The USA’s National Institutes of Health has published a Request for Information (RFI) concerning interest in and barriers to research on the health effects of cannabis and its constituents.
While medicinal cannabis research has certainly picked up in recent years, there are still many gaps in knowledge. And the more we learn about this plant, the more we realise we don’t know about both the benefits and the risks. These gaps could remain while regulatory and other barriers are still in place; stymieing research efforts.
NIH is the USA’s medical research agency, supporting scientific studies that “turn discovery into health”.
NIH, specifically the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), says it wishes gather information from the scientific community concerning barriers, scientific interests and needs related to therapeutic cannabis or cannabinoid research.
The organisation is wanting to hear from investigators conducting or interested in conducting research on cannabis, cannabinoids, and related compounds such as terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants that give them their distinctive fragrance. While cannabinoids tend to steal the limelight, it’s thought terpenes could also have an important role in cannabis-related medicine..
“Such information will be useful to NIH as it seeks to address the research infrastructure needs and identify areas of interest within this field,” says NIH.
Topics covered by the RFI include (summarised):
- Cannabinoid/cannabis-related research topics of interest/importance.
- Scientific infrastructure in place or required to conduct related research.
- Barriers to initiating and conducting research.
- What NIH-coordinated activities could assist in this research.
- Methods, tools, or resources needed to increase related research.
- Access to regulatory, clinical and scientific cannabis-related information.
Responses to the RFI will be accepted until October 15, 2022. Information provided may be shared publicly or appear in reports, but the NCCIH makes it clear it isn’t obligated to publish anything. Further information on the RFI can be found here.
NCCIH has provided financial support for medical cannabis research in the past. For example, in 2019 it funded research grants for investigations into the potential pain-relieving properties of cannabis phytochemicals – and how they work.