Australian university finds promise in CBGA
A new study from the University of Sydney reports that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy.
Published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, the study, titled “Cannabigerolic acid, a major biosynthetic precursor molecule in cannabis, exhibits divergent effects on seizures in mouse models of epilepsy,” also calls CBGA “the mother of all cannabinoids,” a precursor molecule to the creation of better-known cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, and was even more effective in stopping some seizures.
“We found that CBGA was more potent than CBD in reducing seizures triggered by a febrile event in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Lyndsey Anderson, said in a press release. “Although higher doses of CBGA also had proconvulsant effects on other seizure types highlighting a limitation of this cannabis constituent. We also found CBGA to affect many epilepsy-relevant drug targets.”
The study involved University of Sydney researchers in the School of Psychology and the Sydney Pharmacy School in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Kearney at Northwestern University in the United States. Kearney developed the genetic mouse model used in the study and mentored Anderson before she moved to Australia.
The team is working to develop a better cannabis-based treatment for Dravet syndrome.
“We have assessed the cannabinoids one by one and now we are exploring what happens when you put them all back together,” Anderson said. “There remains a real possibility that all these individual anticonvulsant cannabinoids might work better when combined.”
The study was made possible by a large donation to the University in 2015 from Barry and Joy Lambert, which created the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, aimed at advancing scientific research on medicinal cannabis and cannabinoid therapeutics. The couple had seen how hemp oils had helped their granddaughter deal with Dravet syndrome and wished to better understand how cannabis works to treat epilepsy and other health conditions.
In 2015, the Lambert Initiative established a preclinical epilepsy research program to help understand how cannabis extracts, a mixture of hundreds of bioactive molecules, have anticonvulsant effects.
“Our research program is systematically testing whether the various constituents of cannabis reduce seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome,” said associate professor Jonathon Arnold. “The cannabinoid acids are abundant in cannabis but have received much less scientific attention. We are just beginning to understand their therapeutic potential.”
— Brian Beckley
Marijuana-related arrests fell sharply during 2020
Marijuana-related arrests are down a massive 36% from last year, according to an analysis of the new FBI Uniform Crime Report by NORML. The number is approximately double the drop of the previous year alone.
According to NORML, police made an estimated 350,150 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2020, down from 545,602 in 2019. According to the analysis, it is the fastest reduction of marijuana-related arrests since the early 1990s. Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, 91% (317,793) were arrested for possession only.
Marijuana arrests accounted for 30.3% of all drug arrests. That’s down almost 50% from their peak in 2008, when police made more than 800,000 marijuana-related arrests, according to NORML.
NORML executive director Erik Altieri noted the drop is due to the continuing decriminalization, legalization and regulatory efforts spreading across the country, and called the fight for legalization a “fight for justice.”
“While these numbers represent a historic decline in arrests, even one person being put into handcuffs for the simple possession of marijuana is too many,” Altieri said in a press release.
According to the analysis, marijuana-related arrests were least likely to occur in western states — most of which have legalized cannabis — and were most prevalent in the northeast, where they made up an estimated 50% of all drug arrests. But with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all legalizing marijuana in the past year, that number is expected to continue to drop.
— Brian Beckley