Will Cannabis Change the Future of Personalized Medicine?

The State of Medicine

Things are rarely one size fits all, particularly when it comes to our health. What works for some may not work for others, and doctors often prescribe pills as a cure-all without looking at a patient’s individual needs. As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage the country, could the future of healthcare be at the intersection of cannabis and personalized medicine?

Marshall Rutman

I recently chatted with Marshall Rutman of Resolve Digital Health, a Canadian company that has worked with medical professionals and advisory boards to create the Breeze Smart Inhaler. The device contains Smart Pods™, single-use pods with an exact dosage of cannabis—sort of like a Keurig for medicine. What separates this product from other inhalers is the built-in app, and you don’t need a smartphone to operate it—perfect for older folks who may not want to purchase a phone solely to utilize a medical device.

The Power of Data

Rutman says Resolve has two main goals with the Breeze Smart Inhaler: “How do we prove the experience of medical cannabis patients, and how do we get patients off opioids.” Data can provide numbers for what is typically a subjective experience, and patients today are prescribed some fairly scary drugs post-surgery. For Rutman, the “most exciting possibility” for Resolve is to help stop the opioid crisis, and to “tear down obstacles people have surrounding cannabis.”

The device features the team is most excited about are the personalization options and the ability to share user data. If a user’s pain level varies from, say, a level two to a level eight, the device will alert users to exactly how often they should dose (as well as the dosage, the strain, etc.) The app learns about you, your very specific needs and symptoms, and adjusts accordingly. It asks your pain level before dosing, and begins to understand your patterns and behavior. If the patient so chooses, they can share that data with their doctor or caregiver, optimizing the healthcare process.

Rutman emphasized that your personal information will never be shared—“Whatever we do, we’re stripping out personal info,” he told me. That said, sharing your data findings can help the medical and cannabis community at large. “Once we have the info,” Rutman explains, “people with similar conditions and variables—we can share that with the medical community, as well as growers and processers: ‘Hey, we noticed this.’” That data can help patients suffering from the same symptoms key in on certain strains, or allow growers to better isolate certain cannabinoids and grow more of a strain patients found helpful.


The Future of Resolve

The product hasn’t launched yet, but will be available in the United States and Canada soon. Resolve worked with a California test group of about 50 patients from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and ailments during beta testing. This data isn’t a miracle cure, however. As predicted, even patients with similar symptoms reacted differently to various strains and dosages. No two people could ever have an identical reaction to the same dosage and strain; depending on body fat percentage, how much sleep you’ve gotten and even how hydrated you are, your cannabis consumption (and how your body responds) is entirely unique.

The Breeze Smart Inhaler is currently aimed at medical patients, but the sky is the limit for recreational and less-debilitating medical needs. “We’re serving medical needs currently,” reveals Rutman, “because our product is unique—it solves the problems surrounding smoking. ‘What do I take?’ ‘How much do I take?’ The machine learning understands how you deal with particular strains and adjusts.” The next step, then, is wellness. “If you had social anxiety, for example—not so much that you’d need a prescription from a doctor—but, this product could help you.”

Will Big Pharma Take Cues from Cannabis?

As more medical-focused cannabis products launch, fears about intervention or exploitation from Big Pharma are understandable. Rutman doesn’t fear Big Pharma, however—he hopes they learn from Resolve. “My hope is that the work we’re doing reaches beyond cannabis,” he states. Personalized medicine, in his opinion, is happening “too slowly,” and he feels their product could “open Big Pharma’s eyes to the value of personalizing medicine. Everyone benefits.”


The medical community can’t continue its devastating trend of unnecessary prescriptions. We’re all unique, our pain and healing is unique; we need personalized health plans, not pain meds that keep us numb and create addictions. This product (and others like it) will add a level of control and individuality to the healing experience, and we hope Big Pharma will take note of what Resolve hopes to prove: that everyone needs personalized healthcare.




The U.S. Senate’s top leader wants to legalize hemp

FRANKFORT, Ky.The U.S. Senate’s top leader said Monday he wants to bring hemp production back into the national mainstream by removing it from the list of controlled substances.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of hemp advocates in his home state of Kentucky that he will introduce legislation to legalize the crop as an agricultural commodity. The versatile crop has been grown on an experimental basis in a number of states in recent years.

“It’s now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop,” McConnell said.

Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp’s comeback. Kentucky agriculture officials recently approved about 12,000 acres to be grown in the state this year, and 57 Kentucky processors are turning the raw product into a multitude of products.
Growing hemp without a federal permit has long been banned due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp got a limited reprieve with the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development. So far, more than 30 states have authorized hemp research.
McConnell acknowledged there was “some queasiness” about hemp when the 2014 Farm Bill cleared the way for states to regulate it for research and pilot programs. There’s much broader understanding now that hemp is a “totally different” plant than its illicit cousin, he said.

“I think we’ve worked our way through the education process of making sure everybody understands this is really a different plant,” the Republican said.

McConnell said he plans to have those discussions with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to emphasize the differences between the plants. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on marijuana.





Governor Murphy Of New Jersey Expands Medical Marijuana Program

In his ongoing effort to expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program to be more patient-oriented, Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) has made dramatic changes to the state’s regulatory program.

Changes include: reduced cost of the medical marijuana registry for patients by 50%; reduced cost for veterans, seniors, and those on disability by 90%; expanded the qualifying conditions list to include Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, and other conditions; and other much needed technical fixes.

These changes have been long advocated for by advocates in New Jersey, including South Jersey NORML leader, Temple University Professor, and Philly.com contributor Chris Goldstein.

Click here to tweet at Gov. Murphy and thank him for his efforts.

New Jersey resident? Visit http://www.normlnj.org/ and get plugged into the Facebook organizing group by clicking here.

Sorgente: Governor Murphy Of New Jersey Expands Medical Marijuana Program

UK Is The Only Country In the World To Criminalise Doctors Who Prescribe Cannabis

Peter Reynolds

Bob Ainsworth MP. Like so many ex-ministers, now a supporter of cannabis law reform

It’s popularly believed that the obstacle to prescription of cannabis by doctors is that it is in schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations.  In fact, in 2001, the then drugs minster, Labour’s Bob Ainsworth MP, enacted a little known provision of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 UK specifically to make prescribing of cannabis a criminal offence.

Extraordinarily, apart from mescaline, raw opium, coca leaf, DMT and some extremely rare substances that most people will never have heard of, cannabis is the only substance to which this ruling applies.  The Statutory Instrument can be seen here. It designated cannabis as a drug to which section 7(4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 applies.  I have reproduced the relevant sections at the end of this article.

Why?  Well that is a very good question…

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Cannabis Use in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury or Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Colorado. – PubMed – NCBI


To describe the prevalence of cannabis use in an adult sample with spinal cord injury (SCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Colorado, and to describe the self-reported reasons and side effects of cannabis use in this sample.


Mixed methods observational study, using focus group data and telephone survey SETTING: Community PARTICIPANTS: Colorado adults who have sustained SCI or moderate to severe TBI and have received services through the rehabilitation hospital conducting the study.


None; Measures: Survey RESULTS: Focus group participants identified issues that were then included in the survey development. Seventy percent of the 116 surveyed reported cannabis use pre-injury (67% SCI, 74% TBI) with 48% reporting use after injury (53% SCI, 45% TBI). Overall, the most common reason for use was recreational (67%), followed by reducing stress/anxiety (62.5%), and improving sleep (59%). Among the respondents with SCI, the most common reasons for use were to reduce spasticity (70%), recreation (63%), and to improve sleep (63%). Among those with TBI, reasons endorsed were recreational (72%), reducing stress/anxiety (62%), and improving sleep (55%). Smoking was the most common method of use.


A majority of this sample report using cannabis prior to injury, and approximately half report using cannabis post-injury. Both groups report recreational use, while the group with SCI also highly endorses using cannabis to address chronic medical conditions. Clinicians should be aware of the high prevalence of cannabis use in these populations and the impact such use may have on the individual’s medical management. Further research in this area is needed

Sorgente: Cannabis Use in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury or Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Colorado. – PubMed – NCBI

GeneFo Guide Explains How Medical Cannabis Can Help MS Patients

More studies are showing that medical cannabis can alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a company that helps patients, doctors and others understand genetic conditions better.

The observation came in GeneFo’s 2018 Guide to Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis.

Some research has suggested that cannabis strains containing cannabidiol (CBD) levels equal to or higher than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help MS patients with muscle spasticity and pain. Other studies indicate that cannabis can help MS-related gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and difficulty with digestion.

Medical cannabis can also improve sleep quality and even vision, studies have indicated. They suggest that cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation of the optic nerve.

Despite evidence of benefits, GeneFo is concerned that cannabis is not yet legally approved for medical purposes in all states, which restrains access to treatments that could help MS patients.

The aim of the guide is to better inform patients about medical cannabis, including offering them help to navigate the legal and health systems.

In medical cannabis states, a person with a qualifying condition needs a physician’s recommendation to obtain authorization to visit dispensaries and buy cannabis products.

As of March 2018, MS waslisted as a qualifying condition in 18 U.S. states. An additional 18 states don’t list MS as a qualifying condition but do list MS symptoms like nausea, muscle spasms and pain.

“The growing number of states that qualify MS or its symptoms for the medical use of cannabis is great news for patients, Neer Ziskind, GeneFo’s chief executive officer, said in a press release.

Neer Ziskind

“However, the process of getting a card approval is not smooth in most states, and requires gathering information and documents, clinical certifications, and administrative forms,” he said. “To assist patients and caregivers that don’t always have the time or energy, we put together a comprehensive state-by-state guide, updated to March 2018, with relevant information on patient rights, application checklist, FAQ’s, crucial links and forms to download, important tips on how you should prepare for your doctor’s visit, and lists” of medical marijuana doctors.

In states where MS is not considered a qualifying condition, the GeneFo guide offers advice on making an application based on qualifying symptoms such as spasticity and pain.

“We trust that this free resource will help more MS patients secure an additional therapeutic avenue and improve their daily living,” Ziskind said.

There is no consensus in the medical community about the use of medical cannabis, despite evidence of its benefits mounting.

In February, a study reported that medical cannabis could safely and significantly reduce chronic pain in older people with MS and a wide range of other conditions.

Most patients reported improvements in their condition, with 93.7 percent reporting a significant decrease in pain six months after starting treatment. About 60 percent of respondents reported an improved quality of life.

Also, this month the American TV personality Montel Williams announced he would speak at the 5th annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in New York City, May 30 to June 2, to discuss medical cannabis legalization.

Williams, who has MS, is a prominent medical cannabis advocate and the owner of LenitivLabs, a company he started to develop high-quality cannabis products




Unit of big pharmaceutical firm Novartis partners with medical marijuana producer Tilray

British Columbia-based medical marijuana producer Tilray announced Monday it has formed a strategic partnership with Sandoz Canada, the first known affiliation between a marijuana producer and a major pharmaceutical company.

Tilray signed a letter of intent with the Quebec-based affiliate of Sandoz International GmbH, an arm of global health care giant Novartis.

The entry of Big Pharma into Canada’s marijuana industry comes after alcoholic beverage giant Constellation Brands and a large U.S. tobacco company recently made their own forays into the country’s MJ sector.

British Columbia-based Tilray will collaborate with Sandoz Canada to make co-branded, nonsmokable and noncombustible cannabis-based medical products such as sprays, patches and gel caps.

According to Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy, the goal of the partnership is to distribute these co-branded products to Canadian hospitals and pharmacies on a wholesale level.

Brendan Kennedy

“It’s a huge milestone for us,” Kennedy said in an interview with Marijuana Business Daily.
“We’ve all been wondering when global pharmaceutical companies would enter the cannabis industry.”

Kennedy said Sandoz Canada has been looking to make an entrance into medical cannabis for the past year and a half and has talked with several licensed producers in Canada.

He expects to see co-branded products available for sale in the summer.

For Tilray, Kennedy sees a number of benefits from the affiliation:

The company can leverage Sandoz Canada’s existing sales force. Tilray has 10 salespeople who speak with health care professionals about medical cannabis products on a daily basis; Sandoz Canada has about 150. It’s expensive and time-consuming to scale a sales team.
Research and development is expensive. Tilray has expertise producing MMJ products, but the company wanted a partner who knew how to manufacture and develop pharmaceutical products.
Physicians and patients in Canada know the Sandoz label on pharmaceutical products.
Tilray currently has products in 10 countries. Kennedy hopes this alliance will open even more market opportunities internationally.
‘A pharmaceutical market’

“When we look at this market globally, it’s a pharmaceutical market,” Kennedy added.

As wholesale prices continue to decline for cannabis producers, Kennedy sees his company moving toward other ventures.

“While we cultivate cannabis today, that’s not our primary focus,” he said.

“Our primary focus is on manufacturing pharmaceutical products based on cannabis that we can sell in 10 countries around the world.”

Novartis, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, is based in Switzerland. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange as NVS:US.

Sandoz and Tilray are not publicly traded, nor is Tilray’s parent company, Seattle-based Privateer Holdings.

Similar deals likely on way

Brett Roper

Brett Roper, CEO of Denver-based Medicine Man Technologies, expects to see more activity of this type – where a local affiliate of a major company partners with a cannabis firm – as these larger pharmaceutical corporations “dip a toe in the water.”

This way, Novartis has a way to segregate the investment and control it accordingly, Roper said.

“If something goes wrong or something goes kablooey, Novartis doesn’t want to be engaged in a potential lawsuit,” he added.

Roper compared this move to the 245 million Canadian dollars ($190 million) that Constellation Brands invested in Canopy Growth last year.

“The main reason that money went to Canada is because there’s a legal market there,” Roper said.

“As we look at the industry’s growth in Canada, where it’s obviously legal to have these business entities that are traded, it gives these other groups the opportunity to invest in Canada and feel like their money is at least reasonably protected.”

As for what it means that a major pharmaceutical company is getting involved in the cannabis industry, Roper believes Big Pharma is “champing at the bit.”

“They’re probably very interested on the sidelines to see how this process evolves,” he said.

Last month, U.S. tobacco company Alliance One International bought controlling stakes in two Canadian marijuana producers and invested in a North Carolina hemp grower.





Europe: EURopean Union calls on member states to find alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug users

In July 2017 the Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted recommendations on alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug using offenders. These recommendations were approved within the frame of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 which requests member states to provide alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug using offenders “where appropriate, and in accordance with their legal frameworks.” “In the year 2018 it is appropriate that patients, who according to a recommendation by a physician profit from a treatment with cannabis, are no longer subject to sanctions by justice systems in EURopean countries and worldwide, if they use the drug,” Dr Franjo Grotenhermen, Executive Director of the IACM, commented the Action Plan.

This agreement represents the political will of the 28 EU Member States to apply, in each legal system, alternative measures to coercive sanctions in order to: prevent crime; reduce recidivism; enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system and look at reducing health-related harms and minimising social risks. Alternative measures can include: education; suspension of investigation or prosecution; suspension of sentence with treatment; rehabilitation and recovery, aftercare and social reintegration.





MPP’s Illinois Primary Voter Guide

Primary Election Day happens tomorrow in Illinois, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in the state. Lawmakers are now considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition and legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Illinoisans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand up for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Illinois Voter’s Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s website here.

While elected officials are more supportive of legalization than ever before, we want momentum to build, and this year’s elections will have a big impact both in the legislature and in the governor’s office. It’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Illinois.