Keith Ridge told the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee hearing on medical cannabis policy that he saw the primary purpose of rescheduling medical cannabis as supporting development of good evidence. Evidence for the prescribing of medical cannabis is lacking, Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, has told MPs.
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Daily Mail April 2019 11:16
Using marijuana during pregnancy to treat morning sickness could damage an unborn baby's brain, a new study says.
Research conducted on rats found that expecting mothers who used cannabis affected the section of the brain involved in memory and learning.
The rate of pregnant women using pot for severe nausea and vomiting has increased by 11.3 percent over the last decade and by more than 62 percent for general overall use.
Previous studies have shown that children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral problems.
The team, from Auburn University in Alabama, says its findings confirm pot's harmful effects on developing brains and advise that there are no safe levels when it comes to expectant mothers.
'Marijuana is becoming one of the most consumed drugs in pregnancy, but we know from past studies that it has harmful effects on developing brains,' co-author Priyanka Das Pinky, a graduate student at Auburn University, told DailyMail.com.
For the new study, the team wanted to examine the effects cannabis use could have on a fetus's hippocampus, which is responsible for processing memory and emotional responses.
They raised pregnant female rats and exposed one group to a synthetic chemical that acts similarly to marijuana.
The dose was equivalent to a pregnant human mother using moderate to heavy amounts of cannabis.
When the baby rats were born, the researchers examined their brains and found that the nerve connections in the 'brain's memory bank' were reduced in rats exposed to synthetic pot in the womb compared to those that weren't exposed.
Researchers found that this was due to a reduction in a protein known as Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (NCAM), which helps maintain neural connections and strength.
'When we examined what was causing this, we found this molecule in brain was not maintaining proper connection in neurons,' Pinky said. 'There has not been much data on this molecule before, so that was exciting to see.
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Relations to Substance Misuse, Mental Health, and Pain Experience - Journal of Addiction Medicine: doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000493
Results: Results suggest that, compared to opioid use alone, opioid and cannabis co-use was associated with elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, and sedative use problems, but not pain experience.
Conclusions: These findings highlight a vulnerable population of polysubstance users with chronic pain, and indicates the need for more comprehensive assessment and treatment of chronic pain.
Although specialist doctors registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) have been allowed to prescribe cannabis-derived medicines since November 2018, a lack of research into their effects is leaving patients open to buying unlicensed products, sometimes containing over 400 times the legal limit of certain key ingredients.
Leading scientists and clinicians from the University of Bath and University College London (UCL) recently published a review that describes the ranges of cannabis-derived products available and highlights the need for more information to better educate clinicians and patients about the medicinal properties of these products and their effects on the body.
Lead author of the study Dr. Tom Freeman, from the University of Bath’s Addiction and Mental Health Group explained:
In this complex and rapidly evolving field, there are several different cannabis-based and cannabinoid medicinal products. These differ in their THC and CBD content, who can prescribe them, and the conditions they may be used to treat. Here we provide an update for clinicians in advance of forthcoming NICE guidelines.”
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(USA Today, March 20) As opioid misuse continues to grip the nation, some states are allowing medical marijuana to be used as a treatment for opioid addiction.
However, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), says there is currently no scientific evidence for marijuana to be used in such a way.
"If you don’t treat it properly, your risk of dying is quite high," Volkow told USA TODAY. "My main concern is by basically misinforming potential patients about the supposedly beneficial effects of cannabis, they may forgo a treatment that is lifesaving."
NIDA is planning to conduct studies of cannabis ingredients to determine their effectiveness in treating opioid addiction.
"I’m not saying it’s not possible," Volkow said. "Like anything else, we do science in order to determine and provide the evidence of whether it’s effective or not."