It Shouldn’t Be This Hard For Scientists To Study Weed

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard For Scientists To Study Weed

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A couple hours outside London, thousands of
cannabis plants are growing in this enormous glasshouse. Scientists here are testing different strains,
processing raw plant matter, and converting it into potent medicinal extracts. But this isn’t your typical grow house,
it’s a pharmaceutical research operation in the U.K. — which as it turns out, is
the world’s largest supplier of medical grade cannabis
Here, they’ve developed Epidiolex, a new medicine containing cannabidiol, a compound
derived from cannabis, that’s shown potential to treat severe forms of epilepsy. It’s the first of its kind to be approved
by the US Food and Drug Administration, and is available to patients in the United States
at special pharmacies. But, cannabis is still a Schedule I drug in
the US, meaning it has no medicinal value. If doctors here want to study it further,
they have to walk through a complicated patchwork of regulations. And if they make it through the hurdles, once
the medicine arrives, it has to be stored in a roughly 750lb vault that’s bolted to the floor and
secured with a lock. But outside a doctor’s office, weed seems
more accessible than ever. As it’s gotten easier for the average person
to go buy cannabis at a dispensary, it’s gotten even harder for scientists to be able to study
it. Cannabis is a controversial and complex plant,
with over 100 unique chemicals called cannabinoids. There’s very little that we really understand
about a lot of these chemicals. We understand the effects of two of them,
somewhat. Delta 9 THC which is the chemical that produces
the classic cannabis intoxication. THC in relatively high doses can cause euphoria,
hunger, anti nausea properties, anti-pain properties. Cannabidiol is very different. It doesn’t produce any intoxication whatsoever
yet it has anti inflammatory effects. It is scientifically interesting because there
is a receptor in the brain called the cannabinoid receptor that binds to these chemicals and
produces a whole range of effects. And this network of receptors are found throughout
the brain and body. So it’s really a new frontier in many ways
to understand its role in brain development and regulating mood and food intake and cognition. It’s a complicated plant and just labeling
it a medicine as is isn’t sufficient. Society has jumped ahead and is just moving
on treating it like it’s a medicine in lieu of this data. Everybody’s taking CBD and ointments and massages
and oils and added to their coffee. We don’t know anything about if it’s absorbed
by these routes of administration. I have no idea if it actually gets into your
bloodstream at any level that would be meaningful. So it’s critically important that we were
able to conduct these studies so we can say what it works for at what concentration, which
cannabinoids, and what it doesn’t work for. And right now we’re severely hampered in our
ability to conduct these studies. And that goes back to weed’s status as a
Schedule I drug, a classification that puts it in the same line as heroin, with no recognized
medicinal value in the eyes of the U.S. federal government. Meanwhile, states have moved forward to legalize
cannabis and patients with severe diseases are turning to their doctors for answers. I get patients coming into my clinic asking
me all the time, “What do you think of this?” and “My friend tried it for this and it worked,
and my other friend tried it for that,” and it seems to have these magical properties
where it seems to work for almost everything. And physicians and researchers are stuck. On the one side, we don’t have adequate studies
that establish the safety and efficacy of these drugs, but we don’t have studies that
negate it, either. The National Academy of Science released a major report that found conclusive evidence that cannabis can treat chronic pain, multiple sclerosis,
and improve nausea symptoms during chemotherapy. There’s moderate and limited evidence for
other diseases in the 10,000 abstracts they considered. Still there’s a lot scientists don’t know about weed. But that’s not stopping patients from taking
matters into their own hands. Patients really didn’t need our permission
or our approval to go after these therapies. And given the desperation that parents face
when they have a child with infantile spasms or other similar disorders, it’s understandable
that they would be looking outside the box. There were a few patients who responded to
cannabidiol extracts and we didn’t have a better explanation for why and that’s what
really got us curious. Self-medicating with cannabis may be able
to solve some medical issues, but unknowingly they could be causing others. So doctors responded to their patients by
launching their own investigations. The first step that we started upon was to
systematically survey parents and we asked people to bravely describe what they were
doing even though it was illegal. And that’s pretty low quality research when
you ask clinical scientists out there. We wanted to go after formal clinical trials,
but that’s where it got tricky. All three experts we spoke to are at different
stages of their trials, but the hoops they have to jump through are mostly the same. The first step is to go to the FDA. Describe your study. Explain all the risks and benefits. It’s quite a process. There really wasn’t a lot of literature. At the end of the day, we did have to make
some reasonable guesses to design the study. And once you get approval from the FDA. The next step is going to the DEA. So there is a federal DEA and then each state
has its own narcotics control regulatory agency. In order to be granted a Schedule 1 license, the DEA
wants to make sure that you are taking appropriate precautions to protect and safeguard drugs. And it seems strange that we need to lock it in
a vault, while the same patients that we are trying to recruit into our studies have
the opportunity to get a nearly identical product in a dispensary one mile from our
hospital. And this entire process could take years. And I’ll be frank, I’m not sure if my funding
is going to last before all these regulatory agencies approve the study so it’s enormously
frustrating. We tried to work our way through the red tape and
pretty much gave up. It wasn’t until there was a little bit more
pharmaceutical development, and that folks with deeper pockets and more resources were
willing to partner with me to run clinical trials. That seems to be the trend here. Because the red tape is so thick, pharmaceutical
companies can jump in to partner with doctors on cannabis clinical trials. They know how to work the system and have
the resources to develop cannabis therapies in the UK and Canada. It gets more complicated for the public when “some” pharmaceutical companies fight weed legalization, and then receive approval to develop synthetic cannabis. Because another hurdle, can be the weed itself. With the current DEA regulations, the only
way federal researchers can study cannabis is to study it from one source and that’s
a farm in Mississippi that the National Institute of Drug Abuse regulates. The problem is that there’s a huge variety
of products that are available online, in dispensaries, which have had favorable responses
associated with them. There are not reports of kids responding beautifully
to NIDA farm products. If you compare the potency between what doctors
receive from NIDA versus what a recreational user can get at a dispensary, the difference
is pretty striking. And this constant approach where we ignore
the specific product which has been associated with plausible response, and we substitute
it either with a pure pharmaceutical product, or a NIDA farm product doesn’t make sense. We should really study what seems to be working. But I also understand the other side of this argument, that we want to use the best standardized products. And when you depend on those products which
are available in dispensaries they are known and notorious for not being adequately
consistent. For any kind of clinical trial, doctors need
to control the variables. It’s not to say that what may be purchased
through a dispensary is necessarily less pure. We don’t know if it has the exact percentages
that are listed on the label or what the purity is and whether it’s been run through screenings
for pesticides or things like heavy metals. The farm can’t keep up with all the federal
researchers so if the DEA allowed other sources of cannabis
that are well vetted. That’s an important next step. Recently hemp was made legal and that is very
exciting for us because hemp could be a source for cannabidiol because right now as researchers
we don’t have a good source. There’s a huge interest in the medical field
to better understand efficacies, side effects, tolerability, what sort of best ways to deliver
it. The chief mission at this point is to have
rational, scientifically-based, medically-based regulation of research. And that really requires action from Congress. Epidiolex, is now Schedule 5, meaning the
DEA says that it has accepted medical use and limited abuse potential. So it’s hard for me to understand how the
DEA can say that one product is Schedule 1, and one product is Schedule 5. And that is the chief quandary, I think. I don’t know how we can reconcile that without simply changing the designation of all marijuana products. We have to recognize that marijuana in general
does have therapeutic potential, and that at the very least it should be scheduled as
a Schedule 2 drug, meaning it’s a drug that has some acceptable use but still has potential
for abuse. That would be scientifically rational. We have a tough challenge before us. We need to balance our desire to do things
that are most scientifically rigorous with the need to make real forward progress with
these diseases that are so severe and for which the need for new therapies is so desperate.

60 thoughts on “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard For Scientists To Study Weed”

  1. The government is stupid they need to legalize weed so scientists can study it and tell us exactly what is going on in our brain when we smoke

  2. I think it's odd that the older pothead community already knew this. Kids snitch to teachers, so you keep it out of sight and mind. And they've known about birth defects for quite awhile now. This is a fear campaign ad, refer madness 21st century…

  3. Science is on the path to discover the substance that first created life. On the way there though many substances that effect life also will have to be studied before the general one that has the effect of creating life to begin with. When this substance that created all life is found though and it turns out to be a drug, life will be created by a controlled substance and the government will control it. I think it becomes more obvious that this is their most generalized goal with each passing year and decade.

  4. If THC had no medical value. Why did the pharmaceutical companies develop Marinol/Dranabinol. Both are the synthetic versions of THC. Hmmmmm.. Hard to grow synthetic THC!! Also as a MMJ Patient my illnesses make it so I rarely get hungry anymore, so it helps give me an appetite stopping the uncontrollable weight loss I deal with (started at 270lbs and lost 120lbs so far, much of which was muscle and now am able to hold my weight at 150lbs due to having the appetite again, even if it's only for a short time). Helps control my nausea/vomiting when I can't keep ANYTHING (including liquids) in my stomach. To top it all off it also helps my insomnia and pain levels. My health issues include, Chronic Pancreatitis, SMA Syndrome and Gastroparesis. All have something to do with my digestive system in some way. The ironic part is I was a Professional Chef for over 30 years and now I have to be careful what I eat because I never know how my body will respond to it, and when it's a bad attack, it's time to go the the E.R. as the strong meds the "Drs" have prescribed for me for use at home are ineffective at that point. So stop spreading false information on the successful effectiveness of Cannabis!! It's not like it's been used for thousands of years for many purposes! Ok, my Ranting is done!! 😉

  5. LA SOBREDOSIS DE CUALQUIER PRODUCTO CONSUMIDO DEBERIA SER PENALIZADO POR LA CONSTITUCION SOCIAL PLANETA TIERRA…

    REPITO…

    PENALIZA LA SOBREDOSIS

    EL SOCIAL CONSUMO ES UN INTELIGENTE ENTENDER

  6. Ask Snoop Dogg he basically had a PhD in Weed. Alcohol
    has no medical benefit and can become lethal if abused yet marijuana has obvious medical benefits is seen as far more dangerous thar cocaine. I bet there are thousands of in prison for small amounts of marijuana because it's a cash cow for a state economy.
    You know when big pharma gets involved they will jack up the prices of medical marijuana.

  7. Your cant make a flower exactly the same everytime plain and simple even if its a clone of another they will be close but not the same

  8. ? So at what point does the fda/dea/etc. Redact or remove a substance from the classification they have? According to this clip there's a surplus of medical benefits from this plant alone… A bad mistake made by gvt/corporate lobbying over 5 decades ago…. C'mon people.

  9. We all know why canabis is illegal while alcohol + cigarettes are legal. We live in an upside down world. DEA and the drug rings makes too much money their greedy hands will not let go of easily.

  10. Christ there is some Light bleached, leaf dominant, low light ropey looking weed coming out of that place. I'll stick with Leroy thanks.

  11. Misleading. Thought this video would go into the history of why cannabis is a Schedule I drug, but was disappointed. I’d suggest a follow up, but I suspect the directors are a particular demographic ?

  12. I love this channel, and cannabis. I am equally proud to proclaim both. That may be the cannabis talking, though…wink wink

  13. WHO: Consistently ranks cannabis as the least, or somewhere between 1st and 3rd least harmful drug to society at large based on 7 dimensions of measuring the 'harm construct. It's used by hundreds of millions around the world. I'm happy with where cannabis laws are now, but it's been over 70 years and has cost us more than the most expensive war to enforce these asinine and poorly empirically backed laws. Let us not stop this movement until equilibrium is restored. Until the benign and life-improving boons of nature are ubiquitously available to every organism that is conscious of their existence and wishes to obtain them; for they are all acts of nature itself…

  14. The one thing i get to know about weed is it is Curse for curious people.. if any curious prsn is thinking about taking weed fr first time be be careful nt to take it in overdose

  15. Can I get a more direct location the satnav is struggling with just outside London. I'm the botanical relocation specialist I need to get there sharpish

  16. ?A baggie of weed had to be be in a 750lb vault thay is bolted to the floor, and secured with a lock……dam an they wonder why nobody likes the goverment….my bruhda dat is not dee wae?

  17. LOL! Look how dramatic they make it! Think people! THE CREATOR SAID ALL THINGS ARE MADE TO SERVE YOU(Psalms 104:14,Genesis 1:26), THIS PLANT WAS MADE AS A MEDICINE, HOWEVER, Man and his sick perverse ways, has made you view it as a “drug”… WE ARE AT THE END OF TIME! This plant was MADE BY THE ONE WHO CREATED YOU, Man try’s to make you seek them for approval, THEY CANT CONTROL THE PLANTS YOU GROW WHEN, THE ETERNAL SOVEREIGN CREATOR OF ALL THINGS GAVE YOU DOMINION OVER THE EARTH! YOU DIDNT EVOLVE FROM MONKEYS, PEOPLE wake up and prepare yourselves because the demons are being released and they are going to make you think it’s aliens from another planet. SPOILER ALERT, THERE ARE NO “Planets”, learn what words mean, planet at its root = wandering star. Why do the lairs and cheats of this world seek to replicate “Stars” and Greek Mythology, what is Astrology? Why so precise? BECAUSE THE LIGHTS ABOVE YOUR HEAD ARE THE ONLY CLOCKS AND CALENDARS YOU SHOULD BE USING! TONIGHT WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN 11/27/AC2019 (09/01/6006) just as the sun goes down you will see the NEW MOON as a SLIVER OF LIGHT, Go read Genesis 1:14-18, then read Psalms 104:19, seasons = MOED, MOED = “Appointed” Times By THE MOST HIGH GOD. Appointed = Fixed, Set, Established. Then read Plasms 81:3 while you watch for the moon to follow the sun immediately after setting, AND WHEN THIS HAPPENS, LISTEN FOR THE WARRIORS TRUMPET, ALL OF GODS SERVANTS AND WARRIORS WILL SOUND THEIR TRUMPETS TO SIGNIFY THEIR ALLEGIANCE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF YAHUAH THE SOVEREIGN CREATOR!

  18. My mum gets cbd because of having a skin problem and it works apparently and because she is so ANTI drug , I believe it has helped her

  19. They make it sound that cannibis was discovered a few decades ago when it has been used thousands of years ago. It’s corporations wanting to monopolize the profits of it that is the sticking point.

  20. There are tens of millions of regular marijuana users in the US, I can't remember the last time I heard of it seriously harming someone. Meanwhile, tens of thousands die from alcohol, tobacco, medications, etc every year… Something is amiss.

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