Experts to Examine Use of Cannabinoids as Medicine

From science to politics to social media, one of the most-discussed topics is the legalization of marijuana and its use as medicine. Sunday, a panel of experts will discuss the science of cannabinoids and their effect on medical treatment and public policy.

“Role of Cannabinoids in Medicine/Addiction Medicine/NIDA-ISAM-ASAM Collaboration,” will be presented from 10 to 11:30 am in Governor’s Ballroom A, Fourth Floor.

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Jag H. Khalsa, MS, PhD

“I use the term ‘medical marijuana’ even though I don’t believe in the term. It is being used by a lot of people, and even clinicians, to treat indications such as neuropathic pain, nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and glaucoma even though there is no hard data from large clinical trials that the Food and Drug Administration will accept to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes,” said Jag H. Khalsa, MS, PhD, the session organizer.

Dr. Khalsa, Chief of the Medical Consequences Branch with the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, will discuss the role of cannabinoids in medicine. He will review the effect of chemicals on cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2.

“A chemical that works on these receptors is known as a cannabinoid. I am going to present a detailed review of the information from clinical studies,” he said. “I have reviewed 70-plus studies in the published literature that I will briefly summarize to show the effects of cannabis on neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

“I will present that evidence and let the audience make a judgment whether we have sufficient clinical evidence to use cannabis for treating any of these indications.”

Joining Dr. Khalsa for the session will be Robert L. DuPont, MD, FASAM, former Director of NIDA and currently President of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., Rockville, Maryland, and Greg C. Bunt, MD, FASAM, President of DayTop, New York.

Dr. DuPont will discuss how scientific information about cannabinoids could affect public health policy and how clinicians can use that background. Dr. Bunt will present a summary of the status of medical marijuana and cannabinoids in the United States, as well as information from studies about their use in Netherlands and Spain.

“This is a topical subject, and so we will leave plenty of time for open discussion” Dr. Khalsa said. “We want this to be an interactive session so people can take away whether there is evidence for using cannabinoids in medicine.”