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United Kingdom has still a long way to go before legalizing cannabis in the country

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Though the United Kingdom is in favor of cannabis legalization, it is still illegal in the country. Let us go through the marijuana sector of the United Kingdom.

Some facts about cannabis consumption in the United Kingdom 

The people residing in the United Kingdom strongly favor the legalization of cannabis. But it is limited only to the back door market. There are more than 2.5 million cannabis users in the UK who buy it illegally as reported by the Cannabis Consultancy Prohibition Partners. It makes up almost 4% of the total population of the United Kingdom carrying a worth of more than £5 billion. 

It is important to note that 22% of the country’s population smokes tobacco, which makes up the revenue of almost £18 billion annually. Whereas, 60% population of the country drinks alcohol regularly ranging a worth of almost £68 billion. 

Legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom

In 2018, the UK legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The major reason behind its regulation was many high-profile cases of epilepsy in children came to light. Cannabis-related medications became the pain reliever for those patients suffering from such high profile epilepsy cases. Still, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is extremely less. 

Only the specialist consultant from General Hospital can prescribe it. The UK also allowed hemp oil and CBD, containing less than 0.2% THC, in the country. But a medical license is mandatory for using them too.

 Which country is the largest exporter and producer of legal marijuana across the globe?

Although the stance of the government of the United Kingdom is much strict for cannabis users, it is the largest exporter as well as the largest producer of legal medical marijuana in the world according to the reports of United Nations International Narcotics Control Board. This clearly shows that the UK exports all the legal cannabis products manufactured by the country.

There are only two products of medical marijuana in the UK that have a license. One is Sativex which is produced by GW Pharmaceuticals and the other one is Nabilone owned by Eli Lilly. 

The contradictory policy of the United Kingdom

It is evident from all the facts mentioned above that the government of the United Kingdom is still confused about whether to legalize marijuana in the country or not. While it is the largest exporter and producer of cannabis, it is very tough for patients of the country to have access to the products of medical cannabis. 

This shows the sanctimonious face of the country and it would probably cause difficulties for the cannabis industry in England including the monopoly of licensed manufacturers, high cost and barriers for the new entrants.

Some top-notch stocks of the United Kingdom

Though there are many difficulties for marijuana companies in the UK, there is a large range of public companies. According to the London Stock Exchange, most companies have other side businesses too other than cannabis. Some top cannabis stocks of the United Kingdom are GW Pharmaceuticals, Futura Medical, Integumen, AfriAg, and Sunrise Resources.

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Cannabis

Researchers Are Working On A New Cannabis Saliva Test For Impaired Drivers

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Drivers who are intoxicated with alcohol, while driving, are often subjected to roadside stops, in the United States, where they are asked to take breathalyzer tests and would further have to go through stiff penalties if the alcohol content in their blood exceeds the legal limitations. However, there is no current test that exists, for cannabis intoxication.

Scientists have now reported that they are another step closer to the invention of a convenient saliva test that will measure the cannabis levels at roadside stops. American Chemical Society (ACS) SciMeeetings online platform, will be where the researchers will be presenting their results.

According to Shalini Prasad, Ph.D., who led the study, people usually tend to think that drunk driving is worse than driving after smoking cannabis and consider the latter to be relatively “safer”. However, she further explained how both substances can cause similar effects in the body such as slowed reaction time, diminished alertness, and reduced self-awareness.

Tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis and constitutes impairment. However, the safe levels of THC in blood, unlike alcohol, have not been well characterized. According to Prasad, despite it being an emerging field, 1 to 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, is suggested by the preliminary clinical reports, to be considered a level of impairment.

The law enforcement agencies are focusing on how to keep the roads safe from high drivers, as more U.S states continue the decriminalization of cannabis. The blood tests for THC are time-consuming and invasive, despite the accuracy. Along with that, this is not a convenient test for many police officers to perform skillfully at roadside stops. Some researchers are working on a cannabis test that would be similar to a breathalyzer for alcohol, to measure THC levels in the breath.

However, according to Prasad, extensive and error-prone data processing would be required to filter out the effects of other compounds as the levels of THC are low in the breath. Consequently, focusing on the close correlation between saliva and blood, Prasad and colleagues aimed at the development of a saliva test for THC that would be simple, quick and accurate.

THC sensor strips and an electronic reader were engineered by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas. The sensor strips contained two electrodes and were coated with an antibody. The antibody binds with THC and isolates it from other compounds in the saliva. According to Prasad, the antibody is used, to focus only on the needle in the haystack.

The researchers performed the test by adding a tiny drop of human saliva that was spiked with THC, on the strip. The strip was then inserted into the electronic reader, which further applied a specific voltage. The electric current changed due to the occurrence of the polarization between the interacting antibody and the THC surfaces, shortly after the THC attached to the antibody. THC concentration would then be traceable after the conversion of data by the e-reader.

However, for THC levels ranging from 100 picograms per milliliter to 100 nanograms per milliliter, the device held accuracy. According to Prasad, this prototype was the first to be able to report both low and high concentrations of THC, with high sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, the test requires less than five minutes to perform and complete.

Due to legal issues regarding cannabis in Texas, THC spiked saliva is what researchers are working with rather than actual cannabis smokers. However, law enforcement agencies and researchers from other states where cannabis is legalized, are interested in collaboration.

Additionally, lawmakers and regulatory groups have shown interest to develop effective laws by using the data generated by the device.

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Cannabis And The Mental Health – The Risks Involved

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The cannabis plant consists of over 500 identified chemical constituents, out of which over 100 are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system – a naturally occurring communication network that exists in our brains and bodies. Varying amounts and combinations of the dosages of cannabis, can, in turn, affect several physiological and psychological processes in different ways such as – gastrointestinal function, appetite, pain, memory, movement, immunity, inflammation, and mental health are all included.

The complexity of cannabis, however, is what makes it a potential medication for numerous illnesses. The concern is the gap that exists between the hype about cannabis, and the research with evidence supporting the hype. The concern holds a lot of relevance to mental health, where the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for a variety of psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, psychosis, and addiction, is touted.

However, the reality of cannabis is that it cannot be held on the extremes of being either strictly helpful or strictly harmful. Instead, discussion regarding the potential benefits and harms of cannabis are encouraged, but with careful and nuanced consideration of science, with an addition of a humble attitude.

The science regarding the role of the endocannabinoid system in mood regulation is very clear with respect to depression. The use of cannabis or particular cannabinoids, in the treatment of depressive disorders, has had no support from any randomized controlled trials yet. On the contrary, the existing scientific data is mixed and tilts towards the idea of the worsening and development of depressive symptoms, by the ingestion of cannabis plant material. Although these findings are not satisfying, they aren’t straightforward either.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two best-known examples of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Generally, the production of anxiety and psychotic features has been shown by THC, especially at higher doses. Meanwhile, production of anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects have been shown by CBD

However, a person’s increased or decreased anxiety or psychotic symptoms after ingesting cannabis can be affected by several other variables. This could include

  • Potency levels – Any presence of other cannabis-related chemicals
  • The amount of cannabis used
  • The frequency of use by the patient
  • Any past experience with cannabis
  • The patient’s likelihood to develop and/or experience psychiatric symptoms

There is added confusion regarding the relationship between cannabis and addiction. According to scientific literature, a substantial minority of users could hold the possibility of cannabis addiction – euphoric effects of THC are expected to be held somewhat responsible for the addictive potential. This includes the possibility of cannabis addiction in one in ten people, which still holds the representation of a large number of people.

A replacement to opioids by cannabis is encouraged if the goal of the treatment would be the reduction of harm. However, cannabis treatment for other substance addictions is not the most ideal option. Addiction involves more complications than cannabis itself. That may be the reason that cannabis-based medicines cannot be the solution to the treatment of addiction, even while it may play a helpful role in it. Solutions of addiction may continue to be multipronged as the causes of it are multifaceted.

In conclusion, the person’s motive for cannabis use matters. Temporary relief and avoidance from uncomfortable thoughts and emotions may be provided by the use of cannabis but psychiatric and psychological treatments focus on the skills and coping mechanisms to confront the difficult thoughts and emotions. Research shows, use of cannabis with this motive could ultimately lead to difficulties with mental health symptoms, and addiction. Positive and negative reinforcement could be caused by mind-altering substances such as high THC cannabis products.

 

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Glaucoma and Cannabis : What Opthalmologists Have To Say

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Myths can stay around for a long time. One of them was about Cannabis being a potential treatment for glaucoma patients. Glaucoma is a complex eye condition that involves the damage of the optic nerve over time, initially reducing peripheral vision and ultimately leading to blindness. The higher than normal eye pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP) is one of the major causes of optic nerve damage.

With the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis use in more U.S. states and Canada, researchers have been studying the use of cannabis as possible treatments for various health conditions. Although research from the 1970s and 1980s has shown a detectable drop in intraocular pressure for three to four hours, after the consumption of cannabis – by smoking, or by the ingestion of TH in the form of pills or injection, treatment for glaucoma would require control of eye pressure for a complete 24 hours.

Studies show that ingestion of about 18 to 20 mg of THC, six to eight times daily, is required for the reduction and maintenance of intraocular pressure by 3 to 5 mm Hg. This could also include significant negative effects on mood, mental clarity, and lung health (if smoked). Driving, operation of machinery, or engagement in various common activities would be prohibited. Additionally, the amount of cannabis needed to be consumed every three to four hours makes it cost-prohibitive for a significant number of patients.

Comparatively, alcohol has moderate intraocular pressure-lowering effects for an hour after consumption. However, the consumption of alcohol would never be recommended by doctors as a treatment for glaucoma.

Is THC Effective or Reliable as a Treatment for Glaucoma?

THC eye drops, pills and cigarettes have been studied, and the results aren’t positive. Burning and irritated eyes were caused by eye drops, with no decrease in eye pressure. Similarly, no decrease in eye pressure was recorded, after the use of sublingual THC compounds either. Meanwhile, use of THC-containing pills and/or cigarettes was stopped by patients after 9 months, due to the side effects.

With further research about glaucoma, scientists have concluded that the high intraocular pressure in the fluid at the front of the eye, is not the sole cause of the optic nerve damage. Further evidence shows that another cause could be the reduced blood flow in the optic nerve. While cannabis may lower eye pressure, it also lowers the patient’s blood pressure. Thus, the potential of cannabis to lower blood pressure effectively cancels out its ability to lower intraocular pressure.

What About CBD?

Currently available cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds – like CBD is not a sufficient treatment for any eye condition, including glaucoma. Cannabis is not a practical treatment to maintain lowered eye pressure for 24 hours, in order to treat glaucoma.

CBD has gained a lot of attention and scrutiny in the last few years. Although CBD is a derivative of cannabis as well, it doesn’t cause any mood-altering effects. However, current research does not support the use of CBD as an effective treatment for glaucoma. On the contrary, a recent study has shown that an increase in IOP may be caused by the CBD, making glaucoma worse.

The Future of Cannabis For Glaucoma Treatment

Currently, ophthalmologists say that the only way to control glaucoma and control vision is to lower the patient’s intraocular pressure. Depending on the type of glaucoma and severity, ophthalmologists can use medications such as prescription eye drops or surgery, as a form of treatment for glaucoma.

Furthermore, cannabis or any other cannabis products are NOT RECOMMENDED for the treatment of glaucoma, by the American Academy of Opthalmology, along with the agreement of the American Glaucoma Society and the Canadian Opthalmological Society.

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