The Most Important Cannabis Studies of 2018

The Most Important Cannabis Studies of 2018 (Feeling rather disgusted by the rat studies, but here we are.)

Safe Pain Relief:  By all accounts, those 65-and-over are the fastest growing demographic of cannabis consumers, but seniors still remain the largest voting block against legalization.

In the study, over 900 elderly Israeli patients (75% of whom had no prior history with cannabis consumption) used medical cannabis for at least six months, with 93% of patients reporting that cannabis improved their symptoms—particularly chronic pain sufferers, who on average reported that cannabis reduced pain from an 8 (on a scale of 10) to a 4.

Pain Relief from Opioids: A November 2018 study that showed cannabis dispensaries significantly reduce the number of opioid overdoses in their immediate vicinity. Also, by adding cannabis to their treatment plan, pain patients can get the same amount of relief from smaller doses of opioids, thus reducing dependence and other potential harms.

CBD and Depression: Researchers in Brazil working with rodents noted that CBD reduced depression associated behaviors after a single dose, improvement that lasted a full week after the treatment.

Cannabis and Sex: The first two studies, conducted by researchers at St. Louis University in Missouri, surveyed hundreds of women and found that among those who had used cannabis immediately prior to sex, 3% called it sex-ending, 65% called it enhancing, 23% said it made no difference, and 9% expressed no opinion. In the final study, researchers at Stanford University extracted data on tens of thousands of American adults taken from the National Survey of Family Growth, and found that compared with abstainers, men who consumed cannabis weekly reported 22% more sex, and women reported 34% more, with sexual frequency even higher among those who used more than once a week.

CBD and Meth Addiction: There’s a growing push within the addiction recovery movement to recognize that cannabis could play a positive role in recovery from all kinds of addictions, whether as a replacement therapy to curb cravings, or as a safe and natural way to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal. Researchers at at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in Australia in September 2018 published a study that found cannabidiol (CBD) in doses of 80mg per kilogram of body weight reduced the motivation of rats “to self-administer methamphetamine and relapse to methamphetamine-seeking behavior following abstinence.”

Restores Brain Function in Stoners: In 2003, the US Department of Health and Human Services was granted a patent on “cannabinoids as neuroprotectants,” based on evidence that compounds found in the cannabis plant are effective in “limiting neurological damage following…stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV dementia.”

But that doesn’t mean that every way cannabis changes the brain is entirely positive. One potentially troubling result of frequent THC-rich cannabis use is a reduction in size of the hippocampus, which is involved in cognitive performance, controlling anxiety, and tamping down stress.Neuroscientists in Australia recently sought to determine if cannabidiol (CBD) could restore that loss, and found that after 10 weeks of giving four 50-milligram CBD capsules per day to regular cannabis smokers, their hippocampus anatomy had been markedly restored—even among subjects who’d continued to consume THC-rich cannabis throughout the test period.

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