Researchers are Trying to Get Cannabinoids Without Cannabis

Cannabis-producing drugs has long been outlawed, and therefore the interest of scientists. That is changing. Science is investigating how suitable substances can be obtained from it without the need to grow plants. 

Cannabis has been used for millennia not only as a drug but also as a medicine. Modern medicine returns to it. In many countries, medical cannabis use has already been legalized. Pharmaceutical companies are testing cannabis substances, collectively referred to as cannabinoids. 

They pay great attention to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the primary molecule responsible for the narcotic effects of cannabis. However, cannabidiol (abbreviated CBD), which is not a narcotic, is not of interest either.

For example, a balanced mixture of pure THC and CBD has recently been shown to relieve patients of muscle cramps associated with certain neurodegenerative diseases. Pure CBD, in turn, suppresses seizures in some mental illnesses. This is different from “crude” THC-containing marijuana, the consumption of which increases the risk of such seizures.

Cannabis is the source of many dozens of exciting molecules in this plant only in trace amounts and whose effect on the human body is known very little. The lack of information on cannabis and cannabinoids is partly due to bans on growing varieties with a higher drug content.

Success in gene transfer

But even here, there is a noticeable turnaround. It was significantly helped by reading the complete hereditary information of three types of cannabis. In addition to marijuana cannabis with a high THC content, the researchers read the genome of the Finola variety, intended primarily for the production of oilseeds and DNA of the USO 31 variety, which contains few cannabinoids and is grown for textile fibers. 

Growing cannabis for THC and other cannabinoids is inefficient. In the plant, these substances occur preferentially in fine hairs or trichomes growing on the surface of leaves and flowers.

The vast majority of plant matter contains minimal THC and related molecules. However, hemp is the only known plant that produces THC, so its cultivation is widespread worldwide. Regarding the volume of illegal cannabis production, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime acknowledges that “the extent and trends in cannabis cultivation and marijuana and hashish production are difficult to estimate.” Cannabis cultivation has long been illegal. 

Many local varieties were destroyed in the fight against drugs. Illegal growers have focused primarily on plants producing high levels of THC and then vegetatively propagated.

Cannabis grown in different parts of the world is largely genetically identical today, and plants can be considered clones. These are why scientists are trying to get cannabinoids for treatment without the need to grow cannabis. 

A team led by Jay Keasling of the University of California, Berkeley recently reported in the scientific journal Nature the success of transferring the genes needed to synthesize cannabinoids from cannabis to yeast. Yeast grown in bioreactors then produce not only THC and CBD, but also other interesting substances.

Yeast can process molecules that do not have cannabis as a raw material and turn them into new types of cannabinoids that no terrestrial plant can produce. 

Researchers hope that at least some of these substances will be used in the treatment of serious diseases. Other research teams have successfully transferred the genes for the “production line” for cannabinoids to the hereditary information of bacteria or algae.

Biotechnological methods of cannabinoid production promise, among other things, a sharp reduction in producer prices. While a kilo of pure THC isolated from cannabis sells for more than five thousand dollars, the price of THC and other cannabinoids produced by yeast should fall below one thousand dollars per kilo.

Suppression of appetite

Scientists did not betray even cannabis. Many teams try to ensure that cannabinoids are not formed only in trichomes but are produced in bulk by the whole plant. Genetically modified cannabis has enzymes that reduce the toxicity of cannabinoids to patients while maintaining all the positive effects. 

Other genetic modifications turn cannabinoids into cannabis so that oils do not have to be used to dissolve them and ordinary water is enough. Such cannabinoids can be easily added to beverages and other foods. Because they are tasteless and odorless, consumers should not be particularly bothered.

Cannabis growers have previously tried to breed varieties with an enormously increased content of cannabinoids occurring in traditional types only in trace amounts. It was always a long-distance run with an extremely uncertain outcome. 

Genetic engineering methods can relatively easily achieve, for example, high production of tetrahydrocannabivarin in cannabis, which is known to suppress appetite and would find application in people struggling with obesity. Food and drinks with this cannabinoid would be rich and one would eat and drink less.

Other genetically modified lines of cannabis have been used to block genes necessary for THC synthesis. 

These plants then produce large amounts of CBD. By blocking another gene, the researchers obtained cannabis, in which the production of cannabinoids in the cannabigerol molecule ends. It protects the plant’s cells from being damaged by a number of adverse external influences. Pharmacists have high hopes for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases in this substance.

Until recently, the neglected research of cannabinoids turned into the Klondike engulfed in a “gold rush”. Courts are already settling the first patent disputes for cannabis and cannabinoids. 

The key is how much the patent is new. Because until recently, the production of cannabis was outlawed and the news was kept secret, it is often difficult for the courts to decide what is a revolutionary innovation and what is a “worn-out vest” pulled into the light of day from deep illegality.

Continue Reading

Amazon’s New Marijuana Policy Reflects Shifting Corporate Attitudes

Cannabis has been legalised in a number of states and is used by millions of Americans for medicinal or recreational purposes, despite the fact that it is not yet federally authorised. Many Americans, regardless of whether they live in a state where cannabis is legal or not, face the very real risk of losing their jobs if they test positive for cannabis during pre-employment or random drug screens.

To combat this, Amazon, one of the largest employers in the United States, has announced that it will no longer test employees for cannabis during pre-employment or random drug screens. The multibillion-dollar corporation also stated that it supports the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act. The measure, which passed the House of Representatives in late 2020, would remove cannabis from the banned substances list, where it is now classified as a Schedule 1 substance, decriminalising it federally (but not making it legal).

The MORE Act would be the largest federal step toward legalisation to date. Though it does not guarantee passage, Amazon’s support for the bill is important and will have a significant impact.

For Better or Worse, Amazon’s Marijuana Policy Has Wide-Reaching Consequences

Because Amazon is one of, if not the most powerful company in the world, the policies it promotes have a large impact on society. Though the notion of a single mega-corporation wielding as much cultural and political clout as Amazon is unsettling, it can be a plus when the company is on the right side of a controversy. With the legalisation of marijuana, Amazon appears to have finally come around to the right side of the debate.

A firm of Amazon’s size no longer tests employees for marijuana and supports federal marijuana legalisation is a clear victory for marijuana policy proponents. Their new, more progressive policies will continue to persuade society to accept marijuana legalisation as a moral imperative. The new standards will ensure that Amazon employees don’t have to worry about losing their jobs if they use marijuana. The nearly 800,000 U.S. employees whose employment are shielded from cannabis-related penalty will benefit greatly from this decision, however drivers and other employees regulated by the Department of Transportation will still be tested.

Of course, the shift in Amazon marijuana policy will have a significant cultural and political impact. It will also have far-reaching implications in the business sector. Because Amazon is supportive of marijuana legalisation and has stopped retaliating against employees who use cannabis recreationally or medicinally, other businesses will be forced to reconsider their own policies.

Will the Amazon’s Change in Marijuana Policy Affect Legalization?

Though Amazon’s declaration represents a significant shift in how the United States views marijuana policy from a corporate perspective, it does not guarantee that the MORE Act or any other form of federal legalisation will pass. The federal government has yet to make a real attempt to enact a bipartisan federal marijuana legalisation measure like the MORE Act, but with Amazon’s support, federal legalisation may be closer than it has ever been.…

Continue Reading

Potential Risks of Cannabis

Cannabis used under medical supervision as a medicine can serve us, but long-term smoking of marijuana, which we “prescribe” ourselves, is associated with risks. 

These include, but are not limited to, memory impairment, learning ability, slowing of reflexes, decreased reproductive capacity in men, and the researchers have also found an association with the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Cannabis is one of the oldest crops used by mankind for thousands of years. It developed on the southwestern slopes of the Himalayas, from where it spread practically all over the world. Marijuana has been proven by our ancient ancestors, from prehistoric gatherers and hunters to Neolithic farmers. It is even mentioned in the Bible and the ancient Indian Vedas.

Marijuana has been used for millennia for its healing and ‘spiritual’ effects. In Europe, Greeks, Nordic and other nations have historically used cannabis to relieve labor, injury or toothache. Hysteria in the postmodern era turned it into a dangerous drug. Only in recent years has the medical use of marijuana finally reappeared in various diagnoses. 

Although its use is not without risk, we know that its social harm is lower compared to alcohol. However, there is evidence that regular use of marijuana can have negative consequences for human reproduction.

Damaged sperm

Last year’s research at Boston University showed worrying results that marijuana consumers may have severe reproductive problems.

The study involved 1,400 couples who decided to conceive a child. The findings were quite serious. It has been shown that men who indulge in marijuana consumption at least once a week expose their partners to up to twice the risk of miscarriage.

The main reason for these abortions was probably sperm degeneration due to cannabis smoking. Although the damaged sperm can fertilize the egg, its defects prevent the proper development of the fetus and an abortion will occur.

Abstinence in front of a child

Research has shown that cannabinoids play a vital role in the formation of new sperm, and any disruption of the sperm production system leads to impaired male fertility.

Abortion can occur more often with regular marijuana users. However, conception often does not occur at all, as both sperm motility and their ability to survive are reduced. Therefore, we recommend regular smokers to protect themselves against conception and to start trying to have a child only after a certain period of abstinence.

Beware of vascular diseases

According to American researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, USA, regular smoking of “grass” may be associated with the development of vascular diseases – heart attack and stroke.

With the consumption of marijuana, the protein in the blood increases, which is associated with the development of these diseases. 

This so-called apolipoprotein C-III is supposed to prevent enzymes from breaking down fats, which in turn leads to their higher concentration in the blood. But more fat in the blood can then lead to clogged blood vessels.

The research, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, carried out eighteen long-term cannabis smokers who smoked up to three hundred and fifty marijuana cigarettes a week. Twenty-four volunteers, who never smoked “grass”, were compared. A big difference was found in their tests: smokers had high levels of apolipoprotein C-III.

It is not yet clear whether, after abstinence from cannabis use, consumers will “compare” their health with abstainers, or whether the effect is long-term.

According to a study in Molecular Psychiatry, it is also not possible to apply the conclusions to occasional consumers, because the measured sample was really passionate marijuana smokers.

Depression, anxiety, panic

Recreational cannabis smoking, according to some experts, brings about the same health complications as moderate alcohol consumption, but the risks should not be underestimated. It turns out that “grass” users may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, panic or psychosis. 

However, the manifestations and their extent are individual and depend on innate predispositions. According to research, women are up to twice as likely to have negative symptoms.

Impaired memory and may cause psychosis

As with any medicine, some individuals may experience side effects from Cannabis, which in some cases can be fatal. The most common manifestations of long-term marijuana cigarette smokers are impaired short-term memory and ability to learn. 

This is especially true for young people who use the substance before the end of their body’s development. In rare cases, the onset of schizophrenic disorders may occur. This is why its use is not recommended for people who have been diagnosed with some form of psychosis.

Although the list of side effects may seem a little scary, in reality they are very rare and usually short-lived and mild. 

Only very sensitive individuals suffering from pressure and psychological problems should be careful. As everywhere, it is good to follow the golden rule of “everything in moderation”.…

Continue Reading