Researchers are working to develop prescription drugs that mimic the medicinal benefits of marijuana without producing a high, according to The Boston Globe.
The drugs have the potential to treat conditions including psychiatric disorders, glaucoma, seizures, inflammation and chronic pain, the newspaper notes.
One Massachusetts researcher has recently received a federal grant to develop a process for manufacturing pharmaceutical-quality cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in marijuana that studies suggest may help some children with seizures not helped by traditional medicines.
A drug developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, which contains a CBD extract, has shown promise in reducing seizures in some children and young adults.
While the marijuana ingredient THC produces a high, CBD does not. Some scientists who want to conduct more studies to evaluate CBD's effect on seizures and other conditions say such research is hampered by the federal government's drug policy, which makes it difficult for researchers to obtain government-sanctioned marijuana.
Aphios Corporation, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, has been granted access to the government's research-grade marijuana.
The company plans to develop a process for extracting and manufacturing high-quality CBD for researchers to use in studies of patients with diseases of the central nervous system such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. "There is a lot of interest from the medical marijuana marketplace, and that is pushing institutions to try and investigate why these things are working and how well are they working," said Trevor Castor, Chief Executive at Aphios.
Ganesh Thakur, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at Northeastern University, received a $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute to develop a compound to treat glaucoma. Thakur hopes to design a drug that mimics marijuana's ability to reduce fluid pressure in the eye, without producing a high.