Cannabis research is alive and well: Part 1

If you’ve read these blogs, you know I often mention that more research needs to be done to help us understand how cannabis can benefit our economy, health, and ecology. Well, I’ve done some research and found a number of interesting studies and who’s doing them.

In the early 1960s, before CBD, hemp and cannabis were all tarred with the same Schedule 1 Narcotic brush, hemp was a viable crop. First we need to understand what it means to have Schedule 1 Narcotic attached to a substance. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. I have to ask myself, seriously?

But, I’ll not get carried away. We’ll just move on. In 1963, Raphael Mechoulam, PhD, professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, began studying the healing potential of marijuana. From his studies, Dr. Mechoulam identified the existence of endocannabinoid receptors in mammals. In short, he learned that the human body is particularly receptive to the healing cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. 

In the ‘70s, however, cannabis became the herbal equivalent of a pariah and was officially outlawed for any use, including medical.

Hemp, CBD and cannabis research picks back up

But, times are changing and research is being done, although not extensively. Here are some studies that have been conducted with CBD, cannabis and hemp.

Take Bob Seivers, 83-year-old part-time professor at Colorado University and former university regent and researcher. He’s leasing half an acre of a larger hemp farm to grow about 1,000 plants. He aims to study CBD’s potential medical benefits saying, “I want people to understand all we can understand about cannabis chemistry.” 

CBD research in 2016

For Cannabis, 2016 was a really big year. There were exciting studies published in several respected medical journals, only a few of which I’ll include in this blog.

Kaiser Health reported that in states where medical marijuana is legal, the number of Medicare pain prescriptions dropped. The study also found that those states, prescriptions for treating anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity were also significantly lower. 

Epidiolex, a CBD-based pharamceutical, significantly reduced convulsive seizures among epilepsy patients in a recent clinical trial, as reported by the Cannabist. As a result, earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved it to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

A report published in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017 said there is conclusive evidence that CBD has medicinal value. The report also points out that more research is needed. But, because of the continued silliness (my word, not the report’s) of the DEA to retain its Schedule 1 status, researchers must use inferior government-controlled product. As a result, the research isn’t top notch.

So, things are looking up. Next week I’ll tell you about 2018 studies that have occurred already this year.