In clinical research, cannabis is often set up to fail. Federal restrictions privilege studying isolated molecules from cannabis over the plant itself. And even when cannabis research is done, scientists are often forced to use low-quality weed from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Because of this, most of the useful medical data on cannabis comes from observational studies, where people consuming cannabis are asked about their experience. Researchers in Albuquerque recently analyzed an app-based survey of over 3,000 cannabis users.
Preclinical studies are supposed to provide precise, controllable, and translational models for human diseases. But the manipulations that researchers use – like injecting a precise dose of THC into a rat – may sometimes miss important points. What if smoking and injection have different effects? How might this bias results? University of Florida researchers asked just that question, studying the effects of injected vs. smoked THC in rats. Injecting low doses of THC impaired memory.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most common classes of painkillers, which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, celecoxib, and other pharmaceuticals. Their primary target is an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which metabolizes many lipids (including endocannabinoids!) into a class of inflammatory molecules called prostaglandins.
Across political boundaries, a group of scientists from Russia, China, and the USA crystallized the CB2 cannabinoid receptor. This is a major achievement that will deepen our understanding of how CB2 works at a chemical level, even though X-rays of the crystal don’t provide a perfect representation of CB2 as it exists in the body. Many of these scientists were also involved in crystallizing the other main cannabinoid receptor, CB1, in 2016.
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Alan was disoriented and his words were not making sense. His wife thought he might be having a stroke, so she took him to the emergency room where he was seen by the on-call neurologist. When asked, Alan admitted to using cannabis on a regular basis for many years. The neurologist then brought him a printout with the title: “Marijuana Use Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke, Heart Failure.” That was when I got the call asking me if this was for real.
During the first week of July 2018, five-hundred-and-thirty-five delegates from five continents met at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for the 28th annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). The four-day conference showcased recent scientific discoveries about cannabis components and various ways of targeting the endocannabinoid system to improve health outcomes.
Marijuana has had a turbulent history in the United States. Starting in the mid-1990s, however, there was a push to introduce the medical benefits of cannabis to the American people once again— “once again,” because before the 20th century, marijuana was almost entirely legal.
A patient survey collaboration between Care by Design and Project CBD demonstrated that cannabis appears to be an effective pain management tool with few negative side effects. The study also found that a significant decrease in opiate usage among elderly patients while taking medical cannabis.