Adrian Devitt-Lee is Project CBD’s chief science writer and a PhD candidate in applied math at the University College in London. He is the co-author of several articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Physiology, F1000Research, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, and Physica A.
Part of why doctors remain wary of cannabis medicine is the lack of randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials — the gold standard for medical research. Because of cannabis’ status as an illicit drug, research is often relegated to retrospective surveys, which are useful but more likely to be biased. But there are methods in between these two schemes, such as open-label trials. In an open label study, patients are not blinded to which medicine they receive and the protocol is often less strict.
Preventing nausea is a common medical use of cannabis. But nausea is a multi-faceted feeling. Motion sickness, morning sickness, the flu, or chemotherapy all cause slightly different versions of this discomfort.
Hemp is a bioaccumulator — it tends to absorb heavy metals from soil, leaving the ground clean by collecting contaminants in its body. When intended for human consumption, this is obviously a problem. But as a means for cleansing land of industrial toxins, hemp is quite promising. Chinese scientists recently published their research on hemp’s biological reaction to lead in the soil. They examined how cells in two hemp varietals responded to high levels of lead, comparing a lead-sensitive fiber-type plant to a lead-tolerant seed-type plant.
Organophosphates are a class of insecticides like chlorpyrifos and soman. Sarin, used as a chemical weapon, is also an organophosphate. Many of these are neurotoxic, owing to their ability to amplify the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which paralyzes insects and causes their death.
Researchers have modulated cannabinoid CB1 receptors in addiction treatment in order to affect cravings, the formation of habits, one’s sensitivity to triggers, withdrawal symptoms, and the pleasure one derives from drug use. Now scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have added a new factor to the list: feeling satiated. As the paper published in Cell Metabolism describes, suppressing CB1 activity outside of the central nervous system reduces mice’s desire to drink.
Cannabinoids have been proposed for numerous neurodegenerative disorders. As a matter of fact, scientists employed by the US government filed a patent in 2001 for Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants, citing their potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease among others.
Driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) is framed as a major risk associated with legalizing cannabis. Studies on cannabis and driving suggest that lighting up before getting behind the wheel increases crash risk between 25-40%. This is equal to the effect of having a single drink one hour before driving.
The development of legal cannabis is associated with lower teen use and higher adult use. But many scientists, hesitant to give up a lifetime of prohibition, spin their data to emphasize danger. One study from 2017 had shown that attending college is a risk factor for trying cannabis, and suggested that political acceptance of cannabis is promoting use among college students. But this interpretation was taken to task by a scientist at Washington University in St. Louis.