Georgia Atlas launching research study on low-THC oil

Medical cannabis is effective in treating mental health conditions, this medical cannabis can be found in the form of THC Oil. Photo Submitted by Georgia Atlas | The Signal

A Georgian medical cannabis company called Georgia Atlas announced on March 9 that it had launched a Georgia low-THC oil research study for medical patients and veterans. 

They will gather data for this study starting April 15, with the results coming out in August. Data collection will launch during an online event via Zoom on Monday, April 26 at noon. The board will supervise the research. 

The study aims at gathering information relevant to treatments, medical conditions and interest in low-THC oil in Georgia. 

Low-THC oil is a kind of medical cannabis oil. It typically includes no more than 5% tetrahydrocannabinol and is commonly used in treating many health-related problems. Today, the U.S. has over 14,000 Low-THC oil patients in treatment, but there are already more than 250,000 patients that may be eligible for the medicine in Georgia. 

The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. James Smith, is one of this study’s head researchers. He is also the medical director of emergency medicine at the Northside Gwinnett Medical Center. 

His personal family experiences inspired Dr. Smith to devote himself to low-THC research. The use of medical cannabis and cannabidiol has alleviated his daughter’s epilepsy symptoms and bettered her quality of life significantly. 

Smith leads Georgia Atlas along with Chris McEvlany, the chief production officer who “has 25 years of experience in large-scale agriculture and crop science and more than 20 years of cannabis research experience.”

To plant and mass-produce low-THC oil, Georgia Atlas applied for the related license in late January. Its website states that the company should qualify for six licenses around late spring this year.

If the company’s license application is approved, Smith will form a “medical board” and a group of expert Georgia physicians who are pioneers of low-THC research.

According to the Georgia Atlas website, Dr. Lisa Perry-Gilkes, president of the Medical Association of Georgia; Dr. Andrew Reisman, MAG’s former president; and Dr. Sarah Vinson, the founder of Lorio Psych Group and faculty member of two medical schools in Georgia, are all on the “medical board.”

Marion McNabb, the senior consultant of Georgia Atlas, said Georgia Atlas designed the research study last year. They intended to gather anonymous information from Georgia residents about their medical conditions, current treatments, experiences with low-THC oil in the past, knowledge about low-THC oil and the Georgia program about to launch.

“The goal of this research is to share findings with the relevant policymakers, healthcare professionals, medical patients, U.S. military veterans and other stakeholders in the state to help inform the growth of the low-THC oil program in Georgia,” she said.

McNabb said this medicine is specifically essential for veterans because medical cannabis shows to impact various unique health conditions and symptoms veterans often face. 

Many U.S. military veterans are relieved after knowing a medicine that can treat their unique health conditions will soon be widely accessible. The Georgia Atlas website states that over 600,000 Georgia veterans can benefit from it.

McNabb led “The 2019 Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Study” with several other colleagues to examine the impacts of medical cannabis use among U.S. military veterans. 

This study gathered anonymous data from U.S. military veterans across the nation, enabling researchers to trace what health conditions veterans are facing now. Reaching out to veterans across the country makes it easier to learn about the influence of medical cannabis use on the group’s overall health. 

According to the research report, the leading conditions reported reveal that “medical cannabis is useful for chronic pain, PTSD and anxiety.” 

The findings are undoubtedly great news for veterans since many of them suffer from these problems, resulting from extreme stress for long periods. For example, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website states that 11 to 20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD. That percentage rises to 30% for veterans that fought in the Vietnam War.

The report indicates that many veterans now choose cannabis as a harm reduction method because many other medicines with similar treatments are more toxic. About 80% of the veterans in the study’s sample have used medical cannabis.

Also, the report shows that medical cannabis use decreases anti-depressants usage for veterans with PTSD. As anti-depressants are the most widely-used PTSD treatment, the study result signifies that more veterans choose medical cannabis for treating their health conditions.

However, the high cost of medical cannabis makes it harder for veterans to have access despite its effective treatment. According to the report, veterans spend almost $100 on prescription medications and over $340 on medical cannabis every month. As insurance does not include medical cannabis, veterans with disabilities can barely afford it. 

Therefore, even if medical cannabis seems to be an effective treatment, veterans currently have limited access to it. The report states that it is hard for veterans to obtain a medical cannabis card, which keeps them from getting the correct information from their Veteran Affair provider. It can be almost impossible for them to receive enough funds for needed treatment.

“With veterans being more likely to suffer from chronic health problems, suicide and PTSD, there is a need to continue to not only conduct further research on the benefits but also start to develop dosing guides and other clinical tools to integrate medical cannabis as an alternative treatment,” the report states.

Georgia Atlas will use the study to collect information to guide Georgia healthcare providers, patients and veterans. 

“The study will be launching this month on April 26 for data collection at an online event,” McNabb said. “We are partnering with the Georgia Medical Cannabis Society as well as with the CanniMedic for the study.”