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Medicinal Cannabis Research Wrap - 16th September

How legalisation effects substance use

Two studies, completed by researchers from Oregon State University, have explored the substance habits of university students that live in states with legalised recreational cannabis (LRC). The studies looked at data from 850,000 students that self-reported their substance use twice yearly via the National College Health Assessment survey. There are currently 11 states in America that have LRC for adults 21 years and older.

The first study looked at cannabis use in LRC states and compared it to data collected in non-legalised states. As can be expected, cannabis use among students increased in LRC states, after legalisation. Students in LRC states were 18% more likely to have used cannabis within the past 30 days compared to students in states where it was illegal. Students in LRC states were also 17% more likely to be considered frequent users.

The second study was also completed by researchers from Oregon State University. It analysed the use of other recreational substances and compared the results to the data collected in the first study. It found that for the majority of substances there was no change in the use patterns in states that had LRC. Binge drinking prevalence in students 21 years or older decreased by 9%.

There has long been an argument that cannabis use is a gateway to much more serious substance use. These studies show that despite increased cannabis use by students in LRC states, the same students show no increase in further substance use. This suggests cannabis use is not a gateway to further substance use. The same studies also show that binge drinking decreased after states have LRC which has positive social implications.

1) Bae, H. (2019) Marijuana use trends among college students in states with and without legalization of recreational use: initial and longer‐term changes from 2008 to 2018. Addiction,

2) Alley, Z. M., Kerr, D. C. R., & Bae, H. (2019). Trends in college students’ alcohol, nicotine, prescription opioid and other drug use after recreational marijuana legalization: 2008-2018. Addictive Behaviours,

The effect of a fatty meal on CBD absorption

A study (3) completed by researchers at The University of Minnesota has revealed the impact of a fatty meal on CBD absorption. Previously CBD was prescribed as an oral spray to those suffering from seizures however, recently the FDA has approved of the application of CBD orally, via capsule. Correct dosing is important for maintaining proper medication levels in the patient’s blood at all times. This is easier to achieve with capsules.

Eight patients with refractory epilepsy participated in the study which looked at CBD absorption both after fasting and after consuming a high fat (840-860 calorie) meal. The participants took a high concentration (99%) CBD pill under both conditions. Blood tests were taken at regular intervals between 0-72 hours after dosing to measure the concentrations of CBD plasma in the patient’s blood. From these results, the maximum concentration and the time to reach maximum concentration were recorded.

The results of this study revealed that the fat content of a meal can lead to significant increases in the maximum blood concentration of CBD. Compared to fasting, taking CBD with food increased the amount of CBD in the body by four times and the maximum amount recorded by 14-times. This is a significant result as increases in the amount of CBD being absorbed leads to lower dosing requirements and therefore cheaper medication costs.

3) Birnbaum, A. K., Karanam, A., Marino, S. E., Barkley, C. M., Remmel, R. P., Roslawski, M., … Leppik, I. E. (2019). Food effect on pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oral capsules in adult patients with refractory epilepsy.

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