UCSD Researchers Test Effects of Marijuana on Driving, Pain with …

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Following the passage of Proposition 64 in California, the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UC San Diego will receive two million dollars in funding per year for the study of medical marijuana. The money comes from two new taxes levied on the cultivation and sale of cannabis. The proposition, which legalized marijuana, also authorized local governments to place additional taxes on marijuana.

The Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UCSD studies the effects of marijuana on alleviating neuropathic pain stemming from a variety of causes such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and chronic back pain. Neuropathic pain is caused when nerves are damaged or dysfunctional. The CMCR is currently conducting research on the effects of cannabis on driving ability as well.

To test the effects of cannabis on driving, healthy volunteers are placed in a driving simulator and undergo performance assessments after being exposed to cannabis. Trials measuring the pain-relieving effects of marijuana may use healthy volunteers and simulate pain before cannabis exposure or may present volunteers with a specific existing condition with cannabinoids to determine the effects.

Dr. Igor Grant, the director of CMCR, told the UCSD Guardian about how the research could affect students at UCSD that are suffering from neuropathic pain.

“On the medicinal research side, there may be students that have some conditions that are treatable [with cannabis],” Grant explained. “Others may develop these chronic pain conditions from an injury or some other source, so [our research] may be a benefit to them.”

In the future, the center hopes to conduct research on how cannabinoids affect eating disorders such as anorexia or illnesses like Crohn’s disease.

Grant and his colleagues are also working to determine how long marijuana stays in the system and how it can affect a person’s ability to drive.

“This can be important for students to know as well, whether they’re [consuming marijuana] recreationally or because they’re receiving cannabis for medical reasons,” Grant stated.

The tax revenue from Proposition 64 will be used to build facilities and serve as a fund for materials and procedures.

“The Prop 64 funds will help to fund some of the laboratories that are necessary, for example, to do toxicological testing to have a pharmacy that allows us to compound these agents,” Grant told the Guardian.

The money will also be used to fund modes of administering the medicine, such as creating pills and conducting trials.

The center’s goal is to provide information to the government and to the public about the beneficial aspects of marijuana and its efficacy as medicine.

“We’d like to determine if cannabinoids have medicinal value, and if so, to develop practice guidelines for how these products should be administered, under what circumstances, with what kind of precautions and so forth.” Grant elaborated.

Currently, cannabis is considered a schedule 1 drug which puts it in the same category as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Drugs in this category are defined as “having no currently accepted medical use” by the DEA. Grant and his colleagues hope to provide evidence that marijuana has medicinal uses so that people who can benefit from medicinal marijuana can have access to it.

The center is currently accepting new researchers and volunteers. Students who are interested in getting involved with this research can visit the CMCR’s website to find out more information.

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