The history of marijuana in the United States has been plagued with bad science being passed off as fact. It is hard to think of a specific low point in the propaganda war against cannabis, but the abomination that is Reefer Madness in 1936 is certainly close to being the nadir. In this ‘movie,’ marijuana is portrayed as an evil drug that causes you to commit rape, murder, and suicide or alternatively, you could merely descend into madness.
While there is an increased social acceptance of cannabis, seen by the legalization of the plant for recreational use in eight states, the existing government is keen to return us to the dark ages where no one understood the goodness of cannabis.
On January 4, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions rescinded a memorandum issued by President Obama which said that federal agents should allow states to regulate control of marijuana while focusing on genuinely harmful narcotics.
While this may seem a sensible course of action for policy makers, from a medical stand point of view, continuing to make marijuana illegal on a federal level simply doesn’t make sense, especially when there is a multitude of studies being published that continues to show its efficacy when it comes to treating an array of maladies. With the opioid crisis in full speed ahead mode, marijuana could fulfill a very important role, if only it were allowed.
In this article, we look at five of the most important marijuana studies in the last 12 months and how they are paving the route to cannabis legalization.
1 – Lucas & Walsh – Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioids (April 2017)
Speaking of the opioid epidemic, this crucial study focused on whether it was possible to use marijuana to help wean people off potentially deadly painkillers. It took place in Canada and involved 271 volunteers. These individuals were all on prescription drugs. Overall, 63% of respondents said that they used cannabis as a substitute for a prescription drug.
More pertinently, 30% said they used it to replace opioids. Although weed was effective for these patients, their main reason for switching was because marijuana had fewer side effects. This study was backed up by another; this time conducted by the University of New Mexico. It found that 84% of volunteers reduced their opioid prescriptions when they had access to marijuana.
Cannabis could be a viable alternative to opioids and other painkillers. As well as effectively managing pain, marijuana has far fewer side effects.
2 – Visnja, Jasminka, and Ivana – Cannabinoids as a Potential Cancer Treatment (November 2017)
We have to tread carefully here because research on how cannabinoids deal with cancer are in their embryonic stages. However, this review outlined their clear potential. When cannabinoids activate the signaling pathways in cancer cells, they stimulate something called apoptosis which is effectively ‘cell suicide.’
In other words, cannabinoids could unleash a powerful anti-tumor effect. The main issue so far is that practically all studies into this process have taken place on animals. With minimal human patient testing, the jury is still out, but the potential is incredible.
Early research suggests that cannabinoids could be a viable treatment for cancer as it potentially leads to the death of cancerous cells. However, research is in its infancy with most data coming from animal studies.
3 – Balash Et Al. – Marijuana Reduces Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms (November/December 2017)
While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, cannabis is apparently effective at reducing and even removing some of the awful symptoms. People living with Parkinson’s usually have issues with balance, cognition, and tremors. A team of scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel looked at 40 people with Parkinson’s disease and monitored the impact of cannabis.
The duration of use was 19 months (+-17 months), and the mean daily dose was 0.9 grams (+- 0.5 grams). Overall, 82% of patients reported that marijuana improved their overall symptoms and it significantly reduced the number of falls experienced by patients, reduced their tremors, decreased pain and improved quality of sleep. Best of all, side effects were minimal. As marijuana activates the CB1 receptors in the region of the brain where cells are destroyed due to Parkinson’s, it could relieve the level of cognitive impairment, tremors, and lack of balance associated with the disease.
Cannabis has been linked with a reduction in symptoms associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. The key appears to be weed’s impact on the CB1 receptors in the brain which helps reduce symptoms such as tremors and cognitive impairment. Trials also show few side effects.
4 – Gorzo-Bilkei Et Al. – In Low Doses, THC Can Restore Cognitive Function (June 2017)
One of the many issues associated with the aging process is the fact that the brain’s endocannabinoid system becomes weaker as we get older. There are fewer CB1 receptors than before, and the remaining ones are less effective than before. A German research team tried to discover if THC could increase cognitive function in mice if it were provided in small doses.
Over the course of 28 days, old and young mice received tiny doses of THC. Then the team tested the mice for memory, learning, and cognitive flexibility. Older mice would normally perform poorly, but in this case, the elderly mice performed on a similar level to young mice that didn’t take THC. Perhaps this means that THC is good for the brain when we are old but has a deleterious effect when we are young.
Cannabis is potentially capable of slowing down the inevitable cognitive decline that comes with aging. In a study on mice, it improved the brain function on older rodents while having little or no impact on younger mice.
5 – Aran Et. Al – Could CBD Help Kids with Autism? (Ongoing, Expected to Conclude in Late 2018)
According to Doctor Adi Aran, an Israeli pediatric neurologist, his unique clinical trial will provide crucial evidence as to whether CBD can help children with autism. The study began in January 2017 and involves 120 autistic individuals aged 5-29. Meanwhile, Aran conducted an observational study on 70 of his autistic patients with CBD and noted improvements in communication and a reduction in tantrums.
The patients are taking either CBD oil or a placebo. The positive results from his observational study led him to begin this two-year trial. At the end, he hopes to have a much better idea of whether CBD will work for autism. Parents of autistic children in Israel are adamant that CBD is effective; time will tell if this is the case.
Exciting discoveries on how CBD can reduce symptoms of autism has resulted in a two-year study in Israel. The study hopes to conclusively determine that cannabidiol is capable of treating the main symptoms of autism including depression, focus issues, and seizures.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Studies
The amount of money provided by the U.S. Government for therapeutic cannabinoid research has increased in the last few years but is still woefully inadequate. For reference, it provided $21 million in 2015 while almost $600 billion was spent on the military. Unless more money is invested, cannabinoid research will continue to lag behind the rest of the world.