National Center for Natural Products Research

The University of Mississippi

Cannabis Research

Working under a competitive contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, a world-renowned research institution, supplies high-quality marijuana and its constituents to the NIDA Drug Supply Program, which provides them to researchers studying their harmful and beneficial effects.

Recent state legislations have prompted questions related to the use of marijuana as medicine. The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy does not advocate smoking Cannabis for “medicinal” purposes or for any other purposes. However, research has demonstrated that active chemicals derived from the plant may be effectively utilized in the development of prescription drugs, which could be advanced to clinical practice according to current pharmaceutical laws and regulations.

Cannabis garden

In 2014, UM grew several varieties of cannabis for supply to other researchers through the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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CBD Solution Legislation

The Mississippi Legislature passed legislation in April of 2014 approving the University of Mississippi Medical Center to dispense cannabidiol solution (CBD) for the treatment of epileptic seizures in children. However, major regulatory requirements still exist before patients may receive the potential treatment in a carefully controlled clinical trial.

Those requirements fall broadly into three categories. The first is securing federal regulatory approval to grow the variant of low-THC, high-CBD marijuana from which the solution is extracted, process and transport it. Secondly, FDA approval for the manufacturing and clinical plan will require an investigational new drug approval. The third requirement is to initiate the clinical trial with all the requisite safeguards to enroll candidate children and test the solution’s efficacy and safety.

Faculty and staff members at both the University of Mississippi and its Medical Center are moving forward on those three tracks simultaneously. The National Center for Natural Products Research at the UM School of Pharmacy recently gained approval from two federal agencies to grow a certain quota of the particular strain for researchers around the country.

However, many requirements remain and meeting them could take a year or more. Anecdotal evidence suggests CBD solution may be effective for intractable epilepsy in children. However, rigorous and formal research studies in humans need to be conducted to establish the solution’s effectiveness and safety.

Any such clinical trial established at UMMC would initially involve children with refractory or more serious types of epilepsy. There are no current plans to study the effectiveness of CBD solution or smoked marijuana on seizure activity in adults. Additionally, neurologists at UMMC do not feel that smoked marijuana – whether medical or recreational – currently has a place in treating epilepsy.

The regulatory requirements for growth, production and use of CBD solution, and the safety measures involved in establishing a clinical trial, are both significant and necessary.

We understand the urgency and immediate need for improved treatments and are moving forward under that motivation. At the same time, our efforts are balanced by great measures of care, safety and compliance with current laws and the safety of the patients.

If and when regulatory requirements are met and clinical-trial setup is complete, enrollment of appropriate patients will begin.