Cannabis Officially Enters the Craft Beer Craze

It should come as no surprise that cannabis has finally found its way into the the craft beer craze that has dominated world alcoholic beverage markets for the past decade or so.  Last week, LGC Capital, Cresco Pharma and Baltic Beer Company announced a joint venture company called CLV Frontier Brands with the goal of developing a full beverage portfolio using proprietary cannabis terpene blends and hemp ingredients.

According to reports, CLV plans on crafting four premium beers (that contain different terpene blends and other “innovative ingredients”) with a global release of the first batch of beer in Spring 2018.  While Humboldt Brewery and a partnership between Lagunitas Brewing and Absolute/Xtracts  already brew Hemp Ale with toasted hemp seeds and an IPA with terpenes respectively,  CLV joint venture represents the first aggressive effort to bring cannabis and hemp-based  craft beers  to the global stage.  CLV plans on building a pilot brewing facility in Tallinn, Estonia and has identified potential distribution partners in Europe, East Asia, Central and Latin America, Africa and Canada/Australia and New Zealand.

Noticeably absent from the distribution list of potential partners is the US.  Although terpenes, non-psychoactive cannabinoids that give different cannabis strains distinctive odors and flavors are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and classified as food additives, cannabis is a schedule 1 drug and anything derived from it is illegal at the federal level in the US.  Consequently, because  the beers will be brewed overseas and require shipping to the US they will not be legally available in the US (even in states where cannabis has been legalized) because interstate shipping is regulated by the federal government.  That said, I suspect that some of CLV’s products may make it into the heads of cannabis craft beer enthusiasts!

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.

 

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 Education Hits the Ivy League (And Elsewhere)

It was only a matter of time before the Ivy League entered the cannabis education business.  Unlike some lesser institutions that have made  long term commitments to cannabis education, the Harvard Business School is testing the waters by offering a one-time only cannabis class. The master class will be taught by  California-based cannabis entrepreneur Adrian Sedlin (a Harvard Business School alum), and will include everything from measuring plant THC levels to how to build a scalable profitable business in an industry at a time of regulatory uncertainty.

For those of you looking for a lesser known but degree-bearing program, check out the  Institute of Cannabis Research a joint effort between the University of Colorado-Pueblo, the State of Colorado and Pueblo County, CO. According to the institute, the program was the nation’s first multi-disciplinary cannabis research center at a “regional, comprehensive institution.” The CSU Pueblo program has an in-state price tag of around $24,185 and roughly $38,767 for out-of-state students.

Another option is the Northern Michigan University (NMU) medicinal plant chemistry program which began this past Fall. According to the university,  the program (which has 12 current enrollees) is designed to give students a more “traditional four-year-secondary-education” approach to cannabis education.  In state tuition at NMU is $22,156 and out of state costs are $27,652.

A recent report indicated that almost 150,000 Americans are employed in the legal cannabis industry. As the industry continues to expand both medically and recreationally, the need for educated and well trained prospective employees will also continue to grow (pun intended).  If you are thinking about an upwardly mobile, long term, financially-satisfying career, it may be worth a shot to go to  (or go back to) college and learn  everything you can about cannabis, its products and its use!

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.

 

Regulatory Guidelines for Product Quality Are Necessary for the Success of the Medical Cannabis Industry

While medical cannabis products do not require federal regulatory approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in states where it is legal, the emerging medical cannabis industry ought to adopt its regulatory guidelines and practices that assure the quality of all marketed US drugs and devices. This is because, at present, no universal regulatory guidelines or requirements exist to ensure medical cannabis quality and safety. Not surprisingly, the quality attributes of medical cannabis vary wildly from state to state and even between different locations within the same city, county or state. Clearly, this is not in the best interests of medical cannabis users.

FDA established mandatory federal quality guidelines to guarantee product safety, identity, strength and purity. According to FDA, product safety means that a product is free of unexpected side effects when it is used properly by a patient. Identity guarantees that a product is exactly what its label and related informational materials say it is. Strength means that a given product consistently delivers the correct dosage and potency over its shelf life from its manufacture to its expiration. Purity indicates that a product is free from physical, biological and chemical contamination.  Put simply, these guidelines guarantee consumers that products are safe, effective and meet defined quality attributes.

The agency has developed different sets of regulatory guidelines that ensure product quality during various phases of development, manufacturing and commercialization. The existing guidelines that are relevant to the medical cannabis industry include 1) Current Good Laboratory Practices (CGMP), Current Good Clinical Practices (CGCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP).

CGLPs are the guidelines that regulatory laboratory activities during preclinical development of products. This includes data collection and documentation, creation of standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety and pharmacology testing in laboratory animals, and sample preparation, handling and storage. Traditionally, CGLP helps guide development and ensure the quality of individual molecules but can be applied to extracts, tinctures and other products derived from cannabis plants.

CGCP was developed to guide the planning, conduct and analysis of human clinical trials that are required before a prescription drug can garner FDA regulatory approval. While CGCP is not relevant for most medical cannabis growers and dispensaries, it is required for companies that are currently trying to develop cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals and related products.

The set of regulatory guidelines that is most appropriate for a majority of medical cannabis growers, formulators and dispensaries is CGMP.  CGMPs were developed to assure that:

  • Raw materials used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products are of known and possibly standardized quality and are free from contamination
  • A manufacturing process is proven to produce a product that consistently meets its specifications and quality attributes
  • Adequate quality control and assurance testing measures have been employed to assure that a product meets its quality specifications at the time of release to market and at the end of its shelf life

There are 10 basic CGMP principles that help t o ensure product quality, safety and efficacy. They are:

  1. Proper design and construction of facilities
  2. Validation of facilities, equipment and manufacturing processes (materials testing, cleaning, software etc)
  3. Proper maintenance of equipment, facilities and utilities
  4. Creation of SOPs (and adherence to them)
  5. Documentation of all processes, data collection, record keeping etc
  6. Employee development, on-going training and certification
  7. Contamination protection and prevention
  8. Employee health and hygiene
  9. Product manufacturing records and reports (that enable product recalls)
  10. Audits and Inspections

Following these principles will help to create a process that produces a product that is reproducibly consistent, safe and effective.

Because FDA approval is not required for medical cannabis use in states where it is legal, there is no requirement that any CGLP, CGCP or CGMP must be implemented. That said, assuring product consistency, quality, safety and effectiveness will go a long way to help establish medical cannabis brand reputation and reliability.

References

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=58  
  2. https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeofmedicalproductsandtobacco/cder/ucm090259.htm
  3. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/granule/CFR-2011-title21-vol4/CFR-2011-title21-vol4-part210

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

Cannabis and Its Effect on High Blood Pressure

According to recent estimates, about 75 million American adults have has high blood pressure (1), a condition commonly referred to as hypertension. If untreated, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, which is characterized by an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and even heart failure. Hypertension was the cause of over 400,000 deaths in 2014 (1).

A number of factors, including poor diet, stress, physical inactivity, alcohol, and tobacco use increase the risk of developing hypertension (1). Hypertension can be managed by taking medications, reducing sodium in the diet, getting daily physical activity, and quitting smoking (2).

Previous reports suggest that consumption of cannabis and certain cannabinoids e.g, cannabidiol (CBD) may help to lower high blood pressure and represent a new treatment option for hypertension (3-5).   Further, results from a 15 year longitudinal study called the Coronary Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) which followed 3,617 black and white young adults suggested that cannabis consumption was not independently associated with increased cardiovascular risk (6). However, study authors cautioned that it was associated with unhealthy behaviors including high caloric diet, tobacco smoking and other illegal drug use.

In a more recent retrospective analysis of 1213 young adults (20 years and older)—57% used cannabis—Yankey et al. (7) showed that cannabis use may increase the risk of death from hypertension. Study results suggested that cannabis users had more than three times the risk of death from hypertension-related causes. Moreover, increased duration of cannabis use was also associated with a greater risk of death from hypertension. However, it is important to note that the researchers acknowledged the difficulty of measuring frequency and quantities of marijuana used by study participants and the likelihood that illegal use was underreported (7). Put simply, there are confounding variables that call into question the conclusions of the study.

In summary, the positive or negative effects of cannabis consumption on cardiovascular health and disease still remain to be conclusively determined. New well designed and better controlled clinical studies will be necessary to verify or refute the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on cardiovascular function and their ability to manage hypertension.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm  Accessed August 23, 2017
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974  Accessed August 23, 2017
  3. Pacher P, Batkal S, Kunos G. Cardiovascular pharmacology of cannabinoids. Handb Exp Pharmacol 2005; 168:599-625
  4. Randall MD, Harris D, Kendall DA, Ralevic V. Cardiovascular effects of cannabinoids. Pharmacol Ther. 2002;95:191–202.
  5. Hiley CR, Ford WR. Cannabinoid pharmacology in the cardiovascular system: potential protective mechanisms through lipid signalling. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2004;79:187–205
  6. Rodondi N, Pletcher MJ, Liu K, Hulley SB, Sidney S  Marijuana use, diet, body mass index and cardiovascular risk factors (from the CARDIA study). Am J Cardiol 2006; 98:478-484
  7. Yankey B, Rothenberg R, Strasser S, Ramsey-White K, Okosun IS Effect of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality: A new study using the National Health and Nutrition Survey linked mortality file. Eur J Preventive Cardiol 2017; DOI: 10.1177/2047487317723212 [Epub ahead of print]

Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome: It’s Complicated

There is growing anecdotal evidence that cannabis and certain phytocannabinoids may be helpful when treating persons suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).  For those who may not know, PTSD is a state of mind activated by either witnessing or experiencing a shocking, frightening or horrifying episode. Many war veterans as well as sexual assault victims and others may experience PTSD at some point in their lives. At present, PTSD is a qualifying medical condition in most states where medical cannabis is legal (1).

While cannabis is fast becoming the “go to” treatment for patients with PTSD, there is currently a dearth of scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. To that point, the results from a retrospective analysis showed that only 1 in 5 studies involving cannabis and PTSD showed a small but statistically meaningful decline in PTSD symptoms for patients who used cannabis (2). Moreover, older studies suggested that cannabis use may reduce the effectiveness of conventional treatments for PTSD and may be associated with poorer clinical outcomes (1, 3).

While there is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD, there is general agreement among PTSD researchers that there have not been enough controlled clinical studies to provide conclusive evidence about the benefits or harm of plant-based cannabis preparations as PTSD treatments (4). At present there are two ongoing randomized trials and 6 other studies examining outcomes of cannabis use in patients with PTSD (4). These studies are expected to be completed within 3 years.

By then, there will hopefully be a conclusive answer!

References

  1. Wilkinson ST, Stefanovics E, Rosenheck RA. Marijuana use is associated with worse outcomes in symptom severity and violent behavior in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Sep; 76(9): 1174-80.
  2. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cannabis-pain-ptsd-idUSKCN1AU2DG  Accessed August 16, 2017
  3. Manhapra A, Stefanovics E, Rosenheck R. Treatment outcomes for veterans with PTSD and substance use: Impact of specific substances and achievement of abstinence. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Sep 25. pii: S0376-8716(15)01664-6. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. http://annals.org/aim/article/2648596/benefits-harms-plant-based-cannabis-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-systematic-review  Accessed August 16, 2017