiveness.

Finally, there is a big push at University of California at Los Angeles to create a research center to study the medicinal effects of cannabis on a variety of disease indications.

References

  1. http://cannabisscienceblog.com/2017/06/15/69/ accessed September 25, 017
  2. https://www.businessreport.com/article/lsu-finalizes-medical-marijuana-agreement-gb-sciences/ accessed September 25, 2017
  3. http://learn.uvm.edu/com/program/cannabis-science-and-medicine/ accessed September 25, 2017
  4. http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/academics/course-explorer/category/criminal-law/ accessed September 25, 207
  5. http://adai.uw.edu/mcacp/ accessed September 25, 2017
  6. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/physiology/ accessed September 25, 2017
  7. http://dailybruin.com/2017/05/23/editorial-ucla-must-build-marijuana-research-center-study-effects-of-legalization/ accessed September 25, 2017

Cannabis Pharmacokinetics, Metabolism and Detection

THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and the primary molecule used for detection among cannabis users. Therefore, it is important to understand THC’s pharmacokinetics (distribution in the body), its metabolism (how it is broken down by the body) and the basis of the laboratory tests used for its detection.

The primary routes of administration of cannabis include smoking/vaporization and ingestion. Not surprisingly, the route of administration affects the absorption characteristics of THC. When cannabis is smoked or vaporized, there is a rapid onset of action (within minutes) with absorption of roughly 10%-35% of available THC in the product (1). THC is mainly absorbed through the bloodstream (2).

Peak THC plasma concentrations (blood levels) occur within 8 minutes after smoking or vaporization (1). In contrast, onset of action following ingestion occurs within 1-3 hours with 5%-20% absorption of THC (1). Peak plasma levels are observed after 2-6 hours after ingestion (1).

THC is primarily metabolized via the liver cytochrome P450 (CYP) system into a psychoactive compound, 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) (2). 11-OH-THC is further metabolized into several inactive forms with 11-nor-9-carboxy-▵ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH) as the dominant inactive metabolite (2). Because THC is highly lipophilic (fat-loving) it is mainly distributed in adipose (fat) tissue, liver, lung and spleen (1, 2).

THC’s elimination half-life —50% elimination of the initial absorbed dose of THC—can range from 2-57 hours following inhalation. The half-life of 11-OH-THC (the active metabolite of THC) is 12-36 hours (1, 2). Twenty (20) percent of THC is excreted in the urine whereas up to 65% is eliminated in feces (2). Within 5 days, nearly 90% of THC is eliminated from the body (2).

Urine immunoassays are typically used to detect THC-COOH in persons being tested for cannabis consumption. After a single use, THC can be detected in the urine for up to 7 days. With chronic cannabis consumption, THC can be detected in urine for 10-30 days. A sensitive test called enzyme-multiplied immunoassay technique (EMIT) can detect urine levels as low as 20-100 ng/ml.

Results from these screening tests indicate prior cannabis exposure but they cannot determine the amount used or degree of clinical effects after use. At present, detection of 50 ng/mL is considered positive for employees undergoing drug testing.  False-positive results can occur with ibuprofen, naproxen, dronabinol, efavirenz, and hemp seed oil. False-positive test results are unlikely from second-hand smoke inhalation, unless this exposure occurs in an unventilated space (1).

Blood tests can also be used to detect THC; however, detected levels cannot be associated with clinical effects. Hair sampling tests that use gas chromatography and mass spectrometry assays are available for cannabis screening. These screening methods can be used to test for multiple cannabinoids, including THC, THC-OH, THC-COOH, CBN and CBD (3). Cannabinoids enter the hair through capillaries and sweat and can be detected up to 3 months after exposure (3, 4). However, detection depends on heaviness of use and potency of marijuana consumed (4). 

References

  1. Russo L, Caneva D Cannabinoid poisoning. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/833828-overview#a5  Accessed Aug. 9, 2017
  2. Sharma P, Murthy P, Srinivas Bharath MM Chemistry metabolism and toxicology of cannabis: clinical implications Iran J. Psychiatry 2012; 7:149-156
  3. Huestis MA, Mitchell JM Cone EJ Detection times of marijuana metabolites in urine by immunoassay and GC-MS J Anal Toxicol 1995; 19:443-449.
  4. Taylor M, Henderson R, Lingford-Hughes A, Macleod J, Sullivan J, Hickman M Comparison of cannabinoids in hair with self-reported cannabis consumption in heavy, light and non-cannabis users. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2017; 36-220-226.

The Number of Legal Cannabis Jobs in the US Grew Over 20% Last Year

While the data are difficult to come by, a recent survey by Leafly (1) determined that the number of legal fulltime Cannabis jobs in the US grew from 122,814 job in 2016 to roughly 149,304 in 2017; a gain of 22%. Of course, not all of these jobs are directly related to Cannabis cultivation and production. These estimates include electricians, plumbers, greenhouse builders, insurance brokers, software developers, realtors and bankers.

Not surprisingly, the growth of legal US Cannabis jobs was not uniform throughout the country (8 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational adult Cannabis use and medical Cannabis and 23 medical Cannabis only).

Among the recreational use states, Alaska exhibited the greatest job increases (252%), followed by Maine (100%), and Nevada.  Florida (1,743 %) and Hawaii (1,692%) were the clear leaders in the medical cannabis states. It is important to note that percentages can be deceiving because they don’t represent raw job numbers. For example, if Nevada had 2 full time Cannabis jobs in 2016 and 4 in 2017 that would represent a 50% annual increase. To that point, the actual 2017 job leaders in the recreational use states are California (47,711), Colorado (26, 891), Washington State (26,556) and Oregon (10,843). Likewise, medical cannabis state job leaders in 2017 were Michigan (12,515), Arizona (6,520), Illinois (1,352) and New York (1,341).

Because of legal and political ramifications, the actual number of jobs in the US Cannabis industry is very difficult to quantify. That said, the number of full time jobs is certain to rise as the industry continues to mature in recreational use states.  Likewise, as more research and information about the therapeutic use of Cannabis become available (and mainstream physicians buy into these effects), the number of jobs in the medical cannabis will also grow. However, the 22% increase in the number of fulltime cannabis jobs over the past year suggests that the industry continues to remain strong despite an uncertain political and legal future.

References

  1. https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/cannabis-jobs-count-legal-marijuana-supports-149304-americans?mc_cid=071453b259&mc_eid=510390e56d Accessed September 13, 2017

Anticancer Properties of Cannabis and Cannabinoids

The anticancer effects of cannabis and individual cannabinoids are thought to be mediated via interaction of these compounds with their cognate receptors; cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and CB2). CB1 receptors are widely distributed in the central nervous system (CNS) and brain whereas CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system with much lower and more restricted distribution in CNS (1,2)

Early in vitro studies using tumor cell lines and tumor xenograft mouse models suggest that cannabinoids can inhibit solid tumors and hematologic malignancies including  gliomas (brain tumors), adenocarcinomas of the lung, breast, colon, pancreas and melanoma and also myeloma and lymphoma (3-5).

Although not completely elucidated, the mechanism of action of cannabinoids as anticancer agents has been attributed to induction of programmed cell death or apoptosis (via interaction with CB1 receptors), inhibition of angiogenesis or blood vessel growth (reduction in the expression of endothelial growth factor and its receptors) and a decrease in the activity of matrix metalloproteinase 2 which can lead to decreased tumor cell invasiveness and metastasis (6-8).  In addition, cannabinoids possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can also help to combat cancer (9). Finally, cannabinoids administered in combinations with conventional chemotherapy agents or radiation treatment have been observed to enhance antitumor activity (10-12).

While these preliminary findings are encouraging, much more basic research must be performed to identify the actual anticancer/anti-tumor action of cannabinoids and the individual cancer indications that would benefit most from their use. Once these things are established, large scale controlled human clinical trials will be necessary for regulatory approval of these agents as cancer treatments.

References

  1. Howlett AC. The cannabinoid receptors. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat 2002; 68-69: 619–31
  2. Van Sickle MD, Duncan M, Kingsley PJ, Mouihate A, Urbani P, Mackie K, Stella N,Makriyannis A, Piomelli D, Davison JS,Marnett LJ, Di Marzo V, Pittman QJ, Patel KD, Sharkey KA. Identification and functional characterization of brainstem cannabinoid CB2 receptors. Science 2005; 310: 329–32
  3. Velasco G, Galve-Roperh I, Sanchez C, Blazquez C, Guzman M. Hypothesis: cannabinoid therapy for the treatment of gliomas? Neuropharmacology 2004; 47:315–23.
  4. Velasco G, Sánchez C, Guzmán M. Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer 2012; 12:436–44.
  5. McAllister SD, Soroceanu L, Desprez PY. The antitumour activity of plant-derived non-psychoactive cannabinoids. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 2015; 10:255–67.
  6. Massi P, Solinas M, Cinquina V, Parolaro D. Cannabidiol as potential anti cancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013; 75:303–12.
  7. Chakravarti B, Ravi J, Ganju RK. Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications. Oncotarget 2014; 5:5852–72.
  8. Abrams DI, Guzman M. Cannabis in cancer care. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2015; 97:575–86.
  9. Abrams, DJ. Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care. Curr Oncol. 2016; 23:S8-S14.
  10. Donadelli M, Dando I, Zaniboni T, et al. Gemcitabine/cannabinoid combination triggers autophagy in pancreatic cancer cells through a ros-mediated mechanism. Cell Death Dis 2011;2:e152.
  11. Torres S, Lorente M, Rodriguez-Fornes F, et al. A combined preclinical therapy of cannabinoids and temozolomide against glioma. Mol Cancer Ther 2011;10:90–103.
  12. Scott KA, Daigleish AG, Liu WM. The combination of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol enhances the anticancer effects of radiation in an orthotopic murine glioma model. Mol Cancer Ther 2014;13:2955–67.