UNM researchers solving gaps in cannabis, THC with help from app

UNM researchers solving gaps in cannabis, THC with help from app

By Jami Seymore

From the legislature to the classroom, marijuana is the hot-button topic in New Mexico.

A group of University of New Mexico researchers says they are solving the gaps in cannabis findings, but the help is coming from an unlikely source.

Medical marijuana is one of the most talked-about topics in New Mexico.

"Cannabis is something unique in that it's always variable, it's not like a uniform pharmaceutical product," said Jacob Vigil, an associate professor of psychology at UNM.

The unknown led UNM researchers to start looking into ways to help patients using the plant.

"We conducted the largest study of its kind," said Vigil. "From one plant to the next, patients find it challenging to obtain the same product so this forces patients to engage in trial and error. It forces patients to interact with their medicine."

Now, with a mobile app called Releaf, Vigil and Sarah Stith are using real-time cannabis effects on patients through observational research of the app's data.

"Most of the existing research is only focused on a single chemical compound, it's not really taking into account the breadth of products that people are using today," said Stith, an assistant professor of economics at UNM.

Beyond looking into the products, they're also examining the effects of the psychoactive chemical THC.

"What we find in our most recent research is really what's important is THC and yet that seems to be the last frontier in terms of legalization," said Stith. "At a federal level now, all the other compounds in the plant are legal for study except for THC, which our study suggests may be the most important for therapeutic effect."

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