Waiting to Conduct Research on Cannabis

AUGUST 24, 2016
6630507 isn’t a phone number. It’s the federal government’s patent application registration for cannabis sativa to be used as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant.
 
Antioxidant diseases are very broad-based and can be ischemic, age-related, inflammatory, or autoimmune. As a neuroprotectant, it can be used in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, just to name a few. It would’ve been nice to have around when my dad developed multiple system atrophy.
 
However, the US Drug Enforcement Administration still lists sativas and indicas as Schedule I: highly addictive and of no medical benefit. Think about the logic of that classification for a moment. Hopefully, the research conducted under the patent will better classify these as the Schedule III, like dronabinol capsules.
 
Speaking of research, I’ve designed 11 potential pharmaceutical delivery systems that I believe will be viable once compounded. Trade secrets keep me from telling you what they are. The problem now is I can’t develop them without the risk of wearing some heavy wrist adornments.
 
I have no idea what my oil extraction rates would be or the concentration of a yield and, as a pharmacist, I have to know. “Here, take this, but I have no idea what the strength is,” is not at all how pharmacy is practiced.
 
Supposedly, Pennsylvania will have a medical cannabis system up and running in about 2 years. When are we going to be allowed to conduct research? I want more than one attempt to get it right, and a good clinical trial takes years to complete.
 
I checked the state Department of Health website and it says nothing about applying for permission to do research. In fact, although the post is current, it’s not really saying anything new. I think it’s time to get going. I’ve done as much homework as I can. Thanks to the Internet, I know how to extract cannabinoids into oil and alcohols. From there, I’ve developed what I believe to be viable pharmaceuticals. But, there’s a big difference between belief and knowledge, and, as a scientist, there’s only one part of my life where I rely on belief. We need to start clinical trials, and we need to do it now.
 
I know I can be a pioneer in Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program. I can educate pharmacists entering the field. I’ve been waiting for decades for this to come to fruition, and I really don’t want to be left on the sidelines when things get rolling.
 
Although I know a lot, it means nothing without being able to practice. I want to go to medical states and see how they do it, but I won’t unless I know it’s going to get me somewhere. For now, I wait, and that’s definitely the hardest part.
 
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is running out of time.


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