Researchers at Johns Hopkins University will be studying the effects of marijuana therapy by closely monitoring 10,000 medical cannabis patients over a five-year period. The study, backed by a generous $10 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is a collaborative effort with federal researchers and the nonprofit Realm of Caring.
Together, the researchers will amass comprehensive data encompassing delivery methods, product chemical composition, dosage, potential medication interactions and other intricate facets of treatment.
Ryan Vandrey, cocreator of the study and a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, expressed the research team’s objective to comprehend the health impacts of therapeutic cannabis use. The comprehensive study aims to shed light on the diverse landscape of marijuana products, recognize their differences and identify areas of promise. Vandrey emphasized the need to narrow the focus to distinguish helpful products from those that might pose risks, tailoring the research to specific populations and therapeutic purposes.
Despite the increasing volume of cannabis research, federal marijuana laws have posed significant obstacles to scientific exploration. The study recognizes that with more than three-quarters of states legalizing medical cannabis, there is a considerable gap in understanding due to federal restrictions.
The National Cannabis Study is designed to follow a representative cohort of approximately 10,000 patients, spanning from cannabis naivety to a year or more of marijuana use. Johannes Thrul, a mental health professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explained that the assessments will be more frequent in the initial stages, acknowledging that patients are likely to experiment with different products to find what best addresses their symptoms.
While Johns Hopkins pursues this independent initiative, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has expressed the need for a new Resource Center for Marijuana and Cannabinoid Research. The initiative aims to tackle the challenges and barriers hindering cannabis research. Numerous federal health agencies have prioritized overcoming these barriers due to the cumbersome and costly registration process scientists face when trying to access marijuana given its current Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act.
Significantly, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is actively reviewing the policy classifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug, prompted by a recommendation from the HHS to reclassify it to Schedule III. This potentially signals a shift in the regulatory landscape, opening avenues for more streamlined and accessible marijuana research.
Cannabis companies such as Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) are likely to await the findings of the study as those findings could provide valuable insights into the specific ways in which customers are benefiting from the medical marijuana products they buy.
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