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Top Cannabis Science Headlines: June Roundup

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Medical students and medical cannabis

A recent US study explored medical students’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding medical cannabis. Collecting qualitative data from 526 medical students via anonymous questionnaire, the researchers investigated whether perceived knowledge, concerns over side-effects, and certain beliefs would contribute to their attitudes toward cannabis. Results demonstrated that positive perceptions of medical cannabis were associated with higher levels of perceived knowledge, fewer concerns of negative effects, and greater belief in federal legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis. Additionally, most of the students had positive perceptions of cannabis legalization, but were more likely to endorse it for medical usage over recreational use. The authors highlighted the importance of supplying physicians in training with the best available evidence regarding treatment decisions, and noted that these findings may guide medical educators to enhance students’ openness to medical cannabis as a viable treatment.

Cannabis combating colorectal cancer

According to researchers of a recent study, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of mortality in the US. As such, they decided to examine the impact of CBD on human colorectal cancer cells. Results showed that CBD represses the viability of human colorectal cancer cells, inducing ER stress, G1 phase cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis via a CB2 dependent mechanism. Interestingly, other non-psychoactive cannabinoid derivatives including cannabidivarin, cannabigerol, cannabicyclol, and cannabigerovarin also demonstrated anti-proliferative activity. Due to the limitations of in vitro studies, the authors called for future research to be performed in colon cancer animal models to improve our comprehension of CBD’s mechanism of action and its effects. Nevertheless, they concluded that “CBD and its derivatives could be promising agents for the prevention of human colorectal cancer.”

Countering cancer with cannabidiol 

Numerous studies have reported the anti-inflammatory and antineoplastic effects of CBD, but a recent study explores the impact of CBD in malignant melanoma cells in combination with mitoxantrone (MTX) or cisplatin (CDDP), as well as alone. Results showed that CBD reduces the viability and proliferation of melanoma-malignant cells and exerts additive interactions with MTX, showing promise as a multi-drug therapy. On the down side, the authors urged caution when using CDDP, as CBD–CDDP drug interactions result in antagonistic effects. Given the polar nature of the findings, the researchers also called for the interaction between CBD and other current anti-cancer drugs to be explored.

Out in the cold

With our climate changing rapidly, research into the impact of temperatures on certain economically valuable crops – like cannabis – is of vital importance. In a paper published this week, researchers studied the effects of cold stress on cannabis cultivars. They found that hemp appears to be somewhat resistant to short bursts of freezing temperatures (like the periods of frost that might be experienced by a harvest), but that extended periods caused significant damage to the plant. Chiefly, these plants produced significantly less CBD, CBG, and THC and yielded less biomass. A lot more research is needed to understand the intricacies of how temperatures may affect plant health and cannabinoid profiles, and the authors urge those who “face the immediate realities of unpredictable climate patterns of the 21st century,” like breeders, to prioritize “understanding the impact of a fluctuating global climate on the health and secondary metabolite synthesis of hemp.”

Trouble in paradise?

With very few studies examining the role of cannabis in couple functioning, a recent study examined the link between cannabis use, relationship perceptions, and objective observed conflict behavior in a community-based sample of cannabis users and their partners. Results showed that more frequent cannabis use was associated with more negative engagement and avoidance behavior during conflict and less effective behavioral recovery after conflict (according to objective outside coders). More frequent cannabis use was also linked to more satisfaction with conflict resolution, but not with overall relationship satisfaction. These discrepancies between perceived and objective measures of couple functioning prompted the authors to highlight the need for a “nuanced understanding of the associations between cannabis and relationship functioning” and “the need to go beyond simplistic conclusions about cannabis use being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for relationships.”

Weathering the (Cytokine) Storm

How do cannabinoids impact cytokine storms – the out-of-control inflammation that tends to worsen the severity of inflammatory diseases and infections, such as COVID-19? Researchers from Israel explored both high-THC and high-CBD (CBD-X) extracts on cytokine production in immune cells. CBD-X extract showed the most promising results – provoking significant reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines in human-derived PBMCs, neutrophils, and T cells, as well as reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1β in mouse studies. According to the researchers, CBD-X extract has high potential in the management of pathological conditions in which cytokine secretion is dysregulated. 

What else is going on? 

Research + Medicine

CBD-rich cannabis extracts found to facilitate social interaction in children with autism spectrum disorder, with minimal side-effects. Link

Acute cannabigerol administration lowers blood pressure in male mice, adding to growing evidence of link between cannabinoids and blood pressure regulation. Link

US study calls for redesign of cannabis warning labels (CWLs); enhancement of textual and pictorial CWLs improved information recall and perceived effectiveness in young adults. Link

Cannabis may be helpful for sleep onset but generally does not aid in sleep maintenance. Link  

Review finds that current literature does not support cannabis as evidence-based treatment for PTSD – rigorous large-scale studies are needed to draw conclusions. Link 

CBD induced antiproliferative action on prostate cancer cells, suggesting CBD may play important role in slowing cancer progression. Link 

CBD may alleviate symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in mice – but THC shows significantly less promise. Link  

Large, cross-sectional study finds cannabis consumers to be 55 percent less likely to have hepatocellular carcinoma; however, authors unable to draw direct causation effects. Link 

Plant Science + Genetics 

Blue light aids industrial hemp growth, biomass and gas exchange characteristics, and reduces oxidative stress on plants; however, red and red-blue light lessen plant growth. Link 

Study reveals essential oils and some cannabinoids increase in plant tops until full flowering; early harvesting results in high CBD and low THC content. Link 

Researchers investigating disinfestation, culture establishment, and root induction develop alternative, industry-friendly in vitro propagation protocol. Link

Testing + Processing 

Ultrasound-assisted extraction paired with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry accurately and reliably analyzes CBD-based topicals. Link 

Optimized thin-layer chromatography method employs design-of-experiment strategy to improve analysis and differentiation of cannabinoids. Link 

Simple UV-Vis spectroscopy approach shows promise over FTIR or Raman in authenticating hempseed oil. Link 

Business + Regulation 

New York cannabis regulators ask Tiktok to allow cannabis education advertisement. Link 

Russian invasion of Ukraine results in supply chain issues, cannabis fertilizer shortage, and elevated prices. Link

With insufficient safety data, US FDA issues warnings to hemp companies about marketing CBD products for animals. Link  

Japanese Ministry of Health begins discussions surrounding medical cannabis legalization. Link  

Rhode Island becomes 19th US state to legalize recreational cannabis. Link 

Switzerland intends to lift ban on medical cannabis and facilitate patient access. Link

US Major League Baseball approves CBD sponsorships in major step towards cannabis normalization. Link

Bipartisan congressmen demand medical cannabis for US military veterans. Link 

EU officials delay plans to authorize CBD-infused food pending new data and potential hazards of CBD intake. Link

War in Ukraine accelerates medical cannabis legalization efforts, with aim of allowing patients access to “ necessary treatment of cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from war.” Link

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About the Authors
Lauren Robertson

By the time I finished my degree in Microbiology I had come to one conclusion – I did not want to work in a lab. Instead, I decided to move to the south of Spain to teach English. After two brilliant years, I realized that I missed science, and what I really enjoyed was communicating scientific ideas – whether that be to four-year-olds or mature professionals. On returning to England I landed a role in science writing and found it combined my passions perfectly. Now at Texere, I get to hone these skills every day by writing about the latest research in an exciting, creative way.

Margot Lespade

Margot Lespade, Associate Editor, The Cannabis Scientist

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