Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Biomolecular Sciences

First Advisor

Kristine Willett

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Cannabis is the most commonly used, cultivated, and trafficked drug worldwide. The use and acceptance of marijuana is evolving rapidly, as indicated by the volume of new State cannabis legislation across the U.S. Many of the changes in state laws have occurred without significant input from medical or scientific communities. Additionally, marijuana policy in the US is convoluted with significant inconsistencies between state and federal law. The status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act creates numerous restrictions and issues that impact the industry as a whole. The most promising development has been the 2018 Food and Drug Administration approval of the first ever marijuana-derived drug, Epidiolex (cannabidiol or CBD). This drug is now indicated for the treatment of the pharmaco-resistant forms of epilepsy, Dravet and Lennox-Gaustaut syndromes. Further clinical development is necessary in order to substantiate marijuana's therapeutic status. Moreover, scientific research needs to be a key factor in the creation of new marijuana policy. In an effort to conduct this research, and to explore the anti-epileptic efficacy of CBD, this study utilized a zebrafish model of Dravet Syndrome. About 80% of Dravet Syndrome patients carry a mutation in the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1 (scn1a). scn1a mutant zebrafish underwent both acute and subchronic exposures to various concentrations of CBD. CBD was found to significantly decrease seizure activity within the acute exposure. To provide context and relevancy to this research, the complicated legal status of marijuana is discussed, and potential reform options are provided as advocacy for policy change.

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