Federal agencies say they want to study ‘minor cannabinoids,’ terpenes

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A group of federal health agencies have indicated in a government publication that they’d like to study various “minor cannabinoids” from marijuana, along with cannabis terpenes, to determine how they could best be used to treat a handful of medical ailments.

According to a notice published by the National Institutes of Health, eight of the agency’s affiliates are hoping to fund studies into medical marijuana.

The studies will focus on cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBG and delta-8 THC, instead of the commonly known delta-9 THC, the primary cannabinoid in marijuana that gives consumers a high.

The agencies promoting research include:

  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which wants to study “minor cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant as it relates to pain.”
  • The National Cancer Institute, which wants to study “the mechanisms by which minor cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant may affect cancer interception, cancer treatment and resistance, and management of cancer symptoms.”
  • The National Eye Institute, which wants to study “therapeutic benefits of terpenes and minor cannabinoids in the treatment of glaucoma, retinal degenerations and uveitis.”
  • The National Institute on Aging, which wants to study cannabinoid and terpene impacts on “age-related cognitive decline/impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (AD/ADRD), weight loss/cachexia, sleep, or conditions in palliative care settings.”
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which wants to study “the role of endocannabinoid systems in alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder.”
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which wants to study “minor cannabinoids in the context of substance use and/or substance use disorder (SUD), and comorbidity of SUD and HIV infection.”
  • The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which wants to study “therapeutic properties of minor cannabinoids and terpenes for dental, oral or craniofacial diseases or conditions.”
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which wants to study minor cannabinoids and terpenes’ effects on “pain, migraine, headache, epilepsy, movement disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and stroke.”

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Research on marijuana has been limited because the plant remains illegal at the federal level.

However, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for researchers to study marijuana.