Madeline Roach is a third year Ph.D. candidate.
She works in the newly-opened Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Center. It’s a state-of-the-art lab at Colorado State University that is expected to pave the way for cannabinoid science. Melissa Reynolds is the director of this lab.
“The center is really meant as a collaborative space to bring together researchers from across campus, from across disciplines to really look at how cannabinoids can be used to really better society,” Reynolds said.
There are many types of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, including CBD, CBG and THC. They interact with receptors within the body that control processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.
THC is the cannabinoid that makes a person high – that’s not being studied at this research center.
CBD has been shown to be effective in relieving anxiety and seizures. What’s lacking is scientific data and analysis to know the full extent of the potential medical benefits.
This lab is likely to change that.
“We need to be able to identify the cannabinoids and be able to measure that how much do we have in a certain cannabinoid to have a certain effect on epilepsy or weight loss or anxiety,” Reynolds said. “And so being able to make those measurements is really key to being able to understand what cannabinoids can be used for, what types of applications, which then wraps us all the way back around to be able to select for cannabinoids in various types of hemp strands.”
Reynolds claims that reliable data could help change treatment for conditions like alcohol addiction, IBS, and insomnia.
Director of the Institute is Daniele Piomelli Center for the study of CannabisUniversity of California Irvine
“In terms of whether these uses are backed by clinical evidence, there is some for some uses, and there is much less for others,” Piomelli said.
Piomelli states that cannabis data has been restricted so far because of legal hurdles.
“There has been, you know, a steady growth of research on cannabinoids over the last several decades, actually,” Piomelli said. The fact that cannabinoids fall under Schedule 1 made it difficult to conduct much of the research. So it’s very hard to do research on cannabinoids.”
Schedule oneThe federal government recognizes heroin, MDMA and cannabis as drugs that have a high potential to be abused.
Piomelli says he’d like to see the legal regulations change so cannabinoids can be adequately studied and regulated.
“You need clinical trials that are randomized, placebo-controlled and also clinical trials that are sufficiently powered, so there are enough participants in the trial that one can draw statistically relevant conclusions,” Piomelli said. We don’t have this. We are now stuck in a situation that has this kind of tantalizing evidence. But we don’t have the type of evidence to be able to tell our physician to tell our patients ‘this is the doses that would work, and this is what you can expect, and this is how you need to prescribe.’”
Researchers can measure at lower levels in the laboratory than other centers. This allows them to be more flexible as regulations change.
Reynolds says it’s also a place where students like Madeline can see the impact of their research.
“The center has, and this is very unique for an academic institution, a mid-scale manufacturing separating instrumentation called NOVASEP that allows us to be able to do this at fairly large scale so we could actually use our methods,” Reynolds said. “The students develop in the center and then scale that up to be good enough that we could use for various types of additional studies that we want to do.”
Reynolds claims that they have the potential to make a difference in the medical world and that they are training future scientists who will be able to impact the world.