Prevalence, Demographics, Use Patterns, and Health Indicators of U.S. Cannabis Consumers
by Chane Leigh
Good research is the foundation that holds the cannabis industry together. After all, if science cannot prove cannabis’ place in the world of medicine, how can lawmakers impose less restrictive rules on the plant in order to let the industry prosper?
Prospering it is, with the global medical cannabis market generating USD $26.1 billion across the United States last year. As more states gradually begin to adopt similar laws, analysts are feeling more confident about meeting the 2027 sales projections of $46.18 billion.
Instead of spending unnecessary time burrowing through pages of online research journals and news reports to absorb the most prominent research findings, let us present you with five stand-out discoveries that spotlight the plant’s diversity nicely.
According to a team of Oregon State University researchers, two particular cannabis compounds (aka cannabinoids) may hold promise for preventing SARS-CoV-2 from invading and infecting human cells. Those cannabis compounds are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
The study demonstrated how some cannabis-derived cannabis compounds could deter the virus from entering healthy human cells. Fronted by Richard van Breemen—a scientist affiliated with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy, and Linus Pauling Institute—the study was featured in the Journal of Nature Products.
A study published on Feb. 5, 2019, in the journal Human Reproduction showed that men who have smoked cannabis at some stage during their lifetime had much higher sperm concentrations than men who had never smoked cannabis. The research was conducted by members of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general,” said Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School.
The professor and his team of researchers also discovered that there were no major disparities in sperm levels among existing and past cannabis smokers. “Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use,” Chavarro concluded.
Another study that was published back in JAMA Psychiatry in June 2018 focused on the connection between cannabis and cognitive function in both adolescents and young adults. Based on the study’s outcome, cannabis doesn’t make people stupid, nor does it damage brain cells.
In order to reach this conclusion, the study’s researchers assessed a total of 2,152 cannabis consumers and put the results side-by-side with those of 6,575 study subjects who had hardly any exposure to the plant. If there was any association between cannabis consumption and cognitive ability, the researchers noted that it was minimal.
Moreover, the study discovered that cannabis-associated cognitive deficits appeared to reduce 72 hours post-consumption, suggesting that cannabis’ effects are short-lived and are not harmful to the brain.
Although research into the use of CBD for dogs is scarce, we do know that dogs have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) just like we humans do. This means that they are also affected by the plant. Last year, researchers proved that CBD oil administration in shelter dogs effectively reduced aggressive behavior towards humans.
A total of 24 dogs were included in the study sample, 12 of which were assigned to a treatment group and 12 to a control group. The treated group received extra virgin olive oil, titrated to 5% in CBD, while the control group received a placebo consisting only of olive oil. After being administered daily for 45 days, CBD was found to have a soothing effect on the dogs.
Laboratory tests that were carried out as part of a collaborative effort between the Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle proved that a modified form of medical cannabis can inhibit or even kill cancer cells without negatively affecting normal cells. Thanks to the findings, cannabis is attracting new attention as a prospective treatment option, as opposed to a relief medication.
Cancer researcher Dr. Matt Dun joined forces with the Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) to deliver the astonishing results. The ANTG prides itself on producing a cannabis variety that contains less than 1% of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The company’s modified form of medical cannabis, “Eve,” is enriched with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD).
“ANTG wanted me to test it against cancer, so we initially used leukemia cells and were really surprised by how sensitive they were,” Dr. Dun said. “At the same time, the cannabis didn’t kill normal bone marrow cells, nor normal healthy neutrophils [white blood cells].”
Without cannabis research efforts such as those featured in this article, scientists wouldn’t be able to prove that the leafy plant harbors true remedial properties. Since the scope of existing research already extends across a wide range of medical conditions, diseases, and ailments, there’s a good chance that we will learn more about cannabis’ diversity in the near future.
This is highly likely, considering the fact that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is finally reviewing cannabis research applications. Until then, sit tight, do your research, and dodge the illicit market.
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