Medical marijuana and the science behind it: A chat about the risk and reward

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With the recent approval to dispense medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, understanding the science and health implications behind it has never been more critical.

For example, as the nation faces an opioid crisis, recent analyses suggest that in states where recreational and medical marijuana use is legal, opioid prescriptions have dropped. While there are still so many unknowns when it comes to medical marijuana use, its potential therapeutic role in pain management and treating drug addiction is promising and researchers say it warrants greater investigation.

Dan Morgan, an assistant professor in anesthesiology at Penn State's College of Medicine, and his lab group are exploring this largely unchartered territory. Morgan will share his research on cannabinoid signaling with the State College community during this month's Science on Tap event, which will take place on June 19 at 7 p.m. at Liberty Craft House in downtown State College.

“The primary focus of my laboratory is to understand the mechanisms responsible for the different roles of cannabinoid signaling in human health and disease including the mechanisms responsible for cannabinoid tolerance and the impact of endocannabinoid signaling on drug addiction,” said Morgan

Penn State’s College of Medicine is among 8 medical schools in Pennsylvania approved by the Department of Health to study medical marijuana.

The event is part of the monthly Science on Tap series, which is designed to allow informal discussions between leading Penn State researchers and members of the general public. 

Science on Tap is presented by the Science Policy Society and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The Science Policy Society is a graduate student-run organization that aims to teach researchers about the connection between their research and public policy. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Penn State serves to help translate and apply new research findings in order to help benefit human health.

Yasina Somani, a doctoral student in kinesiology and Science on Tap organizer, said the group is hoping the community can come together and learn more about the science behind medical marijuana.

“The research on the effects of marijuana seems to be limited," said Somani. "With evidence-based research, there can be greater accuracy in dispensing for different diseases and conditions.”

For more information, visit the society’s website at: http://sites.psu.edu/psusciencepolicy. Attendees are reminded that they must be 21 years of age, or older, to attend.

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Last Updated June 21, 2018