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Marijuana And Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit

neuroscience marijuana

(image via McGill.ca)

This is a notice of a conference of significance in the medical cannabis field. The Research Summit will be held on March 22-23 at the Natcher Conference Center on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

After viewing the advertisement for the event I question the premise, as the cannabinoid system itself has no adverse effects; the phrasing of the event’s summary implies a bias toward finding harm, a charge that Dr. Sanjay Gupta and other have levied against the NIH and NIDA for some time.

The discussions will include a Michigan contingent, as Dr. Christine Rabinak from Wayne State University will participate in the section reserved for Therapeutic Potential: Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Pain, PTSD/Anxiety. 

She was the lead author on a paper published in 2013 regarding marijuana use and PTSD.


Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit is being convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will focus on the neurological and psychiatric effects of marijuana, other cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system. Both the adverse and the potential therapeutic effects of the cannabinoid system will be discussed. The goal of this summit is to ensure evidence-based information is available to inform practice and policy, particularly important at this time given the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.

The meeting is being sponsored by several NIH Institutes and Centers: the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA); the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA); the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH); the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); and theNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).



Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

Benjamin Cravatt, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research InstituteKen Mackie, M.D.
Indiana UniversityDaniele Piomelli, Ph.D., Pharm.D.
University of California, Irvine

Brain Development and Function

Susan Tapert, Ph.D.
University of California, San DiegoKent Hutchison, Ph.D.
University of Colorado BoulderMadeline Meier, Ph.D.
Arizona State University

Psychosis, Addiction, and Alcohol Interactions

Anne Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H.
Massachusetts General HospitalAlan Budney, Ph.D.
Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthLarry Parsons, Ph.D.
The Scripps Research Institute

Psychomotor Performance and Detection

Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse

Therapeutic Potential: Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Pain, PTSD/Anxiety

Ivan Soltesz, Ph.D.
Stanford UniversityAmy Brooks-Kayal, M.D.
Children’s Hospital ColoradoDavid Gloss, M.D., M.P.H.
Charleston Area Medical CenterAndrea G. Hohmann, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Barth Wilsey, M.D.
University of California, San Diego

Cecilia Hillard, Ph.D.
Medical College of Wisconsin

Christine Rabinak, Ph.D.
Wayne State University

Policy-Related Research

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Ph.D.
RAND CorporationMark Kleiman, Ph.D., M.P.P.
NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

Please visit the website for detailed security and location information.


Source: The Compassion Chronicles


About Author

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.


  1. Then Physicians need to join our fight and start pushing, giving time and money,talk to the media, taking every opportunity to sing the praises, support legalization. They did, like us, take an oath to do no harm. Patients should be at top of the list to have access.

  2. IMHO, Rick, you don’t need to worry all that much about “a bias toward finding harm.” The NIH would not go to the trouble of hosting such a conference if they didn’t consider, to the contrary, the potential for benefits is great. Ive attended a number of conferences in the Natcher, and the focus is strictly science, not value judgments. They will be discussing endocannabinoid CNS pathways and the effects in the brain and other organ systems.

    The endocannabinoid system per se does not have adverse effects, as you say. In that sense, neither does the dopaminergic system, even though the DA system can go awry and participate in drug addiction. So the reason for the conference is not whether cannabinoids are helpful or harmful, but how the system might be harnessed therapeutically.

    Indeed, the article by Rabinak et al. that you link has just this focus. They conclude, “Given that enhancing cannabinoid transmission, via CB1 agonists, helps extinction recall, the cannabinoid system is a promising target for improving the learning that goes on in psychotherapy and improving the likelihood of success and its maintenance in patients with PTSD, and
    other difficult-to-treat anxiety disorders.”

    Anyway I’ll have a chance to find out when I’m there.

  3. After a bit of research one can see there is a mixed bag of Doctors, the conservative ones are reporting on the negatives/dangers and the liberal ones are reporting on the positives/miracles, the later being in the Epilepsy, pain, PTSD, MS, Brain development, etc. already common knowledge.

    The other ones are from institutions funded by Pharma, these are the ones the haters are waiting for and you can be sure a couple will have negative reports, unfounded but still negative and the haters will get all they want.

    Only the bad will be reported in the media to any amount, sad.

    Where are the Doctors from Israel or Canada? You know, the ones that are actually using and testing cannabis on people and have been for years?

    Not much of a summit, more like a somewhat!

  4. “The goal of this summit is to ensure evidence-based information is available to inform practice and policy, particularly important at this time given the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.”

    Here’s the corrected version:

    The goal of this summit is to ensure evidence-based information continues to support the practice and policy of prohibition, particularly important at this time given the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.

  5. It is important here to notice the influence of Fed Govt/Big Pharma (partners) agencies..which, for years now, has blocked any research, and through the DEA especially, has only been looking for something negative, while anything positive has been quickly hidden or outright dismissed.

    Quite right Michael Ellis, about bias potential here, and right on, PhDScientist, especially about cancer. That alone makes this talk suspect.

    As is pointed out by Rick Thompson & his article, the reason to even have this talk is the fast changing laws allowing use..not for actual good reasons. The BS meter looks to be pegged way up there, as a very negative bias, with the Fed agencies involved. We can look forward to what is said, keeping all this in mind. May actual truth prevail, without any traditional bias against it.

  6. I’m extremely disappointed that they’re missing any coverage of Medical Marijuana’s use in Cancer Therapy.

    The ultimate irony of medical progress is that the most painful way to die, CANCER, is now the most common one in the world, and the second most common one in the USA.

    Everyone needs to get behind President Obama and VP Biden’s Cancer Moonshot and specifically for people here, the use of Medical Marijuana for helping with the symptoms of Cancer, with the side effects of Cancer therapy, and as a therapy for Cancer itself.

    As a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer Research, the current situation is making me lose the small amount of hair I have left.

    To put it bluntly, current government policy towards Medical Marijuana is NUTS.

    82% of Oncologists want their patients to be able to use it.

    76% of Physicians support the use of it.

    The reported percentages are probably WAY low compared to the real ones,
    because many Physicians live in fear of losing their DEA numbers or being sued.

    Its an occupational hazard.

    As far as Marijuana goes, it has a wider therapeutic index than water or mother’s milk.

    There isn’t any other medication that can match its safety profile.

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta said it best —

    “Marijuana isn’t just ‘good medicine’ — in many cases its the only medicine that works”

    “We should legalize Marijuana. We should do it Nationally. And we should do it NOW”

  7. It would be helpful to include references to prior publications by the speakers to help determine the overall bias of the conference.

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