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WSU Study Finds Cannabis May Diminish Stress Response

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A new study from Washington State University (WSU) has found that cannabis may diminish a user’s physiological response to stress.

Researchers found female rats that self-administered daily puffs of cannabis vapor for a month had lower blood levels of a hormone that causes stress when presented with a stressful situation than they did at the beginning of the experiment and compared to a control group. The rats were trained to trigger an infrared sensor that would activate a puff of cannabis vapor anytime they felt the urge. Previous studies have shown cannabis could have an effect on stress response.

After 30 days, only female rats that had access to the cannabis had a significantly muted response to stress. The rats that were given access to cannabis also tended to respond more for the substance and had higher concentrations in their blood after the experiment. Male rats did not experience the same results, but they also self-administered a lot less.  

“We don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing and there’s reason to argue for either of them at this point—a blunted stress response might actually predispose some people to certain mental health conditions is our concern,” said co-author of the study and WSU assistant professor of psychology, Carrie Cuttler. “So yeah, it sounds great on the surface that maybe they’re less prone to stress…but the stress response is an important system that exists for a reason—any alterations in that or perturbations in that system may or may not be a good thing.”

WSU assistant professor and another co-author of the study, Ryan McClain, mentioned there are ethical and legal concerns with testing stress responses on humans, as well as administering cannabis to some of the human participants, so these kinds of studies are limited to animal models.

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Strain of the Week: Orange Cookies

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January is known for a few things. First, New Year’s resolutions (that tend to fade in interest after about 30 days), second is honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and of course, third is the annual return of Girl Scout Cookies. Having been in the cookie business since the 1920s, the Girl Scouts have consistently built up a cookie empire to help break countless Americans from their lofty goals of eating healthy and losing weight. This year, the organization unveiled a new cookie, called “Toast-Yay!” that offers a crunchy cinnamon flavor inspired by arguably the best breakfast foods—French Toast. While the hype for cookies is ever present, the year-long obsession with cookies-related strains is hard to beat.

There are numerous strains that are made famous through sporting the “Cookies” name, such as Orange Cookies. Not only identifiable as a flavor that the Girl Scouts organization doesn’t embrace (they offer some lemon flavors instead), but this strain also offers a beautifully light orange blossom scent as well. The large, dense buds that made up our sample of Orange Cookies was bright green, and nearly oozed trichomes by the look of the white sheen that covered its surface. As a result, it’s sticky in every sense of the word.

Upon inhalation, the smoke is smooth and pleasant, and brings on an interesting cerebral buzz that settles into full blown euphoria as it spreads throughout the body. While your muscles are soothed and relaxed of nearly all tension, your body is calm and relaxed—but that doesn’t mean that you will be completely sedated or disoriented. Orange Cookies not only has a unique flavor profile, but it also helps in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression for some consumers. It’s the perfect way to sit inside and count the days until a warm spring day arrives.

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Legal Cannabis Linked to Increase in Junk Food Sales

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A look at the consumption habits of Americans has revealed that high-calorie food sales tend to increase in places where cannabis is legal.

Published in the journal Economics & Human Biology, a Georgia State University study examined the link between food sales of high-calorie and high-sugar snacks and in places where cannabis was legalized. Headed up by economist Alberto Chong and Michele Baggio, the study showed that junk food sales increased by 6.3 percent in sales when cannabis was legal in the region.

“You think marijuana does no harm—that’s pretty much the consensus today,” Chong told The Academic Times regarding the recently published study and the implications behind it. “But there are unintended consequences, and one of them is the fact that you really get very hungry and you start eating crap.”

The study looked at three states with legal cannabis, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. It compared cannabis data to the Nielsen Retail Scanner Data in those states before and after cannabis was legalized, looking for sales of junk food in drug stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores. It noticed a marked increase across the board following legalization.

The research was originally published in a paper in 2019, and recently released in a journal. Specific spikes in sales they tracked include chip sales increasing by 5.3 percent, cookie sales by 4.1 percent, and ice cream by 3.1 percent.

Those involved in the research product hope that these trends will be taken into consideration for future legalization ventures. Previous studies by Chong and Baggio looked at how cannabis increases sexual activity and raises the birth rate. Additionally, they tracked a decrease in alcohol sales due to cannabis legalization.

Statistical information about how cannabis impacts things like sexual activity, alcohol use and cannabis use are important to crafting the best policies for regulation as cannabis moves forward.

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Europe Cannabis Testing Market Expected to Reach $770 Million By 2027

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The European cannabis testing market is expected to grow to a little over $770 million USD from $431.58 million in 2019. The market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2027.

A new report, “Europe Cannabis Testing Market to 2025 – Regional Analysis and Forecasts by Type ; Services ; End User and Country,” outlined the growth of the industry to 2025. The growth of the market can be attributed to the European government funding cannabis research for doctors as well as the increasing demand for researching cannabis quality. The report mentions non-medical uses of cannabis and problems with CBD oil products are likely to have a negative impact on the growing market.

The European cannabis testing market is split into three segments: testing laboratories, drug manufacturers and research institutes. In 2019, the testing laboratories held the largest share of the market and is expected to continue growing due to testing performed in the reference labs for various diseases.

In February 2019, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) passed a joint resolution supporting medical cannabis. The resolution allows doctors to use their best judgment in prescribing cannabis-based medicines, and calls on MEPs to address barriers that prevent cannabis research. The aim is to clearly distinguish between what is considered medical-use cannabis and what is considered non-medical.

Currently, there are no countries in the European Union that allow smoking cannabis or home-growing for medical purposes. The World Health Organization has previously recommended that CBD should not be classified as a controlled substance. The European Union has already approved a CBD-based medicine that helps treat severe seizures.

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