But now, as more and more people are turning to the drug to treat ailments, the science of cannabis is experiencing a rebirth. We’re finding surprises, and possibly miracles, concealed inside this once forbidden plant. Although marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug, Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, recently expressed interest in what science will learn about marijuana, noting that preliminary data show that “for certain medical conditions and symptoms” it can be “helpful.”
For kids with severe forms of epilepsy, changes in medication levels can be extremely dangerous. “If their levels go low, they’re at increased risk of seizures, which could lead to an emergency room visit or an ICU stay,” Knupp said. “On the other hand, if their levels go high, their side effects can increase dramatically.” Side effects from epilepsy medications can range anywhere from drowsiness to vomiting to heart arrhythmia, Knupp noted. “For some people that could mean a minor inconvenience, but for some patients it could be life-threatening.”
A geneticist, Kane studies cannabis from a unique perspective—he probes its DNA. He’s an affable, outdoorsy guy with a bright face and eyes that wander and dart inquisitively when he talks. He has studied chocolate and for many years the sunflower, eventually mapping its genome, a sequence of more than three and a half billion nucleotides. Now he’s moved on to marijuana. Though its sequence is much shorter, roughly 800 million nucleotides, he considers it a far more intriguing plant.
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