Adrian Devitt-Lee

Bugs, mold and excrement: Welcome to the Brave New World of California cannabis

On November 16, 2017, California officials released a new set of regulations for cannabis manufacturing, testing, and growing. In many respects, these updates are a significant improvement to the initial draft regulations, however, some major problems remain. 

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Fire, Brimstone, and Dioxin: Toxic Smoke from Wine Country Wildfires Threatens Cannabis Crop and Public Health

Highlights: 
  • Smoke from major fires will contaminate crops in Northern California’s prime cannabis-growing region.
  • Cannabis, a bioaccumulator, will uptake heavy metals from the soil that have deposited on the ground.
  • Analytical labs should test cannabis products for an array of fire-related heavy metals, aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins, even those that are not mandated by regulations.

The October firestorms raging in Northern California have incinerated nearly a quarter million acres and displaced more than 100,000 residents. Heavy smoke has blanketed the skies in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, poisoning the air to an unprecedented degree and prompting air quality alerts and health advisories throughout the region.

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Dosing THCA: Less is more

Cannabis doesn’t actually produce THC or CBD. The plant produces all cannabinoids in an acid form. Instead of making THC and CBD directly, it synthesizes tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) from their cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) precursor.

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Burning Issue: The Cannabis Industry Has a Pesticide Problem

As cannabis is legalized for medical and recreational use on a state-by-state basis, safety regulations regarding cannabis products are becoming increasingly important. One aspect of safety regulations involves setting maximal allowable limits on pesticides. Such regulations are particularly significant given that medical populations, including young and immunocompromised patients, are among the intended consumers of cannabis products.

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What's in Your Medical Marijuana Vaporizer? Toxic Vape Oil Endangers Patients

In the summer of 2015, Project CBD published a report by Dr. Jahan Marcu that exposed the potential hazards of heating and inhaling propylene glycol (PG), a widely used thinning agent in many cannabis oil products, including vape pen cartridges. Project CBD was the first cannabis industry watchdog to call attention to research showing that when PG is heated in an electronic vaporizer, it can decompose into formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen. We noted with concern that thinning agents such as PG are typically present in hemp-derived CBD oil extracts. Nearly every hemp CBD vape oil brand we examined included PG or, even worse, polyethylene glycol (PEG), another toxic additive.

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Mind Over Matter Over Mind: Cannabinoids and the Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is a pervasive medical phenomenon. It occurs when someone responds to an inert treatment or an expectation of benefit in the same way that they would respond to an actual treatment. Experts don’t know exactly how or why, but there’s no disputing that a person given a placebo — be it a sugar pill, a saline injection or even sham surgery or sham acupuncture — will often experience a perceived or real improvement in their condition.Placebos with no active drug ingredients can trigger changes in brain chemistry, heart rate, and blood pressure. A placebo can even enhance short-term memory. Brain imaging techniques have shown that placebos have a measurable impact on brain activity.

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CBD Science: How Cannabinoids Work at the Cellular Level to Keep You Healthy

In 2012, French scientists reported the presence of cannabinoid receptors on the membranes of mitochondria, the energy-generating organelle within cells. This discovery laid the groundwork for subsequent investigations into the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating mitochondrial activity, which is critical to how cells function. Defects in mitochondria have been linked a wide range of neurodegenerative, autoimmune and metabolic disorders -- Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, cardiovascular and neuromuscular disease, and more.

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Mad Science, Bad Science and the Cannabis Plant

Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel half way around the world before truth even gets its boots on.” When it comes to reporting on cannabis science, in many ways we’re still traveling barefoot.

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CBD-Drug Interactions: The Role of Cytochrome P450

Cannabidiol is a safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive cannabis compound with significant therapeutic attributes, but CBD-drug interactions may be problematic in some cases.

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