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Possibilities in Cannabis Research

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, February 4, 2019

There is a need for adequate legislative changes to permit greater research into cannabis, that could benefit the medical industry.

According to Dr. Damian Cohall, senior lecturer in Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, the lack of an enabling legal environment has hampered the ability to conduct in-depth research on the potential uses of cannabis.

He has therefore suggested that this process can be made easier by either advancing provisions in Section 12 of the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act Chapter 131, for the authorising of activities otherwise considered unlawful; or pursuing the necessary law reform to enable the legal environment to conduct research.

Cohall made theCohall-2-4-2019.jpg statement against the backdrop of Masters student Ryan Hall’s pathbreaking work on the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy. In his thesis, in pursuit of the MPhil in Pharmacology, the cannabinoids will be utilised in pre-clinical studies using mice. The drug is being investigated for the treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy, which will be conducted at the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, at the University of Glasgow. Trends in anticonvulsant activity of the phytocannabinoids will be measured using an electroencephalograph (EEG).

The study will also identify how combinations of the cannabinoids of choice, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) may provide some novel findings in the development of pharmaceuticals.

Hall made his maiden presentation on the study at the 7th annual Faculty of Medical Science Graduate Symposium, held on January 25, 2019.

“Our research interests at The University of West Indies, Cave Hill are well documented but they have remained purely theoretical in anticipation of an enabling legal environment to conduct practical research. My student’s thesis work is mature and awaits the necessary license or law reform to enable access to the plant for the extraction and purification of the phytocannabinoids for testing on our epileptic mice model at the University of Glasgow,” the senior lecturer said. “A clear method of circumventing our current challenges would be to conduct the work elsewhere where the laws enable and support scientific work of cannabis. This option prevents Barbados from capturing the potential economical spin-offs, which could emanate from the research.”

He believed that there were other research possibilities, should the right legal framework be in place. These included: optimising the propagation and cultivation of specific cannabis cultivars for the cannabinoid therapy industry; optimising the extraction for specific cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD and CBN; experimenting with the efficacy and safety of various dosage and formulations of medical cannabis products, and facilitating clinical trials of medical cannabis products in Barbados.

“If law reform presents an enabling environment for research in the near future; all the necessary requirements to safeguard the supply, storage and use of the plant will be implemented by the research team within confinement of the Laws of Barbados and any authorization issued by the Government. This will be assured after consultation with all the necessary stakeholders.”

PHOTO: Dr. Damian Cohall, senior lecturer in Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences


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