SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cannabis

326

Hair analysis for cannabinoids is extensively applied in workplace drug testing and in child protection cases, although valid data on incorporation of the main analytical targets, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), into human hair is widely missing. Furthermore, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the biogenetic precursor of THC, is found in the hair of persons who solely handled cannabis material. In the light of the serious consequences of positive test results the mechanisms of drug incorporation into hair urgently need scientific evaluation. Here we show that neither THC nor THCA-A are incorporated into human hair in relevant amounts after systemic uptake. THC-COOH, which is considered an incontestable proof of THC uptake according to the current scientific doctrine, was found in hair, but was also present in older hair segments, which already grew before the oral THC intake and in sebum/sweat samples. Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke. This is of concern for e.g. child-custody cases as cannabinoid findings in a child’s hair may be caused by close contact to cannabis consumers rather than by inhalation of side-stream smoke.

Concepts: Cannabinoid receptor, Cannabis, Cannabinoid, Cannabidiol, Cannabinoids, Recreational drug use, Raphael Mechoulam

285

To assess the association between medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and the odds of a positive opioid test, an indicator for prior use.

Concepts: Cannabis, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Legality of cannabis by country

259

Anecdotally, both acute and chronic cannabis use have been associated with apathy, amotivation, and other reward processing deficits. To date, empirical support for these effects is limited, and no previous studies have assessed both acute effects of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as well as associations with cannabis dependence.

Concepts: Cannabinoid receptor, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis, Dopamine, Cannabinoid, Cannabidiol, Cannabis sativa

177

Despite public awareness that tobacco secondhand smoke (SHS) is harmful, many people still assume that marijuana SHS is benign. Debates about whether smoke-free laws should include marijuana are becoming increasingly widespread as marijuana is legalized and the cannabis industry grows. Lack of evidence for marijuana SHS causing acute cardiovascular harm is frequently mistaken for evidence that it is harmless, despite chemical and physical similarity between marijuana and tobacco smoke. We investigated whether brief exposure to marijuana SHS causes acute vascular endothelial dysfunction.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Law, Endothelium, Endothelial dysfunction, Cannabis, Smoke

175

The psychoactive component of the cannabis resin and flowers, delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was first isolated in 1964, and at least 70 other structurally related ‘phytocannabinoid’ compounds have since been identified. The serendipitous identification of a G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor at which THC is active in the brain heralded an explosion in cannabinoid research. Elements of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) comprise the cannabinoid receptors, a family of nascent lipid ligands, the ‘endocannabinoids’ and the machinery for their biosynthesis and metabolism. The function of the ECS is thus defined by modulation of these receptors, in particular, by two of the best-described ligands, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and anandamide (arachidonylethanolamide). Research on the ECS has recently aroused enormous interest not only for the physiological functions, but also for the promising therapeutic potentials of drugs interfering with the activity of cannabinoid receptors. Many of the former relate to stress-recovery systems and to the maintenance of homeostatic balance. Among other functions, the ECS is involved in neuroprotection, modulation of nociception, regulation of motor activity, neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity and the control of certain phases of memory processing. In addition, the ECS acts to modulate the immune and inflammatory responses and to maintain a positive energy balance. This theme issue aims to provide the reader with an overview of ECS pharmacology, followed by discussions on the pivotal role of this system in the modulation of neurogenesis in the developing and adult organism, memory processes and synaptic plasticity, as well as in pathological pain and brain ageing. The volume will conclude with discussions that address the proposed therapeutic applications of targeting the ECS for the treatment of neurodegeneration, pain and mental illness.

Concepts: Receptor, Cannabinoid receptor, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis, Cannabidiol, Cannabinoids, Anandamide

160

Cannabis is widely used as a self-management strategy by patients with a wide range of symptoms and diseases including chronic noncancer pain. The safety of cannabis use for medical purposes has not been systematically evaluated. We conducted a prospective cohort study to describe safety issues among subjects with chronic noncancer pain. A standardized herbal cannabis product (12.5% THC) was dispensed to eligible subjects for a one-year period; controls were subjects with chronic pain from the same clinics who were not cannabis users. The primary outcome consisted of serious adverse events (SAEs) and non-serious adverse events (AEs). Secondary safety outcomes included pulmonary and neurocognitive function and standard hematology, biochemistry, renal, liver and endocrine function. Secondary efficacy parameters included pain and other symptoms, mood, and quality of life. Two hundred and sixteen individuals with chronic pain were recruited to the cannabis group (141 current users and 58 ex-users) and 215 controls (chronic pain but no current cannabis use) from seven clinics across Canada. The median daily cannabis dose was 2.5g/d. There was no difference in risk of SAEs (adjusted IRR=1.08, 95% CI=0.57-2.04) between groups. Medical cannabis users were at increased risk of non-serious AEs (adjusted IRR=1.73, 95% CI=1.41-2.13); most were mild to moderate. There were no differences in secondary safety assessments. Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile. Longer term monitoring for functional outcomes is needed.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Medicine, Chemotherapy, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis, Medical cannabis, Cannabis sativa, Legality of cannabis by country

160

Opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven by increases in prescribing for chronic pain. Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them.

Concepts: Opioid, Pain, Morphine, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Analgesic, Cannabis, Ketamine, Hydrocodone

146

In many parts of the world, the possession and cultivation of Cannabis sativa L. are restricted by law. As chemical or morphological analyses cannot identify the plant in some cases, a simple yet accurate DNA-based method for identifying C. sativa is desired. We have developed a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay for the rapid identification of C. sativa. By optimizing the conditions for the LAMP reaction that targets a highly conserved region of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) synthase gene, C. sativa was identified within 50 min at 60-66 °C. The detection limit was the same as or higher than that of conventional PCR. The LAMP assay detected all 21 specimens of C. sativa, showing high specificity. Using a simple protocol, the identification of C. sativa could be accomplished within 90 min from sample treatment to detection without use of special equipment. A rapid, sensitive, highly specific, and convenient method for detecting and identifying C. sativa has been developed and is applicable to forensic investigations and industrial quality control.

Concepts: Cannabis, Identification, Hemp, Cannabis sativa

145

Cannabis exposure, particularly heavy cannabis use, has been associated with neuroanatomical alterations in regions rich with cannabinoid receptors such as the hippocampus in some but not in other (mainly cross-sectional) studies. However, it remains unclear whether continued heavy cannabis use alters hippocampal volume, and whether an earlier age of onset and/or a higher dosage exacerbate these changes.

Concepts: Brain, Cross-sectional study, Sociology, Hippocampus, Cannabinoid receptor, Cannabis, Cannabidiol

127

Recent reports suggest that acute intoxications by synthetic cannabinoids are increasing in the United States (1,2). Synthetic cannabinoids, which were research compounds in the 1980s, are now produced overseas; the first shipment recognized to contain synthetic cannabinoids was seized at a U.S. border in 2008 (3). Fifteen synthetic cannabinoids are Schedule I controlled substances (3), but enforcement is hampered by the continual introduction of new chemical compounds (1,3). Studies of synthetic cannabinoids indicate higher cannabinoid receptor binding affinities, effects two to 100 times more potent than Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis), noncannabinoid receptor binding, and genotoxicity (4,5). Acute synthetic cannabinoid exposure reportedly causes a range of mild to severe neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, renal, and other effects (4,6,7); chronic use might lead to psychosis (6,8). During 2010-2015, physicians in the Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC) treated 456 patients for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications; 277 of the 456 patients reported synthetic cannabinoids as the sole toxicologic agent. Among these 277 patients, the most common clinical signs of intoxication were neurologic (agitation, central nervous system depression/coma, and delirium/toxic psychosis). Relative to all cases logged by 50 different sites in the ToxIC Case Registry, there was a statistically significant association between reporting year and the annual proportion of synthetic cannabinoid cases. In 2015, reported cases of synthetic cannabinoid intoxication increased at several ToxIC sites, corroborating reported upward trends in the numbers of such cases (1,2) and underscoring the need for prevention.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Cannabinoid receptor, Cannabis, Cannabinoid, Recreational drug use, HU-210