Cannabis Safe For General Consumption?

More people are legally consuming this illegal drug.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH To many homeowners, Weed Eater is a brand of garden equipment. In a growing number of American states, it describes restaurant patrons. Cannabis (marijuana) is appearing in pizzas, sandwiches, steak sauces, desserts and alcoholic beverages at dispensaries and on high-end restaurant menus.

Here is a dichotomy: The sale, use, and possession of all forms of cannabis in the United States is illegal under federal law. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. It is considered to have “no accepted medical use” and have a high potential for abuse and physical and/or psychological dependency.

So how are restaurants able to include cannabis infused menu items? Eight states have legalized marijuana sale and possession for both medical and recreational use:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington

It is unlawful to sell in Washington, D.C. but legal for personal use. Don’t let this short list of states allowing a combination of recreational and medical use fool you. Only five states prohibit all marijuana use. Fifteen outlaw recreational use but have legal limits on THC/CBD for medical use. Others have more lax limits on potency.

Even in states where recreational pot and edibles are legal, consuming marijuana in any form is illegal on property that sells it, and in public places all together. Evidently some chefs are getting around this through elevated culinary uses, donating proceeds to charity, or by misinterpreting local laws. In either case, transporting a doggy bag across state lines could be a crime. The Federal government has criminalized marijuana under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Effects of Cannabis

More than 1 in 3 people in America have tried marijuana at one point in their lives. So chances are, if you are in an auditorium and want to know what it feels like, the person on either side of you can tell you. The primary psychoactive ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short. This non-selective chemical discovered in the early 1960s by Chemist Rafael Mechoulam affects nearly every organ in your body along with nervous and immune systems. Smoking it can double heart rate for up to 3 hours. It irritates lungs, causes dizziness, shallows breathing, dilates pupils, reddens eyes, increases appetite, quells inflammation, and slows reaction time. Heavy use can lower testosterone levels in males.

Cognitive changes include euphoria or relaxation, dissociation, paranoia, anxiety, short-term forgetfulness. The brain makes a compound called anandamide that shares similar attributes at the receptor and cellular level as THC. Researchers are studying how to optimize it for medical use. The pharmaceutical formulation Dronabinol (Marinol), is a synthetic THC that is available by prescription within the US, Canada and New Zealand that mimics anandamide.

Medical Marijuana Usage

There is moderate evidence supporting beneficial cannabis effects. It may reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and reduce chronic pain and muscle spasms. Medical cannabis may be prescribed for use as liquid tinctures, vapors, dried buds for smoking, cannabis edibles, capsules, lozenges, dermal patches, or oral sprays. Cannabis appears to be somewhat effective for the treatment of chronic pain, including pain caused by neuropathy and possibly fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Tentative though insufficient evidence suggests medical cannabis is effective at reducing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. In a study of 127 chronic migraine, cluster headache, and severe headache patients, THC-CBD was slightly better at reducing the frequency of migraine attacks than the commonly prescribed medications (40.4% versus 40.1%, respectively). The THC-CBD drug was very effective at reducing migraine pain, cutting it by 43.5%.

List of conditions treated with cannabis:

  1. ADHD
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. Arthritis
  4. Autism
  5. Cancer: Including brain, breast, pediatric cancers, skin cancers, and more.
  6. Crohn’s, IBS, IBD
  7. Chronic and neuropathic pain
  8. Fibromyalgia
  9. Glaucoma
  10. Hepatitis
  11. Insomnia
  12. Lupus
  13. Migraine
  14. Multiple sclerosis and other muscular disorders
  15. Parkinson’s Disease
  16. PTSD
  17. Sleep apnea
  18. Stroke
  19. Tourette syndrome

In states with a medical-marijuana law in place, prescription painkillers fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. Unsurprisingly pharmaceutical companies lobby federal agencies to prevent the liberalization of marijuana laws.

Cannabis and Pregnancy

Doctors recommend that cannabis use for pregnant mothers. According to a study in Biological Psychiatry, marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with abnormal brain structure in children compared to unexposed children. Dr. Hanan El Marroun, of Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands concludes the anomaly can affect development later in life.

Cannabidiol for Medicine

Though THC is the primary cannabis psychoactive chemical, there are plants where this is neutered. Another molecule called cannabidiol, or CBD has been studied for medical use. It has been successfully tested for neurological and psychological disorders like anxiety and schizophrenia in addition to heart disease and cancer. An obstacle to widespread acceptance is a lack of understanding of how CBD works. Treatments are not systematized. Many products lack standards so patients (or their parents) must often figure out dosing on their own.

THC Food Ethical Considerations

We have a situation were a federally illegal substance is in some states legal — even medicinal — with questionable dosing methods. Someone in California with a prescription for CBD-enhanced hemp could find themselves ordering a cannabis-laced pizza or alcoholic beverages under the guise of therapeutic effects. Cannabis cocktails can be lethal. A person’s body responds to excess alcohol by vomiting to remove the toxin. Marijuana helps suppress purging. So the body may retain dangerous toxins or an individual can choke on vomit that may be produced.

It has also been indicated that THC affects nearly every body organ and impairs mental function. Even without negative health effects, this can lead one to become a victim of crime or to cause property damage and possible fatality while driving under the influence. When a patron is able to return home safely, there is another ethical concern over hemp hoagies. Cannabis increases appetite, often referred to as “the munchies.” Selling any food that suppresses satiation can lead to excessive patron consumption and spending. Resulting euphoria can impair judgment of the average person. Consider the effect on drug addicts. Restaurants are in an unfair position to take advantage of biological weaknesses they initiate. Bartenders are additionally liable for DUI incidents.

Not everyone responds to cannabis the same way. Is it possible that effects can go beyond those that are beneficial, delving into what is harmful? Can something be both legally right and morally wrong? Without making rules that exceed those of state and federal government, whether you are a restauranteur, patron, or patient, act responsibly to be A Bit More Healthy.

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Tags: drugs, hashish, hemp, high, pharmacology, tetrahydrocannabinol

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