A University Of Utah Study Will Examine How Cannabis Interacts With The Brain

A group of researchers at the University of Utah are gearing up to begin studying how cannabis affects the human brain, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. While medical marijuana is now widely available across the US, there has been a relativity small amount of research done on the substance. The study hopes to understand not only how cannabis affects the brain in general, but how and why those effects can vary from person to person. Homing in on these specifics could help physicians and pharmacists ensure that their patients will get the right cannabis for their particular condition.

"Deciphering the personalized effects of CBD and THC will have a profound impact on how various cannabinoids may best be used for medical treatments," Jon-Kar Zubieta, the study's co-investigator said.

Zubieta also says discovering exactly how it is that cannabis use affects anxiety, pain and mood are at the top of the list of things they would learn.

The study will span 2 years and will leverage the expertise of faculty members across the departments, including neuro-imaging, biostatistics and physics. New brain-imaging technology will be used to measure brain activity when participants use a placebo versus either THC or CBD, and the results will be compared. And while the results from this research are still a few years out it seems clear that this is exactly the kind of research that is need to continue to push medical marijuana in the right direction.

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Glaucoma often makes the list of acceptable conditions for treatment by medical marijuana in states where the substance has been legalized, but the cannabis compound CBD could actually worsen the condition. A recent study from Indiana University has found that consuming CBD—a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis often used for medicinal purposes— actually increases eye pressure. "This study raises important questions about the relationship between the primary ingredients in cannabis and their effect on the eye," lead researcher Alex Straiker told Science Alert.