Connect with us
  • ciitech

News

What is the risk of dependence in medical cannabis patients?

Published

on

Researchers are exploring the risks of developing medical cannabis dependence

Researchers in the UK are exploring the risks of developing dependence among medical cannabis patients.

Recreational users have an estimated 8.9 percent chance of developing cannabis dependence, but experts argue that the same data cannot be applied to medical cannabis patients.

New research from Drug Science, the leading independent scientific body on drugs in the UK, highlights the differences between recreational and medical cannabis use to evaluate the risk of dependence.

Cannabis use disorder has been widely studied in recreational users, with these findings often projected onto medical cannabis patients.

In a review of the existing evidence, published in February, the team highlights the need for more studies investigating dependency specifically in people using cannabis for medical purposes.

For recreational users, the estimated chances of becoming dependent on cannabis after any lifetime exposure is considerably lower than for cocaine (20.9 percent), alcohol (22.7 percent) or tobacco (67.5 percent).

However, the United Nations reports that cannabis dependence is now the primary reason for drug treatment across the world (39 percent), surpassing numbers receiving opioid treatment (33 percent).

While the lines between recreational and medical use are “blurred at best” they argue, with many recreational users also self-medicating to manage symptoms of anxiety, for example – a number of factors need to be taken into account.

Dose and frequency of use are also key issues with the potential for medical cannabis dependence.

As a standard dose of cannabis does not exist, the patient rather than the doctor determines the correct dose and is required to titrate their dose to their desired effect.

This means medical patients often are titrating up to a higher dosage than recreational cannabis users, as they medicate throughout the day.

However, this does not necessarily put them at greater risk of dependence, argues lead author, Dr Anne Schlag, head of research at Drug Science.

“While overall medical cannabis users tend to use more frequently and more often daily than recreational users, on the other hand, medical users have less interest in getting ‘high’ and in having high THC products,” she says.

Long-term use of high-potency cannabis has been linked to dependence and mental health issues.

Dr Schlag continues: “In addition, early onset of use is also associated with dependence, but medical cannabis patients are usually a bit older at first time of use.”

How cannabis is consumed also has a role to play, with smoking the most common route of administration among recreational users, but not recommended for medical use, where vaporisers are often used as an alternative.

A 2018 study found higher THC concentrations in the blood following vaporisation compared to smoked cannabis, suggesting vaporising may lead to stronger effects than smoking.

Severe depression may also be a possible risk factor for dependence among chronic pain patients – the most common group of medical cannabis consumers – as mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are often associated with the condition.

But Drug Science researchers argue that it is important to put this into context.

Although medical cannabis may lead to dependence, it compares favourably, they say, in regards to other commonly prescribed drugs, such as opioids.

“Whilst there is a dependence risk associated with frequent cannabis use, current research from the US also indicates that some pain patients for example are able to decrease their opioid usage as a result of their medical cannabis use so it is important to contextualise findings,” says Dr Schlag.

“I am keen to see more research on if – and how – medical cannabis use is correlated with decreased prescription opioid use. Initial research in this area looks promising but more long-term data is needed.”

As access to medical cannabis improves, more research needs to be done into how dependence is measured in patients, adds Dr Schlag.

“Studies exploring medical cannabis dependence are scarce and the appropriate methodology to measure this construct is uncertain,” she says.

“We certainly require more studies addressing issues related to medical cannabis dependence specifically.

One move towards this is the new Cannabis-Based Medicines Questionnaire (CBM-Q) developed by Professor Val Curran, Dr Chandni Hindocha and other experts at Drug Science.

The questionnaire, which will be utilised in Project Twenty21 – the UK largest body of medical cannabis patients – aims to specifically address problematic medical cannabis use in a high number of respondents over a long period of time.

It will assess potential links to predisposing factors, such as underlying medical conditions.

“Many questions about the potential for medical cannabis use to lead to dependence remain to be answered,” adds Dr Schlag.

“It is imperative to address these questions in order to be able to minimise harms of medical cannabis use.”

Read the full report here and find out more about Project Twenty21 at www.drugscience.org.uk

News

9 out of 10 readers have self-medicated with cannabis

Published

on

Nine out of 10 Cannabis Health readers have consumed cannabis for medical purposes without a prescription – and almost all said they found it to be more effective than conventional medicines.

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking for your views on social media to delve deeper into how people are consuming cannabis.

As expected, the proportion of our readers who self-medicate with cannabis was high, but the results also demonstrate the perceived effectiveness of cannabis in comparison with traditional medication, highlighting a need for wider access to safe cannabis based medicines.

Self-medicating

Despite the law around medical cannabis changing over two years ago, gaining a prescription can still be challenging, particularly on the NHS.

This has forced a lot of patients to take matters into their own hands.

According to research, as many as 1.4 million Brits are self-medicating with cannabis, equivalent to just over two percent of the country’s population.

Studies from the US have backed this up, with one suggesting that as many as a third of teenagers with a chronic health condition have taken it upon themselves to manage their symptoms with cannabis.

We asked our readers if they were self-medicating to treat a health condition, with the results confirming that almost 94 percent of people said they were.

On top of this, a further five percent said they were not currently, but were open to the idea.

Just over one percent said they weren’t self-medicating due to the stigma attached, however no one responded that the law was a factor in this. 

Effectiveness of self-medicating 

 

Anecdotal evidence and some early studies suggest that cannabis can ease symptoms of some chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, where other, more conventional medicines have failed.

There is also promise in the potential of cannabis to relieve some mental health conditions, with some saying it has provided huge relief for disorders such as PTSD.

Ninety five percent of Cannabis Health readers polled said they found cannabis extremely effective at relieving symptoms. 

In addition no one said they had found it ineffective when it comes to treating their condition.

The remaining five percent said they found it to have a similar effect as their conventional treatments. 

Route to administration 

How patients consume cannabis can have an impact on its effectiveness, as well as how quickly it kicks in.

With such high numbers both self-medicating and reporting positive effects, we wanted to discover the common consumption methods.

Smoking the flower is the traditional method of consuming cannabis and often viewed as the one which can provide the most relief.

However, even though it has been seen to be less harmful than tobacco, smoking can still lead to a number of other health issues and is note recommended by health professionals.

Despite this, it remained the most popular choice among Cannabis Health readers, with just over a third saying this is how they consume cannabis.

The modern alternative to this is vaping, which was the second most common route to administration among Cannabis Health readers.

Around a third of readers said this was their preferred consumption method.

Some professionals argue this is the healthiest way for consumption, with clinics recommending vaping cannabis flower, but more research is needed in this area.

One method which has few negative effects is the use of oils or tinctures.

This is typically how CBD is consumed, with 21 percent of readers saying this was their preferred method.

Self-medicating alongside conventional medicines

The NHS says it is unlikely that many people in the UK will be able to gain access to a medical cannabis prescription.

Despite this, many patients have chosen to self-medicate with cannabis either alongside or often in the place of conventional therapies. 

The majority of readers agreed with this, with 55 percent saying they no longer use conventional medicines in favour of cannabis.

A further 22 percent said they would only use their conventional medicines if they did not have access to cannabis and the remainder said that they still consume cannabis alongside conventional medication.

Want to get involved? Cannabis Health will be running a number of polls over on our social media pages, to find out more about your views on CBD and cannabis for medical and wellbeing purposes.

Follow @CannabisHnews on Twitter and @Cannabishealthmag on Instagram and keep an eye out.

Continue Reading

News

Cannabis may lead to “rebound” headaches in migraine patients – study

Published

on

Researchers from Stanford University released the preliminary study

New findings suggest cannabis could lead to “rebound” or medication overuse headaches, in patients living with chronic migraine.

Using cannabis for relief from migraines may be associated with developing “rebound” headaches, according to researchers in the US.

“Rebound” headache, also known as medication overuse headache, occurs when pain medication is overused by patients who have an underlying primary headache disorder such as migraine.

The findings are from a preliminary study released on March 1, 2021, by a team of researchers at Stanford University.

For the study, researchers looked at the records of 368 people who had chronic migraine for at least a year. Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more headache days per month.

A total of 150 of the people were using cannabis and 218 were not.

The researchers looked at who had medication overuse headache and other factors that could affect the development of overuse headache, such as frequency of migraines, overuse of other medications for acute migraine and how long they had chronic migraine.

Of the 368 people, 212 had medication overuse headache and 156 did not.

They found that the people using cannabis were six times more likely to have medication overuse headaches than those who did not use cannabis.

People who were using opioids were also more likely to have current cannabis use.

Previous research has shown that opioids and cannabis can both influence the part of the brain called the periaqueductal gray, which has been linked to migraine.

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17-22, 2021.

“Many people with chronic migraine are already self-medicating with cannabis, and there is some evidence that cannabis can help treat other types of chronic pain,” said study author Niushen Zhang, M.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“However, we found that people who were using cannabis had significantly increased odds of also having medication overuse headache, or rebound headache, compared to people who were not using cannabis.”

A limitation of the study is that it was retrospective; longitudinal studies will be needed to further explore cause and effect of cannabis use and medication overuse headache in patients with chronic migraine.

Continue Reading

News

Always Pure Organics: “The UK is a front runner in establishing a regulated CBD market”

Published

on

Sponsored feature

Following the submission of its novel food application, Always Pure Organics’ chief scientific officer, Andrew Megahy, shares what’s next for firm and the industry as a whole.

As of Thursday 18  February, Always Pure Organics submitted three dossiers to the FSA for CBD-based Novel Foods; one for their Swiss Isolate, one for their Colombian Isolate and one for their Colombian Distillate.

In the following update on the company’s application process, Andrew Megahy, chief scientific officer discusses next steps, the benefits of such regulations to the industry and gives praise to the input of several parties including Canna Consultants, DevelRx and FERA and the FSA themselves.

“This was a long and arduous process, which would not have been possible without the assistance of several parties.

DevelRx have provided extensive toxicology guidance and excellent advice regarding the design of toxicology studies, The Canna Consultants have proven invaluable at navigating the red tape and legislation regarding Novel Foods, and FERA have provided top-notch analysis of the products we submitted.

In addition to the assistance provided by the parties mentioned above, the FSA themselves have been incredibly helpful throughout.

A first draft dossier was submitted to them in December on an informal basis, with extensive feedback provided in early January. The FSA then reached out to us for a discussion regarding the feedback in a meeting with the relevant members of the FSA. This meeting was greatly beneficial in finalising our dossiers, and we have enjoyed consistent discussion with the FSA through their designated email for the miscellaneous questions that have arisen throughout the process.

We hope that the Novel Foods process will prove to be beneficial for the market in both the UK and rest of Europe overall, which we see arising from three main facets. The first is that more stringent regulations will improve the quality of products in the market, which will subsequently increase consumer confidence.

Greater confidence should lead to improved market growth. More stringent restrictions on products will also help to legitimise the industry, something that has always been an issue with CBD being sourced from cannabis.

If the market is perceived to be more legitimate, the chances of investment from recognised bodies is improved, again increasing market growth.

The final beneficial aspect comes from the UK being a front runner in establishing a regulated CBD market. This puts the UK at a distinct advantage for all the factors mentioned above as it will be able to take advantage of them first, and it also creates an example for other countries to follow for establishing their own regulated markets.

Even if these countries decide not to follow the UK’s route to compliance exactly, they will at least be able to learn from how it was implemented and use that to design their own regulated markets.

As this is a new process for ourselves, the FSA and the CBD industry as a whole, we expect Novel Foods to be less of a project that gets finished and then moved on from, and more akin to a work-in-progress that will develop over time until all parties are satisfied.

There are still several questions that remain to be answered, one of which relates to the adding of new products to an application. There has been no guidance from the FSA regarding updating an application to allow for new brands, products or raw material suppliers.

This is perfectly understandable when considering that they are focused on making sure their process for companies getting validated is correct and running smoothly, but such questions will need to be dealt with at some point in the future.

Based on the timeline provided by the FSA for submissions, we hope to have a decision regarding the validation status of our respective dossiers before April. From the amount of work that has gone into them, we feel confident that we will receive validation, but this of course is entirely reliant on the FSA’s decision. Whatever the outcome, we will continue to serve our customers to the best of our capacity to ensure their needs are met.”

Always Pure Organics aim to be the driving force behind the global understanding, research, education, and ultimately distribution of cannabis derived products.

We offer the highest quality wholesale legal cannabis and cannabinoid products, as bulk ingredients, bulk products, white label, and bespoke formulations. This is coupled with regulatory and legal expertise and supported by delivery within three working days across Europe.

Our unique bespoke formulation products allow our customers to create their own product from scratch, whilst we provide the regulatory and product knowledge, as well as production of the product.

To find out more about how Always Pure Organics can support your business on its CBD journey visit alwayspureorganics.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

Continue Reading

Trending