Cannabis experts weigh in on benefits and drawbacks of marijuana use

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — With medical cannabis coming to Kentucky in less than two years following bill passage earlier this month, the timing of the Substance Use Research Event (SURE) at the University of Kentucky felt appropriate.

On Monday, scientists and medical experts from around the region converged on the Gatton Student Center for a full day of presentations and discussions about the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana use. Experts also used the time to dispel some possible myths about the drug.

“We ran some studies and it turned out cannabis withdrawal looks like tobacco withdrawal, and a good percentage of these people who use a lot of cannabis end up with the same withdrawal symptoms,” said Dr. Alan Budney of Dartmouth College.

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Dr. Budney has been studying marijuana and more specifically, cannabis use disorders, for three decades. He does believe there is medical value when it comes to treating seizures or fighting nausea for those receiving chemotherapy treatments. He also feels it can combat certain symptoms from other illnesses.

“As far as being clinically helpful, do we know it can help with a disorder and make it better? No. But, yes sometimes it can provide symptom relief,” he said following his presentation on Monday morning.

One year ago here on the UK campus, the Cannabis Center was launched, and Dr. Shanna Babalonis has been spearheading a lot of the research on similar matters. She agrees that marijuana is not necessarily harmless as many believe.

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“Some people who use it as a therapeutic will go on to misuse it and develop problems with their use,” she said. “So I think it’s important to highlight it’s just like any other medicine you’d be prescribed,” she continued.

Dr. Babalonis also discussed the extensive work that is being done at the center to establish a baseline that might help the masses.

“What dose might be effective. What route of administration might be effective,” she explained of the clinical trials being performed on campus.


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