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Experts Say Mapping of Cannabis Genome Could Potentially Improve Crops And Health

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Assigning/locating a specific gene to a particular region of a chromosome, along with the determination o the location and relative distances between genes on the chromosome, is what the process of genome mapping is. Researchers are now emphasizing on the importance of cannabis genome mapping in order to improve crops and health.

According to the recently published international study that the researchers of the University of Saskatchewan led, a coordinated scientific effort to assemble and map the cannabis genome, would be required to explore the complete potential of cannabis for agriculture and human health.

Moreover, the Annual Review of Plant Biology published a statistical analysis of existing data and studies, where the authors concluded that there are indeed large gaps in the scientific knowledge of this high-demand, multi-purpose crop. According to the authors, genomics has immense importance in the development of any crop, and the analysis underlines how essential a co-ordinated effort is, in order to quantify the genetic and biochemical diversity of this species.

According to a team of scientists from The Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S., it was estimated that less than 50 percent of the cannabis genome is accurately mapped, while 10 percent of the genome is missing, leaving a further 10 to 25 percent of genome unmapped. Lead author and plant scientist in the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Tim Sharbel, concluded that it shows the lack of foundation we have, to build a molecular breeding program that could be comparable to what exists for other crops.

According to Sharbel, these findings are expected to be the foundation of several types of research that the USask-led Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS) will conduct. USask researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, College of Medicine, and the School of Environment and Sustainability, will also be involved in the multi-disciplinary team. The author also stressed on the importance of these data, which was required to be able to set up a core collection of genotypes so that the various cannabis traits can be further studied.

The author has been working on medicinal plants, for 15 years in Europe. He added that the emergence of the cannabis industry is a good sign for the accomplishment of the larger goal- to normalize the use of traditional medicinal plants.

Medicinal Purposes of Cannabis

The author had also talked about the increase in the interest of companies in medical applications of cannabis that the recent societal and governmental acceptance of cannabis spurred. He is currently focusing on his academic research that will map, contrast and make complete use of the closely related genome of cannabis, hemp, and hops, and is consequently on the hunt for collaborators in order to fund this research.

Cannabis as a Food Source

In the light of the limited data that currently exists, the researchers discovered the support for the potential that cannabis could have, to provide health benefits along with treatments for pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opioid use minimization.

Despite this, the negative short-term effects of THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, cannot be ignored. The short-term effects include decreased cognitive function, increased anxiety and fatigue, addiction, and potential long-term consequences that include permanent loss of memory, intelligence, mental focus, and judgment.

According to the author, like any other investigation of any other novel drug, the recognition of the potential benefits and associated risks, of cannabis and cannabinoids, is essential.

Furthermore, the team had noted the evidence of the possibility of developing hemp-type cannabis, that could be highly digestible as well as a protein-rich food source, and was expected to not be the cause of any allergic reactions.

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An Overview of Marijuana Laws in Arizona

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Arizona's Marijuana Laws have now made its recreational usage legal in the state.

Arizona, also known as The Grand Canyon State, is famous for more than its iconic natural wonder. Advocates of marijuana legalization have long associated the state with its stringent policies towards the drug. This is mainly because marijuana laws in Arizona have not only been extremely conservative, but also archaic, and racist in every way one can imagine.

This year, however, in a historic move to reform its policies, Arizona had put up the question of marijuana legalization on the November 2020 election ballots. The initiative, known as Proposition 207, was drafted to legalize the recreational usage of the drug in the state. Propitiously, it won with an overwhelming majority, getting the approval of around 60.03% of Arizona residents.

This was a huge jump in the percentage of legalization supporters since 2016. The closest Arizona ever got to legalizing marijuana in its jurisdiction was in that same year, where Proposition 205 was put before the public. To the dismay of its advocates, the initiative failed even after securing 48.7% of votes in favor of it. Its opponents defeated the initiative with a mere 2.6% majority, standing at 51.3%.

Overview of transition in Arizona’s Marijuana Laws

Arizona’s marijuana laws have undergone a lot of changes, failed legalization attempts, and revisions. Here is an overview of when each of these policies was introduced and what each of them meant for Arizonians:

Proposition 200 – 1996

The Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act was implemented in Arizona in 1996. Under the terms of this initiative, certified physicians could prescribe cannabis or any other Schedule 1 drug to patients with certain medical conditions. It was approved with the support of 65% of Arizona residents.

Within a few months of its approval, however, state legislators rejected the proposition and tried to repeal it. “It seems to me, we’re saying to the voters that you’re smart when you vote for us, but we don’t trust you when you vote on other important issues,” state Sen. Pete Rios said in April of 1997 while voicing his disapproval of the changes put forward by legislators.

In response to this, voters used their right to a popular referendum in 1998. Appallingly, Proposition 300 was not successful in attaining much at all. All it could manage to do was to create a significant conflict with federal law due to its language composition which ultimately led to its rejection.

Proposition 203 – 2002 and 2010

Through Proposition 203 advocates in Arizona tried to legalize recreational as well as medicinal usage of marijuana for the first time in their history. It was first introduced in the state in 2002 and proposed criminal justice reforms as well as a scheme to establish a state-run medical cannabis system.

In addition to this, it also proposed decriminalizing possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana. It also proposed some revisions of conviction criteria for non-violent drug offenses. The initiative met the same fate as its preceding reforms and did not get approved by the law enforcement community of Arizona.

The proposition was placed before local residents once again in November of 2010. This time it succeeded in getting medicine usage of marijuana legalized with the support of 50% of voters.

Proposition 205 – 2016

After its medicinal use was legalized in 2010, Proposition 205 sought to legalize the recreational use of marijuana once again in 2016.  As mentioned earlier, the initiative was defeated. Despite of expected tax revenues, and potential increases in educational funding opponents of the initiative were convinced that the social and economic impacts of legalization would have outweighed its benefits.

The Victory of Proposition 207

Proposition 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Marijuana Act is a long-awaited victory of the cannabis sector in Arizona. It has marked the end of an era of uncompromising policies that have bred racism, police brutality, and unfair incarceration.

Under the new laws, past marijuana related minor crimes can be petitioned to get an expungement. The proposed laws are expected to be put into effect beginning July of 2021.

Here’s what they have in store for Arizonians:

Possession

Adults 21 or older will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Possessing 5 grams of its concentrate is also made permissible. Moreover, medical marijuana patients will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces over a period of two weeks and grow 12 plants for personal use.

Cultivation

Under Proposition 207, marijuana users are allowed to grow 6 plants for personal use at their homes. However, it is important for the cultivation to be in an enclosed area, away from public view. All users who hold the ADHS are allowed to cultivate their plants.

Consumption

Smoking marijuana in public is still not legal in marijuana. Using it on the premises of a dispensary can lead to license cancellation. In addition, driving under influence can lead to severe consequences and will be punishable through fines, arrests or license suspension.

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Overview of Marijuana Laws in New Mexico

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Marijuana laws have undergone a lot of changes in New Mexico, making it the first state to acknowledge its medicinal value.

New Mexico, also known as the Land of Enchantment, is a state located in the southwestern region of the USA. It was 47th to join the union in 1912, after which it became the fifth-largest state in the U.S.A area wise. When marijuana was slammed with a legal prohibition during the 1920s in the country, New Mexico followed suit and banned it in 1923. Since then, marijuana laws in the state have undergone quite a few significant changes.

Here is an overview of marijuana laws in New Mexico and their current legal standing in the region.

Marijuana usage before the legal ban

Up until the early 1800s, marijuana was pretty much a legal drug within the United States. Although its recreational usage was not a very common idea, it was widely used for medical purposes. In addition to this, it was used to make everyday products like ropes, clothes, canvas, sacks, and many other things.

It might be hard to believe today, but in 1619, not growing hemp was considered illegal in areas like Virginia, Massachusetts, and even Connecticut. This was because the plant was considered extremely resourceful. Later on in the 1700s, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and North Carolina were granted special licenses to promote hemp cultivation and production.

Surprisingly enough, many political personalities of the United States had also cultivated hemp in the past. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are among them.

Reefer Madness overshadows benefits of Marijuana Plant

Starting in 1906, cannabis was typecasted as a poisonous drug. Its out-and-out prohibitions began in the 1920s following the Mexican Revolution.

Most marijuana advocates believe that the legal ban had more to do with racism than its psychoactive effects. According to Tommy Chong, “Marijuana prohibition has been a racial law right from the get-go. It followed the path of the Chinese opium law. Britain actually almost ruined China with the opium trade and so America, when they wanted to demonize a race of people, they would outlaw their habits – that’s what prohibition was all about. Prohibition was just basically a racist law.”

Therefore in an attempt to stigmatize Mexican’marihuana’ users, the drug was officially outlawed state by state in the U.S. Reefer madness took over the news, movies, and television after which medicinal benefits of the plant were forgotten. The propaganda against it was very strong and successfully associated with violent behavior, rape, and even murder.

New Mexico Moves Ahead towards Reforming Marijuana Laws

In 1978, New Mexico became the first-ever state to acknowledge the medicinal value of marijuana after decades of prohibitions.

The move was strongly motivated by the efforts of Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient who died during his struggle to gain legal access to medical marijuana. Having endured a lot of suffering during the course of his chemotherapy sessions, he found solace in marijuana. “A few puffs of pot took nausea away. And there was hardly any vomiting. Then I got really hungry. Hell, I ate so much I actually gained some weight,” he said.

It was due to his efforts that the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act was passed with an overwhelming majority. Governor Jerry Apocada signed it as an ’emergency legislation’, setting the bill as a model for at least 30 more states for upcoming years.

Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act

In 2007,  honoring the memories of Lynn Pierson and Erin Armstrong (another cancer patient and advocate of marijuana legalization), medical marijuana was legalized in New Mexico.

The legislation was entitled ‘ The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act’ and established a system of marijuana usage under the regulations of NMDOH. The system aimed to provide patients legal access to the Medical Cannabis Program of the state. It made adults aged 18 or above qualifiable to receive medical marijuana if they had certain ailments. A list of 28 medical conditions was prepared that included eligible medical conditions. Some of them include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Cervical dystonia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • etc.

Later in 2018, the state’s biggest city, Albuquerque, decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Any amount above it was a punishable offense causing a fine of $25. These marijuana laws were further revised in 2019, whereby possessing up to half an ounce (14 grams) led to a $50 fine instead of jail time. Patients are allowed to possess up to 8 ounces (277 grams) of marijuana over a three month period.

As of now, patients can only obtain medicinal marijuana from state-licensed non-profit producers. Unauthorized distributors, users, or sellers are liable to face criminal prosecutions and penalties.

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Here’s Why Tommy Chong is an Active Advocate for Cannabis

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Tommy Chong has been a cannabis advocate all his life.

Tommy Chong is a well-known face around the world for more than one reason. He is an actor, writer, director, musician, comedian, and most prominently a very famous cannabis advocate. His legalization efforts have continued for a good part of his life and were expressed intently through his music, films, and other creative works.

Starring alongside Richard Cheech in the Grammy Award-winning comedy flick ‘Cheech & Chong‘, Tommy Chang has been quite vocal about his love for marijuana. His stand-up shows with Richard Chee were quite impactful during their time, speaking volumes about their support for the cannabis movement. They were so successful that most of their shows were sold out in the 1970s – a time when the ‘war on drugs’ was at its peak in the entire world.

What Does Tommy Chong Believe About Cannabis Criminalization?

Hailing from immigrant families himself, Chong sternly believes that the war on drugs has its roots in xenophobia.

According to him, “Marijuana prohibition has been a racial law right from the get-go. It followed the path of the Chinese opium law. Britain actually almost ruined China with the opium trade and so America, when they wanted to demonize a race of people, they would outlaw their habits – that’s what prohibition was all about. Prohibition was just basically a racist law.”

If we are to weigh his words and match them with reality, disagreeing with him would be hard. Here’s why:

Up until the early 1800s, there were no federal restrictions on the usage, retail, or possession of marijuana in the U.S. Hemp fiber derived from it was used to make products like clothes, paper, and rope. In addition to this, medicinal usage of the drug was also very common. It might sound ironic, but at the time of its prohibition, tinctures containing cannabis traces were present in probably every medicinal cabinet in the United States. It was used to treat various diseases like malaria, stomach ache and even ‘absentmindedness’.

SEE ALSO: Best CBD: Tommy Chong Holiday Sale Sitewide, Discount Codes Released

Why then was cannabis criminalized and banned?

Just as Tommy Chong pointed out, cannabis was prohibited in an attempt to degrade and ‘demonize’ Mexican immigrants.

The early 1900s was a time when thousands of Mexican immigrants began seeking refuge in the United States. While smoking marijuana recreationally was not very common in the U.S, Mexican immigrants were quite fond of this practice.

This was seen as a great opportunity to instill ‘reefer madness’ among the people. Politicians were quick to substitute the term ‘cannabis’ with ‘marihuana’ to make it sound more authentically Mexican in order to create more prejudice.  It worked of course. Newspapers were soon labeling Mexican cannabis use as a ‘marijuana menace’. In the words of Harry J. Anslinger, first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, marijuana caused “insanity, criminality, and death”.

Here is a quote from a New York Times story from 1927:

“A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life,”

Going Back to the Future With Cannabis

With the increasing recognition of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, laws surrounding it are slowly relaxing. The racism that has long haunted the drug is also vanishing slowly.

Tommy Chong compares this with the phenomena of going back to the future. He says that with more acceptance of the drug, society is going back to the beginning days. It is returning to days where there was no stigma attached to the drug.

According to him, one of the major challenges now faced by the industry is its federal prohibition. Businesses are unable to obtain finances for the fear of being prosecuted. This has led to a major part of the industry operating on cash transactions creating problems for them as well as regulators. Depending upon cash means that cannabis dispensaries are at the forefront of robberies and burglaries when civil unrest arises.

Cannabis is equally beneficial for the mind and body

Chong is a firm believer in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. He has made a mention of its religious sacrament and its soothing impact on the mind and body.

“A lot of sports people that I’ve known are big marijuana advocates because it doesn’t tear you down like alcohol does or make you crazy or addicted like cocaine and heroin. So, marijuana is really the perfect stuff for everything including medicine.”

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