Medical Cannabis: Of Mice and Research

There’s currently a lot of exciting research going on in the field of medical cannabis, and one of the most promising studies involves mice and memory. A consortium of researchers from several European and Hebrew Universities conducted tests involving three categories of mice –2, 12, and 18 months old. When the mice were challenged to navigate a water maze (without being administered any THC), the youngest finished the maze more quickly and efficiently than the older mice, as might be expected. However, when the researchers began administering THC to the mice, the performance of the older mice improved to the point where they were finishing the maze as quickly and efficiently as the younger mice.

These results could potentially be groundbreaking, as they indicate that THC may have the ability to restore cognitive function in older brains. Of course, much more extensive study is required to determine a definitive link between THC and memory, and such studies are hindered in the United States due to the federal laws prohibiting cannabis and its legal study by the FDA. In fact, from 1968 until last August, the University of Mississippi, under contract to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has been the only facility in the U.S. with federal permission to grow cannabis for research. That means when other organizations want to conduct scientific research on cannabis, they are required to purchase cannabis through the NIDA, which tends to be, shall we say, uncooperative.

Dr. Rick Doblin, Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit running FDA-approved clinical trials to study the medical uses of Schedule I controlled substances like cannabis, has had negative experiences with the bureaucratic process for purchasing cannabis from the NIDA.

“We tried to start a study of marijuana in the treatment of migraines,” Dr. Doblin told an interviewer. “We had FDA and IRB approval but NIDA refused to sell us the marijuana. Then we tried to study marijuana vaporizers compared to smoking marijuana. It took us seven years of unsuccessful efforts trying to buy ten grams of marijuana from NIDA, which they didn’t sell us, and the firm we were working with gave up.”

Research opportunities may soon be opening up, as the DEA announced last August that it would begin granting licenses to additional cannabis growers for research.

“It’s a complete and total end of the NIDA monopoly!” Dr. Doblin said. “There has been no production monopoly on any other Schedule I substance, like MDMA or LSD—only the cannabis plant. Licensing non-government cannabis producers, and thereby creating a path to FDA approval, will finally facilitate the removal of marijuana from Schedule I, and ultimately allow patients to receive insurance coverage for medical marijuana.”

At The Green Solution®, we’re passionate about helping people struggling with chronic illnesses alleviate their symptoms, and are optimistic about the future of medical cannabis. Research like that which resulted in the aforementioned mouse/memory study is crucial, and we’re hopeful that, going forward, more will be conducted, resulting in relief for more patients.