Top Cannabis Science Headlines: March Roundup
Our top picks from the month’s research, business, and policy news from across the cannabis industry
Every month, we carefully curate the top stories from across the fields of medical research, testing, processing, and plant science. We also bring you the latest in the world of cannabis business and legislation. Want it all in your inbox? Sign up here.
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The genetics of addiction
A new National Institute of Health study may have identified genetic markers underlying substance use disorders. Until now, there has been very limited knowledge of the molecular genetic underpinnings of addiction. Now, in a sample of over one million participants, multivariate genome-wide association meta-analysis pinpointed areas in the genome associated with general addiction risk – as well as the risk of specific substance use disorders like alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and opioid use disorders. Across ancestries, PDE4B was significant (among other genes), suggesting dopamine regulation as a cross-substance vulnerability. These findings could lead to more effective prevention and treatment targets for multiple substance use disorders.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) play essential roles in growth and development, stress resistance, and the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Now, what does this have to do with cannabis? Well, in a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have examined circRNAs in cannabis plants using high-performance liquid chromatography-ESI-triple quadrupole-linear ion trap mass spectrometry. Their analysis revealed that nine circRNAs may be involved in the biosynthesis of six cannabinoids. In the future, circRNAs could be manipulated to yield plants with higher cannabinoid content.
What else is going on?
Research + Medicine
Scientists recommend term “derived psychoactive cannabis products” (DPCPs) for Delta-8, Delta-10, HHC, THC-O, THCP, and THCV – in effort to reduce confusion and help establish cohesive scientific literature base. Link
Growing number of Canadian cannabis consumers are sourcing their cannabis legally – demonstrating progress in the transition to legal market in Canada. Link
With majority of US states now permitting medical cannabis treatment, study reveals sharp increase in usage over last decade. Link
Chronic exposure to inhaled vaporized cannabis high in THC alters brain structure – particularly the prefrontal cortex, accumbens, ventral pallidum, and limbic cortex – in adult female mice. Link
Plant Science + Genetics
Researchers suggest a way to profitably use disused phosphate quarries, with rock phosphate dust providing source of phosphorus to industrial hemp plants – increasing shoot biomass significantly. Link
Business + Regulation
Senate-passed cannabis legalization bill stalls in Hawaii House for this year – but advocates are shifting their focus to 2024. Link
Cannabis legalization bill will be introduced in Germany in coming weeks. Link
Psychedelics activists form political action committee to lobby US Congress to support research into therapeutic use of psychedelic compounds – including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine. Link
UN’s International Narcotics Board criticizes global cannabis legalization efforts as they cause “higher consumption, negative health effects, and psychotic disorders.” Link
Outcome of appeals court in Brazil – where it will be decided whether companies and farmers can plant cannabis – could lead to significant change in Brazilian cannabis laws. Link
Bipartisan senators file bill to ease restrictions on industrial hemp farmers – who would no longer be subject to background checks and wouldn’t have to fulfill rigorous sampling and testing requirements. Link
Margot Lespade, Associate Editor, The Cannabis Scientist