Pubdate: Wed, 04 May 2016
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Chatham Daily News
Author: Jonathan Sher
Page: A2


A London scientist whose research on marijuana has also paved the way 
to a commercial enterprise has discovered that when it comes to 
schizophrenia, the use of pot can be the best and worst of times.

It turns out that though one of the major chemicals in marijuana is 
linked to psychosis, another may serve as an effective treatment, 
said Steven Laviolette, an associate professor at Western 
University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

"Within the same plant, you've got two different chemicals that are 
producing opposite effects," said Laviolette, whose study was 
published in the journal Neuroscience.

His interest is not only academic. He and his partners last year 
sought investors for a startup called Indica Agrifarm - Indica being 
a major type of marijuana plant.

A chemical found in marijuana called cannabidiol, or CBD, affects the 
brain in a way that makes it an ideal treatment option for 
schizophrenia. This research comes just months after the same lab 
found that adolescent exposure to THC, the other major compound found 
in marijuana, may lead to the onset of schizophrenia in adulthood.

Using rodents, Laviolette and his team, led by postdoctoral fellow 
Justine Renard, showed that CBD corrects schizophrenia-like 
disturbances in the brain's dopamine system, lessening symptoms such 
as psychosis and cognitive problems.

"One of the biggest problems in treating schizophrenia is that there 
hasn't been an effective new treatment on the market in a very long 
time," Laviolette said. "The drugs on the market today have limited 
efficacy and horrible side-effects; there is a desperate need for 
safer alternative medications."

Though CBD has shown promise as a treatment for schizophrenia in 
previous studies, this research is the first to show exactly how it 
acts on the brain to have positive results in mitigating psychiatric 
symptoms without causing the fatigue, lack of motivation and other 
side effects associated with traditional medications, he said.

"The effects of CBD were bypassing traditional molecular pathways 
that are activated by antipsychotic drugs. We think that's one of the 
reasons that it has better tolerability and fewer side effects," he said.

His work is timely because the federal government says it will 
introduce legislation next spring to legalize marijuana.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom