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UCI School of Medicine receives $9 Million Grant for Cannabis Study

University of California, Irvine School of Medicine has been awarded a four-year, $9 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to investigate the long term effects of cannabis exposure on the adolescent brain. The study will be led by Professor Daniele Piomelli, professor of anatomy and neurobiology, who is also the director of the new UCI Center for the Study of Cannabis. The researchers will conduct a series of preclinical studies to determine the impact of tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive drug in cannabis known as THC) during the lifespan, in adolescence, and its effect on ECB (endocannabinoid) signaling.

(Image courtesy of Wix)

Endocannabinoids are the substances produced by the human body that stimulate the same cannabinoid receptors that plant produced phytocannabinoids, like THC, stimulate which are located in parts of the body such as the nervous system and connective tissue. ECB signaling has become of great interest to researchers recently due to its involvement in the understanding of medical cannabis and its affects. The study will specifically investigate the effect of THC during adolescence on ECB signaling explained Piomelli in a press release when he said "The ECB system is the main point of entry of THC into the brain. Now that cannabis is legal in many states, it's very important to understand whether excessive activation of this signaling system during adolescence can produce alterations in cognition and motivated behavior that last into adulthood,".

UC Irvine's new Center for the Study of Cannabis will be a partnership between the school's medicine and law schools. The center will sponsor groundbreaking studies of this kind which not be possible without the tremendous amount of science and research funding received by the University of California, Irvine. In 2017 UC Irvine received $378 million in grants, coming from federal and state agencies as well as foundations and companies. The newly developed center hopes to source some of its future funding from tax revenue generated by Proposition 64.

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