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For the cannabis industry, 2021 has been a year that keeps on giving. There’s been a significant increase in cannabis use, and a lot of cannabis products – both recreational and medical – have become more available for consumers. But many things remain unclear: what differentiates medical cannabis from recreational cannabis? Does cannabis alter the brain structure? What is the effect of medical marijuana on patients in the long term? The Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) is taking great strides to answer these and other medical cannabis questions via numerous observatory and longitudinal research.

The present-day cannabis industry seems to be at its toddler stage at the moment. We must equip consumers, policymakers, physicians, and the general public with accurate information to see progress in the coming years, especially in the right direction.

Regarding access to quality cannabis information, Elevate Holistics and MIND share the same goals. And MIND is blazing the path for cannabis neuroscience in the U.S, and so far, the possibilities seem to be endless. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about this remarkable program.

What is MIND?

MIND is the first established cannabis neuroscience program in the United States. It seeks to examine the relationship between medical marijuana and neurology – and by default, cannabis and the brain. Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Staci Gruber heads the program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

The program’s research on cannabis and neuroscience is currently progressing on funds and support from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the cannabis industry, and philanthropy, such as the Charles R. “Bob” Broderick grant for cannabis-related discovery.

Dr. Staci Gruber, alongside other researchers, launched the program in late 2014 as part of 20-year long research into medical marijuana and neurology.

Minding the Gap: The Objectives of the MIND

The cannabis industry is experiencing a boom. Sure enough, that comes with many concerns from health experts and the general public. Some people may argue that the industry is growing faster than it should, necessitating a more calculated growth trajectory.

The progress in the industry borders a lot on policies and regulations and not so much on scientific research. This is not to say that there is no scientific research backing the increase in cannabis use. As a matter of fact, there is a lot. But compared to the extent of the industry and the lack of long-term research, the information they have is not enough. Hence, it seems that where science should be leading, congress hall policies are ahead in the race.

Dr. Gruber observed the critical gaps in medical cannabis knowledge (even amongst cannabis policymakers and other experts), saw the need to fill that gap and resolved to fill it through MIND. The program seeks to explore cannabis neuroscience, using various projects to surface evidence-based links between cannabis and the brain through medical marijuana and neurology studies.

With a primary focus on cannabis and neuroscience, the program aims to:

  • Examine the unique and synergistic effects of cannabis and its constituents to determine the efficacy of cannabinoids for specific conditions and diseases
  • Clarify the overall impact of cannabinoid treatment on physical and mental health
  • Improve patients’ overall wellbeing
  • Harness the therapeutic potential while minimizing harms of cannabinoid-based treatment
  • Support a wide range of studies that will generate ecologically valid, empirically sound data to close the gap between policy and science

Excerpts highlighted from the official website.

Cannabis Neuroscience Research and Cannabis Information galore

MIND’s initiative to explore the link between cannabis and the brain took off in 2014, leading to the program’s release of six research publications to date. Currently, MIND is running nine medical marijuana and neurology studies while the initiatives for more studies are underway.

Dr. Gruber, the “Pot Doc,” as she is fondly called, also features in other cannabis-related projects and publications outside MIND. The program has been impactful in informing more accurate, evidence-based policymaking and providing consumers with apt cannabis education.

Let’s take a look at the studies exploring medical marijuana and neurology.

LEARN MORE: Alzheimer’s & Cannabis

Briefs on MIND’s Cannabis and Neuroscience Publications

The program’s publications provide an in-depth insight into some subject matters that have been foggy in the industry. Thankfully, MIND is dedicated to clearing the information fog in the industry and propelling informed policymaking.

Let’s take a look at the publications thus far.

1. Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function

Have you ever wondered if there is an actual difference between recreational marijuana and medical marijuana? Yes, differences exist in the production, composition, and effects of the variants.

This study found that MMJ users do not suffer executive function deficits commonly observed in recreational marijuana users. MMJ patients recorded an improved cognitive performance and an overall improvement in clinical state and general health. The study also recorded a significant decrease in patients’ reliance on conventional pharmaceuticals, especially opiates, as medical marijuana became a better option for them.

2. The grass might be greener: medical marijuana patients exhibit altered brain activity and improved executive function after three months of treatment

This study explored the probable direct and/or indirect effects of medical marijuana on patients, noting an improvement in patients’ quality of life, clinical state, sleep, and impulsivity. The study also provided a clear link between cannabis and the brain, noting strong evidence that MMJ may normalize brain activity.

The study called for further exploration on the link between medical marijuana and reduced opioid use observed in patients.

3. No pain, all gain? Interim analyses from a longitudinal, observational study examining the impact of medical cannabis treatment on chronic pain and related symptoms.

You’ve probably seen doctors or friends touting MMJ as a potent treatment for chronic pain management, and it sounded like a hoax to you. However, this study examined MMJ patients and conventional treatment patients dealing with chronic pain side by side. It found that MMJ patients had more significant pain improvements, accompanied by improved sleep, anxiety, mood, and quality of life.

This research also revealed that various cannabinoids seem to have unique effects on chronic pain and comorbid symptoms. Going further, the study theorizes that medical marijuana may be a potent alternative for some individuals with chronic pain.

4. An observational, longitudinal study of cognition in medical cannabis patients over the course of 12 months of treatment: preliminary results

With another stride down the path of cannabis neuroscience, MIND sought to understand how medical cannabis affects patients over 12 months. The study explored the connection between medical cannabis and the brain, using cognitive tests to examine patients’ improvement over stipulated time intervals.

It noted that although the patients were using medical cannabis for various conditions, the patients experienced a general improvement in their cognitive abilities. Also, improvements were recorded in patients’ mood, anxiety, and sleep, compared to their initial state before participating in the research.

5. Assessing cannabis use disorder in medical cannabis patients: interim analyses from an observational, longitudinal study

Oppositions often debate that cannabis has the potential for dependency and misuse or argue that it is a gateway drug. However, there have been no attempts to conduct an actual study on potential cannabis disorder (CUD) to back or disprove these theories.

The first of its kind, this study examines the probability of MMJ patients developing CUD using the Cannabis Use Disorder Identification Test-Revised (CUDIT-R). The results showed that MMJ patients exhibited low risks for hazardous cannabis use. Hence, patients are generally unlikely to develop CUD.

However, the study notes that some patients passed the thresholds for potential CUD. Additionally, researchers observed that CUDIT-R does not possess proper psychometric properties to assess possible CUD in MMJ patients accurately. Thus, this necessitated the need for more tailored tests in the future.

MIND and MMJ Patients

The Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program aims to improve patients’ overall wellbeing by conducting detailed research that considers all relevant factors and concerns that may bother patients. To do this, MIND calls for MMJ patient volunteers from across the U.S to join their research. Thus, expanding the pool of patient considerations and maximizing data to help structure more pertinent information for the general public’s cannabis education.

If you are curious about what MIND’s up to now or wish to volunteer for projects, click here.

As always, Elevate Holistics is dedicated to providing accurate information on medical marijuana. Check out the rest of our blogs to learn more about medical cannabis in your state or the U.S as a whole.

Medical Marijuana Cards for Medical Marijuana Patients

The difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is clear. MIND studies have shown that patients who use MMJ experience significant improvement in their overall health and wellness. But, how can you get MMJ? With a medical card, of course.

At Elevate Holistics, we will help you get your state medical marijuana card recommendation effortlessly. With us, you can get your recommendation right from the comfort of home. Contact us now to learn how! (Or click the button below to book an appointment and get started.)

Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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