Friday, February 20, 2015

Cannabis: A New Frontier in Therapeutics

News Brief by Prachi Sharma 

McGill University Health Center organized a symposium as a part of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting. In this conference, medical and healthcare professionals debated the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis, or marijuana, and gave an overview of current research on the subject. Some experts used personal anecdotes to assert that there is a real need for medical cannabis for patients with severe chronic pain, but also emphasized that prescriptions should be patient-centered, as not every patient will benefit from treatment.  Another theme that emerged in the forum was the importance of integrating research and education for patients, physicians, and policy-makers alike. Incorporating scientific research into policy was therefore proposed. Other experts spoke in detail about their research, and stated that while there is currently little evidence that supports cannabis as a therapeutic agent, medicines based on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been approved. This component is the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. Furthermore, research has found that tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, actually produces anti-schizophrenic effects in a preclinical model of schizophrenia, thereby illustrating that there may in fact be some therapeutic properties of cannabis. Additionally, research is currently being done on the short and long-term neuropsychiatric effects of cannabis use, and current findings have illustrated that there is no significant cognitive decline in recreational marijuana users, though its effect on brain development of teenagers and children has yet to be studied thoroughly. Ultimately, the symposium was an interesting forum that brought forth multiple perspectives from the scientific community on this fascinating issue.  

McGill University Health Centre. "Cannabis: A new frontier in therapeutics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2015. .

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