Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in a majority of U.S. states and the District of Columbia, its research has been limited. This is primarily due to several factors, including the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Schedule I classification puts marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, indicating that it is deemed to have a high potential for abuse and lacks recognized medical value.
Because of this classification, researchers face significant obstacles in conducting studies on marijuana. They are required to obtain a special license to study it, adding an extra layer of regulatory complexity. Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, a substance abuse specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, highlights the need for researchers to navigate these legal restrictions in order to conduct comprehensive investigations.
Also, the limited approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marijuana’s medical use is currently restricted to only two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, namely Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This lack of broader research opportunities inhibits a deeper understanding of marijuana’s potential medical benefits and limits the FDA’s ability to evaluate its efficacy for a wider range of conditions. The combination of marijuana’s Schedule I classification, licensing restrictions, and limited FDA approvals has contributed to the scarcity of research on this subject, creating a gap between the widespread use of medical marijuana and the scientific evidence necessary to support its potential therapeutic applications.
Medical marijuana refers to the utilization of the marijuana plant or its chemical constituents for the treatment of various diseases or conditions. Essentially, it is the same product as recreational marijuana but is specifically used for medical purposes.
The marijuana plant comprises over 100 different chemicals known as cannabinoids, each with its own impact on the body. The primary chemicals employed in medical applications are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the intoxicating effects, commonly referred to as the “high,” experienced when smoking marijuana or consuming it in edible form.
Anxiety is one of the most common conditions for which CBD has been used. A preclinical study found CBD to be effective in treating GAD, as well as Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and PTSD.
In a 2017 study published in JCI Insight, CBD was found to lower blood pressure in human participants. Not only did CBD lower the participants’ resting blood pressure, but it also lowered the participants’ blood pressure after various stress tests, such as mental arithmetic and isometric exercise. CBD was also shown to lower blood pressure after the participants completed the Cold Pressor test.
A study conducted in 2018 revealed the potential effectiveness of CBD in aiding individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction by reducing the likelihood of relapse. In a preclinical trial involving laboratory rats, CBD was found to alleviate stress-induced cravings, anxiety, and impulsive behaviour, which are common factors contributing to relapse in individuals recovering from addiction.
Extensive research spanning several decades has focused on utilizing CBD as a treatment for epilepsy and various seizure disorders. A recent study has demonstrated the potential positive impact of CBD in alleviating symptoms and reducing the frequency of seizures.
In addition to its anti-cancer properties, CBD has been used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies have shown that CBD inhibits cell growth and induces cell death in cell lines of cervical cancer. CBD has many anti-cancer properties that help prevent various types of cancer, treat tumours, and boost the immune system’s fight against the disease. In addition to the seven benefits listed above, there are many more that are still being studied and researched. Students in our new cannabis entrepreneurship program will have the opportunity to play a vital role in shaping the future of the industry.
Recent research has revealed promising results regarding the utilization of CBD and non-psychoactive cannabinoids for the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), C rohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and others can potentially benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. These findings suggest that CBD has the potential to effectively reduce and prevent symptoms associated with various GI disorders.