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Health and Welfare

Today’s Interview: Possible future of cannabis and mental health

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UK College of Medicine
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Dr. Shanna Babalonis

In Kentucky, there are still many questions when it comes to the effectiveness of medical marijuana use for mental health patients. Legislation recently passed in Frankfort opens the door to a new cannabis research facility at UK.

Dr. Shanna Babalonis is an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science and Marijuana Researcher at the UK College of Medicine. While UK isn’t currently studying the effects of medical marijuana on mental illnesses, Dr. Babalonis is aware of studies that have been done elsewhere. She told WEKU those clinical trials have not shown great effectiveness.

“Participants get a specific dose of cannabis and are monitored, and it's compared, the outcomes are compared against placebo. When those trials have been done, and again, only very few have been done, it is not as convincing,” said Babalonis.

Dr. Babalonis points to a clinical trial studying the effect of medical marijuana on PTSD that revealed they couldn’t find a signal that it was in fact cannabis that alleviated symptoms.

“Part of the reason was because there was a really strong placebo effect in that study. And so it's really difficult to determine if cannabis was really the active agent that was helping.”

Governor Andy Beshear continues to investigate the possibility of taking Executive Action on medical marijuana.

When the new UK marijuana research center is open, Dr. Babalonis sees mental health as a subject that would be up for more research.

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