Vitality

The Cannabis Report: Developments Galore

With all the things that have happened since the spring, it wouldn't be surprising if people missed news about marijuana. So here it is.

 Over the past few months, there have been new regulations, lawsuits, state laws and celebrity endorsements of marijuana products. 

Celebrity support

For starters, actress Jane Fonda and entrepreneur Martha Stewart have both publicly backed CBD (cannabidiol) products. CBD is a compound found in the cannabis, or marijuana plant, promoted as a natural remedy for many common ailments.

Ms. Fonda is an ambassador and spokeswoman a company that makes hemp oil and CBD products like skin creams and body washes. In a statement on the company’s website, Ms. Fonda said, “Wellness has always been incredibly important to me, and these hemp-based products recently caught my attention. They’re eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and, most importantly, effective!”

Martha Stewart, chief of her own home decor and DIY empire, has released her own brand of CBD gummies or, as she calls them, pâte de fruit. The gummies come in berry (raspberry, huckleberry and black raspberry) and citrus flavors (Meyer lemon, kumquat and blood orange).

CBD gummies also got into hot water this summer. Two plaintiffs brought civil cases against PetSmart, the pet supplies retailer. The lawsuits alleged that the company was selling CBD oil and gummies for pets that were not been properly approved or effective. Both cases were dropped, reported Hemp Industry Daily. 

But CBD gummies, suitable for pets or not, are not available everywhere. Over the summer, there was some movement on the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana in various states. 

Cannabis on the ballot

Montana will vote in November to legalize marijuana for people over 21. The Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning  estimated that the 20% sales tax on marijuana would bring in over 3 million dollars in 2022.

Montana isn't alone. According to Marijuana Moment, an online news site, Mississippi will be voting on medical marijuana this year; Arizona, on legal recreational use; South Dakota, on both; and New Jersey, on legalization. Nebraska and Idaho both tried to get legalization on their November ballots, but failed. 

There are 33 states with legal medical marijuana laws and 12 states with legal recreational marijuana laws. If New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota and Arizona vote in favor, that would bring the total to 16 states with legalized marijuana. Of course, voters in South Dakota could either opt to legalize only medical marijuana or vote both propositions down. 

Health effects?

But is marijuana healthy? In August, a paper was published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, calling for marijuana to be removed from the Schedule 1 drug category so that researchers could study it.

Schedule 1 drugs cannot be studied because the designation means they are likely to be abused and have no medical use. Heroin and LSD are also Schedule 1 drugs. This was not an endorsement of cannabis, said the paper’s authors.

“Cannabis may have therapeutic benefits, but few are cardiovascular. Conversely, many of the concerning health implications of cannabis include cardiovascular diseases, although they may be mediated by mechanisms of delivery,” they wrote.

This means that, although marijuana might be medicinal, it is not necessarily good for your heart, and certainly not smoking it.

The study’s authors believe that more research is necessary, as THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol) -- another natural compound found in the cannabis plant -- might even have adverse effects on the heart. 

Although November may see greater legalization of marijuana, people watching their heart health or hoping to use marijuana medicinally should first talk to their doctor until more research is done.

It isn't all bad news in the world of marijuana health. Over the summer, researchers at Augusta (Ga.) University may have found a use for CBD in combatting lung damage from COVID-19. So, although it is almost fall, there will surely be more cannabis news before the end of the year. 

 

 

 

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Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She got her start as an intern at a health and science podcast out of Philadelphia public radio. Before that she worked as a researcher, looking at the way bones are formed. When out of the lab and away from her computer, she's moonlighted as a pig vet's assistant and a bagel baker.

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