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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

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.

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Cannabis and Sleep Disorders

Cannabis and Sleep Disorders

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to”- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ask most 100 year-olds about the secrets to their longevity and their answers are generally quite simple: good food and lots of sleep. In fact, a recent study by United Healthcare found that 70% of surveyed centenarians slept at least 8 hours a night.

But while we can all agree that a good night’s sleep is essential to wellbeing, millions of Canadians cannot sleep soundly through the night. According to a 2011 study by Laval University, 40% of adult Canadians suffer from sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnia and chronic insomnia.

The Laval University findings seem to be reflected in the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines and other sedatives in Canada, which rose to more than 20 million in 2011, up from 16.4 million in 2006, according to market research firm, IMS Brogan. This statistic is particularly worrying when taking into consideration a 2012 study led by Dr. Daniel Kripke, co-director of research at the Scripps Clinic. Kripke’s study concluded that the risk of developing lymphoma, lung, colon or prostate cancer associated with hypnotics was greater than the effect from smoking.

Since medical cannabis has been available in Canada to those with diagnosed sleep disorders, thousands of Canadians have opted to use this natural alternative to prescription sedatives.

The science behind the efficacy of medical cannabis on sleep habits has to do with TetraHydroCannabinol (THC), one of the principal compounds of the cannabis plant.

According to a 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, “…Δ9-TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) stabilizes autonomic output during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing, and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea.”

Here at Plant Not Pills, we’ve had excellent feedback on a number of dried cannabis strains. One particular favourite is CannTrust’s Buddha Haze, a strong THC dominant (18%) sativa strain. Patients have also been enthusiastic about CannTrust’s 1:1 Cannabis Drops, a recent addition to their line of cannabis oils. For information about Buddha Haze or the 1:1 Cannabis Drops, call CannTrust directly at 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 PLANTS710.