Tags Posts tagged with "Research"

Research

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Biomedical research is teaming up with the University of Oxford to set up a lab to research the effects of medical marijuana on various health conditions. The school’s Cannabis Research Plan will study the use of cannabinoids to treat cancer, inflammatory diseases, neurological disorders, and pain.

Doctor Ahmed Ahmed, professor of gynecological oncology at Oxford recently stated, “Cannabinoid research has started to produce exciting biological discoveries, and this research program is a timely opportunity to increase our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease. This field holds great promise for developing novel therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients.”

The school will be paired with Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT), a bio-med startup funded by venture capital firm Kingsley Capital Partners. Neil Mahapatra, a managing partner at Kingsley, explained the strategy behind the company’s initial funding of $12.5 million to the lab. He stated, “Medical cannabis and cannabinoid medicine is already helping patients with some of the most distressing conditions across the world. However, research into the specific pathways and mechanisms that create this benefit is limited and long overdue. Through OCT, we hope our strategic partnership with Oxford will support the development of innovative new therapies to help millions of people around the world. The partnership gives the UK a global leadership role in this fast-growing field.”

Even though the use of medical marijuana is still not legal in the UK, a drug containing cannabinoids THC and CBD, Sativex, is legal to treat multiple sclerosis. The Green Party and Liberal Democrats support the legalization of medical marijuana. Members of the Labor and Conservative parties, and even Sir Patrick Stewart show their support, as well. The actor stated, “Two years ago, in Los Angeles I was examined by a doctor and given a note which gave me legal permission to purchase, from a registered outlet, cannabis-based products, which I was advised might help the osteoarthritis in both my hands.” He continued, “As a result of this experience, I enthusiastically support the Oxford University Cannabis Research Plan.”

Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies currently plans to bring in investors for the next round of funding to the lab, and recruiting volunteers, both patients and healthy subjects, to participate in clinical trials. The group will also be hosting the International Cannabinoid Biomedicine Conference later this year.

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Florida Marijuana

A proposal that would award $2.5 million for UF to study medical marijuana recently moved forward in the Florida House of Representatives. The proposal states that money from the General Revenue Fund will be used to fund UF’s study on the safety and efficiency of medical cannabis. The bill, which passed through the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, moved into the Appropriations Committee on Friday.

If the bill is passed in the committee, it will go to a full House vote for final approval. If it passes through the House, the proposal states the one time fund will be finalized in July. House member Dane Eagle, a republican who represents District 77, sponsored the proposal, which was first submitted February 7. Janine Sikes, spokesperson for UF, wrote in an email that the money would fund UF’s proposed Cannabis and Safety Outcomes Surveillance System, a program which would monitor the safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis on 25,000 enrolled patients throughout the state.

Florida’s Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment that allows stronger cannabis to be used for a broader list of conditions, took effect in January. Of the six medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Florida, two are in Alachua County, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use. Sikes said the UF program would monitor treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA. UF would create a secure Data Warehouse to track patient data as part of the program.

She said the $2.5 million would be for costs such as faculty salaries and data processing. She stated, “Evidence is lacking to evaluate risk/benefit of medical marijuana. It is pivotal that the state establishes a system to monitor emerging safety concerns, especially for use in children.” She said the proposal is related to the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which requires physicians to submit a quarterly patient treatment plan to the UF’s College of Pharmacy for research on the safety and effectiveness of low-THC cannabis on patients. The details of the proposal state that it would offer funding to implement research provisions in the 2014 act.

A UF nursing senior, Alicia Ciliezar, said she supports the use and research of medical cannabis. The substance helps improve pain levels for individuals with issues such as neurologic conditions and digestive disorders. She said, “I’m very eager to see the aims of the study, the objectives and the outcomes. I’m sure it will be fascinating and shape our perception on the substance.”

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The quality of the cannabis the United States government provides to scientists may be impacting the results of their studies, experts say. The issue made national headlines after Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), shared photos of the marijuana provided by the only facility licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration to produce cannabis for clinical research. The facility is located at the University of Mississippi and is run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Doctor Sisley is studying marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in United States veterans. Sisley stated, “It didn’t resemble cannabis. It didn’t smell like cannabis.” We asked Jake Browne, who is a cannabis critic for the Denver Post’s marijuana news site, the Cannabist, and co-founder of The Grow-Off, a statewide cannabis growing competition, what he thought about the cannabis seen in the photos. Browne said, “It’s unlike any weed I’ve ever seen, and that includes really low grade stuff I’d get as a kid in Iowa. It looks like it’s mostly stems and leaves, and that stuff is better for giving you headaches than getting you high.”

Brown stated, “It should be covered in trichomes, or frosty-looking resin glands, and have much higher density than what Dr. Sisley is working with. As a rule of thumb, you want your buds intact and no smaller than a piece of popcorn, with a green or purple hue to them.” Additionally, PBS reported that some of the samples provided by NIDA were contaminated with mold and others didn’t match the chemical potency Sisley had requested for the study. She stated, “One sample, billed as having a 13% level of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, had just 8% when tested at the independent facility in Colorado.”

According to the Washington Post, recreational cannabis available in Colorado ranges from an average of about 19% THC to 30% or more. Sisley stated, “There’s no telling how many subjects in past studies were exposed. Honestly, it seems like [the National Institute on Drug Abuse] is playing a joke on Dr. Sisley,” Browne stated. “High potency cannabis can cause anxiety and paranoia, so when you’re talking about a study on PTSD, that seems very relevant to me. With pot in our state regularly testing at three times the potency of what they supplied to her, it’s not acceptable.” The only facility approved by the DEA to grow marijuana for clinical studies is at the University of Mississippi and is run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

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According to a National Academies report released this month, more and more Americans are using cannabis both for recreational and medical purposes, however, scientists still don’t know very much about the drug’s effects on human physiology. Part of this knowledge gap owes to the fact that marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the US Controlled Substances Act. In the eyes of the federal government, cannabis is a dangerous drug that “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” However, researchers in Canada are not far ahead of their United States counterparts, even though marijuana has since 2001 been functionally legal for medical use at the federal level there.

Mark Ware, a McGill University pain management physician who has researched the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids for the past 18 years stated, “I wish I could say that [legalizing medical marijuana] had led to more research. I think there’s certainly a willingness to be able to document real world use of cannabis under a legal framework.” Ware added that while there are several public registries that track the legal use of marijuana among Canadians, experimental evidence on the effects of that use are lacking. He said, “The clinical trials, I think for most people that’s an expensive undertaking. There are still questions around who owns the intellectual property, who’s going to sponsor the trials, those remain barriers even in a legal framework as to the cost of that kind of research and the drug development piece of it.”

Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has also published extensively on the therapeutic effects of marijuana. He agreed that although federal illegality is a primary obstacle to studying cannabis in the United States, there are other factors that make understanding the basic science behind the drug’s potential therapeutic effects a daunting prospect. “I’m not sure that the research can catch up with the social use, meaning this: that, at least within the current [US Food and Drug Administration] approaches to medication, which is how every other medication in our country is approved, there is no precedent and no model for, first, smoking a substance and, second, using a substance that is not pure but contains many, many different compounds in varying amounts.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved three drugs for human use that contain active ingredients present in or similar to those in botanical cannabis. These are Syndros and Marinol, which contain a synthetic version of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana), and Cesamet, which contains a synthetic cannabinoid that has a chemical structure similar to THC.

Ware suggested that instead of seeking to study smoked cannabis, researchers should shift to studying the therapeutic potential of extracts or derivatives of the plant or otherwise conduct research on alternative ingestion mechanisms, such as vaporization. He states, “There’s obviously a lot of non-scientific development in the recreational market in some of these areas, with edibles and vaping, and all that sort of thing, but I think if we can align some of that with therapeutic delivery systems, we could get away from the smoking. I think that’s a positive direction, more of those studies showing that it mimics the smoked route but it’s clearly less dangerous than smoking.”

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There are two reasons for the new investigation of marijuana by policymakers and journalists. The realization that marijuana will be made legal and the possibility that it could be reversed. The third phase in the history of marijuana research is currently happening.

The main purpose of research on marijuana has been to figure out how the drug caused its characteristic effects. Lyn Howlett and her research team at Washington University in the late eighties discovered the endocannabinoid receptor system. Consequently, this new research focus on cannabis is to better understand how it affects the human body. It is this second phase of research that paved the way for marijuana’s legalization.

While research on marijuana’s effects continues, the third phase of research has developed in response to these reforms in state-level cannabis policy. Those who understand that legalization is not reversible are dedicating greater attention to comprehending the impact of legalization policies. The reactionaries who want a return to prohibition will contend that any negative discovery about marijuana approves their historical opposition to change.

New investigations on marijuana have started. There are two crucial fault lines being uncovered in the study. The first is receiving attention among policy analysts. It concerns whether the priority for public policy will be the publics health or profits. The second fault line is between the interests of the marijuana industry and the interests of its consumers. Both produce problems for the growing cannabis industry.

It may seem that the cannabis industry’s two rivals have some problems of their own. Public health proponents wish to minimize the amount of marijuana used by consumers. Regardless of their differences over the characteristics use and abuse conflicts between the public health community and marijuana consumers, they are delusional because both groups grasp the idea of responsible use.

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”There are too many lives at stake, not to mention scientific integrity and a burgeoning field of medical discovery requiring much freer access to the marijuana plant.” From Huffington Post.

Following a 40-year argument regarding the placement of cannabis as a Schedule I drug; in January the U.S. Court of Appeals, ruled on a petition to reschedule cannabis in the case of AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS (ASA) v. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (DEA). The court ruled that the DEA had not acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it denied ASA’s petition filed nine years prior requesting to remove cannabis as a Schedule I. Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and “a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision” This classification ranks cannabis as a greater danger than cocaine, morphine or methamphetamine which are all listed as Schedule II drugs with accepted medical uses. The court’s ruling stated “research needed to move marijuana out of Schedule I does not exist.” We respectfully do not agree.

In a 2006 report from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, the DEA stated that there are no “adequate and well-controlled studies” proving marijuana’s effectiveness. Even though they mentioned a variety of U.S.-based small-to-medium sized randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of smoked cannabis for severe pain, spasticity and wasting syndromes of which all revealed valid medical benefits; they said these were not significant enough. DEA wants Phase III clinical trials — large studies, involving hundreds of subjects, comparing cannabis to placebo in a double-blind, randomized fashion for a specific indication — just like what the FDA wants when approving interstate drug marketing applications. The problem is: studies of that nature have been done and published in peer-reviewed scientific literature. However; the DEA, HHS, nor the Court ever noticed. Large, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies involving hundreds of patients in America and abroad that are in some cases lasted a year, have been published in U.S. National Library of Medicine indexed journals showing that cannabis, orally administered in extract form, can treat intractable pain in cancer and improve mobility and symptom control in multiple sclerosis. What is strange and unreasonable is federal agencies chose to ignore these studies due to the fact they have been done primarily in the private pharmaceutical sector where cannabis-infused products are produced, tested and at times conveniently renamed. This smoke and mirrors effect has resulted in rigorous research having practically no bearing on public scientific understanding of the medical use of cannabis.

Cannabis extracts have been made for thousands of years for consumption and the public has a great interest and right to know that these cannabis studies exist and their results should have bearing on how we as a society understand, utilize, value and ultimately classify cannabis.

Therefore; why do the feds not include cannabis resin extract studies when considering cannabis’ evidence base? At times, it is as simple as a name game. Congress’s definition of marijuana (since 1937) has always included any compound, extract or manufactured mixture containing a detectable amount of marijuana resin. If cannabis resin has been extracted and dissolved into a solvent or concentrated, that new substance is still named marijuana, hash, or hash oil and this form of marijuana many times has stricter penalties, like the life sentence penalty currently adopted by Oklahoma in 2011 for first-offense hash production. Millions have been punished due to this full definition of marijuana for possessing or distributing cannabis-infused edibles like brownies or hash oil. Cannabis medicines are concentrated forms of the cannabis plant with cannabis resin as a base.

Cannabis, marijuana’s proper name, is a commonwealth medicinal plant belonging to no government or private entity. Licensed producers of cannabis extracts in the private sector have a distinct and desired wide range of scientific freedom to explore and discover, in a rigorous way, many of the medicinal benefits inherent to marijuana. The government should not ignore the peer-reviewed published evidence about cannabis’ medical abilities which is accumulated in the pharmaceutical sector who enjoys privileged access to cannabis for research and development. Private industry does not have the right to demand that cannabis not be rescheduled based in part on their collected data, which they recently achieved in the UK, presumably to protect company market share and pricing by avoiding competition from future cannabis producers who would be empowered by a rational reclassification of marijuana in federal law. Marijuana should not be off limits for the sake of private patents, monopolies or FDA drug marketing applications.

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Florida – Support for legalization of cannabis, for both recreational and medical use, is increasing in the United States, but there is insufficient evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that it works medicinally.

“Currently, there are only a limited number of studies on cannabis, or marijuana, due to its Schedule I classification. More research is needed, but until that classification changes, it is not going to be possible to study it to the extent that it needs to be,”

Heather Oxentine, MD, from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, said here at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) 27th Annual Meeting. As of March 2016, Washington, DC and 24 states have passed laws somewhat legalizing pot, however, the US Drug Enforcement Agency still acknowledge it as a Schedule I substance with no adequate medical use and high potential for abuse, Dr Oxentine noted.

“Decriminalization has positive effects in that it reduces the rates of certain populations, particularly African Americans, from being imprisoned. There is benefit in that, but we wanted to find out if marijuana is something that we can legitimately offer our patients, or are we going to be out in left field when we try to prescribe it in Georgia?” she said.

Because the drug is controlled, doctors cannot legally prescribe it. Doctors can only recommend it for certain conditions in the states where it is legal.

“People want to study it, but the only place it is grown in the US is at the University of Mississippi, which has a contract with NIDA [the National Institute on Drug Abuse]. Pharmacies can’t legally dispense marijuana, it has to be through special dispensaries, so you don’t have the FDA [the US Food and Drug Administration] regulating how much you are getting or the purity of what you are getting.

“You never know if you’re getting mold or fungi, herbicides, stuff like that. And then when you smoke it, there’s no actually FDA-approved medications legally smoked in the US, so you never know. For example, the THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] content of what you are getting is not a fixed dosage from person to person,” she said.

Here are some of the conditions for which medical marijuana is being prescribed currently which include the following:
Cancer
Glaucoma
HIV/AIDS
Parkinson’s disease
Multiple sclerosis
Epilepsy
Seizures
Wasting syndrome
Crohn’s disease
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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With voters in five states planning to make their way the polls this November to make the decision whether cannabis should be made legal-putting the United States in the position of possibly having, even more, states that have legalized marijuana, some reports have implied that one of the greatest worries right now is how all of this legal marijuana will affect the overall intelligence of the great American populous.

It seems that since the federal government has maintained their position of being hell bent throughout the years in denying to allow any meaningful investigative study to take place to research the therapeutic advantages of the cannabis plant, there are still those individuals out there who are convinced that the consumption of cannabis could have negative results on the human brain.

This is mainly due to most of those people growing up during a period of time when public service announcements were viewed during Saturday morning cartoons that not only asserted that marijuana was a harmful and addictive drug but also that it would destroy your brain.

OK, yes, there has been research done which has displayed a slight drop in IQ points in those people who began smoking marijuana in their younger years during a time when the brain was still developing, however, the researchers behind these finding concluded that there was nothing to suggest that people who started using marijuana in their adult life experienced any cognitive decline.

The research collected, which was published by researchers in New Zealand, has been the center of much controversy for the last few years because other scientific minds claim that it did not take into account a number of crucial variables, including upbringing and household financial status.

This research was responsible for inspiring Nicholas Jackson, senior statistician at the University of California, who had a heavy hand in a popular marijuana IQ study published earlier this year, to get to the bottom of all this “Pot reduces intelligence” business by comparing twins.

“If marijuana was causing IQ decline, what we would expect to see is that the twin who goes on and uses marijuana should have IQ deficits,” Jackson told NPR. “We don’t find that.” Obviously, IQ points varied for the sets of twins utilized in the midst of the research conducted, but at the end of the day, researchers discovered no proof that cannabis was transforming the stoned sibling into more of a degenerate than the other.

There is not likely a single marijuana user in the world who would dare say that his or her experience with the leaf has turned them into slobbering moron-most would argue that cannabis has expanded the scope of their intelligence by allowing them to become more introspective and self-aware.

Medical experts have stated that what is typically being mistaken for a decline in brain function is actually just a marijuana user’s short-term memory taking a temporary vacation.

Dr. Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at the University of Albany, told NPR that while being stoned at school may prevent a student from learning a state capital, “When it comes to things that are more liquid intelligence, more fluid intelligence, they’re usually pretty good at those because it requires just intelligence in the moment, so to speak.” Interestingly, the federal government is preparing to launch a major research program to study the link, if any, between drug use during the formative years and a decline in brain function.

Researchers with the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study will monitor thousands of 10-year-olds as they make the journey into early adulthood, utilizing neuroimaging technology to spot any discrepancies in the brain.

Some of the latest polls coming from states with marijuana ballot measures up for consideration this November seem to indicate strong support-hardly the tale of a people frightened by the possibility of slipping further into the cesspool of stupidity.

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Lorraine Elwell states that her twelve-year-old son, Hunter, was experiencing epileptic seizures every thirty seconds, however, the amount of seizures being experienced fell in half as soon as he started taking medical marijuana. Researchers at the University of Sydney are seeking out families such as Ms. Ewell’s, who have found medical marijuana to be extremely beneficial towards their children experiencing daily seizures so that they can study the effectiveness of the drug.

At the moment, medical marijuana is illegal in Australia, however, various families have been sourcing it illegally from black market manufacturers and giving their children who suffer from seizures, they announce. There are no regrets about the actions they’ve had to undertake because the results have been excellent for their children. Researchers at the Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney, in partnership with Epilepsy Action Australia, have started up the Paediatric Epilepsy Lambert Initiative Cannabinoid Analysis (PELICAN) Study. Elwell states that this is the opportunity for families such as hers to tell researchers how marijuana has benefitted their kids and has encouraged other parents to take part in the study.

“I guess we’re teaching the researchers this time which is really different, and they’re listening to us – that’s something.”

Professor Iain McGregor stated that his team would have liked to interview as many families as they can in order to observe the effectiveness of medical marijuana with their children.

“There’re two things we want to do with this study,” Professor McGregor said in an interview. “One is to understand the experiences of these families what they’re going through. We’re going to take samples of the oils that they’re taking from cannabis plants, bring them back to the laboratory and do an analysis of what they contain.”

Parents will have the choice to receive individual feedback on the Cannabinoid content of their sample.

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Kevin Biernacki of The Grove dispensary has been a marijuana grower for the past two decades. Now, Biernacki oversees one of the most sophisticated legal grow-houses in Southern Nevada. The Grove produces marijuana for medical use; and on Nov. 8, Nevadans will vote on whether all people ages 21 and older can legally purchase up to 1 ounce of pot from state-licensed dispensaries. For the last 30 years, about 80 percent of the cannabis that was sold on the black market in the United States came from Humboldt County.

When asked where his passion for marijuana came from, Biernacki stated that cannabis is on the cutting edge of helping people with critical diseases. With the feds having acknowledged its place in medicine, it has cured countless cancer patients. The concept surrounding cannabis as a gateway drug came in the 1960s, out of commercials that were trying to eliminate people from smoking. And it has kind of come out of nowhere, with no generated research. To make a plant that grows naturally in water illegal, it would be like eliminating any other plant. It doesn’t make any sense. Its use has been recorded in history, tracing back to prehistoric times.

One of the things that have been found is that for seizures, cannabis with high cannabidiol is best. A lot of people thought cannabidiol were cancer-curing agents. Turns out its high THC with a small balance of CBDs is more effective for cancer. THC acts as a carrier for the CBDs to get into the cells. The FDA will not allow you to research it, though, because its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug. If they were to declassify it, that’d be ideal. If they simply take it from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2, it allows the pharmacies to sell products and get their hands into it. When pharmaceutical companies get involved, it becomes difficult.

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