Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage

Abstract: With debates about so-called medical marijuana and the widespread media coverage on the subject, the call for the legalization of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) both for recreational and medical purposes has gained considerable momentum in recent years. While much attention has been given to the medicinal promises that the marijuana plant might possess, the spotlight on marijuana has also raised awareness about the remarkable dearth of scientific studies that have been conducted on this plant’s therapeutic potential. As shown in Fig. 1, the number of research studies published on cannabis has coincided temporally with major changes in the social and political climates of the time such as in the early 2000s after states such as California legalized marijuana. Unfortunately, many scientific and medical questions remain with respect to the potential or actual benefits and risks of medicinal and recreational marijuana use. Although the public and the media use the term “medical marijuana” liberally, few acknowledge or are even aware of the complex nature of the plant, which consists of  > 400 chemicals, with approximately 70 cannabinoids [12]. The truth is, there is growing evidence that not all components of marijuana are medically beneficial and it is still unclear as to what specific medical disorders are best treated by this plant. Which cannabinoids mediate what specific beneficial or adverse effects remains an important question when one considers the complexity of the marijuana plant, and there is now growing research interest in answering such questions in the hopes of identifying and developing medicinal cannabinoids targeted for specific medical symptoms and diseases.

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Hurd, Y.L., Yoon, M., Manini, A.F. et al. Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage. Neurotherapeutics 12, 807–815 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0373-7

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