Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to testify before the Senate on cannabidiol, or CBD —one of the main active ingredients in the marijuana plant, and a compound around which there is a growing amount of interest from the public as well as the scientific and medical communities. The intent of the hearing was to explore ways we can reduce obstacles to research on CBD, given that all chemicals in the marijuana plant are currently in the most restricted category of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s schedule of controlled substances—schedule I. This category is reserved for substances that have a high potential for abuse and no scientifically supported medical use. Medical research can and is being done with schedule I substances; however, there are strict regulations and administrative hurdles associated with this status.
Recent surges in hospitalizations and calls to poison control centers linked to consumption of synthetic cannabinoid products--sold under brand names like “Spice,” “K2,” "No More Mr. Nice Guy," and others--are being reported in several southern and northeastern U.S. states and have prompted officials to issue health warnings.
Makers of designer drugs that are chemically similar to marijuana’s active ingredient THC—called synthetic cannabinoids or colloquially “synthetic marijuana” or “synthetic pot”—are constantly creating new products to evade legal bans on older compounds. Despite the similarity on the molecular level, these drugs are much more dangerous than marijuana, and have resulted in very serious health consequences including overdoses and aggressive or suicidal behavior in users.
Can marijuana use put offspring at heightened risk for opiate addiction, even if the use stops before the offspring are conceived? Results from a recent NIDA-funded study are consistent with other studies suggesting that a parent’s history of drug use, even preconception, may affect a child’s brain function and behavior.