Author Interviews, Cannabis, Genetic Research, Memory / 17.02.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_21717" align="alignleft" width="137"]Prof. Celia Morgan PhD Professor of Psychopharmacology University of Exeter Prof. Celiai Morgan[/caption] Prof. Celia Morgan PhD Professor of Psychopharmacology University of Exeter  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Morgan: We know cannabis increases the risk of psychosis but it is unclear how we can predict who is vulnerable to these negative effects. This study suggested that cannabis may have stronger effects in people carrying a particular genetic variant. This might be related to their risk of developing psychosis. We also found that women are more susceptible to the short term memory impairing effects of cannabis.
Author Interviews, Cannabis / 29.11.2015

[caption id="attachment_19698" align="alignleft" width="80"]Dr Silvia Rigucci MD Department of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sensory Organs Sapienza University of Rome Rome, Italy Dr. Rigucci[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Silvia Rigucci MD Department of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sensory Organs Sapienza University of Rome Rome, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr Rigucci Nowadays, ‘skunk-like’ products contain more Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than they did around a decade ago and they have been shown to induce psychotic symptoms. Therefore,  exploring the impact of cannabis potency on brain structure is becoming particularly important. We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibers in the brain, independently of the presence of a psychotic disorder.
Addiction, Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cannabis, OBGYNE, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics / 28.11.2015

[caption id="attachment_19684" align="alignleft" width="146"]Professor Benjamin Thompson PhD School of Optometry and Vision Science Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario Canada Dr. Thompson[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Benjamin Thompson PhD School of Optometry and Vision Science Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Thompson: Our investigation was part of the longitudinal Infant Development and Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study that was designed to investigate the effect of prenatal methamphetamine exposure on neurodevelopment. Although the negative impact of prenatal drug exposure on a wide range of neurodevelopmental outcomes such cognitive and motor function is established, the effect on vision is not well understood. To address this issue, vision testing was conducted when children in the New Zealand arm of the IDEAL study turned four and half years of age. Although the primary focus of the IDEAL study was the impact of methamphetamine on neurodevelopment, the majority of children enrolled in the study were exposed to a range of different drugs prenatally including marijuana, nicotine and alcohol. Many children were exposed to multiple drugs. This allowed us to investigate the impact of individual drugs and their combination on the children’s visual development. Alongside standard clinical vision tests such as visual acuity (the ‘sharpness’ of vision) and stereopsis (3D vision), we also tested the children’s ability to process complex moving patterns. This test, known as global motion perception, targets a specific network of higher-level visual areas in the brain that are thought to be particularly vulnerable to neurodevelopmental risk factors.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Columbia, JAMA / 21.10.2015

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hasin: This study is based on data from two large-scale national surveys conducted over an eleven-year period that are designed to provide information on many health-related conditions in U.S. adults, including use of marijuana and other substances, changes over time in the prevalence of marijuana users, changes over time in the prevalence of disorders such as marijuana abuse and dependence, and the correlates and predictors of those disorders. The main findings of the study are that between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the prevalence of marijuana users in the United States adult general population more than doubled, from 4.1% to 9.5%, while the prevalence of adults with marijuana use disorder (abuse or dependence) also increased substantially, from 1.5% to 2.9% of American adults. About three in ten adult marijuana users met criteria for a marijuana use disorder. The findings are consistent with other studies showing increases in rates of marijuana-related harms over the same general time period. This may be to do with how accessible marijuana has become, for example you can even find a purple lotus menu on various websites. This is perfectly safe and fun, but can develop into an addiction later in life.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, CDC, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 16.10.2015

[caption id="attachment_18486" align="alignleft" width="300"]Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa)[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since 2010, the proportion of U.S. 12th grade students who used marijuana during the preceding 30 days (21.4%) has surpassed the proportion who used cigarettes (19.2%). Negative outcomes associated with cigarette and marijuana use include addiction to one or both substances and diminished cognitive function, which can lead to lower academic achievement. CDC analyzed data from the 1997–2013 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) among U.S. non-Hispanic white (white), non-Hispanic black (black), and Hispanic students in grades 9–12 to examine trends in the prevalence of current 1) exclusive cigarette or cigar use, 2) exclusive marijuana use, and 3) any use of the three products. CDC further examined the prevalence of current marijuana use among current users of cigarettes or cigars. During 1997–2013, exclusive cigarette or cigar use declined overall by 64%, from 20.5% to 7.4% (p<0.01). However, exclusive marijuana use more than doubled overall from 4.2% to 10.2% (p<0.01). Any cigarette, cigar, or marijuana use decreased overall from 46.1% to 29.9% (p<0.01), whereas marijuana use among cigarette or cigar users increased from 51.2% to 62.4%. Considerable increases were identified among black and Hispanic students toward the end of the study period for exclusive marijuana use and marijuana use among cigarette or cigar users. Increased exclusive marijuana use and use of marijuana among cigarette or cigar users could undermine success in reducing tobacco use among youths.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Gender Differences, Pediatrics / 16.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Mental Health Deputy Director, Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program (DDET) Baltimore MD Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Mental Health Deputy Director, Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program (DDET) Baltimore MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Johnson: There has been a lot of policy change with regard to marijuana. Several states have enacted laws regarding medical marijuana and decriminalization, and now four states and the District of Columbia have legalized use for adults. Along with these policy changes, there’s been concern that adolescent marijuana use would skyrocket. This prompted me to think about what’s happened over the past 15 years, and so I decided to examine past 15-year trends in adolescent marijuana use among US high school students. Our research team analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Study, or YRBS. It is a nationally-representative survey of high school students. A lot of the information we have about adolescents’ risk behavior comes from the YRBS. What we found is that marijuana use among US high school students has gone down over the time period. In 1999, 47% of high school students reported lifetime use of marijuana. By 2013, 41% reported lifetime use. Use was lowest in 2009, with 37% of high school students reporting lifetime use. The increase in use from 2009 to 2013 was not statistically significant, so we aren’t sure whether it represents random fluctuation or whether it indicates a reversal in trend. We also found that gender differences have gotten smaller over the time period, reflecting a real change. Boys have historically had higher rates of use, but that’s changing. In 1999, 51% of boys and 43% of girls reported lifetime marijuana use. By 2013, 42% of boys and 39% of girls reported lifetime use.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Diabetes, Diabetologia, Heart Disease / 14.09.2015

Mike Bancks, MPH NHLBI Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention Pre-doctoral Fellow University of Minnesota School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mike Bancks, MPH NHLBI Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention Pre-doctoral Fellow University of Minnesota School of Public Health banck005@umn.edu Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We chose to research this topic because marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and use can be expected to increase as the effort to legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use grows. We found that individuals who reported using marijuana in excess of 100 times during young adulthood had 40% greater risk for developing prediabetes by middle adulthood. However, we did not find an association between marijuana use and overt diabetes during this same period in adulthood, suggesting that marijuana use may be a risk factor for the early stage of diabetes.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Smoking, University Texas / 20.08.2015

Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Filbey: Most studies exclude tobacco users from participating, but 70% of marijuana users also use tobacco. We were interested in investigating the combined effects of marijuana and tobacco. Our research targeted the hippocampus because smaller hippocampal size is associated with marijuana use. We chose to study short term memory because the hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory and learning. The main finding was surprising. The smaller the hippocampus in the marijuana plus nicotine user, the greater the memory performance. We expected the opposite, which was true of the non-using control group.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, CDC / 19.08.2015

Gillian Schauer, PhD, MPH Lead author and Contractor CDC’s Office on Smoking and HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gillian Schauer, PhD, MPH Lead author and Contractor CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schauer: Marijuana is the most commonly used federally illicit drug in the United States. State-level policy change legalizing marijuana or one of its constituents for recreational or medical use is increasing. Currently, 23 states and DC have legalized medical use of marijuana. Four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational and medical use of marijuana.
  • This paper helps fill two important knowledge gaps. It describes how US adults are using marijuana—for example, whether they smoke it, eat it, or use it in a vaporizer—and it describes whether they report using it for medical reasons or for recreational reasons, or both. Data come from the 2014 Summer Styles national consumer online panel survey (sample size of 4,269 adults), and have been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
  • Nationally, marijuana is primarily consumed in combusted (smoked) form. In 2014, among adults who used marijuana in the past 30 days, 92.1% of adults said they smoked it, 16.1% ate or drank it, and 7.6% used a vaporizer or other electronic device.
  • Among adults who used marijuana in the past 30 days, 10.5% say they used it only for medical reasons, 53.4% used it only for recreational reasons, and 36.1% used it for both.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Heart Disease / 12.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bradley C. Clark, MD Pediatric Cardiology Fellow – 3rd Year Division of Cardiology Children's National Health System Washington, DC 20010 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Clark: After consulting on multiple pediatric emergency room patients with K2 (synthetic cannabinoid) ingestion and electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities, my co-authors and I decided that it was worth taking a more detailed look at the potential cardiac effects of synthetic cannabinoids. We did a retrospective chart review and discovered a total of 8 patients in a 3 year period (2011 – 2014) at our institution with reported synthetic cannabinoid ingestion and concern for myocardial injury.  There were 3 individuals with evidence of ECG abnormalities in a segmental pattern with increased cardiac enzyme levels (troponins).  The other 5 individuals had ECG abnormalities either without troponin elevations or were not specifically tested.  Each individual that had an echocardiogram performed had normal intracardiac anatomy with normal biventricular systolic function. Given the elevated troponin levels and ECG abnormalities, there was a suspicion for myocardial ischemia in this small subset of patients without meeting specific criteria for myocardial infarction.  Interestingly, these individuals had completely normal echocardiograms and had no other potential cause of myocardial ischemia discovered by history.  Additionally, these were all teenage pediatric patients with documented K2 exposure without evidence of exposure to illegal substances. K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids are known to cause analgesia and euphoria and can lead to a lack of symptomatology.  Therefore, individuals with synthetic cannabinoid ingestion may not complain of the prototypical cardiac symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations) and may not have the workup to diagnose potential myocardial ischemia.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pain Research / 23.07.2015

Mark S. Wallace MD Department of Anesthesiology School of Medicine University of California, San Diego, CaliforniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mark S. Wallace MD Department of Anesthesiology School of Medicine University of California, San Diego, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wallace: The study was funded by the center for medicinal cannabis research at the University of California San Diego. The center was funded by the state of California. The center was the first to fund a series of double-blind randomized controlled trials with inhaled cannabis for neuropathic pain. My trial is the first in diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain which is one of the most prevalent pain syndromes in our society with limited treatments. We found a dose dependent reduction in pain. However there was also a dose dependent increase in euphoria and sedation which may limit clinical use. Effects on neurocognitive functioning were minimal.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Orthopedics / 20.07.2015

Yankel Gabet, DMD, PhD Department of Anatomy and Anthropology Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv IsraelMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yankel Gabet, DMD, PhD Department of Anatomy and Anthropology Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv Israel Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gabet: Cannabis affects the body via specific components that are able to binding to receptors in the brain and other tissues. The components include the well-known ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the major constituents of cannabis. The cannabinoid receptors in our body are activated by several molecules (‘endocannabinoids’) synthesized by different sorts of cells under specific conditions. These receptors can be activated by synthetic compounds (cannabinoid ligands) as well as by natural cannabis. The effect of endocannabinoids in bone metabolism has been studied before but this study is the first report on the actions of natural THC and CDB in bone fracture healing. This is particularly important in light of the high incidence of both cannabis use and bone fractures; it is likely that many patients suffering from bone fractures consume cannabis that may have beneficial or adverse effects on the healing process. Another important point is that the non-psychogenic CDB is enough to promote bone healing, so there is no need to be exposed to the euphoric effects of cannabis/THC to get the beneficial functions of CBD on bone. (You can buy cbd oil online to help with other conditions as well such as fibromyalgia and diabetes.) If you are interested in learning more about CBD/THC and its products there are places online where you can find information, for example, from an online cbd store, a CBD Blog and other resources.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA, Johns Hopkins / 25.06.2015

Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. Associate Professor Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21224MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. Associate Professor Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21224 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Vandrey: The background for the study was that I have had several conversations with individuals that led me to believe that there was insufficient regulation of products of all types being sold in medical cannabis dispensaries.  In order to evaluate that, we needed to do a study.  We decided to test edible products because that is a growing market, and, because it involves some level of manufacturing, there is greater chance for dose variability and inaccuracy.  The main finding was that the majority of products were purchased from retail stores selling cannabis products for medical use were significantly mislabeled with regards to the dose of THC and other cannabinoids.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, JAMA / 23.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Penny F. Whiting, PhD School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol The National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West at University Hospitals, Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol UK Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd, Escrick, York, United Kingdom MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Whiting: Cannabis is one of the most popular recreational drugs - only tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are more popular. It can result in an alteration to mood and a feeling of “high”. An estimated 141 million people use cannabis worldwide – this is equivalent to 2.5% of the world’s population. Cannabis has a long history of use for the relief of a wide variety of medical symptoms. There is evidence of its use for medical purposes going back to early Egyptian times. The pen-ts’ao ching the world’s oldest herbal book includes reference to cannabis as medicine for rheumatic pain, constipation, disorders of the female reproductive system, and malaria amongst others, this herbal book also contains the first reference to cannabis as a psychoactive drug. However, its use is controversial as it has been included as a controlled drug in the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs since 1961, and the use of cannabis is illegal in most countries. Medical cannabis (or medical marijuana) refers to the use of cannabis or cannabinoids (any compound, natural or synthetic, that can mimic the actions of plant-derived cannabinoids) as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms, this is different from CBD oil that also has been found to help with certain medical conditions, click to see details about CBD oil. Some countries have legalised medicinal-grade cannabis to chronically ill patients but in others its use remains illegal even for medicinal purposes. Canada and the Netherlands have government-run programmes where specialised companies supply quality controlled herbal cannabis. There are different strains of cannabis can help with aliments, those who are interested in finding out more about a list of low odor strains by GreenBudGuru.com might be interested in visiting or doing some research to find out more. These programmes have been running since 2001 and 2003 respectively. In the US around half of the states have introduced laws to permit the medical use of cannabis; other countries have similar laws. Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd (see below) were commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to conduct a systematic review for the effects and adverse events of medical cannabis to inform policy decision making. Systematic reviews are studies of studies that offer a systematic approach to reviewing and summarising evidence. They follow a defined structure to identify, evaluate and summarise all available evidence addressing a particular research question. We were asked to focus on the following ten indications which were of particular interest to our commissioners: nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, patients with HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, depression, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, psychosis, glaucoma, and Tourette’s syndrome. We only included randomised trials, the most robust design for evaluating the effects of an intervention. We included almost 80 trials (nearly 6500 participants). We had most evidence for chronic pain (28 trials), nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy (28 trials) and spasticity due to MS or paraplegia (14 trials) with less than five studies included for each of the other indications and none for depression. With the exception of the nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy population, studies general compared cannabinoids to placebo with only single studies for each indication comparing cannabinoid with an active comparator. In the nausea and vomiting population the majority of studies compared cannabinoids to an active comparator, most commonly prochlorperazine. Most trials reported greater improvement in symptoms with cannabinoids compared to control groups, however, these did not always reach statistical significance. Cannabinoids were also associated with a greater risk of short term adverse events, including serious adverse events. Common adverse events included dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, sleepiness, and euphoria. Overall we found that there was moderate quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity and low-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV infection, sleep quality, and Tourette syndrome. When determining the quality of the evidence we considered the risk of bias in trials, the consistency of the evidence across the trials, the directness of the evidence (was the trials research question directly applicable to our review question), and the precision of the evidence.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Columbia, Lancet / 18.06.2015

Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Deborah S. Hasin, Ph.D. Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University New York, New York 10032 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hasin: The background for the study was the need to identify the causes of the marked increase in marijuana use among U.S. adolescents over the last several years, given that early adolescent marijuana use leads to a number of adverse health and psychosocial consequences, including cognitive decline, into adulthood. We had two main findings from the study:
  1. A comparison of the rates of adolescent marijuana use between states that ever passed a medical marijuana law and those that did not revealed that states with such laws had higher rates of teen marijuana use, regardless of when they passed the law; and
  2. When we compared the rates of teen marijuana use in these states before and after passage of the laws, we did not find a post-passage increase in the rates of teen marijuana use. This suggests that some common factor may be causing both the laws to be passed and the teens to be more likely to smoke marijuana in the states that passed these laws.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Pediatrics / 15.06.2015

Dr. Gary Smith MD, DrPH Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, OhioMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Gary Smith MD, DrPH Center for Injury Research and Policy Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, Ohio Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smith: As of January 2015, 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use. Four of those same states and Washington D.C. have also voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The debate about legalization often focuses on health effects among adults, economic benefits, and crime rates. Lost in the discussion is the potential harm to young children from unintentional exposure to marijuana. The study found that the rate of marijuana exposure among children 5 years of age and younger rose 147.5 percent from 2006 through 2013 across the United States. The rate increased almost 610 percent during the same period in states that legalized marijuana for medical use before 2000. In states that legalized marijuana from 2000 through 2013, the rate increased almost 16 percent per year after legalization, with a particular jump in the year that marijuana was legalized. Even states that had not legalized marijuana by 2013 saw a rise of 63 percent in the rate of marijuana exposures among young children from 2000 through 2013. Most children were exposed when they swallowed marijuana – that may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods.
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cannabis, JAMA, Lipids, Pediatrics / 06.04.2015

Holly Gooding, MD, MS Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston, MAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Holly Gooding, MD, MS Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital Division of General Internal Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston, MA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gooding: As an adolescent medicine physician, I primarily care for patients between the ages of 12 and 30, although I first trained in internal medicine.  One of the things I noticed when I started working with this age group is that pediatric and adult guidelines differ for many conditions.  Cholesterol treatment is one condition that comes up frequently, because the NHLBI and the AAP recommend screening youth ages 17 to 21 for cholesterol problems. The study team and I set out to discover the proportion of American youth ages 17 to 21 who would meet criteria for pharmacologic treatment of abnormal cholesterol levels if clinicians applied the pediatric versus the adult guidelines.  We found that 2.6% of young people ages 17 to 21 would qualify for pharmacologic treatment of abnormal LDL cholesterol levels under the pediatric guidelines, but less than 1% would qualify under the adult guidelines.  This translates to almost 500,000 youth qualifying for treatment under the pediatric guidelines, but only about 78,000 under the adult guidelines.  Those who met pediatric criteria had lower LDL levels but higher proportions of high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cannabis / 19.11.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Wai Liu Senior Research Fellow St George's University of London London,  SW17 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Liu: It has been known for some time that certain chemicals called cannabinoids that are isolated from the cannabis plant possess anticancer action through the ability to enhance/engage apoptosis and autophagy. These effects are both dependent and independent upon the cognate receptors. These are found at relatively high levels in brain cells. Brain tumors tend to express these at high levels and so we felt these would be good candidates. The main findings of the current study is the ability that combining the cannabinoids THC and CBD with irradiation can cause a reduction in tumor that is greater than the sum of the individual treatments. That is, when using doses of irradiation or cannabinoids individually, the effects were minimal; however, if they were used simultaneously, the effect was synergistic, and tumor growth was significantly impeded.
Cannabis, Heart Disease / 17.11.2014

Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology Cardiovascular Research Institute Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center University of California, San Francisco   MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology Cardiovascular Research Institute Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center University of California, San Francisco     Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Springer: The general public is aware that cigarette secondhand smoke is harmful. However, many people who actively avoid tobacco secondhand smoke don't feel the need to avoid marijuana secondhand smoke; they don't consider it harmful because there's no nicotine and because we who tell them to avoid tobacco smoke don't tell them to avoid marijuana smoke.  However, secondhand smoke from tobacco and marijuana is very similar in chemical composition (4000-7000 chemicals depending on whom you ask), aside from the nicotine and the THC (the psychoactive drug in marijuana). We and others have shown that brief exposure to tobacco secondhand smoke, such as 30 minutes, at real-world levels impairs vascular function in humans.  We developed a way to study vascular function (measured as arterial flow-mediated dilation; FMD) in living rats, and recently published that even one minute of sidestream smoke from the burning tips of tobacco cigarettes, a well-accepted model for secondhand smoke, is enough to start detecting impairment of FMD.  The main findings of the current study are that in laboratory rats, FMD was substantially impaired by a 30 minute exposure to marijuana secondhand smoke, when measured 10 minutes after the end of exposure.  Impairment was comparable to that resulting from exposure to tobacco sidestream smoke, although whereas impairment from tobacco smoke was temporary and had normalized by 40 minutes later, FMD was still impaired 40 minutes after the end of exposure to marijuana smoke.  Smoke from marijuana lacking THC still impaired FMD, showing that 
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Surgical Research / 03.10.2014

David Plurad, MD Los Angeles Biomedical Research In MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Plurad, MD Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Based on a survey of patients with traumatic brain injuries, a group of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute researchers found those who tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, were more likely to survive than those who tested negative for the illicit substance. We surveyed 446 patients who were admitted to a major urban hospital with traumatic brain injuries between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, who were also tested for the presence of THC in their urine. We found 82 of the patients had THC in their system. Of those, 2.4% died. Of the remaining patients who didn't have THC in their system, 11.5% died. While most - but not all - the deaths in the study can be attributed to the traumatic brain injury itself, it appears that both groups were similarly injured. The similarities in the injuries between the two groups led to the conclusion that testing positive for THC in the system is associated with a decreased mortality in adult patients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Lancet / 10.09.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Edmund Silins PhD, Research Fellow National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre UNSW Medicine University of New South Wales Sydney  Australia Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Silins: There were three particularly interesting aspects to the findings.
  • Firstly, we found clear and consistent associations between adolescent cannabis use and the young adult outcomes investigated.
  • Secondly, there was evidence of a dose-response effect such that the more frequently adolescents used cannabis the more likely they were to experience harms later in life.
  • Thirdly, for most outcomes, these associations remained even after taking into account a wide range of other factors which might potentially explain them.
The adverse effects were greatest for daily cannabis users. Specifically, adolescents who were daily cannabis users were, by the age of 25, more than 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a university degree, seven times more likely to have attempted suicide, 18 times more likely to have been cannabis dependent, and eight times more likely to have used other illicit drugs, than adolescents who had never used the drug.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Disability Research, Karolinski Institute / 03.09.2014

Anna-Karin Danielsson, PhD Project Coordinator Karolinska Institutet Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS) Widerströmska huset| Stockholm, SwedenMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna-Karin Danielsson, PhD Project Coordinator Karolinska Institutet Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS) Widerströmska huset| Stockholm, Sweden Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Danielsson: Smoking cannabis in adolescence increases the risk of adverse social consequences later on in life.
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cannabis / 03.09.2014

Chuanhai Cao Ph.D. Neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chuanhai Cao Ph.D. Neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Cao: The major goal of this study was to investigate the effect of Ä9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a major component of marijuana, on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology. THC has long been known to have anti-inflammatory effects, but we were looking to determine whether THC directly affected amyloid beta (Aâ). Aâ aggregation is considered one of the key pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Our study showed that extremely low doses of THC were able to decrease Aâ production, inhibit Aâ aggregation, and enhance mitochondrial function in a cellular model of AD. Decreased levels of amyloid beta, coupled with THC’s inhibitory effect on aggregation may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cannabis, Neurology, Stroke / 09.05.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tara Dutta M.D. Vascular Neurology Fellow University of Maryland Medical Center MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Dutta: We analyzed data from the Stroke Prevention in Young Adults Study in order to evaluate for an association between self-reported marijuana use and ischemic stroke.   1,101 cases and 1,154 age, gender, and race-matched controls, aged 15-49 years old, were recruited from the greater Baltimore-Washington area between 1992 and 2008. Interviews were conducted to assess for various potential stroke risk factors, including illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Individuals reporting use of vasoactive illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, were excluded, yielding 751 cases and 813 controls. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between marijuana use and ischemic stroke, adjusting for age, gender, race, current tobacco use, current alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes. We did not find a positive association between marijuana use and ischemic stroke risk in our population of young-onset stroke patients compared to matched controls, even after controlling for current tobacco and alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes.   A statistically significant inverse relationship was observed between remote use (defined as any use over one year ago) and stroke risk (adjusted OR 0.77, CI 0.61-0.98, p = 0.03). We also looked to see whether recent use (in the past 30 days), and particularly recent heavy use, was associated with ischemic stroke risk as has been suggested in the medical literature. Though our data did not show this association, the number of patients reporting recent use in our study was very small­­­­­­­.
Cannabis, Mental Health Research / 08.05.2014

Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, MDMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Meesha Ahuja, MD Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University Young Adult Behavioral Health Program at Rhode Island Hospital Mentors: Laura Whiteley, MD and Larry Brown, MD MedicalResearch: Why did you decided to study this topic? Dr. Ahuja: Severe mental illness is more common among college students than it was a decade ago, and the number of college students presenting for psychiatric care both on and off campus has dramatically increased. The rates of cannabis use have also been increasing among college students in the United States since the mid-1990s. The concomitant use of cannabis and other substances among general samples in psychiatric treatment has been linked to poorer clinical outcomes including increased hospitalizations, increased symptomatology, poorer treatment adherence, higher treatment resistance. However, before doing this study, there was no research that examined the effect of cannabis and other substance use disorders on the scholastic and general functioning of college students in psychiatric care.
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Heart Disease / 23.04.2014

Emilie Jouanjus, PharmD, PhD Risques, maladies chroniques et handicaps Facult_e de M_edecine, Guesde, Toulouse 31073, France.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emilie Jouanjus, PharmD, PhD Risques, maladies chroniques et handicaps Facult_e de M_edecine, Guesde, Toulouse 31073, France. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Jouanjus: Our study emphasizes that cardiovascular complications make up 1.8 percent of cannabis-related health complications reported in France. These were cases of peripheral arteriopathies, and cardiac and cerebrovascular disorders, some of which resulted in the death. These findings conducted us to conclude that marijuana is a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease in young adults.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, McGill, Rheumatology / 04.03.2014

Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MB, ChB, MRCP(UK), FRCP(C) McGill University Health Centre Division of Rheumatology and Alan Edwards Pain Management UnitMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, MB, ChB, MRCP(UK), FRCP(C) McGill University Health Centre Division of Rheumatology and Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit MedicalResearch.com: What are the highlights of your review? Dr. Fitzcharles: Thank you for your interest in the review article which will shortly be published in Arthritis Care & Research. This was not a research study but rather a review focused towards the use of herbal cannabis for patients with rheumatic diseases. The essence of our message after a thorough review of the literature is that there is not a single study published regarding efficacy or side effects of herbal cannabis in the rheumatic diseases. It is notable that almost 2 thirds of persons using herbal cannabis for therapeutic reasons report use for musculoskeletal complaints. In the 21st century, we cannot rely upon heresay or anecdote to justify use of a treatment intervention. It is unacceptable to recommend use of a substance without knowledge of concentration of molecules in the product, any knowledge of blood concentrations that might have a positive or negative effect, and formal study in defined patient populations with acceptable endpoint criteria and evidence for short and long term risks.
Accidents & Violence, Cannabis / 03.02.2014

Joanne E. Brady SM Senior Staff Associate Department of Anesthesiology Doctoral Candidate in Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, NY 10032MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joanne E. Brady SM Senior Staff Associate Department of Anesthesiology Doctoral Candidate in Epidemiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, NY 10032 Department of Epidemiology, Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: The prevalence of non-alcohol drugs detected in fatally injured drivers in the U.S. increased from 17% in 1999 to 28% in 2010.  The increases are largely driven by the tripling in the prevalence of cannabis.
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cannabis / 21.01.2014

David J. Allsop, PhD National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine Now with the School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, AustraliaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David J. Allsop, PhD National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine Now with the School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Allsop: We found that administering a botanical preparation of the cannabinoids Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC - the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) and Cannabidiol (a lesser known component of the cannabis plant that counteracts the psychotogenic effects of THC with anxiolytic properties) to dependent cannabis smokers during initial abstinence from cannabis substantially dampened their withdrawal experience. In essence this is akin to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) but for cannabis users. It might seem obvious - sure you give cannabis users a cannabis preparation and they find it easier to quit - but this is important because it has never been done before - and we currently have no consensus evidence based medicines to offer cannabis users who ask for help.