420 with CNW – Missouri Welfare Recipients Uncertain Whether Medical Cannabis Will Affect Benefits

The midterm elections last month saw a large number of Missouri voters turn out to vote in favor of Amendment 2, the ballot measure which was intended to legalize medical marijuana. The passing of that amendment means that Missourians have an extra option to deal with various health conditions, such as PTSD, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. However, those receiving welfare benefits from the state aren’t sure whether the use of cannabis will make them ineligible for the benefits which they rely on for their sustenance.

The Department of Social Services in Missouri revealed that it has not yet reached a position regarding the status of beneficiaries who opt to use medical marijuana. However, the department offered no timeline regarding how soon the policy review would be complete.

Currently, the law requires that applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be screened for drug use. Those who don’t show up for the test, and those who test positive for various drugs, including marijuana, immediately become ineligible to receive the benefits for three years.

Nonetheless, not everyone is tested, although everyone is asked about drug use. The welfare officers have the discretion to decide who is selected to be tested and who enrolls for the program without undergoing the drugs test.

As things stand, welfare benefits recipients may have to play it safe and abstain from medical marijuana even if they badly need it. This option is a tough one, but if one is faced with a choice on whether to risk being declared ineligible for three years after testing positive for cannabis or waiting until the Department of Social Services decides the way forward, then the abstinence choice becomes the less harmful one.

The dilemma on whether to consume medical cannabis or not isn’t just weighing on the mind of welfare recipients alone. Employees in various government departments, such as those working in the correctional facilities, also don’t know where they stand regarding the recently passed law legalizing medical marijuana.

The law bars the consumption of marijuana in all correctional facilities. However, it is not clear whether someone working in a correctional facility (warders, for example) can lose his or her job when drugs tests return a positive result for marijuana. Once more, the officials in charge of the Department of Correctional Services aren’t ready to commit one way or the other regarding this grey area.

One is tempted to think that it is still early days since medical marijuana was legalized in the state, so different stakeholders are still digesting the implications, and how to react to the new reality. Meanwhile, welfare recipients and workers in government departments remain uncertain about what the future holds for them regarding medical marijuana. Everyone watching the developments in Missouri, including Therma Bright, Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and TransCanna is hoping that the necessary clarification is provided sooner rather than later so that those who desperately need medical cannabis can access it without fear of being victimized.

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420 with CNW – Scientists Discover How Marijuana and Hemp Differ

Scientists have for long wondered why the cannabinoids in hemp differ in quantity from those present in cannabis, yet these plants are genetically similar. Research was conducted to generate a chromosome map of cannabis sativa and the findings shed light on this important question.

The study brought to light the fact that the THC and CBD composition of hemp and cannabis was largely a product of mutations resulting from viruses that entered the chromosomes of the cannabis plant millions of years ago.

The result of that viral invasion at the genetic level was that cannabis split into two distinct variations, that is, hemp and cannabis. Hemp largely contains CBD while cannabis has varying amounts of CBD and THC, but cannabis has markedly higher THC levels than hemp.

The enzymes that triggered the production of the varying levels of CBD and THC in these two plants look identical at the genetic level, but they differ in genetic expression. Consequently, it is possible to extract one gene and leave the other, thereby growing a plant with only one of the major cannabinoids. For example, the THC gene can be removed so that plants with only CBD can be grown, and the same can be done to the CBD gene in cannabis.

The scientists thought that human selection was partly responsible for the wide prevalence of cannabis strains since, from ancient times, people have been known to propagate plants that gave them the desired output. Consequently, varieties that had balanced CBD and THC may have been ignored and left to disappear from the genetic pool while those with high THC were kept as our forefathers enjoyed the “high” derived from those varieties. Hemp survived this primitive form of selection because it had other uses, such as making rope from its tough fibers.

What does this research show the current crop of scientists? There is still so little known about cannabis. This information gap may not necessary be the fault of the scientific community, but it can be attributed to the decades of prohibition that made it nearly impossible to perform any meaningful research on cannabis.

Jonathan Page, one of the main researchers in this Canadian study, remarked that the legal walls are gradually collapsing, so scientists should take the lead in generating information about this versatile plant. For example, the full implications of this chromosome map produced by Page’s research are yet to be fully understood. The Flowr Corporation (TSX.V: FLWR), The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and other cannabis companies welcome the new body of information that has been added to what is currently known about marijuana.

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420 with CNW – Supply Shortages Could Delay Issuance of Cannabis Retail Licenses in Alberta

The seemingly endless supply shortages ever since recreational cannabis was legalized have started having a domino effect on the Canadian pot industry. The latest news is that the province of Alberta will not issue any more cannabis retail licenses for up to 18 months, unless the supply shortages are addressed by the licensed producers who are mandated to grow and avail cannabis to the recreational and medical cannabis markets.

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) commission made the announcement, adding that the matter was out of their hands.

So far, 65 retail stores were approved and started operating. The province had promised to increase the number to about 250 stores within a year after legalization. However, the ongoing shortages have thrown a spanner in the works, and it may not be possible to hit that target.

Matters may worsen on the supply side if Ontario starts retail sales at the beginning of April next year as planned.

The moratorium on new licenses is biting the business community hard. This is because many of the potential retailers had already leased expensive premises for the retail stores, and now they are continuing to pay rent yet they aren’t operational. For how long can they keep making these rent payments before closing for good?

It isn’t clear what recourse the staff who had already been hired will have in light of this extended delay for new stores to open.

It seems the only winner in this situation is the black market, because consumers keep resorting to the illicit market in order to get what they want. Black market dealers are having a field day meeting the needs of a market that was blown wide open after legalization on October 17.

Meanwhile, Alberta is getting jittery because the delays in licensing new operators may drive investors to Ontario. That capital outflow would take needed tax dollars with it. Alberta is the only province that has so far put a halt on the issuance of new retail licenses.

Their position is understandable given that it makes less sense to bring more retailers on board when the current ones cannot even get half the cannabis that the need to satisfy clients. In fact, it has been widely reported in the local press that buyers are so desperate for recreational cannabis that they are maintaining 24/7 vigilance in order to be first in line when a new consignment of cannabis is delivered to a retail store. The supply chain should have been planned better to avoid such an extended shortage. Sunniva Inc. (CSE: SNN) (OTCQB: SNNVF) and Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) aren’t happy about the bad rap that the industry is getting due to these persistent shortages.

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420 with CNW – Smoking Cannabis Makes You Less High than Vaping It, Study Finds

As the law and people’s attitude towards marijuana gradually eases up, questions are emerging about how the different methods of consuming marijuana compare against each other. Well, scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine sought to answer that question by looking into how vaping cannabis differs from smoking it.

With just 17 participants, this study can be aptly described as a small one. However, its findings cannot be discounted when one considers the thoroughness invested in investigating what the researchers had set their minds upon.

First, the study participants were recruited on the basis of being healthy and having abstained from marijuana for at least a month prior to the study. There were eight women and nine men selected for the study.

These selected participants were then given marijuana at varying levels, that is, at concentrations of 0 milligrams (placebo), 10 milligrams and 25 milligrams. This marijuana was given a week apart, and the participants had to consume it within an eight-hour window.

The researchers then subjected the participants to psychomotor and cognitive function tests, tested how much THC was present in their blood, and then recorded their vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, etc.).

Additionally, the study volunteers were asked to complete a questionnaire in which they reported their subjective assessment of how they felt after consuming the cannabis. For example, they were asked to state whether they felted nauseated, anxious, restless or motivated.

The researchers discovered that vaping appeared to trigger stronger effects among the study participants when compared to smoking marijuana, and this was given further credence when lab tests showed that the level of THC in the blood of the participants was higher in the samples taken after they had vaped the substance.

Other scientists who reviewed the findings commended the researchers for focusing on infrequent users of cannabis since all other research centered on regular consumers. Additionally, the methodical approach taken also attracted acclaim.

However, some observers wondered whether the use of pipes to smoke marijuana could give results that were representative of the marijuana joints (cannabis rolled in a paper) that are commonly smoked.

Furthermore, the study participants were asked to vaporize their marijuana three times in quick succession in order to complete their “dose” for the day. This may differ from what people normally do, that is, vaporize once before taking a long break. Consequently, the study could have brought out the extreme effects that are rarely seen among normal users.

Nevertheless, the study provides valuable information that will be useful to particularly individuals taking medical marijuana. This is because such individuals can adjust the dosage based on the method of use. Cannabis companies like Sproutly Canada, Inc. (OTCQB: SRUTF) (CSE: SPR) (FRA: 38G) and Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC: SGMD) certainly appreciate the insights provided to users and the industry by the research at Johns Hopkins.

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420 with CNW – Marijuana Could Improve the Memory of Older People, Study Finds

Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany and Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Israel) have done a study to investigate whether cannabis can improve brain function once endocannabinoid system (ECS) activity is increased by administering cannabis.

Lead researcher Andreas Zimmer and his team got three categories of mice for this study. The first group of mice was two months old while the second group was 12 months old. The third group of mice was 18 months old. These three groups represented the young, mature and old age-groups respectively.

The mice in each age group either received a placebo or had an implant that released THC slowly into the bloodstream. This was done consistently for 28 days after which several days were allowed to elapse with no THC being administered. This abstinence period was referred to as the washout period.

Additionally, all the mice (whether they got THC or a placebo) took part in memory and behavioral tests. For example, one activity involved testing whether the mice recognized other mice to which they had been exposed prior to receiving the placebo or THC.

Another test required the mice to locate a safe platform in a pool of water. The time taken during this activity was recorded for all the mice in the study.

The results of the study were eye-opening. For example, the young mice (the group which was two months old) showed a deterioration in their memory function after receiving THC. In contrast, the mature (12 months old) mice showed an improvement in their memory function. How could this be?

The researchers studied the brain structures of these mature mice and discovered that the brains suddenly looked young (comparable to those of the two-month old mice). Specifically, the hippocampus acquired new synaptic spines, a sign that brain neurons could now communicate more effectively with each other, and thereby heighten brain activity.

In other words, the THC had rewritten the genetic programming of the brains of the mature mice. The researchers used the elimination method to discount any other factor which could be responsible for the improved brain function and the result was that the THC reversed the aging of the brain cells.

What do these results mean for humans? The work done by Zimmer and his team shows a high likelihood that older humans can see improvements in brain function if they consume cannabis. However, this isn’t a certainty until human trials are done and documented. The good news is that Zimmer has already secured funding to study how THC affects memory function in humans.

The study involving human subjects will paint a clearer picture of how cannabis can be used to combat mental decline with age, especially dementia. Redfund Capital Corp. (CSE: LOAN) (OTC: PNNRF) (Frankfurt: O3X4), SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) and the entire cannabis industry wish Zimmer and his team of researchers all the best in their bid to broaden how much we know about cannabis and its medicinal value.

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420 with CNW – Australians to Conduct First Marijuana Clinical Trial for Brain Cancer

Two Australians, a naturopath and a neurosurgeon, have teamed up to conduct the first clinical trial in the world aimed at finding out whether cannabis can be used to treat glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.

This type of cancer affects at least 1,000 individuals in Australia alone each year. Sadly, the majority of the patients diagnosed with glioblastoma die within one year and only 5 percent survive for five years after diagnosis.

Dr. Janet Schloss, a naturopath based in Brisbane, and Prof. Charlie Teo, a famous neurosurgeon, have teamed up to explore how patients can have better chances of surviving this cancer if medical cannabis is used alongside the conventional cancer treatments (chemo, radiotherapy and surgery).

The Australian researchers aren’t starting from zero. They have accessed studies conducted in Spain to the effect that medical cannabis inhibits the regrowth of brain tumors in animals. Some human studies have also shown that cannabis may help brain cancer patients to survive for longer.

This research only became possible after Australia made legal changes that permitted the use of some forms of cannabis for medical purposes in 2017. This legal step meant that researchers could now shift from just looking into the side-effects of cannabis consumption to studying how cannabis could be used as a medicine.

Dr. Schloss revealed that she was inspired to do this research after Spanish researchers used cannabis injections to reduce the size of brain tumors. Their research will focus on preventing the regrowth of the brain tumors because patients normally succumb to the condition when suppressed tumors regrow rapidly and cause the death of the patient.

For now, the researchers are recruiting study participants. This stage will be followed by a clinical trial lasting three months in which patients will consume 2ml of cannabis oil each night. The oil was carefully formulated by BioCeuticals to contain as little THC as possible in order to prevent the patients from waking up groggy, or affecting their sleep.

The researchers will document the extent to which cannabis supports the conventional treatments used to treat glioblastoma. The research is being conducted at the Endeavour College of Natural Health, and the New South Wales Ministry of Health has approved the clinical trial. The researchers hope that their findings will increase the options available to the patients who desperately need help in fighting this serious type of cancer. The cannabis community, including companies like Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE: VIDA) (OTCQX: PHVAF) and Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS), are waiting with bated breath for the outcome of this groundbreaking research.

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Hemp Industry Sees Profitable Harvest as Farm Bill Approaches Finale

CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: With the end in sight for the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which contains provisions likely to grant hemp full agricultural legalization, and revenues from existing hemp products rising, hemp farmers are seeing reasons for excitement this fall.

  • The Farm Bill is set to finally pass through Congress in the near future.
  • Predicted hemp revenues for the next few years are soaring.
  • Hemp is doing particularly well in states with supportive politicians, such as Kentucky.

Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC: SGMD) (SGMD Profile) has made the most of this opportunity through investment in Hempistry, a hemp cultivator with big plans for expansion. The popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products means that hemp may soon surpass the value of other cannabis products, which is providing strong profits for companies such as Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY). This popularity will likely to lead to growth in the food and beverage industry, one reason why Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) has received substantial investment from that sector. HEXO Corp. (OTC: HYYDF) (TSX: HEXO) plans to increase its 310,000 square feet of cannabis cultivation space to almost 1 million square feet by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Aphria (NYSE: APHA) (TSX: APHA) is developing new products to tap into…

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420 with CNW – Why Cannabis Capsules are Gaining Popularity

This year saw three Canadian cannabis companies introduce marijuana capsules on the market following the lead taken by Tilray last year. This year also saw UC San Diego get permission from the DEA to import marijuana capsules for a clinical trial. So, what’s the deal with capsules? Why are they suddenly becoming popular?

The first reason why capsules are a hit in the market is because physicians and consumers find them convenient when one doesn’t want to make mistakes when measuring the quantity to consume, especially patients taking marijuana as a way to alleviating their medical conditions. The medical cannabis dispensary can simply advise the patient to take two capsules a day, or whatever number may be deemed necessary for a specific patient. Those instructions will be easier to follow, consistently, since the process of deciding how much cannabis to take is easy.

Secondly, it is easy to transport the cannabis capsules in case one needs a supply close by. For example, you can simply count out the number of capsules you will need for the days when you are going to be away from home. This is different from having to carry an entire bottle of cannabis oil, for example, thereby exposing it to the risk of total loss in case it spills or degrades due to the unfavorable conditions in which you are carrying the product.

Additionally, cannabis capsules are useful for those people who find themselves in environments where it isn’t possible for them to consume cannabis in the most common ways, such as by smoking or vaping it. Such a person can just pop a capsule (or two or three) and get on with whatever he or she was doing, and none nearby will be the wiser.

Let’s face it, marijuana is still a divisive substance, regardless of what the law says in various jurisdictions. Consequently, consumers often face varying levels of stigmatization as they exercise the freedom granted by law to consume cannabis either for medical or recreational reasons. Once again, capsules can come to the rescue of the individuals who want to be discreet regarding their use of marijuana.

However, it isn’t all rosy for cannabis capsules just yet.

One shortcoming of cannabis capsules is that they cannot be standardized as yet since every individual requires a different quantity of marijuana in order to get the desired effects, whether it is feeling high or getting relief from the symptoms of a medical condition. It may therefore be expensive to ask for the contents of capsules to be customized for your needs, or you will have to make do with the estimated contents from mass-produced capsules.

The other question is: do you prepare the capsules yourself, or buy them from a manufacturer/retailer like MedReleaf Corp.? The source of the capsules is important because it will determine whether you are getting a consistent quality and quantity of cannabis that can trigger the desired effects. For now, buying from a licensed producer or dispensary seems a better route than going the DIY way.

As you can see from the discussion above, marijuana capsules look set to rise to higher levels over the years because of the many advantages that they bring. Industry insiders like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) welcome every innovation, such as capsules, which makes it easier for people to access the cannabis they need for different purposes.

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420 with CNW – Consuming Legal Marijuana in Massachusetts Could Still Get You Fired

In one of the ironies surrounding recreational marijuana, anyone who tests positive for the substance can legally be fired even if state law permits the consumption of cannabis by adults. Several employers polled in Massachusetts admitted that they would continue random drugs tests. They cite a number of reasons for this.

First, many employers revealed that testing employees and firing those who test positive for the metabolites of THC helps those employers to pay lower insurance premiums. This is especially true for companies that involve the use of heavy machinery. Lower premiums mean more savings for company owners.

Secondly, employers are concerned about the safety of their customers. For example, would you be comfortable allowing someone who is under the influence of cannabis to service your pool at home?

Another reason given by employers who insist that they will continue testing their employees for drugs (and making hiring decisions based on the test results) is that those employers have a duty to ensure that their employees are safe at the workplace. Maintaining a drug-free work environment is one of the ways to protect employees from many avoidable hazards.

However, recruiters say those who conduct pre-employment drug testing are increasingly becoming the minority among employers in the state. This is because such a procedure tends to eliminate a significant fraction of job applicants because marijuana is widely consumed ever since it became legal.

Mayo Clinic reveals that anyone who consumes marijuana just once can have the metabolites of the substance in their urine for up to three days. The duration within which these metabolites can be detected increases based on how often one consumes cannabis. For instance, daily users peak at more than 30 days within which cannabis can be detected after the last time they consumed the substance.

The law legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts calls on employers to implement reasonable protections for employees who have a medical marijuana card issued by the state. Those are the only employees who may escape punitive action if they tested positive for THC metabolites during pre-employment screening or random testing once they are on the job.

But, why is there such a contradiction in the law? Federal law takes precedence over state law on many employment issues, such as the laws regarding an employer’s liability for the welfare of his or her employees. Consequently, state law permits people to consume recreational marijuana but leaves the door open for employers to take action against workers who test positive and create risks for the company.

These contradictions will only end once the federal government finally decides to legalize marijuana. How far off will that be? Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP), Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) and other industry players can’t wait to see the end of prohibition at the federal level.

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Cannabis Cultivation Powering Growth for the Industry

CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Cultivation by both large and small growers is powering growth across the cannabis industry.

  • Cultivation is fueling the growth of the cannabis industry.
  • $718 million was invested in cultivation and retail last year as the industry continued to grow.
  • Raw materials from cultivators are used in a wide range of cannabis products.
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Within this growing industry, Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTC: NUGS) (NUGS Profile) is working to foster emerging brands by targeting investment through a la carte partnerships and acquisitions. Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), one of Canada’s largest cultivators, has seen earnings rise 78.9 percent so far this year thanks to growing demand and a maturing business. Cultivation means profits for hydroponics suppliers such as GrowGeneration Corp. (OTCQX: GRWG), which provides the materials growers need. Some companies are working to stand out through branding, such as the feel-good ethos of Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: CWBHF) (CSE: CWEB). Others, such as Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (NYSE: ACB) (TSX: ACB), are working with local authorities to reach…

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About CannabisNewsWire

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