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First Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science appointed to study the effects of cannabis on opioid addiction

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For the past few years, the opioid epidemic has been a scourge on society. According to a National Report done by the Canadian Government on Apparent Opioid-related Deaths in Canada, more than 10,300 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and September 2018. In the first nine months of 2018 alone, 3,286 deaths occurred in Canada. 93% of those were accidental. The largest licensed producer of cannabis is investing in efforts to study how cannabis can help those with opioid use disorder. Canopy Growth Corporation has named UBC’s first Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science, M-J Milloy, PhD.

The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) received $500k from the B.C. government for opioid overdose solutions research. Canopy Growth added $2.5 million to UBC and BCCSU to not only establish the Canopy Growth Professor of Cannabis Science but to also establish the Canopy Growth Cannabis Science Endowment Fund.

In a statement released by Canopy growth, the licensed producer notes the importance of M-J Milloy’s upcoming work. “As a substance use epidemiologist, his research has focused on the interrelationships between illicit drugs and HIV, as well as the public health impact of cannabis regulation and the medical application of cannabis and cannabinoids, especially for people living with HIV or substance use disorders.” The statement adds, “Examining the potential of cannabis in addressing the opioid overdose crisis and other substance use disorders is a top priority for Dr. M-J Milloy.”

The statement stresses that the professor’s research “will contribute to an emerging body of evidence suggesting that cannabis can have a positive impact on the well-being of people with opioid use disorder.”

Dr. M-J Milloy is optimistic. “Legalization has really touched off, I think, what will be known as a renaissance in cannabis science.” Dr. Milloy hopes that the legalizing of cannabis will lead to an influx of both public and private sector support for cannabis research. The hope is that more recreational cannabis business entities may gain the capital to reinvest in the medical side of the cannabis industry.

Cannabis and Sleep

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You’re tossing and turning. Another frustrating night. Whether you have insomnia or just having a restless night, cannabis may provide some kind of relief. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence and there have been a handful of studies that show that cannabis can shorten the length of time needed to fall asleep.

Dr. Hans Hamburger is a neurologist, somnologist, and head of the Amsterdam Sleep Centre in the Netherlands. He cautions on the shortcomings of anecdotal evidence. The types of products, the times of day in which the products are used, and the combination of THC and CBD in the products all have to be taken into account when determining the effects of cannabis on sleep.

What Dr. Hamburger does acknowledge is the role cannabis can play on sleep cycles and dreams.

Cannabis and REM sleep

Sleep consists of four repeating stages where rapid eye movement (REM) is the final stage. While Dr. Hamburger can’t say for certain how cannabis affects all the sleep cycles, he does say that THC has an effect on the quality of REM sleep. THC reduces the REM stage and increases the deep sleep stage.

Dr. Raffaele Manni is the head of the Sleep Medicine and Epilepsy unit at Italy’s National Institute of Neurology. He posits that CBD rather than THC can improve sleep quality by affecting the brain and nervous system with its anti-anxiety properties.

Dreams and Cannabis

Dreaming only happens during the REM stages, so it stands to reason that dreams are affected by cannabis. “Cannabis reduces dreams,” states Dr. Hamburger. This can be a good thing for people who suffer through recurring nightmares, like those with depression or PTSD. This does not mean that the content of their dreams change but rather the number of dreams lessens.

“We know that cannabis may be beneficial towards decreasing nightmares in post-traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Manni says. “This effect is likely to be mediated by cannabis sedative properties, which can decrease anxiety.”

In other words, people who suffer from anxiety and depression may find cannabis helpful for falling asleep because it quells the negative thoughts that may be keeping them up. It also lessens the number of dreams thereby lessening the chance of wakeful nightmares.  

“What we dream, thus the content of our dreams, is not influenced by cannabis,” states Hamburger. “The content of dreams depends on the psychological background of the user.” Hamburger ensures that if your normal dreams are replaced with fantastical, intense nightmares, cannabis is not the cause.

Manni says that people can experience short-term effects when suddenly stopping cannabis use after a prolonged amount of time. He speculates that these people can go through withdrawal symptoms related to intense dreams for a period of several days. “It tends to occur at short latency, and presents [the sleeper] with intense brain events,’ Manni says.

Getting a better sleep

Are you able to enjoy the recommended seven to nine hour of nightly sleep? A third of Canadians aged 18-64 suffer through insomnia. Whether you’re one of these Canadians or suffer from inconsistent sleep, it’s important to consult a doctor when attempting to use any sleep aids including cannabis. There are a number of suggested techniques for improving sleep hygiene including shutting off the television, phone, or tablet an hour or so before going to bed. While cannabis may be able to help you fall asleep and limit the number of dreams, be aware that there are only limited studies on sleep and cannabis.

Celebrating the Origins of 420

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Andrew Bartlett/Daily Hive

It’s that time of year again. 420! The Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Flag Day…you get the picture. It’s the biggest and only holiday for cannabis culture. People around the world light up and pay homage to their favourite plant every April 20 but how many people actually know the origin of this smokey celebration.

The history of 420 is hazy to say the least with the predominant myth being that 420 is the police code for apprehending someone suspected of marijuana possession. This is in fact false. 420 is actually the code for homicide for the Las Vegas police department. Fun fact: it’s also code for homicide on the television show CSI. Some people have also thought that 420 represents the number of chemicals in marijuana but, in fact, there are 315 chemicals in cannabis. 420 is not the date that Cannabis was legalized in Amsterdam either. Nor is it the birthday or death anniversary of Bob Marley, Jim Morrison, or Janis Joplin. Some believe 420 is a code found in a Bob Dylan song but, again, this is false.

The truth of the matter is that some precocious teenagers in the 70s in San Rafael, California came up with the term. Legend has it that the group called themselves the Waldos and caught wind of a secret crop of marijuana that they were determined to find and keep for themselves. The original term was Louis: 4:20 because the group would meet after school at 4:20 in the afternoon in front of the Louis Pasteur statue to get high before embarking on their hunt for the abandoned crop.

The term 4:20 not only spread throughout the high school but also spread throughout California and the world thanks to some famous friends. The band the Grateful Dead knew the Waldos and adopted the term 420 for all things marijuana. The renowned magazine High Times began using the term “420” in 1990 and the world has never looked back.

While we still celebrate 4:20 as the time to smoke marijuana, 420 has become synonymous with anything to do with weed. Whether you’re asking if someone has any marijuana, wants some marijuana, or just wants to talk about marijuana, 420 is a general term that can be used on any occasion.

Happy 420!

Hong Kong Sees Increase in Cannabis Seizures Post Canadian Legalization

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iStock, HK Police Force

With the legalization of Cannabis in Canada, other countries look to capitalize on the windfall. The Sing Tao Daily reports that Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department has seized 92 kilograms of cannabis that were sent to the city via mail in the five months from October last year. The uptick coincided with the legalization of cannabis in Canada and was more than the total seized in the previous three years prior to legalization.

A reporter from Sing Tao went undercover and was able to contact a local Hong Kong drug dealer who claimed to be selling Canadian cannabis products. The drug dealer was selling six grams of dried flower for HK$900 or US$114.

Sing Tao goes on to say how easy it is to order cannabis products and dried flower online from sources in Canada and in the parts of the US where cannabis is legal. Some cannabis products available include cookies, gummies, tinctures, and balms. The significant increase in mail order marijuana products has made for stricter customs enforcement.

The Hong Kong customs department continues its fight against drug trafficking by working with overseas counterparts. Not only does this exchange of international resources curb drug trafficking efforts but the Hong Kong customs department also utilizes a number of different detection methods. Customs will inspect passengers, cargo, mail, and even conveyance tools with high-tech detection equipment and trained k-9 units.

In 2018, the number of cannabis crimes in Hong Kong significantly increased with a total of 264 cannabis trafficking cases and 312 people arrested. These numbers are in stark contrast to the years prior to Canadian cannabis legalization as both figures are at five-year highs. That being said, while Hong Kong may try to curtail the influx of cannabis products, more and more international markets are opening up to allow the safe consumption of medicinal and recreational cannabis products.  

Legendary Rap Group Cypress Hill to Play Vancouver’s 4/20 for Free

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Who you tryin’ to get crazy with, ese? Don’t you know 4/20 is loco. The indelible Cypress Hill is set to perform a free show in Vancouver. The city is celebrating its 25th annual 4/20 event and it’s set to be the largest ever. This year is special since it marks the first 4/20 celebration since Canada legalized cannabis.

There were an estimated 50,000 people in attendance last year and organizers feel this year will be larger even though the event will be taking place against the city park board’s wishes. The event takes place at Sunset Beach Park and starts at noon. Soon after 4:20 strikes, Cypress Hill will take the stage.

The iconic stoner-rap group formed in 1988 and consists of B-Real, Sen Dog, DJ Muggs, and Eric “Bobo” Correa. The group is known for mixing Latin, hip hop, and rock music. Cypress Hill has released nine studio albums and is “the first Latino American hip-hop recording group to go platinum.” Their second album “Black Sunday” is considered by many hip hop and cannabis aficionados as a classic with songs like “Hits from the Bong” and “I Wanna Get High”.

The legendary group has multiple platinum albums and have sold over 20 million albums worldwide. This month the iconic group will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With their musical success, Cypress Hill continues to be outspoken. While the group has permanently etched themselves in cannabis advocacy, they have also committed themselves to many political and social issues.  

This year the rap group will be embarking on a worldwide tour beginning in their home state of California and then heading out to Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, and numerous other countries. To get a full list of tour dates, visit the group’s official page cypresshill.com

Seth Rogan Launches Houseplant Cannabis Brand

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Piper Courtenay straight.com

Vancouver’s very own Seth Rogan and producing partner Evan Goldberg have finally revealed a  project “years in the making”. The pair have announced “Houseplant”, a cannabis company launched together with Canopy Growth. Joining the likes of Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart, Seth Rogan is the latest to join Canopy Growth’s growing celebrity roster.

Partnering with the world’s largest Licensed Producer is a boon for Seth Rogan whose celebrity persona is well-established in cannabis culture. The proud Canadian announced Houseplant with a short video captioned, “Been working on something I’m very excited about for years and years. Follow @houseplant if you’d like to find out more! I’m sorry I’m being mysterious but that’s how it is.”

While the caption may seem coy, there are strict regulations regarding celebrity endorsements of cannabis companies. Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg have made it clear that they are business partners with Canopy Growth and not celebrity spokespeople.

The official Houseplant announcement came with a press release and b-roll footage of the pair touring one of their facilities.

“Houseplant is a passion we’ve brought to life through drive and dedication,” Rogan states in the release. “Every decision we’ve made for the business reflects the years of education, first-hand experience and respect we have for cannabis.”

True to their comedic roots, the writing partners produced a handful of humorous PSAs narrated by Rogen. You can watch these videos on their website and have a look at the nostalgic style of the brand that reflects their playful ethos.

Houseplant will be offering three strains to begin with including Sativa, Hybrid, and Indica. Houseplant Sativa will be the first strain available in Canada starting in April. This will be followed by Houseplant Hybrid, Houseplant Indica, soft gel capsules, and pre-rolled joints.

“We are so proud to be launching in Canada, our home,”  Evan Goldberg goes on to say in a statement. “After spending five years diligently preparing for the launch of this company, we’re excited to be able to share our passion for cannabis with Canadians in this way.”

Viagra Creators Now Have Their Eyes Set on Weed Lube for Women

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Getty Images

For years now, men have reaped the benefits of the sexual performance drugs Cialis and Viagra. Women, for the most part, have not had the same respite from sexual frustrations. Help may be on its way as one of the lead researchers of Cialis and Viagra is now studying cannabis as a sexual enhancement for women. Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan was one of the lead researchers behind Cialis and Viagra and is now working with Manna Molecular Science, a cannabis pharmaceutical company based in the U.S., to create a cannabinoid-infused gel for women. Put simply, Dr. Padma-Nathana is developing weed lube for women.

Dr. Padma-Nathan is not the first to explore the relationship between sex and cannabis as there are a number of similar products on the market; however, none come with Dr. Padma-Nathan’s credentials. He notes that improving sex for women is much more complex than improving sex for men because improving sex for men is mainly about boosting blood flow.  “Men are more simplistic than women,” Dr. Padma-Nathan notes in a Boston Globe article. “Our sexual response cycle is linear, starting with desire, arousal, and orgasm. Women are more complex.”

In recent studies, it was found that weed enhances sex for women by targeting an array of issues at once: anxiety, pain, and distractions. Additionally, weed increases arousal and the ability to orgasm.

Unlike Cialis or Viagra, Dr. Padma-Nathan and his team are not developing a drug but rather a “sexual enhancement”. This means that they won’t need to get the FDA’s approval. Currently, Dr. Padma-Nathan and his team are testing both CBD and THC on animal vaginal tissue and are targeting this summer to have their product on the market.

For more, read the full article at the Georgia Straight.