As states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, and federal law now allows the sale of hemp-derived products, cannabis and its derivatives are receiving more attention and study. The Conversation has compiled excerpts from articles by scholars who have been watching recent marijuana developments.
1. Studies can support CBD claims
Rising sales of products containing the marijuana extract CBD followed the congress that legalized CBD in 2018.
CBD sellers and users swear by its ability to relieve pain and anxiety. Although science is not yet sure about it, there are reasons for encouragement, writes Hillary Marusak, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Wayne State University.
“Neuroimaging studies in humans show that CBD can reduce activity in the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex, brain regions associated with stress and anxiety,” she writes.
Read more: CBD sales rise, but evidence is still slim that the cannabis derivative makes a difference for anxiety or pain
2. Do not believe the hype
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug containing CBD to treat attacks of two rare forms of epilepsy. Since then, health claims around CBD have grown.
C. Michael White, a pharmacy professor at the University of Connecticut, begins to deny one of them. “There are no credible animal or human studies showing that CBD has any effect on SARS-CoV-2 or the course of COVID-19 infection,” he writes.
“CBD can help with inflammation of the joints or skin, sleep disorders, chronic anxiety, psychosis, and behavioral issues associated with Fragile X syndrome,” White adds, noting that some of those conditions already have proven treatments, including other plant extracts.
But while CBD “may do good for some people,” White suggests being cautious until scientists learn more about the side effects, drug interactions, and possible contamination of CBD products.
Read more: No, CBD is not a miracle molecule that can cure coronavirus, just as it will not cure many other diseases that its proponents claim
3. Marijuana + alcohol = trouble
Among college students, marijuana use is catching up, according to Texas State University psychology professor Ty Schepis. As alcohol abuse becomes unfavorable, “Marijuana use is on the rise,” Schepis writes.
“The number of young adults using both alcohol and marijuana is also increasing, raising concerns about a future increase in drug abuse problems,” he adds. “Young adults in that group also had much higher rates of other illicit drug use, such as cocaine, and prescription drug abuse that included medications such as opioids or benzodiazepines.”
Read more: College-age children and teenagers drink less alcohol – marijuana is a different story
4. Legal THC is not well understood
Daniel Kruger and Jessica Kruger, assistant professors at the University of Michigan and the University of Buffalo, respectively, interviewed 500 users of delta-8, a less psychoactive and technically legal type of THC.
The scholars suggest that delta-8 is ripe for more study of the possible benefits that, according to the survey, come without marijuana’s cognitive side effects such as paranoia and a changed perception of time. “Many participants have noticed how they can use delta-8 THC and still be productive,” the scholars wrote.
They added that participants in the survey who used delta-8 for health conditions said they had stopped using pharmaceuticals to treat certain mental and physical symptoms. “They consider delta-8 THC better than pharmaceuticals in terms of adverse side effects, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, efficacy, safety, availability and cost.”
Read more: Can delta-8 THC offer some of the benefits of pot – with less paranoia and anxiety?
Editor’s note: This story is a summary of articles from The Conversation’s archives.