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The Origins of Prescription Opioids

Plants Not Pills

The search for a perfect painkiller is as old as humankind. For thousands of years ancient societies pressed herbs and flowers to try find a cure for chronic pain, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the discovery of a “miracle drug” changed the course of history like no other drug before.

In the early 1800s, a pharmaceutical assistant named Friedrich Wlhelm Sertürner began experimenting with opium poppies in northern Germany . By then it was well known that the sap from opium poppies could provide effective pain relief. The problem was that not all poppies (or sap for that matter) are created equal. Sometimes the sap wasn’t strong enough. In other cases it was so strong it would prove fatal. What Surtürner discovered was that by isolating a specific alkaloid found in opium, he could administer pain relief in precise doses.

A new drug was born: morphine.

In 1827, the owner of the Engel-Apotheke in Darmstadt, Germany, Emanuel Merck, began to supply morphine on a large scale. The success of his venture led to the foundation of the Merck pharmaceutical company, the first in what would become one of the world’s most powerful industries. Soon afterwards, doctors discovered that injecting the liquid morphine provided quicker and stronger results. The Civil War created an increased demand for the powerful analgesic. From that time on, morphine became a staple on battlefields around the world. Before long it had penetrated the civilian population. Beverages containing morphine were widely sold in US pharmacies. In 1897, a chemist at the Bayer company found and patented another morphine derivative called “Heroin” which was widely used as a cough medicine for children. In addition to opioids, Germany was quickly becoming the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, importing almost all of Peru’s production of the raw stuff for processing and sale.

The reason for Germany as the hub for pharmaceutical production was that it had (and still has) a high concentration of chemists and engineers. Germany also desperately needed to build up a powerful homegrown business that did not rely on foreign imports. Unlike Great Britain, France or Belgium, Germany did not have colonies to rely on for commerce.

World War I would prove another boon for the pharmaceutical industry (war always does), but it had some unexpected after shocks. Addiction to opioids and amphetamines sky rocketed around the world. At the time, pharmaceutical companies were happy to keep up with demand. Not coincidentally, this is the era when we find the first pharmaceutical lobby groups starting to align themselves with politicians, particularly in the US, to ban cannabis, a substance deemed amoral and deadly.

Ironically, long before opioids entered the mainstream market, cannabis in dried and oil form was sold in pharmacies to relieve migraines, indigestion and other common conditions. To give it a more foreign sounding and nefarious connotation, US politicians, with the help of the media, adopted the colloquial name for cannabis used by Mexican immigrant workers: marijuana. Ad campaigns against the substance featured immigrants and minorities, a way of making sure it was associated with race and bred discrimination. In the 1940s, cannabis was federally banned in the US, but opioids in all their ever changing forms have remained legal to this day. The same companies continue to flourish and sell prescription opioids rich in oxycodone. Merck famously supported lobby groups that tried to block legislation limiting the prescription of Oxycontin. 

But Canadians now have an alternative to opioids in the form of medical cannabis. Unlike opioids, which are responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses across Canada each year, there has yet to be a single death recorded as a result of cannabis use. In addition Licensed Producers are far more regulated than pharmaceutical companies and offer safe, effective cannabis in dried, oil and topical forms.

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis under Canada’s ACMPR guidelines, then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca

Get Cannabis Covered Under Your Health Benefits

Get Your Cannabis Covered

As many of you have already experienced, we’ve had continued success over the past 12 months in establishing coverage for medical cannabis under major health insurance plans.

We would like to ensure that this service is offered to anyone using cannabis therapy. Please contact us if you have health benefits through your employer, or are covered under a spouse’s plan and wish to have medical marijuana considered for reimbursement as part of your entitlements.

Once successfully approved, your insurance company may cover up to 100% of the cost of dried medical cannabis or cannabis in oil form.

Many patients have reported better outcomes without having the financial stress or burden associated with paying for their medicine.

Feel free to extend this offer to anyone else you know that may be interested.

Highlights

  • NO COST, FEES or COMMITMENTS associated with the process
  • Simple, fast and pleasant. It can take as little as one week to determine coverage
  • You qualify regardless of where and with which Doctor you received your current cannabis authorization
  • If your cannabis prescription is expired it may be renewed as part of the process
  • All your information is kept 100% confidential

                               ___________________________
Please contact us early to begin the process as the clinical staff will work on the order of
requests. Special consideration will be made for patients that have difficulty affording
cannabis therapy. We can be reached by email coverage@plantsnotpills.ca or phone at
1-844-473-6060 or text message 519-317-7701.

Alternately, click here to fill out our coverage registration form and a Plants Not Pills team member will be in touch with you shortly regarding the next steps towards getting your cannabis covered. 

 

Claim Your Cannabis As a Medical Expense

Claiming Cannabis As A Medical Expense

Don’t forget to claim your medical cannabis as a medical expense when you do your 2016 taxes (due on or before April 30, 2017). Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Get Your 2016 Receipts

Most Licensed Producers (LPs) have a section on their websites where you can view your past orders and print your receipts. If you can’t find it, please contact your LP directly as it is their legal obligation to provide you with your receipts.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Tax Forms

When you fill out your tax forms, make sure you include the total amount you spent on medical cannabis over the course of the year on your 2016 tax return.

A complete rundown on claiming medical expenses can be found at Canada Revenue Agency’s Website.

For more information, please email info@plantsnotpills.ca or call us directly at 1-844-470-6063

Why Licensing Will Matter When Legalization Happens

Tax Free Medical Cannabis

Anyone who lives in Ontario understands the burn of having harmonized sales tax (HST) added to nearly every retail purchase. Even when we don’t see the tax, it’s still there. Booze is a perfect example. On top of the LCBO’s significant mark up on imported wines, HST is also added into the price. The result is that what amounts to a $4 bottle of wine in Spain mysteriously turns into a $30 bottle once it hits Canadian shelves. We mention the LCBO because by many accounts (and if Premier Wynne has her way), this is the model the government will implement on recreational cannabis once it is legalized.

On the other hand, medical cannabis under a “Shopper’s Drug Mart” framework will likely be treated as all other medications which by law do not incur any federal taxes. Therefore, medical marijuana license holders may enjoy significant savings in this respect, though in many ways they already do considering they have access to strains for as little as $3,50/gram, compassionate pricing programs and are able to claim their medical marijuana as a tax deductible expense.

Recently, a high profile case has brought up another highly likely scenario: medical marijuana license holders may qualify for partial or even full insurance coverage of their medical marijuana. Imagine…millions of Canadians being able to treat their myriad of health conditions without paying a dime out-of-pocket for their safe, natural medicine…. Now wouldn’t that be something?

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca. Use the promo code Health17 and enjoy a $25 discount off all fees associated with licensing.

10 Reasons to Get Licensed in 2017

Green marijuana background vector illustration. marihuana background leaf pattern repeat seamless repeats. Marijuana leaf background herb narcotic textile pattern. Different vector patterns.

Check out these top ten reasons on why you should get licensed for safe, effective medical marijuana in 2017! Drum roll please…

10. Despite plans to announce the legalization framework, the Government will not make cannabis readily available until at least mid 2018.

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9. Medical Cannabis is available in several varieties including high potency cannabidiol (CBD) oil and high THC oils as well as milled bud for capsules and edibles.

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8. Pesticides which are not approved for use by licensed producers can seriously damage your health and are often found in dispensary and/or street product.

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7. Medical cannabis is cheaper with some strains priced at only $3.50/gram!

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6. Licensed producers’ staff are educated to help patients with strains specific for their medical conditions.

knowledge5. Licensed producers are heavily regulated for consumer safety. All strains are tested whereas in  dispensaries they are not.

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4. Get your cannabis delivered to your doorstep! You don’t even have to leave the house.

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3. Vaporizers and other accessories are available at a reduced price through licensed producers.

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2. For all you Green Thumbs… getting licensed for your ACMPR Grow Permit allows you to grow cannabis at home!

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1. Medical cannabis is cultivated specifically for your health condition.

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Start accessing medical marijuana today by registering with Plants Not Pills using the promo code HAPPY17 and take advantage of a $25 discount on all fees associated with licensing. To register, click here

For more information on cannabis and medical marijuana licensing, email info@plantsnotpills.ca or call 1-844-473-6060

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Cannabis for Cancer Patients: Past, Present and Future

Cannabis and Cancer

By Dr. Laura Tennant

Ancient cultures across the globe used Cannabis sativa for a variety of medicinal and recreational purposes and many examples have been discovered by archaeologists and historians during the examination of ancient documents and artefacts. For example, the Ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus is one of the most complete preserved medical documents, dating back to the eighteenth century BC. It documents the ingredients and preparation of medicinal remedies used by the ancient Egyptians and includes a number of recipes containing Cannabis sativa for ailments including inflammation and pain. In Ancient China, legend has it that the Emperor Shen Neng (c. 2737 B.C) prescribed teas made from medicinal cannabis for a variety of illnesses and the first documented use of cannabis as an analgesic was recorded in 140-208 in China by the surgeon Hua Toa, who gave his patients powdered extracts of the plant combined with wine prior to surgery.

In the context of cancer, whilst the prescribed use of medicinal cannabis for cancer is relatively new to Oncologists in current times, its origins date back thousands of years.   In 1993, the mummified remains of a young woman, estimated to be at least 2,500 years old, were found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Amongst the items placed in her burial chamber, archaeologists found a pouch of Cannabis, known to be used as an analgesic in ancient times. Further investigation of the remains by MRI revealed that the woman had been suffering from advanced metastatic breast cancer and so the researchers hypothesize that the woman used cannabis to provide relief from the pain and symptoms of her illness.

Today´s Clinical Practise

The Pharmaceutical industry are developing drugs based on active components of Cannabis sativa and two drugs are currently approved in several countries for cancer related pain: Drobinol (synthetic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol -THC- the most psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) and Sativex (a blend of the leaf and flower of two strains of cannabis, cultivated with controlled proportions of THC and Cannabidiol). Not surprisingly, most of the clinical trial evidence supporting the use of cannabis for cancer patients comes from the development process of these drugs rather than from trials with the botanical and since clinicians rely heavily on clinical trial data, some remain sceptical about the efficacy of medicinal cannabis.

This year, in two peer-reviewed publications directed at medical professionals, Oncologist Dr D.I. Abrams at the University of San Francisco made a compelling argument for the inclusion of medicinal cannabis in modern clinical cancer care protocols. He argued that whilst the evidence from clinical trials of the botanical in controlled conditions often lacking or inconclusive, experience from clinical practise clearly demonstrates that it helps patients coping with cancer and improves their quality of life. In particular he supports the use of medicinal cannabis for relief from chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain, insomnia, nausea and loss of appetite when conventional treatments have failed and when side effects of pharmaceutical outweigh the benefits of the drugs. To access the publications, click the following link.

 

What does the future hold?

Given the evidence from clinical practice, there is a clear need for data from extensive clinical studies of medicinal cannabis to support its use in cancer patients for alleviating the symptoms associated with cancer. However, the botanical may hold the key to more than just symptomatic relief. There is a growing body of evidence from pre-clinical research in cell and animal models that suggest that some of the active components of cannabis may have direct anti-tumour activity. For example, in laboratory studies of glioma cells, cannabinoids were shown to induce cell death (apoptosis) and stop cell growth (proliferation). These activities were also observed in rat and mouse models and reductions in tumour sizes were recorded. The complex molecular mechanisms behind the cannabinoid activity are still being unravelled, although the CB1 receptor is thought to be involved. This research is now advancing towards clinical studies (see publication). There are several other examples of exciting preclinical data in other tumour types; the research is reviewed in detail in the following publication. This research is still at early stages and needs to be translated into humans, however, the future of cannabis in the field of Oncology certainly looks promising.

If you or a loved one would like more information on medical cannabis licensing, register with Plants Not Pills using the promo code NOW16, email info@plantsnotpills.ca or call 1-844-473-6060.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) and Migraines

Blackboard with the chemical formula of CBD

For millions of people worldwide, a perceived change in light, altered vision, nausea and even hallucinations are just a few of the potential early onset symptoms of a migraine. Here is a brief overview of this neurological syndrome and how cannabidiol (CBD) can potentially alleviate the throbbing (and often excruciating) pain experienced by migraine sufferers.

What is a migraine?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “migraines are typically moderate to severe headaches that only affect one side of the head. They usually come on very suddenly and are described as throbbing or pounding headaches.”

Though the exact cause of migraines are still unknown, research published by the Migraine Research Foundation states that the cause of a migraine is due to a disorder in the nerve pathways and brain chemicals. Furthermore, studies have shown the disorder is linked to genes. Therefore, genetics play a factor.

According to statistics published in 2011 by Health Canada, approximately 2.7 million Canadians reported that they had been diagnosed with a migraine.

CBD Oil and Migraines

In 1990, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD, published the first study indicating that the brain contains cannabinoid receptors. In subsequent years, this group of receptors or portals came to be known as the endocannabinoid system, which according to research published in 2009 by the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia, is “where the brain produces and processes endocannabinoids, the brain’s own cannabis-like substances. Endocannabinoids are thought to be responsible for regulating inflammation and pain sensation.” A study conducted by researchers at the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante, speaks about the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a principal component of the cannabis plant and the second highest abundant in cannabinoids. According to the study, “cannabidiol has well-documented biological effects of potential therapeutic interest, such as anti-anxiety, anti-convulsive, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.”

In 2010, the first study showing a link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and migraines was published by the IRCCS Neurological Institute. The findings corroborated the research from the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante. In addition, the IRCCS study suggested that “activation of ECS could represent a promising therapeutic tool for reducing both the physiological and inflammatory components of pain that are likely involved in migraine attacks.”

Since medical cannabis was first made accessible to Canadians in 2014, thousands of migraine sufferers have chosen high CBD medical cannabis strains as an alleviant for their migraine symptoms.

When it comes to CBD oil, our preferred licensed producer is CannTrust, which offers the ONLY pharmaceutically STANDARDIZED oral solution for patients who prefer not to smoke their medical cannabis. Migraine sufferers interested in trying CannTrust’s new CBD Drops should call 1-855-794-2266.

For help with medical cannabis licensing or to sign up for a free medical cannabis consultation, please register on our website using the promo code CBD710.

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CBD Oil and Chronic Pain

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When a young Queen Victoria was prescribed a cannabis infusion for her severe menstrual cramps, she probably didn’t know the reason for her relief came from a component of the cannabis plant called cannabidiol (CBD).

Though the indomitable British monarch drank her ‘cannabis tinctures’ until she died at age 82, it would be several more decades before medical research would show the reason why CBD works so well for alleviating chronic pain.

In order to fully comprehend the link between CBD and chronic pain, it is important to understand the cannabis plant and its benefit to the human body.

The cannabis plant is made up of 85 different cannabinoids, many of which already exist in our bodies and are processed by endocannabinoid receptors or ‘portals’ found in our nerve endings. The cannabinoids processed by these receptors signal our brain to stimulate appetite, mood and pain sensation.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the plant’s 113 chemical compounds and the second highest abundant in cannabinoids.

When we give our cannabinoid receptors additional cannabinoid-rich cannabidiol (CBD), we suppress the brain’s ability to process pain and hence get the relief that Queen Victoria and millions of other pain sufferers have enjoyed.

Why take CBD in oil form?

Generally, patients who take CBD oil do not feel the principal psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that causes the “high feeling” or hunger typically associated with marijuana.

Placing a few drops of CBD oil on your tongue or incorporating it into a healthy edible is the safest and most effective way to ingest cannabis.

When cannabis is vaporized or smoked, there is a very quick onset of effectiveness that only lasts for about 1-2 hours at peak levels. But when an edible oil is ingested, the peak levels of CBD concentration is not as high, though the concentration of CBD is at peak level for much longer – about 5-8 hours. This means that you can medicate less often while experiencing the same results.

Start accessing CBD oil from a wide variety of Licensed Producers by contacting Plants Not Pills at 1-844-473-6060 or click here to register.