Florida Researchers Begin Trials on Low THC Medical Cannabis

Florida Researchers Begin Trials

Last year Florida’s lawmakers approved two state-funded research initiatives that would look into the THC-low medical marijuana and recently, the University of Florida, where the research will be conducted, has started moving forward with the research agenda.

The Florida Department of Health approved a budget of $1 million for this research that will be led by UF Health Shands pediatric neurologist Dr. Paul Carney. Up to 50 children with drug resistant epilepsy will be treated during the research with a cannabidiol-rich oral solution called Epidiolex that contains minimal amounts of THC.

With medical marijuana reform sweeping the country and at the same time with serious lack of scientific studies on the effects of marijuana and its components, this research comes highly anticipated.

All the participants will be recruited across the state but most of them will come from Gainesville. The researchers say they’ll focus on children from 2 to 16 years old who had no success in treating their seizures with anti-epileptic drugs. The University of Florida College of Pharmacy is hoping to develop a database registry of patients and providers in the low-THC noneuphoric medical marijuana system. One of the outcomes of the research would be a safety system that includes information about the patients such as treatment plans.

“The Department of Health and the University of Florida are going to work together via an interagency agreement to make sure there is a close monitoring of the low-THC medical marijuana distributed around the state in order to monitor the safety of the product and the effectiveness of the product,” senator Bradley, the sponsor the 2014 low-THC bill, said in a letter to the Department of Health.

The inspiration for this research into the THC-low medical marijuana came from the huge success of the Charlotte’s Web strain in treating epilepsy that caused seizures in children, namely the ones caused by the Dravet Syndrome.

This is a rare and most disastrous form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. It is also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI). The strain, which is now famous across the country, got its name after a little girl, born in 2006, whose parents managed to reduce her epileptic seizures brought on by Dravet Syndrome when she was five years old. They were treating her with CBD-high and THC-low Cannabis extract.

Because of such low amount of THC, the strain has no psychoactive effects – there’s no “high” feeling often described by consumers of THC-high marijuana. Today, the strain is produced by the Realm of Caring Foundation (RoC) in Colorado and marketed as a dietary supplement under federal law and medical cannabis under state laws – in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Charlotte’s Web gained a significant media coverage and numerous parents started flocking down to Colorado with their sick children. A large number of anecdotal evidence has been reported and all the success stories have made the demand for the strain skyrocket. However, scientific evidence to draw conclusions about the effects of the strain and safety didn’t exist. The Florida University’s research is about to change that.

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