The U.S. federal government has plans to give researchers $1.5 million to study the minor components of cannabis and the terpenes in the plant during the 2019 funding cycle. The money will go to researchers who want to study how cannabis components, excluding THC, affect pain management.
NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) published a notice asking researchers to show interest in studying terpenes and minor cannabinoids. The funding will go towards understanding how those minor cannabinoids and terpenes work to relieve pain either in isolation or in combination with each other.
The notice published by NCCIH stressed that such studies are important given the fact that addictive opioids are widely used to combat pain.
THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, is known to have pain-relief effects. However, little is known about the analgesic effects of the minor cannabinoids and terpenes, and yet these could be useful alternatives as painkillers.
The federal agency also wrote that there was some research showing that cannabis could enhance the ability of opioids to relieve pain, so it is possible that cannabis constituents may be used in combination with opioids to manage pain effectively while using smaller doses of the opioids.
NCCIH then listed the cannabinoids it is greatly interested in. These include cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG) and several terpenes.
The agency is interested in finding out whether those cannabis constituents with analgesic attributes can be separated from the psychoactive ones without affecting the painkilling benefits of the analgesic elements.
Additionally, the agency listed a number of research areas for which applicants could apply for funding. For example, NCCIH will consider applicants who want to study how gender, sex and age differences impact the analgesic effects of minor cannabinoids and terpenes.
Secondly, the agency welcomes researchers who plan to focus on the analgesic effects of terpenes and minor cannabinoids on the different stages of pain, such as acute pain and chronic pain.
Another potential area of study is the effect of different dosage levels or methods of administration of terpenes and minor cannabinoids that have been found to have painkilling effects.
In total, 11 areas of research are included in the notice released for those who may be interested in securing federal funding for their research on cannabis.
Four grant recipients will share the $1.5 million. Interested groups or researchers were asked to submit their applications a minimum of 30 days before March 15. One can only guess that the 30 days before that deadline will be used to evaluate the applications and select those who will receive the research grants.
Such funding is a step in the right direction because it will enable the federal government to make marijuana policies and laws based on facts rather than conjecture. Industry players like The Green Organic Dutchman (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and The Flowr Corporation (TSX.V: FLWR) applaud the effort made to facilitate cannabis research.
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