AMHERST, N.Y. 3 June, 2015 – The largest private neuroscience institute in the United States just inked a deal to establish a clinical research center for medical marijuana. Dent Neurologic Institute will partner with Lewiston-based Herbal Agriculture to develop protocols for treating neurological disorders with cannabis.
Herbal Agriculture, until recently a commercial tomato grower, is presently competing for one of only five medical marijuana dispensary licenses to be granted initially under New York state’s highly restrictive program. CEO Gary Smith, welcomed the deal in a press statement, saying, “This collaboration will enhance our goal which is to relieve patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions whose symptoms may be alleviated through the use of approved medical marijuana.”
DNI Chief Medical Officer, Laszlo Mechtler said the new center will work on New York state-approved neurological disorders, which include, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, epilepsy, neuropathies and Huntington’s disease. Additionally, Mechtler expect to “focus on clinical protocols involving patients with chronic migraine and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Fran Gengo, Pharm.D. Associate Professor at UB and Director of Neuropharmacology research at DNI stated: “It is apparent medical marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and epilepsy — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them and it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.”
Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited DNI when announcing introduction of the Compassionate Access Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. The legislation seeks to reclassify cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to Schedule II. This change to federal law would make clinical research more viable nationwide.
Dr. Capote, Director of the DNI Neuropsychiatry Division, noted, “As the preponderance scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s therapeutic benefits emerge, the reasonable and judicious clinician can feel increasingly comfortable utilizing this medication for very specific neuropsychiatric disorders.” Capote pointed out that science not prejudice or fear should guide research decisions, stating:. “Only then can anyone expect to receive the best treatment possible.”
New York is the 23rd state to legalize medical cannabis and its program will commence on January 1, 2016.