While the city of Denver, and the state of Colorado as a whole, has been on the forefront of recreational and medical cannabis, Denver just issued the first official research and development license this past Tuesday. Med Pharm, the group granted the license, will be looking at how cannabis could potentially provide relief for Alzheimer’s patients. 

Although it has been approved on a local level, the group still needs to submit their study plan to the state. But the researchers at Med Pharm are feeling good about the venture. They have already decided that they will host a trial in which 150 Alzheimer’s patients will be administered either cannabis or a placebo. Those in the non-placebo group will take cannabis orally once daily. 

“It’s really exciting,” explains Dr. Tyrell Towle, Director of Chemistry and Research at Med Pharm. “We’re finally doing research that we should have been doing decades ago, quite frankly. “We’ll be giving caregivers surveys. The caregivers of these patients will be filling out “are they sleeping better, are they easier to deal with, are they experiencing less agitation, are they maybe forgetting fewer names”.”

“We really want to understand how these Cannabinoids and the compounds we put together can help people,” adds Albert Gutierrez, CEO of Med Pharm.  “We’ll be monitoring that throughout the study so that we can see if the symptoms that are improving, are correlating to an improvement of blood flow in certain areas of the brain.” 

“We are excited for the possibilities for this type of medical research to find effective research for a whole host of illnesses,” says Ashley Kilroy, director of Excise and Licenses and Office of Marijuana Policy for Denver. “Also, we really see this license-type in particular, a license that could attract some of the best and brightest to Denver to attract this type of work.”

Cannabis and Alzheimer’s

Previous studies on cannabis and Alzheimer’s, like a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, reveal that more work needs to be done on how cannabis interacts with Alzheimer’s. 

“It’s important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn’t mean it can be safely used by anyone,” explains co-author of the study Neel Nabar. “However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

While this may seem like basic research that should have already been done, it will be groundbreaking, and Gutierrez claimed that nowhere else in the country is conducting the same type of research. 

“We really have high hopes on what the Cannabinoids and the compounds are able to do for patients,” he adds. “We’ve heard all the anecdotal evidence, and so we want to take that research on.”

In addition to this study on Alzheimer’s patients, Med Pharm also plans to propose studies on how cannabis impacts cancer patients. This is a huge move for Denver and for cannabis research in the U.S.

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