by Dr. Daneshvari Solanki, MD
Hemp has been used in the United States for a long time for its fiber and also as a food supplement. Attitude towards its cultivation changed, however, in the early 1900s when the United States government tackled the problem of drug abuse along with marijuana use. In 1937, the “Marijuana Tax Act” was passed and hemp was wrongly grouped with its cousin cannabis. This high taxation made the cultivation of hemp unattractive for the farmers. Then World War II happened – the United States realized the need for hemp in the war, so the government relaxed the rules and called it “Hemp for Victory.” Farmers were then encouraged to grow hemp again; nevertheless, post World War II, the high taxes were imposed again and as a result the industry died.
The Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970 and hemp was classified as a Schedule I drug. Hemp farming was banned. Over the years, efforts have been made to educate the legislators about the difference between hemp and marijuana, so the restriction on hemp could be lifted. This was finally successful in December 2018 when the Farm Bill was passed, legalizing hemp, and its designation as a Schedule I drug was removed. The Farm Bill does not, however, broadly legalize all cannabinoid products.
There are 80 cannabinoid chemicals in the marijuana plant. The psychoactive component in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes the “high.” Though Cannabidiol (CBD) is an important component of the marijuana plant, there is much more of the medicinal compound in the hemp plant, which is a cousin of marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD oil does not have a “high” like marijuana because its THC content is less than 0.3%. A report by WHO in 2018 states that “CBD is well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reports of adverse events are due to drug interactions with the patient’s existing medications. In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
Cannabis and CBD oil have been used for their medicinal properties for more than 3,000 years by China, India, Egypt and other countries. There is no question that more clinical potential of CBD for its therapeutic effect needs to be evaluated. Preclinical studies on cell cultures and in animal models have shown that CBD has anti-seizure, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. It is also supposed to have neuroprotective as well anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic actions. Even though the FDA eased regulatory requirements in 2015 for researchers to conduct CBD trials, the early clinical studies have suffered from flaws due to study design, inconsistent formulations of CBD, small sample size and short duration of trials. Adequately powered large clinical trials need to be performed to establish the effectiveness of CBD in various clinical conditions. Its dose, duration, safety, tolerability and addiction potential needs to be investigated to determine its risk benefit ratio. The purity of CBD also needs to be established, and the dosages and concentrations need to be standardized like other medications, so that the randomized placebo- controlled trials can be conducted to provide meaningful answers for its appropriate use. This is why I believe Alethiah, a research-based phyto-cannabinoid company, with its future endeavors can help in establishing CBD as a clinically useful medicinal agent.
Dr. Daneshvari Solanki, MD
Daneshvari Solanki, MD, is a recognized international expert in regional anesthesia who was a Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, as well as an integral developer of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Pain Medicine services. In 2017, after 39 years of dedication, Dr. Solanki retired from UTMB, continuing, however, to be a loyal contributor to medical research.
In January 2019, Dr. Solanki also joined Alethiah as Chief Research Officer. With her extensive background in Pain Management, Dr. Solanki sees great potential in the medical benefits of cannabinoids and believes in helping Alethiah push forward its research and clinical trials.