Dr. Jake Felice will be speaking at the Chamber of Commerce in Port Townsend, WA on Tuesday, August 2nd at noon at the Fort Worden Commons. Dr. Felice will be discussing medical cannabis as well as various aspects of Washington’s emerging marijuana industry. Other members of the panel include attorney Nicole Li of The Li Law Firm, as well as Kody McConnell of Chimacum Cannabis, and Ellen Frick of Sea Change Cannabis.
It appears that stomach acid can convert CBD to THC at low levels according to a study in the journal Forensic Toxicology. This has implications for patients and marijuana consumers who consume CBD edibles and must take drug tests for work. It also poses potential problems for DUI’s for folks using “CBD only” edibles.
I have previously told my patients that it was OK to take CBD products orally and that these would not cause a positive on a urinalysis. This can no longer be assumed. This data could have big repercussions for product development for CBD products in the marijuana industry. One of the biggest areas I see would be in the development of CBD transdermal patches as this method of delivery should not convert the CBD to THC.
Here is the link to the original article in the Journal of Toxicology.
Yours in health,
-Dr. Jake Felice, CannabisMatrix.com
Addendum: This conversion has been reproduced from another study from the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “Gastric fluid without enzymes converts CBD into the psychoactive components D9-THC and D8-THC, which suggests that the oral route of administration may in-crease the potential for psychomimetic adverse effects from CBD.” Clearly more research is needed to see if this may be clinically significant.
Washington states medical marijuana collectives are officially closed, leaving many patient’s only option to be state licensed recreational stores for their medical needs. My patients report that the price of their medicine has tripled, and that selection is scant to nonexistent, especially for medical strains.
It is the sickest and poorest of patients that are harmed most of by this new change. One of my biggest fears for patients is that they are now being forced onto the black market to obtain affordable medicine illegally.
“I need clean medicine, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to save my child’s life,” says the mother of Madalin Holt age 3, whose life was saved by cannabis. “That’s really what this is about. I’m saving my child when the medical community gave up on her. They were out of options. I found an option, and I’m not going to let my child die because a few people in the legislature decided to strip us of our rights. I know what I’m doing is right.” From The Stranger
I also have serious concerns that new pesticide testing regulations are inadequate, and that pesticide laden cannabis is now being smoked by patients all over Washington state. More about pesticides in another post.
This post was inspired by an article Here’s more from The Stranger:
On July 1, Washington State’s medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives officially closed, leaving only state-licensed recreational stores to serve patients. This is a result of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052), which is perhaps the most egregious bit of doublespeak ever. The law does not protect patients. In fact, evidence suggests that it will put the state’s most vulnerable patients at risk.
Both the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Washington State Department of Health—the state’s two regulatory agencies that govern the new medical cannabis system—have stated that they believe the only difference between medical and recreational use is the intent of the user. Essentially, that the needs of the medical market can be just as easily served by the recreational market. If only that were true.
Under the new system, the state’s 1,500-plus dispensaries and collective gardens will disappear. To make up for the loss, the state issued just 222 new retail licenses.
That will directly impact patients such as Madeline Holt. She’s three and a half years old and has a terminal genetic disorder that gives her frequent seizures. According to her mother, Meagan Holt, doctors didn’t believe she would live this long.
“I was told on April 10, 2015, to take my child home for one more night before she died,” said Holt. “Then I tried cannabis, and she’s still alive.” Not only is she alive, but her seizures have become less frequent since she started taking cannabis on a daily basis. While Holt says she still gives her daughter conventional drugs to counteract the seizures, cannabis is an essential part of her medical regimen.
“The importance of this medicine is life or death for Maddy,” said Holt. Madeline takes a minimum dose of 90 mg of CBD oil and 40 mg of THC oil to treat neuropathic pain, muscle spasms, and other issues. The oil she takes is a very specific formulation referred to as full extract cannabis oil or FECO. It is prepared by Deep Green Extracts, a medical oil extractor, and donated to Maddy completely free of charge. (The medical cannabis community, despite being portrayed as “99.2 percent a criminal enterprise” by certain lawmakers, was often extremely compassionate.)
The situation is a precarious one, however, and Holt fears that the changes brought about by SB 5052 will threaten it. For one, she’s worried that she won’t be able to find the same products on the recreational market. “When you go into a rec store, you cannot find the oil that Maddy uses,” said Holt. “Patients like her who rely on the medication that is in the dispensaries, it’s not even available. We don’t even have the option to go to recreational.” While medical patients benefit from both THC and CBD in different ways, they’re in particular need of high-CBD products, which can often be in short supply in the recreational market.
“There is no retail cannabis store that could keep a supply of what we need,” said Holt. “I would be in there weekly getting all of the FECO that they have, I’m sure.” While it’s not yet clear whether Holt’s assertion is true, the current climate around CBD seems to support her view.
Although SB 5052 allowed growers to expand their canopy area in order to help meet the new demand of the medical market, it did not require them to actually grow high-CDB product. Last week, I traveled to farms around the state to see how much CBD product is growing, and it wasn’t promising. At Emerald Twist—a farm in Goldendale whose general manger, Jerry Lapora, is a longtime grower from the Oregon medical market—only about 6 percent of its canopy is dedicated to high-CBD cannabis. Lapora said the farm has discussed selling its CBD plants to Seattle-area processor botanicaSEATTLE for full-plant oil extraction, but those plans are in their nascent stage. Indeed, Chris Abbott, a partner at botanicaSEATTLE, said that sourcing was the biggest hurdle to getting new medical products to market.
“We plan to make these medical products,” he said, “but it’s vital that we can source a sufficient amount of pure and clean CBD plant material to serve the patient base. That has proven to be difficult in this market that has largely focused on high numbers of THC.” Indeed, market pressure has made it very difficult for growers to add CBD to their portfolio.
Alex Cooley, the vice president and cofounder of Solstice, which began as a producer/processor of medical cannabis and has transitioned to recreational, had similarly dismal news: “When Solstice was operating its medical facility, 20 percent of the facility was always CBD rich [or CBD pure]. In adult use we have grown less than 2 percent with our partner farms and are about to harvest our first CBD-rich crop in our separate adult-use facility. This summer we have really bet on people wanting CBD since the two systems have been Frankensteined together.” And that’s a big bet. Lapora, of Emerald Twist, said he’s still sitting on his 2015 harvest of CBD. Cooley and others may grow it, but there’s no guarantee the patients will come. Indeed, they may not be able to afford to.
While pot grown and sold through the legal market comes with certain benefits—legality, safety, ostensible purity, et cetera—it’s also more expensive. The requirements of “medically compliant” cannabis—which all higher-dose medical products will have to meet—will inevitably add to the overall cost of production. Although patients are eligible to buy their cannabis free of sales tax, many likely will not get that discount because they are required to sign up for the new patient registry to receive the benefit, and many aren’t doing so for privacy reasons. Even if they do, the sales tax is a mere 9 percent of the cost. The marijuana excise tax, which they are still required to pay, is 37 percent.
“Even when we started looking into cannabis,” Holt said, “the price that it cost to keep up with her medicine was unattainable. We knew we would need a community to surround us to help us. That community is shrinking really fast, and that’s what’s scaring me.”
Holt’s greatest fear is that, due to an inadequate supply of affordable medicine, she’ll be forced to get hers illegally. “It’s not necessarily the day of July 1, it’s what happens after July 1,” she said. “What happens after August when it starts cooling down and everybody starts running out? I’ve heard of people starting to stockpile medicine. I can’t really do that. I can’t afford to do that, so I’m forced into the black market and forced to just hope that I have people who will help us. Another sad reality of our situation is that my child is living on borrowed time, I’m her only caregiver, and I’m living on a fixed income.”
Holt receives her daughter’s medicine for free, but those types of donations will likely become less frequent in the highly regulated, highly taxed recreational market. Deep Green is getting a recreational license, but in order to continue to give free cannabis to Holt, the business would have to either sell it to a retailer at a 100 percent loss so that the retailer could give it away for free or sell it to the retailer at cost so the retailer could take the loss. Given that most legal cannabis businesses are struggling to stay afloat, it’s hard to imagine that even the most noble-hearted ganjapreneur will give away product. Without donations, low-income cannabis patients like Madeline Holt are basically screwed.
While the market could adapt in a variety of interesting ways—fundraising drives for patients, increased cultivation of CBD plants, a legislative fix on taxes, sensible regulatory action—patients are going to suffer in the meantime. In Megan Holt’s case, that means putting herself at risk of criminal prosecution to get necessary medicine for her daughter.
“I need clean medicine, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to save my child’s life,” Holt told me. “That’s really what this is about. I’m saving my child when the medical community gave up on her. They were out of options. I found an option, and I’m not going to let my child die because a few people in the legislature decided to strip us of our rights. I know what I’m doing is right.”
Yours truly in health, -Dr. Jake
I’m proud and excited to announce that I have just signed with Seattle Central Community College and The Academy of Cannabis Science. We will be teaching and developing curricula that offer professionals the opportunity to advance their careers in the marijuana industry while helping companies comply with state law. This is a very exciting and interesting time for cannabis in Washington state.
Click the link above to access PDF slides pertaining to my cannabis talk for the Hemp and Health Expo at the Trac Center in Pasco, WA. on Saturday, November 14th. Topics discussed include how the toxicity of conventional pain drugs compares with cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, how to use synergy in plant medicine to maximize the use of medical cannabis, as well as sections on cannabis and pain and neurological disorders. A YouTube video will be recorded and posted later as well.
Thank you sincerely! -Dr. Jake Felice
Click the link above to access PDF slides pertaining to my cannabis talk for the Seattle Dystonia Support Group at Evergreen Hospital. Topics discussed include how the toxicity of conventional pain drugs compares with cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, how to use synergy in plant medicine to maximize the use of medical cannabis, as well as sections on cannabis and pain and neurological disorders. A YouTube video will be recorded and posted later as well.
Thank you sincerely! -Dr. Jake Felice