The world lost someone truly special when 73-year-old Olivia Newton-John succumbed to cancer in early August 2022. Newton-John was very public about her disease and treatments. We could all learn a lot from her and the bravery she showed over many years of being ill. In particular, the cannabis community can learn a lot from her example.
Olivia Newton-John became a household name after starring alongside John Travolta in the 1978 musical Grease. She was also a Grammy award-winning singer with tons of hits. But in 1992, Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her remission lasted until 2013, when the cancer returned in her shoulder. It eventually found its way to her spine.
Cancer pain can be debilitating to some people. So it’s no surprise that in 2018, Newton-John made public the fact that she was using Medical Cannabis to treat her cancer pain. Back then, she called cannabis a “magical, miracle plant” that helped her manage daily pain.
You probably already know that chronic pain is a qualifying condition for Medical Cannabis in Utah. So is cancer. So between the two, patients suffering similar to how Newton-John suffered are eligible to get Medical Cannabis Cards in the Beehive State.
We also reported earlier this year that state lawmakers added acute pain to the qualifying conditions list. This is pretty big, especially for medical providers and patients who would otherwise settle on opioid painkillers following a surgery, some sort of accident, etc.
Knowing what we know about Olivia Newton-John’s battle with cancer, she would probably encourage Utah patients suffering from cancer or chronic pain to get their Medical Cannabis Cards. She was the living embodiment of the principle of not letting physical health fully dictate one’s life.
Newton-John was not ashamed of using Medical Cannabis to manage cancer pain. She was open and honest about it. She also made it clear that it was her husband who introduced her to the idea. Thankfully, he wasn’t afraid to share his knowledge on cannabis with his wife.
We sincerely hope that you aren’t avoiding getting a Medical Cannabis Card because you associate negative thoughts or emotions with cannabis. Medical Cannabis patients have nothing to be ashamed of. Their medicines are no different to any other prescription medications.
If you are dealing with cancer and the pain that comes with it, you have enough to worry about. You need relief from pain that is just making it harder for you to deal with cancer and its treatment. Medical Cannabis could work very well for you. At least talk to your medical provider about it.
Should you decide to get a Medical Cannabis Card, the process isn’t difficult. You create an account on the state website and initiate the process by filling out your portion of the card application. Then you visit with your provider. They complete the other half of the application, you pay your fee, and then wait for your card to arrive electronically.
If you are still unsure, learn a little bit more about Olivia Newton-John and her brave battle against cancer. Being a cancer patient for some 30 years, she had plenty of insight to offer. We could all learn from her inspiring story.
Olivia Newton-John’s passing has had a profound impact on a lot of people. Those of us in the cannabis community can draw inspiration from her story and example. Her life was proof that Medical Cannabis is something to be celebrated rather than kept hidden in the shadows.
Israeli researchers recently published the results of a study looking at the effectiveness of aerosolized THC as a treatment for chronic pain. Though the study is considered small scale, its results were what many expected: patients reported less pain and a higher quality of life after inhaling microdoses of THC with a specialized inhaler.
What makes the results of this study so encouraging is the fact that the researchers could use such small amounts of THC and still achieve positive results. The amount of THC delivered via their aerosolized inhaler are “a fraction of the amount of MC [medical cannabis] compared with other modes of delivery by inhalation,” according to the published report accompanying the study.
Researchers enrolled 143 patients between the ages of 17 and 62; 54% were male and 46% were female. All were diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain. The neuropathic pain qualifier is important because of the nature of this type of pain. Neuropathic pain is the result of nerve damage caused by trauma, disease, or an underlying health condition.
Participants were provided with the inhaler and medicine and instructed to use it over several months. Some patients reported mild side effects during the initial stages of the study, but those side effects subsided over time. As the months passed, patients gradually reported less pain and a higher quality of life.
The results led researchers to speculate that low-dose THC delivered via an aerosolized inhaler could offer long term pain relief for chronic pain patients. As in most other cases, the researchers were quick to point out the small scale of their study indicated the need for more research to verify their findings.
The implications of this research are important on many levels. Right off the top is the difference between aerosolized THC and cannabis smoke. Here in Utah, smoking Medical Cannabis is illegal. Plant material can only be used as a medicine by dry heating it or using it to make edibles at home.
Dry heating is the process of heating plant material in a specialized vaporizer in order to decarboxylate it. Decarboxylation activates cannabinoids and releases them from plant material. In order for this delivery method to work, the plant material needs to get hot enough to release cannabinoids – but not hot enough to combust.
In an aerosol environment, THC and other cannabinoids are suspended in a pressurized liquid. Forcing that liquid through a nozzle upon release transforms it into an aerosol that can be inhaled. The process is similar to forcing liquid window cleaner through a small nozzle to create a mist.
The main benefit to this sort of delivery method is that there is absolutely no risk of inadvertently creating toxic chemicals that could be inhaled along with the THC. Patients are getting just the medicine they need and nothing more.
We are excited to hear about this research out of Israel. It could ultimately lead to an entirely new delivery method for the future. Giving patients yet another choice allows them the ability to find the delivery method that works best for them. We are fully on-board with that.
Here’s hoping future research shows similar effectiveness of low-dose THC via aerosolized inhalers. If we can help patients find the relief they need with the lowest possible doses of THC, we will be advancing the cause of Medical Cannabis as an effective treatment for chronic pain. That can only be a good thing for pain patients in the long run.
A couple of us here at UtahMarijuana.org recently ran across an interesting initiative designed to encourage cannabis users to donate blood. The initiative is known as Bud for Blood, and it is being spearheaded by Kristen Yoder, a well-known figure in the cannabis community. We are only sorry we didn’t learn about it earlier. It only runs through July 10, 2022.
Bud for Blood’s message is pretty straightforward: consuming cannabis does not automatically disqualify a person from donating blood. So even as a medical cannabis patient, your blood could prove invaluable to someone else who desperately needs a transfusion.
To incentivize cannabis users to give blood, Bud for Blood is giving away free hemp t-shirts to participants. To get your t-shirt, you need to fill out a form, actually donate blood, and provide a picture showing you doing just that. You can find all the details on the Bud for Blood website.
Yoder launched Bud for Blood when she realized that the U.S. was in the midst of a profound blood shortage. Blood donations have been down since the start of the COVID pandemic. And even though the pandemic is largely over, people are still hesitant about donating.
Apparently, cannabis users are sometimes under the false impression that they are automatically disqualified. Perhaps this is due to the intense demonization of cannabis over the last century. But the people behind Bud for Blood assure cannabis users they have nothing to worry about.
As for the blood donations themselves, interested cannabis users can donate anywhere in their local areas. The American Red Cross usually collects blood at their local facilities five days a week. They are also known to do mobile blood drives. Interested parties can also call their local hospitals to inquire.
It goes without saying that the need for blood donations is great. COVID notwithstanding, blood is something that cannot be stored forever. It has a limited shelf life. Moreover, there are different blood types. At any given time, the national blood supply could be short on a particular type.
The other thing to remember is that synthetic blood is off the table – it doesn’t exist. Ongoing efforts to solve that problem haven’t produced a lot of favorable results over the years. Blood is one of those biological components that can only be produced by human bodies.
Spoilage and a lack of synthetic alternatives create an ongoing need for donated blood. Blood donations make surgical procedures possible. They save lives in the emergency department. When there isn’t a large enough supply of blood available, medical providers need to make difficult decisions about who gets blood and who doesn’t.
As a Medical Cannabis patient, perhaps you can empathize with someone in desperate need of a blood transfusion. A successful transfusion could make the difference between life and death. Would you be willing to donate blood in order to save a life or facilitate a necessary surgery?
Convincing people to donate blood has always been hard. Local blood drives are held because people need to be made aware of the need to remind them to donate. Bud for Blood aims to do much the same thing. The initiative is designed to remind cannabis users that the need for blood is real.
Being a cannabis user does not automatically disqualify you from donating blood. If you are inclined to donate, do so before July 10 in order to get your Bud for Blood t-shirt. Then keep on donating even after the initiative has ended.
All medicines have side effects, right? We generally think of side effects as being negative. Yet sometimes they can be positive. For example, have you noticed that Medical Cannabis has made the bedroom experience better? You can look at that in one of two ways. Some people say that cannabis helps them sleep better. Others say it works as an aphrodisiac.
Perhaps you use cannabis to help manage chronic pain. Maybe you just started using to help with acute pain. The Medical Cannabis laws in Utah now allow for treating certain types of acute pain with cannabis. At any rate, it wouldn’t be surprising to for us to learn that you are sleeping better, enjoying better sex, or both.
We know enough about the human endocannabinoid system to confidently say that it helps regulate mood. The human endocannabinoid system is instrumental in determining how a person reacts to stressful situations. And even without scientific data proving interaction between the human endocannabinoid system and the mood-regulating portions of the brain, common observation demonstrates that people feel more relaxed and comfortable after using cannabis.
Cannabis’ ability to help reduce stress and anxiety could explain why it helps some people sleep. Stress, anxiety, and all sorts of negative emotions have been known for centuries to keep people awake. Anything that helps relax can help stressed-out people sleep better.
Likewise, it is not unusual for people to experience performance issues in the bedroom due to stress and anxiety. The same negative emotions capable of inhibiting sleep can also inhibit sexual function. Therefore, it would stand to reason that finding a way to relax and chill out should improve sexual function.
Utilizing cannabis as an aphrodisiac goes beyond improving mechanical function. People who swear by it say that cannabis improves the actual experience, too. That would line up with study data suggesting that THC and other cannabinoids enhance sensory perception. The more heightened one’s senses are, the more the intense the experience at hand.
There is also the question of dopamine, the primary chemical in the brain responsible for producing pleasurable feelings. Research seems to suggest that cannabis can increase dopamine production. If this is the case, any pleasurable feelings produced by the sexual experience may very well be enhanced by cannabis.
Utah law doesn’t allow QMPs to recommend Medical Cannabis for sexual dysfunction. It cannot be prescribed as an aphrodisiac. However, discovering that it enhances intimacy is a bonus. It is like a BOGO deal. Buy Medical Cannabis to treat pain and get a better experience in the bedroom at the same time.
If nothing else, cannabis’ usefulness as both a sleep aid and aphrodisiac just proves that a plant we have demonized for so long brings a lot to the table. It’s too bad it has taken our culture so long to begin rolling back prohibitions that probably should never have been put in place to begin with.
But roll back we have, and in some pretty significant ways. For example, this post previously mentioned that acute pain has been added to the qualifying conditions list in Utah. That’s big. Acute pain is generally not considered a long-term thing. All the other conditions on the state list are.
If you use Medical Cannabis, have you noticed that it makes the bedroom experience better? If you are sleeping better or enjoying better sex, consider it a positive side effect of your medication. Enjoy it. Positive side effects are not always the norm with medications.
Professional athletes tend to have a reputation for being extremely healthy. They need to be able to stay at the top of their games. That being said, would you be surprised to learn of top athletes using Medical Cannabis? We are just starting to see their stories trickle out. They are apparently beginning to look to cannabis when things aren’t physically right.
It makes perfect sense when you step back and think about it. Professional athletes have long thought outside the box in terms of their health. For example, they were among the first to seriously consider platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and autologous stem cell injections to treat sports injuries. Why would they not be willing to consider Medical Cannabis if it could keep them competing for longer?
Running back Ricky Williams took the NFL by storm during his first season with Miami Dolphins. Over a five-year career, he rushed for more than 5,000 yards. His career was cut short by multiple suspensions for marijuana. Now at 45 years old, Williams is a big advocate for Medical Cannabis as an anxiety and pain treatment.
If he were a rookie now, cannabis consumption wouldn’t be such a big deal. But two decades ago, it was. Yet Williams chooses not to be bound by the past. Rather, he is content to tell his story in hopes of helping the cannabis movement stay on track.
Ironically, the NFL was okay with a veritable cornucopia of painkillers players were allowed to eat like candy. Williams took them. However, nothing offered the same type of pain relief he got from cannabis. After his first failed drug test in 2002, he began experimenting with different volumes of cannabis to see if it really worked as well as he thought. He discovered it did. He continued using even though doing so eventually ended his career.
Ricky Williams is undoubtedly not the only professional athlete who has used cannabis medicinally in the past. There are surely those athletes still playing today who use it. But there are coaches, too. Consider Damien Hardwick, an Australian rules football coach who leads the Richmond Tigers.
Hardwick has suffered with a chronic back problem for more than a decade. In an article in The Courier-Mail, he discussed how he recently started using Medical Cannabis to manage his pain. He swears by it. He insists he feels better despite so many opponents in Australia reminding the country that there is no conclusive evidence proving that cannabis is an effective pain reliever.
As a top-level coach, Hardwick is intimately familiar with pain and how it can inhibit performance. He also knows the importance of pushing through. He is determined to not let his back problem keep him away from football. If that means trusting medical cannabis for some measure of pain relief, so be it.
It is unfortunate that Ricky Williams’ career was artificially shortened by his league’s resistance to cannabis as a pain reliever. Likewise, it is unfortunate that so many in Australia continue to resist the concept of Medical Cannabis. Things would not be this way in a perfect world. The good news is that attitudes are changing – both here and elsewhere.
Athletes are beginning to look to Medical Cannabis as an alternative to opioid painkillers and other less-than-effective treatments. This should not be surprising given the nature of their business. They only get paid as long as they can keep playing. Medical Cannabis represents a way to manage pain so as to remain on the competitive field for as long as possible. The rest of us should accept that.
It is no secret that pain management is the number one reason people utilize Medical Cannabis. And for the record, it’s generally chronic pain that patients are dealing with. Both THC and CBD are believed to help manage pain, even if they don’t eliminate it completely. But now it appears as though there might be another option: CBDA.
Known formally as cannabidiolic acid, CBDA is basically the precursor to CBD. We will explain what that means in just a minute. But first, animal research seems to suggest that CBDA could be a more effective pain reliever than either THC or CBD. In terms of the latter, CBDA could be many more times effective.
Seasoned Medical Cannabis users know that CBD is one of the two most commonly known cannabinoids found in the humble cannabis plant. CBD brings quite a few health benefits to bear without the side effect of getting high. But all CBD starts out as CBDA. Before you can have the former, you need to have the latter.
As an acid, CBDA has a carboxyl group. That carboxyl group has to be separated in order to turn CBDA into CBD. This process is known as decarboxylation, and the easiest way to accomplish it is to apply heat.
What holds true for CBD is also true for the rest of the cannabinoids. Until you remove the carboxyl group, cannabinoids do not offer the most desired benefits. And yet, all the cannabinoids in acid form may have a ton of benefits we simply don’t know about yet. That is where research into CBDA as a pain-fighting cannabinoid come in.
THC and CBD do what they do by binding to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. They can only do that because they have been decarboxylated. This implies that CBDA does not bind to those two receptors. Science has proven as much. Instead, CBDA seems to bind to more than half-a-dozen other receptors, particularly those related to the serotonin system.
Animal studies show a lot of promise for CBDA as a pain medication. But that’s not all. Early data indicates it might also be an immensely powerful drug for treating:
We will not know for sure how effective CBDA is without further human studies. But such is the case with nearly all of the cannabinoids and their precursor acids. Fifty years of prohibition has seen to that by limiting the amount of research that has gone into the cannabis plant.
If human studies eventually prove that CBDA does work as a pain treatment, it will give Medical Cannabis patients yet another choice. It would be a choice of better pain management without the side effect of feeling high.
At the current time, a limited amount of data we have on CBDA tells us that it is not psychoactive. Like its decarboxylated counterpart, CBDA will not make you high. But it could help reduce stress and anxiety while also offering some measure of pain relief. Let’s hope studies bear out the current assumptions.
In the meantime, you do have options. If you live in Utah and suffer from chronic or acute pain that hasn’t been successfully managed with other types of medication, don’t be afraid to ask your medical provider about Medical Cannabis. Getting your Medical Cannabis card would give you access to all sorts of products that could help you manage your pain better.
We talk a lot about Utah’s Medical Cannabis program and how it can be improved. Such discussions must be had. We have to make the Medical Cannabis program in this state as good as possible so as to maximize access and keep prices manageable. But that doesn’t mean we should be quick to complain. We are lucky that our list of qualifying conditions lets us treat pain with cannabis. There are other places in which the cannabis environment is a lot more restrictive.
Take the UK, for example. Medical Cannabis is technically legal there, but practical access is a different matter altogether. Patients with legitimate needs still have a challenging time getting their medications. That’s a shame. Why? Because there have been many success stories among the small number of UK patients who have actually been able to use Medical Cannabis
The Guardian recently ran a story about a Bristol woman diagnosed with both psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia some years ago. Both conditions can be debilitating by themselves. Combine them and you have a recipe for constant pain. That is exactly what this particular woman was experiencing.
According to the report, her pain was so severe that she rarely got more than two hours of continuous sleep. She was essentially nonfunctional to the point that she had to retire at just thirty-three years of age. For her, retiring at such an early age had implications far above the financial. She loved her job. She loved being out and about. But debilitating pain made that almost impossible.
Like so many other patients in her position, she tried one pill after another in hopes of managing her pain well enough to enjoy a normal life. Needless to say, she did not succeed. Then came the opportunity to participate in a Medical Cannabis study being conducted by a private London pain clinic. It changed her life – literally.
Once the woman began to treat her pain with cannabis, she noted that her pain levels have already dropped significantly. She is sleeping better than she has in a decade. Her number one task now is to gradually get off opioid pain pills. If nothing else, Medical Cannabis should be deemed a success if it helps people stop using opioids.
Without Medical Cannabis, this poor woman would still be struggling with unimaginable pain. Many of us will never know pain debilitating enough to completely separate us from normal life. However, those people who do experience such pain deserve relief. If that relief can be found in Medical Cannabis, society has no right to withhold it from chronic pain sufferers.
In the UK, accessing Medical Cannabis is still too difficult even though the drug is technically legal. Here’s hoping government officials figure out a way to make it more accessible. In the meantime, the program here in Utah is leaps and bounds ahead of the UK’s. We should be appreciative of how far our lawmakers have come since Proposition 2 was first passed.
It is easy to get angry and complain when things don’t go our way. It’s easy to recognize all the weaknesses in our current program and falsely assume that Medical Cannabis in Utah is one match short of a dumpster fire. But it’s not. We have a very good program that continues to get better with every legislative session. We have a program worthy of our appreciation.
If you suffer from chronic pain or any other qualifying condition that would be best treated with Medical Cannabis, we invite you to visit any of our Utah clinics for assistance with getting your Medical Cannabis card. Our team of experienced and compassionate QMPs are ready to lend a helping hand.
We are all pretty much into recycling, right? Well, maybe not all of us. But most of us do our part to recycle whenever we can. Here is something we have learned by picking the brains of experienced Medical Cannabis users: it is possible to recycle vaporized buds. In other words, you can use them a second time rather than throwing them away. It is not that hard, either.
Recycled buds previously used in a dry herb vaporizer are known in the cannabis community as already-vaped buds (AVBs) or already been vaped (ABV) buds. Whether you prefer to call it ABV or AVB, the material left over from a dry herb vaping session still has medicinal value.
You may remember that raw cannabis flower doesn’t offer much benefit in its natural state. The cannabinoids present in raw buds are still in acid form and are not yet active. You have to decarboxylate the plant material before it will help you. But as you know, the easiest and most effective way to decarboxylate is to heat the buds.
That’s the great thing about dry herb vaporizers. They both vaporize cannabis compounds and decarboxylate them at the same time. That means your AVBs are ready to go right out of your vaporizer. You don’t need to do anything more with them.
First, a word of caution. Cannabis that’s been used in a dry herb vaporizer has already released much of its THC and other cannabinoid content. But the leftover material can still be quite potent. As with any other cannabis product, remember to “start low and go slow.”
So, how would you give second life to AVBs? A lot of people do it by adding them to their food. For example, you can sprinkle AVBs on a piece of toast with peanut butter or mix it into some yogurt.
Just be careful that you don’t put it on food that others will consume. Your Medical Cannabis is just for you.
Another use of AVBs is making cannabis-infused butter or cooking oil. This butter or oil can then be used in virtually any recipe, such as brownies, that calls for it.
If this still isn’t enough for you, we have two more suggestions. The first is to steep the ABVs in hot water to make your own tea.
Yet another idea is to make your own tincture. If this sounds like fun, you can find plenty of recipes online. Making your own tincture could be one way to reduce your medical costs by extending the life of your buds. That way, you don’t have to buy as much on each visit to the Medical Cannabis Pharmacy.
We love the fact that Medical Cannabis patients are finding creative ways to extend the useful life of their medicines. working to recycle and reuse your already-vaped cannabis buds is just one way to get as much life out of vaporized plant material as possible. And it probably makes you feel better too.
Not only do you feel better physically, but you also feel better about yourself in the sense that you are taking more control over your healthcare. You are putting forth the effort to stretch your medicine as far as it will go.
We do not hear a whole lot about cannabigerol (CBG) these days. When it is talked about, discussions are usually limited to its potential as a medicine. But without a whole lot of evidence to prove what CBG can and cannot do, people are left to speculate. Does CBG have a place at the medical cannabis table? Maybe.
The thing about cannabis is that it isn’t just about THC and CBD. There is so much more to it. In fact, a lot of new Medical Cannabis patients who haven’t done a lot of research are surprised to learn that cannabis plants contain more than a hundred cannabinoids and terpenes. We just don’t know about the medical implications of each one right now. But that will come with time and research.
As for cannabigerol, it is sometimes called the “mother of all cannabinoids’ due to how it behaves in the plant itself. It turns out that CBG also behaves differently in the human body. It affects different receptors, thereby producing remarkably different effects as compared to THC and CBD.
According to The Cannigma contributor Matan Weil, some people refer to cannabigerol as the mother of all cannabinoids because they believe that its properties are responsible for determining the effects of other cannabinoids. However, science doesn’t back that up. He maintains that a better explanation for the term lies in the fact that CBG is a precursor to those other cannabinoids.
In other words, a cannabis plant produces CBG first. That cannabigerol is converted into other cannabinoid acids – like THCA and CBDA. By the time a typical cannabis plant is harvested, its actual CBG content is 1% or less.
Weil says that CBG is gradually becoming popular enough that growers are starting to produce plants designed to be CBG-heavy. In the same way they create varieties that are heavy on THC or CBD, they are starting to maximize cannabigerol volumes in other strains.
Research into CBG’s potential in medicine is still young, but it’s believed the cannabinoid could be useful in treating:
One thing we can say for sure about cannabigerol is that it is not intoxicating. Like CBD, CBG derived from industrial hemp can be bottled and sold anywhere in the U.S. And make no mistake about it, consumers are buying cannabigerol. Do a quick internet search and you will find all sorts of information from people who say it has helped them.
The more we learn about the cannabis plant, the more we understand Medical Cannabis efficacy. That is a good thing. The plant has had a cultural pall hanging over it for decades, and undeservedly so. We need to bring it back into the open and start medically researching it in earnest.
For more information about CBG, watch “The CBG Rundown” on the Discover Marijuana YouTube channel.