In a rare move, the U.S. government has approved the importation of cannabis extracts from Canada for a clinical trial, reported the Associated Press on Sept. 18, 2018.
The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, part of University of California San Diego (UCSD) announced that the DEA had approved of its plans to import capsules containing CBD and THC capsules from Canadian-based Tilray Inc as part of the plan to study their effectiveness in treating tremors that afflict millions of people, especially those over 65.
UCSD researchers said they needed cannabis extracts in capsule form because it is easier to monitor patients’ doses rather than having them smoke or vape. They also believed some of the older patients might be reluctant to take part in a study in which they had to smoke.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana law reform organization NORML, said that illustrates how badly American researchers need alternative sources for cannabis. The House Judiciary Committee last week passed a bill to require the Justice Department to issue at least two more licenses to U.S. facilities to grow pot for research.
“It’s very telling that you have researchers in the U.S. willing to exert the patience and go through the regulatory hurdles to make this happen at the same time the United States has its own domestic supply source,” Armentano said.
NIDA’s contract with the university provides for the possibility of offering cannabis capsules, but it has not yet done so, said Don Stanford, assistant director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the university.
At the moment, there is no drug designed to treat essential tremor, a shaking condition. Unlike Parkinson’s disease, which causes shaking when someone is not moving, people with essential tremors shake when they are doing everyday activities such as writing, drinking and speaking. The condition afflicts 10 million people nationally and millions more across the globe, according to the International Essential Tremor Foundation.