USF College of Pharmacy hosts medical cannabis symposium to separate stigma from science

The USF College of Pharmacy hosted a research symposium with top scientists and experts to discuss medical cannabis and its impact on patient health.

The event, held on April 28 at the USF Patel Center for Global Solutions, focused on separating the medical cannabis stigma from science.

Kevin Sneed, PharmD, founding dean of the USF College of Pharmacy.

“We’re thrilled to bring together worldwide experts, scientists and clinicians to have an open conversation about medical cannabis,” said Kevin Sneed, PharmD, dean of the USF College of Pharmacy. “Our goal here is to discuss cannabis research, current regulations and policies, and how it could help people with various medical problems.”

Florida voters approved the medical marijuana constitutional amendment for patients with debilitating conditions on Nov. 8, 2016. However, the bill (HB 1397) has not been fully passed through the Florida Senate and House of Representatives.

A diverse group of experts from USF Health and around the world gathered to discuss the issue, including Michael Dor, MD, medical director for the Medical Cannabis Unit at the Ministry of Health in Israel, and Juan Sanchez-Ramos, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

(L to R). Nissim Garti, PhD, CEO of Lyotropic Delivery Systems, Michael Dor, MD, medical director for the Medical Cannabis Unit at the Ministry of Health in Israel, Mark Rosenfeld, PhD, CEO and CSO of Ananda Scientific, Juan Sanchez-Ramos, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, and Mark Kindy, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, answer questions from the audience.

During the event, which was hosted in collaboration with Ananda Scientific, a company that produces nonpsychoactive and nonabusive oral cannabinoid health products, experts emphasized the importance of cannabis research in the areas of safety, quality and effectiveness that are critical to the treatment of a variety of diseases.

“We’re trying to distinguish between the stigma, which is marijuana, and the science, which is cannabis,” Dr. Sanchez-Ramos said. “Medical cannabis can be useful for a limited range of conditions. But, as clinicians and scientists, we need to conduct research that carefully defines those conditions, the doses, and the dose schedules that will work for the patient.”

That’s why USF College of Pharmacy is hoping to take the lead in conducting top-quality research on medical cannabis and find the correct oral formulation that’s beneficial to the patients and their overall health.

“We want to stay true to our expertise and our profession of pharmacy,” Dr. Sneed said. “Our goal is to find the proper formulation that does not involve hallucinogenic or euphoric side effects, but hopefully will involve something anti-inflammatory and medicinal that helps improve patients’ health.”

This is not an easy solution; however, the symposium is a first step, Dr. Sneed said. The USF College of Pharmacy hopes to work closely with USF researchers, clinicians and local business partners, taking a structured evidence-based approach to conduct research on medical cannabis.

Dr. Kevin Sneed speaks to the media about the symposium.

“We want to be the solution to the problem,” Dr. Sneed said. “Through our evidence-based approach, we want to conduct research to effect policy and provide clear evidence about the value of medicinal cannabis to improve the lives of patients and our community.”

Story by Vjollca Hysenlika, USF Health Communications and Marketing
Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications and Marketing