As American researchers struggle to study cannabis and its medicinal properties due to restrictive federal laws, private donors remain one avenue for funding drug research. UC San Diego, home of the Study for Medicinal Cannabis Research, is now investigating CBD as a medical treatment for several maladies after being gifted $3 million from a non-profit based in Utah.
The $3 million donation comes from Utah’s Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, an organization that funds research at “high-impact” institutions that follow rigorous experimental procedures. UCSD has divided the $3 million award into five separate grants that will assess whether CBD, a non-intoxicating component of cannabis, can treat rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia nervosa, alcohol addiction, psychosis, and chronic insomnia.
“Within the medical community, there is a lot of interest in the role of medical cannabis and CBD,” Igor Grant, the UCSD cannabis center director, said in a press release. “There is a hope that it could be yet another useful agent in some of these conditions, which are difficult to treat or disabling.”
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Marijuana, the type of cannabis that causes intoxication, is currently outlawed at the federal level. The DEA and FDA both consider marijuana a highly dangerous and addictive drug with “no accepted medical use.” But the federal government recently legalized hemp, a non-intoxicating form of cannabis, which is mainly grown in the US for producing CBD. While the medical and scientific communities know very little about CBD because of marijuana’s illegality, changes in the law have opened up new research avenues into hemp and CBD.
Additionally, UCSD's home state, California, approved of a regulated hemp industry when Governor Newsom signed SB 153 into law on Saturday.
Although the DEA has tried to regulate CBD as if it were heroin or LSD, the compound’s gray-area legal status led to an explosion of CBD-infused products across the US. CBD companies have made unfounded medical claims regarding their products, which led the FDA to issue cease-and-desist letters to some of the nation’s top CBD producers.
Meanwhile, the US government seems just fine with CBD, so long as it’s made and packaged by a pharmaceutical company. Last year, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD tincture that is legally prescribed to seizure patients. Epidiolex sales achieved blockbuster-drug status earlier this year.
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