Medical research gets a much-needed boost

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The University of California San Diego will lead a study focusing on marijuana as a treatment for neurological disorders

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has given the green light to the import of marijuana for increased research on its effects. A marijuana producer out of Canada, Tilray, will be allowed to send its marijuana to the University of California (UoC) San Diego in order to study the safety, efficacy and tolerability of marijuana in treating neurological disorders.

UoC’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research will import capsules that contain both THC and CBD from Tilray in order to study their effectiveness in treating tremors associated with Essential Tremor (ET), a neurological disorder that leads to involuntary and rhythmic shaking. ET is prevalent particularly among those 65 years old or older, and is found in 4.6-6.3% of the segment.

It took several years for UoC to finally receive approval by the DEA, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for their project. Those delays have been costly and are an indication of how important it is for the federal government to expand cannabis sourcing options for research.

According to Tilray’s director of clinical research, Catherine Jacobson, “It’s a really big milestone for Tilray and also just for the whole industry. Researchers in the U.S. have really been limited to doing research using dried flower. We have been able to prove to the FDA that we can manufacture investigational study drugs containing cannabinoids that meet their standards.”

Says Paul Armento, deputy director of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), “It’s very telling that you have researchers in the U.S. willing to exert the patience and go through the regulatory hurdles to make this happen at the same time the United States has its own domestic supply source.”

Some marijuana-based compounds have been imported previously for research. Most notably, UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals was given approval earlier this year by the FDA to offer a CBD capsule, Epidiolex, as a treatment for epilepsy. it was the first time the FDA approved a cannabis drug.