Stand-out cannabis research studies of 2020

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A lot of things happened around the world last year, from the announcement of the still-lingering coronavirus, to the Australian bushfires, Donald Trump’s impeachment and Black Lives Matter protests. 

However, something that really stands out is the ever-evolving patchwork of global cannabis research. 

With legalization sweeping across more of the United States, and other countries around the world reconsidering their drug laws, it’s not surprising that research efforts have started to really take off. On that note, let’s take a look at some of the most groundbreaking cannabis research studies to emerge from 2020:

Improving our knowledge of the endocannabinoid system’s functions

In April of 2020, a review article titled, “Endocannabinoid System Components as Potential Biomarkers in Psychiatry” was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. The findings provided a clearer understanding of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Specifically, the research highlighted how the modulation of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2r) influences activity on anxiolytic, antidepressive, or antipsychotic associated effects.

Confirming the suitability of cannabis for chronic pain treatment

Chronic pain affects more than 50 million adults in the U.S. and costs the nation approximately $635 billion on an annual basis. With more medical cannabis-friendly U.S. states now offering the plant as a treatment option for chronic pain sufferers, it seems fitting that researchers would delve further into the plant’s therapeutic potential.

“The pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of a novel selective-dose cannabis inhaler in patients with chronic pain: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial,” was published in the National Library of Medicine in 2020. The study saw chronic neuropathic pain patients use an inhaler-like THC delivery device to ease their symptoms. 

Just 1mg of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) was required to minimize pain, with the cannabinoid’s pain-relieving effects extending over two hours. 

Cannabinoids could treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Based on the results of a large survey of 339 Czech PD patients 25 percent of whom consumed cannabinoids as an add-on to their existing treatment for Parkinson’s Disease 46 percent of the 85 cannabis consumers reported general improvement in symptoms after using the plant. Furthermore, 45 percent (38 patients) reported an improvement of bradykinesia, while 38 percent (32 patients) reported reduced muscle rigidity and 14 percent (12 patients) reported reduction of levodopa-induced dyskinesia.

Two new incredibly potent cannabinoids discovered

At the beginning of last year, research scientists discovered a cannabinoid with a stronger potency than THC. The findings, which were published in the academic journal Scientific Reports, focused on two new cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) and cannabidiphorol (CBDP). The team noted how THCP, in particular, binds 33 times more strongly to cannabinoid receptors than THC!

Moving forwards

The cannabis industry ought to buckle up for another research-rich year. After all, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced that it would be speeding up its application review process for cannabis researchers. 

Research-focused interest in cannabinoids is growing in sweet synchronicity with the market’s colossal growth. Global demand for cannabis extracts, such as cannabinoids, is set to generate revenue of around USD$21.6 billion by the end of 2026; according to a report published by Zion Market Research. 

Experts are playing with these plant-derived chemicals to produce new and innovative products, from infused body lotions to chewable gummies. With that being said, we are sure to see more studies like the ones mentioned above begin to surface over the next few months.