He’s back

Remember John P. Walters?


We know marijuana is linked to mental illness — so what are we doing? by John P. Walters in the New York Post.

Yep. The same nonsense that he was promoting years ago. It’s the old “link” to schizophrenia story. And our own Servetus debunked the whole scare earlier this year: Alleged cannabis links to psychosis busted

Of course, Walters buries the important part… “The skeptical will note the study establishes no specific cause-and-effect process, which is more of a caution than a flashing red light.”

In fact, as you continue to read, you understand that he’s simply using the usual scare tactics in the headline in the hopes that people won’t really comprehend the lack of any real… substance in what he writes. He says:

Use your experience.

Almost everyone has family members and friends who have become victims of addiction.

Sometimes it is marijuana, sometimes it is booze, marijuana and other drugs.

Look at the addicted you walk past on downtown streets and the violent mental illness you observe or see reported in the news almost every day.

Yes, some of that mental illness is probably fueled by other addictive drugs such as meth.

But ask yourself how pervasive marijuana use can possibly be harmless to families and communities.

Marijuana’s connection to serious mental-health problems has been reported and studied for more than 100 years.

Yep. It has. And there’s still nothing there to justify not legalizing marijuana.

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35 Responses to He’s back

  1. Servetus says:

    Former ONDCP Director John P. Walters has a few credibility problems. One is he’s now the CEO of a neocon “think tank” called the Hudson Institute whose tradition of thinking is to accept $7.9 million in funding from anonymous donors to defend or promote climate denial. His institute also attacked organic farming on behalf of Big Ag even though organic farming makes up just one-percent of the US agriculture industry. A military hardware manufacturer with a $10.7-billion-dollar yearly revenue, the Virginia based Huntington Ingalls Industries, hired the Hudson Institute to promote proposals to Congress that the US build some nuclear-powered 11-billion-dollar aircraft carriers and some more nuclear submarines.

    The Hudson Institute’s services are not free. Far from it. So a big question is who is paying John P. Walters or the Hudson Institute to propagandize against marijuana at this late date in its legalization process? Walters has been retired from the ONDCP since 2009 when he first joined the organization.

  2. Servetus says:

    Police in Uttar Pradesh, India, say rats ate over 500 kilograms of seized weed. The court wanted proof. Could researchers have provided the needed proof by investigating all the alleged marijuana-consuming psychotic rats roaming the streets?

    “There is no place in the police station where the stored goods can be saved from the rats. The remaining marijuana from the huge consignment was destroyed by officers,” the police prosecutor told the court. […]

    The Mathura police in Uttar Pradesh in a report submitted to a special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985) court stated that rats ate over 5oo kilograms of confiscated marijuana stored in the warehouses of Shergarh and Highway police station […]

    The statement by the police was made after the court asked them to produce the 586 kilograms of marijuana recovered in a case registered under the NDPS Act. The Shergarh and Highway police station had seized 386 and 195 kg of marijuana in two different cases.

    “Being small in size, the rats have no fear of the police, nor can the police officers be considered experts in solving the problem,” the prosecutor said. […]

    Hindustan Times: Rats ate over 500 kg seized weed, says Mathura police, court asks for proof

  3. Servetus says:

    Tourette syndrome is the latest disease to be effectively treated in a study using THC or CBD cannabinoids.

    9 JUN 23 — Australian researchers have published the first robust clinical study proving that medicinal cannabis effectively treats the debilitating effects of Tourette syndrome.

    The findings—which show a statistically and clinically significant reduction in motor and vocal tics in just six weeks […]

    The study involved testing 22 adult patients with severe Tourette symptoms. In the double-blind study, participants received both medicinal cannabis oil and a placebo over two six-week blocks.

    “This is the first rigorous and methodical trial of medicinal cannabis to be undertaken in a sufficiently large group of people to make definitive conclusions about its effectiveness,” Dr. Mosley said.

    “It shows that medicinal cannabis can reduce tics by a level that makes a life-changing difference for people with Tourette syndrome and their families.”

    “In addition, we found that other symptoms associated with Tourette syndrome in our participants also reduced, particularly symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety.” […]

    “Cannabis interacts with specific receptors on nerve cells in the brain that are part of the body’s own ‘endocannabinoid’ system,” Dr. Mosley said.

    “Effectively, stimulation of these receptors tightens a leaky filter that now stops the involuntary movements and vocalizations from getting out and being expressed by our participants.”

    Medicinal cannabis is available on prescription [in Australia] to approved patients. Patients are unable to drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery while using the medication that is typically taken orally, in small doses, several times a day. […]

    Medical XPress: Clinical study: Medicinal cannabis is a ‘life-changing treatment’ for people with Tourette syndrome

    NEJM Evidence: Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in Tourette Syndrome

    Philip E. Mosley, F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., Ph.D., Lachlan Webb, B.Sc.(Hons), Anastasia Suraev, Ph.D., Leah Hingston, R.N., Tracy Turnbull, R.N., Kelley Foster, Ph.D., Emma Ballard, Ph.D., and Iain S. McGregor, Ph.D.

  4. Servetus says:

    Cannabidiol (CBD) and its derivatives can make the opioid antidote Narcan (Naloxone) more effective in countering fentanyl ODs. […]

    28 MAR 2023 – Naloxone, a fast-acting opioid antidote, available without a prescription … saved lives, but it’s less effective against powerful synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. In an interesting twist, researchers are now looking to cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana, as a possible alternative to the popular antidote. Today, a team reports [on] compounds based on CBD that reduce fentanyl binding and boost the effects of naloxone. […]

    “Fentanyl-class compounds account for more than 80% of opioid overdose deaths, and these compounds aren’t going anywhere—it’s just too much of an economic temptation for dealers,” says Alex Straiker, Ph.D., the project’s co-principal investigator. “Given that naloxone is the only drug available to reverse overdoses, I think it makes sense to look at alternatives.”

    “Ideally, we would like to discover a more potent replacement for naloxone,” VanNieuwenhze says. “However, finding something that works synergistically with it, reducing the amount needed to treat an overdose, would also be a success.” […]

    Fentanyl and its other synthetic relatives bind more tightly to opioid receptors in the brain. Naloxone reverses an overdose by competing with the drug molecules for the same binding sites on the receptors. But because fentanyl binds so readily, it has a leg up on naloxone, and growing evidence suggests that reversing these kinds of overdoses may require multiple doses of the antidote. […]

    In 2006, a group based in Germany concluded that CBD hampered opioid binding indirectly, by altering the shape of the receptor. When used with naloxone, they found CBD accelerated the medication’s effect, forcing the receptors to release opioids […]

    Gudorf altered CBD’s structure to generate derivatives. Taryn Bosquez-Berger, a graduate student in Straiker’s group, tested these new compounds in cells with a substance called DAMGO, an opioid used only in lab studies. To measure their success, she monitored a molecular signal that diminishes when this type of drug binds. Armed with feedback from these experiments, Gudorf refined the structures she generated […]

    Several derivatives could reduce fentanyl binding even at what Bosquez-Berger described as “incredibly low” concentrations, while also outperforming naloxone’s opioid-blocking performance. Two of these also showed a synergistic effect when combined with the antidote. […]

    Medical XPress: Marijuana-derived compounds could reverse opioid overdoses

  5. Servetus says:

    Psychedelic drugs are shown to reopen critical periods in the brain that speed social learning. Different psychedelics have different time spans of effectiveness.

    14 JUN 23 — Neuroscientists have long searched for ways to reopen “critical periods” in the brain, when mammals are more sensitive to signals from their surroundings that can influence periods of brain development. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say a new study in mice shows that psychedelic drugs are linked by their common ability to reopen such critical periods, but differ in the length of time the critical period is open — from two days to four weeks with a single dose. […]

    Critical periods have been demonstrated to perform such functions as help birds learn to sing and help humans learn a new language, relearn motor skills after a stroke and establish dominance of one eye over the other eye.

    “There is a window of time when the mammalian brain is far more susceptible and open to learning from the environment,” says Gül Dölen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “This window will close at some point, and then, the brain becomes much less open to new learning.”

    For the current study, Dölen’s team looked at the reopening potential of five psychedelic drugs — ibogaine, ketamine, LSD, MDMA and psylocibin — shown in numerous studies as able to change normal perceptions of existence and enable a sense of discovery about one’s self or the world. […]

    For mice given ketamine, the critical period of social reward learning stayed open in the mice for 48 hours. With psilocybin, the open state lasted two weeks. For mice given MDMA, LSD and ibogaine, the critical period remained open for two, three and four weeks, respectively.

    The researchers say the length of time that the critical period stayed open in mice seems to roughly parallel the average length of time that people self-report the acute effects of each psychedelic drug.

    “This relationship gives us another clue that the duration of psychedelic drugs’ acute effects may be the reason why each drug may have longer or shorter effects on opening the critical period,” says Dölen. […]

    Next, the scientists looked at psychedelic drugs’ impact on molecular mechanisms. First, in mouse brain cells, they examined a binding point, known as a receptor, for the neurotransmitter serotonin. The researchers found that while LSD and psilocybin use the serotonin receptor to open the critical period, MDMA, ibogaine and ketamine do not.

    To explore other molecular mechanisms, the research team turned to ribonucleic acid (RNA), a cousin to DNA that represents which genes are being expressed (producing proteins) in the mice’s cells. The researchers found expression differences among 65 protein-producing genes during and after the critical period was opened.

    About 20% of these genes regulate proteins involved in maintaining or repairing the extracellular matrix — a kind of scaffolding that encases brain cells located in the nucleus accumbens, an area associated with social learning behaviors that are responsive to rewards. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Study shows psychedelic drugs reopen ‘critical periods’ for social learning. Scientists say the findings in mice offer a new explanation for how psychedelic drugs work

    Nature: Psychedelics reopen the social reward learning critical period

    Romain Nardou, Edward Sawyer, Young Jun Song, Makenzie Wilkinson, Yasmin Padovan-Hernandez, Júnia Lara de Deus, Noelle Wright, Carine Lama, Sehr Faltin, Loyal A. Goff, Genevieve L. Stein-O’Brien & Gül Dölen

  6. Servetus says:

    United Airlines luggage handlers have been arrested for stealing people’s weed out of their luggage and reselling it. The bust was made by federal authorities.


  7. Servetus says:

    The FDA is gearing up to oversee clinical trials of psychedelic drugs. They’ve issued a draft guidance so that “You’re not sticking your neck out as much as you would 10 years ago, as one research director said”:

    As research interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has grown — with academic centers popping up across the country, and compounds already in development — the FDA recently caught up, issuing a draft guidance on managing clinical trials of these drugs.

    The draft guidance was released on June 23, as one of the largest U.S. psychedelic conferences was under way. It outlined the agency’s views on best practices in clinical trial design for psychedelic drugs — including psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) — in the treatment of medical conditions including psychiatric or substance use disorders. […]

    At least one pharmaceutical company with clinical trials under way said it had anticipated the FDA guidance based on prior communication with the agency. Compass Pathways, which is already conducting phase III studies on psilocybin, said in an emailed statement to MedPage Today that it was “pleased to see this guidance from the FDA, which is aligned to what we already understand of the agency’s thinking — especially the need for rigor and high standards for trial execution and evidence. We see no need for changes to our trial designs as a result of the draft guidance.” […]

    Facilitator credentialing has been criticized as burdening the research teams with too much cumbersome bureaucracy and monitoring. Researchers also expressed a wish to conduct experiments on healthy volunteers who have no mental pathologies and contrast them with patients who have PTSD, addictions, and so forth. Experts and representatives will be allowed 60 days to offer comments where such matters are expected to be resolved,

    • NorCalNative says:

      I support research on psychedelics for depression but have concerns over costs of treatment. I’ve seen ranges of $10,000-to-$15,000. Who can afford that but the wealthy?

      • Son of Sam Walton says:

        Are you familiar with Mindbloom? Lots of vets push ketamine (no pun intended–for the same reason you never give a dentist a horse as a present) for PTSD. Mushrooms are quite more cost-effective. Too bad Fentanyl is poisoning our nation, LSD isn’t considered safe, unless you really trust the source, plus with all those 2CB and 25I-Nbome compounds that can create overdoses–with just a little blotter paper or liquid.

        • NorCalNative says:

          Thanks for the heads-up about Mindbloom. For me, weed usually handles any depression I may encounter. Too bad that we can’t trust getting the real-deal LSD anymore. I’ve got three blotter sheets in picture frames hanging on my walls.

  8. Servetus says:

    Penn State is the recipient of a federal research grant for increasing the economic development of ecologically directed hemp products:

    13-JUL-2023–An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Penn State is part of a project that recently received a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Engines Development Award. The award will fund the development of the Pennsylvania Industrial Hemp Engine (PAIHE), which will support the manufacture and deployment of bio-based products for application in green building construction, packaging, fabrics, renewable energy and land remediation. […]

    “The launch of the Pennsylvania Industrial Hemp Engine reflects Penn State’s commitment to groundbreaking research and to fostering economic development that enriches and empowers our commonwealth, both of which are at the core of our mission as a 21st-century land-grant university,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “This is an effort undertaken in partnership with business, agriculture, government and fellow institutions of higher education — demonstrating the transformative power of public-private partnership and collaboration across industries and disciplines. I am grateful for the support of the National Science Foundation, and for the many partners who are helping make this important work possible.”

    Penn State is partnering with Vytal Plant Science Research (VPSR), a nonprofit biotechnology corporation based in Hazleton, Pennsylvania; Emory University; Wharton School of Business; Ben Franklin Technology Partners; the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; and several farms and private industries throughout the state to launch PAIHE.

    “We are excited at Penn State Harrisburg to be able to leverage our long-term investment in plant genetics and biofuels research, development of public-private partnerships, and increased collaborations across Penn State to engage in this transdisciplinary research in response to NSF’s Engines program,” said Vahid Motevalli, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Penn State researchers receive $1M NSF award to develop hemp-based supply chain–Funding is aimed at the development of a sustainable supply chain of industrial hemp to meet increasing global demand for renewable plant-based and recyclable products

  9. Servetus says:

    Researchers at the University of Central Florida have discovered an outstanding flaw in the health insurance system. Opioid addiction medications are the least covered by insurance plans that are available to people with addictions and who are members of the plans.

    12-JUL-23–Researchers found that although most plans covered the immediate-release sublingual form of buprenorphine, extended-release buprenorphine injections were covered by less than half of commercial plans and less than a fifth of Medicare Advantage Plans. Furthermore, while most Medicaid plans did cover it, more than a third presented a barrier by requiring prior authorization before prescription. […]

    USF Today: New UCF Study Examines Insurance Barriers to Access Opioid Addiction Medication–While insurance coverage of some forms of buprenorphine has improved over the years, researchers say coverage of new, more effective forms of the medication is lacking.

    Health Affairs: Buprenorphine Treatment For Opioid Use Disorder: Comparison Of Insurance Restrictions, 2017–21

    Barbara Andraka-Christou, Kosali I. Simon, W. David Bradford, and Thuy Nguyen.

  10. Servetus says:

    Improvements were made in the treatments of seedlings with ethylene that improve plant growth. The standard ethylene treatment was altered in a way that eliminated the reductions in plant stress tolerance occurring with previous methods.

    18-JUL-2023 — Exposing seedlings to ethylene in darkness increases size and vigor, in a finding with implications for agriculture. […]

    Increases in yield often come at a price: reductions in stress tolerance. Brad Binder and colleagues sought to increase plant yield without sacrificing hardiness…the authors found that when seedlings treated with ethylene in the dark for several days were subsequently given light (and had the ethylene treatment discontinued), the seedlings did better than controls, showing longer primary and lateral roots, a higher density of lateral roots, and an increase in aerial tissue fresh weight.

    Adding sugars to the treatment given in the dark increased the effect, suggesting that the ethylene treatment helps the plant ramp up its metabolism in preparation for emergence from the soil into the sunlight. A metabolomics analysis and RNA sequencing analyses supported this interpretation… plants treated with ethylene during darkness were more tolerant of extreme heat, salty soil, and low oxygen levels than controls. The results suggest that ethylene treatments could help improve yields across a range of crops without sacrificing stress tolerance….

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Ethylene boosts plant yield and vigor

    PNAS Nexus: Ethylene-mediated metabolic priming increases photosynthesis and metabolism to enhance plant growth and stress tolerance

    Eric Brenya, Esha Dutta, Brittani Herron, Lauren H Walden, Daniel M Roberts, Brad M Binder

  11. Steven Tuck says:

    I can’t tell you how proud I was to blow hash smoke in John Walters face in Blunt Brothers coffee shop in BC while I was a refugee back in 2003!

  12. Servetus says:

    Berkeley’s most famous head shop and a celebrated city institution, Annapurna, is closing after 50 years of service to its community and to the cause of marijuana freedom.

    Owned by Al Geyer, Annapurna was the only head shop left standing after the Reagan purge back when the “just-say-no-to-drugs” campaign claimed head shops were corrupting little children. No one in Berkeley cared that the shop was there, so it stayed open.


  13. Servetus says:

    In a first, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have measured the brain waves in rats on LSD or ketamine:

    8-AUG-2023 — The research team that Pär Halje belongs to has developed a method that uses electrodes to simultaneously measure oscillations from 128 separate areas of the brain in awake rats. The electrical waves are caused by the cumulative activity in thousands of neurons, but the researchers also succeeded in isolating signals from individual neurons.

    “For several of these areas, it is the first time anyone has successfully shown how individual neurons are affected by LSD in awake animals. When we gave the rats the psychedelic substances LSD and ketamine, the waves were clearly registered.”

    Despite ketamine and LSD affecting different receptors in the brain – they have completely different ways into the nervous system – they resulted in the same wave patterns even if the signals from individual cells differed. When the rats were given LSD, researchers saw that their neurons were inhibited – they signalled less – in all parts of the brain. Ketamine seemed to have a similar effect on the large neurons – pyramidal cells – which saw their expression inhibited, while interneurons, which are smaller neurons that are only collected locally in tissue, increased their signalling. […]

    Even if what is happening in individual cells is interesting, Pär Halje argues that the whole is bigger and more exciting than the individual parts.

    “The oscillations behave in a strange way. One might think that a strong wave starts somewhere, which then spreads to other parts of the brain. But instead, we see that the neurons’ activity synchronises itself in a special way – the waves in the brain go up and down essentially simultaneously in all parts of the brain where we are able to take measurements. This suggests that there are other ways in which the waves are communicated than through chemical synapses, which are relatively slow.”

    Pär Halje emphasises that it is difficult to know whether the waves cause hallucinations or are merely an indication of them. But, he argues, it opens up the possibility that this could be used as a research model for psychoses, where no good models exist today.

    “Given how drastically a psychosis manifests itself, there ought to be a common pattern that we can measure. So far, we have not had that, but we now see a very specific oscillation pattern in rats that we are able to measure.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: How psychedelic drugs affect a rat’s brain

    Communications Biology: 5-HT2AR and NMDAR psychedelics induce similar hyper-synchronous states in the rat cognitive-limbic cortex-basal ganglia system

    Ivani Brys, Sebastian A. Barrientos, Jon Ezra Ward, Jonathan Wallander, Per Petersson & Pär Halje.

  14. Servetus says:

    UCLA researchers are studying cannabinoids other than THC that have physical and mental effects not yet fully understood. One chemical group is showing up in dispensary products. They’re called HHCs.

    14-AUG-2023 — Cannabinoids is the umbrella term for a group of substances that bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain. Some cannabinoids, of course, are found in the cannabis plant, the best known of which is THC. But many of the new products being sold in dispensaries today are made with other classes of cannabinoids whose neurological or physiological effects are not well understood.

    That has created a kind of “wild west” in the marijuana marketplace, making it difficult for governments to regulate the new products and develop fair laws regarding their use.

    UCLA chemist Neil Garg is one of a group of scientists who are rapidly learning more about emerging cannabinoids. Their goals include ensuring the safety of products being sold to consumers and helping government agencies develop evidence-based laws for the fast-growing industry.

    A new paper by Garg and colleagues takes a close look at one class of those emerging cannabinoids: hexahydrocannabinols, or HHCs. The study systematically evaluates how well HHCs bind to receptors in the human body. […]

    HHC products on the market today typically contain a mixture of two different versions, or isomers, of the HHC molecule. In the new study, the scientists found that although both isomers bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the body as THC does, only one of the isomers binds as well as THC does — which suggests that it is the only HHC isomer with effects comparable to THC. […]

    The paper, published in ACS Chemical Biology, also describes a new method for synthesizing the more biologically active of the two HHC isomers.

    UCLA Newsroom: Consumers who buy cannabis products containing HHCs could be getting less than they hoped for–UCLA chemists develop method for producing a form of the substance that acts more predictably, consistently

  15. Servetus says:

    The use of gene therapy in primates to treat alcoholism shows promising results in preventing relapses after quitting drinking alcohol. Addictions to other substances that affect the same neural circuitry might be treatable as well.

    08-AUG-14 — The study used an accepted primate model to show that sustained release of glial-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF) in a region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) may prevent a return to excessive alcohol use after a period of abstinence. Furthermore, it may do so without disrupting other motivated behaviors. […]

    People with alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly experience repeated cycles of abstinence followed by relapse, even when using one of the few FDA-approved drug therapies, Bankiewicz notes.

    Excessive alcohol use alters certain nerve tracts in the brain that involve the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. These neurons make up the mesolimbic reward pathway, which plays a major role in alcohol and drug addiction.

    These alterations become more pronounced as AUD develops. They include reduced levels of dopamine release, reduced sensitivity of dopamine receptors and increased dopamine uptake. These changes lead to below-normal levels of dopamine in the pathway.

    Scientists think this “hypodopaminergic” state can compel excessive alcohol users to resume drinking after periods of abstinence. […]

    “Overall, our findings indicate that GDNF gene therapy could diminish reintroduction-associated alcohol intake in our primate model,” Bankiewicz says. “We believe this approach shows merit for further study as a promising therapy for AUD and possibly other substance-abuse disorders.”

    The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center: Gene therapy may offer new treatment strategy for alcohol use disorder

    Nature Medicine: GDNF and alcohol use disorder

  16. Servetus says:

    Studies at the Indiana School of Medicine revealed a different brain region implicated in cocaine addiction:

    24-Aug-23 — “Past studies in the field of addiction research have focused on the medial prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls decision making, but no effective prevention or treatment for drug relapse is available,” said Yao-Ying Ma, MD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology and an investigator with the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute at IU School of Medicine. “We focused instead on the supplementary motor cortex, and found this area plays a bigger role in the risk of relapse. It could be a new target for therapeutics to prevent relapse.”

    Researchers studied cocaine-seeking behaviors in animal models, measuring excitability levels in the motor cortex after 45 days of withdrawal. They found hyperexcitability in the motor cortex was increased at this point and used an intervention to calm the excitability taking place in that part of the brain.

    “One of the biggest challenges for patients with addiction is preventing relapse,” Ma said. “We know they need medication, community involvement, psychological support and other resources to help, but for many people who go back to take a drug, it just feels like an automatic behavior. If we can understand whether addiction behavior is subconscious or conscious behavior, we can find better ways to treat and prevent addiction and relapse.”

    The supplementary motor cortex is typically known for directing how the body moves, so Ma said the finding that it plays a big role in addiction is novel and exciting.

    “This brain region has never really gotten too much attention in addiction research, so we’re excited about this finding and how it can change the way we treat addiction by using less invasive methods, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, as well as the trajectory of our work moving forward,” Ma said. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Overlooked part of brain could play critical role in addiction recovery

    Biological Psychiatry: Increased Excitability of Layer 2 Cortical Pyramidal Neurons in the Supplementary Motor Cortex Underlies High Cocaine-Seeking Behaviors

  17. Servetus says:

    Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have discovered a gene that modifies signaling by dopamine. Its discovery furthers the goal of finding a cure for addiction.

    7-SEP-2023 — …The invention, related to the fields of pharmacology, medicine, neurology and psychiatry, targets the protein MBLAC1, which the Blakely lab identified as the mammalian form of a gene the group first identified in worms as a modifier of signaling by the neurotransmitter dopamine.

    “The majority of drug addiction research has focused on dopamine signaling and how changes downstream of dopamine action eventually lead to compulsive drug seeking,” said Blakely, …“However, we found evidence in the worm model C. elegans that a gene expressed in glial cells supports the health and function of dopamine neurons and suspected its actions in humans might also relate to addiction.”

    Glia are non-neuronal cells in the brain and peripheral nervous system well known to support neuronal metabolism and the rapid transmission of impulses.

    “We now know that glial cells support brain function in many more ways, including aspects of the plasticity and drug responses of nearby neurons. Dopamine neurons are no exception,” said Blakely. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Gene discovery nets FAU researchers U.S. patent for molecular approach to treat addiction — Invention by Randy D. Blakely, Ph.D. and Maureen Hahn, Ph.D., relates to fields of pharmacology, medicine, neuroscience and psychiatry

  18. Servetus says:

    Need to quit cigarettes? Try theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation.

    20-SEP-2023 — …the University of Missouri School of Medicine suggests there may be another way to treat cigarette cravings. Researchers found that theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TBS) – strong, rapidly fluctuating magnetic field pulses that can affect brain activity – can lead to improved self-control, reduced cravings and as a result, less smoking.

    People with nicotine dependence tend to have significant structural and functional differences in the brain, compared to healthy non-smokers. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to be associated with less grey matter, which means they have less neurons and other cells in the brain.

    Research suggests these differences may affect inhibitory control (IC), which is our control over automatic urges and response to stimuli – what enables humans to stop an impulsive reaction to something. […]

    Magnetic stimulation has been used to treat other mental illnesses and disorders. cTBS has been experimentally tested to treat generalized anxiety disorder, whereas iTBS to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – a part of your brain responsible for cognitive processes – is FDA-approved for treating major depressive disorder.

    The study involved 37 participants, mostly in their late 40’s, and examined the effects of both cTBS and iTBS to the right inferior frontal gyrus, a brain region heavily involved with IC. Researchers found that cTBS improved IC, whereas both cTBS and iTBS reduced cravings and, subsequently, smoking.

    “Identifying treatments that improve IC may help reduce smoking and can potentially help with preventing relapse following when a person attempts to quit smoking,” Froeliger said. “Treatments that improve IC may also help disrupt the cycle of drug use among individuals with other substance use disorders; however, further research is needed to examine the clinical value of TBS for treating substance use disorders.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Researchers discover potential treatment for nicotine dependence–Theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy may reduce cigarette cravings

    Biological Psychiatry: Effects of Hyperdirect Pathway Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Inhibitory Control, Craving, and Smoking in Adults with Nicotine Dependence: A Double-Blind Randomized Crossover Trial

    Spencer Upton MS, Alexander A. Brown BS, Muaid Ithman MD, Roger Newman-Norlund PhD, Greg Sahlem MD, Jim J. Prisciandaro PhD, Erin A. McClure PhD, Brett Froeliger PhD

  19. Servetus says:

    Researchers have discovered a brain network common to people with addictions to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine or heroin.

    25-SEP-2023 — A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital…suggests a common brain network exists among people with substance use disorder. By evaluating data from across more than 144 studies of addiction, the team found abnormalities across substance use disorders mapped to a common brain network across substances and lesion locations, suggesting a potential brain circuit to target with neurostimulation therapies. […]

    “Our study found that different brain regions implicated in addiction are all a part of a common brain circuit,” said Michael Fox, MD, PhD … “Consistency across different papers means we now have a brain circuit to target addiction with treatments, rather than just a region.” […]

    The team looked at data from previous studies involving more than 9,000 participants. Within each of those studies, different brain regions were noted as a place to target to treat addiction.

    “The best potential targets were unclear because of how many different abnormalities have been found across those previous studies,” Stubbs said.

    Researchers used a network mapping approach with an average wiring diagram to find the link between the different types of brain imaging lesions that affect addiction. It also looked at different substances and found the network was common, whether someone was addicted to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine or heroin.

    “What’s fascinating is that because there’s so much heterogeneity in the neuroimaging and substance use disorder literature, we thought it was unlikely that we’d find a common circuit. But after much work and collaboration, we found something,” Stubbs said. “It’s exciting science.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Common brain network detected among people with substance use disorder–Brigham researchers analyzed data from 144 studies across different forms of brain imaging and substances, finding a common brain network linked to addiction

    Nature Mental Health: Heterogeneous neuroimaging findings across substance use disorders localize to a common brain network

    Jacob L. Stubbs, Joseph J. Taylor, Shan H. Siddiqi, Frederic L. W. V. J. Schaper, Alexander L. Cohen, William Drew, Colleen A. Hanlon, Amir Abdolahi, Henry Z. Wang, William G. Honer, William J. Panenka & Michael D. Fox

  20. Servetus says:

    The fastest growing group of cannabis consumers include women who use it to relieve menopause symptoms, and adults age 50 or over.

    27-SEP-2023–… Not so long ago, young adults were the primary users of cannabis. The reality today, however, is that women and adults aged 50+ represent the fastest growing group of users. A new study additionally confirms the frequent use of cannabis by midlife women to manage an array of menopause symptoms. Study results will be presented during the 2023 Annual Meeting of The Menopause Society in Philadelphia September 27-30.

    With rapidly expanding legalization and normalization, recreational and medical cannabis use is increasing across all age groups. Past research largely focused on usage habits by men and younger adults. However, until now, little was known about the prevalence or characteristics of cannabis use among women in and after the menopause transition.

    A new study based on data from more than 5,000 midlife women has sought to address this information gap by analyzing the frequency, forms, and motives of cannabis use by primarily postmenopausal women.

    Based on the results, the researchers concluded that cannabis use is relatively common in midlife women. Over 40% reported ever using cannabis for recreational or therapeutic purposes, most often to treat chronic pain (28%), anxiety (24%), sleep problems (22%), and stress (22%). Women who reported using cannabis specifically for menopause symptoms (6%) primarily reported targeting menopause-related mood and sleep difficulties.

    More than 10% of study participants had used cannabis in the past 30 days, most often smoking (56%), ingesting edible products (52%), or using cannabis in more than one form (39%). Among those with past 30-day use, 31% reported smoking cannabis on a daily or near-daily basis, while 19% reported daily or near-daily use of edible cannabis products. […]

    “We know that cannabis products are being marketed to women to manage menopause symptoms, and these findings suggest that midlife women are turning to cannabis for menopause symptoms and other common issues in the menopause transition. But we still do not know if use is actually helping for those symptoms, or if it may be contributing to other challenges.” says Dr. Carolyn Gibson, lead author and health services researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

    “These findings highlight the need for recognizing and discussing cannabis use in the healthcare setting” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society. “Additional research is needed to evaluate the potential harms and/or benefits of use.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: New study suggests growing use of cannabis to help manage menopause symptoms–Women and adults aged 50+ are now the fastest growing group of cannabis users

  21. Servetus says:

    Danish scientists have demonstrated in a study using rats that microdosing with psilocybin mushrooms can prove therapeutic:

    03-OCT-23 — …Through the new study, the researchers have established a valid method that can be utilized for further research into the effects of repeated low doses of psilocybin. The study also lends support to the numerous anecdotal reports of the benefits of microdosing as a therapeutic intervention.

    This paves the way for additional research and potentially entirely new approaches to treating various mental disorders.

    – The increased anxiety and stress in society currently have placed a strong focus on microdosing, leading to a surge in the trade of mushrooms. Countries such as the Netherlands, Australia, the USA, and Canada have either legalized or are in the process of legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic treatment, says Mikael Palner.

    – It is, therefore, crucial that we understand the effects and side effects of these substances, which are already widely used by people around the world. […]

    SDU Denmark: Small doses of mushrooms can have a beneficial effect on mental disorders–Studies on rats provide insight into how microdosing of psychedelic mushrooms may be used for therapeutic treatment in humans.

    Nature-Molecular Psychiatry: Repeated low doses of psilocybin increase resilience to stress, lower compulsive actions, and strengthen cortical connections to the paraventricular thalamic nucleus in rats

    Kat F. Kiilerich, Joe Lorenz, Malthe B. Scharff, Nikolaj Speth, Tobias G. Brandt, Julia Czurylo, Mengfei Xiong, Naja S. Jessen, Agata Casado-Sainz, Vladimir Shalgunov, Celia Kjaerby, Grzegorz Satała, Andrzej J. Bojarski, Anders A. Jensen, Matthias M. Herth, Paul Cumming, Agnete Overgaard & Mikael Palner.

  22. Servetus says:

    It’s not called weed for nothing. Marijuana grew like a weed and was found and used everywhere in the old world by humans for at least 10,000 years, countering previous claims that its use was more contemporary:

    30-SEPT-23…Along with rice, soy, barley, and millet, Cannabis is considered one of the five main grains by ancient people. The seeds found in Cannabis achenes, rich in proteins (such as albumin and edestin) and essential unsaturated fatty acids (such as linoleic and linolenic acids) served as food, input for other culinary purposes, and even soap production. Although Cannabis is not more commonly used in the constitution of the diet in certain communities in contemporary Nepal, for example, it is still used for such attributions [9-12].

    The Cannabis stalks, in turn, after undergoing a process of decomposition by running water, gave rise to hemp, a malleable vegetable fiber that is easy to handle, durable, and resistant to water. Used in the creation of ropes for tools, mooring animals, sails, and rigging for boat building, the production of fabrics for clothing and protection, paper, and any other applicable purposes, this fibre has assumed an important role in daily life and the development of civilization throughout history [8,13].

    To exemplify the long co-existence with hemp, ancestral archaeological relics date the use of this plant fiber as a fabric to approximately 8000 years before the common era (BCE) as a material in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iran and Iraq), and to 4000 years BCE and 3000 years BCE as a material for ropes in China and Kazakhstan, respectively. Impressively, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was estimated that around 80% of fabrics, candles, ropes, among other items, were produced from hemp [9,14-16].

    Used as a stunner to facilitate the capture of fish, Cannabis is possibly the first plant to be cultivated for non-food purposes. The Pen Ts’ao Ching (the oldest pharmacopoeia in the world of Chinese origin and oral traditions, compiled around the 1st century but related to periods dating back to 2700 BCE) quotes that ‘The Ma-fen (‘fruit’ of Cannabis)’ if ingested in excess, it can cause the user to see demons.’. Associated with the shamanistic culture of Central Asian natives, Cannabis, along with ginseng, was believed to help necromancers achieve premonitory powers and enlightenment of being [9,14].

    The first people to use Cannabis as both a therapeutic and a narcotic tool were from the Indian region, circa 1000 years BCE, mainly because of its religious connotations. The two purposes were often linked. Described in the Vedas as one of the five sacred plants, it was believed to have arisen from a drop of amrita (sacred nectar) that fell from heaven onto the earth and was able to bring joy and freedom to those who used it [9,14]. […]

    Efforts to deconstruct the stigma, legalize the use of the plant, and explore potential therapeutics have been placed in focus over the last six decades, due to discoveries related to the active principles of Cannabis in the 1960s and its promising developments for contemporary medicine.

    8. Conclusion

    Used for millennia as a food, fiber production and religious, therapeutic, and recreational instrument, a source of phytocompounds with proven efficacy for clinical conditions of difficult management, its planting, cultivation, use and acquisition are today prohibited – even for researchers who intend to work with this plant! – in the vast majority of countries. Recent efforts try to decriminalize the use of the drug and to expand the medical use and access to patients of Cannabis-based drugs through legislation, but despite successes around the world, it still finds its hindrances. Cannabis is perhaps one of the greatest controversies in contemporary humanity. Efforts to deconstruct the stigma, legalize the use of the plant, and explore potential therapeutics have been placed in focus over the last six decades, due to discoveries related to the active principles of Cannabis in the 1960s and its promising developments for contemporary medicine. […]

    Research Gate: From ancient Asian relics to contemporaneity: A review of historical and chemical aspects of Cannabis

    Gabriel Vitor de Lima Marques and Renata Barbosa de Oliveira

  23. Servetus says:

    A study by researchers in Hawaii at the American College of Chest Physicians compared the outcomes of COVID-19 infection and marijuana use to the lack thereof:

    10-OCT-23 — …RESULTS: Out of 322,214 patients included in the study, 2,603 were marijuana users. Marijuana users were younger and had higher prevalence of tobacco use. However, other comorbidities including obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus were more prevalent in marijuana non-users. On univariate analysis, marijuana users had significantly lower rates of intubation (6.8% vs 12%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (2.1% vs 6%), acute respiratory failure (25% vs 52.9%) and severe sepsis with multiorgan failure (5.8% vs 12%). They also had lower in-hospital cardiac arrest (1.2% vs 2.7%) and mortality (2.9% vs 13.5%). After 1:1 matching, marijuana users had lower rates of intubation (OR: 0.64 [0.51-0.81]; p<0.01), ARDS (OR: 0.39 [0.26-0.58]; p<0.01), acute respiratory failure (OR: 0.53 [0.47-0.61]; p<0.01), severe sepsis with multiorgan failure (OR: 0.68 [0.52-0.89]; p<0.01) and lower mortality (OR: 0.48 [0.33-0.69]; p<0.01)

    CONCLUSIONS: Marijuana smokers had better outcomes and mortality compared to non-users. The beneficial effect of marijuana use may be attributed to its potential to inhibit viral entry into cells and prevent the release of proinflammatory cytokines, thus mitigating cytokine release syndrome.

    CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The significant decrease in mortality and complications warrants further investigation of the association between marijuana use and COVID-19. Our study highlights a topic of future research for larger trials especially considering the widespread use of marijuana.


    • NorCalNative says:

      This is what’s called a BFD. I have been aware of the ability of cannabis to inhibit development of proinflammatory cytokines since before Covid-19 was around. I anticipated that pot smokers would get some benefit but these results are still a bit surprising.

      I seem to recall that some sources were claiming that smoking pot would increase the risk and enhance Covid symptoms. Some people just can’t wrap their heads around the idea cannabinoids in smoke are helpful to good health.

      The biggest threat to my well-being is the damn childproof packaging that comes with dispensary products. Needed a pair of gardening shears to open a RSO syringe recently.

  24. Servetus says:

    CBD and CBG are potential drug candidates for treating bone fracture patients:

    26-OCT-2023—Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) might someday help bone fracture patients manage their pain, according to a Penn State study. In a study in mice, the researchers unexpectedly found that the cannabinoids also promoted fracture healing. […]

    Elbarbary and his team’s primary goal was to measure CBD and CBG’s separate abilities to alleviate pain in mice. The team, in what they called the first study to analyze cannabinoids in the context of fracture healing and pain management, found that the cannabinoids were comparable to the NSAIDS in their ability to manage pain. But they said they were also surprised to find that CBD and CBG helped with the fracture healing process. With immunofluorescence microscopy, microcomputer tomography imaging and biomechanical testing, the researchers studied the fracture healing process — everything from bone density and bone strength to the expression of genes that are necessary for the progression of fracture healing.

    In the early phase of treatment, the cannabinoids were associated with an increase in the abundance of periosteal bone progenitors, which later develop into specialized bone cells that help bone tissue form. During the later phase of healing, CBD and CBG accelerated the process by which the body absorbs minerals to strengthen newly formed bone.

    “Both treatments led to higher bone volume fraction and mineral density than with NSAID treatments, which leads to a functional and healthy newly formed bone,” Elbarbary said. “We still have a lot to learn about the biological mechanisms behind what we observed.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: CBD and CBG may promote bone fracture healing, manage pain–Evidence from Penn State College of Medicine study in mice spurs development of clinical formulations

    Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: Cannabidiol and Cannabigerol, Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoids, as Analgesics that Effectively Manage Bone Fracture Pain and Promote Healing in Mice

    Deepak Kumar Khajuria, Vengadeshprabhu Karuppagounder, Irena Nowak, Diana E. Sepulveda, Gregory S. Lewis, Christopher C. Norbury, Wesley M. Raup-Konsavage, Kent E. Vrana, Fadia Kamal, Reyad A. Elbarbary.

  25. Servetus says:

    Eco-friendly hemp fibers can be treated to produce a robust flexible electrical conductor or electrode enabling the development of wearable devices that can track body movements.

    03-OCT-23–While e-textiles are widely popular, their mass adoption is hindered by issues related to sustainability, reusability, and durability. Furthermore, complicated manufacturing processes and the use of toxic chemicals have exacerbated these challenges. This study presents a straightforward and scalable method for creating e-textiles using ecofriendly hemp fiber. The hemp fiber was coated with biocompatible reduced graphene oxide and polypyrrole to produce a robust and flexible electrode. The hemp e-textile was stable against different mechanical deformations, such as bending, stretching, and twisting. It was demonstrated that the electrode could be effectively used for resistive heating in wearable devices, producing the necessary heat at safe voltage levels. Additionally, when utilized as a wearable body movement tracking device, the coated hemp yarn effectively monitored finger, wrist, and elbow movements. The signal produced during movement monitoring was consistent and repeatable, indicating its suitability for practical applications. Furthermore, the hemp e-textiles exhibit exceptional durability and reusability under different environmental conditions, making them highly sustainable. […]

    American Chemical Society: Hemp-Based Electronic Textiles for Sustainable and Wearable Applications

    Ayesha Siddika, Md Milon Hossain, and Jennifer Harmon

  26. Servetus says:

    CBD minus any THC content has been discovered to exist in a weed growing in Brazil.

    27-OCT-23–Cannabidiol was found by a team of scientists in the flowers and fruits of a plant called Trema micrantha blume, which is a shrub that grows across much of the South American country and is often identified as weed, said Federal University of Rio de Janeiro’s molecular biologist Rodrigo Moura Neto, while speaking to AFP. […]

    “It’s a legal alternative to using cannabis,” he stated. “This is a plant that grows all over Brazil. It would be a simpler and cheaper source of cannabidiol,” he added. Previously, CBD was found by scientists in a related plant in Thailand, he stated.

    Neto, who has not published his discoveries anywhere as of yet, said that he has now been planning to scale up his study to find out the best methods for extracting CBD from “Trema” and observe how effective it is in patients, who are suffering from conditions which are currently treated using medical cannabis. […]


  27. NorCalNative says:

    If CBD isolates performed better than whole-plant CBD I’d be more excited about this discovery. Whole-plant CBD contains small amounts of THC in addition to terpenes and other cannabinoids like CBN.

    THC-free isolated CBD is a prohibitionist’s dream and is medically inferior for most patients.

  28. Servetus says:

    Research done at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México demonstrates that marijuana consumers increase their empathy with use.

    8-NOV-2023…psychological assessments indicated that people who regularly use cannabis, or marijuana, tend to have a greater understanding of the emotions of others. Brain imaging tests also revealed that cannabis users’ anterior cingulate—a region generally affected by cannabis use and related to empathy—had stronger connectivity with brain regions related to sensing the emotional states of others within one’s own body. […]

    “Although further research is needed, these results open an exciting new window for exploring the potential effects of cannabis in aiding treatments for conditions involving deficits in social interactions, such as sociopathy, social anxiety, and avoidant personality disorder, among others,” said co-author Víctor Olalde-Mathieu, PhD, of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Does cannabis use affect empathy?

    Journal of Neuroscience Research: Empathy-related differences in the anterior cingulate functional connectivity of regular cannabis users when compared to controls

    Víctor E. Olalde-Mathieu, Daniel Atilano-Barbosa, Arafat Angulo-Perkins, Giovanna L Licea-Haquet, Cesar Arturo Dominguez-Frausto, Fernando A. Barrios, Sarael Alcauter.

  29. Servetus says:

    Cannabinoids may have evolved as natural pesticides:

    15-NOV-2023 — Cannabinoids, naturally occurring compounds found in hemp plants, may have evolved to deter pests from chewing on them, according to Cornell University research that showed higher cannabinoid concentrations in hemp leaves led to proportionately less damage from insect larvae. […]

    The study opens the door for potentially developing pesticides from cannabinoid extracts, though such uses would be limited to non-edible plants, given the pharmacological properties of the compounds, which include CBD, THC and their precursor CBG.

    “It has been speculated that they are defensive compounds, because they primarily accumulate in female flowers to protect seeds, which is a fairly common concept in plants,” said Larry Smart, a plant breeder and professor in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences.

    “But no one has put together a comprehensive set of experimental results to show a direct relationship between the accumulation of these cannabinoids and their harmful effects on insects,” said Smart, senior author of the study. […]

    In tests using hemp plants with varying concentrations of cannabinoids, the researchers discovered that damage from leaf-chewing insects (cabbage looper larvae) was higher in leaves with lower levels of cannabinoids.

    “In the absence of cannabinoids, we saw heavy insect damage, and in the presence of cannabinoids, we saw much less damage,” Smart said.

    The Cornell program cannot work with high THC (the intoxicating compound found in marijuana) plants due to federal mandate, so THC as a pesticide was not tested in this research, Smart said. […]

    Cornell Chronicle: Hemp cannabinoids may have evolved to deter insect pests

    Horticulture Research: Cannabinoids function in defense against chewing herbivores in Cannabis sativa L.

    George M Stack, Stephen I Snyder, Jacob A Toth, Michael A Quade, Jamie L Crawford, John K McKay, John Nicholas Jackowetz, Ping Wang, Glenn Philippe, Julie L Hansen, Virginia M Moore, Jocelyn K C Rose, Lawrence B Smart.

  30. Servetus says:

    CBD outperforms opiates once again in the realm of pain reduction in dentistry and lack of side effects like addiction:

    15-NOV-2023 — In a groundbreaking study that could revolutionize dental pain management, Rutgers researchers have found that cannabidiol (CBD) … alleviates acute dental pain.

    This first-of-its-kind result appears in the Journal of Dental Research and indicates that CBD, which produces no “high” among users, may be an equally effective but far safer alternative to addictive opioid painkillers. […]

    The clinical trial involved 61 participants with severe tooth pain who were randomly assigned to receive either one of two doses of an FDA-approved pure CBD solution called Epidiolex or a placebo. Researchers monitored patient pain levels for three hours with a visual analog scale (VAS), a standard tool for assessing pain intensity.

    Both CBD groups reported substantially more pain reduction than did the placebo group. About 85 percent of CBD users reported at least a 50 percent reduction in their initial pain, and both CBD groups reached a median 70 percent reduction in pain.

    Another key finding of the study was the increase in bite force among participants who received CBD, which suggests the compound improved tooth function and thus may prove particularly beneficial for those with dental pain that affects their ability to chew. […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Marijuana component offers opioid alternative by effectively treating dental pain

    Journal of Dental Research: Cannabidiol as an Alternative Analgesic for Acute Dental Pain

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