Tilray climbs 10% as the cannabis company gets a double upgrade to ‘buy’ from Jefferies

Tilray marijuana
A Tilray worker tends to cannabis plants.

  • Tilray shares jumped 10% on Friday after Jefferies upgraded the cannabis company to a buy rating.
  • Tilray’s tie-up with Aphria was a “perfect match,” said Jefferies, which also raised its price target to $23 a share.
  • In the analysts’ upside scenario, the stock could climb to $31.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tilray shares stepped up by roughly 10% on Friday, bolstered by a double upgrade to “buy” from “underperform” at Jefferies, which said the cannabis company entered into a “perfect” merger with Aphria.

The rating was lifted from underperform in a note published Friday. Jefferies also raised its price target to $23 a share from $4.77, which would represent 63% upside from Thursday’s closing price of $14.15.

The analysts said in an upside scenario, the stock could rise to $31, which would mark an upside of 119% from Thursday’s close.

Tilray said in December it had planned to merge with Aphria in a $4 billion deal that would create the world’s biggest marijuana company.

“For us, when Aphria and Tilray combined, it was the perfect match,” said Jefferies equity analyst Owen Bennett. “In Canada, a leading portfolio of brands, supported an efficient cost structure. In Europe, the market is now picking up, while Tilray’s scale and Aphria’s unique German positioning make it perfectly suited to succeed,” he wrote.

Meanwhile in the US, the combined company’s portfolio of consumer goods and strong balance sheet supports “excellent optionality” around both THC and cannabidiol, or CBD. When full federal legalization arrives in the US, brand awareness of hemp-food/CBD and alcohol offerings will be advantageous, with Jefferies seeing the US market sized at $50 billion in 2025.

Shares of Tilray on early Friday climbed by 9.9% to $15.55 in heavy premarket volume. The stock has pushed higher over the past 12 months by 81%.

Jefferies said it has been mostly cautious on Tilray during its coverage. “Our issue has been that while arguably being the best-placed business to capitalize on future European growth, industry development in that region to date has stalled.” At the same time, Tilray’s Canadian business had “struggled” and it saw Tilray as not taking advantage of its opportunity in the US, “arguably due to its constrained balance sheet.”

But it had been bullish on Aphria, it said, citing the company’s strong approach to branding and efficient cost structure while it had a “very robust” balance sheet.

When “the Tilray and Aphria businesses announced they would be combining in December 2020, we were encouraged. In our view, a combined company presents a compelling proposition,” wrote Bennett.

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Healthcare Experts Debunk 11 CBD Myths

  • Integrative cannabis physician June Chin and biomedical researcher Chanda Macias debunk CBD myths.

  • They debunk the idea that CBD gets you high, and that CBD is addictive.

  • They also dive into how not all CBD products are the same and how to check the quality of products.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

June Chin: “CBD gets you high.”

Chanda Macias: CBD doesn’t make us feel high. In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.

“CBD is a scam.”

Chin: It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]

Macias: No pun intended.

My name is Dr. Chanda Macias. I am the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare. I’ve been working in the cannabis industry since 2011.

Chin: And I’m Dr. June Chin. I’ve been an integrative cannabis physician for over 15 years. I treat both children and adults. And today we will be debunking myths about CBD.

Chin: “CBD gets you high.”

Macias: A lot of people think that CBD gets you high. CBD doesn’t make us feel high, but it definitely makes us feel less anxious and more relaxed. So when people say they use it to fall asleep, I can understand why they feel that way.

Chin: CBD can be extracted from the cannabis plant, but it doesn’t have the same ability to create a high, or a state of euphoria, like marijuana or THC.

Macias: In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.

Chin: “CBD works the same for everyone.”

Macias: CBD does not work the same for everyone. Everybody has a different system, physiologically. When we think about patients using CBD and considering things of, what’s the right dosage? You have to really consider how heavy you are, your tolerance levels, have you ever used it before? If you haven’t used it, how long your cell receptors will react to the presence of CBD. These are all the things we have to take in account.

Chin: And if you think about prescription medications or even supplements, that’s not the same reaction for everyone either. So CBD is going to be very, very different for each individual. Depending on our metabolism, our body’s own enzymes, some patients will find that it works right away. Some patients will find that it takes a few hours.

Macias: I think that when people use CBD over the counter they get a little confused, and their confusion might be because the product might be full-spectrum, the product might be an isolate, or even broad-spectrum. You’ll have some patients that are very, very sensitive about introducing their bodies to THC, period. Because during accumulative use of THC, you could have a positive drug test from an over-the-counter product. You always, when taking any new supplement or cannabinoid medicine, you have to be careful. And it’s nice to be able to talk to your doctor, or your pharmacist, or even the dispensary retail workers to see if there is any possible interaction.

“CBD doesn’t have side effects.”

Chin: So, CBD does have side effects. For some patients, it doesn’t intoxicate you, but it can be really relaxing and almost produce an uplifting effect. A small amount of patients will find that CBD makes them very sleepy. CBD does improve your REM sleep. Patients that take CBD find that they get a much more restorative night’s sleep, because THC can disrupt REM sleep, so patients will take THC to fall asleep faster, but if they concentrate on more CBD-dominant doses they might find much more restorative sleep. Sometimes patients will find that when they’re taking CBD they do have stomach upset. You know, that might change their bowels a little bit, but it’s usually due to the carrier oil that accompanies the CBD.

Macias: “CBD and marijuana are the same thing.”

Chin: CBD and marijuana are not the same thing. CBD, also called cannabidiol, and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, are the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are both in marijuana and hemp. Marijuana contains much more THC, while hemp has a lot of CBD.

Macias: The main difference is I think preventative care versus active treatment using cannabis. And if I have a patient that is facing more pain, not preventative care, then definitely THC helps with that more than a CBD.

Chin: Absolutely. CBD provides that foundational anti-inflammatory component, so you’re getting to the root cause of the problem, especially with chronic pain. And THC is also very valuable, because it can help with acute muscle spasms, acute pain, nausea, appetite increase. So I think that the THC and the CBD work synergistically together, and we can’t stress that enough.

“CBD is illegal.”

Macias: So, I need to debunk the myth that CBD is illegal. In 2018, the farm bill passed the usage of hemp, where we extract CBD from. So the isolate and other cannabinoids extracted strictly from the hemp plant is perfectly legal today. So, what’s interesting about legal CBD is that the percentage of THC present has to be lower than 0.3% to remain legal and to be sold over the counter.

Chin: All in all, hemp and CBD oil are considered federally legal in all 50 states.

Macias: “All CBD products are safe.” I have to debunk that myth, because we know that CBD products are allowable on the regulated market, but they’re also available on the illicit market, which are not products that are required to have testing and the identification of their different ingredients.

Chin: The problem with CBD is that it’s not FDA regulated. So really anyone can come out with a product and put it on the internet to sell. CBD eye drops have not been tested. CBD aerosolized nebulizers have not been tested, or the nasal spray have not been tested. So it really is on the onus of the consumer and the patient to make sure that it is effective and reliable and third-party tested. It’s as simple as checking the label, looking for what’s called a COA, certificate of analysis, because that COA will tell you the quality of the CBD source. It will list all of the information that is key on telling you potency. Is there any bacteria or fungus? Or are there any solvents or heavy metals or pesticides that have been tested on the label? You want to make sure that that lab has been accredited, so it’s tested by an accredited lab. So unfortunately there’s a lot of homework that consumers and patients have to do to make sure that that CBD product is as good as what it says it does.

Macias: When you purchase CBD, make sure you purchase it from a credible resource. Like, if you’re in a pharmacy and they have it on their shelves, usually there was some type of vetting of the product, versus a gas station, you know, there might be a compromise in the quality of the product. “All CBD is the same.” I debunk that myth. All CBD is not the same. The molecular structure of CBD is the same, but quality control could definitely be different.

Chin: And it also depends on the formulation. Some of my patients that use CBD for anxiety or for panic attacks, and sometimes before that panic attack comes on, before you start spiraling, you need something to work within 30 seconds. And that’s when you would use an inhaled version of CBD, such as the vape cartridge or a flower. And some of my patients have terrible pain, spasm, and inflammation, and they need something that’ll work throughout the day. They can’t leave work or take a break to go outside and use something that’s inhaled, so they need something that’s long-lasting. And that’s when they would use a capsule or a tincture.

“CBD fixes everything.”

CBD is not a miracle pill, it is not the silver bullet, it is not a miracle elixir to all things, it cannot cure everything that moves.

Macias: I have to agree completely. CBD has its known benefits, and we embrace those, but if I lose my car keys, CBD’s not gonna find them for me. When you think about CBD, you definitely need to keep it within its realm. And I think that it definitely can lead the pathway to integrative health benefits, but I think common sense needs to come into play when we use CBD.

Chin: I don’t think CBD and cannabis cures Parkinson’s, but for my Parkinson’s patients, it decreases the tremors, it decreases the muscle spasm and pain, it increases appetite and gives my Parkinson’s patients better quality of life. So I think it’s a piece of the puzzle.

“CBD is addictive.”

CBD is not addictive, but I can see why social media says that CBD is addictive, because CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. And many a people associate it with marijuana and assumes that there’s a potential for addiction. On the contrary, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is nonaddictive with no withdrawal symptoms. And I can say that as a clinician, patients that I treat that take CBD are not dependent on CBD.

Macias: Matter of fact, I’ve seen patients that have been battling addiction has actually used CBD to help them in their recovery.

Chin: Yes, because CBD and THC can help offset some of those withdrawal symptoms, and it can decrease pain, decreases that inflammation, that nausea feeling, perhaps when you’re weaning off medication. So I often use CBD and cannabis to help patients wean off opiates, benzos, and even sleep aids.

Macias: “CBD cures cancer.”

Chin: I always debunk that myth, but cannabis medicine can help you get through chemotherapy and radiation that much better. And if it helps you with your mood, if it helps you sleep better, if it decreases some of your pain and inflammation and revs up your appetite, or maybe it gives you a little bit of energy during the day so you can take a walk, all of these things will help your body fight the cancer that much better.

Macias: There are so many wonderful benefits of cannabis, and specifically CBD, in helping the symptoms of cancer, but we can’t say with 100% surety it reduces the densities in different tumor sizes without that research element being conducted properly.

Chin: So, to say directly “cannabis cures cancer” is a myth, but cannabis can help you fight the cancer.

Macias: “CBD is a scam.” I have to debunk this myth. CBD does have its inherent anti-inflammatory benefits. It has pain-relief benefits, especially for preventive care, insomnia, and anxiety. Patients use it for a lot of these reasons, and it has helped and changed thousands of lives.

Chin: I can see why social media would label CBD as a scam, because over the past couple of years, CBD’s been everywhere and it’s been touted as this miracle elixir. If you look at Epidiolex, which is an FDA-approved, plant-derived CBD medicine for seizures. But then you look at the beverage industry, like Budweiser developing CBD-infused beer. Or your neighborhood café. You can add a shot of CBD to your morning latte. And then you look at the beauty industry and CBD lipstick, or Sephora has CBD mascara for thicker and longer lashes. There are some CBD creams and balms and lotions that work well, but you have to look at if they have another added ingredient. Maybe it’s the menthol that’s in the product or the arnica that’s supplementing it and creating a decreased sense of inflammation and relief for your muscles and ligaments. It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]

Macias: No pun intended.

Chin: “CBD won’t affect other medications.” That is not true. CBD may interact with certain medications and certain natural supplements. And if you take it in extremely large doses, it can actually elevate your liver enzymes. So, seizure medications, if you’re on blood thinners. Certain patients will find that if they take cannabis, elderly patients, that there could be a fall precaution. Maybe they’re taking too much THC and they’re a little bit dizzy or groggy.

Macias: And I think that’s why it’s so important that patients work where physicians, specifically those that are educated in the endocannabinoid system, so that they can help them on that path to wellness.

Chin: When patients come to see me asking about CBD or cannabis for their health or wellness, I take it into full context of their medical history. So I look at labs, I look at their medical history, I do a full physical exam to make sure that CBD and cannabis is something that they could integrate into their health and wellness. Now, the problem is you can’t always find a physician that is knowledgeable about cannabinoid medicine. Actually, it’s very, very rare. So what’s wonderful with Dr. Macias and her dispensaries is that regulated medical dispensaries tap into a knowledge base of physicians, plant scientists, cultivators, and researchers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s what marijuana actually does to your body and brain

woman smoking marijuana out of a pipe at home
  • 1 in 3 Americans now live in a state where adults can legally buy marijuana for recreational use.
  • New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota all legalized marijuana for over-21-year-olds. New York is on the verge of legalization and could soon become the 15th state to legalize weed for all adults.
  • Research has found cannabis can relieve pain, treat epilepsy, and improve people’s sex lives. Marijuana use has also been associated with short-term memory problems, a distorted sense of time, and decreased sperm counts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Marijuana is legal for all adults in 14 states, but its federal designation as an illegal drug has made studying the substance difficult.

Vaping smoking

Marijuana’s official designation in the US as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no currently accepted medical use” — means it has been pretty tough to study.

That remains the case, despite the fact that, at a state level, the drug is increasingly accessible for the general public.

As of Election Day 2020, when Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota gave the green light to marijuana use for adults, 1 in 3 Americans live in a state where they can legally buy cannabis.

New York will soon become the 15th state to legalize recreational cannabis. On March 28, New York state officials announced they introduced a bill to make the substance legal for all adults and would vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday.

Despite the limitations to scientists studying the drug, a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports have found links between cannabis and several health benefits, including pain relief and the potential to help with certain forms of epilepsy.

In addition, researchers say there are many other ways marijuana might affect health that they want to better understand — including a mysterious syndrome that appears to make marijuana users violently ill.

Along with several other recent studies, a massive report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017 helps sum up exactly what we know — and what we don’t — about the science of weed.

Here’s what you should know about how marijuana affects the brain and body.

Marijuana use is linked to a rare syndrome that causes nausea and vomiting.

emergency room

Most recently, a March 2019 study looked at over 2,500 cannabis-related ER visits in Colorado. They found that stomach issues like nausea and vomiting were the main driver of the trips, even before psychiatric problems like intoxication and paranoia. 

In 2004, Australian doctors began looking into these stomach symptoms based on the experiences of a local woman who used to be able to smoke marijuana with no issue, and then seemingly out of nowhere began having adverse reactions that paralleled those in the 2019 study.

They gave her condition a name: cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. The rare illness is still fairly new and understudied, but researchers believe it might affect a large population.

“CHS is certainly not very rare,” Andrew Monte, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital who led the March study, previously told Business Insider. “We see it absolutely every week in our ER.”

Marijuana can make you feel good.

marijuana smoke colorado
In this April 19, 2014 file photo, partygoers dance and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver. The annual event is the first 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in Jan. 2014. A year after Colorado’s marijuana tax for schools came in far short of its goal, the fund is setting records and has accrued more money in the first five months in 2015 than it did for all of 2014.

One of weed’s active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with the brain’s reward system, the part that has been primed to respond to things that make us feel good, like eating and sex.

When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why some studies have suggested that excessive marijuana use can be a problem for some people — the more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel during other rewarding experiences.

In the short term, it can also make your heart race.

Marijuana

Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana, your heart rate can increase by between 20 and 50 beats a minute. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The NASEM report found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack. The same report, however, also found some limited evidence that smoking could be a trigger for a heart attack.

Marijuana’s effects on the heart could be tied to effects on blood pressure, but the link needs more research.

marijuana weed pot cannabis smoke smoker

In August, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology appeared to suggest that marijuana smokers face a threefold higher risk of dying from high blood pressure than people who have never smoked — but the study came with an important caveat: it defined a “marijuana user” as anyone who’d ever tried the drug.

Research suggests this is a poor assumption — and one that could have interfered with the study’s results. According to a recent survey, about 52% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point, yet only 14% used the drug at least once a month.

Other studies have also come to the opposite conclusion of the present study. According to the Mayo Clinic, using cannabis could result in decreased — not increased — blood pressure.

So while there’s probably a link between smoking marijuana and high blood pressure, there’s not enough research yet to say that one leads to the other.

Weed may also help relieve some types of pain.

medical marijuana
A worker tends to cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed June 11, 2012.

Pot contains cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical that is not responsible for getting you high but is thought to be responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic effects. Those benefits can include pain relief or potential treatment for certain kinds of childhood epilepsy.

The new report also found conclusive or substantial evidence — the most definitive levels — that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, which could have to do with both CBD and THC. Pain is also “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana, according to the report.

Pain relief could include the discomfort of arthritis.

Medical Pot

One of the ways scientists think marijuana may help with pain is by reducing inflammation, a component of illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.

A preliminary 2005 study of 58 patients with RA, roughly half of whom were given a placebo and roughly half of whom were given a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, found “statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep” for patients on Sativex.

Other studies testing other cannabinoid products and inhaled marijuana have shown similar pain-relieving effects, according to the report.

Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease may also find some relief.

medicinal marijuana
A volunteer displays cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014.

Some people with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis could also benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest.

A 2014 paper, for example, describes two studies of people with chronic Crohn’s. Half were given the drug and half got a placebo. That study showed a decrease in symptoms in 10 of 11 subjects using cannabis, compared with just four of 10 on the placebo. But when the researchers did a follow-up study using low-dose CBD, they saw no effect in the patients.

Researchers say that, for now, we need more research before we’ll know whether cannabis can help with these diseases.

Marijuana may also be helpful in controlling epileptic seizures.

Marijuana stock photo

In June 2018, the FDA approved a CBD medication called Epidiolex.

The drug can be prescribed to people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy. In fact, it is the first FDA-approved treatment option for Dravet syndrome.

In the clinical trial for the drug, common side effects included sleepiness, fatigue, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and insomnia.

But it can also mess with your sense of balance.

A man gestures during a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Supreme Court building in Mexico City, in this November 4, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files
File photo of a man gesturing during a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Supreme Court building in Mexico City

Marijuana may throw off your balance, as it influences activity in the cerebellum and basal ganglia, two brain areas that help regulate balance, coordination, reaction time, and posture.

And it can distort your sense of time.

woman and clock

Feeling as if time is sped up or slowed down is one of the most commonly reported effects of using marijuana. A 2012 paper sought to draw some solid conclusions from studies on those anecdotal reports, but it was unable to do so.

“Even though 70% of time estimation studies report overestimation, the findings of time production and time reproduction studies remain inconclusive,” the paper said.

In a 1998 study that used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to focus on the brains of volunteers on THC, the authors noted that many had altered blood flow to the cerebellum, which most likely plays a role in our sense of time.

Limitations on what sort of marijuana research is allowed make it particularly difficult to study this sort of effect.

Weed can also turn your eyes red.

Eye

Since weed makes blood vessels expand, it can give you red eyes.

And you’ll probably get the munchies.

mod pizza photos and review 5496

A case of the munchies is no figment of the imagination — both casual and heavy marijuana users tend to overeat when they smoke.

A recent study in mice suggested the possibility that marijuana may effectively flip a circuit in the brain that is normally responsible for quelling the appetite, triggering us to eat instead.

It all comes down to a special group of cells in the brain that are normally activated after we have eaten a big meal to tell us we’ve had enough. The psychoactive ingredient in weed appears to activate just one component of those appetite-suppressing cells, making us feel hungry rather than satisfied.

A 2014 study found that marijuana use had no effect on body weight, despite the munchies phenomenon commonly associated with use.

Some women have reported having more satisfying sex when using marijuana.

love couple kissing sex rain nyc

A small study of 373 women from of varying races, sexual orientations, and marital statuses found that people who said they used marijuana before sex tended to have a more pleasurable experience than those who did not use the substance.

Specifically, some women reported having more satisfying orgasms and an increase in their sex drive.

Researchers weren’t able to pinpoint why marijuana had this effect, but suggested it could be due to the substance’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety.

Marijuana may also interfere with how you form memories.

weed smoking

Marijuana can mess with your memory by changing the way your brain processes information, but scientists still aren’t sure exactly how this happens. Still, several studies suggest that weed interferes with short-term memory, and researchers tend to see more of these effects in inexperienced or infrequent users than in heavy, frequent users.

Unsurprisingly, these effects are most evident in the acute sense — immediately after use, when people are high.

According to the new NASEM report, there was limited evidence showing a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence. (That has also been shown to increase the risk for problematic use.)

Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis is connected to an increased risk doesn’t mean marijuana use caused that risk.

In some people, weed could increase the risk of depression.

Marijuana buds are seen at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
Marijuana buds are seen at the “Oregon’s Finest” medical marijuana dispensary in Portland

Scientists can’t say for sure whether marijuana causes depression or depressed people are simply more likely to smoke. But one study from the Netherlands suggests that smoking weed could raise the risk of depression for young people who already have a special serotonin gene that could make them more vulnerable to depression.

Those findings are bolstered by the NASEM report, which found moderate evidence that cannabis use was linked to a small increased risk of depression.

And it may also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

marijuana weed pot cannabis joint smoke smoking smoker
A visitor smokes a marijuana cigarrette during the Expo Cannabis fair in Montevideo, Uruguay, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. After state regulation of the production and sale of marijuana, Uruguay had its first cannabis expo with stands selling seeds, marijuana growing technology, conferences and cultivation techniques workshops.

The NASEM report also found substantial evidence of an increased risk among frequent marijuana users of developing schizophrenia — something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place.

Regular marijuana use may also be connected to an increased risk of social anxiety.

marijuana cannabis
Bob Leeds, co-owner of Sea of Green Farms, shows some of the marijuana he produces during a tour of his company’s facility in Seattle, Washington June 30, 2014.

Researchers think it’s possible that CBD might be a useful treatment for anxiety disorders, and that’s something that several institutions are currently trying to study.

The recent report suggested that evidence of a link between marijuana and an increased risk of most anxiety disorders was limited.

However, the authors wrote that there is moderate evidence that regular marijuana use is connected to an increased risk of social anxiety. As in other cases, it’s hard to know whether marijuana use causes that increase or people use marijuana because of an increased risk of social anxiety.

Marijuana use could also affect sperm count.

sperm and egg

A small study of 37 men found that those who used marijuana had decreased sperm counts than those who never used marijuana. The study did not specify the methods of marijuana consumption used.

Another study, however, found that marijuana increased sperm count in men. This study was larger and looked at 1,215 healthy young men. They found that men who currently or previously used marijuana had both higher sperm counts and higher sperm concentrations than men who never used the substance.

A person could need more sedation medication for surgery if they have a regular marijuana habit.

surgery

A small study in the May 2019 issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that people who reported smoking marijuana or eating edibles on a daily or weekly basis needed higher doses of medication for sedation.

The researchers found that people who used marijuana daily or weekly needed 14% more fentanyl, 19.6% more midazolam, and 220.5% more propofol (all medications that are used for sedation) for the full length of their procedures than their counterparts who didn’t use as much marijuana.

Researchers haven’t determined why this was the case, but they believe marijuana could potentially desensitize the body’s receptors that process sedatives.

It’s worth noting that marijuana has likely gotten stronger since the 1980s, and that its ratio of THC to CBD has changed as well.

Cannabis dispensary
A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California U.S., October 18, 2016.

The THC content of marijuana across the US has tripled since 1995, according to a large recent study in which researchers reviewed close to 39,000 samples of cannabis. While THC levels hovered around 4%, on average, in 1995, they skyrocketed to roughly 12% in 2014.

Meanwhile, the CBD content in marijuana — the part that’s responsible for many of the drug’s therapeutic effects — has dropped, the researchers found, shifting the ratio of THC to CBD from 14:1 in 1995 to about 80:1 in 2014.

Still, tracking THC potency over time can be tricky. The older a weed sample gets, the more its THC appears to degrade. How it is stored matters too. These two barriers could be interfering somewhat with the metrics on pot’s potency.

Most importantly, regular weed use is linked with some specific brain changes – but scientists can’t say for sure whether one causes the other.

girl smoking marijuana weed

In a recent study, scientists used MRI brain scans to get a better picture of the brains of adults who have smoked weed at least four times a week for years.

Compared to people who rarely or never used the drug, the long-term users tended to have a smaller orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region critical for processing emotions and making decisions. But they also had stronger cross-brain connections, which scientists think smokers may develop to compensate.

Still, the study doesn’t show that smoking pot caused certain regions of the brain to shrink; other studies suggest that having a smaller orbitofrontal cortex in the first place could make someone more likely to start smoking.

Most researchers agree that the people most susceptible to brain changes are those who begin using marijuana regularly during adolescence.

FILE - In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE – In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A small study of teenagers in Europe found that people who used marijuana had more gray matter in their brains, which can affect how humans mature over time.

The researchers noticed these brain-level changes in teens who had just one or two joints in their lifetimes.

Although researchers are unsure whether higher brain volume is bad for health, they do know brain volume naturally decreases during the aging process, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

An international meta-analysis of 23,317 young adults also found that marijuana use could increase risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

“Although the causes of major depressive disorder are multifactorial and complex, this meta-analysis suggests that the cannabis exposure could be 1 factor contributing to depression in young adulthood,” the researchers wrote.

Marijuana use affects the lungs but doesn’t seem to increase the risk of lung cancer.

marijuana smoke smoking smoker weed pot
A woman smokes a marijuana joint during the “Marijuana March”on Ipanema beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 7, 2016. About 1,000 people gathered for the demonstration demanding the legalization of the production and sale of marijuana.

People who smoke marijuana regularly are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis, according to the report. There’s also evidence that stopping smoking relieves these symptoms.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, the report’s authors found moderate evidence that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking cigarettes.

Other forms of marijuana consumption, like vaping or eating edibles, have not been linked to increased cancer risk like smoking has been linked.

“When you combust any plant, you’re creating significantly more carcinogens,” Dr. Jeffrey Chen, the director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, previously told INSIDER.

Some athletes think marijuana could be used in ways that might improve certain types of physical performance.

Snowboarder snowboarding at Copper Mountain Colorado
A snowboarder gets air on a jump at the Woodward at Cooper terrain park on the opening day at Copper Mountain ski area Friday, November 4th, 2011. This is the first year that the terrain park has ever opened for opening day.

Some athletes, especially in certain endurance and adventure sports, say marijuana use can boost their athletic performance. This may be because of anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving effects that make it easier to push through a long workout or recover from one.

At the same time, there are ways that marijuana could impair athletic performance, since it affects coordination and motivation, and dulls the body’s natural recovery process.

Without more research, it’s hard to know how marijuana affects athletic performance.

There’s evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy could have negative effects.

Pregnant woman

According to the new NASEM report, there’s substantial evidence showing a link between prenatal cannabis exposure — when a pregnant woman uses marijuana — and lower birth weight. There was limited evidence suggesting that using marijuana during pregnancy could cause complications and increase the risk that a baby would have to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in September 2020 found that pregnant women who used marijuana had a higher risk of their children having ADHD and/or psychotic behaviors that have been linked to schizophrenia.

And an analysis, published in Nature Medicine in August 2020, linked cannabis use among pregnant women to autism in their children. The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada, involved data from 3,000 women who used cannabis during pregnancy. 

Still, pregnant and breastfeeding women have reported using the drug to relieve nausea, pain, and depression symptoms since traditional NSAID painkillers are not allowed during pregnancy.

Experts say they have little information about the potential health risks associated with this practice, so they urge mothers to abstain from marijuana consumption.

CBD pills could help people cut down on marijuana use or quit.

medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers cox 3

Cannabis use disorder is a diagnosis that describes dependence on cannabis, making it hard to consume less of, or none of, the drug.

But in a study published in July 2o2o, UK researchers found that using CBD pills could wean people off cannabis if they have been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.

“Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating or rewarding effects and it shows potential for a treating several other medical disorders,” lead author Dr. Tom Freeman said.

There are still so many questions about how marijuana affects the body and brain that scientists say far more research is needed.

marijuana cannabis pot weed bud nug medical

Based on the available evidence and conversations with researchers, there are good reasons to think marijuana has potentially valuable medical uses. At the same time, we know that, as with any substance, not all use is risk-free.

More research is needed to figure out how to best treat the conditions that cannabis can help and how to minimize any risks associated with medical or recreational use.

Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider that marijuana research is essential in determining “how best we can use it, what are the safest ways, and what are the real risks.” 

Kevin Loria contributed to a previous version of this story.

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