Oxford University is launching a multi-million dollar study to try and get to the root of how useful medical marijuana use can be. As it’s been noted before, marijuana use can help people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as those who suffer from chronic pain for various reasons. However, prolonged marijuana use has also been linked to some mental health issues and is classified as a Class – B drug in the UK, where the study is being done.
The study has no intent to aim towards legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, or even have the plant land in some paper and smoked. The study is focusing on the positive effects of Cannabinoid, instead of Cannabis. Cannabinoid’s are compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant, but also in the human body as well. The study is looking to see whether it can be proved that these compounds can be ingested by a human and actually treat or even cure these disease’s.
The reason the study targets Cannabinoid’s and not Cannabis in itself is because the long term smoking of Cannabis has been linked to the development of Schizophrenia as well as some other mental illnesses. So, the study is aiming to avoid any of the unwanted effects that Cannabis has been linked to. Instead it’s targeting just the positive effects it can potentially treat instead.
The UK is far behind the US, who has several states that allow recreational marijuana use and even more who are set up, or in the process, to offer medical marijuana to patients who can be helped. The study is looking to create a medicine that specifically helps those in need, not just legalize the drug for those who wish to smoke it, as there are negative things that come with that as noted above.
Oxford University launches £10m marijuana research programme
Oxford University has launched a £10m research programme looking into medicinal marijuana.
It’s believed weed can have a positive effect on people suffering from conditions like Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.
But it’s also been linked to mental health problems and, as a class B drug, being caught with it in the UK could land you with a five-year prison sentence.
The university will now look at whether it’s possible to create new treatments by isolating the positive effects.
Dr Zameel Cader is part of the team behind it and he’s explained no part of the research is geared towards giving people cannabis to stick in a joint and smoke.
Instead, it focusses on cannabinoids. These are compounds which are found naturally not only in the cannabis plant but also the human body.
And the research is looking at whether these compounds can help treat diseases.
“The problem with smoking cannabis is that it’s associated with unwanted effects,” Dr Cadeer explains.
“So if you take cannabis when you’re young there seems to be an increased risk of developing problems like schizophrenia.
“What we know though is that there are cannabinoids both from the plant and the body that have beneficial effects.
“So the aim of the research programme is to try and isolate those cannabinoids that are beneficial but don’t have the risk of psychiatric problems.”
If they do manage to find them, Dr Cader says, these compounds would be turned into medicines.
In the past year marijuana has been legalised for medicinal use in several states in the US.
Actor Sir Patrick Stewart has also confessed that he uses it to treat arthritis.
“Two years ago, in Los Angeles I was examined by a doctor and given a note which gave me legal permission to purchase, from a registered outlet, cannabis-based products, which I was advised might help the ortho-arthritis in both my hands,” he told the Telegraph.
Products like these are usually illegal in the UK, but Dr Cader says Sir Patrick’s story shows more research is needed into how to turn them into legal, regulated, treatments.
“The fact that there are so many people who describe benefits with pain and with anxiety really shows the potential therapeutic value.
“What we really need to do is work out how we can harness that benefit without getting the unwanted side-effects.”
But for people who do smoke weed illegally for fun, one question remains.
Could this research be used to reduce the risks of recreational marijuana use and, therefore, pave the way for its legalisation?
“It’s an interesting question,” says Dr Cader.
“The kind of research that we’re aiming to do is to develop a medicine rather than try and increase the hedonistic effects of cannabinoid compounds.
“So I’m not sure the kind of medicines we’d be developing would substitute for recreational cannabinoids.
“But whether other groups would be interested in doing that, I don’t know.”