The Latest on Cannabis for Depression

Cannabis for Depression

We can all agree that one of the most popular reasons people use cannabis is because it makes them feel good. Even the phrase “getting high” refers to its ability to uplift our mental state. But can cannabis be used clinically to treat depression? In this article we’ll breakdown the use of medical cannabis for depression and take a look at what the latest research has to say.

Cannabis for Depression

Depression affects more than 300 million people and is considered the biggest cause of disability around the world. Current treatments for depression are useful for many, but they can take weeks before a patient experiences relief. These drugs also come with a host of unwanted side effects, and weaning off of them can be a long and horrible experience. With that said, there is hope for effective alternatives.

Cannabis for Depression depressed woman

Researchers are looking to medical cannabis to treat conditions like depression because of its ability to balance the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring brain chemicals that play a role in cognition, mood, emotions, and behavior.

The idea is that by introducing cannabis into the brain, balance is restored to the system. Some researchers think that chronic stress can suppress the production of endocannabinoids in the brain and lead to depression-like symptoms. This makes sense because stress and depression often go together.

While THC works to relieve depression for many people, there is currently a lot of clinical interest in CBD because of its potential for a large-spectrum of therapies. Researchers are especially interested in the effects of CBD on the brain because of its ability to treat neurological disorders like epilepsy. But can CBD treat depression?

CBD Acts Like an Antidepressant

One of the most recent studies done on the effects of cannabis for depression showed promising results using CBD. The study published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology found that CBD affected mice much like antidepressant drugs. The researchers used rodents who were bred to develop depressive symptoms and found that CBD increased their resilience in stress models of depression. Essentially, the CBD worked like an antidepressant for these animals.

Cannabis for Depression cbd oil

What’s really exciting is that the effects developed very quickly, within an hour of being administered, and lasted for a week after a single dose. Traditional antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) take weeks to start working and need to be taken every day.

How Does CBD Work for Depression?

The positive effects of CBD seen in this study are associated with a significant release of neurotrophin (BDNF) in parts of the brain responsible for depression. BDNF promotes neuroplasticity and the formation of new cells, which can cause an antidepressant effect.

Cannabis for Depression leaf on brain

Another rodent study done by the same team found that CBD’s antidepressant-like properties are associated with serotonin levels. This means that CBD might be able to enhance the effectiveness of traditional antidepressant drugs like SSRIs.

Is Cannabis for Depression Right for You?

While these findings are exciting, more research on human patients is needed before CBD or cannabis becomes an accepted treatment in mainstream medicine. Regardless of the research, many patients claim that cannabis works wonders to fight depression in their lives. Patients report it helps them handle day-to-day stress and allows them to see things in a more positive light. And there’s no question that people who use cannabis for recreation enjoy it for its mood-enhancing abilities.

Cannabis for Depression vial

If your doctor feels that cannabis may help manage your depression, Maryland law currently allows them to make that recommendation.

Ready to learn more about how cannabis can relieve feelings of depression? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.

Mitch Trellis on What’s Poppin with Deja Perez

DEJA PEREZ: Hola, guys, Deja Perez back with another edition of What’s Poppin the Podcast on 93.9 WKYS, and today we have Mitch from Remedy Columbia. How are you doing?

MITCH TRELLIS: I’m great, thanks for having me.

PEREZ: Absolutely. So, Mitch has a medical cannabis dispensary, is that right?

TRELLIS: That’s correct, the largest in the state.

PEREZ: The largest in the state.

TRELLIS: Yes, ma’am.

PEREZ: So how did you come about that? Because it’s in Maryland, and I’ve heard that it’s pretty hard to start one of these.

TRELLIS: It is very, very difficult. We actually won a merit-based application process against, I believe there were 900 applications for 103 dispensaries in the state of Maryland. And we came in second in Howard County District 13. They gave out two in District 13, and we received one of those two. There are 70 (dispensaries) open in the state of Maryland today. There’s probably another 32 or 33 to go. Maryland is now the most dense state for dispensaries in the country on a square mile basis. There are 70 dispensaries in the smallest space in America essentially. So it’s gotten very heated and very hectic. The state did about 97 and a half million dollars in medical cannabis sales in year one.

PEREZ: Wowzers. So how long have you been open?

TRELLIS: We have been open since December 21st.

PEREZ: You just opened.

TRELLIS: No, a year ago. It was our one year anniversary December 21st.

PEREZ: Gotcha. Okay. So what sparked this? What made you get into medical cannabis distribution?

TRELLIS: I’ve been passionate about cannabis myself since I was 21, 22 years old. I’ve been self-medicating with cannabis. And it’s funny, if you self medicated 20 years ago they called it getting high.

PEREZ: Indeed.

TRELLIS: You know what I mean? But today, it really is self-medicating. So I’ve always been passionate about cannabis, never a big drinker, never really into pharmaceuticals or narcotics or any of those things. Never was a big believer in Western medicine. I always found that cannabis tended to relieve a lot of symptoms that I might happen to have. As the world started to transition into this kind of realization that, perhaps it wasn’t the “devil’s lettuce” as they always led us to believe, I kind of as an entrepreneur — I’ve always been an entrepreneur — I’ve always been interested in starting businesses, I kind of kept my eye on it. And in 2014, I was living in New Jersey, and my best friend and today my business partner, he was working in Baltimore running the largest alternative heroin treatment center in Baltimore City. He treats thousands of heroin addicts a year with acupuncture…

PEREZ: Get out of here. Effectively?

TRELLIS: Effectively. Maryland wrote a very, very progressive law in 2014 that basically created one of the most liberal medical cannabis programs in the country. And immediately I was into it, and I called my partner and I said, we are gonna apply for a cannabis license. And he said “it’s a gateway drug” and hung up on me. But we started to talk, and he very quickly realized that it isn’t a gateway drug, that there are actually some very powerful statistics. And the one that got him was in medical cannabis states fatal opioid overdoses are 25% to 30% lower. In the state of Maryland, I believe, there were 700, which means medical cannabis is saving 150 to 170 lives. Literally. Once he realized that, he started to look at it in a different way. And his background is in health care, his background is in wellness. His family were the first people in America to teach acupuncture in 1974 in Columbia, Maryland. So his family is kind of wellness or alternative medicine royalty. So once he realized, came to the conclusion that maybe what I was saying had some merit. He went back to his father, and they started to dig in a little bit and they were pretty blown away. So we started to put together a team and it took a lot of work. The state wrote a great law but it took a long time to implement. So we started in 2014 and our application actually went in in 2016. It took two years. Then there was a six month waiting process. We applied for a grow, a processor, and a dispensary.

PEREZ: So does that mean you grow your own stuff here?

TRELLIS: So we were trying to grow our own cannabis in Maryland. Are you familiar with the processing?

PEREZ: No.

TRELLIS: So you know all the vape pens that you see everybody with? So that’s cannabis broken down into a chemical, a very high intensity product from the cannabis oil. That all occurs in a process. So there’s actually three legs of the business. There’s the grow, where you actually grow the cannabis, there’s the processor where you make it into different products, and there’s a dispensary where you sell the different products.

PEREZ: Gotcha. That makes sense.

TRELLIS: So the application process was for each vertical. We applied for all three verticals. We didn’t win the grow, we didn’t win the processor, which was, as you can imagine, very disappointing. We invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, a few years of our lives, it was very emotionally…

PEREZ: Draining?

TRELLIS: Yes, without a doubt. Now they didn’t announce at that time the winners of the store permits…

PEREZ: You just thought your dreams had been dashed.

TRELLIS: Exactly. And a couple months later we found out we had won a dispensary in our hometown of Columbia, Maryland. It was really exciting. What’s interesting is a lot of people apply for dispensaries all over the state. We looked at it and we said, “This is where we’re from. This is our community. And we’re gonna apply in one place.” And we applied in one region out of 52 in the state, and we won in our region.

PEREZ: That’s a blessing.

TRELLIS: It is a blessing. And we own a store within 5 miles of our homes, within 5 miles of where all of our children go to school. This is our community. And in retrospect, people ask us why we’re so successful. And there’s a lot of reasons, but I do think one of them is that it is our community. Remedy has become a community, but it’s a community within a community where we were already comfortable, already familiar, and we have a level of respect. And I don’t know if you know about Columbia, but Columbia is a very unique place; it has a very unique history. And it’s grown into this incredible place, right, but at the end of the day it’s like you said, it’s just home. It’s nice to see people that we grew up with, and it’s nice to see children that we grew up with and their parents. We treat about 1700 patients a week. And most of them come from the Howard County area. We do have a decent number of people who tend to drive past other dispensaries to get to Remedy. We have a really interesting experience. All of our patient advisors are ASA certified. It’s called Americans for Safe Access. It’s basically patient advisor training, for lack of a better word. And one of the things about cannabis, is that,because it’s not federally legal, there’s no real standardization in the treatment. And there’s no real FDA-approved tests and so on. Therefore, we can’t really say that “this works this way.” What we can say is that “we find that this tends to work this way for certain patients.” So the ASA training, what it really does is instill a real knowledge in our patient advisors. And then our patient advisors are all patients themselves. They’re all very passionate about cannabis. So one of the things that we’ve established is this really comfortable community where our patient advisors are able to really make people comfortable and take people along the path in their journey. What cannabis tends to be is for people who have not found what it is they’re looking for in standard medicine. So it really does become a journey. It’s not people… You know, there are people in there getting high. But like I said earlier, when you’re getting high you’re probably self-medicating for something, and for every one person like that there’s three or four people who are like, I don’t want opioids anymore. I don’t want to do whatever it is I’m doing anymore.

PEREZ: So walk me through the process, I don’t have a medical card right. But I’m driving in Columbia and I see your store and I pull in your parking lot, and I’m like “Yes!” And I walk in the door, what happens?

TRELLIS: So you’re walking through Columbia and you see our store. Unfortunately, they do not have same-day patient registration. The process takes about a week or two. How it would work is we have a process, we have patient concierges, we would sign you up in the state system on the computer, which you can also do yourself. Pretty easy. We take a picture of you. One of the things that we’ve found with the state is that the picture tends to get rejected. So there’s a specific way to take the picture. We send it into the state. And anywhere from ten days to three or four weeks later, they come back to you with a patient number. At that point, you go to a doctor, a certified doctor. I believe there’s 3 or 4 hundred across the state of Maryland already. They write you a recommendation for cannabis. But one of the reasons that Maryland’s program is so liberal is that anyone can qualify for medical cannabis for anything a doctor feels it would be beneficial for.

PEREZ: That’s a really big umbrella.

TRELLIS: And what we actually find a lot is anxiety. And that is not one of the qualifying illnesses, but people do tend to use cannabis for it, to treat it, and it does tend to work. So some of the illnesses that we see a lot of are anxiety and depression.

PEREZ: So I come in, they make me wait a week and ten days to get my patient number, I go see my doctor, they give me a referral slip, or?

TRELLIS: They write you a recommendation, it’s like a prescription, but they’re not allowed to write a prescription because it’s federally illegal. And you bring it back to Remedy and you’re ready to be a patient.

PEREZ: When I do that, do I have to go back and see my doctor every month, or…?

TRELLIS: Once every year.

PEREZ: Oh, that’s not bad. So I get this recommendation, you inform me that I’m good to go, and I come back in. Tell me what I can find at Remedy. Is it snacks, or is it barrels of weed, or is it vape pens?

TRELLIS: All of that. In the state of Maryland, they have all products, they have vape pens, they have cartridges. They do not have edibles in the state of Maryland. They’re in the process of figuring out the rules around edibles. There are some FDA concerns about foods and so on. We do have some orally ingested products.

PEREZ: What’s that considered, like a lollipop or a lozenge?

TRELLIS: Exactly. Instead of gummies, we have troches, instead of sodas we have elixirs. At the end of the day, they’re orally ingested, and they have the exact same effect as edibles. Our orally ingested products tend to be on the less strong side.

PEREZ: Really?

TRELLIS: Yes, because the one risk in all medical cannabis is around edibles. The dosing in edibles is much harder to deal with.

PEREZ: And regulate.

TRELLIS: And regulate.  And the most adverse effects tend to be from edibles. And there’s a scientific reason why, I could go into it, but to make a long story short it just tends to make people… if people are going to have an adverse reaction, it comes from edibles.

PEREZ: I think that in general with edibles, people tend to overindulge. Ordinarily I would eat a whole cookie. I would eat a whole brownie.

TRELLIS: Maybe two.

PEREZ: But with edibles it’s like, you just need a little slab.

TRELLIS: And it takes 30-40 minutes, or for some people it might take an hour, for some people it might take two hours. So people go back and say, “let me have some more cookie”.

PEREZ: Or eat the whole thing. And then you have the worst experience in your life, and you never want to do it again.

TRELLIS: Right. I personally am not a big edible fan. And I just don’t like the way it makes me feel, but also I’ve had that experience myself a couple times. And if I were to smoke too much, the worst that happens is you fall asleep. But like you said, with an edible, there’s the opportunity for a slightly adverse reaction. But you’re not dying, you’re not blacking out and waking up in a place that you don’t know where you are. So what the processors have tended to do with these orally ingested medicines is to err on the side of caution, which, I as the provider, appreciate, and make smaller doses of orally ingested medicine.

PEREZ: So how can people get information about Remedy Columbia?

TRELLIS: So I was just going to finish really quick on the doctor’s appointment. The doctor’s appointment tends to cost between 150 and 225 dollars in the state. And one of the barriers to entry that we’ve found for patients is that’s a large amount of money for cannabis users. That’s half of an ounce. So one of the programs that we’ve created is a reimbursement program.

PEREZ: Which is what?

TRELLIS: Basically, if you bring your doctor’s referral with a receipt, we will give you back in product the cost of your doctor’s appointment up to 200 dollars over 5 visits. So what that equals is a 40 dollar credit, in product, every time you visit, up to 5 visits. And in our store, 40 dollars gets you an eighth of cannabis, high grade cannabis.

PEREZ: Now, is there a limit? I have all my paperwork, I’m ready, I’m in your system, can I just come in and buy out your store or is it regulated?

TRELLIS: Every patient in the state of Maryland has a 4 ounce per month limit. It’s a lot. As someone who medicates every day, I mean, I don’t use my 4 ounces. So it’s a lot. The people who do tend to use it are people making edibles at home. They break it down and make their own brownies. Those are the only people that I’ve come across who tend to do that. It’s a lot, 4 ounces of weed.

PEREZ: That’s a lot, I’m not mad about it though.

TRELLIS: The average person in the top 10% of usage smokes 1.6 grams per day. Which really works out to be, what, 45, 50 grams a month? And our limit is 120. So it’s fair, it’s more than fair. And for some people, your tolerance goes up as you medicate more.

PEREZ: Now how do you measure if it’s a vape pen, versus I want a little bud, I want a little vape pen, I want a little whatever?

TRELLIS: So they count, you can either have 120 grams of flower or 30 grams of THC. And what they measure is the percentage of THC in the gram that you bought of concentrate. The concentrates are very intense, they’re up to 90% of THC. So that would mean you could basically have a gram of concentrate that’s 90% THC. So they count even for THC or the flower.

PEREZ: Interesting.

TRELLIS: Yes, it’s a very fair program. I’ve never found myself lacking in medicine. And you know, they’re trying to make it so that people can medicate in a safe fashion. And at the same time, control diversion and make it so that people outside of the program do not have access to the medicine, because that makes sense, it’s a totally reasonable concern.

PEREZ: So if I go to a doctor and I get this card, but my job randomly drug tests me, that’s gotta be something you guys encounter, right? So the medical marijuana thing doesn’t give me a pass with my job?

TRELLIS: Exactly, right, not yet. So this is a conversation that’s being had in some more forward, more liberal states. About whether that recommendation or referral is protective, in the same way that if a doctor referred you to opioids,your employer wouldn’t theoretically fire you for taking those opioids? Right now, there are no protections.

PEREZ: So you’re on your own.

TRELLIS: You’re on your own. That being said, as corporate America becomes more comfortable with cannabis…

PEREZ: A lot of places are.

TRELLIS: There are a lot more, they don’t like to tell you, but they really are a lot more comfortable. Look, a lot of these places wouldn’t be able to hire anybody. And it’s also, look, society is going through this whole kind of…

PEREZ: Transition.

TRELLIS: Exactly, where we’re like maybe it isn’t as bad as everybody says it is. It’s even happening in corporations. Look, it really is a big medicine. I used to work on Wall Street, and the stereotype on Wall Street is cocaine. But in reality, what I often found is that a lot of people on Wall Street use cannabis. And the reason was it was just a relaxant, and the intensity level of millions of dollars and trading and all these things, these people tended to just needed to take it down a notch after the days.

PEREZ: Fantastic. Well I’ll have to visit Remedy Columbia once I get all my stuff in order. So tell everyone how they can get more information.

TRELLIS: You can call us at Remedy Columbia, 410-935-7729. You can visit the website at www.remedycolumbia.com. Or you can come down to Columbia and check us out, 6656 Daven Road, Suite E. We’re on social media, Remedy Columbia. We’ve actually gotten kicked off of Instagram six times. They’re very, very tough. So you might not find us on Instagram or on Facebook, it’s very hard to find us on Instagram, but we’re on Facebook, we’re on Twitter, we’re on all of those things. And again, come on down, look us up on the internet, and give us a call. We really want to help people become patients and we’re here to help people get started on their journey and transition along the way. It’s a pretty amazing journey.

PEREZ: I’m here for all of that. Thank you so much for joining us.

TRELLIS: Thank you for having us.

PEREZ: Thanks for being informative. And thank you guys for joining us for another edition of What’s Poppin the Podcast, only on 93.9 WKYS.

Could Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Be the Next Big Breakthrough?

Cannabis for Alzheimers

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, you know it’s one of the most challenging conditions anyone can experience. With only a few treatments available to address this disease, you might be wondering if cannabis could be an option. Let’s take a look at what the latest research has to say about cannabis for Alzheimer’s.

Cannabis for Alzheimers old man with caretaker

The Basics of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Diseases (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive symptoms like memory loss, dementia, emotional struggles, speech issues, and more. It develops when destructive amyloid plaques and tangles start to build up in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. This part of the brain is responsible for memory. As nerve cells die, connections are lost, and it becomes hard for the patient to remember events, reason, and even recognize people they know.

Unfortunately, there limited treatments that exist for AD. Therapies that are currently available only address the symptoms, not the progression of the disease itself. As the search for new therapies continues, there has been a development in the interest of cannabis-based treatments. The good news is researchers are hard at work to advance our understanding of how medical cannabis could play a role in the future of AD treatment.

Cannabis for Alzheimers family

Cannabis for Alzheimer’s

Researchers think that cannabis can interact with the brain in a way that provides AD symptom relief, as well as neuroprotection to fight disease progression. While there have only been a few studies so far on how cannabis might help AD patients, the findings look promising:

  • A 2018 study published by the Society for Neuroscience looked at mice with AD. It concluded that the mice treated with THC experienced improvements in memory and reduced neuronal loss.
  • In a study conducted in 2016, Israeli researchers administered cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers observed a significant decrease in dementia symptoms. They concluded that cannabis was a safe and promising option for treating AD symptoms.
  • A 2016 Salk Institute study found that THC worked to reverse harmful amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. They also found that THC reduced the inflammation that leads to brain cell damage.
  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease looked at how THC can reduce amyloid plaque buildup and found promising results. They reported that their data strongly supports THC as a potential treatment option for fighting AD through several pathways.

The Bottom line?

While these findings are exciting, memory and dementia symptoms are not the only way cannabis can help AD patients. As the diseases progress, many patients experience depression, agitation, and anxiety. Cannabis has been proven to improve mood and ease depression and anxiety and can be used to enhance the quality of life for those suffering from AD.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is not yet a Maryland medical cannabis qualifying condition. If you think it should be, please write your legislators!

Cannabis for Alzheimers young care taker hugging woman

Would you like to know more about medical cannabis? We’d love to help. Schedule an appointment and we can help you become a registered Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland.

Remedy Finds the Best Happy Hour in Columbia, MD

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD

We’ve recently shared a lot of important content about qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Maryland. We hope it’s been informative, and we plan on talking about it a lot more! At the same time, we understand that if you’re visiting us from neighboring towns, you may want to do something else in the area. And like you, we’re definitely not above searching for the best happy hour in Columbia, MD.

So with that in mind, let’s continue our roll call of Columbia’s “Best Of” and share our picks.

Best Happy Hour in Columbia, MD

Stanford Grill

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD Stanford Grill
Source: Stanford Grill

8900 Stanford Blvd
Columbia, MD 21045
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Tucked at the very back of the Columbia Corporate Park, this elegantly cozy hideaway is a sumptuous place to kick back and enjoy an expert cocktail at the end of a long day. Plush leather booths will coddle you, as will the jazz trio performing nightly in the dining room.

Royal Taj

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD Royal Taj
Source: Royal Taj Yelp Via Tri L.

8335 Benson Dr
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 381-1111
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Already one of our favorite local restaurants, the Taj also puts on a great happy hour. If the prospect of nachos and chicken wings no longer excites you, the Indian specialties on offer—crisp pakora fritters and steaming-hot samosas—are guaranteed to enliven your happy hour snacking.

Victoria Gastro Pub

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD Victoria Gastro Pub
Source: Victoria Gastro Pub Via Mike Buscher Photography

8201 Snowden River Pkwy
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 750-1880
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The choices at this elegant wood-lined bar can be overwhelming! In addition to the regular happy hour, there are nightly specials, passed hors d’ouevres, and not least the Beer Club to consider. Even if you’re not up for the full beer-tasting experience—and the list of possibilities can seem endless!—this charming pub is worth a visit during happy—or any other—hour!

Seasons 52

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD Seasons 52
Source: Seasons 52

10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 3150
Columbia, MD 21044
(410) 715-1152
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This popular grill puts a handmade spin on the idea of “happy hour snacks.” You’ll find hearty BBQ meatloaf sliders, Japanese-inflected grilled chicken yakitori, and a freewheeling approach to the pizza in the form of inventive flatbreads like braised short rib and aged cheddar. The feel is casual, but you’ll likely feel like you’ve stumbled into something altogether out of the ordinary.

The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille

Best Happy Hour in Columbia MD The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille
Source: The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille

8872 McGaw Rd Suite C
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 312-5255
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If “best happy hour in Columbia, MD” means savory hot wings, hot crab dip, or tater tots loaded with bacon, “beer cheese” and housemade ranch, you’ve come to the right place. There’s always a game on, friendly staff and a welcoming crowd at this justifiably popular sports bar and all-around watering hole.

And remember, when it’s time to refill your prescription, stop by your favorite Columbia cannabis dispensary.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Investigates Whether Cannabis is Effective Against Opioid Addiction

maryland medical cannabis

We all know our country is struggling to find ways to battle the destructive opioid epidemic. The state of Maryland is facing its own battle with over 49,000 residents suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD). With over 30 states now on-bored with medical or recreational cannabis, some are considering it as a possible treatment for addiction to drugs like oxycodone and heroin. But does it work?

maryland medical cannabis

States that have implemented medical cannabis laws have seen a reduction in opioid prescriptions for patients on Medicaid and Medicare health plans. These states are also seeing a drop in opioid overdose deaths. So why isn’t Maryland including cannabis as a treatment for OUD? Here is an overview of what the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission recently reported.

Can Maryland Medical Cannabis Treat Opioid Use Disorder?

The growing anecdotal evidence is clear – medical cannabis can be a useful tool for treating opioid cravings and easing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Opioid patients also report that cannabis helps them sleep and reduces the intensity of cravings.

maryland medical cannabis doctor with flower and tincture

The fact is, cannabis poses less of a risk than current FDA-approved opioid-based treatments like methadone. Patients see better treatment outcomes when they have access to cannabis, and many health care providers have seen high-dose opiate patients significantly reduce or eliminate opiates with the use of cannabis. So why isn’t Maryland using cannabis is fight OUD?

Why isn’t Opioid Use Disorder a Qualifying Condition in Maryland?

The Maryland State Assembly considered adding OUD to the list of qualifying conditions that can be treated by medical cannabis, but some national groups were against the idea. Their concern was over creating additional drug dependency, and the lack of clinical evidence.

But here’s the catch…

The main reason there is a lack of clinical evidence on the benefits of cannabis for OUD is that it’s classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. This classification has severely limited most medical cannabis research, forcing the cannabis community to rely on anecdotal evidence (what patients self-report).

Fortunately, the DEA’s view on cannabis and its medical potential is beginning to change. With the growing number of states that now have laws which allow medical or recreational cannabis use, the DEA acknowledges there is a need for serious medical research.

Cannabis for OUD isn’t a new idea, and a number of states in the US are considering adding cannabis as an addiction treatment. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have already approved cannabis for opioid addiction, which could promote the idea on a national level.

The bottom line?

As of now, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission acknowledges that even though there is mounting anecdotal evidence for using cannabis for addiction, the scientific evidence is not there yet. Based on their medical literature review, the commission’s position is that medication-assisted treatments with drugs like methadone and naltrexone are best.

maryland medical cannabis Remedy Columbia Team
Photo Source: Remedy Colombia Facebook Page

If you’d like to try cannabis for one of the many conditions that do currently qualify in Maryland, we’d love to help. Schedule a visit or just drop by. We can’t wait to see you!

What Patients Should Know About Cannabis for Palliative Care

Cannabis for Palliative Care

The role that cannabis can play in managing or treating a variety of conditions or symptoms is becoming clearer every day. With the rapid progress of legalization in the country, new and more effective products are being developed to alleviate pain and suffering. While more research must be done before cannabis can be definitively linked to curing certain illnesses, many patients who require comfort in the later stages of a terminal condition turn to cannabis for palliative care.

Cannabis for Palliative Care dropper and vial

The Pain-Relieving Properties of Cannabis

Cannabis is increasingly recognized by doctors and scientists alike for its potent analgesic properties. Within cannabis lies several chemical components that contribute to its ability to relieve pain, namely tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly called THC) and cannabidiol (referred to as CBD). Each plays a particular role in cannabis’s effectiveness in reducing pain and other distressing symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea.

THC is famous for its psychoactive properties, but the chemical has proven to be an ideal panacea for pain as well. As THC is responsible for the powerful high that often accompanies cannabis, high THC strains can be especially useful for patients in palliative care. For certain conditions that require extreme potency, large quantities of THC can be an effective tool for providing comfort and relief.

CBD, in comparison, does not instigate a recognizable cannabis high when applied in concentrated forms. Rather, CBD offers patients the anodyne qualities of cannabis without the associated high. For patients who desire the painkilling effects of cannabis without a psychoactive experience, CBD has become a popular option when available.

The Effectiveness of Cannabis for Palliative Care

While every patient will require a treatment suited specifically for them, cannabis can be the right option to alleviate suffering for those afflicted by a debilitating illness. In particular, the powerful properties of THC and CBD in combination with each other have been shown to assuage severe pain and anguish.

Cannabis for Palliative Care bud between oils

As opposed to traditional painkillers, patients seeking out cannabis for palliative care prefer a natural medicine without the negative side-effects that can accompany prescription drugs. Indeed, many patients choose cannabis as an alternative to potentially problematic medications like opioids.

Patients often find that cannabis offers the same or greater efficacy in pain management compared to pharmaceuticals. As more research is done into cannabis as medicine, the potential is clear for strides to be made in unlocking the healing power of its constituent chemicals.

Ideal Cannabis for Palliative Care

When considering the use of marijuana for serious or terminal conditions, patients must always consult a doctor to determine the course of treatment that is appropriate for them. Furthermore, employees at cannabis care providers will often be equipped with the necessary knowledge to connect patients with the products best suited for their individual ailment.

Cannabis for Palliative Care doctor with plant

In general, indica strains are known to be more potent than sativas and possess sleep-inducing effects can be ideal for patients suffering from chronic and debilitating pain. While strains vary drastically in both quality and effects, indicas typically provide an embracing body high capable of melting away physical distress.

Edibles (or “medibles”) are also a potential avenue of exploration for patients seeking cannabis for palliative care. As edibles are usually much stronger than other forms of cannabis, they can act as long-lasting pain relievers. In addition, many patients may have conditions that prevent them from inhaling cannabis smoke, thus making edibles a safer and preferable option.

Want to learn more? Stop by our Columbia, Maryland, Dispensary—our staff is happy to help!

MMCC Celebrates 1 Year, Plus Medical Cannabis Changes You Need to Know

Maryland medical cannabis program

The Maryland medical cannabis program has grown in leaps and bounds since its start on December 1, 2017. At that time, less than 18,000 patients were registered and only eight dispensaries were open. The Maryland market now counts nearly 52,000 patients going to 71 dispensaries.

maryland medical cannabis program stethoscope with flower

Because of this expansion of patients and dispensaries, Maryland’s medical cannabis industry ended its first year of operation with $96.3 million in sales of 730,000 individual products.

And the pace has not let up. Between 250 and 350 patients have been applying to the program each day.

“Every Monday, we come in to 1,000 new applications. … People have really started to take notice of the cannabis program in Maryland,” Joy Strand, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), said.

In this post, we’ll review how much MMCC has achieved and the challenges moving forward.

Maryland Medical Cannabis in Numbers

maryland medical cannabis program doctor holding vial

Since the program started, there have been 2 million transactions. Here is what drove this result in one year:

  • The number of dispensaries grew from 8 to 71.  
  • 1,187 medical providers have registered with the program.
  • The number of patients grew to 51,704 by the end of November 2018.
  • 14 cultivators, 14 processors and 5 testing labs provided safe access to medical cannabis products at dispensaries.
  • 4,659 people registered as caregivers — individuals who care for minors or disabled people using cannabis products.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Challenges

maryland medical cannabis program vial with cannabis flower

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has faced some criticism regarding accessibility to contracts, cost of entry, and products. Specifically:

  • The Maryland medical cannabis program is experiencing high race and gender disparities in their access to state and private sector contracts and in those factors necessary for business success. Based on statistical and anecdotal evidence, it has been determined by the state that affirmative intervention is still needed.
  • In order to purchase medical marijuana in 2018, patients had the option of showing either their license and certification card or patient ID. Now patients have to purchase a $50 patient ID card, which many feel is unfair considering traditional pharmaceuticals don’t have this requirement. Existing patients have until April 1 to purchase the card.
  • Cannabis edibles were not available in Maryland dispensaries for the entire first year. MMCC acknowledged that many patients, especially seniors, prefer to use edibles as their delivery method. Now word has to get out that edibles are available at dispensaries like Remedy Columbia.

Remedy Columbia Proud to Offer Maryland Medical Cannabis

The Maryland Medical Cannabis program still has progress to make, but it also has good reason to celebrate its first year with increased dispensaries and many more registered patients and providers.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Remedy Columbia Team

If you’re just starting the process, Remedy Columbia welcomes all licensed Maryland Patients for walk-ins. We also have Patient Registration Appointments and Patient Education Appointments to help you get started. One of our team members will assist you along your way to becoming a Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland. The best part? Our menu has a variety of flower, extracts, edibles, tinctures, topicals, and more to choose from, now including edibles. Everybody will find something for them.

Glaucoma and Marijuana: Is Cannabis an Effective Treatment?

glaucoma and marijuana

Over 3 million Americans — most of whom are over age 40 — live with Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that progressively degrades the cranial nerves. The disease can cause severe damage to one’s vision and is one of the most common causes of blindness not only in the U.S. but in the world. In this article, we’ll address whether combining glaucoma and marijuana is helpful. First, let’s further explore glaucoma as a condition, including causes and risk factors.

Glaucoma is a hereditary disease. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the heritability of glaucoma has thus far made it nearly impossible to find effective ways to prevent onset. Nor is glaucoma currently curable. However, with early detection and a treatment plan, patients can manage their symptoms and prevent severe vision loss and irreversible blindness.

While there are two primary forms of glaucoma — open-angle and angle-closureopen-angle is the most common diagnosis, affecting 95 percent of the patient population.

Remedy Columbia Glaucoma and Marijuana eye exam

Glaucoma Risk Factors & Causes

Glaucoma is associated with elevated eye pressure, specifically intraocular pressure (IOP). However, contrary to popular perception, high IOP isn’t the cause of glaucoma. People with normal eye pressure can be diagnosed with glaucoma, while people with high IOP may not be diagnosed with glaucoma. It is, however, a risk factor for developing glaucoma. It can also exacerbate symptoms, causing compression that can degrade or destroy the retina and optic nerves’ fibers.

What Causes Glaucoma?

What causes glaucoma largely depends on which of the three types of glaucoma you have. However, the precise causes of glaucoma have been hard to pinpoint. The most current research from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear (a Harvard teaching hospital focused on ophthalmology) suggest glaucoma-related vision loss is caused by an immune response to early exposure of bacteria.

According to Dr. Dong Feng Chen, the lead vision scientist on the study, and Harvard Medical School professor, the autoimmune attack can cause nausea, severe eye pain, and vision disturbances.

“The fact is, eye pressure is only a risk factor, which means only a small percentage of people who have elevated ocular, or eye pressure, actually develop glaucoma,” claims Dr. Chen. “Our study actually shows that the elevated eye pressure does not naturally lead to glaucoma.’

Dr. Dong Feng Chen

While there’s currently no known cure for glaucoma, Dr. Chen’s research has made him optimistic that a cure is in sight: “Targeted manipulation of the immune response in the eye will help eliminate the disease.”

Risk Factors

  • Family history and genetics
  • Age (60+)
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Thin cornea
  • Persistent high-stress
Remedy Columbia Glaucoma and Marijuana eye exam male

Glaucoma and Marijuana

In most states where medical cannabis is legal, glaucoma is a qualifying condition, meaning glaucoma patients are eligible to become medical cannabis patients. But what does the science say? Is cannabis a viable treatment? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Studies into glaucoma and marijuana from the 1970s were promising; they found that cannabis does, in fact, lower IOP. However, as research has progressed and new medications have been developed, the current consensus in the ophthalmology community is that marijuana isn’t more effective than currently available drugs. Nor do most ophthalmologists believe cannabis should be used as a first-line or primary treatment.

Most ophthalmologists and researchers cite the short duration of cannabis and accompanying “side effects” as reasons why most patients should not use cannabis as their primary treatment. This reasoning makes sense. Patients need 24-hour treatment for glaucoma. Medicating for 24-hour cycles would require patients to use cannabis six to eight times per day to consistently lower their IOP levels, which could actually result in feelings of discomfort.

Does the current consensus mean patients shouldn’t consider cannabis as a treatment? Yes and no. As a primary treatment, the evidence is clear there are better options than marijuana. However, as an adjunctive or supplementary treatment, for some patients cannabis may be appropriate. As research has established, the data proves cannabis lowers eye pressure. Moreover, some patients find the effects of cannabis — both psychotropic and therapeutic — improve their quality of life.

When it comes to late-stage glaucoma, physicians are far more likely to endorse marijuana as a treatment. At that stage, treatment is less about targeting the disease and more about addressing symptoms.

Dr. Andrew Bainnson, a prominent New York ophthalmologist, provides an honest assessment:

“We’ve known for some time that medical marijuana is very effective for treating nausea and pain, but not so much for glaucoma. [However,] there are some patients with end-stage pain and nausea who may benefit [from medical cannabis], but not from the glaucoma point of view.”

Dr. Andrew Bainnson

Bottom line: Is cannabis appropriate for you or a loved one with glaucoma? That’s a decision between you and your health professional.

If you and your doctor decide cannabis makes sense for you, great! We’ve got plenty of strains and products we can suggest that are popular with other glaucoma patients. Keep in mind, of course, that our role isn’t to diagnose or prescribe medications. We’re here to help you on your treatment journey and be your go-to source for high-quality, lab-tested cannabis.

Ready to learn more about glaucoma and marijuana? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.

Muscle Spasm Treatment: Is Cannabis Effective?

Muscle spasm treatment

How many muscles do you think you have? 50? 100? 200? Incredibly, we have over 650 named muscles. When counting muscles within muscles, some estimates go as 840. That’s a lot of muscles! With so many muscles it’s not hard to imagine that our body works hard maintaining them at an optimal level. For people with particular medical conditions, however, severe or persistent muscle spasms are a part of their everyday life. Many turn to cannabis. However, can cannabis be an effective muscle spasm treatment for these individuals?

What Are Severe and Persistent Muscle Spasms?

A muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. They occur spontaneously. For most people, it’s not serious. Acute muscle spasms usually occur when muscles are stressed from overuse, dehydrated, deficient in magnesium or potassium, or when an individual has poor circulation.

When an individual regularly experiences severe muscles spasms or persistent muscle spasms that occur daily (or near-daily), it is often a symptom of a more serious condition.

Severe muscle spasms are usually the result of damage or extreme stress on nerves that disrupt nerve root signals from the spinal cord. That could be any number of things, including a spinal cord injury, hernia, or pinched nerve in your neck or back.

Persistent muscle spasms (daily or near-daily) are usually caused by an underlying medical condition that is systemic or neurological. They can also be related to vascular, hormonal, or toxic-metabolic problems.

What Medical Conditions Cause Persistent Muscle Spasms?

Muscle Spasm Treatment Neurological diseases nerve cells

Persistent muscle spasms are often the result of a movement or neurological disorder such as:

Can Cannabis Treat Muscle Spasms?

Medical cannabis muscle spasm treatment

Muscle spasms, especially those caused by MS, are usually treated with pain relievers (analgesics), anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxers, or, in some cases, Botulinum toxin. However, many patients find these drugs produce intolerable side-effects or aren’t effective. This has lead to many patients turning to cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment.

Recent scientific research has proven cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs can help patients with persistent muscle spasms. After an extensive review of all available medical research, in 2018 National Academy of Sciences produced a report — The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids — that states:

“Conclusive or substantial scientific evidence has shown that marijuana products are effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy.”

National Academy of Sciences

The review identified substantial evidence that cannabis-derived oral cannabinoids are effective in treating spasms from multiple sclerosis. Further, both oral cannabinoids and inhaled cannabis can treat chronic pain in adults.

After reviewing substantial medical evidence, researchers report:

“Oral cannabis-based drugs contain THC, the intoxicating compound in pot, or cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating chemical in marijuana that appears to have some therapeutic benefit.”

National Academy of Sciences

However, they also cautioned that because THC and CBD levels can vary considerably between cannabis strains, unless researchers create standards it will be challenging to comprehensively assess the impact of different strains with variable THC and CBD levels.

But, Wait, There’s More!

For many years, Israeli researchers have been isolating integral chemical components in cannabis to study the effects of cannabis on numerous medical conditions.

A 2013 Israeli study published by the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology reported various naturally occurring chemicals found in cannabis might decrease spinal cord and brain inflammation. The study’s findings for people suffering from severe or persistent muscle spasms is encouraging.

Likewise, scientists from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego have found compelling evidence to support cannabis as effective in treating muscle spasms.

In addition, anecdotal evidence offered by patients who have chosen to use medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as severe pain, muscle tremors and spasms generally tend to be positive. Patients who are using medical marijuana seem, as a majority, to believe they are receiving medical benefits as a result and they are achieving results that improve their quality of life.

Popular Strains for Muscle Spasm Treatment

According to crowd-sourced reviews on Leafly, users with muscle spasms report positive results from the following strains:

Muscle Spasm Treatment: Hybrids

  • ACDC (high-CBD)
  • Canna-Tsu (high-CBD)
  • Chemdawg 4
  • White Widow

Muscle Spasm Treatment: Sativa-Dominant

  • Amnesia
  • Great White Shark
  • Charlotte’s Web (high-CBD)
  • Sweet Diesel
  • Jamaican Dream

Conclusion

As patients find conventional medications ineffective, an increasing number turn to cannabis as their preferred muscle spasm treatment. Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-reliever) with chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system to influence how the body interprets pain. Research thus far has been encouraging. However, does that mean cannabis is an appropriate muscle spasm treatment for you? That’s a highly personal decision that you should make with your preferred medical professional (hopefully one who is knowledgeable about cannabis).

If you decide to use cannabis as a muscle spasm treatment, we’re happy to help you find the right strain and ingestion method that works for you. You can visit our online dispensary menu to search for the type of cannabis product that you like, or schedule an appointment for assistance.

PTSD Treatment: Can Cannabis Help?

Cannabis PTSD treatment

“Cannabis is a [traumatic] memory eraser,” says Michael Krawitz, the head of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access. Krawitz believes cannabis is an indispensable PTSD treatment. Krawitz adds that the drugs patients are usually prescribed — such as antidepressants, powerful antipsychotic agents, and benzodiazepines — often leave patients “feeling like zombies.” Krawitz’ opinion is shared not only by rapidly growing number of veterans but also among staggering numbers of other individuals living with PTSD. For Krawitz and tens of thousands of other people living with PTSD, cannabis is an essential PTSD treatment.

The sentiments echoed by Krawitz and others is based on their personal experiences, not studies, therefore their perspectives are anecdotal. But what does science say about cannabis as a PTSD treatment? In this article, we’ll explain PTSD and address the issues and challenges patients face with cannabis as a PTSD treatment.

PTSD Defined: What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, more commonly called PTSD, is a potentially severely debilitating psychiatric disorder where patients can experience any or all of the following: intrusive thoughts, memories, disturbing dreams, and flashbacks; avoidance of people, places, and things that remind them of the traumatic event(s); re-living the traumatic experience; hyperarousal to triggering stimuli that reminds them of the event; negative thoughts, feelings, and distorted beliefs and perceptions of oneself; persistent anger, fear, guilt or shame.

PTSD is caused by exposure to severely traumatic events, such as war and combat, natural disasters, acts of violence, rape, abuse, or terrorism. The condition can affect nearly every aspect of a patient’s life, from their relationships and quality of life to their physical and emotional health.

With the continued normalization of medical cannabis, widespread legalization across the U.S., and increased access for patients, the number of patients using cannabis as a PTSD treatment is growing rapidly.

How Bad Is the PTSD Epidemic?

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) estimates 3.6% of adults in the U.S. lived with PTSD over the past year. That translates to more than 12 million people.

PTSD treatment symptoms

The severity of symptoms — measured as “serious impairment,” “moderate impairment,” and “mild impairment” — was just about equal across the patient population. 36.6% of patients lived with serious impairment, while 33.1% experienced moderate impairment and 30.2% had mild impairment.

Is Cannabis an Effective PTSD Treatment?

Despite the fact more than two dozen states now allow PTSD patients to become medical cannabis patients and numerous patient testimonials, anecdotal experiences, case reports, lab studies, and observational studies, no large randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have yet to be published. The reason we don’t have large-scale RCTs is the status of cannabis as a DEA Schedule I drug — meaning the federal government sees cannabis being as dangerous and addictive as heroin. This makes it difficult to conduct medical studies, however, there is hope that this will change soon.

Until we have the types of large-scale randomized trials necessary for the mainstream medical community to fully embrace cannabis, we’re limited to preclinical studies that preclude medical professionals from claiming cannabis is an effective PTSD treatment.

However, the lack of endorsement from the mainstream medical community hasn’t stopped the tens of thousands of people who rely on it to improve their quality of life from swearing by cannabis as their preferred PTSD treatment. And if someone finds a treatment that works for them, they probably don’t care whether RCTs exist. It works for them, and in their perception, that’s what’s most important.

Are There Other Effective PTSD Treatments?

PTSD cannabis research binder

There’s no doubt PTSD can be difficult to treat, but with the appropriate treatment, the condition and its symptoms can be managed or eliminated. Unfortunately, many PTSD patients are only treated with pills. At best, these pharmaceuticals offer short-term benefits. At their worst, many patients experience severe side-effects or develop an addiction.

PTSD bad pharma

Research suggests that PTSD treatment is more effective when combined with psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral training (CBT). In fact, most studies conclude that CBT is the most consistently effective short and long-term PTSD treatment.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the following are examples of some of the most effective CBT treatments :

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): A form of CBT that utilizes cognitive therapy to evaluate and change trauma-related thoughts;
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE): Another form of CBT that relies more heavily on behavioral therapy techniques to help individuals gradually approach trauma-related memories, situations, and emotions;
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): A form of psychotherapy that involves processing upsetting trauma-related memories, thoughts and feelings;
  • Stress Inoculation Training (SIT): Another type of CBT that aims to reduce anxiety by teaching coping skills to deal with stress that may accompany PTSD.

Final Thoughts: Cannabis as a PTSD Treatment

Beyond pharmaceutical or cannabis-based treatments, the most effective course of treatment often includes lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising consistently, and socializing with friends and family in addition to psychotherapy.

As for the current state for cannabis research, the good news is that after years of seeking approval, we finally have one “gold standard” randomized-controlled study underway that could produce conclusions that would make the mainstream medical community more willing to fully embrace cannabis as a viable PTSD treatment. In the meantime, it’s fortunate that many states with medical cannabis programs consider PTSD to be a qualifying condition.

If you’re interested in pursuing cannabis as a PTSD treatment option, schedule an appointment to learn about becoming a Maryland Medical Cannabis patient.