A group of Australian children and young adults with severe mental health issues will be involved in a world-first medical cannabis trial.
Something we’d like to state from the outset – this is not about teens getting giddy to forget their problems. The trial would involve the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with a good safety profile that has been found beneficial in treating a number of conditions.
According to a report first published on the Daily Telegraph, the study will occur under the leadership of psychiatrist Patrick McGorry.
Professor McGorry is the Executive Director of Orygen, Professor of Youth Mental Health at The University of Melbourne, and a Director of the Board of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace). He was also awarded Australian of The Year in 2010 for his services to youth mental health and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the same year.
During the study, suitable candidates aged between 12 and 25 will be administered capsules containing cannabidiol daily for 12 weeks. The young people to take part will be suffering from severe anxiety or depression that hasn’t responded to conventional treatment. Apparently, traditional antidepressants have a high failure rate in young people.
The pilot study is slated to start in June and will be followed by a larger research project; pending results of the pilot.
The work will be funded by the Lambert Initiative, a project supported by Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert; who donated $33.7 million to the University of Sydney to establish the Initiative. More recently, the Lamberts donated USD$3 million to Thomas Jefferson University in the USA to support its Center for Medical Cannabis Education and Research.
Anxiety and depression are all too common in older children, teens and young adults. According to headspace, a quarter of young people have experienced a mental health issue in the past year and suicide is the leading cause of death of young people. The organisation says three-quarters of mental health issues emerge before the age of 25 – and if treated early, their severity can be minimised with good prospects of recovery.
While the study may be the first relating to cannabidiol for anxiety and depression in young people; there have been animal studies performed that suggest CBD could be an effective and safe antidepressant.