rodents testing marijuana
rodents testing marijuana

Are Rodents Reliable for Cannabis Testing?

Is Research on Rodents Really Reliable Testing for Medical Marijuana?

Posted by:
HighChi on Tuesday Jan 21, 2020

 Is Research on Rodents really Reliable Testing for Medical Marijuana?

testing marijuana on mice

Researchers more and more are claiming that testing on rodents is not really a reliable way to test for medical marijuana usage on human conditions. Much testing is done on animals of all sorts to see if something will work or not. Sometimes tests are also done to try to understand how things work. Rodents are a popular choice because their genetic and biological systems are close to the human system. The thought pattern is that if it would work on mice, it should work on us. Apart from that, they populate very fast and there is always a constant flow of rodents available.

Because cannabis is still a federal legal problem in a way, researches had to find alternatives to test how cannabis would react to certain conditions. To do human trials are still very problematic, so rodents was the go-to objective. Somehow testing has to be done and ways to be found to understand how cannabis works and what it does for many conditions out there. But some researchers are starting to stand up against testing on rodents. So, the question is, what would happen to all the research already done if they should decide that rodent testing results are unreliable?


What do They Base their Thoughts on?

They say that certain “breakthroughs” are based on knowledge already obtained. In one study researchers claimed that they found a “breakthrough” when they discovered that cannabis alters eating behaviors. They did a test on rats where they exposed them to cannabis vapor to see what the effect would be. When the forced cannabis vapor entered the system of the rats, a flow of ghrelin was released which stimulated hunger. The breakthrough is how patients with eating disorders could be helped. The researchers claim though, that the test results insignificant as animal research can´t translate to human systems. Furthermore, they already know that when humans are exposed to cannabis, the hypothalamus releases the hunger hormone ghrelin. They also state that test labs are taking advantage of unprotected animals.


Our Endocannabinoid Systems Differ

Even though humans and animals both have an endocannabinoid system, it doesn’t mean that they operate the same. Even amongst mammals, the endocannabinoid receptors are different. When it comes to rodents and humans, the CB2 genes are quite different. In another study, it was also discovered that CB2 genes and receptors are different, even between mice and rats. Apart from that, there is a different response to the CB2 receptors between many species. This is a flashing warning as we know that the effect of cannabis can also be different for humans individually. Gender plays a role, and also each individual’s biological composition.

This is why human trials are so necessary. Cannabis is general has to be studied to the degree of understanding the effects on the human body in a reliable way. If not, it is by error or by trial.


Human Bodies and Animal Bodies are different too

One of the biggest issues is that rodents don´t necessarily respond as humans would to certain conditions. This complicates the results of drug testing and the effect it has on the human body. It is not that animal research does not count at all; it is just hard to figure out how exact study results are. Especially when it comes to cannabis research as it was illegal to do any research not so long ago. There is consistency when it comes to testing on a cellular and molecular level of all mammals, and even of mice and rats. The problem lies with the fact that the complete physiological and psychological effects of cannabinoids are still lacking.


Unreliable studies

Some studies on animals are relevant when it comes to analyzing the effects of cannabis on the human body. Some are not so helpful. A study in 2019 found the THC had an influence on non-spatial memory in humans and primates, but not in rodents. There was a very big difference in the effects of cannabis on memory.

It becomes a problem when most studies are done on animals and evidence has to based on the results thereof, or in an observational capacity. It seems that many studies on animals are also not finally correlated with human results. Only about 37% of animal studies are replicated in human studies. What is even worse, is that 18% percent of animal studies were contradicted when tested on humans according to a review in 2006.


What is the Solution?

The bureaucratic system is one thing that needs to change to have a reliable understanding of cannabinoids on the human body. At least, some researchers are starting to realize that things have to change. Further legalization would open the door to meaningful results on human trials. It is time for human studies.








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