Eight Pennsylvania universities are launching marijuana studies in collaboration with marijuana producers. Kent Vrana, who is a researcher at Penn State, said that since the research is being partially funded by the medical marijuana industry, the program is unique.
Vrana further said that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is using tax dollars to fund the research. Vrana serves as the chairman of the department of pharmacology at Penn State College of Medicine, which is based in Hershey.
Although marijuana is legal in both medical and recreational forms in many states, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law also includes the research program. Vrana is optimistic that good things will emerge from the research program.
Each of the eight research programs is supposed to enter into a contract with a marijuana producer, grower, and processor, as well as own a dispensary license. The cannabis producer is referred to as a clinical registrant as per the law.
Below are some of the collaborations between the universities and clinical registrants:
- Drexel University College of Medicine contracted Agronomed Biologics LLC.
- Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University contracted Laurel Harvest Labs LLC.
- Penn State College of Medicine contracted PA Options for Wellness Inc.
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University contracted MLH Explorations LLC.
- The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania contracted Curaleaf PA LLC.
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine contracted CannTech PA LLC
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is working with Organic Remedies Inc.
The University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine is the eighth research program, and its proposed clinical registrant was not approved by the state, although its application would be resubmitted under an extended deadline within which they are required to meet the additional requirement to qualify as their partner.
The Health Department announced that all the eight medical schools and the marijuana companies would meet in March to finalize their research plans.
Penn State research would be about developing a database that would assist in comparing responses among patients whose medical ailments improved because of marijuana consumption while its partner clinical registrant, PA Options for Wellness Inc., would be conducting double-blind clinical trials under the supervision of experts at Hershey’s medical school, Vrana said.
Vrana further said that the double-blind clinical trials are the scientific gold standard. The patients who will be volunteering for the clinical trial would be divided into two groups, with one group receiving marijuana while the other group would be given an inert compound, referred to as a placebo. Only the physician can identify the patients receiving medical marijuana.
The study will then compare the responses and symptoms of patients in both groups.
Vrana further explained that since marijuana is still a controlled substance federally, conducting marijuana research is challenging. Therefore, placing the clinical trial under PA Options for Wellness protects the university.
The university is also partnering with a dispensary which would be responsible for dispensing the medical marijuana to the study participants.
Penn State is also researching cell cultures and animal studies to determine the dosage and various combinations of marijuana chemicals such as THC and CBD.
Drexel University and Agronomed Biologics LLC will be enrolling patients to determine the effects of marijuana consumption on several medical conditions and symptoms.
Lake Erie and CannTech PA will study how medical marijuana consumption can alter patients’ patterns of opioid use.
All this research is supposed to provide scientific evidence on the benefits of marijuana. Experts hope that the different studies will provide some clarification regarding the benefits that members of the cannabis industry, such as SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING), have believed to be possible benefits of marijuana.
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