Cannabis has come a long way on its journey to legalization. Just a few years ago, it was illegal at both federal and state level, but now there are numerous states that allow medical or recreational marijuana within their borders. The plant is said to have potent medical properties that make it effective against a wide variety of ailments, but a lot of the evidence is anecdotal.
However, unlike ordinary pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis poses a challenge to researchers looking to provide standardized evidence of its efficacy and side effects. Its medicinal properties can be attributed to a group of unique chemicals called cannabinoids. Present only in the cannabis plant, they interact with the body and produce therapeutic effects. THC, the main psychoactive chemical, is produced in greater quantities than all other cannabinoids.
However, different cannabis varieties produce different levels of the chemicals, and this has made creating standard dosage a nightmare. To alleviate this and push forward research into the plant’s abilities, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is requesting advice from “the scientific community and other interested parties” to help establish a standard. This will ensure consistency among studies into the potential therapeutic benefits and risks of cannabis.
“One hindrance to conducting such research is the lack of a standardized measure of the THC in various cannabis products, making it hard to compare the results of different studies,” stated the agency in its request for information.
Published on Monday, the notice by NIDA admits that the agency knows little about the impact of varying THC potency and that creating a standard unit could help resolve the issue.
“As the diversity of products, potency, and use of cannabis increases, research grows ever more critical to determine both the adverse health effects and therapeutic potential of cannabis and its constituents. Recognizing that a perfect measure may not be attainable at the current time, NIDA still believes that a standard dose would improve measures of outcomes in relation to exposure, and this could inform policy and public health strategies around cannabis use.”
The notice also acknowledges that cannabis contains other chemicals (cannabinoids) that could complicate standardization, as well as the impact of different consumption methods. However, the agency states that “such a unit is critical for conducting rigorous cannabis research,” and it is looking into a five milligram THC dose as the standardized unit.
This comes a month after NIDA Director Nora Volkow discussed the importance of establishing a standardized THC unit. She stated that due to the lack of standardization, studies often show conflicting results. Ultimately, she says, the use of a standard unit dose of THC is an important step for improving our ability to understand the effects of cannabis in the population.”
Analysts are of the view that this request for advice will be seen as good news by sector players like Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) who want to see some degree of agreement between the scientific community interested in investigating the properties of marijuana.
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