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Marijuana-Based Sleep Aid Could Be 'Life Changing' For Those With Sleep Trouble

BOSTON (CBS) - Tens of millions of Americans have trouble falling or staying asleep. While there are many over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, most are not permanent solutions.

Now, a Massachusetts cannabis retailer is offering up a marijuana-based alternative.

Garden Remedies is teaming up with the therapeutic company Real Isolates on a cannabis pill directly aimed at helping people sleep. It's meant for people like Peter Riggs of Newton, who suffers from PTSD and needs extra help shutting his eyes.

"I'm ready to go to sleep and my mind isn't scared," said Peter. "It's whimsical."

Miyabe Shields is one of the scientists in charge of the effort. She says the process involves harvesting two compounds from marijuana.

"We capture the formulation from the smoke," Shields said. "We heat the cannabis. We capture it selectively in a filter. We pull out the active components from the smoke and the smoke goes through and out. It's an extract."

The extracts, THC and CBN are then combined to create the "Sleep Plus" pill.

Shields calls it a perfect mix. "Using our method the edible has a higher amount of cannabinol or CBN."

Using a molecular 3D model to demonstrate her point, Shields said "The only difference is in the top ring - this molecule is not as small or intense as THC."

That means you're likely to feel less high compared to using other forms of cannabis.

Dr. Staci Gruber, who is the Director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery Program at McLean Hospital, recommends a good sleep routine first and foremost.

"Being active during the day; making sure you have good sleep hygiene; shutting down electronic devices well in advance of getting into your bed."

But if that does not work, Dr. Gruber believes marijuana products can be helpful if taken properly.

"Some of these products are life changing for folks. They really are. They are life changing. And there's no reason not to consider it if you're not worried about exposure to THC."

Dr. Gruber says it may be better than over-the-counter solutions, but more research on the subject needs to be done.

"There's every reason to think this is safer than some of our more conventional medications."

As for Peter, he's already sold and intends to keep up his daily cannabis regiment.

"For me, it's made a world of difference."

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