The U.S. government plans to spend $3 million to study whether marijuana can relieve pain, but not a single penny from that amount will go towards studying THC, the cannabinoid that gets marijuana users high.
On Thursday last week nine research grants were announced for studies connected to CBD and pain management.
Pain management was selected because a lot of preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can help to manage chronic pain. In fact, scores of studies and polls have shown that most people who sign up for state-level medical marijuana programs indicate that they are doing so in order to manage chronic pain.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the federal agency that is availing the research funds, believes that the scientific community has fallen behind public use and interest with regard to marijuana’s different compounds. The agency therefore feels that it is necessary for science to catch up.
Dr. David Shurtleff, the deputy director of NCCIH, says that this round of research funding is a direct result of a 2017 report authored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report indicated that the lack of marijuana research was posing a threat to public health.
Another reason why there is need to research the painkilling effects of CBD is the current opioid crisis in the country. Millions are addicted to prescription painkillers and thousands die each year due to overdosing on these prescription painkillers. An alternative way to manage chronic pain is therefore needed, and it is needed fast.
Only one of the eight research grant recipients will conduct research that involves human test subjects. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, a researcher at Utah University, will conduct a study that involves scanning the brains of volunteers suffering from lower back pain.
The scans will reveal how chocolate pudding containing CBD extracts affects the pathways through which pain signals travel to the brain. The control group will only consume chocolate pudding without any CBD in it so that the scans of these two groups can be compared.
Another notable recipient of NCCIH research funding is a team of researchers at the University of Illinois. This group will focus on developing a library of the beneficial compounds found in cannabis.
Of special interest will be the hundreds of minor cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Because these chemicals occur naturally in such small amounts, it isn’t viable to extract a substantial amount so that research can be done.
David Sarlah and his team at Illinois University therefore plan to make synthetic versions of these compounds and then expose mice immune cells to those chemicals. In this way, the potentially useful chemicals will be documented.
Experts believe that CBD industry players like The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) are happy about this federally-funded research since the findings will boost the credibility of the CBD industry.
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