Oxford University Researchers to Explore the Potential Benefits of Medical Marijuana

The US government insists marijuana has no medical value. One of the world's most prestigious universities thinks otherwise.
Guest Writer

You know studies into the uses of marijuana have hit the big time -- academically speaking, at any rate -- when the University of Oxford in England gets involved.

Oxford, about as far removed from the stereotypical laidback marijuana culture as an institution can get, has decided to jump in a big way into research of the potential, untapped benefits of cannabis. The university will focus on cannabis for treatment of pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases. The goal is to unlock new medical uses for marijuana.

“Oxford will seek to identify new medical therapies through research into the molecular, cellular and systems mechanisms of cannabinoids,” according to a news release from the university.

Related: Most People in Attorney General Jeff Sessions's Home State Want to Legalize Marijuana

Private Partnership

Oxford University plans to start the program in a partnership with Kingsley Capital Partners, which will put up an initial investment of $12.5 million to start the program.

The belief among Oxford researchers about the potential of marijuana runs deep enough that the university, again with Kingsley, will host a conference later in late 2017 called the International Cannabinoid Biomedicine Conference.

The conference is designed to “increase dialogue” among the medical research community about the potential uses of cannabinoids.

Neil Mahapatra, manager partner of Kingsley, said in the news release that medical marijuana already benefits patients around the world in dealing with “distressing conditions,” but more can be done.

“Research into the specific pathways and mechanisms that create this benefit is limited and long overdue,” he said, adding that “we hope our strategic partnership with Oxford will support the development of innovative new therapies to help millions of people around the world.”

Related: Colorado Considers End Run if Feds Crack Down on Recreational Marijuana

Research Issues

Research into the potential medical benefits of cannabis has been somewhat restricted in the United States because federal law still lists marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug along with heroin.

Mahapatra said the new partnership with Oxford will put the United Kingdom at the forefront of research into “this fast-growing field.”

It’s also yet another endorsement for the legal marijuana movement to have a university as prestigious as Oxford – a school so old that even the university itself is not sure when it was founded – conduct serious research into the issue.

Related: How Cannabis Ecommerce Challenges Are Driving Web Innovation

Ahmed Ahmed, a professor of Gynaecological Oncology at Oxford, said “exciting biological discoveries” have already been made in cannabis research.

The new research program is “a timely opportunity to increase our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease. This field holds great promise for developing novel therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients,” Ahmed said.

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