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Study: Majority Of Medical Marijuana Patients Substitute Cannabis For Prescription Drugs

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Study: Majority Of Medical Marijuana Patients Substitute Cannabis For Prescription Drugs

Providence, RI: The majority of qualified patients in Rhode Island who obtain cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary report having used it as an alternative to conventional prescription drugs, according to a demographic review of patient characteristics published in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Investigators Brown University in Providence and the University of Arkansas reported that over two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) used cannabis to treat chronic pain and that the majority (56 percent) indicated that they had used cannabis as a substitute for pharmaceutical drugs, primarily opioids. Over 90 percent of respondents reported that cannabis was associated with fewer side effects than conventional pain medications.

Most respondents in the study possessed health insurance and had never received treatment for drug or alcohol use. Respondents represented about half of the total number of licensed patients in the state.

The study's findings support previous research "depicting synergistic effects between cannabis and opioid use for chronic pain, and suggests that many participants ... have a desire to reduce their own reliance on opioid medications," authors concluded.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Full text of the study, "Profiles of medicinal cannabis patients attending Compassion Centers in Rhode Island," appears in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Research Team Finds How CBD, a Component in Marijuana, Works Within Cells

The findings published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry could provide a new basis for developing CBD-based treatments for pediatric epilepsy

Newswise — STONY BROOK, N.Y., February 11, 2015 – A team of Stony Brook University researchers have identified fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) as intracellular transporters for two ingredients in marijuana, THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The finding, published early online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is significant because it helps explain how CBD works within the cells. Recent clinical findings have shown that CBD may help reduce seizures and could be a potential new medicine to treat pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy.

CBD differs from THC in that it is not psychoactive and does not bind to cannabinoid receptors. Some children who are resistant to conventional antiepileptic drugs have been reported to show improvement with oral CBD treatment. The Stony Brook research team found that three brain FABPs carry THC and CBD from the cell membrane to the interior of the cell. This action enabled them to conduct experiments inhibiting FABPs and thereby reducing anandamide breakdown inside the cells.

“Anandamide, an endocannabinoid, has been shown to have neuroprotective effects against seizures in basic research studies and this may turn out to be a key mechanism of seizure control,” explained Dale Deutsch, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a faculty member of the Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at Stony Brook University. “Therefore by CBD inhibiting FABPs, we could potentially raise the levels of anandamide in the brain’s synapses.”

The findings in the paper, titled “Fatty Acid Binding Proteins are Intracellular Carriers for THC and CBD,” stem from the team’s research that spans five years and includes their discoveries that showed anandamide levels were raised in rodent brains using novel drugs targeted to FABPs. In 2013, they received a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to target endocannabinoid transporters to develop drugs for pain and inflammation.

The current research involving FABPs as transporters of CBD involves the work of faculty and students from several Stony Brook Departments. The team includes four Professors – Dr. Deutsch, Martin Kaczocha (Anesthesiology), Iwao Ojima (Chemistry and the Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery), and Stella Tsirka (Pharmacological Sciences). The team also features a post-doctoral fellow (Jeremy Miyauchi in Pharmacological Sciences), a researcher who recently received his PhD (William Berger in Chemistry), a graduate student Matthew Elmes, a research technician Liqun Wang, and undergraduate students Brian Ralph, Kwan-Knok Leung, and Joseph Sweeney, all from the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

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