The Month In... Research and Medicine
Need to catch up on the latest biomedical research on cannabis and cannabinoids? Welcome to the January 2021 edition of our monthly research roundup
Charlotte Barker | | Quick Read
On the up and up
Some good news for cannabis scientists everywhere: 2020 saw a record number of scientific papers (3,500+) about cannabis appearing on PubMed (compared with fewer than 2,000 in 2015).
CBD users safe to drive
Vaping CBD-predominant cannabis did not impair driving ability in a recent study, while drivers who vaped THC-predominant or THC/CBD-equivalent cannabis weaved, swerved, and overcorrected more (standard deviation of lateral position). The addition of CBD didn’t mitigate impairment from THC – contrary to some cannabis lore. (And in a separate placebo-controlled clinical trial, CBD didn’t lessen the impact of THC on emotion, cognition, or attention.)
A new study suggested that endocannabinoids could be the missing link between changes in the gut microbiome and symptoms of depression.
New (and improved?)
- A new phytocannabinoid called cannabidihexol was identified by Italian researchers and shown to have painkilling properties in mice.
- California biotech BioMedican is patenting the process used to produce a rare minor cannabinoid called Sesqui-CBGA.
Epidiolex (CBD) improved symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease but led to side effects (including liver enzyme changes) in a small (13 patients) clinical study from the University of Colorado.
Terpenoids found in cannabis appear to have no effect on how cannabinoids bind to their receptors – one theory behind the hypothesized “entourage effect.”
Should cannabis users get liver transplants?
With cannabis use becoming more common in the USA, policies that deny liver transplants to cannabis users in some states are coming under fire. In a newly published study, UCLA researchers looked at outcomes for over 900 transplant patients and found no evidence that patients who used cannabis were more likely to suffer complications or transplant failure, and note that earlier studies found similar results.
Maybe (not) baby?
There is evidence that consuming cannabis while pregnant could be harmful – but what about while trying for a baby? A new study followed women attempting to get pregnant again after a previous miscarriage and tracked cannabis use via self-report and urine tests. Women using cannabis were less likely to become pregnant during the study (despite apparently having more sex). But the study had major limitations – more research needed.