As another week passes in the push for access to cannabidiol, yet another study is published on its therapeutic worth. In the latest fall issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) found that components of marijuana, primarily cannabidiol, may be useful in reducing depression that results from chronic stress.
In the animal models we studied, we saw that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior,” RIA senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane said in a statement.
Endocannabinoids are naturally produced chemical compounds in the brain that affect motor control, cognition, emotions, and behavior. As the name suggests, they are similar to the chemicals found in marijuana (Cannabis sativa) and its active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
“Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression,” Haj-Dahmane said. “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”
The next step in the research is to see if using a marijuana extract, cannabidiol (CBD), restores normal behaviors in the animals without leading to dependence on the drug.
Medical marijuana remains a controversial issue. Although 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved its use to provide relief for health problems such as glaucoma, nerve pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea from chemotherapy, some experts and lawmakers around the country are concerned about medical marijuana use.
In Texas, Sen. Kevin Eltife from Tyler and Rep. Stephanie Klick from Fort Worth filed legislation called the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which would allow epilepsy patients to use medicinal oils that contain a therapeutic component found in marijuana.
But some medical marijuana advocates are reluctant to support the proposed Texas Compassionate Use Act, calling it “appeasement legislation” that would do little to help Texans with epilepsy — and nothing for those with other diseases that can be treated with medical marijuana, such as cancer. Among those advocates is the family of Alexis Bortell, a 9-year-old Dallas-area girl with epilepsy.
“If these bills passed as they are written now, we will be forced to relocate” to Colorado, said Dean Bortell, whose daughter Alexis has become the face of the medical marijuana issue in Texas. “We are hoping they modify the bills in committee and that we can support them. The last thing we want to do is testify against them. But in their current form, we would have no choice.”
“As the legislation is written now, Alexis would only be able to use [cannabis derived] CBD if we could show that there were no other FDA-approved treatments available to her,” said Dean Bortell, a U.S. Navy veteran and computer programmer. “That means trying several dangerous pharmaceuticals that she has already had a bad reactions to. The second one she tried she had trouble with, and we were far below the maximum dosage.”
Although there is great progress in bringing CBD to families that need it the most, it is clear that legislation is simply not keeping up with demand. While legislators fight to push progressive bills forward, families are unfortunately still suffering hoping that they will finally find the relief they need in CBD.
Fortunately, the option still exists to try hemp derived CBD, which is legal throughout the United States, but many are still unaware of its availability.