Medical Marijuana and Massage Therapy…Are We Ready?

Unless you have been hiding in a mine shaft for the last year, you have probably heard that medical marijuana is a hot topic in Nevada.  In November 2014, Dispensary Applicants are expected to be issued their business licenses.

The AMTA-Nevada Government Relations Committee has been contacted by one of the organizations that have organized to educate and advocate the use of medical marijuana.  The Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association (http://www.lvmma.org/) has regular meetings where they discuss policy and educational talks.  At this point, you may be thinking to yourself “So what?”

Well, the “what” is this:  as a complementary and alternative wellness practitioner, you may very well be asked about the use of medical marijuana for pain and stress relief.  What do you say?  What is your personal opinion?  And, moreover: what is your professional opinion?

Apothecanna productsWhat would you say if a client asked you to use an “infused oil” on them?  Are you aware of what infused products are (their content, MSDS requirements, prescription viability)…?  Do you know the risks/benefits of using THC or marijuana for medical purposes…?  Is it in a massage therapist’s Scope of Practice to use it?

These are some of the questions the Government Relations committee has brought to your Chapter’s attention and is looking into answering from a more-informed position.

Here’s a little background information that I have found:

In short, marijuana has two primary substances in it: THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).  THC has mind-altering and anti-nausea effects, while CBD is the pain-relieving, anti-seizure substance.  Traditionally, the different strains of marijuana plants have had different mixtures of these two components.

With selective breeding and hybrids, they now have strains of marijuana with only trace amounts of THC and high amounts of CBD.  Part of the “science” of medical marijuana is finding the right strain for the client and their symptoms, then finding the correct dosage.

Correct dosing is where infused products come into play:  the THC and CBD oils are taken out of the plants, much like an essential oil would be; the oil can then be put on or in a food, or it can be placed in massage oil for topical application.  The dosages of THC and CBD can be controlled better with infused products that are ingested or absorbed rather than by smoking (inhaling) it…at least that is how some think.

The infused products have received some bad press due to their potency.  The thing to remember is, like anything, people tend to become resistant to THC or CBD over time.  So: infused products came about for two reasons, first to make something strong enough to work on the worst cancer patients, and so a person can medicate without smoking pot at work.

There are some upcoming events in Nevada that may be helpful to get more information. The LVMMA’s Medical Marijuana Oktoberfest happens on October 16th and 3rd-annual Marijuana Business Conference & Expo on November 11th at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.  We have been told that there will be massage therapists from Colorado attending.

We think the questions that are arising will be ones that will need answering in the future.  It would be wise for you to do some self-education on this hot topic as well.  We want to hear from you on this topic – please email hidden; JavaScript is required and leave your comments below: answer any of the questions above, share links to online, reputable sources to substantiate data and/or your opinion.  You can help us form an opinion as a state chapter of the AMTA on this hot topic.  Ω

submitted by: Chuck Williams, Government Relations Committee Chair – read more about the chapter’s involvement in Regulation in Nevada

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Comments

  1. As a LMT I would definitely want to know more about the therapeutic benefits and proper dosage etc. For now, it is not legal in our state, but if it was legal and research was proven to show that using it in massage therapy lotions, gels, oils etc were healthful I would be very open to using it to take healing to another level.
    Tam
    St. Louis

  2. Great article! Well stated and well said! Thank you for this!

  3. James Vaughn says

    Prior this year I hadn’t even heard of CBD, yet this year I’ve seen an explosion of companies promoting CBD products as legal in all 50 States due to falling under the Federal Guideline for THC content.

    However the following sources indicate that’s not enough, and that these products are still illegal.

    While industrial hemp products (fibers, oil and seeds) are exempt from the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) look at the last entry (5) on the following page to see that *resin* (from the seeds and stalk of the hemp plant) is not exempt:

    http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/marijuana/m_extract_7350.html?fbclid=IwAR3iin0vse6iGqfODYvpjl5825rkzwBP0BYPbUTuAsdD_kd-4CjA4XT1JJI

    “…the Ninth Circuit stated in Hemp II, ‘when Congress excluded from the definition of marijuana ‘mature stalks of such plant, fiber . . . , [and] oil or cake made from the seeds,’ it also made an exception to the exception, and included ‘resin extracted from’ the excepted parts of the plant in the definition of marijuana, despite the stalks and seed exception.’ Id. at 1018. Thus, if an extract of cannabinoids were produced using extracted resin from any part of the cannabis plant (including the parts excluded from the CSA definition of marijuana), such an extract would be included in the CSA definition of marijuana.”

    For a more detailed breakdown (which helps us realize how many people have -understandably- become confused on this matter) go straight to:

    6. Legal status of CBD

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505016305856

    The short of it comes in this excerpt:

    “…if CBD (considered ‘resin’ …) is extracted from any part of the plant, including the ‘exempted parts,’ it is still considered marijuana and in Schedule I.”

    So how do these CBD products considered exempt by these companies? After all, it seems only logical that these companies wouldn’t put their investment at risk by selling anything that would be them in arrears with the DEA. This is the very thought expressed by many Massage Therapists who have been approached by these CBD oil producers.

    Over this year, I’ve educated myself as much as possible on the science and benefits of CBD and found that, while we still don’t have robust studies to lean on, there studies and anecdotes that have emerged thus far universally show that CBD oils combined with THC produce the greatest benefits and don’t get people high. And there are none of the negative side-effects that accompany synthetic pharmaceuticals. The resounding message coming through is that Nature Knows Best.

    But while the legality of CBD is apparently still up in the air, it behooves us to ensure that Massage Therapists do not unknowingly put their license/practice/career/person at risk by using products that fall under the CSA.

    While I personally consider it a negligible chance that anyone would be compelled to bring the DEA’s attention to a sole practitioner, or even a spa that employs 20+ staff, for using such products, the potential cost warrants the effort to provide Massage Therapists and establishment owners a conclusive and official bottom line so they can make informed consumer choices.

    There is already widespread variance in the legislative community from State to State on this.

    The Attorney Generals for NC and VA compelled their respective Massage Boards to establish policies making it outside their scope of practice for Massage Therapists to use CBD products due to these Federal Codes.

    Meanwhile OR authorized LMTs to apply *recreational* CBD-THC topicals not obtained from medical cards or carriers, but still prohibit them from *selling* these topicals due to how OR regulates cannabis since legalizing its recreational use:

    http://or.wp.amtamassage.org/topical-cannabis

    But as this still apparently violates the Federal CSA, I’m compelled to email the AMTA-OR President to ask how the State protects their LMTs should anyone be compelled to point the DEA to them.

    Today an LMT from MO said she got an ambiguous response from the MO Massage Board, so she took her CBD products to the local DEA office to ask if they have a problem with it, and they said no. So I’m even more intrigued, and compelled to find out why the DEA itself (at least in MO) apparently doesn’t show any interest in observing the CSA regarding CBD. Already I wrote to the National DEA HQ about this in hopes of getting clarification we can all bank on.

    There are many other examples I can point out here. It would be great if we in the Massage/Wellness industry can settle this issue once and for all (at least until all the laws change again).

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