UCLA's Cannabis Research Initiative Awarded First Grant for Clinical Study from NIH
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UCLA's Cannabis Research Initiative Awarded First Grant for Clinical Study from NIH

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.5 million grant to UCLA's Cannabis Research Initiative to examine the pain-relieving effects of cannabis and its constituents in a clinical study. The study will also look at experiential differences associated with biological sex.

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UCLA, November 13, 2019 - PRESS RELEASE - Do females and males respond differently to cannabis? What factors contribute to these differences? Dr. Ziva Cooper, research director at the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative is about to find out.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $3.5 million grant to Dr. Cooper to conduct a five-year study to evaluate the pain-relieving properties of cannabis and its cannabinoids.

This grant will fund the first clinical trial at the Cannabis Research Initiative, which was founded in 2017 as part of the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior where Cooper became the first research director in January of this year. The Initiative was one of the first university programs in the world dedicated to the study of cannabis.

“This is an ideal first project as it probes significant public health questions related to the potential medicinal and adverse effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, a central mission of the Initiative,” said Cooper, who is also a professor-in-residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Additionally, the study will examine the addictive properties of cannabis compounds and look at whether males and females experience the effects of the drug differently.

“Evidence from animal studies show that females are more sensitive to the pain-relieving benefits of THC, the primary component of cannabis. But they are also more sensitive to the negative effects,” Cooper said in the statement released by UCLA. “At a time when rates of medicinal cannabis use are rapidly increasing among women, the study's findings will help researchers better understand how men and women respond differently to both the potential therapeutic and negative effects of cannabis.”

The study will also explore whether hormones and endocannabinoids, the body’s own cannabinoid system, play a role in these differences.