CBD scientific research
The scientific way to prove the efficacy of health products such as CBD oil (Charlotte’s web) takes a lot of time and money.
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Step by step
First, test tube or petri-dish tests are done, a process known as ‘in vitro’ studies. If the results look good, the next step is animal or ‘in vivo’ trials, then small scale clinical trials are conducted using human subjects, and only then can larger scale studies obtain approval. Finally, once every avenue of research seems to show more benefits than risks, a product can be considered for mainstream recognition as a treatment.
Regulatory issues make research difficult
Health News Digest reports that although Cannabis has been cultivated for thousands of years, government ‘over-reaction’ to the perceived dangers of THC has resulted in all Cannabis compounds, including non-psychoactive CBD found in hemp, being demonized and heavily regulated, slowing the pace of research.
Before 1970, hemp was an important cash crop in the United States, but Health News digest implies that it wasn’t so much the miniscule amounts of THC found in hemp that made regulators wary, as lobbying from groups producing artificial fiber products that would compete with industrial hemp standbys such as burlap and hemp rope or twine.
Is CBD the real reason why medical cannabis works?
According to the author of the article, most, if not all the benefits attributed to medical marijuana can be found in the non-psychoactive hemp compound known as CBD. He cites pre-clinical research indicating that the CBD cannabinoid could have anti-seizure, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, antitumor, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic and analgesic properties.
But why has progress been so slow? After all, the first sign of CBD being an effective treatment for seizures came in a 1977 study on rats, long before ‘Charlotte’s web’, a high CBD variety of cannabis, ever got its name.
Lack of funding adds to regulatory stumbling blocks
Part of the reason for slow research progress is regulation. CBD is still a schedule 1 drug, so researchers have a lot of red tape to go through before they can even begin their work. Another reason, says the columnist, is the difficulty which pharmaceutical companies that provide most of the funding for research, will have in obtaining any proprietary rights to naturally occurring compounds. This doesn’t give them any motivation to invest millions in research. After all, once their findings are published, anybody can jump on the bandwagon.
When companies do attempt to obtain recognition for cannabis extract medicines, a storm of controversy rears its head, as can currently be seen in the case of Epidiolex, a CBD extract that activists worry may give ownership of the cannabis compound CBD to a drug company.
Fast-tracking cannabis research remains a knotty problem
Yes, we all want to know that there is scientific proof before we try using something as a medicine, but even if the DEA reclassifies cannabis to schedule 2 or 3, someone still has to pay for research.
Why should pharmaceutical companies sponsor research into something they can’t benefit from? On the other hand, should they be allowed to benefit through the registration of intellectual property rights on a natural compound, and if so, what will happen to herbal cannabis? Will it be ‘owned’ by the funders of research?