The government has indicated it is considering legalizing cannabis for medicinal use after a consulting firm it hired to advise on how to reform the economy touted it as a money-maker
Professor Mohammad Mroueh believes that the plant’s local strain might prove particularly beneficial due to the climate.
“My impression is that it will have a different medical value because of the climatic conditions in the Bekaa Valley especially if you’re talking about the amount of the rainfall, sunlight and type of soil,” said Mroueh
The government has permitted Mroueh’s research, but has not yet formally approved the establishment of his Medicinal Cannabis Research Center, which opened in May and aims to join the ranks of 10 institutions worldwide studying the drug.
“It is a beginning of the road for us. We haven’t even determined the genotype of the plant. We have to start from zero,” he said, adding that he expected to find different percentages of the active chemicals that may help in treatments of cancer, epilepsy, diabetes and other diseases.
In the laboratory, Dr. Wassim Shebaby, one of Mroueh’s research partners, injects pink-stained leukemic cells with different concentrations of cannabis oil as a group of students huddles behind him watching.
“We are studying the effect of cannabis oil on (cancer) cell growth … This is the first time this has been done (in Lebanon),” Shebaby said.
The laboratory tests on cancer cells from local patients is the first step before the team is able to expand to clinical trials and economic impact studies.
The project began in 2015 when two graduate students approached Mroueh to supervise a thesis about the plant. It took him three years to convince the university’s board as well as the ministry of health and the drug enforcement agency.
The center still needs final approval from a new government, but the country has been unable to form one since elections in May due to political squabbling over positions.
The government has indicated it is considering legalizing cannabis for medicinal use after a consulting firm it hired to advise on how to reform the economy touted it as a money-maker.
Mroueh expects hurdles but hopes the government will quickly approve the use of cannabis in palliative care.
Source & Image – Reuters