Betting the Pharm

I’ve mentioned my mixed opinions about pharmaceutical outfits in the past. On one hand, I think they’ve had a hand in the prohibition of cannabis for all of these years. On the other, who else is going to do phytocannabinoid research? Certainly not me. I keep trying, but as yet no one has donated the testing equipment. I got a stove top range and a bottle of alcohol. That’s it.

And don’t worry. I use both separately. Pretty much.

If you’ll look at the post just before this (in the medicinal cannabis category) you’ll see I wrote of a nasty pediatric form of epilepsy called “Dravet Syndrome.” I told about families in Utah petitioning their legislature to allow them to legally treat their children with a phytocannabinoid extract of CBDs – because it’s working for a bunch of other kids.

There’s a side story here about “Dravet Families” moving to Colorado – by the droves – in order to help their kids. But that aint what I’m writing about. This is what I’m writing about:


My post about the extracted CBDs is dated 10/16/13. The release about Epidiolex is dated 11/14/13.

And I’m going to let this post lie right here.

It’s for the Children

(I’m double dipping this go’round. This post will appear in both the prohibition and medicinal cannabis categories)

Dravet Syndrome (why is ‘everything’ a syndrome?) has been in the news quite a bit of late. It’s a form of epilepsy that strikes children within a year of birth. It’s a real son of a bitch.

A kid can have 300 seizures a week. You can imagine the havoc that reeks on not only their bodies, but also their minds. Standard pharmaceuticals don’t work worth a damn. Dravet’s is bad news. Bad, bad news.

Hold that thought.

I think it was down in California where CBD prevalent cannabis first started catching on with medicinal users. Folks with intractable pain, Parkinson’s, MS – that sort of thing – found the cannabidiol worked rather well for their malady.

And I’m going to guess that move away from THC was driven by published clinical studies. Believe it or not, folks truly using cannabis medicinally have a tendency to research and read up on the latest literature.

So, for some, catching a buzz is fine and dandy, but to get to the root of the problem CBD ( not a psychoactive cannabinoid) is the ticket.

And then some California kid’s mom gave their seizing child a dose of cannabis oil and the episodes lost frequency. And then they all but stopped.

It about created an uproar. I mean, a responsible parent would never dream of giving their child pot, right?! RIGHT!?

Maybe if the parent were at wits end and was trying to save the child’s life? Maybe. And what if it wasn’t ‘pot?’

The California kid got a little press, not a whole bunch, but some. Though It was enough folks began to give it some thought. Especially a parent with a child suffering from Dravet’s.

The next news story was from Colorado. It went big because a T.V. doctor included Charlotte’s story in a documentary on medicinal cannabis. It went real big.

You can read about Charlotte here.

Pot no one wanted (’cause Colorado aint California?) possibly saving a child’s life. Pot nobody wanted and parents desperate to save their kid’s life.

And now we move to Utah.
Yes, I wrote “Utah.”
Dravet’s is alive and well in Utah, too.
Medicinal cannabis ain’t legal in Utah.
But, parents with ‘Dravet Kids’ apparently do their research, too.

And a group of mothers (“moms” I’m writing of) have petitioned the state legislature to allow them to (legally) treat their seizing children with CBD.

Man, I don’t want to sound callous, but I find this whole unfolding terribly interesting; from a scientific standpoint, sociological and legislative. It really is one hell of a story.

The mom’s don’t want cannabis. They want the CBD extract. Not the plant. Not THC. Not “medicinal cannabis.” The CBD extract. They want to save their childrens’ lives.

So, as any parent would (I’d hope) they’ve taken action. In their case they’ve chosen to bang on the door of with the state legislature.

It appears legislation will be introduced that will allow these folks to (legally) provide a viable treatment for their childrens’ malady.

You can read about it here in the S.L. Tribune.

Did you read it? Did you see where Representative Froerer wonders if any legislation is required? If a CBD extract is same-same as any hemp product routinely sold in the United States?

I find it all terribly interesting. And a bit ironic.

In that flick Reefer Madness the narrator (Dr. Carroll) closes with the statement, “Because the dread Marihuana may be reaching forth next for your son or daughter….or yours….or YOURS!”

Or lifesaving?

If you are reading this, then I’d guess you’ve some interest in cannabis science and law. May I suggest you watch and see what happens in Utah? Could they breach a barrier? A barrier many of us might not even knew existed? That of medicinal cannabis and cannabinoids.

After all, it’s for the children.

Things are Getting Terribly Weird In Washington State…

…for medicinal cannabis folk.
‘Cuz of I-502.

Mostly ‘cuz of 502, I think. I also think the Washington medicinal laws (69.51.a) are a big enough mess some sort of revamping was inevitable anyway. But that inevitability isn’t why I’m writing. It’s ‘cuz of 502. Am I talking in circles? Perhaps it’s appropriate given…well, let me explain.

It’ll take a minute. You might care to grab a beverage and a snack. I’ll wait.

So back in 2011 a legislative bill modifying 69.51.a was signed by the governor. I’ve written of it here several times previously. Some of this will be a rehash, but please bear with me.

5073 (the bill) had language setting up a system for dispensing medicinal cannabis under the watchful eye of various state agencies. Everything from the cultivation to the point of sale. After a bunch of tomfoolery it went to the Governor’s desk. I say tomfoolery because a Representative (actually) suggested an amendment providing “patients” with free pizza. What, you think I’m making this up?!


Anywho, the governor dropped her old friend Jenny (Western WA. U.S. Attorney) a note asking what she thought about the bill. Jenny told Chris (the Gov.) she just might get a wild hair and decide to prosecute those state actors involved in the cultivation and distribution of a Schedule I Substance.

Gov. Chris struck (vetoed) 36 sections of the bill and then signed it. And left a mess.

One of the things 5073 did was clarify the section of 69.51.a related to “designated providers.” The law had read a provider could have only one patient at any one time. As one might imagine certain entrepreneurs got creative with the definition of “time.” Hmm, could that be as little as a few minutes? NEXT!

The law now reads a designated provider may have only one patient in any 15 day period. Not 15 minutes. Loop hole closed.

But 5073 also provides for “collective gardens.” The definition of being only slightly ambiguous. But enough. The business folks simply changed the name of their business, including the word “collective,” and carried on.

And I know this opinion won’t be popular, but I think they fucked us. Not the legislature, but the peddlers. “Collective” became synonymous with “store front” and municipalities starting passing moratorium, bans, and zoning restrictions.

For an activity that should have never been on anyone’s radar. A mess.

So then, 502 passed. You know, HISTORY! Washington and Colorado are the only two places on the planet where cannabis is legal. Well, sorta. Kinda.

And then the medicinal shops (operating illegally) in the northwest part of the state became an issue. The Washington Liquor Control Board (LCB) realized the competition for their sanctioned retail recreational shops would be pretty stiff, what with the black-market and the grey (medicinal shops). Something has to be done!

And exactly what that might be is why medicinal folks in this state are a bit concerned. Frankly, I could give a fat rat’s about the shop keepers. Hell, as far as I’m concerned this whole issue is of their doing. I’m concerned about me, and my buddy across town with Parkinson’s and my gal friend doing the chemo. All of whom tend small gardens for their own use.

See, the legislature has appropriated 2.5 million dollars for the LCB to implement Initiative 502. Sounds rather innocuous on the face of it, doesn’t it?

Now take a look at the budget. Skip to section 141. The LCB has basically been tasked with resolving the disparity between recreational cannabis and medicinal. No, I’m not shittin’ you.

Section 141

Circles within circles.

Here’s an article by Jim Boldt ((Washington State Wire). He gives further information on the subject.

Jim – WSW

Is your head spinning?

I’m not gonna help in the least. And I might even make it worse.

As I said, I blame the unscrupulous entrepreneurs (mostly up north) for this mess. Pretty much.

See, it’s quite clear those sections of 5073 that got nixed where intended to provide for the dispensing of medicinal cannabis. Simple logic (and a read of the bill) would lead us to believe, then, collective gardens where not intended to do the same. Collective gardens are merely a mechanism allowing a small group of patients (3 to 10) to pool their resources and grow up to a whopping 45 plants. No store front. No business hours. No zoning. Nobody’s business.

And right there, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to the competition conundrum. If the law was simply enforced as it is written there wouldn’t be any recreational/medicinal friction.

This is where the medicinal shop keepers will have a fit. They will yammer about “safe access points.” They’ll tell stories about folks in wheel chairs buying cannabis from some shady character in a back alley. Yada, yada…”It’s for the patients!”

My ass. It’s for your pocket-book.

When the recreational stores get under way anyone over 21 will be able to go shop for cannabis and products containing the same. Oh some will scream that various strains for various maladies won’t be available and folks will suffer. Uh, you ever heard of demand and supply? I guarantee you if enough folks ask for this that or the other thing, including CBD rich product the retail market will do its damnedest to get it on the shelves. Because that’s how a legal retail business operates. They want what the customer wants to be on the shelves.

So, how ’bout we simply enforce the law, as it is written?
Problem solved.

Dizzy? ☺


I’ve previously mentioned about studies, basically, studying studies. The subject of this post is a study of a health survey.

As you may read (from the link to follow) the National Health and Nutrition Survey is the basis for the data. Data that indicates cannabis smokers have a lower rate of diabetes, insulin resistance and are thinner than non-smokers. Oh, and their levels of HDL-C tended to be higher. HDL is the good cholesterol

No, I’m not making this up. The full text can be found at The American Journal of Medicine.

The authors of the report state they aren’t sure of the why and how of it. They mention the eCB1 system and murine studies where Rimonabant* (a CB1 antagonist) improved insulin sensitivity, and an increase in adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is a protein that regulates glucose. They cite a fat rat study (the kind with a tail) where the administration of cannabis resulted in both weight reduction and an increase in the panreas mass. The pancreas makes insulin.

I find this stuff fascinating.

I have to wonder though: the sampled subjects were cannabis smokers. I’d like to see a similar study with those who ingest cannabis through the gut. Inhaled cannabinoids go directly to the brain and then are metabolized by the liver. Ingested cannabinoids go to the liver first (metabolizing into 11-hydroxy) then to the brain.

Fascinating, I tell ya.

*Rimonabant was a “weight loss drug.” It was pulled from the market. Too many suicides.

Neurons and Cannabinoid/Opioid Synergy

Yeah, I know it sounds heavy, but it really it isn’t. Brush up on your latin and biology – take a look at this:

CB1 and MOP

Hey! Come back here! I’ll work with ya on it. Promise.

It’s like this, the synergistic relationship between opiate pain relievers and cannabis has been anecdotally noted by western physicians from around 1850 until… Well, now that I think on it, I suppose docs are still seeing similar results in some patients.

The research study performed by Wilson-Poe, Morgan, Aicher and Hegarty (right here at WSU, Vancouver!) gives us a clue how that works from a biological standpoint. I love this stuff, man. Have I already told you that?

We’re all hip to the synapse/key thing, right? Agonists and antagonists? The analogy is, certain molecules act like keys tripping the locks in neurons. The agonist is responsible for the resulting electrical potential to momentarily… the nerve “fires,” okay? Toss a wad of putty into the key hole and the antagonist stands there giving you the raspberries. Nothing happens.

In this study the THC synthetic used was HU-210. Researchers are forced to use synthetic cannabinoids because the real stuff is, you know? – against the law.

They tell us the PAG (grey brain matter) has a lot to do with pain sensation (antinociception). They say if you pump a little cannabinoid into the gray matter, then less morphine is required to get the same result as you’d get without the cannabinoid.

Yeah, that’s not telling us anything. We’re already hip to that, right?

Their work gives us a good insight as to why. Though, I’ll admit to a bit of confusion near the conclusion.

A MOP (mu) receptor is an opioid receptor. Dorsolateral and ventrolateral are simply location. Immunocytochemical means they’ve “tagged” cells for identification. Somatodendritic just means there are receptors on both the cell body (soma) and on the tentacle looking things called dendrites.

Here, here’s a drawing of a neuron.

Nerve Cell

That oughta make things easier, eh?

That big red part with all of the cool different colored patterns in it would be the soma. Notice the flesh-colored dendrite (above the red) interfaces not only on the other dendrite, but on the soma as well. Cool.

Okay, now here is where I get a bit confused. I think what they’re telling us is 8% of the cells analyzed had both opioid and cannabis receptors. Pretty sure. If that’s the case then it would explain the synergy, eh? I mean, if a cannabinoid has a bunch of cells reacting already, then less opiate is required for the desired result. That’s pretty easy to grasp. I guess.

I dunno, I’m no rocket surgeon.

“These results indicate that behavioral interactions between cannabinoids and opioids may be the result of cellular adaptations…”

I’d like to see a similar study, only using methanandamide (synthetic ananamide) or 2-AG in place of HU-210. Anandamide and 2-AG are endocannabinoids – stuff our bodies manufacture.

This study gives us some idea how the relationship between opiates and cannabinoids operates at the cellular level. Very cool, eh?


I’m a nerve guy. I can talk about action potentials and sheaths and nodes and sodium/potassium pumps and axons and dendrites and synapses (both axoaxonic and axosomatic) and… stuff. My malady is nerve related.  Sorta.

The “sorta” didn’t dawn on me ’til an associate sent me a link about the roles played by the CB1 and 2 system in the remodeling of bone. You know… my pissed off nerves wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for the fucked up bone; stenosis, osteophytes, osteoarthritis?  It aint the nerves. They’re just the messengers. It’s the bone.


The nerves would be fine if it weren’t for the bone.

I need to expand my studies.

Osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Remember those. Blasts make bone. Clasts absorb bone. This is going on within you. Right now. As you read this. Cool, huh?

Bone is important to people. The fact that it’s in constant rejuvenation is very important to the bone. Especially for bones of older folks; men whose testosterone levels drop off, women after menopause – when those hormones, too, drop to lower levels. Those hormones have a big influence on bone. Things can get out of kilter.

I’m reminded of a joke about how to make a hormone…
Never mind.

Osteoporosis. That’s what we’re talking about here: Osteoporosis and the endocannabinoid system.

Here, check this out:


I think what that reads is there’s strong evidence manipulating the CB1 and CB2 systems can interfere with an osteoblast kicking off the precursors to form osteoclasts and, also, induce apoptosis (cell death) in osteoblasts.

Finding the CB1 system associated with bone confused me at first. I typically associate the CB1 with the brain, major organs, and the peripheral nerves. Then I considered bones as organs. Then I remembered the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone connected to the shin bone…

Where the hell did that come from? Heh!

Hormones. CB1 & 2. Neuroactive receptors… bone physiology.


The article is rather heavy. In reviewing it I’ve spent several hours with a search engine running in the background. Like, everyone knows what RANKL is, right? Yeah, right. If you find yourself with some free time and wouldn’t mind taking a quick biology course, check it out in-depth. Have your reference materials handy.

…weird it starts out talking about treating addiction with THC.

PTSD and Vets

In this post I’m going to cheat. I’m going to offer a link to a Washington Post opinion page from a year ago. How I got there is a bit interesting. I think, anyway.

On a popular activist blog there was a post about an Air Force vet supporting a medicinal cannabis effort in Arkansas. The vet appears in a T.V. commercial. The 30 second spot can be seen here on the YouTube:

Dan Hankins

On the blog it mentioned an article on the subject had appeared in Stars and Stripes (a military news media). And I’ll be darned… there it was. At the end of the S & S article it credited the Washington Post. At the end of my scavenger hunt I tapped the Post article:

The Post

You might find it of interest.


Yeah, I didn’t have a clue either. My ninety-year-old aunt sent me a newspaper article about a lab study and epilepsy. I mean, like cut it from the paper, put it in an envelope… stamp.  Hey, I still pay my bills via postal. Someone’s gotta keep those wheels turning. Anyway, the researchers did in vitro and in vivo studies. Rats and mice were used on the vivo side.

How bout I give you a “link” to the article? Not that four stamps would break me, but I don’t have your postal address. Heh.

CBDV (L.A. Times)

Yeah, GW Pharmaceuticals again. Before I go all off on the pharm thing read the article. I think it was rather well written. The author does make mention of there being over 100 phytocannabinoids… I thought there were about 66, but then I have been a bit remiss in my studies of late.

Here’s a link that’ll get you to the study’s abstract. I think you can load the whole study from there. You know, for you nerds?

BJP (via Wiley)

In Lee Romney’s article there’s mention of medicinal cannabis folks balking at the profit driven motives of big pharmaceutical industry. Yeah, yeah, I know this is the “medicinal” category. I do think my following commentary is applicable however.

We can have our cake and eat it, too, folks. The answer is simple The answer is cannabis legalization with provisions for home cultivation. With that done the whole plant administration can simply keep plugging along. Grow your stuff. Trade your stuff with fellow “patients.” Breed your own stuff. No harm no foul.

And the big pharms can do the science. I mean, c’mon do you have a lab? Hell, I don’t even have a rat much less a gas chromatograph. Did you even know there was a cannabidivarin? What if GW’s little stumble-upon manages to give epileptics some serious relief? I don’t see that as a bad thing. Do you?

I can’t help, but have a whole new industry come to mind. One where the phyto- breeders chase the pharms.  You know, like that whole CBD thing down in California?

Canabidivarin… whip that out on your med-head friend during conversation. I’d read the article and study first though.

And Another Study on Studies

I don’t know if taking a bunch of studies, evaluating them and then announcing the results is some sort of research cheat or a valid scientific method.  I’ll query the next research scientist I come across.

This one’s from Germany.
I’ll be honest with you, under methods, “Selective literature review,” is posited. I’m not real sure “selective” was a good word to use. Though it appears a tad over 100 research papers are cited. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe the work tells us the criteria involved in picking the studies for analysis?

Regardless, they appear to be an accredited bunch and the conclusion was positive. here, take a look for yourself:  study

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got this day.


MS and Phytocannabinoids

Damn, but I love that word, “phytocannabinoid.”  It’s true, I had to check the spelling ’cause it just doesn’t look right, but maybe that’s why I like it? It’s a weird word. Birds of a feather…

I’ve written before about the neuroprotectant (‘nother cool word) properties of the chemical compounds found in the plant. Still, when another study – by folks with all of those cool letters after their name – is released, I feel it gives further validity to the previous studies.

Some folks in the U.K. did one on the efficacy of cannabis extracts in the palliative treatment of MS. The abstract can be found in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. unfortunately, to read the whole thing you best be ready to pony up some bones. But, for the meat of it:

MS and Phytos

Is 30% significant? I’m not sure. Oh, I’d guess that near a third would think so, but in the world of science… I dunno. Hell, the conclusion merely states that cannabis extracts are more effective than a placebo in relieving stiffness in MS patients.

Oh, but wait… Doesn’t GW Pharmaceuticals have an extract derived product on the market (in several countries) to treat MS ?

Sigh, move along here. There’s nothing to see – I guess. Hell, the U.S. Government has known of those properties since 2003 (earlier, actually).

See: 6,630,507

Sorry for wasting your time.

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