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What is cannabis?

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa), also referred to as marijuana, is a plant that is used recreationally and therapeutically. Edibles (i.e. food products infused with cannabis), creams, extracts, and smokes are a few examples of cannabis products that are available in states where it is legal, including the District of Columbia, Washington, and Maine. Despite this, cannabis (alternatively listed as “Marihuana” under the Drug Enforcement agency (DEA) website) is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance. The FDA supports research involving cannabis-based treatments for medical issues such as seizure disorders, chemotherapy-derived nausea, and cancer. However, due to the numerous active compounds found in cannabis and our limited knowledge of them, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), the FDA has not formally approved the plant and any plant-derived products “as a safe and effective drug for any indication.”

What is the focus of our research?

Cannabis consists of over 480 constituents, two of which are the main active components: THC and CBD. Because of increasing consumer accessibility to THC-enriched and CBD-enriched products, it is critical to understand how these constituents and any other major components of cannabis-derived products could alter the way over-the-counter (OTC) and/or prescription drugs are processed and eliminated from the body. To do so, in vitro (i.e. at the lab-bench/in a test tube) and in vivo (i.e. in live subjects; in this case, in human subjects) experiments are planned. In these experiments, we will be evaluating cannabis-drug interactions using drugs that are commonly broken down by specific enzymes in the body.